Interview: Christopher Golden
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Current Song: Madame Bovary score music by Miklós Rózsa
Those who visit my blog regularly have come to expect at least two things: posts relating to YA literature, and posts praising the works of Christopher Golden.
Christopher Golden is a talented author who has successfully tackled the genres of horror, fantasy, and mystery. Not only that, but he has written for adults, teenagers, and children. I find his storytelling ability to be unparalleled, and I often want to start a story of my own when I am done reading one of his. We write very differently, and I don't ever aim to mimic his tone or style. I do hope that one day my stories inspire someone else like his have inspired me.
When approaching a new novel, what is your writing routine? Do you outline, set up personal deadlines, or write for a certain length of time every day?
I always have some kind of outline. Sometimes it's just a few pages, and others as much as twenty five pages. If it's a collaborative novel, there will often be a chapter by chapter outline that breaks down every scene, but otherwise I try to avoid such things. They're too limiting. I don't set up my own deadlines -- the publisher does that.
I do generally set short term goals. I write Monday through Friday, though frequently my mornings are taking up by e-mail and other business and the writing ends up shifting to the afternoon. All too often, I end up making up for lost time at night or on the weekend.
Amy Winehouse - Back in Black is my favorite CD of 2007 so far - though usually I just have my iTunes on shuffle.
THE MENAGERIE, a dark fantasy series you write with the talented Thomas E. Sniegoski, finds Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fighting alongside the likes of Eve, who became a vampire after falling from grace, and Ceridwen, the Celtic legend. Which character do you think is the most at home in the modern world?
Strangely enough, I'd have to say Squire, the hobgoblin shadow-walker who is Conan Doyle's right-hand man. He's got a foul mouth, loves bad television and junk food, and lives for any sight of a scantily clad woman. I'm pretty sure the modern world is bliss for Squire.
Well, as the title would imply, much of the story revolves around Eve. Her past -- and thus the past of all humanity -- comes back to haunt her from both divine and demonic sources. Clay -- a shapeshifter who is the actual clay of God -- also has some major surprises in store and learns a great deal about the forgotten portions of his own history in this one. In fact, we learn more about the past of a number of our characters. CRASHING PARADISE is the culmination of a lot of character arcs we've spent ten years setting up.
You've teamed up with Mike Mignola for BALTIMORE, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. What is the premise of this story, and what prompted this collaboration?
Mike had been talking for years about this vampire graphic novel he wanted to do. Never did he suggest he had anything else in mind for the story. Then one day while we were on the phone he said he'd realized that he was never going to get the chance to draw the graphic novel, and was thinking of making it an illustrated novel instead, and asked if I'd be interested in collaborating with him on it. I'd been hearing about the story for years and of course immediately agreed. We worked on the outline, with Mike providing a synopsis of his concepts and me filling in whatever holes appeared.
BALTIMORE is a World War I era, alternate history, vampire hunter novel that is HUGELY influenced by the gothic classics, everything from Dracula to Frankenstein to Matthew Lewis's The Monk, and also influenced greatly by Moby Dick. BALTIMORE is an illustrated novel -- it's prose, with 150 illustrations by Mike.
As for the story itself, it concerns a young soldier named Henry Baltimore (soon to be Lord Baltimore) and his encounter with a vampiric creature amidst the carnage of a war torn battle field, and what becomes of both soldier and monster as a result of that fateful meeting. It is full of folklore, both in the way it's told and in the actual folktales we invented for the story as part of the adventures of Baltimore and his allies. And it's about storytelling in a very fundamental way. Much of the book is told by three men sitting around a table in a pub, telling the tales they know of Baltimore's life, and some of it is told in epistolary fashion, through letters and journals.
Talent, a comic you co-wrote with Sniegoski, had enormous success this past year, and the first three issues are now bound in one trade paperback. Any plans for more stories in this line, or with Boom! Studios?
We're actually talking to a different company right now about a very cool new creator-owned comics project. And we've decided on a publisher for THE SISTERHOOD, a miniseries that we've had in the planning stages for quite some time. Beyond that, we haven't really had a lot of time to pursue comic book projects lately. Too much else going on. As for BOOM!, I've known those guys for a long time and would always be happy to work with them again if the right project came along.
Universal optioned the rights to both TALENT and OUTCAST. On TALENT, I know they've hired a screenwriter, but I can't comment on his identity until they do. As for OUTCAST, Universal recently renewed the option. They had hired a screenwriter -- a very talented writer -- but his vision of what the film ought to be differed quite a bit from the producers' vision, and so everyone has amicably moved on and Universal is currently considering other writers. They seem very dedicated to making both projects happen, so hopefully one of them will come to fruition soon.
You have stories in two new anthologies: Five Strokes to Midnight and Many Bloody Returns. What is the concept of each collection, and what did you contribute?
It's been such a pleasure to write short stories. I do it so rarely -- although more often over the past few years. MANY BLOODY RETURNS revolves around vampires and birthdays, a strange sort of anthology theme, which I'm sure has led to some wonderful stories. Mine is called "The Mournful Cry of Owls" and it takes place in the late 1970s in Massachusetts. It's about a girl who is about to turn sixteen and the collision of her awakening sexuality with her mother's old world beliefs. FIVE STROKES TO MIDNIGHT is an interesting anthology. It features thirteen stories by five writers. I've contributed three stories (well, I haven't finished the third one yet) -- "All Aboard," "Under Cover of Night," and "Shaft 39." Each author chose a theme, and mine is folklore, though these are all modern folklore stories.
In THE LOST ONES, we meet a great many other creatures of myth and legend from around the world, but not in the detail of the previous books. That's reserved mostly for the characters we've already met . . . and also for the introduction of Atlantis. We've seen Atlanteans throughout THE VEIL novels, but in THE LOST ONES, we go to Atlantis itself for the first time. I've also more fully introduced the idea that in a world of legends, even the legendary themselves have legends they believe in on faith alone. (The book will be out in 2008.)
Which of your previously completed series would you most like to revisit?
All of them. I wrote ten Jenna Blake novels and I would love to write another ten. I could see writing about Jenna for the rest of my life, having her get older as I get older. I'd also like to return to the world of PROWLERS someday, and always wished I could do a novel in which a case of Jenna's led her into the world of Prowlers. I suspect there will be more Peter Octavian/Shadow Saga novels some day. None of these things are planned at the moment, but it would please me greatly to write them.
You've tackled so many genres and written for so many different audiences. What type of book or story have you yet to write that you'd love to try?
For five or six years, I've been doing research for a historical thriller that I plan to write some day. I'm just waiting for the time to work on it, and the right editor to sell it to. I can't say any more about it, but it's the best story I've ever come up with.
CRASHING PARADISE, the fourth novel of THE MENAGERIE dark fantasy series by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski, will be landing in stores this August.
If you are unfamiliar with Golden's works, please read this author spotlight, in which I shed some light on his bibliography and backstory.
If you're ready to start reading his books but aren't sure where to start, please check out my recommendations. (Thanks to TadMack for prompting that post!)
This is the only interview with Golden for the SBBT. Here is today's full schedule:
Tuesday, June 19th
Laura Ruby at Miss Erin
Bennett Madison at Shaken & Stirred
Shaun Tan at A Fuse #8 Production
Chris Crutcher at Bookshelves of Doom
Holly Black at The YA YA YAs
Kazu Kibuishi at Finding Wonderland
Christopher Golden at Bildungsroman
David Brin at Chasing Ray
Kirsten Miller at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Sara Zarr at Big A, little a
Sonya Hartnett at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire