Sunday, January 29, 2006
All You Do to Me Is Talk, Talk:

Saturday, January 28, 2006
To many, it might be old news, but I just read S. E. Hinton's Hawkes Harbor (Tor Books, 2004) which was originally scheduled to be the third novel in the HarperCollins' Dark Shadows series, to which Elizabeth Massie and I contributed Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark. When Harper canceled their entertainment division (HarperPrism), sadly, the whole Dark Shadows line went with it. Being one of the writers in the series, I probably looked at Hinton's novel from a slightly different perspective than the average reader, so I thought I'd post the following review, which I wrote for the Dark Shadows fan forum,

Bear in mind, this review is primarily geared to fans of the show, who are familiar with the storyline and characters; there be spoilers here.

In and of itself, S. E. Hinton's Hawkes Harbor is not a bad book; as an entry in the Dark Shadows novel series, however, it would have flopped mightily.

I enjoyed Hinton's prose, and she developed a convincing background for Jamie (Willie Loomis) Sommers. It's easy to envision John Karlen in the role and Dennis Patrick playing Kellen (Jason McGuire) Quinn in flashback fashion, particularly in their travels around the world. Her delving deeply into Jamie's psyche -- particularly the devastation he feels being a victim of a vampire -- is masterful, and that rich character development is what keeps the novel going.

The other characters, however, are a complete bust. I have no idea how much she altered them to make Hawkes Harbor a stand-alone novel, but the character of Grenville (Barnabas Collins) Hawkes is so far removed from anything Jonathan Frid would have portrayed that one has to forget the novel's origin as an entry in the DS series -- not so easy when you consider that Jamie Sommers and Willie Loomis are virtually interchangeable. Mind you, in some scenes, I can see Ben Cross (from the 1991 Dark Shadows revival series) delivering Grenville's lines, but even that becomes a stretch after a while. I honestly don't know if Hinton purposefully worked the dialogue so that there'd be no real resemblance to Barnabas or if it was due to a lack of understanding of the character; given her sharp portrayal of Jamie/Willie, the latter seems doubtful. Taken as a unique character, Grenville isn't terribly interesting, although the growth of his relationship with Jamie has its moments, especially at the novel's conclusion.

Louisa (Julia Hoffman) Kahne bears some slight resemblance to her television counterpart, though she tends to be more sharp-tongued and self-centered than the "real" Julia. While most of the other characters are recognizable as Collins family members and Collinsport townspeople, none of them are developed to any great extent. While both Grenville and Jamie are quite smitten with Katie (Maggie Evans) Roddendem, apart from an "unusual" sexual liaison with Jamie, she's almost a non-entity, generally in the background, occasionally intruding on the main characters' thoughts.

(And yes there is a blooper, much-discussed in Dark Shadows fan circles, in which Roger Collins and the Collins Shipping Co. are mentioned by name.)

Structurally, the book tends to be a little disjointed, due to scenes occurring in non-linear fashion, a plot device that can work when there's a point to it, but if there is one in this case, it's fairly muddled. Action and suspense there is none (with the possible exception of a few scattered moments during Jamie and Kellen's sea voyages). I think even fans who care more about Dark Shadows' colorful characters than its occasionally over-the-top action would be disappointed by Hawkes Harbor's sedate pace and lack of adrenalin-inducing moments.

I give it a marginal recommendation as a novel of dark fiction, with a nod to Hinton's stylistic prowess.

* * * * *

Note that Lara Parker's new Dark Shadows novel, The Salem Branch, (a sequel to her original entry in the series, Angelique's Descent), is scheduled for release in July 2006 (Tor Books).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Got the nice news today that I've sold my story, "Lake of Shadows," to The Book of Dark Wisdom, which has become one of my favorite small press magazines. It will be featuring "Terror From Middle Island," which I co-wrote with Durant Haire, in issue number 9, coming up this spring.

Also...might as well post it now...World Fantasy Award-winning Sarob Press (UK) has accepted my novel, The Nightmare Frontier, to be published as a signed and limited hardback edition, probably in late summer 2006. I'll soon be putting together a nice promo page for the novel. In the meantime, you can read an excerpt here.

Monday, January 23, 2006
My latest essay for Storytellers Unplugged is now finished. Look for it on Sunday.

Sunday, January 22, 2006
Our daughter Allison was home for several days, and she called this evening on her way back home -- a truck hit something on the side of the road, which flew up and cracked her windshield. She's fine, but if it's not one thing, it's another. She made contact with the driver of the truck, so I hope they'll work it out where she doesn't have to pay to get the damned thing replaced.

Spent lots of time on writing and promo stuff this weekend; completely rewrote an old story called "Zeitgeist," now titled "The Spiders of Galley Cove." Quite different from the original version. Also started my new Storytellers Unplugged column this evening. Managed some quality time with the missus and young'un watching movies on DVD too; caught The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which I like a lot (I'd seen it at the theater when it first came out); Kingdom of Heaven, which was pretty good, but more Lord of the Rings than history, I think; and The Heebie Jeebies, a low-budget horror flick so disjointed and un-creepy I nearly zonked out on it. Probably would've been better off if I had.

