Describe your collaboration with Sir Ridley Scott and related filmmakers.
I have met and interviewed Sir Ridley on a number of occasions over the last ten years, including several in-depth interviews solely related to Alien. The same goes for Sigourney Weaver. Before I was even commissioned to write the book, I was sitting on a treasure trove of material, thinking wouldn't this make a great book! I have also become very friendly with many behind the scenes personal, a gang of droll and fascinating crew members like Ivor Powell, Brian Johnson, Roger Christian and Dennis Lowe (who is doing a marvellous job collating a video archive of Alien personnel: http://www.zen171398.zen.co.uk/Alien.html). Everyone has strong opinions and fantastic stories to tell. Success, as they say, has many authors and I have got to know a real mix of people in creating the book, many of whom I stay in contact with.
Describe your process – specifically the narrative/storytelling structure and how you assembled the information.
The actual writing?I had a very clear structure planned for the book, which helped me collate all the interviews and research. The book would work across five chapters telling the story of different facets of the overall story of Alien: Birth (its origins and the slow journey of the script), Nostromo (designing and shooting the 'human' elements of the film), Perfect Organism (Giger and the 'alien' elements of the film), Ripley (the radical choice of a female lead and the discovery of Sigourney Weaver) and Legacy (the success and lasting success, including the sequels and the emergence of an extended universe). Within the chapters there were narratives, particular journeys such as Dan O'Bannon's, Sir Ridley's and H.R. Giger's). All the interviews and research was fitted around that framework. Interestingly, there emerged this alternative universe version of the film, all the abandoned ideas (Bannon's pyramid, Scott's idea for having an alien crew-member, the lost romance between Ripley and Dallas) that would have shaped a very different film.
I was surprised how well your obvious passion for the film came through while you remained objective in the book. Is it easier or harder to write the book as a die-hard fan?