Andre Bormanis [Interview]

 

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So, we have a big one for you fine folks today. Our dearest geek readers and friends will definitely need to rejoice at this one. If you are a fan of Star Trek, you know this guy. And if you claim to be a Trekkie at heart, and you don’t know this genius of a writer, I am afraid that I have to tell you that you are a fraud and should not be trusted.

I will admit this though….I am not a Trekkie. I am actually very uninformed when it comes to the Star Trek universe. But, I have always respected it, and this made me very excited to have the great Andre Bormanis on the site. I also knew he worked for Cosmos, and that was where I was most intrigued. But, c’mon, this is a Star Trek god! So, I decided to enlist some help from a dear old friend, and former contributor to the TWS world, the great Adam Mattson. This cat knows his Star Trek almost as well as he knows his psychotic death metal. And I believe the questions that he came up with definitely prove this point. Basically, if you don’t like a question in the following interview, you can believe that it was mine. And if you loved it, it was Adam’s. Facts.

So please enjoy a great set of questions from one of the screenwriters of our generation, or the next (all pun intended). Please enjoy some great words from the amazing writer Andre Bormanis!

You started as a science consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation. How important was it to the showrunners that the science was accurate? In the inevitable compromise, did the science or story take precedent?

A big reason for the amazing success of Star Trek has been its scientific credibility. The Star Trek universe is built on a foundation of real science and technology, extrapolated hundreds of years into the future. The size and scope of our galaxy, the nature of extrasolar planets, how the fabric of spacetime could be manipulated to travel interstellar distances in short time frames — all of this is based on real science. In a dramatic TV series, story is always paramount, but we rarely violated an established scientific fact for the sake of a plot point. When that happened (and yes, sometimes it did) it was due to ignorance on my part, or something just slipping through the cracks. But some of the ideas that the writers came up with made me stretch my scientific imagination. Sometimes I’d read a script and think, No, that’s not possible, but then I’d think about it some more and realize that maybe it seems impossible today, but sometime in the next 400 years we might discover it isn’t.

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You transitioned to a screenwriting advisor on Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and eventual full time writer for Enterprise. How did your attitude change about the writing as you progressed? Was it a smooth transition?

It was a fairly smooth transition since I started writing short stories and scripts long before I worked for Star Trek. Part of the reason I got the job as science consultant is because I’d written a Next Generation spec script, proving that I knew the show and understood the challenges involved in writing TV scripts. The big difference when you become a staff writer is dealing with the deadlines. Usually, once we had a story outlined, we only had a couple of weeks to write the teleplay. When you’re new to the process, that feels like a lot of pressure! But as you become more experienced, the deadlines become less intimidating and more stimulating.

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Do you find yourself critiquing the science in other pieces of science fiction often?

Yeah, I guess it’s an occupational hazard! When I watch a science fiction movie or a TV show, I can’t help but look at it from both the perspective of a writer and the perspective of a scientist. But that’s part of the fun too. Of course if a movie is straight comedy or drama, or something in the fantasy genre, like the Harry Potter films, science is rarely an issue. Most of the shows and movies I watch, and the books I read for that matter, fall into the drama and comedy categories.

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How does your background influence the way you view science fiction?

I guess it makes me a little more critical, but I can forgive science blunders if the work has great characters and a great story. I’m much more bothered by unearned plot twists or unmotivated / uninteresting characters than inaccuracies in the depiction of science. I enjoyed the movie Independence Day even though the “science” was ludicrous. But I am bothered greatly when scientists are portrayed as power hungry mad men or other hackneyed stereotypes.

Is there any current science fiction that stands out to you in terms of accuracy?

SF writers like Greg Benford, David Brin, Greg Bear, Stephen Baxter, and many others in the “Hard SF” field certainly stand out. What I’ve seen of The Expanse seems to really care about technical accuracy, as did the recent CBS program Extant, although they certainly took some liberties as the series developed. Arthur C Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey is being turned into a miniseries at SyFy. I’m certainly looking forward to that.

