Interview with the Chrono Trigger Novel Project
For all the fan projects that have come and gone since our beloved Chrono games have seen the light of day, one has lasted much longer than the others. The Chrono Trigger Novel Project has been in some kind of development or planning since 1996, when a Chrono Trigger fan named Wayne decided to immortalize Chrono Trigger in writing. The ride has been bumpy and interesting, and the Compendium enjoys having such a timeworn fan project ally. For the first time, we're interviewing Wayne, el presidente of the project and the mastermind behind the effort. Magus22 of the forums developed the questions; let's see what new information and perspectives he was able to extract. ZeaLitY out! Enjoy this interview.
1. What made you start such a project in the first place?
Going back to the beginning, it was actually a close friend of mine who got me started on Chrono Trigger way back in ’96. Just like all of us diehard fans, I remember being intrigued by the storyline and captivated by the characters every time I sat down to play. When I finally finished it, I called my friend up and, half-jokingly, told him that “someone should write a novel about this.” As crazy as the idea was, something suddenly sparked in my mind, and I then found myself saying “I think I will.”
2. What has kept you motivated during the days of writing the novel?
You really have to understand the ups and downs of a project like this. Between skeptics, regular life, discouragers, and the sheer burden of a task like this, there have been times over the years when I felt that it just couldn’t be done. Really, I don’t feel that way anymore, because I have a clear focus and resolve that have overcome these mental obstacles.
Besides the motivation of self to get this thing accomplished, I am constantly encouraged by the supporters who have emailed me and posted at the site. The encouragement I have received far outweighs the criticism. In fact, I have always found myself getting a charge from that when I needed it most. The most significant source of my strength, in all aspects of life, comes from my faith in God. I pray about the project daily, and I know that, if it is His will to have it succeed, it will. I feel that this is why, whenever things have seemed bleak for the project, something has come along to lift my spirits in just the right way, even when I least expect it. I also believe that this is the reason the project is going strong and still in existence. As odd as it may be for some people to think so, there are definitely ways that God can be glorified through a project like this.
3. Do you have a mentor or someone who has helped you along the way?
There have been a lot of people who have had a profound impact on my writing and the project in general. I can’t possibly name them all, but I’ll try to name a few: Mr. Snow, my 10th grade English teacher and the last English teacher I actually learned anything from; Luke, who got me started on Chrono Trigger; Luckyboy, who gave me a boost in web design and support early on; Nichole Cumby, who created one of the first (if not the first) CTNP support pages, a true excitement for me; Nathan Stinson, for his unending encouragement and Christian support; Tiffany (“Sergeant Phoenix”), who started the forum and helped pioneer a lot of our support efforts; many of the CTNP Committee members who have come and gone but truly left their mark (Daniel “Sephfire,” Evan, James H., Justin, Marcus, Miqe, Michel, and Vince); and all of the current Committee members and contacts who are helping me see this thing to the end.
So, while you may not have been looking for an answer like that, this is pretty much the gist of it. There just simply isn’t any one person I can say deserves to be recognized more than everyone else. (Sorry, by the way, to anyone I left out.)
(Wow, this novel’s going to have a long dedication page….)
4. Does the reader have to have played Chrono Trigger to get an understanding of what the novel may be about?
Nope. I’m trying very hard to write the novel in such a way so that it stands out as a story apart from the game. Anything that sounds remotely “gamey” is reworked, and the entire novel in general is written in both a descriptively epic and lighthearted manner, hopefully a style that most anyone can enjoy.
5. Does the novel follow Chrono Trigger, right down to the bare bone on the lines of boss battles, the trip to Zeal Palace, side quests, and Crono’s resurrection atop Death Peak?
All of the major story aspects are there, definitely including things like the trip to Zeal Palace, side quests, and Crono’s resurrection. For the most part, boss battles are honored, but I would not hesitate to remove something if it didn’t make sense to the story itself or hindered its flow. If I find that there are too many Golems to fight during the whole Dalton saga, for instance, I will simply leave one of those fights out.
The side quests are also very important to me. While optional in the game, I feel that they are still an integral part of the story and in the development of the characters during their quest to save the future from Lavos. Building upon the characters and their growth as individuals is how the events will be handled and justified in the novel, which when you think about it, is just like in the game.
6. Do all 7 main playable characters, as well as some of the non-playable characters, such as Melchior, Fiona, Dalton and Janus, make an appearance within the novel?
Yes, all of these NPCs are crucial to the story and the main characters’ development and are completely covered in the story. I can’t think of any one character with a name that will be left out (except maybe RX-XR).
