Guest Bloggery

The formidable and indefatigable Andy Remic requested me to provide guest content for his blog.  I chose “1-star reviews on Amazon” as my subject, just for a bit of fun.  I hope I’ve been balanced and non-judgemental.  You decide.

Meanwhile, work has begun on Redlaw and is proceeding apace (20,000 words so far in the space of a fortnight).  The story is taking shape quite nicely and I find I’m discovering all sorts of new things about the world I’ve created, which is always gratifying and helps keep one’s enthusiasm up.  There’s also an element of political satire which is coming out much more strongly than I envisaged, and I’m aiming at greater economy of prose and expression than I’ve ever attempted before.

Plus: plenty of fang-tastic action and, in the shape of the title character, a serious hardcase.  Imagine a thinner, white-haired Ray Winstone cross-fertilised with Solomon Kane and you’ll be sort of there.

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  1. Nick Sharps says:

    Dear God…that was some of the most horrifyingly bad artwork I’ve ever seen…There were also a couple decent ones…but Jesus H. Christ that was an awful experience.

  2. James says:

    You mean the third Punisher movie? Yeah, I was hard pushed to see what the point of it was, other than to kill people in lots of inventive and gory ways. On that level I enjoyed it. It was like playing a video game without having to push any buttons. It was also closer to the modern Marvel Punisher than any of the previous two movies, particularly the truly dire Dolph Lundgren effort back in 1989.

    Speaking of Dolph, it’s nice to see him back onscreen, in The Expendables and Chuck. Underrated as an actor — I’m serious! — and willing not to take himself seriously, unlike certain other action stars. I hate those actors who refuse to play parts where the character is less than perfect or, if the character does have flaws, they’re not fundamental ones. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t afraid to let his inner bastard out, and all the more respect to him for that. Others — mentioning no names, but you can easily think of dozens, I’m sure — will be the hero with the drink problem or the dysfunctional family or whatever, but never is the problem insurmountable. Never can it not be fixed by the beginning of the third reel through the agency of copious amounts of ass-kicking. Hollywood stars too often play it safe, scared of even a hint of negativity adhering to their screen roles. That, I think, is why they won’t play the bad guys and English thespians have to be dragged in to do that for them. But that’s a whole nother rant…

  3. Nick Sharps says:

    I’m all for vigilante justice, it’s my favorite kind of justice in fact. I love the Boondock Saints and Frank Miller’s Sin City and stuff of that sort. It sort of goes to odds with my college major (Criminal Justice) but I feel like there is nothing more cathartic than a little vengeance. Granted I’m sure that’s not entirely how its like in the real world. Once you kill someone’s father for killing your wife, chances are they’re going to try to kill you in return. But wow, the last Punisher movie was just atrocious. The action was sweet, hell pushing that guy into the glass shard…machine was awesome. But I prefer the Punisher with Thomas Jane and John Travolta. I never got around to see the one with Dolph Lundgren.

    I did see The Expendables and the funny thing is I had no qualms with what Dolph did to the pirates. Shit man, they’re pirates. They only understand violence and money. But then I mean Stallone had to get all high and mighty. I thought the movie had potential but I think the kill count was a little low for all the assorted heroes and I’m still not sure why they chose Terry Crews as a member of the group…They made some awesome posters though that had the body count for each character in every one of their movies. And as for English thespians, being raised on a diet of action movies I just always assumed England was full of soulless business men with blonde hair haha. Funny how it’s always the business men, like they have the guts and knowledge to attempt world domination!

  4. James says:

    Acutally we Brits are bent on world domination. If it wasn’t for you plucky Yanks and your gun-toting, undervest-baring, all-swearing, all-killing action heroes…!

    Do yourself a favour and never see the Lundgren Punisher. However, I did rent the DVD of the new Universal Soldier movie with him and JCVD in it (Resurrection, I think the subtitle is) and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d dreaded. Enjoyable and almost even good.

    I’m a big fan of Frank Miller and Sin City. Truly groundbreaking comics. The movie was OK, true to the source material if nothing else, but the comics themselves are indeed special. It happens that I’m a fan of Robert Rodriguez too, so the combo of him and Miller working together was irresistible. I’m looking forward to Rodriguez’s Machete, which is out next month, starring the incomparable and bafflingly charismatic Danny Trejo. We need more blood-and-guts exploitation movies, that’s what I say.

    I don’t know who Terry Crews is. I know he was in the cast of The Expendables but I couldn’t put a face to the name. There were also some wrestlers in there I wasn’t familiar with.

