Last time out, I wrote about my new tie-in novel, Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising, and why some books have "Jeff Mariotte" on them and others have "Jeffrey J. Mariotte." The on-sale date of September 20 is coming fast, and I should have some hot-off-the-presses copies in my hands any day now. The book is published by Tor Books/Visionary books, and I couldn't be more excited.
What I should have mentioned there, and don't think I did, is that I put just as much care and craft into my tie-in work as I do my original novels. Tie-ins are set in universes that don't belong to me, but I think they're fun and interesting universes or I wouldn't work in them. I've had some issues with editors that have soured me on a couple of those universes, but for the most part, writing tie-ins is as fun and demanding as any other kind of writing.
Today, I get to announce something really cool--I'm writing the first-ever NCIS: New Orleans novel! Here's a temporary cover (the actual cover art may change, and certainly the title will). It's scheduled to be released in March 2017, and fittingly, it's set around Mardi Gras.
NCIS: New Orleans certainly fits the definition of a fun and interesting universe. I love the city of New Orleans. The show is great, with terrific characters and plenty of local color and fantastic musical guests now and then. You can almost taste the beignets. I'm a longtime Scott Bakula fan, and I love CCH Pounder. When I wrote the only licensed fiction ever based on Shawn Ryan's riveting TV series The Shield (a 5-issue comic book miniseries, collected into a trade paperback), I got to interview Ryan and stars Michael Chiklis and CCH Pounder. They were all fascinating conversations, but talking with CC was like chatting with an old friend. I'm sure I used up way too much of her day, so it's great to get to include her in a novel.
That little circle--from putting an interview with CC in the back of a comic to writing a novel in which she's a major player--got me thinking about the unique nature of this kind of work, where you never quite know what you'll be doing next, or where it'll lead. And that got me thinking about the wide range of tie-in work I've done over the years, in which I've seen the business from just about every angle possible.
As I mentioned last time, my first novel, Gen13: Netherwar, was a tie-in (written with my friend Christopher Golden), based on comic book characters Chris and I had both written comics about. At the time, I was working for the publishing company that put out the comics, WildStorm Productions/Image Comics as VP of Marketing. We had produced an animated feature film about the superhero team Gen13 and sold it to Disney for US markets, and Paramount for international markets. As it turned out, Disney shelved it, but Paramount released it, so the few cuts floating around now are of the Paramount version.
Once the Disney film deal was set, it wasn't hard to license Gen13 for various products, including novels. Chris was asked to write the first novel (for book packager Byron Preiss, ultimately to be published by Ace), and he asked me to come aboard. After that, our editor at Byron Preiss--friend and fellow tie-in writer Keith R.A. DeCandido--asked me to write the second book, which I did, bringing on board another friend, the late Scott Ciencin. For the third, book, though, another writer was hired, so I got to be the in-house editor on that one, checking it for consistency with the established Gen13 universe. Those experiences were the start of my career in licensed fiction, and already I'd seen it from the angles of a writer, of someone making deals to license a property for other products, and of someone doing the approvals.
The next license I was involved with was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel license. Again, I saw this one from multiple vantage points--as the author of both multiple novels and co-author of a couple of nonfiction episode guides (which required spending time on-set, watching filming, interviewing actors, writers, and all the other people that make a TV show happen), and later, after I had become editor-in-chief at IDW Publishing, we licensed the Angel property and published Angel comics (many of which I wrote).
Before that, though, I worked on other licenses at WildStorm, both when the company was associated with Image Comics, and after we sold it to industry leader DC Comics. I edited comics based on properties like Thundercats, EverQuest, the movie Arachnophobia, and others. My biggest contribution to licensed comics at WildStorm, I think, was when I ran the Star Trek line. Instead of hiring the same people who had always written and drawn Star Trek comics at other publishers, I tapped my extensive list of contacts in the science fiction community, and brought in big-name SF writers who loved Star Trek but weren't known for comics; folks like David Brin, Kevin J. Anderson, K.W. Jeter, A.C. Crispin, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, Janine Ellen Young, etc. I also brought in Peter David to write the first comics based on his Star Trek: New Frontier novel series, and brought a raft of new artists to the line.
At IDW, licensed comics were a big thing, and there I worked on comics based on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: Miami (and became acquainted with the fine folks at CBS TV Licensing, who I've continued to work well with through the years), the aforementioned Angel and The Shield, 24, Silent Hill, and probably more.
Now, as editor-in-chief at Visionary Comics/Visionary Books, I'm still overseeing (and writing) licensed comics and prose fiction, set in the Deadlands game universe.
It's as a writer that I've done most of my tie-in work, so without further ado, here are all the tie-in universes (that I can remember) that I've written in:
Novels: Gen13, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed, Star Trek: The Lost Era, Boogeyman (film novelization), Andromeda, Age of Conan, 30 Days of Night, Las Vegas, DC Universe (starring Superman, co-starring most of the universe's magic-using and western characters), Supernatural, CSI: Miami, Spider-Man, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun, Star Trek: The Original Series, Deadlands, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS New Orleans--and, with wife and writing partner par excellence Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell, Xena: Warrior Princess.
Nonfiction Books: Buffy, Angel, Criminal Minds.
Comics (this category only counts licensed comics, i.e., comics based on non-comics sources. A comic about Gen13 doesn't count because they came from comics, but a comic about TV or game characters does): Angel, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Deadlands, Terminator: Salvation (film adaptation), The Shield, Freaky Creatures, Airwolf, and Evil Dead 2 (with Marsheila Rockwell).
Short Fiction: Star Trek: SCE, Deadlands, Angel, Zorro, Clive Barker's Hellraiser, The Phantom, Warbirds of Mars, Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse universe, and, with Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell, V-Wars and The X-Files.
Games: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Altogether, I come up with 35 different licensed universes, as a professional writer, with more as an editor/publisher. And it's entirely possible that I missed one or two.
That's a lot of sandboxes to play in. Fortunately, I love to visit and revisit favorite worlds and characters, and get paid for it. I'm honored that people entrust their properties to me, and I try to treat them with the respect and professionalism they're due. Tie-ins have brought me lasting friendships, fascinating experiences, travel, and all sorts of opportunities for which I'm eternally grateful. Tie-ins even brought me my fantastic and super-talented wife, Marcy! It doesn't get better than that.
And I'm honored that you, the readers, continue to trust me to deliver entertaining, thought-provoking, sometimes terrifying and always suspenseful stories in those worlds. After all, it's thanks to you that I get to do this.
PS: This came in the mail today. It includes the story "The Real HousewiVes of Scottsdale," by Marcy and me!