Fan fiction writers who love The X-Files and its universe – WE NEED YOU!

For 2017, The X-Cast is looking to create a prose anthology inspired by IDW Publishing’s three books over the last two years (though in no way officially connected to or affiliated with them – this is strictly a fan project).

We’re looking for fans (or aspiring writers looking for some practice) to help us develop a series of prose stories set in the world of The X-Files which would firstly be released on the blog (and promoted on the podcast) and later collected into a free to download PDF e-book.

There aren’t many conditions on this either, beyond the following:

  • 6000-8000 word count.
  • No slash fiction
  • It has to involve at least one existing X-Files/Millennium/Lone Gunmen character.

To begin with, please respond with an expression of interest and a story pitch (a simple paragraph will suffice). We’ll then ask you to write the first 500 words of your story before we commit to giving it a green light, mainly to ensure you’re definitely committed to writing the story.

Incidentally, just in case you’re unsure about our own background with writing, please check out our fearless leader Tony Black’s own work as a prose writer here via the Fiction Vortex project. Last year one of his stories was published as part of a collection of introductory pieces in paperback, and he has an Amazon author page. So while no experts and certainly nowhere near as good as the IDW writers, we do at least have a *little* experience! 🙂

As an example, please find below the first draft of the first scene in Tony’s story for this anthology, called ‘ChronowerX’.

Please send your story pitch/expression of interest to us via email or via Facebook message on our page or Twitter message.

We look forward to any submissions and creating a really cool fan project!

The stories are out there…


OCTOBER 23, 1996

“We’ve been here before, Mulder,” Dana Scully said, warily, as she listened to her partner present yet another case at her feet before she could even get her coat off on this crisp Autumn morning.
“Artificial intelligence. It’s the wave of the future, Scully,” replied Fox Mulder as he got up from his cluttered desk and, sleeves already rolled up on his slightly crumpled shirt, started rifling through a box across from his desk.
Scully placed her coat over the chair opposite where Mulder hatched all of his theories and skimmed through the Los Angeles Police Department file thrown toward her on the desk as he’d hit her with a barrage of theory. Just one day, she thought, a hello and good morning might be a fun change of pace.
“Robert Justman,” she read. “Fifty-seven years of age, no pre-existing medical conditions, married with two grown up children, found dead two days ago in his leased city apartment from a massive electrical discharge.”
“And who also happens to be one of the founding members of Chronowerx Industries,” Mulder said without glancing her way, still rifling.
“Am I supposed to know the name?” Scully asked, aware Mulder’s answer would in his head probably be yes.
“Chronowerx is one of the pioneering computer technology companies in the United States,” he replied. “As far back as 1969, when man was about the walk on the moon, they were building the first isograted circuit, one of the key building blocks of any modern home computer system.”
Mulder finally retrieved what he wanted from the box, an old black VCR tape, which he proceeded to place inside his VCR attached to an old TV on a stand, which he wheeled out from his adjacent research lab.
“So Justman worked for a technology company. It’s a hell of a leap to suggest an artificial intelligence is responsible for his death, even if we have seen technology suspected of as much through Brad Wilczek’s work.”
Scully still wasn’t entirely sure she believed the Central Operating System created by genius scientist Brad Wilczek was the result of an intelligent computer program, but she sensed Mulder was—as usual—saving the coup de grace and didn’t want to derail him.
“This is the same technology company whose CEO and primary founder disappeared three months ago into thin air,” Mulder said, now switching on the tape using his remote control. “And who also happens to be the second member of Chronowerx’s board to die in unusual circumstances in a matter of weeks.”
Closing the file, Scully crossed her arms as static appeared on the TV before them, before giving way to a news report showing hand-held camera footage of a hazy, brown night sky.
“What is this?” she asked.
Mulder nodded at the screen, as a news reader voice overlaid footage of some kind of UFO moving across the same sky.
“Incredible footage was caught just an hour ago by a man using his camcorder to tape a backyard barbecue,”
Scully moved closer to the screen, a little surprised at the crystal clarity she could see the unidentified flying object soaring through the clouds at low altitude. It was long, chrome and gray, with a domed, elongated spherical neck holding two jutting, blue struts at its side. It didn’t look like any kind of UFO footage Mulder had shown her before.
The news reader voice continued. “The massive, unidentifiable object does not appear to be a meteorite, weather-balloon or satellite, and one aviation expert we’ve spoken to has stated it is definitely not any kind of US aircraft currently in use…”
Mulder switched off the screen as Scully turned to him, confused.
“This footage was taken over the Los Angeles skyline just one day before Chronowerx founder Henry Starling disappeared. Every single source I know in video manipulation, including the Gunmen, can find absolutely no evidence this footage was faked. It’s the single most compelling evidence for an unidentified flying object in years, maybe even decades.”
“And you think this UFO is connected to Starling’s disappearance? To the death of Justman and the others?” Scully asked, in an incredulous manner which suggested Mulder was all kinds of crazy for even suggesting it.
“Pack a bag. We’re off to the City of Angels to find out,” Mulder replied, hoisting on his jacket and heading for the door.
With a sigh, Scully grabbed her coat and the Justman file and followed suit. Here we go again, she thought.

