Yours Truly is back, with a few words on the challenges of writing and marketing a multi-genre novel, and putting story before convention.
Yours Truly is back, with a few words on how Drip: A Gothic Bromance, and horror in general, reflects the world we live in.
Yours Truly reads from Drip: A Gothic Bromance.
In the days and weeks leading up to (and through) Drip's publication, I have found myself within that cause-effect singularity that happens in life whenever we try to accomplish some big project or make some significant personal change: the universe hurls at us every damned thing it can. In the course of this spring, four people I am close to have been hit with major, debilitating illnesses, two family members have been lost (one uncle, one pug), I've been getting asked--seemingly out of the blue--to dive into several major projects that run into conflict with my book promotion work, and that's just in addition to being the proud stay-at-home dad of an 11-month-old girl and trying to stay abreast of/refute the current presidential assault on reason.
Things could certainly be worse, and to be sure the friends and family referenced above have suffered a lot more than I have, but nonetheless I think this confluence of stressful events can be fairly characterized as Some Serious Bullshit.
Whether this is a trick of individual point-of-view or an objective phenomenon I can't say, though I do find Carl Jung's words comforting. He grappled with something similar to what I'm describing, which he called synchronicity. As a scientist, he couldn't violate the principle of causation in explaining meaningful coincidences; to say such coincidences happen because of some invisible force we don't know about would imply "action at a distance," which is code for "magical thinking quackery"; instead, Jung moved synchronicity into the psychological realm and explained it not in terms of cause and effect but, rather, meaning. The basic jist was: these things happen; we don't know how; their importance is in the mind of the observer.
The implication is that when we experience a meaningful coincidence, we would do well to take a good look in the mirror and try to discern what our unconscious mind is trying to tell us. Personally, I feel like my life is telling me to prepare to transition into a new, more outward phase--that's absolutely not a prediction as to how Drip will be received (or that it will be received), but it is an acknowledgement that I have metaphorically undressed in public and advertised, "This is who I am as a fiction writer." I've already done this as a filmmaker of course, but the written word feels to me a little more imposing, a little more permanent--a little harder to hide behind.
How Peter's drawings came to be part of my book trailer (continued)...
I didn't want to shelve the art, and I figured perhaps I could create a graphic novel or storybook into which to incorporate the drawings. I set pen to paper and began adapting the screenplay, but what quickly became clear to me was that the story was so tight plot-wise that there wasn't much that could be truncated or omitted; if anything, an adaptation called for expanding on the characters and settings. Over the course of three years, as time allowed, Drip the screenplay became Drip: A Gothic Bromance. The novel format did not really suitably accomodate Peter's art, and for a second time I faced the disappointment of not being able to show it around.
Self publication, as I quickly learned, involves a lot more than uploading a book to Nook or Amazon. "Self marketing" is probably a more accurate word for what the role entails, and one such promotional requirement is to create a book trailer. I had the hardware and editorial skill set to put one together but needed to figure out what to do for raw content. After about five seconds of my puzzling over this, the light-bulb went on.
It felt really great to have Peter's blessing for the trailer, and now it feels great to see his illustrations for Drip getting out to the world.
How Peter's drawings came to be part of my book trailer (continued)...
At around this time, I attended the wedding of one of my best friends from high school; at the reception I found Kate and myself sitting next to a very upbeat, clean-cut guy. I figured he was in finance or professional sports newscasting, but no: he was an illustrator. I told Peter what I was working on, and he got very excited. I took his card, thinking, he's just being polite, and odds are we won't make a good fit.
A few days later, I took a look at Peter's site (http://www.peterwonsowski.com); I was blown away: his watercolor and acrylic work was tonally broad: there was lighthearted, cute content, but also darker stuff (think Dark Knight Returns graphic novel). Drip is tonally on the darker side, and I could see that it wouldn't put Peter off. I got in touch with him, and was amazed to find that his enthusiasm was genuine and consistent. We spent several months working long distance, with me giving Peter the background on the characters, Peter sending me sketches, me giving input, and Peter honing in. It was a great time!
The resulting illustrations were made into poster-boards for pitch meetings, and I started putting out inquiries. No one bit--which even now is painful to write when I think about all the work that went into the story and the presentation. Such is the nature of taking an artistic risk.
Those of you who've seen the book trailer have seen the sketches and illustrations of Peter Wonsowski, an awesome artist and lovely human being. To understand how Peter's work came to be part of my trailer, you need a bit of background on Drip's development.
Drip: A Gothic Bromance actually started life as an original screenplay, written and developed by yours truly. I had hoped to direct it as a follow up to my feature mockumentary, The Devil's Filmmaker: BOHICA. However, 2008 changed my thinking; the bright filmmaking future of the digital revolution had darkened, with professionalism vanishing from low-budget, indie filmmaking--both in terms of culture and the income. All the film editing listings my business partner and I saw were looking more and more like low-ball want ads for web-design/computer-programming/graphic-design experts--not what I signed up for. Then, when the financial collapse hit, my wife and I, who had just gotten engaged, were forced to rethink living in New York City (if you count Astoria, Queens as New York).
In 2010, we relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, where we could afford to start a family. Soon after, my wife got hired as registrar at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Cleveland), and I began consulting work in property management. Still, I hoped to drum up interest in getting Drip made. I thought about producing some concept art and pitching it to some of the local film programs.
To be continued...
Ok, so first thing's first: I've got a genre-bending novel coming out at the end of this month. It's called Drip: A Gothic Bromance, and I've started this blog because, apparently, I have to. Hopefully my musings will entertain and provoke, and sell copies.
Cute comments aside, I did not write Drip for money--at least not today-money, tomorrow-money, or any serious next-year or year-after-that money. The way I figure, a really good outcome would be a lot of people dig the book so much, we all want to read more of my mishugas (yiddish; roughly translated: busy-ness), and then maybe I get an opportunity to write another novel, novella, or short story. What I've wanted most for Drip was to tell a great, quirky coming-of-age story about the middle-class heartbreak that graduating college and entering "the real world," has become.
Most of my adult life has been in filmmaking; a lot has been said about great films challenging us, but I also feel like a lot of my favorite movies gave me a kind of social comfort--particularly at a dark time (like now, if you follow the national press)--a sort of countercultural wink--a sense of "thank God: someone else sees how messed up things look--I'm not the only one who thinks this way." What movies am I talking about? Donnie Darko, Chinatown, Harold and Maude, Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, RoboCop, Punch Drunk Love, You're a Big Boy Now, some of the best of 1970's cinema, along with a precious few contemporary torchbearers. Anyway, that's the sort of feeling I wanted to evoke with Drip.