  5. Nick Sharps says:

    I really think that world domination is an over-idealized goal for villains. Who really wants to take time to oversee the subjugation of an entire planet? Lots of administrative work, then again bureaucracy is an evil in its own right. I personally think shaping world events to your liking is far more nefarious than actually conquering an entire planet. Why waste your minions when you can get puppet governments to do it for you? Much more nefarious.

    I was in middle school when I first read The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller and it just blew me away. It was one of those guilty pleasures that you had to read when no one was looking. I think it was the perfect noir thriller. As a whole Frank Miller just blows my mind. Maybe 300 wasn’t entirely historically accurate but damn that is one of the most macho stories ever told throughout history (there’s actually a sequel in the works called Xerxes, about the Battle of Marathon). As for Rodriguez? I enjoyed some of his earlier stuff (including Spy Kids) but I really despised Planet Terror. That was trash. Machete wasn’t too bad, it’s a bit goofy and I can’t say I agree with the politics but hey it’s a fun action movie if nothing else. And I love Danny Trejo, if only he’d survived longer in the new Predators movie.

    Terry Crews is the only black guy on the team. I don’t know if you have Old Spice commercials in England but he did some of the most annoying ones I’ve ever seen. He was also in The Longest Yard (the remake). He’s more of a comedian than an action hero.

  6. James says:

    Yes, running a planet would just be one long administrative headache, wouldn’t it? After a while you’d be longing for that action hero to come along and defeat you so that you can spend the rest of your days in a nice, quiet prison cell without minions constantly coming to you and bothering you with some unimportant, piffling little problem or other. The only good reason to rule the world, I reckon. would be to ensure that humanity survives. It’s kind of an altruistic tyranny. We’re either going to blow ourselves up or make our environment uninhabitable. The best solution is for Dr Doom or someone like him to take over and save us from our own worst impulses.

    I didn’t enjoy 300 as much as other Miller books, but I’ll still buy his Xerxes when it comes out. The artwork alone’s worth it. I heard he was also working on a “Batman versus Al Qaeda” story called, wait for it, Holy Terror. Wonder what’s happened to that. I like his attitude, his general air of fuck-you-ness. He enjoys baiting reactionaries, liberals, just about everybody, in fact. One thing I’ll never forgive him for, though. The Spirit movie. OMFG, that was bad.

  7. Nick Sharps says:

    Funny thing that altruistic tyranny. It sort of harkens back to Paul Atreides of Dune (don’t even get me started on Dune) but I loved how this whole time he knew he was going to start something so much worse than the way things already were. He is a pretty awesome antihero. If only something had actually HAPPENED in Dune. There’s plenty of talk but oh so little action. I mean the actions there, but it’s peripheral. Sigh. I have to laugh at all those people who think the United Nations is secretly trying to control the world. Far too ineffective for global domination. What a day it will be when we have to live in fear of powder blue helmets. No one takes the UN seriously. Not the members of it and definitely not the regimes it tries to negotiate with.

    Dear Dictator, we kindly have to ask you to cease manufacturing nuclear weapons for about the 800th time. If you continue to build said weapons we will definitely consider writing a more sternly worded missive. Please don’t hate us. Sincerely, the UN

    Lynn Varley did some amazing work for Frank (apparently they were married and are now divorced or something?). At the same time I couldn’t stomach the artwork for The Dark Knight Strikes Again. It was a little too out there for me. I actually knew about Holy Terror! I think Frank decided to can Batman though and just make up his own hero for it but I haven’t heard any news for a while. I do enjoy his abrasive nature, with America’s Hollywood in such an apologetic, pandering mood its nice to have someone who doesn’t care what you think. I think the Iranians got really pissed about 300 and that just makes it all the better 😛 I think you and I were the only ones to actually see The Spirit and boy was that a bad idea. I have no idea how that was allowed onto the big screen but the only movie I’ve ever seen comparable on the “WOW this really sucks” scale is Whiteout.

    One more thing, I saw some pictures for the costume of what was supposed to be Tim Burton’s Superman in the 90’s. It never panned out but I really wish it had. At first you see the costume and you can’t help but think My God this is ugly! But then it really grew on me. I feel like Burton’s approach would have been a much more colorful-yet-dark, energetic, fun Superman. It really captured my imagination. I mean Superman Returns was just awful. You should check it out and tell me what you think.

