Archive for June, 2010
Last year I reviewed Personal Demons, Greg Lamberson’s first novel in the Jake Helman Files series, and gave it an enthusiastic “hell yeah”. This year Lamberson returns with a second Helman novel titled Desperate Souls. Did the author suffer from sophomore jinx? Not on your freaking life, brother.
Desperate Souls picks up where Personal Demons left off. Almost a year later, hard boiled Jake Helman is a private eye trying to put the pieces of his life back together following his run-in with Nicholas Tower and the demon Cain.
But there’s no rest for Helman. Caught up in a drug lord’s bid to overtake New York with a hopped up zombie assassin army and whole lot of dark voodoo, Jake’s forced to overcome madness and mayhem on an epic scale as he fights to put an end to this madman’s quest and come out with his sanity intact.
Make no mistake about it, Greg Lamberson’s second outing into the world of Jake Helman is breathtaking and relentless. This is the occult detective genre done right, with finesse, charm, and non stop action from an author at the top of his game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lamberson’s literary approach is cinematic, bold, and an all or nothing bombastic explosion of thrills, chills, and heart pumping storytelling.
The only crime here is that we have to wait so long for the third volume in the Jake Helman Files: Cosmic Forces.
Desperate Souls will be available from Medallion Press in October. And that should make for a Happy Freaking Halloween.
I ask for inspiration and lo and behold what arrives like manna from Heaven through the channels of the weird wide web? The release of the official trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yes, I know I’m a 44 year old curmudgeon, but Jo Rowling’s tale of the Boy Who Lived captured my imagination, along with that of seemingly the entire world, from the start. And I have enjoyed the movies very much as well. With the final installments upon us, once more we are treated to a frenzy of Potter-mania, especially when coupled with the opening of Universal Studios intimate recreation of Hogsmeade and Hogwart’s Castle in Orlando.
I’m no stranger to Potter fever, as you can see from the pictures below.
As the Master of Ceremonies of two separate book release parties (Prisoner of Azkaban and Deathly Hallows), I was enthralled by the way Rowling’s creation ensnared both children and adults alike, transporting them to her world of magic and wonder.
Now it’s all happening again. The trailer for Deathly Hallows looks positively brilliant and the same can be said of what little I’ve seen of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. I’m very much looking forward to experiencing both.
Today is one for rewriting, which amounts to all kinds of mathematical tomfoolery such as adding and subtracting. The additions, one hopes, far outweigh the subtractions, but with fiction one never knows. In the end, I have a target word count, but let’s be honest, if we are to properly service the story such considerations can be detrimental. That has to always be your first thought, the story and how it works as a whole.
I try not to think in terms of writing a novel, novella, short, or flash. Writing without a net, I’ve learned to trust my instincts. That’s not to say that I’m not often my own worst enemy, because I am. Most writers are, especially the ones without a support structure.
I’ve been beating myself up pretty good lately. For days weeks months I’ve been struggling with my voice, spending valuable time stressing over what I’m not writing as opposed to laboring over what I am.
I need an infusion of new life, of inspired desire.
I’m feeling the weight of it and desperate to write myself out of this funk.
I feel like I’m standing at the threshold and maybe that’s what lies at the heart of the issue. I can see where I want to be so clearly, but maybe I’m lacking the confidence to take that final step and give myself up to the work.
Maybe it’s time to rewrite my story. Maybe it’s time for some mathematical tomfoolery on a personal level. Or maybe I should just shut the hell up and write and let the words fall where they may.
Maybe it’s time to stare long into the abyss.
Maybe it’s time to stop being afraid and just let it pour out.
And maybe I’m not talking about writing at all.
Maybe I’m talking about myself, as a whole.
Time to get back to it.
ADDENDUM: Thinking about this, I think the brunt of my literary depression can be traced back to my day job. It’s a good job, for the most part, but it is one filled with constant interruptions. I’m on the clock 40 hours Monday through Friday. I’m on call an additional 48 hours Sunday through Friday. Between the constant calls during first shift and the intermittent ones that plague me on third, I’m being strung out and left to dry in an ill wind.