You can find Tony @Mr_AJ_Black on Twitter.


REVIEW: The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Love Lost’

Tony Black looks at the sixth story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, ‘Love Lost’…


Written by Yvonne Navarro

Edited by Jonathan Maberry.

An intriguing tale from Yvonne Navarro for the sixth story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, as ‘Love Lost’ taps into a piece of mysterious history from Dana Scully’s childhood heretofore unknown. Set during the revival series, taking place roughly late 2015 chronologically, it sees Scully being reminded of a titular lost love in Marcus Damicke, who vanished in 1982 after getting on a flight & leaving Scully for what was considered to be a brief time. It’s an unusual but well-constructed story, which principally gives Scully more focus (which has been admittedly lacking in Secret Agendas so far). Where it falls down is in, oddly, trying hard to find connections to the myth arc and with characters who don’t quite seem to fit the nature of her narrative.

The actual mystery of Marcus is well told, however, and you genuinely do get the sense that Scully compartmentalized his disappearance as a teenager looking for that connection. It’s also nice, even after so much time working with Mulder, that Scully still feels certain elements of her past & life are private – that’s very Scully, who Navarro captures well across this story as her investigation leads her to old faces, while Mulder attempts to understand how the seeming reappearance of Marcus, having not aged in over 30 years, links to a series of strange power outages at a major airport.

Navarro’s short is strongest when it’s exploring Scully’s character in relation to the mystery, not when Mulder is linking up with Marita Covarrubias of all people; don’t get me wrong, Marita is long overdue some kind of return in The X-Files, but her involvement in this story seems really off – she doesn’t have a personal enough link to either of our leads to really work as anything other than a mysterious antagonist, allowing Navarro to call back to lingering, enigmatic plot points from Season 9 finale ‘The Truth’. It’s even weirder when she suggests a legendary, long-gone X-Files character may also be steering the mystery of Marcus behind the scenes, and it almost feels too much like fan service – the story didn’t need either of them.

Regardless, while ‘Love Lost’ isn’t the strongest story in Secret Agendas, it flows well, doesn’t drag, retains a genuine mystery which Yvonne Navarro doesn’t see the need to tie up in a neat bow or even specifically give explanations for by the end, and crucially it shines a light on Scully’s past as a woman and her emotions connected to a previous, youthful love in her life which allow for some nice interplay with Mulder. A story worth telling.

Rating: 6/10

You can follow Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

INTERVIEW: Jim Beard on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Desperately Seeking Mothman’

A short interview with author Jim Beard on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…


THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

JIM BEARD: I saw a post on the American Horror Writers Association Facebook page from editor Jonathan Maberry about needing to fill some slots in the book. I admire Jonathan to the nines — he’s a living, breathing action hero himself — and couldn’t believe the opportunity was presenting itself. I wrote a pitch, sent it in, and about a week later got a Private Message from Jonathan asking if I could deliver a finished draft in x amount of time (pun intended). I said, uh, yes? He said “Welcome to the X-Files.”