  8. James says:

    Now, I just did as you suggested and checked out Tim Burton’s Superman. My God. What is that? There’s a shot that could be Photoshopped or not, with Nicolas Cage in major mullet mode wearing a plasticky dominatrix-style Supes outfit. I think we dodged a bullet there. Dull as Superman Returns was, at least it wasn’t COMPLETELY STARK STARING BONKERS!!!

    I have a problem with Burton that started with his Batman movies, both of which I cordially loathe. More and more I find his directorial eccentricities and his Technicolor wackiness just plain wearisome. Every time you come to one his films (which I do mostly by accident) you get the same old schtick. Ooh, here’s Johnny Depp in his super-special weirdo mode. Ooh, here’s a twirly-whirly Danny Elfman score. Ooh, here’s some pseudo-Emo so-called “darkness”. Ook, here’s an ape. I liked Beetlejuice, but even then I didn’t quite get the joke, and there were long stretches of moody nothing-happeningness that were neither clever nor entertaining. He stamps his mark on everything he does, and not always in a good way. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory — now there’s a travesty of the source material for you. I couldn’t bring myself to face his Alice In Wonderland and, hopefully, will never have to.

    Whiteout, funnily enough, I quite liked. It was just about interesting enough to sit through to the end, even though I’d read the (much better) comic miniseries already.

    As for Dune, that’s a lapse in my reading background that I will probably never get around to amending. It’s too big, too time-consuming, and all the reports I’ve heard about it and the reviews I’ve read echo your view, namely that not much happens and most of it offscreen. Such novels are best imbibed before the age of 25 or not at all.

  9. Nick Sharps says:

    After reading your summary of every Tim Burton movie ever made I have a feeling you would enjoy this…

    I thought it was pretty funny and spot on but at the same time I still enjoy Burton. Nightmare Before Christmas has a special place in my heart with me being born on Halloween and all, and I loved Sweeney Todd. I can respect your opinion though because Burton doesn’t really seem to stray too far from his comfort zone (if at all) but the one thing I have to vehemently disagree with you on is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I loved that movie to the mega-max! I was never a fan of the original and I think it was probably Depp’s funniest movie to date. I assume you are a fan of the original, most people who like one despise the other. I skipped Alice in Wonderland though, more out of protest to 3D than anything else. I really don’t like the 3D thing, its still seems like a gimmick to me.

    I can’t believe anyone liked Whiteout though! That completely blows my mind. I saw all these previews for it, expecting it to be something along the lines of The Thing. The trailers were pretty deceptive, I expected aliens or mutated creatures or some twist. But alas, twas not to be. You have to give me that the ending was corny though right, c’mon? If you like Whiteout I’m curious to see if you’ve watched Funny People with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen? That ranks is my all time least favorite comedy (if you can call it comedy).

    Count yourself blessed you never got around to reading Dune. I guess I’m glad I read it in the sense that no one can ever be like “Whoa! You’ve never read Dune?” but I don’t really feel like it was as special as everyone made it out to be. I picked up American Gods by Neil Gaiman this weekend, another alleged classic. I’m hoping not to get screwed by it as well. Classics have a way of coming around to bite ya.

  10. James says:

    Laughed a lot. They nailed it dead. I didn’t much like the Gene Wilder original Charlie…, but I suppose I feel fondly towards it because I saw it as a kid and things you see as a kid always remain vivid in the memory, don’t they? Even if they weren’t very good. For the same reason I still love Ray Harryhausen movies and anything fantasy-ish with Doug McClure in it. We were pretty starved for SF entertainment growing up in the 70s.

    As for 3D, absolutely. I hate it. I wear specs anyway, so why do I want to go to the cinema to see a film while wearing an extra pair of specs? Also, it gives me eyestrain. All in all, it’s a rubbishy gimmick and the sooner it goes away, the better. I saw Avatar in 2D and it was perfectly good. I doubt the extra dimension made it that much better.

    Halloween a pretty sucky day for a birthday, but I think I can trump that with mine: Christmas Eve.

    I’m not an Adam Sandler fan. I just don’t get him. Maybe his humour doesn’t translate beyond the States, where he’s huge box office, I know. The whole “man-child” thing just strikes me as wilful stupidity, not a source of good jokes. I speak, of course, as a citizen of the country that gave the world Benny Hill.

    I’m not denying Whiteout was bad. I was just prepared to treat it kindly as I liked the source material.

    As for American Gods, it was all right, although several of the twists are entirely foreseeable. I have a problem with Gaiman in that I think he really doesn’t try. He stays within his comfort zone, and his prose is safe in the extreme. Maybe that’s why so many people like his work: it’s cosy and doesn’t challenge them. Sandman was enjoyable, sometimes great, and a recent Metamorpho story he did for DC’s Wednesday Comics was brilliantly inventive. But he coasts if he can.

