Joss Whedon turned to Shakespeare. I wrote a Teen Vampire novel instead.

Teen Vampire Hunters Alex Ames eBook Cover

Stumbled up on this FastCompany article about Joss Wheadon’s turn from super blockbuster (Avengers) to mid-budget Shakespeare. Mr. Wheadon of course is known to most as the creator of beloved cult TV classics like Fireflies, Dollhouse and of course his break-through creation Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The article explains in a nice arc why he needed an artsy break after the exhaustive work on the action and effect driven Avengers movies.

I get that, but no Shakespeare for me.

I wrote a Teen Vampire novel instead. In a series of soft launches, Teen Vampire Hunters (TVH) will start to appear on the various digital outlets and eventually, later next week, in a paperback version, too.

TVH is the second novel in the Teen Monster Hunters series around angry Sally Storm and her friends, genius Ryan Montgomery and silent Moe NoLastName in the duties of the Supernatural Investigation Agency. This time the team is thrown into the scene alike an Agatha Christie novel. A gothic mansion, a dog sucked dry, and an asorted group of suspects.

All About Eve...

Writing like crazy on three items at the same time. And then, as if there was nothing better to do, I would stumble tonight on the TV over "All About Eve". It had been a while since I last saw that one and I was immediately riveted again. Witty dialogues, wonderfully atmospheric, carefully staged and incredible cast. I am usually not a nostalgic, but 'they don't make movies like that anymore!'

Wikipedia "All About Eve" under Fair Use Policy

Wikipedia "All About Eve" under Fair Use Policy

So what is going these days? My rom-com chick lit start-up novel got the treatment a second round. I put in a lot of work in order to complete and edit and then decided to stop once more. The story is good, but not good enough yet. There are three women who in the course of the story will fall in love with three men. That is the easy part. But I have not figured out yet how to make the three fall-in-love cases unique. So far all three cases are pretty much the same. The male is the dominant one, making the female realize that her way is the wrong way and that she should put trust in steady relationship. Once is fine. Two maybe with a little variation acceptable. But three in one book in one fifth act is too much. As I ran out of ideas and lack the right tactic, I decided to shelf the book for now. 

What happens in the meanwhile? The next Teen Monster Hunter novel is in the making. Teen Vampire Hunters is going well, I am not measuring yet, but all chapters are defined and in place, so it is all a matter of writing and sticking to the formul. The first Teen Monster Hunters book was indeed the first one, introducing the main characters and the story format. But Teen Vampire Hunters will be the first one out of the regular story stack that will be sequence agnostic, meaning: you can read them in any order you like. There will be no overlap and no development that makes it necessary to stick to a sequence. All in "the formula". 

And then there is the German translation of "Teen Monster Hunters". Mostly to the benefit of my youngest son and his school peers. One of my books is always an appreciated gift or token, so the German version will go well with the locls. And maybe gives me opportunity to organize a reading one of these days, locally.

Rerun — Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October — Thirty Years Later

Flashback 1985. I was much younger than today and started my adventure into reading books in English. Fueled by a stack of Sixties and Seventies classics from Perry Mason via Modesty Blaise to Alastair McLean and Hammond Innes, I browsed on day through Time Magazine and found the review of Tom Clancy's Red October. When I bought the paperback it was a fantastic read. It redefined the genre of military and thrillers, mixing latest technology with high paced adventure, fitting the sign of the times alongside "Top Gun". Clever twists and suspense made the book a fantastic read.


Fast forward. Can you believe it, I am thirty years older? Rereading Red October this winter after taking a long Tom Clancy hiatus. When he died recently I made the effort to recheck the catalogue and rediscovered the reboot of the Jack Ryan universe. I purchased the most recent book, not even written by Mr. Clancy but by Mark Greaney, and was hooked again. A very clever generational development where the hero is still Jack Ryan, but now the son, whereas old Ryan was once more in a second term as President. The president-twist had been the reason why I had abandoned the series altogether. That was a little stretched, right, a plane crashing into the Capitol during the State of the Nation address, catapulting interim Vice-President Ryan to the top chair... I had struggled through Executive Orders but then sworn off the series.

