Sunday, August 26, 2007

Still Catching Up

Nicolas Cage will star in a film remake of the 1980-1988 TV detective series Magnum, P.I.? That’s the latest rumor, following on previous gossip that pretty boy Ben Affleck would play Ferrari-driving Hawaiian gumshoe Thomas Magnum, a role originally taken by Tom Selleck. According to TV Squad, the 43-year-old Cage is “considering the role”--which is a long way off from his actually accepting the part, or the movie actually being made. We won’t hold our breaths.

• Is there anything Duane Swierczynski doesn’t do? Weekly newspaper editor, novelist, and now comic-book writer? He explains in his Secret Dead Blog that “This November, I’ll be making my Marvel Comics debut with a one-shot issue of Moon Knight called “Date Night.”

• Following on the release of his new novel, Anarchy and Old Dogs, the fourth installment of his series featuring 73-year-old Laotian national coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun, British-born author Colin Cotterill tells Salt Lake City, Utah’s Deseret Morning News that he writes about septuagenarian characters in his novels “because they’re being wasted.” And for would-be mystery authors, he relates the basics of his writing process: “To start another book, he goes to an isolated bungalow south of Bangkok, ‘a place where I won’t be disturbed, where I pretend I don’t speak English, and I just write for 13 hours a day.” Hmm. Maybe that isn’t really so helpful to the rest of us.

• UK writer John Baker (White Skin Man) has recently been filling his blog with guest-posts from novelists, each one telling “What phases are involved in the creation” of their own work. What caught our eye in particular, though, was a contribution from Robert Wilson, the Gold Dagger-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon (1999) and the Javier Falcón series (The Hidden Assassins, 2006). In it, Wilson offers somewhat more useful advice to struggling writers than Cotterill does. Writes Wilson:
When it comes to writing a text what I am trying to do is to move everything forward at the same time. That is plot, setting and character have to evolve together, not one after the other. This is especially important at the beginning of a book where you are trying to draw a reader into your world. The writer must give them as little excuse (or time) to slip away as possible. If a reader feels they are putting in too much time on stormy weather, baroque architecture or rocky escarpments their mind can wander. If you go into dense characterization or, worse, heavy back story, you will hear the thunder of readers hooves moving off to new pastures. I reckon you have a maximum of ten pages in which to position your central character in his/her life with friends, family and relationships, in an atmospheric setting with a plot up and running. You can (partially) fail on the first two counts but you must not fail with plot.
Read all of what Wilson has to say here.

• George W. Bush picking a fight with spy novelist Graham Greene? The Huffington Post’s Chris Kelly says it’s not a good idea.

• Interviewed by Texas’ Austin American-Statesman, thriller writer Olen Steinhauer explains that he’d “originally planned to include himself as a character in [his new novel,] ‘Victory Square,’ which started out as a 1,000-page Joycean epic called ‘Falling Sickness.’ His editor made it clear this wasn’t going to work--Barnes & Noble wouldn’t stock a big brick of a book by a midlist author--so Steinhauer stopped at the 400-page mark and reined it in. (An autobiographical element remains, though: Early in the book, the Militia detective Gavra Noukas travels to America on the trail of a defector and visits Clover Hill High School in Virginia--which is Steinhauer’s alma mater.)” Later in this newspaper piece, Steinhauer tells what we can expect next from his pen: he has “sent his agent the first draft of a contemporary CIA thriller that he hopes will be his commercial breakthrough. ‘I’m thinking trilogy,’ he says.” You’ll find the whole piece here.

• And we almost missed noting the recent death of Max Hodge, a Hollywood screenwriter with a long history of working on TV crime-fiction series. The Internet Movie Database has him down as a contributor to such classics as Mission: Impossible, Cannon, Ironside, Barbary Coast, and Police Woman, as well as The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (on which he also served as producer), The Wild Wild West, Alias Smith and Jones, and The Waltons. In addition, notes TV Squad, Hodge in the 1960s was “a writer for Batman and created the Mr. Freeze character.” That last credit alone should’ve made him famous. He died in Woodland Hills, California, on August 17. Hodge was 91 years old.

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