Famous Authors You Didn’t Know Wrote Franchise Novels
There’s something to be said about getting paid to write about your favorite characters. Writers can work for hire to write novels based on other companies’ intellectual properties, such as Star Wars and Spider-Man. Many authors have taken these jobs — way more authors than you probably think. To prove it, I’ve pulled together a list of famous authors you didn’t know wrote franchise novels below.
Franchise novels get a bad rap. Authors who “write IP,” in industry parlance, don’t retain the rights to their work, because they were hired to write for a particular publisher or media franchise. Responding to Twitter discourse that IP writing was “soulless,” Chuck Wendig writes that “it’s really not all downside — because the one upside is, you get to write in a space you love. You get to put your heart into a storyworld that has influenced you in some way — you’re giving back to it, you’re owning a little postage-stamp-sized piece of creative real estate in a narrative that fed you. And that’s the reward, which is…Well, sorta the opposite of soulless.”
Just like there’s nothing wrong with writing IP, there’s nothing wrong with reading it, either. Chances are pretty high that one or more of your favorite authors has written a franchise novel. Here are just a few:
10 Famous Authors You Didn’t Know Wrote Franchise Novels
Before the MCU took movie theaters by storm, and before the Snyder Cut grabbed the internet by the throat, there was Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, ABC’s live-action series starred Terri Hatcher and Dean Cain in the title roles. Lois & Clark ran for four seasons between 1993 and 1997 before being unceremoniously canceled on the world’s worst cliffhanger. Although it didn’t give us a ton of tie-in media, the show did spawn a romance novel, Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel, written by Hugo Award winner and Downbelow Station author C.J. Cherryh.
The author of This Book Is Gay and Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is living every literary Whovian’s dream. Juno Dawson has written a Doctor Who novel, Doctor Who: The Good Doctor; a Doctor Who audio drama, titled Doctor Who: Redacted; and two Torchwood audio dramas — Torchwood: The Dollhouse and Torchwood: Orr.
Brian Evenson is best known for his original novels and short story collections, including Last Days and A Collapse of Horses, but he’s also written his fair share of franchise novels. Writing as B.K. Evenson, he’s published: Aliens: No Exit, set in the universe of Ridley Scott’s Aliens; The Lords of Salem, co-authored with Rob Zombie and based on the film of the same name; and two novels — Dead Space: Martyr and Dead Space: Catalyst — which take place in the universe of developer Visceral’s Dead Space series of video games.
Best known for Dread Nation and Deathless Divide, in which a zombie apocalypse cuts short the American Civil War, Justina Ireland has also written six Star Wars novels for young readers. They are: Lando’s Luck, Spark of the Resistance, A Test of Courage, Out of the Shadows, and Mission to Disaster.
N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo-sweeping Broken Earth trilogy put her squarely in every SFF reader’s sights, but did you know she also wrote for two separate IPs? Three months after she closed out Broken Earth with The Stone Sky, Jemisin published Mass Effect: Initiation, a Mass Effect: Andromeda tie-in novel, co-written with Mass Effect comics author Mac Walters. Two years later, she published her Hugo Award–winning Green Lantern series, Far Sector, with illustrator Jamal Campbell.
Elizabeth Lim is the author of five original novels, including Spin the Dawn, Six Crimson Cranes, and the forthcoming Her Radiant Curse. She’s also written three tie-in novels in Disney’s Twisted Tales series. Reflection centers on Mulan, who must travel to the Underworld to rescue the mortally wounded Shang. So This Is Love imagines a new version of Disney’s Cinderella, in which Prince Charming never found the glass slipper’s owner. Finally, the forthcoming When You Wish Upon a Star follows the Blue Fairy from Disney’s Pinocchio as she defies fairy customs to help the puppet.
The Young Elites author Marie Lu wrote the second installment of DC Comics’s DC Icons series. Batman: Nightwalker is a YA graphic novel that follows a teenage Bruce Wayne through his first real crime-fighting experience — an excursion that earns him a community service jag at Arkham Asylum.
Jason Reynolds is the award-winning author of Long Way Down and Look Both Ways, among other novels. Reynolds drew inspiration from Jordan Peele’s Get Out for his YA franchise novel, set in the Marvel Comics universe. Miles Morales: Spider-Man centers on the eponymous teen, whose spidey-sense recently began to tingle non-stop. Surely nothing can be wrong all the time…right?
Beloved sci-fi and fantasy author Andre Norton holds the distinction of writing the very first Dungeons & Dragons book. First published in 1978, Quag Keep follows Martin, a D&D player who gets sucked into the fictional realm of Greyhawk. There, he’s known as Milo, a renowned warrior. Martin and several others from the “real” world have been pulled into Greyhawk and put under the influence of a geas spell, which forces them to complete a task…or die trying. In 2006, Norton co-authored a sequel, Return to Quag Keep, with Jean Rabe.
Catherynne M. Valente
Like Jemisin above, Space Opera author Catherynne M. Valente also wrote a Mass Effect: Andromeda tie-in. Mass Effect: Annihilation takes place on a quarian ship traveling from the Milky Way to Andromeda. When disaster strikes in the middle of their journey, the Keelah Si’yah crew must stop an infectious outbreak from killing their sleeping passengers.
Want more IP novels? Check out this deep dive into Alien franchise novels and these media tie-in books from the 1990s.