PALE HIGHWAY

What’s Your Background Music?

The creative process is often a solitary affair, wherein the creator must form a bubble around themselves, delve inward, and then tangle with their demons. While musicians have an obvious soundtrack to the creative process—I mean, their act of creation is to make that soundtrack—us less-than-musical creatives, if we desire background music, will have to look toward the work of others.

Writers, painters, woodworkers, mathematicians, jewelry makers, and more; we all tap into the same process.  For me, as a storyteller, my soundtrack operates on a scene by scene basis. Sometimes, the best soundtrack is simply the world outside my window, and I’ll use the sounds of the breeze, passing cars and voices on the street to create my world.

But at the same time, when I begin delving deeper into the storyline, I always create a musical soundtrack for every book I write: a list of songs, put together, that capture the tone of my work.  These soundtracks can get quite long, as I do a lot of writing, but I’ll give a few examples.

Art by Shelley C

Art by Shelley C

For The Cage Legacy, my soundtrack was suitably dark, angry and tragic, as would befit the story of a serial killer’s teenage son. There was a lot of Clint Mansell.  Some Smashing Pumpkins, as well. As Ethan is the kind of brooding 2000s-era high school millennial that nostalgically listens to 90s grunge, some of that made its way on there.

One piece in particular that I kept coming back to was Peter Gabriel’s dark, moody take on Arcade Fire’s song, “My Body is a Cage.”  Unsurprisingly, the whole “cage” thing in the title was definitely what led me to the song, but even today, it captures a certain emotion that always takes me right back into Ethan’s story.

PALE HIGHWAY

Now, this brings us to Pale Highway, which possesses a different tone altogether.

Whereas The Cage Legacy was about adolescence, Pale Highway is about an older man nearing the end of a long life. Pale Highway is a contemplative character study of this brilliant man losing himself to an unbeatable disease, while racing against the clock to do one last good thing for the world before his dementia claims him.

For Pale Highway’s soundtrack, the music that I kept coming back to was the work of The Album Leaf, an ambient post-rock project by Jimmy Lavalle. There’s something so unique about the Album Leaf’s sound that totally captures the tone I envisioned in my head when crafting Pale Highway.  The two albums that most influenced me were 2001’s One Day I’ll be On Time and 2006’s Into the Blue Again; in order to fully appreciate both albums, both should be listened to in their entirety, where every track builds upon the last.  For the purpose of this post, however, these are the parts that had the most impact on me:

Naturally, as I write this post I’m listening to “Gust of…,” sipping on some coffee and enjoying the view of life outside my window.  Autumn is just starting to whisper clues about its arrival, but that beaming summer sun looks to be holding strong for at least another few weeks.

So, that’s me.  What about you guys?  When you’re working on your various creative projects, whatever they may be, what sort of soundtrack do you have?

Hey, what’ve I been up to?

So, other than currently levitating somewhere between Mars and Earth while my astral projection explores Pluto, where have I been?  What have I been up to?  Quite a bit, actually.  I’ve spent a lot of time down in the Earth’s core, recently; in addition, I recently was bitten by a radioactive spider, struck by gamma rays and spent a weekend at some weird place called Crystal Lake, where hockey masks are apparently not too popular.

cof_deathwish

The writing life is always a busy one.  As a writer, so much of one’s life is spent engaged in the most introspective activity imaginable – sitting alone in a room, reconstructing one’s most private thoughts – and somehow, while all of one’s writing projects are going on, the writer must also find time to experience life to the fullest – because that’s where writing inspiration comes from, of course! – and so one must regularly go out into the world, have new experiences, meet people, understand the fabric of society, the backbone of society, the guts of society, and all that other good stuff.  In addition, the writer must also go out and promote their work, although doing so is a challenge, since it requires a skill in extroversion that might initially be foreign to the introverted writer.  After a few runs, though, you slowly get the hang of it.  It’s actually pretty fun, and interacting with your readers is really one of the more amazing  experiences a writer can have.

So now, my friends, let me give you guys the update of what exactly I’m working on.