I found out later I was up against about 680 other pitches. Yow.

TX-C: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

JB: Full disclosure: since Second Season. My wife started watching from Episode #1, back in the day, but I came to it later (can’t really remember why). Being a big fan of the Occult Detective genre of fiction, I twigged to it immediately and here we are, all these years later (and yes, I went back and caught up on First Season).

TX-C: The Mothman is a well known American urban legend – what made you want to use that as a jumping off point for your story?

JB: It jumped into my mind, unbidden, for realz. I think it was because it was a subject that hadn’t really been covered on the show before, not really. Or it might be the actual, documented undue influence the Mothman has on people. Regardless, as you say, it became more of a jumping off point because the plot went where it wanted to go. Which is a very cool thing to happen to a writer in my estimation; a story that has a life of its own.

TX-C: You put Mulder through the psychological wringer here – did you enjoy letting Maeve get under his skin?

JB: Ha — I saw what you did there 🙂 Yeah, I did. I write mainly pulp and in pulp the characters tend to receive more physical abuse than anything, so placing Mulder into a twisty-turny, mental labyrinth was a feast for me as a writer. And between you and me, he kind of deserved it. A little.

TX-C: Did you enjoy writing Mulder’s perspective specifically here? Was that a conscious choice from the beginning or did it evolve?

JB: Weird thing is that I’m more of a Scully fan, but Mulder demanded to take the wheel on this one. I think that’s for the best because writers should come out of their comfort zone and tackle characters and subjects they may not have cared much for and see what makes them tick. Mulder’s ordeal here grew organically as I plotted and I’m proud of what transpired, even if it meant that Scully took the backseat this time.

If I get a second chance to write X-Files again, that will be rectified. Oh, yes.

TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?

JB: As in other things, I’m an agnostic on that score. It depends on what day of the week it is. As Mulder might say, “I want to believe,” but common sense sometimes rears its ugly head and shatters the attractive alternatives.

Show me a ghost, though. I’m ready.

Many thanks to Jim Beard for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @writerjimbeard.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

REVIEW: The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Desperately Seeking Mothman’

Tony Black looks at the fifth story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, ‘Desperately Seeking Mothman’…


Written by Jim Beard.

Edited by Jonathan Maberry.

Did you chuckle at the title for the fifth story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas as much as me? I bet you did. It’s a nice play on the 1980’s Madonna/Rosanna Arquette vehicle Desperately Seeking Susan, but you may be surprised that Jim Beard’s ‘Desperately Seeking Mothman’ isn’t actually a comedy. It’s certainly not without its darkly comical elements but this tale is much much more of a trippy, strange headf*ck for Fox Mulder which you don’t almost see coming. Beard does a great job here of making you think, especially from that title, that Mulder & Scully are dealing with one paranormal element when he’s simply doling out a huge slight of hand. It’s clever and rewarding when Mulder does start tumbling so heavily down the rabbit hole of perception and persuasion.

Taking place roughly within the show’s fifth season, Beard sets this as a case of Mulder venturing off into the middle of Virginia to pursue a wild theory, while being cautioned over the phone by Scully – and pretty immediately, Beard nails both characters, Mulder’s dry wit particularly. It doesn’t take him long either to throw Mulder into the thrall of the mysterious Maeve, and it’s precisely the point that Mulder is presented as a rather sexless character for such a sexy actor playing him, which allows Beard to enjoy putting the character in a situation where he acts very against type.

It allows him to tap into the historical Mothman legend while also subverting it, in many respects having his cake and eating it – while combining Mulder’s search for the truth alongside perhaps his own ego a touch, so keen once seduced by Maeve to help a damsel in distress he is sucker-punched by the thrall she puts him under. That allows Beard to place Mulder, whose perspective the entire story flows from, into some eerie situations – specifically his trawl through the woods as he’s assaulted by weird sounds, haunting echoes and the kind of paranormal elements linked to the Mothman legend and beyond which would look great on screen.

