Monday, September 17, 2012

Origin Stories...Why?

This isn't a formal essay by any means, just a rant (and I am all for discussion from any of you) but pondering what I think ruins a lot of films (and some prequel novels) when it comes to beloved characters from books is the idiotic need to give an origin story.

I can think of dozens of films where for the reason of making things "clear" so that we may know and understand the characters motivation, we are actually given a weak, forgettable story.

Taking things back to my beloved pulp roots, all we needed to know in 'Phoenix on the Sword' was that the king, Conan, had once been a barbarian. Solomon Kane is a puritan, Tarzan the ape man, the "Thin Man" and his wife like to drink while solving mysteries, John Carter 'of Mars', the Gray Mouser and Fafrhd are "Ill Met" in Lankhmar, are any of Lovecraft's protagonists not some befuddled scholar who just now stumbled upon some maddening relic or knowledge? (don't answer that)-but we don't need to know anything more do we?

In the Wolverine movie, they managed to take one of the most popular comic book characters and give him a turd movie. Why?
On one hand its the ridiculous Hollywood reliance on special effects over story, but also the tacked on, reaching back to traumatic childhood events that scar our poor hero and he has to spend the rest of the movie dealing with such a far-reaching pain. Same with the recent Conan movie, same with the newly relaunched Spider-man movie. Too much baggage. It is obvious to all the fans of these respective hero's that a film version of beloved story-lines could have been opening weekend gold over the revision "lets explain everything" that the suits give us.

Remember the suits are not artists, they are bean counters.

The making "clear" of a characters past eliminates the wonder and mystery of storytelling, it takes away the needed drama of why people watch/read. The audience doesn't tune in for information - if they did, they would be watching documentaries.

The wonder and mystery is why Harry Potter worked and it's why the original Star Wars trilogy worked. People didn't watch ROME or give Gladiator an Oscar, because they wanted to see what it was like to live back then-it was because of the wonder and drama. As much as I despise and absolutely loathe Avatar it followed the bare bones premise on character back-story too.

I am positive I am not alone in my imagination of what "The Clone Wars" were upon first hearing them in Star Wars, being so much better than what we were given in the latter trilogy.

Thinking about westerns-they all involve the stranger, whom we the audience know almost nothing that are best. "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", "True Grit", "Unforgiven"; same with the Samurai/Kung-Fu movies, "Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", "Hidden Fortress", "Enter The Dragon".

All of these display a tendency toward the action tale/movie, but that's what I like. I'm not here to discuss what I don't like/do = period romance pieces on Nantucket island.

In explaining too much to an audience whether film or print, we lose wonder. There is the argument that things need to be understandable and I get that, but no art has lasted the ages that did not make us wonder. Mona Lisa's smile anyone? And without wonder you will never get an art that lasts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Story So Far...

Having taken Steven Pressfield's 'Turning Pro' to extreme heart, I have been doing my best to turn pro and do the work.

This post is a reminder as much as anything else for myself, because 'Resistance' as Pressfield calls it, is always right there ready to smack you down. You have got to keep the momentum going and produce what matters, keep the passion hot and flowing...

So coming down the pike...

The next thing I "think" will be available, is my novel about an exiled Spartan, BLESS THE CHILD. I am still going through the edits and such, as well as everything else that comes with releasing a self-pubbed book.

What is a little different about the process with this particular Sword & Sandal's novel, isn't the book itself but what I am going to do with it. I am going to have 100% of the profits go to the Gan Warriors. They're local and I felt touched, hearing their story and wanted to do something to help them meet their current goal and hopefully do something for their sake, research and what not. They don't seem to have a terrible lot of time.

I've honestly been sitting on this novel for far too long and I have to wonder if perhaps it isn't serendipitous that I have something that might be able to help. While it is a historical action-packed story ala Gladiator, Troy and the like, I can't help but think the theme and hence the title will in spirit be carried on as helping the Spencer family.

Immediately afterward, I have the former Roar of the Crowd novella, Whispers of the Goddess, to be released as well. It's going through final edits etc. All of my self-published stuff will go through what will be Lost Realms Press- including eventually The Hand of Fate. How do you like the rough draft logo my talented wife came up with (with my suggestions). I wanted the Old and New World merged.

If you have looked at the blog in the last week plus, you would have seen my inspiration pics for my Space Eldritch story. This fine collection will be Lovecraftian space opera pulp. I'll be sharing the TOC with a small facebook group of pro's called the 'DIMWIT's' which include, Nathan Shumate, Dave Butler, Howard Tayler, Robert Defendi, Michael Collings, a cover and possible story by the talented Carter Reid, and I'm not sure if Brad Torgerson is in or not. It should be out in November I believe. As the deadline junkie I am, I still don't have a title that really moves me yet, but I am working on it. I worry mine isn't space opera enough, but at the same time, I am very stoked about this story. I talked about some aspects of it when I was interviewed by Douglas Dietrich. I want to bring a Sword & Sorcery tale to space, yet I would not call it Sword and Planet either, in fact no swords at all, but the same spirit. I hope I bring that.

I currently have 12 stories that are subbed that I am waiting to hear Yea or Nay on.
The Dogs of War, Stumps, Burnt Offerings, Obsidian Moon, The Mad Song (at least I know its been shortlisted), Baptism By Fire, Soma for the Destroying Angels Soul, IF, Make a Monkey Outta Me, Red Wolf Moon. Bring the Fire's proposal has been accepted but certain publication is still in the air. And Sailing to Valhalla has been sent to a to a S&S reprint market with Wildside Press.

I honestly don't know for certain when the accepted tales, Garden of Legion, A Good Home for the Spoon, The Cry of Carrion Birds, The Serpent's Root, and Rolling in the Deep will be published. But in theory soon enough.

And finally, not counting the many other shorts in progress, the many other novels in midstream Gods & Robbers, The Bastard Prince, The Dispossessed, Dance the Ghost With Me, Midnight Sons; the sequel to Heroes of the Fallen, ~ Blood of Our Fathers is still on my mind, but a computer crash severely set me back from the progress I had been making in its finalization.
It was the one thing that when I lost it/halfway retrieved it, that made me so heartsick that I haven't touched it in a long long time-everything else was short enough that I was able to retrieve it, dust it off and rework it. But at some 100,000 words BLOOD seems very daunting to tackle. I have played with the idea of completely rewriting it, simply because I know there actually exist people who want it AND because in theory if I went at it from scratch, it would be a much better book than when I first wrote it.

Amid all the obligations and wants and needs, I will get the work done eventually.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Inspiration for Space Eldritch

Today, I'm finalizing my Lovecraftian Space Opera tale for the forthcoming Space Eldritch anthology. I thought I had a title ~ Islands in the Sky, but as of last night and a plot point breakthrough I have decided that that title just isn't sinister enough, so I'm raising an caffeine-induced alchemical Tulpa to come up with a new one.

This first image (and several following) is the X-20 Dyna Soar as in Dynamic Soaring. In theory? This was to be a militarized space shuttle capable of heading off the Soviets back in the late fifties and early sixties. They would/could drop a load of ball bearings in the way of Soviet Soyuz capsules - because the Red's couldn't maneuver out of their flight trajectory. You can hear those doomed souls here on the Clyde Lewis's Ground Zero show, toward the end of the program.

Love this cosmonaut by Andrew Bawidamann

 Even more eldritch space horror can be heard at more of my good friend Douglas Dietrich's interview on the latest Feet to the Fire show of James Arthur Jancik.