Since The Cage Legacy was finished, I’ve been privately slaving away here at the keyboard, actively developing multiple new novels.  I’m crazily enthusiastic to share these stories with you guys – when the right time comes.  I’m the sort of person who gets my work done way ahead of schedule.  I like getting a lot of work completed and packaged before I fully reveal my hand…so when it comes to writing, one might say I’m a bit of a workaholic.  This work ethic can get exhausting at times, but I do absolutely love writing, so it’s a very satisfying form of exhaustion.  Much better than other forms of exhaustion, anyway.

horseface_marv_mcd4

So, without spilling too much, these are currently the three main projects that I’m actively developing:

Novel #2: Working on getting this one published. It’s insanely tempting to tell you guys all about this one – it’s an extremely exciting project, for me – but I’ll hold back, for now.

Novel #3: I’m currently editing this one, right now.  I can’t wait to share this one, as well.  It’s a pretty offbeat story, for sure.

Novel #4: First draft complete!  Looking forward to editing this one, sometime soon.

Since The Cage Legacy was released, I’ve often been asked – whether by emails from my readers, real life acquaintances and/or online contacts –  what I’m working on now, or if I have any other books coming out.  Ideally, this blog will explain things in a way that both answers the question, and more importantly, simplifies my often confusing and complicated answers.  From this point forward, I’ll try to use the above three “working titles” whenever I refer to one of my upcoming novels-in-progress.

Cheers!

1174748_10151543220437644_1960063243_n

Another year, another 600 or so cups of coffee…

Image

…and as 2014 spreads its wings, as the light blasts through the clouds (and a freezing, bone-chilling snow descends upon us here in New England), it’s time to get on with the year ahead.

There’s plenty to look forward to this year; I have several writing projects to keep me busy, and when I’m not busy writing I’m planning on doing some more traveling, reading, writing, movie-watching, socializing and coffee drinking.

Now, as far as this blog goes…

2013 was my first year here on WordPress – my first year meeting all of you guys on here, and my first time having a regular blog to give shape to, develop and nurture. 2014 will  be a year that allows me to deepen the connections I’ve made thus far, as well as continuing to write about the subjects that fascinate me – be they horror/sci-fi/comics genre-related, psychological, philosophical or whatever else might grab my attention.

In the meantime, it’s time to hop off of here and get back to my current writing projects…because I’ll warn you right now, there’s some big stuff coming up just over the horizon line!

Image

Citing Your Creative Sources

Every artist has their sources.

It’s a truth that too many creators deny too often.  Sure, we all acknowledge the debt that we owe to real life, the true events that have inspired our stories – but for whatever reason, one generally wants to believe that he or she experiences divine moments of inspiration, devoid of the influence of outside media.  Somehow, one prefers to reject the notion that any books, comics, movies, TV shows and books have in any way helped influence the creator’s baby.

chestburst

Like this baby, for example.

But once again, I repeat – every artist has his sources.

Yes, this point may seem obvious.  It’s easy to say that we find inspiration in other forms of media, without acknowledging our debt to those specific works.  But really, it’s important to do so.  By recognizing which artistic works we were inspired by, we can both pay tribute to those works – and we can also successfully differentiate ourselves from them.  After all, there might only be a handful of different stories in the world, but what’s really important is how you make that story your own.

In Stephen King’s fifth Dark Tower book, Wolves of the Calla, there’s a great scene toward the end where Eddie – a former heroin addict – and Jake – the Gunslinger’s adopted son –are discussing the startlingly familiar traits of of the “Wolves,” a pack of bloodthirsty robots that  have been terrorizing the Calla for years. See, the Wolves are eerily familiar, in a number of ways.  For one, they utilize miniscule, golden hand grenades—grenades that they call “sneeches.”  At close quarters, the Wolves attack with energy swords.  Perhaps most significant of all, though, is the Wolves’ appearance.  They have robotic, humanoid bodies, and the only garments they wear are green cloaks, hoods and togas.   As Eddie tells Jake, these wolves look almost identical to a certain classic Marvel Comics super villain – a Latverian dictator known by the name of Doctor Doom.

