Tim Lebbon’s been to the ‘Cabin in the Woods’ and lived to tell about it

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.

Is it difficult bouncing back and forth between books for younger audiences, like the Jack London books, and the more adult stuff?

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!

Random Link Roundup: Tim Lebbon joins with Hammer, Abarat excerpt, and more

I’ve got another assortment of links and tidbits for you today, so let’s jump right into it.

Tim Lebbon is one of those authors that’s an automatic buy for me. He’s published in a variety of genres, from horror to fantasy to YA/adventure, but all of his works showcase a rich imagination and great character building. He’s just announced on his blog that he’s returning to his horror roots with Coldbrook, a new apocalyptic zombie novel that promises “the end of this world…and others.” It’s being releaseded by the new Hammer Films  publishing imprint, and I can’t imagine a better place for it. The book is set for a March 2012 release.

Much closer to release is Clive Barker’s Abarat: Absolute Midnight, the third volume in the series I’ve been discussing quite a bit around here lately. HarperCollins has made a massive new excerpt of the book available online – as in 150 pages massive. If you can’t wait for September 27, you can check out the excerpt to tide you over.

Finally, I’ve got a new article up at FEARnet about author Tom Piccirilli – if that name doesn’t ring a bell, check out the article and find out why it should. You should also check out the new blog of Brian James Freeman, author of The Painted Darkness and Blue November Storms and editor/marketing guru over at Cemetery Dance, has started a new blog. He’s promising lots of behind-the-scenes peeks at his own writing process, publishing projects at CD and his own imprint Lonely Road Books, so it should be well worth frequent visits.

Review: ‘The Thief of Broken Toys’ by Tim Lebbon

“Sometimes, to remember is all we have.”

That devastating line lies at the heart of Tim Lebbon’s 2010 novella The Thief of Broken Toys, a superb portraint of grief and loss from ChiZine Publications. Lebbon, as talented a writer as there is working today, tackles a heavy subject with a sure hand, resulting in an unforgettable reading experience.

Autumn in a seacoast fishing village can be a somber time. It’s especially tough on Ray, a man just one year removed from death of his only child, and, subsequently, his marriage. Ray is fading away, drifting through his village, his house and his life, barely registering to the people around him as he tries make sense of a senseless loss. Every thought, every action, leads to thoughts of Toby, and while Ray realizes that he is virtually paralyzed, he can’t make himself move on.

It’s a problem people deal with every day – what’s the best way to handle grief? Do you keep reminders of the person you’ve lost around and deal with the constant reminders, or do you lock them away and deal with the guilt of moving on with your life? For Ray, the thought of healing hurts almost as much as losing Toby, because moving on means, in some ways, leaving his son behind.

One night, as Ray is wandering the cliffs that tower over his tiny village, he has a chance encounter with an old man. The old man takes a broken toy of Toby’s that Ray is carrying with him, a symbol of promises to the boy that Ray never got to keep, another link in the chain of guilt Ray has fashioned for himself. But when that toy appears on his doorstep the next day, fixed and whole again, Ray finds that he feels better. Yes, he’s still thinking of Toby, but a touch of the sadness is gone. It’s a feeling that Ray is still hesitant about, but for the first time in a long time he sees a chance at living his own life again.

Lebbon takes us through the most difficult scenario a parent can imagine without a hint of melodrama. Instead, we’re touched by Ray’s love of his boy; his pain is palpable. His wife, who has turned to another man in an effort to forget her own pain, could easily be the unlikeable villain of the piece, but instead we feel for her, understand her path even if we don’t agree with it. Chalk that up to Lebbon’s skill, which continues to grow with each story he produces. The writing here is spare, yet vibrant, bringing the little village to life and giving us a full portrait of this family that has been shattered, making us grieve for them as much as they grieve for themselves.

The Thief of Broken Toys is just long enough to do what Lebbon wants it to do, and short enough to leave us wanting more. It’s a great, if brutally sad, read, and is highly recommended.

Horror World Interview: Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

I recently had the privilege of interviewing two amazing authors, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, on their latest collaboration: The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild. Pop on over to Horror World and check it out. Then go out and buy all the books these guys write together. And then pick up the ones they write individualy. Trust me on this.

Rocky Wood and Tim Lebbon could use our help

Rocky Wood is a recognized authority on all things Stephen King, having produced four major books about the author (including Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished and Stephen King: The Non-Fiction, both from Cemetery Dance) and to0 many articles to mention. As you can imagine, he’s amassed an impressive King-centric collection over the years – a collection that he’s now putting up for sale through independent bookseller The Overlook Connection.

This might, at first, be good news for King fans. Click on the link above and you’ll see a large list of obscure King material, from the old Castle Rock newsletters to copies of the, ahem, gentlemen’s magazines that published much of King’s early short stories. According to the letter accompanying the listing (you can see both at the link above), it’s just the first wave of stuff going up for sale. Unfortunately, the letter also explains Wood’s reason for selling his collection, and it isn’t good news.

Wood was recently diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a disease for which there is no true treatment and no known cure. Wood lives in Australia and will benefit somewhat from its socialized medical system, but the bills are going to mount up, and quickly. Part of the reason for this auction is to pay for devices that will help him communicate when he, inevitably, is disabled – devices that he already plans to donate to others when he’s gone.

So, click the link, peruse the listing, and, if you can, help Rocky Wood pay for his medical expenses and the soon-to-be-necessary modifications to his home. We’ve seen this community band together in the face of publishers gone bad – let’s put that same enthusiasm to work here.

Let’s put it to work here, also. Author Tim Lebbon is climbing three mountains as part of a fundraising effort for St. David’s Foundation in South Wales, a palliative care unit that took care of his mother when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’ll conquer 9,800 feet of ascent and descent in just 24 hours. The climb takes place in June, so there’s plenty of time to sign up and show Tim your support.

Golden and Lebbon embark on ‘Wild’ blog tour

Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon are two prolific authors (especially Golden – I swear the man has a new book out every week) who have somehow carved time out of their individual schedules to team up and write books together. They began with The Hidden Cities series, a trio of novels with the common theme of examining those hidden places and buried secrets that certain cities seem to possess.

I don’t know if they will continue that series beyond the latest entry, The Chamber of Ten (although I hope they do), but in the meantime they’ve moved on to The Secret Journeys of Jack London, a Young Adult series that blends fiction and fact to tell exciting stories of the adventurous author’s many real-life travels. The first book, The Wild, which comes out on March 1st, has London crossing paths with the legendary Wendigo. The series is picking up some serious pre-publication buzz, thanks in no small part to a movie deal with 20th Century Fox, and looks to be quite a success for the talented team.

To further promote the book, Golden and Lebbon are going on a quick blog tour, visiting the online homes of YA bloggers who are also teachers, librarians and adventurers themselves. They’ll start out on Monday, February 28th at Bildungsroman, and then move on to:

Tuesday, March 1st
Kiba Rika (Kimberly Hirsh) of Lectitans

Wednesday, March 2nd
Kim Baccellia from Si, Se Puede! and Young Adults Book Central

Thursday, March 3rd
Melissa Walker, author of Small Town Sinners

Friday, March 4th
Justin from Little Shop of Stories

Monday, March 7th
Rebecca’s Book Blog

Tuesday, March 8th
Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us [Sic]

Be sure to stop in and check ’em out. And tell ’em October Country sent you.