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…

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Brain Activity

The strangest thing happened over the weekend.

On a two-and-a-half-hour car journey to Dublin, my brain went into hyper-drive. This happens every so often. I cannot predict when it will happen or what will bring it on. If I could make it happen at will, I would—and at a convenient time.

By hyper-drive, I mean that my mind began writing out scenes and storylines for a long-planned book. It was like a fax machine that suddenly came to life and started spewing pages.

This usually happens in the summer. More typically, it will happen late at night or early in the morning while I am lying in bed. This can happen in my own usual bed in Connacht, but it is more likely to occur in the bed where I sleep in Munster when we have gone down there for a break. It seems to have something to do with getting out of my usual routine and/or being cut off from my usual distractions, which tend to involve some combination of computer and internet access.

One memorable morning during such an episode, I wrote in my head the final seven pages of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead pretty much verbatim. Immediately afterwards, I had to get out of bed and grab a smart tablet to type it all out before I forgot any of it. Those pages wound up in the book with very little change, even though I still had several chapters left to write to work my way toward those final pages. Something similar happened as I neared the end of my first draft of the upcoming book, the sequel to Max & Carly, which I hope to be able to tell you all about—including where and how to acquire it—during the month of September. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel when I suddenly find myself writing the ending to a book. While I have the major plot points nailed down before I begin any writing, I do not always have a clear idea how I will end up getting from point to point along the way. While I know the ending, it remains vague and fuzzy to me until that strange moment when it begins playing out in front of my eyes like a leaked on-line spoiler video clip from a yet-to-be-released movie.

The scenes that played out in my head during the weekend’s drive to Dublin were from the upcoming third installment of my Dallas Green trilogy. (Yes, it’s a trilogy.) New characters he needed to meet and old ones he needed to meet again told me who they were and how they were going to fit in. More vividly, certain key scenes played themselves over and over until they burned themselves into my memory, just as I hope they may do for the eventual readers.

It is a strange thing this writing process.

It is, of course, way too soon to be talking about the third book when the second one has still to see the light of day. The good news is that it is very, very close to being unleashed upon the world. It feels as though it has been forever since I began writing it and even longer—as illogical as that will sound—since I got to the end of the first draft. I honestly could not do this without my good friend Dayle, who somehow manages to take my writing more seriously than I do and who helps me and supports me and challenges me to respect the nuts-and-bolts craftsman part of the writing process.

If you enjoy—or not—the stories I try to tell, I will shamelessly accept the credit—or blame. If you find you can read my books without them totally doing your head in—or even being pleasurable to read—then you can thank Dayle.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Inspirations and Checkpoints

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing better than devoting a week to gorging on the creative works of others. My favorite place to do that is at a film festival, which just so happens to be where I was last week.

The annual Galway Film Fleadh has become the one film fest that I usually manage not to miss. It was a nice break from the day-to-day routine and from the weight of worrying about all the shortcomings I keep imagining—or maybe not imagining—in my just-about-ready-to-release new book. The strange thing—actually probably not that strange—was that, everywhere I turned during the festival, I was reminded in some way of the book. The first film I saw, Jennifer M. Kroot’s documentary The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, was about one of the writers whose work was firmly in my mind when writing the sections that take place in San Francisco in 1980. Nobody has captured the spirit of that time and place better than Maupin. I suppose you could say that my protagonist Dallas Green plays more or less than same role in my book that Ohio transplant Mary Ann Singleton plays in Tales of the City.

It was interesting to see how a filmmaker like Tom Collins approached the weaving of a fictional story with historical events in Penance, something I attempted to do—admittedly less ambitiously than him—in my book. I got a new appreciation for readers who accuse me of leaving details in my stories hanging or not finishing certain side plots. I found myself feeling the same way while watching Liam Ó Mochain’s Lost & Found. In a couple of his interweaving plots, he did not answer the questions there were foremost in my mind. When asked about this after the screening, he smiled and invited viewers to fill in the details however it best pleased them. I guess I got a taste of my own medicine.

