This is the last full chapter of the blog-book. All that remains to be added is the epilogue, next month. Here we have a glimpse at the pre-show for opening night of the musical that is a main focal point of the story…any thespians out there will probably enjoy this one a lot.
Tag Archives: imagination
I’m about halfway through writing the text for the second installment of Grymwyck, which I’ve decided to title Preparing for the Sojourn. In this segment, Belinda Nathan goes back to her hometown of Hastings, Ohio (I’ve given the locale an actual setting) to get her belongings stored and packed for her move to Grymwyck. Much of this first half has been devoted to character development for Belinda, focusing on her thoughts and memories of her deceased parents and her former boyfriend, Sean Fellowes, who runs into her unexpectedly in Hastings. The writing so far has gone smoothly and quickly. My main concerns are plausibility and consistency in the story. With the shadow of the supernatural falling throughout, I hope to present as much logic for the characters’ actions and the various events as possible. I suppose that will make the end effect all that much stronger.
I withdrew the first book, or pilot for the series, Arrival, temporarily to make some changes and revisions. I wasn’t happy with the layout, for one thing. Too bad my friend Joe already bought a copy; the updated version is much better to look at visually, with the photographs “wrapped” by the text. I redid the layouts this way on all my other projects as well, last week, and even updated and republished Dot’s Journey. Call me obsessive-compulsive, but I just like the knowledge that all my projects are in the same format. Consistency, you know.
I also made out an extensive, detailed timeline for all my writing/art projects, beginning at present, in November 2009 and ending in February 2011. Everything in this current “season” is listed and scheduled as far as when I will write this chapter or begin that photo shoot. This has made it much easier for me to concentrate, one month or week at a time, on what needs to be done for which story.
I’m pleased with my progress so far…Grymwyck–Arrival will be republished next week, and I’m about halfway through both Grymwyck–Preparing…Sojourn and WeeWee and Somebody. I aim to self-publish WW&S by my birthday, 2010, and Preparing/Sojourn on the first of next year (2011) along with Echo Forest, which I plan to start on in April 2010.
I just love little people. Really, I do. Figurines, action figures, models…they all fascinate me. I remember vividly my collection of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe warriors, and their castles and vehicles. It was a vast collection, and I recall it very fondly.
It is packed away in a corner of my parents’ basement now, but I have plans to go through it in the near future and organize it, along with all my other scads of action figures, and my Super Powers figurines, and their ilk. I’ve thought about putting them in the community garage sales that my parents’ neighborhood holds every August, but I honestly don’t know if I can bring myself to do it yet. I still have an emotional attachment to those toys, and a part of me feels disloyal at passing them off to kids who probably won’t appreciate or care for them half as much as I did. Maybe I want to go through them one more time just for the sheer pleasure of holding them in my hands again, and reliving those memories of endless afternoons of enjoyment that they gave me.
I suppose I would be remiss to explain why I am including this post in this blog, when at first glance, it doesn’t look to have anything to do with my own personal artwork and writing. The simple fact is, it has everything to do with my own work. My time spent playing with action figures, making up stories, working out plots and direction of sorts…this all proved to pay off as I reached adulthood and began to write plays and novels and to link my artwork with them. I will admit that I was a real tyrant as a kid when my friends were over and we played together with my miniature empire…my main problem was that my friend(s) didn’t put any thought into the adventures we acted out. They didn’t spend time thinking up plots, or how to use each character to his/her best advantage…they just went at it, usually so roughly that I hollered bloody murder. I didn’t want my figures slammed into each other over and over to simulate battle; I preferred just to pose them and let the battle take place in my mind. And anyway, these toys were my childhood friends as much as Steven, Jason or Adam. I would not allow anyone to abuse them.
Gradually, as was to be expected, I set aside the He-Man figures and the castles and the Super Powers and their company when I started to grow up. But my passion for little people far from waned. On the contrary, I became interested in creating my own miniature worlds by drawing characters I either made up, or admired from various movies or books I enjoyed. I spent my adolescence and early youth making paper dolls rather than dating or partying or sneaking out at night to TP my neighbors’ houses with friends. This didn’t help me then, socially, but as I look at my life now, I can see exactly how much good it did me in the long run.
