Bob Greenberger, Author, Predator: Flesh and Blood
Written by Hicks Tuesday, 13 February 2007 11:01
Dark Horse is getting set to release the second Predator novel in the last year titled Flesh and Blood, written by sci-fi veterans, and New York Times best selling authors, Michael Jan Friedman (Aliens: Original Sin) and Bob Greenberger (Star Trek: The Disinherited). The book follows some of the events from the previous Dark Horse title Predator: Forever Midnight penned by John Shirley, with Earth virtually uninhabitable, and the human race exploring the galaxy for suitable worlds. Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Bob about the book. Let's get to it:
Alien Experience: For those of us who don't know, can you tell us a little about your background?
Bob Greenberger: The really short version: Starlog Press (created Comics Scene magazine); 16 years at DC Comics as an editor and administrator; 10 months at Gist Communications as a web producer; 1 year at Marvel as an executive; 4 years at DC as a Senior Editor and now Production Manager at Weekly World News. As a freelance writer, I have numerous fiction and non-fiction credits, notably a long run associated with the Star Trek fiction program.
AXP: You and Michael have been friends, and co-authors, for many years; does it make it easier to work with someone you're so familiar with?
BG: Over the years Mike and I have developed a good rapport and working relationship. Our writing styles are similar enough that they mesh well and we trust each other so we enter each project with a lot of confidence. So, yeah, it’s easier.
AXP: Does this book introduce any new Predator weaponry or technology?
BG: We didn’t add any new tech, preferring to use the classic gear to allow ourselves to acclimate to the predators and their techniques.
AXP: What's your opinion of the Yautja term for the Predator race? Good, bad or just ugly?
BG: It’s hard to say out loud but its neither good, bad or ugly – it’s appropriately alien.
AXP: And what about the code of honour? Do you subscribe to that theory, or do you believe the Predator race simply kills for the thrill of the hunt?
BG: Think about it: how can a race survive if all they do is hunt? Are their cooks, healers, trainers, mechanics? To survive all these years as a culture, there have to be rules and rituals. I very much believe they have survived and thrived because of their codes, developed based on their genetic drive to hunt, a survival skill.
AXP: Can you tell us a little about the story of Flesh and Blood?
BG: In short, when the head of a crime family dies, the two surviving grandsons are summoned to the homeworld for a reading of the will. One, Andar, has tried to distance himself from the family business while the other, Derek, has reveled in it. Derek isn’t taking chances on what the will reveals so manipulates a Predator ship to target Andar and his people. Hilarity ensues.
Seriously, we explore two sides to human families and we explore two different Clans and their approach to the hunt, which should make for a good exploration.
AXP: Any favourite parts come to mind?
BG: We have a sequence set where Andar’s people are being hunted by the Predators and they seek refuge aboard this mammoth mining machine. I saw this picture of a German-built machine that beggars the imagination so I made it larger and have people and predators crawling all over it.
AXP: Who are the main characters?
BG: We largely focus on Andar and Derek, with their different world views and experiences in addition to our POV Predator who watches two Clans bicker and nearly come to blows all too often.
AXP: And are the protagonist and antagonist clearly defined, or are there some grey areas left open for the reader to decide?
BG: While there are certainly some shades of grey to the Predators who are on the planet, Andar and Derek are pretty clear cut. The comparing and contrasting was enjoyable.
AXP: What would you say is the dominating theme of the story?
BG: Clans and families. What they want and how they set out to achieve their desires, I suppose would be the main theme. Is this going to be on the final?
AXP: What has the human race done to destroy Earth?
BG: We don’t really address this point but refer to it since John Shirley established some of that in Forever Midnight. We’re off Earth for the entire novel so it influences our characters but doesn’t really tell the reader much.
AXP: Is that maybe a little prophetic?
BG: We’ve been on the eve of destruction repeatedly since the first Atomic bomb went off. Sometimes we back far away from the precipice, other times we get really close to the edge. I’d like to think, unlike the Earth in the Predator novels, we never tip over that edge.
AXP: Does the title Flesh and Blood directly relate to the Ciejek clan?
BG: Yep, lots of family ties inform the title plus, being a Predator book, gives fans a taste of the gruesome battles within the pages.
AXP: How do the Ciejeks learn about the existence of the Predators?
BG: In the first drat, we simply had Derek look in the yellow pages but thought the fans would reject that. Derek, being a criminal, has ties throughout Earth, with people trading information as currency. Once he heard the rumors about these alien hunters, he gathered more intelligence and uses a scientist to actually lure them to the world.
