ReDeus Brings the Gods — All of Them — Home
Pop culture continues to find new and innovative ways to plant itself on the web and two of our contributors, Aaron Rosenberg and Bob Greenberger, along with fellow novelist Steven Savile, are trying something new. ReDeus is a new fictional world that will come to life on the Internet as a subscription-based site that will offer, for starters, three serialized stories set in a shared world. Not only that, they’re fundraising in an unusual way too, through Kickstarter. We wanted to know more, so we digitally sat down with the three for a conversation.
ComicMix: Where’d the idea for ReDeus come from?
Steven Savile: I was actually invited to the party after Aaron and Bob had already come up with the core concept of the gods and monsters returning, so it’s best I let them field this particular question.
Aaron Rosenberg: Me, it was all me! :)
No, seriously, it was Bob, our friend Paul, and I. We’d been talking about the economy, and writing projects, and the changing face of publishing, and we agreed that we needed to find new ways to get stories out to our audience. I had an idea about putting things up on the Internet, and Bob and Paul both liked the notion, so we ran with it. Then we started talking about the kind of world we’d want to build, something cool and unique and interesting with enough room for all of us to tell stories and then some. We all agreed that near-future was the way to go, and then the question was “how is it different from today? What changed?” I don’t remember which of us came up with “the gods were all real—and they’ve returned!” but the minute it was stated all three of us said “YES!!!” And we took it from there. Paul had to bow out, unfortunately, but Bob and I both already knew Steve and were already working with him on some other projects, so we approached him and he was happy to step in.
Bob Greenberger: Basically we had to forgo one Jew with a beard for a Swede with a beard. We think it’s an upgrade.
CMix: Why three writers rather than one of you?
Savile: Personally, I love the collective aspect of it. Writing is by necessity a lonely business but there is something very gratifying about the act of collaboration, the idea that what comes out of all three of us together is greater than what might emerge from my mind alone, or Bob’s or Aaron’s, plus it is an absolute delight to learn from these guys. They’re not only great people, they’re great friends, and how often in this life do we get to work with real friends? Not often enough would be my answer.
Rosenberg: Two reasons, really. First, the world is just so much richer for the three of us. I can come up with a world on my own—I’ve done it enough times—but that means it’s all from my
The other reason is the scope of the project. Putting up a new piece of content every single day—if any one of us were to do this, he’d run himself ragged. With three of us, we can split that up. Each of us writes one storyline. Each of us handles one type of additional content. It becomes more manageable. And you get materials from three different viewpoints.
Greenberger: I love collaboration and brainstorming so have a blank slate and starting to fill it in is very exciting. This is a huge concept worthy of deeper exploration, which three can do better than one. Who knows, maybe it will grow from there and more will be invited to come explore with us?
CMix: What’s the idea behind the world of tomorrow?
Rosenberg: In 2012, all the gods returned. Or at least, all the
major pantheons. It turns out that they were all real, but somehow got
banned or blocked or bored with our world ages ago and left. Now they’re
back, and hungry to take control once more.
ReDeus begins in 2032, so it’s been twenty years since the gods’ return.
Most people have come to terms with the way the world has changed. The
new generation has never known anything different. But for the gods it’s
been only the blink of an eye since they came back, and they’re still
sorting their way through things. There are still squabbles over
territory, and political machinations, and ploys to gain more followers
and cement belief among the existing ones. It’s barely-controlled chaos.
And New York is the only guaranteed neutral zone on Earth, so it’s the
battleground for a lot of these conflicts.
CMix: What do each of you bring to the project?
Savile: For me, I can answer my part of the puzzle thus: I’m a
dark s.o.b. my mind goes to the darkest corners, things are never pretty
but there is a beauty in the dark stuff sometimes and that’s what I try
to tap. Aaron’s got an understanding of plot mechanics and the heart of
stories that is second to none, and Bob is just plain and simple one of
the best writers I’ve come across. I was a fan of his long before we
met and started working together.
