Friday, August 25, 2006

Hell In a Big Box

Big Box bookstore, that is. I'll be talking to the Mystery Books Group at the Barnes & Noble at 760 S.E, Maynard in Cary, (across from Cary Towne Center) this Monday, August 28th at 7:00 PM. Tell the bouncer you're with the author.
Pancakes: Before and After 'Deadwood'

Warning: bad words.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Pope Suggests You Take Some Time Off

Pope Benedict XVI, speaking from his summer palace in Castel Gondolfo, Italy, tells the faithful about the dangers of overwork:

Benedict quoted the saint as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever ... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence.'"

"That warning is valid for every kind of work, even those involved in the governing of the church," 79-year-old Benedict said.

Well, you heard the man. I'm gonna take the day off and go get drunk.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


That's the title of my fourth book, to be published by St. Martin's Minotaur. We recently completed negotiations on the deal. It's a stand-alone, and I'm really excited about it.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing the Jack Keller books (and for you Keller fans, remember the third in the series, SAFE AND SOUND, comes out next July). But BREAKING COVER seems to be the book that wants to be written right now. It's got atmosphere, paranoia, chases, gunfights, romance, beautiful women, surprises, rescues, betrayals, strippers, bikers, gangsters, the FBI, good cops, bad cops, and people being killed in interesting ways. Oh, and stuff blows up. That's the first hundred pages or so.

I'm really psyched to be working with Ben Sevier of St. Martin's as my editor again, and I'm having a lot of fun writing BREAKING COVER.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I Could Kick Your Ass...

..Or At Least My Character Could.

That's the title of the panel I'll be doing at this year's Bouchercon in lovely Madison, Wisconsin. The panel also features Michael Black, John McFetridge, and moderator Kevin Burton Smith.
We'll either be talking about tough guys and images of masculinity in crime fiction or engaging in actual fistfights.

Many thanks, by the way to Kate Buker of the panel committee, who very patiently managed to accomodate a scheduling conflict I should have foreseen.

10:30, Saturday, September 30th. Don't make me come looking for you.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes on a Plane, Baybeeeeee!

Latest Newspaper Column:

Sigh. August again.

I've finally come to realize that I really don't care much for August. The heat's really getting tiresome, it's so humid that walking outdoors is like swimming, my June vacation's a distant memory, the Fourth of July only a little less so, there's nothing good on TV, the kids are bored and grumpy, etc. etc.

But there is one bright spot, something to look forward to in the August doldrums.

I'm talking, of course, about "Snakes On a Plane."

In case you haven't heard, "Snakes On a Plane" is a movie starring one of my favorite actors, Samuel L. Jackson. It's about -- well, what do you think it's about? It's about snakes. On a plane. Do you need anything more?

You do? Oh, well, here goes: Some ethnic-type baddie wants to keep a witness from testifying, so he somehow manages to sneak a crateload of deadly snakes on board the jumbo jet that's carrying said witness to his date with the jury. Think about that next time you have to toss out your bottled water to get through airport security. Life is truly not fair. When the snakes are released, hijinks ensue, and Samuel L. is the FBI guy who has to deal with said hijinks.

OK, I'll admit, this doesn't sound like it's going to rival "Citizen Kane" or "On the Waterfront" for artistic merit. It sounds pretty dumb, as a matter of fact. But it's dumb in a good way.

This is the kind of dumb that is known as "high concept" in Hollywood. "High concept" apparently means that the movie can be summed up in very few words of very few syllables. Like, for example, "snakes on a plane." I don't know exactly why it is, but I can hardly type that without laughing out loud, which is precisely the point.

The other reason I really have to see this movie is that it may be the first film ever that was not only widely promoted on the Internet but which has been at least partially created there.

The buzz started last year when New Line Cinema announced the title. It immediately caught on across the Net. People created their own mock movie trailers, posters, even music videos. "Snakes on a plane, man," became a shorthand way of saying "it's a totally absurd situation, but what can you do?"

Then tragedy struck. New Line announced that it was changing the title to the much blander "Pacific Air Flight 121." The outcry was immediate, led by none other than Samuel L. Jackson his own bad self.

Jackson complained loudly in the media that he had signed on for "Snakes on a Plane" -- in fact, he'd agreed to do the movie based on the title alone -- and by golly, that's the movie he wanted to appear in. Movie-obsessed bloggers picked up the cry, and eventually New Line changed the title back to the original dumb one.

Not only that, but they also went back into the studio in March to reshoot some scenes to, as one source put it, "bring it more in line with fan expectations."

Perhaps the most famous addition was the insertion of a line for Jackson that had originally appeared in an online parody, one that harked back to Jackson's high-voltage performance in "Pulp Fiction": "That's it! I have had it with these [really bad word] snakes on this [really bad word] plane!"

After all, as Jackson himself observed wryly, it wouldn't seem like a Samuel L. Jackson movie if he didn't say "[really bad word]" at least once.

(I have to agree. One of the great disappointments of "Revenge of the Sith" is that Jackson's character, the Jedi Master Mace Windu, never got the chance to say something like "The [really bad word] Dark Side of the Force surrounds the [really bad word] Chancellor!" That would have rocked. But I digress.)

There was some concern, after the recent airline-oriented terror plot was foiled in the United Kingdom, that the release of the film would need to be delayed or, God forbid, that the movie would be pulled off the market entirely. After all, some wondered, with people worried sick about airline travel, wouldn't it be in bad taste, at the very least, to release a movie about an attack on an airliner?

To which I reply: Dude, you're talking about a movie called 'Snakes on a Plane.' Taste does not even enter into this discussion. Besides, if Americans are prevented from watching a movie about [really bad word] snakes on a [really bad word] plane, then it's over. The [really bad word] terrorists have won.

"Snakes On a Plane" opened this weekend. Check it out.