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Skinny Dog Bites Dictator

Mar 24, 2011 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Monument to the Unknown SoldierThe words military junta do not generally fill ama people with hope for the future.

And they shouldn’t.

Armies have very narrow fields of expertise.  They are constituted exclusively for the purposes of killing people, threatening to kill people, giving the appearance that they could at any moment kill people, and supporting the efforts of those in their ranks whose specific mission it is to kill people.  To the extent that they are also good at things like engineering, medicine, IT, food service, community outreach, disaster relief, etc, is due to the fact that these skill sets may be required in pursuit of killing people.

A peacekeeping mission is a mission in which an army makes its presence known and drags behind it an explicit threat that if anyone gets out of line they will start killing people in a manner far more efficient and professional that any of the locals could hope to aspire to.

Historically, armies are bad at governance.

That’s why most citizenries don’t care to hear that their army has dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution.

But if you’re angry enough, and, literally, hungry enough, revolution becomes it’s own imperative and you kind of stop giving much of a fuck who takes over next as long as the fuckers who made you so angry and hungry in the first place are shoved the fuck out the fucking door.

Here’s a short list of potentially radicalizing forces:




I’m lumping poverty in with hunger because there tends to be a correlation there.

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Black Lens: Part X

Mar 23, 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 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 and Part 9.

Having delivered his ultimatum Cromwell paused.

Watched his flock

Some calm


Some on edge

Clearly nervous

Steeling  themselves for

The foreordained

A collective bloodletting.

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Seven Things Screenwriters Should Know About Writing Novels

Mar 22, 2011 in Film, Guest Posts, Writing

After the unprecedented success of yesterday’s column, I decided I would flip it around and provide you the converse list of things screenwriters should know as they switch from Final Draft to MS word to scratch that prose itch.

1.  Publishers Want To Sell Books. It’s a common misperception that screenwriting is for commercial aspirations while novel writing is a place to pen esoteric ideas and ramblings.  The truth is:  publishers want commercial books.  They want to reach a wide audience.  The same forces that drive a spec script sale drive a spec novel sale.  Will this book attract a large number of readers?  You have to write a novel the same way you would write a movie:  with compelling characters, surprising plot twists, strong dialogue, and a unifying theme that encompasses all.  Sure, you don’t have to worry about set pieces and budgets and casting, but you’re going to have a hard time if you write for a very narrow niche.

2.  The Money Is Not The Same (At First). When I received my first book contract, I called a novelist friend of mine in London.  “How do novelists make a living?” I asked.  Her reply:  “They don’t!  They all want to be screenwriters!”  Unless you are one of those amazingly successful novelists:  King or Connelly or Grisham or Clancy, the money just isn’t the same as you would get for writing and selling a screenplay.  So don’t write a novel thinking you can quickly switch careers and won’t have to deal with studios and producers anymore but will make the same money.  Unless you write THE FIRM… then you can.

3.  Publishers are Your Friends. You know how, as a screenwriter, you’re constantly wary of your status on your own project?  Like at any moment, you can be fired for seemingly no reason?  How every word you write can be changed at the whim of a junior executive fresh out of film school?  It takes a little while to get used to, but your publisher actually likes your opinions on your work.  They treat you deferentially as they suggest… key word “suggest”… edits.  They consult you on everything from chapter breaks to the book covers.  And they are pulling for you and your book to do well.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop but so far, it hasn’t.  Not one word gets changed without your permission.  Somebody slap me.

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Seven Things Novelists Should Know About Screenwriting

Mar 21, 2011 in Film, Guest Posts, Writing

ScreenplayI was thinking about creating a Top Ten list of things novelists should know about screenwriting because everyone loves Top Ten lists. However, since I’m contrarian by nature, I decided to come up with seven. Also, less work. So here they are… the seven things you should know as you make the switch.

1. You Give Up the Copyright. This is the number one thing you should realize if you want to be a screenwriter. As soon as you sell your screenplay to a studio, you give up the copyright on that screenplay. They can change anything and everything they want. Remember how your main character had a wife? Well, they changed it to a plucky teen-age sister to bring in the younger audience. Remember that pivotal scene when the main character hanged himself? Now, he has a change of heart and swears off alcohol and rides off into the sunset. And you have zero control over it.

2. You Can Be Fired From Your Own Project. This goes hand-in-hand with number one, but once you sell a script, you can be fired at any time. Understand, there are many reasons you can be fired from your own script that have nothing to do with your merits as a writer. The lead actor might have a screenwriting buddy who has helped polish all of his scripts. The studio might want to go in a different direction you resisted. The director might want to write it himself. You might simply be too expensive. Screenwriting is a far greater collaborative experience than novel writing and if you resist collaboration, they’ll replace you with someone who is more agreeable. If you think the subsequent writer will come in and tell them, “this is great! Don’t touch it! Don’t do these ridiculous notes!” you are wrong.

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An Excerpt from The Lincoln Lawyer: Chapter 3

Mar 18, 2011 in Books, Film, Guest Posts

The Lincoln Lawyer, the film based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling novel arrives in movie theaters today. As Connelly wrote on The Huffington Post,” it has been a ten-year journey from inspiration to book to film and the miles along the way have been replete with serendipity and good luck.” Here, we present Chapter 3 of the book that inspired the movie. (Missed Chapter 1 or Chapter 2? Read them first.)


In the hallway outside the courtroom I turned my cell phone back on and called my driver to tell him I was coming out. I then checked voicemail and found messages from Lorna Taylor and Fernando Valenzuela. I decided to wait until I was in the car to make the callbacks.

Earl Briggs, my driver, had the Lincoln right out front. Earl didn’t get out and open the door or anything. His deal was just to drive me while he worked off the fee he owed me for getting him probation on a cocaine sales conviction. I paid him twenty bucks an hour to drive me but then held half of it back to go against the fee. It wasn’t quite what he was making dealing crack in the projects but it was safer, legal and something that could go on a résumé. Earl said he wanted to go straight in life and I believed him.

I could hear the sound of hip-hop pulsing behind the closed windows of the Town Car as I approached. But Earl killed the music as soon as I reached for the door handle. I slid into the back and told him to head toward Van Nuys.

“Who was that you were listening to?” I asked him.

“Um, that was Three Six Mafia.”

“Dirty south?”

“That’s right.”

Over the years, I had become knowledgeable in the subtle distinctions, regional and otherwise, in rap and hip-hop. Across the board, most of my clients listened to it, many of them developing their life strategies from it.

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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 ›


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.


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 ›


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.


Not all the members were ever together in one place.

Made sense.


Perish the heretical thought,

Their secret alliance was ever,


actually revealed and some…


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.)


If they by chance found themselves at a social event

Ate from the same preparation of food or drink.

Until now.

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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.


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.

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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)

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