Thought I should blog little just to take a break from regular ol’novel writing…and cat pics.
Also I thought given that it’s a new year I’d give some updates. I’ll preface that by saying I don’t really take the end or the beginning of the calendar year as a time to reflect. Try to do that all the time. It’s called neurosis.
New book is chugging along and picking up steam and I do have some side project news too. Somewhere in the near future I am contributing to Jason Gehlert’s upcoming anthology which I am very happy and honoured to be a part of. Haven’t done a short story in awhile and it will be cool to get back on that tangent again.
My publisher is revamping for 2015 which should be very interesting to say the least. I am also, if this counts a resolution, reaching out to more others, particularly within the BBS stable. New authors like myself (not new if you count all my amazing rejected stuff) really do need a support work of other others . I have realized the likelihood of lone-wolfing my way through the literary and genre landscape is very remote. I do very much appreciate all the support I get from author friends and of course anyone who picks up my book.
Oh – and yes I am working the sequels for The Sly Lake Gang they are chugging along too. The ‘world building’ stuff is harder than the title lets on….rest assured I will constantly endeavour to bring Canadian white trash into the global literary landscape.
I’m not dead. Just sleeping.
Been a wild couple months but happy to report I’m still bopping along on my books. To the no more than 10 of you who bought my current gem – that should be exciting news. I don’t have a theme in particular for this post. Something quick and dirty, with the standard lack of editing of the other posts.
First off I am working on a sequel promise more on that.
Got another neat one coming out which (gasp), has no supernatural or Sci-Fi elements so it is harder to write. That Deus ex machina thing is a massive help. Only thing dirtier ever conceived was the ‘ret-con’. Shudder.
Once again I have no idea what to categorize mystery novel 3 as. (Because I am just too amazing to be categorized. Hah.) And there are other books that could stand a dusting off and maybe they will see the world if I ever get any better at networking. The only thing I can say about any of my books is that there will always be an apathetic drunk in there somewhere.
Thought I’d do another blog post with very little to talk about and little more than a desire to write.
That’s where most fiction books come from I am pretty sure. Movies too , but I don’t make movies. I am a writer and therefore a god. Gods don’t collaborate.
I remember reading King on how he doesn’t plot at all. Doesn’t keep a notebook either because if it’s good – he’ll remember it. He writes without a great deal of the elements sorted out. I like that idea. If you a writing like that then ‘Worst Case Ontario’, even if you don’t finish or publish the book – it was still a good exercise. Good for your craft and ultimately good for your brain.
One of my favourite scratched to hell CDs is the Tarantino Connection. On it, Tarantino talks about the seed of a movie coming from him hearing a cool song, and painting a scene around. Then he give’s that scene some context and there you go. Movie. I still preface I don’t make movies but I like concept for writing too. Movies always get in here. I have to work on that.
So I started a sequel to The Sly Lake Gang which if you read it, you can see how I get away with it very tastefully. But on the side I am working on another novel with no fantastic elements. Still mean and scary though. I have to say that this new gritty one is born out of a general concept – but it also really got going from painting a scene around a great tune. I think if you can’t pick a soundtrack for your book it must not be very engaging.
So I am not one to tease books because frankly I only have one book published. Heck even blogging to twitter posting about the book feels really awkward to me. Necessary though. So if I was to tease something about the book, can give you a little snippet of where one of the main themes comes from.
My old man and I were watching reruns one day. I don’t recall how old I was. Small enough the still sit on someone’s lap say. And he was having a beer and watching Columbo. I had come in towards the middle or the end or I didn’t pay any attention. One of the three. Doesn’t matter. Columbo was explaining to someone that he likes his job and sometimes likes the people he captures because there is a ‘little niceness in everyone’. My old man who had said nothing all day up to that point said ‘That’s true’ in a very affirmative tone.
As I aged and did a little reading about serial killers and other types of murders I concluded that meant they learned to mimic behaviours of empathy and so on. Now that I am older I know what Columbo meant. They can be quite nice despite that they did.
The Many Flavours of Scary
At work, where few people know about my writing gig, people ask ‘doesn’t that scare you?’. This conversation usually comes up during lunch, once everyone has mutually , and silently, agreed that we talk about sex too much.
More often than not, and this is not gender exclusive, my coworkers will concede they will watch one type of horror genre movie but refuse to watch another. Now for a fanboy that might just be something as simple as : ‘I won’t watch new teen thrillers because the genre peaked with ‘Friday the 13t ‘(or any number of different series) Or ‘I don’t do demonic possession movies because nothing tops The Exorcist’.
