Friday, July 31, 2009
Here's another not so important secret for you.
Actually, this one is a little more substantial.
Or rather, it's not.
It’s a shadow.
On the cover of Peter Pan's NeverWorld.
How did I choose it? Where did I find it?
Did I have a model for it?
Well, I didn’t. But someone did. And that someone? Sir J.M. Barrie.
The shadow is created using one of the photographs he took of Michael Llewelyn Davies dressed as Peter Pan. The photos had been for Sir George Frampton as reference for the sculpture in Kensington Gardens. Unlike Frampton, I wound up using them. Not just on the cover, but in the text as well.
What better image to manipulate for the cover of Peter Pan’s NeverWorld than Michael as Pan?
Anyone have a semi-useless tidbit they wish to know?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Actually, it is about the boy.
And by the boy I mean Peter Pan.
For what it's worth, here's a behind the scenes glimpse into the writing of Peter Pan's NeverWorld. As with any project, music played while I composed. I recall one song in particular. We can go ahead and use the term "ad nauseum." Especially for the opening scene of novel. The music carried me on the wind throughout the canyons of the Neverland... dipping, darting, hovering, zooming... propelling me into the rest of the story.
I thought perhaps you'd like to hear the song that I still associate with the novel. I can't hear the song and not be on the wind's back in my mind. The song? 'The Celts' by Enya.
Below is the music video. The video had no influence on the book. I had never seen it until hunting the Web for it just now. Also, there are a couple of sound effects added.
I hope you enjoy Enya's composition. It certainly inspired mine.
If you listen, maybe you'll hear the same voice calling "Petey...Peter..." throughout the song.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
The Burton Alice in Wonderland trailer is here!
I’d been on the fence regarding this movie, not knowing if I should be happy or sighing. Especially when the first batch of pictures arrived. It looked both amazing and awful. I knew I’d have to reserve judgment until I saw images in motion. Well, here they are, in motion. And the verdict? No, not "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!" at all. I’m genuinely intrigued. It does in fact seem like it could be a worthy, fresh take on the Alice tales. Naturally, my opinion might change after seeing it… one never knows.
If you’re wondering why I’m not up in arms about wandering so “wrongly” through Wonderland:
Unlike Peter Pan, there have been many film versions. Many of them quite faithful and well done. Since there are as many of them as there are empty seats at the tea table, a new cup of tea can be a welcome change. Also, it’s not meant to be a direct adaptation. And this one just might have something else to say with these characters.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Enjoyable, yes. Pefect, no.
Yes, I know, perfection is hard to come by.
I’m not actually going to review the film. Rather I wish to use it as platform to make a point.
While watching the movie, I wound up with several questions regarding the logistics.
First off, some of the museum characters/displays/figures could speak English, while others could not. Makes sense, until you consider that some of those who would not know English somehow did. And it seemed to be only for matters of convenience to the plot.
Second, I wondered what happened to some of the museum structures that would normally exist. What I mean is, when a full body Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is on display, aren’t there support rods? Or wires from the ceiling, perhaps? And what about the fasteners between its own joints? The dinosaur in this film had none such structures and yet stood complete, posed. If it had these restraints on it, it couldn’t get up and walk around. How convenient. (It goes for many other displays, too.)
Said T-Rex also obliterated the front desk. I mean smashed it to hell. And yet, the next day, the front desk is unscathed, as if it didn’t happen. How? You might think this chalks up to the museum reverting back to its normal state. Well, that would work as an answer if not for the fact that other damages and changes do not revert. In fact, things amiss are part of the plot.
Perhaps your reaction to my qualms is: “It’s just a movie, get over it.” This happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves. And yet, I hear this response a lot. Sure, it’s a movie, but it’s not just a movie. It’s a story being told… a story being told about a particular place and time, one that has rules and regulations that should not and cannot be ignored. Especially when dealing with a basis in our own reality. If such details are not paid attention to, then the story is not composed properly. The “movie world” is real, at least for the purposes of the characters and objects within the movie…and by extension for the audience “buying into it.” But it’s difficult to "buy into it" when what’s being sold doesn’t fly.
If you’re still not convinced, I’ve thought of a comparison.
Let’s say you go out to eat. You’ve been looking forward to the restaurant all day, salivating over what delectable tastes will grace your palette. The food arrives. It looks great, smells pretty darn good… but, it’s bland. Someone didn’t cook it properly, perhaps? It doesn’t matter, though. It’s only food, right? Why do you need food to taste good? It’s just food and will still work with your metabolism, so why should you expect it to be prepared well?
Why, then, are we more often than not expected to swallow a half-baked story?