Doctor_Doom

Art by Adi Granov.

Now, these traits aren’t simply coincidences; they’re actually a part of the plot.  As the Dark Tower series tells a tale that reaches across thousands of alternate universes, having references to such sources as Doom, the light sabers from Star Wars and the sneetch from Harry Potter actually makes sense, in the context of the story.  What’s most inspiring here, though, is the fact that Stephen King goes so far as to call himself out on these obvious sources of inspiration.  Through the mouths of Eddie and Jake, King displays a brave willingness to openly cite his sources, and he even allows the readers to take part in the game.

I remember the first time I read the Dark Tower series, I found this passage enormously inspiring.  I realized that the idea of a writer denying one’s sources of inspiration – the reality of what happens when a writer pretends that he or she isn’t influenced by the media he/she enjoys consuming – is a fabrication that people will always see right through.

top10_dtt

Art by Jae Lee.

Let’s face it.  Let’s face the truth.  Every artist is inspired by something.  Every artist has his/her favorite works of art; the creator doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and to pretend otherwise is to present a falsehood.

And see, this is what’s important, contradictory to what we might generally believe – originality isn’t found by having an “original idea,” originality is something that comes from the unique execution of an idea.  Believe in your concept—believe that, by telling it through your own voice instead of someone else’s, you can make it original—and then you’ll have something special.

-Nicholas Conley

Post-AnthoCon

…and another amazing AnthoCon draws to a close.

A big cheers goes out to everyone who made it out to Portsmouth this weekend, and I hope everyone there had as excellent a time as I did. As usual, it was great to see a lot of familiar faces – including publisher extraordinaire Eric Beebe, and such genre presences as G. Elmer Munson (Stripped), Scott Goudsward (Trailer Trash), Andrew Wolter (Nightfall), David Price (Dead in the USA),  Marianne Halbert, Stacey and Jason Harris (the owners of Books and Boos) and of course, the Four Horsemen themselves…not to mention, plenty of new faces as well, including authors Brian Dobbins (Jasmine’s Tale), Marshall Stein (Rage Begets Murder), and Rob Watts (Huldufolk), all of whom are terrific people who I hope to see again someday in the near future.  There are so many names I’m forgetting to mention – you see so many great people at an event like this!

But anyway, in closing: AnthoCon is an absolutely remarkable convention, and I’m sure it’ll get better and better with every year.  Here’s to the next gathering, guys!

-Nicholas Conley

The Top Ten Genre Adaptations/Sequels/Remakes that Hollywood Should Make

So hey, when are they gonna make the movie?

When it comes to genre fans – and I use the word “genre” here as an umbrella term, so that I can group all horror/sci-fi/fantasy/etc. properties under one roof –  we’ve all got our own ideas about which of our favorite properties should be put up on the big screen – or which properties should be rebooted, remade or just generally “fixed.”  For every horror fan clamoring for them to finally get off their asses and make an awesome, Jason-focused Friday the 13th flick  (ahem), there’s another one shouting that what Hollywood really needs to do is make a big-budget, Christoper Nolan-ized version of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  So when one compiles a top ten list such as this one, I feel strongly that it’s best to chuck any attempt at objectivity out the window.  When one writes a top ten list like this, it’s incredibly silly that pretend that he or she is speaking for anyone other than himself or herself.

I mean, seriously?  The truth is, you’ll never find an objective top ten list.  Top ten lists are automatically subjective by their very nature; they exist as a way for us feeble mortals to make-believe that we have some kind of control over the universe, so much control, in fact, that we can actually organize it according to our whims.

So, without further ado, here is my highly subjective list of the top ten potential sci-fi/horror/fantasy/speculative/yadda-yadda-yadda properties that Hollywood should take under consideration:

top10_bv

10. Brave New World, directed by Ridley Scott

When it comes to the great dystopian novels, I’ll admit that I’m highly partial to George Orwell’s 1984.  However, there’s a lot to be said for Aldous Huxley’s horrifically prophetic vision of a world consumed by its obsession with trivialities, drug-induced brainwashing and genetically-engineered test tube babies…and unlike 1984, which in the actual year of 1984 was marvelously adapted into a film starring John Hurt, there has yet to be a great adaption of Huxley’s novel.

