Category Archives: my novel manuscripts

More background on the connections between my novel manuscripts

I do expect to get back to more detailed editing of the novel “Angel’s Brother” within the next week.

But I wanted to make some more notes about the connection between this novel document, which continues from some notes on July 3, 2014.

First, let me give some history.  To the best of my knowledge, “Novel 2”, or “Tribunal and Rapture”, as started first, in the summer of 1999, after I had been to Europe and my mother was more or less recovered from bypass surgery.  (I did not go back from Minnesota but for about a week, but the whole situation then was stressful.)   I believe a draft with most of it was finished by early 2000, all while I was living in the Churchill in downtown Minneapolis. As I note, the story is largely told through the viewpoint of someone other than myself, a retired Muslim-American FBI agent, with considerable military experience, and with a largely secular, modern life (Dubai-like), including a UFO abduction.  He has no conflicts over scriptural religion and modern individualsm, and tends to believe that all three major Abrahamic faiths have more in common than their differences.  I met Muslims like this in the 1980s and 90s during my career and never gave any thought to terrorism.  The book is apocalyptic, ending with the “evacuation of the angels” to a colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

I apparently started the “Novel 1” (“Rain on the Snow”) in the summer of 2000, after a vacation and then a minor crisis at work.  The first part, which presents “Bill” getting invited to a “re-education” Academy (in west Texas) to get to join a doomsday prepper squad (the whole “There is no ‘they’” thing), his getting involved with a mysterious youth Matt who comes across as a Clark Kent, and his being jailed after effectively being framed for Matt’s “death”, ending with his escape with the help of his other minions, and climatic ritual at the end of the book, preparing him for a new world.

When I went to Europe at the end of April 2001, I thought about the idea of deploying the novels.  I remember an afternoon in a hotel in Toulouse, France, having a debate with myself, and thinking about “Rain on the Snow” as the logical choice because the events happened first.

Well, not exactly.  I had written a lot of backstory passages for “Tribunal and Rapture”, which also explained some of the setup of “Rain on the Snow”.  I remember a weekend in July 2001 (about two months before 9/11) when I drove from Minneapolis to the Northwest Angle, and gave a lot of thought to the sequel, “composed first”.  I remember “Frankie and the Path Pit”.  (Frankie is one of Bill’s old boyfriends, who becomes a kind or archangel at the Academy.)  I began to think that this background material needed to be put into “Rain on the Snow”.

So between late 2003 (after I returned to Virginia, because of Mother) and 2005 (in the heart of my substitute teaching) I fashioned a new structure for “Rain on the Snow”, as a kind of Opus 111   The original story center at the Academy and then jail – itself a two-act structure, turned into the “Theme and Variations”, and the entire backstory became the Sonata form, the first movement.   But many of the individual passages and summaries had been proposed as passages in the early chapters of TR (like the “Nighthike” scene at the very end became an erotic backstory insert into Chapter 8, when A;I reads the story of Bill’s escape.)   In TR, I had also played with the idea of lumping much of the backstory material into one prologue (as Clive Cussler and Irving Wallace would do).   I called these passages the “Lumps”.

Finally, I made an Access Database of the enhanced “Tribunal and Rapture” but I applied the stages of screenplay analysis  (Hague, see Feb. 3, 2016), to each of four major characters (most of all Bill) separately.  Later I’ll figure out how to get this analysis into WordPress.

The character Ali has been taking training in remote viewing in a manor in Virginia that is probably modeled after the Monroe Institute.  Some of the materials he views are essentially “The Book of Bill” (rather like “The Book of Eli” (2010)), and some have been stored on optical (EMP-proof) CD’s.

But in “Angel’s Brother”, a major element of the setup is Bill’s duopoly of novels.  The plot builds up to another Nighthike-Initiation-Immolation scene before the “real” Armageddon and evacuation of Earth by the chosen.  But CIA agent Randy has to figure out whether what is in “The Book of Bill” is really fact or fiction (like the 1998 indie sci-fi film “The Last Broadcast” about the Jersey Devil).