In the case of Night at the Museum, they do handle one of my objections: the speaking of English. It is explained that over the 55 year span that the displays have been coming to life, they picked up on the language from the museum visitors. There! Is that so hard? A quick, catch-all and convincing solution. [Except not ALL of the characters can speak English, so one has to wonder if it’s a matter of convenience for the plot [such as being unable to communicate with Genghis Khan and thus mayhem ensuing] or if we can blame it on lack of caring by some of them to bother to learn the language. Could be, but I'm guessing it's just lack of caring.
I think we should be able to expect more of our stories in terms of mental nourishment, don’t you? Even if it’s just “summer entertainment.” If it’s got gaping holes in, don’t present it as entertainment. If an author doesn't care enough to think about the ramifications of his/her own world/story, why should we care about the story at all?
Maybe it’s just me, but I hope not.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
You’ve heard it so often you want to scream…
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Well, the only reason it’s such a cliché is because it’s ever so true.
Examples of it come not only in books, but films. (Still applies, right?)
Recently, I’ve been shocked by the actual footage for two films I had either read the synopsis blurb or seen a handful of advertisement.
First, Imagine That. At one point titled Nowhereland. I read the blurb for this film before it went into production. Given the old title, I came up with a very different motion picture. Okay, it could be my fault that I somehow missed the word “comedy” when reading. But you know what? I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss it, having read an early report when not much info had been leaked. Anyway, the gist of the storyline I’d been given:
A financial executive’s life falls apart. When things look their worst, he finds salvation in his daughter's imaginary world.
Don’t know about you, but I conjured up a dark, brooding near-horror flick. A broken shell of a man, tucking in his daughter, wondering what kind of life she would have if he just ended his own, glancing through her drawings, intrigued by their mesmerizing and disturbed comfort. During his awful days, he fails to push the images from his mind, soon creating his own scenarios in the bizarre, crooked nightmarish landscape. Eventually he crosses over (albeit maybe just in his mind) into an organized method to madness, hoping to escape alive. Okay…whoa, right? Exactly. I thought maybe I’d like to see the movie… and then… the trailer appeared. Man alive, had I been thrown for a loop. Hold in mind the movie I expected and then watch. I don’t expect you to be able to finish this trailer. I just want you to see the contrast.
And then there’s the upcoming District 9.
I don’t remember reading or hearing much about this one. Except that it’s about trying to contain aliens. But here’s what I did see. Images such as these:
I gathered (wrongly) that it’s a cute, light comedy, sort of an unnecessary expansion of and in the vein of the alien Mikey from MIB. (Click here for the Will Smith music video featuring him. [He's at the end.]) But..um…no. This one is a dark, brooding thriller. Far from being a madcap farce, it appears to have depth. (Not that farces can’t have depth.) It strives beyond the action flick, seeming to summon up a social commentary and poignancy. Imagine now, if you will, a silly romp of aliens trying to buy a cell phone and not being allowed (or something)… and then watch this, which I do expect you to be able to sit through.
Very different from what I thought, right? Unlike the previous movie, I do want to see this one.
Just proving once again: Don’t make snap judgments and assuming has an ass-biting quality.
I think that covers it.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I'm only asking because I think you might find this newspaper "report" lends itself to your craft.
Sets my mind ablaze with laughter, imagery and narrative possiblities.
How about you?
I found the above clipping at Criggo. If you're not visiting it regularly, you're missing out.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Sometimes you're just too close to the problem. Banky had a gander at the (new, umpteenth) query. He pointed out what should have been terribly obvious to me. Thanks, Banky.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The thought of an episode of Super Password, which I watched back in the day, as a kid. (Not that I wouldn’t watch the show now if I found it.) A quick summary for those unfamiliar with the program. Teams of 2 people (1 celebrity and 1 contestant) compete to convey a word using another word as a clue. The target words then are used as clues to guess a subject/another word relating to the clues conveyed. (It’s much simpler than I make it sound!)
Anyway, the celebrity (which I’m pretty sure had been Harvey Korman) had to pass the word “GREEN.” After considering options, he finally said, “LAWNISH.”
Burt Convy laughed himself silly, saying that’s not a word. Korman contested: “What?!? You can add ISH to any word!” But the Judges ruled otherwise.
For whatever reason, this stuck with me through the years.
I’m not really sure if Korman is right, but it sounds good to me.
Fortunately, I’m not in the habit of ISHifying words, so it doesn’t really come up.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping the Query is now done… or at least doneish.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
But I found it amusing since as a kid I used to draw Tom and Huck as cats.
It's kind of cute, although I'm not so sure I like the look of Huck here, even if I do have an affinity for foxes. Maybe it's the white hair on top. Is that perspective drawing or is he that much smaller than Tom? And maybe it's just me, but Becky seems a bit too prissy. I always thought of her as quite pretty, but a little more tomboy (ha!) at the same time.
Monday, July 13, 2009
It is, of course, the umpteenth time the film has worked its way into home video.