A couple of the movies reminded me in different ways of The Three Towers of Afranor, particularly Brendan Muldowney’s Pilgrimage. Like my own fantasy novel, it told the story of a callow young man on a real and metaphysical journey in a dark and dangerous landscape. (If only I could get Tom Holland to play Prince Chrysteffor in a movie adaptation!) Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s affecting documentary Chavela, about the singer Chavela Vargas, did not itself remind me of my own writings, but the title was certainly evocative for me. Chavela was the name I chose for the princess of Afranor way back in that high school Spanish story that eventually became The Three Towers of Afranor. Chavela is essentially a nickname for Isabel, the Spanish equivalent of Elizabeth. In the final version, I decided to go for Gaelic names for the Afranor characters, so the name Chavela became Eilís.

My sense of cinematic déjà vu in regards to the new book was actually strongest while viewing a movie I saw after the film festival. My wife and I watched the 1965 Martin Ritt adaptation of John le Carré’s novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. The very first scene takes place at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. It was strange to see on screen the iconic crossing, which figures in my new book—especially after having visited the real place for the first time only last year. It would have been problematic for the filmmakers to have filmed that scene where it was meant to take place, at the newly built Berlin Wall, in 1965. As it happens, studio filming for the movie was done here in Ireland at Ardmore Studios in County Wicklow.

It was surreal to realize that the Checkpoint Charlie scenes were actually filmed in a place I know fairly well, the Smithfield Market in Dublin.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sequels, Series and Sequences

Is it just me or do there seem to be a lot more sequels showing up these days?

I am not talking specifically about movies playing at the local cineplex during the summer. After all, the marquees at those places have reliably been filled for years now with the titles of sequels, remakes, remakes of sequels, sequels of remakes and the occasional spinoff of franchises full of sequels. No, I am talking about movies and television shows from long ago that we thought were done and dusted but which are unexpectedly and belatedly brought back for another go.

Probably the most prominent example in our house is the quarter-decade-later resumption of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks saga. Fans of the show had long given up hope of seeing the abruptly curtailed story of supernatural doings in a fictional corner of northeast Washington state after the series’s cancellation in 1991. A 1992 feature film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, did not advance the plot much, but at least there was the promise of more movies. They did not, however, materialize. Now Showtime is airing no fewer than 18 new one-hour episodes. This is quite a bonanza, considering that the original series took only a bit over 34 hours to watch, according to a binge watching website. (Yes, there is such a thing.) The feature film added 135 more minutes. And Twin Peaks is by no means the only old series to get revived years after the fact. The sitcom Full House, which went off the air in 1995, is back as Fuller House. The sitcom Roseanne, which went off the air in 1997, is also coming back. There are probably other examples.

As for movies, did anyone expect there to be a Trainspotting sequel two decades later? I didn’t. I caught up with it recently and enjoyed it, although it was largely fan service. But that’s what we fans want, right?

I feel obliged these days not to be too harsh on sequels since the universe has played a trick on me by conspiring to get me, after criticizing more than a few sequels in public over the years, to write my very own sequel. Keep watching this space so you can be among the first to know when it is available for purchase. It could be any minute now. Well, maybe by the end of the summer.

Allow me to dissemble. I am not sure I really consider Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead: Part 2 (as no one, including myself, will call it) strictly a sequel. Let us consult a dictionary definition of the word sequel: “a literary work, movie, etc., that is complete in itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work.” Okay, so it is a sequel, but I do not consider it the second in a series. The question of whether the two books plus any future ones dealing with the adventures of Dallas Green constitute a series is not academic. When I acquire an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for a new book, one of the fields that must be completed is whether the work is part of a series. You know, like one of the Harry Potter books or any other of the numerous examples of fantasy YA lit that, seemingly by decree, cannot be told in a mere single tome. I have no plans to list Max & Carly or its sequel as part of a series. Any sequels to The Three Towers of Afranor, however, along with the original book could well be listed as a series—if I ever get any encouragement to write them.