In “Tribunal and Rapture” (Novel 2), the protagonist, Ali Mogul, is depicted as mixed-race (about the same as president Obama, perhaps).  So the story is told through the eyes of a minority person (who includes his son, Amos, who gets in trouble with the law with computer hacking, at at time when hacking was just getting started). But in “Angel’s Brother” I move back (that is, regress, from the viewpoint of social and political correctness) to making the primary character subjects white males, both attractive, one gay and one “straight” (sort of), one college age and one entering middle age, in the late summer of life. That makes erotic tension buildup through the first two thirds of the novel possible.   (I’ll have to do a Hauge analysis soon. )  I was drawn back to this viewpoint by my interest in shows like “Smallville”, “Everwood”, etc.  with “attractive” late teen or young adult male character leads.

One can imagine a movie franchise based on all three novels, each of which encapsulates its prequel.  Perhaps the sequence would be called “Tribunals”.  Maybe it could be a Sci-Fi cable series of about three seasons, 8-10 episodes each.  I’d be game for it but I couldn’t do all three alone right now.

At the end, it seems that there is an “evacuation” from an Earth that is going to see its way of life challenged.  (That’s also true of “Epiphany”).  I know how this will come across to some people:  I don’t have room onboard for “losers” (as Trump would see them).

(Posted: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 at 11 PM EST)

Travel article on Krakow, Poland reminds me of the opening of my novel

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The Washington Post travel section on Sunday, December 3, has a long article by Hugh Biggar on Krakow, Poland.

I visited Krakow on May 1999, arriving on a train from Berlin, that made many night stops in former East Germany and Poland. I had bribed the conductor to get a roomette because I had a wrong date on my ticket.

I found a taxi to take me to Auschwitz-Buchenwald, and spent about 90 minutes that morning visiting the ruins. That experience inspires the first chapter of “Angel’s Brother”.
In the chapter, the character Randy, whose normal day job is that of an AP history teacher in high school in Dallas, who is married with three kids (one adopted), is around 45 and is near the ending of his days of always looking to be in perfect physical shape, has been summoned there by his secret job as a contingent CIA investigator. On the grounds, he meets a seemingly gifted college student, Sal (described as a Caucasian Latino), around 20. A conversation gradually starts, that will build up to major incidents later involving aliens and what happens to the rest of us.

I realize that I have to be careful in the writing about the mechanics of the meeting, of the initial social clumsiness as to whether they want to take the cab ride together back to Krakow. (He had seen the “College Kid on the Train” before.) Oh, yes, Randy’s gay desires are coming back, despite his successful marriage so far – but his wife has only recently gotten a little suspicious. I also have to work on the issue of how much she would really know about his “business trips”. (My own dad, as a manufacturer’s representative, made a lot of them when I was growing up. But it’s harder to pull this off if you’re a high school teacher.)

That day, I also went to the Wielickza salt mine, before coming back to the hotel. panel

I remember that the phone was expensive. I had a clunky cell phone but it didn’t work in Europe. But I would need to explain why Randy would have a problem like that today. Then I mention “Bill”, and some other agents, and leave open the question as to whether people like Ali Mogul really exist or are just meta-characters in Bill’s book (sort of “nocturnal animals”).

Wikipedia link for Krakow picture, p.d.

(Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 1 PM EST)

Donald Trump may have (inadvertently) already necessitated a change in my novel opening: Russia really could “invade” Finland in real life

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I have started re-editing my novel “Angel’s Brother”.   I hope to have it ready for a third-party editor and later publication in early 2017 (but not before the Inauguration, sorry).

It’s disturbing how I find issues, like in logical sequencing of the action as “Randy” (40) follows Sal (21) back to a taxi from the grounds at Auschwitz in the opening chapter.

But there’s no immediate cliffhanging crisis (or skyscraper-hanging, which opens “Vertigo”, before settling down into talk).

