If you’ve ever walked into a dirty hotel room and wondered what you’d find if the walls could talk… you may be focused on the wrong modality. The strange old housekeeper at The Big D Motel has an entirely different way of probing for a room’s skeletons, a method much more toothsome.
New short fiction, Stains, now available through Infernal Ink Magazine in print and e-book.
So I’m excited about Mad Max.
I know this is kind of a writing blog, but I’m a huge movie buff, and this is really about storytelling in general. So bear with me.
For the last thirty years, as everybody knows, there’s been a huge impetus to get studio films in front of the largest possible audience. Since its inception in 1984, the PG-13 rating has been the benchmark of that effort. Any film PG or G is labeled as a kid’s movie, anything R has an artificial ceiling due to its adult skew. When was the last time we saw a masterpiece like 2001 get released with a G rating? When was the last time something as poignant and over-the-top as the original Robocop actually made money? Someone can probably think of an exception, but the allure of appealing to the widest demographic has traditionally been too strong to deny, at least as far as studio pictures are concerned. So if it were released today, 2001 would probably have a little more violence and a gratuitous butt shot, and Robocop would be… well, Robocopwas remade, and we all saw how it turned out.
Until Harry Potter came along, books were largely immune to that. I LOVE Harry Potter, but its effect on the fiction world was not awesome. For the past 15 years, we’ve had a slew of imitators and an explosion of Young Adult dystopian-paranormal-futuristic-vampire-werewolf-teen-romance… things. Yes, it’s good more people are reading. Yes, there are great Young Adult books the same as there are great PG-13 movies, but for every Ready Player One and Dark Knight, we get a thousand duds. More importantly, market saturation has squashed the outliers. Where’s the next great Stephen King? Or Dan Brown? Those guys are as strong as they ever have been, but they’ve been around forever! Despite the prevalence of independent film and independent publishing, adult fiction feels scarce. Doesn’t it?
As it turns out, 2015 might be the year adults finally have their say. Although it was technically released in 2014, American Sniper was a box office juggernaut, squashing everything in its path and surpassing Hunger Games in domestic earnings. Following that, R-rated movies dominated the box office for 7 of the next 8 weeks. Fifty Shades turned out to be an even bigger hit than anticipated in spite of abysmal reviews and an even more abysmal IMDB score. What’s more? A lower rating isn’t guaranteeing higher returns any more. Near the end of 2014, Expendables 3 flat out bombed, earning half of what its two predecessors made during its domestic opening weekend.
And now we have Mad Max. If you haven’t seen the original films, you should. The Road Warrior is still one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, the adrenal equivalent of jumping a go-cart off a cliff ramp at 150mph, with all the fear, exhilaration, and dirt-in-the-back-of-your-throat that entails. Most film buffs consider the last installment, 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome, to be the weakest in the old trilogy. Not surprisingly, it’s the only one with a PG-13 rating. However, it does set a precedent. It would have been easy for studio execs to follow the same path with the most current entry, sending a middle finger to the critics in the hopes of again roping in that widest possible audience.
But they didn’t, and now I’m excited.
I’m not excited because of the promise of any specific graphic content, because really, who cares? As long it’s contextually appropriate and right for the film’s tone, the specifics don’t matter. No, I’m excited because Warner Bros. said, “You know what? This is an adult franchise, and we’re going to make the best possible movie with adults in mind.” We’ve seen a ton of watered-down sci-fi sequels and reboots these past few years, everything from Total Recall to Terminator. I’m glad this doesn’t look like it’s going to be of the same ilk. And the trailer is badass, isn’t it?
I think what’s really happening is that the film world is finally bouncing back, finally realizing there is a market for adults if the content is good. I’m waiting for the fiction world to bounce back the same way. I’m not saying I won’t ever write a Young Adult book, but generally, I write adult fiction. I read adult fiction. The world is full of adults, at least until The Children of the Corn take over and murder us all. So get off your butt and support adult entertainment!
Well, you know what I mean.
The room is quiet and still, quiet and still save for The Goblin King…
Low Prowls The Goblin King is now up on Acidic Fiction! The story is free to read and available here: http://acidicfiction.com/2015/02/27/low-prowls-the-goblin-king.
It’s been a good month out here. Looks like I’ll have not one but two stories coming out shortly, one to a terrific ezine, one to a quarterly horror anthology. I have to admit that it’s been a big relief to get these out the door, as The Aeschylus took all of my energy and focus last year, and I was afraid kickstarting new material would be difficult, or even impossible. I won’t say it’s been easy, but I think my brain has been thrilled to have something new to do these past couple of months. I haven’t started that new novel quite yet, but I’ve started doing the research, and things are percolating well in the back of my mind.
As for The Aeschylus, the free event last month was a huge success, far better than I could have hoped, really. So I decided to do another one for Valentine’s Day, because what better way to celebrate romance than with a little horror and a lot of tentacles? But I digress! Anyway, it’s free through the 14th, and if by chance you haven’t picked it up, feel free to swing by Amazon.
New short story coming next week to the online ezine, Acidic Fiction. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, mosey on over! They’re a speculative fiction site with a growing list of high quality sci-fi, fantasy, and horror stories, and they’re FREE! I’ll post again next week, but in the meantime, feel free to check out their current catalog: www.acidicfiction.com
As for me, I’ve started that new novel, and it’s time to get back to work.
Now that The Aeschylus is out the door and 2014 is in the rearview, it’s time to move on to new and exciting things. The end of the year always seems to be a productive time for my writer friends (many of whom do NaNoWriMo), and lo and behold, it was busy for me this year too. I have about half a dozen new short stories and a complete new novella, all of which I’m more or less figuring out what to do with, at least as far as publishing goes. One story will be out very soon, and hopefully more will follow later this year. At some point, I’d like to do a collection, but who knows if that’s in the cards.
I also think I’m finally in a good emotional place to start something big again. Like any novel, The Aeschylus was a huge endeavor, in part do to the crazy research it required, but mostly due to the fact that I can be slow, and it took a lot of hammering to get right. In a lot of ways, I think writing a novel is akin to fire building. It needs the right setting, the right kindling set-up, and the right spark of life. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have it catch right off the bat, but usually, you’re rubbing shit together until the sun goes down and your hands are bleeding.
I have a new spark, I think. Time to hunker down and fan the flames.
The Aeschylus is coming.
These past 2 months have probably been the busiest of my life, getting everything ready for launch. Although I first began writing the novel back in December of 2008, had a second draft at the end of 2012, and a finished version the following year, things are finally coming to a head, and it’s finally headed to the streets. At this point, I think it’s been polished to a nub. At least, I hope so.
It’s funny, but finishing the manuscript is only half the battle. Editing and formatting, photo shoots, arranging artwork and layout; it’s rewarding but exhausting. I really can’t wait for it to get out the door. The reason isn’t the work involved, though. The story is cool as hell. And it’s fucking weird, it really is. I have no idea if people will like it, but I know it’s still very near and dear to my heart, and truthfully, I just want a copy for my shelf, even if it’s the only one that ever sells.
I hope it’s not. It’s too goddamn scary to be ignored.
So in the meantime, welcome dear reader. Pull up a chair, and let us sit in the dark a while.