Really, it’s a bit of a shock that this movie hasn’t happened yet.  In today’s world, where society is being consumed by wave after wave of mindlessly solipsistic Facebook statuses and Tweets, people spend most of their time amusing themselves instead of seeking out knowledge, actual human interaction is lowering and we’re coming closer and closer to becoming the genetically-engineered humans that Huxley envisioned in 1931, a Brave New World film could possibly open up the general public’s eyes about the inherent danger of what Huxley was warning us about, all those years ago.

Now, why do I name Ridley Scott as the director?  One – because Scott has previously expressed interest.  Two – because I can’t imagine a director who could possibly have a more interesting, more appropriate cinematic vision of Huxley’s world.  Considering that Scott is the man who directed such films as Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus and the famous 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial, Brave New World would definitely be right up his alley.

So, that’s ten. What’s number nine?  Don’t worry, this is an obvious one…

evildead_1

9.  Evil Dead 4, AKA Army of Darkness 2, AKA whatever the hell they want to call it

Yeah, that’s right.  I said Evil Dead Four—not Two.  While I actually was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Evil Dead remake, I still don’t really look at it as a true Evil Dead film. Let’s face it, while Evil Dead 1 might’ve been a “real” horror flick, for most of us Evil Dead fans, the film that really made us fall in love with this franchise was Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, with its splattery combination of horror, scathing satire and Three Stooges-style slapstick.

Now, even though Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness are easily two of my favorite movies of all time, there’s a reason that this one is relatively low on my highly subjective top ten list; because really, we don’t need an Evil Dead 4.  Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead trilogy actually stands pretty well on its own; there’s a definitive character arc for Ash Williams, and the way that the franchise cleverly slides from all-out horror to goofy, Ray Harryhausen-style pastiche is really quite brilliant.

If Sam Raimi does ever move ahead on a proposed fourth movie (which has been “in the workings” for the last two decades) and stays faithful to the quirky low-budget feel of the original three, then I’ll definitely be in the front row…but as it is, I’m pretty happy with the original trilogy, as is.

So, no, the fans don’t need an Evil Dead 4.  But do we want it?  Hell yeah, we do.

top10_mm

8. Martian Manhunter

So, here’s one that’s  totally out of left field.

Yes, I know that this might seem bizarrely random.  Most people will only recognize this green-skinned Martian shapechanger – real name J’onn J’onnz – from the Justice League cartoon.  Even in the comics, Martian Manhunter is primarily known only as a member of the team, and his individual comic appearances are pretty limited.   DC Comics has never really given Martian Manhunter much of a chance to strike out on his own; since the New 52 event, he’s even been exiled from the Justice League!

However, there’s a tremendous amount of untapped potential in this character – and I think that film is absolutely the proper medium for him.  Why?  How can they do it?  You wanna know?  Okay, I’ll tell you how to make a badass Martian Manhunter movie on a low budget, and how make it sell:

Focus on Detective John Jones.

For those of us who aren’t serious comic geeks, I’ll explain:  back in his earlier appearances (and occasionally in the years afterward, as well as in his TV appearances on Smallville) Martian Manhunter, as a shapeshafter, took on the “earthling” identity of a detective named John Jones.

So then, my proposal is this; make a dark, gritty, noir-style detective story starring Detective Jones, where everything at first seems down-to-earth, realistic and suitably Nolan-ized.  This way, it will fit perfectly within the post-Man of Steel DC film universe  –and then slowly, carefully, allow the sci-fi elements to bleed into the narrative, as the film slowly unveils the fact that Jones’ actual identity is J’onn J’onnzz, an alien, and that he has come to Earth for a very specific reason.  From here, we can reveal that the seemingly “realistic” world we’ve been inhabiting up until this point isn’t quite what it seems.

