Hunter's Run Explored: An Interview with Daniel Abraham, Gardner Dozois, and George R.R. Martin

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(The US, special limited, and UK editions of Hunter's Run.)

What do you get when three stellar writers team up on a high-octane SF novel? You get Hunter's Run, which has been described as "Predator meets Camus' The Stranger". Out from Eos this month, it is the brainchild of NYT Bestseller George R.R. Martin, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning writer and editor Gardner Dozois, and critically acclaimed writer Daniel Abraham, one of the best of the next generation of fantasists. Hunter's Run mixes action and suspense with fascinating characters. Ramon Espejo comes up on the wrong side of the Enye, rulers of the planet of Sao Paulo. As Espejo tries to make sense of his fragmented memories, the stakes rise in a battle between powerful and ruthless species. Fans of all three writers should enjoy this well-crafted novel and, as with the best examples of synergy, it's difficult to tell who wrote what. (Completists may wish to check out the novella version still archived on Ellen Datlow's SciFiction.)

Now, collaborations between two writers are common. Collaborations between three writers are not. In part to satisfy my own curiosity, I recently conducted the following interview with Abraham, Dozois, and Martin, who talked about the process of creating the novel.

Amazon.com: Who came up with the idea for Hunter’s Run and how did the collaboration come to be?

George R.R. Martin: The story started with Gardner. The first time I read it, it was an untitled novella fragment that Gardner had submitted to a writer's workshop in Iowa in 1977. After a strong start, he had gotten stuck on it, and I suppose he was hoping that getting some comments and suggestions from other writers would help get him going again. I don't recall what suggestions I made, but I do remember liking the story...so much so that a couple of years later, when Gardner asked me if I'd like to collaborate with him on the still-untitled, still-unfinished novella, I was glad to jump in. I can claim credit for being the first to suggest that the story should be a novel. It took a couple more decades and another collaborator to accomplish that, but the idea was sound.

Amazon.com: What was the process of collaboration like? Layering, taking separate sections as your own, or...? And how did you resolve any disagreements?

Gardner Dozois: There were a lot of layers here, since it consisted of George overwriting me, Daniel overwriting both of us, and then me overwriting everyone else for the final draft. The major problem was keeping the voice as consistent a possible from section to section, since we didn't want a particular section to stand out in a "Oh, this must be the part Dozois put in" kind of a way. This was occasionally difficult, since, as a good modernist, Daniel prefers things to be as stark and minimalistic as possible, where a lot of the effect of my work and George's depends on color and the richness of the detail and the emotionality of the prose (making it either "evocative" or "purple," depending on your tastes). I handled this by putting back in a lot of the color and detail work that Daniel had cut as unnecessary to the plot, and also by adding paragraphs rich with color and detail early on in the novel as well, so that there'd be a consistency of tone from beginning to end. As the one who was doing the smoothing draft, I got the final say most of the time, although, of course, I consulted George and Daniel on controversial points.

Amazon.com: Daniel, I assume when you were growing up, you always imagined you would be collaborating on a novel with Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin. Am I right?

Daniel Abraham: Of course, but I always imagined it more as a regency romance with overtones of William S. Burroughs. Seriously, it never entered my mind as a possibility until George made the proposal. But I read over the draft they had and the outlined notes for how to move forward with it, and it was a good looking project. Plus it was Gardner and George. All very Marlon Brando offer-you-can't-refuse.

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