CYP#3: Origin Story

I’m happy to announce that I’m hard at work on book #3 in the Click Your Poison series, which should be out mid to late summer 2014. I know I said in the past that this would be a time-travel project, but I’m not quite ready to crack that one open. The ideas are still gestating. But, since it’s time-travel, the when is irrelevant, right?

This guy knows what’s up

So what’s CYP#3 all about? Tentatively titled SUPERPOWERED, this book is set to be a superhero adventure. Unless, of course, you choose to play the role of villain.

I’ve always loved the idea of superpowers and as a kid I would create my own costumes (usually out of roller-blade pads, soccer guards, and brightly colored sweats from the 80s) and say things like, “Dad, I need to join karate and gymnastics as soon as possible.”

While I’ve read a few comics, that’s not my main area of expertise. I never missed an episode of the 90s cartoon edition of X-men, Spiderman, or Batman. I’ve seen just about every superhero movie. I’ve read quite a few superhero novelizations.

Hello weekend!
Hello weekend!

So, I’m not going to provide a lifetime bibliography of all things super, but instead I thought I might share some of what I’ve been absorbing as inspiration for the new book:

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Virtual War by Gloria Skurzynski
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines
I Wear the Black Hat by Chuck Klosterman
Irredeemable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause
Amped by Daniel H. Wilson
Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon
Masked edited by Lou Anders
The Boys by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson
Meta by Tom Reynolds
Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer
Hancock
Heroes
(TV)
Necessary Evil: Villains of DC Comics
Super
Wilder Napalm
Arrow
(TV)
Chronicle
Megamind

More? Maybe. Probably. If I’ve missed something, feel free to let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll be hiding in plain sight as a mild-mannered writer and using my superpower of Rapid Idea Generation to come up with 3 Unique Storylines and Over 50 Possible Endings!

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Something Violent This Way Comes

Okay, here goes. We can all agree that senseless gun violence is atrocious and that mental health needs to be addressed in our country. Don’t worry, this is not a rant about the Second Amendment. It is, however, a rant about the revitalized call to ban violence in movies, television, video games, and other forms of entertainment.

Since some of my writing leans toward the violent, I take exception to this argument. Full disclosure: one of my stories involves a mass shooting. Yet it’s obviously  a parable about white collar helplessness, not a story encouraging senseless gun violence.

Maybe that’s why “violent books” get a pass in this proposed boycott. Maybe it’s understood that books are meant to teach us something, whereas videogames put your finger behind the trigger.

Yeah, well so does INFECTED, my survive-your-own zombie apocalypse book. It puts you at the heart of adrenaline fueled deplorable choices. But it’s adult entertainment, and I think that should be the point. How about instead of banning adult entertainment, we call for parents to take an active role in screening their children’s entertainment?

“I think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It’s a Western. Give me a break.” –Quentin Tarantino, on the violence in Django Unchained. According to BBC, he’s tired of defending his films each time the US is shocked by gun violence.

Violent entertainment has never once made me fear for my life. Nor has it made me consider taking the life of another. Just as playing tug-o-war with your dog won’t make him want to rip out your jugular. Riding a roller coaster shouldn’t make you want to jump off a cliff. In fact, it should do the opposite. The itch should be scratched.

I think I missed this episode when I was a kid.

So here’s the point: If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. And if you don’t think your kids should watch it, don’t let them. But don’t try to ban any forms of expression or entertainment. Please. We have rating systems for a reason.

 

Hollywood Imperialism: Make the World Britain!

This is the first actual “weekend” I’ve had in a long time. I write every day, or at least edit/proofread. For those of you who may have missed it on Twitter, I finished editing my novel and sent it off for review yesterday.  So this weekend is completely off!  Except for this blog…enjoy.

The subject of the blog entry, is something I’ve noticed for a long time:

To Americans, all foreigners are British.

This is specifically true, if the movie is highlighting an ancient civilization.  Go watch any movie or TV show made in the last 15 years, and if the foreigners are speaking English, I guarantee it’s the King’s.

Now onto the “why”:

-Sometimes the actors actually are British.  Sometimes.  People cite the HBO show “Rome” as an example of this.  You point out that all the Romans have British accents, and they’ll inform you it’s simply because that’s how they speak.  Not exactly.  Many of the actors on that show were Irish, and needed voice coaches to become posh-sounding Imperialists.  Which leads us to the next point….

The English were Imperialist.  That’s why it makes sense to us as a modern audience.  The hoity-toighty English accent makes more sense to our American minds for the portrayal of members of a grand empire, than a cheese-ball Italian accent would (even if it’s more accurate).  You wouldn’t want Mario and Luigi giving epic speeches, would you?  Even Star Wars recognizes this effect, as almost all their Imperial officers have a British accent.

-It makes distinguishing class easier.  Perhaps the most subconscious-based reason.  As many people don’t know much about ancient political structure, giving the nobility an “educated” accent (mmmmmyes, quite right) and giving the footsoldiers a “common” accent (‘ello govna!) allows us to easily distinguish social hierarchy without having it explained to us.

These all make a certain amount of sense, to me at least.  But sometimes it goes a bit far.  I recently watched the movie “Hugo”, which takes place in 1930s France.  All the books, menus, signs, etc were in French.  They even went so far as to shoot it in Paris.  Yet the actors all had British accents!  Perhaps English-speaking actors with French accents are hard to find, while Britains are abundant.  Or perhaps…

-That’s just the way we do it.  Because of actor availability on foreign locations, classical films used English actors.  So the tradition continues.  That, and we don’t want to start confusing the audience this late in the game.

Can you imagine a Roman General with a Tennessee accent? But it’s just as realistic as British tones.