*Interview* Author, Tim Waggoner talks latest novelization, Halloween Kills

Thank you for joining me, Tim, your latest book is the novelization of the movie, Halloween Kills. Before we chat about that, I would like to chat about some of your previous work, to begin, how did you get involved in the world of writing?

I’ve been telling stories one way or another all my life, but it wasn’t until I read an interview with Stephen King when I was sixteen that I realized people could actually choose writing as a career. I started writing seriously, with a goal of publication, when I was eighteen, and I haven’t stopped since!

As a writer, did Covid-19 impact you and your work routine? 

Yes. I’m also a full-time professor of English at a community college, so when Covid hit, my school shifted to all remote-delivery classes. I had no commute, so this meant I had extra time to write. And since I didn’t venture out in public unless absolutely necessary, I had even more time to write. Writing so much also kept my mind busy so I didn’t think about the awful things that were happening in the world as much as I might have otherwise.

You have written books of different genre, what is your favourite genre to write?

Horror, or weird dark fantasy that’s horror-adjacent. I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid – the weirder the better – and it’s the genre that feels most natural to me. Don’t get me wrong. I like writing in other genres too, and I love blending all sorts of genres, but horror is where my dark heart will always be.

Before writing a novel on Michael Myers, you wrote, A Nightmare On Elm Street: Protege, how did this opportunity come your way?

It was so long ago, I’m not sure! Black Library had the license to produce a number of original novels based on NewLine Cinema’s horror franchises, and I believe I sent the publisher an email query asking if I could write one. I’d written several media tie-in novels before, and I was lucky the publisher gave me a contract to write an original novel about Freddy.

Were you given freedom to create your own unique Nightmare entry?

Yes. I did so in conjunction with the editor I was working with. My first idea was to write a story about Freddy becoming human again. At first he’s thrilled, but when he realizes how limited he is as a human, he wants to return to the dream realm. Unfortunately, something else has taken his place as the dream master, and he has to battle it to regain his throne. I was sixty pages into the story before a NewLine representative killed the idea. They said having Freddy be human again brought up the specter of him being a child abuser when he was alive, and they wanted to avoid that. So I came up with a different idea, which eventually become Protégé. 

When penning the novel for xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage, did you get access to the movie or did they send a copy of the script to you as guidance for you to work from? 

When writing novelizations, all you get from a studio is a script. You don’t know whether it’s the final shooting script or an earlier draft, but it’s what you have to work with. You never get to see the movie ahead of time. The one exception for me was when I wrote the novelization for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The director decided I needed to see the final film, so they flew me out to Hollywood to watch it and takes notes. That was an extremely rare exception, though.

Between 2013 & 2019 you penned some Supernatural novels, we’re these novels ideas from unused scripts original ideas? 

They were all my own original ideas. I had a lot of fun writing those books, and I hope that one day I’ll get an opportunity to do more. It all depends on whether the studio decides to allow any more licensed fiction now that the series is over.

In order to get the feel for the characters did you have to watch some of the seasons for you to get to know Dean and Sam and their behaviours? 

I’d been watching Supernatural since its premier, so I knew the characters well. But I did pay special attention to episodes when I was writing those books so I could immerse myself in their speech patterns and mannerisms to help me make the novels more authentic.

Out of the Supernatural novels you have penned, what was your personal favourite and why?

I wrote a book called Supernatural: The Roads Not Taken that was a choose-your-own-adventure story, and I had a blast writing the “wrong” choices Sam and Dean made. And because it was Supernatural, Sam and Dean are actually experiencing the various branching paths of the story.

You have been involved with quite a few tie-ins, would you find these more challenging to write than original ideas? 

I don’t find them any more challenging than writing original novels, but they do exercise a different set of creative muscles. In some ways, writing tie-ins is like directing and acting in a play. You have to find a way to bring something that already exists to life for an audience.

Onto your latest release, the novelization of Halloween Kills! How did you find yourself writing this novel? 