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What futuristic aspects of Star Trek do you feel humanity will reach first? How far off are we?

Computer and communication technology has already gone far beyond what Star Trek depicted, particularly in The Original Series. Replicators, in the form of 3D printers, are already a reality and improving by leaps and bounds every year. A company in Israel has created a simple food replicator that combines a handful of stock ingredients into a variety of meals in a couple of minutes or less. Warp drive is a theoretical possibility, although a long shot. I don’t think we’ll see anything like that in this century or even the next. Despite all the recent news about “quantum teleportation” I think that transporter technology, as depicted on Star Trek, will never exist. But as Arthur C Clarke once said, if a scientist tells you something can never exist, you can bet money he’s wrong!

The documentary style content of Cosmos allows much less wiggle room than the science fiction of Star Trek. What are some of the greater challenges you face with this format?

Since Cosmos is a show about science, we have to be absolutely correct every time about how we portray science and its discoveries. The biggest challenge on Cosmos was finding the most recent science relevant to the topics covered in the episode. On the Cosmic Calendar featured on the show, for example, we indicate that the first flowers bloomed on Earth something like 100,000,000 years ago. But of course paleontologists keep making new discoveries, so we’re always shooting at a moving target. Same with the discovery of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. New ones are being discovered on a regular basis, making it hard to keep up. Pluto was “demoted” from full-fledged planet status a few years, so we talked about eight planets in our solar system, but now there’s strong circumstantial evidence for a ninth planet beyond the orbit of Pluto, which could be verified any time now. The list goes on and on.

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So what does the future hold for you? Anything new coming out that we should be looking forward to seeing/reading?

I was a writer and producer on the Mars miniseries that recently aired on the National Geographic channel. They’re planning a second season of that show, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be involved. I’m helping out with a new season of Cosmos that’s in the works, and right now we’re filming the pilot of a show called Orville that I’m also a writer / producer on. It stars Seth MacFarlane as the captain of the a starship. It’s great fun, and great science fiction. It will air in the fall on Fox, so be sure to watch!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My cat Suki.

 

Jon & Al Kaplan [Interview]

 

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We are breaking our generally stagnant mold here folks, we have a serious treat for you fine reader(s). For the first time since we started doing these things, we have a duel interview going! It’s not that we were ever against it. We just never really had the offer. But today we are fortunate enough to have a filmmaking duo that is so god damned spectacular, that I now realize that it would have been a disaster to not have the both of them on at the same time. The work that I fell in love with is a combined effort, so of course we need to have both of them.

With that, today’s interview is with a couple of brothers who have taken on the world of filmmaking, music, stage craft, and more in a magnificent way. It is no secret that TWS is a HUGE advocate of campy horror presentations, and these guys could very well be one of the greatest proprietors of such a genre, as the dudes behind the cult classic film Zombeavers. For those of you who are unaware, yes, it’s a film featuring zombie beavers. And yes, it is fucking fantastic. And as per usual, I would come to find out that these cats have done even more amazing work that deserves a genuine showcase. Work like an off broadway musical based on Silence of the Lambs. Seriously, that exists, and it is genius. So with that, please enjoy our wonderful interview with the brilliant filmmakers/musicians/writers/lots of things, Jon and Al Kaplan. Enjoy!

How did you find yourself in your line of work? Was it always something you aspired to do with your life?

Al: We’re still not exactly sure what our line of work is.

Jon: We grew up listening to soundtracks from when we were born, and we’ve wanted to actually be in the film music industry since college. Doing musicals and writing scripts started out as ways to stay involved in the industry and pass time when we weren’t getting enough composing work. Now we have more script work than composing work, but sometimes we get to score our own scripts once they’re produced, like Zombeavers.

You guys work rather closely with one another on most things. What do you believe it is about your partnership that tends to work pretty well?