But by Chapter 4, Randy (an ex-military CIA agent who works a regular job as a high school history teacher, even with AP students, which Sal had been) has run a gauntlet of a treasure hunt, visiting a porn shop in St. Petersburg, Russia (even looking at gay porn, which isn’t supposed be allowed in Vladimir Putin’s fiefdom anymore), a step on a Howdy-Doody style treasure hunt that sends him to in a rent car to northwestern Russia, near Lake Lagoda.

He meets an old codger who looks after a secret weapons cache, supposedly hidden among the old radioactive waste that Russia keeps.  This is the kind of stuff that the Nuclear Threat Initiative wants to collar up.

Randy picks up a small device that will be transferred back to the U.S., and eventually be useful in a bizarre psychic education center in West Texas that is supposedly part of a Homeland Security capacity.  But then the Russians see him, and chase him across the border into Finland.

The idea is provocative now because Vladimir Putin is making noise about wanting to take the Baltics back.  Karelia had once belonged to Finland but is now part of Russia (it’s also the subject of a Sibelius suite).  If an incident like this really happened, then the West would have to respond, although Finland is not (yet) part of NATO. Wiki.  This would be a gravely serious matter, although there are questions as to how president-elect Donald Trump will handle relations with Putin regarding Putin’s aggression.

The novel as written doesn’t yet do much with the potential crisis with Russia that it would cause, so I will work on this.

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When a file (from my DADT-2 book) was hacked in April 2002 (on an old legacy site), the overlay looked like jibberish related to the NW-Russia – Finland area.

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Update: Dec. 6, 2016

There is a news story about a gun attack at a town in southeast Finland very near the Russian border, Imatra, in the Karelia area. This is certainly interesting, Guardian link is here .

By Tatu KosonenOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

(Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 11:45 PM EST)

More on the idea of “character diversity”, particularly in love or intimate scenes, for my own fiction

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I wanted to add a note about any potential “casting diversity” or, for that matter, character diversity issues in my own manuscripts (last taken up in January 2016).

It’s true that many of my manuscripts (novels and screenplays) focus on “me” or my avatar as a central driving character, and that my tastes in what is “desirable” (Fort Eustis memories) drive the tension.

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In fact, there is a certain pattern in many of them.  A character like “Bill” meets a charismatic, larger-than-life and tall young white male hero (symbolizing “virtue”)  in the early chapters (rather like Ayn Rand’s fantasy for the young John Galt). Later, he loses his “individual contributor” job and has to face becoming more “sociable”.  He gets contacted to go to some sort of re-regimenting “re-education academy” in the country (in West Texas in a couple scripts, in West Virginia in another, and a simple “intentional community” in DADT III last story). He has to learn to do “real jobs”.  It sounds a little like Maoist re-education (the right and left come together at the other side of the Moon, you know).   At the “academy” he encounters the hero, and builds up to an intimate confrontation.  In the meantime, the outside world has an existential catharsis.

“Bill” is different but he’s not supposed to get off as a “member of a group”.  He has to learn to share the risks that others had to endure.  It’s seen through a moral lens.

But a couple of more recent manuscripts present the narrative primarily through a separate, heterosexually married white male character, with “Bill” inn his backstory, and with some gay interests.  In the novel, the character is a good family man whose marriage will be challenged by a gay college student, as well as “extraterrestrial” events (and a mystery virus to boot).  In another screenplay “Titanium” the protagonist is a white male journalist whose fiancé has been abducted (possibly by aliens) when she “went up”.  But the reporter has another girl friend, who is of opposite race, and helps the girl friend raise a child.  But I’m in the background. It get’s pretty complex.

I grew up in a world where most movies and entertainment catered to conventional white stereotypes of what is desirable from men and women.   People did not think about the idea that other kinds of people should be presented as “attractive” then as they often do today,

(Published: Friday, July 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM ET)  Related post today.

