Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Feeling a little raw...

I learned a long time ago, if I can't be my characters as I write them, I can't write the story. I churn out fake shit that means nothing. There has to be some event that makes me forget who I am and become the one on the page. Completely. Doesn't matter who the lead is, I have to be him...or her...for a moment.

In HTRASG, probably the book and character that're most unlike me, it was when Curt realizes his half-brother will be all right, despite the fact that the kid grew up under the same circumstances as him. He's going to have a life he can be proud of, with a future and love and acceptance and a willingness to forgive, and it sends Curt into complete meltdown.

In LD, the book closest to me, so far, it's when Daniel's in the shower arguing with his own fictional characters and realizes he's lost control of them...that they may have control of him, instead. So he cuts them out, completely...and feels lost and alone without them. It's not until they return that he feels he can handle the situation he's in, completely.

In The Vanishing of Owen Taylor, it's after Jake's been released from arrest and believes his uncle committed suicide and wants to run and hide from the brutality of it all, and Tone shows up to support him without a word...just a mug of hot cocoa. That's when Jake sees that while he can be strong as a rock, it's only if he's standing on granite. The rest of the story is him learning to feel the same way even when he's on shifting sand.

In Carli's Kills, it's when she realizes she's the cause of an innocent being killed. She doesn't shed a tear, just accepts what happened and decides she will never be responsible for something like that, again. She changes from it. Becomes a person who understands that revenge destroys more than just the guilty. Becomes a real hero.

Well...after a lot of back and forth, I finally found it in Underground Guy. Devlin has an idea who might be the story's serial killer but wants to be sure. Reg knows he's up to something and sort of thinks Dev's helping the killer, so is following him. This nearly gets Reg murdered, but Dev saves his life. However, he is so shaken up by how close Reg came to dying, he blames himself and begins to bawl. What he doesn't realize is, he actually helped the Metropolitan Police locate the maniac and, at least, trap him so no one else can be harmed.

I got that, tonight. And I'm wiped out...like I really lived it. I can tell the story, now. It's become important to me, because it's about a man shifting from being an asshole to being human, again.

That's why The Lyons' Den is so close to my heart -- I am just as crazy as Daniel ever could be. In fact, I sort of minimized some of my own psychoses with him. Sort of. Maybe. Or maybe not.

Never trust a maniac to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A little bit from Underground Guy

I'm trying to make this as hard-hitting as possible. It's after Devlin's been arrested for attacking a man.
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Just after the beginning of my fourth hour in that pitiless room, a condescending older man entered, tall, brisk and efficient, his uniform as impeccable as his posture. The instant I saw him, I knew he knew he had a big dick, and he planned to smack me around with it. Normally I'd say, "Fine, motherfucker, bring it on." But this man's eyes gleamed with intelligence and anger, which indicated he wasn't going to play word games with me or try any tricks; he was going to hit me head on. The worse kind to meet in a business situation -- the honest type who shoot straight and believe in honor.

He was joined by a younger, darker, pudgier cop with floppy hair whose uniform was still neat but sported a looser collar. His piggy eyes and chubby cheeks made him too damn typical an English lad for me to take any real notice of. They took seats opposite me and set two folders on the table. No tape recorder. No note pads. Nothing. I also noticed the older man's cap and jacket were littered with insignia, which meant, at the very least, he was high-ranking while pudgy boy was lowest of the low. Someone to carry Mr. Insignia's folders and back him up in court, if need be. Oh, this did not bode well.

"So," Mr. Insignia spit out, "Robert Devlin Pope. Junior. It's unusual for the second son to be named after the father."

"I need to take a piss."

He eyed me, for a long moment, then pulled a photograph from one of the folders and lay it on the table. It was of a man's face, twisted in agony, eyes half closed, mouth drawn tight, a wire cutting into his throat, blood dripping from it and foaming around his lips. For a second, I thought it was Reg, he looked so much like him. Man, I was ready for anything but that, so despite my plans to play it Joe Cool to the max...I flinched.

"This happened last night," he said, his voice vicious in its cold hollowness. "Martin Callow. Married. Two children. A business in Feltham, near your hotel. He was raped and stabbed several times in the back as well as being garotted. Was your assault on my constable to help with his murder?"

I was too locked on the horror of the photo to say a word.

He took in an irritated sigh then slapped my cell phone on the table and pointed at the image of Reg; they'd hacked past my security code. "Explain to me how you knew this man was a police officer. How did you know he was a decoy? How long have you been working in tandem with the killer? Is that how this worked? You created a citywide diversion so your other half could have his fun at his leisure?"

I looked at the image of Reg, again. I remembered the worn clothes and unhappy texts. The way he strode down the street. The cops' flashlight shining into the room and saying he'd hate to be Reg. The cop cars rushing around West Hounslow. Now I knew why they were looking for him, and the words slipped right past my censors, "He was undercover..."

"Robert, answer my question."

"I don't answer to Robert," whispered from me, like an afterthought.

"How did you know about Thornton!? Why did you choose him?"

My brain was about to run screaming from the overload of realization, so I gave him a vague shrug and managed to mutter, "I want to speak to someone from the American embassy, please."

