I had an exciting interview with Paul about his upcoming Charmed Novels. Paul talks about how the novels came to be, how many books are planned to be released and more. He also shares some very interesting hints about the plot of Books 1 and 2 and prompts us to quickly say a title (you'll see!).
CharmedNovelFan: You’ve achieved Cole’s level of “coming back to Charmed” (And we are very glad you do!). What is it about Charmed that drives you to write more stories for its universe?
Paul Ruditis: Ha! I guess I do keep coming back, don’t I?
It is 100% the Charmed community that keeps bringing me back. You’ve all been so incredibly wonderful embracing me and the stories over the years that I simply can’t let go. I’m not just saying that to suck up to you all so you buy the book. (Although you know I think you’re all the most gorgeous and incredibly intelligent fanbase out there.) To be completely honest, the comic books and the novels aren’t the most financially supportive work. As much as I love this universe and these characters, I probably would have stopped writing for it a while ago if it weren’t for this incredible community. So, really, you only have yourselves to blame.
CNF: Writing Season 9, did you have the idea for the novels in your mind? Were you approached to write them or did you pitch them. How did it all start?
PR: No, these stories are completely new ideas. As has been well documented, I never imagined there would be Charmed novels again.
Shortly after season 9 ended the folks at CBS Consumer Products mentioned they were in preliminary conversations with Joe Books about a novel line. They’re the packaging company that hired me to write the books. They do all the preliminary work on the project then hand the files over to HarperCollins Canada as the publisher. As with the comics, CBS kindly suggested me to write the books because they know how familiar I am with the Charmed universe. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the greenlight, which took some time because Joe Books is a relatively new company. I might be wrong, but I think they only published their first book last fall. Along the way, I pitched a handful of stories for approval and then it was pretty much the usual development process.
The funny thing is during that time we also had the horrible delay with the comic books and then the rumors of the TV reboot. A number of people in the Charmed community kept insisting to me that the comic delay had to be because of the reboot. All I could think was that if CBS was holding up the comic books because of a possible TV show they certainly wouldn’t be trying to be making a book deal at the same time. But obviously I couldn’t tell anyone so all I could say was “Trust me. The delay has nothing to do with the reboot!” (The ebook deal had nothing to do with the comic book delay either. Sometimes stupid legal stuff takes time because it’s stupid legal stuff.)
CNF: You’ve written Charmed novels in the past. How was it back then and how different of an experience is it this time around?
PR: In some ways it’s similar, in other ways it’s completely different. The main difference is that the original book line was comprised of truly standalone books. We went out of our way to make sure that our stories could not be contradicted by the show, which was limiting to the storytelling. Nothing could ever really change in the books. We couldn’t make any major revelations about the characters or dig too deep into the show’s mythology. The process also made it difficult for the different books in the line to have any impact on one another as well. I’d certainly read some of the books by other authors, but I simply didn’t have the time to read everything while working on my projects. I couldn’t keep track of what the other authors were doing in their books and they couldn’t keep track of me. On a similar note, I know firsthand how much the Charmed producers loved the fact that the novels existed (which is incredibly rare in Hollywood), but they didn’t have the time to read the books either so nothing we did could ever impact the show.
Now that the show is off the air and the books currently aren’t coming out as often as the original book line—although who knows what will happen if the books prove to be really popular—there’s a lot more of an adherence to continuity between books and comics. It’s very important to me that the stories in the books be standalones. You don’t have to read the comics to enjoy the books. The stories will not continue from one book to the next. But there will be elements of continuity that will track between the books and the comic books so that it is all part of one timeline. There will be references from the comics in the books and vice versa.
For instance, as most of your readers know, Prue isn’t currently communicating much with her sisters in the comics. I proposed the story for book 1 before Pat started writing season 10, but I didn’t get the go ahead to start on the manuscript until Pat was several issues into the season. The fact that the sisters were already pulling away from Prue so early in season 10 could have been confusing with regards to my story so I asked Pat add a line to Issue 2 so that continuity would track and he very kindly agreed. In that issue Prue mentions to Cole that she’s not seeing her sisters as much and she says: “They used to visit. I couldn’t get rid of Piper at first.” Those who have read the preview pages of the ebook have already seen those lines playing out in the novel. That’s something that we never did before with the books.
CNF: Will readers who haven’t read the Season 9 comics be able to follow the novels considering the huge developments S9 brought to the show’s universe?
PR: That’s the intention. They don’t need to read one to understand the other. They don’t need to know about Neena or that fact that the world was turned upside down with magic for a while. However, if they want to fully understand how Prue and Cole came back, then it would be helpful to pick up season 9. I did my best to explain what happened with those two characters as simply as possible in the novel so new readers would be up to speed, but I didn’t spend too much time going into detail there. I didn’t want to recap the entire comic book line because that would have been incredibly boring to those who have read the comics.
One benefit of this is that readers can then imagine the characters however they like. I don’t really spend a lot of time describing Prue beyond her being blonde and having magical tattoos because I’m well aware of the fact that some people are not comfortable with her being in a different body. So, while she still is in that body in the books, readers are certainly free to imagine her however they please. When I’m writing her, I personally imagine her as Elisa is drawing her in the comic book line, but if people who don’t read the comics want to imagine her differently, so be it. When working on season 9, I came to learn that people can be quite dismissive of comic books in general and refuse to read them because they think they’re for kids (as if it would be a bad thing if they were). While I certainly don’t understand that type of thinking, I don’t want that to keep those people from reading the ebooks.
CNF: Will all the books take place between Seasons 9 and 10 or do you plan for new stories for other seasons too?
