Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Like many writers, I am not a joiner nor a big fan of groups. I wasn’t a boy scout; I’ve never been a member of a church or temple; I didn’t join a frat in college. Clubs and allegiances make me slightly nervous, and I’ve never had a taste for chants and slogans. Usually when large groups unite behind a cause, I can’t stomach the dogma that inevitably emerges. So you can imagine that the “brotherhood” aspect of the strike is not one that I cotton to naturally, nor am I inclined to believe that leadership—of any kind—will adequately represent my interests or viewpoint.
Add to that the fact that it is always more fun and seemingly more sophisticated to be cynical. It’s always easier to cast a jaundiced eye, to be the one who sees through the bullshit, who knows a better angle, who has the caustic aside that breaks up the lockstep of the zoned-out masses.
Like everyone else who works in Hollywood, I have followed this strike closely because of what’s at stake. And in last night’s meeting, as in the previous guild meeting, I can report that there was not a single strategy, proposal, or explanation presented to me by WGA leadership and the negotiating committee that I disagreed with.
Our leadership, our negotiating committee, our positions are eminently reasonable, considered, and, yes, sane. These are complicated issues, and most people don’t have a clear grasp of them. What is at stake is New Media. The internet. How films and TV shows will be distributed. What is at stake is the future and how—indeed if—writers will be compensated in it.
Coming to Hollywood as an author, I was amazed at the benefits and infrastructure provided to me as a screenwriter. Health care. Pension. Residuals. Minimums. There’s not a day I’ve worked in L.A. that I’m not grateful for these benefits—benefits that provide for my family and that allow me to continue to do my job. These benefits were won by the sweat and courage of men and women who had much more to lose and who took greater risks than those before us now. These benefits were won by the sacrifices others made for future generations, for me.
This membership, this year, cannot dissipate those gains. We cannot cave in to an unfair deal that writers decades from now will be saddled with. This is a watershed contract. Future writers will look back to this year, to this contract, to us, every day as they live with what our resolve and respect for writing yielded. They can look back on us with the same gratitude we look back on those who came before us. Or they can look back with disappointment.
We’d be well served to remember that this contract isn’t just for us.
In full support,
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
“Being a man is the continuing battle of one’s life, and one loses a bit of manhood with every stale compromise to the authority of any power in which one does not believe.”
Monday, November 19, 2007
Here's the opening....
NEW YORK - The latest National Endowment for the Arts report draws on a variety of sources, public and private, and essentially reaches one conclusion: Americans are reading less.
The 99-page study, "To Read or Not to Read," is being released Monday as a follow-up to a 2004 NEA survey, "Reading at Risk," that found an increasing number of adult Americans were not even reading one book a year (bold mine).
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
The Crime Writer debuted in the US as an LA Times Top 10 bestseller.
As I See You, it spent 11 weeks on the Ireland bestseller list, 5 of those in the top ten.
4 weeks on the bestseller list in the UK.
4 weeks on the bestseller list in Australia.
So a great start for the English territories. Still to come: France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Japan, Israel, Poland, and more.
I feel fortunate to have such a great group of readers, librarians, sales reps, and editors.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
And, alas, me too. My editor, Axel Alonso, sent me this jpeg some time back, telling me that it would be the first Foolkiller cover. I opened it with great excitement....
Oh well, can't win 'em all.
There's a fun - and unusual - interview with me up at Silver Bullet Comics in anticipation of the first Foolkiller's launch, which is tomorrow!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Crime Writer (I SEE YOU) has now launched in Australia, where it debuted on the bestseller list.
Stay tuned for comic news soon. Wolverine and the Foolkiller slashing into stores next month.
And a new cover -- guess the book, guess the country.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston. This was recommended to me by my editor at Marvel, as Charlie writes Moon Knight for him. It is gritty, smart, intelligent, and fast-paced. A great down-and-dirty noir read. I've heard his next up, The Shotgun Rule, is also excellent.
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. I came into this one reluctantly, having never read Palahniuk, and being the only male in the United States who didn't love the movie version of the Fight Club. I was really blown away by Palahniuk's skill—amazing character development, sharp dialogue, and real poetic beauty.
Bangkok 8 by John Burdett. I know, I know, I'm behind the times, as usual. I generally don't like books set in "exotic locations" (forgive the term), because said locations are usually an excuse to avoid a plot, but Burdett handles all sides of this dirty little mystery with mastery.
Fuck Noir, anthology edited by Jennifer Jordan. A cracking, really smart introduction by Mark Billingham sets the tone for this edgy collection. And a variety of names you'll recognize contribute, all giving an homage to that king of all words.
Along my tour, smart mystery booksellers insisted I buy: Big City, Bad Blood, by Sean Chercover, and The Blonde, by Duane Swiercynski. So I have more reading—recommended from reliable sources—to come.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I SEE YOU is the name of THE CRIME WRITER in the UK, and the book has just rolled out these past few weeks (jumping from #22 to #7 on the bestseller list for Ireland). Chris High, master of crime-fiction reviews and interviews, posted one of each for me on his superb website. Click here for an interview with yours truly, and here to see his take on I See You.