Jon: We have similar tastes in music and comedy. There are also some key differences that make us into one well rounded brain, as opposed to two semi-functioning ones. Without each other, at least one of us would be in a mental hospital.

When going into the work of a film as crazy and freaky as something like Zombeavers, what is your process, and what are you looking to convey to an audience music & story wise?

Al: Our friend Jordan Rubin was looking to make his directorial debut, and we pitched him Zombeavers. We have great respect for the horror genre; our original intent was to play the situation very straight with both the script and score, and that the comedy would come from how seriously we were treating a ridiculous concept… but the beaver puppets came out so silly-looking that a choice was made to have the film be more overtly comedic and jokey, with lots of profanity.

Jon: There is an audience for that kind of thing though, so it found a fan base, even if it’s not exactly what we originally envisioned. In the end, we were still able to treat the music very seriously, and scored the beavers as if they were a genuine threat.

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Random Zombeavers questions: As a huge stand up comedy fan, I have to ask, how did Bill Burr manage to become a member of the film’s cast, even briefly? Was the part written for him specifically?

Jon: Jordan is friends with Bill Burr, and the majority of Bill’s part was improvised. Jordan always planned to have celebrity cameos in both truck driver roles. John Mayer was the other trucker and they both did a great job.

I am extremely intrigued by your work on the Off Broadway production, Silence! Can you tell our readers, who are sure to love the idea, a bit about this project, and how did you become involved with this project?

Jon: We created Silence! (a musical parody of Silence of the Lambs) in 2002 as an audio-only internet musical before there was such a thing as an internet musical, and much to our surprise it was a big hit. After developing a cult following, the first stage version of the show premiered at the NY Fringe Festival in 2005, and had a long and winding road before finally making it back to NY, Off Broadway at three different spaces, while running over the course of two years. One of our favorite versions of the show was actually in LA, where it premiered exactly 10 years after we first wrote it.

Al: Most of the filmmakers and cast members from the actual Silence of the Lambs movie have come to see the show, which we had originally conceived as a screw-around project, and it’s been beyond our wildest dreams.

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You have done some work as a “Music Arranger” for a couple of awards shows in your time. What exactly is a Music Arranger, for those of us who are obviously ill informed? And what have you personally done in this line of work?

Jon: It basically just means taking a piece of music that already exists and reconceiving it in some way—like in the case of the “Lonely Island Medley” for the MTV Movie Awards, where we were asked to take Andy Samberg’s raps and translate them into show tune styles.

Al: We were working on that show initially as writers, doing presenter patter; Andy Samberg was hosting and there was a plan to do a big number in the middle of the show, so they turned to us for the music. It was a lot of fun but stressful. Adam Lambert was scheduled to sing the big “Dick in a Box” finale, but he dropped out at the last minute because he thought the medley was somehow insulting to Broadway. Forest Whitaker came on board at the last minute and saved the day.

So what is next for you guys? Anything you would like to plug here?

Jon: We have a new movie that we wrote with Jordan that’s in post-production right now. It’s called The Drone, and it’s about a Phantom-3 consumer drone that gets possessed by the soul of a killer. We hope it comes out this year. We have a few similar things in the works but they are not quite announceable yet.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Jon: The last fart I made.

Al: Seroquel.

 

C. Courtney Joyner [Interview]

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Today’s interviewee is a person who definitely reminded me why I got into creating a site like Trainwreck’d. He is the prime example of who we love speaking to the most here. A brilliant writer in his own right, sure. Obviously, that is why we sought him out to share a few words with us. But, it is always an amazing surprise when the magic happens: The person is even more interesting than we could have ever imagined. And he shares A LOT with us! I will be the first to admit that I absolutely adore anyone who is willing to give us a plethora of great stories, as well as insight into a business we are so fascinated about. And ladies and gentlemen who feel the same, you are definitely in for a motherfucking treat today!

