Saturday, 7 February 2015

BIG CHANGES!

Whoa.

I haven't updated this blog since May 2014, the month that I finally completed work on Hotel Nomad, my four-years-in-the-making vampire hotel drama.

I had planned to start sending out query emails to publishers and, most importantly, agents, to see if I could house my new work.

Then I had a daughter.

Adriana Valentina McCrory was born at 10.55pm on Thursday 22nd January 2015.

That pretty much put a stop to me pursuing a new literary deal - for the time being.

Obviously, the nine month preparatory period gave me more than enough time to find a home for my nomadic vampires (see what I did there?) but I found, very quickly, that I was unable to focus on anything else other than welcoming my daughter into the world. My writing just seemed, well, utterly irrelevant in the face of impending fatherhood.

Adriana is now two weeks old and slowly, my thoughts are returning to the idea of writing.

I don't know if I will be able to fashion this ideal into any semblance of reality (I tended to write for unbroken multiple hour sessions - how can I do that with a feeding schedule?) but it's a start that I remembered I have this blog at all!

Hotel Nomad MUST be published. I worked too hard on the story to have it languish in my own personal files.

And I really want to create something new. Ideas aren't the problem. They never have been for me. It's the discipline required to sit down and write.

I'll get there.

SPECIAL regards go to my wonderful wife for the honour of our daughter.

For a so called writer, it's hard to put into words how it actually feels......

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Rooms Now Available At The Hotel Nomad

This is an HISTORIC post!

My novel, four years in the making, is now complete!

Hotel Nomad is FINISHED!

Finally!

I feel like I've climbed a fucking mountain!

The novel finally came in at 71, 201 words (that's an exact count - before a professional edit).

I may be still too close to the story to reflect on it with any objectivity but I know one thing; it's the story I wanted to write.

I was careful all the way down the line.

I controlled this beast all the way through and at NO point did I feel it get away from me. I gave my characters the right amount of freedom and allowed myself to be surprised but ultimately, now that I'm sitting behind the finish line, hyperventilating and too tired to be proud, I can honestly say my original concept and intent shines through what I've laid down.

So what have I learned from my four year stay at the Hotel Nomad?

If your story is inherently violent, allow the violence to breathe.
Minor characters can influence your all important climax in ways you could never plot.
You can just set a scene and let your characters talk and amazing things will happen.
You have to let your characters take time outs, if only to feel what has gone before.
There's no such thing as just a name.
Location, location, location.
Try not to impose YOUR morality on your fictional alter egos.
Drown in the emotion of a set piece without 'flogging a dead horse.'
It doesn't matter if your main character is unsympathetic as long as he/she is interesting.

There's tons more but I'm not writing a book here.

I just did that!

It's been a wild ride and I am so proud to have FINALLY finished this gritty, urban, brutal cautionary tale.

As any artist will tell you, you put what you know and what you love upon the page but in terms of quality, you have no idea. You trust your instincts, you rely on what turns YOU on and hope that someone else gets off on it too.

Now, I am off to draft some highly official sounding letters to publishers.

I've been fortunate enough to have been recommended some top quality agents and publishers by some names in the business whom I truly admire. I think I'll try them first.

In closing, what's next?

Well, I want the Hotel Nomad up and running 'for business' as soon as possible.

I have at least five new ideas for novels that are all vying for my attention right now.

All I know for certain is my next work will NOT involve vampires. I think our beloved blood suckers have earned a (temporary?) rest at my hands.

Rest assured, any updates, any news, I will relay it here.

The Hotel Nomad is now open for business.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The End Is In Sight!

Quick update!

(And I mean quick!)

44,000 words through Hotel Nomad.

After five years of conceptual dreaming and idiotic procrastinating, I'm finally starting to put the work in.

Not to intentionally make my previous post about scheduling creativity utterly redundant but it turns out I HAVE to actually schedule a working time table otherwise I don't get anything done!

But now, finally, the end is finally in sight!

I have the whole complete story fully plotted out and it's just a matter of nailing it all down onto the page.

I've been discussing with other writers recently the hardships of writing a full length novel (anything over 40,000 words, so Google informs me) and the consensus seems to lean towards bashing it out and editing the crap out of it later.

I can't work like that.

I'm too anal to continue a story that I feel could have serious foundation, stylistic and tonal flaws at the very beginning. I have to adapt, edit, smooth and re-write as I go; the whole process. It's painful and slow going but it works for me. In another 36,000 words (approx), I'll have a piece that, with a little final tinkering, will be ready to shop to potential publishers.

I'm not going the self publish route. I'd really rather not. I want an official house to take this on.

So that's my update.

It's a short and shallow post this time. I'm saving my big boy thoughts for my book.

