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DESCENT Uncategorized

GETTING TO KNOW THE IDIOT RUNNING THIS BLOG: Questions for Drax, Part II

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INTERVIEWER: SO! It’s been a while. How are we? Did you finish IT?

[IT refers to the big bad deadline for the big bad revision of DESCENT; see earlier post, March 4, “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” ]

ME: Yeah, I finished it.

INTERVIEWER: You did? Son of a gun! Did you turn it in on time?

ME: Umm, not really. Missed the deadline by, like, 42 hours.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, you pathetic specimen. So what’s your excuse?

ME: I got distracted in the home stretch by some unhappy family news, “stop everything” bad news.

INTERVIEWER: Sounds juicy! What happened? Tell us all about it!

ME: Not that kind of blog, man. I’m not plastering my family’s life all over the blogosphere.

INTERVIEWER: Harrumph! Well, let’s get back to the book. What happens next?

ME: I suspect my editor will tell me what happens next. She’ll like some of it—I hope. She’ll probably want further changes, less of “this,” more of “that,” etc. I told her that I trust her judgement and she laughed like an ax murderer.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, you’re screwed now!

ME: We’ll see.

INTERVIEWER: After turning in this draft, any new insights into your characters?

ME: Several. Phelan’s predilection for little boys, for example? He’s trying to annihilate the memory of himself as a child, before he learned the truth about himself.

INTERVIEWER: Hmm. Sounds like you’re trying to let him off the hook a little, generate sympathy from the reader.

ME: Hardly. This was something I realized, not Phelan. And it’s not made explicit in the text. Sympathy for Phelan? Not likely. Now I really hate the bastard’s guts. Plus, he did something really vile to my heroine. Unfortunately, this really vile scene comes BEFORE a later scene wherein the reader isn’t meant to sympathize with Phelan, exactly, but at least understand his frustration on an intellectual level. It’s a pretty important scene, one of my favorites, and now I don’t know how it’s going to play…

INTERVIEWER: Uh huh. Any other insights?

ME: Lots, but only a few worth mentioning here. Darius needs other people around him in order to be an interesting and amusing character, duh. I knew that already. But an insight that really struck me is that Catherine’s absolute devotion and faith could be explained—and further explored—by introducing the notion of psychosis. What if Catherine’s slightly nuts? And she’s sorta-kinda aware of it? But she triumphs over it!

INTERVIEWER: Like Luc Besson’s treatment of Jeanne d’Arc in THE MESSENGER.

ME: Interviewer, it’s like you’re reading my mind! Yeah, I loved that movie…

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INTERVIEWER (haughtily): That movie came out ten years ago. And it didn’t do very well.

ME: Who gives a rat’s ass how the movie did at the fucking box office? It was brilliant. I think audiences grew confused and frustrated after the first 90 minutes. I mean, it starts with total kick ass, Milla Jovovich ripping the English Army to shreds in better-than-Braveheart fashion, but then the film dives unapologetically into her psyche. That’s the story, man. Jeanne recognizes her own madness, but also recognizes her faith is greater than the arguments of pure logic. And that’s how it could work for Catherine. She even says as much to Phelan during the final confrontation, “Nothing unreal exists.”

INTERVIEWER: You’re just sweet for crazy-ass chicks.

ME: Guilty.

INTERVIEWER: And you’re an Atheist!

ME: Again, guilty.

INTERVIEWER: So how can you present such an argument with any hope of verisimilitude?

ME: Arghghgh. Just because I don’t believe in a “thing” doesn’t mean that the “thing” in question doesn’t exist for somebody else. “Nothing unreal exists!” Jesus! Atheists get the worst rap, man! I’m not out to change the way anybody else thinks, I’m not a card carrying member of the Atheists of America or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, those fools treat Atheism as a religion, they have rules and member guidelines! Arrghgh! It’s enough to make me—

INTERVIEWER: All right, calm down. Let’s stay on target, let’s get back to the book. Any other insights?

ME (sighing): No other insights, but one major boffo regret. Something that will have to be corrected.

INTERVIEWER: And what might that be?

ME: Well, Darius is slumming with these sick and dying humans on the way to see Phelan, right? And one of these sick and dying humans keeps mumbling about how there are “others” out there in The Wasted Lands, “other” survivors. And that’s how these “others” are referred to, THE OTHERS. At the time I didn’t think much about it, but then after I turned in the revised draft, something kept bugging me about the use of this OTHERS term, it started sounding pretty damn familiar. I thought: Isn’t there some super huge pop culture thing out there that makes use of THE OTHERS?

