Sugar’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes part 3.

Sorry gang, this took a bit longer than expected (life and all its unforeseen eddies have pulled me off course). But, as promised, the real life person who inspired Ana.

Like last time, don’t worry if you haven’t read the story yet, there will be no spoilers here.

A bit of history first. A few years back, I watched a Spanish horror movie called Blind Alley. This film, which was about vampires, was a rather dull affair. It was a case of great cinematography…and nothing else. Except, there was something else, the lead actress. This woman was quite possibly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The kind of beauty that entrances all who witness it.

I quickly added her to the mental list we all carry around. You know, the one that says if we had a chance with so-and-so, we would gladly risk our marriage and or our family to do so.

bapos (1)Flash forward a bit. I was sitting down with the newest Eli Roth flick (his return after a few years away thanks to negative reviews of Hostel 2), Knock Knock. While the movie was laughably bad (mostly thanks to a subpar performance from Keanu Reeves. Seriously, go watch it, he has no fucks to give in that performance), to my great surprise, the lovely actress from Blind Alley was back. And a blonde to boot!

I poured over every one of her scenes. I’m not going to lie, I was in love.

When the time came to write Sugar’s Last Dance, I wanted to make the main character the most beautiful woman ever, which got me thinking. Who do I think that person is? And bam, it came to me. Ana de Armas!

I modeled the protagonist after Miss de Armas, using her appearance in Knock Knock as my inspiration. I even when so far as to call my main character Ana.

ana-de-armas-in-vogue-magazine-russia-october-2017_4To my great delight, Ana de Armas has started getting some bigger roles in Hollywood. She recently appeared—and was amazing—in Blade Runner 2049 as the utterly loveable Joi.

Now, just to be clear, I modeled my Ana off the real thing in physical appearance. I’m not sure, but I doubt that the real Ana de Armas would do some of the things that her namesake gets up to. Or maybe she would.

So there you have it. I almost never model characters in my stories after real life folk, but this time, I couldn’t resist. I felt like this was as close as I would ever come to meeting this lovely woman, so went with it.

-C

AnadeArmas1

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Sugar’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes (Part 2)

Alright, so I was going to make this post about the real life inspiration behind Ana, but since I touched on music last time, I figured I would keep that ball rolling.

When I write, I listen to music…instrumental (or electronic) music. That changed a bit with Sugar’s Last Dance. Instead of the ambient sounds I usually work to, I found myself coming back time and time again to an actual band. That band? Crosses (or ttt).

So, who are Crosses and why did I listen to them? Well, let me tell you.

Crosses is a side project from musician Chico Moreno. Chico already has a hugely successful band called the Deftones, but I guess he needed a second outlet. At any rate, being a big fan of the Deftones, I ended up grabbing Crosses on CD one day (I know, I’m an old man, but I like listening to music in my car and CD is the only way that I can do that).

This album, which is very Deftones-esque, was massively influential in the writing of Sugar’s last Dance. I would start each writing session by firing it up on YouTube. This was also helpful in that I would use the length of the album as a guide as to how long I had been writing.

Something about the record just fit so perfectly with what I was trying to achieve that it became a crucial part of the story.

Now, I know that music is objective to a degree, so you may not experience the same thing that I did while listening. And really, that’s the way it should be, but still, this album was a big part of the story.

I’ll leave you with a song from Crosses. If you like it, buy the album (trust me, it’s super rad!)

Next time, I promise to reveal the woman who inspired Ana, I swear!

-C

Sugar’s Last Dance: Behind the Scenes (Part 1)

With All These Crooked Streets having launched on Tuesday (Nov. 21st), I figured now would be an appropriate time to take a behind the scenes look at my story, Sugar’s Last Dance (don’t worry, no spoilers).

The first thing to talk about is the fact that this was not the story I was planning to write at all. I had spent a couple months prior to beginning the actual writing process, plotting out a completely different novella. I won’t get into what that story was about (I still may write it!), but I will say it had a decidedly Die Hard vibe to it.

You may be asking, what kind of work had gone into the plotting of this original story (or maybe not, but too bad, I’m gonna tell you)?  Like most of the stuff that appears in my books, I started with pen and paper. In this instance, I had broken the entire plot down into sections and events, leading all the way to the finale. I really liked what I had come up with, but it just didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book (compared to Ed and Ben’s stories, mine didn’t feel all that crimey). Which is why at the 11th hour, I scraped it and went with something completely different.

So, I guess that leads to the next obvious question, where the hell did the idea for Sugar’s Last Dance come from? Simple. A song. Let me elaborate.

