Exclusive – Q&A with Jeff Mariotte, author of Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon

With the release of Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon (the second book in the Supernatural tie-in fiction series) a few months away, we asked Jeff Mariotte if he’d be willing to answer a few questions; the interview was done via email. Exclusive – Q&A with Jeff Mariotte, author of Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon
By: Staff

Jeff Mariotte is the author of the series Witch Season and has also written many tie-in novels for various television shows such as Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. In addition, Mr Mariotte is involved in the production of numerous comic books which includes his creation of the Weird West-style comic book series, Desperadoes. With his background in writing so many tie-in novels for cult shows, it seems fitting that Supernatural forms a part of his repertoire. And with Witch’s Canyon due to be released in November 2007, 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.

Q: Congratulations on Missing White Girl! Can you tell us a bit about the responses you’ve been getting?

Thanks! Fortunately, people seem to like it. It’s a supernatural thriller, so combines horror elements with fast-paced suspense and even some police-procedural stuff.

Q: You have been writing a great amount of tie-ins for different TV shows. How did you get started?

My first published novel, Gen13: Netherwar, was a tie-in based on a comic book, and was written in collaboration with my friend Christoper Golden. Chris had done several tie-ins based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and when his editor asked for a recommendation for another author, he suggested me. She tried me out on a book that adapted three episodes, then invited me to pitch a novel based on the new spin-off series Angel. I ended up writing more Angel novels than anyone else (in addition to co-writing the first Angel nonfiction series companion), so basically got into the game that way. Since then, other TV shows I’ve written tie-ins for include Charmed, Star Trek, Andromeda, Las Vegas, and CSI: Miami. I also have written tie-in comics/graphic novels based on CSI, CSI: Miami, and The Shield.

Q: You mentioned in an interview with Winchester Journals that you had a whole library of nonfiction supernatural books. How did you get interested in the supernatural?

I think it came about because of my reading tastes. I’ve always been intrigued with stories of suspense and terror. About the same time I discovered writers like Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, in the 1970s, there was a real boom in interest in the supernatural (astrology, numerology, witchcraft, etc.). I don’t practice any of those things, but I was interested in reading about and studying them; and the library took off from there.

Q: What made you decide to write about the supernatural element on which you based Witch’s Canyon?

I’m not sure I want to say too much about the supernatural element in Witch’s Canyon, because part of the plot revolves around the Winchesters trying to figure out just what it is, since it doesn’t seem to follow any of the normal patterns. It was really that aspect–the “symptoms,” let’s say–that drew me into writing the story.

Q: Witch’s Canyon takes place after ‘The Usual Suspects’ and before ‘Croatoan’. Are the events of ‘Croatoan’ and ‘Crossroad Blues’ going to find their way into the book?

Most episodes don’t have specific dates attached to them, so it’s hard to say precisely what the book is “before” or “after” (because the book does have specific dates). But it’s in that general neighborhood. And no, those events aren’t dealt with in the book–the story stands completely apart from events of any particular episode.

Q: Are events from Supernatural: Nevermore [the first in the series of the tie-in books – WB] going to have an echo in Witch’s Canyon?

In a very loose way, yes. The books have a connection, not in plot but…well, you’ll just have to see…

Q: In a recent interview, you spoke about new characters such as Juliet Monroe, Sheriff Jim Beckett and Harmon Baird. Can you tell us more about them, and perhaps about other characters as well?

Again, there’s not a lot I can say without giving away plot points. Juliet Monroe is a widow who lives on a ranch near the small town of Cedar Wells. Sheriff Beckett is the local lawman, who finds himself quickly over his head when the town’s 40-year murder cycle starts up again. Harmon Baird is an old-timer who remembers the last couple of murder sprees.

Q: The heart of Supernatural is the relationship between the brothers. Does Witch’s Canyon touch on that aspect of the show, or is the book more orientated toward the subject of the supernatural?

You’re right, that really is the heart of the show, and the most interesting aspect to me. Writing each brother by himself was difficult, because it is the interaction between them that makes it all work. I delved a little bit into their pasts and tried to analyse what it is about them that makes them mesh (and in many cases, clash) but always manage to work together to get the job done.

Q: Who has the final word on Witch’s Canyon?

I work exclusively with my editor. From there, I’m not sure precisely what the approval process is, or who has input.

Q: Did you receive feedback from the cast and crew?

No. It’s rare to hear from them about a tie-in product. Not unheard of–I’ve had good conversations with people on some shows, no feedback at all on others.

Q: Have you gotten any feedback from fans with regard to the other tie-ins, and if so, were they generally pleased with your work in relation to characterization, writing style and so forth? What kind of response are you looking to get (if any) from fans of the show regarding the novel?

For the most part, fans are pretty happy with the tie-in work I do. To me there are two factors that take precedence over everything else–having respect for the original property, and trying to get the character voices right. Obviously I also work hard to get continuity right, but sometimes shows contradict themselves, and things can come up on the show during the period between starting a book and it finally being published (not to mention, in the case of an ongoing series, even years after the fact) that completely contradict things I wrote in the books, so it’s not always possible to avoid problems with that. But if the characters “sound” like themselves on the page, then fans know who’s who and that the personalities they enjoy on-screen have transferred well. Respect for the original, to me, means faithfully representing what’s been shown on-screen. Some fans object to that because they want the books to explore other areas–particularly those who are heavily invested in relationships between characters that may not be where they are on the show at the time the book is set–but I’m not here to cater to “shippers” of any couple, just to write books based on what really is happening on the show.

Q: Will fans be able to buy autographed copies of Witch’s Canyon through Mysterious Galaxy? [Mysterious Galaxy is an independent bookstore which specializes in mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, owned by Jeff Mariotte, his wife and Terry Gilman – WB]

Yes. I don’t know if the store will have autographed copies immediately upon the book’s release, because that depends on my being there (it’s in San Diego, and I live in rural Arizona), or shipping books back and forth. But as soon as possible and practical, I’ll get books signed for the store.

Q: Will you be interested in writing another Supernatural tie-in?

I’d love to if the chance comes up. There are many more stories that can be told with those characters and the vast supply of urban legends and supernatural concepts out there.

Q: Did you get a chance to read the comic books? If so, what did you think?

I’ve read the first issue. I was glad that the main story was written by Peter Johnson, because he’s so involved with the show that he could tell the prequel story and we know it’s representative of what Eric Kripke had in mind when he created it.

Q: Do you have any current or future projects?

The next books to be published will be 30 Days of Night: Immortal Remains (July), based on the popular horror comic and written with Steve Niles, who created the comic, and Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon. Sometime after that will be the CSI: Miami book, but I don’t know what the schedule is on that yet. I’m working on some original graphic novels and comics, and I have one more 30 Days of Night book and another comic-based tie-in to do, as well as more original horror/supernatural thriller novels. So I’m plenty busy…

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

For more information on Jeff Mariotte and his work:

Missing White Girl – Now on sale! – Jeff Mariotte’s official web site
Dispatches from the Flying M – Jeff Mariotte’s blog
Jeff Mariotte’s MySpace
Jeff Mariotte’s ComicSpace

Please do not repost.