Thursday, November 16, 2017

Other Bildungsromans Are Available

Okay, so maybe my novel about young male friendship (or its sequel) has not yet been made into a movie, but I know that there is an audience for such films. I know this because such movies keep getting made. And I know that such movies keep getting made because, once I finished writing Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, I found myself compulsively reading other authors’ books about intense youthful male friendships. One of those film adaptations has recently been released to critical acclaim, and another has been making the rounds of various international film festivals.

Egypt-born American author AndrĂ© Aciman’s 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name is not really so much about friendship as infatuation. Aciman does a skillful job of capturing the excitement and frustration of being a precocious teenager in a privileged, intellectually stimulating environment. The time is summer 1983, and the narrator is 17-year-old American-Italian Jewish boy Elio, living on the beautiful Italian coast. Over the course of the story, he becomes increasingly obsessed with confident and handsome Oliver, his professor father’s 24-year-old live-in summer intern from the States. The book is enjoyable because who would not want to spend his teenage years in such a beautiful place and in such an interesting environment? While the young narrator is (understandably) self-absorbed and sometimes whiny, we cannot help but like him because he has the attractiveness of uncanny intelligence. (He plays the piano and seems to have read absolutely everything.) Not surprisingly, the book and, now, the movie have been embraced enthusiastically by gay audiences, but I was intrigued by an interview with the film’s Sicilian-born director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash) in which he insisted that he did not view it as a “gay” love story. I understand what he means. While the love scenes are memorably passionate, the book is not steeped in the familiar gay themes of writers like, say, James Baldwin. The genders of the characters are nearly irrelevant to what Aciman’s book is concerned about. The movie version’s screenplay is by the venerable James Ivory, whose many films (made with his late partner Ismail Merchant) included an adaptation of E.M. Forster’s gay-themed Maurice.

If we wish to compare, then Call Me by Your Name is the near-polar opposite of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead—despite both of them being first-hand accounts by male teenagers in the mid-to-late twentieth century, who are facing into adulthood. Elio does not have to flee his family and home for his journey. Unlike Dallas Green’s, his journey is mostly internal and definitely solitary. Despite his wary-then-passionate relationship with Oliver, he seems to be someone who has grown up without a best friend.

A better comparison to Max & Carly is Australian Tim Winton’s 2008 novel Breath. In fact, the coincidental parallels are are nearly, well, breathtaking. As with my book, it is set in the 1970s and the focus of the story is a strong, nearly desperate, friendship between two boys in the backwater of Australia’s western coast. The dynamic between Bruce Pike, the only son of a modest and conservative couple, and Ivan Loon, the wild son of a feckless father, is much like that of Dallas and Lonnie. In fact, given the nicknames of Winton’s pair, Pikelet and Loonie, I found myself working hard not to read Loonie as Lonnie. What binds the two is their mutual love of surfing and the need to test their courage against bigger and bigger waves. They fall in thrall to Sando, a onetime surfing legend now living in self-imposed obscurity with his taciturn young American wife. For the most part, the book is a really good read, although I found the final chapters a bit of let-down. Pikelet narrates the story from the perspective of middle age, and the rapid encapsulation of his (mostly depressing) later life is an welcome turn after the high spirits of the earlier sections. Overall, though, it is a very good evocation of being young and male, having and losing a close friend, falling in love and getting on with the not-always-easy business of adult life.

The film adaptation of Breath is directed by Tasmania-born Simon Baker, who also plays the role of Sando. He is probably best known to U.S. audiences, who may not even realize he is not American, as the star of the long-running detective show The Mentalist.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

As I was saying...

Are you getting tired yet of me going on about the new book?

Of course, you’re not. I haven’t even posted anything on this book blog for a whole month. I have actually done the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do when you release a book. Instead of making myself constantly present in every kind of social media possible, I just sort of went away. Well, not exactly away, but I went quiet in places where people might logically be looking for information and updates about Lautaro’s Spear. This was not the plan. It was just what occurred. My wife’s birthday. Vistors from abroad. Journeys to the capital. Things happened.

At least I managed to get the new book, as well as its predecessor, into the reading queue of a talented French filmmaker who, unlike myself, actually knows Deauville where some of the book is set.

Keyvan tweet

So now that I’m back, what more can I say about Lautaro’s Spear? How about some inside information not available anywhere else? For instance, what is the photograph on the book’s cover? It is the Place de la Victoire in Bordeaux, a place that is mentioned in the novel. Dallas hitches a ride from there to the suburban campus of the University of Bordeaux with a French student. That is something I did many times myself as a student there, beginning in 1973, which is when I took the photo.

What about the photo on the back cover? If you’ve read the book or if you’ve ever been to Berlin, then you probably recognize it as the sign at Checkpoint Charlie from Cold War days. I am almost certain that this is not the same sign that was actually there before 1989, although on the other hand I do not know for sure that it isn’t. I found some great and authentic archive photos of the real signs on the internet, but since I could not determine copyright ownership of those photos, it was easier (okay, lazier) to just use a photo I took myself when I was in Berlin last year.

