Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reviewing my own manuscripts, with the inspiration of Clive Barker's "Nullianac"

I’ve started getting back to my screenplays and novel manuscript, which I now think I will call “Brothers, Too” (to distinguish it from the 2009 Lionsgate film about two brothers, one who is captured in Afghanistan), and finding myself coalescing my dream-driven plot into a real beginning, middle and end (and even what they call a “point of recognition” toward the end). I see that I had given an overview of the “threat” in the novel in an Aug 5, 2009 posting on my Books blog.

In the novel, a CIA agent who “moonlights” as a high school history teacher, came from a military background, found it wiser to move into the civilian area but still married and had the expected three kids and a largely stay-at-home wife-mother, meets a precocious college student on a secret trip, and longs for an intimate experience that he had only tasted once or twice in college and then even Army rites of passage. As the two men learn more about each other, that each learn about a common font, Bill (somewhat based on me), and a couple of older GI men, one of whom may have a supernatural origin. Gradually they learn that a right-wing plot to re-regiment society might be driven by extraterrestrial forces, prepared to use a virus (part biological, part informational, and part sub-atomic) to manipulate the souls of people and bring them together. Randy gets the intimacy and initiation he craves, as his marriage collapses, although the initiation is more than he bargained for.

I have a number of manuscripts, going back to 1981, where a character somewhat like me experiences the world “going back to the bay.” There is usually a communal purification, followed by some sort of extraterrestrial rescue of the fecund, or at least of the chosen. One 1981 manuscript got divided into seven self-sufficient stories. There is a 1985 manuscript, and another in 1988 which I actually submitted to Scott Meredith, called “Tribunal and Rapture”. In that novel, “Bill” meets his role model early and gets led from a comfortable IT existence to a commune in West Virginia, whereupon Left-Wing subversives bring about the end of the US as we know it with an amateur radiological attack (which I always thought possible) that anticipates the fears of 9/11. There was another manuscript around 1990, after I moved back to the DC area, where a paragon disappears from work and leads “Bill” to a commune (two versions of this), and where there is some redemption-in-place (right here in Arlington) at the end. Then there was another stab at “Tribunal and Rapture” for which I submitted a treatment to an agent in 2003 (I may post this later on the books blog; thinking about it). And finally I come to “Brothers, Too”; the “Smallville” series taught me that there is more narrative hook if the story is seen through the eyes of younger characters who do have their act together (like my college student above). (In “Supernatural” on CWTV, the younger brother Sam, who was to be a law student, has it much more together than Dean.)

I have a couple books on my cluttered basement work table to inspire writing. I really need to finish Chandler Burr’s “You or Somebody Life You”, because, on the “dust jacket” surface, it seems to deal with how films get greenlighted. (It’s a lot more, but that’s for later.)

My favorite coffee table reference is Clive Barker’s 1991 fantasy “Imajica”, which I see I reviewed on the Books blog March 28, 2006. I think that English professors in college would use Barker to teach creative writing, as Barker is more gifted with using active nouns and verbs metaphorically (with fewer adjectives and adverbs) that any other novelist – even Toiken. You read this, and you really believe that his other Dominions (for all practical purposes, other planets with civilizations comparable to ours, with some weird political and ultimately religious “twists”). You feel like you’ve taken that train ride through the Third Dominion, or walked the streets of Patashoqua or Yzordderrex. He coins new words, like “kesperate”, essentially an autonomous political unit or community embedded in larger society but operating somewhat separately (like the old Ninth Street Center in New York’s East Village). (The favorite image: eating an egg within a “fish within a fish within a fish” – like the Florida Marlins.

So I repost these two pictures, from Baltimore Pride in June 2010, where the young man with the hoop draws attention as if he were (an attractive ressurection of) Clive Barker’s peripatetic Nullianac, who (with a career of "selling harm" in the dominions) just tends to appear as a marker of some big transformation about to come. (I don’t know how the gams got blacked out in the smaller duskier picture taken with a disposable camera.)   Is Baltimore the “City of the Unbeheld”? (That’s Heaven, which (after the Nullianac appears on a street corner),  gets destroyed or overgrown [or washed away by cold front thunderstorms], erased along with a ragged Hapexamendios: man defeats God while bringing about the “Reconciliation” of exiled worlds – sounds like bringing gay men out or urban exile, essentially as if living on another planet, to join the “real life” world of family responsibility. Actually, Baltimore is probably more like Patashoqua. And remember, my screenplay entry into Project Greenlight 2004 was “Baltimore Is Missing” – yup, a whole city disappears into a worm hole.

I'm surprised that "Imajica" isn't a movie yet. If I were a film investor, I'd be interested. It seems like a natural for a company like "Summit Entertainment." Maybe De Caprio plays Gentle, and John Malkovitch plays Pie 'O' Pah. It's not easy to cast the Nullianac.  Actually, I'd make a model railroad based on a map of Imajica, and use CGI to put the actors into the model. (Use modern day London for the Fifth Dominion -- making the fantasy different from "Lord of the Rings" since this is present day real world.) Sounds like a premier atttraction for Landmark Theaters.

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