Talking Alien: Uncivil War With Author Brendan Deneen

Recently I spoke with Author Brendan Deneen about his upcoming book Alien: Uncivil War


How did you get into being an Author and what was your big break?
I’ve been writing stories since I could pick up a pencil. When I was 8, I started writing and drawing my own comic books (spoiler alert: I am a TERRIBLE artist). I got into writing short stories when I was 15, and then I wrote my first (very bad) novel when I was 18. I wrote a second (slightly less bad) novel when I was 21, and then a (pretty good) kid’s book when I was 22. (None of those books got published — in fact, I wallpapered my bathroom in college with rejection letters from literary agents and publishers.)

My next novel, THE NINTH CIRCLE, took me fifteen years(!!) to write — I was working on it on and off, not consistently during that time — and THAT’S the book that landed me a literary agent. But even with an agent, everyone passed on the book except the FINAL publisher that it was sent to — and that was my first published novel! That book came out in 2014, when I was forty-two years old — having written my first novel twenty-four years earlier!

What was the process like to get to write the book?
An editor at Titan Books read my second book, a horror novel called THE CHRYSALIS published by Tor, and asked if I wanted to write a Morbius novel. I’ve been a massive comic book fan my entire life, so I jumped at the chance. After that came out, I became aware of a graphic novel based on William Gibson’s ALIEN 3 script (the opening of ALIEN 3 has always bothered me, even if I think it’s a very well made film). I was so excited to read another version of that movie but was still unsatisfied. So I just decided to write a synopsis of MY OWN version of ALIEN 3, just for fun. I kind of like how it turned out, so I sent it to my editor at Titan, asking if they would ever publish a NEW take on ALIEN 3. He responded almost immediately, saying “No!” Okay, that was fine. I knew it was a longshot.

A year and a half went by. During that time, I wrote a Guardians of the Galaxy novel for Titan. One day, out of the blue, my editor at Titan sent me an email with the subject line ALIEN. He had finally read my outline for the book and LOVED it. He asked me if I would be willing to change the characters and plot to make it an original story. I said something like, “F*CK YES.”

What can you tell us about your motivation for the story and how it evolved during the writing and editing process?
The motivation really stems from my absolute love of ALIEN and ALIENS, two perfect films. I grew up watching them and LOVE the core elements of the franchise (the Company, the Monster, and the Android). It definitely evolved as I wrote (and rewrote) it. It started as my own version of ALIEN 3, became its own thing, and then went through multiple revisions as I got notes from Titan Books, 20th Century Studios, and Disney Publishing.

What can you tell us about the story and main characters?
The book takes place shortly after the events shown in ALIEN: RESURRECTION. It’s the story of Chris Temple, a former USM soldier who is just trying to find a peaceful place to live with his daughters after the death of his wife. En route to a new colony, something… very bad happens… and Chris and his girls end up on a mining colony, where not everything is what it seems….

What type of research did you use for reference in creating the story?
Titan asked me to set the book after ALIEN: RESURRECTION, a movie I had only seen once (when it came out). I re-watched it and found that I enjoyed it much more the second time around. It’s not a perfect film but it has some really compelling elements that informed where I would eventually take UNCIVIL WAR. Titan also provided me with a LOT of information about the entire Alien franchise timeline. I tried to be as true as possible to every single aspect of the franchise!

What is your favorite film in the series and why?
If I could pick two, I would say ALIEN and ALIENS, because I think both are literally perfect films. But if I HAD to choose, I would say ALIEN. The slow burn is just incredibly effective. If you asked me tomorrow, however, I might say ALIENS, because I love it SO much.

With so much content in the expanded universe; how difficult is it to tell a new story yet stay true to the source material?
I haven’t read every single book and comic in the expanded universe (though now I want to!). Since my story started out as a specific thing (ALIEN 3 fan fiction), I think it managed to remain its own story while still staying true to the core elements of the franchise.

What were your biggest challenges with the story?
Juggling a large cast of characters is always tough (though my Guardians of the Galaxy novel had WAY more). I also really wanted to keep Weyland-Yutani involved in the story, even though it takes place after the ascendence of the USM, and I really like the “solve” I came up with to keep W-Y as a part of the story!

What would you suggest for a new writer looking to have their short or original Alien stories find an audience or be published?
I would say write your own stuff until the right people start to notice!

Do you have a favorite Alien themed video game?
Believe it or not, despite being a massive comic book nerd, I don’t play any video games! I heard there is one about Ripley’s daughter, though, and I would love to see THAT movie!

What are your hopes and expectations for the new film?
I am a cup-is-half-full kind of guy, so I am very excited about it, and about the upcoming TV show as well!

What can you tell us about the promotion for the book and will you be at any upcoming conventions?
I’ll probably do some signings here in the Northeast, and perhaps at New York Comic-Con, but I don’t do a ton of traveling.

If you had carte blanche, what Alien story would you like to tell or see be told?
Honestly, I just wrote the exact Alien story that I wanted to see, and I’m still pinching myself.

What do you have upcoming?
My next novel is an original science-fiction action/romance entitled TRACER. It’s in the vein of Mad Max and it comes out in 2025!