Friday, February 25, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: An interview with Warren Fahy on the publication of Pandemonium

So, last night I blogged about some exciting but unexpected news from novelist Warren Fahy, and I invited him to come here and comment further.  He graciously agreed to do so.  What started out as an invitation to write a guest blogger post quickly devolved into an interview because I threw so many questions at the poor guy!  What follows are his frank and illuminating answers to the questions I posed. 

Susan:  Do you have any intention of making Pandemonium available in print?

Warren:  Certainly! I've already had quite a few emailing me with that question, of course. It was my intention all along to publish through Bantam Delacorte. However, with the protracted changes to the manuscript, in which many good suggestions made by my editors at Random House required major restructuring of the story, I had extended myself to the point that it was necessary to bring my book to market. A writer's got to eat. When Random House dug in and insisted that I make one final and, to my mind, devastating change that would have required a total revision to the purpose and theme of the book, it was obvious I would need to find another publisher. As you know, that means many months down the road to reach a payday, and the rent must be paid.

Since the book never actually entered the editing stage, I decided to put my editor's hat on and do the final polish myself. I was a managing editor for years. That last thin layer of work is where the magic happens in a novel. When the concrete foundations of a book are allowed to set, the characters can come to life inside a story, interacting and reacting to each other and their surroundings. You can't really get to that stage, which is the fun part, really, if you don't have a stable foundation. You can't put varnish on a yacht if you have to tear it apart and turn it into a log cabin. I knew what I had was exactly what it needed to be to bookend FRAGMENT in the way that I had always intended. So I took it across the finish line myself and published it myself.

Am I crazy? Perhaps. I’m looking forward now to getting on with my next thriller, too, which has been bubbling on the back burner.

Can you elaborate on "creative differences"?

I don’t want to color the reader’s experience by going into too much detail. Suffice it to say that I felt the changes would have been, in my conception of the characters, inexplicable. Since this is a sequel that picks up some 120 days after FRAGMENT, and not merely another entry in a series, the dramatic events
at the end of FRAGMENT had to lead into the next book, in my mind. I didn’t want to just write “Fragment in a cave,” to use the old “Die Hard on a Bus” line. There were too many intriguing and world-changing events at the end of FRAGMENT to simply move on. I felt it would have robbed the characters of something essential. Random House felt differently, and I respect that. Sometimes, alas, you have to go with your heart. That’s how I wrote the first book, and I wanted this book to be a satisfying continuation of that experience.

Do you have thoughts about current trends and upheavals in the bookselling and publishing world?

The publishing industry has been damaged by the global economic troubles like every other business. Combined with the proliferation of illegal pirated downloads, sales have been down dramatically across the board. The music and movie business has been diligent about policing pirating. But publishing has become the Somali coast of pirating in the last few years.

I have personally counted over 100,000 illegal downloads of FRAGMENT – proudly advertised on bit torrent file-sharing sites, if their own numbers are to be believed. Dozens of sites have offered FRAGMENT for free. My agent has told me I should feel proud, since most books aren’t so avidly copied. (He was joking, of course.) This is devastating to authors and publishers alike. My book deal came along right before the economic crisis and the Cambrian explosion of free downloads. So the landscape in publishing has changed dramatically over that short period of time. In the meantime, eBooks have come along, as well, offering some hope to authors feeling the pinch.

Would you consider returning to a traditional print publishing contract for future titles?

I certainly hope to. I’ve never even read an eBook. When I was 19 I was the manager of a Vroman’s bookstore in Eaglerock, California. I love books. I felt the best way to interest another publisher was to simply show the book I wrote in eBook form. Let the market decide. In the meantime, I can buy some Top Ramen and pay the electric bill.

Will we be seeing any of these characters in the future? Is this a sequel, or the second of a continuing series?

PANDEMONIUM is a sequel to FRAGMENT. I have ideas for another sequel, as well. The difference between a series and a sequel is that a sequel continues to build the world whereas a series, not always but most of the time, starts fresh with only a few references to events from previous novels. I look at PANDEMONIUM as the “Aliens” to FRAGMENT’s “Alien.”

What's going on with the Fragment film? When will we see it in theaters?

The film was stalled in Hollywood for about a year and was taken in a direction I was not involved with and which didn’t spark interest. The Hollywood economy has been equally affected by the times. I felt that it was important for the movie to be true to the book, to its premise, which is an original take on the familiar “Lost World” scenario. Lloyd Levin (The Watchmen, The Rocketeer, Die Hard 2, Green Zone), agreed with me and loved my screenplay. He is the producer I eventually optioned the film to. At the moment, a “package” is being put together (director, stars) and when that is in place we’ll be off to the races. I’ll keep everyone updated at my website!

What's next?

There are several other novels of mine, an epic fantasy and a short novel set in the stone age, which I’m tempted to publish like PANDEMONIUM while I’m working on my next thriller, which is entitled “After” and has nothing to do with FRAGMENT or PANDEMONIUM. I have at least three other books in the works, as well.

Huge thanks to Warren Fahy for his candid responses to my questions!  Did I forget any?  If so, please pose them in the comments.

I'm now more anxious than ever to dive into the novel.  Oh, and Warren, you're welcome to visit and guest blog on a subject of your choosing any time you want.

UPDATE 3/8/2011:  Pandemonium is temporarily unavailable on Amazon and other ebook selling sites.  Reader response was strong enough to interest several publishers in the book, and it is currently unavailable while negotiations are ongoing.  I'll post updates as news is available.  Congrats to the lucky readers who grabbed it quick!


  1. Warren, in case you come back to Susan's blog, I would like you to know that your single phrase of "Cambrian explosion of free downloads" directly resulted in my (legally) downloading Fragment!

    Any author who can use an epic evolutionary event to describe a modern technological trend deserves a little support!

    I am looking forward to diving into Fragment!

  2. Warren, I self-published and have been following JA Konrath's blog about the same venture. I applaud your commitment to being faithful to your voice and story and I look forward to downloading Pandemonium legally, especially as you compare it to Aliens! I will recommend Fragment and I am sure I will the sequel as well. All my best. Thanks to Susan for such great information.

  3. Nicole,

    I can't wait to hear what you think of Fragment!


    Thanks for stopping by here. Joe Konrath is a friend of mine, and I'm a big fan of his blog, too. That said, has he taught you nothing? How is it possible that you didn't plug the title of your self-published work here?

    Do come visit again. I owe you a shameless plug. ;-)