Regarding debating diversity at the Oscars: for my scripts, not all casting can work if race-blind

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There has been some “whining” about the supposed lack of racial diversity in Oscar nominations, as in this Washington Post Style article by Lonnae O’Neal, “Only role reversals will end all-white Oscars lists” — online, it’s “Maybe Hollywood’s not racist; it just has a processing disorder”.

Later MLK Day, in fact, Spike Lee (and maybe others) announced boycotting the Oscars under the “Oscars so White” (#Oscarsowhite) hashtag on twitter.

My own experience at the movies (and with television mini-series) is that I see plenty of black actors in favorable roles — especially as police detectives, politicians (especially presidents), athletes, and physicians.  No one would quarrel with Viola Davis’s effectivness as a  law professor in “How to Get Away with Murder“.  It would have been well to nominate Will Smith for his role in “Concussion“, no argument there. I recall Morgan Freeman’s role in David Fincher’s “Se7en” (1995) alongside Brad Pitt  (remember the “chest shaving” scene before they both wear a wire for the climax).  And, by the way remember the climax, “What’s in the box?” (maybe an inspiration for Richard Kelly’s “The Box”), with Kevin Spacey as the satanic villain.

There is a problem, however, in my own mind, with some scripts.  Suppose I get my novel “Angel’s Brother” published and it gets interest, or I get some traction for my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenplay.

In both of these, it’s important that some of the leading characters be attractive young white males, for what I have presented as “gay sexual tension” (however stereotyped and potentially prejudicial) to work.  I wonder if films like “Judas Kiss” or “The Dark Place” could have worked with African-American young actors in at least one leading role, for the same reason.

“Epiphany” particularly has some supporting characters in the “ashram” scenes where the characters can be cast in a race-blind way.  And, for example, in “Angel’s Brother”, the leading characters (Randy, about 40 and Sal, about 21) are conceived as white, the CIA chief could very well be cast as African American (Morgan Freeman would be perfect).

Don’t forget, by the way, that Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce “Rendezvous with Rama”.

(Published: Monday, January 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT)

“Angel’s Brother”: the UFO abductions in the novel

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Throughout “Angel’s Brother” there are references to a supposed accident where the character Ali Mogul lost his long legs in an auto accident collision with a landing UFO, but that stays in the “fact or fiction” realm.

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But there are four “real” abductions”.  Randy “goes” up in Chapter 16 and has a pretty good introduction to it from Finland, coming down in Russia;  Sal gets it early in Chapter 15 and gets taken from Greece back to Texas.  Bill, having transformed himself and escaping, gets a UFO ride in Chapter 26, and in Chapter 27, the last, they all take the Angels’ space shuttle to Titan.

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Wednesday, I did drive through some of the Richmond VA suburb of Glen Allen (formerly Hungary), which is immediately west of I-95 and N or 295, and E of US 33 (Staples Mill Road).  One of the more intriguing sightings in the mid-Atlantic happened in June 1990, according to this link.  I believe it happened more or less around the Mountain Road area (an ironic name), veering off to the NW, past the Virginia Randolph house.  The sightings may have continued down into NW Richmond, along Staples Mill, apparently to about where Anthem Blue Cross is today — I spent a weekend there working gathering data for a company buyout back in 1989.  Nearby was the (at the time) affiliated “The Computer Company” in a warehouse-like brick building.  It’s ironic that an incident like this would happen so close to the site of a provocative work experience in my own career.

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Back in 1992, I visited a rural area slightly east of I-81 near Wytheville, VA, where supposedly there were sightings in the late 80s, maybe connected to Brown Mountain 70 miles S in North Carolina, which I want to visit.

(Published: Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 11:50 PM EDT)

“Angel’s Brother” (i)FAQ

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I’m opening a new page to pose some “infrequently asked questions” about the plot and concept of my novel “Angel’s Brother”.

(1)  Is the character Bill Ldzett “you”, and exactly what happens in the physical transformations that he undergoes in the latter chapters of the novel?

