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The perils of Media Tie-in projects

Woah, talk about a blast from the past. I just received a fan letter for my Gauntlet Dark Legacy novel that was published back in 2004. It was quite flattering, but it brought up a reoccurring question about the book – “what happened to the sequel?”

Gather round and listen to the joys and dangers of writing media tie-in work.

A friend of mine who was an editor at Byron Preiss’s iBooks, Inc label contacted me and asked if I’d like to take a shot at doing the novelization of Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Being a writer, I answered in the only way I could–of course, I’d love to take a shot at it, are you crazy?

Well, would Midway provide a copy of the game? No.
Would Midway provide (X)? No.
Would Midway provide like emoticon? No.
What would Midway provide? A copy of the Prima guide to Gauntlet Dark Legacy.

OK. I’ve worked with less background material. After all, my first professional short story sale was writing the original Avengers 1.5 (aka, I did an Incredible Hulk story set during his time as an Avenger, which was tricky since he was in Avengers #1 and quit in Avengers #2). So, with the instructions that Midway did not want me to just write a story based on playing the various levels, but to create a whole new story set in the Gauntlet Dark Legacy universe.

Got it.

Then the questions started:

Me: What’s the name of the elf?
Midway: Whatever you want to call her?
Me: What’s the name of the wizard?
Midway: Up to you.
Me: What’s the name of any of the cities?
Midway: Who’s writing this?

I got the hint. This was SO weird after doing the Marvel story where everything was gone over with a fine-toothed comb. So, I’d say the novel, Paths of Evil, was 95% mine and 5% Midway material.

Now, iBooks had no expectations of good sales on this book from what I could tell, but it took off. We were getting ready to go back to a second printing and I was feverishly at work on the second novel. I’d left the first novel on a cliffhanger, because hey, it was supposed to be a trilogy. Fan reaction was reasonably favorable – only one or two major brickbats thrown at me, so I’ll take it.

I submitted “Paths of Fear”, I’d seen the rough sketch of the next Bob Larkin cover, and I was waiting to get the edits, so we could meet the Sept. 2005 release date.

Then the bottom fell out.

Byron Preiss was killed in a car accident in June 2005. iBooks and Byron Preiss Visual Productions went into bankrupcy shortly thereafter and all of the iBook licenses reverted to their owners. So, here I was with a book, not only the sequel, but the conclusion of the story I’d left on a cliffhanger, and…

it would never be published.

I certainly didn’t have the money to license the property, the person who bought iBooks wasn’t interested in the property, and no one else has ever expressed interest in reviving the book series. So, Gauntlet Dark Legacy “Paths of Evil” is a one and done of what was going to be my first novel trilogy.

So now, even going on 12 years later, I keep getting asked when the second book is coming out and I have to keep telling people, yes, I completed the second novel, no I can’t share it with them because I don’t OWN the rights to the story and if I did share it with them and one of them decided to upload it to the web, then Midway’s 600 pound gorillas, I mean lawyers, would have bad things to say to me.

Every so often I kick around the idea of shaving the serial numbers and doing something with it, but it seems like more work than just creating something original of my own. Still, somedays I miss hanging out with Morgan, Leyla, Kore, and Orlando.

And I still wonder, does the wizard need food badly?

Originally published at Richard C. White. Please leave any comments there.

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