  11. Nick Sharps says:

    Hah figured you might 😛 I can see what you’re saying about childhood memories though. I guess that’s why lots of people hate on remakes. Transformers for instance. I realize it’s supposed to be a geek icon, what’s cooler than vehicles that change into alien robots with lasers? But I find it a little goofy. And the only time I will defend Michael Bay (ONLY TIME, aside from Armageddon of course) is the Transformers film adaption. Everyone complains that he tarnished their childhood with this ridiculous movie that consists of nothing but Meghan Fox’s lusty lips and big explosions. But in all honesty, what the hell is he supposed to do with the source material other than that? I wasn’t alive during the 80’s but I can pretty much assume Transformers was aimed at pre-teen/early-teen boys. Therefor I don’t think it’s a stretch that he would cater the movie toward that demographic. All Transformers is, is explosions blah blah blah. You’re right critics, there should be more character development. Maybe Michael Bay could go into how Megatron grew up in a bad neighborhood on Cybertron, oppressed by the rich autobots. Maybe we could avoid conflict at all and have the autobots and decepticons use diplomacy. Then again I didn’t grow up watching the show so how the hell should I know?

    They’re pioneering these 3D televisions and working on 3D videogames and the whole time I’m thinking. Who wants to watch 3D sitcoms. Granted CSI: 3D might be kind of cool now that I think about it. But what about the rest? Two and a Half Men. Survivor. Any number of despicable Mtv programming. I’ll pass. As for the videogames? Stop screwing around with this inferior 3D technology and get back to work on my virtual reality chamber damnit!

    I actually enjoy having a birthday on Halloween, gives me an excuse to steal everyone’s candy in a thing I like to call “Birthday Tax.” It’s revolutionary. Soon the US, UK, and China will be trying it out. Tada! I just saved the global economic meltdown thingy. And pissed off a lot of people.

    I could usually stomach Adam Sandler, I do enjoy Seth Rogen though even if he’s pretty much the same “man-child” character. The problem is with comedies here in the US, Judd Atapow blew everyone away with Superbad and 40 Year Old Virgin, and ever since the goal has been to make the raunchiest comedy possible. The situations aren’t funny anymore because people know what to expect.

    I never read the Whiteout comics, maybe I’d have been less judging if I did. As far as thrillers in super cold places go I loved 30 Days of Night. that movie was fantastic.

    This will be the first Gaiman I’ll have read (if I get around to it, Call of Duty: Black Ops came out today). I’m not sure what to expect. Maybe something like Stephen King in a loose way? By far the best book I’ve read this year was David Wong’s John Dies at the End. Creepy and funny and all together just awesome.

  12. James says:

    Agree with you about 30 Days Of Night. The critics were a bit sniffy but I thought it did pretty much everything it should. The comics it’s based on are truly terrible, though. Confused plotting and the muddiest, messiest art I’ve ever seen. Same goes for The Walking Dead. I’m enjoying the TV series but the original comics are dull, dull, dull. I may have bored you already about that, so I shan’t go on.

    I wasn’t into Transformers when I was a kid either, being too old when the cartoon started. The first movie was actually not too bad, given that it existed within the parameters of Michael Bay’s limited skill set. Stuff blows up. Military hardware is filmed beautifully against backdrops of bronze sky and martial drums. Single female character has nothing to do except pout and scream. Throw giant robots beating each other up into the mix, and you have an entertaining movie. The sequel amply demonstrated how badly it could all go wrong, however. Just more of everything, and consequently less. And I could gladly have crushed the jive-talkin’ ghetto twin Autobots in a car compacter.

    Screw the virtual reality chamber. It’s jetpacks that 3D’s holding up, I’m sure. Stop researching how to give us new forms of eyestrain and come up with a working portable one-person flying device. Then we’ll know for certain that we’re in the future.

    Kind of you to include the UK with the US and China as a major global economic power. We’re quite content here that we’re not any more. Our country’s going down the pan and reverting to the tiny island of internecine lunatics it used to be, back in the days before the Empire. We feel we’ve done our bit for history, we’re a bit tired now, and we’d like a rest, thank you very much. Let the young whippersnappers take over. If you need us, we’ll be enjoying a G&T and a good book out by the pool. That OK with you?

