Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I became a Young Adult author largely by accident.

In 2006, I was casting about for work, the way freelancers tend to do, and one of the feelers I put out led me to Paul Morrissey, an editor at Tokyopop. Paul was gracious enough during our first phone conversation to invite me to send in some pitches, one of which was Alex Unlimited, a story about a tween-age boy who could summon alternate-dimension versions of himself to this reality. At the time, I thought another of my pitches was stronger--a time-travel idea called Anachron 49--but Paul took an interest in Alex and put it through the pitch process.

A few weeks later, Paul called and told me that Tokyopop was interested in publishing an Alex Unlimited manga series, but had one important question: would I consider making the main character a girl? I said, "Sure," and started mapping out the story.

That's where we ran into some difficulties: Tokyopop simply could not agree on an artist for the book. I wanted Mike Norton to do it; he and I had worked together on Voltron for Devil's Due, and Mike actually did a couple of character designs. For reasons I never fully understood, though, Tokyopop wasn't satisfied, and the Great Artist Quest continued...

...until, running out of patience, I said, "Would you guys like me to just do this as prose?" To my surprise, they agreed, which led to three original novels, the first of which has been optioned and is currently in development with a Very Large Entity that I can't say anything else about yet.

I was sort of bemused at that point to discover that I'm pretty good at the "YA voice"-- apparently my inner child is a 13-year-old girl. Odd news for a guy who had long considered himself a horror writer. That skill led to my work on the manga side-stories based on Erin Hunter's Warriors novels, my "teen" and "junior" novelizations for Iron Man and Transformers, respectively, my graphic novel adaptation of the post-apocalyptic YA novel The Girl Who Owned a City, and now Shawn deLoache and Marlin Shoop and I have our own original YA graphic novel deal -- the first volume of which I'm revising today, since I didn't get to it yesterday.

At the same time, I created the violence-soaked superhero-noir Bloodhound, and worked for two and a half years on the post-apocalyptic (not in any way Young Adult) MMO Fallen Earth. Maybe it's good for writers to have a little multiple-personality thing going on. I hope so, anyway.

Here's a shout-out to Fallen Earth from the fine folks at Massively.

And here's a link to an academic survey of MMO players, put forth by my friend Kathleen Krach. Be warned: it takes thirty or forty minutes to get through.

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