My Warning To Warner Brothers Regarding The Dragonriders of Pern

You’d better not screw this up. Seriously.

I’m going to give you a brief history lesson, followed with some suggestions which will be roundly ignored. We fans can trust Hollywood to do what’s right with our beloved characters and stories? Right?

Now that we’ve ll caught our breath after a long, maniacal laugh, let’s examine some recent history. I love Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books so much my wife and I named our Basset Hound “Jack Reacher”. Incredibly, our hound is roughly the same height as Tom Cruise, who is a delightful performer but is NOT SIX FEET FIVE INCHES TALL. Let’s look at the evidence:

“Small, but well preserved.”

And here is the actual hound: note the similar elevation:

“I could totally do Tom’s stunts.”

I rest my case. Way to go, Hollywood. Just hose the fans down with explosions and hope for the best.
I’m also a lifelong fan of Clive Cussler, who was nice enough to write me a return letter some fifteen years ago. Dirk Pitt is my own literary James Bond, and yet, the film that was made (Didn’t see it? Don’t worry. Nobody else did, either) not only tanked the series, it assured Clive Cussler would never again trust anyone from California. Way to go.

Which brings us to The Dragonriders of Pern.

I love everything about these books. Anne McCaffrey shaped an entire generation of readers of which I am one. I love Pern. I love her dragons. I cheer for her concepts of honor and duty, and read and re-read the books almost yearly. This is one of the longest relationships of my life– I was given my first McCaffrey book in 1980, by my friend Tim McCoy. I still have it.

When I speak about my passions, the world of Pern is among them. It took me four decades to become a writer, and about ten seconds to figure out the dedication of my first novel that had dragons, Banshee.

Even he majestic cover art of Michael Whelan  withstands the test of time. His vivid colors and sweeping vistas tell the reader that this story is big. Here is his vision of Lessa on Ramoth. If you don’t know those names, you should.


So, here we are on the precipice of a movie.
Warner Brothers has optioned the film rights and assigned a writer. Meet Sarah Cornwell:

I don’t know anything about Sarah, but I wish her well. Right now, I regard her with the suspicion of a parent watching someone handle their newborn child; in essence I hope for the best but expect the worst, because the ways that my precious Pern can be destroyed by modern sensibilities are virtually endless. Anne McCaffrey wasn’t just a great writer; she was a keystone in the world of science fiction as early as the year I was born. She’s among the first women to break out into the wider culture of Science Fiction and Fantasy authors– and she did so with strong characters, a world that regarded social organization as an aside rather than an ax to be smashed against the head of readers, and a narrative in which honor transcended the need for pat social commentary.
 In short, she’s everything that Hollywood is not.
I know I’m not alone in wondering if the script that is written will be tortured into something that meets the current narrative of Good Society.
 Dear God in heaven, the uproar will make the legions of Eragon fans look like a hiccuping baby– these books have been around for fifty years, and the fans are incredibly loyal.

And savvy on social media.

And well funded enough that I for one can imagine full page ads being taken in out in trade papers to refute any craptastic attempt to ruin our collective image of Pern.

Long story short, consider this a warning: don’t tank this story. Don’t you friggin’ dare. Don’t twist it or modernize it or do any of that horseshit that Hollywood does to great stories, and you’ll have a billion ( that’s a B, are you listening?) dollar franchise on your hands that can run for years.

We’ll be watching, but if you ruin it, we won’t. You’ve been warned.

The Birthday Donkey Whisperer

Seven Years Ago, I Became A Dad.

My bride and I brought a relatively normal sized infant into the world. He’s growing at an alarming rate, due in part to the height on both sides of the family. Missy comes from a long line of Vikings. I come from a long line of angry American mutts- all quite tall. It’s a genetic match made in heaven if your goal in life is to produce a child who will never need a stepladder to change light bulbs. This is the boy:

The Post-Apocalyptic landscape is our backyard in the glory of “Spring”, a mythical season that’s actually just a period of mud followed by storm warnings, hail, and then the heat of summer. The boy is lounging, being tall. That’s what he does.