Are these coworkers a sufficient sample size for statistics purposes? Nope. But it’s my blog. Anyway, often the thing they won’t watch is usually tied to belief system or personal experience. This particular lunch crowd avoids movies based on religious belief system. They are terrified of anything that smells like The Exorcist. And I will preference that these folks aren’t really fervent believers by anyone’s definition. Ghosts might be the number two thing they avoid but again, something with the devil in and they won’t watch it.
That to me is very interesting. They’ll watch Hostel, but not The Exorcist again. This get’s me thinking about audience and the importance of diversity.
To me – Hostel is horrifying – because it certainly can happen. A group of sadistic people could overpower me, strap me down and do who knows what. I argued that was far scarier proposition that The Exorcist. I wasn’t comparing the movies, I just pointed one of these things could happen later this afternoon and the other was a fiction. Didn’t matter. Possession for them was far scarier.
Then I thought again about a diversity of audience, experience and views and so on. That’s why Candyman is great. Now it has supernatural horror, and every middle class kid in North America has been told a story like Candyman. But it is where Candyman takes place. Not every kid in North America has grown up in a rough housing project. Barker makes wonderful use of the housing project – which is far scarier to me then a deep dark forest. Why? Cause it’s actually dangerous! Compare number of people dead at a campground vs and inner city housing project. Why else is Candyman so scary? It’s a maligned and underserviced community. We know in other horror movies the police will be dismissive of the protagonist story about a supernatural monster – but at least they show up! The police are in no hurry to show up in the neighbourhood depicted in Candyman.
Maybe that’s why it works so well – you remove super natural element – and your hero is still in a real, real scary place.
Keeping with the theme of not really knowing what to blog about, but being narcissistic enough to blog in the first place, I figure I would go on about influences in the genre.
First things first – authors didn’t pull me into writing. That is, I was never a bookworm. My parents and relatives were well read, and I grew up with books in the home. I don’t ever recall finding a classic tome or genre work that made me say ‘I gotta do this for a living’.
It was movies then books.
Horror and sci-fi movies, when you’re a little kid, are somewhat forbidden. Little bit taboo. I recall going into to Jumbo Video (miss them), and at that time, the horror section was a giant cardboard castle. Undoubtedly some throwback homage to Universal or Hammer films. Gunning past my mother I would grab VHS tapes and check out the gory and garish covers. Kids today may not remember a time when these movie posters/covers were not so polished and also not so homogenized. The 70s & 80s flicks had a real flashy or campy look. (I challenge you to find a DVD cover today as cool as the original Sleepaway Camp)
My parents never seemed to mind me renting these gems. To their credit, they believed socio-economics and living environment led to youth violence as opposed to a kid watching a grainy copy of Nightmare on Elm Street. So I’d watch a mix of horrendous and hilarious horror movies. And from that – my parents – and this was particularly with Stephen King movies – would point out that the books had more in them. Not a smug comment like ‘the book is always so much better’ . Just simply that there were more characters, things cut out, censored and so on. My folks pointed out the fact that a book did not have an MPAA rating system, or a one to three hour time limit.
From that – I started going after source material. No literature class ever directed me to the Mountains of Madness – some blurb on the back of a VHS cassette calling a movie ‘Lovecraftian’ did. So too did television (thank you old Sci-Fi Channel) direct me to Bradbury and Matheson via the Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and so on.
Give a hoot, watch an old movie, learn where they stole it from, read that, and then write a book.
So I needed some kind of website in short order. Enter – Stock Images!
I guess I’ll preface that my views are my own. Also, I make literally, not figuratively, the least amount of effort possible to edit this thing.
I have a book out! Yes indeed. The good people at Black Bed Sheet Books saw fit to publish it and I am very excited. BBS is extremely passionate about their books and it has been pretty inspiring.
I have included links below where you can grab my book in ebook or paperback.
I guess given the barebones nature of the blog and the site I’ll try to give a little meat away from the book.
This book started off with subject matter pretty far away from any experience I have ever had. And that made it damn difficult to write. And maybe a quarter of the way in I realized that I should write what I know, and who I know, and see how those folks might react to murder and mayhem. They fared pretty well I think.
Nick Grabowsky called it horror, and he called urban fantasy and it is not without some sci-fi elements to boot. He’s a much better judge of this stuff then me. What I can say is it the story of a small group of estranged friends who have to face down a monster.