So why bother to get this version, too?
Well, besides the enhancement into uber-quality that Blu-Ray provides, Bart tells me that it will include a made for TV series which, I’d venture to guess, very few have seen since its first broadcast:
The late, great John Ritter starred as L. Frank Baum in a biopic of how Baum came to create the magical land of OZ. And as far as TV movies go, it’s one of the better ones. I cannot be certain of the absolute accuracy of the production, as I’m not a scholar of Baum as well. (Though in my youth I did a great deal of looking into the history and such of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson [Lewis Carroll].) But I can say with certainty that it is highly entertaining. And I do know that a good deal of it is true. The movie follows him through life, much of which is plagued with hard times, showing his unbreakable spirit in not just creating stories, but his life in general. It's just plain charming.
Apparently this video has been on many people's "demand" list over the years.
And now it will be a special feature on the Blu-Ray.
I had the good fortune to be able to see it more than once, as I recorded it (for private viewing) to VHS tape. It will be nice to see it again in pristine imagery.
So even if you don’t want the OZ film again, at least rent the Blu-Ray version to be able to see this wonderful wizardry of fact and fiction.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
SciFi Channel (now SyFy [which I don’t yet understand fully, if at all]) has been playing a lot of episodes of the Ghost Hunters (International) back to back.
Now, I’m pretty open minded when it comes to the paranormal. I’ve had my share of ghostly experiences and collected even more stories of incidents. One day I shall weave them into a spectral horror novel, but not just yet.
What really gets my eyes rolling, however, (and not just on Ghost Hunters) is the Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP.) For those of you who don’t know what it is: Recording a session of asking questions in places of alleged ghostly activity and listening for answers. A little hokey, yes, but the eerie part comes in that the “voices” heard are (more often than not) on the recording, but had not been heard during the actual session.
I’m not saying I don’t believe it. No, I’m quite willing to believe it can and does happen. I just question the certainty used in regards to the “phenomenon.” Sometimes it’s questionable if it’s really a voice at all, for one thing. For another, they’re usually difficult to make out. Therein lies the issue. People (the Hunters, their clients and a whole array of internet posting) will tell you what it says, clear as day. To them. Must make that distinction. If I’m to admit hearing a voice and something intelligible, it’s a safe bet that I’m not hearing what they have no doubt it said. At least not at first. If I try, I can usually make it sound as they claim.
Let me draw your attention to misheard lyrics in songs for a moment. Whole websites are devoted to the plight of those who did not hear what’s sung correctly. Probably the most famous one is Jimi Hendrix saying, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” which is really, of course, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”
Just last night I stood not two feet from Banky. I made a comment and he heard something completely different from what I said, with the exception of having a similar sounding syllables in all the right places.
Does anyone else see how this applies? Good.
Again, I’m not saying don’t believe. Just don’t be so quick to assure us of what's vocalized.
One last thing… most of the “evidence” on Ghost Hunters is fun, to say the least. Sometimes, yes, it’s a little freaky. When I do watch it (not very often) I take it all in stride, not NOT believing it, but not eating it up with a spoon, either. I’m always hoping for something other than the misshapen mysterious splotch that appears for one frame only. Something to really freak me out.
If you want that, too, then watch the “Ghost Child of Peru” episode of Ghost Hunters International.
If I can capture how that truly creepy evidence made me feel into the novel I’ll write, then woe to those who read it…
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
For me, part of the fun of writing is the nomenclature. Character names, especially.
More often than not, it isn't arbitrary. At least the main characters.
Jeremy Strache, for example, gets him surname from a smashing together of "stratum" and "cache." So, his name means hidden layer. You'll also find that the novel he's in, What If It's a Trick Question? is teeming with anagrams and such puzzles and plays with words. Of course, it's a conscious decision to craft it as such. For these kinds of puzzles have a great deal to do with the events and plot of the story. And yet, one might otherwise never realize it. The very odd part of Jeremy's last name is that I discovered it's in fact NOT made up. It exists. People have it as their surname. How strange, then, that I would devise a "new" name from those two words. What are the chances? (Even more odd is that unknown to me until much later, Laughter had a student named Strache. And she pronounces it differently than Jeremy told me he does.)
Sometimes the characters can actually be arbitrary themselves, though. Or at least vehemently insistent. The boy in a novel I have on the back burner has a rather odd first name. (Not disclosing it at this time. The only hint I'll give you is it's also a street in London.) The point is I "argued" with him, telling him that no one is actually named that. Man, did he put up a fight! I caved and now that's what he's called. And I've come to love it. It fits him perfectly. I couldn't call him anything else. Of course, I don't believe anything is ever fully arbitrary. I figured out much further down the road that some of the reasearch I'd done for What If It's a Trick Question? left residue in my mind. One of the brand names associated with Jeremy's favorite sport is also this kid's first name. (Another hint.)