Catch you on the flip side!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Scheduling Creativity

33,000 words into Hotel Nomad.

Getting serious now.

(...only four frigging years after my first officially published novella...)

Yes. I'm lazy.

Can we move on?

Some writers far more talented than me have often queried this; when to write?

I heard this great quote  (I can't recall who said it and I may be elaborating a tad) :

'Set yourself a limit. Say ten pages a day. If one day, it takes you ten to fifteen minutes to knock out your ten pages, congrats! Go screw off, you're done! Yet, if it takes you ten hours, you fucking stay there till your ten pages are done! Nine pages may be bullshit but sometimes you got to go through the shite to find the gold.'

It's about discipline.

As Hank Moody from Californication once said :

'Don't be a writer! It's like having homework for the rest of your life!'

The setting of schedules doesn't work for me. I have to write when I am inspired.

I may write a page in three months. I may write twenty pages in one night.

I can never tell.

When it comes to writing, I'm a BIG believer in quality, not quantity. What's the point of jotting down crap you just KNOW you will end up deleting?

I tend to have a high bullshit factor, so I try to not let the story get away from me, even if I'm having fun dialoguing with minor characters.

I don't plot too far ahead. I hate knowing EXACTLY where a story will go. If I know, I get bored very quickly.

I have learned one thing this year, that I didn't know last year.

If you are writing a NOVEL as opposed to a novella or a screenplay, you better be DAMN sure your idea has legs, a real concept that can justify that many words.

I can't fool myself.

I'm pretty damn sure I can't fool anyone who reads my work.

Now, sssh, I'm writing.......

Saturday, 18 January 2014

What Is Our Art Worth?

I'm writing.

Honestly!

No really, I'm actually writing!

I had to unplug the X Box 360.

(Go away, GTA 5, torment me no longer, you foul seductive temptress).

But I am writing!

I had a new idea!

28,300 words into my actual second book and I got a new idea! Books are like women. You have to marry them to forget them.

(Just kidding, Kira, kiss kiss kiss, hug hug hug)!

So I'm writing more and that's good. I started a new novel and on page five, a thought struck me.

'Am I saying anything of substance or just putting words on a page?'

Not.....

'Is this any good?'

(No real writer can often tell gold dust from bull shit).

I actually thought about the worth of the story, the characters, ultimately; is this worth me putting out into the world?

At the risk of sounding pretentious, I want my art to MEAN something.

Vampire literature has taken a SERIOUS nosedive over the last few years and is no longer taken seriously (Rice and Stoker notwithstanding) so it may come as no shock that my new idea has NOTHING to do with vampires.

Don't get me wrong. I love vampires and I'll be damned (see what I did there?) if I'm going to let childish sparkly faerie stories push me away from them but I want to create something that's grounded, that's honest, that's REAL!

One of my favourite movies is David Cronenberg's 1996 controversial Crash.

Based on J.G Ballard's 1973 book of the same name, it's hypnotic, cautionary, grounded, elegant, DIFFERENT, original, daring, provocative and REAL. It says something and today, it still means something.

I want to write something with that kind of power that LASTS!

Not merely something that shocks, that's all too easy, but something with a VOICE. If it shocks through it's message, that's a good thing, but not if it's done in a cheap manner.......

I'm continuing on both novels simultaneously, Hotel Nomad and Raven (yes, that's the title of what will be my third book) and work is proceeding well.

But I want my fourth book to be the runt of the litter, so to speak. Something grounded and real and provocative.

I am confident and forthright in my quest.

P.S : This is a question to other writers, ever had an idea that was SO GOOD you were shocked no one has come up with it before?  

Monday, 23 December 2013

Look Who Remembered He Has A Blog, 2013!

I start this blog post surprised.

Before I started writing this particular post, I figured, let's go back and see what I wrote for my last post of 2012, and what did it say? (I'm paraphrasing here....)

Authors, word of warning, never go back and read back on your previous goals for the year. You'll be disappointed with all the goals you set yourself but failed to achieve.

I had to laugh because it's so pathetic but as of my last post of 2012, I was 22,000 words into my second book, Hotel Nomad. 
 
After one year later, how much further have I got?

An extra 5,000 words.

Yep. Took me a frigging year to write 5,000 words in my new book!

I mean, they're 5,000 words of PURE GOLD but still, I mean that's fucking awful, eh?

Okay, it hasn't been THAT bad!

I've worked on other pieces and twiddled around with scripts and what not but ultimately, as far as Hotel Nomad is concerned, I think Moses was still wearing short pants when I started this damn book!

Story wise, I'm on point.