After the book was released, I kept waiting to hear from people who were disappointed. One thing I know about sequels is that everybody has his or her own idea of what they want from a follow-up to something they have already seen or read—just as people have their own ideas about what they want from film adaptations of their favorite books—so you are not going to please everybody. I was pretty sure that there would be people who wanted Dallas’s story to continue without a gap with him still being 18 or, more accurately, 21. Interestingly, I have not heard from anyone who minded that his chronicle jumped ahead nine years, although I have heard from people who do not want such a long gap for the next book. My little nod to readers who wanted more of the same was the first chapter, which was actually suggested to me by my friend Marcella—except that she wanted Marisol to return for real and not just in a dream (spoiler alert!).

One thing that pleased me was that at least one reader (not surprisingly, on this side of the Atlantic) spotted my reference to Lord Lucan. If you do not know who that is, well, that is what search engines are for. Look him up and then go back and re-read chapter 13.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lautaro’s Spotify

Today’s the day! The official release date of Lautaro’s Spear. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write it and, especially, to those who actively supported me in writing it. Also, thanks to those of you who will read the book. I hope you enjoy it. Also, happy birthday to the love of my life, who happens to be a member of at least two of the three aforementioned groups.

Wherever you are in the world or however you want to read the book, you should find, on the right-hand side of this page, a link to a suitable online seller—or at least enough info to track one down.

As promised, I am sharing with you my Spotify playlist containing much of the music I listened to while writing the book.



The playlist contains eighty tracks, and it plays for five-and-a-half hours. Some of the songs are actually mentioned in the book. Others were popular around the time that the novel is set. Others have a thematic connection to events in the story. A good few are completely anachronistic but put me in the right frame of mind to inhabit Dallas Green’s persona during some of his traumas and travails. (In reviewing the list, I was taken aback at just how many break-up songs it contains.)

There are several songs by Train. I definitely think Train should be the official house band of Lautaro’s Spear.

I have ordered the songs so as to attempt matching the sequence of events in the book’s narrative. I have not, however, timed them to any person’s reading speed, so I do not know how it would work out to listen to the list while reading the book. I did happen to notice that the Kobo website helpfully estimates the amount of time it should take to read the book, and for Lautaro’s Spear it comes up with eight to nine hours. So I may need a longer playlist.

By the way, if you are a filmmaker looking for a book to adapt, the playlist should definitely give you some ideas for the soundtrack to Lautaro’s Spear: The Movie.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

It’s Out There!

The official release date for Lautaro’s Spear is tomorrow (Friday the 29th), but it is already possible to get a hold of a digital copy. Unlike the people who print the paperback version, many of the folks who sell the e-book editions make them available as soon as they have the files and have vetted them. That means, as far as I can tell at the moment anyway, you can go your regional Amazon web site right now and download the Kindle version. The same is true of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book and the Kobo e-book. It is also available for purchase at Google Play and at Apple iBooks, but those sites appear to be holding the actual downloads until tomorrow.

Yes! Apple iBooks! If you have been reading this blog from the get-go, then you may recall I have had something of a fraught relationship with iBooks borne of their requirement of uploading files from a Mac computer paired with my lack of such a computer. Fortunately, since the release of my previous book (The Three Towers of Afranor) I have taught myself an alternate geeky way of uploading the files from a non-Apple machine, and I am amazed to see that it still works. This is a personal triumph for me that makes me way happier than it probably should. Still, I am delighted that the book is available to users of Apple devices at the same time as everybody else. In fact, I am delighted that all versions of the book seem to be out there on the official release date, if not a little earlier in some cases.

The paperback version is available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. Other online sellers out there should have it available soon if not already. I encourage you to purchase from whichever seller you prefer, and I have no particular preference for one over the others. Having said that, I will point that, when I last looked anyway, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million were selling the paperback at rather attractive discounts.

As always, all of the relevant links to sellers of all my books can be found on the right-hand side of this page.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Site Sighting

Hey, I just noticed that the paperback version of Lautaro’s Spear is available for pre-order on Amazon’s US site. You can see for yourself by clicking on this here link right here.

That’s pretty exciting—for me anyway. No matter how many times I go through this, it is still a bit of a thrill to see a new title of mine show up on a real, live, reputable web site. Also pretty exciting is the fact that I got my own copies of the paperback into my hands yesterday. I must be getting good at this writing/publishing stuff because usually I do not get my own copies until some time after they’re available from the sellers.

Over the next while, the paperback should also be showing up on the web sites of other sellers, as well as Amazon’s other sites around the world.

As for the digital versions (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks), they should start showing up sometime around the end of the week. I will do my best to put up links to all the various sites, as they go live, on this page. Just keep an eye on the right-hand side of the page.

I hope you will want to read the book and, when you read it, I hope you will enjoy it. As always, I did my best to write the sort of book I myself would enjoy reading. Hopefully, readers will be entertained, maybe learn something, and perhaps even find bits of it thought-provoking.

I have also done my best to give you as many choices as possible to acquire your own copy. It does not matter to me how you acquire it, although I suppose I should, on general principle, encourage you to acquire it legally. Beyond that, do whatever is most efficient and/or cost-effective for you. If you want to ask your local independent bookstore to order the paperback for you, that’s great. If you prefer to download the Kindle version from Amazon because it is extremely fast and convenient (and experience suggests that is what most of you will do), that’s fine too.

