eSpec Books interviews best-selling author Keith R.A. DeCandido, co-author of To Hell and Regroup, (co-written with David Sherman and currently funding on Kickstarter) as well as author of The Precinct Series and a wide array of media tie-in novels.
eS: Hi, Keith. Thank you for joining us today. To Hell and Regroup is very decidedly military science fiction. What challenges did you face helping to write it, being of a non-military background?
KRAD: Well, being of a non-military background, mostly. I’ve known enough to fake my way through fictional militaries in the past, in the worlds of places like Star Trek and Farscape and such, but to do a novel that’s almost 100% from the POV of military personnel was on a whole ‘nother level. But I enjoyed that challenge, as it forced me to really up my game. I’ve learned a lot, honestly.
eS: While you have extensive experience with media tie-in work, 18th Race has the added complications of being the third and final book in the series, as well as being co-written with the originator of that series. What was the experience like? How did it differ from your usual types of projects?
KRAD: It’s actually very much like writing a media tie-in, because it’s a world created by someone else, and my responsibility as an author is to write a story that fits in the mode of that universe. So it doesn’t really differ from my tie-in work—or my other work in shared universes like V-Wars and Scattered Earth—hardly at all. I’ve written in forty different universes that other people created, so plugging myself into someone else’s vision is pretty much second nature after 25 years of this…
eS: How much creative input did you have in shaping the storyline? Please tell us a bit about it.
KRAD: David plotted the storyline out and wrote many of the chapters. My main job was to finish the story, and also come up with some of the specific details of the climax beyond the general outline I got from David. All this was done, of course, in consultation with and collaboration with, not just David, but also editor Mike McPhail at eSpec. Both David and Mike are ex-military, unlike my civilian self, so both were very useful at backstopping my screwups.
eS: Though you are known for your media tie-in work, you have quite a few works of your own creation. Can you tell us about some of your other works?
KRAD: I’ve got several original universes I’m working in right now. The biggest is one I’m doing for eSpec, the “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals. These books are about two detectives in the Cliff’s End Castle Guard who maintain law and order in the city-state. It’s an epic fantasy setting, but the plots are straight-up mysteries, albeit with fantasy elements. It’s fun to mix the fantasy chocolate with mystery peanut butter. I’ve done five novels so far (the latest is Mermaid Precinct) and a short-story collection, with at least two more novels and another short-story collection due over the next several years.
In addition, I kicked off a new urban fantasy series in 2019, the Bram Gold Adventures, about a guy from the Bronx who hunts monsters for a living. Book 1, A Furnace Sealed, came out in early 2019 from WordFire Press, and I’m working away at Book 2, which doesn’t have a title yet.
I’ve got another fantastical police procedure series, the Super City Cops, which takes place in a modern city that is full of superheroes and super-villains. I’ve got four new novellas in that series coming out soon from Falstaff Books.
Finally, I’m doing a cycle of urban fantasy stories set in Key West, Florida about a woman named Cassie Zukav, who’s a bit of a weirdness magnet. The stories involve scuba diving, rock and roll music, Norse gods, folklore, and beer drinking. The first batch of stories were collected into a book in 2013 from Plus One Press called Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, and once I’ve got enough stories for a second collection, Plus One will release that, as well, which will be called Ragnarok and a Hard Place.
eS: What authors do you like to read for your own personal enjoyment? And why?
KRAD: I’m addicted by Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell books. I also love the novels of Carl Hiaasen and George Pelecanos, and also books about baseball.
eS: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
KRAD: Finish what you start. It’s much easier to revise and improve a finished story than it is a fragment. And yes, it’s hard—if it was easy, everyone would do it. This is work—treat it like work, and you’ll have more success.
eS: What upcoming projects would you like to tell us about?
KRAD: Well, the big ones next are Phoenix Precinct and the second Bram Gold book. Beyond that, nothing I can talk about in any detail quite yet…
eS: What do you do for fun?
KRAD: Cook. Watch baseball. Take karate classes at the dojo. Go to museums and zoos and botanical gardens (of which we have many of all three here in New York). Travel.
Keith R.A. DeCandido is a writer and editor of more than three decades’ standing (though he usually does them sitting down). He is the author of more than 50 novels, more than 100 short stories, around 75 comic books, and more nonfiction than he is really willing to count. Included in those credits is fiction in the worlds of Star Trek, Alien, Farscape, Doctor Who, Andromeda, BattleTech, and many other science fiction milieus, as well as in universes of his own creation (such as the “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals, also published by the fine folks at eSpec). As an editor, he has worked with dozens of authors, among them Mike W. Barr, Alfred Bester, Margaret Wander Bonanno, Adam-Troy Castro, Peter David, Diane Duane, Harlan Ellison, Tony Isabella, Stan Lee, Tanith Lee, David Mack, David Michelinie, Andre Norton, Robert Silverberg, Dean Wesley Smith, S.P. Somtow, Harry Turtledove, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Roger Zelazny. Having edited David Sherman’s first two 18th Race books, Issue in Doubt and In All Directions, he is honored to assist him in finishing the trilogy by coauthoring To Hell and Regroup with him. Keith is also a martial artist (he got his third-degree black belt in karate in 2017), a musician (currently with the parody band Boogie Knights), and a baseball fan (having avidly followed the New York Yankees since 1976). Find out less about Keith as his cheerfully retro web site at DeCandido.net.