Much like the folk of the Rocky Horror Picture show, I've been trapped in a time warp - though I have not spent any time with transvestites from Transexual, Transylvania. At least to my knowledge. My last blog was September 2014. That's a long time ago. But to be fair, its been pretty hectic. In that time, my family grew +1, i rose to level three in muay thai, I re-worked Huahuqui and Huaquero into one novel for my agent, Renee, I finished the movie script with my screenwriter for Huahuqui, and I relocated from Singapore to Switzerland. Phew.
So, 2015 has kicked off well and I hope to maintain momentum. Of course I'm a little tired but surely that to be expected.
So, September arrived all to quickly. What has happened? Well, besides working 4 jobs at my company doing 16-hour days: I have given my agent, Renee, my final draft of Children of the Fifth Sun; re-launched my twitter account (@DrGWorthington); started my MBA; got my ass kicked in my first 100% Muay Thai fight (ha); worked on a movie script treatment for COTFS with my screenwriter, Karen; got tattooed again; completed the ALS ice bucket challenge; and been invited to a party and dinner with a certain former Renault F1 team owner to open Billionaire Couture at MBS in Singapore... sheesh.
While it is crazy, and some days I am very tired, I am very grateful for this life. Sure, a good proportion is due to hard friggin' work; but, I would say that a good chunk is also down to good luck and good people. I keep my circle of friends tight - I am not a social butterfly. But those people who are close to me, mean the world. They lift me when life throws some seriously crap things my way, and keep my grounded when things go so well I could fly. You know who you are.
Thus, I sport my new tattoo here for you to see. I may have had a difficult start to life, but some days it really does feel that there is an 'angel with her hand on my head... she says I got nothin' to fear.' BTW, getting tattooed right up in your armpit is inadvisable [INSERT EXPLETIVES].
I hope to bring good news soon about my books, keep your eyes peeled people!
So, kids. It's been a while but I am back. And with news. Just a few days ago, I signed my contract to be represented by Renee C. Fountain, a very capable agent at Gandolfo Helin Literary Management based in New York!
So. I missed March. In fact, March zoomed past me like the road runner, meep-meeping as he went; wet tongue poking out at me. In the last four weeks I have bounced from Singapore to Hong Kong, to London, back to Singapore, to Zurich, back to Singapore, to London and then - yes you guessed it - back to Singapore. Next week I am in Manila and Kuala Lumpur and after that, quite likely London again (twice) before Chicago in May. Phew.
Still, I find time to do what I love and my book work is never neglected (much). I have been pitching to movie studios again, and again have had some interest. I am specifically working with a very creative lady from a top studio who has kindly offered to read the books and then guide me in terms of how to get a screenplay written. My enthusiasm is kept afloat by the trickle of 4 and 5 star reviews from readers posted on Amazon and Goodreads. There have been a few in the last couple of weeks alone. I have a select, but dedicated fan base. And for that I am grateful.
So with this in mind, dear readers, I direct you to my video below. A crude, self-made, homage to the last book (Huaca) if it were a movie. Until the actual movies arise, this will have to suffice. See if you can identify who is who... Oh and enter the giveaway below, if you like... remember, I may be (in)famous one day.
So, January was hectic. I kicked off the year by finishing Huaca, the last in my trilogy. My editor, Harriet, who was as lovely as ever, expressed her sadness at the ending of the trilogy - though some of the more graphic chapters have apparently haunted her dreams of late. She still hasn’t forgiven me for the mouse scene. You’ll know it when you get there.
While I too am sad to end it here, it does feel like a complete story now. Each Character arc has come to its natural end. There will be no prequels or sequels. Thus, I took some time to reflect on the journey, walking along East Coast Beach in Singapore. Yes that's me being all pensive on the left. With a semi nude guy in the background. Nice.
