The time it was about origin stories

Posted January 4, 2017 by Stacee in Signings / 6 Comments

As soon as I saw that Kami Garcia had written an X-Files origin book, I was in. Especially since the launch party was going to be at Mysterious Galaxy. And when Macmillan contacted me to moderate, my fangirl heart almost exploded.
As always, we got to the store early. I ran amok, chatted with the awesome employees, and ransacked the super secret back room. Hubs just hung out.

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The Macmillan publicist, Kelsey, got to the store and I introduced myself to her. We chatted for a minute before she left to set up some promo things. She then brought me over up Jonathan and Kami and introduced me to them. Jonathan and I ended up talking about Doctor Who. He showed me the FBI badges that he had made and told me that he had looked for my photo to make me one, but couldn’t find one.

The time came to start the event and Kami, Jonathan and I were introduced by one of the MG employees. {Please excuse the fact that there are so few photos in this post.  Hubs didn’t take very many and I couldn’t take any while at the podium.}

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Please give the elevator pitch for your books.

K: Agent of Chaos is basically the story of how Mulder became a believer. I wrote a short story in Jonathan’s anthology that took place 2 years before this. Kids start to go missing and after what happened to his sister, he can’t let it go. He gets mixed up in what’s going on. There may or may not be a serial killer and that’s my favorite. I love serial killers. Not love them like marry them in prison. I’m from DC and I was alive in 1979, so it was like a perfect storm.

All of the YA authors are like 24 and they asked if I had to do a lot of research and find out what was happening in the late 70s/early 80s. I was like, “No. I was alive.”

J: Not only was I alive in 1979, I was 2 years out of high school and working as a body guard. Devil’s Advocate is Scully’s story and they elude in the series that she used to be a believer. She stopped and became a hard core skeptic. She had visions, when her father died, she saw him. I wanted to show how someone became a determined skeptic. And I sort of saw that there was some hurt in the background. There’s a series of deaths and she’s visited by a victim. Don’t worry, that happens right away, so it’s not a spoiler. So it’s about her journey, her first step towards becoming a skeptic.

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Did you have to do anything to get into the head space of Mulder and Scully?

K: For me, it was easy since I did the short story. I knew what his bedroom looked like, I knew what he was into, I knew he had a best friend. I used it as a jumping off point. I have 4 brothers and I know a lot about boys in general. I did do a lot of research on serial killers. I’m currently writing a contemporary romance and after this, it was hard to go from super creepy stuff to you’re so attractive and we’re in love high school stuff.

J: It’s funny. You have 4 brothers and I have 4 sisters.

K: That’s my nightmare.

J: Yeah, it was mine too. I had a lot to draw on and they were all teenagers at the time. I have a lot of friends in the spiritual community and I’ve been able to see how it’s evolved. We saw what Melissa was part of in the show. It wasn’t too hard for me to roll it back to what her and Dana were like as teenagers.

As far as being in the head of a 15 year old girl, clearly I don’t have the personal experience, but the thing with writers, is that we all write things we are not. I’m pretty sure the guy who wrote Silence of the Lambs was not a serial killer, though I’m not entirely sure that’s true. We were right from male and female perspective, different sexual orientation. We get inside different character’s heads and once we’re there it’s a sort of interior logic that allows us to see the world as they would see it.

K: My daughter’s best friend’s dad was a clinical psychiatrist at Hopkins. He trained under the guy who did all of Dahmer’s interviews. He actually trained the guys at the BSU. He and his partner were my consultants to make sure everything was correct because I have the FBI in my story. We all went out to eat one night and he’s a really laid-back guy. I wanted to make sure that my fictitious serial killer stuff seemed believable. He told me that I knew a disturbingly accurate amount of information on serial killers without being a serial killer or a clinical psychiatrist or someone who works for the FBI.

J: In Sherlock Holmes he talks about how doctors would be great criminals because of the knowledge. I think writers would make great criminals.

K: Totally.

J: I mean we’re the ones who are coming up with these plots.

K: I’m on lists after this one for sure. I mean just for googling kidnapping I bet.

J: The search history is for writers, especially after these books we have to be on some watch lists.

K: I was thinking about some of the things in both of these books and we would be in serious trouble if they took it out of context.

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When dealing with characters that are already established and well loved by fans, were you worried about doing something that hadn’t been done before with a teenage Mulder and Scully?