I've been getting lots of emails from readers of I SEE YOU, from England to Ireland to Australia. Keep 'em coming!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Apologies that I've been scarce around here. I've been on tour, and so far have hit San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Minneapolis, Houston, and Phoenix. Great events, and even greater meeting readers from all over. The booksellers have been really spectacular this time around, making The Crime Writer a staff or club pick in numerous places, and I've greatly appreciated that. The Crime Writer hit the top ten on bestseller lists in Los Angeles and Ireland this week, too, which has been great. I've got a few more stops left -- around LA, Boston, Milwaukee, and will be adding more, so if you haven't yet, please come by and say hello.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
The city was pretty shocked, but I was pleased to arrive at Scene of the Crime to a happier scene; Gary and Pat had gotten married in the store about 15 minutes before my arrival. I've never had to be the follow-up act to a wedding, and I fear I paled in comparison, but here's wishing two wonderful people a wonderful marriage.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I woke up with IVs taped to my arms, a feeding tube shoved through my nose, and my tongue pushed against my teeth, dead and thick as a sock. My mouth was hot and tasted of copper, and my molars felt loose, jogged in their beds from grinding. I blinked against the strong light, and squinted into a haze of face, too close for casual—a man straddling a backward chair, thick forearms overlapped, a sheet of paper drooping from one square fist. Another guy behind him, dressed the same—rumpled sport coat, loose tie offset from open collar, glint at the hip. Downgraded to bystander, a doctor stood by the door, ignoring the electronic blips and bleeps. I was in a hospital room.
With consciousness came pain. No tunnels of light, no bursts or fireworks or other page-worn clichés, just pain, mindless and dedicated, a rottweiler working a bone. A creak of air moved through my throat.
“He’s up,” said the doctor from faraway. A nurse materialized and fed a needle into the joint in my IV. A second later the warmth rode through my veins and the rottweiler paused to catch his breath.
I raised an arm trailing IV lines and fingered my head where it tingled. Instead of hair, a seam of stubble and stitches cactused my palm. Lightheadedness and nausea compounded my confusion. As my hand drifted back to my chest, I noticed dark crescents caking the undersides of my nails.
I’d dug myself out of somewhere?
The cop in the chair flipped the piece of paper over and I saw that it was an 8 x 10.
A crime-scene photo.
A close-up of a woman’s midsection, the pan of the abdomen caked with dark blood. A narrow puncture below the ribs faded into blackness, as if a stronger flashbulb were required to sound its depths.
I raised a hand as if to push away the image and in the dead blue fluorescence I saw that the grime under my nails carried a tinge of crimson. Whether from the drugs or the pain, I felt my gorge rise and push at the back of my throat. It took two tries and still my voice came out a rasp, barely audible around the plastic tube. “Who is that?”
“Who…who did that to her?”
The detective’s jaw shifted once, slowly, left to right. “You did.”
Monday, July 23, 2007
Crimespree is one of my favorite magazines, run by Jon and Ruth Jordan, two of the smartest people in Crime Readerland (and the fiction editor is the inimitable Jen Jordan). So I'm flattered to be on the cover of the latest issue with Lee Child. Inside, Lee and I discuss everything from drinking to James Bond to sock puppets.
Crimespree is well worth checking out. Oh, and there's a supplemental blog, too, with more tidbits about crime, books, flicks, shows, and comics.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Here he is, in all his glory. The first comic in the 5-book Foolkiller arc will be released from Marvel in October (along with a Wolverine Annual that I wrote), later to be compiled as a graphic novel. The art (and cover) are from the inimitable Lan Medina.
I talk about the inspiration behind the character here.
For an interview about Marvel Max (and Foolkiller) with my editor, Axel Alonso, click here.
Monday, July 09, 2007
This weekend, Newsarama ran a sneak peek of the Wolverine Annual I wrote, titled, THE DEATH SONG OF J. PATRICK SMITTY. The art, by Marcelo Frusin, is amazing -- I couldn't be more pleased with the job Marcelo is doing. I'm quickly learning that the artist, in comics, makes the writer look more talented.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Note the ominous phrasing of "influenced by" below. I wonder what else those young men were influenced by, and what the respective weight of those influences was. People are influenced by anything they come into contact with. There is an enormous—enormous— difference between influence and causation, as the article suggests, and as countless morally indignant groups will surely maintain. (I also love the sneeringly sanctimonious statement at the end from the Bumfights website).
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- One of several teenagers who beat a homeless man to death was influenced by videos featuring homeless people brawling and performing dangerous stunts, according to a television interview transcript.
Jeffery Spurgeon, 19, expressed his first public remorse for the May 2005 killing in the interview that will air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes." It was conducted from a Jasper penitentiary where Spurgeon is serving an up to 35-year sentence.
Spurgeon said he and the others beat Michael Roberts, a frail 53-year-old homeless man who lived in the woods, "for fun." He said they were emulating scenes from "bum-rushing videos," according to the transcript. He mentioned "Bumfights," a video series available online, as a favorite.