Yes (or “yeth”) Bill is based on “me”.  Bill is a pivot point character, someone not self-qualified for angelhood, but almost, a kind of shaman, with a touch of arsenic, both metal and non-metal.  Perhaps his physical transformations are a generalization of trans-genderism.  Bill’s writings guide the fibbies in their understanding of the coming “alien” invasion which has set up shop in a station on Titan (moon of Saturn).

After Sal (who has become an angel but doesn’t quite know it for sure yet) shaves Bill down in a motel room near the Academy (in West Texas), Bill’s body undergoes further spontaneous change.  The “moon-face” is something that could happen from steroids. He looks like a younger man for a while, and enjoys rejuvenation.  He inadvertently steals some sundries from a nearby convenience store, and suddenly finds the sheriff is after him.  Apparently, the appearance didn’t fool the cops.

He is out on bond, and goes to the “immolation” in Wisconsin, where he meets up with (finally) an arranged girl friend. Tovina.  But during the ceremony, he learns to tumble (like learning to swim and “arch his back”, he thinks), and seems to fly over the ceremony, with his “beady, roving eye” (referring to the 50s horror film “The Crawling Eye” — Bill seems obscured by a cloud at times, and although there are no decapitations, other people are affected by the rituals — maybe a taste of “Invasion of the Animal People“, too).

Back at his trial in Texas, he goes bonkers again after conviction, and escapes, winding up in a sanctuary in the Davis Mountains in West Texas before being brought back for the UFO departure from West Virginia (over a scalped mountaintop) at the end.

(2) What causes the EMP effects?

Because the virus that transmits identities embeds a micro black hole, which can evaporate, there are effects on surrounding areas sometimes.  The convenience store has a breakdown when Bill visits it the second time (a factor in the testimony).  Sal reports that newer computers have become unstable and a couple of power glitches have happened at Academy when he visits.  But after the immolation, there is widespread damage to power systems and electronics in western Wisconsin to Minneapolis, and then sporadically town to Texas.  Repairs for people take some weeks.

Then the outages get larger, about the time the first “flight” leaves to take the candidates to Titan,

(3) Doesn’t the novel show the “strong” (young adults able to become angels) escaping while the “weak” perish?  Isn’t this a socially hostile message for a novel?

You could raise that question about the NBC series “Revolution“.  In the world that follows (where the country breaks down into separate republics) some people do well, others don’t, in a new order, that is low-tech, some new leaders emerge.  But I don’t show that here.  In the longer version of the novel, many of the characters join a public trek from high altitudes East, and stop at recovery or aid centers.  I don’t show that in the current version, but do refer to it.

But it’s true that many people infected by the “virus”, which first surfaces in the Colorado high country, deteriorate and perish.  But this is what happens with epidemics.  What’s different is that this virus seems to discriminate on who it likes.

It does seem, though, that the “angels” are losing interest in reproduction, and are more concerned with developing supernatural virue in young adults who already exist.  That is indeed a bias.

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(4) Most of the evidence that attracts the CIA and other intelligence services seems to be obtained by hacking Bill’s unpublished writings (first by Sal, then Randy after he learns how).  Is this supported by any real evidence?

Randy is sent on the trip to meet Sal in Poland (as the book starts), and then go to St. Petersburg, Russia, and then the Finnish border area, both sides, near sites where the former Soviet Union kept unusual nuclear waste.  (This idea has appeared in other films, like The Return (2003)). Randy is given an artifact by a kind of double agent, and the artifact is sent to the US nuclear waste facility. Bill is given the clandestine task of transporting a tiny sample to the Academy in Texas.  That sample seems to confer “powers” to Bill later, and possibly Sal.

There is some concern in some intelligence circles that Putin could become aggressive against Finland.  The only hack on one of my sites in 2002 left jibberish on my file about this area of the world, and it has never been explained.

(5) What would happen to “ordinary people” in the US after the UFO landing and takeoff at the end?

