Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Demons - The Beginning!

The idea for The Five Demons You Meet In Hell came about because my then-publisher wasn't happy with a trend they saw in my work. I'd just submitted a manuscript to them that I was quite pleased with (aren't I always?) called Young Nostradamus, and they turned it down in fairly short order. "You always write about the bullied kid rising up and beating the odds," my editor told me. "We like to see our authors grow and try new things."

I still have plenty to say about the bullied kid, but I saw the merit in my editor's point of view. What if I mixed things up a little, and wrote from the POV of the bully?

With that thought, Boston Lefebvre was born. Don't ask me where I got the name from - it just popped into my head fully-formed and seemed right. It's certainly memorable. Boston was my bully, around which my new story would wrap.

But if anyone had the notion I was going to sympathize with the plight of the high school bully, well... they have another think bloody well coming! I'll write about a bully, all right... getting what he so richly deserves.

With that in mind, and given my fascination for the metaphysical coupled with my love for demons, it seemed only natural to send my bully Boston Lefebvre to Hell. The title was another inspired bit of brilliance - I just love a good spoof title! Harvard Lampoon has Bored of the Rings, Robert Rankin has Raiders of the Lost Car Park, The Sprouts of Wrath and The Toyminator, and I have a take-off of Mitch Albom's classic. If you meet five people in Heaven, it seemed likely to me you'd get five demons in the other place!

Also, I originally titled the book The 25 Demons You Meet in Hell, because I wasn't sure if five demons would cut it. I needn't have worried; five demons were more than enough to get the job done. Good thing, too - my spoof title works much better as-is!

The story came to me as I wrote it, and it was a joy to put on paper. I'd tell you more, but as one of my favourite fictional characters is fond of saying: "Spoilers!" Go check it out right now, with this link here.

PS: I just found out this very second that I'm not alone in spoofing Mitch Albom's title. There is a book on Amazon called The Five People You Meet In Hell by Rich Pablum! Guess he was faster on the draw. I have not read this work, but I am confident my novel and his are very different. It seems we had more-or-less the same idea on tag lines, however; both of us use the "This is not that book" gag. No worries. There's plenty of room on the Internet for both of us.

PPS: There's also a book called The Five Jerks You Meet On Earth by Ray Zardetto. I'm starting to not feel so special about my title now... :(

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reversed Polarity: A Weekend of Who

Last weekend I attended Reversed Polarity, a special convention put on by the same people who have run Polaris, dedicated to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It was another fun bash, with panels and good friends and well-known special guests including... get ready for it...

Peter friggin' Fifth Doctor Davison!!!

What a coup!

My programming schedule was light - only two panels - and problematic at first. I'd been attached to another Star Trek Into Darkness panel, and one on Doctor Who fanfiction. The night before the convention, however, I got an email saying I wasn't signed up for anything! Naturally I was a tad concerned, especially when my emails weren't returned (which is completely understandable, it was the night before the convention and the programming team were busy as all hell). It all turned out okay, as these things often do. My dear friend Corrine McGill (volunteer extraordinaire) took care of my issues in less than five minutes. My revised panel schedule had me doing Star Trek at noon on Sunday, and Fanfiction late Saturday night. Regrettably I had to back out of the fanfiction one; the bus schedule being what it was, I simply couldn't stay that late. That's twice now I've missed out on fanfiction panels! Bummer.

Now that I had my con badge, I was free to roam the con. There was considerably less of it this time around - only half the hotel space a Polaris con usually gets. Nevertheless, the fandom atmosphere was thick and omnipresent, with every second person clad in a Doctor Who costume. Peter Davison gave a talk on stage; I figured there would be an extra cost to see it, so I didn't go. Turns out there was no extra fee, and I'm an idiot. That's two Doctors I could have met this year but didn't (the other one being Colin Baker at Fan Expo).

I did, however, meet and chat with many friends: Jen Frankel, author of the horror novel The Last Rite, who told me she'd loved Epoch; her friend and frequent River Song impersonator Amanda Portelli, who is currently making me a Tardis-shaped notebook; Rebecca Lovatt, who sold me a red shirt for an extremely reasonable price (even though people are just dying to wear red shirts); and many others whom I'm too lazy to name.

The dealer's room did not disappoint. After less than half an hour I'd bought a Doctor Who novel, a Weeping Angel (very popular and hard to find!), and an almost-naked Wolverine action figure for Violet (which she described as "disturbing"). I attended an interesting panel on 4th Doctor Tom Baker, then reluctantly headed home for the night.

On Sunday I had my first and only panel - Star Trek Into Darkness. Violet came with me; she's a big fan of that movie (and an even bigger fan of Benedict Cumberbatch!). I'd been chosen to moderate, and what a job I had. Few in the audience liked the film, and I was the only panelist willing to praise it. And, I had to deal with one of those fans, someone who lives to nitpick in as loud a voice as they can. He interrupted or talked over me with grueling regularity, and my attempts to reign him in were less than effective. Such people can't be contained, only endured - I managed to get my two cents in when he paused for breath. The other two panelists were far better behaved, and just as enthusiastic. I came away feeling drained but still happy. Not long ago I'd have been angry, and I'd ruminate over what I could have/should have done better for hours. Not this time. For me, that's progress.

Violet and I stayed until five, taking in two more panels (6: The Misunderstood Doctor & The 12th Doctor) and even assisting with the putting away of chairs at the end. We also had drinks with friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. Very civilized. I didn't get much self-promotion in, but I didn't have to. I was there with some of the best people I know. That was enough.

Later this month I'll attend SFContario once more! Good times.