  13. Nick Sharps says:

    I have yet to see The Walking Dead but everyone keeps raving about it. I suppose I’ll rent it on Netflix when the time comes, I don’t really have the time for scheduled television. I’m a little bored with zombies, the market is far too saturated. A couple years ago I picked up Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide and have been in love ever since but zombies are to popular for their own good. I think a good zombie movie has to use zombies as a backdrop and not necessarily the focal point and that seems to be pretty rare right now. Plus the problem with zombies is that half the populace knows how to handle them now! No longer do I get to be a hero in the event of a zombie outbreak, now there are a bunch of other posers to run around getting head-shots.

    Skids and Mudflap…oh so much torment could have been avoided had they been left out or brutally killed. Their dialogue…dreadful beyond words really. And smart cars? Really? Aliens come to our planet with the ability to transform into vehicles to disguise themselves and those two pick the most colorful, least common cars on the road? Brilliant.

    Jetpacks 😛 Now there is a forlorn hope. Jetpacks, jetcars, jet-powered toaster ovens, instant teleportation, robomaids, etc. I would love a jetpack (The Rocketeer) but looking back at the Jetson’s I don’t think all that technology ever made their life any easier…

    Hah! Kind of me to include the US has a major global economic power! Sometimes I think it would be easier to just stop being the US. Everyone hates us, we hate ourselves, and we have negative money left. We’re not in a good way really. Let the world find a new country to villainize, the US and UK can kick back and enjoy some Earl Gray.

  14. James says:

    Agree wholeheartedly about World War Z. Not only a great zombie novel but a great novel full stop. I’ve managed to give props to it in at least 2 pieces of writing, a newspaper article and an academic textbook essay. Max Brooks should have me on a retainer. The Walking Dead is a bit of a slow shamble (appropriately enough) but episode 2 was definitely an improvement on episode 1. I’ve long had an affection for zombie movies ever since I saw Dawn Of The Dead. Romero’s genius was the refine the whole concept, more or less in that one movie, thereby creating a new horror staple for the 20th century. On that level he can be equated with Stoker and Shelley. Mind you, his last two …Of The Deads were pretty rubbish.

    What also bugged me about Transformers 2 — when I wasn’t falling asleep or wishing I was dead, that is — was the Girlbot. What, so they mimic items of machinery, but if they want to they can go all Terminator on us as well? WRONG. Epic fail. Don’t change the rules just to suit the director’s wish to include a bit of PG13 rumpy-pumpy.

  15. Nick Sharps says:

    I heard a while back that they were working on a World War Z movie that would be starring Brad Pitt of all people. I think it would make an excellent movie, especially if they stayed true to the source material. There is such an epic set up, I feel like the whole faux documentary drama genre would really benefit. I loved Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead but I never saw Romero’s original. Unfortunately I found Land of the Dead wanting and Diary of the Dead was…okay I guess. Never got around to seeing Survival of the Dead. I feel like the franchise is getting stupider the more entries it gets. I’ve considered writing a zombie novella that featured no zombies in the main plot at all.

    Ahhh yes, the Terminatrix. That was a fun addition. I suppose if 50 foot tall alien robots with giant cannons mounted on their arms can’t kill a college boy, the only logical thing to do is send a sexy college girl (with giant cannons mounted on her chest). What really bothered me about Revenge of the Fallen was America’s reluctance to duke it out with these space invaders. It’s not like there were an infinite amount of Decepticons. I think there are about 13 or so in the final battle (surely nothing we couldn’t handle) and to think that the entire world would be culled by 13 robots who really aren’t much more effective at killing than modern weapons seems a little ridiculous. Not to mention the whole Deus Ex Machina with the “healing magic thingy”. I mean seriously. Killing Optimus Prime? Brilliant. Bringing him back? Lame. Death holds no consequence in those movies, both Megatron and Optimus are resurrected. It just takes away the impact when other less important characters die, but no one bothers to bring them back to life (i.e. Lieutenant Jazz, the other jive talking robot).

  16. James says:

    I heard the Brad Pitt World War Z thing too, but all seems to have gone a bit quiet there. I have no idea how a movie would do the book justice unless it copied the first-person interview format exactly. That would then entail a huge budget to cover all the different settings and scenarios. Anything else would result in just another zombie film, and God knows we’ve more than enough of those as it is.

    Don’t trouble yourself with Survival Of The Dead. It’s a direct spinoff from Diary… but it’s dull, slow, and amateurish, and nothing much seems to happen in it. The zombies don’t even look particularly good, either. The makeup artist just couldn’t seem to be bothered and slapped a bit of blue on everyone’s face and thought that would do.