…and that, my friends, is how you make a Martian Manhunter movie work.

top10_duke

7. Duke Nukem

These days, ol’ Duke Nukem’s street reputation isn’t necessarily in the best shape around; the misogynistic, stogie-smokin’, ultimate action hero stereotype has been a bit wounded ever since the development cycle of Duke Nukem Forever passed the ten year mark.

However, DNF aside, there’s no denying that in the 90s, Duke Nukem 3D was one of the best games around; back when its contemporaries  were still imitating the dark, space station corridors of Doom, 3D Realms was blowing the competition away with its combination of gut-busting humor, real life settings, startling interactivity (“I can use the pool table? I can use the urinal?!”) and a central character who – unlike the vast majority of computer game protagonists – couldn’t keep his mouth shut.  Duke was always full of one-liners after one-liners, simultaneously mocking and celebrating all of the action movies he was playing homage to.

As a movie, Duke Nukem would be pretty tough to successfully adapt; the biggest risk I can see is that filmmakers might allow the material to be too goofy, humorous and/or lewd, to the point where it became unwatchable.  What made Duke 3D work so well – and what most of the Duke games that have come afterward seem to forget – is that while Duke himself was certainly a ridiculous character, the alien invasion taking place around him was a lot darker—and even scary, at points.

No, to make a Duke Nukem movie work, what we need is some like Paul Verhoeven – or at the very least, someone who can master that Verhoeven-esque approach to these sorts of action movies.  Why?  Because in many ways, Duke 3D is like a video game version of a Verhoeven sci-fi movie. Verhoeven was the director of Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers, all three of which are highly satirical and at times quite humorous, yet always maintain just enough seriousness to make the threat still be menacing.  If Duke ever hits the silver screen, that’s exactly the kind of approach that’ll make it really shine.

Photograph by Wilfried Bauer.

Photograph by Wilfried Bauer.

6. At The Mountains of Madness

Guillermo Del Toro (the director of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and Pacific Rim) has been fighting to make this happen for years; it’s one of those “seems too good to be true” scenarios, but God, let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The many works of H.P. Lovecraft, though widely celebrated in horror circles across the world, have been largely untouched by cinema…largely because, for the most part, they’re pretty unfilmable. Lovecraft’s cold, wordy prose –  and his “monsters” that are more likely to drive men insane with a mere glance than they are to slash through horny teenagers – would be extremely difficult to successfully transfer to celluloid without betraying their essence.  Sure, Re-Animator was awesome, but the original Herbert West: Re-Animator story was extremely different from Lovecraft’s other stories to begin with, and the film’s success was due less to Lovecraft than to it being a wonderfully dark, cynical tribute to 50s horror/sci-fi flicks.

At the Mountains of Madness, though, has enormous potential on the big screen.  Compared to Lovecraft’s shorter works, Mountains of Madness has a far more developed storyline, a number of fascinatingly creepy visuals and a very unique vision that’s about as Lovecraftian as a Lovecraft tale can get.  There’s probably no better director for this than Del Toro, but since Del Toro’s efforts to film this have been fraught with peril, and he seems to have several dozen different projects on his plate at any given time, the chances of this movie happening – at least in the near future – seem pretty slim.

Art by Bernie Wrightson.

Art by Bernie Wrightson.

5. A REAL Frankenstein movie

Yeah, you heard me.  Don’t get me wrong, the 1931 James Whale film is a classic – a classic that I still watch today.  But it has almost nothing to do with Mary Shelley’s original novel.

And I know what you’re thinking; didn’t Kenneth Branagh’s movie faithfully translate the book?  Well, not really.  Sure, it followed the storyline more faithfully than any Frankenstein movie before it, at times almost down to the letter – but in doing this, Branagh’s film completely and utterly sacrificed the dark, gothic tone of the original work.  This isn’t a minor point, because while the film is faithful to the novel on a surface level, all of the content’s meaning, passion and importance is stripped away from it.  Sure, the Branagh film follows the same plot points as the novel, but it rushes through them so quickly – in a blurry deluge of bad acting, bright colors and over-the-top sequences – that I find it hard to imagine that any Mary Shelley diehards were particularly satisfied.