"Of course you do." His voice dripped with flat-out hate.

I looked at him. He was pure stone. I knew the answer even before I asked, "You gonna let me?"

"No."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lion at rest...

Had to go back on Zyrtek to end my sneezing, so I'm close to crashing. I'd stopped on my trip to London, just like I had when going to Portugal, but something about Buffalo makes it a necessity. I take it at night so the worst of the sleepiness side-effects pass when I want to be asleep.

I guess I'm just allergic to the office cats. Nice predicament to be in, since I need the job and chasing the screenwriter dream is close to bankrupting me. Looks like I'll have to take a hiatus from that, for the next year, so I can catch myself up, again.

Of course, I'm owed a couple thousand in expenses for a couple of jobs; that'll pay my American Express and some on my Visa or Mastercard. Still, I never get back as much as I spend for things...like a crepe with Nutella and banana. 5GBP equals $7.50, which is ludicrous. But there's a great little crepe stand under the shadow of Big Ben, by the bridge, and I've had one there every time I've been in London, the last two years...so I blew the money, anyway, even though it put me over my per diem.

That's the kind of thinking that puts you in the poorhouse.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I wanna go back...

This is the only way you get photos of Westminster Abbey's main chapel -- steal 'em off the internet. When they shot The King's Speech, in here, I wonder if they shut the place down or just did overnights.

I wasn't in London long enough. There were a hundred more things I wanted to do. I still want to get back to Derry, and it's easy from there. I love the city. Damned expensive, but it works.

Today was spent on paperwork for the NY Book Fair -- packing lists and summary invoices. We ask for them in advance, for all European dealers coming to the fair, so we can check to make sure everything's in order for Customs. This is especially important if they require an export license to bring a book or manuscript out of the UK.

So...I spent over 3 hours on just one, it was such a mess. If this had been presented to customs, as is, the shipment would have been held and inspected and maybe even seized. Not cool. Next comes the fun part of getting the dealer to make the necessary changes.

I did get a little more done on UG, and I'm close to connecting two sections. I'm having fun with Devlin, Tafiq, and Reg...and even Sir Monte, the dilettante.

Helps that part of it's very kinky...and Tawfi's so damn cool, it hurts.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sitting too long...

Not in a good mood, today -- I have to pay a lot more than I expected, in taxes -- so I focused on writing. Did some good snarly stuff that might stay in. Blunt and mean. I'm at that stage in life where I don't have the patience for niceties. Carli's a hard-assed bitch who's going to cause the death of an innocent person, and she sees it as a necessary evil...until it happens and she sees what it does. But by then it's too late. Now I've got a cramp in my leg because I've been sitting for hours.

I will say, this trip was easier than I expected -- and Westminster Abbey did not disappoint, as these windows in a nave show -- but it also messed with me. The flight was an hour late getting away from the gate, then waiting another hour on the tarmac to take off because JFK's shut down one of its runways for improvements. We got dinner at midnight.

I flew over and back on Kuwait Airlines, and they have got the surliest crew imaginable. Half male, half female, none of them wanting to be there, and none of them attractive enough to get away with their attitudes. The food was okay but it gets almost gets tossed at you. And I'd requested vegetarian but got beef. Which is fine; I just didn't want chicken.

I read Adrian McKinty's second Belfast mystery, I Hear The Sirens, and read a great article on Gerry Addams in The New Yorker, but got no writing done till the flight home. Then all I had the interest to work on was Underground Guy. I'd come up with the story when I was in London in January, last year, and got a fair amount done before I shifted to OT and CK...but being there and taking the tube slammed it back to the foreground and now it's rocking along.

I'm letting Carli sit for a while till I get this done. UG's more fun, anyway, with a hero who's a criminal being changed by an encounter with someone who is completely innocent, and a murder mystery in it all.

Plus, it's got the kind of sex I like.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Some wanderings and musings...

Went to see Buckingham Palace for the first time since I was 9. Not as impressive to me now, like it was then, but still not shabby.

This is St. James's Park, across the way from the palace.It's starting to come alive, including geese hatching goslings and buds on the trees.

The new double-decker buses are very intense. They're mainly in use in the center of town; I didn't see a one out by my hotel in Swiss Cottage, I almost rode one just to see what it's like, but I decided to wander over to the Thames, instead.

To get this shot, I set my camera on the bridge railing and held it as steady as I could. I thought about riding up the Eye just to see what the city looked like, at night...but by this point I was nearly falling over, I was so sleepy. I'd been up for just under 48 hours, not counting a nap I took on the plane.
I took this from just under the London Eye, and had to do it nearly a dozen times to get it this sharp. My camera was timing the shot for nearly a second and the wind was cold and brisk, to put it mildly.

Next time I'm in London, I'm going to St. Paul's Cathedral. When I was eight my class climbed up to the top and looked across the city. It'd be a lot different, today.

A hell of a lot different.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lacking in WiFi on this trip

I had all sorts of fun on this trip, trying to get online. Delta's Terminal 4 does not offer free WiFi. You have to do Boingo, which I've never liked. And my hotel had WiFi for about 10 minutes, then never again. I was only there last night and left this morning, but it would have been nice to be able to check e-mails and such. I'm now in Terminal 5 and using Jet Blue's service. It's a bit slow, at times, but it works.

