Joseph Nassise talks collaboration and URBAN ALLIES

Today, Fantasy Literature welcomes Joseph Nassise, an author and editor whose latest feat is truly impressive: Urban Allies, an urban fantasy anthology which pairs up twenty authors who created ten brand-new stories featuring some very well-known characters. Mr. Nassise was kind enough to chat with Jana and reveal some of the process behind this collaboration, authors he’d love to work with, and his favorite writing incentive. And we’re giving away a copy of Urban Allies to one lucky commenter with a U.S. mailing address!

Jana Nyman: I’m impressed that you managed to wrangle twenty authors into writing ten collaborative stories, and even more impressed that the stories are successful! How did you manage to bring this project together, particularly with regards to authors who might live thousands of miles apart? Did you ask them who they’d like to work with and go from there, or did the idea for a collection of collaborations come first, followed by the author list?

Author Joseph NassiseJoseph Nassise: Being in the industry for the last fifteen years has allowed me to meet and become friends with quite a few fellow writers of urban fantasy. Once the idea for a book of collaborations of popular urban fantasy characters occurred to me, it was simply a matter of reaching out to those I thought might be interested and laying the project out for them. Thankfully, they were as excited about the idea as I was and it didn’t take long to put together a list of writers. From there, I paired them up based on my thoughts about which characters it would be fun to see working together. After that it was up to the writers to figure out the best way for them to work together and they all came through with flying colors!

I’m always curious as to what draws an author to their chosen genre(s). What is it about urban fantasy that appeals to you as a writer? Is your writing process different when you’re working on urban fantasy, as opposed to horror?

I tend to tell tales about the impact of the supernatural on everyday people and that just naturally leads itself to urban fantasy. I started my career in horror — my debut novel Riverwatch was nominated for both the International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker award — and still dabble in it today (my GREAT UNDEAD WAR series could certainly be classified under the horror label) but my true love is urban fantasy.

As the editor of Urban Allies, what was your greatest challenge in organizing this anthology?

I have to admit that this was simply a dream project all around. The writers were enthusiastic, they all worked together without a hitch, and the project generated a lot of interest among publishers and sold quickly. Honestly, I’d love to have every project go as smoothly as this one did.

As a contributing author, was it hard to write with someone else? Were there any compromises you had to make in order to create the best possible end result?

Cover of URBAN ALLIESI’ve written in collaboration before (my HELLSTALKER series is written with Jon F. Merz and I also write epic fantasy in partnership with Steven Savile under the name Matthew Caine) so I knew what to expect and how to approach the process, so there weren’t any surprises for me. When the idea for the project occurred to me, I had just finished reading the first book in Sam Witt’s PITCHFORK COUNTY series, Half-Made Girls, which was very similar in tone and theme to my own work (read dark and gritty), so it was an easy call for me to drop Sam an email and ask if he was interested in partnering up on a story.

We sat down together (virtually, of course as we’re on opposite sides of the country) and worked out an outline for how our respective characters might be brought together and what it was they were going to face. From there we mapped out each chapter in advance and then split them up between us. I’d write a few and then send that over to Sam, who would edit my portion and then write his own section. When he was done he’d send it back to me, at which point I would edit what we had so far and then add more and so on. That process provided us with a seamless story while maintaining the unique voices of our individual characters, which is what we were after.

Working with Sam was great and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Would you be willing to undergo a project like this again? Are there any authors you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Most definitely! This was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on in my career to date and I’d happily do another volume. As for those I’d love to collaborate with, well, the list is pretty long — Lilith Saintcrow, Chris Golden, Patricia Briggs, Faith Hunter, Kat Richardson, John Connolly, Myke Cole, Weston Ochse, Ilona Andrews — just to name a few!

Bass AleFinally, I’d like to ask you about any favorite beverages — either as they relate to the creative process (as a relaxation aid while writing, for example) or something involved with your latest work. Are there any cocktails or drinks which you enjoyed to reward yourself for making progress with the Urban Allies anthology or your collaboration with Mr. Witt?

I wrote my first novel on a dare to win a case of Bass Ale in college and to this day that’s what I reach for after a hard day’s work.

Thanks so much for your time, Mr. Nassise! It was great to get to speak with you.

Readers, comment below for a chance to win a copy of Urban Allies. U.S.-based mailing addresses only, please.


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JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

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4 comments

  1. This could be a great read. One of my favorite books in recent years was FaceOff which was edited by David Baldacci. The premise is very much the same, and the collection of authors is impressive.

  2. I love the premise of this anthology! It would be fun to put something like this together, especially the pairing part.

  3. Sandy Giden /

    I like the idea of having different authors collaborate.

  4. Alan Blank, if you live in the USA, you win a copy of URBAN ALLIES!
    Please contact me (Marion) with your US address and I’ll have the book sent right away. Happy reading!

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