Tim Lebbon is the author of nearly thirty books, including The Island and, with Chris Golden, the acclaimed Hidden Cities series. He is the winner of numerous British Fantasy Awards and a Bram Stoker Award. He lives in the Welsh countryside with his wife and children.
His brand new book, Alien: Out of the Shadows, will be out from Titan at the end of January, and Tim stopped by to answer a few of my questions…
Kristin Centorcelli: Your new novel, Alien: Out of the Shadows will be out at the end of January and is the first of a new trilogy! It also features the beloved Ellen Ripley. Will you give us a bit of a teaser as to what fans of the films can expect from the new book?
Tim Lebbon: The premise of the new trilogy (which is actually a very loose trilogy, with the stories linked by theme but little else) actually came directly from Fox, and I had to develop my part of it. My novel features Ellen Ripley in a new adventure, in new surroundings, and with new characters. Although fans will meet one other character that they know. To say more would be to give stuff away, but…in the 57 years that Ripley was adrift between Alien and Aliens, she wasn’t always asleep.
TL: It was quite a detailed process coming up with the story idea and having it OKd by Fox, but after that I was on my own until novel delivery. My process is pretty much what it’s always been, revolving around a busy family life — I wrote from 9 in the morning until about 3:30 in the afternoon, then after my kids are home from school I’ll generally do all the other stuff that’s associated with it. Emails, interviews, editing, developing new ideas…
Of course, I was conscious that I was writing in a well-loved universe and that there’s a huge fanbase, and I wanted to make sure I treated the universe well. But I’ve had a bit of experience with that, working in the Star Wars and Hellboy worlds. I always like to try and deliver something a little different…a Lebbon story in someone else’s world.
KC: I have to ask…which Alien movie is your favorite?
TL: I’d have to say Aliens. I think a lot of favourites are coloured by nostalgia, and that movie has stuck with me from the very first time I saw it when I was 17 or 18. It’s close to perfect. F**kin A.
KC: What did you enjoy most about writing Ripley?
TL: Trying to delve deeper into her character, and also to figure out where she was mentally at that particular point in the timeline. My Ripley had only ever seen one alien, so it was interesting taking her onward from that point. I love Ripley. She’s hard as nails, yet vulnerable. Much of that comes from Weaver’s sublime portrayal of the character.
KC: Why do you think the Alien franchise is so popular?
TL: I think the alien is an original, terrifying, exciting monster, and at the time it was very new and fresh. I also think that the acting — especially Sigourney Weaver — elevated the films (the first two especially) into classic status.
KC: Will you give us a glimpse of what’s to come in the forthcoming novels?
TL: Well, I can only talk about mine, and I’ve said most of what I can about that above. I will say that it’s action-packed, tense, and that the reader will get to meet a new form of alien.
KC: What’s next for you this year?
TL: Titan are publishing my zombie novel COLDBROOK in the USA in April, and my Star Wars novel is out in paperback soon.