INTERVIEWER: LOST?

ME: Yup. LOST. And just to beat myself up, I’m going to grab a picture…

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INTERVIEWER: Is that an old logo or a new logo?

ME: I have no fucking idea.

INTERVIEWER: So, are you a big LOST fan?

ME: I have never seen a single episode of the damn series. I know. I know! It’s supposed to be amazing, yadda-yadda, but I’ve just never seen it. Sue me. Yet through the miracle of media-saturation, this is EVERYTHING I know about LOST:

• There’s a plane crash, and the survivors are stuck on an island…

• Strange things happen on this island, including shifting alliances, time-travel, some strange box-gizmo, and a mysterious group of other survivors called, regrettably, THE OTHERS…

• The creators are apparently willing to kill any character at any time…

• The series was created by JJ Abrams…

• And one of my favorite writers was hired last year as a story editor.

And that’s it. Everything I know. All the LOST fans are probably cringing.

INTERVIEWER: And who’s this favorite writer?

ME: One of my favorite writers. Brian K. Vaughn. He’s amazing. Dynamite storyteller with such a good grip on the human animal his work has reduced me to tears more than once. And so original. He’s come up with ideas that have made me kick myself, you know, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” His work includes EX MACHINA, Y: THE LAST MAN, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, RUNAWAYS, some limited series for Marvel and Dark Horse…

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Incredible stuff. If these titles don’t sound familiar, stay tuned. They’re making movies out of all of his stuff. The über-talented little bald-headed bastard’s going to be huge.

INTERVIEWER: Is this guy a friend of yours?

ME: I wish! I’d get him drunk and steal his ideas. And no, I’m not on his payroll.

INTERVIEWER: Then you must have a real love for name-dropping.

ME: Come again?!

INTERVIEWER: Look at this blog. In the space of five posts you’ve managed to work-in U2, Cormac McCarthy, LOST, THE MESSENGER, this Brian K. Vaughn person… You’ve got a WATCHMEN image for your damn banner! Maybe you just like to associate yourself with very successful stuff.

ME: No, no, no! Jesus! Look at the title of this post! It’s called Getting to Know the Idiot Running This Blog! That’s the way my mind works, man! Popular culture—the books, the movies, the comics, the music—it’s running through my head all the time. And don’t give me any grief about giving lip service to artists I like. I would be remiss as a human being if I didn’t spread the word about amazing writers and the jaw-dropping shit they produce. Babbling about them on my blog? Fuck, I should be grabbing strangers in the street, yelling LOOK AT THIS!!!

INTERVIEWER: Well, all righty-then…

ME: Jesus, I didn’t even go off on how the cinematography in the goddamn TWILIGHT movie looks like fucking Shojo—!

INTERVIEWER: Show… joe?

ME: Manga. Japanese comics. For girls. Never mind.

INTERVIEWER: Well, I can see that we’re, uh, running out of time. Any last thoughts?

ME: I want to be amazing.

INTERVIEWER: Excuse me?

ME: I want to be amazing. I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to be rich. I don’t even need to be loved. Well, okay, scratch that last one, I need my kids and my wife and my friends to love me. But I want to be amazing. I want to write the most amazing shit the world has ever seen, I want glory. Maybe you’re right, maybe I’m plastering my blog with incredible stuff by amazing artists ’cause that’s what I’m aiming for, man, those are the heights I want to reach…

INTERVIEWER: And… how old are you?

ME: This interview is over.

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DESCENT FICTION Uncategorized

CORMAC McCARTHY VS SIMON DRAX! Two writers! Two villains! And one must DIE!!

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I said I wouldn’t post, but…

From DESCENT, Chapter IV, “Trail of Dead, City of Thorns”

“Who do you seek?” Darius asked them. “Where are you going?”

“We follow the voice,” said a boy with no eyes.

“We seek our salvation,” an old man whispered. He laid his hand over a festering wound on his chest where tiny insects furrowed and buzzed; he nodded at Darius, hand over his heart. “We seek the one who calls us, the one who will save us. We go to the priest.”

“Not me,” said a tall man who stood back from the others, his voice raw with what sounded like gravel. The tall man’s head was shaved and gleaming. He held a battered paperback at his hip as if the book were the hilt of a sword. Darius caught a glimpse of the book’s title. Blood-something. “I follow no priest,” the tall man said. “I only stand and judge.”