We Had A Birthday Party.
He turned seven. We ate a lot of birthday food, had fun, and rode around in a train that we hired for the afternoon. It was delightful. Here we are in our Official Land’s End Camouflage. We like stripes:

 It was held at my Mother-in-Law‘s home; she has more room and less barking dogs. Her backyard is adjacent to a pasture, where there are friendly horses and a donkey whom we’ve known for more than a decade.
This is the donkey:

I must confess: I don’t know a lot of donkeys, but this guy seems to be an absolute gem. He’s not stubborn at all. He’s friendly, fuzzy, generally cheerful, and seems to be willing to charge across any amount of open pasture to answer my bride’s call. She is. . . the Donkey Whisperer. Don’t get me wrong; all animals love her. But this donkey obeys, and he gives the impression of tail-wagging, even though that’s more a dog thing.

He’s besotted with her. Me too, but I get to live inside. And wear pants.

There are an array of horses, too– quite friendly, a bit quirky, as horses are, and fun for the son to feed.

Handsome fellow. Again, I confess to not knowing a great deal about horses unless they are French War Horses, or some other variety used throughout the Middle Ages/Renaissance. That’s more my area, but these guys are dandy. They put the frosting on the party, so to speak.

That concludes the farm report. New audiobook is out this week, it’s fantastic (Thank you Rebecca Cook!). All three current books are chugging along beautifully. I’ve got a zombie short story on Amazon, too– fun for a quick read.
Find everything here: Terry’s Dragons and Zombies and Critters. Oh my.
 If you like audiobooks and want a review copy, let me know. I’ve got a few to give away.

Until next time. Cheers!

The Moon Can Be Lonely

Moonlight is the Great Mood Setter.

I’m writing a book where the main character loves the floor of her kitchen because that’s where the moon shines. That’s autobiographical; in our house, the moons shines perfectly onto the kitchen floor with a buttery square that, over the course of a night, turns into a rhombus. Or a parallelogram. Maybe both are true, but this isn’t 7th grade math, so we’ll just say the light from the moon changes shape.

This is, allegedly, a rhombus.

People like to write sad songs. Enter the moon.

If love and the moon didn’t exist, I’m not sure what anyone would write songs about. Let’s face it, the moon does double duty– it can be uplifting, and it can signify the futility of every stupid thing that is happening in your life at the moment you cast your eyes skyward and see that Big Ball of Judgment hanging overhead. Seriously, if you can listen to Neko Case sing about the moon and not feel queasy, you’ve got a constitution of stone.
A full moon elicits us saying that everyone except us is crazy, unless you’ve just said to hell with it and embraced your own crazy. More power to you. I for one have experienced both sides of this moon issue. On the water, the moon is particularly powerful. It can force us to assess our lives, or try for a kiss at the girl standing with us, or even decide to pick up the phone and forgive someone. The moon has that kind of clout.

“Don’t mind me. I’m just snickering at your life.”

A sense of wonder, too.

Maybe you’re immune to wonder. I hope you aren’t. I hope that whatever happens, you aren’t robbed of the ability to be dumbstruck by the elegance, or distance, or even the sheer alien nature of something that seems like a marvelous, luminary toy that hangs just out of our reach.When the moon is a whisper, at its thinnest state is when I tend to think of it as being something exotic. Stars crowd around and, for a day or two, it becomes an echo. Is that the saddest moon? I don’t know. Maybe any moon can be joyous, although I tend to find it something that  makes us think more than just feel inexplicable happiness. Maybe it’s because the moon is second-hand sunlight, and it needs us to recognize a purpose other than life. Maybe the purpose is something that changes as our moods change, just like the face of the moon itself.

Cool to the Touch

Well, someone had to do it. 

A friend of mine wondered why there wasn’t any zombie erotica.

“That’s interesting,” I thought. So I sat down and wrote something that answers a few questions about what happens after the zombie apocalypse. As in, what happens to someone’s carnal desires.
It’s only 99 cents at Amazon (free if you have KindleUnlimited).
Get it here: Zombies Need Love Too!

So, after you’ve gotten done being freaked out, go take a look. It’s short, atmospheric, and unique.

Here’s the cover art, which captures the feel:

Oh, and one more thing: Don’t you judge me. Heh.

Outlander: Current Casting Concerns

Let’s be clear: So far, Great.

The team at Outlander has selected some actors who are going to be iconic for their parts in the series.
I don’t think anyone could have prepared for the onscreen malice of Tobias Menzies, the luminous versatility of Cait, or the presence of Sam. Great job all ’round.

