Yesterday, in this post, I talked a bit about writing tie-in fiction, and more particularly about the husband’s contribution to the Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, and whether or not I should be proud of him.
Of course, I am.
I’m proud of him for all sorts of other things, though, too.
This week, I’m particularly proud of the response that Wild’s End has received.
I’m rather luckier than the husband, or just more bullish, or maybe it’s because I’m infinitely less successful than him, or much less in the public eye. There are myriad reasons. Whatever they are, the truth is that I have the time to do some of the things that I really want to do. Ok... the truth is that the husband loves working in existing worlds and universes. He revels in it. He’s been doing it for a long time and he’s very, very good at it.
I struggle with it somewhat. There’s sometimes a little bit of me that wants to break out of the constraints that he enjoys so much. I’ve always got projects of my own simmering away on an endless bank of back-burners that I want to get back to. He is more patient than I am.
This year, I was very lucky to be involved in two novels that I became utterly absorbed in, that were so right up my alley that I couldn’t have been happier writing them. Fiefdom from Abaddon books is set in the Kingdom universe. It began as a comic strip for 2000AD, and it’s one of my favourite things the husband writes (there’ll be more of it very soon). I’ve always loved the comic, and I’ve always wanted to write in that particular universe, so I was very active in pursuing the opportunity to do this book, and in writing it. The second novel is Tomb Raider: Ten Thousand Immortals from Brady Games, due out in October. What can I say? Strong female characters? Check. Real world settings? Check. History? Check. Archaeology? Check. Thrills and spills? Check. This was a thoroughgoing romp, and a helluva lot of fun.
I’ve also played in Black Library’s toy box this year, and you can read the results of my efforts in the autumn. I’ve got a very special relationship with the Black Library. It published some of my first work. I will admit that I have to pick and choose my projects carefully, though, because I find some of the big stuff daunting, and tough to write. I love it, but it can be hard work to get right, and I feel a huge loyalty to the fans and a great responsibility.
The biggest surprise of the year for me was being invited to write a story for an anthology. I was asked to be myself, to produce something of my own with no tie-in element whatsoever, and only the lightest of briefs. I rubbed my hands in glee, and set to it with a song in my heart. The Dangerous Games anthology is published by Solaris in December.
My response sounds ridiculous now that I read it back, but it’s still true.
I write for myself about a third of the time. I talk about some of those books, here. I’ve talked about Naming Names repeatedly. There are other books, too. I’ve written four novels that languish in files on my computer, unpublished. And there’s the rub.
I can work all day everyday writing, but I’m just like everyone else when it comes to getting that break.
Back to Wild’s End.
The husband has written dozens of novels and thousands of comics. He’s written audiobooks and dramas, and he’s written computer games; hell, he’s even written a movie. Almost all of what he’s written has been tie-in fiction. He’s published two independent novels with Angry Robot Books. Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero is a swashbuckling, alternate history romp. It was very well-received, and more than one reviewer compared the writing style to Terry Pratchett’s. Embedded is a combat SF novel with a twist, which also has stuff to say about war and the news media. It was also widely appreciated.
There is room in comics for new stories, too.
People who don’t read comics tend to think of the superhero stuff, and that’s natural enough, because those comics account for a large proportion of the industry. Superheroes also dominate the crossover of comic books into movies and merchandising. Let’s not forget what I was talking about yesterday in this very blog.
What comic book readers know that some of the rest of us don’t is that there are a lot of independent comic books out there, often referred to as ‘creator owned’ in which comics creators come up with new concepts and stories that don’t tie-in to the stuff we’re all familiar with.
The husband has been dipping his toe into new waters with the artist INJ (Ian) Culbard.
In March 2012 the first issue of The New Deadwardians from Vertigo went on sale. It was the start of something that has been growing ever since. The comic, set at the turn of the 20th century in England, brought Zombies and Vampires together for an old-fashioned class war. It was very clever and it struck a cord with critics and readers. It ran for twelve issues and showed up on several round-up of the year and favourites lists.
This year, the husband and Ian have struck out with two new creator owned projects. Dark Ages for Dark Horse is a four part series and it’s medieval SF. It’s Apocalyptic!
I love this book, and, not for nothing, so does everyone else.
I’ve never seen our Twitter feed so filled with mentions and congratulations for a project, and I’ve never seen so many rave reviews.
The husband built a toy box, filled it with toys and played out an extraordinary game. But here’s the thing: It’s his toy box and they are his toys, and Ian Culbard’s of course, because the art is absolutely gorgeous; you’re all going to love the anthropomorphic characters this team put on paper. It’s the husband’s toy box, and they’re his toys, and no one had ever played with them before. What’s more, if and when he decides to take them out to play with them again, they’ll be as fresh as the day he tucked them safely away. No one else is going to come along and reboot or reinvent or change anything in his absence. The husband doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play with the same toys. He doesn’t have to worry about destroying toys or losing them, or even leaving them in the box for this particular game. He has only himself to please.
Who knows, maybe, one day Wild’s End or something else that the husband creates might even find its way into the hands of a movie maker. I know he’s never going to direct a film, but I also know that he’s a damned fine writer, and he’d sure as hell want a shot at writing the script... He’d do a bloody good job, too.