Well, that were the Nineties, pre-9-11, but sometime Science Fiction is overtaken by reality. Many years later, it turns out that the franchise is still working with some back to the basics. This sort of serial reboot happened a lot of times with many of the serial heroes I am following. Patricia Cornwell tried this with Kay Scarpetta, though it has not convinced me fully so far. Jonathan Kellerman had a stretch of very weak Alex Delaware novels, but bought the series back on track by concentrating on cases and the buddy relationship. Stuart Woods has moved Steve Barrington from a cul-de-sac story-line into enjoyable reads, too. Maybe a topic for a different post, anyway, who am I to argue, I am not in the double figures serial space. Yet.

Back to the topic at hand: So I decided to re-read Red October, too, the book where it all began. How does it hold up after thirty years of upheaval, left wing terrorism, right wing terrorism, iron curtain break-down, Russian revolutions, Russian economic development, 9-11? I must say, pretty good! The story of course builds on the cold war blue vs. red paradigm, which feels outdated, but, hey, the Russians are still the bad guys, right? They are no longer in Afghanistan, which is now the US playground, but now they muscle themselves into Ukraine and other states. But the submarine defection, the high-tech hunt, the clever twists and deceptions, all are still absolutely believable—well, in the definitions of the Clancy-verse.

Heroes — Lloyd Cole Live in Munich

Three thing we can say for certain after this evening of Lloyd Cole’s Songbook tour: we all got older, there are not many of us left, and Mr. Cole’s songs are not meant to be played on a single guitar.

We all got older, indeed. Lloyd at fifty-six still has a lot of hair, the most hair of any male in the room—what is his secret? He even mocked us by flattening his post-reading glasses "wings". Youth to spare! This proves that Lloyd, despite being the first hipster from a time when he occupied a then-niche single-handedly, has no following in the very today-scene he had helped to create in the mid-eighties. The absence of massive facial hair in the audience did not bother us at all. And it showed us that even if all of us are BOFs by now, we’ll always have him, the one prophet to look out for us and explain us the delicacies of love and life. And he takes us seriously! It was my first pop-rock-folk concert in what, twenty years?, where chairs were prepared in ten neat rows. We don’t want any cardiovascular episodes in the target group, don’t we?

I had estimated / hoped at breakfast that one-thousand people showed up, but the crowd was closer to two-hundred. A hard sell. The whole first set was basically for nothing. Not sure that it brought anything to Lloyd, it certainly didn’t bring anything to us. His songs do not have the substance to be played by a single songwriter with a laid-back attitude and a British temperament. Where a solo-guitar Billy Bragg brings an edgy aggression to the microphone, or a Ben Watts is able to generate an emotional depth with a broken voice and a minimized arrangement, Lloyd Cole’s songs are simply made to be played by a band. Period. The second half of the set was proof of that. One more guitar in play, congenially celebrated by his son Will Cole, improved the songs by 100 %. And the investment of the audience by the same amount. Too bad he hadn’t brought his current band, ‘The Leopards’, along.

Imagine, it took me years to find someone who looks like me when I was younger...
— Lloyd Cole's introduction of his son Will

And of course Lloyd Cole remained the wise-ass he had started out to be, the book-reading intellectual, writing songs with literary depth. His comments during the set were as wry as anything, his demonstration of soap opera avoidance by leaving the stage and closing some curtains in the back of the room was a little overdone. After that the audience was so shellshocked that no one dared to visit the bar during the rest of the set in fear of Lloyd taking away the drink personally. The set concentrated on the early years from 1984’s “Rattlesnakes” up to 2004’s “No more love songs” with all Commotion hits present, the first album played completely. I maybe missed some pop-cultural bits, but I caught the nice Norwegian Wood reference at the end of one song and the last bars of ‘Born to run’. Two encores, ending with a wonderful ‘Forrest Fire’ sent us on our way again.

If we get caught in this wind, then we could burn the ocean
If we get caught in this scene, we’re gonna be undone
It’s just a simple metaphor
It’s for a burning love
Don’t it make you smile like a forest fire
— Forrest Fire - Lloyd Cole