I recently fixed a big fucking plot hole and drew a few strands together than hadn't worked. I'm remembering to enjoy my characters' company, even if some of them are bat shit crazy. I'm learning that violence used responsibly is more affecting than violence used for the shock factor alone. I'm learning to ALWAYS write forwards, not backwards (other writers will know what I mean here). I'm clearer on some character's motivations now and, most intriguingly, the story has become far more emotional than I had originally intended. So it's not all bad news.

Bottom line time. I still need a new publisher and my first REAL agent.

I'm thinking my book will be finished by April.

(That's if I knuckle down and turn Grand Theft Auto 5 off for a bloody change!)

Creativity wise (and after the 5,000 word revelation, this comes as a real shock), I feel I'm capable of my best work ever this year. I'm one of fortunate writers who never seems to suffer from writers' block or a lack of things to say. As always, my main flaw is laziness.

Hey, I'm writing this blog post, aren't I? That's a good start.

2014? I'm still writing, still caring about good stories and better characters, still ready to take on EPIC tales I'm completely unprepared to deal with.

Courage, my listeners and only friends, that's what gets us through the day.......

(I'm turning my X Box off right now.....no, really. I am!......)

(......)

Friday, 30 August 2013

CURSE OF CHUCKY - A Movie Review


I'm hijacking my own blog about my writing to add my review of this blistering new horror film about one of my favourite horror icons. Forgive me; it's such a good film!

When we last met Chucky (the now iconic two foot tall doll possessed with the spirit of serial killer, Charles Lee Ray, voiced by acting legend, Brad Dourif), he’d murdered Britney Spears by running her off a road, masturbated to a copy of horror magazine, Fangoria, helped his equally murderous partner, Tiffany (voiced by Jenifer Tilly) artificially inseminate, err…..actress Jennifer Tilly (playing, one hopes, a very exaggerated version of herself) and fought his son/daughter, Glen/Glenda (Billy Boyd) in a Matrix-style bout that left him strewn about the shop in bloody pieces.

Yes, I think it’s fair to say Seed Of Chucky, the Good Guy’s last outing, may have ‘jumped the shark’ a tad.

Not that its quirky sensibilities came completely out of left field, of course. Its predecessor, Bride Of Chucky, can be held solely responsible for taking the franchise’s straight horror roots and leading them down a uniquely black comedic path, but let’s not forget; there WAS no franchise left to speak of when Bride was released.

Child’s Play 3, having not only failed to set the box office alight was caught up in the controversy surrounding UK toddler Jamie Bulger’s horrific abduction and murder amidst claims the movie had incited the killers to such acts upon viewing. The film was immediately pulled from all video stockists and became the British media’s scapegoat as they de-cried the ‘video nasties’ plague that had apparently befallen our shores – and so it seemed that this would be the last time the homicidal, foul mouthed Chucky would be gracing our screens, theatrical or otherwise. 

Fast forward a few years and thanks to a wonderfully re-inventive script by Chucky scribe, Don Mancini, and a very talented Chinese director named Ronny Yu, the powers that be decided audiences deserved another slice of ginger mayhem, cleverly deducing that modern audiences should find much to laugh at given the premise of a killer doll who mouthed off. Thus, Chucky was re-born for modern audiences, twice as funny and (if we’re being truthful) twice as brutal. (Not to mention Bride Of Chucky made a shedload of cash at the box office). 

So our stitched up Chuck (love him or loathe him) is to thank for keeping the name ‘out there’ – and this is coming from a lifelong fan! Many hard core Chuckaholics now claim to detest these funny entries in the franchise (I love BOTH incarnations, they both have their place) and took to the forums in their droves, hoping someone, anyone, would listen to pleas of a much quieter back-to-basics-don’t-fuck-with-the-Chuck treatment of Lee Ray and it seems someone was listening; that someone was, no less, the creator of said character and screenwriter of ALL the ‘Chucky’ movies; Mr Don Mancini. 

Make no mistake, Curse Of Chucky marks not only a return to the franchise’s purer horror sensibilities but also a reinvigoration of what made the concept so terrifying to begin with. As much as this movie will impress fans with its imagination and wit, so too will it with its restraint and subtlety.
 
The movie (forgoing the franchise’s tradition of a resurrection scene) begins immediately with the doll being delivered to the (creepy) house of paraplegic, Nica (Fiona Dourif) and her controlling mother, Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle) with no note and no explanation as to why it was sent there. Cue one very suspicious death later and Nica’s surviving relatives descend upon the house swiftly, each with their own apparent (and ulterior) motives. 