I’d written tie-ins for Titan Books before, and an editor contacted my agent and asked if I’d be interested in doing the book, and I said hell yes! I’ve been a Halloween fan since the first movie came out in ’78, and it was a thrill to get to write this novelization.

What was the writing process like for Halloween Kills? Did you face any challenges? I can imagine writing from Michaels POV must have been quite difficult? 

Writing from Michael’s point of view was probably the most challenging part of the novel. I read John Passarella’s novelization of the 2018 Halloween to see how he handled Michael’s POV, and I read Dennis Etchison’s novelization of Halloween II (which he wrote under the pseudonym Jack Martin) to see how he did it. I’m a huge fan of Dennis’ work, so much so that I dedicated Halloween Kills to him. I also used Loomis’ descriptions of Michael from the ’78 film to guide me. I tried to write Michael the same way I might write a predator like a shark. Sharks are what they do, they react to stimuli in their environment, and act without hesitation or doubt. They’re killing machines without self-awareness or any concept of mercy.

Was there much research involved? Did you re-visit any of the movies for inspiration?

As I said, I did read John’s novel. And I rewatched Halloween ’78 and Halloween 2018. I own and have seen all the Halloween films multiple times, but I avoided watching the others as they didn’t have anything to do with the continuity of Halloween Kills.

Being a fan of Halloween, how did it feel to know you were going to write a Halloween movie, along with the experience of including Loomis?

I was thrilled to get to write Michael and Laurie, and when I discovered that there were flashbacks with Loomis, I was ecstatic. How many writers have had a chance to write three such iconic characters in the same book?

In the movie the flashback sequence felt like it was lifted straight out of ’78 and the prosthetics used to create Loomis we’re brilliant, right?

 

I honestly thought it was CGI the first time I saw the film – the best CGI I’d ever seen. I couldn’t get over how real it looked. Now I know why! It was fantastic!

As I have previously asked, did you get a script or an exclusive look at the movie?

Just a script. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I know it was close to the final shooting script.

With it being such a Michael Myers focused movie, what was your favourite chapter to write and is your favourite chapter also your favourite part of the movie? 

Any of the scenes with Michael were my favorite to write, as were the scenes from Laurie’s POV. After that, the scenes with Tivoli – the other escaped mental patient – were my favorite. There was more material about him in the script, and I was able to add some of my own material to develop his character more. My favorite part in the script is when Michael is confronted by the mob at the end. The scene’s a bit different than the own in the film. Michael doesn’t get his mask back right away, and he’s helpless against the crowd until he can get his mask back and put it on. Then his power is restored and he slaughters them all. I like the implication that his mask – his face, as I say in the book – is such a large part of his identity that he isn’t fully The Shape without it.

After writing Halloween Kills, would you like to pen your own original series based around Michael Myers? 

That would great, although I doubt it will ever happen. There have been only a few original Halloween novels, and they were YA books that came out some time ago. But if the opportunity presented itself, I’d jump on it in heartbeat.

With Krueger, Myers and Alien penned, all you need to do is board a Jason Voorhees and Predator novel! Would you have an idea of what to do with the characters? If so, please share…

After I did A Nightmare on Elm Street: Protégé I wanted to do a Jason X novel where scientists send the cyborg Jason back in time to battle his previous incarnations in the hope of destroying Jason and restoring all his victims to life. Unfortunately, Black Library stopped publishing books based on the NewLine properties before I had a chance to do that book. For Predator, I might do a story set in the future, where a spaceship of humans discover a hunting preserve world the Predators have created, one where they’ve gathered members of the deadliest species in the galaxy for them to hunt. So the humans would have to deal with the alien animals as well as Predators.

After the success of Halloween Kills dies down, what can we expect from you next? 

Another tie-in novel, Zombicide Invader: Planet Havoc, will be out in April from Aconyte Books. My next original horror novel, We Will Rise, will be out from Flame Tree Press in July. And The Writing in the Dark Workbook, a follow-up to my Bram Stoker Award-Winning how to write horror book Writing in the Dark, will be out sometime in 2022.

Thank you for your time, Tim! It’s been awesome.