Talk to me, Johnny!

RedditI spend my entire working day alone. My son gets on the bus at seven in the morning, at which point my wife has already left for work. I don’t see anyone again until about three-thirty in the afternoon, which is about when my son returns from school. My wife doesn’t get home for another 90 minutes after that. I get about three hours of socialization with the family as a unit and then it’s bedtime. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Because I don’t have what one would call a normal schedule of human interaction, I get… well, I get lonely. It’s nice to have the whole day to work, but even people confined to a cubicle can get up, walk around and talk to their fellow coworkers. I don’t have that luxury. When I talk, I talk to the dog and the cat. Thankfully so far they haven’t said anything back to me.

The only substitute I have for meaningful, face-to-face communication with people is the internet. I have Twitter, I have Facebook, I have this blog and I have the various forums which I frequent. That would seem to be plenty for my purposes, except that despite the immense popularity of places like Twitter and Facebook, I actually don’t get much in the way of one-to-one contact.

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[REVIEW] Miami Vice — “Heart of Darkness”/”Cool Runnin'”

Miami ViceAfter the tour de force that was “Brother’s Keeper,” the two-hour premiere of Miami Vice, you’d expect that the show would take a step back and maybe throw some traditional stuff at you. I can imagine watching the premiere was both exhilarating and somewhat scary for longtime cop-show viewers because it completely shattered the image of the form. All the comforting aspects of meat-and-potatoes cop shows were ripped away, replaced with jaded undercover detectives, sudden and shocking violence and, of course, a bleak ending. For me, the debut of Miami Vice was like being set free from a trap I didn’t even know I was in, but I can also see some people having a seriously negative reaction to it.

Anyway, if those people came back for a second helping — and they probably didn’t, let’s be honest — they were not given anything to make them feel any better. Creator Anthony Yerkovich did not write this episode, but all the trademark Miami Vice elements appear in full force. Yes, it’s not quite as stylish as the original episode (few things are), but all of the grungier aspects of the show are present and accounted for.

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Thank you for your kind words.

If you’ve been following the book world in the past few weeks, you know that a certain topic has risen to the top: how to appropriately interact with your fans. I won’t go into all the ugly details of why this suddenly became an issue, as you either already know or can look it up for yourself. Rather than do a postmortem on others’ misfortunes, I’d rather focus on the positives of the subject, namely how to behave and when to behave that way.

I should first say that I was not always a very good denizen of the internet. In fact, I was a pretty awful person all around, both online and off. I had precisely zero filter, a hair-trigger temper and no tolerance for anything that fell outside my definition of acceptable. Consequently I had few friends and a lot, a lot, a lot of enemies. Thankfully I found the root cause of my instability — namely Bipolar II, which you can read about in Telegraph Men — and I’m much better now thanks to treatment. You may find me contentious from time to time, but it’s the normal sort of contentiousness, and not outright assholery.

Anyway, I have a handle on myself these days and I comport myself professionally. That’s as it should be. I am not so successful that I can afford to piss on the people who pay my salary (meaning: readers) and still make millions and millions of dollars. In fact, I’d argue that there’s never a level of success that excuses being a prick to anyone at any time when it comes to your work. In the case of work, you must be positive at all costs and, if you can’t manage that, you must disengage.

Whenever someone contacts me about my books to say nice things, I always take time to respond to them and thank them for their kind words. I do this because it’s polite, for one, but secondly because that person right there not only took time out of their day to give me an ego boost, but they also paid money to read my work. Even if they got my book(s) from the library, someone somewhere paid for a copy and I made a buck or two. That’s how the bread gets baked, folks: cash on the barrelhead. And as mercenary as it may sound to some people, writing professionally is a job, it’s a business, and in business the dollar is king. Even Jim Henson, who most people took to be kind of a hippy-dippy sort, had a thing in his office he called the Shrine to the Almighty Dollar. Yes, the guy whose big heart brought us Kermit and Grover and Big Bird was an artist, but he was also a businessman, because making money is how you get to eat on a regular basis.

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It’s a good ‘un!

Missing, by Sam HawkenIt’s been a touch over two weeks since the release of Missing to the general public, and consequently some feedback has begun to filter in from various sources. The latest to hit my email is a review from Crime Fiction Lover.

Crime Fiction Lover has been very good to me over the last four years. They’ve loved all my Serpent’s Tail releases and haven’t been shy about saying so. I hope that as I transition to publishing under Mulholland Books’ roof that they follow and continue to enjoy, but for now I’d simply like to bask in the sunshine of their affection for Missing.

It’s a lengthy review, so I’m not going to cut-and-paste the whole thing here. I will give you a couple of highlights in the hope that you’ll click through and give the entire piece a gander.

The Dead Women of Juarez and Tequila Sunset by Sam Hawken were nominated for CWA Dagger Awards. Based on the strength of Missing it’s easy to see why. The story starts gently enough, with Jack [the protagonist] going about his daily business and visiting his family. But as soon as Marina [his stepdaughter] steps across the border all hell breaks loose. It’s tense and downright scary. Hawken creates a fantastic sense of place in his narrative. The brutality of Nuevo Laredo, where a life is cheap, jumps off the page. The tension is so palpable it’ll make you yourself feel at risk of something bad happening. And a little grubby, too.

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[REVIEW] The X-Files — “Squeeze”/”Conduit”

The X-FilesWhen it comes to The X-Files there are two distinct camps. One camp prefers the “mythology” episodes, which are those episodes concerning themselves with the central conspiracy that forms the backbone of the show’s narrative. The other camp prefers the “monster of the week” episodes, which are episodes centered around various supernatural or preternatural creatures (or what have you) that generally appear in a single story and then are never heard from again. If I were pushed to identify myself with either camp, I would put myself in the mythology bloc, as I really do enjoy the stuff with aliens and back-room double-dealing and all that. That said, I also like many of the monster of the week episodes, including such classics as “Humbug,” which will come up in these reviews before too long.

As it happens, three of the first four episodes of The X-Files concern themselves with mythology. Some think this is overkill, but I tend to think it’s necessary. As I said before, the mythology forms the essence of the show, and whether you like how it developed or not, it was critical to follow those episodes in order to see the most significant progression of the characters’ arcs. Some important character stuff gets dropped in the monster of the week episodes, but not a lot. This is clearly a show about the mythology, with the rest of it present because no television network in the early ’90s — really, no network until the advent of Lost — would commit to a show about chasing aliens every week. Certainly not for nine years.

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