To its credit, Curse Of Chucky, right off the bat, makes it clear this will be a story interested in human interaction first and foremost as we are acutely made aware of the many different ways Nica responds to each one of her uninvited guests, admirable given the fact that the majority of the characters, as with all ‘slashers,’ exist purely as fodder for the killer. (Note; this is NOT standard ‘slasher’ fare; it’s far classier than that). We meet Barb (Danielle Bisutti), Nica’s domineering older sister, Ian (Brennan Elliot), Barb’s easy going husband, Alice (Summer H Howell), Barb’s young daughter, Jill (Maitland McConnell), the sexy young nanny and Father Frank (A Martinez), a close friend of the family. The dialogue immediately convinces that long standing relationships exist between the characters as quips and observations allow each actor to paint their character in, either with subtle tones or wide brushstrokes.

Showing remarkable restraint with a character twenty five theatrical years old, Mancini plays beautifully with the tension building trickery of having Chucky disappear at random moments in the beginning portion of the film. The characters become quite naturally unnerved at the doll’s innate ability to seemingly vanish into thin air. (There’s a beautiful little moment in a bathroom that starts almost clich├ęd and ends in a genuinely funny and charming fashion). It’s a long wait before Chucky finally reveals his true nature (to the expected character if you’re at all familiar with Chucky’s modus operandi) and it’s done in typical foul mouthed Chucky fashion, however once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, the inevitable body count begins; yet, as with most ingredients regarding Curse of Chucky, it’s a deftly controlled rampage that our favourite ginger embarks upon. There are no excesses here, no wildly inventive kills. This is how a real killer doll would kill. Recall the hammer to the eye that caused poor Maggie to fall to her death in the original Child’s Play and you wouldn’t be far off. That’s not to say the film is bloodless, far from it. It finally received an 18 certificate, a rating that had me rather perplexed until two very specific EXTREME close-up shots. If you view the UNCUT version (I’m led to believe two different versions will appear on the DVD and Blu-Ray), be forewarned. The supporting cast dwindles till finally Nica, heartbreakingly vulnerable yet courageously formidable, faces off against Chucky in a tour de force of necessary franchise continuity flashbacks, fan boy orgasmic exposition and brutal explosive violence.

Curse Of Chucky is, in a nutshell, a slick and necessary addition to Chucky’s already established canon. One critic called it ‘Hitchcock Does Chucky’ and I couldn’t agree more. Mancini’s direction is polished, suspense savvy and very self-assured. The cinematography is breath-taking, taking full advantage of the ‘haunted house’ locale as well as impressing with bravado camera moves (the title sequence alone, shot in one smooth steadicam shot, had me in awe). The sound direction is first rate, taking a page from Dario Argento’s bowel loosening score from the classic Suspira and infusing it with an off kilter ‘Good Guys’ tinkle toy piano that genuinely unsettles, not to mention the sound effects themselves. (Did they use a sample of Brad Dourif’s laughter as popping flames as a fire bubbles under a pan in one scene? It certainly sounded like it or, as in all good horror films, was my brain concocting things that simply weren’t there?) The acting across the board was noteworthy yet singular praise must be bestowed upon Fiona Dourif who undoubtedly had not only the toughest role in the movie but the most cynically critiqued. Her father, after all, voices the antagonist and helped the franchise become what it is today. Nepotism surely then is the reason a Dourif was cast in a leading role in Chucky’s return to the screen? After screening the film, you’ll be left in no doubt that Don Mancini cast Fiona Dourif for her acting skills and those alone. The girl is a revelation in a VERY tough break out role. Her sensitivity is apparent from the very first scene and her toughness, once it comes to the fore, is cheer worthy. This is a character you WANT to survive, you NEED to survive, because as a foil to Chucky, Nica is exemplary.
 
I found only two real flaws with Curse Of Chucky that grated with me but I think they are worth mentioning. First off is the implement of what the Chuckaholics online call ‘the CGI Asian hooker look’ for Chucky. I found this completely unnecessary and very jarring in my perception of the movie. I saw this ‘look’ in two separate scenes in the film (in his first reveal as ‘alive’ and the first death scene) and I cannot for the life of me understand why it was utilised at all. Why couldn’t the animatronic doll handle these shots? I couldn’t connect these shots of Chucky with anything of how he appears further on in the movie and I found it very disconcerting. I feel they could have not appeared at all and the movie would have been stronger. My second gripe I cannot describe in detail without spoiling the film for hard core fans, but I will say only this; actors get old. Putting a wig and glasses on them does not conceal the passing of time.

In short (yep, this review has kind of gotten away from me a bit), Curse Of Chucky is a riot. I was privileged enough to see it at the UK premiere, blessed to have met director, Don Mancini (classy) and lead actress, Fiona Dourif (adorable), and I am PROUD as a Chucky fan that we now have a flagship movie to stand by, to show Hollywood there’s still life in the little fucker.