Sep 302014
 

The post Creeping Up Your Spine appeared first on Mulholland Books.

This week’s guest guest blogger is James Grady, who shares a few thoughts on paranoia. Just reading his stylized commentary has us peering over our shoulder . . .

You feel it. Paranoia.

They’ve got your number. It’s personal. You’re reading this. Looked at that. Took a chance, did something, or hell: they just think you did. You stood up for yourself. Stood out. You’re in their way: your boss who knows you know what really happened, your lover who wants you gone. Footsteps behind you. You’re in the shower.

You’re just a number. It’s not personal. It’s “just.” Like in justice. Or not. You’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A crazed Mommy in the grocery store grabs a cleaver. You’re part of the Matrix. Visiting a friend in the World Trade Towers. Ebola. Dr. Strangelove smiles. It’s not a movie witch that’s melting.

Life is out to kill you. All you want is to be left alone.

That’s the beating heart of paranoia: you’re all alone.

That’s true. You were born, nobody really knows you, you die and that is you, just you.

That’s false. It’s not just youWe all live, we all die.

Paranoia determines how we live and die.

McLuhan and the mushroom cloud moved us all into a global village, but our global compound fosters warring tribes. Yesterday it felt easier to know who “us” was. And to trust us: yeah, Big Brother, but of thee I sing.

Trust is the shimmer between prudence and paranoia. You wear your seatbelt yet strap yourself in a crushable metal box.

So how can you find the line between just being smart and being just scared?

“Facts” are not enough. “Facts” are who furnishes them. J. Edgar HooverOsama bin Laden. Fox News vs. MSNBC. The candidate who wants power. The housewife in the TV commercial. The guy who says: “Everybody knows….”

What helps you see the line between prudence and paranoia is fiction.

Fiction reveals possibilities. Fiction is our safe mirror. Fiction—in lines of prose or poetry, in the lyrics of a song, through the actors on stage or screen—is not “real.” Or so we can believe. And that belief lets us see the universal reality of a character “just like me…that happened to me.” Or “I wish that were me…if that were me….” Fiction glides us into what could be, gives us a world where we learn archetypes of who & what to trust without penalty, without pain. The what could be we experience with fiction helps us see the shimmer between factual forces and fantasy fears in our world of flesh and blood.

The “truth” may set you free, but the “lies” of fiction may be your best chance to escape paranoia, to perceive who and what to trust so you can best use our life’s terrifying freedom.

Author James Grady won France’s Grand Prix du Roman Noir, Italy’s Raymond Chandler medal, and numerous American literary awards.  A former investigative reporter, he lives inside D.C.’s Beltway and in February, will publish Last Days Of The Condor, a sequel to his Robert Redford adapted novel.

The post Creeping Up Your Spine appeared first on Mulholland Books.

Sep 302014
 

Loved the TV show and was so excited when I heard a movie was being made-I was a bit worried about the casting (Fiennes and Uma) and the movie turned how to be a real dud. I think a great movie can be made from this source material--but this script, this cast, and this director were the wrong choices. Try again, Hollywood. You can get the sixties vibe if you try harder.

What movie do you think had the potential to be great and wasn't.
Sep 302014
 
We are making our way across the USA Fiction Challenge. 
Today our stop is the Show Me State of Missouri.

The Shepherd Of the Hills
by Harold Bell Wright


The story depicts the lives of mountain people living in the Ozarks.
 The main story surrounds the relationship between Grant Matthews Senior and Dad Howitt Howitt is elderly, learned man who has escaped the buzzing restlessness of the city to live in the backwoods neighborhood of Mutton Hollow. Howitt spends his time alone, acting as a mediator and friend to the mountain people, and trying to recover from his tragic past, which includes the deaths of his wife and children, and the later presumed madness and subsequent suicide of his only surviving child, his artist son (Mad Howard). Howitt's reclusiveness has earned him the moniker "The Shepherd of The Hills" But he befriends the Matthews clan who come to love and trust him.


Printing History
Written by Harold Bell Wright (1872 –1944)

Book Supply Company
1907

The Film
1941


Starring
John Wayne
Betty Field
Harry Carey

 Directed by
 Henry Hathaway
 Posted by at 7:30 am
Sep 292014
 
Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


CHEYENNE. Warner Brothers, 1947. Dennis Morgan, Jane Wyman, Janis Paige, Bruce Bennett, Alan Hale, Arthur Kennedy, John Ridgely, Barton MacLane, Tom Tyle, Bob Steele. Screenwrters: Alan LeMay & Thames Williamson, based on the story “The Wyoming Kid” by Paul I. Wellman. Director: Raoul Walsh.

   Cheyenne is a movie with an identity crisis. It’s a Western, but also a mystery. It’s a comedy, but it feels like a would-be musical, especially given the fact that the score by Max Steiner occasionally overwhelms the dialogue and the plot. There are some gritty fight sequences, but also ridiculously light, borderline risqué, romantic moments.

