Saturday, March 12, 2011

From scratch . . .

Returning to Riding Ten Thunders is more difficult than anticipated. After rereading the first chapter, I realized my style has changed considerably.

I've spent so much time in Randall Toussaint's world, reclaiming Jagantha's voice is not going to be easy. I may have to do a full rewrite of Riding Ten Thunders. The right elements are there but the way the story unfolds isn't doing it for me.

There is an upshot to redoing this story: tailoring it for the YA audience. Originally I simply wrote on impulse. I got to know the characters, put them through their paces, but I wasn't aiming for a particular audience. I am more focused now.

I am kicking around a better pitch for the story, one that nails the "high concept" though I dread making comparisons such as "It's like The Hunger Games meets Shaka Zulu in a land where children are bred for war."

But that is how the game is played. I doubt I will use that exact pitch. I am fairly certain EVERYONE compares their books to The Hunger Games these days just like they did with Twilight and the Harry Potter series . . . but with a twist!

I am putting aside Untriggered Magical Devices again. I just don't see its potential beyond the solo story. It's a tight idea but it feels very derivative. The high concept? "It's like The Hurt Locker in the world of Harry Dresden." Just writing that makes me weary.

Stratum, on the other hand, is something else. That's my kick in the teeth with a steel-toe boot. It is the kind of story that will make enemies out of people that don't even know me but that ironically is the point of the story. The mechanics framing the story are tricky, still working out the logic and rules of the setting but it does have me pretty excited.

Meanwhile, Black Saturday is in the first editor's hands. As soon as I get feedback, I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

And now, for my next trick . . .

Black Saturday goes to the editor this week and now I turn my steely gaze towards Riding Ten Thunders.

More than one year has passed since I last let my mind roam the tall elephant grass of the Nahali Plains like the great lions stalking herds of wildebeests and zebras. It's time to return.

Taking a guage of the popular trends in media these days, it seems the zombie apocalypse is big money. Comic books, TV shows adapted from said comic books, video games . . . zombies are everywhere.

I think vampires have peaked, especially in terms of saccharine romances with vamps.

Superheroes also have cooled after some notable entries. YES, there are more movies on the way with the likes of the Dark Knight and his peers. It would be foolish to presume they will all be Oscar-caliber productions.

There is talk of aliens being the next "big thing". I question the value of some recent arrivals in the genre, such as "I Am Number Four". The book and movie adaptation were created with the goal of creating a lucrative franchise. In short, they are making money fast food-style. Don't believe me? Production began on the movie before the book was even published and established a fan base.

The book was on The New York Times Best Seller List for children's books for six weeks. The movie seems to have made back its production budget after about a month in theaters. That's not a great return on investment given that the movie has already dropped off the radar with audiences.

In terms of other movies in the alien genre, "Battle: Los Angeles" comes out next week which depicts a large scale invasion of the planet. The much derided and similarly themed "Skyline" was released last year. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", due in July, also has an invasion-theme. And today I saw a commercial for a TV show called "Falling Skies" coming in June.

I am not hitching my wagon to any of these concepts. You have to look further out to the time after these trends ebb.

There is another, almost radioactive idea that I've got for another book. I think the concept is pretty timely but polarizing. Stay tuned.

On a side note, there's a Celtic Woman concert coming up at Radio City this month. I have taken a shine to the fiddling of Mairead Nesbitt.

Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away