Shared World Anthologies
With a shared world, your ideas are handed to you on a plate, more or less. When I was invited to join the Magistria series, I knew it was a world of sorcerers. The editor had a list of sorcerer types, and I picked plants. Yes! A plant mage!! I’ve written stories with sentient and genetically engineered plants. I love them! My first story–for Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer–was Seedlings.
Some of my favorite shared world series include Keith Laumer’s Bolos anthologies and Larry Niven’s Man-Kzin Wars anthologies series, which is up to volume 14 (upcoming). The longer a series runs, the more background has to be taken into consideration. The editor will make final decisions (See below).
Because I enjoyed the Man-Kzin Wars anthologies so much, I interviewed two of the authors, Hal Colebatch and Matthew Joseph Harrington, and learned more about how they became part of the series. Larry Niven created and edits the series, and as Hal Colebatch said: “I should also say that it’s a tribute to Larry Niven’s editorship that the stories are very largely consistent, and, while I can’t judge my own writing, I think the standard of the other stories is consistently very high.”
Matthew Joseph Harrington joined the series later: “My first story ever sold was to Larry Niven for Man-Kzin Wars series… I’d found Larry’s email address; I’d been thinking about the book Protector and what it would take to remove a plague from an entire planet, and about Ringworld Engineers and the fight between a human protector and a kzin, and he expressed interest. I wrote 15000 words in 6 weeks, which is blazingly fast for me, and sent him Teacher’s Pet. Next word I got was a copy of an email he sent to Jim Baen, saying that the series had to be extended past the ten volumes originally planned, because there was a story that had to get into print.”
When I asked Matthew if he’d been asked to write more, after Teacher’s Pet, he said:
“Not asked, but definitely made to feel welcome. One of Larry’s emails to Jim [Baen], which as usual he courteously copied to various people to keep us in the loop, referred to dismay he had known while editing: having to go over spelling and phrasing, cutting material that lagged, and generally teaching people how to write for the series. He included the observation, “Harrington seems to have emerged a fully-trained writer when he sprang from the brow of Zeus or whatever,” which I could not help regarding as encouragement.
“I wrote Teacher’s Pet to tie up some loose ends (I do that) in Known Space. My feeling afterwards was, “Well, that’s done.” Then I got to thinking about Harvey Mossbauer, and I wrote War and Peace.
“Larry’s never solicited a story from me per se. Hal Colebatch had gotten in contact with me after Larry had told Jim [Baen] he wanted Teacher’s Pet, and we struck up a friendship. I sent him my two Peace Corben stories, and he got his fur all buzzed out and wrote Catspaws, …”
Matthew and Hal collaborated on more stories, and at one point, Niven said “NO KZINTI PROTECTORS.” The editor is always right when you’re in a shared world… When I asked about changes in his stories, Matthew said: “After Teacher’s Pet had been accepted, I kept thinking of more details. They told the story better. They also drove Larry half nuts keeping up with them. He coined a new addition to Niven’s Laws: ‘Once a story has sold, stop writing it.’ He told me it’s going to be in the next iteration of them he publishes. (He does a new list every few years.)”
Being part of shared world is fun. I enjoyed my opportunities–the editor knew my work, which is how I got invited into the Magistria world–and other writers came up with great ideas and became part of a fun, new world.
Note: You can learn more about Hal Colebatch and Matthew Joseph Harrington in Joy’s article in ‘Tales of the Talisman (Volume VI, #1)’.
Thank you, Joy.
Joy was born on a farm in Wisconsin and still love barns and the smell of silage (“an acquired taste,” she says). She lived in Boston after graduating from college, and is now back in Florida (not retired) where she spent some of her childhood.
After selling wildlife habitat in the country, she bought a foreclosure earlier this year and had to replace the kitchen, among other things. They’d even taken the kitchen sink! Thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which takes place each November, Joy’s now written three novels. She has three blogs:
- Her writing blog: http://pagadan.wordpress.com
- Her media blog: http://pagadan.livejournal.com
- Her house blog: http://pagadan.blogspot.com
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