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Interview with Eric Nylund

Eric Nylund is the author of Halo: The Fall of Reach, a novel set in the Halo universe, and acting as sort of a prequel to the game. We had a chance to send him some questions recently, and here we bring you his answers. Thanks to Eric Trautmann and the rest of Microsoft's Franchise Development Group for their help in facilitating this.

This interview is being posted on October 31, 2001.

HBO: When did you start work on the novel?

EN: Eric Trautmann (from Microsoft's Franchise Development Group) and I tossed around a few ideas for this project a long, long time ago. The actual work, however, was delayed for various technical and legal reasons. On the positive side, this gave me a chance to see the game in almost every stage of development before I started writing.

HBO: As the Halo storyline has evolved, have you made changes to Halo: The Fall of Reach, or have you kept it going in the direction you started?

EN: By the time writing began, the storyline of the Halo game was more or less finalized. An outline for the novel was approved by Bungie before I began writing-only very minor changes were made to the novel.

HBO: Have there been changes to the GAME (that you know of) due to the book, or due to research instigated by its writing?

EN: Not that I'm aware of, no. I relied on the Story Bible quite extensively. The whole idea behind a Story Bible is that if you create a document that accurately describes the universe in which a game takes place, you can use it as a guide for writing a novel (for example) without needing to constantly check the developing novel against a developing game.

HBO: The inclusion of Doug Zartman on the advisory team opens tantalizing implications for many long-time Bungie fans. Can you elaborate on how close (or distant) the Halo and Marathon universes are?

EN: We've tried to make the novel consistent with the tone and style of the game as established by Jason Jones, whose statements about the thematic links between Marathon and Halo are on record. I leave it to Jason and Bungie to reveal how closely the two universes are linked.

HBO: Long before anything was known about Halo by the public, the series of emails known as 'The Cortana Letters' was sent to Hamish Sinclair. They haven't been mentioned in quite a while, and more recent information seems to contradict some of the material in them-do they refer in any way to events that took place on or before the battle of Reach, in a way that impacts the book?

EN: Yes.

HBO: Was it easier or more difficult working in an existing universe for this novel (as compared to your other work, in which the universe was yours from the start)? Why?

EN: It's easier and more difficult working in an existing fictional universe. Much of the arduous world building-the rules and history of the Halo universe-had already been worked out with an exacting precision. Those details, however, also limit the story. Certain technologies were not allowed and certain events had to occur for the novel and game to dovetail properly. On the balance, I would have to say that working in the Halo universe was easier-especially given the broad support from the Franchise Development Group and Bungie staff.

HBO: How large a role does the Pillar of Autumn play in the book, and are there other crossover characters besides Cortana and the Master Chief?

EN: (Without giving too much of the story away...) The Pillar of Autumn plays a pivotal role in the Spartans' most important mission in the Halo universe.

As far as crossover characters, there is Cortana and the Master Chief, as well as Captain Keyes, and handful of Marines. Several important characters in the novel never appear in the game, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll never be seen again ...

Thanks, Eric!