Rosenberg: Bob and Steve are both great guys, and great
writers—I’ve known both of them for years, and I’m working with both of
them on other projects beyond this one. Bob’s got a gift for story
pacing, a keen eye for character, and a great visual sense. Steve’s got a
talent for visceral description, and an off-the-wall approach to plot
and character—he’s really good at turning things on their ear and making
them that much more exciting. Me, I’m a worldbuilder and a story
engine—I’m good at crafting settings and spinning tales. Especially when
I’ve got these guys to make sure it all fits together.
Greenberger: These guys are making me blush and now I have say
nice things about them. Seriously, though, Aaron brings some deep
research skills and serious writing chops to this cabal. Steven’s
European training and experience will provide some interest
counterpoints and is the right guy to explore the darker side. As for
what I bring to the project, let’s call it boyish enthusiasm and an
eagerness to explore new characters.
CMix: Who are your characters?
Savile: Jon Falls, a man conflicted with his own inner demons
who is wrestling with both schizophrenia and Disassociative Identity
Disorder. DID means that Jon actually has several distinct and unrelated
personalities inside him, and one of those happens to be a demon hunter
whilst another is an innocent child who thinks he can see the angels,
etc. So when the gods and monsters return, Jon truly doesn’t know what
is real, what is delusion, and as he falls off his meds he’s more than
just haunted. He takes refuge in the personality of the hunter, stealing
the armor of a long dead crusader from the museum and becoming a holy
warrior, and that, of course, is when the fun really begins.
Rosenberg: Mine is Tom Duran. Tom’s an NYPD Homicide detective.
He’s good at his job, though not great—he’s dogged and thorough, but not
brilliant. He’s an average guy stuck in a tough job in a tough city,
and he’s old enough to remember what it was like before the gods
returned. He often gets cases that involve the gods or their minions, so
it’s a relief when he lands a murder investigation that seems
completely mundane—until it turns out to be anything but.
Greenberger: Meet Gabriella, a 30-ish woman who loses her job
thanks to a god and is not sure of who or what to believe so goes on a
quest to find a new direction for her life. Along the way, she will
encounter gods who basically want to lobby for her devotion and she gets
seriously tempted but remains a skeptic. She also likes walks on the
beach and the Boston Red Sox.
CMix: You’re going for a unique business model, a paid
subscription website rather than sell this as novels. Is there something
about the concept that lends itself to this?
Rosenberg: One of the things we’re doing with ReDeus is making it
an interactive experience. Subscribers can do more than just read each
chapter—they can talk about them on the forums, ask questions, make
requests. Patrons have even more access to us, and to what’s behind the
scenes in each story, so they have even more opportunity to influence
the storylines. Someone can say “I’d really love to see more of this
character” or “Have they gone over here or done this yet?” and that will
alter the path of the story. That’s something you can’t do with
standard novels, or any form of fixed media.
We are planning to release these as conventional novels as well. But
that’s after the fact. The people who subscribe and participate will
help create that final product.
Savile: A few years back I was chatting with Larry Niven and
Kevin J. Anderson about the future we face as writers, and Larry said he
pitied guys like me who were trying to break through now because
publishing as he knew it was dead, whereas Kevin said quite rightly it
was up to us to find new ways to tell stories. The net offers a
wonderful chance for interaction, where readers can drive aspects of the
stories they want to see explored, and with new stuff going up every
week it could very quickly become a wonderfully immersive environment.
The entire notion of crowd-funding and reader interaction excites me as
an author, I’ve never tried anything like this before, but I suspect it
will prove to be incredibly liberating as far as creative experiences
CMix: You’re also going about fundraising in an unusual way,
using Kickstarter. Tell us about it.
