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A Conversation with Limitless author Alan Glynn and screenwriter Leslie Dixon

Mar 17, 2011 in Film, Guest Posts

Leslie Dixon is the screenwriter/producer who made the novel The Dark Fields happen as the film Limitless. Here, Leslie and Limitless author Alan Glynn discuss the project’s long road from book to screen. And everything in between.

Leslie Dixon: Alan, my attempts to get this movie up and running took soooo long — was there ever a point during which you suspected I might just be another Hollywood bullshitter?

Alan Glynn: Not really, no, and there are two reasons for this. One, you wrote a great script, and It’s been there from the beginning – standing, as far as I’ve always been concerned, as a bulwark against the bullshit. It was your script, you wanted it produced as well, so we were more or less in the same boat. If you had just been a producer, then maybe I might have been worn down and wracked with doubts and tempted to look elsewhere. But no other producer – and I met with quite a few over the years – would have had that killer script under their arm. The producers I met with – always at their request, and usually approaching option renewal time – were enthusiastic and persuasive and generally convinced that they could make things happen. They had good ideas, too, but I’d always walk away thinking, there’s already a great script there, what are the chances of any of these guys coming up with something better? Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from Limitless: Part III

Mar 17, 2011 in Books, Film

In 2002, Alan Glynn wrote the celebrated suspense novel The Dark Fields. On March 18, The Dark Fields will come to theaters as the film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish.  Below is the final installment in our three-part series excerpting the book (generously provided by Picador from their Limitless movie tie-in edition), accompanied by stills from the film. Limitless, the author’s cut.

Missed Part 1? Part 2? Read them first.

3

Outside on the street it was noticeably cooler than it had been. It was also noticeably darker, though that sparkling third dimension, the city at night, was just beginning to shimmer into focus all around me. It was noticeably busier, too—a typical late afternoon on Sixth Ave, with its heavy flow uptown out of the West Village of cars and yellow cabs and buses. The evacuation of offices was underway as well, everybody tired, irritable, in a hurry, darting up and down out of subway stations. Continue reading ›

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Black Lens: Part IX

Mar 16, 2011 in Black Lens, Guest Posts

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 and Part 8.

“What now?” he wondered, at first walking, then loping, then breaking into a run.
“What next?”
Last Days by Brian Evenson.

The Cabal rarely met in its full assembly.

Meaning,

Not all the members were ever together in one place.

Made sense.

If…

Perish the heretical thought,

Their secret alliance was ever,

EVER,

actually revealed and some…

Patriot-

Decided to take them out-

Like one of the failed Hitler putsches…

The organization would take

Only minor hits.

They took this principle to such lengths that

For Instance:

No two members of the cabal ever flew on the same plane.

Slept with the same woman.

(Or man.)

Or,

If they by chance found themselves at a social event

Ate from the same preparation of food or drink.

Until now.

Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from The Lincoln Lawyer: Chapter 2

Mar 15, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

On March 18, Michael Connelly’s bestselling legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer is set to hit movie theaters, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei and more.  Mulholland Books is excerpting the first three chapters from the book,accompanied by stills from the film, as well as some surprises along the way. Visit Michael Connelly’s Facebook page to learn more about The Lincoln Lawyerand the next book in the Mickey Haller series, The Fifth Witness (in bookstores April 5, 2011). New: take Michael Connelly with you everywhere with the brand new iPhone/iPad application.

Missed Chapter 1? Read it first.

TWO

The courtroom in Department 2A was crowded with lawyers negotiating and socializing on both sides of the bar when I got there. I could tell the session was going to start on time because I saw the bailiff seated at his desk. This meant the judge was close to taking the bench.

In Los Angeles County the bailiffs are actually sworn deputy sheriffs who are assigned to the jail division. I approached the bailiff, whose desk was right next to the bar railing so citizens could come up to ask questions without having to violate the space assigned to the lawyers, defendants and courtroom personnel. I saw the calendar on the clipboard in front of him. I checked the nameplate on his uniform—R. Rodriguez—before speaking.

“Roberto, you got my guy on there? Harold Casey?”

The bailiff used his finger to start down the list on the call sheet but stopped quickly. This meant I was in luck.

“Yeah, Casey. He’s second up.”

“Alphabetical today, good. Do I have time to go back and see him?”

