Care to elaborate?
See I’m a fan boy. I grew up being a fan of science fiction and watching all the movies and watching the TV shows. We would even run around in the backyard playing Star Trek! So that was part of my growing up and my introduction to science fiction. Dune was my favorite science fiction novel of all time, and Star Wars—I have no idea how many times I saw it in the movie theaters. So it’s really cool to write stories set in these universes that have already meant so much to me.
There are advantages in that. It’s like you’re climbing aboard a car that already has a big engine. There are already fans who are going to grab the book because it says Star Wars on [the cover]; the characters are already [established]. If I say “Han Solo and Chewbacca flew the Millennium Falcon to Tatooine,” I don’t have to describe anything; you know Han, you know Chewbacca, you know what the Millennium Falcon is, and you know Tatooine. But swap out of all those words for made-up characters from an original novel, and I certainly have to explain to you everything about.
I’ve got a real head start when I’m writing a book in the Dune universe, for example, but there are also constraints. I have to follow the rules of that universe. Dune is very complicated. It has a very intense political setup that’s got lots of rules, lots of detailed philosophical underpinning, and if you’re going to put on those shoes, you have to walk the walk, and you have to know what your doing. Of course the advantage is that you have fans willing to take it up because they already liked the universe. But the disadvantages is that you have fans that may be so knowledgeable about the universe, they know more about it than you do, and they very much want everything exactly perfect.
And of course you have to follow certain rules; I can’t just kill off Han Solo, for example, or do something that would cause ripple effects in that universe. I can do that writing in my own universe.
So I like doing both. No matter what book you are writing you’re still operating within certain constraints. If I set a book in modern day Seattle I’m stuck with the rules of modern day Seattle. There is certain weather; there is certain geography. People don’t have flying cars if I want to have a flying car. I can’t say I feel constraint writing this book in modern day Seattle because I want my people to have flying cars. As a writer you look at the landscape that you have to work with and if you have the proper creativity and imagination then you can tell your story.