    I find zombies fascinating mainly because they seem to be the archetypal monster of our times, able to symbolise so many different things: consumer culture, mass-market mindlessness, increasing social apathy, dumbing down, fears of apocalypse. These are all themes pertinent to early 21st century life, and zombies offer a blank canvas for creators to paint on in an infinite number of ways. Well, maybe not infinite, but the possible interpretations are many. I like your idea for a zombie novella for that reason. It would be interesting to have a story in which the zombies barely impinge on the action. They could be a background hum — or should that be “moan”? — that the main characters are so accustomed to, they barely register it.

  17. [Blocked by CFC] Nick Sharps says:

    It would take some effort to give World War Z the film adaption it deserves. I imagine they would have to cut out some of the stories to make it the right length. That in itself would be a shame because it all meshes so well to create a realistic zombie apocalypse scenario. The fact that talk of the movie has gone quiet reminds me of Richard K. Morgan, another UK author. On wikipedia it said that his book Market Forces and Altered Carbon were both in production or preplanning stages but that was years ago. I’d love to see both of those books made into movies.

    Thanks for the de-recommendation, I’ll be sure to skip Survival of the Dead. I love all the symbolism behind old monsters. Its a shame that most people don’t read much into it. I guess that right there is just another example as to why zombies are such a good representation of modern society. I love undead violence as much as the next guy but the older I get the more I want some depth. I wasn’t really a fan of Land of the Dead but I did like it for the sole reason that the real villain was the people ruling the city. I think it could have been a much better movie than it turned out to be, but at least it took on a fresh approach.

  18. James says:

    Those two books of Richard’s have been in Hollywood development hell for years, but that may not be a bad thing as no movie would quite be able to do justice to the depth and intricacy of his work. I imagine he doesn’t mind much, as long as they keep paying handsomely to renew the rights option.

    There’s a school of thought that says that it’s short stories, not novels, that make the best movies, in as much as the filmmakers don’t have to leave anything out, rather they have to expand on the material, and that way fans of the original won’t feel that the best parts have been left out. I can’t think of any recent examples off the top of my head, except maybe Red, which was based on a very short Warren Ellis comics miniseries and in fact covered most of that story in its first five minutes, then spun off into something completely new and different. I enjoyed it, incidentally. All the actors seemed to be having fun, although not in that smug Ocean’s 12/13 way.

    Just finished writing Redlaw today, so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. That’s two full-length novels in less than a year. I’ll probably tinker with the manuscript for a few days, then send it off, and that’s me done, work-wise, till the New Year.

  19. Nick Sharps says:

    I think that Market Forces would be a much easier movie to make than Altered Carbon, I’m not sure the general audience is ready for Takeshi Kovacs. Knowing Hollywood though they’d probably stick guns on the cars and hire Jason Statham to play as Chris Faulkner for a Market Forces movies. In which case I hope it stays in development hell forever.

    I can see where the short story-to-movie thing makes plenty of sense. I always feel cheated when a movie leaves out the little bits and pieces that make the book what it is. That’s why I can’t stand the Harry Potter movies or the Ron Howard adaptions of Dan Brown’s books. They get the general idea right but seem to take liberties with some of the smaller stuff (or major stuff in the case of The Da Vinci Code). I’ve never been a fan of short stories though. If you like a story you don’t get enough of it and if you don’t like a story than it seems like a waste. It is a good way to find out about new authors though. That’s how I came across K.J. Parker.

    Congrats on Redlaw! I have to say I am rather excited to sink my teeth into it.

  20. James says:

    Redlaw’s just gone off to the publisher, meaning I’m feeling the usual mix of relief and anxiety. I’m glad it’s done and I’m pleased with it but I still reckon there are about a hundred ways it could be improved. I only start to relax about a book after it’s been through the editing process, at which point I can assure myself that all the mistakes, continuity errors and prose missteps have been found and fixed. Thereafter it’s out of my hands. I just have to let it go.

    What I mostly hope is that I’ve done something new with vampires. They’re metaphorical monsters (aren’t all monsters metaphorical?) and their meaning can be shifted and reinterpreted to reflect the times, much like zombies. That’s the way I’ve gone with them, and I think it works.

    I’m pretty much done with work now until the New Year, when I get cracking on the next one, Dust. I’m waiting to hear about a deal for a children’s book, maybe more than one. If that goes ahead, I’ll tackle it first, and Dust will follow. In the interim, Christmas is looming. Aargh! A series of early-morning starts thanks to excited small boys in the household, culminating in an orgy of toys. With luck, some of the toys will be mine.

