Gears of War isn’t just about partaking in cover shooting and beating back the swarm. It’s about immersing yourself into the entire universe. And away from the games, what better way of doing that than by spending time with the written form? After seeing Titan Books and Jason M. Hough team up to previously create the awesome Gears of War: Ascendance, there is now another read hitting the shelves that is equally as good – Gears of War: Bloodlines. Once more we just had to find out more, so we sat down with Jason in order to learn a little more about the thought processes involved in creating the book.
Hi, for anyone who hasn’t previously read your excellent Gears of War books, could you please introduce yourself and give a little insight into how you came onboard with Gears of War: Bloodlines from Titan Books?
Sure! I’m sci-fi author Jason M. Hough, probably best known for my Dire Earth series which started with The Darwin Elevator. I became connected to Titan when they picked up the UK rights to those novels, and eventually led to me co-writing a Mass Effect book for them. It was this that led the editor, Steve Saffel, to contact me about Gears.
So, with Bloodlines following on from the equally great Ascendance, why should gamers be looking to give this book a read?
Tactics is fronted by a new character, Gabe Diaz, and Bloodlines gives backstory into what led him to being in the state he’s in at the beginning of the game. The game can certainly be enjoyed without this info, but I think gamers will benefit having a connection to the character when they start playing.
In addition, Bloodlines also fills us in on what happened during a certain time-gap in Gears 5. Bonus!
Going back to the Pendulum Wars seems to be the focus for the majority of the book. How difficult was it for you to place yourself in the era given that, in the games at least, there’s not really been much coverage of the period?
It was the toughest part, for sure. Most of my info came from constantly quizzing The Coalition’s Bonnie Jean Mah (Director, Narrative Director) and Rod Fergusson (Creative Director) about the era, but it also helped to read Karen Traviss’s Gears novels and some of the Gears comics. All that said, I definitely had more content to invent this time around.
Gabriel Diaz is an interesting character, being a Gear who is more given to introspection than most. How did you get under his skin to bring his fairly unique viewpoint to the story?
This was perhaps the hardest part about writing this book. With Ascendance, I simply had to do a deep dive into Gears of War 4, and could look back at that game whenever I needed reference material. But with Gabe, I had only an early script of the cinematic sequences for Tactics, and some discussions with the team at The Coalition.
From there I wrote a first draft, and although Gabe was a thinker, my first version of him wasn’t quite on the mark. So we talked it through more and my second draft hopefully did a good job of capturing his essence.
… and how much of Gabriel’s character was drawn up by the guys at the Coalition, and how much was he your own invention?
It ended up being something of a mix, which is okay. They knew who they wanted Gabe to be when Gears Tactics starts, and my job was to rewind a bit from that version of Gabe and then get him there. Having his character evolve somewhat to reach that point is all part of the lore.
It’s the characters of Gears who really make things tick – how do you think this new younger generation compare with the old guard that many are familiar with?
Well, I love both generations personally. I think when each is looked at individually they might be a bit too straightforward (speaking from a storyteller’s standpoint), but both the old and new together creates an awesome multi-faceted universe, in my view!
Last time around you told us we hadn’t seen the last of Oscar, and that we’d hopefully learn more about his younger self. That seems to have kinda gone by the wayside to a degree – can we hope to see a book where Oscar is the hero?
I’m very open to that idea. He’s a great character for sure.
In terms of that old guard, seeing Cole Train, Marcus, Baird et al still running about and being vital to the story is always a joy. But do you foresee a time when they won’t be there, leaving Kait and JD to shoulder the burden of the narrative?
There is no telling what will happen in the future, but these characters are an important part of Gears and the lore within. We love them and know the fans feel the same way. Otherwise, I don’t have any insight into the future of the franchise.
With the way Bloodlines slots into the overall Gears time frame, are there more stories for you to tell in the run-up to Gears 6? Can you at least confirm that this isn’t going to be the last we hear from you!?
There’s been some informal chats about another book, but there’s nothing concrete to report yet. At the moment I’m working on my next original novel (a modern-day thriller called Instinct), and can’t really spare any time until that is completely done. Luckily I’m in the final few weeks of that project now, so hopefully there will be some news regarding Gears soon!
And finally, for future books, do you see the past as a fertile place to find and explore new stories and new perspectives of the Gears Universe?
Absolutely. One of the great things about Gears, to me, is how many past events are mentioned, but left largely to the player’s imagination. Each one of those creates a possible story to be told.
That said, my general preference is to always be moving forward and, if possible, staying on what I’d consider the main storyline.
Massive thank you to Jason for spending time answering our questions. We hope that the little insight it allows will give you reason to check out the book.
As always, huge thanks also go out to the team at Titan Books for not just setting up this interview with Jason but for also providing us access to the Gears of War: Bloodlines book. If you wish to pick up a copy for yourself you will find it on Amazon or over at Titan Books direct.