I need to find a way to manage my time better. To get myself in better health. To get strong: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
They say we all have our breaking points, but I will not be broken.
I just need to catch my breath… and write my way out of it.
Dr. Landon Ashton Connors is a fictional occult detective, ghost hunter, monster slayer, and ceremonial magician. He was created by Bob Freeman and is the often times central protagonist in the cycle of supernatural thriller stories the author loosely calls the Liber Monstrorum Chronicles. He has appeared in a number of short stories, principally Ashes to Ashes, The Cabin in the Woods, and The Soul Cages, and will be making a guest appearance in the forthcoming novel Descendant before taking a far more prominent position in the novels following.
Connors was born into a family of magicians who have dedicated their lives to combating the dark and sinister forces that have sought to shape the world in their image.
He is the caretaker of Caliburn House (a Second Empire influenced manor in rural Indiana), a keeper of the Liber Monstrorum (a chronicle of his family’s warfare against all manner of dark wizards, ancient cults, ghosts, demons, and monstrosities), and a consultant to various organizations and private individuals who come seeking his expertise in the field of the occult.
Connors has an extensive supporting cast, including his mentor (a substitute father of sorts following the death of his own) — hard boiled detective Sam Hill, Father Francis Rainey, Federal Agents Selina Wolfe, Martin Crowe, and Michelle Hawkes, and his closest allies Alethea Kiriakis, Brooks Autry, and Boo, his magical familiar and best friend.
Newly released on DVD, The Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving, was a critical and commercial disappointment at the box office. The question to me is “why?” The obvious answer would be the acting performances of two of the principle cast, del Toro and Blunt. Neither exhibit much life throughout, appearing wooden and altogether unappealing. And that’s a real shame, because the movie is fantastic if one can forgive their efforts.
Joe Johnston, replacing Mark Romenek, delivered a gorgeous film full of atmosphere and with simply inspired sets that were epic in scope and substance. The locations were all but characters themselves and the cinematography was truly captivating. The vast majority of the special effects were spectacular and I found the transformation scenes and the creature come to life to be as good as one could hope for.
To say that I loved the film, in spite of del Toro’s Pitt-lite thespian turn, is an understatement.
The Wolfman has always been one of my favorite characters and my unbridled passion for the Lon Chaney Jr original is well known. This updated version was more than I could have hoped for and I think it’s a real shame that it failed to capture audiences’ imaginations.
I highly recommend this picture and move it near the top of my favorite werewolf films, perhaps falling just short of the original (for nostalgic reasons) and Wolfen, starring Albert Finney.
I’m probably in the minority, but I almost — almost — enjoy public readings as much as I do writing. The discussion after the fact, the instant feedback from listeners, is often enlightening, and there’s just something magical about that connection with the audience one gets. I don’t do them enough (the picture above is from a reading at the Roann Public Library in, I think, 2006) and that’s something I plan to actively change in 2011.
My life, being what it is, is not one in which writing comes easy. I’ve no trouble finding the words and I’ve more than enough ideas to last a lifetime chained to this nasty habit. No, my troubles lie in finding the time to pit my imagination up against the nefarious perils of the blank page. Time. Time. Time. If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know that it is my constant enemy.
The solution is to retrain myself.
I have always been a creature needful of mood and setting, with incense and soft music playing along to the dance of a candle’s flame. I become submerged in my writing, mindful of the characters even as I cloak myself in their peculiarities for hours on end.
The days of such luxuries has long since past.
I have to learn to take what life offers.
If I cannot make time, I must steal it.
An hour here. A half hour there. Whenever and however.
I feel the weight of responsibilities, not only in deadlines unmet, but in being the kind of husband and father I want to be.
I will work this out.
I will, for my daemon demands to be fed.
And I do have a plan, beyond my address of time’s sting… a plan to ascend to that lofty place that I ascribe to. I am keeping these cards close to the vest, though much will be revealed along with the release of my forthcoming novel, Descendant, in August.
Summer’s demise will signal my rebirth, I surmise.
How can it not?