Re-Imagination (Part One) – A subtle Tip of the Hat to reinvented stories

Okay, so I love myths, legends and fairy/folk tales. No seriously, like if these abstract concepts were actually people I would totally be stalking them on facebook and possibly in real-life should I have the resources.

That being said, there are so many people out there working with these iconic stories and trying to make them fresh and interesting – and for me most of them fall a little short of what I would hope for in a retelling of some of these classic tales.

But today I’m not going to talk about that, today I want to talk about all of the interpretations of some of these classic stories whether mythic or literary that have pleased me to no end. So here is me gushing about 3 of my favourite reinventions of classic stories:

Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – a clever retelling of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

What is really interesting about this book is that I had no idea that it was a retelling of the Jungle Book until I read Gaiman’s author’s note at the end of the novel. Yet looking back, it was easy to see where he pulled his inspiration from, taking the general meat of the story of a boy raised in jungle but changing the jungle to a graveyard and the animals that raised him to the spirits of the dead. That and I loved the small allusions that harkened back to the source material, such as how he described the movement of the ghouls as ape-like. I could go on but there are more projects I want to talk about.
Anime: Gankutsou by Studio Gonzo – a 24 episode anime telling most of the story of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Before I say I anything I just have to comment on the art of this anime which is probably one of the best I have seen – vibrant and authentic, the highly stylized art of Gankutsou works perfectly with the indulgent lives of the aristocracy the story follows. Now I love the story of the Count of Monte Cristo, however I will admit the time that Dumas spent telling of Edmond’s 16 years in prison dragged a bit. Gankutsou on the other hand focuses on the revenge plot, though it is mostly seen through the eyes of the character Albert and his friends as the Count enters their lives. Another thing to take into account is the setting and the explanation of Edmond’s rage: first the world of post Napoleonic France is replaced with a Space/Steampunk version of our world where the aristocracy never fell, and second it is explained that while Edmond is imprisoned on a space station in the deep black of space, he allows another inmate, who is actually an alien parasite, to attach onto him to help him escape and much of his rage is from this creature. I’ll admit that Gonzo’s version does have some problems but I felt that overall that while it wasn’t 100% true to it’s source material it didn’t have to be as it told an engaging story regardless.

Video Games: American McGee’s Alice & Alice Madness Returns – dark twisted takes on Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carol

First thing to note about this interpretation as with any video game is that it is fun to play, though you can be seriously creeped out at the same time. While the sequel Alice Madness Returns has the best visuals that are both beautiful and terrifying, at the time American McGee’s Alice was also well put together for a PC game made in the year 2000, and despite it’s at times unwieldy controls. The main thing that was most interesting about this is not that wonderland is just Alice’s disturbing hallucinations as she descends into madness, but the story behind what caused her to become so and what all of these strange hallucinations mean when translated into the real world. We see a transformation in the Alice who unlike her book counterpart who mainly gets shuffled from one bizarre situation to the next, McGee’s Alice is the shaper of her own destiny. Not only does she tame her own mind and the dark creatures that lay within it but she is able to make sense of what is going on around her in the real world and what she must do to stop it.

So that’s it for now, though I have many others that I wish to talk about, but I’ll leave them for another day. Though I ask this to any readers out there: what are your favourite reinvented stories? Leave a comment and let me know and perhaps they’ll show up in my next blog.

The “Polite” Pass

So it’s been a while since I’ve written on this blog, but after a couple months of waiting and wringing my hands I felt that I needed to get this out.

This post is about the so-called “Polite” Pass, that many of us writers have to suffer through. For those of you who don’t know the polite pass is basically when someone who is reviewing your work decides that your work is not for them or not up to their standards – and that my friends is completely fine, each to his own and the truth is sometimes your work isn’t good enough. That is why all of us writers must suffer through rewrites and editing. But that is not my problem with the polite pass – my problem is that in order not to hurt your feelings, the person who is not interested in your work will just forget about it.
Yes they may have asked for you to send them a copy of your script, manuscript – whatever (so they obviously had some interest in your project), but when they get it, it does not meet their expectations and instead of telling you they just leave you hanging. THAT, is what annoys me.

I do realize that many of these people are very busy, but I feel that if you have asked to see my work I at least deserve a: Thanks, but no thanks, email should you end up not being interested. Why? Because of hope and the loose ends it creates inside of us.

Now back in February of this year I sent out query letters to a least twenty different literary agencies asking for representation for my novel series and will admit that I have heard back from almost everyone of them. True it took a bit of time with some, but they warned me about that before I even sent the letter. And true basically every single one has said: Thanks, but this isn’t right for me – good luck. Or some variation of that sentiment. Was it disappointing? Yes, of course, but it didn’t mean I was going to stop writing.

Now these are people who have not asked for my work, but have had me shove it in their inbox begging them to give me a chance. And to be honest if anyone has the right to ignore me it’s these people. They didn’t ask for my work – they didn’t want my work, but yet they had the decency to acknowledge my presence and work and then politely showed me the door.

So when I have someone request my work, I am over the moon just to know that someone wants to take the time to read my work. And I know that I should be content with that, but when I don’t hear anything from the people who have my work months later it’s frustrating to say the least.  It is a whirlwind of emotions confusion, doubt, anger and a plethora of others (most unpleasant), but the worst of all is the hope. That perhaps they just haven’t gotten to it, or forgot (which granted is not a great feeling either) but the fact that they still might contact you continues to pull on your heartstrings, making it really hard to concentrate on any other projects.