Roberts died after three separate attacks with sticks, fists and logs. Justin Stearns, 19, Christopher Scamahorn, 16, and Warren Messner, 17, also were convicted and are serving prison terms from 22 to 35 years. Phi Huynh, 16, the fifth member of the group charged in connection with the attacks on Roberts, is awaiting trial.
Neither Spurgeon nor the others explained why they attacked Roberts during a weeklong sentencing proceeding in April, and Spurgeon's attorney Mitch Wrenn said the "60 Minutes" interview surprised him.
"I don't remember anything about bum fighting coming up," he said.
The videos depict homeless men and women engaged in humiliating, self-destructive acts, including ripping out teeth and ramming themselves into doors.
According to the Bumfights Web site, the videos are satire meant to call attention to the problems of poverty and violence.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
This is interesting -- sort of like the dilemna faced when editors cut a trailer for a movie or when editors write flap copy. How much are you allowed to give away without revealing too much? Trailers often err in the direction of giving too much away just to get you in the seats. I noticed a trend starting maybe five years back of trailers revealing the second act close (usually around 60-90 minutes into a film). Which leaves little in the movie to surprise you.
Do you think reviewers are handicapped by the inverse problem? They can't give too much away without readers and authors crying foul play? So if a mystery is bad, they're limited in how they present their argument?
What's your vote?
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I'm certain this will reignite debate over whether violence in entertainment leads to real-life violence. Those of you familiar with my books probably can guess my position on that. The notion that a film or book would be the impetus to a mass murder (rather than merely providing sick-minded stylistic flourishes) seems to me inane. Back to the old saw about book censorship -- you never hear anybody say, "I believe this book should be banned because it might be harmful to ME." Does anyone out there believe they shouldn't see Oldboy in case they suddenly feel compelled to murder 33 innocents?
One of my favorite lines on this topic was given by A.M. Homes (one of my favorite authors). She wrote a brilliant novel called The End of Alice, which depicts a girl being stabbed to death. When asked by a reviewer how she would feel if her book was found in the house of someone who murdered a child, A.M. replied, "That’s like asking somebody who makes steak knives how they would feel if their knife was found in the home of someone who murdered someone."
Are we to believe, if we regard the constellation of illnesses and influences that turned Cho Seung-Hui into a mass murderer, that Oldboy was a major one? Or even the straw that broke the camel's back?
However, I do take issue with NBC's decision to air the self-aggrandizing footage Seung-Hui took time out to film between rounds of gunfire. Televised sports long ago made a decision not to air footage of streakers or people who storm the field or court. Because, hell, if it gets you international air time, it'll encourage more people to do it. NBC's complying with Seung-Hui's wishes that he be made a star hold him up, oddly, as a figure for other twisted minds on such a path to emulate.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Comics: Miller's Daredevil, Spider Man, Thor, The Punisher (multiple times, including my vote - esp. for Ennis's work), Marshal Law, The Avengers.
TV: 24, Miami Vice, Law & Order - Special Victims Unit, Quantum Leap, X-Files (hell yeah), Twin Peaks, Survivor, Pimp My Ride, Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, MASH, CSI Las Vegas, Criminal Minds, Dexter, The Simpsons, The English Premier League Review Show, Lost, The Office, and - the greatest show in the history of television - The Shield.
Others pointed out that Bend It Like Beckham and Rudy were left out of best sport movie contention.
Anything else missing here, folks?
Also, W M Jensen won the contest by successfully guessing - at page 37 - how Walker pulled off the perfect closed-cell escape from Terminal Island. He'll get a cool, signed first foreign edition of one of the Rackley books. Congrats, Bill!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I suppose since all the Rackley books deal with vigilantism, I wanted to portray what kind of trauma would work on an upstanding deputy and make him consider other options. Tim is an ethical, above-board deputy, and it’s not just Ginny’s death that makes him go outside the law; it’s the failure of the courts. He realizes eventually that the courts, while flawed, represent the best hope; more precisely, that the other options present even more problems.
The Kill Clause is about (among other things) Tim's embracing vigilantism, and his ultimate rejection of it.
The Program is about Tim, a man of action, having to act within the law to bring down a cult that victimizes people while keeping within legal limits.
Troubleshooter is about Tim’s internalizing Dray’s values (her consistent rejection of acting outside the law).
Last Shot is about Tim confronting himself, as embodied in Walker Jameson.
Of course, there was no roadmap when I was writing. There was no template or outline that I filled in. Most of this - as with many other matters in my writing - I only realized after the fact. When I'm dug in well to story and character, I rarely consider themes. They just manage to work themselves out.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
When I was doing research for my soccer script, set in WWII Ukraine, I came across a section talking about how Stalin would personally oversee final cut on many films made in the Soviet Union. However bad we think we've got it, imagine having Stalin over your shoulder, observing your work and twirling his mustache. I wonder if their guild protection covered being shot and left in a mass grave.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The story below sailed through my inbox and made me actually laugh out loud:
Bono is playing a U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland when he asks the audience for total quiet.
Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies."
A voice with a broad Scottish accent, from near the front of the crowd, pierces the silence..."Well, fucking stop doin' it then!"