HOWEVER.

Since my home state was in the grip of winter this month, and I had to run on a godforsaken treadmill (it’s really a deathtrap with handrails), I have been listening to “Drums of Autumn”. This reinforces several concerns.

1. Davina Porter, please narrate my life. 
This should be self-explanatory. “Terry selected an apple with the verve of a charging knight. He would make the apple his own, one sensual bite at a time.” Annnnnd SCENE.
2. Please Dear Lord, let Brianna be tall. Let Roger be taller.
I cannot abide the destruction of another beloved literary character due to a lack of height. It happened once, and if it happens again, you’re going to see some aberrant behavior on my part. By aberrant behavior I mean, “beating the casting agents senseless with a sock full of bolts”.

I AM TOO 6’5″.

 Another point: Brianna must have cat eyes. And she must have a nontraditional beauty that dares me to look away. And freckles. And long legs. That’s just a personal preference, but I want my wishes to be on record. I have standards.
3. The Lord John Issue.
Easily one of my favorite characters, he has to be charming. Urbane. He must have the gravity of charisma and a trustworthy nature that merits Jamie’s friendship, and later, Brianna’s. Also, he better be blonde. None of this “sort of brown as a blonde” nonsense. Don’t tell me there aren’t British blondes; I’ve seen the BBC in the 1970s. It looked like a Nazi recruiting poster.
4. Ulysses
Look, slavery was the bane of humanity, and I don’t want to descend into a political lesson. I hope that the cultured gravity of Ulysses can be found in an actor without resorting to some sort of mishmash where the character is turned into a boilerplate activist. That will ruin the dynamic between Jocasta and Ulysses.
5. Jocasta
For the love of all that is holy, please find an actress who bridges that intellect and grace without being an intransigent harridan. The temptation to make Jocasta into a sort of taskmaster might be present, but I can only hope that she is presented as written: Intelligent, graceful, and oh-so-very-Scots.

That’s all for now. I have plenty to worry about before Black Jack starts his onslaught on my psyche via sexual torture. I like to think of it as “Fifty Shades of Cray”, because everything that happens to Jamie is flat-out insane.

Until next time. Buy my books, I want to buy a Scottish island, and yes,you can come visit.

Cheers!
Terry

 

Haircut Day.

I Have Two Hair Stages.

Acceptable, and unacceptable. There is no middle ground.

I like to keep my business in order. This stems from years as a victim of 80s Hair Syndrome. For women, it involved aquanet. Cans and cans of aquanet.

I am a dude. Ergo, I gel.

Tomorrow. Haircut day.

I have two basic looks as well, based on the length of my hair and the time of day. When my hair is long(er), or as my wife calls it, “normal”, then I look a lot like someone who might be a news anchor at a small station you’ve never heard of. Here is an example of said hair in 1986:

Problems. Time of Day. And Problems.

If I am unable to get a haircut every three weeks, then we have a problem. When I wake up in the morning, I have a distinct look that my wife calls Handsome But Homeless. Here is what you might expect during the hour of 5-6 AM.

So.
As you can see, it’s in everyone’s interest that I maintain a sleek look, about the same length as that of a beagle’s coat.

Thanks for your time. Now let’s mousse up. Or gel up. Whatever.

 

Old Books, Dinosaurs, and Being Terrible At Math

I didn’t bother to look it up. What qualifies as Antique?

I know I’m getting perilously close to being old because the books I read as a kid are now valuable. My school lunchbox is probably worth a hundred bucks, easily, and that’s assuming I don’t clean out the fossilized peanut butter residue. The difference between old books and antiques is that I read my books and enjoy them. I don’t gaze at them, dust them, or forget about them as a relic of a bygone era. And I may be strange for saying this, but old books just smell good.

My Bookshelf:
From the age of four, my bookshelf centered on the following topics:
1. Dinosaurs
2. Rockets
3. Volcanoes
4. Dragons
5. Monsters
6. Fossils
7. Any combination of the above, but in space.
I present exhibit one, a 1956 volume that is now so out of date is exists only as a relic. Sort of the way I will be someday, but with less complaining about the temperature of my soup. 

Let’s take a look inside this beauty.