Having said that, I will point out one particular deal that, as far as I know, is unique to Amazon. If you want to have the book in both paper and digital versions, the cheapest way—again, as far as I know—is to order the paperback from Amazon. Once you have done that, you can get the Kindle version for next to nothing. If you do not need to have two different versions, then you will have plenty of other choices. Knock yourself out.

Friday, September 22, 2017

He’s Back!

A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting in the years since his wild youthful adventure in Mexico, as told in the novel Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. In the year 1980, he is now a photographer, living and working in San Francisco, where he adjusts to a world very different from that of his rural roots. He may be older, but that does not necessarily mean he is any wiser, as his continuing romantic misadventures attest. Lautaro’s Spear is Scott R. Larson’s third book, following the fantasy novel The Three Towers of Afranor.
Yes, it’s official! The marketing copy (see above) has been provided to the printer and other entities in the book distribution process. The official release of my third book is on the calendar. The new novel is called Lautaro’s Spear, and it should begin to be available in paperback and digital formats from the 29th of September. The grinding wait is at last over.

Lautaro's Spear
Okay, I know what is going through your mind. You have two burning questions: 1) who the heck is this Lautaro guy, and 2) what on earth is he going to do with that spear?

The short answer is that Lautaro was a real person and he has just as much to do with my third book as Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlotta had to do with my first book. If you are not familiar with Lautaro and would like to know who he was, use a search engine. You’re on line anyway, so it should be no big deal. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Anyway, while Lautaro is certainly referenced in the book, it is not actually about him, so do not expect it by any means to give you an exhaustive biography of him.

More relevantly, Lautaro’s Spear is the novel that some people insisted I write because they wanted to know what happened next to Dallas Green. The good news for me is that David Lynch and Mark Frost have seriously lowered the bar for granting fans closure when it comes to sequels. I can honestly promise you that, when you reach the end of this novel, you will have far fewer frustrating questions about Dallas’s fate than you probably have about any of the various characters in Twin Peaks. Having said that, I suppose truth in advertising compels me to advise you that the first comment from the first beta readers was that they were anxious to read the next installment.

As I have written here before, I had actually felt that Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead ended on satisfactorily resolved note, and I was kind of surprised when people kept telling me the story needed to be continued. I feel more or less the same way about Lautaro’s Spear. I would be perfectly happy to leave the story where that book ends, but this time I know better. Also, a wish for a third installment also came from my wife, who has not yet actually read Lautaro’s Spear but who likes books to come in sets of three. So, unless I get a lot of people telling me, please, no, just let the story rest where it is now and do not bother us with more details of Dallas’s wayward life, I will be writing another sequel.

With the book at last ready to be set free, I now have time and motivation for spending more time on this blog, so watch here for details, thoughts, information and, most importantly, links to where you can acquire the paper and/or digital versions from the various major online booksellers.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Attack the Block

Yes, yes, it’s coming. The new book will be along soon-ish. Just keep—or start—watching this space. Okay, now that’s out of the way…

I recently came across one of the best quotes about writing that I have read in a long time. It was said by American novelist Richard Bausch, whose books include Take Me Back, The Last Good Time, Hello to the Cannibals, and Peace. His words were quoted second-hand by another novelist, Devin Murphy, in an interview about his debut novel The Boat Runner, which is out this month. Though Murphy’s name sounds as though he should be from Cork, but he actually hails originally from upstate New York and currently teaches at a university in Illinois. His novel is inspired by his Dutch grandfather’s experiences during World War II. I am hoping to get time to read it one of these days.

Anyway, here is Bausch’s writing advice, which was delivered to a room of other writers: “When you’re stuck, lower your standards and keep going.”

Now that is brilliant. It is simple, to-the-point, and in fact has basically been my own personal philosophy for as long as I can remember. In fact, I have even taken it a step further. In my case, I lower my standards and keep going even when I am not stuck.

I am only half-joking. Yes, life would be easier if everything I wrote was perfect—or at least really, really good—at the moment it was first entered on the keyboard, but the practicality is that it is often easier to go back to fix and improve later than to interrupt the creative flow or, worse, get discouraged. Yes, that makes more work—something that is all too apparent to me at present as I try, with help, to get my latest in some sort of shape so that I am not completely embarrassed. If I write something bad, at least there is the possibility of making it better later. If do not manage to write anything, then there is nothing.

I have read other writers’ accounts of their struggles with writer’s block and consider myself blessed. I have no memories of ever being paralyzed by the blank page (or blank screen). Eons ago in school, I may have fretted over selecting a topic for an essay or story, but on the whole my problem has always been the reverse of writer’s block. I have too many ideas for things to write, and the dilemma is always to settle on which one to go with next—whether it is the next chapter or the next book. Actually, even choosing what to write next is less a problem than just finding enough time for writing, as well as for doing all the other non-writing things I want or need to be doing.

It is definitely not the worst problem to have.

As I say, watch this space for proximate information on the new book…