The first book in the new series, Lawyers in Hell, is scheduled for a July release.
How did it feel climbing back into the saddle, so to speak, especially with a combination
of returning, established authors and a crop of new writers, both published and unpublished?
In Heroes in Hell (HIH), we'd always used one or more previously unpublished writers,
or writers who were novelists but had not published short fiction. We invited some
veteran Hellions, and wrote the first stories as guide stories, as we'd always done.
There was groping at first for new writers and an understanding of our Hell among
those not adequately familiar with the previous books. It felt good from the first:
exciting, adventurous. The group still feels that way today, and those feelings
permeate the stories. Sometimes we need to correct them, but the enthusiasm among
the Hellions is contagious.
Were there any lessons from the original series that you wanted to avoid this time
We avoided the pitfalls we and other shared-world proprietors had found by making
the rules for writing in our Hell very clear from the beginning: the characters
and milieu belong to the series; writers cannot take their characters and hell milieu
outside our franchise. That solved the proprietary problems. Other problems, literary
and plot difficulties, need to be handled as they emerge. The interactive nature
of the Hellions Working Group allows us to do this quickly and smoothly. The camaraderie
has held, among the group, and that is most important: the respect and help one
another and the stories are the better for this.
Hell as a subject can be touchy to certain elements of society. There must have
been some ground-breaking concepts in the original series. Was there any controversy
or backlash from the material? If so, do you think people will be more accepting
this time around?
Certain sects and fundamentalist-leaning people found our portrayals of the various
underworlds disturbing, one assumes. Those people simply don't buy these books.
Hell is very tongue-in-cheek, yet very serious. We tackle big issues. If that isn't
to someone's taste, they don't read it. But today people are more connected and
many are more sophisticated. The HIH series is best enjoyed by people with a like
sensibility. We can reach more of those people, worldwide, today.