Gorgeous. I love everything about this book. From the tales of hunting fossils in the Gobi Desert to Montana, it’s amazing.
I also learned that my love for reading had some serious effects on my life. Case in point: while other students were actually doing math, I was busy writing stories about aliens that came up from secret tunnels in the bottom of farm ponds which naturally connected to another dimension and oh by the way, they look a lot like snapping turtles. I present the following evidence from 1983, my Freshman year of high school:

Ouch. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a student who will go on to achieve great things in History.
I’ve been pawing through my old books; there are titles in my collection that I’d nearly forgotten, but when I pick them up the entire story floods back to me like a returning tide. I love my old books. They’re a record of what I was doing (or not doing–math) and not unlike an old group of friends who will wait for your forever. Books are loyal. Stories are permanent, as long as we remember them.

And Algebra is the devil.

A Brief Word About Pie

Maybe not too brief, but definitely about pie.

Pie transcends my need to eat. I love pie. I specifically enjoy pie between the hours of 1-3AM, usually eaten while standing at the kitchen sink, looking over the back yard. On nights with the moon, I have the reflected light of the sun to illuminate my shameful gorging. And yet, the moon always welcomes me back, or maybe I just ignore any protests because there’s pie. And milk.

I come from a long line of bakers; our family restaurant was actually called “The Pie Stand”, so this fascination is both genetically acquired and learned. It’s here to stay.
Here is a peach pie I made when I visited my buddy Tim. Nothing says, “I’m glad we were pals before puberty” like a baked good.

Question: What Makes A Pie?

I know we’ve all had sweet pies. Can pies be savory and still be considered pie? I’ve eaten meat or potato pie varieties in several countries, and I think I’m comfortable with that nomenclature. True, I have no desire to drink milk while eating a delicious, gravy laden Australian meat pie, but still. There was a crust and filling. I feel the same way about spicy Jamaican meat pies. Chicken pot pie, Shepherd’s pie– still technically pie. Right? Or, no?
Fruit. Chocolate. Dairy. Hybrids.
Fruit makes for an excellent filling (blueberry, apple, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb). I can also see the attraction of cream pies– Boston or Coconut make me crazy. I would fight a circle saw for either of those kinds of dessert. Holidays bring out the baker in all of us. Thanksgiving? Pumpkin. Sweet Potato. Apple. Christmas? Mincemeat. Apple. Pecan.
I heartily approve of holidays that activate our latent baking genes.
The Hybrids.
These are the pies that really take some culinary willpower. Your Black Forest, Chess, and Chocolate Silk fall into this zone. They’re stunning to look at, but more labor intensive. Not really fussy, just demanding.
The Endless Variety.
Look at this bowl of berries:

There’s a lot of pie-tential in that bowl. I can think of three kinds of pie offhand that can be made from that simple bowl of fruit, and that’s without getting Second Level Awesome and using terms like “coulis” and “measuring”.
I’m open to suggestions. I think– and this is just a guess– that there are as many recipes for pie unknown to us as there are in even the most experienced baker’s repertoire. I submit this in the hope that I’ll be inundated with new pie ideas.
Like I’ve been saying all week, it’s February. What else are we going to do?

Between Loss of Family and Myth.

It’s February.

My mom’s birthday was this past week, had she still been here, she would be seventy. She died when she was fifty-two. I’m forty-six, so that seems quite young– in fact, it seemed that she was really young when she died.

I have a son who is six. I find myself placing a hand on his forehead when I enter or leave the room. It’s a sort of reassurance, probably more for me than him. My mom did the same thing to us kids. Even when she was sick, her hands felt warm. I remember that warmth as something other than just a touch; it was a remembrance of her presence as she moved about the house.
She died almost nineteen years ago. At what point do the factors of my own memory and aging begin to overtake the brilliance of her impact on my psyche? Will she pass into a state of legend? I have learned more about my mom since her death than I knew of her during her life– not the details, or the “mom” aspect of her, but who she was as a human.
She was a person before I arrived. She lived for twenty-four years. When did she decide that something as simple as touching her children on the forehead would be the right thing to do? Was it natural? Or learned?

For me, it was learned.
It seems like an anchor that keeps her memory closer to me than just a myth, or a legend. I think that when we lose someone we love so much, our goal is to stop them from becoming a part of history.
History is distant; loved ones are now, even if they are giants in our memory.