1. Since its launch three years ago, Skull Island eXpeditions has primarily been a vehicle for Iron Kingdoms fiction, but that’s about to change in a big way. Tells us a bit about the new direction for Skull Island eXpeditions and the reasoning behind it.
We’ve always viewed Skull Island eXpeditions as its own imprint, like an extension of Privateer Press but with a broader mission. It made sense to focus on the Iron Kingdoms-related books early on so we could establish an audience for the imprint, which I’m proud to say is thriving today. But the goal has always been to not only publish books around our other game settings, like LEVEL 7: Judas Protocol, which we recently released, but also to publish all-new, original works that don’t have any pre-existing game or property tie-ins.
Tales of the Invisible Hand by Miles Holmes will be the first original work from Skull Island, releasing this August. While it’s not based on any game property, it’s a fantastic adventure set in an alternate pre-history of Earth, and we think anyone who likes reading about the Iron Kingdoms is going to love this book as well. Not to mention that it’s written by one of our favorite Skull Island contributors, Miles Holmes, who wrote one of our best sellers, “The Way of Caine,” as well as the “Cold Steel” serial for No Quarter magazine.
2. What kind of original fiction do you intend to publish for Skull Island eXpeditions? What genres can we expect to see? Will these books be print, digital, audio, all of the above?
Skull Island eXpeditions is focused on producing epic, adventurous, swashbuckling speculative fiction. Tales of the Invisible Hand is pulp-adventure with World War II era-style airplanes and sabertooth tigers. LEVEL 7: Judas Protocol is intense modern-day military commando action against the backdrop of our real-world UFO conspiracy mythology. We have a series planned that I can’t announce yet that will lean toward horror-action in an alternate history of an Earth holding off an apocalypse. But across the board, Skull Island titles are connected by being fun-to-read, exciting page-turners that are going to appeal to anyone who is a fan of action movies, adventurous sci-fi, or epic fantasy.
While the original offerings from Skull Island were all digital, now that we’re up to speed, most of our titles will be offered in print and digital. We also have a great relationship with Audible, and many of our titles will be available as audiobooks.
3. Miles Holmes has been a writer for Skull island eXpeditions since its inception, and he’s written some great Iron Kingdoms fiction (with more on the way). Since he’s going to kick off the original fiction for Skull Island eXpeditions with his novel Tales of the Invisible Hand, can you give us a quick synopsis of the book?
Miles’ “The Way of Caine” was one of the first books released by Skull Island. He is an amazing writer, and he also happens to be a game designer for both tabletop and video games, so he has a natural instinct for creating big worlds with extremely well-crafted rules that govern them.
Tales of the Invisible Hand is a re-imagining of Earth, before recorded history, but the world Miles has created is far from primitive. There are bustling cities, aircraft, and even flying carriers that would make S.H.I.E.L.D. jealous. The story follows the adventures of a young pilot named Zekh and a VIP he is charged with transporting, and the story begins when their airplane is attacked by a mysterious phenomenon linked to the destruction of entire civilizations that the VIP is investigating. Holmes peels the onion back, one thin layer at a time, to reveal a complex setting with warring factions and global conspiracies that will ultimately reshape the world and humanity into what we know from our history books. It’s epic not just as an adventure, but on a cosmic scale that will really blow your mind.
4. Tell us a little about the process of working with Miles to develop the Tales of the Invisible Hand. How did it differ with working with an author writing Iron Kingdoms fiction?
When we are creating books for the Iron Kingdoms, we work closely with the authors because we have a lot of continuity details surrounding the characters, events, and the world in general that have to be adhered to. Only a few people at Privateer even know all of these details, so we have to use a process of multiple reviews to make sure the Skull Island books line up with whatever we’ve written before. Fortunately, we have writers like Miles Holmes, Larry Correia, and Aeryn Rudel, who are experienced players of the games and know the setting very well, so that makes our job a lot easier.
On original works, though, we don’t have all that setting continuity to worry about! That’s all on the author because it’s all his or her original idea. The world is coming out of the author’s head, and we only have to make sure what the author puts on the page is consistent. So, we can be focused on good story telling. In the case of Tales of the Invisible Hand, it was a project I had the opportunity to enjoy years ago when Miles was originally writing it. Even before Skull Island had been formed, I was one of Miles’ readers; we would share writing projects with each other to provide feedback and critique. I was already a fan of Tales, and when the opportunity came up to start producing original fiction for Skull Island, I asked Miles if he would let us publish it. I couldn’t be more excited when he said yes, because it’s a fantastic book, unlike anything you’ve ever read.
5. Okay when can we buy Tales of the Invisible Hand? Also, can we have maybe one little teaser about some of the other original fiction titles in the works?
Tales of the Invisible Hand will be out in August. We’re going to have it at Gen Con, in fact, and Miles will be there to sign it in person.
And as for what is coming up, we do have something very exciting in the works. We’ll be approaching our original fiction titles cautiously, but there was a project proposed to me a year or so ago by Aeryn Rudel that I immediately thought was fantastic and couldn’t pass up. It’s a completely fresh and original take on zombies, which I think we’ve all come to realize are a genre in-and-unto themselves. I didn’t think there were many places left to go with them, to be honest, even though I’m a fan of everything from Dawn of the Dead to Resident Evil to The Walking Dead. But the concept for this one, which I really can’t divulge, is a completely new look at zombies as a subject, and it sets up a big world with endless possibilities that I think are going to go way beyond a book series.