Come the end of ‘Desperately Seeking Mothman’, as Mulder has been so compelled by the strange woman he reacts almost violently to the sight of Scully, you’re really left feeling our intrepid agent has been tested across this X-Files tale, and that’s a testament to Jim Beard that he managed to craft that with such few words.

Check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Jim Beard about his story!

Rating: 7/10

You can follow Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

REVIEW: The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Transmissions’

Tony Black looks at the fourth story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, ‘Transmissions’…


Written by Marsheila Rockwell & Jeffrey Mariotte.

Edited by Jonathan Maberry.

In the fourth story for The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, we change tack by coming from the perspective of an entirely different character from Mulder or Scully, in the form of Micah Goodrich, a small-town sheriff in Sulphur Springs Valley, Arizona, who finds himself very much out of his depth in ‘Transmissions’, from the writer duo of Marsheila Rockwell & Jeff Mariotte, which by degrees is one of the straightest and creepiest tales in IDW’s third anthology collection yet. It cuts right to the very heart of the basest of human set-ups: the family, at which point it burrows its way into your mind just like the strange transmissions which begin compelling family men to kill. It’s a frightening tale, all the more being from Micah’s ominous, rational viewpoint.

Set roughly during the latter half of the show’s third season, ‘Transmissions’ reminded me in places of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, with a washed-out, sun-drenched oppression leaking out of Rockwell & Mariotte’s descriptions coupled with a shade of nihilism, principally from Micah, as he faces down a career that has beaten him psychologically, with drug cartels and senseless murder.

The story itself for at least half of the length principally just sees Mulder & Scully following Micah from The story itself for at least half of the length principally just sees Mulder & Scully following Micah from crime scene to crime scene as the family bodies pile up, but that sense of small-town oppression grows as they slowly piece together a pretty enormous potential threat. It’s the bleakness that appeals in this story, however, the drained brightness of the houses contrasted with the violent, bloody darkness of the murders that take place – shot through with a great X-Files level of weirdness with the transmissions themselves, recalling episodes such as ‘Conduit’.

With a measure of good character work, with a strong and likeable protagonist in Micah who is rounded well, and enough action and strangeness to be a dark and engaging tale while never tipping over into melodrama or not feeling like an X-File, ‘Transmissions’ may end up being one of the darker entries in the anthology – indeed it could even be a Millennium episode, which is as good in terms of praise as I can bestow.

Check back on Thursday for an exclusive interview with Marsheila Rockwell & Jeff Mariotte about their story!

Rating: 7/10

You can follow Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

INTERVIEW: Jade Shames on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Give Up the Ghost’

A short interview with writer & composer Jade Shames on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…


THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

JADE SHAMES: I’ve known Jonathan Maberry for a long while and he reached out to me asking if I’d like to contribute to the anthology. I was thrilled.

T-XC: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

JS: Yes. I was pretty young when it debuted but I remember watching it every week. Still, I was fortunate enough have dated a girl in college who was a super fan and I still keep in touch with her. I made sure to let her read the story before sending it to Jon. I wanted to have the approval and insight of someone who REALLY knows the show. Her name is Kara Helmick-Nelson, by the way, and she’s a very good writer.

T-XC: So here’s the big question – where did the idea to put yourself in the story come from?

JS: I was trying to evoke the feeling of straddling two realities: Scully’s life as an agent and her life outside of that; Mulder’s confidence in his mission, and his insecurities; Sam existing in the paranormal, and Sam existing in the realm of science; The X-Files universe and our own. Inserting myself into the story was a way to further this feeling. And I think it creates a fun experience. It allowed me to make fun of myself and give the reader something they may not have seen in a story like this before.

T-XC: Your tale deals with some fascinating ideas of ‘meta’ reality & wish fulfillment – what made you want to write this kind of story? And is ‘Sam’ based on a real legend?