Various areas of the country are put out of function by the loss of electricity, but some areas are OK.  The government had already started evacuating some mountain areas because of the “virus” before the EMP’s hit near the end.  Randy encounters one of these evacuation centers near the Academy briefly in Chapter 26.

In such a world, the US could dissolve (as it does in the NBC “Revolution”) or there might be efforts to resettle people and have others “host” them.  As with Chekhov, people would have to go on living.

People would tend to believe in the “angels” as a source of religious authority, and tend to believe that their lives were no longer in their own hands, much as was the case in ancient times.

 

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(6) What’s the overall strategy for hacking into Bill’s manuscripts and putting together the pieces?

Sal, as an undergraduate, has been hired by the “CIA” to hack them. Later Randy (actually an agent, post-military) learns to hack, partly from Sal, and finds more.  Later a lot of backstories emerge from conversations with Amos, Frankie (head of the Academy), Ali, and the Toby and Shelia (supposedly “parents” of Matt, the one proven ET angel at the time of the novel).

(Published: Friday, May 29, 2015, 4 PM EDT)

(Major update: June 5, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT)

 

Backstory trace for “Angel’s Brother”

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The following is a list of incidents in lives of major characters that happened before the main narrative of the novel.

 

ABS YR FICT YR ACT YR Char Incident desc Source DB Code DTL
1981 1981 1981 Bill,Kelly,Rita Bill sells Dallas condo to Kelly in bizarre closing omniscient 2000 2,y
1998 1998 Randy initiation in Baltimore omiscient 2000 2,y
1999 (2002) 1988 Matt Birth Amos helps Sal find it, then Toby met him after Ali’s wreck 2000,3000 20,n
2002 (2005) 1977,2004 Ali Ali loses legs to UFO (or train wreck); heart attack at Faber may be true; Ali’s statements differ from Toby’s Sal finds it hacking Bill’s writings, then Randy finds the train wreck, then Toby has details 2000,3000 15/20,n
2005,2015

(2008, 2018)

2005 2005 Bill Bill’s substitute teaching scandal over his web content, Bill threatened again Sal finds it hacking Bill’s writings, then Randy interviews Bill 2000,3000 14,p
2015 2005 Bill Bill moves to Academy, kicked out of home Randy inerviews Amos, then Sal does it; Sal is still a better detective than Randy at this point,, Sal gets more details as to how Bill was seen as a nuisance; Amos a process server 2000,3000 8/9/14/17,p
1994 1994 1994,1991 similar Amos Amos helps operators tamper with check system Amos might explain this before showing Bill in swimming pool 2000,3000 8,9,n

(First published Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 11:30 PM EDT)

Note: Dates in parentheses assume later publication (maybe late 2017).

Character list for “Angel’s Brother”

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The following is a working list of the characters in my novel manuscript for “Angel’s Brother“.  This table may well be updated frequently. With these people, I get to play god.

 

Name DOB Gender physical Basic Identification
Garcia, Sal 1995 M 74-180-102-104-0-Cau Senior at SMU, in ROTC, gifted in languages, computer prodigy, secretly hired by DIA contractor as hacker
Ephraim,Randall 1976 M 70-160-103-100-100-Cau History teacher and spotter CIA agent, had been released from military unk, will develop rel. w Sal
Ephraim,Erin Shoals 1977 F 70-160-103-100-100-Cau wife of Randy, married around 1998, met in Army, rebab nurse, then works in epidemiology
Ephraim,Dick Shoals Femeri 2000 M 70-140-100-104-0-Cau oldest but adopted son of Randy and Erin
Listesso, Frank 1960 M 75-200-varies-Cau Runs “Academy” and claims to be immortal, but has recently weakened, Bill had courted him at one time
Ldzet, Bill 1943 M 71-160-varies-Cau Sentient blogger whose unpubbed manuscripts track what happens in backstories
Mogul, Ali 1940 M 79-lost-varies-Blk Former FBI agent and military intelligence, retired, injured in accident, lost legs, caused by UFO
Strickland, Toby 1976 M 71-150-90-100-0-Cau.J attorney, friend of Bill, knows Bill’s writings, also claims immortality
Strickland, Shelia Sholl 1976 M 68-irr-cau free spirit, wife of Toby
Mogul, Amos 1980 M 71-150-varies-Blk computer hacker who once tried to frame Bill on mainframes, repentant, now at Academy, also process server at times
Mogul, Ellen 1980 F irrelevant-mixed wife of Ali, surgeon, learns of epidemic, talks to Erin
Skiis, Matt 1999 M 80-104-104-0,Cau-Alien Mysterious teen with powers
Skiis, Kelly 1970 F irrel,Cau-mixed Supposed Mother of Matt (actually Shelia), possible immaculate conception
Gauss, Rita 1960 F immaterial, Black and asian Real estate closer and lawyer with a lot of connections
Colon, Aaron 1989 M 71-103-104-50, Cau Proven to be immortal by ritual

