There were a couple. I hit a barrier really early on: actually getting approval for a story idea. The current plot of the Out of the Darkness is my third. Because I chose the Thargoids as a topic, there were quite heavy restrictions on what I could write about because Frontier wasn’t ready to develop them. Also, I tend to favour epic, galaxy-changing plotlines, and they didn’t want my writing to conflict with their creative vision. It’s Frontier’s universe, and finding common ground took a few attempts.
The signing-off of final drafts also poses difficulties. Frontier wants to see near-complete and polished versions only, due to time constraints. I was hoping to submit a preview, but we can’t. I'm still thinking through how to fit the signing-off into the process of submitting to beta readers, an editor, and a proof-reader so as not to delay the book.
The game is not out yet, so we must ask you if you have had much (or enough) insider information about the game. Are there many open questions still remaining?
Frontier is giving us what we need, when they have it. Game design has thousands of elements and finalising those is time consuming. I have enough insider information to start, but nowhere near enough to produce a final polished book. The most vital missing piece at this stage is probably the galactic map. On the forum, we writers are like hungry puppies: ‘Is it ready yet? Is it time? Now? Soon? Now? When? *Whine...*’
What’s different about writing a novel based on a game compared to your previous books?
The single biggest difference has been the availability of information. The Frontier Drones are plugging away like plumbers on speed, but they can’t keep up with the writers’ insatiable appetites for specific facts. As I write as I go, and anything can trigger an idea, it’s been difficult at times to move the story forward until I had what I needed. However, as Frontier really has been pulling out all the stops, the delays have been relatively short. When I write stories in my own setting it’s easier; I can dig into my imagination or fact-find from readily available sources.
Frontier is planning to include aspects of the fiction into the game. Do you have many ideas of what details of your novel you might want to see in the game? Are you willing to reveal some of them at this point?
Some. Not at this stage. My novel’s (current) ending sets up a myth about the characters, but how that can be worked into the game is going to require some discussion.
What are the next steps in your writing process until the book is delivered onto the readers’ hands?
1) Sending the draft out to beta readers. *Nervousness, fear*
2) Incorporating their suggestions and corrections. *Self-righteous defensive indignation, followed by, ‘Oh, he/she has a point…’*
3) Copy editing. *See 1) and 2) above*
4) Approval by Frontier. *See 1) and 2) above, but multiply by a factor of ten*
5) Proofreading. *Huh. Aarrghh. Gibber!*
6) Formatting. *‘Oooooo, it’s all nice and shiny… Oh, wait… Oooooo, it’s all nice and shiny… Oh, wait…’*
7) Distribution. *‘Bye bye, my little story. I hope they are nice to you.*
Thank you, T.J., for chatting with us! And any readers who wish to know more about the novel and its author, please visit T. James' Out of the Darkness site.