Exclusive – Q&A with Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Supernatural: Bone Key

Accomplished tie-in fiction writer, Keith R.A. DeCandido, is set to give us another serving of Supernatural in the form of his new novel, Bone Key, expected to be released in September 2008. In eager anticipation, we asked him if he’d be willing to answer a few questions; the interview was done via email. Exclusive – Q&A with Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Supernatural: Bone Key
By: Staff

Keith R.A. DeCandido has already made his mark in the genre of tie-in fiction, boasting novels that stretch quite an impressive range. His most recent endeavours include: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q&A, Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Deathless and of course, Supernatural: Nevermore. Come September 2008, Keith R.A. DeCandido is set to give us another serving of Supernatural in the form of his new novel, Bone Key. In eager anticipation, we asked him if he’d be willing to answer a few questions; the interview was done via email.

We want to thank you for agreeing to do this Q&A with us. We truly appreciate it.

No problem!

Q: On your LiveJournal, you’ve put the fans’ vote into consideration with regard to the novel which you should submit for an Original Speculative Fiction Scribe Award. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Q & A has won. So the first question is, why go that way? And the second: which, out of the novels you’ve listed, did you want to submit?

I can answer both questions at once, actually. I simply could not decide between Q & A and Nevermore. Every argument worked well for both books, and I could only submit one, so I finally decided to put the decision out of my hands. I included all four novels that qualified in the poll just for curiosity’s sake, to see if Tiberium Wars or The Mirror-Scaled Serpent got any love, and also to avoid skewing the results by saying ahead of time that it was really down to those two.

Q: Bone Key. What can you tell us, as far as the story goes?

I’d rather not say too much this early on, except to say that there are ghosts, there are demons, there is live music, and there is Bobby.

Q: Why Key West?

Back when I was first invited to pitch Supernatural novels, I wrote two pitches, Nevermore and Bone Key, in both cases going for cities a) I’m particularly fond of and b) the show wasn’t all that likely to visit. I adore Key West, it’s one of my favorite places to visit—and, on top of everything else, the place is stupid with ghost stories, making it an even more ideal setting for a Supernatural story.

Q: Bone Key takes place after “A Very Supernatural Christmas”. You’ve mentioned in several interviews that the idea for the novel was pitched back when Nevermore was introduced. How much, if it is applicable, has the plot changed from the original idea?

Quite a bit, yeah, as I wrote the pitch before “All Hell Breaks Loose” aired. When I expanded the story out to a full outline (as opposed to the two-page pitch I sent originally), I incorporated the events of that episode, in particular the opening of the Devil’s Gate and the loosing of the hordes of hell on the Earth, into the storyline. Also I gave Bobby a bigger role, commensurate with the role he’s taken on lately.

Q: Will events that happen after “A Very Supernatural Christmas” find their way into the book? Is the novel concerned with future events? (in other words, do you know what’s going to happen next?)

I was sent all the scripts that were completed before the writers strike, so I know what happens next, yes. I’ve got the novel taking place around New Years, and the events of that episode are, at the very least, referenced.

Q: You’ve mentioned on your LiveJournal that Bobby is going to be a part of the novel, and in a “not-insignificant” role. Can you tell us more about his part?

Pretty much the mentor/helper role he’s been having on the show a lot of late.

Q: Which other Supernatural characters should fans expect to see in Bone Key?

Those three are the only ones. I would’ve been happy to have included either Bela or Ruby (and both are mentioned, as is Ellen), but the story didn’t really require either of them.

Q: What made you decide to write about the supernatural element on which you based Bone Key?

Years ago, I came up with a series of urban fantasy novels that took place on Key West, based in part on my many trips there in the 1990s. The series never sold, but I was able to use some of the plot elements from that series for Bone Key.

Q: Does Bone Key touch on the relationship between the brothers, or is the book more orientated toward the subject of the supernatural?

Oh, trust me, there’s plenty of the relationship between the brothers. Hoo yeah.

Q: Any chance for an excerpt this time around?

Anything’s possible.

Q: Is it different to write for Supernatural now, after two tie-in novels and two other tie-in books have been released, than it was the first time around, as far as the readers’ reaction to the book goes?

It’s only different insofar as the show has continued and evolved, and that affects how I write the characters. Plus, we know more about the world Sam and Dean run in than we did (including a big revelation in one of the upcoming episodes about the nature of demons).

Q: As Bone Key is your second Supernatural tie-in novel, did you approach the writing differently?