Our highlight of the day is the amazing screenwriter, novelist, master of all things involved words, C. Courtney Joyner. For those of you who remember a couple of years past, we confessed our love and admiration to the Puppet Master series during our annual Week of Horror celebration, where we had the series’s original creator (Dave Schmoeller) as the highlight of the event. And we could have tried to hold off on showcasing Mr. Joyner until then, but I simply could not wait. And it turns out it was the right idea all along because, while Joyner’s work in the world of horror is impeccable and outrageously impressive, we would soon learn that he has done FAR more than just the Puppet Master series, and has moved into realms you may have never guessed. Which is all a part of the journey you are about to embark on now with the amazing writer C. Courtney Joyner, right now! Enjoy!

When did you first realize you wanted to be in the world of cinema? Was it always a passion of yours?

I was a film and comics geek since I was born, and maybe before that! I was lucky enough to find myself in that 60’s Monster Boom – so, nine and ten years old, and surrounded in stores by Aurora monster models, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Castle of Frankenstein, Warren black and white comics, and Marvel and DC books, which were in their Golden Age, and just knocking our heads off with images and story. My local drugstore had a spinning rack of all those great Conan, Tarzan, and Doc Savage paperbacks with Frazetta and James Bama covers, and it was half-a-morning just looking at all of them – with the guy behind the counter yelling, because I wasn’t buying enough! But it didn’t matter – I was transfixed. Add to this, puzzles, boardgames, records, trading cards, Don Post masks, etc. etc. and it was, truly, a monster avalanche.

I remember at school, a friend showed me his Viewmaster slides of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, done in 3-D with all those tiny sculpted figures, and I wanted to see them in an animated movie! If you loved this stuff – as I did – there was just no shortage of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. And, at the local theaters, Hammer and AIP flicks were still playing at those screens – and drive-ins, if I could get my sister to take me – while the Universal classics were all over the tube. And the big movies were Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Voyage, and Rosemary’s Baby (which I wasn’t allowed to see). But in the 60’s, monsters really were everywhere. For a brief period, there were, amazingly, part of the cultural landscape, and for a kid thinking about writing stories, or drawing comics, or making movies, – and I was dreaming about all three – it was great.

And what drew you to work so much in the world of horror, although not primarily?

Those are the worlds where your imagination can run wild.

In 1991 you joined a long line of very talented individuals to become a part of the Puppet Master franchise when Puppetmaster III: Toulon’s Revenge was released. Were you a fan of the series prior to becoming a part of it? What were you hoping to bring to the series, and do you feel like your ideas made it to the final product?

After writing Prison for Empire, I worked at New Line, Atlantic, Cannon, and other companies, and wrote some movies like Class of 1999, and even did some TV, before coming to Full Moon. I actually was just tagging along with a buddy, who was auditioning for a Full Moon film on a Friday afternoon, and by sheer chance, had a great reunion with Charlie, and his father, Albert, in the office hallway. We hadn’t seen each other since the Empire days, and talked up a storm, and a week or so later, Charlie asked me to write some films, and since the new company was financed by Paramount he could make an over-all deal with me for several movies, and also give me the chance to direct, which I really wanted, and that turned out to be Trancers 3.

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The first movie Charlie wanted me involved with was Puppetmaster 3, which was going to be made by a great friend, David DeCoteau, and shot in Rumania. Charlie wanted a pre-quel to the first movie – which I had seen at a screening at USC when I was still in college – and I was actually on set for the second film – just visiting – which David D. produced, and David Allen directed. But, Puppet 3 was supposed to tell the tale of Toulon and his time in Germany, and fleeing from the Nazi Agents who find him at the start of the first film – so a bit of history there, and I talked to David, and we decided on a “Pinewood Studios” approach – make it the Where Eagles Dare/Night of the Generals/Operation Crossbow – of Puppetmaster movies. That was really exciting to me, because I love those movies, and David watched a ton of those films, to get the idea of the look, and the feeling. I wrote it trying to capture that “60’s Alistair MacLean adventure” tone – knowing we had limited money, but also knowing David’s strengths in staging, and his ability at getting so much worth out of his budgets. I’m not saying I was always successful at it, but I tried to write to what I felt was the strength of the directors I was fortunate to work with – whether it was David or Jeff Burr or Mark Lester or Renny Harlin; I always tried to write my scenes in the best way that they would be shot by the director, given our money, and time, on these films. And with David, I think it worked out really well.

