Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Know What I Did This Summer

So, it would appear that I’m back from my annual blogcation, that annual respite I allow myself during the month of July. Truth is, I’ve been swamped with projects and have been teetering at that frustrating crossroads in every writer’s life – between day job and writing – so the time away did me good, allowed me to catch up and regroup a bit.

In any event, I suspect this blog entry will be a hodgepodge of odds and ends meant to catch you up and finish some unfinished business. I sense a bulleted list on the horizon!

  • So, what did you think about HARPER’S ISLAND? First, I have to give some serious props to CBS for running the entire limited-run series – even if the network did screw the pooch a bit by relegating the show to Saturday nights (aka television’s graveyard shift). The show gained some serious momentum by the second half of its run, establishing genuine tension, peppering the proceedings with red herrings galore, and delivering a respectable body count. I was completely wrong in my guess of whodunit – suspecting that the unseen slasher was Maggie, the seemingly kindly wedding planner. Perhaps confirming why Agatha Christie stumped me every single time, it would appear that Maggie was, indeed, just a kindly wedding planner after all. (But, seriously, did they really have to let the poor thing’s body swing there outside the bar for so long?). I won’t ruin the big reveal for those of you waiting for the forthcoming DVD, but, suffice to say, the ending was fairly unpredictable and kept you guessing. Not surprised that CBS opted not to renew the series (the idea would have been to have another limited-run story arc play out with a new cast and new storyline) since the ratings were low by network standards despite respectable marketing efforts, but I hope some forward-thinking cable outlet will give the concept of another mystery/slasher limited-run series a shot. I hear some book called THE LITERARY SIX would make for some excellent source material!

  • During my blogging hiatus, I also managed to catch up on a few films I missed in the theaters. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed MIRRORS, especially going into it with the preconceived notion that it would suck ass. Far from the greatest horror film ever made, it nonetheless held my interest and gave me a few calculated shivers. I was equally surprised by how not-totally-bad the remake of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL was. Now, I preface that statement with the disclaimer that I want to be reincarnated as Kathy Bates and that I’d watch her sit on a stool and talk into a camera for two hours without blinking. But, like MIRRORS, I could think of far worse ways to spend a few hours of down time. Same goes for ONE MISSED CALL – the weakest of the lot – but still far from the worse films I’ve ever seen. OK, not exactly ringing endorsements, so want an actual recommendation? COLD PREY. I’m late to the game on this Norwegian-lensed snowbound slasher, but this film is the real deal. It’s everything fans loved about the old school slashers (relatively attractive cast making bad decisions in an impossibly isolated location with more flawed logic than Proposition 8), with the added appeal of genuinely tense direction, a truly frightening, believable villain, and a refreshing lack of self-referential humor and one-liners. This is a balls-to-the-wall slasher film – nothing groundbreaking, but authentic to its core.

  • Project-wise, I’ve made the tough decision to push THE RENEWED to the side right now, opting instead to pour all of my concentration into FINAL GIRL. I’ve got so many pans in the fire right now that limit my available writing time as it is, so I had to pick one to focus on. After taking an insightful online workshop with my friend Alex Sokoloff a few months ago, I determined that FINAL GIRL simply has more commercial appeal. During Stoker Weekend this past June, I pitched the novel to two publishers, both of whom asked to see it when it’s done. So, what’s it about? Here’s the logline (with special thanks to both Chad Helder and Ms. Sokoloff for lending me their ears in Burbank to get it just right):

    A former criminal psychologist with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, a cub reporter who once jeopardized an old case, and a gay film historian form an unlikely alliance in tracking a serial killer targeting former scream queens and murdering them in elaborate re-creations of murder set pieces from 80’s slasher movies.
    Oh, yes, my fellow slasher brethren, there will be trivia bits aplenty and more inside nods and winks to the diehard slasher fan than Sarah Palin makes political faux pas. This one’s decidedly a thriller with strong horror overtones. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more with you during new installments of ‘Writerly Stuff’.

  • Now that submissions have closed, editing on BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS has commenced. This is going to be a whopper of a tome, and I’m very excited about the quality of the essays submitted. I’ll be making the long-delayed announcement about the remaining contributors who’ll be rounding out the collection as soon as one or two stragglers (and you know who you are!) submit their pieces. I think it’s safe to say that the book is on target for its April/May release, and there are some exciting plans in the works for the launch party (Hint: Think film premiere!). I’ve also been approached about editing a themed anthology by another publisher and am now waiting to hear back on the formal proposal. Details will follow if the publisher bites back.

  • Loving the new season of TRUE BLOOD! Thrilled that Jason Stackhouse is done with that Fellowship of the Sun church business and hope he soon gets back to his lothario (read: naked) ways. Looks like the plotline involving Maryann the Maened is escalating just in time for Sookie, Bill, and company’s arrival back in Bon Temps. Say what you will about that sharp-clawed, shapeshifting she-beast, but she sure knows how to throw one hell of a party!

  • Trashy pop culture-wise, I enjoyed a wonderful season of Kathy Griffin’s MY LIFE ON THE D-LIST and am now in the thick of things on the new BIG BROTHER and HDTV’s DESIGN STAR. On the former, I’m thrilled that prissy, preening Jesse is gone and hope nerdy Michele has the cajones to put loud-mouthed Chima and the spoiled brat-like Natalie on the block in the upcoming double eviction week. On the latter, I’m rooting for the adorable Dan Vickery to win because 1) he’s good with power tools and 2) HDTV needs another drop-dead hunk with piercing eyes hosting one of its shows.

  • I've also added a virtual bookshelf to the blog. These are all books that either influenced my writing or just gave me countless hours of reading pleasure over the years. In most cases, a little of both. I'm proud to call some of these writers friends and colleagues now, so I hope you'll give the list a glance. Maybe grab a copy of one or two of the books on my list from your local independent bookstore or library and help keep reading alive and well.

  • Finally, the League of Tana Tea Drinkers has remained quite busy these past few months – adding several new worthy members to its ranks: Cinema Fromage, Cinema Suicide, Classic Horror, Day of the Woman, Evil on Two Legs, Fascination with Fear, I Love Horror, Igloo of the Uncanny, and Uranium Café. The blogroll at the right has been updated with the LOTT D’s current lineup, so please take a few moments and visit these intriguing blog worlds. Plus, want to know something about the bloggers themselves? Then check out the new member profiles at the LOTT D homepage.

    Pax Romano said...

    Well it's good to see that you've been keeping your self busy, and here I thought you were just spending the season with the rest of the idle rich in Newport.

    Oh, I just ordered a book from Borders Online...some trashy little tome called, The Literary Six, ever hear of it? I'll tell you what I think of it when I am through.

    Oh well, here's to more True Blood, and heaping servings of Maryann's Hunter's Souffle!

    Vince Liaguno said...

    How much do I love me some Pax?

    Seriously, thanks for the support, man! I'll be very interested to hear your informed opinion on Lit6...