Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brokeback Gymhunks

I used a gym once.

This effect did NOT happen:

I'd caption this "Before and After," but whoever pasted up the photos in some magazine did the job backwards. After and Before. Screws up your concept of linear time, doesn't it?

I didn't walk properly from the next three weeks (remember Postcards from the Planet of the Apes? I'm still not out of that particular wood. Ouch.). I kid you not: Keegan has a "trick back" but, fortunately, it's not too common among the general population. If it were, Hollywood would be SOL. Arnie and Sly and Brad and company would spend half their lives in traction.

You notice, Hollywood loves muscles. The action stars have 'em. The actresses have 'em. The cameradudes have 'em. The ladies who run the sewing machines, making up the costumes have 'em. The makeup artists have 'em.

I wonder if the writers have to have 'em? Now, that's just plain not fair. I think I have an allergy to something they use in the gym. Possibly the floor cleaners? Or the stuff they wash the windows with. Maybe the barbells or punchbags. Some people come out in a rash when they come into contact with these allergens; I seem to come out in a bad back. At least you can stand up straight when you have a rash ... or mostly straight, not counting the odd little dance routine they do, hopping from foot to foot, when they're desperate to scratch SOMETHING, and can't, because they're in a public place.

Seriously, cheers to Jake Gyllenhall on the above. It's all for a movie, something called PRINCE OF PERSIA, which apparently started life as a game, like TOMB RAIDER. I know nada about the game, but if the movie is anything like KULL, that was a lot of fun, with Harvey Firestein (another of my Very Favorite Gay Actors) as a character called Juba, who used to hang out and party with the muscle-bound Kull at one time. I'll have to keep an eye on this one of JG's, and try not to miss it at the theatre.

Cheers also to the movie industry, post-LORD OF THE RINGS, for getting its teeth into some fantasy projects. Right now, I'm taking a keener than usual interest in fantasy, because I'm writing one. THE LORDS OF HARBENDANE is coming along nicely. At the moment I'm polishing up the new opening to the novel, and trying to visualize a cover. I have some ideas, but it'll be a little while before anything gels properly. Jade has the patience of a saint, and as for me -- I know how fortunate I am to be able to participate in the cover design process. With more conventional publishers, you have no idea what's going to be on the cover till, with trembling fingers, you open your package of presentation copies...

The publisher usually gives you six or eight, right off the top of the palletized load which was just delivered from the printshop. You break the bubble-wrap, take a deep breath, and hopefully you don't shudder too much.

Covers can be curious creatures. Take the Millivres edition of FORTUNES OF WAR, for example:

A couple of semi-juvenile gymhunks, to be sure ... and one of them is wearing (get this) an eyepatch. Huh, what, now? I had one reader write in with an odd comment, wanting to know where the character with the eyepatch went. She had been waiting throughout the whole novel for Dermot to lose an eye. Now, whose bright idea was it to stick an eyepatch on a semi-juvie hunk, and call the result Dermot Channon?

That was one occasion when I indulged myself in a small shudder. Not that I dislike gymhunks, you understand (me being of the broken-backed variety, I have a certain amount of respect for people who can actually survive the torture devices upon which these institutions base their astronomical subscription fees). But nowhere in my novel did I describe any of the characters as having any kind of "punk" look whatsoever ... and I don't recall anyone, anywhere in the novel, wearing the bloody eyepatch!

Okay, Keegan, calm down. (Steam puffing out of both ears.) Calm blue ocea, calm blue ocean...

And here you have another great reason for being involved in indie publishing, so long as you have the inestimable good fortune to sign with a studio which wants to work in partnership with the writer. You retain some creative control over the packaging -- and when you remember that the packaging goes a long way to selling the book, you realize how important it is.

Lately, for the sake of interest (as I'm also working on the other "write a novel of your own" type website), I've been having a look at the submission policies of several other online indie publishers of the more-or-less gay variety. There are some big, busy online publishing businesses, and part of me (being a writer) goes oooh, ahhh. But a close look at the fine print shows how little participation the writer would have in the process.

You ask yourself, would you sell more copies with a bigger online publisher? Probably. Would you earn more money? Probably not, because they have a complex business to run and can't possibly do real profit sharing. They'll pay royalties, which are never much. Would it be as gratifying a process as the deal I already have? Definitely not. I'd be back on the old tenterhooks, wondering what tripe was going to land on the cover, and how many YEARS would go by before the book finally went into print (or went online, in the case of an ebook). So ... I'll be staying with DreamCraft, having found my niche and settled comfortably into it.

Last note for today: the pilot copy of AQUAMARINE has not yet arrived, and we're on the weekend now. The earliest you can look for the book to go on sale would be Monday our time, because Australia Post doesn't deliver on weekends.

I'll post the news on the blog here, as soon as we get the copy and give it the "OK" for release, and a day or so later, you can look out for a newsletter from DreamCraft.

Here's hoping for Monday.

Ciao for now,

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