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Pre-production was going great, until we lost our Romanian locations – Full Moon wasn’t completely set-up over there yet, so we ended up on the backlot at Universal, thanks to David and John Schouweiler making a great deal for us. What fun that was, and what a God-send, filming in “Frankenstein village,” so we had the echoes of those classic films in every shot, and a real “studio look,” which was marvelous, especially for the night scenes. Then, we were able to put together a wonderful cast. I was very pleased with the way the film turned out, and I still think it’s one of Dave’s best directing jobs, ably assisted by Adolfo Bartoli’s superb camerawork, and some of the best puppet effects of the series; I remember describing Six Shooter crawling up the outside wall of the bordello as the “Zanti Misfit” shot, and David Allen, of course, nailed it. I love that bit of animation; especially the moment when Six Shooter looks at the ground below before he keeps crawling toward camera. Great stuff.  All the pieces to Puppetmaster 3 just came together as a little – what I would call – “horror-adventure,” which was exactly the goal. So it was quite satisfying that we achieved that, and I’m proud it’s considered one of Full Moon’s better efforts.

And 13 years later, you returned to the franchise with Puppetmaster Vs. Demonic Toys. What was it like making your way back into the series?

That was an unusual situation. Despite so many of the Full Moon folks being involved – myself, Adolfo, Ted Nicolaou, etc. – the project was developed outside of the company, and I was working directly with Tom Vitale at the Sci-Fi Channel, back when they spelled it correctly. The intention was to do a new series – with a “Gremlins” feel, but with all the great, original puppets – and to star someone like Fred Willard or Martin Mull. When Cory Feldman was cast, I thought that was pretty cool, and was expecting to do a series of re-writes to accommodate him, and his age; that he should be the dim grand-nephew of Andre Toulon, but it never happened, and they shot with him in the fright wig, etc. It was a chance, and they took it – and the results, well, not what I expected. I loved Vanessa Angel as the sexy baddie, and all of the cool, little robot puppets and new, evil toys we came up with were all in the script, and Ted directed it quite well. Also, it had a bigger look, with nice production touches. The film was shot in Bulgaria, back-to-back with The Man with the Screaming Brain, which Bruce Campbell starred in and directed. This was all for the same producer.

I never saw any of Puppet V. Demonic until it’s TV debut – and had to find someone who got the Sci-Fi Channel in those days, which wasn’t on every cable provider. At the very last minute, a pal volunteered the house that he was house-sitting because they got the channel. We raced over, I missed the credits, but we watched, and the drinks started flowing. I mention all this because it had been a hell of an effort to see it, and – well, I did scratch my head about some stuff. The movie has an odd feeling to it, because the beautiful girl playing the niece seems more like Cory’s girlfriend than a relative, and he looks like he’s in weird disguise, and not an actual, older person. It’s not intentional, but there’s an uncomfortable under-current to their scenes – I think – that stems from not re-writing the role to be age appropriate for the actor who was cast, and it’s quite obvious.

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But, I thought that Ted’s execution of the puppet scenes was quite good, with lots of coverage. He has a great eye. And, he was in synch with the “Gremlin-tone” of the piece; it played as lighter, and more fun.

The incredible thing is, that particular movie was put out everywhere. It was amazing how many copies it seemed to ship. Not my favorite flick, but it certainly got into stores. Years later, I ran into Cory Feldman, and when I introduced myself, he instantly apologized for his performance, which was nice, but not necessary. Something was tried – everyone surely worked hard – but it didn’t completely work, which is the name of the game.

