Well it's that time of the season again! The dreaded Hellatus is upon us and what can we possibly do to pass the time until our favorite show gets back onto the air. What can we possibly do?
How about reading a book related to our favorite show?
When we interviewed author Tim Waggoner previously, he had released the book Supernatural: The Roads Not Taken, a fun choose-your-own-adventure style story that I heartily recommended. Now with another Supernatural book released, we again snagged the author for a quick question and answer about weaving tales involving our favorite brothers.
Nate Winchester: It's been awhile since the last time we interviewed you, so just to see if anything has changed, what's your favorite season of Supernatural?
Tim Waggoner: I’ve enjoyed all the seasons so far, but these days I find myself thinking fondly of the earlier seasons, before Sam and Dean became so experienced and began operating on a cosmic level, as in the last season. It’s harder to believe the brothers are in any real danger when fighting a single monster when they’ve gone toe-to-toe with Satan, Death, Amara, and God.
NW: Your favorite episode?
TW: “The French Mistake” was great, as was “Fan Fiction.” I really enjoyed the metafictional aspects of those episodes. And I love any episode with Bobby or Charlie!
NW: What's your favorite single moment in the show?
TW: “Hey, Assbutt!”
NW: [Switching to talking about your books] I always like the "historian's note" in these books, which places them in the show's timeline. Do you pick out where you think these novels will best fit or is there some other method [for choosing the timeframe]?
TW: When it’s time for me to write a proposal for a Supernatural novel, I choose the season that’s currently playing – which, by the time the book comes out, is already over. But for me it’s current. Then I look for a space between two recent episodes where there’s nothing major happening or there are no cliffhangers, a space where an adventure might fight without disrupting the rest of the season. And once I’ve got that, I start writing!
NW: How do you pick where in the USA your book(s) will take place?
TW: I live in Ohio, so I tend to pick areas that are in my region of the country – Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, etc. I know these states best, so I feel more comfortable setting stories there. I’d be reluctant to put Sam and Dean in a large city, though. They rarely visit big cities in the series, and urban areas don’t seem to fit the vibe of the show.
NW: Well, as a Kentucky native I do enjoy the visits to this region. Have you visited/been to any of those towns?
TW: I make up the towns, so no. But I do construct the imaginary settings from bits and pieces of real towns I’ve been to, although I usually change stuff around to suit the story.
NW: With Mythmaker you've now written three Supernatural tie-ins (tying Keith R A DeCandido and John Passarella for most Supernatural books written). Between it, Carved in Flesh, and The Roads Not Taken, which one is your personal favorite?
TW: The Roads Not Taken was the most fun to write. It’s a “choose-your-own-adventure” style story, so I was able to write multiple outcomes of scenes, and in some of them, I got to kill off the brothers in interesting ways! Plus, since the publisher wanted the book to be four separate stories, I decided to come up with a way to tie the stories together and make the “choose-your-own-adventure” aspect an actual part of what the brothers were experiencing. Great fun!
NW: It was a lot of fun. Have you read any of the other Supernatural books? Any consideration of doing a crossover with other authors?
TW: I’ve read and enjoyed several. Since the writers are hired by the publisher to write a Supernatural book, we don’t get any say in doing collaborations and the like. It would be fun to do, though.
NW: I really enjoyed The Roads Not Taken more than I thought at first. Is there any chance of doing another choose-your-own-adventure?
TW: Basically, the same answer as above. Insight Editions decided to bring out a “choose-your-own-adventure” book, and then they hired me to write it. If they, or another publisher, wanted me to write another book like The Roads Not Taken, I’d love to do so.
NW: Are you doing any more Supernatural books in the foreseeable future?
TW: I don’t have any currently scheduled. Titan Books gets a license from the CW to produce a set amount of books at a time. Once the current wave are done, that’s it until Titan decides to bring out more and gets a new license from the CW. I’m hopeful Titan will do more and ask me to write some, though!
NW: Fun challenge. You have 30 seconds and have to pitch a script idea that the show can do on its budget. Go!
TW: That’s rough, since I don’t have every episode memorized (even if I have seen all of them)! In real life, I’d spend some time refreshing my memory on episodes before I pitched an episode idea. But I’ll give it a try: Monsters are tired of Sam and Dean always hunting them, so they send a monster bounty hunter to capture them and bring them before a monster tribunal for judgment and sentencing. The brothers have to defend themselves in monster court, but of course the trial is rigged, and they have to find a way to escape before they are sentenced to become monsters themselves. How’d I do?
