Writing in Someone Else’s World
theatlantic.com – Monday August 7, 2017
My first book was not what I dreamed it would be. I started writing professionally when I was in my late 20s, and while I worked my way up from a freelance music journalist to being an editor at The A.V. Club, the non-satirical wing of The Onion, I had one goal: to use all that experience as a springboard toward becoming an author. I had it all mapped out: After years of sacrifice and honing my craft, I would make my triumphant debut, with a book that might not become a bestseller but that’d be respected for its stunning originality and insight into the human condition.
Instead, my first book was The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook. Yes, that Captain Jack Sparrow. As played by Johnny Depp. From The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Based not on an ancient myth or literary archetype, but on a Disney ride. Writing a media tie-in, as works officially attached to other properties are known, wasn’t the start I had in mind. But as many professional authors will attest, the path to publication is rarely the expected one. And my experience writing about the famed Disney pirate—as well as my second media tie-in, a project for the Goosebumps movie—made me think twice about my preconceptions about work-for-hire books. Not to mention those who make them.
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