Friday, January 30, 2009

Bloggers Praise IAMTW Members

Three IAMTW members got some lavish praise from bloggers today. Bill Crider rediscovered Scribe Award winner Christa Faust's novel HOODTOWN. He says, in part:
So you have murder, masked wrestlers, some spicy sex, a fast-paced narrative, and a well-constructed world that's a lot like our own but different. Or not. You can read whatever metaphorical meaning you want to into the prejudices against Hoodtown and its people. I'm not going there.

If you liked Money Shot and you're waiting eagerly for another Christa Faust novel, wait no longer. Get this one. I'll bet you won't be disappointed.
Mystery File gives the star treatment to Scribe Grandmaster Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher. They say, in part:
The first Murder, She Wrote novel came out in 1985, and there’s at least one that’s scheduled for 2009, a span of years that’s even longer than when the TV program was on the air. It’s quite a track record [...](Jessica Fletcher)also tells the story in her own words, and what is quite remarkable is that Donald Bain as the author has her voice down cold.
And French journalist Thierry Attard raves about Lee Goldberg's latest MONK novel. He says, in part:
Mr. Monk is Miserable, his latest Monk tie-in novel, is a perfect sample of the art of this master storyteller. Should you be a fan of the Monk tv series or not, as the show itself regularly flirts with the self-conscious formulaic Tony Shalhoub one-man show. But the talent of Lee Goldberg is to build totally original novels with familiar figures. His reinventions of Adrian Monk's frustrations and anxieties are so wonderfully and joyfully crafted that many of his readers already wish an adaptation of his new Monk Book for the television series.
Thanks to all those bloggers!

Friday, January 9, 2009

You Are Number Six

MediaBistro is glad you can watch classic episodes of THE PRISONER for free online at the AMC website...but what they would really like to see is a reissue of the 1969 tie-in novel by Thomas M. Disch...and the never-produced tie-in 1976 comic by Jack Kirby.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

PSYCH: This Time It's Not Personal

(Cross-posted from William Rabkin's blog)

Someone asked me on another forum what the hardest thing was about writing my first Psych novel, A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read. I figure I might as well answer here, too.

The really tough part of the first Psych book was coming up with a story. And that was strange for me, because I’ve done zillions of mystery stories over the years. I’ve got a graveyard of fictional corpses that fills entire city blocks. But Psych made me rethink everything I know about crafting a story.

Usually when I’m trying to come up with a new episode for a series, I start with the show’s central character. Almost every good detective hero I’ve written about is driven by some kind of obsession. Dr. Mark Sloan is compelled to solve murders because he sees crime the same way he sees illness and he’s sworn to the Hippocratic Oath. Monk desperately has to put the world back into order or he’ll go mad. Nero Wolfe needs to prove he’s smarter than everyone else around. So when I’m thinking about a new episode, I ask myself what kind of crime and what kind of criminal will compel my hero to act. What kind of plot can I use to explore the inner life of the detective.

But Shawn Spencer isn’t driven to solve crimes. He isn’t pursued by psychological demons. He does it because… it’s fun.

There’s just not a lot to explore there…

So I first went to the bag of tricks all TV writers reach into when we can’t figure out how to give our stories some emotional weight. Shawn’s dad is kidnapped. He discovers he’s got a long-lost brother who’s accused of murder. His buddy from ‘Nam is in trouble.

These are what we big-time TV writing professionals call “crap.”

Then I realized I needed to stop thinking about the way I go about developing stories and start figuring out what would work for Psych. One of the show’s great charms is that Shawn doesn’t have any great emotional need to solve these crimes. He’s not driven. He just kind of ambles through the stories.

That word was my breakthrough. Ambles. Because when I think of ambling, I think of Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty ambling through their parody of Hope and Crosby’s Road pictures in an old SCTV sketch. And that led me to the real Hope and Crosby and the real Road pictures, and the way their characters would be inside the story and at the same time outside commenting on it.

That became my starting point for Shawn. Yes, he’d be investigating the crimes, but at the same time he’d be watching the investigation like a jaded viewer. It wouldn’t be enough for him to find the solution to the crime — he would need to find an entertaining solution. He would build theories based not on logic or evidence, but on maximum narrative pleasure. And he’d be right.

Once I had that, everything else fell into place.

Well, maybe not everything, but that’s another post…

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

On Writing Dr. Who

Death Ray Magazine has a lengthy interview with IAMTW member Lance Parkin about his Dr. Who tie-ins:
The creative process with The Eyeless was an odd mix this time. I’ve written a fair few Doctor Who books, and that’s not really the challenge any more. The challenge this time is that the tenth Doctor books have this immense audience. You can buy them in Asda, and they’ll be 3-for-2, front of house, at the major bookstores. With my previous books, I knew my name had a little capital – I could get away with stuff because I’d written Just War or The Infinity Doctors or whatever, so I was given the benefit of the doubt. This time, most of the people who read my book have no idea who I am, a lot will barely notice the author’s name. You’re not allowed old monsters or the sort of continuity in-jokes I love that half the audience won’t get, now.
With The Eyeless, I’ve got quite a straightforward story – 15 years ago, a giant alien fortress arrived on an alien planet, killed everyone there. The Doctor arrives, determined to deactivate the Fortress, a sort of Guns of Navarone-type mission. The Doctor’s all on his own. It’s the sort of plot that would work on telly… But then, it’s a novel, so it ends up being quite introspective. There’s stuff beneath the surface. I’m hoping it works on two levels: action-adventure stuff, and plenty of it, but also if you’re looking, you’ll find plenty of stuff you’ve not been told directly.