Exclusive – Q&A with Keith R.A. DeCandido, Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon

With the fourth Supernatural tie-in novel, Heart of the Dragon, hitting the stores on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, we’ve asked author Keith R.A. DeCandido to answer a few questions and he kindly agreed; the interview was done via email. Exclusive – Q&A with Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon
By: Staff

Being presented with the highest honor the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) can bestow, The Grandmaster Award, which recognizes an author for their extensive and exceptional work in the tie-in field, Keith R.A. DeCandido is probably best known to Supernatural fans by his Supernatural tie-in novels, Nevermore and Bone Key. DeCandido has written over thirty novels, most of them original tie-ins or novelizations for shows such as Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, among others, and he has also edited various anthologies and book lines. With his third Supernatural tie-in novel, Heart of the Dragon, hitting the stores on Tuesday, February 16, 2010, we’ve asked Keith to answer a few questions and he kindly agreed; the interview was done via email.

Thank you so much for agreeing to answer our questions!

You’re welcome!

Q: You were honored with the Grandmaster Award. Has receiving this recognition changed the way you approach writing?

A: Not in the least. Honestly, I still think the whole Grandmaster thing was just a prank some kids played on me. I mean, c’mon, me a Grandmaster? Ludicrous.

Seriously, though, it was a great honor, but it doesn’t mean much beyond the recognition of my peers—which is very heartening—and a nice thing to put on the shelf. I’m the same guy I was before I got it.

Q: With the series well into its fifth season by the time Heart of the Dragon hits the stands, what is the book’s timeframe, Supernatural-wise?

A: The present-day portions are shortly before the mid-season break, right after “Changing Channels.” I was provided with the scripts as soon as they were finalized for each episode of the fifth season, so I was as up-to-date as possible, given the production lag time. I could’ve actually had it take place after “Abandon All Hope,” but I didn’t want the baggage of that episode’s end to dominate the novel (which also meant being before “The Real Ghostbusters,” since the conclusion of that episode leads into “Abandon…”).

Q: When announcing the book, you revealed that Heart of the Dragon will take place in three different time periods. Can you elaborate on that?

A: Gladly. The book is in three parts, plus a prologue. The prologue—which was excerpted in the Supernatural magazine—takes place in 1859 and sets up the monster. Said monster is first encountered by the Campbell family—Samuel and Deanna Campbell and their daughter Mary (who would later marry John Winchester and bear him two sons)—in 1969. It’s encountered again by John Winchester in 1989 and a third time by Dean and Sam in 2009. Each portion takes place in the city of San Francisco.

Q: Both of your previous Supernatural tie-ins, Nevermore and Bone Key, took place in cities on the east coast of the United States. This time the story takes place in San Francisco. What motivated you to change coasts?

A: In each case, the choice of city was motivated by it being a) a favorite city of mine and b) a city with a distinctive enough flavor that it could become part of the story in a way that the TV show—filming as it is in Vancouver—can rarely accomplish. Side of the country had little to do with it. I adore New York, I adore Key West, and I adore San Francisco.

Q: What made you decide to write about the supernatural element on which you based Heart of the Dragon?

A: I’ve always been a fan of feudal Japan, and I thought it might make a nice change of pace to have a spirit that isn’t as aggressively American as Supernatural usually is. Besides, America is a melting pot of people from Somewhere Else, anyhow, and the bulk of the novel takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Yes, it’s a Japanese monster. All is explained in the book…)

Q: How much of the Supernatural mythology does Heart of the Dragon carry, if any?

A: Oh, quite a bit, as the 1859 and 2009 portions tie directly into the angel-demon-apocalypse arc that’s run through the fourth and fifth seasons.

Q: Which Supernatural characters, other than Dean and Sam, should fans expect to see in Heart of the Dragon?

A: Well, besides the Campbells and John, we also get to see Bobby Singer in both the 1989 and 2009 parts, as well as Castiel in 2009. There are cameos and mentions of other folks as well.

Q: Does Heart of the Dragon touch on the relationship between the brothers, or is the book more focused on the subject of the supernatural?

A: It’s impossible to write Sam and Dean without their relationship being front and center, as it’s such a critical part of their character. And the theme of family runs throughout the book.

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

A: I don’t have any under contract as yet. The current deal with Titan calls for three novels, and the other two will be The Unholy Cause by Joe Schreiber and War of the Sons by Rebecca Dessertine & David Reed. If Titan decides to do more novels, I’d love to do more, absolutely.

Q: How do you like Season 5 so far?

A: I’m enjoying it immensely. I like the higher stakes, I like the way the brothers’ relationship is paralleling that of the angels and demons and such, and I like the increased role of Castiel, world’s greatest straight man.

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

A: Well, I’ve got a lot more comic book work of late—a StarCraft manga called Ghost Academy was just released, I’m writing two monthly Farscape comic books right now, and I’ve got a Star Trek comic out this summer. I’ve also got a Star Trek novella in the Seven Deadly Sins anthology out in March. Beyond that, everything’s a bit too early to discuss in any depth…

For more information on Keith R.A. DeCandido and his work: – Keith R.A. DeCandido’s official web site
KRAD’s Inaccurate Guide to Life – Keith R.A. DeCandido’s LiveJournal

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Acknowledgment: A sincere thanks goes out to Crystal.