Double Trouble Author Interview: Ben H. Rome

Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team-Ups, edited by Jonathan Maberry & Keith R.A. DeCandido, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, is now funding on Kickstarter. The anthology features more than a dozen great tie-in writers teaming classic characters up. We’ve already done interviews with Rigel Ailur (teaming Annie Oakley with Marian of Sherwood), Greg Cox (mashing up The Brain that Wouldn’t Die with Night of the Living Dead), and James Reasoner (pairing G-Man Dan Fowler with Stinger Seave).

Here’s an interview with Ben H. Rome, who is putting three figures from mythology together: the Egyptian cat god Bastet, the Norse wolf Fenrir, and the Central American god Quetzalcoatl.

Ben H. Rome is an award-winning writer, game designer, and communications expert who spent fifteen years editing, writing, and producing BattleTech game products. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area and is currently the Content Director and editor for the new Renegade Legion Universe.

What led you to choose the characters you’re using for your Double Trouble story?

Mythology and pantheons have always been a treasure trove of supernatural stories, so I tend to gravitate to these literary gold mines for ideas and entertainment. When I got wind of the pitch call, I immediately thought the best, most opportunistic pairing for some tension and comedy would be a cat and a dog. What gods would work well within that pairing? Bastet, one of the more familiar “cat gods” thanks to Black Panther, and Fenrir — while technically a wolf and not a dog — a popular foil in Norse mythology. Then the question became, what kind of foe is common to both cat and dog and would be the mastermind behind an apocalyptic event? I had to go with the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl because the disparity between pantheons, the unlikely feline-wolf pairing, and traipsing them across three mythologies seemed like a fun challenge. I thought I was a bit crazy, but the pitch got accepted…

What do you enjoy most about writing tie-in fiction?

I love how I can impact a setting with a new story, twist, character, or idea that helps flesh out an established world. Taking something known and turning in just such a way to create a new dynamic is pretty cool and challenges my creative process.

What’s your favorite licensed universe that you’ve written in during your career as a tie-in writer?

I’ve written for several years in the BattleTech space, helping spin out an entire era’s worth of setting, characters, plots, mysteries, and more. It’s been the only IP playground I’ve been involved with — nearly twenty years! — and I’m ready to do more elsewhere. Currently, I’m having a lot of fun helping reimagine the Renegade Legion universe, and being involved from the ground up is a really great experience.

But I won’t lie: my ultimate goal is to see something of my creation published in the Star Wars universe. I’ve been obsessed with it since 1977, which would definitely be a defining moment for my creative career.

What do you have that’s now out or coming out soon?

I have an original short story, “To Raise a Nation, Giants Must Fall,” published in Great Wars by Lost Boys Press, which released on September 22. It’s a “what if” story where I twist the David and Goliath tale into something unexpected. I also have a short story coming in late October/early November entitled “Fractured State,” which will be part of the Voices of Varuna Volume 2 anthology. (We released Volume 1 last summer, which I edited and have a story in as well.) And next year, we’re launching the Xenovita RPG, which I’m currently working on with Derek Tyler Attico and Kelli Fitzpatrick.

Plus, I’ve got more in the pipeline for 2023 and beyond.

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