That said I just want to make a plea to all of those in positions of power, reading people’s manuscripts, screenplays and spec scripts – please don’t leave us hanging. We’re writers, not children, we can some rejection, what I can’t take is forever not knowing.

FanExpo 2012

So this past weekend was pretty eventful as I was able to go for all four days of Fan Expo in Toronto this year. I’ve been going to the convention every year for about the past ten years or so, though lately I’ve only been able to do one or two days tops of the festivities.

The truth is Fan Expo was the first Con I ever went too, though back then it wasn’t called that. I don’t know if the whole event had a name back then, I only knew it as the five individual conventions that all took place at the same time and in the same building: ones for Comics, Sci-fi, Horror, Anime and Gaming. I would attend the one called CN Anime, though I had an interest in almost all of the genres that were present (not so much of the Horror because I am a wimp).

I find it interesting how my interests have changed in that time. That’s not to say that I have no interest in Anime and Manga anymore it’s just I have just as much love for Sci-fi and Comics. I do also enjoy gaming, though probably not as much as the others.

But I’m rambling. Anyway I had an amazing time this weekend, shopping, getting autographs, doing stupid things with my friends, reuniting with people I haven’t seen in ages and meeting some of my idols. Though my highlights of the weekend had to be the Q & A’s with Alan Tudyk, and Criminal Minds cast members Matthew Gray Gubler and A.J. Cook, along with the photo ops with Alan and the legend, Stan Lee himself.

Feeding my geekery only makes me want to write more and perhaps next year I’ll get a table at the artist/writer’s alley and sell my book. Regardless of any lines that we had to deal with, I truly can’t wait for next year.

       

Poem: Never

Here’s a poem/short story I wrote back in university and always liked. I hope you enjoy.

Never

By Gillian E. White

 

He was the one that named me.

I don’t remember much before he did, before he was here – with me.

I remember being cold and lonely – he was lonely too. Maybe that’s why he chose me.

 

He named me for all the things he would never have to do…

Grow up

Grow old

Grow tired

Grow weak

Grow bitter

Grow…

 

He named me for all the things he’d never have to be…

A student,

A worker,

A man

A husband

A father

Lonely…

Not ever. Never.

 

He named me in denial of everything that they thought was inevitable.

He named me in denial of all the things he would never experience. Not ever. Never again.

 

He believed they were all here before he came. The Indians and the mermaids; the faeries and the pirates. But it had been them that had been drawn to him.

 

For while I gave off light, he shone brighter than any star.

 

He believed I kept him young; that as long as he stayed with me he would never have to grow up.  And I let him.

 

He didn’t realize that it was him that kept me young – for when he was gone it grew cold – I grew cold. And I began to remember what dying felt like.

 

He forgot things as all young boys are prone to do – but he would always come back. In a way we had all sunk our hooks in him – though not literally to some’s dismay.

 

So he will always come back

He can’t leave me, or them – not forever.

 

Never.

Mini TV Update

Classmates from my days at Humber College might remember an original TV series that I pitched in class. There was some wonderful support for the project, but unfortunately it never got farther than a pilot script and bible. But now a few years later and several rewrites the pilot is now in the hands Brown Girl Productions for possible filming.

Wish me luck!

Eyes of the Watchtower Intro + Cover Art

Okay so second day of blogging and already I have so much to catch up on.

At the moment I’m working on several projects, most in the realm of TV and Film, but one of my biggest projects is my novel series currently titled “The Realms of Rebirth”. It is an urban fantasy series steeped in Greek Mythology and issues of identity. The series will follow the journey of Quinn Smith, a brilliant but troubled young man, as he is discovers that he part of a secret order of mortal gods and goddesses, who live, rule and die, only to be reborn again. During the three books over which the story will take place Quinn will face many challenges as this generation’s incarnation of Greek God(dess) of wisdom Athena.

I don’t want to give away too much at this point so I’m just going to leave it for now, though I hope to give readers of this blog a couple of sample chapters from the first book, entitled “Eyes of the Watchtower”, in the coming weeks as I finish off what will hopefully be the final edits. At this point the first book is complete with the second and third already in the works – but as most writers learn “writing is rewriting” so it’s on hold as for the publishing part of the job.

But in the meantime I want to show off the amazing work done by my cover artist Yue Wang.

So here is the general/crappy concept art that I whipped up to have her work from:

Now here is her following drafts:

             

And here is the final product both with and without text:

     

All work is Copyrighted but can see  and purchase her other amazing work at her deviantart page here: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/

My only hope is that the book can live up to this inspiring art that she has done.

More “Eyes of the Watchtower” updates to come!

Once more into black

Okay, here it is my new blog: what will hopefully be a fun and informative collection of my work and struggles in the world of prose and screenwriting. Here I’ll share my thoughts on the entertainment industry, along with some of my first pages of upcoming scripts and novels, special artwork, as well as my vast knowledge of (useless) information.
Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to drop me a line, or to ask any questions about me, my work, or the location of Carmen Sandiego.

Cheers!
~ Gillian (Jill)