Adam Whitlatch, speculative fiction writer and associate editor at KHP Publishers, Inc. from Bonaparte, Iowa, lands the sci-fi/fantasy writers dream job writing the novelization of the newly released animated movie from Malaysia, War the Worlds: Goliath, a loosely based sequel to H.G. Wells , “The War of the Worlds.”
War of the Worlds: Goliath was produced by Tripod Entertainment, the Kuala Lumpur-based company founded by Malaysian entrepreneur Leon Tan, animation producer Joe Pearson and New Zealand audio engineer Mike Bloemendal. This epic retro-futuristic story in 1914 picks up fifteen years after the first Martian invasion, with Mars attempting a new and more ruthless invasion of Earth at the eve of the First World War. The multinational crew of the Goliath, the ultimate, most advanced prototype, steam-powered tripod, lead a human army of such machines along with heat-ray biplanes and aircraft carrier zeppelins take on the Martians in an attempt to save New York City. The steam-punk elements used in this film, add a unique flare, and exquisite sound and music from Tripod’s own Imaginex Studios let the movie feel the pulse of the action and the earth shaking as the tripods advance.
Adam first heard about this movie reading Heavy Metal Magazine a few years back, when Tripod published a series of “War of the Worlds: Goliath expanded universe” comics in the magazine. In collaboration with Goliath’s Executive Producer Kevin Eastman who is the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and owner of Heavy Metal.
“They had a few comic pages in the regular issues, and I remember looking at it, thinking Adrian Paul, cool. I like Highlander. When my wife Jessica got involved in the Peter Wingfield Fan Club, she started talking about Goliath, a frequent topic in the fan club, since Peter Wingfield adds his talents to the piece, as the voice of Eric Wells. I got to know Joe Pearson, the brainchild for Goliath as well its director-producer, and its other producer and story contributor, Leon Tan. I was on Skype with one of my co-editors at KHP, Jerrod Balzer, and we were kind of geeking out about Goliath, a little bit and I said, ‘I wonder if they have any plans of doing the novelization,’ Jerrod, said ‘Well ask’. I sent a message to Joe and Leon and I asked if they would consider doing it.” Whitlatch states.
Both Joe Pearson and Leon Tan indeed had considered the novelization. Whitlatch sent two copies of his edited manuscript of his now-released novel, “The Weller,” a post-apocalyptic science-fiction piece about an individual name Matt Freeborn, with slightly skewed morals who makes a living finding and selling clean water in a world where scarcity reigns. Both Pearson and Tan loved the manuscript. Whitlatch also shared an unpublished work called “Birthright,” a military-style science-fiction novel. Whitlatch’s resume sealed the deal. Pearson’s take on Whitlatch mentioned that his writing had “fire in the belly.”
“I’m really surprised that I got this because projects like this don’t go to small-time, barely published authors who are published in small press. I know I wasn’t the only author in the running. The fact that I got chosen is an honor,” Whitlatch states humbly.
Whitlatch never anticipated a career as a writer, being a rather terrible English student in high school. A remarkable English teacher gave him a push, reading his material and encouraging Adam. “I started out writing horror. Some of my earlier work wasn’t her cup of tea, but she looked past that; she judged it on its own merits,” Whitlatch states. With two novels on hold due to the Goliath project, Whitlatch turns his focus to accomplish the daunting task of getting the novelization of Goliath written in less than six months.
Watching the movie, multiple times, Whitlatch catches himself rewinding to catch all the action. “I have to rewind quite a bit because the action scenes are definitely, definitely very rapid fire. I’m constantly saying, ‘Wait, what just happened? and backing it up. I’m hoping to capture that in the novelization.” The retro-nature of the film presented an opportunity to craft an “alternate history” view of the world, one which experienced a devastating Martian invasion a decade before the geopolitical events which shaped the First World War. Tripod Entertainment utilized ‘steam punk’ elements to enhance that alternate view of this time period. “The steam punk elements apply not only to the tripods and the other machines, but the whole world of Goliath, including a revised 1914 Manhattan. It’s a beautiful fusion of steam punk elements and reverse engineered Martian tech, the after effects of the first invasion,” Whitlatch adds.
