Hello to all my fellow media tie-in writers!
I’m honored to serve as the new president of the IAMTW. I wanted to take a moment to explain my background and my love of our genre.
I grew up reading a lot of media tie-in books. When I was seven I read Paul V. Fairman’s City Under the Sea, a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea novel. Around the same time I read the Gold Key comic tied to the show. As far as I can remember, that was how I got started. Like most dedicated fans, I wanted more of the show (or movie) than was possible in an hour of weekly broadcast. The novels and comics gave me more about the characters, more about the Seaview, more about the world.
So I started scouting around and discovered that there were a more and more of these kinds of books coming out. All through grade school and into junior high I was devouring works like
Thomas M. Disch’s The Prisoner, Murray Leinster’s Land of the Giants, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Man from U.N.C.L.E. books by Michael Avallone, and (god help me) one of Avallone’s Partridge Family novels.
Actually, bit of a side note…while browsing for new Avallone titles at the bookstore I encountered his racy Ed Noon mysteries and the lurid Satan Sleuth stuff, which sparked interest in pulps, and that got me into Doc Savage and Travis McGee and…well, it’s an addiction. I’m sure you understand.
Oh, and another aside…turns out my wife’s grandfather, Oscar J. Friend (aka Owen Fox Jerome, Ford Smith, etc.) was a notable pulp fiction writer and literary agent. His best friend was William Fitzgerald Jenkins (aka Murray Leinster).
Later I got hooked on Alan Dean Foster. His Alien, The Thing and Splinter in the Mind’s Eye were compelling reading, and having recently re-read them I admire how well they stand up after all these years.
So, through junior high and high school I did what a lot of folks do…I wrote fan fiction. Lots of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Combat!, and other stories. All lost now. Very probably that’s not a loss to the world of literature, but I do remember having fun writing them. I remember how it felt to step into those worlds, be those characters, explore elements of their lives and stories that the shows did not cover.
I became a writer, but for the first twenty-five years of my career I did nonfiction. Feature articles, reviews, essays, how-to manuals, and college textbooks. I still read a ton of fiction, and loved the media tie-in works. The Star Wars and Star Trek expanded universes were my favorites, though I read novelizations of movies and comics attached to the licenses.
I switched to fiction in 2006 with my first novel, Ghost Road Blues (Kensington), and worked mainly in horror and thrillers (Patient Zero, 2009, St. Martin’s Griffin). And out of the blue one day I get a call from a VP of licensing at Universal who asked if I wanted to write the novel based on the upcoming revisionist version of The Wolfman. In my naiveté I assumed I’d get to watch a cut of the movie, maybe talk to the actors and director. Looking back I want to pat that younger version of me on the shoulder, or maybe take him out for a few beers. Poor chap.
It was then I realize what went into writing a media tie-in novel. I had a script and got to see a couple of production sketches. That was it. No real guidance, no advice, no access. But this was something my name would go on, so I felt that I had to do my best possible work. I had to take agency over it. And so…I did a lot of research and wrote a Gothic horror novel. I had no idea whether Universal was going to like it or hate it. I had no idea if the people who saw the movie would then show up at my house with torches and pitchforks. And, at that time, I knew virtually no media tie-in writers.
The book became my first New York Times bestseller. It also won the Scribe Award.
Both were amazing, but the real win for me during that time was learning that there was an actual organization of people doing this. They weren’t random folks scattered across the literary sky. They were a group. So, I joined. I immediately felt at home. I felt like this was family. And I made one hell of a lot of friends. Not just social media ‘friends’, but actual friends. Enduring friends.
The Wolfman was my sixth novel. I’m now writing my 34th. A lot’s happened since that book came out. Partly on the strength of that book I was invited to write other media tie-in works, mostly short stories. I’ve gotten to play in the worlds of John Carter of Mars, GI Joe, Sherlock Holmes, True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse, Hellboy, Aliens, Predator, Wizard of Oz, Plan 9 From Outer Space, C.H.U.D., Monster Hunter International, Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, The X-Files, the Deadlands RPG, and others. It’s a wonderful, wonderful infinite universe of creative opportunities. My inner fanboy is a kid in a candy shop.
And I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to create a couple of licenses of my own –V-Wars (the first season of which is now being shot for Netflix) and the Joe Ledger thrillers. And I have a couple of other licenses in development. I’m also editing anthologies –The X-Files, Aliens, etc.) which gives me the opportunity to invite fellow media tie-in writers to come and play. And get paid.
Over the next two years (the length of my presidency), I’ll be looking for ways to increase the visibility of the IAMTW, draw in new readers to our works, open new doors for members, put some new spins on our social media game, and more. Max and Lee did an amazing job of creating and running this group. I’ve shared many of my ideas with them, and am happy that they are behind me, and delighted that they will be my Jedi Council as I learn the ropes.
I will always be open to ideas and input from the members. Always. Best way to reach me is via email. However please, please, please put either IAMTW or Media Tie In in the subject bar. I don’t want to miss your emails! Or you can reach me through private message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
I’m so proud of this organization and its members. So…come on into the playground and let’s share our toys. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun!
Del Mar, California, August 2018