K: I feel like for me, when you’re doing a teen of an adult, it was reverse engineering. I looked at his office and his childhood. Everything is amplified when you’re a teen. How do you get to that point? With this, obviously Mulder is haunted. It’s over reaching and effects everything he does. I feel like if you were a young person and your sibling disappears and you were the only one with them, you would feel at fault. For me, it was like what is this kid going to be like after this event?

For another book, I did some research for PTSD and I talked to some vets. They said it’s really hard to explain to people, that it’s like a black hole. And you don’t remember anything until you get to the end of the black hole, but then you get all of your memories back. It’s really disturbing because all you want to do is fill in those missing pieces.

J: Everyone who has a psychological quirk as an adult, it’s usually something they can trace back. We’ve both done a lot of YA work and a lot of YA fiction is about exploring be fires that make us who we are. With Scully, her sister dies in the series. Not a spoiler, the show aired 10 years ago. Her father dies and I wanted to explore what the effect would be based on how deep her relationship was when she was a kid. Also there’s a drive in Scully that she wants to save everyone. Why? Why is she so determined to try to save the world? What did she witness to make her feel so obligated? She becomes a doctor. She becomes a cop. She becomes a researcher. But all of that had to come from somewhere.

Because were both X-Files fans, we made sure that everything that is in our book squares with the series. We not changing anything, we’re adding to it. Both Fox and Chris Carter gave approval and they have said it’s official, it’s canon. It’s an obligation for us to respect the fans of the series and their love of the show. We want to exceed their expectations and in no way disappoint them.

K: One of things Jonathan and I talked about early on is that because they’re both YA novels and we are X-Files fans but we know that not every 15 year old is. It was important to us that these books function on two levels. If you’ve never watched the show and you have no idea who Dana and Fox are you can still pick up these books and literally read an amazing thriller. We also wanted to make sure that these would be hardcore fun if you were a fan.

For me, when someone takes a character I love and they mess it up because they think it’s quirky and fun, I don’t like that. I want them to add to the character not take them and wreck them. We wanted to add something not take something away. It didn’t need to be reinvented. You can’t reinvent a TV show that is still on the air.

J: And it didn’t need to be reinvented.

K: As a fan you always want more. I’m always wondering if they’re going to bring Buffy back. That’s all I want to happen. You missed those characters and you really want something else, so I really love it when people are putting out stories or anthologies for me to read about characters for my fandom.

J: But it’s got to be good, that’s the important part. Respect the fan base, respect the original material. For those who do know the series there are some Easter eggs. There are some characters you’ll recognize from the show who show up. Mulder and Scully do not ever meet.

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K: We both have a member from the Syndicate in our book and that was so much fun.

J: I have a character who was a minor character in the show. He didn’t have a name in the show, but did in the script, so I took that name.

K: All of it was about fitting it into the mythology.

J: It was nice that we didn’t get any push back from Fox. They were surprised at how seamlessly it fit in with the show.

K: Yeah, I figured that because there weren’t a lot of notes, they didn’t actually read it.

J: We hit the right notes.

K: And they’re dark.

J: I’ve met modern kids, they can handle dark.

K: We kept going darker and darker and they loved it.

J: And our editor is a huge fan, so she was our advocate.

What’s your favorite episode?

K: My favorite is Paper Hearts. It’s about a guy who is kidnapping kids and there’s a guy in prison and Mulder has to go get some information. I love it because I watched it a lot for this. In this episode, you see how desperate he is to get information about his sister.

J: Mine is Darkness Falls. I love the isolation stories. They’re away from their resources. In those stories, you can see they had more story than budget. It should have been a two parter. It’s never going to happen, but if I do an adult Mulder and Scully, it would be taking them back to something like that.

For Jonathan: do you see any link between Clarice Starling and Scully?

J: There are some similarities, to a degree. The dawning consciousness of a darker world. They’re both strong characters. In the other Silence of the Lambs books she was weakened, but I loved her in Silence. Scully only gets stronger. In the series 8 and 9, Mulder was gone. Scully was the power player and you can see that early on.

K: Plus the actress they had in Gillian Anderson.

J: I think they saw the power of an empowered female character. This was the mid 1990s. There was no gender equality push. I don’t thinkg it was their intent to make it an equal partnership between Mulder and Scully. I think it was intended to be a Mulder show with a sidekick. In the early episodes, the showed her in her underwear.

