1. How do you approach writing science fiction and fantasy series tie-in fiction for the various series that you write for and how did that come about as a career path for you?
Answering the second question first, I actually started out as an editor of media tie-in fiction, working for the late Byron Preiss. Among other things, I edited a line of Marvel Comics novels and anthologies that were published by Boulevard Books from 1994-2000. That job put me in touch with lots of other folks that gave me the opportunity to pitch, and I also wrote a bit for the Marvel program—other folks in the company edited those works—and it just kind of snowballed from there. In terms of how I approach it, with every licensed universe I’ve written in—thirty and counting—my method is to immerse myself completely in the world. If it’s a TV show, I binge-watch the show. If it’s a comic book, I read as much of the comic book as I can. And so on.
2. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to one person. So many different people have continued to influence my writing over the decades. I will single out the four authors my parents gave me to read when I was old enough to read on my own, as they were probably the most formative on my early desire to make up stories: J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert A. Heinlein, and P.G. Wodehouse, which not only explains my love of science fiction, fantasy, and British humor, but also my pretentious insistence on using my middle initials all the time.
3. How did you get involved in the Limbus, Inc. Book 3 project and what was the genesis of your story?
I got involved simply by being recommended by regular Limbus contributor Jonathan Maberry when they were casting about for fresh blood for Volume 3. I read the first two anthologies after JournalStone approached me. My first thought was that Limbus Inc. goes after people who are down on their luck and/or underappreciated. It seemed to me that the last people they would go after are white guys, who are the people in the world least suffering from those problems. You want to target the people who never get a chance to show their stuff, go after a black woman in a poor part of New York City in the 1970s. That’s someone whose gifts would be guaranteed to go unnoticed—except by a fancy-shmancy powerful shadowy corporation.
4. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Put your ass in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard. Finish what you start. If you don’t finish what you start, you’re not a writer, you’re a hobbyist—a doodler. Also the big secret that so many writers forget: the first draft is supposed to suck. You can go back and fix it later, but get through to the end first. It’s easier to fix a whole story than a fragment.
5. What type of scenes do you most enjoy writing?
I love writing police procedurals, and I’ve written several over the years, including two series of fantastical procedurals, one taking place in a high fantasy setting (Dragon Precinct and its sequels), the other taking place in a city filled with superheroes (the Super City Cops stories). The thing I love writing most is the interrogation scene, the verbal dance between cop and suspect to try to cadge a confession out.
6. What type of research do you have to do when preparing for your series tie-in fiction writing?
As I said above, immersing myself in the material as much as is possible.
7. What made you start writing?
No idea. The desire has always been there. The first thing I wrote was an eight-page book on construction paper called Reflections in My Mirror. I was six. It’s horrible.
8. If you could pick one other author to collaborate with on a novel or story, living or dead, who would it be?
9. Which person do you most admire?
Anyone who follows their dream and does what they love.
10. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?
Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Dorothy Parker, Molly Ivins, and Crowley from Supernatural.