No, I think it’s time that we finally had a real, authentic Frankenstein movie.  A movie that’s true to the spirit of the book, highlighting the classic Prometheus-inspired themes and capturing the tortured nature of Shelley’s protagonist, Victor Frankenstein.

Visually, it seems obvious to me that the movie should take inspiration from the gothic, ink-heavy drawings of Bernie Wrightson (see above image).  No artist has better captured the novel’s eerie atmosphere, and his depiction of the creature is easily the best ever; just imagine Wrightson’s monster with hideous yellow skin, grinning fiendishly as it quietly stalks the Arctic mountains.  Seriously, the visuals alone could be breathtaking.

This is another project that Guillermo Del Toro has mentioned quite a bit, dangling it before our eyes like a rare coin.  C’mon, Guillermo.  Let’s make it happen.

deathlok_explode

4. Deathlok

This is a total shot in the dark, I know.  Deathlok, though he’s easily one of the most fascinating antiheroes in Marvel Comics history, is a fairly obscure character.  Over the years, Deathlok has been sidelined, forgotten about or mucked around with many times, but the central concept has never lost its potency.

Created in the 1970s – and thus predating such popular franchises as the Terminator, Robocop and Neuromancer – the early Deathlok comic books told the story of Luther Manning, a soldier who is killed in action, only to reawaken when his mind is placed in the body of a ruthless killing machine.   Now wandering through the ruins of New York City in a horrifying, post-apocalyptic future, Deathlok rebels against his programming and takes the fight for freedom back to his corporate tormentors.

So, how can Marvel Studios make this work as a movie?

Hire me to write the script, that’s how!  But in all seriousness, while I recognize the unlikelihood of this movie ever happening (especially with that Robocop remake on the horizon), I think that a Deathlok film could make an excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The technological, transhumanist themes that Deathlok explores are very rooted in contemporary fears, concerns and lifestyles.  We’re all slowly becoming cyborgs, but is it right for this to happen? Should we allow technology to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, and if we do, are we still human beings?

My suggestion?  Take cues from the excellent 2010 limited series, Deathlok: The Demolisher, but focus more on Luther’s humanity than the comic did.   Deathlok is an amazing sci-fi movie just waiting to happen; hopefully someday, the right executive will be brave enough to take a chance on it.

top10_have

3. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Originally published in 1967, Harlan Ellison’s post-apocalyptic short story is one of the darkest, most unrelentingly brutal science fiction stories of all time.  Set in the future, I Have No Mouth  tells the story of AM – a highly-emotional, brilliant supercomputer that gains consciousness and, in a fit of rage, uses it to completely obliterate the human race.  Still not satisfied, AM spares only four men and one woman from this mass genocide, and proceeds to subject these five people to a variety of hellish tortures—both physical and psychological—keeping them alive for over a century of pain, suffering and guilt.  AM doesn’t have any master plan.  He’s not the classic cool, calculating, methodical machine that most science fiction stories depict.  No, he’s just angry.  He’s already destroyed the human race and the tortures he conducts on these five remaining humans – Ted, Benny, Ellen, Gorrister and Nimdok – is nothing more than the final stage of a long, drawn out, pointless revenge.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is one of the most horrifying science fiction stories of its kind.  Movies likes Cube, Saw and the like owe Ellison’s tale a great debt; it was certainly an enormous inspiration for me when I wrote my 2011 novella, EnslavementWhile there might be budgetary concerns, I think that with a thrifty director and a great cast, this could be an edgy science fiction thriller for the ages.

Now, as far as expanding the short story into a full movie, and giving it a proper narrative arc?  There’s an easy solution for that: follow the game.  By that, I mean the excellent 1995 computer game of the same name which, with supervision from Ellison himself, was a terrific adaptation of the novel and easily  one of the most underrated point-and-click adventure games of the 90s.  The game provides an excellent blueprint for how to expand the characters and where to take the plot.  The game fills in the back story for all five characters, showing us how each of them has deep, personal flaws that made them attractive to AM – particularly Nimdok, who is revealed to be a former Nazi scientist.

kafka

2. David Lynch’s The Metamorphosis

Oh come on, this is obvious!  A match made in heaven!  How has it possibly not happened yet?

