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A Novel Idea
Jaimie Duncan and Holly Scott are the authors of Stargate SG-1: Hydra, the latest official SG-1 tie-in novel from Fandemonium. GateWorld's Shaun Farrell recently chatted with the authors from across the pond about their collaboration on this project!

We also touched on their previous novel, Stargate SG-1: Siren Song, and we discussed the evil side of Daniel Jackson, Colonel Maybourne, writing action scenes, and much more. Beware of some spoilers for both novels.

Learn more about Fandemonium's line of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis tie-in novels in GateWorld's Books section, or visit the official site at StargateNovels.com!

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GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I am Shaun Farrell, and I'm joined by Holly Scott and Jaimie Duncan, authors of the Stargate SG-1: Hydra, a novel recently published by Fandemonium. Holly, Jaimie, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Hydra is actually your second Stargate novel, your previous being Stargate SG-1: Siren Song. What lessons did you learn in writing the first book together, and how did those lessons change your approach to Hydra?

Holly Scott: Because Siren Song was a first novel for both of us, we learned several things from that process, and the most important was to not to be afraid of revising the draft. This came in very handy on the second book, since the rough draft of Hydra required quite a bit of restructuring. We had to learn to whack scenes that just didn't work.


Duncan and Scott's collaboration began with 2006's Siren Song.
I think we also learned that we can get through even the most tedious tasks or scenes if we just support and rely on each other. Jaimie was patient and organized and encouraging at just the right times, and I try to do the same for her. This time around, I think she did much more of the encouraging and organizing, and I was very grateful for it.

Jaimie Duncan: Leapfrog. We learned to leapfrog our way through the synopsis so that we didn't have to wait on one or the other of us to churn out pages. This was tough for me at first, because I'm a very linear worker. I start at page one and work my way to the end. I learned from Holly how to break out of that a bit, for strategic reasons. A really solid synopsis is essential there, although there's always wiggle room and productive surprises.

I learned to label my files better. I learned to wrangle my gerunds. I also learned that Holly is the collaborator after my own heart. We've got a good system, I think.

GW: Siren Song deals with events from the SG-1 episode "Deadman Switch," while Hydra explores repercussions from episodes like "Tin Man" and "Shades of Grey." What was special about these episodes? Why did they stand out to you?

JD: Hmmm. Insert swirly flashback effect here as I try to remember back to Siren Song ... "Deadman Switch" is a nice, relatively stand-alone episode that offered us a fun secondary character to work with in Aris Boch. And, for me in particular, it gave us a little keyhole-view of a culture that didn't get explored much in the series.

So that was a great jumping-off point. I'm kind of a geek for the possibilities of building worlds and cultures, so I liked the opportunities that episode offered for that kind of playing in the Stargate universe -- the kind of playing that is hooked into canon, but which opens out into something I can get mucky with in the imagination.

HS: There were a few characters in the run of the series I desperately wanted more of, and Aris was at the top of the list. We had a remarkable opportunity to create back-story for him, and to have the characters -- particularly Jack and Daniel -- interact with him. He was enormously fun to write, and creating his world and his culture, writing some secondary book canon as adjunct to the series canon, was a wonderful challenge.

Jaimie does phenomenal world-building, and her vision about how the planet looked, what it was like, was the foundation for everything we wrote.


The SG-1 novels let authors dig into Stargate history to see more of characters like Aris Boch.
JD: Hydra spins out from all the unanswered questions in "Tin Man" and the N.I.D. episodes. I've always been fascinated by the tin team, what their life must have been like, how they dealt with their new state of being.

The "Tin Man" episode poked a pointy stick at the thing I love most about science fiction, which is the ways that it encourages us to consider not just who and what we are but how we are -- that is, how the "I" is constructed at the nexus of consciousness, embodiment and environment. Which is really just a complicated way of saying: robots are really, really cool.

HS: What appealed to me about the robot versions of SG-1 was the fact that they conceptualize their existence as being Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c, and yet they know they are not. How do beings with complete consciousness of self cope with the fact that they can't live the lives they remember as their own -- that they are not who they in fact feel they are? This sort of existential paradox led to other questions about morality, duty, and -- as Jaimie mentioned -- what core traits are essential to personality, and how drastically a twist to the right or the left can change the entirety of who we are and what we perceive to be true of ourselves.

This is why writing all the various teams -- the insane betas, the depressed and rebellious epsilons, the courageous alphas, the conscience-free thetas -- was such an interesting proposition. We had an opportunity to put the focus on SG-1 and the alpha team -- all team, all the time -- and then to explore all their shades of grey with the other versions.
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