Behind the Scenes: Writing a Predator Tie-in Novel

Inasmuch as I'm known as anything in the writing world, it's as a "literary fantasist". In fact, my last novel, Shriek: An Afterword, was about as literary as you can get and still be published by a large New York publisher. So it came as a surprise to some of my readers that this month Dark Horse has published Predator: South China Sea, written by yours truly. This novel is unabashedly action-adventure with a SF veneer. It's my idea of the ideal third Predator movie, preferably as directed by the ghost of Sam Peckinpah.

Predatorcover  Predator Predator_limited
The Dark Horse edition (art by Stephen Youll), the Romanian edition from Millenium, and a joke "limited edition" (John Coulthart)

Why did I take on this project? First of all, I like the Predator movies quite a bit. I think the second one is underrated simply because it has a very outdated sense of fashion. I also welcomed the opportunity to invert my normal ratio of action and experiment with cutting scenes and creating tension in ways different than in my other novels. I knew my next novel, which I'm completing now, would be a mix of fantasy and noir mystery, with an intricate plot. Doing the Predator novel would teach me a lot. Finally, the contrast to Shriek appealed to me--I hate doing the same thing twice.

As it turned out, I had a lot of fun writing Predator: South China Sea. It features a battle-tested Predator against an island full of ex-military men, spies, crooks, and pirates. I managed to reveal a little more about Predators generally, which should appeal to the core fans, and I added touches that are specific to my original work: like a fungus-based invasive species that comes to Earth as a result of the Predator's sloppy hygiene. It's got shoot-outs in ancient temple ruins, fights with 28-foot-long African crocodiles, double and triple crosses, and characters I grew very fond of by the time I'd finished writing the novel.

I got so immersed in writing this novel that I remember that about six weeks before I was supposed to turn it in, I went out to my car to run an errand and was relieved to see I had a flat tire. A flat tire meant I couldn't leave the house. So I went right back in and kept working on the novel. I didn't have the tire fixed until six weeks later. I only left the house on weekends, with my wife driving her car. I converted one room into a gym and did my weightlifting in the mid-afternoons before going back to writing.

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