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Friday, March 21, 2008

"The Lost Ones" by Christopher Golden w/Bonus Q&A

Official Christopher Golden Website
Order “The Lost Ones
Read An Excerpt
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Reviews of “The Myth Hunters” + “The Borderkind

In “The Myth Hunters” and “The Borderkind”, the first two volumes in The Veil trilogy, Christopher Golden establishes a world where creatures of ancient myth and legend like Jack Frost, the Sandman, Greek gods, trolls, goblins, giants, sorcerers and whatnot are real entities existing in a world that mirrors our own but is separated from us by a magical barrier called the Veil. Known as the Two Kingdoms, this fantastical world is populated by Legends, Borderkind—creatures who can travel back & forth across the Veil at will—and Lost Ones, human beings who accidentally crossed the Veil and are now forever trapped in the realm of the legendary. For centuries, Legends, Borderkind, and Lost Ones have co-existed peacefully alongside one another, but everything changes with the arrival of the Bascombes, siblings who are possibly Legend-Born—the ages-old prophesied saviors of the Lost Ones—and the key to a war that threatens the existence of the Borderkind and the hope of the Lost Ones

Everything that’s happened so far in the first two volumes has been building towards “The Lost Ones”, the trilogy’s conclusion, and what a conclusion it is :) Where “The Myth Hunters” was a suspenseful blend of mystery, fantasy & horror that drew readers in with its intriguing concept and “The Borderkind” was an action-packed rollercoaster full of shocking revelations and betrayals, “The Lost Ones” is an explosive finale where all-out war erupts, secrets are revealed—like finally learning about the mysterious Wayland Smith—villains are confronted, heroes fall, and the prophecy is fulfilled… In other words, “The Lost Ones” is much bigger than its predecessors, not just in terms of size—as in page count—but also in the scope of the story, action-wise, the number of character viewpoints, and emotionally. In short, “The Lost Ones” completes the Veil trilogy in wonderful style, but it does have its drawbacks.

For starters, between the massive war that is being fought, the prophecy, the awesome hidden power that the Bascombes possess, and other subplots like recruiting soldiers for the war, characters seeking redemption for past mistakes, a tragic romance, and righteousness overcoming evil, you just get the feeling that you’ve seen all this before, especially if you’re a fan of epic fantasy novels. In particular, I kept thinking of “The Return of the King” :) Obviously there are some notable differences in the Veil trilogy like the numerous mythologies—both recognizable and obscure—that are culled from dozens of exotic cultures, but the similarities are still easy to see. From a personal standpoint, I loved Christopher’s take on so many different fables & folklore and that was an aspect that I really missed in “The Lost Ones”. Sure, the author introduces a ton of new Legends and Borderkind in the book, but they aren’t afforded the same depth as others were shown in the first two volumes, which is understandable considering everything the finale has to cover. Still, for me it was a noticeable absence along with the lack of suspense and horror that I found so riveting in the earlier books. Lastly, it should be noted that there are some ridiculously powerful characters in the novel including Oliver, Frost, the Sandman, and the Atlantean sorcerer Ty’Lis which leads to a few over-the-top battles that may be hard to swallow unless you’re a big fan of videogames or superhero comics/movies. Fortunately, I am :)

In the end, even though “The Lost Ones” has its shortcomings, the book is still highly entertaining and does a super job of concluding the Veil trilogy which is one of those series that offers wide-ranging appeal especially with Christopher’s smooth prose & accomplished storytelling and the trilogy’s dynamic blend of contemporary thriller, horror and supernatural fantasy. For me though, the best thing about the entire series was how the author resolved the trilogy. All I will say is that the future holds unlimited possibilities for Oliver Bascombe, the denizens of the Two Kingdoms, and potential sequels…


Q: “The Lost Ones” which completes your Veil trilogy is scheduled for publication March 25, 2008. What are your final thoughts on the trilogy as a whole and will there be any future adventures starring Oliver Bascombe or the denizens of the Two Kingdoms?

