Keith The King: Interview With Keith DeCandido
There are only a handful of people in the world of science fiction that have crossed over from one franchise to another and Keith R. A. DeCandido is the king of them all.
He has authored books based on JossWhedon's "Firefly," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and "Angel." He had left his mark in the main line sci-fi shows like "Doctor Who" and "Star Trek." And he even has written books on the "Resident Evil" movies, "CSI: NY" and the CW's "Supernatural."
Currently, he is writing a series of "Farscape" comic books for BOOM! Comics that pick up where the television series ended and DeCandido has kind enough to talk with CosmicBookNews about his career and the future.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Keith, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us! Can you give us a brief outline of how you got into writing?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Well, I was an English major in college, but in truth I started writing when I was six years old. I put together a small "book" out of construction paper called Reflections in My Mirror. So I've always had the writing urge. I wrote when I was a kid, I wrote in high school and college, and then eventually I actually got paid for it.
[Eventually] I published my first nonfiction—reviews and news stories for The Comics Journal and articles and reviews for Library Journal in 1989.
[However] my first fiction happened in 1994, thanks to a bizarre set of circumstances.
I was an associate editor at Byron Preiss, where we were putting together a "Spider-Man" anthology. The senior editor I worked under, John Gregory Betancourt, and I were forced to write a story at the eleventh hour due to assorted odd circumstances. That first sale, odd as it was, led to me being able to sell other short stories, and eventually a novel. In 1998, I cowrote a "Spider-Man" novel, Venom's Wrath (with José R. Nieto), and novelized the FOX TV movie "Gargantua."
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Can you see any changes between now and then?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: I'd like to think my writing has improved. Recently, as part of my preparation for writing the "Farscape" comics, I re-read my "Farscape" novel House of Cards, which I wrote in 2000.
While I generally found the book to be fine, I winced at some stylistic things I'd never do now.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Do you like writing genre franchise properties? Have you ever had to change a plot because the "powers-that-be" controlling the license said no to an idea?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Oh, sure, that sort of thing happens all the time. And I must love writing franchised properties, since I've been doing it for 15 years.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Have you ever tried your hand at screenwriting?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Once, in the early 1990s. They weren't very good, and I haven't tried since.
With science fiction in general and maybe horror, what do you think of the reinvention of series like "Halloween," "Friday the 13th," and now "Nightmare on Elm Street" - even "Star Trek" is being relaunched?
Do you think it would be better if "we" - as an industry- came up with something new and original?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Originality is hardly the be-all and end-all. Retelling old stories is as old as humanity itself. Shakespeare never had an original idea in his life. Legends like Beowulf and King Arthur have been told and retold for centuries.
For that matter, two old movies considered classics by many - The Maltese Falcon and His Girl Friday - were both remakes. The current critical darling of the sci-fi television landscape is the redo of Battlestar Galactica .
The idea is of far less import than the execution. If the execution works, it doesn't matter if it's original or not. Both House and Law & Order: Criminal Intent are, in essence, remakes of Sherlock Holmes, but nobody complains about it because they're good.
So if JJ Abrams, et al, tell a good story, then Star Trek will be successfully relaunched. If the movie is bad, then it won't be. That's the yardstick, not originality.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Right, but at least "Farscape" is being continued with the same creators having a say in it.
Speaking of which, how is it working with Boom Comics! and was it intimidating to have Rockne O'Bannon, creator of "Farscape," looking over your shoulder?
Having Rockne involved isn't remotely intimidating. For one thing, Rockne and I have known each other since we met at the publication party for House of Cards in 2001, and we've stayed in touch over the years, so getting to work together was a joy for us both.
Also, it really is a collaboration. He isn't "looking over my shoulder," as such. He writes the plots and then I write the script, but we throw ideas at each other all the time, and work very closely together.
It's great fun, some of the most fun I've had.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: That is cool to hear.
So with that in mind, do you like writing comic books versus writing novels?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: It's a completely different mental setup, writing comic books. It's as much a visual as verbal medium, so the manner in which you construct scenes differs. Plus, the structure of each page is a part of the storytelling apparatus, and you have to tell the story in a set number of pages—no more, no less.
Mind you, I love doing it. It works out my storytelling muscles something fierce, which is always a good thing.
Now, what future projects do you have coming out?
COSMICBOOKNEWS: What is that about?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Back in “Farscape’s” the third-season, there was an episode entitled "Revenging Angel." In that episode, Jool said that D'Argo promised her the first ride in the ancient Luxan ship he'd salvaged.
D'argo's Lament will chronicle that ride, as they have to seek out a special lubricant that Moya needs to survive -- and get caught up in a gang war on a moon, as well as a secret from D'Argo's past coming back to haunt him.
Anything else in the, pardon the pun, far future?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: I've also got a "StarCraft" novel coming out called Spectres, which is a sequel to my 2006 "StarCraft" novel "Nova," and I'm also writing a three-volume "StarCraft" manga series called Ghost Academy.
And do you hope to continue working on "original" work in the future?
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Absolutely.
I have a couple of irons in the fire, but nothing I can really talk about just yet.
COSMICBOOKNEWS: Well consider this an open invitation to come back and talk about them when you can.
KEITH R.A. DE CANDIDO: Thank you.