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The Misadventures of an Author on the Road

Long before I was a published author, I tried my hand at filmmaking. And being a playwright. And learning the guitar. That last one might not be relevant. At all.

But the first two are. And when I say “filmmaking” and “playwright”, I mean in the broadest, most amateurish way possible, like making dumb little movies with friends and writing a particularly tragic high school play that shared its title with the one and only movie that Britney Spears ever starred in.

So I know what it’s like to have people read out dialogue you’ve written. Sometimes it’s embarrassing, or frustrating, but every so often you hear your own words read aloud to you and they sing (the words, that is. Not the person reading them).

It’s been a long time since I last experienced that, but this past week I once again had that opportunity.

I was thrilled to be invited to the Carey Celebration of Literature, a writers’ festival held by Carey Baptist Grammar. The day started off with a workshop where the students and I went through the fundamentals of storytelling, with a lot of activities peppered throughout, before I set them the task of creating their own superheroes. I was really impressed with the imagination and storytelling instincts on display.

But as impressive as that was, I was even more blown away when I showed up for the talk I was to present in the afternoon to find that a few of the kids had put together a dramatic presentation of a scene from Vanguard Prime: Goldrush (specifically, the scene where Major Blackthorne introduces Sam to Agent Alpha, and they discuss the history of the team).

As with all adaptations some changes were made, the major one being (no pun intended…well, maybe slightly intended) that Major Blackthorne had been split into two characters, one named Blackthorne and the other called Silverleaf. This is, of course, so utterly brilliant that I’m now sorely tempted to introduce a clone of Blackthorne called Silverleaf…and given that Blackthorne’s hair is silver, Silverleaf’s hair would of course be black.

I think I just came up with a fanfic idea for my own book series.

In addition to the Celebration of Literature, I also got the chance to call on Ivanhoe Grammar again, where this year’s bunch of students were just as bright and inquisitive as last year’s. I’m often asked what my favourite part of writing is, and I have to admit that getting to meet the readers would be right at the top of the list.

So thanks to both Carey Baptist Grammar and Ivanhoe Grammar. I had a great time and was honoured to have been invited along, making it well worthwhile that I never learned how to play the guitar. And if Major Silverleaf should end up in a story, please don’t sue.

Vanguard Prime: The Movie

One of the questions I get asked the most is whether Vanguard Prime will ever be made into a movie. And from what I’ve experienced, I’m not the only author to be asked this. I know Stephen King was particularly puzzled when he was asked what the film prospects of Vanguard Prime are, given that he’d never heard of it before.

I may have made up that last part.

In any case, book-to-film translations are always a hot topic of conversation. People don’t seem to feel a work has been truly successful until it’s been rendered cinematically with a running time of 2+ hours, and they get the chance to complain about the filmmakers completely missing the point.

But to answer the original question; the chances of Vanguard Prime ever being adapted to the screen are, safe to say, slim to none. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be excited to have it happen, but I’m not exactly pinning any particular hopes on it. After all, it took about 30 years for Ender’s Game to be made into a film, and though I’m quite proud of Vanguard Prime, it’s not exactly recognised as a classic of its genre the way Orson Scott Card’s book is.

So now that I’ve couched all of this in a thick blanket of self-awareness, let’s pretend that a Vanguard Prime movie is something legitimately possible. Who would I cast in it, you might ask. And even if you wouldn’t ask that, I’m going to tell you anyway. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Goldrush

This would be the trickiest part to cast, given that there’s not really much physical description of Goldrush/Sam in the books. I wanted every reader to formulate their own picture of him…which was kind of defeated when it came time to design the cover, but that’s beside the point. The other issue with casting Sam is that it’s a very time sensitive role; anyone I nominate now would probably be too old in just a couple of years. But if we were going with who I had pictured in my head, it’d have to be Jordan Dang, probably best known for his role as Tim Okazaki in Chris Lilley’s TV series Angry Boys.

Jordan Dang Picture

Machina

I think I’ve discussed this before, but one of the visual inspirations for Machina was Brie Larson, of Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 21 Jump Street fame. She’s not English, and at 25 she may now be a little too old for the part, but between her roles in Scott Pilgrim and The United States of Tara, she’s what I imagined Machina to be.

Brie Larson Picture

Major Blackthorne

There were a few different actresses who informed my image of the Major, with chief amongst them being Charlize Theron (particularly because of her role in the music video for Brandon Flowers’ song Crossfire).