“Oh yeah?” Darius said. “And who might you be, tall, bald and gruesome?”

“I am,” the tall man said, “The Judge.”

“Don’t listen to him,” said the woman with the dead baby.

“He’s not one of us,” whispered the boy with no eyes. “Not really.”

“I am of nothing and no one. I am The Judge.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said the old man. “We go to the priest.”

Save The Judge, the others all nodded in agreement.

“The priest,” they chorused.

Darius considered the little pilgrimage of dying humans. Sick as they were, at the mention of this “priest” their faces were transformed, enraptured. Priest? The Hollow Priest? Ryder’s enemy?

“I seek him, too,” Darius said. “Let’s go see him together.”

They made camp that night in the skeletal torso of a crashed military cargo plane.

“A what?” Darius wanted to know.

“Military cargo plane,” said the boy with no eyes. “A Titan C-60.”

“How the hell do you know? You’re blind.”

The boy sniffed deeply. “I can tell.”

“Please, shut up and sleep,” whimpered the man with terrible burns.

“I do not sleep,” said The Judge from his dark corner. “I watch, and I judge.”

Demons don’t sleep either, Darius thought, and he shoved aside several tattered corpses—the doomed plane’s crew, Darius assumed—and he sat with a huff, folded his arms over his knees. And waited. Listened. One by one the humans sank into their miserable slumber of twitches and shakes, all except the one who called himself The Judge. He watched Darius with eyes like crescent moons in the dark, unblinking. Darius stared back. This creep was nothing special, Darius told himself, just another human with a head full of self-important noise—

Darius blinked, frowned at the oblique shadow of The Judge.

There was no “noise,” no neurons swirling in that bald ugly head, no hum of human thoughts. The Judge sat immobile, yielding nothing. And for the first time in many centuries Darius questioned his own abilities; this brute was human, wasn’t he? Had Darius overlooked a [wolf in sheep’s clothing]? He—

There came a sudden whisper in Darius’ ear: “You hear him too, don’t you.”

“Yah!” Darius jerked back, seized the creeper by the side of his face.

“Ahh! Don’t—!” It was the boy with no eyes. How the hell had the brat snuck up on him? Darius barred his teeth, shot a glance at the still immobile Judge, then shoved the boy away. “Hear who?” he snarled. Skoth, what was wrong with him? First unable to penetrate the mental defenses of a simple human, then caught unawares by a boy who was blind. “Hear who?” Darius demanded.

The boy gingerly probed the area of his face Darius had nearly chrushed. “The Voice. The Priest. I know you hear him, because I hear him calling you, too.”

“Really. And why would this priest call me?!”

“He calls you by a strange name in a strange tongue,” the boy said.

“Ha!” spoke The Judge, the sound like the snapping of a tree. “Strange name, strange tongue.”

Darius glowered at The Judge, but the boy went on. “The Priest calls you because he wants to save you. He wants to save all of us. Everyone. Even the others who aren’t with us, now. The Priest wants to save the world.”

“Others?” Darius said.

“Strange name,” The Judge said. “Strange tongue.”

Darius couldn’t believe it. “Hey, do you want to die?”

“Others,” the boy persisted. “We’re not the only ones out here struggling for life. There are other people, just like us.”

“Doubt they’re like me,” Darius breathed, his eyes still on The Judge.

“They want the same thing,” the boy whispered. “They want to live. We’ll see them soon. Tomorrow, I think.”

“Strange name, heh,” The Judge sneered, and he lifted his chin. “I know your name.”

“Oh, that’s it. You’re dead.” Darius pushed the boy aside and crossed with two easy steps to where The Judge sat still and unmoving. Darius drew back his fist for the most casual and uncaring of killing blows…

…and Darius was on his back, The Judge towering above him.

“Try it again,” The Judge said.

In a flash Darius was up. The Judge dealt him two savage impacts with the flat of his big hand. “Rraa-ugh—!” Darius roared, but The Judge delivered a shower of boulders in the shape of fists blinding and unstoppable. Darius reeled; again he found himself flat on his back, staring up at the bald crescent skull of The Judge.

“One more time?” The Judge asked.

What happened next was less than a blur. Darius leapt up again, but this time he was caught in a tangle of arms and urgent words as the humans rushed in and tried to hold him back. The Judge waited with a thin and patient smile. “Stop it, stop it, you’ll wake my child!” the woman said of her dead baby, and the boy with no eyes warned, “He’ll kill you, he’ll kill you. He’s done it before…”

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Hmmm. McCarthy would, of course, kick my ass.

