Author Spotlight: Christie Golden

Christie Golden has written nine novels and thirteen short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her most recent original novels are two fantasies set in her world of Verold, KING'S MAN & THIEF (Ace Books, May 1997) and INSTRUMENT OF FATE (Ace Books, April 1996), which has since gone to make the Nebula preliminary ballot.

Golden has also done several tie-in novels, including STAR TREK VOYAGER: THE MURDERED SUN (Pocket Books, February 1996), MAROONED (Pocket Books, December 1997), and SEVEN OF NINE (Pocket Books, September 1998). On the strength of THE MURDERED SUN, which has thus far been the best-received of the VOYAGER novels, Golden now has an open invitation to pitch scripts for the television show.

She launched the TSR Ravenloft line with the highly successful VAMPIRE OF THE MISTS in 1991, which featured her creation, the elven vampire Jander Sunstar—a character so popular he was brought back for encores in the TSR anthologies REALMS OF VALOR, REALMS OF INFAMY and REALMS OF MAGIC. Golden followed up VAMPIRE OF THE MISTS with two other Ravenloft novels, DANCE OF THE DEAD and THE ENEMY WITHIN.

Golden's most recent tie-in project is still in progress. Golden was selected by Roc Books and DreamWorks to write the novelization and first tie-in novel of INVASION AMERICA,(ROC Books, January 1998) a prime-time anime television show set to debut in March on WB. Her second project in this series, INVASION AMERICA, BAD MEDICINE is slated for publication in September 1998.

Her work appears in the anthologies BLOOD MUSE, the Mercedes Lackey-related LAMMAS NIGHT, OTHERWERE, HIGHWAYMEN: ROBBERS AND ROGUES, and URBAN NIGHTMARES, among many others. A member of both Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and HWA, Golden cracked the competitive HWA anthology market with "A Light In The Sky," to be published in WHITLEY STRIEBER'S ALIENS.

How long have you been writing professionally?

Since 1991.

What was your first sale, and what was the first thing you bought with the money ? (food and rent count...)

My first sale was VAMPIRE OF THE MISTS. I wish I could say that I bought something wonderful and special that I have to this day but I'm afraid it just went to food and rent....!

Do you consider yourself a television fan fortunate enough to make her living writing stories about the series she loves, or a writer first and foremost who just happens to be a television fan?

Definitely a writer who happens to enjoy certain TV shows. I am somewhat puzzled when I stop and look where I am—I got into this business to write my own stories, and yet eight out of eleven novels are tie-ins!

What is your favourite piece you have written so far?

Hmm, a toughie. "Favorite" is kind of an uncertain term. The one that was far and away the most fun was ON THE RUN, an INVASION AMERICA tie-in due out this November. With Harve Bennett's enthusiastic support I really went for broke with this one. Even the in-depth research I had to do for it was entertaining to me.

My "favorite" novels are of course going to my original ones, set in my own world. Thus far they're INSTRUMENT OF FATE, which made the Nebula preliminary ballot, and KING'S MAN & THIEF. It's nice to write just for yourself, sometimes.

What do you like best about novelisations and original tv tie-ins? Least?

Best: I get to play with my favorite characters! The setting and characters are already done for you, so you don't have to worry about that aspect.

Worst: It's not and never will be "just yours." Someone else owns these characters; someone else owns the copyright to your work. If you love a character that you've created, they own that, too. Sometimes they have you make changes (or worse, they make the changes themselves!) that just don't feel right to you and there's nothing you can do about it.

What the process of writing a Star Trek: Voyager novel, from pitch to the book hitting store?

First, be prepared for several ideas. I had five different outlines rejected for the first book! Basically, because I am an already established author, my agent was able to approach John and say that I was a fan of STAR TREK and very interested in writing for the new show. I did five short outlines, and John Ordover selected the one he wanted to develop. I did a full (10 page) outline. It got approved by Pocket, then went on to Paramount. The contact person there had some changes she wanted made, which I did. Then, I write. My normal deadline for a tie-in is three months. Usually I beat these by about a week, which is why they love me over at Pocket. *grin* The editor reads the book and asks for revisions. In my case, they have been fairly small. MAROONED had one line edited out. When whatever changes that need to be made have been made, the book is passed to Pocket for approval. They then ask for changes, if they want them. Then it goes off to Mystery Land of Publishing, and I don't see it again until it's been typeset. I then go through and check for typos or (SMALL) things I want changed. Back to Mystery Land, and then I don't see it till it appears in the stores. At some point, I do get a cover flat, which is always fun.