Christopher: THE VEIL started with Oliver Bascombe and Jack Frost, and Oliver's anxiety about getting married. As I wrote the trilogy, the story changed dramatically, with new characters coming in and altering the course of events, creating new tangents, new sub-plots to be served, and new stakes. I had a fantastic time with all of the various mythologies mashed up together in the three books—and certainly there are a thousand more stories to be told involving characters I introduced and new ones, as well as plot threads about people who've gone missing in the past (Lost Ones)—but I enjoyed the characters the most. I loved writing Oliver, Kitsune, Julianna, Colette, Blue Jay, Frost, Halliwell, and all the rest. Would I go back to that world? One of these days I'd very much like to do that. But I have a lot of other things I want to write first, and there'd need to be a desire on the part of the publisher to see that happen, which would depend entirely on the long term sales.

Q: On May 20, 2008 your collaboration novel with author
Tim Lebbon, “Mind the Gap: A Novel of the Hidden Cities”, is coming out. Is there anything else you can tell readers about the book that hasn’t been mentioned already and what’s the status report on the second Hidden Cities novel “The Map of Moments”?

Christopher: I don't want to give anything away about “Mind the Gap”. What I'll say is that thus far the few people who've read it have given us fantastic feedback. If other readers like it as much as the writers and editors we've shown it to, we'll be very happy indeed. “Mind the Gap” started as an idea I had years ago for a relatively mainstream book, but I really wanted to co-write it with a UK writer. When Tim and I met, we hit it off right away, but I'd never read anything by him. Once I did, it was a no-brainer to ask him aboard “Mind the Gap”. The finished product is very different from what I'd originally planned, which is a result of the influence of both Tim and of Anne Groell, our editor. I'm really, really pleased that it's turned out the way it has. Tim and I have finished the first draft of “The Map of Moments”, the second Hidden Cities novel, and we're just revising now, and will be delivering it in a week or so. Honestly, I like it even better than the first one. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and it's quite dark. We're hoping that
Bantam wants to continue for we know the plot, location, and title of the third one (presuming Bantam goes for it), and the location of the fourth one. Our collaboration is really smooth and comfortable, and so far very fruitful. We're also doing a couple of young adult novels together for Atheneum.

Q: Also forthcoming is the British Invasion anthology (
Cemetery Dance-May 28, 2008) that you edited with Tim Lebbon + James A. Moore, the YA novel “Poison Ink” (Delacorte-July 8, 2008), and “Soulless” (MTV Books-October 21, 2008). Can you give us some more info on these releases and any other writing projects that you’re currently involved in, including the next two adult novels that you’re working on for Bantam?

Christopher: It's strange the way things that are developed all at different times come about at the same time. “British Invasion” is something I'm not supposed to talk about yet because—despite the fact that it's already been listed on Amazon—the publisher hasn't officially announced it. But, since it *is* on Amazon...
Cemetery Dance is publishing the book soon. The lineup is absolutely incredible, full of wonderful stories by UK writers. It came about at a convention, actually. Jim and Tim and I were sitting at the bar talking about the differences between genre publishing in the UK and US, and decided we ought to do an anthology. I believe I'm the one who said “the hell with a proposal, let's go sell it right now.” We finished our beers, left the bar, and within fifteen minutes had sold the book without having a single writer committed to the project.

Poison Ink” is a teen supernatural thriller, and I loved writing it. Really, really loved it. It's set in Covington, Massachusetts, a fictional version of my current hometown, which is near Jameson, Massachusetts, another fictional town that's part of “Wildwood Road”. I've used Covington in a recent short story as well. It concerns five very different girls who become best friends and decide to commemorate their friendship by all getting the same tattoo. In Massachusetts, you have to be eighteen to get a tattoo without parental permission, so they go to a shady, backroom kind of place to get it done, and things don't turn out so well.

Soulless” is a combination of two things. First, it's my reaction to the recent zombie movie/novel trend. I love a good zombie story, but what troubles me is that so often these things don't have a third act. The structure of the typical zombie story is—some bizarre chemical or astronomical event triggers an uprising of the dead, everybody gets eaten, the end. No third act. I wanted to come up with (A) a new trigger and (B) a story with a three-act structure. I had a blast with all of those elements of the story, and with pushing the envelope regarding what kind of hideousness I could get away with in a YA book. The second major element in “Soulless” is a socio-political one, which I wrote about at length on the
MTV Books blog not too long ago.

Regarding the next two books for's too early to talk about them, except to say that I'm currently writing the first of the two.

