Interview: John Passarella

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Interview with John Passarella by Kim Jacobs

John Passarella is a celebrated author who has written four original Supernatural™ tie-in novels for Titan Books based on the hit TV series, beginning with Supernatural: Night Terror, Supernatural: Rite of Passage, Supernatural: Cold Fire and, most recently, with Supernatural: Joyride.

John is a Bram Stoker Award-Winning supernatural (and paranormal) thriller author. He is the author of the original novels Wither (co-authored, Bram Stoker Award-Winner for First Novel), Wither's Rain, Wither's Legacy, Kindred Spirit and Shimmer, the fiction collection Exit Strategy & Others, and Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization, which is based on the 2018 sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic horror movie of the same name.

He also wrote several original media tie-in novels, including the Supernatural novels and the Scribe Award Finalist, Grimm: The Chopping Block, all from Titan Books. Previously, he authored three media tie-in novels for Simon & Schuster, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble, Angel: Avatar and Angel: Monolith.

John is an avid Supernatural fan himself and as a gift to fellow fans, when writing his first two Supernatural novels, he connected with fans and invited them to have their own names included as characters in his books (Night Terror and Rite of Passage). This writer was one of the lucky ones to be included in his second book.

On 8 February 2019, Supernatural celebrated airing its 300th episode. Congratulatory posts were everywhere on social media, including this one from John Passarella, writer of Supernatural novels – Night Terror, Rite of Passage, Cold Fire and Joyride. He posted this in celebration of the 300th episode on the day it aired as a way to share his appreciation of the show's longevity.

"In honor of Supernatural's 300th episode tonight, Eric Kripke (series creator) posted his original TV show pitch on Twitter. Cool behind-the-scenes glimpse of #SPN's origin!"

He included a link to the Twitter post by Kripke, Supernatural series creator.

I asked him to share something of his writing process for the Supernatural novels and he replied:

"Usually the goal is to write a novel as far along in the continuity (that is currently airing, which is always way behind by the time the pub date rolls around) as possible. Sometimes I have some wiggle room. For RITE OF PASSAGE I got to pick pre- or post-Bobby, so I chose PRE so I could have him in the story.

"Any creature/monster has to be Google-able. Even so, I often read about a monster of legend from a few different sources, compare notes, then try to embellish it or add my own spin. Kind of like hidden truths, the idea that these OTHER facts about the monster are true but weren't known or understood by whoever made notes (created the lore) about them.

"The business process is to come up with 4 or 5 pitches, about a paragraph each. The WB rep(s) review those and either pick one they like or give me the option of choosing if they like more than one. If I choose, I try to pick the one that feels like it will have the most meat on the bone, since the novel has to be around 80K words. From the selected/chosen pitch, the next step is to write a 6 or 7 page outline of the WHOLE book. I tend to write a longer outline (which will help me in the writing process), maybe 10-12 pages single-spaced, then I'll pare this down for submission/review. Sometimes I need to revise the outline and re-submit it, sometimes I just get notes on what to adjust, sometimes it's approved as-is.

"From the outline, I write the book. Since I've worked out all the plot twists/turns, I don't have any writer's block problems with where the story is going. I try to follow the outline as close as possible since it was APPROVED. Any wide variations could result in a request for major rewrites. Generally, at this point, I have a little less or a little more than 60 days to write 80K words of the first draft. That means turning my longer 10-12 page single-spaced outline into about 350 double-spaced pages of manuscript. And since there isn't a lot of time to course-correct, it's almost like plotting a moon landing. I can't come up too much shorter or too much longer than 80K words. I really have to trust the pacing of the outline to translate to pacing in the novel. That's tricky because with a normal novel, I'd finish the draft and set it aside for several weeks, then reread and figure out where I need to revise. At this stage, I'm counting on my editor for pacing cuts since I don't have the luxury of time to review it with any objectivity.

"Post editor changes and revision changes, I wait for the WB rep(s) to review the manuscript for any additional changes. My hope at this point is that we're very close to the final product and not a lot remains for me to change/rework. Once the revision is accepted by the WB, I'm usually done with the work process and begin the wait for publication. Sometimes, I will get a typeset copy to review for any minor changes, final typo-catches, that sort of thing. But sometimes the editor does this without my involvement. As an example, I finished the SPN: Joyride revision mid-May 2018 and the book came out late October 2018." Source


John Passarella’s books are available on in paper version and on Kindle.

Excerpts taken from John Passarella’s Facebook posts and official web page. Quoted and posted with permission.