Casting Call–Minor Characters, part 2



For today’s imagining of a film version of Clotho’s Loom with a dream cast, I’m looking to Great Britain to fill the roles of lawyers Domino and Wright, who co-control Nexus’ highly stratified place of employment.   Bill Nighy (top), late of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and appearing in this year’s remake of Total Recall, needs to be aged about 15 years to play elderly Thomas Wright, son of the law firm’s founder.  Wright was a character that grew more and more complex in the writing, demanding a level of back story most minor characters never get.  He’s driven, by good intentions, to leave a legacy to his shrinking community that will ensure its survival in the twenty-first century–and in doing so, the legal (versus the ethical or moral) becomes his overriding guide.

Vinnie Jones, a recognized-on-sight, veteran heavy of two dozen films, going back to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, would be my choice for the unpredictable and volatile senior partner Domino–think a more brooding Joe Pesci–a man with a ruthless desire to get his hands on the practice, and do things his own way.  His motivations and loyalties remain mysterious, but most people sense it’s better to stay out of his path–and yet, Nexus can’t seem to.  Put Jones in a high-dollar sharkskin suit, and groom him meticulously.  And then somehow convince him this character doesn’t need a gun.

What’s Better Than FREE? Clotho’s Loom today and tomorrow!


Loyal followers of this website–this is it!  Grab your chance to own the novel for FREE!  Tell a friend or family member. “Like,” share, pin, forward, tweet, and re-post. Even if you already own a copy, grab another one! (Use your “Manage my Kindle” link to delete your old copy–then you can download a new one.  Why?  It will boost the book’s rankings, and make it more visible to readers who haven’t discovered it yet.)

Then, when you can find the free time–a bit trickier–ENJOY!



And don’t forget, you do NOT NEED A KINDLE!  See instructions here, under #2:

Opening Chapters, and an Altered Aesthetic


The “Casting Call” series of posts will make its return soon, but for today I thought I’d ruminate on a more serious topic, for those just getting started, reading Clotho’s Loom.  First, Thank You, sincerely, for trying it.

In some ways, the first Act of a narrative is hardest to write, because it contains much exposition: introduction to characters and their conflicts, necessary information about the past before the story opens, yet still establishing a style and voice that will draw readers on to the high action, later.  I’ve often heard my students remark, of the classic works of literature, that they “get better” later on.  Yet any second reading will reveal how so many vital themes, motifs, symbols, and ironies, growing to fruition in the latter pages, were implanted early.

As I review my own first and second chapters, and try to pull off the often impossible maneuver of reading them as if someone else wrote them, I glimpse a lot of features of Clotho’s Loom that 21st-century readers might find odd: they can be pretty well summed up by the phrase “slow pacing.”   The sentences are often long and elliptical, the details are dense, and–one of the modern novelists’ best tricks, I’ve ignored–there just isn’t much dialogue.

All of this on purpose, of course, but not everyone will cotton to it right away.  I tried to write the way foreign filmmakers, like Kurosawa, cut their movies.  American films (and TV shows) tend–while being extremely formulaic–to disguise that truth, with very brisk pacing.  You’ll often notice a scene cut even before it’s really over, because we know what’s coming: say, the answer to a question a character asks is not anwered.  Cut.  Many scene changes.  If you’ve seen True Blood, for example, that’s exactly what I mean: a soap opera, essentially, with a lot more physical movement.   By contrast, the French, Italian, and Japanese films I’ve studied, in particular, and if analyzed this way, rely on much longer scenes, with lavishing of the camera on visual details, and far less talk.  U.S. students of international film often feel uncomfortable at the extended length of the scenes, and the silence–as in both my screen captures, emotions like horror and disappointment, or even anger,  are not conveyed by yelling, screaming, and hitting.  Rather, viewers often find characters staring off into space for seven, ten, even fifteen seconds.  Yeah–like in real life.  Life sure doesn’t happen in ninety minutes.

I always found it silly, as a teacher, that nearly every scene in film or TV set in a classroom takes place during the last three minutes of a class: much speechifying, but very little teaching ever gets shown.  And yet, real classes last from anywhere from one to three hours: sure, we can’t see it all, but somewhere in there must be five worthwhile minutes.  Again, the editing is really just a storyteller’s trick to approximate a feeling of drama, and we are conditioned to accept it.

I wanted readers to know how isolated Will and Nexus are, as people.  Especially–and unfortunately–from each other.  They often don’t even share memories of the same events, or at least not in the same way.  It’s about divergence.  So form followed content: I wasn’t going to have much talk.  And I wasn’t going to clip my chapters, scenes, or even my sentences, short, to relieve that tension of loneliness, of having to live inside one’s own head.  So you might find yourself gasping for breath.  Good.