Sometimes, though, the random choice is desirable. After belaboring over what I felt to be just the right name for the pirate captain in Peter Pan's NeverWorld, I did not exactly feel like waiting another week for the name of his vessel. For that, I opened up an encyclopedia and decided it would be called whatever I saw first, unless undeniably and utterly unusable. Thus, his ship: The Montagu.
Last night I told Banky the rationale behind the physical appearance of the villian of Midnight Chaser. It combines two of the lesser famous characters from two classic fantasy stories: Alice in Wonderland & Peter Pan (Peter & Wendy). [It applies as nomenclature on account of the combo of names smashed together, sort of like Strache. Except here it's merely a merging of words and does not have a "meaning" behind it.] But it is important which characters I chose to create him. And yet, that's not made clear from the text alone. It has to be reached for, if you're willing to dig a little deeper into it.
I'm often asked if I expect people to get these references. No, I don't. But should anyone be as wacky and harmlessly obsessive as me, at least the hidden layers are there to find.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Cassidy, who is always (thankfully) eager to read my stories, told me while still reading that it’s unlike anything else she’s read. “Very very good.” She got through 70% of it in one sitting. And when she came to the end, she offered her constructive (and correct) criticisms. But quite minor. Already have those fixed with a few added lines. She quite enjoyed it. Thanks, Cassidy.
Some else just completed it and liked it very much. Incidentally, she swept through 75% in one sitting. I had her looking things up to know more about what’s contained in the book. Quite cool.
But pleasing me the most (you’ll see why in a minute) is Banky. Banky had heard a little about this novel while I wrote it. I'm sure I couldn't keep myself from talking about it when out for Free Pie with Banky and Clara. The concept intrigued him, so he asked if he could read it. Um, yeah. He rather sweetly asked if I’d be offended or if it “wouldn’t be right” to start with Midnight Chaser. Meaning should he read my other books first? Of course not. This one interested him, so… away he went.
Apparently today he wanted to spend he day cleaning. Bart and I went out to the suburbs, visiting relatives for the Fourth of July Holiday. I received text after text. Banky. I texted back, of course, and had to ask: Did you get any cleaning done? Nope. And he plowed through most of it. In fact, he nearly finished the book.
At this point I’m not sure if he has or not. I only just returned home. And I’m waiting for a reply as to how far along he is NOW. Thanks, Banky!
Please don’t think I’m being self-praising by posting the comments. Quite frankly, it’s not about the conceit of it for me. It’s about the relief. You pour so much of your time and focus into art. To know that it’s being truly appreciated? Nothing like it. The work is not in vain.
As I told Banky last night, it’s also very excellent to hear him expressing his need to know what happens next. As an author, I never get to experience my own work in the way that a reader would. I have a short post about this dilemma, here. I rather relished the chance to live the book vicariously through Banky’s speculations and comments.
Friday, July 3, 2009
It's an adaptation of the series of graphic novels by Régis Loisel.
I have not read his spin on the tale, as I have not yet been able to obtain a complete English translation. (Alas, it's true, I cannot read French.)
It's also true that it veers from Barrie's tale, giving a different backstory to Peter. It bothers me, but only slightly. Since it's not a work in prose meant to be a direct addition/installment of the story, but is rather a "retelling" with a different outlook and also appears in different media, I can in good faith look the other way. I'm quite curious what all he brought to it. From what I gather, Peter lives/lived in a Dickensian London and had abusive parents - hence met Tinker Bell and escaped to the Neverland. As you will see from the video, it also dares to bring us the all important confrontation that forever after defines the infamous pirate Captain.
Don't know about you, but I think this looks pretty wonderful.
If anyone can arrange the cards so that I can view this film with English subtitles, I will be most grateful.
I'll send you a signed Limited Edition copy of Peter Pan's NeverWorld.
Long live Pan!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
When out and about, I'll often think about if a character would like an item or not. Or a movie. Or a landmark in London, for that matter.
Perhaps you've found yourself doing it. Would Huck Finn want to ride a 10-speed bicycle? Or would he deem it too much work? Does Jim Hawkins like potato salad? If so, what kind? I don't know either. And unfortunately, we can only speculate.
You could consider it insane to have such thoughts. But I'd disagree. It's quite productive as a wonderful exercise. Characters surely don't always hold the same opinions as the author. So it's a fun challenge to get into their heads and personality further. And if it's done while writing the/a book the character exists in, so much the better. How can it be insane to know the ins and outs of someone who is supposed to seem like a genuine person? As a reader, wouldn't you prefer that those being read about have a reality to them? You know, the old adage "well rounded character."
So, I'll continue to pose queries about my characters to myself. Since those I can answer.