  21. Nick Sharps says:

    Ever since I saw the cover art for Redlaw I’ve been hooked. I’m not sure what to expect other than a hell of a good time. I also feel pretty safe knowing that your vampires actually represent something other than blood sucking creatures of the night. I can’t wait to see what they’re a metaphor for though. And of course I expect some fantastic violence.

    An author may get to take a break but a reader’s job is never done! As I eagerly await your next books I found George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice to keep my busy. And busy I will be indeed. These are some seriously twisted books. There are no real heroes and no one is safe. I’m loving it.

  22. James says:

    Song Of Fire And Ice… That’s a whole lot of book to read. Aren’t there, like, five volumes of it, each enormous? Martin’s Fevre Dream is a terrific novel, one of the very best vampire novels around, all Southern and sweaty and decadent, better than anything Anne Rice has ever produced, but I’m afraid I haven’t read anything else by him.

    As I’m on a break right now, I’m busy catching up with all the books I haven’t had time to read during the year. The bedside pile contains the new Stephen King, a collection of the poet Philip Larkin’s letters to his girlfriend Monica, Michelle Paver’s ghost story Dark Matter, a Sherlock-Holmes-by-other-hands anthology I picked up cheap, and a stack of Vertigo graphic novels, among other things. I thought I’d be making more of a dent in it than I have, but there seems to be a whole lot of other stuff that gets in the way, mostly Christmas-related, including Nativity plays, school carol concerts and the like. It’s hard to just sit down and be lazy sometimes!

  23. Nick Sharps says:

    It is a whole lot of book to read for sure. I can usually read two novels a week, occasionally it’ll take me one week for a book I’m either really enjoying or really dreading. A Game of Thrones took me two weeks to finish. It is a thick book, but its not the length that got to me. The book is so realistic (as realistic as fantasy can be) and no one is safe. I was afraid to read the next chapter because I never knew who was going to die. Also the villains have the majority of victories, political and warfare. But it was an awesome read so I immediately started the next. There’s multiple POVs but none of them ever get boring, which I consider a feat with my reading ADD.

    It is hard to sit down and be lazy but I’ve found a lot of time as of late. I’m just finishing up my classes for the semester but while everyone seems to be scrambling to study for finals I find myself with lots of spare reading time. I have no idea how it happened but most of my classes seemed to end two weeks ago. I have a criminal justice final today and I’m pretty much finished. Then I get to go home and attempt to survive the bloody horror that is Sharps’ Family Christmas. No doubt I will be facing atrocities that not even Zeus would visit upon his human subjects.

  24. James says:

    I know Christmas is looming here, not because doors are being opened daily on advent calendars, or even because the household decorations are up, but because we’re getting woken earlier and earlier each morning by two increasingly excited little boys. At this rate it’ll be a four-in-the-morning start on Christmas Day itself. It certainly was last year, which meant Dad was VERY GRUMPY all that day.

    I think the master of multiple POV writing — I may have said this before — is William Gibson. Each of the strands in his early cyberpunk novels is as interesting as the other and there’s never one you feel you have to slog through to get to the better stuff. King does it well, too. Undoubtedly it’s all about the characters and making them all equally intriguing, if in different ways. A neat trick if you can pull it off. I, too, have reading ADD and nowadays a book has to be really firing on all cylinders to keep me interested. There are just too many other things to read out there, and so little time to read them in.

  25. Nick Sharps says:

    Haha I’m in college and I still wake my parents up as early as I’m up. I’m still a kid at heart, there really is something magical about Christmas even if it is rampant consumerism at its finest. My suggestion to very grumpy dad syndrome? Start the morning off with some hot chocolate with a hint of Bailey’s. Simple remedy my own father took to a couple years ago and it works like a charm!

    I imagine it’s not easy to keep multiple POVs in order. More challenging yet would be to keep them all interesting. I picked up Brandon Sanderson’s new brick of a book, The Way of Kings, a couple months ago and I only got a hundred pages in before I put it down. The main character was interesting but then a couple more ancillary character’s perspectives got introduced and I lost patience. When you read a 1000 page book and you’re looking at 500 pages of filler you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. I have enough other books to read (especially with Christmas two weeks away) that I don’t have the time for pointless side stories about thieving scholars. That may sound jaded but it’s just me being realistic.

