So I finished writing down my Warhammer 40k hype, coming on the blog after my rant about genre prejudices (and prejudices in general), and then I discover this awesome conversation abut tie-in fiction between Mark Charan Newton (new kid on the fantasy block) and Dan Abnett himself:
Mark Charan Newton: For an author to write tie-in fiction – that is, fiction connected to a franchise or character, that isn’t technically owned by the author – it is still treated as a gaucherie by the majority of genre fans. The books suffer by not getting proper review coverage, and sometimes they are not even considered as ‘real’ works. Why do you think tie-in fiction is treated as the second-class citizen of the genre world? I mean, the same could often be said about the treatment of genre fiction and the literary world.
Dan Abnett: There are any number of contributing factors, and many of them are inevitably contradictory. Let’s start with a basic assumption: if you write as a hired gun, you must be in it for the dosh. You don’t really care what you’re writing. Therefore (obviously), you’re just crapping it out, words per square inch. In other words, tie-in fiction MUST by the very nature of its manufacture, be poor, disposable and second-rate.
It’s possible that an awful lot of people think this. They may not even mean to think it. There’s also a possibility (actually, a very high probability) that an awful lot of people in what I’m happy to refer to as “my line of work” believe that’s what other people think.
I think it’s worth getting this out of the way right at the start: writers of tie-in fiction may, sometimes, involuntarily, feel slightly guilty. They may be, involuntarily defensive. They know what the perception can be, and it contaminates them slightly. Tie-in writers can be their own worst enemies.
Despite the odd and inevitable case of the Emperor’s New Clothes, surely readers can tell if something’s good or not by their gut response? They can tell if someone’s just banging it out and their heart’s not in it? Can’t they? Please tell me they can!
I should honestly admit that sometimes I doubt of myself ;)