One never knows when the next job will come or when something goes.
Back on November 8, the phone rang. It was my longtime pal, Rob Simpson, who I thought was calling just to chat. Instead, he asked, “Do you want to write the novelization to Hellboy 2: The Golden Army?” No fool I, I replied, “Sure.”
I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and then a few days later, a script arrived. As many know, this is a rare instance in the novelization business. Peter David and Keith DeCandido among others, will tell you how they had to sit in hermetically sealed, bug free rooms, where they could read the script. They couldn’t take notes, couldn’t copy pages, could do nothing but try and comprehend the story well enough to write a 70,000 word novel.
Instead, I received my only personalized script. The surname of the Universal Studios licensing rep was watermarked on each page in a diagonal. My full name, in an outline type, was watermarked on each page in a diagonal going in the opposite direction. The paper was red to avoid photocopying and should I scan and post the pages, people will know where to hunt down the culprit. Additionally, most novelizers these days work without much in the way of graphics. Since Dark Horse is also doing an Art of book, I got a ton of visuals, storyboards and character designs.
For my very first novelization, I was in terrific shape. I checked articles posted over at the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers site and got to work. I read the script once. Then I read through it a second time and took notes, breaking it down into chapters with notes as to who should be the POV characters as well as listing visuals that would be helpful. Once Rob approved the outline, I tried a tip from Kevin J. Anderson, which had me go through the script a third time, typing in all the dialogue to get a better feel for the characters and pacing. That took some time but I felt ready to go.
But first came the phone call. I got in touch with Mike Mignola, Hellboy’s creator and someone I’ve considered a friend for about 20 years. Haven’t seen him in a year but when we cross paths, we always stop to catch up. Anyway, Mike was happy to hear I was involved and we spent about an hour talking about the script, ways to expand scenes or character arcs, learning about what made it into the final and what didn’t. He suggested I run a few of our ideas by director Guillermo Del Toro, who was just wrapping principal photography in Europe. I sent off just such an e-mail, but never heard back, which is no surprise given his schedule.
I sat down and finally began writing, trying to handle 3000 words a day, five days a week to ensure a draft was done by year end so we had a little time to polish before it went off for editing and approvals. With the movie due out July 11, the book had to rush through the production process and with any licensed property; one never knows when there might be a delay.
As of today, I am about 73% through the first draft and on target although I will easily exceed the 70,000 words commissioned. Thankfully, Rob’s okay with this.
Meantime, once I hit the 50% mark, my freelancer’s mind started turning to what the next project could be.
As I completed my revisions on the Christina Aguilera book for Rosen, my editor, Nick, offered me a book for their new Biomes series. After reviewing the materials, I selected Deserts and will get started in the New Year.
Also, an entirely new opportunity opened up. I love my friend Laurie Rozakis. She is always thinking of her friends and networks harder than I do. A woman in her network, Rena Korb, sent out word that she had been offered a book but couldn’t do it, did anyone on her list know of a good substitute. Laurie forwarded the e-mail to me, I contacted Rena and after some getting-to-know-you, she passed me on to the publisher in England. They, in turn, were welcoming and cordial, explaining that they had to hear back from others contacted but sure, we’d like to do something together. This morning, I woke to an e-mail assigning the project to me. So, after the novelization, I’ll be tackling not only Deserts but the Bataan Death March.
As for the something going, a project I’ve been doing work on and have been counting on income from has now been delayed 4-6 weeks which hurts a bit. We’ll talk about this one later.