Franz Kafka’s famously surreal short story – the depressing tale of Gregor Samsa, a man who wakes up as a gigantic insect and is subsequently mistreated by the very family he once worked so hard for – is the sort of bizarre tale that seems made for the director of such surrealistic works as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and and Dumbland.  It’s not just the premise, it’s the execution.  Much like Lynch’s work, The Metamorphosis doesn’t overly dramatize its insane premise; it presents it very matter-of-factly, never trying to explain it.  It treats Gregor Samsa’s mutation much as if he had suddenly became infected with leprosy or AIDS.

So, why hasn’t this happened yet?  Well…I wouldn’t totally rule it out.

As it turns out, David Lynch has actually been attracted to Kafka’s story for a long, long time.  In fact, he actually wrote a script for it all the way back in the early 80s.  He has demonstrated interest in resuming the project a number of times, but never committed himself due to such concerns as budget, a desire to revise his script and so on.

So hey, maybe it’ll happen someday.  We can hope.   In the meantime, as we cross our fingers, here are Mr. Lynch’s own thoughts on the subject:

“It’s a story that millions of people have read and about a hundred-thousand people have written about, and each one has seen it from a slightly different angle. But…it’s just rich with things. But there’s a certain kind of dark humor that I love about Kafka and it is his stuff that thrills me to my soul. It’s just a completely perfect mood and story and characters. I like pretty nearly everything about it.”

– David Lynch

 

top10_dtt

Art by Jae Lee.

1. The Dark Tower

And finally, we come to this…as if anything else could have taken the top spot.

This one has almost happened a number of times, but no one’s yet had the guts to pull the trigger, and it’s easy to understand why.  Stephen King’s enormous, seven book fantasy/horror/sci-fi epic, the Dark Tower series has the potential to be the next huge Hollywood franchise – but if it isn’t done absolutely perfectly, it could also be the next devastating flop.

The series is Stephen King’s magnum opus, his great epic, and it not only ties together all of his work – from The Stand  to Salem’s Lot – but it also manages to reference such diverse sources as The Wizard of Oz, Doctor Doom and Harry Potter.  It’s an undertaking that would intimidate any filmmaker.  It has all of the potential to be the next Lord of the Rings, if the producers play their cards right.

If.  That’s the key word: if. The Dark Tower is a series that they really, really can’t afford to mess up, so the fact that everyone in Hollywood is stepping very carefully around is honestly a very good sign.

I’m sure it’ll happen someday.  It might be five years from now, or ten, but I have no doubt that at some point we’ll see Roland chasing the man in black through the desert.  It’s just a question of when that happens…and really, if we want to see the magnificent adaptation that these books deserve, let’s hope they don’t rush it.

 

So, there’s my attempt at numbering reality.  Thoughts?  comments?  Your own highly subjective top ten lists?  Fire away!

-Nicholas Conley

The Characters of THE CAGE LEGACY

1174748_10151543220437644_1960063243_n

Photo taken by Jason Harris.

At its core, The Cage Legacy is a story about a single character.  It’s a story about a quiet, self-conscious teenager with a horrifyingly dark, brutal past.  A teenager named Ethan Cage – a kid who just happens to be the son of a brilliant serial killer dubbed “the Mutilator.”

Yes, The Cage Legacy is a psychological thriller.  It’s a novel that is primarily concerned with the fragile mental status of its protagonist, a novel that ruthlessly tears away all of Ethan’s defenses, forcing the wounded adolescent to face the very things that he fears the most.    Because of this psychological focus, most of what I’ve written about the novel – including my essay, Why I wrote The Cage Legacy – has  examined the nature of this conflicted character, opening up his back story, holding a magnifying glass to the remarkably painful situation that Ethan has grown up in.