Anyway, while thinking I drifted to my recent pitches to movie studios. Nine times out of ten, the exec said: 'how do you pronounce that? Hua-hu-key? Wow-woku?' Upon contemplating this, I decided to publish all three books in one volume, under one title. In English. Children of the Fifth Sun. Not so sodding clever. Much easier to remember. The original titles will remain within this one volume, but I believe this may help retain some interested parties. You can check out my new website at www.childrenofthefifthsun.com. The infamous Johnny B, who did all three covers to my books, is currently working on the ultimate cover. Stay tuned.
Oh, and while I'm talking about pitching to movie studios, it just so happens that a creative exec from Ridley Scott's company (Scott Free) said she liked my idea asked to read the book(s). I'm not holding my breath, but I did nearly wee my pants. A guy can dream, right? Randomly, something happened at my Muay Thai gym that gave me a boost in confidence. It just so happens a friend of mine who also trains in Muay Thai (and is a serious arse kicker) is the General Manager of a major Hollywood special effects company. She checked out my books and website and like what she saw. So, if she as a professional can like it - perhaps someone who has some influence over getting my books optioned will too!
Of course, the Muay Thai link is a nice segue into the fact I got promoted to level 2 Muay Thai this month. I officially started sparring and felt all tough until a level 4 beat the snot out of me. Without breaking a sweat. Ouch. Still, makes me wanna go back and do it again.
And I guess that's the point. It may sound cliché, but it pays to never give up. I published my own books when no company wanted to. Now I have Hollywood reading them. I was told I'd never be able to escape my less-than-working class background. Now I hold a degree, a doctorate and am about to start my MBA while living in Singapore. In the immortal words of those most Barenaked of Ladies: 'you gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight'.
So, it's December 6th and 30 degrees. Yes, Christmas in Singapore is a far cry from the snowy fir tree-lined mountains in Switzerland. And yes, I miss the cold. It just doesn't feel Christmassy. Not that Asians don't try. Decorated trees everywhere, garlands, music, typical food in the supermarkets. In Disneyland Hong Kong (yep, I was there) they even had a snow machine. But without a red and runny nose, being wrapped in a huge coat and shaking uncontrollably it's just not the same.
This said, the point of life is variety and to experience things outside your comfort zone. Thus, I will be spending December 25th by my condo pool. More out of shear defiance than anything. Repeating my mantra: I will be more flexible!
In the meantime, I have recently finished Huaca, the last in my trilogy. Yes, really this time. Utilising feedback from my Beta readers I'm now much happier with it. I had plenty of time on long flights to Cape Town (where I was at dinner with HRH Dina Mired of Jordan and Zoleka Mandela no less), and Delhi. I don't sleep on planes anyway.
Huaca is now with Miles Bailey at the Choir Press and my editor Harriet Evans to begin the process of producing the paperback and Kindle books. It's sad to finish it, really. The last three years of intense writing has been a staple, but now I can put a big tick in a dream more than 15 years long.
It's hard to let go, but let go I shall - maybe to take on the next challenge: movies. Maybe. One Hollywood production exec was recently quoted as being 'halfway through it, [Huahuqui] it's engaging!' I can only cross my fingers. And toes. And other things that bend.
Beyond this trilogy, I do have to ask myself: would I write another book? Again, maybe. Perhaps my readers can suggest a topic for the next adventure. Or perhaps I'll go off on a completely different tangent...
Vampire Unicorns that live on Mars?
I thought I was pretty much finished. With Huaca, that is. I knew it was missing a little something. A niggle in the back of my head told me. So, I gave it to my usual Beta readers who know both the story and the characters well. The first lot of feedback came from my female readers. They mainly commented on the relationship between Kelly and Freya. Will they, won't they. And of course the ending, which I must have re-written four times. This was important to get right, and I am always grateful to understand the 'romantic pieces' from a woman's perspective. But for the most part, the story was left untouched.
Then, I received feedback from Stu Jones. He is my regular beta reader who gives realism to my action scenes and military jargon. I met Stu, virtually, on Goodreads. In his own words, he is:
"[a] family man, SWAT cop, martial arts expert, lover of motorcycles and fine beer (not at the same time), and writer of epic genre blending fiction.
