Playing in Another Person's Sandbox
It has been a great pleasure to add one of my stories to the G.I. Joe universe via Kindle Worlds. Tight Spots was great fun to write, and I hope some of that fun transmits to the readers. I mean, the purpose of this thing is entertainment, after all. To those of you who are curious as to the genesis of this, let me tell you a story …
Born in the mid 70s, I came of age in the golden years of action figures. G.I. Joes had not only turned tiny and offered a whole slew of pop culture icons (freaking ninjas in the army? Awesome!), but they had joined the other epic battle toys as cartoon and comic books stars. Sure, those cartoons were essentially advertisements for the toys, and I was sucker enough to want the Rattler and the Snowcat, but on the comic book side at least something else was going on, as well. The books were not simple product placement but a universally accepted format for sharing stories of heroism and duty, villainy and larger than life excitement. Every society has their tales of gods and monsters. In our society, which seems to be caught with its finger on the fast forward button, it seems that every generation has its own stories. I cannot speak about the whole generation, but I can speak for my own experience.
Comics were always a big part of my storytelling tradition – never the only part, but big nonetheless – and Larry Hama’s honest talents for telling tales of soldiers and terrorists was a big part of my landscape of story. Sure, the Joes, the Cobras, and even the Oktober Guard were not a universe unto themselves. They rubbed elbows with everything else I enjoyed. George Lucas inspired creations were there too. As were robots who were more than they appeared. As were my stuffed animals and roleplaying game books. As were the countless shows I watched after school or on Saturday mornings, the scary movies I watched on Saturday afternoons, the ninja/samurai magazines I read to tatters, or the novels I visited and revisited. In my, albeit cracked, perspective: Alfred Hitchcock Presents the Three Investigators mysteries stand alongside Watership Down and MacBeth and The Iliad as some of the books I read again and again in grade school. As were old Lost in Space eps, John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China and Platoon, Starlog and Fangoria magazines and more. Hell, even Disney added pulp adventure to their recipe with Ducktales and Talespin. When I was a kid, all these things hit a blender. It was only natural for me to have adventures (telling stories with toys) that came out of other peoples’ sandboxes. And no matter where those stories happened, the Joes and Cobras were there for a long time, supporting characters to main stars.
Fast forward to a guy who is closing in on forty and you’ll find someone who still has the twinkle in the eye when it’s playtime. Sure, there are very serious things to do in this life, and as my wife will tell you, when I am focused on a task, I perform to the best of my ability. However, she’ll also tell you that I have a love of puns and whimsy. Life has its serious moments, sure. But a life best lived (IMHO) is one that isn’t lived super seriously all the time.
Which brings us to this chance to play in someone else’s sandbox. I hadda do it. There was no other choice, I tell ya!
When the Kindle Worlds opportunity was first announced, I thought: well that sounds fun! But I wasn’t all that inspired to write a Silo story. I tried my hand at a Wayward Pines piece, but it went nowhere, and I moved back into my own universes.
I write a lot. I have several pseudonyms, not because I am ashamed of material (sometimes the markets, but never the material) but because I like the idea of branding things. And then JA Konrath happened, changing the terms of the Kindle Worlds so that creators can own their own characters (at least while writing in the two Worlds tied to his own work and the work he developed with Ann Voss Peterson). While I was putting my head together about trying something there (more on this in another blog), I decided to take a look at the current state of the Kindle Worlds. Had there been any or many additions to the KW lineup since the first start? Oh my, had there been. As I scrolled through a few leapt out at me. Veronica Mars? For Realz? Awesome! And then I found … well, you know what I found. I mean, this isn’t a Veronica Mars story I've been talking about, is it?
Then I found out there was an opportunity to write using G.I. Joe characters ... and make a little scratch while doing so? Well, I was sold! That particular sandbox screamed for me to give it a try.
(To Be Continued Tomorrow. Learn: Where My Story Idea Came From)
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