Exclusive – Q&A with Alex Irvine, author of John Winchester’s Journal

As Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal hits the stores next week (February 3, 2009), we asked author Alex Irvine if he’d be willing to answer a few questions; the interview was done via email. Exclusive – Q&A with Alex Irvine, author of Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal
By: Staff

Known to Supernatural fans from The Supernatural Book of Monsters, Demons, Spirits and Ghouls, Alex Irvine now takes the Winchesters’ tie-in books on a new and intriguing path with Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal . An award-winning author, Irvine also teaches American literature and creative writing at the University of Maine. His publications range from original novels, short stories and comic books to tie-in and media-related fiction and nonfiction. Irvine’s newest book, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, has been recently released, and he has two other works, Buyout and Daredevil Noir #1, that will be published in the upcoming months. With the release of Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal, we asked author Alex Irvine if he’d be willing to answer a few questions; the interview was done via email.

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

How did the idea for a John Winchester’s Journal tie-in come about?

It was part of the conversations that gave birth to the Book of Monsters, Demons, Spirits and Ghouls. When the monster book did well, it made sense to do John’s journal as well. I wanted to do it from the beginning, and was happy to dive in when the project happened.

Is this journal “canon” with the show? Have you watched the episodes to work in the pages and information we’ve already seen?

It’s not really up to me to say what’s canon and what isn’t, but I have worked with all of the existing pages put together for the show (some of which haven’t appeared on camera, I don’t think). There are some differences between those pages and what appears in the comics, so one of the first things I had to do was make some decisions about how to finesse those differences. What you’ll see in the book is, if not official canon (whatever that means), certainly an authorized version.

Has the journal been run by Eric Kripke and/or someone at the Supernatural production offices? Did they want to check that it fits with Supernatural history?

Eric and I had a long (and funny) conversation before I started writing, and touched base quite often after that, including at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer. He was terrific to work with, and gave me a lot of room to explore John’s character. As the manuscript took shape, I had quite a few conversations with Cathryn Humphris and Rebecca Dessertine about how to make the book fit best with events and revelations planned for season 4 of the show. Once it was all done, Eric had a look at it again, and I’m pretty sure I can say that the journal has a thumbs-up from the show’s creators and writers. (They liked the monster book, too.)

Were the series’ tie-in novels incorporated into the new tie-in?

I didn’t use the tie-ins, no. Not because I didn’t think they were cool stories, but because they fall outside of the journal’s timeline.

Will Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal contain possible hints to puzzle together where Eric Kripke’s going to go with, or how he’s going to end, the series?

I would hate to give away anything Eric might have planned. Look! What’s that over there?

Will the journal be in John’s “handwriting,” and will it resemble John’s journal that we’ve seen the boys use on the show?

You’ll see some of the images from the show, but the handwriting in the book is different just because of the ways that book production works. We did use a number of the images from the show version of the journal, and Dan Panosian did terrific versions of them.

Will the journal contain history about Dean and Sam growing up?

Tons. That’s one of its main concerns. John is continually wrestling with his obligations as a father, and how they conflict with his desire to avenge Mary. You’ll get John’s take on a number of stories Sam and Dean tell each other over the course of the show. But I’d hate to say any more than that…

Will the tie-in discuss characters that we know interact with John (and the boys), like Bobby, Caleb, Pastor Jim, Mary’s family, Missouri, etc? What about characters we haven’t (yet?) met?

Most of those people pop up in the course of the journal, yes. But you’ll have to read it to find out who and when and how much.

There are pages from the journal on the series official website. Will they be part of this as well?

I used them as material, but one of the things Eric and I talked about at the beginning of the project was how to use those pages, and he said that since the show had evolved since those pages were created, I had some leeway with how to use them. So I used that leeway, trying to stay faithful to what was in those pages but not feeling responsible to every word. You’ll see plenty of passages from those pages in the book version of the journal, but you’ll also see some differences that reflect developments in the show.

Was anything left out? Things that you didn’t want to get into (for one reason or another), or things that you were instructed not to bring in?

Well, if I told you that, it would kind of give a bunch of stuff away, wouldn’t it…?

What is the book’s time frame, as far as Supernatural is concerned?

It begins in the aftermath of Mary’s death, and ends where the show’s pilot says it ends, with John disappearing after he discovers a vital clue about the YED.

Will the information that Dean and Sam gathered also feature in the journal? What about the information from Sam’s laptop? And is there a possibility for a tie-in book version for “Sam’s laptop?”

The journal as it stands ends with John’s last entry, which folds into the story Dean tells Sam in the show’s first episode. Sam’s laptop would be an interesting possibility for sure, but as far as I know there aren’t firm plans to do something like that.

Getting away from Supernatural: John Winchester’s Journal but staying with the series; if you could write a Supernatural episode, what would it be about?

As a Michigan native, I’d love to do a show about some of the Wolverine State’s weirder folklore. The Snake Goddess of Belle Isle, maybe, or the Nain Rouge. (I used both of them in a novel, The Narrows, that came out in 2005.) But I live in Maine now, and there are plenty of oddball stories up this way, too. A Supernatural episode about Tricky the Sandman would be a blast to write, or about the Watcher of the Isles of Shoals, because then I’d get to include pirates.

Can you tell us about any other current or future projects you’re working on?

There are two coming up soon. My next novel, Buyout, a near-future noir set in Los Angeles, appears on March 31. The next day, April Fool’s, will see the first issue of a Marvel Comics series,  Daredevil Noir. Those two projects have kept me pretty busy over the last few months, but I’m working on plenty of other things, as well. There’s a Star Wars novel coming at the end of next year, some other possibilities in the comics arena…time will tell.

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

Thanks for your interest! I hope SPN fans enjoy reading the journal as much as I enjoyed writing it.

For more information on Alex Irvine and his work: – Alex Irvine’s official web site
When You Stop Believing in It, It Doesn’t Go Away – Alex Irvine’s blog
Alex Irvine’s MySpace
Alex Irvine’s Facebook

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