JS: I love those “deal with the devil” fables. Sam is based on that. He’s a Mephistopheles. But, in X-Files tradition, there also had to be a Scully side—a scientific explanation—which I drew from stuff like neurolinguistic programming, hypnosis, the McCollough effect, and other such things that seem to “hack” the brain. I loved the idea that the devil could be a kind of “brain virus”.

T-XC: You do some great character work with Scully here – do you think she truly wants a ‘normal’ life?

JS: Thanks! My thinking was that, at this point, Scully did consider it. She’s getting older and really doesn’t have anyone else in her life to share these experiences with except for Mulder. I like to think that both Mulder and Scully have had doubts about their mission and have had secret desires for a different life. I would have loved to see one moment in The X-Files where Mulder is on the toilet, perhaps hungover or sick, and lonely, and he says to himself, “What the hell am I doing?”

But in the show, we don’t see these things. Scully seems OK with this being her life, and in my story I wanted to suggest (spoilers) that perhaps that was due to a vestigial Sam code lurking in her brain, which is why she has the sudden change of heart at the end. Maybe it was Sam’s revenge—to keep her moving in a direction that deep down she doesn’t want to go. Or maybe she really does find satisfaction in her adventures. It’s open ended. Scully is a very complicated person and why she chooses the life she chooses is something we may never understand. I love that about her.

T-XC: Do you believe in the paranormal?

JS: Hmmm…well, I believe that science cannot currently explain everything, but I also believe that science will continue to explain things we once thought were unexplainable—meaning that what seems like paranormal activity now, will eventually be forensically explained. So, in way, yes.

Many thanks to Jade Shames for his time. You can find him at http://www.jadeshames.com also follow him on Twitter @JadeShames.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

REVIEW: The X-Files Secret Agendas – ‘Perithecia’

Tony Black takes a look at the second story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas, ‘Perithecia’…


Written by Andy Mangels.

Edited by Jonathan Maberry.

The second story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas sees Andy Mangels having his cake and eating it a touch, as ‘Perithecia’ manages to fuse together a traditional weird science with elements of monster story with layers and hints of the greater, overarching conspiracy mytharc which underpins the show. It presents a fairly traditional prism of a mystery for Mulder and Scully, set here within the show’s third season, to investigate and Mangels weaves his tale from an equally traditional third-person viewpoint, as both agents venture down the investigative rabbit hole.

Where ‘Perithecia’ stands out is in the finer details. You can tell Mangels knows his XF. His story is littered with nods and winks, some on the nose (a ten-thirteen reference), some more oblique (a delightful moment where Mulder says the words ‘inveigle’ and ‘obfuscate’ in the same conversation); indeed his only glaring error is the references between Mulder & Mr X, who Mangels delights in including here, as to how X got Mulder off the train in ‘731’ – unless I’m mistaken (and I could be) Mulder never knew it was X who saved his life, and was never told on screen. It’s a nitpick, but it took me out of the story briefly.

Mangels on the whole, nonetheless, crafts an enjoyable tale here which blends Mulder’s obsessive search for truth alongside Scully’s measure of science; there’s a great scene you could have lifted from any episode where Scully uses wonderful medical language to describe the strangeness at the heart of the victim they’re investigating, as Mulder prepares to infiltrate a secret base where secrets are held. It encapsulates their relationship at the peak of their investigative prowess and that balance really comes off the page – as indeed do the incidental characters in the middle-American community, such as the recalcitrant Sheriff or the slippery, bed-hopping Dewey. Mangels fills out the tale with these memorable little bit players.

‘Perithecia’ feels a little nostalgic as the kind of X-Files story we may have seen back in the mid-90’s, and while a few details don’t scan and it deserved perhaps more pages to breathe, the piece is a well-written fusion of classic X-Files styles.

Check back in tomorrow for an exclusive interview with Andy Mangels discussing his story!

Rating: 7/10

INTERVIEW: John Gilstrap on The X-Files Secret Agendas – ‘Seek and You Will Find’

A short interview with best-selling author John Gilstrap on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…


THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

JOHN GILSTRAP: I’ve known Jonathan Maberry, the editor of the anthology, for years. We shared a publisher at one point, and I think we even shared an editor. When a writer of his caliber reaches out and asks you to participate in an anthology, the only reasonable answer is to say yes.

