Tuesday 10 June 2014

There's No Stopping Thomas E Sniegoski...

Television series, novel series and revisiting Vampirella - Thomas E Sniegoski up-dates Remy Dean on just some of what has happened since his last Scrawl interview...

Tom (left) and Kirby (right)

“Thanks for the kind words about my latest Vampirella story.” Thomas E Sniegoski responds with his characteristic energy, enthusiasm and positivity, “It was a blast getting to write her again.”

As you will know from the previous time I talked with Sniegoski for Scrawl, I am a fan of Vampirella and opened by telling him how much I enjoyed On The Side Of The Angels, the collected series of the new Vampirella Strikes that keeps up the quality and spirit of 're-invention' from his earlier Vengeance of Vampirella series... 

There are always rumours of a new Vampirella movie and recently there was some vague talk about a big budget Hollywood one… With the recent ‘glut’ of blockbusters based on superhero comics, it would seem like an opportunity to ‘strike’ while the iron is hot… I am digging here, but Tom has heard nothing solid about any adaptations being currently considered.

Vampirella is On The Side of the Angels
One thing that does seem quite clear is that comics transition to the big screen quite readily – I suppose they are ready-made storyboards...

“When they're done well, they're absolutely amazing,” Tom concedes, “and so far the track record has been pretty good. There have only been few ‘dogs’ here and there. I love the fact that the creators doing these films seem to have a genuine respect for the source material. If somebody had told me thirty years ago that we would be seeing Thor, Captain America and The Avengers on the big screen - and have them be done well - I probably wouldn't have believed it possible… but here we are!”

I wonder what the so called ‘literary’ writer could learn from comics?

“Hmm, that's a tough one…” He ponders, “They're two very different kinds of writing. If I had to say anything, I would say that a comic can teach a literary writer about how to be more succinct in their story telling. You only have so much space to fit in a word balloon, so you have to make the words that you can fit really count. Comics can also help with the visualisation of a story. Breaking down certain actions - be it a fight scene, or a car chase - into panels inside your head can help with laying out a particular scene in a book.”

Tom knows a thing or three about different kinds of writing, he has been writing for comics since the 1980s, has contributed to video games, writes short fiction, novels and series fiction. His writing always seems fast-paced and very visual, does that come from honing his skills with comic scripting?

“I'm sure some of it comes from that,” he agrees.

I get the feeling from the visuality of his written texts that perhaps he imagines the stories and runs them like a movie in his head, recounting what he ‘sees’…

“Yeah, that's a pretty good description. I love movies and television so it's very easy to see it all played out before your mind's eye.”

Yet each format - novel, series fiction, comic, screenplay – are also vastly different. Does Tom’s writing approach vary?

“Completely... Each one is approached differently. Novels are the toughest, and require the most work. Series fiction is pretty much the same thing - if it's in novel form, it's tough. The only difference with series fiction is that you already know some of the characters. Comics and screenplays are a little more ‘loose’ in their execution… and for the finished product you're not responsible for all the work like a novel. With comics, you'll likely be working with an artist, and screenplays, actors, directors and a whole host of other talented folks that are needed to make a movie.”

Is the screen the goal? When Tom is writing series fiction such as The Fallen - which has now been adapted into a five-part television series - is it with a literary, word-based focus or is he really thinking ‘TV proposal’ - are the books some sort of compromise because he does not have a producer lined up for them?

The Fallen # 5
“I love series fiction because it lets me flesh out worlds, and characters to their fullest.  They're always books first in my mind… If the whole TV, or movie thing comes along after, that's cool too, but I never think of these ideas as anything other than books first.”

For any new readers who are unfamiliar with the series, how wold Sniegoski sum up The Fallen?

The Fallen series is about Aaron Corbet who on his 18th Birthday learns that he is a Nephilim, the offspring of a human/angel pairing, and that because of this, he has made himself the target for a group of angel enforcers called The Powers. The Powers believe that the children of angels, and humans are freaks – ‘abominations’ - and an affront to the Lord God. However, there is a prophecy that a special Nephilim would be born who would redeem all the fallen angels, and allow them to return to Heaven. The Powers don't care for this idea at all, and are attempting to eradicate all the Nephilim, just in case this prophecy happens to be true.

“It was a fun series to write. Originally there were four books, now collected as The Fallen Volume One and Two, and then I was allowed to write three more original novels.

In collaboration with Christopher Golden
Another series of novels that seemed ripe for the screen were the Menagerie series, so what happened with those?

The Menagerie is another favourite of mine, written with my good friend, Christopher Golden. The Menagerie series is about a team of legendary characters, each with his or her own powers and mystical, mythical origins. Chris and I took characters or concepts from well-known legends and mythology and made them our own. It was sort of like a supernatural Mission Impossible team. There were four books in the series, and there were supposed to be more, but sales weren't what the publisher was hoping for. Some day, Chris and I would love to write a final Menagerie book to wrap up the major story arc which we never got to finish... Some day..."

If someone had never read anything Sniegoski at all, where should they start?

“If nobody has ever read me before I'd recommend that they start with my Remy Chandler books. I like to call them my ‘Big-Boy Books’. The first Remy book, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, was the first time that I really tested myself as a writer - going places that normally I wouldn't have felt comfortable going to. I think it was a real wake up call for me as a writer.”

Remy Chandler # 1
Is there any particular piece of work that he is either the most proud of, or that means something special on a personal level?

“I'm extremely proud of the Remy books, and they're most definitely the most personal of my work. Though I did write a short story not too long ago for a collection that Christopher Golden was putting together - 21st Century Dead - which I'm extremely proud of. The story was called Ghost Dog and Pup: Stay, and I was really taken aback by how much it affected me to write it. It was an extremely emotional experience doing it. I think it's one of the best things I've ever written, and would love to expand on it someday as a novel... Guess I'll just have to add it to 'the list'."

Sometimes it gets difficult for a successful writer to find the time to read… I wonder if Tom makes time to read books, and what he may have enjoyed recently?

“I just finished Snowblind by Christopher Golden, which was fantastic. Before that, I read The Troop, by Nick Cutter which was one of the best horror reads that I've had in a while. Currently, I'm reading The Language Of Dying, by Sarah Pinborough, which is really amazing so far.”

…and, I should think, he will be having a glance at the continuing Vampirella arc, but what else is currently on Sniegoski’s comics and graphic novels shelf?

“I read quite a few monthly titles still… love some of the new stuff Marvel has been doing - The Avengers titles, Warren Ellis's new Moon Knight, James Robinson's Fantastic Four, et cetera. Fun stuff. Loving all the Dark Horse Hellboy stuff. Image has got quite a few titles that I'm really enjoying... Revival, Black Science, Manifest Destiny, Saga, East of West. The Batman stuff over at DC is quite good. The graphic novels that I absolutely love from Archaia-Boom are Hopeless Maine, Volumes One and Two. They're by Tom and Nimue Brown and they're stunning!”

Enthusiasm and positivity! Tom sounds just as happy with his lot as he did last time we talked...

- you can read his earlier interview here - 

So thank you, Thomas E Sniegoski …now get back to that ‘list’!

Thomas E Sniegoski was talking with Remy Dean

if you enjoyed this interview, you can... 

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