A reader of this blog writes in to ask:
I had a small question about your forthcoming Predator novel. I know you talked a bit about the animosity (maybe that’s too strong a word) toward writers who do so-called “tie-in” novels, and I was wondering if you had any second thoughts about writing a Predator novel. Specifically I was curious to know if you would still have agreed to do it had it been your first novel, if you hadn’t already been established as an author of original fiction? Did your current good standing in the field make you more comfortable with taking the job, or were you of the mind that it’s your life, your career and you could do whatever you wanted regardless of what other authors feel about tie-in novels and the like?
It’s a good question. I don’t have any second thoughts about doing a Predator novel, but I definitely wouldn’t have done one as my first novel or before I was “established,” simply because I think in that context it would be difficult to be taken seriously. People’s perceptions are a powerful thing, and where you enter the public consciousness is often where you stay for a long time. However, at the same time, I couldn’t have written a Predator novel in my twenties. I wasn’t versatile enough and I wasn’t relaxed enough with my writing. Some people may think that writing a Predator novel is a lot easier than writing something more “literary,” but the fact is that on the level of technique, it’s easier only in the sense that you’re not layering in as much stuff. And in some ways, if you’ve been writing a lot of surreal or literary fantasy, even if you do in fact, despite what some people believe, write action scenes sometimes, there’s a lot of new stuff to learn.
In actual fact, the only negative response I’ve gotten is a kind of double-take from a few people who were (1) incredulous I got asked and (2) obviously didn’t think I could do it. But I have done it–I’ve written a fast-paced action-adventure novel that will appeal to Predator readers but that also has enough of my own “signatures” that I think that most of my own fans, if they pick it up, will also enjoy the novel.
Would I make a diet of writing tie-in novels? No. You become defined by the stuff you do the most of, I think, because most people can’t identify other people as being good at more than one or two things. So while I believe that the blurring of the lines between genre and pop culture and pop culture and what’s respectable has made it possible to get away with writing something like this on ocassion, I don’t think that applies if you do a lot of them. Or maybe I’m wrong, because I know lots of authors I respect who do them regularly. I think I might just be one of the only ones who actually talks about it a lot and doesn’t mind actually pro-actively promoting mine.
Below the cut, the current back cover copy for the book…which doesn’t convey things like an alien virus and a ton of other complications that make the book more layered but are kinda hard to put into a paragraph. (Er, I almost suggested they add “There will be blood!” to the end of it.)
DOUBLE CROSS. TRIPLE CROSS. WHO WILL SURVIVE?
On a remote jungle island somewhere in the South China Sea, stocked with some of the most exotic animals in the world, a deadly hunt is underway . . . just not the kind the participants expected. The hunters come from all walks of life: a South African arms dealer, a Romanian ex-wrestler, two former KGB agents, a wildlife TV host, a Thai pirate, a down-and-out rock star, and a billionaire with a mysterious past. Each has come to the island for their own reasons, some secret, some deadly. But when the encampment’s owner, ex-Khmer Rouge Colonel Rath Preap, finds the fences cut, animals slaughtered, and members of his private army missing, it’s clear that it’s not just another day at the hunting lodge. Another creature is out for blood–and a lot of it. An adversary that has faced death on a thousand worlds, a battle-tested Predator with an unstoppable lust for conquest. Its story will play out across a landscape of old temple ruins, hidden ambitions, startling secrets, and a fight for survival so intense the jungle will run red…