A few things. The constructive criticism that Nevermore got was something I paid attention to, and the stuff I agreed with were mistakes I tried not to repeat this time. (I’m sure I’ll make newer, more exciting mistakes this time.) Also I think the horror content needed to be ramped up a bit, so this one’s a bit grislier.

Q: You’ve mentioned listening to Supernatural playlists, and other related-music while writing the new novel. Is it something that you usually do while writing tie-in books?

Well, Supernatural is a unique case, in that music is such an integral part of the show, so I specifically listen to music that they’ve used (as well as some other songs) when I write in that milieu. I have a separate writing playlist that’s mostly Jethro Tull, Tom Waits, and a few other folks, as I find I write particularly well to that. And for Bone Key, in addition to the various classic rock songs, I added some music by two Key West-based music acts I’m fond of, Michael McCloud and Black & Skabuddah.

Q: To quote you, “I don’t give a horse’s patoot about the ‘fanbase’s general consensus’”. The quote is blunt, as you yourself said, but it brings us to the question of just how much you take fans’ (Supernatural‘s and other shows/movies) reactions into account while writing a tie-in book?

As I said before, the only thing I was concerned about was the constructive criticism of the writing, and even then, I didn’t necessarily follow everyone’s advice. One of the reasons why I don’t give a horse’s patoot about the fanbase’s general consensus is because there’s no such animal. Fans aren’t a monolithic group, after all, and they very rarely have consensus on much of anything…

Q: You’ve touched on the subject of the female characters in one of your LiveJournal posts. Would you mind sharing your thoughts on the matter?

I love the characters of Ruby and Bela, and find the negative reaction to them among some fans to be distressing, though not surprising, since a segment of the fanbase rebelled against the characters before we even knew who they were. I do wonder, though, if Bela was a male character played by, say, Bruce Campbell in full Autolycus mode (the character he played on Hercules and Xena, who’s similar in personality and modus operandi to Bela), or if Ruby was played by a hot young guy if the reactions would be quite so negative. Part of why I wonder that is because Ash was a far more ridiculous character than Jo—he went to MIT! but he has a mullet and he’s cool and funny! and brawls with people just like Dean! and he has mad computer skillz that are even better than Sam’s!—but the reactions to Jo were far more vitriolic.

Having said all that, I may be barking up the wrong tree. After all, that same vitriol wasn’t directed at Meg or at Ellen or at Sarah. (It was directed at Cassie, but that was a bit more justified, since she and Jensen Ackles had precisely zero chemistry.)

Q: Can fans expect more Supernatural tie-in books from your end?

Hope so. The success of Nevermore led to the commissioning of Bone Key, but only that. So we’ll see.

Q: How do you like Season 3 so far?

Loving it. Like I said, I love Ruby and Bela, I like Bobby’s increased role, and I like the way this season’s overarching plot (Dean’s deal, the fallout from Azazel’s death and the gate opening, their mother’s secret) is playing out. The only thing I don’t like is the lack of Ellen. Bring back Samantha Ferris, dadgummit!

Also there is an upcoming episode called “Jus in Bello” which—if the final episode is half as good as the script—will be one of the top five episodes in the show’s history.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your current or future projects?

Well, I’ve got a new Star Trek novel out called Klingon Empire: A Burning House, which takes an in-depth look at the day to day lives of Trek‘s most popular aliens. I’m also doing a short novel called A Gutted World for an alternate-reality series called Star Trek: Myriad Universes, an issue of the Alien Spotlight II miniseries for IDW (with more Trek comics for them likely), and the final eBook in the six-part Next Generation miniseries Slings and Arrows.

I made the jump to mysteries with a CSI: NY novel called Four Walls, which involves murders in a Staten Island prison and a Riverdale bakery. And I’ve edited a Doctor Who: Short Trips anthology for Big Finish Productions called The Quality of Leadership that I’m quite pleased with; it has stories by Peter David, Diane Duane, and various other cool folks.

Beyond that, I’ve got a few other things in development, but nothing I can talk about. Yet. Keep watching my web site ( and/or my blog ( for updates.

Again, thank you for agreeing to do this Q&A with us.

You’re welcome! – Keith R.A. DeCandido’s official web site
KRAD’s Inaccurate Guide to Life – Keith R.A. DeCandido’s LiveJournal
Supernatural: Bone Key Excerpt – A brief excerpt from an early chapter
Q&A with Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Supernatural: Nevermore – Exclusive

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