Christopher Golden interview
by Drew Bittner
Review by Drew Bittner
Bantam Spectra interview
Date: / Show Official Info /
SFRevu: First, what can you tell our readers about The Myth Hunters?
Christopher Golden: The Myth Hunters is the first book of The Veil, a fantasy trilogy I'm writing for Bantam Spectra. It's the most "fantasy" of anything I've ever written, but still also verging into dark fantasy territory. The story concerns Oliver Bascombe, a young lawyer from a wealthy Maine family. On the night before his wedding, he's having a lot of doubts and second thoughts. He loves his fiancée, but marrying her will only tie him more solidly to the life his overbearing father has planned for him, and Oliver is wrestling with that.
It's December and the first snowfall arrives in the form of a severe blizzard. Oliver is up very late and he sees a figure out in the snow. The windows rattle and cracks and snow blows in, taking the form of a man made of ice. Oliver is not hallucinating. It's Jack Frost, aka Frost, aka the winter man. He's wounded and on the run from the Myth Hunters, and he can't escape without help.
What Oliver doesn't realize is that by helping Frost, he's making very powerful and brutal enemies. The only way for Frost to keep Oliver from being killed for being a Good Samaritan is to pull him through The Veil into a world where all myth and legends and folklore and lost civilizations still exist.
SFRevu: You use creatures from myth and folklore from around the world. Can you describe how this came to be? Did you want a more international feel to your fantasy "otherworld" or were there aspects to these non-European creatures that you found fascinating?
Golden: The world on the other side of The Veil...the world of the Legendary...is a world to which all of these creatures and people have been relocated. In a way, it's the ultimate melting pot. It only made sense that there would be legends and myths from all over the world, though in that world you'll see that they've still managed to sort themselves out in regions that are roughly analogous to their ordinary world counterparts.
The part of the Legendary world that we see in the first two books of The Veil is called The Two Kingdoms and comprises much of the myth of North and South America, Europe and Asia. However, in book three, we may see other regions of that world as well that would reflect elements of African myth and/or Australian...though some African and Australian myths make brief appearances in the first two books in the Two Kingdoms.
I've always loved mythology and legend. It was a blast to be able to create this world that not only includes all of that, but that has moved on from the myths and legends we know. In other words, the Veil was created centuries ago; in that world legends have evolved a civilization of their own, some have moved on and changed, they have relationships we don't understand, as well as their own legends and folklore.
SFRevu: How do you approach writing characters who are not human (and may not have human motivations)? Do they offer any special challenges or opportunities?
Golden: Various non-human characters in this series and other stories of mine have varying degrees of humanity in them. The challenge is in creating that variation, in deciding what part of the gray area between "human" and "creature" they'll inhabit.
It's an opportunity, also, because it's easy to create a false sense of security by giving a non-human character a great many [human] attributes and then reminding readers (and the protagonist) that they are not human, sometimes in very painful ways.
SFRevu: Do you have a favorite character in The Myth Hunters? Have any been especially fun (or difficult) to write?
Golden: They've all been my favorites at different times. There's Oliver, of course, and Frost. I love Kitsune because she wasn't in my outline. She just appeared in the story literally as I was writing with no forethought whatsoever. Oliver and Frost are walking through the Oldwood and they know something is following them. While I was writing about it, I had no idea what was following them until they turn around and react to what has arrived...and it was Kitsune. From that point on she insinuated herself more and more into the story, altering a great deal of the subplot material and completely changing my plans for the romantic themes and plot elements.
Julianna Whitney, Oliver's fiancee, worked her way into being a much more important character than I'd intended, as did Oliver's sister, Collette. I particularly love Detective Halliwell. But this entire trilogy contains characters that are popping up and making themselves more important than I'd intended or imagined. The second book has several like that.
The hardest part is that, particularly among the Legendary characters--some of whom I'm very attached to--I know from the outset they're not all going to survive. Usually I take a certain pleasure--you could even call it glee--in offing characters for emotional impact, knowing how it's going to affect the reader. I'm having trouble with it this time because I'm attached to them.
