Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are the authors of the new historical paranormal series The Secret Journeys of Jack London. Book one, The Wild, is one sale now. To learn more about The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild, you can view the electronic press kit, and there are links to the other stops for the blog tour here.
How did you get the idea to do a historical paranormal series about the young Jack London? It's quite an unusual concept next to all the modern paranormal YA books out there.
CG: When writers spend time hanging around other writers, crazy ideas come up all the time, and some of them solidify, but rarely do them come together as perfectly as this one. Tim and I were at World Horror Convention in Toronto, out having Thai food and drinks with about a dozen other people. He can tell you where it sprang from (that's his story to tell), but the conversation came around to "vampire polar bears," and I perked up immediately. I insisted that we had to write that, and somehow the two of us decided that it had to be the "true" story of Jack London's adventures in the frozen north. Pretty soon, we had a trilogy of books in mind. I should note that there are no vampire polar bears in the first two books...but we'll get to them. In any case, we walked out of that dinner having made a deal with a publisher who happened to be sitting at the table with us, but his business partner didn't like the terms of the deal, so we had to find another home for it...and the end result is one of the most beautiful books I've ever been involved in.
TL: From little seeds... Chris and I first met up when he asked me to write a short story or his Hellboy anthology Odder Jobs. Soon after that he commissioned an original Hellboy novel from me, Unnatural Selection, for Simon & Schuster. Then, when an editor at S&S was looking for someone to novelise the 30 Days of Night movie, my name came up. Now, back to the meal in this Thai restaurant in Toronto. Plates were being scraped, extra bottles of wine ordered. Chats stretched back and forth across the table, and someone (I can't remember who), asked me if I'd added any significant scenes to the 30 Days of Night novelisation. I told them about the one large scene I'd added which I think would have looked incredible in the movie––when a Polar bear wanders into Barrow, and the vampires stalking the town 'play' with it, like a cat plays with a mouse, before slaughtering it. "So did they kill it?" I was asked. "I guess so," I said. "Otherwise ... vampire Polar bears." And from Chris across the table I heard, "You know what? We can totally do that!" And I said, "Yeah, vampire Polar bears in Alaska, stalking Jack London." The seed was planted.
What kind of research did you do for the historical setting? Are most of the supernatural elements invented by you or did you base them on mythology or legends?
CG: We did a lot of research about Jack London's life and work, as well as about the Yukon territory during that time period. It's fascinating stuff, full of desperation and hope in equal measure. The supernatural elements are variations on existing legends. We took the parts we liked and crafted them into something we hope is unique.
TL: I found the research hugely enjoyable. We had to re-read The Call of the Wild first, of course, and I hadn't read that book since my teens. Still a stunning piece of work. Then we read a couple of Jack London biographies, and I also read some of his short stories and autobiographical work. Researching the period and place was also a lot of fun, and a little traumatic at times. Those were harsh times, and it's incredible learning what trials Jack London went through on his search for gold. And, of course, his search for adventure that would drive him all through his tragically short life. I discovered my favourite quote whilst researching Jack, and we used it in the front of the book: "The function of man is to live, not to exist". You tend to see the same idea quoted all over the place now as, "One life. Live it." But I prefer Jack's ...
What was the process of co-writing the book like? (this is something I've always been interested in learning more about when I read a book by multiple authors!)
CG: Tim and I tend to work differently from my other collaborative experiences. We start with an outline, of course, and we do trade off chapters, each writing one and then sending it off for the other to edit. Then the other author writes the next chapter and so on. But Tim and I also usually write a chapter and then get on the phone and discuss in detail what should come next, not relying on the outline so heavily.
TL: It's a really organic process, as Chris intimated. And while the actual sitting down writing bit is done on our own, we're in almost constant contact about the book, talking most days and making sure we're both on the same page about where we're going. The outline's always there, but we've found that once we start a novel we rarely look at the outline again. The novel takes over and steers itself as we discover more about the story. We're about to start our seventh book together, and it's a very satisfying partnership. Although I do all the hard work, of course.
Do you have plans for more books in the series and if so can you give us any hints about them?
CG: We've already written the second book, THE SECRET JOURNEYS OF JACK LONDON: THE SEA WOLVES, which will be out in 2012. We're just beginning work on the third in the trilogy.
TL: ... which will be called WHITE FANGS. And which will feature those creatures mentioned above.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
TL: Only that we hope you enjoy the book, and keep your eyes on cinema schedules! Fox own the rights, and Chris and I have already delivered our screenplay.