However, although Ethan is the central focus of The Cage Legacy – and although he is certainly quite an introvert – it’s important to recognize that, like any human being, Ethan doesn’t operate out of a void.  He has loved ones.  Friends.  A community.  Enemies.  He has an entire world around him, a small town full of people who are constantly watching his every move, waiting for him to exhibit the same dangerous traits as his father.  There are many important figures in Ethan’s life, and it’s time to take a brief glance at just who these people are.

So, who are the characters of The Cage Legacy? Let’s take a look.

cage_banner

Ethan Cage – A quiet loner.  A troubled rebel.  A kind-hearted older brother, and a devoted boyfriend.  A surprisingly intelligent kid who sits in the back of the high school classroom making sarcastic comments – and as a result, falls in and out of suspension every other week – instead of applying himself.  Seventeen-year-old Ethan Cage, the protagonist of The Cage Legacy, is like any other teenager; he doesn’t know who he is.  He doesn’t know how he fits into the world.  He struggles to create his own identity.  He feels lost. Powerless.  But Ethan has other problems; he’s haunted by the knowledge that his adoring father, Carter Cage, was secretly a violent serial killer.  In The Cage Legacy, Ethan will be forced to piece together the shattered fragments of his past – and hopefully not lose himself in the process.

Carter Cage – Professionally, Carter Cage was once a respected cryogenic engineer.  At home, he was a loving, protective family man – a hero to his son Ethan, and the best husband that his wife Evita could’ve ever asked for.  But when the truth was revealed – the sinister, brutal truth – it all came crashing down.  Behind the scenes, Carter Cage had been operating as a ruthless serial killer, a twisted scientist nicknamed “The Mutilator,” who performed sadistic science experiments upon his helpless victims.  Since then, Carter was been locked up in prison, and none of his loved ones have ever quite recovered from the shock.

Whitney Dyson – Whitney, Ethan’s girlfriend, is a girl who wants to make a difference.  She wants to help people, she wants to save the outcasts, and she wants to prove her worth to the world…but this devotion is often undermined by her own vulnerability.  Whitney is surprisingly fragile, with deep scars inflicted on her by a painful upbringing with an abusive stepfather, and a mother that was always too scared to speak up.  She has a history of dating troubled outcasts, but she’s never dated a boy quite like Ethan Cage…

Evita Cruz – It’s not easy being the ex-wife of a psychopath.  Evita, Ethan’s mother, is a woman who has never really learned how to stand on her own two feet. She’s always felt scared.  Lonely.  Vulnerable.  So instead of fixing herself, she’s learned to cope, and she’s turned to a reliable crutch: prescription drugs.  She loves her two children, but she can’t handle them.  She can’t handle herself.

Mary Cage – Ethan’s little sister Mary is too young to remember her father.  She’s lived her whole life in the aftershock of tragedy, often bearing the brunt of her mother’s frustrations.  Mary almost never talks.  She doesn’t have many friends.  But she loves her older brother; Ethan is the only person in her life who’s always loved her, unconditionally.

Chris Vong – Chris is a hyper-sensitive outcast who desperately wants to fit into the mainstream; if the popular kids smoke, he smokes.  If they wear saggy jeans, he wears saggy jeans.  If they drink, he drinks.  Like a starving child, he clings to the affections of his best friend, Ethan Cage, hoping that Ethan will lead him down the right path.

Anthony Keyes – Ethan’s other best friend, Anthony completes the trio of teenagers.  But unlike his friends, Anthony is actually fairly happy with his life.  Smart, observant and remarkably understanding, Anthony has the keen instincts of a future journalist – and a dry, sarcastic wit that allows him to get through every day with a cocky smile

Police Chief Lando Johnson – Chief Johnson is a man with a brain like an encyclopedia, a man who has used that brain to memorize the names, addresses and personal histories of everyone in his entire town.  He’s a man with connections, connections that can get him anything and everything he needs.  Chief Johnson doesn’t need to look up your information; if you dare to venture into his territory, he already knows everything about you.  And lately, he’s been taking a lot of interest in a certain seventeen-year-old with father issues…

cage legacy

The Cage Legacy is available on Amazon.com.  Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys next week!

-Nicholas Conley