The perils of Media Tie-in projects

Woah, talk about a blast from the past. I just received a fan letter for my Gauntlet Dark Legacy novel that was published back in 2004. It was quite flattering, but it brought up a reoccurring question about the book – “what happened to the sequel?”

Gather round and listen to the joys and dangers of writing media tie-in work.

A friend of mine who was an editor at Byron Preiss’s iBooks, Inc label contacted me and asked if I’d like to take a shot at doing the novelization of Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Being a writer, I answered in the only way I could–of course, I’d love to take a shot at it, are you crazy?

Well, would Midway provide a copy of the game? No.
Would Midway provide (X)? No.
Would Midway provide like emoticon? No.
What would Midway provide? A copy of the Prima guide to Gauntlet Dark Legacy.

OK. I’ve worked with less background material. After all, my first professional short story sale was writing the original Avengers 1.5 (aka, I did an Incredible Hulk story set during his time as an Avenger, which was tricky since he was in Avengers #1 and quit in Avengers #2). So, with the instructions that Midway did not want me to just write a story based on playing the various levels, but to create a whole new story set in the Gauntlet Dark Legacy universe.

Got it.

Then the questions started:

Me: What’s the name of the elf?
Midway: Whatever you want to call her?
Me: What’s the name of the wizard?
Midway: Up to you.
Me: What’s the name of any of the cities?
Midway: Who’s writing this?

I got the hint. This was SO weird after doing the Marvel story where everything was gone over with a fine-toothed comb. So, I’d say the novel, Paths of Evil, was 95% mine and 5% Midway material.

Now, iBooks had no expectations of good sales on this book from what I could tell, but it took off. We were getting ready to go back to a second printing and I was feverishly at work on the second novel. I’d left the first novel on a cliffhanger, because hey, it was supposed to be a trilogy. Fan reaction was reasonably favorable – only one or two major brickbats thrown at me, so I’ll take it.

I submitted “Paths of Fear”, I’d seen the rough sketch of the next Bob Larkin cover, and I was waiting to get the edits, so we could meet the Sept. 2005 release date.

Then the bottom fell out.

Byron Preiss was killed in a car accident in June 2005. iBooks and Byron Preiss Visual Productions went into bankrupcy shortly thereafter and all of the iBook licenses reverted to their owners. So, here I was with a book, not only the sequel, but the conclusion of the story I’d left on a cliffhanger, and…

it would never be published.

I certainly didn’t have the money to license the property, the person who bought iBooks wasn’t interested in the property, and no one else has ever expressed interest in reviving the book series. So, Gauntlet Dark Legacy “Paths of Evil” is a one and done of what was going to be my first novel trilogy.

So now, even going on 12 years later, I keep getting asked when the second book is coming out and I have to keep telling people, yes, I completed the second novel, no I can’t share it with them because I don’t OWN the rights to the story and if I did share it with them and one of them decided to upload it to the web, then Midway’s 600 pound gorillas, I mean lawyers, would have bad things to say to me.

Every so often I kick around the idea of shaving the serial numbers and doing something with it, but it seems like more work than just creating something original of my own. Still, somedays I miss hanging out with Morgan, Leyla, Kore, and Orlando.

And I still wonder, does the wizard need food badly?

Score: Technology 1, Me 0

And for something completely different, I had my first turn as an on-line disc jockey tonight for the Gaming World Entertainment Network. It was fun, frustrating, and a bit nerve-wracking.

Now, mind you, I haven’t DJ’d since college which was more than a few years ago (aka, who here still remembers how to queue up a 45 so it ‘s up to speed as you go on air with it?). I’m more used to dealing with mixer boards and slider bars in real life, not in a virtual studio, but luckily, the gw-en DJ’s were more than patient with me and helped me get set up for my show tonight.

The biggest problem I had tonight was I purchased a really good microphone and pre-amp set up years ago. At the time, they were not necessarily top of the line, but about as close as I could afford. Unfortunately, as we learned this evening, WIN7 doesn’t play well with them. And, it reads the microphone as a mono system when it’s definitely not.

So, needless to say, this drove the DJ on duty with me crazy as he was trying to fix things mid-stream. Finally, we just decided to punt back to my good ol’ Logitech headphones/microphone and voila, the issues cleared up. Why? Don’t ask.

Luckily, the in-game audience seemed to appreciate the playlist I had put together and I got some encouraging words from other former DJs who happened to be there. So, while tonight’s performance wasn’t going to win any awards, at least I didn’t completely fall on my face.

It looks like I may be doing this one evening a week for three hours. I think once I get my feet back underneath me (and get some patter down for the audience), it’ll be a lot of fun. And heck, since it’s a volunteer position, if it’s not fun, why am I doing it? *grin*

Once I know what my actual schedule is, I’ll let you know when to find me if you like “classic rock with a twist.”

African Legends, The Blight, Old Friends & Writing

Took a little time this week to relax and get organized. Tuesday evening I spent doing my college homework, Wednesday I attended my African Literature seminar where we finished our discussion on Mission to Kala by Beti and then reviewed two stories by Tutuola – The Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

Tutuola’s stories were true fantasies. It’s as if he took a ton of campfire stories, mixed in the Yorba religion, and then invented enough of his own to tie them all together in a coherent story and then sent them out into the world. I think My Life in the Bush of Ghosts would make a great movie—surreal, without a doubt, but it would rank up there with Lovecraft or Carrol for things not making sense, but making perfect sense in the whole.

(And if that’s not clear, I can only recommend you reading the books to see for yourselves.)

Thursday and Friday I did more research for Troubleshooters Incorporated as well as writing on Murder in Monaco.

Saturday, I decided to spend some time with my family and we went into Ellicott City, MD and hung out at the antique stores and other shops down on Main Street. I ran in to some old friends down there. In one of the “junk” shops, I found four books I had had as a kid, but my parents got rid of them while I was in the Army by mistake. They thought I didn’t want them any more, but they were fragile, so I was hoping not to move them until the Army quite moving me every couple of years.

So, I can now say I am the proud owner (again) of The Indian Mummy Mystery, The Forest Fire Mystery, The Mystery of Rustler’s Fort, and Sand Dune Pony, by Troy Nesbit, in their original Whitman glory. Sure, they cost a bit more this time than the 99 cents I paid for the originals, but it was worth it to find these again, especially in the condition they were in.

Also, Saturday night to help get me back into the mood to write, I tossed an old favorite into the computer to help me unwind. I decided it was time to go back to Ferelden and take on the blight in Dragon Age: Origins.

When I finally wrapped up for the evening (after starting at 1930 (or 7:30pm for you non -military types)), I remembered why I have to try and limit my playing – there’s something about going to bed at 0400 to remind one how old they are and how much their knees object to sitting still that long.

Still, I told myself it was to warm myself up for writing, so I resisted the urge to finish one more quest today and pulled out Flashpoint to work on. I added another 2,577 words to this short story today.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work on Murder in Monaco. Deadlines wait for no man. *sigh*