Savile: The idea behind it is fairly simple: we’re giving folks
the chance to become patrons, rather like the old days when writers and
artists would fall under the patronage of the rich art lovers and
benefactors. We’ve set levels of investment as little as a buck, which
will earn folks a place on the website in the thanks section, to a very
minimal amount of 15, 25 or 35 bucks for thanks plus one PPC (printed
papercase hardcover edition) of the finished books depending upon
whether they want one, two or all three. 35 bucks for three hardcovers
is a pretty fair deal, and of course these will be unique to the
Redeus.com site, meaning not out for general sale. There are higher
levels of subscription which are rewarded with beautiful handcrafted
leather editions of the books and other merchandise. One of my friends
is a bookbinder who makes the most incredible leather bound books, we’re
talking things of beauty. We’re hoping that folks will show a little
faith and subscribe at the lower level, basically ordering the books in
advance – but the way Kickstarter works, if we don’t raise *all* of the
funds we’ve targeted on day 1 by the 90 day limit, no money is drawn and
all pledges are cancelled. It’s an all or nothing deal, so people who
do pledge can’t lose out if we don’t hit the $15,000 US threshold we’ve
calculated we need to do this right – and trust me it’s very important
we do this right.
Rosenberg: It’s all about getting people interested, getting them
excited, and getting starting capital. Kickstarter is perfect for that.
It lets us announce ReDeus, talk about the project, and invite people
who like the idea to pledge money to help us. If we don’t hit our stated
goal, they get their money back and we know the project didn’t garner
enough interest to be viable. If we do reach it, however, we can launch
fully, and we’ll know there are already people behind us, people
interested enough in reading ReDeus that they’ve already contributed a
little money to see it happen.
CMix: What’s the experience been like so far?
Savile: We’re very much at the beginning, bouncing around ideas,
characters and storylines at the moment in preparation for the site’s
launch—which is my favorite part of the writing process.
Rosenberg: Great! It’s really reassuring to see people get
excited about the concept and the structure. It sounded good to us, but
we’re so close to it that we’re biased. So this is really nice to see
that others like it as well.
Greenberger: I love that total strangers liked the concept
enough to contribute along with friends of ours. I’m not sure what it
says that none of our family have made pledges but we’ll remember this
at Christmastime. We’ve begun posting updates once or twice a week to
maintain a dialogue with our backers, giving us a chance to stay in
touch. We’re also not the only comics folk using this as potential
backers will discover.
CMix: When will the site go live and what can readers expect at
Rosenberg: It should go live on July 1,
the Kickstarter process. At that point, the current front page will be
replaced with a full site, including maps, background info, world
history, character backgrounds, and the first set of chapters. The
forums will be live at that point as well, so people can start
participating right away.
Savile: Obviously the cross platform nature of the site will mean
we’re not only providing chapter by chapter updates to all three novels
weekly, we’ll be designing character templates, maps and other RPG
stuff that gamers can use to immerse themselves in the world. We’ll also
be throwing in some surprises.
Greenberger: The hope is that something new goes up daily except
Sundays, when even the gods must rest. Three days a week will be the
serials, then the other three days will contain additional content,
including non-ReDeus projects we may want to share.
CMix: What else do you have coming up before Re Deus launches?
Savile: I’ve just had a huge non-fiction book Fantastic TV, a
loving retrospective of SF television, come out, and right around the
time ReDeus will go live my first Stargate SG-1 novel will be hitting
Rosenberg:My Stargate: Atlantis novel, Hunt and Run will be out
in mid-June. And my Chaotic junior novel, The Khilaian Sphere, releases a
week or so after ReDeus launches. Then in August my first Eureka novel,
Eureka: Substitution Method (written under the house name Cris Ramsay),
hits the stands.
Greenberger: My Wonder Woman. Amazon. Hero. Icon. book just
hit shelves and will be followed with stories in Captain Midnight
Chronicles (May) and Green Hornet Chronicles (June). Martin Pasko and I
are finishing proofreading galleys to The Essential
Encyclopedia (August) and I’m currently writing the new Who’s Who for DC