By Carl Slaughter: Speculative novelizer Greg Cox does Star Trek. Lots of Star Trek.
Original series, 7 novels; Khan and Q, 3 each; Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space 9, one each. His Captain to Captain, the first in a new trilogy, Star Trek: Legacies, by Pocket books, came out in June. And he has more Star Trek tie-ins on the way.
He does superhero. Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, Daredevil, Ghost Rider; plus original novels/short stories of Iron Man, Avengers, Buffy, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Green Hornet.
He’s done DC: Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Countdown, and 52.
Plus Xena, Zorro; X-Files, Warehouse 13, Farscape, 4400, Roswell; Alias, CSI, Leverage.
Did I miss any? Oh yeah, Terminator and Godzilla.
Meanwhile, he’s working on the Librarians and Planet of the Apes franchises.
Star Wars? Babylon 5? Just call. Dark Shadows, just call. Oh, and he loves Universal’s monsters. Wolf Man, Mummy, etc, just call.
Cox’s first “Khan” novel, The Eugenics Wars: Volume One, was voted best sci-fi book of the year by the readers of Dreamwatch magazine. Cox can be found in a bonus feature on the “Director’s Edition” DVD of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Greg Cox also works as a Consulting Editor for Tor Books, where he has edited such authors as Richard Matheson, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Harry Harrison, Tony Daniel, Rosemary Edghill, Graham Joyce, Keith R. A. DeCandido, S.P. Somtow, Christopher Bennett, R.S. Belcher, and many others.
In addition, he has written more jacket and cover copy than he can possibly remember. (“They stood alone against galactic peril . . . !”)
He has received three Scribe Awards from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
Catch up with Greg at HonorCon.
CARL SLAUGHTER: Why the extra emphasis on Star Trek, as opposed to Star Wars or Babylon 5 or other sci-fi franchises?
GREG COX: I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember, so I jumped at the opportunity to co-write one of the first Deep Space novels when I was offered the job. That was over twenty years ago and I’ve been writing Trek ever since.
Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled to write a Star Wars book if I got the chance. But here’s the thing: most tie-in novels are not initiated by the author. I don’t wake up in the morning and decide to write, say, a Fantastic Four and then somehow arrange to get it published. What usually happens, at least for me, is that I get a phone call from an editor: “Hey, Greg. We need an FF novel by March. Are you available?”
(Which, yes, is a nice position to be in and I’m fully aware of how lucky I am.)
In other words, why did I never write a Babylon 5 novel? Because nobody ever me asked me. 🙂
CS: Why more stories based on the original series than the other 4 Star Trek series?
GC: I’ve enjoyed all the myriad Star Trek series to varying degrees, and written for all them except Enterprise, but The Original Series (TOS) is the Star Trek I grew up on and the one that’s burned into brain from watching the syndicated reruns over and over for most of my life. TOS is still near and dear to my heart, so that’s where my brain tends to go when I think Star Trek. It’s a generational thing.
CS: Who is Q, what part does he play in the Star Trek canon, and why were you fascinated enough with this character to write 3 background novels about him
GC: Q is, of course, a mischievous, occasionally malevolent super-being played by John DeLancie on the various latter-day Trek series. To give credit where it’s due, it was my Trek editor at the time, John Ordover, who first came up with the idea of doing a trilogy about Q, mostly because he thought that The Q Continuum would be a great title for a trilogy. I enjoyed writing Q, in part because he has a snarky, sarcastic sense of humor that allows him to get away with saying all sorts of irreverent things about Picard and the Next Generation crew that nobody else can.
Those are still probably my bestselling Trek books, by the way, for which I give full credit to Q and his immense popularity. (I was always surprised that he never appeared in any of the Trek movies.)
CS: What is it about the character Khan that motivated you to write 3 novels for the “Space Seed” TV episode and the The Wrath of Khan movie?
