I would like to thank the IAMTW for honoring me with the Faust award. I’m proud to be the first female Grandmaster for the organization.
When I heard the name of the IAMTW’s Grandmaster Award, it struck me as ironic that it’s officially the “Faust Award.” I know this title refers to Frederick Faust, who wrote as Max Brand, but to those of us who work in media universes, it sometimes comes down to making a deal with the devil, doesn’t it? Some members of the writing profession look down on those who take on media tie-in projects as having sold out, or assume they’re lazy and can’t do the work to create “real” fiction. Those of us here all know, of course, that nothing could be further from the truth. It is every bit as challenging to write a good tie-in story as it is a good original novel. When you throw in tight deadlines, unreasonable and clueless studio minions, and the rules of story canon, it can be even more difficult than writing an original book.
But a good story is a good story, no matter what universe it is written in.
My dear friend Andre Norton once listened to me complaining about how tie-in writers aren’t respected the way they should be, and remarked, “Being a storyteller is one of the oldest and most valued professions. Without stories to lift us out of life’s problems and doldrums, where would we be? Be proud of what you do.”
Andre was a very wise lady, and her words stuck with me over the years.
As media tie-in writers, we have a responsibility to our readers, our peers, and the field of writing to look out for each other. The next time some publisher offers you author-unfriendly or unreasonable terms, speak up. Share the problem with the IAMTW, and others you know who might be facing a similar situation. You have to speak up about stuff like this. Otherwise, conditions just get worse, and what’s already a tough profession gets even tougher.
Writers associations can help with author-unfriendly situations. I well recall the day I was given a copy of Pocket Books’ blacklist for Star Trek writers. I brought the blacklist to Ben Bova, the current SFWA President, and thanks to SFWA’s intervention, the blacklist became a thing of the past. When I discovered through an audit that Pocket Books was shipping Star Trek books overseas to England, slapping pound stickers over the American bar codes, then trying to claim they weren’t “exporting” them, I again spoke up. SFWA was able to negotiate a cash settlement for the Star Trek authors involved. When Bantam decided that Star Wars writers didn’t deserve royalties, again SFWA tried to improve this situation.
All of these problems happened before the IAMTW was created. I wish I’d had time to get involved with volunteering for IAMTW, but by the time the organization existed, I was dedicating all my volunteer time to SFWA, especially co-chairing Writer Beware, which was founded back in 1998.
Many people have helped me with my writing career, and I’d like to take a few moments to acknowledge them. Kathleen O’Malley, my first editor and later collaborator, taught me to think when I wrote, rather than just putting down the first words that popped into my head. She’s been my long-time beta reader, and I owe her a debt I can never repay.
Andre Norton allowed me to come and play in her universe. I learned a lot about spinning tales from The Lady, as we called her.
Victoria Strauss, my partner in running Writer Beware, is my other primary beta reader as well as a close friend. Thanks, Vic, for everything.
My husband, three-time SFWA President Michael Capobianco, worked hard during his administrations to protect the rights of tie-in writers. He’s also been my brainstorming buddy, especially for my tie-in books. I could never have produced many of my books without his input.
Thanks also go to my friends, Howard Weinstein, Bob Greenberger, and Peter David. All of them have inspired me at one time or another.
I’d also like to thank those who collaborated with me on my original StarBridge series, which is now out in e-book form, and soon to be re-released in hardcopy. Kathleen O’Malley, Jannean Elliott, Tom King, Ru Emerson and Deb Rollison…thank you.
And finally, I would like to thank the franchises which gave me the chance to play in their sandbox. Writing dialogue for characters like Han Solo, Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Spock was a lot of fun…a dream come true.
To all of you here tonight, I wish you a fun and safe convention, and I thank you for your readership and support.