Tim Lebbon is a busy man. He’s currently conquering bookstores one section at a time – his works can be found in the horror section (if your local bookshop is cool enough to have one), the fantasy section, on the Young Adult shelves, and wherever they keep the movie tie-ins. He’s writing screenplays and taking his works – old and new – into the digital realm. On top of all of that he’s squeezing in the time to become an accomplished marathon runner. And, in his quest to prove his work ethic is better than yours, he found time to answer a few questions for October Country. It’s always a pleasure to talk with Tim, so let’s get right to it:
OC: Let’s start off with your The Cabin in the Woods novelisation. This is a movie that’s been finished for quite some time – three years, I believe – but has just recently been released after having being caught up in various bankruptcy proceedings and other delays. How did you get involved in writing the novelisation, and when did you finish your work on the book?
TL: As I write this, the movie has just hit screens and the book’s on the shelf. But yes, I wrote it almost three years ago now. I’d written the 30 Days of Night novelisation and that did pretty well (ending up on the New York Times Bestseller list), and I think this project came to me because of that. I actually really enjoy this kind of work, tie-ins and novelisations. I’m about to embark on another such project (very exciting), but I can’t talk about it yet!
Have you seen the trailers for the movie? It seems to me that they give away quite a bit of the plot twists. What – if anything – can you tell us about the story? Are there any surprises left?
I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement! So even though the movie’s out now, I wouldn’t want to give anything away or spoil it for anyone. Go see it. It’ll be worth it.
How does your experience on Cabin compare to writing the 30 Days of Night novelisation?
As I said above, I enjoy these projects, and I treat them with as much seriousness as my own projects. Of course it’s a very different process writing a novelisation, but satisfying nonetheless. Both of these projects went roughly the same way––I was sent the screenplay, and then the editors left me alone unless I had a question. I’m thrilled with how they
both turned out.
If there’s a theme for this interview it might be “delayed works,” as the next thing I want to ask about is another book that’s recently been released after many missed publication dates: The Century’s Best Horror Fiction edited by John Pelan. You’re story “Reconstructing Amy” closes out the two-volume set as the year 2000 representative. How does it feel to finally have that collection out?
Nice! And yes, at last. But imagine the effort it must have taken tracking down rights for all 100 stories. Easy enough with people who are still alive and still involved in publishing, but for those who have passed away, and whose rights might be tied up in estates, etc…
Anyway, it’s thrilling to see my story in such company, and I’m very proud. Gorgeous books, too, as always from Cemetery Dance.
What are your thoughts on that particular story 12 years later? How do you think it represents the work you’re doing now?
I haven’t read the story for 12 years! But it deals with grief and mourning, and that’s something I still write about today. Probably better, too, because in those 12 years I’ve faced true grief for the first time.
You’ve recently announced that a book that has seen print befor is now coming back as a digital release – Hush, your collaboration with Gavin Williams. What can you tell us about the book? Were there any revisions for this edition?
No, no revisions. We did think about going through and tweaking it, but it felt better to get it out there in its original format. It’s a big scale apocalyptic novel with heavy Lovecraftian influences, and I love it today as much as when we wrote it. It’d be lovely for it to find a new audience, as it’s one of those novels I’ve always wished had been read by more
There’s also the second volume of The Secret Journeys of Jack London that just came out, The Sea Wolves. Was it easier for you and co-writer Christopher Golden to slip back into the world having already written one volume (The Wild), or was it like approaching an all-new project once again?
We knew our main character Jack already, and we knew the story we had to tell, so in that way it was easier. But the research for this book was just as heavy as for The Wild, both for period detail, and also continuing research into the real-life Jack London. Writing these books has been a true pleasure from start to finish, as it always is working with Chris.
Not at all. My style doesn’t change when I’m writing a YA novel or a novel for a more “adult” audience. I’m used to having several projects on the go at any one time anyway, as I seem to work better this way. If one is feeling stale or causing me problems, I’ll work on something else. And I think that adapting your style for YA––which in some writers would inevitably mean writing down for an audience––is the best way to write a bad book.
Mentions of screenwriting work have grown exponentially on your blog over the last couple of years. What is it about the screenwriting process that is attractive to you as a writer?
It’s a very different process that I enjoy immensely. It’s spreading my wings, which helps keep me fresh. And from a purely business viewpoint, the pay can be better. But the main thing for me is that it’s a different process of storytelling, and as I want to do this for the rest of my life, approaching it in differing ways is always fun.
Would it be something you’d consider a full-time move towards, or can we always count on having new prose works from you as well?
There’ll never be a time that I’m not working on a novel.
Finally, somewhere in the midst of all this work, you’ve found the time to become an avid runner and start training for half-marathons and full marathons. How has this activity impacted – positively or negatively – your writing?
The slight negative is the time commitment. But everything else is positive––I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, feel better about myself, have more energy, and in many ways my outlook on life has changed a huge amount in the last 18 months. I’m more up for big challenges, and have developed more of a ‘Why can’t I?’ rather than an ‘I can’t’ attitude. I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m running my first marathon on May 6th, have signed up for two more this year (very hard ones … one a trail marathon, and one a mountain run), as well as triathlons. And I also have big plans for 2013!