TIED IN: What was the first media tie-in work you remember reading?
CHRIS GOLDEN: It would have to be movie novelizations, though I’m not sure which one I read first. The first three that come to mind are the novelizations of Halloween, The Fog
Did you write fan fiction? Tell us about it.
In a way, the very first thing I wrote was fan fiction. In junior high, I did the first couple of chapters of something that incorporated Doc Savage, Robin Hood, Tarzan, and I think this character called The Master Gunfighter, from a terrible TV series. Fortunately it’s been lost to time and fate. In college, I took a screenwriting class that required us to write the first act of a screenplay, and mine was an adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Moon Knight. But aside from that, my use of existing characters has all been in licensed fiction.
What was your first media tie-in gig? How did you get the job?
I think it must have been Daredevil: Predator’s Smile, which was the first ever Daredevil novel. Byron Preiss Multimedia had acquired the license to do novels featuring a number of Marvel characters and I was in conversation with, I think, John Betancourt, who said they wanted to give me a freelance job as a sort of outside editorial coordinator for the line. I was probably about twenty-seven at the time and my first novel had recently been published. Then I got a call from John in which he explained that they’d decided to go in-house with the job and have then editor Keith R.A. DeCandido take that on. As a kind of apology, John and Keith let me choose from the characters they had licensed and do one of the novels myself, and that was Predator’s Smile.
Talk about your experience working with that license.
It was very interesting. They were just getting geared up and at the time, the editors at Marvel Comics who were responsible for the comics featuring each character were responsible for the approvals process on these novels. I wrote my outline and it was very specifically following up Frank Miller’s run, so Karen Page was an ex-junkie, ex-porn star, they were kids in jeopardy, even a plot line about child porn. (Obviously handled with Daredevil taking down the bastards with extreme prejudice.) Ralph Macchio was the editor of Daredevil at the time and he approved the outline, but by the time I finished the novel, the approvals process had changed and Marvel freaked out at what I had written. Even though they were doing all kinds of dark stuff in the comics of the time, I was told I couldn’t have any references to drugs or pornography, and no children in jeopardy, so I had to do an absolutely massive rewrite on the manuscript. Fortunately, my agent at the time, Lori Perkins, had put a clause in the contract that said, “Author shall not be required to make substantial changes beyond the scope of the approved outline.” I told Byron this was Marvel’s fault, not mine, and that if he wanted it rewritten, he could pay someone else and take my name off the book, or he could pay me. Happily, he chose to pay me to do the work.
What kind of creative risks have you taken with your media tie-in projects?
I’ve written a lot of tie-ins, but I’d say the biggest risks came when working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels, particularly with my novel Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids all in a Row, which was a historical novel featuring none of the regular characters, and certainly no sign of Buffy. The other would be the Lost Slayer serial novel. Trust me, persuading Fox and Mutant Enemy to go along with the idea of a serial novel about the Buffyverse five years in the future of the show’s continuity was quite a challenge, but I think it really paid off. I love all of that work so much.
Of the media tie-in work you’ve done, what are you most proud of?
It’d have to be those two Buffy projects, as well as my Hellboy novels, and the X-Men: Mutant Empire Trilogy. I rarely do a big media convention where I don’t have people come up to me with those Mutant Empire books. They really made an impact. And Hellboy…all of that stuff is so near to my heart. But, of course, it’s the human impact of the Buffy work that makes me proudest. So many people—young women especially—have told me that those books got them into
Which media tie-in project was way outside of your normal style?
Probably Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Blackwood’s Guide to Dangerous Fairies. It’s a little-known book that I did with Guillermo del Toro, tying into the remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, but very few people, I think, read that book. It’s an epistolary historical horror fantasy, very old-fashioned in its narrative, combined with, well, a field guide to dangerous fairies. I love it!
What are you writing now? How did that project come to you?
I’m writing the bible and the pilot script for a TV series based on my Ben Walker novels, Ararat, The Pandora Room, and next year’s Red Hands.
What’s your fan experience been like?
Mostly good, although there are always those fans who despise you for doing anything different from the way they’d imagined it themselves. For instance, in my Alien novel River of Pain, I put Colonial Marines into the story, even though some fans were sure to be furious. The thing is, there’s nothing in the movie Aliens (to which River of Pain is a prequel) that says they weren’t there in the first place, and Fox wanted them there. If Fox tells you that’s their continuity, then that’s the continuity.
Will you be at any upcoming conventions?
Hmm. Quiet year this year. I have a UK convention I can’t mention yet. I’ll be at NECON in July. I’m sure there are others. Keep an eye on my website and social media for more. Certainly I’ll be at Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival October 12th. I have to be there—it’s my event!
Talk about the writing you do outside of media tie-in.
I’ve written all sorts of novels, and edited tons of anthologies. This year will see the publication of my novel The Pandora Room, as well as my fantasy with Tim Lebbon, Blood of the Four, in trade paperback, and I have several anthologies coming. Also, my comic book series Joe Golem: Occult Detective, which I do with Mike Mignola, will have a new miniseries this year.
Where can people find you online?
What’s the most fun thing about writing media tie-in stories?
Getting to play with characters that, if I could go back in time, would blow the 14-year-old me’s mind!
What’s on your media tie-in wish-list? What licenses do you want to tackle?
Mostly the things that speak to my childhood self. Hammer movies. Scooby-Doo. That sort of thing. But there are lots of others.