Before they knew each other, the agents faced ominous mysteries on their own.

By Anthony Breznican
July 22, 2016 at 05:43 PM EDT
Frank Ockenfels/Fox
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“Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.”

Before Fox Mulder ever said those first words to Dana Scully in the premiere of The X-Files, the two characters had already lived through a lot of intrigue. In the new X-Files: Origins book series coming Jan. 3, we’ll finally learn about the forces that shaped Doubting Dana and Spooky Mulder when they were young.

At EW’s Con-X event at San Diego Comic-Con, authors Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures, The Lovely Reckless) and Jonathan Maberry (Rot & Ruin, Patient Zero) spoke with series editor Erin Stein about what the books will reveal about Mulder and Scully’s lives in 1979, 14 years before they started working together.

Garcia, who explores an uprooted, teenage Mulder in Agent of Chaos, says the mandate was to stay strictly within official canon while revealing “what made Mulder a believer and what made Scully a skeptic.”

“They’re so well-defined on the show, so … where do you start and how do you get to that place where they were at the start?” she says.

After this spring’s revival of the TV series, the books are aimed at getting a new generation of fans to say: I WANT TO BELIEVE. “Everybody is raving about how untapped this is for young X-Files fans,” added Maberry, who dives into teenage Scully’s spiritual side in Devil’s Advocate.

Stein, who is overseeing the books for publisher Imprint/Macmillan, says if these X-Files: Origins novels become popular, there’s potential for many more.

“It’s just the beginning of their journey,” she says. “What’s so cool about them is that these are coming of age stories. They are going through some real crazy stuff as teenagers, and we knew they did from the show, but now we see them do it. We could keep taking them up until they meet at the FBI.”

In Garcia’s Agent of Chaos, Mulder’s sister has already gone missing and his parents have split, while father Bill Mulder has moved away with his son to Washington D.C. It starts out as a fairly normal teen story.

“They’re getting a divorce, and [the State Department] has moved his father to DC for a project and Mulder has spent the school year, his senior year, in DC,” Garcia said. “He’s going to be 18 in the fall, and has to decide what he’s going to do about college. He’s got a crush on his best friend back home.”

That’s when things take a turn for the bizarre. “Basically, a kid disappears, and obviously that’s what happened to his sister and what haunted him and later sent him into the FBI,” Garcia says. “The book is playing with what you know from the show about the demons that bother Mulder.”

In another part of the country at the same time, Scully is a fairly devout 15-year-old whose life is also being upended. “They alluded in the series to the idea that Dana used to believe, and over time she lost a lot of her belief. She kept some of her Catholicism, but lost a lot of her belief in the larger world and became cynical and skeptical and moved away from spirituality to science,” Maberry says.

Devil’s Advocate also delves into a supernatural ability Scully herself possesses. “At the beginning she’s having little psychic flashes, which they alluded to in the show,” Maberry says. “Her sister is very much a post-hippie early new-ager character, and they moved to a small town, Craiger, Maryland, also referenced in the show, which has an unusually high number of kids with psychic abilities.”

This being The X-Files, there’s more happening in this town than meets the eye. “We peel back the layer and find out that’s part of the Syndicate, this is their camp to create the next generation of psychic agents – or really the first generation of psychic agents,” Maberry says.

In addition to bolstering the bizarre and sinister history of these characters, The X-Files: Origins books aim to capture some of the feeling of being a normal teenager. “One of the fun things about writing Scully at 15 is that was the age at which I changed from being a kid to understanding what an adult might mean, and understanding some of the power one has and the responsibilities one gets,” Maberry says.

And for readers who aren’t X-Files fanatics, the books don’t require deep knowledge of ten seasons of TV. “You do not have to have seen the show in order to read the books,” Garcia says. “We’ve written them in a way if you already know the characters, you will love it even more, but if you don’t, you can still read them as a good thriller and a good story.”

For more from Comic-Con, follow @Breznican.

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