K: To me, Clarice started as an innocent and the innocence was shattered. Dana was a believer and turned skeptic. The visions and things like that are what makes her such a fascinating character. She goes from being a believer to a skeptic and back to believing and it love how it goes full circle.

J: One of things Kami did in her book that I loved was that Mulder is a quirky character. He has a lot of idiosyncrasies. Often those characters use the quirks as a defense. The one liners are funny and it makes you popular, but they can keep people at arm’s length. He never had to be himself.

K: I was like that myself. Well, not exactly.

J: None of your brothers were abducted by aliens?

K: Sometimes I wish they would have been.

J: Fair enough.

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{This prompted a story about Kami’s step-dad being an undercover cop and how her brother and her handcuffed themselves together, from ankle to wrist.}

K: I was slightly fierce and dangerous and no one bothered me. Fear and popularity are different. I was really smart, but no one knew it. If you were a boy, you could only be smart in math. If you were a girl, it didn’t matter because no one cared what you were doing. My friends thought I was going to go to prison. I understood that feeling of making things up about yourself. If those are the reasons why people don’t like you, it’s fine because none of it’s true. It’s your persona. But if you let them know the real you and then you’re rejected, it hurts.

J: And in the 1970s, chauvinism wasn’t being pushed out of the way at all.

{This prompted a story from Kami about how she needed to prove she could get out of a trunk before she could date. And her brother had to go on all of her dates with her. She argued that she could beat up her date and brother, so what was the point.}

Was there any a discussion to do a shared scene?

J: There was a discussion, but we stepped away from it. Both characters are at the same place, but not at the same time.

K: It’s a new age store and there are cross over characters. We wanted there to be those moments.

J: The worlds cross, but not the characters. There was a temptation, but it’s not how it happened.

K: I thought about them passing by each other and having the best friend comment about her being pretty. Jonathan said that he’s 18 and she’s 15 and he would have been a creeper.

{There was a question, but I couldn’t hear it. The answers talked about origin stories, Scully’s vulnerability, the possibility of more stories in the series, the compressing and pacing of these books, and killing off adult figures in YA.}

After the questions were finished, I sort of gushed about how good the books were. Kami asked if I had read them and I said yes, than Macmillan had sent them to me and I read them both in one night. She was surprised and said that I needed to take it to Goodreads and talk about how good they were so they’ll sell and then there would be more. We also talked about my avatar on Twitter and how I hate posting photos of myself on the Internet.  When she went to sign my book, she told me it was the first copy she had signed and wrote that in my book.

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I got to Jonathan and he signed the X-Files book, but I also had Slasher Girls. We started talking about his short story and how it goes in with one of his other series. He then told me that George Romero considered his series to be the official prequels to Night of the Living Dead.

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I said thanks to both of them and they thanked me back, saying that they loved my questions. I ended up going back through the line because I got the mega posters from the event too.

I’ve always enjoyed Kami’s events, but this one was especially awesome because I love X-Files so much. You guys need to go get these books right away.

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6 Responses to “The time it was about origin stories”

  1. I am so excited for these two! They were my Waiting on Wednesday posts the last two weeks of December! I was such a huge X-Files fan when it was on tv, and Jonathan Maberry and Kami Garcia are two of my favorite authors, so I’m sure I will love these. So jealous of this!!! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Stacee

      The books were amazing!! I read them both in one night and for me, they were everything Kami and Jonathan promised. I hope you love them!!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  2. This is one of the best recaps you have posted yet, in my eyes. I wasn’t going to read these because I am really picky about favorite storylines of mine, whether they be in a book or on the screen, or a combo of the two, but these sound wonderful after readng the author’s thoughts. I was already in love with the covers, so I will be adding them to my shelves rather than my Kindle library. Thanks for these recaps! agaun!

  3. Leah

    I heart The X Files so much, so of course these books were a priority. I went to the Grove event, which of course was so much fun. Thanks for your recap.

  4. I must admit that I have never seen an episode of X-Files before. Ahh. But I’m starting to think that maybe I should :D Heard good things. And ee, this event looks like it was so awesome :D Thank you for sharing about it Stacee. <3 Glad you had an amazing time :) Hugs.

    Carina Olsen recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #276

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