Today, I am a passionate designer/sculptor of the miniature personage, and of environments for them. Some of my best friends nowadays are Sculpy, cardboard and toothpicks. I can literally lose hours at a time as I work to realize my vision of a character I have thought up, a set for a story I am writing.
My love for the performing arts…for drama and old movies, especially thrillers and mysteries…is the thread which ties all of my creative work together. The three-dimensional stagings are my writing brought to life, and they form a drama to be photographed and included throughout the play, novel, etc., that they represent, to enhance it. I will admit that I’ve never yet run across any other work that is quite like what I do.
This morning, I shopped on Ebay for miniature model people to use as “extras” and minor supporting characters in my dramatic dioramas. I wound up investing in 250 little figures…two hundred unpainted…and I can’t wait for the day when I open my mailbox to find them there. Two hundred and fifty tiny doses of inspiration are on their way to me, from China, no less.
It’s the little things in life, you know. 😉
It feels so good to finally be able to settle back into the routine of relaxing and working on my personal projects in the evenings! I never really shelved any of my writing/artwork during my recent hectic exploits as an actor…not even at the most chaotic of times. I couldn’t. I had no choice but to keep at them. This past weekend, prior to the Saturday performance of the play I did that just closed, I went to Pat Catan’s and found some really cool accessories and such for the Grymwyck set, inside and out. Also more Sculpy to create the three new characters who will appear in the second installment of the series. Can’t wait to get started!
Since I’m occupied with acting these days, I don’t want to get enmeshed in anything brand-new or demanding where writing/art is concerned. But those energies still have to be channelled somehow, so what I’ve been doing is concentrating, in my spare time, on the miniature figure tokens for Closing Night, and the minimal sets for the dioramas that will make up the illustrations; in addition, I’m designing a town for the setting of Julian Mumford Mysteries. I’ve never done that before, and it’s fun.
I’ve named the town Autumn Woods, and it is in Ohio, somewhere in the northeast region here where I live. So, those pursuits have given me something to do in the rare moments when I’m offstage.
Also, each month, I am continuing to write, illustrate and post a new chapter for WeeWee and Somebody. Hard to believe, but I’m almost due to start work on another one.
I’ve completed the photo shoot for THDTL…also have shopped for the insert shots online, through free stock photography sites. I’m pleased with how it’s turning out so far. Now it’s time to start putting it all together!
So…here we go. First up–the second installment of Grymwyck. The first book in the series was just published and made available on lulu.com, and it went so well that I’m really eager to continue. I’m not sure yet of the title, but the plotline will deal with the journey back home by the heroine, Belinda Nathan, to get her possessions together for the move to Grymwyck, so that she can take up her duties as Margaret Wetherby’s personal secretary.
In the process, more will be revealed about Belinda’s past, including her relationship with Sean Fellowes, her ex-boyfriend, who is briefly mentioned in Arrival. Sean and Belinda will meet up unexpectedly, and Belinda will literally run from him. Back at Grymwyck, she will face more drama from the various residents; Katherine will be in rare form as jealousy takes over when Lucas offers Belinda an old manuscript to proofread, and at the end of the episode, a character will fall deathly ill. Hint: it’s not Margaret, who will only be glimpsed briefly in this one…her shadow will fall throughout, however, as Belinda argues with herself as to whether she really saw what she thinks she did at the end of Arrival, when she stood outside of Margaret’s room. This second book will have the same format as the first, with photography of the character sculptures against miniature backgrounds as illustrations.
WeeWee and Somebody is a direct throwback to my childhood, when I did a lot of cartooning and sketching. I did a whole series of drawings around this duo…a living popsicle named WeeWee and his witchlike friend/mother figure, simply known as Somebody. These cartoons were a huge hit with my parents and relatives, and when I had a dream about them the other night, I thought maybe it was time to revive them. My intention is to make WeeWee and Somebody the subjects of a children’s book that adults can appreciate…or an adult’s book that children can appreciate. This time around, WeeWee will be a very reclusive ten-year-old boy who gained his nickname through being unusually small at birth. (Also, he can’t hit the commode when he pees.)
