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Keith R. A. Decandido
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger
Q: First, what does the R.A. stand for?
Robert Andreassi-father's first name, mother's maiden name.
Q: You've done many book adaptations of movies, such as all three RESIDENT EVIL films and SERENITY. How difficult is it taking a script and "fleshing" it out-and capturing the spirit of the movie? When they give you the script do they also let you know which actors are already cast in the parts? What is the process of writing a film adaptation?
That's a lot of Q's to A there...
To answer the last question first: The way it works is, the writer is hired by the publisher who has bought the rights to novelize the film. The studio provides a script, which is then passed on to the writer, who then has to take that script and turn it into a novel. Often this involves adding material, because a movie only really has a novelette's worth of story in it. Sometimes that's easy. In fact, to use the two examples you cited in your question: With Serenity, I had over a dozen hours of back story that I could use to flesh out the screenplay, to wit, the Firefly TV series, and for Resident Evil: Extinction, I spent a great deal of time a) filling in the time between the end of the previous movie and the beginning of this one and b) creating a side plot for the Jill character, who didn't appear in Extinction, but whom the filmmakers wanted to keep alive for possible future films.
How easy or difficult it is depends a lot on the script, on the back story, on how cooperative the studio is, and so many other factors. Sometimes it's very easy-as with Serenity and the RE flicks, because they're part of a universe that goes beyond that one film. Another easy one was Darkness Falls, where the screenwriters had a huge amount of back story on the film's plot, which they gave me carte blanche to incorporate into the novelization. And sometimes the studios will be horribly uncooperative and won't let you add anything or do anything to flesh it out.
As for the cast, it depends on how far along the film is when you get the gig, which varies from novelization to novelization.
Q: Have you done the reverse, written any scripts?
Written yes, but I haven't sold any, and it was a long time ago that I tried. I have done some comic book scripts, though, does that count?
Q: When you write a novel based on BUFFY or SPIDERMAN do you normally pitch the idea/plot of the novel and then it's "okayed" or do the editors give you the general idea of what they want?. Of course, there are the "bibles" for each show…
Your "of course" is actually a faulty assumption. There are almost never bibles available, and even if there are, often they're functionally useless. The bible is just a guideline for writers of the show in the early seasons, and as often as not things are thrown out the window. (For example, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation bible, Data was created by aliens and everyone calls Riker "Bill.")
Anyhow, the answer to your question, as it often is in writing and publishing, is: "It depends." Sometimes the plot comes from the editors. Sometimes the plot is worked out collaboratively between author and editor. Sometimes the plot comes from the licensor (that happened with my Starcraft novel). And sometimes the author comes up with it all alone. I've done all four.
Q: With NEVERMORE, you really captured the feel of the SUPERNATURAL show. I was looking at your web site and reading your background, especially your musical endeavors…and I'm wondering if you wrote yourself into that book as basis for the Manfred character?
God, no. Manfred and the rest of Scottso are, however, based on many musicians I have known throughout the years.
Q: Are you writing any more SUPERNATURAL novels?
I'm hoping to. If the license continues beyond the first two books, then the editor has said he'd like me to do more.
Q: And, of course, there's STAR TREK. Which three Trek characters (from any series, including the book series) are you more partial towards and why?
Kira and Worf are my two favorites from the TV shows. Picking a third is difficult, as I've grown very attached to pretty much the entire cast in both the Corps of Engineers eBook series (especially Gold and Gomez) and the I.K.S. Gorkon crew.
Q: What of your work can we look forward to in the near future?
I've contributed three tales to the 20th anniversary of TNG: the novel Q & A, the short story "Four Lights" in The Sky's the Limit, and the eBook Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment, the final installment of the six-part miniseries Slings and Arrows. Coming in 2008 are Star Trek: Klingon Empire: A Burning House and CSI: NY: Four Walls. The former will pick up the adventures of the Gorkon crew, the latter is my first foray into the CSI world, with two murders, one in a prison on Staten Island, one in an Italian bakery in the Bronx. I'm also doing one of the "what if" alternate timeline short novels in one of the Star Trek: Myriad Universes trade paperbacks, and a short story for Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows anthology. I've also got some comic book work coming out at the end of 2008 that I can't talk about yet.