In the literary world, you have done very well on the Western front (no pun intended). What is it that you enjoy about the Western genre? What draws you to this genre?

Scope, action, and a human story. That’s the western to me.

I think most horror fans and filmmakers – certainly in their 50’s – have a great feeling for westerns, as well as horror. The Eastwood/Leone films were the great staple – along with James Bond – of the ABC Sunday Night movie, and taking them in, through our 12 year old eyes, we were all touched by their style, and technique. How could we not? The Euro-western exploded at the same time as the horror boom in the late 60’s, even as John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Burt Lancaster, were still making westerns for the theaters. The Cowboys and Ulzana’s Raid were searing pieces, with moments of raw power, as well as great visual scope. In so many ways, westerns are pure cinema. And during this time, there was the rise of Sam Peckinpah. Violence on the screen was pushed by the western, and all these elements came together, influences, I think, to all of us.

Also, for me, it was the discovery of John Ford, and Howard Hawks, Raoul Walsh and Henry Hathaway – all on TV. Their work just struck a deep chord, even if I was seeing them compromised on television, I didn’t care. Their directorial power still came through; the stories still carried me off. The first time I saw My Darling Clementine on the late show – it was like being hypnotized – like the first time I saw King Kong or The Bride of Frankenstein – and Clementine remains an enormous watershed for me. Like so much classic horror over the decades, this is one of the westerns I return to over and over; it’s the sense of scene, of background, and eye for composition, and Clementine has it. Plus, that gorgeous black and white cinematography. It doesn’t matter what genre – truly great black and white photography is always, I feel, truly great. It makes you feel the movies.

Ultimately, western films pointed me toward western writers. One of the first novels I ever read was Elmore Leonard’s Hombre, and then, Valdez is Coming, which has been a huge influence on my writing. I actually read both novels long before I saw the movies made from them. I also loved movie tie-ins, so I was reading The Man with No Name series, and the novelizations of The Wild Bunch and Hannie Caulder. I remember working my way through Frank O’Rourke’s The Professionals (“A Mule for the Marquesa”), and just marveling at the language, and setting. It’s a wonderful novel, and one I return to. This is all before I ever cracked Donald Hamilton’s The Big Country or Jack Shaeffer’s Shane. Of course, these were all paperbacks that I clutched as greedily as I did Conan, or Famous Monsters Strike Back!

All of these western elements cooked for years – even as I wrote spec westerm screenplays that I couldn’t sell. No matter what I was doing assignment-wise in horror or action, I always returned to the western, even if I couldn’t sell one of my spec scripts. I kept trying, and they kept stacking up behind my door. It all came to a head more than a decade ago, when the bottom fell out of the “B” movie market – salaries went through the floor – and I wasn’t getting studio assignments any more. So, I went to prose.

This was all years before the break-outs of the Cohen’s True Grit or Django [Unchained], so the genre on screen was really dead-on-arrival, but there was hope at the bookstores. Larry MacMurtry and Elmore Leonard were the icons, on their own path, but the western fiction I thought I might have a chance at breaking into still existed as paperbacks. But I’d never written a novel, and didn’t know any fiction editors at all. I was starting at zero – and probably less than that.

I’ve been writing about the history of film, with an emphasis on westerns, starting in the 1970’s and high school, and ever since the 90’s, doing commentaries and being in documentaries about films and filmmaking. This work actually got me my entree into The Western Writers of America, an organization that changed my life.

Through the WWA, I met some great people – some true titans – who were incredibly open with advice and support to a newbie, and through them, I submitted and was accepted into an anthology that was published in the UK, but got some notice here, called Fistful of Legends. That led to a new short story appearing in a collection featuring John Jakes (North and South), and Loren D. Estleman, along with some other true heavy-weights. It was amazing I was put in that company, and that book, Law of the Gun – which is in a brand new printing – opened the door for every opportunity I have had since. Fiction was a whole new world for me, and I got some award attention for my story, and soon, was offered a novel contract for Shotgun, by editor Gary Goldstein. All I had was a pitch, and a few pages of a failed comic book attempt, and nothing more. Not even a finished first chapter.