   And with a screenplay by Western writer Alan LeMay and direction by Warner Brothers’ go-to guy for action films, Raoul Walsh, you might think you’re in for a psychological Western. But you’d be wrong. Cheyenne is much more typical of a late 1940s Western, one that doesn’t push the envelope very far.

   In that sense, the casting of Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyman, talented actors both, as the leads was a perfectly good decision. Plus what’s not to like about Alan Hale as Fred Durkin, a goofy, yellow Wyoming lawman?

   Morgan portrays James Wylie, a gentleman gambler and a cheat. After getting himself into a pickle in Laramie, he’s faced with a choice. Either work for the law or be sent back to Nevada to face justice for some past misdeed. Wylie’s a smart man and quite debonair. He chooses to work for the law, an easy choice. His mission: seek out a mysterious bandit named The Poet who is stealing from the Wells Fargo Stage Line.

   Wylie heads from Laramie to Cheyenne, encountering a group of bandits led by a man named Sundance (Arthur Kennedy) along the way. He also makes the acquaintance of a lovely young woman, Ann Kincaid (Wyman) who engages him in a bit of push and pull deception and flirtation.

   Theirs is a Western battle of the sexes, one that would be pulled off with much better effect by John Wayne and Angie Dickinson in Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959). There’s just not that much visible chemistry between these two leads. Morgan just isn’t gritty enough for a Western hero.

   Cheyenne does have some mystery, but not all that much. There’s quite a bit of mistaken identities and assumed identities, lies big and small. It doesn’t take all that long, however, to figure out that Wells Fargo employee, Ed Landers (Bruce Bennett) is up to no good or that saloon girl, Emily Carson (Janis Paige) is going to play an important role in the film.

Altogether, it’s a pleasant enough affair. Someone should just have turned down the musical fanfare a bit.

 Posted by at 11:59 pm

DNA

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Sep 292014
 



DNA
By Raven Bourne
Self-Published
Available at Amazon.com
405 pages

Long ago, after Star Trek had become a huge media success, the book world jumped on the profit-bandwagon and we were suddenly flooded with new Trek novels written by multitudes of recognized sci-fi authors and eventually others by amateurs entering the field.  Always intrigued by how others viewed characters we enjoyed, we picked up lots of these and for the most part those by veteran sci-fi scribes were enjoyable while others were outright entertaining.  Then one day we picked up one particular paperback written by two ladies and within the first two chapters had to put it down as the tale was so steeped in juvenile romanticisms, it was as if someone had turned a classic space opera series into a Harlequin Romance.

Which was when we realized that there are writers, regardless of their skills or life experiences, unable to disguise their respective genders in telling a story.  We are not saying that is a bad thing, only that it is a recognizable facet among some writers.  Case in point, had we not known Raven Bourne’s gender before digging into her book, we would have easily identified it as having been penned by a woman within the first few chapters.  How so?  Because there is unavoidable romantic fantasy lens that shades every single aspect of this novel from plot to pacing and characterization.  This is clearly a female perspective and it is so pervasive, we doubt many of our pulp action-loving readers would be able to honestly appreciate it.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at what this DNA is all about.  Dr. Raen McNeil, a beautiful, sensitive genetic biologist, uncovers a secret relating to the evolution of mankind.  In fact this revelation argues against the accepted principles of known science and hints at alien manipulation.  What if mankind’s tendencies towards violence and all the baser, savage instincts were never suppose to be the norm?  What if a particular genetic code was purposely excluded from our ancestors locking us into a fate of perpetual destruction?

No sooner does Raen uncover this missing gene then she is abducted by a humanoid alien who believes she is his intended soulmate.  Meanwhile a major pharmaceutical company hires private eye, Jacob Fourth, to find her.  Jacob is a no-nonsense pragmatic character with an ego to match.  His search for Raen, although interesting in the locales it takes him, is the book’s weakest section and could easily have been shortened.  Once Jacob finds Raen and her alien-lover, both of them are whisked away way on a starship and sent on an amazing journey at the heart of which lies either the salvation of mankind or its demise.  Bourne’s aliens are fun as well as fascinating and it is their interaction with Raen and Jacob that is most rewarding. Whereas most space opera sagas are filled with ray-blasters, starship encounters and hostile environments, DNA is more a fantasy forum to explore religion and philosophy and their relevance to the human condition.  In the end, DNA puts forth some interesting theories and examines who we are as race while suggesting a peaceful future as a genuine alternate path…if we are wise enough to choose it.

We hope to see more from Ms. Bourne but humbly suggest her next project be leaner and less ambitious allowing her to improve her skills while trimming the extraneous fat.  The shorter lessons are usually the ones we remember best.

