My Secret (Failed) Media Tie-In Past
A question in e-mail that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while:
I know you don’t do media tie-in novels, but have you ever been tempted to? I think a John Scalzi Star Wars novel would be really cool.
Heh. I’ve noted before that given how frequently I’ve flayed the Star Wars franchise (and George Lucas’ writing and directing thereof), the chances of the LucasFilm people even thinking of approaching me about writing in their universe is about as likely as Admiral Ackbar enjoying the calamari platter at the Olive Garden (“Oh! My brothers! Did you not see it was a trap?”). So I wouldn’t get my hopes up for that one.
I’ve been approached in the past to do media tie-in work and have largely turned it down, not because I think it’s below me — I think I’ve been pretty clear in the past that I think the class snobbery regarding tie-in writing is pretty bogus — but because I have my own list of projects to get to, and that list is fairly extensive. If and when I do work with someone else’s property, I want it to be something so very cool and special that it’s worth taking time away from my own personal slate of projects. Basically, I’m picky.
That said, I’ll tell you a story. Probably about 12 years ago I wrote an e-mail to John Carmack of id Software, explaining to him why he should really let me write a novel based on the Quake games, with a long list of rationales that in the end pretty much boiled down to “because if you did, dude, I promise you that novel would f’n rock.” I never did hear back from Carmack, which is of course not at all unexpected, because 12 years ago I was not a published novelist, I was some random member of the Quake-and-Cheetos Brigade going all squeegious on John Carmack. Think how often John Carmack must have gotten e-mails going “dude, you don’t know me, but you should totally trust me with your intellectual property.” I suspect Carmack read the e-mail, went okay, then, Mr. Fanboy McCrazypants, and dumped it straight into the trash bin. He would have been right to do so.
That said: Dude, if I had written a Quake novel, it would have been so very awesome. Because I loved those games, man. It hurt when I had to admit I liked Unreal Tournament more than Quake III Arena. It was like me saying that Pepsi One is a superior taste experience to Coke Zero. Which it isn’t and I would never say it was. But you see what I’m getting at, here. All other things being equal, what makes a media tie-in novel work is that the person writing it says to him or herself, Hey, I get to play with this thing I love so very much? And they’re paying me for it? Coooooool. And then goes off and has a ball.
So there it is: my sole attempt at media tie-in-ery, so far.