But The Judge is dog food.

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DESCENT Uncategorized

I’LL GO CRAZY if I don’t go crazy tonight…

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YEAH, YEAH, YEAH… I bought the damn disc on launch day, surprise. Get on your boots? Try GET ON YOUR GEEK. Oh well. Don’t really have too much to report at this hour, as I’ve only listened to the album, um… thinking here… 12 times? Stand-out songs include the title track (real trip of an opener), “Magnificent,” and “White as Snow.” But I really don’t have the time and the energy to waste on these jokers, not anymore, not tonight. I have a new deadline, and I want it DONE. I really WILL go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight, and tomorrow night, and so on. I want it DONE. (What, you ask, is “it?” Patience. All will be revealed.) So, this will be my last post for a while. (To which the crowd mumbles, Thank Christ.) But before taking a powder and lighting out of here, I’m going to inflict a bit of show and tell, an abbreviated history lesson. I’ll try to make it as painless as possible. Really.

OKAY! In August 08, this charming, ambitious editor,

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VICTORIA BLAKE, a woman possessed of STUNNING GOOD TASTE and the Proud Publisher of UNDERLAND PRESS  <www.underlandpress.com> became moderately enamored with a short story of mine, “The Last Star in the Sky.” To which I responded, Koolness!

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(Victoria chose to not make use of the above design. Oh, well.)

Anyway, then she said, “What else do you have?” “Well… I’ve got this kinda crazy illustrated manga-novel-anime-homage that’s really over the top…”

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DOOMTROOPERS, via UNDERLAND, would have been a serialized (and illustrated) web-novel, NOT to be confused with UNDERLAND’s recently trademarked WOVEL concept— stay with me now, trust me, this is the short version— ultimately ending up as a printed book. Anyway, Victoria was on board with the plan. Sort of. She was distracted by a different Draxian project she had spotted on a designer’s website…

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Victoria said, “What is this?” So I sent her some pages. And Victoria became… enthused. THIS was a book she could publish and market! “Um, okay. Koolness!” I responded. DOOMTROOPERS went on the eternal back-burner: all other concerns were to be thrown in cryogenic freeze as I hammered out DA. Okay. Koolness—-

ARE YOU SHITTING ME? ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME? Sorry. Holy Christ, I’m writing/composing this as The Late Show with David Letterman plays on TV. U2 is the week-long guest, big deal. BUT TODAY THEY JUST NAMED 53rd STREET, the street WHERE I LIVED FOR FIVE YEARS, ONE BLOCK WEST FROM LETTERMAN—THEY JUST NAMED 53rd Street u2 WAY! Holy Christ. This is sick. It’s true. Bloomberg was there and everything. It’s official. Holy shit. U2 fucking way. Sick, sick, sick. Oh, where my street has a new name… Sick. People will think this is fabricated, starting the post with the new album and all… but it’s true. Sick!

Woof. Sorry about.

ANYWAY… Victoria’s madly in love with DARK AUGUST. Everything else must stop. But one of us —I honestly forget which one—  started talking long term strategy, ie, the book to follow DA. So I suggested A VERY FAST DESCENT INTO HELL, a book I had self-published several years ago which had never really seen the light of day…

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AND HERE OUR PROBLEMS BEGAN.

Change of plan: DESCENT would be the first book, DARK AUGUST the second. But it wouldn’t be that simple: Victoria wanted changes, changes I was not crazy about. “Would I do it?” she wanted to know. “Well, yeah,” I told her, thinking it would be better to have the book out there then have my self-published copies collecting dust in my office.

This was, what, late September, early October? And my world went fittingly into semi-hell.

Death. Addiction. Doubt. And yeah, Despair. I’m not kidding. These things happen. Not trying to be coy, but this isn’t the time and place to go into the details; it’s not just about me, it’s about my family, too. Hell, one of Victoria’s Wovel authors endured a divorce and a hurricane and joblessness and he still turned his stuff in on time, sometimes writing installments in airports, sometimes having no recollection of  writing what he’d written. Still, from October into December, my world looked like this… hang on, have to find a chaos picture…

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CHAOS! You get the idea.