PR: At the moment the stories will be set in that timeframe, which I’m calling season 9.5, but you can feel free to think of it however you want. At the moment, there’s not a lot of interest at the publisher, CBS, or with me in going back and reliving the past beyond that time period. As for the future, we’ll have to see what happens as both the books and comics continue. Pat is telling a very specific, very serialized story in the comic books. There really isn’t a way to insert a novel into that timeline without one impacting the other. It’s hard to set the novels after Pat’s season because the Heavens only know if he’s planning on killing anyone else. Seriously. The guy’s a serial killer. He even killed a character I created! He will pay for that one day.
CNF: For how many e-books are there plans for at the moment and how frequently will they be released?
PR: Right now I’m working on a second book and in talks for a third. Beyond that, it depends on how the books sell. So please, spread the word. How long this line continues is entirely up to the readers. And … you know … don’t pirate the books. I don’t care what the reasoning is, if you download these books illegally, you have no one to blame but yourself if the line is discontinued.
Not sure what the release schedule will be, but the great thing about ebooks is that they have a much faster turnaround time than physical books. It’s a much shorter period from the point where I turn in the manuscript to the day you can all start reading it. Also, the publisher will be changing things up with book 2 to extend the reading experience a bit. When book 1 comes out on in a couple weeks it’s going to be a complete ebook. But the current plan is that future books will be serialized with sections released in monthly installments. You can think of them more like a collection of short stories that, when combined, make for a full novel. Although there will be several months between books 1 and 2, the last installment of book 2 could be released shortly before the first installment of book 3 (depending on how fast it’s written). It’s possible that there will be a period of time when we’re getting a comic book and novel installment every month!
CNF: The cover for Book 1 will be revealed soon. Have you seen it; and is it a photo or illustrated cover?
PR: I haven’t seen it, but I believe it’s going to be a photo cover. I suspect you’ll probably see it before me since that’s how these things often happen.
CNF: You’ve mentioned you are now writing Book 2. How far into it are you right now?
PR: Not as far as I’d like to be.
CNF: Do you know when we can expect printed versions of the e-books?
PR: That’s another thing that’s up to the readers. Printed copies of the books will depend on how popular the ebooks are. The better the ebooks sell, the faster printed copies will become available. If the ebooks don’t sell well, I don’t know if we will see printed copies. (The publisher hasn’t told me that, it’s just what I suspect.) I know it’s a bit of a Catch-22 for people who prefer to hold physical books (like I do), but that’s the reality.
CNF: You are working with Pat Shand to ensure continuity between the novels and comics. Will the novels have any level of impact on the Season 10 comics or is it more so that the novels don’t contradict events in S10? Or is it both?
PR: Our focus is mainly to make sure we don’t contradict one another, but there may be some elements or plot points that pop up in both. Although the comics and novels are following the same timeline, they are two separate projects and it’s important to me that you don’t have to read one to understand the other. So while I may mention something like Gaxageal in passing in the books (I might not – It doesn’t happen in book 1), I would never write a Gaxageal scene because his story takes place the comic books. I wouldn’t write part of a storyline that you’d have to read the comics to get closure. I don’t think that’s fair to the readers.
CNF: About the plot: A Modern-day witch hunt is coming! Did something go wrong with the humans forgetting (but not exactly) the magic reversal?
PR: Nope. It’s an entirely unique story to the novels, although…
CNF: Are the events of the first book connected to the events of the “Morality Bites” episode in any way? The witch hunt and year (2009) match.
PR: …It is very loosely connected to “Morality Bites.” It isn’t a sequel story like “Morality Bites Back.” Cal Greene isn’t in it. Neither is Nathanial Pratt. Most of the story takes place outside of San Francisco, actually. But the concept was inspired by the idea that sometimes it can be hard to change the future. Just because The Charmed Ones altered the future that they saw in the episode, doesn’t mean that future won’t try to become real in a completely different—and hopefully interesting—way.
CNF: What more can you tell us about these magic stealing mortals mentioned in the description of Book 1? Mortals and magic are never a good combination…
PR: That’s very true. And bad guys with an agenda are even worse. I don’t want to say too much about them, but I will say this: there’s a bit of a clue in the book’s title. What the clue means won’t become obvious until you read the story (because if it were obvious, I wouldn’t be telling you this now), but once you think about what the title sounds like, you may discover a more personal element of that agenda. (And no, it has nothing to do with “The War on Christmas.”) As for what the title sounds like, I’d suggest saying it quickly.
CNF: While continuing the story, do you find chance with the novels to expand on storylines/ideas/concepts from Season 9 that you may not have been able to fully explore in the limited number of pages of a comic book?
PR: Not really. As I was writing season 9 there were certainly times when I wished I could have explored things further, but I feel like I told those stories as completely as possible at the time. I want to move forward with the novels and focus on new stories with different themes.
Along the lines of moving forward, I’ll let you know not to expect to see a bunch of returning guest characters from the TV series. I know Pat’s got plans to bring some people back in the comics and I certainly dipped into that well a lot in season 9, but I’m moving things forward with the novels. I’ll keep using the shows rich’s history in the stories and The Charmed Ones will continue to interact with their family members and closest friends, but don’t expect a bunch of guest villains or random exes to be showing up in the novels because you’ll be disappointed.
CNF: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add or share with the fans?
PR: Mainly I’d like to share my unending gratitude with the readers for making this such an enjoyable journey. Oh and maybe I’ll also share a little tease that book 2 will incorporate elements from both Greek and Roman mythology. But don’t worry … The Charmed Ones won’t be dressing up in any costumes. (But I make no promises about Cole, Coop, and Leo.)
CNF: Thank you very much for this interview, Paul!
PR: Thank you! And thanks for all the support!
You heard Paul; If we want more Charmed stories (yes, we do!) let's buy the books starting with "The War on Witches".
Preorder links below!