Get ready! The next series of The Outbreak is almost done!
Michael Neno, whose art you’ll recognize form the first series, “Monster at the Institute,” as well as a bunch of other stuff I’m not involved in, is finishing up the last panels, and I hope to get it posted on this site before the end of October.
“The Hunter” is a much shorter story, but it has just as much exciting lupanoid action!
And I think you’re going to love Elizabeth…
Oh, and don’t forget that the ORIGINAL art from “Monster at the Institute” is available for purchase on Michael’s website!
The incredible Amanda Page tagged me in the TURN DOWN FOR WHAT blog tour, started by Emma Bolden and Chantel Acevedo. They provide a great list of questions and I’m supposed to limit myself to only two (!) to share with you. So, as Jim from my (unfinished) novel would say, balloon goes up!
Agatha Christie, as the story goes, created many of her stories while eating apples in the bathtub. How do you spark the story-or-poem-making part of your brain?
While that bathtub thing sounds good, I haven’t figured out how to keep my laptop dry yet. When I really got going on my novel, I bought myself a cork bulletin board and started pinning things to it. I have photos of the houses where my characters live and objects that they own. I have hand-drawn floor plans of important buildings, which keeps these clumsy characters from walking through doors that don’t exist. I have a map of Atlanta folded back to the neighborhoods where the action happens. For a while, I had strings attaching from points on the map to related photos and business cards--Beautiful Mind-style—but I got lazy about putting all the strings back after taking everything to a writing retreat. And above the bulletin board, I have a neat woodcut by a local artist that nudges me about where my attention should be.
When I see those images from my desk, it reminds me who the characters are. Thinking about them makes me excited to write about them again. Out of sight, out of mind, unfortunately. So I try to keep them in sight.
We know getting your work out is all about hard work, perseverance, & talent, but there’s always a dash of luck involved. So, name the luckiest publishing-related thing that has ever happened to you.
After college in Florida--where I was a writing major surrounded by writer friends--and before moving to Ohio, I lived in DC for about 3 years. I love so much about DC, but most everyone I knew was very profession-oriented. By that, I mean that your day job defined you more than your hobbies, where you lived, your background, or anything else you were into. I didn’t know any writers, and I had a really hard time 1) getting any writing done and 2) getting help/mentorship/support/advice for the small amount I did get done.
My eventual-husband-to-be moved to Ohio a few months before I followed him. As he got to know his new colleagues, he mentioned to some that I was a “writer” (a term I was shy to use about myself at the time). Another said his wife was also a writer and belonged to a local writing group. Soon after I moved in, we went to our first work party, and I had him point out the colleague who had said this. I hung around that guy until I found out who his wife was, and then I basically glommed on to her until she causally mentioned writing and her writing group. ZAM!! I pounced. I got an invitation to the Naked Wordshop, and they’ve been an endless source of the advice and inspiration and support that I had been missing before. I feel very lucky to have found them so soon after moving to town.
To keep this party going, I’m going to tag Matt Betts, author of Odd Men Out (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Can’t wait to see your responses, Matt!
A few years ago, I watched the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey from the comfort of my living room. And I’ll admit that I did not understand much of it. Frustratingly little. And then I didn’t think about it much more. When I heard that a local art museum would be showing it in the original 70mm film, I realized that the only bits I remembered were the guy jogging around the space ship, the red eye of Hal, and something about a space baby. So I committed to reading the novel version before I re-watched the movie, hoping that would give me some better background.
And it did! As Arthur C. Clarke explains in the 1999 Introduction, he wrote this novel based on one or two short stories that Kubrick liked, and he gave the manuscript in sections to Kubrick for notes. Even though each piece can stand alone, in a unique relationship like this, I think each is stronger when paired with the other. Kubrick’s film provides some incredible visuals that are more breathtaking than the words in Clarke’s novel; Clarke’s novel provides essential narration and internal monologue that is necessary to understand Kubrick’s movie.
I’m no great student of film, but I know how foolish it would be to critique Kubrick’s choices of what to include in this movie. The things I would have done differently probably would have hurt the movie in other ways. But I did miss the hypnotic visuals that the monolith displays to distract its experimental subjects while probing their minds. With those, I think, I would have understood a little better that the monolith was interacting with its environment and influencing the creatures around it. I also loved Clarke’s description of traveling through the Star Gate; Kubrick made different choices that probably helped that scene feel more terrifyingly oppressive. Clarke was able to get that impression across with words, but Kubrick had to rely on the visuals alone (also, how did he even create those effects in 1968?). And I would have loved to see Saturn’s rings the way Clarke describes them.
The novel itself is a good read. The bite-sized chapters help it feel like a short book even though some chapters don’t contain any dialogue at all. The tension builds gradually throughout, and the plot ticks along. Like all sci fi, it’s fascinating to see how close the author got to some technological innovations and how far off on others (I liked the tablet computer that plugs into the commuter spaceship and downloads every newspaper in the world once an hour--and nothing else).
The characters are a little two-dimensional, but that actually didn’t bother me as much in this story as it has in others. At least here, the reader gets their motivations explained, even if they don’t emerge much beyond their functions. And Clarke includes enough small, humanizing details for the reader to remember that they are more than their positions--Dr. Floyd hoping that his face can be seen in the photograph in front of the monolith, and Bowman feeling dread when he sees the hotel room and determines that he must be mad, for example.
The novel is not a masterpiece of its medium the way the film is (at least visually). But it has an important role to play. The film is simply not able to provide us with all the information necessary to understand and appreciate everything that’s happening in the story. The novel fills in those gaps and then some. The film leaves us with something to puzzle out, but the novel leaves us with something to contemplate.
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