Received payment for my story in Shivers IV, which will come in handy, given all our recent expenses. Phooey, though; I was hoping to spend at least a portion of it on something fun. Well, we did go out for sushi on Wednesday night, so that counts. And Mexican dinner on Friday. Also goot.

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Well, if our travel budget for 2006 hadn't been shattered by having to replace the water heater and heat pump/AC, it pretty much has now. Peg and I just had to spend $600 each on our respective vehicles, and since we don't have $1,200 just lying around looking for something to do, it's gotta come out of what we've been trying to put away for something a little more fun. Still going to try to make Horrorfind this summer, but that's going to be about it for the big shows. Gakk.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Received a copy of Insidious Reflections #5, which features Stephen Sommerville's interview with me, conducted at Fright Fest back in October. I'm always a little bemused by interviews that were conducted "live," since I don't have the ability to go back and fix the things that make readers say, "Aha, another imbecile comes out of the woodwork." Still, I enjoyed sitting down with Stephen at the Lazy Lion Bookstore, and I'd say he made the best of a tough situation.

Got some other decent news that I'll be announcing shortly.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Got with some friends last night, drank, and played a movie game called "Scene It," which was kinda fun. Stayed up half the night and slept late this morning. Haven't done that in a while. Well, at least not since New Year's Eve.

Tonight, my brother Phred came for a visit, so we went out to Green's Supper Club and ate at the oyster bar. I consumed many shellfish. And some dead cow. Mmm!

I managed to finish the revisions for Blue Devil Island for Five Star this evening. Got to practice a little cartography and created a map of the Solomon Islands to go in the book, which turned out quite decent. Didn't find any errors on Five Star's part, which is good. (Those will no doubt all show up in the ARCs, which will come down the line.)

Friday, January 13, 2006
I usually have good days on Friday 13ths, but today my computer at the office bit the dust, leaving me to work on a second-rate machine down the hall, where it was too hot and the chair was about as comfortable as a pile of broken bamboo. No biggie, though, and tonight, Peg and I joined artist Wayne Miller and his S.O. Carmen at the Taste of Thai restaurant for dinner, which was friggin' fabulous. Thai food is quite the favorite of mine, and tonight I had a broiled squid appetizer and soft -shell crab with tamarind and pepper sauces. No complaints there.

I've worked diligently on proofing Blue Devil Island for the past few nights, and I expect it'll take a couple of more to get it done. Nothing major by any stretch, though I'm never very happy reading something I've written in the past. Most times, I already know how it ends.

Battlestar Galactica is on in a little bit, so I'm a happy boy.

Monday, January 9, 2006
Five Star sent me the copy-edited file of Blue Devil Island for me to proof -- though it's still about a year before the book comes out. Spent most of the evening on that; only a couple of gaffes so far, both mine. This one is a slow beast in the beginning, which begins to lumber unstoppably onward, and I personally enjoy the hell out of where it goes. I'll post any updates from the publisher here, of course.

Saturday, January 7, 2006
Finished up my newest short story today; kept the title "Up From the Underground," just because it seems most fitting, though I'm not terribly happy with it. Probably appears on one of the most overused titles list. Regardless, the story came out quite good, running 6,000 words, almost on the nose. This has been a productive few months for me.

Think I'm gonna go watch something monstrous. Maybe a Godzilla flick!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006
I've put up my umbrella because I believe the sky is about to fall. Something upstairs must have burst because, in the last couple of days, I've received more fan mail than I've gotten in the last twelve months, leading me to believe that, finally, I can claim that more than two human-type peoples have actually read some of my fiction. Cthulhu approves.

Working hard on my newest tale, the "Up From the Underground" thingy, though the title may yet change. It's meant to be a bit campy, but maybe not that campy. 3,500 words so far.

Sunday, January 1, 2006
Nice New Year's Eve last night, with Bill Trotter in attendance. Watched a documentary on DVD about the Russian-Finnish War of 1939, which prominently features his commentary, as he's quite the authority on the subject. His nonfiction book, The Winter War deals with the subject in detail; and for a look at the period in fiction, his novel Winter Fire is one of the best historical fantasies I've ever read. Check them out.

A late Christmas present from our dear friends Dan and Maria Smith arrived today: a plush Cthulhu in Miskatonic University graduation robes. Hoo yeah! This one's hanging around in a prominent spot in my office now, I can tell you.

Today I began a new tale, tentatively titled, "Up From the Underground" (subtitled "An Account by Mike Pflug, Journalist, The Chicago Times-Bulletin"). This one's something of a hardboiled, noir-esque tale of urban terror, intended for a specific anthology. Managed just over 1,000 words this afternoon; will post progress as it happens.

The Log Archive
December 2005
October/November 2005

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