Charlize Theron Picture

But there were a couple of other faces floating around in my head when creating her, which included Stephanie March of Law & Order fame, Australian actress Emma Lung and, most recently, Haywire star and MMA fighter Gina Carano.

Agent Alpha

Everyone wants Idris Elba cast in everything. Who am I to deny them? And why would I want to?

Idris Elba Picture

The Knight of Wands

David Bowie’s appearance in the video for China Girl was very inspirational for the Knight’s appearance, as was Guy Pearce in Memento, but it comes down to two actors for this role. Either I stick with the Prometheus theme that’s developing and say Michael Fassbender, or I go the Jedi route and nominate Ewan McGregor. Either way, everybody wins.

Michael Fassbender Picture Ewan McGregor Picture

(I can not get these two pictures side-by-side for some reason. Clearly they’ve had a disagreement.)

Gaia

Outside of a cameo on 30 Rock I have no idea about Padma Lakshi’s acting ability, but she was highly influential when it came to envisioning what Gaia looked like. But I think Freida Pinto could just as easily make the role hers (and once again, their photos are fighting with each other).

Padma Lakshmi Picture Freida Pinto Picture

So that’s the team, but what are heroes without some villains to fight? Here’s a small selection of who I’d pick to be the Big Bad.

The Overman

Alexander Skarsgard. Because obviously.

Alexander Skarsgård Picture

Big Brother

The lead antagonist in War Zone was inspired by singer/actor/general awesome guy Henry Rollins, who may now be a little too old and grey for the role but…well, who cares?

Henry Rollins Picture

I always pictured Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Emperor, the Knight of Wands’ brother and chief adversary. Obviously, and very sadly, that’s no longer a possibility, and given that I can’t wrap my head around it I figured I’d nominate the next member down the food chain in the Major Arcana. Namely…

The Magician

And this is a bit of a weird one, because I imagine it to be Doc Hammer, the co-creator and one of the lead voice actors from The Venture Bros animated series. He plays a variety of characters on the series, and I’m sure his skills would translate easily to live action. Plus it would amuse me immensely.

And that’s my list. Hopefully this doesn’t contradict too much with what the readers of the series have pictured, and if it has then just bear in mind that this is only my opinion. If you have a completely different vision, I’d love to hear about it. Otherwise I’ll be over here. By the phone. Waiting for that call from Hollywood to come. Which I’m sure will be any minute now. Especially given that international superstar Doc Hammer is attached to star. Box office gold. License to print money. Third salient point.

Fin.

The Dark Knight, Reviews, and Interviews

I finally got the chance to see The Dark Knight Rises on the weekend, and as much as I enjoyed the movie it’s impossible to watch it now without thinking of Aurora, the terrible events that took place there, and the victims who are either no longer with us or will never be the same.

One of those victims is Caleb Medley. Caleb, left in critical condition after the shooting, is facing a $2 million dollar hospital bill as he’s one of the estimated 50 million Americans without health insurance. His friends and family have set up a website where you can read more about Caleb and make a donation towards his medical costs, or simply send him some words of support.

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On a lighter note, Vanguard Prime: Goldrush is in bookshops now and has already received its first review, and 4 out of 5 at that!

I had a brief “career” as a movie reviewer years ago and always found it perplexing when filmmakers would react with hostility towards negative reviews. I have a slightly better understanding of it now. Not that I plan on ever reacting with hostility, but now I know how exposed you feel in sending a piece of yourself out into the world and having it indifferently dissected. Hopefully it’ll get easier with time…or maybe I’ll just stop Googling myself.

One thing that makes it easier is the beautifully-crafted armour that Penguin’s dressed the book in. Illustrator Chad McCown has posted the full, wraparound cover image, sans text. I think you’ll agree, it’s impressive to say the least. As much as I love how all the characters are depicted, I especially love the Knight of Wands and Gaia on the left, and the moody silhouette of Major Blackthorne in the middle.

And while I’m updating you on all things Vanguard Prime, I feel I should point you in the direction of the very first interview I’ve done for the book, with Megan Burke of Literary Life. There are more interviews to come, and I’ll make sure to link to them as they go up.

One piece of media that took me completely by surprise was the listing of the Vanguard Prime book launch at the Sun Theatre in Jason Steger’s column. Surely this is only in the online version, I thought to myself. Not so! I picked up this weekend’s edition of The Age and sure enough, there it was! I’m still recovering from that one.

 ‘Til next time…