Stu currently serves full time as a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. His duties include felony fugitive apprehension, criminal investigations, instructing defensive tactics, and serving as a member of his department's SWAT team.
He is a Christian who is an author, not necessarily a Christian author. He has chosen to find and overcome the boundary which traditional Christian fiction will not breach and refuses to publish. His books tend to combine two very different outlooks: The Christian message with a positive and inspirational story combined with the grit, grime, violence, abuse, and general tragedy that permeates this life that we live."
In short, he is a bad ass. With a big heart. Pretty much the all American hero. He should be in movies.
His feedback literally took Huaca apart at the seams. Piece by piece he pointed out every crack, issue, story hiccup and flaw he found. And he was right. About it all. Unlike my female readers, Stu focused on the macro environment. It is of note that Stu actually dislikes my main character quite a lot. I think he has referred to Kelly Graham as a 'dick' on a number of occasions. But that's a good thing. One, because it means my writing causes a visceral reaction. And, two, because Stu gets to comment freely without being clouded by affection for the protagonist.
Some might not be able to take Stu's comments. They're pretty direct. But for me, they were invaluable. I now have an entire new thread and sub plot. I am re-writing chapters I thought I was done with. All in all Huaca will be ten times better thanks to Stu.
And so, I would encourage you to read his work. I have actually previously reviewed his first novel, Through the Fury to the Dawn, on my site. It's a gory mix of Christian faith and the desperation of mankind. His next book, Into the Dark of the Day, is even better. I have been privileged to be a beta reader. Of course, I gave him some feedback too. Nothing like a bit of tit-for-tat.
Check out Stu's work on http://www.actionofpurpose.com/home.
So, October is almost over. The year is flying by. Since I moved from Switzerland to Singapore much has happened. All in the blink of an eye. My workload has become more varied (and three times the volume), but infinitely more interesting. I have been to Taiwan and Hong Kong several times, The Netherlands and Cambodia, and will shortly travel to Malaysia, Korea, South Africa and Thailand. More countries will follow.
At the same time, much has changed in my personal life. Massive non-work related decisions have been made. Scary decisions, but ones that will ultimately lead to the next level of happiness.
Thus, as I finalise the last book in the Huahuqui trilogy, Huaca (sacred place), I am compelled to think about my own final destination. My own sacred place. Experiencing life in the East where, for the most part, material things are secondary and an enlightened view of the world is prevalent through Buddhism and Hinduism, I feel that my own Huaca is not a place but a state of mind.
Perhaps then, this internal change is reflected in my last book. Indeed, Huahuqui began with cold and logical science and internal turmoil at the core of its characters. In Huaquero, we saw a shift in the protagonists' beliefs as they were forced to consider things beyond their experience. In Huaca, it culminates in each individual’s new understanding of his or her world. All, of course, wrapped up in action, thrills and spills.
Therefore, without further ado, check out the awesome cover designed by my good friend John Byrne. He has designed the front cover for each book in the series, managing to not only keep the feel of the design consistent each time, but somehow tap into my head and put in on paper. Moreover, if you look at each design closely, he has incorporated tiny details about the books and their author.
Now, sit tight and wait for the book. And of course news regarding the movie studio execs who are currently reading Huahuqui.
So, this month has been a little manic. Known as Silly September in the pharma world in which I work, it is a time of world congresses in various disease areas. For me it means a trip to Amsterdam (from Singapore) for the European Cancer Congress as well as prepping for meetings in Cape Town and Hong Kong.
However, I have not been neglecting my writing work and have almost finished my first draft of Huaca - the last in my trilogy of thrillers (www.huahuqui.com). But, while writing has taken up some time, another aspect of this project has dominated this month: pitching to movie studios.