So. Between Victoria being away, my agent being away, ME being “away,” contract negotiation deadlock, back and forth, “away,” angst and difficulty with the changes, more “away,” death, illness, Jesus it’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse, at least that’s what it felt—and feels—like, sometimes… Anyway, as I write this, in the dead of March 4, I have an unfinished revised manuscript, the IT, you patient soul, this is IT, and I want IT done, and the title page looks like this:

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And that’s where I’m at. This is IT. New deadline. If this were one of UNDERLAND’S Wovels the reader would be able to chose:

• Will Drax make his deadline? Or,

• Will he miss it?

Oh god. The whole house is asleep save me. That’s nothing new. Time to wrap this up. But let me see if a certain photo has hit the news outlets yet… Hang on…

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OH, it’s only temporary. Thank Christ!

Woof. Later, all.

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GETTING TO KNOW THE IDIOT RUNNING THIS BLOG: Questions for Drax, Part I

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INTERVIEWER: When did you realize that you were a true horror writer? 

ME: Aw hell… A what?

INTERVIEWER: A true… horror… writer. 

ME: When did I realize I was a true horror writer? Who says I write horror?

INTERVIEWER: True… Horror.

ME: Oh, TRUE horror. Okay. When I killed and ate my fifteenth neighborhood pet. That pretty much nailed it.

INTERVIEWER: Pets…

ME: No, that’s not true, I’m lying. Can’t you tell I’m lying? Jesus, do you think I would hurt a pet? Do you mind if I smoke? Thanks, you’re swell! OK, actually, I remember exactly when the dark side spoke: when my toy robot ran out of batteries and I screamed bloody murder, man, I wanted to kill everybody.

INTERVIEWER: True… Horror…

ME: All right, seriously, no more screwing around: I had this really scary dream when I was like four or five…

INTERVIEWER: A dream…

ME: Yeah. A dream. A Lugosi-style vampire was outside my bedroom window, glowing eyes and big fangs, the works. He was scratching, scratching, scratching at the damn window, he wanted to get inside and rip out my throat, and I woke up and back-flipped out of bed, you know, “Waaagh!” I hit the floor like a mini-commando, slid across the room and slammed into the wall under the window, held my breath and waited, waited. I was too afraid to peek over the window ledge, but I waited. I waited all damn night for his pale sharp talons to come smashing through the glass. The attack never came, but you couldn’t convince me the next day that it had only been a dream. He had been there, and he would come back.

INTERVIEWER: A dream. About a vampire. And he looked like Bela Lugosi.

ME: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: I ask for… TRUE horror, and you give me… this. You… you’re… pathetic.

ME: Wait, it gets better. This vampire dream scarred me for life. I started assembling weapons to kill vampires, splitting pieces of wood into crude stakes, building this weird gizmo of a gun with a rubber band that, you know, in theory would catapult my crucifix across the room and jab the creep in the eye or something. I was FIVE, you know?  I kept this crap at my bedside for like, years

INTERVIEWER: And… your point?

ME: My point? That at a very early age I was convinced that the shapes and sounds of horror were real and very much a part of the natural world. Ghosts and vampires and monsters and witches… everything. To me the paranormal was, well, normal. To a certain extent every kid goes through this baptism of fear; who’s not afraid of the dark? But this conviction stayed with me for a long time, well into my teens. I searched and searched for the doorway to the other side, I wandered cemeteries with tape recorders hoping to capture dead voices, I took pictures of empty corners to catch ghost images. This shit was real, man.

INTERVIEWER: Dead voices. Ghost images. You’re… pathetic.

ME: I know, it’s so tragic. Are we done?

INTERVIEWER: I asked for True… Horror…

ME: Yeah well, you’re reading this blog for free. That’s the true horror, buddy.

Thanks (and apologies) to Joe Ramano

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SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM…

Hey out there! Welcome to the first official post of ICHIBAN WEAPON READY, the Simon Drax Blog. I’ll probably be toying with this all day, trying THIS, trying THAT, screwing UP, screwing DOWN… You get the picture. Bear with me while I get the picture. I’m so excited thrilled juiced psyched; I can cross-out words!!! Just like the clever writers at Gawker! I can work that irony thing to the max. Ah, the possibilities. Now I need to figure out my tags, the insertion of cool pics, embedding videos… Yes, I’m a cyber semi-idiot. But not for long. I’ve got a bundle of stuff to add to the cesspool of the blogosphere. (And you thought it was a mess before.) Now… NOW… we’re all in trouble. And it’s all your fault. You know who you are.

More Later.