UM professor writes “Iron Man 2″ novelization

Science fiction-fantasy writer Alex Irvine, who teaches creative writing at the University of Maine, does some of his writing at The Store in Orono.  BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY GABOR DEGRE
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Science fiction-fantasy writer Alex Irvine, who teaches creative writing at the University of Maine, does some of his writing at The Store in Orono. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY GABOR DEGRE
Posted May 06, 2010, at 11:02 p.m.

While seeking an author for the book version of the movie “Iron Man 2,” Marvel Publishing Inc. decided to tap a University of Maine English professor to helm the novelization of the summer blockbuster.

Random House Publishing, which won the rights to the “Iron Man 2” novelization, contacted Alexander Irvine, UMaine assistant professor of English, at the end of August 2009 and asked whether he was interested in writing the book. Irvine, who has written for both Random House and Marvel in the past, agreed and the comic giant decided to give Irvine a shot at the book.

“It was a really strange way to write a book. I’ve never done anything like that before,” Irvine said.

Irvine has written three limited comic book series for Marvel and just finished a Transformers novel that is due to be printed in June.

“[Random House] is a publisher that I work with a lot, but I’ve never done a novelization before, so that was fun,” Irvine said. “I’ve got a pretty long-standing relationship with those guys.”

After Irvine secured the deal with Random House and Marvel, he took two trips to Marvel’s studio in New York where he was able read the movie script and take notes. Because of the confidential nature of moviemaking, Irvine wasn’t allowed to take the script with him and had to rely solely on his notes and memory to write the book.

“They put you in this room, they take your phone and then you get to read the script and then you go home,” Irvine said.

“I ended up basically transcribing the dialogue, and then just taking detailed notes on the scene on what was going on and when,” Irvine said.

Irvine said the novelization took him about six weeks to write, with another week of revisions. The book came out about 10 days ago.

Irvine, who has been a professor at UMaine since 2005, is the recipient of the LOCUS Award, the International Horror Guild Award and the Crawford Award given by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, according to Bangor Daily News archives. He also won a New England Press Association award in 2004 for his work as a reporter at the Portland Phoenix.

Despite having read the script, Irvine said he isn’t allowed to reveal information about the film, due to be released in the U.S. today.

“I think it’s going to be fun … I don’t think people are going to be disappointed,” he said. The UMaine professor said fans who have read the novelization have e-mailed him asking what will and won’t be in the film, but all he’s telling people is “go see the film.”

“You have to sign 500 nondisclosure agreements and sign over your firstborn child” to work on a novelization, Irvine joked.

He said most of the contact he had with Marvel was with their New York studio, and that he had very little communication between the moviemakers in California.

“The movie guys are so wrapped up in the movie that they almost don’t care about the other stuff,” Irvine said.

Movie screenplays are written for visual action, Irvine said, [But] then you take fiction, which is really kind of an interior medium … you get inside people’s heads, and in a movie you can’t do that.”

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