Because there are a few things out there that people have asked me and are worth answering. What follows are paraphrased questions and my responses:
1. So when will the show be on? Dunno. We (and by we I mean Jake Thornton and Ben Lustig) still have to write the pilot script. Then we (and this we is Scott Stuber and Wolfgang Petersen and their people) have to get it approved, shoot a pilot and then get that approved. If everything aligns perfectly, maybe you’ll see it in 2016. If everything does not align perfectly, you might not see it at all. Also, be aware that even when a series is greenlit and in production that it can still be yanked. So nothing is 100% guaranteed. You’ll see the show (indeed, any show) when it is actually on the TV screen.
With that said, this much I know: I’m excited, the producers are excited and UCP and Syfy are excited. The team putting the show together is smart and committed. I feel pretty good about the idea you’ll see this sooner than later.
2. Noooooooo Syfy is terrible and runs wrestling and Sharknado whyyyyyyy? Speaking as someone whose previous television show got cancelled in part because Syfy bumped it for wrestling, you don’t have to tell me that the channel has some fairly egregious sins in its past. However, the execs who yanked it in the direction of wrestling are gone, and the execs who are there now seem to have this crazy idea that a channel devoted to science fiction ought to have science fiction on it. This, I assume, is why it bought OMW and is taking James S.A. Corey’s Expanse books straight to series, and otherwise doing a lot of shopping for good science fiction to turn into shows. I kind of think we should encourage this shocking turn of events. Maybe that’s just me.
I got nothing for you about the Sharknado films. Hey, something like five million people watched Sharknado 2 when it debuted. Don’t blame Syfy for that. Blame society. Or at least recognize that some of Syfy’s sweet, sweet Sharknado money is being poured into the development of the OMW series.
3. Who is going to be in the series? You should totally hire [X]! And maybe [Y]! Too early for casting yet. We’ll get there. I know it frustrates people when I say this, but aside from Jane Sagan, who I clearly modeled after my wife (and who, to be clear, is unlikely to play Jane in the series), I have never thought of who I would want to play any of the OMW characters. I understand that’s a little weird, but even so. Part of that is rooted in the fact that the characters in the book are all supposed to look very young (they look like they’re all 21 or so), so unless we cast a bunch of Nickelodeon/Disney Channel stars, it’s unlikely those actors would be well known anyway.
4. How much is going to change from the books? Based on the the discussions I had with the screenwriters: some. Some things in the book will be impractical to show onscreen, some things would be very expensive, and some things that work in novel form won’t work on TV (and vice versa). Some changes are coming.
I’ve always tried to be clear to folks that any screen version of OMW is going to be an adaptation and not the books exactly. A TV series will be no different. What we want to do is make sure the changes a) are not arbitrary, b) serve the overall story of the series. But, yeah. The books are the books and will always be the books. The TV series will be based on the books, but will not be the books. It will still be, as far as can be managed, a very good story, worth your time.
5. Are you worried the TV show will overshadow the books? I assume it will, since it will (hopefully) be seen by millions of people weekly, so, no. One, I have smart agents who have gotten me a good deal on the series, so if the TV series does well I will profit handsomely. Two, if the show does well then the books in the series will likely sell like hotcakes — see George RR Martin’s book sales recently — so the books will do just fine. Plus then my profile as an author raises and it’s easier for me to sell my newer books, too. Three, a successful show will make it easier for me to sell other work to film/TV, which is also good for me.
So, yeah: Go, show. Fly and be successful.
6. Why are your books being made into TV series when better books like [X] and/or writers like [Y] are not? I don’t know. Maybe my books are better and you’re just wrong. Maybe my books are more commercially successful, which matters. Maybe my books are easier/cheaper/less confusing to adapt than [X]. Maybe the producer likes my book and not that other one. Maybe that author hates the idea of adapting her books into film/TV and won’t sell an option. Maybe the particular subject of one of my books is hot right now, and the subject of that other book is not. Maybe I have a better agent, who sells the hell out of my work. Maybe I’m more personable and/or not in a pain in the ass to work with. Maybe I’m just lucky. Maybe some combination of any or all of the above and/or some other “maybe” not explored here.
But look, in the end, it’s not complicated: What books/properties get optioned/made in film and television? The ones where a producer and studio says we can totally make money with that. Because that’s their job. Why is OMW being made into a series? Because Scott Stuber, Wolfgang Petersen, Universal Cable Productions and Syfy think they can make money off it. Aside from anything else, that’s the bottom line. We’ll find out whether they’re correct. I hope they are.
Now, this doesn’t speak to whether that other book [X] or author [Y] might not also make them (or whomever) money. But it doesn’t have to. It’s not actually important for what they’re doing with my work.
7. Yes yes yes. Just tell me when the next Old Man’s War book will be, please? I’m writing it now. It’ll be out next year. And it will be pretty good, if I can pull off all the things I’m planning. Stay tuned.