The joy of travel these days s that you can leave London at 3:30 for a 7 hour trip and get to JFK 3 hours later. And the good thing about Terminal 4 is that Customs was a breeze. They have automated check-through to start, which takes a god-awful photo of you, then two agents to go through to get out. I was able to do carry-on for the trip back (I had a blade in my luggage going over to London so had to check my bag), so I'm doing stand-by on an earlier flight to Buffalo and hoping I make it.

I did get down to Westminster Abbey and made use of the senior discount. Saved me 3 pounds. It is an amazing place, but you can't take your own photos of it. I tried. They politely ask you not to so you don't get tossed out. Man, I'd loved to have done my own thing in there.

Look close at this photo and you can see Big Ben and the London Eye in the background, behind the tree.

I found Chaucer's marker, noting they don't know exactly where he's buried but it's close by. And a marker for Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. I need to check and make certain they're buried there. I did without the audio guide and now think that may have been a mistake; I could have found out right then. This is what comes from thinking you'll do fine without assistance.

I took a short nap on the plane over (got a whole row to myself!) so dropped off my package, checked into my hotel and headed straight to the Abbey. I pretty much stayed in Westminster, but did a fair amount of walking around and had some decent, if a bit soggy, fish and chips. Used a fair amount of malt vinegar on them. And while the sky was blue, the wind was brisk and cutting. Very March.

More photos to come...including one of the new busses.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Off to the home of the Bard...

I'm only in London Wednesday and Thursday morning, so I won't have much time to do anything, so I've decided to go to Westminster Abbey. I haven't been there since I was a child and it just seems appropriate. I made the trek to Sherlock Holmes' Museum on Baker Street and toodled out to Stonehenge, the two previous times I was in London; it's only right I visit the resting place of Chaucer and Dickens, not to mention memorials to Shakespeare and Robert Burns and the Coronation Chair.

It's not cheap to get in -- 20GBP -- and the place closes at 6pm on Wednesdays. But it's straight down the Jubilee Line on the Underground from my hotel, so it's like I HAVE to go, now.

I went to the Writer's Museum in Dublin. Never could find my way to the one in Edinburgh, but I wasn't looking very hard. It was more interesting finding the Forth Railway Bridge (like in Hitchcock's The 39 Steps) and climbing up to Arthur's seat and looking out over the city...9 years ago. Damn.

Time seems to be dissolving around me. The weeks between weekends last forever, but then you look around and it's months later. I still haven't done my taxes. I just set up an appointment with my CPA, today, for Friday, after I'm back. May as well find out how bad it's going to be, again.

But that'll be something to worry about later. It's funny, but I feel like I'm going home. Just because I lived there for 3 years as a child? I guess so. I feel comfortable there, unlike I ever felt in Texas and like I almost felt in California...and like I just cannot feel in Buffalo.

Maybe I should have moved there years ago.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rebuilding the foundation

Today was work on the structure of Carli's Kills, adding in things that needed to be added, taking out redundancies and parts that no longer mattered, and trying to make the story seem natural and real. It's not quite there, yet, but it's closer.

Of course, I'm doing this both in the script and in the outline, trying to keep my focus consistent. One character I thought I'd be losing wound up being important in another way, so he stayed in. And the ending changed in ways that worked a lot better for the meaning. I'd put in some foreshadowing I didn't mean to be foreshadowing but then at the end decided to use it.

And the storyboards I'd started doing no longer work for the script. I guess I'd better wait till it's in a reasonable shape before I get back in on those. The images I'd come up with actually made it harder for me to change the action around.

Tuesday I'm headed for London to carry some books to a dealer, there. They're expensive, so I get to pick them up, pack them in a box and carry them across, then a car will pick me up and take me to the client's address. I'm returning the next afternoon. A bit like what Adam's doing in The Alice '65. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into Russell Tovey, over there, and be able to tell him about the script...

Yeah, right, I still dream.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Women drive me crazy...

Carli's being difficult. And as crazy as Jake used to make me, that's nothing in comparison to what she's doing. To my brain. To my plans. To the story.

She's rearranged everything, so that none of what I've done, so far, fits where I have it. Her meeting with someone who's helping her. Zeke finding out who she is. Her still pushing forward on her quest for revenge, putting his life in danger. She's taken it away from the horror/thriller genre and dug into her warped need for death, so now it's closer to a character study than an action/suspense piece.

I don't want a fucking character study, right now. I'd been pulling back from her being an ex-Marine and she's told me, "Uh-uh. I'm a psycho who's on a path of destruction, and I want people to know why. And why not?" A simple script meant to be shot for nothing and sold without thought has become another one of my "in-your-face" tales, where everything means a hundred things and nothing. Where the hero...well, heroine is a bitch and the one you care about most...except for Zeke.

I want him to be innocent but he won't be. He's after his own demons, and is using them to his own ends. Jesus, I think I need a six-pack of Shiner Bock, because this is how I feel, right now.
And I could not tell you which one I am.