TX-C: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

JG: During its television run, I was a fan in principle, but rarely got a chance to watch it. During that sleeve of time, I was in the hazardous waste business, and on the road almost constantly. After I committed to Jonathan to write a story, I bought the first season of shows and watched them all. Loved them.

TX-C: Why did you choose to write from Mulder’s first person perspective?

JG: For “Seek and You Will Find” to work, the story had to be told from a very limited point of view, and there is no POV more limited than first person. Plus, in my novels, I never get an opportunity to use 1st person and I liked the challenge. I’m happy with the way it turned out.

TX-C: Did you find Mulder’s internal monologue easy to find & write?

JG: I’m not sure I could qualify any element of writing as “easy,” but there’s a twitchiness and cynicism in Mulder that I enjoyed exploring. He’s a nerdy tough guy who’s well aware of the fact that he’s an outcast, and I don’t think there’s an artist of any stripe who has not felt like that from time to time.

TX-C: Your story deals with an alternate reality – what inspired this to be your X-File element of the story?

JG: A lot of my writing deals with the unexpected consequences of unusual events. When I started exploring plot lines, the first one to come to me was, what would it be like to be with someone who just went *poof*? Given that no one would believe the story that the person you were with just evaporated, would charges be filed? On the flip side of that question, how unnerving would it be for the person who disappeared? What’s on the other side of reality? That’s what my story is all about.

TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?

JG: I believe in energies we don’t understand. I know that some people exude kindness, and others exude malevolence. I know that in a crowded party, if I look with a certain intensity at my wife who is all the way across the room, she will turn and meet my gaze. I know that when my son, unbeknownst to us, was the subject of a National Park Service search because he was lost in the woods, I woke up in the middle of the night compelled to write a scene about a character lost in the woods. Is that paranormal, or just coincidence? I’m not sure.

Many thanks to John Gilstrap for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnGilstrap and check out his website here.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

REVIEW: The X-Files Secret Agendas – ‘Seek and You Will Find’

Tony Black begins a weekly exploration of the short story anthology, ‘Secret Agendas’..xfiles-secret_agendas_cvr

Written by John Gilstrap

Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Anthology number three of The X-Files from IDW Publishing, ‘Secret Agendas’, begins surprisingly in the first person from the perspective of, none other, than Fox Mulder himself. ‘Seek and You Will Find’ comes from John Gilstrap, nominally a writer of the Jonathan Grave series of political thrillers, and who here switches gears for a Mulder-centric tale of troubled adolescents, dark woods and mysterious doorways. It’s an X-File with a defiantly weird central conceit, yet presented in a rather straightforward, character-led manner. The result is a punchy, sprightly read, if somewhat lacking in the atmosphere that makes the show so memorable.

At first it feels a little jarring to be reading Mulder’s first person thoughts, and to my reading knowledge we haven’t seen this done previously in X-Files writing (that isn’t fanfic), but Gilstrap soon provides a really interesting insight into how Mulder may construct his thought processes when it comes to investigation. He’s curiously dismissive at times of Scully but oddly enough that makes an element of sense, given his focus on the cases before him. What he is, however, is dogged and determined once he finds himself in the kind of paranormal situation directly that he would normally investigate from afar, and Gilstrap has fun unpacking the repercussions of that.

If I were to connect this story to any previous X-File, Season 9’s ‘4-D’ might be the closest shout given Gilstrap’s tale, giving nothing away, has its roots in the concept of an alternate reality. To say any more would perhaps ruin the story but suffice to say there’s a hint of Stranger Things in this piece, that sense of youth in a small-town community being troubled by the unnatural. With a sense of pace, some earthy and honest writing from Gilstrap, who does a good job with Mulder’s internal monologue, it’s a solid start to the collection of tales here.

Check back tomorrow for an exclusive interview with John Gilstrap about his story!

Rating: 7/10

You can find Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.