If that sounds disheartening, be patient.  The pace quickens: the action rises, chapters get briefer, and by the end, and even the midpoint (minor climaxes), I hope, it’s a thrill ride. But that hardly matters.  As I get older, I’ve learned to enjoy the slow burn: decades, years, months, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds.

Quick test: did you find yourself skimming that last sentence? Paragraph?

What’s the rush?


Casting Call–Minor Characters


Way back in May, I wrote here that I thought Gina Torres would make a great Sage in a film version of Clotho’s Loom.  So, taking a break from the promo stuff of late, and my usual literary ramblings, I thought it would be fun to offer some of my suggestions for actors in a series of occasional posts.  Feel free to comment or offer your own alternatives, readers!

For world-weary FBI agent Jim Poland, the mischievous side of me keeps returning to David Duchovny, about twenty years older than his X-Files stint.  Poland–overworked, underappreciated, and for those of us in or approaching middle age, something of an everyman–gets the thankless task of tracking protagonist William Wyrd, following his notification that he’s being drafted.  A cynic by experience, he mocks (and possibly envies) the “good” in Will, but actively tries to keep him from trouble, for awhile.  However, his patience with the reluctant soldier, and seemingly with everything else, reaches its limit.


Another of Will’s ambivalent helper/hunter figures is Benitez.  Javier Bardem, famous for his villainy in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, and shortly appearing in the new James Bond movie Skyfall, would fill the bill nicely, with two conditions: I’d like to see him a bit saltier (crags in the face a la Edward James Olmos, and put him in a dusty set of army fatigues) and second: it’s hard to catch the actor not smiling!  When Sergeant Benitez smiles, it’s purely out of sadistic glee–at least, that’s what we think at first.  But I also tried to build a sort of tragic nobility into the character: a man who’s been betrayed at every turn of life, and so resists trusting anything.  A self-styled pragmatist, and vicious instructor in black ops.

Strong Women: the Fallen and the Risen


One of the less-appreciated aspects of literary romance (versus realism) is the viability of dynamic characters: that is, people who undergo fundamental transformations in their personalities.  Rather than simply making changes (as in going to the gym and dieting) or having epiphanies (as in “Wow, I never realized how desperate I was for attention before!”,) these folks can truthfully lay claim to the cliche’: “I was a different person, then.”

My assumption, in writing the character of Nexus Wyrd, was that strong women are not born strong–that the culture, rather, conditions them to remain in the submissive, dependent positions of girls, and indeed encourages a certain amount of helplessness (opposite to what it does with boys.)  This, along with princess/dollhouse/marriage fantasies, and prohibitions against witch/whore/Harpy or “fallen woman” transgressions, means that women have to look harder to see beyond what Plato called the “shadows on the wall,” to a strength that is neither male-bestowed and controlled, nor male-imitative.  To seize what feminists define as yonic power, then, requires a chrysalis-level transformation.

Comparing Sarah Connor from The Terminator to Terminator 2 (both above) gives one a pretty solid idea of what I had in mind.  The hair alone–coiffed, sprayed, and styled, then altered to loose, free, and wild–says it all, never mind the clothes, the muscular definition, and the expression in the eyes.

I chose a sledgehammer for Nexus, not as a weapon or implement of destruction, so much as a tool for tearing down the old ego construction, to rebuild literally and figuratively from the foundation on up.


StJean’s book needs the Stephen Colbert bump, some of Jon Stewart’s juice. . .

ImageHosts of The Colbert Report and The Daily Show thumb wrestle for dibs over interviewing StJean

I was pondering how I could promote my book, beyond the back-breaking work of writing and issuing legitimate press releases, contacting reviewers, scheduling interviews, putting in the hours with my fellow obscure bloggers, and all that troublesome toil, when it hit me: if it really is the World Wide WEB, then strumming just one tightly tensioned strand ought to send out a vibration that any sensitive late-night television journalist ought to feel, even when couched in his cushy lair!  And hey, this is Clotho’s Loom, after all–who weaves better than we, uh, do?   Then I further thought, well, they only seem to interview authors of non-fictional works, right?  So why couldn’t I be the first?  My novel surely treats the hot political issues of the day with a hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners approach (see my earlier post, “Patriot-Schism.”)

So there you are folks:  what we need is for everyone along the conduit that leads either directly, or circuitously, to Mssrs. Stewart and Colbert, to keep the vibe humming–maybe it will get there!