Whitlatch’s greatest challenge he anticipates painting the battle on a grand scale. He must keep everything fresh, so it’s not repetitive—this tripod blows up that tripod blows up this, kinda thing. He expects to accomplish this. “I’m just going to have to put a lot of love and care into that-that climatic battle.”
Critics rave about Imaginex Studios sound effects in this movie as a key focal point of the movie. The sounds makes the movie. The animations enthrall. Writer’s need to utilize their talents to make the sounds come to life in the reader’s mind. Can Whitlatch keep the integrity by titillating the senses with his words? “It’s not just the sound, it’s all the senses,” Whitlatch states. An English professor-at South Dakota State University chatted with him once, and mentioned the keys to compelling writing is to cross senses every 500 words to constantly engage the reader’s auditory, olfactory, touch, sight. “You’ve got to tell them what something feels like, what something sounds like, what something smells like. There are some parts I’ve written so far where sound is very key. I’ve tried to give the reader a sense of not only what it sounds like, but how it affects the characters involved.” Whitlatch’s doesn’t want a reader just staring at a book or Kindle screen, but actually hearing in their heads that Martian tripod stomping around them.
Movie reviews demonstrate a preponderance of ‘genre’ people seem to really like this movie, with others not as much. Whitlatch mentions that main stream critics generally don’t get science fiction, and frequently gets pooh-poohed by mainstream media. They go see the movie, not expecting to like it. “I definitely see why it appeals more to genre fans. It’s hard core science fiction.” Personally, Whitlatch absolutely loved the flick. “Everything about it was beautiful-the visuals, the music. I love, love, the music, especially the opening and closing themes. They are absolutely beautiful. The dialog is fantastic. Since I’m so close to the project, it took me a while to forget that I’m listening to Peter Wingfield, and Adrian Paul. The voice acting is superb,” he mentions. The screen play written by David Abramowitz of Highlander: The Series fame, also includes the voices of many of the Highlander team, Peter Wingfield as Eric Wells, Adrian Paul as Patrick O’Brien, Jim Byrnes as Teddy Roosevelt, Elizabeth Gracen as Jennifer Carter, as well as others. “I love Jim Byrnes as Teddy Roosevelt. I actually grew up in the early 90’s listening to Jim Byrnes as Dr. Light on Mega Man. That voice, I’ve heard that in animation for a long time, so it was so good hearing him again, and he did Teddy Roosevelt so wonderfully,” he states.
Despite his kudos to Mr. Byrnes, Adam’s favorite character remains Patrick O’Brien, voiced by Adrian Paul. He finds him larger than life, funny and a big flirt, but very conflicted. “You’re always wondering where his loyalties lie.”
Originally, the movie incorporated a love scene, which in the final cut found itself on the cutting room floor. Adam, whoever, plans to reintroduce this to the novelization. Readers’ will notice the tension between two characters. Other challenges face Whitlatch taking an animated movie and putting it into a book. He didn’t initially hear the characters in his head as he did the Matt Freeborn character he created for his book “The Weller.” Matt lived in his head. He hears him talking to him. When he began the process of writing the Goliath novelization, Eric Wells, Patrick O’Brien, they resided in the script, not his head. “At first, I had trouble finding my voice,” Whitlatch says. “I have the dialog (screenplay by Abramowitz, story by Pearson, Abramowitz and Tan), but it took me a while to find my rhythm and get their actions down. I added extra dialog. He found them, and allowed them to take up residence in his head.
Some novelization writers keep the original dialog intact, treat it like a sacred cow, while some choose to scrap it, and rewrite the dialog in its entirety. “I didn’t agree with that process. I didn’t think it would be fair to readers, and it definitely wouldn’t be fair to David Abramowitz who wrote this fantastic script.”