“No, they’re bringing the first group in now. I just called. The judge is coming out. You’ll probably have a couple minutes to see your guy in the pen.”

“Thank you.”

I started to walk toward the gate when he called after me.

“And it’s Reynaldo, not Roberto.”

“Right, right. I’m sorry about that, Reynaldo.”

“Us bailiffs, we all look alike, right?”

I didn’t know if that was an attempt at humor or just a dig at me. I didn’t answer. I just smiled and went through the gate. I nodded at a couple lawyers I didn’t know and a couple that I did. One stopped me to ask how long I was going to be up in front of the judge because he wanted to gauge when to come back for his own client’s appearance. I told him I was going to be quick.

Continue reading ›

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The Dark 13: Noir in Horror and Other Adventures that Made Us Evil

Mar 14, 2011 in Film, Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Mulholland News

Still from a horror movieWe have a theory that most movies and books in the noir mode actually aspire to be horror movies and books.  And we think that a lot of horror films desperately want to be noir.  Come to think of it, a lot of your action/suspense/thriller-type-things tend to feel an awful lot like they want to be noir AND horror. Then you have those berserk stepchildren who happen to be all of these things and none of these things. Those are brave writers and fearless directors playing around with theme and technique while they gene-splice genres and re-write the rules.  You can do a lot when you throw away the playbook. You can invent your own stinkin’ genre.  We took a stab at this recently with our collaboration on BLACK LIGHT for Muholland Books, which is a novel about a private eye with supernatural powers who gets in deep with a bunch of ghosts on a high-tech bullet train—how’s THAT for genre-bending?  We’re pretty happy with how it’s shaping up and we think it owes a dark debt to a lot of the crazy films and books we grew up with, many of which probably had no idea how many rules they were breaking.  We’ve been asked to share some of these bad bastards with you this week, by way of introducing you to our raunchy little pop-lit power trio, and we thought it might be a good opportunity to throw out some keen observations, witty personal anecdotes and clever banter that will almost certainly mark us as “serious authors” to the world at large.  (Hear that sound?  That’s Stephen with his tongue so far up his cheek he’s licking out his ear.)  At the very least, you may find some of this information useful on a bar trivia question or something—after all we ARE professionals.

So let’s rack ‘em  up:  THE DARK 13, baby.  Who wants to go first?

Marcus: If I may offer…THE CROW.  I remember painting my face up and driving out to the Coralville, Iowa 3 Plex to buy tickets for myself and buds to see this film opening night. I then found myself watching it another twenty-four times over the next couple of years. Over and over again, this stark revenge tale sucked me in with a pulsating score & soundtrack that honored the graphic novel’s inspirations as much as the cinematography honored the novel’s panels.  I knew I wasn’t the only one this film affected—for on subsequent Halloween’s, no matter which University Of Iowa kegger one may attend, there were always a handful of ‘Crows’ quietly hanging out in a circle with filled red cups, bobbing their heads in unison. Every now and then, you have a film which anchors itself to a terrific feeling or a sense-memory which is far beyond the running time of a movie.  It meant a lot to share a love for THE CROW with buds and it raised the bar for graphic novel adaptations to come.

Stephen: Man, twenty-four times!  That almost beats my record—I saw ALIENS thirty-seven times when it came out.  On the subject of THE CROW, I think it’s worth noting the comic book also, because it really is an amazing work of gothic noir in the supernatural vein—so much bleaker than even the film was and just oozing with vision and style.  All the art is in black and white, and it sometimes has the feel of an old classic horror film or crime thriller.  It actually derives from a senseless tragedy the author was grappling with when he wrote and illustrated it—which is an artistic impetus I can really identify with.  In the book, the crime that kills Eric Draven and traps his soul is more of a random occurrence—something that could happen to anyone by the side of the road, and the Crow itself is more of an Edgar Allan Poe specter.  Beautiful, haunting stuff.