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I wrote Shotgun, my first-ever attempt at the novel form, and that ended up spawning a continuing series for Pinnacle/Random House, and I’m writing the third book right now, with a 4th, 5th, and 6th coming. These are all mass-market paperbacks – and very Euro-western in their approach – at least that’s what I’ve attempted to capture – but, they’ve done well, and garnered some very kind reviews and sales.

And, it’s great fun to see my work on the racks at Walmart, Barnes and Noble, at the airport bookstores, and even CVS. I’ve stayed with the novels these last few years, and that’s brought me back to screenwriting for the studios again. After 30 years, “suddenly” I’m a “real” writer, which can drive you a little crazy, but because of the novels that’s the industry perception, and so you roll with it. I still dive into the world of short stories, a very tough form to get right, and am proud to have been included in Hell Comes to Hollywood, Beat To A Pulp, The Traditional Western, and about a dozen others, right alongside some truly terrific writers that I admire.
As to the movies and TV, after all this, I found myself working on a western, of course. It was for Paramount, our old Full Moon distributor, so it does feel like the writing’s come full circle, even if things have changed a little bit. I’ve always gravitated toward period subjects, including Puppet 3, so western-adventure is a good, comfortable fit for me, and that’s what the production companies have me working on at the moment, so I know I’m very, very fortunate to have these opportunities. And when the subject of all my old flicks comes up, invariably some executive says, “Oh, my God, I used to rent those movies when I was in seventh grade!” That’s when you smile and nod. I do a lot of that these days. But now, if I can only come up with a great horror pitch, at least I have places to take it.
When you look back on your illustrious career as a screenwriter, author, actor, & more, what would you say you are most proud of?

Thanks so much for the kind question, but I certainly wouldn’t use the word “illustrious” – maybe “industrious” fits a little better, because that’s how I feel. I just keep working, and if I’m most proud about anything within my writing career so far, it’s that I was able to shift into another form, and move forward. We’ll see what happens from here, but being able to jump between movies and books is something the writers I most admire were able to do, and it feels good to be able to trail along after them.

So what are you up to these days? Anything we can look forward to seeing or reading in 2017?

The large-print edition of Shotgun: The Bleeding Ground, which is the second novel, was just released. And the third, Violent Times, will be in stores for the end of July, followed by re-issues of the first and second books. But, this December will see the release of my big fantasy-adventure Nemo Rising. This is coming from Tor, and is my first hardback, and has been given the Christmas slot, so I’m very excited about that. We’ve already gotten some very nice attention from steampunk and fantasy websites, so I’m quite pleased. Also, this is my nod to Mr. Verne and Mr. Harryhausen, so I hope it’s a fun read. There is also a board game adaptation in the offing, and I hope, the TV pilot, which has been prepping for some time, will be shooting by then.

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On the movie and TV front, a few things boiling, with some Blu-Ray commentaries and on-camera appearances, but I am very excited about Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland, Daniel Griffith’s amazing, feature-length documentary about the history of Empire Pictures. He’s done an incredible job, as always, but this is really special as it covers not just the wacky world of Charles Band movies, but also how the VHS boom and indie production companies thrived, and then dived. I’m a talking head in that one, but also one of the movie’s Executive Producers, which, for this old-hand writer, feels like wonderful, and ironic, revenge.

CELULOID WIZARDS: https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t-s&p=celluloid+wizards+in+the+video+wasteland#id=1&vid=c6f5d88a790ede655e5975dca6e421f0&action=click

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I like to think I’m a pretty smiley guy – but I can say – despite the controversy – that seeing Peter Cushing in Rogue One was really something. For good or bad, there he was, and all I could think of was, “Wow, this is The Revenge of Frankenstein – for real!”