What parts of this novelization bring out Adam’s style versus the original script? Adam feels his distinctive sense of humor peers through. His personal touches are there. “I am adding some new material. Joe Pearson and I have plans for additions to the final battle sequence. I will be drawing on my hand-to-hand, weapons and martial arts experience.” Adam studied two forms of Korean martial arts including some Korean sword. Whitlatch plans to include some sword fights in the novelization.
Most of the information overload taking this from movie to novelization concerns the technical specifications provided to Whitlatch from Joe Pearson. Whitlatch found all the technical specs daunting to pour over at first. He keeps files of information to reference when needed. Adam refers to all the details as the ‘Goliath Bible.’
Working with the film industry, producers, etc. instead of editors proved a bit of a culture shock for Whitlatch. “I’m not calling the shots any more. I actually have people to answer to, and I’ve never had to do that with writing. It’s always been completely my baby. I have so many people to make happy, and so far they are. I’m having a ball,” he states emphatically. He admits to a slightly swelled head, working on a project with beloved actors from the 90’s. He’s always been a fan of Highlander and Mega Man, and just loves the actors’ involvement with the film.
The film just released in the United States and is available for purchase in DVD and Blu-Ray. The novelization estimated release, is very tentatively planned for sometime this summer. Pick up the movie to get a foreshading of the novelization by Adam J. Whitlatch.
Adam’s book ‘The Weller,’, a post-apocalyptic novel about an individual, Matt Freeborn, who makes a living finding the scarce sources of water and profiting from the sale. A definite ‘Mad Max’ inspired element appears in the book and specifically in the character of Matt. A muscle car and a gun, and a protagonist with a skewed sense of morality flash back to the movie, but have Adam’s definite style and distinctive plot. “Most of my protagonists are really noble characters with noble intentions, but Matt wants to live, and he will do damn near anything to stay alive. It was really fun writing him because I could break some of my own rules. When society fails, all the rules go out the window, and people take advantage of things. His character of Patrick Koozy, basically appoints himself God, a theme not uncommon in post-apocalyptic themed stories, and then Matt comes along and says, ‘I’ve met God about 10 or 12 times and you’re not him. Whitlatch mentions his favorite sequence in this book is when Matt discovers how good we had it. “We knew what would happen if we played around with nukes and biological weapons, and we still let it happen. He just can’t wrap his mind around the fact that we idiots threw it all away. We had all the world by the tail, and we flushed it down the toilet. I always wonder what future generations are going to think about what we are doing right now. I don’t think we would be looked upon fondly for what’s going on in the world right now,” Whitlatch remarks.
“The Weller” is available on Amazon.com for $7.19. Pick up a copy and enter the mind of Adam J. Whitlatch. Read more about Adam online at http://adamjwhitlatch.com/. It wets the tastebuds for more of Whitlatch’s adventures. Adam, his wife Jessica and their three boys, Zavier, Logan and Scott. The entire family enjoys going to conventions with celebrity events like CONvergence. “Going to conventions has really brought me out of my shell. I was extremely shy when I was younger ,” Adam states. He’s met so many people, that a third of his friends are convention people. This June in Manchester, NH at the Peter Wingfield Fan Club Friendship Convention, Adam joins Peter for a panel about the novelization of War of the Worlds Goliath. Talks now mention the possibility of Peter reading part of the novel Adam is writing, a section of his character’s dialog –Eric Wells. What an exciting opportunity for Adam to showcase his new work. If sales go well for the movie, War of the Worlds Goliath, a sequel could also be in the works. Adam whispers of ideas in the head of Director Joe Pearson. Then maybe a sequel for the novel? Who knows? The movie, a must see for any audience, can be found in stores around the country and on-line, and keep watching for the release of Adam Whitlatch’s novelization of this great feat of engineering. Adam’s unique writing style can put the reader back into the movie.