|Interview conducted by Stefan Blitz|
Alien: Out of the Shadows is the first book in an all new, official trilogy set in the Alien Universe. Written by Tim Lebbon, the New York Times bestselling author of the movie novelization of 30 Days of Night and The Cabin in the Woods and author of over three dozen other novels, Alien: Out of the Shadows features the iconic Ellen Ripley in a terrifying new adventure that bridges the gap between Alien and Aliens.
Tim Lebbon: Fox approached Titan to publish this new loosely-linked trilogy, and Titan approached me, Jim Moore, and Chris Golden to write the books. I bit their hand off. I love Alien, and had been eager to write a novel for years.
This is the first part of a new prequel trilogy. Was the plot dictated or did you have a fair amount of autonomy? How directly does it tie into the new volumes?
Fox had a very basic outline of the background arc connecting the three novels. That meant that there were certain elements that I had to adhere to (including Ripley, and basing my books between the first two movies) but other than that the development of the story, setting and characters was all my own work. The working relationship went really well, actually, and the few editorial notes Fox did give when I submitted my novel were really perceptive and useful. A pleasure from beginning to end.
Despite seven appearances of the “Alien universe” onscreen, the series is at it’s best when it focuses on Ripley. What makes her such a compelling character?
I think it’s partly the character — her vulnerability and strength, and the terribly sad route her life took. How unlucky would someone have to be? But for me the greater factor that makes her so compelling was Signourney Weaver’s performance. She brought such depth to the character that you couldn’t help loving her. Still one of my favourite movie characters of all time, and for me her greatest performance is in Aliens.
What Alien mythology did you revisit specifically before writing the book? In your mind were you writing more of a sequel to Alien or a prequel to Aliens?
I watched both movies again (hardly a chore), but for me it’s more a sequel to Alien. Mainly because I had to keep in mind all the way through that for my novel, Ripley was still that character who’d only ever seen and fought one alien. Aliens was in her future, and it could have no real effect on her actions in the novel.
Your next book is called The Silence. What can you share about that?
The Silence is a big apocalyptic novel, but told from a very isolated viewpoint. I’ve destroyed the world several times before, but this story is told from the viewpoint of one family trying to survive, and more particularly the deaf daughter. The world is overrun by blind, voracious creatures that hunt purely by sound. To stay alive, you have to remain silent. I love it, and think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.
What are you currently geeking out over?
My last total geek-out was over Breaking Bad, which was sublime TV (although, even though it’s the best TV series I’ve seen, my favourite remains The Shield). I’m reading an outstanding novel right now called The Martian, by Andy Weir. Highly recommended. As for music, I listen to lots of rock, and my favourite band right now is probably Pearl Jam.