OPINION: Why Bother?

Writing is an outlet for me. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, but there’s not always someone around who has the time and patience to listen, so I write my stories down, just to have something tangible. My first novel had been pretty much ready for a decade, before I published it last year.

The people who can be bothered to read my work are glad they did, and encourage me to write more books. Not that I need their encouragement, as I would write my stories even if I wouldn’t be able to publish them, just to have them in material form, instead of telling them to myself in my head. Still, I enjoy receiving accolades from reviewers and beta readers.

My sales are not impressive, but I’m not that interested in bestsellers and being a flavour of the week. I’m in the storytelling game for the long haul. By all accounts, my characters remain present in the minds of my readers after they close the books, which is exactly what I wanted. Before I published the Amsterdam Assassin Series, people would see me writing and ask me what I wrote about. Now, I can just send them a link to my blog, from where they can sample or buy my books. So, I guess I will keep publishing my books, and writing more books.

I know there are 350,000 books published annually, and getting noticed is hard, so it might take until the third or fourth book is published before my sales go into the triple digits, but I honestly don’t care too much about that aspect of being a writer. I’d be doing this anyway. My only expense is hiring a graphic artist to make the covers, since I suck at that. And I found a student who can make my covers look reasonably professional without breaking the bank.

Do I ever have moments that I’d quit? I’ve had slumps and I found I became harder to live with when I stopped writing, for whatever reason. So quitting isn’t an option if I want to stay reasonably sane. Or, at least, not get any weirder than I’m now. And writing also gives me excuses to indulge in research, which is great fun. At least, if you enjoy looking at corpses getting eviscerated, destroying a leather punching bag with a Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, following a tameshigiri seminar to learn how to decapitate a body in one cut of a Japanese sword, or slaughtering a pig with a tactical folding knife to check if it can really handle the abuse of a brutal killing.

So, I guess I’d be writing and publishing far into the foreseeable future. And I hope you join me.

WRITING: Getting Unexpected Reviews…

I got some great five star reviews of Reprobate and a couple of five star review of Peccadillo.

This is an interesting angle I didn’t realize when I wrote Reprobate: Some people are more interested in other characters than the protagonist, assassin Katla. If you read the reviews, you must’ve read this passage in the ‘Great New Series’ review by DevoGirl:

“But for me, the best part was the romance between Bram and Katla. Bram is a terrific character, one of the more realistic portrayals of a blind person that I have read in a while. He’s well-adjusted and capable, but not superhuman. He plays the saxophone, practices shiatsu on the local yakuza, and studies aikido. He’s just the right combination of strong and vulnerable, and it’s oh so sexy. With so many books appearing lately with blind characters that are totally unrealistic, I really appreciate that the author went to the trouble to do the research and get it right.”

The fact that the blind character Bram is considered ‘hot and sexy’ by this reader, led me to my WordPress Stats, where I can see if people visit me from certain websites or forums. And I found this thread on paradevo, a website for devotees of disabled persons, where books are discussed and reviewed when they have disabled characters. And the website has its own review section, on books and movies, where an extended review is given, with more attention to what makes Reprobate attractive to devotees of disabled persons.

Although I’m aware of the fact that there are people who are specifically attracted to disabled persons, Reprobate hadn’t been written with the idea that people would read the series because it also features disabled characters. And the fact that people who are familiar with disabled persons judge my portrayal of the blind characters realistic is immensely gratifying. Being a stickler for verisimilitude seems to be paying off, if readers are searching me out in their quest for believable characters.

DevoGirl contacted me with questions for an author interview with emphasis on how and why I wrote about disabled characters, which can be found here. While the interview touches on several sensitive issues, I think it might be illuminating for those who read my books, whether they read the Amsterdam Assassin Series for the suspense, the kick-ass heroine, or the blind, but capable, characters.

Enjoy the series, and please, let me know what you think!

OPINION: Movie Adaptations of Novels and Short Stories.

As someone asked me about my attitude towards movie adaptations of the Amsterdam Assassin Series, I thought about movie adaptations in general, the ones who were superior to the novels, the ones who were equal, and the disappointments.

I’m a huge Philip K. Dick fan, but I do prefer Blade Runner to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. I read Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but the Milos Forman movie adaption cemented Jack Nicholson’s maniacal McMurphy in my mind. I love Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange just as much as the Kubrick movie. The movie The Dead Zone is an improvement on the Stephen King novel, with an excellent Christopher Walken, just as Kubrick’s The Shining is superior to the King novel, but, while the movie is excellent, Shawshank Redemption is slightly less moving than the King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Kick-Ass the movie is slightly more fun than the graphic novel. The Pope of Greenwich Village was much better than the novel by Vincent Patrick. Papillon the movie impressed me more than Papillon the novel. Perfume the movie was pretty good at conveying smell in visual images, but the novel’s prose is superior. Shogun the miniseries is flawed but impressive, but the novel is excellent (although Clavell’s King Rat is a superior novel, with an also excellent movie adaption.

Disappointing to me, as a Philip K. Dick fan, are the movie adaptions of We Can Remember It For You Wholesale [Total Recall] and Paycheck. A Scanner Darkly was pretty good, but not as good as Dick’s story. And Minority Report [movie], while visually impressive, seems only to have tentative connections to the excellent short story by Dick.

Personally, I think that a movie adaption of the Amsterdam Assassin Series would skate over the multi-layered storyline and would become an action/adventure vehicle that would be too superficial to appeal to the readers who love the series intricacies. Plus, I think Katla’s chameleon-like abilities to be eminently forgettable and melt into the background would suffer from being associated with the image of any actress, who prefer to be anything but forgettable.

Comments welcome!