To put it simply, the Make U Famous debacle took a big, runny shit on my dream. If you’re not familiar with that went down, you can read about it here: Ain’t It Cool News
Ga head. I’ll wait…
All done? Pretty fucked up, right? I had never experienced anything close to the level of conniving, backstabbing, underhanded cowardly behavior that took place during that nightmare, and I grew up in the hood. In retrospect, I should’ve seen it coming. But I kept relying on this thing called trust. Live and learn, right?
Up to that point the Duza machine was moving ahead full steam. After three novels I was just settling into my place among a new crop of horror writers. I had finally come to understand my idiosyncratic voice and how to utilize it to its best potential without beating people over the head. I was collaborating with great artists to help translate my visual style via interior illustrations—a process that I thoroughly enjoyed. It seemed like a graphic novel was the next logical step.
But then the bottom fell out and writing (the business side, to be more specific) became that girl who cheated on you, the one you forgave, but then found it hard to look at without seeing some anonymous sweaty masculine figure conjured up by your insecurities thrusting and grinding on top of her as she moans in delight in a way that you could never elicit from her. So, I looked away.
While I never stopped writing, the mentality was no longer “write to live.” The inherent need to purge my brain of the surplus of words and images was still there, but I wasn’t going to stress about getting this or that published. If a manuscript was accepted then that was icing on the cake, but if not, then so be it. I became less of a presence online. I was less concerned with scheduling my day around writing. I would just let it happen.
I dove headfirst into personal training and teaching kung fu and spent more time being a husband and father. Not that I was ever neglectful of any of those things, but oftentimes I would be there physically while mentally I was elsewhere, compiling ideas for the next writing session. I did some acting, and stunt work, which I hope to do more of in the future.
I got myself an agent and passed everything on to him once I finished; one novel, two novels, three novels. Turns out he didn’t really understand how to market a weirdo like me, but no hard feelings. It’s not like I was really busting my ass to get the word out about my work.
Along the way someone would express interest in my screenplay for Hollow Eyed Mary, and I’d get my hopes up only for it to fizzle out each time. You learn that this is par for the course in the film industry, even moreso than in the literary world. The people who make it are either lucky or they simply keep plowing forward no matter how many times things don’t work out.
I became increasingly frustrated for allowing myself to be dragged into it again and just when I was ready to throw in the towel, I get an email like this:
“Hey man. I love your work. Any word on upcoming projects? I’m in need of a Duza fix.”
Then an opportunity arises with TV writer Morgan Gendel. We had become friends since meeting during the MUF debacle. Morgan’s a veteran TV-writer/producer who’s written for shows like Law and Order, Nash Bridges, Hunter, 21 Jump Street (The original TV series), Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and he created that awesomely bad Pam Anderson show V.I.P, so I would often defer to him for advice concerning some potential script deal. These calls would inevitably devolve into brainstorming sessions. After a year of this we finally found a project to work on together, a sequel to a Hugo Award Winning episode of Star Trek: TNG that he had written called Inner Light. He had pitched it years ago to the execs at Paramount and was told, “We don’t do sequels.” So, we came up with the idea of doing the sequel as an online comic. You can check it out here: The Outer Light
Next I get an email from Wrath James White asking if I’d be up for collaborating on a novella, Son of a Bitch. Then another chance to collaborate, this time with author Wayne Simmons on a novel, Voodoo Chile.
The collaborative process is different each time, but equally enjoyable, and I credit it along with letters from fans with helping to reignite my passion for writing. Another, unlikely inspiration was the wealth of material mined from conversations with my personal training clients. Training is a funny business. Your clients are often successful people who are used to dominating their respective environments. However, they might be overweight, or maybe they’re not the most athletic or coordinated person, and there you are, this living action-figure standing over them barking out commands. It’s a weird dynamic. You almost become their therapist. As a writer, it’s impossible for me not to expound on their tales once I get home and sit down in front of the computer. Some of them are wilder than anything I can dream up. And I’m good for some pretty off-the-wall shit.
In short, I’m back. I’ve got a couple new projects on my plate, some unpublished novels and a few screenplays to sell, and enough ideas to last a lifetime.
So, stay tuned…