Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Carrie vs. Carrie vs Carrie

I recently went on a unique odyssey of consuming Stephen King's "Carrie" in three different formats and thought I would share my experience.

Carrie - the book
But before I get to that, let me tell you what "Carrie" means to me.  "Carrie" could be one of the biggest contributing factors to me being a writer today.  I was first exposed to "Carrie" when a friend loaned me the paperback just after it came out.  I was a teenager and read periodically.  I just started reading Sci-Fi, and didn't read to much horror.  Well, Stephen King changed that.  I was literally knocked out my socks by the book. I couldn't put it down.  There was something about King's writing that connected with me.  I went from being a periodic reader to an almost obsessive one. I couldn't wait for the next King book to come out. 

And it made me think about being a writer some day.  (Little did I know that seed would take a couple decades to grow.)

Carrie - the Audiobook
Anyway, back to my "Carrie" orgy.  Two weeks ago, I listened to the audiobook on my daily commute.  It was like going back in time for me, but it also transcended my nostalgia.  I could see a nimble and intelligent writer at work.  Despite it's deceptively simple surface level plot, this is a complex book.  You have the on-going traditional narrative interspersed with an epistolary approach that is quite complex.  On top of it all, King uses some of the most overt foreshadowing that I can ever remember reading.  Trouble's coming and I have to know about it.

My wife and I had planned to see the most recent silver screen version of the book, and since we have Netflix, I thought it might be a good idea to watch the 1976 DePalma version to allow us to compare it.

Carrie - the movie (1976)
First, I've never been a big fan of this version of the movie.  DePalma's treatment seems heavy handed at times and there are several scenes that don't stand of the test of time.  That being said, I can say that I found the movie to better than I remembered.  This is largely due in part to the strength of the source material and Sissy Spacek's performance.  Spacek gives a fantastic and empathetic performance, it's hard not to root for her Carrie.  DePalma also charts the course toward the finale with a great sense of tension.

Carrie - the movie (2013)
I had some initial trepidation about this most recent incarnation, largely due to the casting.  There's nothing wrong with Chloe Grace Moretz as an actress.  She's quite talented.  It was just the fact that "Carrie" is about an ugly duckling becoming a swarm and Moretz brings a lot of innate attractiveness to the role that is hard to overcome.  Still, she does her best and almost gets over this challenge.  

For her part, Julianne Moore does a fantastic job of rendering Margaret White.  This is quite a challenging role as it could easily drift in to caricature.  While Piper Laurie's performance is somewhat stylized, Moore's is slightly more nuanced.  

As for the other roles, I think Amy Irving and William Katt are much better in portraying Sue Snell and Tommy Ross than their contemporaries.  Gabriella Wilde's Sue is somewhat plastic and one dimensional.  Ansol Algort's Tommy is more nuanced and layered than Wilde's Sue, but he comes off more goofy than earnest.  

As for the direction in the new "Carrie," Kimberly Pierce focuses on bullying and its harmful effects.  This works to good effect in this re-telling of the story.  There are times in the movie when your heart is almost breaking for this young girl who had been tormented.   

Comparing the Two Movies
If someone made me choose which version I would recommend. it would be the 2013 version. There are just too many deficits in the 1976 version (e.g. some terribly dated music tracks, the choice of split screens during the climax, etc.).  Plus the advances in special effects allows the movie makers to fully realize the climactic scenes in the most recent version.  
My only qualms with the new movie is that movie stretches Carrie's abilities past just telekinesis to pyrokinesis which I felt took it too far.

Comparing the Book to the Movies
Comparing the screenplays of the two movies with the original material is somewhat easy because Larry Cohen had a hand in writing both screenplays.  If you compare the two movies, you'll hear some line-for-line repetition in the two movies.  

Obviously, a movie is no match for the human imagination when it comes to realizing what a movie could be, but Cohen, in my opinion, actually improves the dramatic structure of King's book.  I don't want to giveaway the ending, but Cohen switches around two chronological events at the end of the book and finishes the movies with a better dramatic punch with the climax than King did.  It's rare that I can say a movie does that, but this is one of those times.  

In the end, I say make up your own mind about the movies, but please do yourself a favor and read the book first if you haven't.  It's a real treat.

[Author's Note:  I have not seen the 2002 TV version, but I sure would like to.]

Monday, October 7, 2013

Want to Sell More Books? Then Write Them

It seems like the title of this post is quite obvious, and it is, but there's more depth in it it than you think.

All too often a writer can put out a book and have some sales, but then watches them dwindle away.  I'm one of those authors.  "NEW" catches people's eyes.  "NEW" is easy to market.  Old is a bigger challenge.

The case in point for me is that my sales in August and September were simply awful.  I sold next to nothing because my backlog was old and stale.  At least to readers.

What does old mean?  It must mean six months because my backlog wasn't moving.

I just released a new book (Forget Texas, the second book in my Forget the Zombies series) and it has sold quite briskly.  Of course, it didn't hurt that I gave away the first book in the series (Forget the Alamo) and sold Forget Texas for half price.

It helps if you can write and sell them a series because many readers like the continuity of a series.  They like getting know your heroes and follow them on adventures.  Plus you can use the new book to market the old one.

So, if you want to sell more book, then get out there and write them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Forget Texas Launches - Officially

Today is not only my birthday, but the launch of my latest book, Forget Texas.  As my birthday gift to you, I'm offering up the first book in the Forget the Zombies series for FREE and Forget Texas for half price.

In Forget Texas, Grant and the gang find themselves in a refugee camp that is about to be overrun by zombies. They are forced to fend for themselves as they must find a way out of the camp and then out of Texas as the zombie hordes chase them north. 

Forget Texas (on Amazon)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Forget Texas Launches Officially on Thursday

Forget Texas, the sequel to my novella, Forget the Alamo, is available on Amazon, but the official launch is Thursday, Oct. 3.

Forget Texas picks up where Forget the Alamo left off.  We find Grant and the other survivors from the zombie outbreak that overran San Antonio living a tenuous life in a central Texas refugee camp.

Things are decidedly bad as food is running low and zombie incursions from the south are picking up each day.  Grant feels the noose of death closing around him and the other survivors.  Leaving the camp is prohibited by the military.  Leaving Texas will be even harder as the President has closed the borders of all states with signs of infection.  Getting out won't be easy.  Surviving will be even more challenging.

Forget Texas (on Amazon)