Since June of 2004, U.K.-based Fandemonium has regularly published full length, original Stargate SG-1
and Stargate Atlantis
novels, including Elizabeth Christensen's 2008 Scribe Award winner, "Stargate Atlantis: Casualties of War."Sally Malcolm
is the joint-owner of Fandemonium, along with her husband, Tom, and she is the publisher's Chief Editor. She recently joined GateWorld for a discussion of Fandemonium's history, their process in working with MGM, and their future goals as a company. Sally also talks about writing her own Stargate
novels and watching Michael Shanks perform "Gift of the Gods,"
the script Sally wrote for audio book publisher Big Finish
You can learn more about the many novels Fandemonium has published in GateWorld's Books section
, and visit their Web site at StargateNovels.com
GateWorld's interview with Sally Malcolm runs about 25 minutes. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast! The full interview is also transcribed below.
GateWorld: I am Shaun Farrell of the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast and GateWorld.net, and I'm joined by Sally Malcolm, author of the Stargate SG-1 novels "A Matter of Honor" and "The Cost of Honor," and the Stargate Atlantis novelization of "Rising." She is also the joint-owner and Chief Editor of Fandemonium, the publishing company responsible for bringing Stargate to your local bookstores. Thank you for being with us, Sally!
Sally Malcolm: Hi! Thank you for having me.
GW: It's a pleasure. I'm really excited to talk to you as I'm a huge fan of Stargate and a reader of science fiction, so it's the best of both worlds. I'm wondering if you can start us off by telling us a little bit about the history of Fandemonium and how you came to be a part of the company.
SM: It's kind of a strange story, actually, and it's probably one that's not all that common. I started writing fan fiction many years ago. Not Stargate, but eventually I discovered Stargate and started writing Stargate fiction. And about five years ago my husband was saying to me, "You're doing all this writing, you should be able to publish it." And I said, "You can't publish. It's licensed. You can't do this." And then someone said, "Why aren't there any Stargate novels? There are lots of Star Trek novels. Why are there no Stargate novels?" So, we thought that was a good point!
We looked around and saw Penguin had published two or three books way back at the start of the series, which had not been that successful. Literally one evening we were hanging around the house. My son at the time was about eight weeks old, so we were up a lot pacing about, and we were thinking we should look into this. Really on the spur of the moment, Tom, my husband, looked online to find the Licensing Coordinator at MGM and just sent a fax. We didn't think anything would come of it. We had a history in magazine publishing, or at least my husband did. On the back of that we said, "We're interested in publishing Stargate novels." We honestly didn't think we'd get an answer.
" What we really wanted to do was write books that were written by fans because we wanted fans to have the same kind of love for the show. "
To our immense surprise, the next day we got a call from the London branch of MGM asking us about it. They said, "There are these books. Penguin has the license." And we said, "Yeah, but they have not published a book in four years." And there was a bit of rustling of paper, and the guy at the London branch said, "Okay. Give me a business plan, and we'll see what we can do with the U.K.-only license."
We went into a slight panic mode because we'd never done anything like this before, but we thought this was a fantastic opportunity! We wrote a very brief business plan, and we sent it off to MGM in London, and amazingly they came back and said, "Well, tweek this, tweek that, and that's pretty good. We'll send this to L.A. for approval." Within a couple of months we got approval for the U.K.-only license for Stargate novels.
At that point we went, "Eh!" and we contacted Sabine Bauer, who wrote our first book for us, and she had also written some fan fiction that was very well received online. I e-mailed her and said, "How do you fancy doing a book for us?" She was like, "OK, why not." And that's really how it started.
If we had known how much work was involved, we probably wouldn't even have started. We thought, "We'll set up a Web site, we'll sell a few online, maybe on Amazon." That's how it started, and it really snowballed from there.
We realized we couldn't sell the books only through the Web site, so we had to investigate distribution and all the complexities of the book publishing business -- which we had known absolutely nothing about when we started. We really jumped into the deep end with it, but MGM is really happy with the books.
The origin of the name of the company, Fandemonium, came from the fact that what we really wanted to do was write books that were written by fans because we wanted fans to have the same kind of love for the show. Someone who's a fan of the show will write a book in a different way than someone who is a paid author who doesn't understand all of the show. We got fans, we got them writing books we knew the fans would like, and MGM really appreciated that quality of the books. They said to us right from the start, "We really like what you're doing with this because the quality of the writing is really, really high." And the depth of knowledge and obvious love for the show that comes through, I think, with all our writers, was something they really appreciated.
On the back of getting the U.K. license, we found out that the worldwide license was coming available. There was a slight change of staff at MGM, and a couple of years after we got the U.K. license we got the worldwide license, which enabled us to start selling in U.S. bookstores and around the world.
GW: That is really an amazing story. I mean, be careful what you ask for, first off! And just the power of asking. I think most people would have said, "Oh, that's a pipedream -- that's never going to happen." But just by asking, you have this whole business and this whole career that almost came out of nowhere.
SM: I know, it was quite amazing. It's been an amazingly interesting experience, and we've learned a lot. It's been incredibly hard work, as well. We've got something like 18 books now with almost the same number in various stages of production. It's a whole new ballgame from the initial couple of books that we planned to start with to see what happens, to see if we could sell any.
GW: I, for one, am very grateful you're doing it as a fan of the show. A few years ago -- or I should say, a few years before you guys started publishing these books -- I was looking around for some because I thought Stargate is such a vibrant science fiction property and had been on the air several years by then, surely there are novels based on this. I found the few that Penguin did, and I didn't ever bother buying them because they just didn't look right. They didn't feel like Stargate just from flipping through the pages. And then yours came out and I bought the first two through Amazon U.K., and boy that was some expensive shipping right there! [Laugher]
But I had a lot of fun with them, and then I read Martha Well's Atlantis novel and I did an interview with her for Far Sector. As a fan I've really appreciated that you've done this and that the books are here in the United States. I can go down the street to my Borders and they have them there.
SM: That's very cool for us as well. We were printing everything in the U.K. and oversea shipping through Amazon at first. And once we got the U.S. license we were still printing here and shipping to the States. We have in the past year moved all our printing to the States and we ship a few things back to the U.K. We are actually a multinational company.