We had a delightful evening with some authors who bring the A-game to disrespected genres.
First up, Ben H. Winters talked about being recruited to write Quirk book's follow-up to someone else's mash-up novel PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES, explaining how he was chosen for the job and what it took to make SENSE & SENSIBILITY & SEA MONSTERS. When faced with the task of writing a second mash-up novel, Ben realized it wouldn't work if he was revisiting authors who are already funny (say, Charles Dickens), so he chose a man with no sense of humor at all: Tolstoy. And that led to the science-fiction, robot and UFO masterpiece ANDROID KARENENA Ben came all the way in from Boston and he did not disappoint! Follow him online here.
Next up, first-time novelist Emmy Laybourne did her first-ever public reading -- and it couldn't have gone better. Emmy read from the opening chapter of MONUMENT FOURTEEN. It's the first part of a series, the story follows a small group of teens and tweens that survive the end of the civilization. Emmy is a double-header of Genre-Busters, as she's writing a post-apocalyptic novel for a YA audience. But the best part is, she never writes down to her audience. The reading made that very clear. Then Emmy talked about the experience of killing off so many people in a book, and what compels authors to write about the end of the world as we know it. She compared various works, including The Road, The Stand, and even the Mad Max movie. Emmy's debut novel hits bookstores in the autumn of 2011. (note: I was lucky enough to get to read the manuscript -- it's excellent.)
Cartoonist Michael Kupperman was, sadly, not able to attend. But he was kind enough to share some of his oddball comic strips via email and I read some of his work from TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE.
Then Rebecca Rogers Maher took the stage and walked us through a lifetime love-affair with Romance novels. She explained what books influenced her, and what Romance tropes infuriated her. The talk, titled "The Five Rules I Broke While Writing My Romance Novel" didn't dismiss the staples of the genre, but got at understanding why they exist in the first place. Rebecca also revealed the way the publishing industry rewards authors for overly-long, drawn-out novels. Her own book, is a lean, mean traditional love story that includes family violence, urban school decay, Jungian psychology and heavy metal. (That's my kind of writer!)
Mike Edison performed two pieces with the Rocket Train Astro-Beat Micro Arkestra (with Joey Pisch on bongos and Sammy Baker playing bass.) These far-out beatniks delighted the crowd with spoken-word numbers like "Talking Main Event Blues" (where Mike details his years editing Main Event Magazine) and "Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing a Porn Novel but were afraid to ask" (which provided practical advice from the man who penned 28 smut novels under the name "Anonymous") Between sets, Mike told a true-life story about reading whatever books he could find in his suburban New Jersey home (see video below). These yarns and more can be found in Mike's book I HAVE FUN EVERYWHERE I GO: SAVAGE TALES OF POT, PORN, PUNK ROCK AND PRO WRESTLING, TALKING APES, EVIL BOSSES, DIRTY BLUES, AMERICAN HEROES, AND THE MOST NOTORIOUS MAGAZINES IN THE WORLD.
Check out Mike's Mike's website for some fun stuff, including mp3s and a special holiday message.
As host, I shared my own love of different Genre Busters in print, film and even kids' music: bits included a brief salute to Rod Serling, who prefaced the debute of Twilight Zone by telling Mike Wallace the show is not meant to be poignant (watch this great interview where the writer downplayed the series' social commentary, claiming that Twilight Zone is pure fantasy entertainment. Mike Wallace takes the bait and concludes that the once-great television writers has "given up on writing anything important.") Charlie Chaplin did the same thing, saying his movies were just silly comedies with no political criticism. (I imagine that line didn't wash with The Great Dictator.)
I also showed scenes of Michael Moriarity bringing his A-game acting talents to the monster movie Q: The Winged Serpent. (Here's director Larry Cohen giving an audio commentary on the trailer for Q at Trailers From Hell.)
We looked at Bucky Sinster's offbeat take on the recovery book, the life and works of pulp poet David Goodis, also listened to tracks from a 1966 BATMAN album that was recorded by Sun-Ra. I talked about the smart-ass subculture of Spoken Nerds. And we featured a cut-down 2 and a half minute version of BARTON FINK.
All in all, it was a swell show. Thanks to Maya Wainhouse from 92Y Tribeca, Eric Hendricks for editing my video clips, and Peter Miller from Freebird books.
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Now here's the BONUS MATERIAL I'D PROMISED TO SHARE:
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Now here's the BONUS MATERIAL I'D PROMISED TO SHARE:
Read Rod Serling's essay about writing for television.
Download Sun Ra’s 1966 Batman album.
Listen (and groan) to the Pink Panther Punk Album.
Join Freebird’s Post-Apocalyptic Book Club.
Check out Kevin Maher’s video interview with the Book Club about THE ROAD:
Visit out guests online:
Spoken Nerd links: Read Mike Whalen’s poem about a post-apocalyptic zombie hunter.
Listen to Ernie Cline talk AIRWOLF.
Lastly, during the show we gave away some prizes including a hardcover collection of Allan Moore's Swamp Thing, a copy of Mike Edison's book, and two tickets to the 92Y Tribeca's screening of John Carpenter's genre-busting classic THEY LIVE. Two weeks later, IFC also screened the movie and I wrote about my mixed feelings about the film's recent resurgance (including Jonathan Lethem's new book about the movie.) Read all about it here.
Remind me if there’s anything else I was supposed to send.