SFRevu: How many books will be included in The Veil? And can you give a "sneak preview" of the next novel?
Golden: It's a trilogy, The Myth Hunters is the first. The second is called The Borderkind and it unravels all of the secrets and mysteries that are introduced in the first book. More than that, I don't want to say. The third is untitled but it involves wars and destinies, as all climactic volumes should. I will say that if I've done my job, The Borderkind ends on the best "oh, shit" moment I've ever written.
SFRevu: You wrote the novelization of Peter Jackson's new blockbuster, KING KONG. What can you tell us about that process and how it turned out? Would you consider writing other adaptations?
Golden: I've written a lot of media tie-in novels, but they were all original books set in the world of an existing property. Though Pocket probably wasn't aware of it when they hired me, KING KONG was my first official "novelization." It's quite different turning a script into a novel than it is coming up with your own story set in that world. In some ways, of course, it's easier, because you have the whole thing set out for you, and in some ways it's much harder.
A script for a blockbuster like King Kong is a work in progress right down to the wire. That means that you're changing and reworking the novelization all the time to try to reflect the latest version of the film as it undergoes the editing process. Believe it or not, the production schedule of the book means you have to deliver the final product before the final edit of the film is locked down. Therefore, there are differences between the finished film and the novelization. Some of these are minor, but others are a bit more substantial. The romance between Ann and Jack in the novelization is more complex than in the film, but it would have been a hell of a lot easier to write if I'd known how the finished film would play things between them.
Also, there are two major scenes in the movie that are not in the novelization, and it was very frustrating to see that on screen, never having had even a whisper that those two scenes were going to be in the movie. They weren't in the script. On the other hand, the major swamp monster scene, which is not in the movie (but probably will end up on the DVD), did make it into the novelization. It's a crazy process, but somehow invigorating as well. It's challenging, for sure. But, dude, it was KING KONG. The original has always been one of my favorite films. There was no way I could say no to that. Would I do other adaptations? It would depend upon the project, but absolutely.
SFRevu: You also worked with Amber Benson on Ghosts of Albion. How did this collaboration come about? What would you like to say about Accursed? Are there additional novels in the works?
Golden: Amber's an extraordinary creative talent and a good friend. We met while she was working on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had written a bunch of Buffy novels and comics and while I was out in L.A. on a business trip, a mutual friend set up a lunch to introduce us. We got to know each other a little and I found out she had written several plays and screenplays. Since I'd written a Spike and Drusilla comic with James Marsters, I suggested we might do a Willow and Tara comic book some time. We ended up writing three of them.
The collaboration caught the attention of the BBC, who approached us with an idea they had for an animated web-based supernatural series. We didn't have a lot of interest in what they were pitching, but asked if we could pitch them an alternative, an idea of our own. That's how Ghosts of Albion was born.
Accursed is the first full length novel in the series. We just finished the second one, Witchery, which will be out in time for Halloween. I urge everyone to visit www.ghostsofalbion.net to watch the animation, read a novella, listen to an audio book, and learn more!
SFRevu: Is there any one novel (or world, characters, etc.) of yours that you would like to revisit?
Golden: I've written four novels in The Shadow Saga. There's usually a short lag after one comes out, and then I start getting emails again from people asking for a new one. Lately there have been A lot of those. When it hits critical mass, I usually start thinking about doing a new one. Chances are, there will be more.
As for standalone novels of mine--things that weren't ever meant to be series--the one that people most often ask for a sequel to is Strangewood. I've got a story in mind, but I think of it more as a novella that a novel. It's called The Precious Thief, but I honestly don't know if I'll ever get around to writing it. That story has a perfect ending, in my opinion, and if I went back to tell this one, I think it would have to be a prequel in order to protect what I love so much about the first one.
SFRevu: We would like to thank Christopher Golden for this interview. Readers can find The Myth Hunters on sale now! For more information, visit the author online at www.christophergolden.com.