7. Will the novel follow just Crono, or will it break away from the main character at certain times? For example: The novel follows Marle in Guardia Castle before she bumps into Crono at the Millennium Fair or Magus disguising himself as the prophet in Zeal after being thrown into the giant time gate after attempting to summon Lavos within his castle.
The novel is written using the third person omniscient (limited, in most cases) point of view, in which the narrator takes an all-knowing stance. To that end and in most of the narration, in Chrono Trigger the novel, the narrator still only seems to know about the characters that are directly tied to Crono at that time (until after his death, of course). For instance, after Marle first disappears, the narrator is at as much of a loss as to her whereabouts as Crono, and thus only follows Crono. In other instances, such as when Lucca travels back in time to save her mother, the narrator moves away from Crono, but this is also during a time when Crono is a part of the group.
Taking this stance, the narration does not tend to follow characters that are apart from the main action, but there are exceptions. A few instances exist where the narrator takes a look at other happenings. In one example, the narrator describes Lucca’s return to her house before heading back to the Telepod to join Crono in 600 A.D. In Tyrano Lair, there is a brief scene in which Azala is speaking with a subordinate apart from any of the main characters. Sure, it breaks consistency a little, but it makes the novel that much more fun to read.
publishing permission through a fan
8. Will the novel tie up loose ends with some of the characters that is not present within the original game? For example: The reader will learn more about the characters who return to their respected times, such as Frog returning to King Guardia, Ayla returning to 65,000,000BC with many stories to tell, and Magus searching for Schala in the ice covered lands of 12,000BC.
One of the perks of having a novel over Chrono Trigger is having the ability to tie up loose ends, so I really like to wherever possible. Decisions about which exact events and characters will have solid conclusions or all ends tied probably won’t be set in stone until near the novel’s completion. Until that time, I’ll leave you with this general proclamation: as much as can be tied up within the original storyline will be, and anything outside of the original storyline will be carefully decided upon on a case by case basis, as this requires making decisions that could affect the Chrono series outside of Trigger. (We love to have discussions over these exact sorts of subjects at the project forum.)
9. Have you changed anything major with respect to the original Chrono Trigger plot? For example: Added anything new? Took out anything?
Well, I suppose it depends what you mean by “major.” The original story will remain 100% intact, but ideas are expanded and additional happenings are described along the way. To name one example, Crono goes on trial just like he did in the game, but there are additional character interactions between Pierre and Crono and even Lucca that take place. In this case, doing so adds to the realism, depth, and action of that particular chapter. I, along with the Editorial Team, look for opportunities to insert additions like these throughout the entire story.
Omissions take place, as well, but mostly only because something seemed too “gamey” or disruptive to the novel’s flow. Some of the game’s attacks, such as Frog Squash and Dino Tail, will not appear in the novel because they just don’t make sense within the context of the story itself. This is also the case with many weapons, armor, and accessories that are there for the enjoyment of the game but really don’t make sense in a novel.
10. How much of the novel is completed?
As of this interview, I have completed chapters all the way through Tyrano Lair. That’s a bit deceptive as to our progress, however, as a great deal of time has been spent backtracking to edit and refine previous chapters. This is happening right now as we work to revise the Demo Chapters (Chapters 2-5). Once this is complete, however, I will continue writing new chapters as the Editorial Team works on edits for other completed chapters.
11. Do you have any hard dates for release of demo material?
It’s very difficult to give hard dates for anything artistic such as this, but I’m shooting for releasing them by the beginning of this spring, hopefully sooner. I’ll be sure to make everyone at the Compendium and my site aware once they’re out!
12. Are you pleased with the progress you have made so far?
Yes and no. No because of how long it has taken to get as far as we have, and there have been many periods of little or no progress. While I can attribute that to many reasonably acceptable occurrences (4½ years or college, full-time job, etc.), it doesn’t make that fact any more satisfying. On the other hand, I am pleased with our progress over the last year, especially the last several months. Many things have come together, such as a newly fortified Editorial Team, my completion of college, the start of new Demo Chapters (long overdue), our first public appearance (MAGFest M5), and a better overall flow of progress.
13. How will you deal with Square-Enix if they do not grant you permission to publish the novel?
That’s an interesting question. If they don’t grant permission, I will continue to persist and bug them until there comes either a positive or an absolute “no chance” response. If that were to happen, it’s hard to say what I’d do. It’s not something I try to dwell on, really.
I’d like to note, however, that I feel confident that Square-Enix will see the benefits of working with me to form a business relationship and allowing this novel to be published. Finding the best way to form and cultivate that relationship will be the key to making this happen.
Pretty good stuff! The future seems bright for the project. You can continue to monitor its status through the following links:
Big thanks to Wayne and Magus22 for bringing this together!