PART ONE: MAINFRAME ANNOUNCEMENTS
As I will be getting into some of these projects below, I think it’s time to talk a little bit more about Mainframe, my audiobook company.
A few years back, a friend of mine from Hollywood and I were chatting about how hard it was to get things made for film/television. Such projects are just way too big for us to do on our own. Yet I had a lot of projects I thought would work really well in this space.
As kind of a stepping stone toward that, the two of us founded Mainframe with Recorded Books being a launch partner. We figured that we could start taking some of the things I wanted to do for film/television and do them as audio originals—as this was a space the two of us, with some help from things like a writer’s room, could do ourselves. This would let me both explore storytelling in some new ways and build toward one of my eventual goals, which is having my own film production company.
The main goal of Mainframe, then, is to take ideas I have that I (so far) haven’t been able to do anything with, or to take stories I want to see done more as a television show, then try to make audio-drama-style expansions to them.
The first thing we collaborated on was The Original, which you can find right now on audiobook platforms—and is on sale for just $2.75 on audiobooks.com until the end of the year. This was written with Mary Robinette Kowal. I wrote the outline, she did the first draft, I went through (kind of more in an editorial role) and did a second draft, then she did a third draft. I hope you’ll give it a look!
(Note that it, like the other things that come out from Mainframe, should eventually have ebook/print releases. However, they will need some revision to accomplish that, because they are being written specifically for audio. MRK did some excellent work in this area for The Original, as she has a lot of expertise in the world of audio.)
Along with The Original, we began several other projects like this for Mainframe. And I finally get to talk about them here! The first is an extension to the Reckoners series. When I wrote the original books, in my pitch to both the publisher and Hollywood, I explained that I’d really like to do a video game or other tie-in to the series by showing a different group of Reckoners and what they were up to.
To that end, we’ve developed three novellas (cowritten with the talented Steve Bohls)—Author of the middle grade book Jed and the Junkyard War (which has fantastic worldbuilding)—following a new group of Reckoners in the same universe. The novellas start around the time of the end of the original trilogy, then go past them into the future of the series. They can be seen as three “episodes” of a television show, or read together as a single novel, since they are all told from the same character’s viewpoint.
The second project is working on the Legion/Stephen Leeds series. Many of you may know that I wrote the original novella as kind of a pitch for a television show—and while that show has been in development pretty much continually since then, it’s never actually gotten made.
Therefore, we decided to try and basically build our own television series based on the concept, only doing it as audio dramas. In this case, we went with a traditional Hollywood writer’s room, letting a “showrunner” (in this case, my partner Max, with whom I founded Mainframe) guide the process. We’re working together on a “pilot episode” in this framework.
The final project I want to announce is an expansion to the Skyward series. The way the series has gone, the second book focused only on Spensa, without much of a look at the rest of Skyward Flight. As the third novel mostly continues Spensa’s story, I worried about how isolated from the rest of the team the narrative would feel.
Therefore, Janci Patterson and I have designed a sequence of three tie-in novellas to this series. These will each be from a different viewpoint, three members of the team back on Detritus, running parallel to Skyward Three and having some cool overlaps between them.
While the previous two announced Mainframe projects will be audio only, it’s our intention to release these Skyward novellas simultaneously in ebook and audio, with a print follow-up. We feel that because the series is ongoing (and these novellas are therefore a little more important for keeping track of the novels), we don’t think audio exclusive is as good an idea for these.
This may seem like a lot with these three projects, but we’ve been working on most of this for years now—I just haven’t been able to announce it yet. Plus, we wanted to try a variety of different things and see what my readers liked the most.
The Original is a completely new story. The Reckoners novellas are a continuation of a series I’ve finished. The Legion series is a Hollywood-style adaptation, using screenwriters instead of novelists. And the Skyward tie-ins are unique in that Janci and I are working very closely on a story in progress, with the goal of expanding the narrative to give it more depth. (These should read a little more like the Stormlight novellas I’ve been doing.)
After a few years, once these are all out, I’m hoping to get some feedback from you all in regards to these projects about what you liked and what you didn’t. The eventual goal will be to try some things like this in the Cosmere (since I’ve been getting a lot of requests for more Cosmere material). However, I wanted to experiment a little first with things outside the Cosmere, where continuity isn’t as complex and the stakes aren’t quite as high.
So if you want to help me with quality control and making sure we’re doing expansions like this right, check out these projects as they come along! Some of them (like the Reckoners novellas) should be available to grab for free for those of you with Audible Plus, as I believe they’re being released under the Audible Originals banner.
And lastly, Tor just recently released a new box set of Stormlight books 1-3 and make a great gift last minute gift for the holiday season. We’re not sure, but we’re hoping a year from now that we’ll be able to offer a hardcover box set with the first four books.