|A Conversation With James Stevens-Arce|
|An interview with Lisa DuMond|
| November 2001 |
But all I've received so far have been positive responses to the book, as you can see in the comments that have come in via e-mail posted on the Readers' Comments page on my website.
Soulsaver started out as a short story about a young true believer who begins to question things. Asimov's Science Fiction published it in September 1983, despite a theme that then-editor Shawna McCarthy characterized as "controversial." At that time, I had no idea I would ever want to develop the topic further.
Jump ahead to 1988. Pat Robertson is making a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Around this time, too, Assemblies of God minister Jim Bakker's sexual shenanigans with then-teenager Jessica Hahn got plastered across the front pages of publications as lurid as The National Enquirer and as staid as The New York Times.
Rival preacher Jimmy Swaggart condemned Bakker -- and then got his own picture in the paper for getting arrested while being "ministered to" by a member of the oldest profession.
Even Oral Roberts popped his venerable silver-maned head up on television to plead for large cash donations, tearfully confiding that the Lord had threatened to take him to His Bosom (apparently church-speak for "Jehovah gone whack you, sucka"), if Oral's flock didn't pony up $8 million pronto. (The good minister failed to specify whether the Lord required that the collection plate be filled with small, unmarked bills only.)
And on CNN, a disenchanted former manager of Pat Robertson's television station revealed the existence of a very special production manual. Station personnel were training to follow its step-by-step instructions for the upcoming live broadcast of the Second Coming, the End of the World, and the Rapture. This triple blockbuster mother-of-all-sweeps was scheduled, according to some celestial TV Guide, to kick off at the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999.
That's when I decided that Soulsaver could be a novel. But to make the long leap from short story to novel-length less daunting, I decided to turn the original piece into a screenplay first. Typically, these run no more than 20-25,000 words. That done, I could more easily shoot for the 50-80,000 words that make up a novel.
I discovered a couple of interesting things along the way. Writing for the screen focused me primarily on plot, visuals, and dialogue, very little on description or internal feelings. By contrast, when I began adapting and expanding the completed script into a novel a year later, my focus switched to the interior life of the characters. That was also my chance to "direct" the movie I'd written, since now I could describe the settings in detail and provide the characters with appropriate facial expressions and reactions, along with revelatory bits of business.
With Blind Man, Preacher Man, I went in the opposite direction -- that is, I wrote it first as a novel, which I then adapted into a screenplay. This exercise forced me to dramatize scenes that were originally presented only as summary narration in the novel and eventually led me to restructure the story itself. (All these changes I subsequently incorporated into the novel version.) I entered the script in the 2001 New York International Latino Film Festival's original screenplay competition and was fortunate enough to be one of the semi-finalists.
More recently, I've written a screenplay for a contemporary noir-ish detective story that I hope to produce and direct myself, assuming we can raise the necessary funds. In the meantime, I'm adapting and expanding the script into a novel which I hope will be the first in a series about Homicide Detective Sergeant Nico de León.
Since my schedule is nothing if not highly variable, though, I've learned to take advantage of whatever time presents itself for writing, whether it be early in the morning, late at night, or anytime in between, and to make my time do double duty (for example, by editing and revising manuscripts in a doctor's waiting room while awaiting an appointment, which in Puerto Rico can run to several hours).
And folks can even test drive the book by reading the first three chapters online and decide whether they want to invest their money to find out what happens next.
Once the decks are cleared of the mundane stuff that puts food on the table, I focus on the writing. I work on a number of projects simultaneously, so if it becomes slow going with one, I can switch to another while I let my subconscious gnaw away at the first one.
At the moment, for example, I'm incorporating feedback from several writer friends into Blind Man, Preacher Man, I'm adapting my noir-ish detective screenplay into what I hope will be the first novel in a series, I'm writing down ideas for subsequent books in that series, I'm taking notes for a half-finished science fiction novel I'd like to complete, I'm revising and polishing a couple of short stories, and I'm working on the music and lyrics for some songs.
At the same time, I'm finishing up a critique of Jim Morrow's work-in-progress, The Last Witchfinder (he's been sending me manuscripts for feedback since Only Begotten Daughter and he was kind enough to critique Soulsaver for me), reading Connie Willis's Passage and re-reading Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty.
Three or four times a week, I try to make time to exercise, so if today is one of those days, I'll do a two-mile walk-and-jog, along with thirty regular push-ups, thirty reverse push-ups, thirty regular curls, and thirty reverse curls.
In the evenings, I watch some television with my wife Tita and daughter Tara (our son Ian moved into his own place last January). The women are hooked on an Argentinian soap opera called "Provócame," which stars Puerto Rican singing star Chayanne (last seen on the big screen in the U.S. opposite Vanessa Williams in "Dance with Me"), so I watch it with them. Some other boob tube favorites, in no particular order, are "Inside the Actors' Studio," "The Reporters," "Sunday Morning," "Jeopardy," "Sports Center," "Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier," "Scrubs," "The Sopranos," and "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" as well as the occasional "Dateline," "60 Minutes," "20/20," "Biography," "Hopkins 24/7," and "The E! True Hollywood Story."
After that, I usually try to work a bit longer on my writing projects, perform my nightly computer back-up, read a little, and [yawn] sack out.
Hasta mañana. Zzzzzzzzzz.
In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.
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