In my mind, the Max & Carly sequel is just another book that will stand or fall on its own and which just happens to include some characters that also appeared in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. As it happens, at least two of the characters in the new book will also appear in my long planned novel about Seattle in the 1980s—if I ever get around to writing that one. Dallas, however, will not appear in that book. In other words, I fancy myself (with typical lack of humility) as a modern-day Honoré de Balzac. He was the 19th century French author of nearly a hundred novels, which included many of the same characters and told overlapping stories. Some of his better known books are Eugénie Grandet, Le Père Goriot and Illusions Perdues. These scores of interweaving books by Balzac are not referred to by academics as a “series” but as a “novel sequence,” and the name of the sequence is La Comédie Humaine. So that is what I am writing: a novel sequence. Just do not expect me to write as many books as Balzac did. The scary thing is that he would have probably written a lot more if he had not died at the age of 51—five months after getting married.

If you are having trouble getting your head around the whole “novel sequence” thing, perhaps because you are more of a comic book person than a French literature person, then think of it this way. It’s kind of like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Extended Universe but with French people instead of superheroes. But my novel sequence comprises only my books set in the real world. Do not expect a future book, for example, where Dallas shows up in Afranor.

Or wait… maybe he could. Hang on, I just might have an idea for the best cross-over ever!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Scott Does Dallas (again)

It’s out of my hands.

I am talking about my book and, no, it is not really out of my hands. It is just that I am waiting for comments, feedback, corrections and general reaction before doing anything else. After the most recent pass, I am happy with it. That is not to say I feel it is perfect. Perfection is an ideal and by definition unachievable. I have too much of a journalist background geared to deadlines for me to get hung up on perfection. At this point my to-do list includes listening and acting on whatever I get back and then undertaking one last pass in an attempt to catch the previously uncaught. Then comes the “easy” part, that is, the technical part that is satisfying in that success can be measured objectively instead of subjectively. I am talking about the formatting, press prep, uploading and business end of the whole book process.

It is something of a relief to have my brain freed up for things like the occasional blog post and spinning ideas for upcoming books. (Unless reaction to this book is such that I am convinced to give up writing altogether and go into full-time subsistence farming.) Next up is still my gothic supernatural opus or what I keep calling (and will most likelyy inevitably regret calling) my Dark Shadows homage. I need something completely different in tone and theme from Dallas’s end-of-Carter-administration exploits. Toward the end of writing the second Dallas book, though, I was getting quite keen to launch into the third Dallas novel. Now that I have had a chance to decompress, however, I do not think I can face into him and his dipsomaniac existence quite so soon again. I am now, instead, tending toward finally tackling my long-planned epic of the lives of multiple charactes in 1980s Seattle. Perhaps the new season of the brilliant but profane HBO sitcom Silicon Valley is infusing me with a need to revisit the world of software people.

A warning. A blog post is not a legally binding contract. Any of these intended plans could be altered or eliminated at any time. Even the third Dallas book is optional. I was perfectly happy with one single Dallas book—until people kept telling me they could not wait for the next installment. Apparently, what I thought was a neat, tidy resolution of the story was, in the eyes of most other people, a cliffhanger. The early word so far from at least one beta reader of the second Dallas book is that it is in even more need of a follow-up.

Is this going to be my curse? Writing an endless series of books about Dallas, trying each time to finally wrap up the series—and failing?

Something to look forward to: I have distilled a playlist of music—to which I listened a lot while writing the book—into an eighty-song five-and-a-half-hour Spotify playlist, which I will make public at the same time the book is released. If any filmmakers out there are looking for a project, allow me to point out that this playlist could easily be adapted into a film soundtrack. Hint, hint.