Q: Last time we talked (Read Interview HERE), two of your properties had been optioned for film adaptation including “Outcast” and “Talent”, and since then “Baltimore Or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire” w/
Mike Mignola was picked up by New Regency. How far along are these projects (development status, talent attached, etc.) and has anything else been optioned recently?

Christopher: I'm working with
Mike Mignola on the screenplay for “Baltimore” now, and hope to deliver our first draft next month. David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Blade, The Flash) is signed on as director as has been excellent to work with thus far. “Talent” is still in development at Universal, and we're supposed to be seeing a script shortly. I don't think I can say who the writer is since they haven't announced it, but he worked on a film I expect will be one of the big blockbusters of 2008. “Outcast” is also still in development at Universal. Right now they're looking for a new writer. “The Sisterhood”, which is a comic book miniseries Sniegoski and I wrote, is set up at Intermedia with a major writer and an up-and-coming director attached. Sniegoski and I are co-producing that one with Harry and Mary Jane Ufland and with Intermedia. It's looking very promising, but nothing is a done deal until you start actually shooting a film...and sometimes not even then. Also, I did a YA book series called “The Hollow” with my old friend Ford Gilmore, and that's been set up for TV with Lionsgate. There is definite movement on that front with a cable channel and a major TV series creator/producer, but again, I don't think I'm allowed to say more than that.

Q: Many of your titles could be described as ‘urban fantasy’ which is extremely hot right now. How do you feel about the subgenre’s popularity and the fact that publishers are signing and releasing so many new urban fantasy titles?

Christopher: It's weird, actually. I think what constitutes "urban fantasy" has changed dramatically in the past two or three years. To me, THE VEIL and THE HIDDEN CITIES and THE SHADOW SAGA and some of the other things I've done really are urban fantasy. But these days, the phrase has come to mean any of the many ass-kicking, supernatural-fighting female-driven sagas that have come out of the post-Buffy, post-Anita Blake age. Certainly it extends to
Jim Butcher and Simon Green, etc., though their series aren't female-driven. But they all do follow what I think of as a TV series kind of structure—core protoganist in an ongoing series of adventures. My SHADOW SAGA stuff follows the pattern—in fact I'd like to see those four books republished to take advantage of that fact—but the other things I've done that I consider urban fantasy don't fit the current marketplace definition. As for publishers taking advantage of the readership's interest in that subgenre formula...why not? If that's what people want to read, fantastic. Supply and demand. The only trouble I see is that, as always happens when something gets “hot,” publishers will invariably start buying sub-standard work to fill slots on their publishing schedules. In time, publishing that stuff alongside work by the really talented writers who sparked the popularity of the subgenre to being with will end up hurting the overall perception of the subgenre, and the whole thing will collapse. The people who are really good won't really be hurt by that, but once the bubble bursts, a lot of people—readers and writers alike—will move on to something else. It's a cycle that publishing goes through on a regular basis.

Q: Lastly, since you weren’t able to participate in the 2007 Review/2008 Preview
HERE, I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you again :) Basically, what were your favorite books that you read in 2007, and what titles are you most looking forward to (or have already read) in 2008?

Christopher: My top five favorite books that I read in 2007 were:

1)Heart-shaped Box” by
Joe Hill
2)The Devil You Know” by Mike Carey
3)The Tin Roof Blowdown” by James Lee Burke
4)The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
5)The Blue Girl” by Charles de Lint

So far in 2008, they include “Duma Key” by
Stephen King (his best in forever), “Promises To Keep” by de Lint, “Crooked Little Vein” by Warren Ellis, and...without question, Neil Gaiman's wonderful “The Graveyard Book”, which doesn't come out until the end of the year but which I was fortunate enough to get an early look at. It's my favorite of Gaiman's novel's, I think.


Mihai A. said...

Very good review and interview. Great thing that you put those together. Congratulations.

Robert said...

Thanks Mihai! I think the short interview turned out pretty good :D

Harry Markov said...

Oh, exciting! I loved this interview and the review too. Sounds like a must have.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Christopher Golden and had the chance to interview him over on Flames Rising a couple of years ago.

This Q&A is a great read. I recently picked up Baltimore, but haven't had the time to read it quite yet.

Robert said...

Thanks Daydream and Matt! The trilogy is definitely worth reading and Matt, I'm pretty sure you'll love Baltimore :D


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