I used to do this thing where I would pick a random album, listen to it, and come up with a story that was inspired by the songs. One such album was Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children by Mushroomhead. Besides being a pretty rad album, the opening track really spoke to me, and was ultimately the main inspiration for what would eventually become Sugar’s Last Dance. That song was a rocking little ditty called Come On. Oh, by the way, this was back in late 2011!

While jamming to this track, this is what I wrote (just a heads up, it is point form):

The main character is one of the strippers. Her name is Sasha but her stripper name is Ginger. She is a natural red head and so she uses that as her gimmick. She is new to the strip club. She used to work elsewhere but ended up moving because she ripped off some bad guys. Sasha is not really accepted by the other girls.

On the outskirts of town there is a strip club called the Pink Kitty. The club has to be so far away from schools and such so the only logical place is outside of town.

Usually the place is pretty busy but a freak snow storm has caused business to be non-existent. Inside the club the only people there are employees.

There are a dozen people in the club. The bouncer, the bartender, two waitresses, the DJ, the owner and six dancers.

Outside the snow continues to come down in a relentless white-out. Some of the girls are worried about getting home.

One of the girls decides to go out and have a cigarette. In the parking lot having her smoke she sees something. It is hazy at first but as she squints her eyes she can see into the dense white falling snow that a man approaches. As he walks past her he asks if they are open. She says yes and watches as he goes in. She looks again towards where he came from and sees no car. Wherever he came from, he walked.

And that’s it! That’s all I had. I promptly saved it in my ideas folder and moved on with my life.

Flash forward to the end of Dec. 2016, with only weeks before I’m supposed to begin writing my contribution to All These Crooked Streets, and that idea came back to me. Although conceived as being more of a horror story, I quickly realized that the plot could also work quite nicely as a tense little crime thriller.

I had to decide; either use what I had been working on, or go with the stripper story. Throwing caution to the wind, I went with the latter and I think the book is much better for it.

Come back next week to find out who the real life inspiration for Ana, AKA “Sugar” is!

Novel Update 07/05/17

So…you’re all probably wondering where my novel is at, right? I mean, I finished the first draft almost a year ago and still, bupkis! Well, let me tell you about it.

My troubles began while working on that first draft. I spent so long developing it, that by the time I reached the end, I was no longer satisfied with the earlier portions of the book. I thought I could fix those sections in subsequent drafts…I was wrong.

With a new project beginning at the start of this year, I thought it would be a good time to take a step back and reassess the novel. During that time off, I started to get a creeping feeling in the back of my brain that the story, as it existed, would never see the light of day. Well I guess you can call me Nostradamus because I was right.

Basically, I could spend a year trying to “fix” all the things I didn’t like about the novel, or spend half that time rewriting it. I’m happy to say that the decision was not as hard as it probably sounds. The truth is, I’m just a plumb better writer now than I was when I produced that first draft.

So what’s that all mean? It means that I’m cruising through the book (about 20K words right now) and that it will be finished by the end of the year. I’m excited (and nervous) for everybody to finally read it, but I think it will exceed you expectations (fingers crossed).

Stay tuned for more updates and in the meantime, you can look forward to my crime novella (that new project I mentioned) called Sugar’s Last Dance, which is coming out in October (way, way more on that very soon).

-C

And the Winner is…

Trapped!

It was a close race, with Trapped pulling ahead in the last couple days to take the win (by one vote). Fan favourite story, Summer’s Friend had the lead since the start, and seemed like a lock. In fact, I was so sure that it was going to win, that I had already started coming up with some ideas for the follow-up (Maybe one day, I’ll explore those ideas). But, a final few votes turned the tide, and Trapped came out on top.

Trapped 2 (definitely not going to be called that) will be available for your reading pleasure right here in the early summer.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote!

-C

Time for a Sequel

I’ve been thinking recently that it would be fun to go back and write a sequel of sorts to one of the stories in The Space Between Houses. I’m not really sure why I think this is a good idea, it will almost certainly end in disaster.

Anywho, if you’ve read the book, and have always wanted to see a sequel to one of the stories contained within, check out the poll below and let me know which one it is. Whatever story gets the most votes will get a sequel which will available right here for free on this very website. No promises exactly when, but most likely in May.

 

Toronto Bound!

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This coming Wednesday (as in tomorrow), I will be heading to Toronto for a reading. This marks a new achievement for me as I’ve yet to do anything book related in the big city since starting this whole being a writer thing.

The event is put on by publisher ChiZine (I just raved about one of their books, The Acolyte, in one of my previous posts) and is held monthly. I first heard of the event from horror master and all around cool guy, Craig Davidson (AKA Nick Cutter) a few months ago, and almost immediately, Ben and I started making plans to get out for one of them.