Patrick: Ha!  I was at that Iowa kegger and I distinctly remember Marcus with electric tape wrapped around his jeans because he couldn’t find black leather pants in Iowa City.  What a dork.  Yeah, that movie was pretty badass.  Not until years later did I discover the comic book.  Stunning work.  I heard a rumor at some point that the remake would be shot in black and white to emulate the comic book.  The marketing people would never let that happen, but we can dream.  Then again, can projectors these days even show black and white prints anymore? (wink-wink)

Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt From The Lincoln Lawyer

Mar 11, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

On March 18, Michael Connelly’s bestselling legal thriller The Lincoln Lawyer is set to hit movie theaters, starring Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei and more.  Over the next week, Mulholland Books will excerpt the first three chapters from the book, accompanied by stills from the film, as well as some surprises along the way. Visit Michael Connelly’s Facebook page to learn more about The Lincoln Lawyer and the next book in the Mickey Haller series, The Fifth Witness (in bookstores April 5, 2011).

ONE

The morning air off the Mojave in late winter is as clean and crisp as you’ll ever breathe in Los Angeles County. It carries the taste of promise on it. When it starts blowing in like that I like to keep a window open in my office. There are a few people who know this routine of mine, people like Fernando Valenzuela. The bondsman, not the baseball pitcher. He called me as I was coming into Lancaster for a nine o’clock calendar call. He must have heard the wind whistling in my cell phone.

“Mick,” he said, “you up north this morning?”

“At the moment,” I said as I put the window up to hear him better. “You got something?”

“Yeah, I got something. I think I got a franchise player here. But his first appearance is at eleven. Can you make it back down in time?”

Valenzuela has a storefront office on Van Nuys Boulevard a block from the civic center, which includes two courthouses and the Van Nuys jail. He calls his business Liberty Bail Bonds. His phone number, in red neon on the roof of his establishment, can be seen from the

high-power wing on the third floor of the jail. His number is scratched into the paint on the wall next to every pay phone on every other ward in the jail.

You could say his name is also permanently scratched onto my Christmas list. At the end of the year I give a can of salted nuts to everybody on it. Planters holiday mix. Each can has a ribbon and bow on it. But no nuts inside. Just cash. I have a lot of bail bondsmen on my Christmas list. I eat holiday mix out of Tupperware well into spring. Since my last divorce, it is sometimes all I get for dinner.

Before answering Valenzuela’s question I thought about the calendar call I was headed to. My client was named Harold Casey. If the docket was handled alphabetically I could make an eleven o’clock hearing down in Van Nuys, no problem. But Judge Orton Powell was in his last term on the bench. He was retiring. That meant he no longer faced reelection pressures, like those from the private bar. To demonstrate his freedom—and possibly as a form of payback to those he had been politically beholden to for twelve years—he liked to mix things up in his courtroom. Sometimes the calendar went alphabetical, sometimes reverse alphabetical, sometimes by filing date. You never knew how the call would go until you got there. Often lawyers cooled their heels for better than an hour in Powell’s courtroom. The judge liked that.

“I think I can make eleven,” I said, without knowing for sure. “What’s the case?”

Continue reading ›

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Time is Limitless

Mar 10, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

Film ReelA week is a long time in politics. In the movie business not so much. In the movie business ten years isn’t necessarily a long time. In real life it’s probably somewhere in between. When I first sold the film rights to my novel The Dark Fields in 2001 I was warned not to expect anything to happen quickly – that is, if anything was going to happen at all. So I figured, what, two, three years? Tops? But if someone had told me it was going to take a full ten years to get a movie made, and that that would be good going, I’d have laughed, or cried, or both.

Back then everyone was still getting used to how preposterous it seemed that George W. Bush was actually the president. Back then my PowerBook G3 had a 2-gigabyte hard drive. Back then I didn’t have any children.

But back then I was very happy to sell the rights. The Dark Fields was my first novel to be published and before it even hit the shelves it was being sent out to various film companies. This was exciting stuff, and it wasn’t long before it got even more so, because names started being mentioned. Weirdly enough, one of the first was Robert De Niro’s. Word filtred through that someone at Tribeca, De Niro’s production company, had read the book and was “interested”. Then it transpired that Scott Rudin was “interested”. Then it was others. Then it was Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, who ended up being so “interested” that he actually took out an eighteen-month option on the book. Which at the time, of course, seemed like an eternity to me. Because how could they not get it all together in that space of time? What were these people, complete slackers?

I think it was at the second or third renewal of the option that I began to experience something I would subsequently become very familiar with – excitement fatigue. The fact that they were renewing was surely a good sign, and it also provided a much needed revenue stream, but was anything ever going to happen?

Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from Limitless: Part II

Mar 10, 2011 in Books, Film

In 2002, Alan Glynn wrote the celebrated suspense novel The Dark Fields. On March 18, The Dark Fields will come to theaters as the film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish.  To celebrate, Mulholland Books will run a three-part series: three chapters from the book (generously provided by Picador from their Limitless movie tie-in edition), accompanied by stills from the film. As well as some forthcoming extras. Get ready for Limitless, the author’s cut.

Missed Part 1? Read it first.

We went to a bar over on Sixth, a cheesy retro cocktail lounge called Maxie’s that used to be a Tex-Mex place called El Charro and before that had been a spit-and-sawdust joint called Conroy’s. It took us a few moments to adjust to the lighting and the decor of the interior, and, weirdly, to find a booth that Vernon was happy with. The place was virtually empty—it wouldn’t be getting busy for another while yet, not until five o’clock at least—but Vernon was behaving as though it were the small hours of a Saturday morning and we were staking our claim to the last available seats in the last open bar in town. It was only then, as I watched him case each booth for line of vision and proximity to toilets and exits, that I realized something was up. He was edgy and nervous, and this was unusual for him—or at any rate unusual for the Vernon I’d known, his one great virtue as a coke dealer having been his relative composure at all times. Other dealers I’d been acquainted with generally behaved like ads for the product they were shifting in that they hopped around the place incessantly and talked a lot. Vernon, on the other hand, had always been quiet and businesslike, unassuming, a good listener—maybe even a little too passive sometimes, like a dedicated weed smoker adrift in a sea of coke-fiends. In fact, if I hadn’t known better, I might have thought that Vernon—or at least this person in front of me—had done his first few lines of coke that very afternoon and wasn’t handling it very well. Continue reading ›

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Black Lens: Part VIII

Mar 09, 2011 in Black Lens, Guest Posts

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.

THE GUARD.

Manson screamed.

A single evil phrase designed to let the entire prison know that once again he was going to be on
TV.

Colbert, the head guard, massaged his temples, counting the minutes to his break and the Willie Nelson songs he had cued up on his iPod.

Long ago, Ransom had ceased to surprise him, his predecessor, a grizzled hack, had said

‘Kid, Manson doesn’t follow any logic, he’s not so much Anti-Christ as ass backwards. In our time we tried

Thorazine,

Then beating the living fucking crap out if him,

trust me, nothing………….

nothing works, the clown is……………

indestructible.’

Continue reading ›

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Ten of Crime Fiction’s Leading Ladies

Mar 08, 2011 in Books, Guest Posts

Reto #17 “Contraluz”In our ongoing series of  columns by  frequent Mulhollandbooks.com commenters, Jen Forbus takes a trip back through the annals of crime fiction to discuss her favorite female characters.

I am always on the lookout for great female characters in crime fiction. Few things will turn me off a book faster than the cliché damsel in distress or the bumbling idiot who solves a mystery by tripping over the answer while simultaneously gossiping on her cell phone and putting on make-up. Come on, you’ve read them too. Which is not to say a female character can’t find herself in hot water and need assistance. But when she needs a “big strong man” to take care of all her problems – no thanks. On the flip side, she doesn’t need to be Wonder Woman, rescuing the whole world with her unbelievable superpowers, while dressed to the nines with nary a hair out of place.

No, I’m looking for real women. Women who have strong character, are intelligent, can exercise independence but also appreciate the value of relationships. These women have goals and dreams, flaws and imperfections. I guess these are the women I would like to know and be friends with. The women I’d enjoy spending hours with.

So who in crime fiction have I found to fit this bill? I’m glad you asked. Here are my ten favorites.

10. Ree Dolly – Daniel Woodrell puts poor Ree through the wringer in WINTER’S BONE and she continues to fight back, determined to overcome her fate at any cost. Ree is passionate about her goal and despite her hardened exterior, she is capable of tremendous love and compassion. Maybe it’s the resiliance of youth, but Ree Dolly is a character to admire.

9.  Fiona Kenshaw – Ridley Pearson has created a fiery, down-to-earth character in Fiona. Her interests are varied, she’s a compassionate character, and she has a spirited sense of humor. Fiona experiences a range of emotions as most any human would, but she doesn’t wear those emotions on her sleeve. She’s smart and she’s tough – she’d have to be to photograph Pearson’s crime scenes!

Continue reading ›

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