Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine:  Valhalla

A derelict ship, its alien crew dead, comes through the wormhole from the Gamma Quadrant and is salvaged by the crew of Deep Space Nine. The Cardassians claim it as their own, and are willing to go to war for it.

The crew is dead -- but the ship is not, and it has its own ideas. It wants to rejoin its crew in Heaven...

How and why I wrote it:

This was Nathan Archer's first novel, and it was written for two reasons. One was simple and sensible: Money. The other is silly and complicated.

I had decided, you see, that I wanted to try my hand at a novelization. I wasn't really in a position to get a gig novelizing a movie; the studios had a list of authors with Alan Dean Foster at the top, and unless every single person on that list said no, they didn't look elsewhere. Movie novelizations had very rigid standards in some respects -- deadlines were absolute, the author had to be able to work fast and clean and stick to the script, etc. The studios didn't trust first-time novelists and only used them when desperate.

I didn't want a desperation job, which meant I wasn't going to get a movie, but there are other novelizations. Dark Horse was looking for someone to do a novelization of their Predator comic book mini-series, for example.

I thought that looked like lots of fun, but there was a problem. I was trying to narrow the Watt-Evans brand to fantasy and wanted to credit the novelization to Nathan Archer, and Dark Horse wanted a writer with a track record, not a first-time author. So in order to get the Predator job, I needed to get Nathan another credit ASAP.

As it happens, I knew John Ordover, the Star Trek editor at Pocket, and he was looking for people to write Deep Space Nine novels, which was a bit tricky because the series hadn't premiered yet -- they wanted to have the first book in the stores when the pilot was broadcast, and have a steady stream in place to follow. They didn't care about names -- plenty of beginners had broken in writing Star Trek novels. As long as I was a competent writer who could meet deadlines, they were happy.

So I asked John if I could write a DS:9 novel, and I asked the folks at Dark Horse if a Star Trek novel would be enough of a credit to land Nathan Archer that Predator job. They both said yes. John sent me the DS:9 series bible, I put together an outline, Paramount approved it, and I had a contract to write Deep Space Nine: Valhalla, the fourth book in the new series.

"Wait a minute," I hear you say. "It wasn't the fourth, it was #10."

Yeah, well, on vacation in England that spring I broke my left hand -- I'm left-handed -- and made the mistake of telling John Ordover. He assumed that I couldn't possibly meet my deadline with a broken hand, and rescheduled the book, moving it from #4 to #10.

I met my deadline anyway -- I am a professional, dammit! I typed it with only two fingers on my left hand working, but it got done. But the revised schedule was firmly in place, so it was #10, and John revised a couple of bits to move it to second-season continuity. Except he wasn't thorough enough, so it falls into a sort of parallel universe where certain events happened in a different order and it falls between the first two seasons. Not my fault.

John was happy with the result, so Nathan was invited to write a Voyager novel, and the book still came out quickly enough to satisfy Dark Horse, so I got the Predator job, too, and Nathan Archer was well on his way in the novelizations and spin-offs business.


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