As luck would have it, I met one of ChiZine’s head honcho’s at Bookapaloza in Whitby at the very end of last year and basically sealed the deal for attending.

Both Ben and I will be reading from No Light Tomorrow, along with a third guest, and I’m super excited about the whole thing. It’s nice to get out of town and meet new folks.

If you are in area, and what to come out and hear me babble for a bit and then grab a few beers, follow the link to the event page (ChiSeries) for all the details.

-C

Adventure Worlds Summit 2017

The First Annual Adventure Worlds Press summit is nearly upon us (Feb. 10th – 12th), and I’m pretty pumped for it! Wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about? I’m pretty sure I mentioned the summit at some point in the last few months. Hold on, I’m going to go check.

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Hmm, looks like you’re right, I’ve never once talked about the summit. Well then, I guess now’s as good a time as any.

In a nutshell, the Adventure Worlds Summit is a weekend where all of the Adventure Worlds Press projects and ideas for the rest of the year (and slightly beyond) will be hashed out. The idea is to sit down, and make a plan for what’s to come.

Although this is the first annual summit, the weekend getaway has been going on for a few years now with the Adventure Worlds crew (we used to call it the writing retreat). It’s usually three people (although the first year we had four) in a cottage for a few days writing like crazy.

The retreats were always fun and productive. I wrote the majority of my stories for No Light Tomorrow, as well as a healthy part of my novel at the previous retreats. There’s usually way too much food and way too much booze (two things I love having way too much of). This year will mostly be the same, except now that Adventure Worlds is a publisher, we (Ben and Myself) figured we might as well get some business done as well.

The main item on the docket will be the upcoming crime anthology. The stories are being written as I type this, but we need a name and we have to start looking at cover ideas and designs. Plus, we want to do something special for the launch that will take some serious planning. Beyond that book, there are a couple of smaller projects that need to be discussed. I have a few ideas that need fleshing out, but could be amazing.

So there you have it, the first annual Adventure Worlds Press Summit! I’ll be tweeting out all weekend, as well as plastering pics all over Instagram. If you’re interested in such things, follow me for all the wacky happenings.

-C

My Twitter

And Instagram

Novel update

I guess I should give an update on my novel. It is the most asked question I get these days and so I figure it’s only fair to shed some light on where it’s at and where it’s going.

I started work on it a few years ago (or pretty damn close to), and it still has a ways to go. I did hit a big milestone back in late summer/early fall of last year when I finished the first draft. I was proud to have gotten that far, but I also knew that there was going to be a lot of work ahead of me.

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but the cliff notes version is this: I kept changing what happens in the book. Because of those changes, huge sections of the novel which I had already written, became irrelevant to the story and were cut out. This indecisiveness has resulted in a patchwork collection of words that is a complete mess. Needless to say, I had become very discouraged.

It wasn’t until the end of last December (as in about a month ago!) that I finally came to terms with the story I am trying to tell. All decisions have been made. There is finally, once again, a clear direction. It’s time to start a new draft of the book (draft #4 for those keeping score). For this draft, I am just adding in those final elements I am missing and smoothing the edges on the other additions. From there, I will start cleaning it up heavily and preparing it for the editor.

…Just not right now.

For the immediate future, I thought it best to set the novel down for a couple months. I’ve been working on it in one way or another for years and I think it’ll help tremendously to come back for this 4th draft with a fresh mind.

That doesn’t mean I’m not writing anything, as I’m currently chugging away on the crime novella for Adventure Worlds Press that I mentioned in an earlier post a couple weeks ago. And more importantly, it doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the novel. I truly believe that it will be a scary book and can’t wait for everybody to read it! I just want to make sure it is everything I know it can be before I release it on the world.

-C

Crime (and) Story

I was going to post an update about my novel, but found it too depressing, so instead I thought it would be fun to talk about the crime story I’m working on, and how my early writing process, as a whole, unfolds.

The above mentioned crime story is for an anthology. The book will have three stories, each in the 20 – 25K range, and will be written by myself and two other authors. I agreed to take part in the project before having any sort of idea as to what I was going to write about.m002060484_sc7

With a deadline looming, I got out the trusty note pad and started jotting. This marks the first step in the evolution of a story for me. I have about a hundred blank note books. You know the ones, those 80 page Hilroy’s we all remember from school. Every August I load up on the things when they are 10 cents each leading in the new school year. I like to get a nice mix of colours for the covers, but seem to lean towards red and green. Anyway, I crack one of those bad boys open and let my brain dribble all over the page. Continue reading