The first question I am sure you are asking is: how the hell did he get to pitch to movie studios? Well, this is all thanks to a group of people working at www.Stage32.com lead by Richard Botto (CEO). In Richard's own words:
"Every day, there are thousands of talented individuals searching for like-minded souls with whom they can collaborate. They join writing or acting classes, theater groups, and online forums. They act in student films, direct and submit short subject films to festivals, and enter screenplay contests. The Stage 32 community is strictly for people working in or with a desire to work in film or theater. It’s a place to gather, to discuss and develop projects, to join actor with director, director with producer, producer with cast and crew. Here, you can grow your contact list and build a pertinent network in rapid fashion. The more you participate, the greater the results. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.... Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen..."
The amazing thing about Stage32 is that they put their money where their mouth is. It would be easy to just create a website and let the people wander around like ants hoping to bump into each other and make the right connections. Instead, these guys actively propagate network connections and drive relationships. What's more, they expose their precious contacts to the world. A potentially risky move.
I happened to join at an opportune moment: just before they ran the 'Creative Fest'. In this week-long activity, the guys at Stage32 and their collaborators at TheHappyWriters brought in actual movie execs (creative directors and the like) and offered slots to aspiring writers to pitch their ideas for movies. It could be written or live via Skype. If the exec liked the pitch, the writers were asked for their material - for further consideration. Strictly speaking, this was aimed at screenwriters, but I entered anyway. I chose one exec to pitch to. A day later I received an email from Joey Tuccio, of TheHappyWriters, who did several things. One: he gave me a little advice on my written pitch which I followed. Two: he followed up with me and suggested another exec who might be interested in my story. Then, a day later again, he emailed me telling me he had an open Skype slot for another exec who was particularly interested in sci-fi. That means Joey actually took the time to read my pitch and really think about it. Unreal.
The outcome is that I pitched a total of six times and have had two execs ask for my books. TWO. That's just crazy. I am a newbie to the business and I have TWO execs reading my work with the possible thought of optioning my story. I have one final pitch coming at the end of September. All I can say is a big 'thank you' to these guys.
Now of course, the likelihood of the studios pursuing anything with me is remote. And in the event, by some miracle, my book(s) got optioned (that is the studio bought the movie rights) there is no guarantee a movie would ever get made. But that's not the point. Stage32 brought me closer to the sun than I ever thought possible. I feel like Icarus. In the next month or so I will know if I too get my wings burned.
So, for those of you who have visited my trilogy website (www.huahuqui.com) you will know that a team in Bulgaria called Respect Studios developed the 3D imagery of the clone known as V. When I devised this creature, based on the ancient descriptions of a race that brought civilization to humans (read the site to see the collection of strange facts), I had a very clear idea in my head. Certain attributes had to be included: the gills, the neotenous body, etc. However, it was always the face of the V that was most important. Almost every reader fell in love with the animal, and thus bringing him to life was tricky. How to make this giant salamander... cute.
Enter Denis and his team. Somehow they made the amphibian have a face that drew you in. A cute, warm, and intelligent face. It was perfect. What's more, they got it right first time.
It was a feat that I didn't think they could replicate.
I was wrong.
By the end of book 2, Huaquero, you the readers are aware of another clone: Six. Combining human DNA with that of the original Huahuqui clone, the US military manage to produce a monster. One that is confused and scared with it's own existence. One that has irreversibly bonded with a human. One that they cannot hope to control.
In my head, this new clone had to resemble V, but be distinct. And scary. The deranged and angry result of humans' meddling with the fabric of life. When I approached the guys at Respect Studios, they were again happy to help. I am a small publishing imprint, and the money they generate from me is quite honestly peanuts compared with their other projects. But they helped me anyway.
The result, after two or three short emails of discussion, was amazing. Somehow they had kept the essence of V, but made Six quite terrifying. It looks sick, ill. Like it was never meant to be. And it knows it. Just how I imagined it.
So, I repeat. Respect Studios deserves respect. They have awesome talent, and I would recommend them to anyone with graphics project.