NW: Hm. It has shades of S7's "Defending Your Life" and the conversation with Eve in S6's "Mommy Dearest" but neither were explored much. I'd vote for a greenlight on the episode! Now, say one of our readers wants to write tie-in books like you do. Any advice for them on how to get started?
TW: Publish original fiction first. Publishers hire established writers to do tie-in work. No one starts that way (or if someone does, it’s rare). Publishers want to know that a writer has a track record of producing professional-level novels on time before considering them for tie-in work.
NW: Any original fiction work you want to take a moment to promote to our readers?
TW: My latest original work is a horror novel called Eat the Night from DarkFuse Publishing. Be warned, though: one of my Supernatural fans started to read it and gave it a one-star review on Amazon because it had sex and swear words in it. Eat the Night is darker than Supernatural, and might not be to every fan’s taste. My Nekropolis series, featuring a zombie detective who works in a city of monsters, is more light-hearted and is closer in tone and style to Supernatural.
NW: It struck me this time that when we got insight about the brothers in this book, it was Sam we were seeing or reading about more often than Dean. Is he your favorite brother? Was he just the better fit for the story?
TW: I love both brothers equally. I don’t take sides. Honestly, I think the main character in Supernatural is the brother’s relationship, not either of them individually. That’s why I love the show so much. As for which brother I focused on more this time, the studio wanted me to avoid getting too much into Dean’s character because of the Mark of Cain. Since at the time I set Mythmaker, the Mark hadn’t affected him much, they preferred I didn’t mention it much. I had a number of bits where we see Dean struggling with the Mark’s increasing influence, but the studio asked me to remove those scenes, and I did. When you do tie-in work, whoever owns the property is the ultimate boss!
NW: That's a shame because I really wanted to see more of him struggling. But I'll admit, I loved the central plot idea in this book purely on its own. Any thoughts about pulling it out and turning it into an anime or comic book?
TW: I had the idea for the basic concept – two gods meeting in a small town to battle for supremacy, using the residents to form their respective armies – almost thirty years ago. I never did anything with the idea, so when it came time to pitch more Supernatural ideas to my editor at Titan, I dusted it off and turned it into a scenario for Sam and Dean. I don’t think I’ll revisit the idea again as a non-Supernatural story, but who knows?
NW: I noticed a few things that conflicted with some canon in season 10. How do those happen? Are there checks in place to mitigate them?
TW: Any conflicts are due to my not knowing what was going to happen in the rest of the season or my screwing up – despite my best efforts – and the folks at the CW who reviewed the manuscript not noticing. Simple as that. I don’t have a perfect memory for every bit of lore, so when I write a Supernatural book, I check and re-check everything, in the hope I don’t mess up. But sometimes I still do. Hopefully, any errors in lore won’t distract readers too much.
NW: Well they weren't too bad. Are there any stories you'd love to write that take place in earlier seasons of the show? Any season in particular?
TW: As I said earlier, I’d like to revisit the early years of the show. If I get to write another Supernatural novel, I might use a case from that time as a flashback, like I used flashbacks in both Carved in Flesh and Mythmaker.
NW: I really, really enjoyed the opening case on the farm and the case in the flashback. Any way we can get you onto the show to make those canon?
TW: Well, since the CW owns anything that I write in a Supernatural book, they’re free to use whatever they like. I have fun trying to push the lore a bit and create new aspects for supernatural beings. In Carved in Flesh, I tried to add a few things to reapers, and in Mythmaker, I tried to add a wrinkle to ghouls. The ghouls in the opening scene worshipped a ghoul god – like how some werewolves worship Fenris – and as part of their rituals, they ate a stew made from parts of different people. Because of this, their human features were a mish-mash of the various victims whose flesh they’d devoured. But often when I try to add some extra touches to the lore like that, the CW says, “Nope,” and I have to remove them, which is what happened with both books. But the CW is the guardian of all things Supernatural, so that’s fine. It was still fun to write that material!
NW: So one line in the book I have to ask about: Dean shuddered, "Man, I hate cicadas..." Did you have that episode from season 11 in mind when you wrote that line or do you just have psychic powers?
TW: That line just seemed like it would be in Dean’s character. He has a lot of minor things that bother or annoy him that offset his tough, heroic side, things that bring him down to Earth a bit. But who knows? Maybe I am psychic!
NW: Thank you for your time, Tim. Well here's hoping if you are psychic, nobody kidnaps you off to a ghost town for a highlander battle with others.
You can find out more about Tim Waggoner at his website, his blog, or connect with him on facebook. And you can pick up Mythmaker from the link below! We'd also love to hear your thoughts on any of Tim's Supernatural novels!