AXP: And they use the Predators as hired muscle?
BG: They are not hired muscle at all. Derek manipulates them and imagine what happens when a Predator learns he’s been manipulated by a human.
AXP: Not that I'm complaining, I'm certainly glad there's a resurgence, but do you know what rekindled the interest in Alien/Predator literature at Fox/Dark Horse?
BG: The Alien and Predator worlds are well defined and fascinating with little else like them in contemporary pop culture. The early movies still stand the test of time and can be rewatched today. The recent multi-disc Alien box set certainly didn’t hurt interest. Readers, I think, like to see the humans of different eras compete for survival against either fascinating race.
AXP: With subject matter that has already been handled so many times, how do you go about keeping the story and characters fresh?
BG: Creative writers have managed to keep many pop culture characters fresh through the years. Superman, Spider-Man, James Bond, all have endured given their adaptability to changing times and tastes. While the Predators are not as long-lived, they remain equally adaptable in different settings. Different hunters have different approaches, different Clans may have different rituals, and so on.
AXP: Having a previous background in science-fiction writing must help?
BG: No question it helps with world building and imagining how the Predators think and hunt. I have to say, the scenes with the Predator POV were among the toughest which I why I was glad to have Mike there to backstop me.
AXP: Do you bring any ideas or themes over to Flesh and Blood from any previous novels (either Predator or non-Predator related)?
BG: Ideas and themes? Maybe the sense of the Clans and their rituals. Certainly we pick up on the state of Earth and how that motivates the humans. Beyond that, we were more concerned with telling a compact, single story that would entertain.
AXP: How familiar were you with the Alien and Predator franchises prior to your work with Dark Horse?
BG: Well, I saw the movies and read the various comic book incarnations. I will admit to having never read any of the others novels until we began this and then I only read Forever Midnight.
I did troll the various fan websites to gain a better understanding of what people thought worked and didn’t work, what they wanted to see more of and so on.
AXP: What exactly is the process of having an idea greenlit by Fox? In other words, what are the steps to get these novels off the ground, through to seeing them hit the shelves?
BG: Mike was asked by editor Rob Simpson, a close buddy, to write the novel. Sitting in his lonely home office, Mike struck up the core idea about the families. He wrote up a two-page pitch in late winter 2006 and sent it to Rob. Rob approved it as is and sent it off to 20th Century-Fox for approval. By this point, Mike took a hard look at his schedule and realized he couldn’t possibly meet the June deadline without help. He asked me to step in to collaborate and I happily agreed.
20th, swamped as they are with myriad licensing deals, didn’t approve the outline (asking for no changes) until August. Mike, who had begun a job as an English teacher, spent September fleshing out the two page outline into a longer outline with the chapters indicated. He and I both took passes at the outline, creating the supporting characters and figuring out the world.
I figure it was mid-October or so before I had a complete outline we could both work from. I then wrote just about every day until Thanksgiving weekend in later November. By then, I had a 66,000 first draft done. I spent December tinkering with the draft and expanding it slightly.
Mike spent January and February, when not teaching, polishing and expanding. He did some reordering of sequences and modified the descriptions of the lead humans, Andar and Derek.
Mike should be handing in the final manuscript to Rob before February is over.
AXP: When does the book go to press?
BG: It depends on who you ask. I’m thinking Rob is ready to kill us both for being tardy despite the late start caused by 20th. DH Books no doubt would like to be on press by now.
AXP: So the April release date is still on schedule?
BG: According to Amazon’s website, the official pub date is March 23 and we’re not going to make that. Check with Rob for a revised date.
AXP: What's next on the horizon for you? Would you like to work in the Alien/Predator universe again, or try something different?
BG: I have a story, cowritten with Michael A. Burstein, in the current issue of Analog. I’m currently writing a Batman Encyclopedia for DelRey to be followed by a Star Trek: The Next Generation eBook for Pocket Books which should be available for download in early 2008.
I enjoyed visiting the Predators world and wouldn’t mind a return visit. The Alien world…hmmm…I think I’d find that a more difficult challenge so am less certain about that.
A big thanks to Bob for his time and glimpse at the novel. For more information on both authors you can visit Bob's official website, or Michael Jan Friedman's entry on Wikipedia. Stay tuned here for more coverage of Flesh and Blood.
|< Prev||Next >|