Exclusive – Q&A with Joe Schreiber, author of Supernatural: The Unholy Cause

With the fifth Supernatural tie-in novel, The Unholy Cause, already on bookshelves, we’ve asked author, Joe Schreiber, to answer a few questions and he kindly agreed; the interview was done via email. Exclusive – Q&A with Joe Schreiber, author of Supernatural: The Unholy Cause
By: Staff                                                                                                                                                                          

Thank you so much for doing this Q&A with us!

Q: You have published several horror novels, and have written tie-ins for Star Wars. How did writing for Supernatural come about? Were you a fan of the show before? If not, how about now?

A: I hadn’t really watched the show too much before I was approached about the book. I got a crash course in the Winchesters, though, watched every episode that I could get my hands on and immersed myself in the mythology. It’s a very fun show, extremely creative and scary, and the characters are just flat-out charming, which I think explains its appeal in a lot of ways.

Q: What made you decide to write about the supernatural element on which you based The Unholy Cause?

A: I’m fascinated with a lot of the less well-known religious artifacts and relics — the Spear of Destiny, for example, all that stuff. The more arcane, the better.

Q: What is the book’s timeframe, Supernatural-wise?

A: It’s set somewhere in the first half of last (fifth) season, I think. After Sam and Dean have started to patch things up between them, although the wounds are still a little raw.

Q: How much of the Supernatural mythology does The Unholy Cause carry, if any?

A: I tried to write a book that the casual viewer could enjoy, without having to know too much about the show’s mythology, but I definitely wanted to include a few things that would reward familiarity for the serious fan as well. Kind of like what happened with the Star Wars book, actually.

Q: Are events from other Supernatural tie-in novels going to have a presence in The Unholy Cause?

A: Not on purpose, I don’t think.

Q: The heart of Supernatural is the relationship between the brothers. Does The Unholy Cause touch on that aspect of the show, or is the book directed more toward the supernatural elements?

A: To my mind, the heart of the show is the relationship between the brothers — it’s the main reason that Supernatural has continued to succeed where so many lesser shows have failed. Obviously, having a compelling mythology and spooky monster-of-the-week scripts clearly isn’t enough. Your protagonists have to resonate in a familiar and compelling way with the viewer, and their relationship has to have that definitive, hooky voice that keeps people coming back for more. When I tackled this project, getting the gist of Sam and Dean’s back-and-forth was a huge part of getting The Unholy Cause to walk right. The supernatural stuff had to be good too, but clearly it was going to take a back seat to character and voice.

Q: Which Supernatural characters, other than Dean and Sam, should fans expect to see in The Unholy Cause?

A: Cas shows up — actually plays a good-sized role in the story. And there are one or two cameos by the usual suspects.

Q: You posted your Supernatural playlists on your blog, mentioning you’ve done the same for Death Troopers and No Doors, No Windows. Writing to a playlist, does that come from the material you work with, and is the music material-related? And how long have you been a fan of Guns n’ Roses? (If you had to choose one GnR song to be featured on an episode of Supernatural, which one would it be?)

A: I love rock and roll and I love Guns n’ Roses. It’s one of those strange things that, even though I can pretty much take or leave the new stuff, the old Appetite-era stuff seems to actually be getting better, the more I listen to it. Choose a Gunners song for Supernatural? Is there a more scary American rock and roll song than “Paradise City?”

As far as the playlists go, they just sort of take shape in my mind during the writing and rewriting period. I rarely listen to music when I’m doing the first draft, but as time goes by and I’m just walking around thinking about the book, certain songs start to suggest themselves. Or other times, I just know — you know, this is exactly the song for this moment.

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

A: Not that I know of, no.

Q: You write both tie-in novels and your own material. Can you tell us anything about the process of working with your own characters and mythology, as opposed to characters and mythologies that are created by others?

A: Besides the big upfront research job when you’re dealing with somebody else’s sandbox, the process actually isn’t all that different. Either way, you go in looking for that one thing, that window that will allow you to lose yourself in the story and forget that you’re the one putting words on the page. Until that happens, it’s as awkward as the moment leading up to a first kiss. Afterward, it’s all intuitive and fun and there’s nothing like it on the planet.

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

A: I’ve got another Star Wars horror novel coming out in January. I’m working on a screenplay out in LA and a new novel called STILLWATER about a highly dysfunctional family stranded on a lake in New England, and something under the water is trying to kill them all. It doesn’t look too good…


For more information on Joe Schreiber and his work:

The Scary Parent – Joe Schreiber’s blog

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