Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A CHANGE OF PACE

My first Meme:

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names): Melanie Allan

. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad): Cna't answer, don't know my dad's dad's name, he died before I was born and was a son of a bitch to boot.

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name): Nachri

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Blue Dog

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live): Alain Southfield (well, that sucks)

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add “THE” to the beginning): green corona

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): naer

8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): french vanilla chocolate chip

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet’s name, current street name): Gizmo 8 1/2

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on):Toke Mansfield

Monday, November 17, 2008

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DIANE CAREY:

(I interviewed well-known author Diane Carey for the upcoming convention being thrown by my publisher & her partner- see link for more info)

Diane Carey is the author of 46 novels, including 8 Top-Ten/Eleven New York Times Bestsellers, including a Hardcover Top 15 Bestseller, several Waldenbooks and B Dalton Bestsellers, a Peanut Press Award Winner, and also of copious articles, editorials, training manuals, and is co-developer of a Wetlands Case Study for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Best known for her Star Trek novels, Carey has also written several romances, the Civil War novels "Distant Drums" and "Rise Defiant," two ALIEN novels from Dark Horse Publishing, and the novelization of the movie "S.W.A.T." Carey is currently writing a full-length movie screenplay for Collective Development, Inc., to be directed by Anthony Hornus ("An Ordinary Killer). Most of her writing is done in collaboration with her husband, Greg Brodeur.

Greg Brodeur is co-author of Diane Carey's 46 novels and 4 Star Trek novels with author Dave Galanter. As his wife Diane explains, "He is the plot engine." Skilled in science, philosophy, and history, Brodeur does considerable research and plot development. Formerly an instructor if mathematics at Baker College in both Flint and Owosso, Brodeur is now a senior programmer for Jackson National Life in Okemos, Michigan. The couple has three children and have renovated a large historic home in Mid-Michigan.

Diane Carey was gracious enough to grant an interview for X-Cape Con 2:

X: How do you feel about writing licensed material as opposed to your own creations?

Diane: Every writer prefers working with his or her own characters and settings, but I discovered early that writing “in a box” is its own special challenge, and that I like challenges. Star Trek was not my first licensed property; I wrote a novelization of a two-part TV miniseries called HAREM. For my (or I should say “our,” to include my co-author/husband Greg Brodeur) first Star Trek novels were written from the point of view of a hot-headed, somewhat fumbling young officer who had been promoted too fast, on top of being a girl, which adds its own problems to life aboard a ship (trust me, I know). I insisted upon having a fresh perspective of Kirk and Spock. The goal of the book was not to usurp the classic characters, but to examine them from another person’s point of view. The books were wildly successful and Dreadnought! became the first Star Trek New York Times Bestseller. Pocket immediately asked me for the second book, Battlestations!
I enjoy whatever project I am working on at the moment, for the duration. Of course I like some better than others, but liking my work or being particularly inspired is just a bonus, not a requisite of getting the job done within a deadline and marketing plan. Publishers can’t wait around while a writer muses for inspiration. Some of the books and articles I’m most proud of were among the least enjoyable, because we had to work harder and be more skillful in order to develop them. A professional of any stripe—architect, doctor, builder, manufacturer, teacher, programmer, researcher or ditch digger—will do the same.

X: What’s it like working with John Ordover, the former editor of Pocket Books’ Star Trek division? Does he still contact you when he wants to launch new series?

Diane: John Ordover is a brilliant marketer. We met at a convention and have enjoyed a wonderful friendship since then. Working together was gratifying because we shared the same vision of Star Trek. Together we launched several cross-over series and filled gaps in the Star Trek legend with such books as Ship of the Line. John called to ask us to develop a book about Captain Bateson; my response was, “Captain who??” I had never seen the episode of Next Generation where Kelsey Grammer appeared in a cameo. I said what I always say, “Sure, I guess.” John also asked that the use the book to launch the Enterprise-E, so we folded it into the story.
John no longer works for Pocket Books, but we are still in contact often, and remain close friends.

X: Have you had any involvement in the Star trek films or with the TV shows?

Diane: Very little. We visited the set a couple of times, and of course all our work had to pass the test of the Licensing department at Paramount . The current movie director and writers have given me the honor of being one of the five “inspirations” for the upcoming movie; they used my book Best Destiny as a template for the attitude of the new movie. See the article in the October 24, 08 issue #1017 of Entertainment Weekly.

X: Is there any particular generation you prefer writing?

Diane: Since I have a rep as “the Kirk Expert,” it’s no secret that examining the characters and situations presented in the original series were and remain my favorites. I enjoyed pushing Kirk around—every sailor’s dream.

X: Speaking of which, is it true you work on tall sailing ships as a cook? Is this to get ideas for writing or because of a love of cooking while trying to maintain your balance, or both?

