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Since I enjoy tie-in novels, I jumped at a chance to get a review copy of this collection of essays that attempt to explain just how these books come to be. And I found it just as fascinating as I thought I would.

Over the course of 19 chapters, we get a good feel for how the business works. Since many of the authors are telling their own stories, we get some repetition. But that also helps reinforce the point that writing tie-ins is hard work. But it is also a labor of love. I get the feeling that the authors contributing here love doing it, struggles and all.

We get a look at every kind of tie-in imaginable. There are the books based on TV series, as covered by Donald Bain (author of the Murder, She Wrote books), Tod Goldberg, and William Rabkin. Max Allen Collins discusses his two most frustrating novelizations of movies. Is writing for a YA crowd harder or easier? You'll get the answer from Aaron Rosenberg. Writing a novel based on an entire season of episodes, novels based on comic books, and writing novels set between movies are all discussed. Heck, I wasn't aware that some canceled soap operas have continued on-line, but now I know all about that.

My respect for tie-in writers has really grown as a result of reading this book. One of the repeated facts is their short deadline. We're talking weeks to complete a book. And that's with multiple people telling them how the book should be written. This isn't easy work.

Since there are so many different authors, the writing style varies. Most of the essays are conversational, but a couple get more scholarly in tone. Even then, I found the writing readable. A couple of the chapters could have been a bit shorter for my tastes (I'm not a big Bond fan, for example), but I'm sure others will love those chapters.

Really, if you enjoy reading about the adventures of your favorite screen characters, this is a book you need to check out. You'll love getting a peak behind the scenes at how authors create these further stories.
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