WeeWee’s parents are getting a divorce, and he is sent to live for a while with his aunt, whom his parents have always scornfully described as “trying to be somebody”. Aunt Somebody is a tart-tongued wealthy matron, former actress and recovered alcoholic who begins to develop a meaningful friendship with WeeWee…until her estranged daughter returns suddenly, demanding money, and threatening to publish a tell-all memoir of her childhood, during which her mother was tyrannical and abusive, if she doesn’t get it. The illustrations in this book, I think, will be simple pen-and-ink sketches, in homage to the story’s original conception as a comic strip. Also, I have plans to publish the story chapter by chapter in blog format, and then in book form when completed.
My next project–the true centerpiece of this “season”, will be considerably darker…quite possibly the darkest I have ever attempted, and I only hope that I have the fortitude to see it through. Echo Forest–A Film in Print, will have as its foundation the true story of sixteen-year-old Sylvia Likens, who was tortured to death by her caregiver, Gertrude Baniszewski, and her children in Indianapolis in 1965. The case has haunted me ever since I first learned of it when a friend of mine sent me the link for the trailer of a recent film based on it, titled An American Crime.
This is the trailer for The Girl Next Door, another film (oddly enough, released during the same year as AAC–2007) which is based on horror author Jack Ketchum’s fictionalization of the case.
I don’t plan to dramatize or fictionalize Likens’s ordeal; rather, I would like to go a step further and use it as a cautionary tale for the leading character in my own story, Kit MacGuire, who is being severely abused by her father. In nearby Echo Forest stands an old house where a young girl named Susan suffered a fate similar to that of Likens at the hands of her stepmother and stepsiblings. Kit eventually enters the house out of curiosity, and experiences a flashback in time to when Susan was murdered. The experience shows her, uncompromisingly, what could happen to Kit herself if she doesn’t inform the authorities of her father’s treatment, which, until now, she has been too proud to do. The graphics of the “film” will be of digital photographs of mixed-media dioramas and miscellaneous stock images, and drawings.
I’ve often thought about creating a fictional sleuth to appear in several shorter stories, a la Agatha Christie with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Julian Mumford, a youngish, dry-witted, rather prickly gay writer, is my own sleuth (and alter ego). Instead of the detective angle, though, I would like to make Julian more of a “reconstructor” of the crimes and their backstories. The stories’ appeal won’t be so much in the whodunit as the why and howdunit. Through Julian’s creative speculation, all is revealed…with a disclaimer, of course, that he has taken liberties with the actual facts of the cases, some of which are never disclosed. I have three to five short plays in the trunk that would benefit well from this format; murder mysteries that don’t quite stand on their own well enough to be developed fully. With Mr. Mumford on board, however, I think they could be quite entertaining. The stories would, over time, involve everything from poisoned wine to a ghostly figure in waterfront fog to a homage to Psycho. Julian Mumford Mysteries will be a photonovel anthology, with the characters and settings created in miniature dioramas and digitally photographed…except for Julian himself. I’m toying with the idea of inserting fragmentary photos of my own features and hands to represent Julian. I would like to set the stories in my local area of Ohio, and have already begun creating a fictional town, Autumn Woods, for this purpose.
Rounding out the season will be Closing Night–A Play with Pictures, which will be something of a comedy-mystery focusing on a murder during a final dress rehearsal of an awful play. The story will focus less on the actual murder and investigation than the various personalities in the theatre where the play is being performed; the actors, the director, the tech people, and all the insanity and eccentricity behind what it means to be part of show business. Having spent many years as an actor myself, I feel confident that I’ve seen more than enough to be able to make the story realistic…and fun. The script will be enhanced by unpainted sculptures of the characters, photographed in black-and-white on a minimalist background/set.
I aim to self-publish all of these works except the play, Closing Night, preferring to wait until it gets a production and therefore, gets a final polishing.
So, there it is…I’m going to be busy, and I’m excited. As I mentioned, I feel I’m looking at close to two years to realize, fully, all of these projects, but this may vary according to their degree of difficulty and/or other events in my life. In any case, I’ll do my best to post updates on each one when the time comes. 😉