Diane:? Sailing came before publication. I started as a deckhand aboard the Pilot Schooner William H. Albury in the Bahamas, moved from there to the Gazela of Philadelphia, then to the Baltic Trader Schooner Alexandria, aboard which I was eventually promoted to watch officer after performing well during an emergency (or two). Since then I’ve served as watch leader, training officer, deckhand, cook aboard several ships, and lecturer about ships and life aboard. I’ve developed several handbooks and training manuals. I hate cooking. Cooking aboard a ship is horrific. We do what we have to do. The ideas for writing just naturally come aboard ships, in all situations from doldrums to danger, and I’ve experienced plenty. Balance? Who are we kidding!

X: You’re also a wedding & event coordinator who uses a Renaissance theme as well as being a bagpiper. I don’t really have a question because that’s fascinating enough but can you expound on that at all? (Hey, I had a question after all!)

Diane: I’ve been a piper since the age of 16. I started my wedding business in 1999 almost as an accident. An acquaintance wanted to try it, so we became partners, except she never did anything. Renaissance, Celtic, Medieval, Tropical events are popular and I go with the market. I also happen to be a professional historian.

X: Oddly enough, although your weddings are based on the Renaissance, your historical novels have dealt with the Civil War. What is it about that period in history that fascinates you?

Diane: Every period in history fascinates me. Why the Civil War is interesting especially to Americans is certainly no mystery. Writers, if they’re doing their jobs, naturally gravitate to period of organic conflict. The trick is to examine the period yet again, but do it from a completely new perspective.
Diane Carey can be seen talking and being humble about her accomplishments at X-Cape 2. this weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING A WRITER IN THE U.S.

I hate writing some days.

We’ve all heard the sentiment that one must suffer in order to create “art.” In all fairness to that particular doctrine, a lot of people suffer and never learn how to harness it into something creative. It’s not enough to merely suffer. One must also gain perspective. That is the quintessential “Dark Side” moment where we either learn from the master or rot away in a decaying frame of unfulfilled ambition and desire.

I went through the “What if I’m a fraud?” stage a few years ago and emerged virtually unscarred so it’s not that. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always secretly suspected it’s the one and only thing I can potentially do well.

I won’t take you on a tour of my Hall of Shame, but rest assured it has many, many exhibits. My writing isn’t on display there but some of my early stuff would qualify.

As I wrote a few months ago, I was at one point discouraged to the point of giving up. But I wonder if I ever would have been able to do that. Despite a nearly two-year bout of writer’s block, I still sat down from time to time and tried to summon an interesting story or line of dialogue.

Writing for me has always been the true love/other lover of my sub-conscious mind. It makes demands on my time and energy that most well adjusted human beings would not and, like a bad lover, it often leaves me feeling anxious and unsatisfied. But it’s even more than that.

That portion of my “struggle” seems to be over. I got bags of perspective, I tellz ya.
BAGS!

So what’s the deal? Why can’t it ever be simple with me? Most writers I know throw hissy fits when they can’t write anything they consider worthwhile. I’ve seen them go into a funk that would cause most people to shut down and withdraw from reality. But writers are always partially withdrawn from reality, so for us this is just a process or a means to and end.

But I suppose what I’ve always hated most is being surrounded by people who don’t get it. Constant criticism, dismissal or just plain insults are some of the tiny-minded responses to the writer’s mentality. Polite society loves to pretend it’s impressed with the skills but condemns you when it becomes obvious there is more to your talent than simple words on a page.

Stephen King once stated in his incredible “On Writing” that a true writer couldn’t be concerned with what polite society thinks. I don’t think I’m in any danger of that, as anyone who knows me or has read me can attest.

Ultimately, the writer, the poet, the painter is alone in a universe he or she is desperately trying to redefine or reveal. Sarah Palin’s beloved Joe Six-Packs, not to mention Biff the Stockbroker and Muffy the Soccer Mom, see no value in that, especially in the U.S. We are on our own. If we hit upon a popular formula or sell out and work in advertising, we might be considered relevant by the masses. Otherwise, we are marginalized, social pariahs. This isn’t Europe; very few people revere writers here. That type of environment can make for even better writing but it sure as hell doesn’t make for a happier life~

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RIP MICHAEL CRICHTON

I was by no means a fan of his writing. I found it stilted and flat. His stories were often meandering apologist tripe seemingly accusing science for all of man's ills. His characters were usually over-developed and uninteresting, something I hadn't thought possible until I struggled through one of his novels. On top of it all, he was a gimmicky writer and a traitor to his science fiction roots.

But, dammit! He got people to read. And for that and that alone, he earned my respect.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Crichton. You've earned your place in history.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/06/books/06crichton.html?em