  26. Jess says:

    Hope it’s cool for me to jump in here, I’ve been reading your back in forth and thought I’d comment on a few things…

    I have a 14 month old daughter who’s up at 4am two times a week (at least), so I’m actually looking forward to getting up early on Christmas morning and seeing her face as she sees the presents around the tree.

    As for movies, I personally loved the new Punisher movie because it was essentially Garth Ennis’ Punisher come to life on screen. Dolph – as Frank Castle – was terrible, but he’s great in Universal Soldier: Regeneration as well as The Expendables, both of which I love. You’re right, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and it’s a relief. Plus, both Univeral Soldier: Regeneration and The Expendables featured UFC fighters in starring roles, which I appreciated – Andrei Arlovski in US:R and Randy Couture in Expendables. Glad to see these guys understand they won’t be able to fight forever and they can probably make just as much $$ and get punched a lot less if they are in movies instead of the octagon.

    As for reading, besides having to finish Andy Remic’s Hardcore and your Age of Ra, I’ve been reading a lot of independently published stuff lately. features some great writers just waiting to find a good publishing house. I personally recommend Patrick Todoroff’s Running Black and Michael E Mark’s Dominant Species. Good sci-fi that’s well paced, entertaining, and explosive at times.

    As for favorite POV author, I recently re-read David J William’s Autumn Rain trilogy (The Mirrored Heavens, The Burning Skies and The Machinery of Light). Considering the style in which it’s written (third person present tense), the break-neck speed at which it’s set, the sheer amount of action, and the incredible number of twists and turns within, the book does a great job of staying readable, even though it bounces between characters almost as often as the bullets are let fly (which is A LOT). It not only retained my attention, but made me want to immediately re-read all three books back to back to back just to fully comprehend what I’d been reading over the 16 months since I got the first book. Truly brilliant stuff IMHO and one of my favorite sci-fi series ever.

    Lastly, just wanted to say I’m super excited to see what you do with Dust. I personally think the idea is brilliant and can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

    Keep up the great work Mr. Lovegrove!

  27. James says:

    Even as teenagers, my sisters and I would all pile into my parents’ bed first thing on Christmas morning (though not in any way hideously early — and my dad was always an early riser anyway). There we would open our stockings, which invariably contained a 50p piece and a tangerine among the usual tat. Kind of an appetiser before the full-on gift orgy.

    Hot chocolate’s not a bad idea. Bailey’s, though? Can’t stomach it. The devil’s alcoholic sputum. A glass of mulled wine might do the trick. Better still, instead of drinking it myself, I could give it to the boys with their breakfast, then watch them slowwww down and lapse into a doze sometime midmorning. Result: peace on earth, goodwill to all men.

    I’ve been tackling the new Stephen King story quartet (Full Dark, No Stars) but haven’t really been getting along with it. I’m finding my appetite for horror is almost completely gone these days. Maybe it’s encroaching middle age, or maybe I just feel it’s all been done and there’s nothing much original going on in the genre. I try to avoid horror movies now if I can, especially torture porn. I watched The Collector on DVD the other night and found it repellent. Somehow I managed to sit through it all, and my younger self would have been whooping with glee at all the gore and sadism, but my present self finds it tiresome and pointless, a hollow exercise in taboo-busting with no sympathetic characters and no redeeming features. The rot set it, I reckon, with the Saw and Hostel movies, although it’s absolute perigee is the French film Martyrs, which was so sordid I simply couldn’t take it. Fast-forwarding the final half-hour was the only way to get to the end (which, admittedly, had a terrific, enigmatic payoff).

  28. James says:

    I’m super-excited about Dust too, Jess, with the proviso that beyond the basic setup and premise of the book, I have no idea what’s going to happen in it. I mean, I do have a basic plot outline and an understanding of the central character, but only a sketchy notion of what shape the narrative will take. I’m going to work on that in the New Year, flesh it out a bit before I sit down and actually start writing. In the interim, there’s a teenager book I’ve got to do, which will help me clear my mind and get the creative juices flowing once more.

    The second Punisher movie also cribbed a lot from Garth Ennis’s first Marvel Max series (such as The Russian) but somehow lost something along the way. I think it was Ennis’s pitch-black sense of humour. I can’t even remember who played the Punisher. Was it Thomas Jane? I think so. He didn’t have the grim presence needed. Ray Stevenson did, and he was given very little dialogue, which worked well, as the comics Punisher is laconic to the point of silence and does most of his talking through the narrative captions.

    Speaking of Ennis, is anyone else as confused as me by The Boys? Half the time I have no idea what’s going on. The characters are great and well written but the plot’s as opaque as anything.

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