(First published Sat. May 23, 2015, 11 PM)

Will my novel, screenplays be “too close to my own life” for (other people’s) comfort? When will “Imajica” come to the screen?

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Today I did discuss the subject of fiction disclaimers for the “fiction” part of my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book on the notes WP blog.

There’s a remaining question:  when people write fiction, should they write stories modeled after situations they have been in or could be in?  Is fiction expected to be “politically correct” with respect to gender and race interchangeability?   It’s true, the most successful novelists seem to do well with scenarios far away from their own surroundings.

One of my screenplay treatments largely occurs on another planet, and the main one occurs on a “space station” near or on Titan, a moon of Saturn.  But unlike “fantasy” (which is essentially a “parallel universe” concept with no possible contact with Earth), my scenarios all assume that contact with “aliens” is possible and should happen.  In fact, the changes that would happen for life on Earth, over time, is of interest to me.  So I have to deal with problems like speed of light limits, black holes (maybe miniature), and wormholes.

That’s also true of the novel “Angel’s Brother”.

Generally, not all my characters can be interchangeable.  Usually, at least one is similar to me, but “I” and not always a “main” character (except in DADT-III as already published, and in the DADT-Conscripted screenplay).   In the novel, my past writings provide a lot of the “real” and rumored “backstories” for the main characters.  At least a few of them have to be “sexually attractive” in my value system, which means they have to be (fit) young adult white males.  Otherwise, there is no “tension”.  So be it.  But in the “conscripted” play, there should be at least one major character who differs from what “he” wants in order for him to understand the context of his mission.

As for the examples from other writers:  Tolkien would be the prime example of fantasy (with Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), along with all other fantasy like “Game of Thrones”.  “Harry Potter” is a kind of special case of fantasy.  Clive Barker’s “Imajica” has a richness comparable to Tolkien, with a major difference:  In this 1991 fantasy, the five “dominions” (essentially planets) are reconciled (by wormholes) so contact between them and Earth increasingly drives the apocalyptic conclusion of the plot, with a particular interpretation of Christianity.  This novel would be very controversial if filmed, but it is definitely Imax 3-D material (it would require two 150-minute films to cover the story).  It seems a natural for a company with a lot of contacts with British and Canadian film.  I prefer Lionsgate for this effort.  A lot of it would get filmed down under.

Another comparison is Frank Herbert’s “Dune” books and movies (80s), in which the various worlds have contact with one another but not Earth.  The same is true of “Star Wars”.  “Star Trek”, however, was simply far in the future for Earth; same for the “Alien” franchise.  “Pitch Black” (2000) was interesting. So is “Jupiter Ascending” where there is contact with Earth.

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Update: March 16

I saw Disney’s remake of “Cinderella” tonight (Branagh’s direction, Weisz’s writing) and, yes, I am struck by how relationships and “marriage” are presented as mattering for the future of a people. I also see that the movie still would work (even better) if you do introduce race into it.  There were some gremlins in the kingdom that sound familiar from the other “Imajica” dominions.