Eric Nylund Interview, April, 2010
The Halo Waypoint team sat down with Eric Nylund in April 2010 to discuss the Dr. Halsey Journal that will be available in the Limited and Legendary Editions of Halo: Reach. They were kind enough to give us a chance to host it a bit early. Enjoy!
Well-loved author and Halo fiction contributor, Eric Nylund, was recently tasked with writing the bulk of the Halo: Reach Limited and Legendary Edition's exclusive fictional artifact, the journal of Dr. Catherine Halsey, mastermind behind the SPARTAN-II project and citizen of Reach. We had a chance to ask Eric a few questions about the journal and about the long and arduous process involved in bringing it to life. Here's what he had to say:
Eric, we understand that you wrote and helped create much of the Halsey journal which makes a lot of sense because of the groundwork you've already laid for her character in Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. How did the idea for the journal as an artifact for a Halo prequel first come about?
ERIC: First, before we go any further, let me point out that creating this journal was a task of Herculean proportions and without the following people putting in some very long hours and sweating a few ammo crates of bullets, it would have never seen the light of day:
Without giving away any secrets, can you give us an idea about what types of things fans should expect from the Halsey journal?
ERIC: Everything. (okay—well, almost everything )
What is it about Dr. Halsey that you think people find fascinating? Why her journal and not another character?
ERIC: She's a dazzling, 200 IQ, complicated character. Who wouldn't want to write about Dr. Halsey?!
These first images of the journal look really impressive. How much work was done in an effort to make this particular piece so authentic?
ERIC: Nothing was left to chance on this piece.
Halsey's introduction to fans was in 2001, alongside the first Halo game and the bestselling novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. That's almost a decade ago. How easy was it for you to return to the same fictional stomping grounds of ten years earlier?
ERIC: Pretty easy.
The scope of this character's journal seems like it would be incredibly daunting. Did you find yourself having to go back to research your own past work in preparation for this?
ERIC: Yes. Me and a TEAM of people had to go back and constantly check everything in the HALO universe. (Note to self—why did we make this so complicated?!) Dr. Halsey touched so many things in HALO history that this was a critical part of the process.
You worked on the "Halo Wars: Genesis" graphic novel which shipped alongside Halo Wars, but this journal in comparison seems like a completely different beast. Can you give us an idea of just how different of a process it was?
ERIC: The Dr. Halsey journal is worlds different. The HALO WARS LCE graphic novel tackled only a tiny slice of HALO history (basically how the main characters in that game got to that point in time and space).
Looking at some of the images of the Limited and Legendary Editions it appears as though there are sketches throughout the book. How much interaction did you have the artist and how did the ideas for the sketches come about?
[a point of clarification: the Dr. Halsey journal comes in both the Limited Edition and The Legendary Edition.]
ERIC: Many of the ideas for the sketches were generated as we outlined what entries were going to be in the journal—and as such are integral to the storytelling process, not just tacked on.
You've obviously worked closely with Bungie in the past on the Halo novels—how was something like this journal, which ships right alongside a game, different than an average Halo book?
ERIC: Like I said, it had to fit in with everything that went before...but most especially the HALO: REACH game.
Such a big process with so many different components like art, game cohesion, style and fiction probably involved a larger number of hands in the pot than a typical Halo novel—how did that process feel compared to the relatively smaller creative group involved in writing a Halo novel?
ERIC: Well, as you can see from the list of people I thank at the start, it sure was a lot different than writing HALO: THE Fall of Reach when I only had to interact with two people. On the other hand, if felt very much like writing HALO: THE FALL OF REACH because so many of the events that happened therein are being recorded and reflected upon by Dr. Halsey in this journal.
When you were penning the journal, did you find yourself treading new ground or filling in the gaps of compelling story threads which had already been seeded in earlier works?
ERIC: There are some important keystone issues/events in Halsey's life that had to be covered (and if you're a fan of HALO fiction you KNOW what those are), but there were many blanks that got filled as well, and new questions, answers...and "other things" that came up the life of Dr. Halsey got fleshed out.
How did you think fans will react to this content in this book? What do you hope they take away from the journal?
ERIC: I think they'll love it.
[Ed: No, that's ONI's job.]
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Eric and we can't wait to crack open our own Legendary Editions to dive right into this amazing piece!
ERIC: My pleasure. Thanks for letting me do this. It was great fun. And as always, fans and readers can reach me through my website.
Thanks to Eric for the great interview - and for the Waypoint crew for the opportunity to host this!