INTERVIEW: Keith R.A. DeCandido

Sci-Fi Heaven.net spoke to sci-fi/fantasty author KEITH RA DeCADIDO about his writing, fans and what’s coming up soon! Keith has written dozens of novels, short stories, eBooks, comic books, and nonfiction books in the media universes of Star Trek, Spider-Man, X-Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Farscape, Warcraft, Resident Evil, Xena, Young Hercules, Magic: the Gathering, and many more.

1. Your ‘Serenity’ novelisation hits the shelves shortly – how did that job come about, being given the honour of translating Joss Whedon’s epic to novel?

Actually, the book’s been on sale since late August, and it just hit the USA TODAY best-seller list. How it came about was due in part to intense lobbying on my part — basically I was impersonating Donkey in SHREK, jumping up and down and yelling, “Pick ME! Pick ME!” Luckily, the publisher who got the rights was Pocket Books, for whom I’d already done three novelizations — DARKNESS FALLS and both RESIDENT EVIL films — and for whom I’d written a lot of material over the years, so they knew and trusted me.

2. Writing a novelisation must differ greatly from writing your own stories. How do the two compare, and which do you prefer and why?

As a general rule, I prefer to write original novels, even though most of my novels are media tie-ins, because there’s more of you invested in the story. Having said that, I’ve enjoyed all the novelizations I’ve done because I really get a kick out of this type of expansion on the source material, being able to flesh out the side roads and dark alleys of the screenplay. It was especially fun to do SERENITY because I’ve been a fan of these characters for so long.

Keith at a signing
3. How did your writing career get started? Many young people out there are eager to get their works published. Have any tips?

You ask any ten writers how they broke in and you’ll get twelve different answers. My particular method of breaking in is pretty much nonreplicable.

Having said that, the best advice I can give is to write, to finish what you start, to mail out what you finish, and repeat as necessary. In order to survive as a writer you need perseverence and a thick skin. You will be rejected, and you can’t afford to let that dissuade you from trying. I’ve published over 20 novels and over a dozen short stories, and I still get rejected all the time.

Writing is work. It’s a lot of work. But it can be very rewarding when it works.


4. What are your favourite novels, and whose writing to you admire the most?

Probably my favorite novel in the English language is Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. I first read it in college. Other writers I admire are Ursula K. Le Guin, P.G. Wodehouse, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Alfred Bester, and probably others I’m forgetting now.

5. What upcoming works can we expect in future? :)

Well, I’ve got a Spider-Man novel that came out at the same time as SERENITY entitled DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS. I have a short story called “Behold a White Tricycle” in an eBook anthology called 44 CLOWNS: 11 STORIES OF THE 4 CLOWNS OF THE APOCALYPSE that should be out any second now, and another short story called “Letting Go” in the tenth-anniversary STAR TREK: VOYAGER anthology called DISTANT SHORES, which will be out in November. I’ve got three books scheduled for 2006: a WARCRAFT novel called CYCLE OF HATRED in February, a STARCRAFT: GHOST novel called NOVA in April, and a BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER novel called BLACKOUT in July. BLACKOUT is one I’m especially looking forward to, as it will focus on Nikki Wood, the Slayer who worked in New York in the late 1970s, who was killed by Spike in a subway car in 1977. I grew up in New York in the 1970s and am eagerly looking forward to fleshing out the life of a Slayer in that backdrop.

6. You have a fairly active online life, and converse a lot with fans. Does this influence your writing, and do you believe it’s helpful for authors to develop this rapport with readers?

I’m not sure how much it influences my writing as such, but I do believe that it’s useful to keep in touch with my readers and develop that rapport. It also requires a great deal of patience and a thick skin, which is probably why more writers don’t do it, as it likely hits their “life’s too damn short” meter. But I really enjoy the give-and-take with fans, not only online, but at conventions and other public appearances as well.

7. Have any heroes in life?

One or two, yeah.

8. You’ve written for many different “series”. Which have you enjoyed most and why?

Probably the one I’ve enjoyed most, partly because I’ve been privileged to be able to do so much with it, partly because this particular fandom goes back to when I was a =very= young child, is STAR TREK. I’ve gotten to be heavily involved in two new TREK series — the STARFLEET CORPS OF ENGINEERS eBook series, which I edit, and the I.K.S. GORKON series, which I write — and gotten to do so many different and wonderful things in this milieu that I grew up with, that it really needs to get the nod.

This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed the others — quite the opposite, I’ve been a fan of everything I’ve written in.


9. To round up, if you could give one message out to your fans, what would it be?

Keep reading!

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