Sep 292014
 
IT’S ABOUT CRIME: A. A. MILNE
by Marv Lachman


   Though he died in 1956 and wrote only one true mystery novel, A. A. Milne is a writer who keeps cropping up. As parents we likely have read his Winnie-the-Pooh stories to our children. As mystery fans we probably have read his classic novel, The Red House Mystery, and Raymond Chandler’s devastating criticism of it in “The Simple Art of Murder.”

   Milne wrote other works that fall into our genre, including his very first sale as a free-lance writer, a delightful little Holmesian parody, “The Rape of the Sherlock” (1903). He also wrote several plays with mystery elements, including one, The Perfect Alibi (1928), which is clearly a forerunner of Sleuth, Witness for the Prosecution, and Death Trap.

   Though it is long out of print, Milne’s Autobiography (1939) is worth searching for in your local library. It’s a delightfully witty picture of someone growing up in Victorian England. At one point Milne remarks that “Very few Victorians were on Christian name terms with each other; Holmes, after twenty years of intimacy, was still calling his colleague Watson.”

   Finishing a chapter on how he writes, Milne provides some clever, though helpful, advice to those of us with authorial ambitions:

    “For myself I have now no faith in miraculous conception. I have given it every chance. I have spent many mornings at Lord’s hoping that inspiration would come, many days on golf courses; I have even gone to sleep in the afternoon, in case inspiration cared to take me by surprise, In vain. The only way I can get an “idea” is to sit at my desk and dredge for it. This is the real labour of authorship with which no other labour in the world is comparable.”

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 8, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1986.


 Posted by at 7:46 pm
Sep 292014
 
Here's another sneak peek at the "secret" space opera graphic novel I'm working on with artist Peter Grau (which is still probably a year or two from completion).

This little fella (we haven't settled on the color yet, thus the multiple hues - though I'm leaning toward the green) is an interstellar critter known as a "globlin." They cling to spaceships and get stuck in the jets. This particular specimen's name is "Kooba.," because of his affinity for a certain 22nd Century soft drink brand.

More - much more - to come.
Sep 292014
 
Loosely based on the real-life exploits of the Molly Maguires 
and Pinkerton agent James McParland.


Sherlock Holmes decodes a cipher warning from Moriarty's organization for Douglas in Birlstone, but a corpse is already in place. When Mr. Douglas blows the head off his American assassin, he dresses the body as himself and hides to throw off the chase for good. Holmes guesses the missing dumbbell weighted down the killer's clothes in the moat. The calling card left, VV341, is the Vermissa Valley Lodge 341. Decades ago a Pinkerton, he went months undercover, first with Freemen in Chicago, then west to desolate mountain coal mine area, to take down corrupt murderers who ran the Valley Freemen Lodge, but criminals had pursued. Holmes warns Douglas, when acquitted, to flee England. But Moriarty prevails. Two months later, Mrs. Douglas telegrams from South Africa. Her husband was lost en route overboard in a gale. Holmes had warned them to flee England, and blames Moriarty.

Printing History
Written by Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Strand Magazine 
September 1914 to May 1915

George H. Doran Company 
February 1915

The Films

1916
Starring H.A. Saintsbury and Booth Conway

1935
  as The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
Starring Arthur Wontner as Holmes and Ian Fleming as Watson
 Posted by at 3:21 pm
Sep 292014
 








“The Little Outlaw”

It started with a radio.
Well, it started with a conversation. The seeds of this story were planted while talking to my parents, children of the '40s, about what they did at night for entertainment way back when.
They listened to the radio.
That was the big bang moment for this world. A world without televisions or cell phones. The only connection to the outside world, a big Crosley radio. I tend to avoid research whenever possible. Which is why most of my stories take place within the past forty years, why they tend to be set in places I've lived or spent a lot of time in. Partly I'm lazy, partly I crave authenticity in my work and the further I get from my own experience the harder it is to keep things authentic. But for “The Little Outlaw” research was unavoidable.
The radio turned out to be a great device for setting the stage. The music and the Red Sox box score tells us when this is. The late '40s. The news gives us the weather report, a storm is pummeling the state, houses are losing power, a local bank was robbed. All of these details will converge on this house. It was just a matter of getting everyone under one roof. Of course the bank robbers will show up. And once all of the guests have arrived, the real fun starts.
Mary, the little outlaw of the title, was a perfect set of eyes and ears to see and hear this world through. A girl just starting to get wise to the flaws of the adults in her world. By the end of the story she'll be wiser still.
The twist ending, like a lot of twist endings in my writing came to me as I wrote it, with no premeditation. I had only a vague idea of how the story would end. A lot of possibilities were available. I find things tend to work out better, especially in my short fiction, if I don't do to much planning, if I don't have a set finish line. When the ending of this one revealed itself it just felt right. And only then did I figure out the title.

Here is Plan B's home page: http://www.plan-b-magazine.com/