Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taken at the Flood

Lord of the Rings Online released a new expansion on Monday, which takes the players further along in the plot of the books. Here we see Kharrn the Barbarian (There is no barbarian class in LotRO but I refuse to acknowledge that.) and Briefer the Hobbit surveying the damage to Saruman's fortress Isengard after Treebeard and the Ents flooded the place.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

And Now a Pause For Author Identification

One of the questions I get asked the most by folks who've read BLIND SHADOWS and CONGREGATIONS OF THE DEAD is how did James A. Moore and I collaborate? Basically who did what? My shorthand answer has always been "I'm Griffin and he's Price." And for the most part that sums it up.
   But, some people are more curious than others, so they want to know about the actual writing. How did we do it? The answer is so simple that I get the idea most people think I'm having them on, but basically I would write a chapter (or occasionally two) and send it to Jim. He would read the chapter, write his own chapter, then send it back. On CONGREGATIONS we did that for, I think, 60,000 words before ever stopping to have a story conference. Jim and I are just in sync, what can I tell you? Toward the end we had a chat to figure out how to bring everything together.
   We each have out characters. I wrote Griffin, Charon, and Carter Decamp. Jim wrote Carl Price, Andy, and all the Blackbournes. Reverend Lazarus Cotton was 80% Jim and 20% me. I wrote the sociopath Blues fan, Fry. Jim wrote all the Brennert County officers, the DA, etc. Jim likes to have more characters than me, obviously.

   BUT here's the deal. We also edited each other and fixed each others continuity as we went. If Carl needed to appear in a scene I was writing, I wrote it and Jim changed anything that wasn't "Carl-like". I did the same if he wrote a scene with Griffin. But really there was very little of that necessary. We seem to be able to channel each others characters and while our writing styles are different, they seem to mesh well.
   So anyway, that's how it was done. Now when people ask me this question, I can just refer them to this blog post.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Acquisitions

   Last nights acquisitions. The Spears of Clontarff typescript facsimile, which reproduces the typed pages from an early draft of Robert E. Howard's story. Another volume in Guillermo del Toro's six book horror series. This one's an anthology of horror and weird tales. Finally, the one Jules de Grandin book by Seabury Quinn that I didn't previously own.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Axeman of Storyville

   Most aficionados of True Crime are familiar with the New Orleans Axeman, a serial killer who stalked that city in 1918-1919 and perhaps even earlier, depending on whose theory you believe. Heath Lowrance, the creator of my favorite Cowboy phantom fighter, Hawthorne, has taken the basics of the still unsolved case and written a tight thriller featuring Edward Grainger's former U.S. Marshal Gideon Miles.
   It's 1921 and the story finds Miles later in life, having settled down in new Orleans to run a nightclub. The former Marshall thinks his man-hunting days are well behind him. But then the madame of a local brothel shows up at his door pleading for help. Someone has killed one of her girls, a madman with an axe, and the police have no interest in finding out who killed a whore. At first Miles is hesitant, but when a local gangster tries to warn him off, Gideon Miles decides to get involved.
   Lowrance gets to stretch himself a bit in this novella, telling the story from multiple points of view. I've gone on before about how much I like Lowrance's prose, and here I was really taken with his ability to set a scene. I could just see the streets of old New Orleans. Feel the heat. Smell the cigar smoke and cheap perfume in the night clubs.
   The story is action packed, as I like em'. Miles may be getting on in years but he can still mix it up with the best of them and he still knows how to use a Colt when he needs to.
   How much did I like this story? Well I bought it within a few minutes of it going live on Amazon and I read it at a sitting and then came over here to the desk and reviewed it. Highly, and I do mean highly recommended.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Reading Brian Lumley

  I spent a lot of the weekend reading short stories and novellas by Brian Lumley. This was set in motion when my pal, Paul McNamee, posted on facebook about several Lumley collections being available cheap for the Kindle. I picked up THE COMPLETE CROW (all the short stories about Lumley's occult investigator Titus Crow) THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS (What it says. Horror novellas) and HAGGOPIAN AND OTHER STORIES (A collection of Cthulhu mythos stories.) I read all the Crow stories and all the short stories and a couple of the novellas.
   It's an uneven bunch, as are most collections of this nature, but for the most part I enjoyed the stories. Lumley, sort of like me, is a guy who often uses Lovecraftian horror as a background for action adventure stories. His heroes tend to fight back, rather than go mad or be eaten like so many of H.P. Lovecraft's protagonists. Yes, there are gibbering, slavering things from the Outer Dark, but they can be fought.
   Some of the other stories though are pure horror and people come to nasty ends. Like I said, a mixed bag. Up until now, most of the stories I'd read by Brian Lumley were in his PRIMAL LANDS or DREAMLANDS series. I have to say I like his take on the Cthulhu mythos. Sometimes he strays a little far into the mindset of his mentor August Derleth, but for the most part he uses the Mythos to tell highly entertaining stories. It ain't Lovecraft but it ain't bad.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Thing at the Bookstore

Bought this at Barnes & Noble today. There is, of course, no fiction inside that I didn't already own, but it was such a nifty little hardback that I had to have it. The preface by Guillermo Del Toro was very good though, and there's an introduction by S.T. Joshi.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

ONCE Again


   The third season of ABC's ONCE UPON A TIME Got off to a good start with the main cast members sailing through a dimensional portal to save Emma's son Henry, who had been spirited off to Neverland. Unfortunately, once the gang reached Neverland they spent what seemed like an eternity wandering through the same island jungle sets over and over interminably. Even the considerable charms of the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) weren't enough to save a season that had lost its momentum.
   The season took a break after the evil Peter Pan had been defeated, but it returned three weeks ago, much improved. I've seen three new episodes so far and the show has returned to what made it work. The magically created town of Storybrooke, which was almost entirely absent from the first part of the season, is back front and center. And there's mystery afoot. It seems that the cast has lost a year of their lives. No one can remember what happened after Regina, The Queen, reversed the curse from season one,  sending them all back to the enchanted realm. Now they're back in Storybrooke with no idea what happened for an entire year.
   There's a new villain too, The Wicked Witch of the West from Oz, played with scenery chewing relish by Rebecca Mader. More stuff has happened in the first three episodes than happened in the entirety of the first part of season three. A stepped up pace is a good thing.
   So anyway, yeah glad to see the show getting back to form.