What is it like to write novels based on a series that is currently airing?

Tricky. Sometimes I'll watch the show and pray they don't do a storyline too close to what I'm working on. So far, it hasn't happened—a couple of close calls, but nothing disastrous. The readers understand that there's a time lapse between the weekly show and the books—there has to be. You can write a script in a week if you have to, but I don't think you can do that with a novel!

Are the novelists continually playing catch up with the continuity of both series? Is it frustrating at all?

It can be a little frustrating, yes. Occasionally there will be an episode that has bearing on your book and you wish you'd known about that development earlier. But you can't worry too much about it. That way lies madness.

What are your views pro or con regarding the current "rules" at Pocket regarding the novels?

Well, of course I'd love to do something really wild like make a character pregnant or kill someone or marry off someone—but that's just not realistic. I haven't had any problems with the rules so far. It seems to be a good fit of line, editor and author.

Which Voyager character do you most closely identify with? For example, the Doctor's sense of humour, or B'Elanna's force of personality, Harry's curiosity, etc.

Believe it or not, probably Neelix. Not for looks, though! *grin* He is perhaps the most caring person on the show—very nurturing, sympathetic, always ready to help a friend. He's very stable, with a secret love of adventure. I'd like to think I'm that way.

How do you feel about the relationship that has developed between Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres on the series?

Somewhere I heard that the relationship had been put on hold for a bit due to Dawson's pregnancy, and I think you can tell. I think B'Elanna and Harry could have been pretty interesting; but there's certainly chemistry between Dawson and McNeill.

What can you tell us about your upcoming Seven of Nine Voyager novel?

That's tricky—so much can get given away so easily! Let's just say that it is extremely character centered; that there are some good aliens and some really nasty ones; that there's a ticking bomb (literally!), that Seven may be going insane, and that her past returns to haunt her in a very disturbing fashion. Oh, and she kisses Harry. ;)

Have you pitched any scripts for the series yet?

Yes. Got to pitch in person to Jeri Taylor, who was just super. I was on target—two of my ideas were already in development! I have an open invitation to pitch again, but right now, I don't have enough story ideas appropriate to the TV format.

Have you written teleplays or spec scripts before?

I'm trained as a playwright and have written the book and lyrics to a musical. So far, all of my professional work has concentrated on novels and short stories, but that may change. Because of my work on the novelization and the original tie-in novel for the animated TV show INVASION AMERICA, which recently aired its first season on WB, Harve Bennett has invited me to join the writing staff of the show as a "guest" to help them shape the next season—if it's renewed. I hate waiting....! If it happens, that will be very exciting. I really enjoyed writing the books for that series and it will be a real thrill to work with Harve Bennett and the other fine writers on the show.

What was the best advice about writing you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was, "Now that you've finished your first novel, start your next one." Unfortunately, by the time I learned this, I was at work on my third book. I spent seven years waiting for my first novel to be published (it never did, by the way) and could have turned out a lot of other books in that time. Great advice.

What advice would you offer a fledgeling writer about how to hone her craft?

Write! Write early, write often. Know your market. Go to SF conventions, meet the editors. Complete a full manuscript before you send anything out. Keep trying. Know the difference between a "good" and a "bad" rejection. The good ones are along the lines of, "This didn't work for me, but send me your next." (see above advice....have a next one ready for them!) My favorite rejection letter was "This was a waste of your time and mine," from a magazine that payed 1/4 cent a word. That same week I sold my first novel. Revenge is sweet! What else—have a tough hide. Keep trying.

If money were no object, what would be your dream project?

Oh Gawd. You ask the tough ones, don't you? A few years ago I'd have known, but right now, it's constantly changing.

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