GC: The Wrath of Khan is far and away my favorite Trek movie, but those Khan novels happened by accident. I had made a throwaway reference in one of my earlier Trek novels, Assignment: Eternity, to Gary Seven having been instrumental in defeating Khan back in the Eugenics Wars. I swear to God, that was just supposed to be an “Easter Egg.” I’d had no intention of doing anything more with Khan, but then my editor read that bit and asked me, “So, Greg, you want to write that story?” And then one Khan book led to another . . . .
CS: What was it about the Underworld universe that prompted you to write 4 tie-in novels?
GC: I’ve always been big into vampires and werewolves, probably as a result of having been exposed to old Universal monster movies and Dark Shadows at an impressionable age. In fact, my very first book was a non-fiction guide to vampire literature published by a small academic press. My Star Trek editor, the afore-mentioned John Ordover, was well aware of my vampire obsession, so when Pocket Books acquired the rights to publish a novelization of the first UNDERWORLD movie, I was probably the first writer he called. Again, one thing led to another and I ended up writing four UW novels in all. I also got to attend the red-carpet premiere of Underworld at the famed Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which was seriously cool. (And, yes, I made a point of finding the original Star Trek cast members’ hand prints in cement while I was there.)
CS: When you write a tie-in novel, are there restrictions? Is there an editor assigned to your book to ensure your story stays within mandates and guidelines? How loose can you play with the canon?
GC: There are absolutely guidelines and restrictions. When you’re playing with somebody else’s toys, you play by their rules, which is only fair. Everything–the original plot outline and the finished manuscript–has to be run by the licensor for their approval. I typically begin by writing a fifteen-page outline that has to be officially approved by the studio before I even start writing. And there’s often a certain degree of give-and-take before we settle on a plot that everyone is happy with.
If you want total artistic freedom, don’t write tie-in novels. It’s a collaborative process between you, the book publisher, and the studio. You need to be a team player and you need to remain consistent with the source material, be it a movie, TV show, comic book, or computer game.
CS: Any speculative fiction franchises you haven’t written about that you wish you could write about? Any speculative fiction franchises you’re decidedly not interested contributing to?
GC: Star Wars remains the Mount Everest I have yet to climb. And I would dearly love to do something with original Universal Monsters: The Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc. (Dear Universal: if you need someone to novelize your new MUMMY reboot, call my agent.) Meanwhile, I recently sold short stories to both The X-Files and Planet of the Apes, so that’s two more franchises off my bucket list!
As for series I’m not interested in . . . well, never say never. (Although I did once turn down an offer to write a non-fiction book on skateboarding because what the hell do I know about skateboarding?)
CS: You’ve done plenty of superhero and fantasy, but your volume indicates your primary interest is sci fi. Is that a fair conclusion?
GC: Actually, I love jumping from genre to genre: I’ve done sci-fi, horror, fantasy, murder mysteries, spy thrillers, kid’s books, and even at least one historical romance. No westerns yet, but that’s probably only a matter of time. I enjoy the variety, which keeps me fresh and gives me a chance to exercise different muscles and try different things.
Don’t get me wrong. I love writing Star Trek, but it’s also fun to take time out and do CSI or Alias instead.
CS: What’s involved in being a consulting editor for Tor?
GC: I used to edit full time while writing on the side, but gradually transitioned to writing full-time while still editing on the side. As a Consulting Editor for Tor, I edit assorted different books and authors on a case-by-case basis. Recently I’ve been working with such authors as R.S. Belcher and Levi Black, while also editing a line of novels based on the Deadland role-playing game.
I also write lots of jacket copy for Tor as a freelancer.
CS: What’s on the horizon for Greg Cox?
GC: Thanks for asking! At the moment, I’m writing series of novels based on The Librarians tv series. The first book, The Librarians and the Lost Lamp, comes out this fall, just in time for the third season of the television series, and I’m currently hard at work on Librarians #2, with one more to come down the road. That Planet of the Apes story I mentioned earlier is also coming out next year in a short-story anthology based on the original Apes movies and TV shows.
And meanwhile, of course, I’m working on an outline for another Star Trek novel . . ..