For those of you who are tuning in late or just passing by because you’ve heard the rumors, I have a confession to make: I write tie-in novels. To help folks who don’t know what that means, we’re talking about books springing from an existing entertainment property, such as a movie, television series, video game, and so on.
Specifically, I’ve written a cartload of Star Trek novels. It wasn’t a career aspiration or anything like that. I just sort of fell into it after following what is admittedly a very unlikely path to regular, paid publication. I’ll be the first to tell you that what ended up happening is damned screwy. Why do this kind of writing? Because it’s damned fun, for one thing, but also because they pay me, which when you say it out loud is definitely kind of weird.
In addition to Star Trek, I’ve also dabbled in a few other properties: The 4400, 24, Mars Attacks, Planet of the Apes, and Predator. Given the opportunity, there are other franchises I’d love to play around in. Every so often, a movie comes along and I wish I was the guy they’d called to write the novelization – adapting the film’s script for novel form. That sort of thing is something of a dying art these days, but when I was a kid and young(er) adult? Such books were everywhere. Now when I look back at older tie-ins – be they adaptations or spin-off novels based on a particular property – I start to wonder if I was born a decade or two too late and missed the heyday of this often overlooked, misunderstood, and underappreciated corner of the publishing world.
Which brings me the point of this post: Before I started writing tie-ins, I read them. A lot of them. Heck, I still read them. Of course, these days such reading tends to be divided between different points of focus:
- Enjoyment. Such books are still fun, particularly when written by someone I now am able to call friend thanks to my own writing experiences.
- “Keeping an eye on the state of the industry.” Seeing what’s working (and not working), and how the business of publishing such works continues to evolve in a world increasingly cluttered with alternative modes of entertainment.
- Petty jealousy, as in “Oh maaaannnn! I wish I’d gotten to do this.”
Books based on favorite TV series and movies were a huge chunk of my leisure reading in the 1970s and 80s. Star Trek was there, of course, but also other shows: Planet of the Apes. The Six Million Dollar Man. Space: 1999. Battlestar Galactica. Oh my.
And films? Holy crap, people. That list is huuuuuge. As a collector, I still have a whole bunch of those books, along with a healthy selection of pulp/action-adventure novels published during that same period. You know, stuff like Mack Bolan/The Executioner, Remo Williams/The Destroyer, MIA Hunter, etc. Yeah, that’s another niche of publishing I largely missed out on. As it happens, these qualify as being “tie-ins,” too, because they’re almost always written as work-for-hire projects where the contributing writer doesn’t own the parent brand/series/property/etc.
Where was I? Oh, right. Tie-ins.
Anyway, I decided the other day that I want to revisit some of these older books/book series. Not to review them, though I won’t be able to help pointing out charms and flaws here and there, but instead just as a nostalgic jog down Memory Lane. The world of tie-ins has been good to me, both as a reader and a writer, and I figure it’d be fun to go back and take a fresh look at some of these books, many of which have been in my collection for decades.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means that every so often, you’ll find a new installment of “Tied Up With Tie-Ins,” filled to overflowing with reminiscing and whatnot popping up here. Since tie-ins are still so very prevalent, I don’t plan to confine my musings to tales of old. Nope, I’ll use this space as an excuse to yammer a bit about more current offerings from worlds seen on TV or the silver screen (and maybe the odd video game, here and there), including some odd and even occasionally flat out bizarre selections from my library or elsewhere. After all, many of these books are/were written by friends and professional colleagues, so this is also a way to give proper shout-outs when the situation calls for it.
(So, if there’s something you want to talk about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.)
Star Trek already gets a lot of love here, so I’ll likely steer clear of those books, most of the time. I don’t have a schedule or a real “plan” about which books I’ll tackle, or in what order. Probably something expected, like Planet of the Apes, but then what? I mean, we could go in several different directions, from the novelization of both Smokey and the Bandit *AND* Smokey and the Bandit, Part II to Lethal Weapon, Midnight Run, or Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (okay, maybe not that last one), and those are just off the top of my head. Then there are the odder selections, like a book of recipes “written” by the cook at the 4077th M*A*S*H. Yep. Not even kidding.
I guess we’ll see what we see.
Let’s tie this on, or up, or in. Whatever.