History of the Planet of the Apes

The New York Times examines the Planet of the Apes franchise  on the eve of the new movie, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." They say, in part:

Taken together the [original series of] movies constitute a cleverly worked out and (mostly) consistent mythology: an alternative, hairier, book of Genesis. The new “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” although it too features an überchimp named Caesar, consigns that bomb-based mythology to the dustbin of made-up history and instead attributes the origin of the super-species to genetic engineering: different anxieties for different times.

This reinvention of pop scripture is, of course, a risk: “Planet of the Apes” fundamentalists may reject it as heresy. But it’s probably inevitable. Show business, like evolution, is an inexorable and unforgiving process: those who fail to adapt are doomed to extinction. The real danger lies less in rethinking the story than in violating the basic nature of the original series’s kind of science fiction.

It's an interesting article and if it whets your appetite for more, check out Brian Pendreigh's excellent book Legend of the Planet of the Apes for a detailed history into the making of the original movies and the subsequent knock-offs.

Man Undercover

Watch Me Die Final Jeroen Ten Berge is a terrific cover artist. He' s done the covers for my books WATCH ME DIE and THE JURY SERIES…as well as the books coming out of Top Suspense, to name a few. Author Joseph D'Agnese interviewed Jeroen on his blog. Here's an excerpt:

How do you describe the work you do? Are you a designer, an illustrator, or what? (It might help if you tell us what your training/background is.)

I consider myself a designer first. However, illustration is a skill I almost always use to assist me in creating the design I have in mind. In some cases an illustration becomes the key element of a design. The Scientist & The Sociopath is an example, but the Serial-series covers I created for Blake Crouch and Joe Konrath are also illustrations, as is Suzanne Tyrpak’s Vestal Virgin cover. I also use stock photography, sometimes my own. Several of the covers I designed for Marcus Sakey feature my photos, as do several of Blake’s covers. 

I guess I was fortunate to have studied graphic and typographic design at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague in the early- to mid-1980s. There was a strong focus on teaching the principles of design and typography, taught by people such as Gerrit Noordzij, one of the greatest type designers of his generation. There was, however, equal attention paid to illustration and photography. The philosophy was very much, "Why ask someone else to make an illustration or photograph for your design if you can do it yourself?"  In retrospect I can see that graduating the year before Apple MacIntosh was introduced to the Netherlands helped as well. Knowing how lead type works, and why there are certain rules of design helps me on a daily basis. That said—I have worked on an Apple for more than 20 years now, and would consider a career change if I had to go back designing old school.


Writing the MONK Books

Doug Lyle, my brother Tod, and I had very nice signing at Mysteries to Die For today, where we chatted a bit about our books, writing tie-ins, and the publishing industry. You can get a taste of what I had to say in this Q&A interview with me over at Kings River Life Magazine about the writing of the MONK books and MR. MONK ON THE COUCH in particular. Here's an excerpt:

Lorie: This one was a bit different, focusing more on Natalie—why did you decide to do this and what do you feel are the benefits?


Lee: My feeling is that characters become stale if they don’t grow and that readers will become as bored with them as the author is. Natalie is a smart woman and I didn’t think she could stick with Monk, and keep investigating murders, if she didn’t find it fascinating herself. And I doubted she could do it for so long without picking up some skills along the way. It’s an arc I have been developing with her since Mr. Monk and The Dirty Cop and that pays off in a big way in Mr. Monk On Patrol, which comes out in January. She’s not the only character who is changing…I’ve also been developing an arc with Ambrose since Mr. Monk In Outer Space that takes a big step forward (so to speak) in Mr. Monk On The Couch.


Lorie: Anything else you want to share specifically about this book?


Lee: I’ve been liberated, in a sense, by the finale of the Monk TV series, which really shook things up for the characters. I have built on that over the last few books, paying off some of the arcs that began early the novel series. Like the book Mr. Monk On The Road, the book that preceded this one, Couch is a story about change. The characters and their relationships are evolving in substantial ways that continue in the books to come.


Scribe Award Winners Announced

Gse_multipart38023 The winners of the Scribe Awards, honoring excellence in media tie-in writing, were awarded Friday at a ceremony at Comic-Con in San Diego by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers   Author Peter David was honored as this year's Grandmaster, and engaged in a lively discussion about his career, and tie-in writing, at the ceremony, which was hosted by Max Allan Colins and drew a packed house.

Nancy Holder won the award for best original novel in the general fiction category for Saving Grace: Tough Love.  The honors for best original novel in speculative fiction went to Nathan Long for Warhammer: Bloodborn: Ulrika the Vampire. This is the second time Long has won a Scribe for his work in the Warhammer franchise.

The Wolfman by Jonathan Maberry snagged the Best Adaptation/Novelization award while  Nathan Meyer won for Best Novel, Original or Adapted, in the Young Adult category with Dungeons and Dragons: Aldwyns Academy.  353167370


Adapting to Adaptations

Adapting a screenplay into a novel isn't easy. Author Jonathan Maberry, who has done it a few times himself, interviews the nominees for the Scribe Award for best adapted novel on his blog. Here's an excerpt:

BIG SCARY BLOG: What drew you to writing media tie-in books?

GREG COX: My not-so-guilty secret is that I would be watching these shows and movies, and reading the comics, even if it wasn’t my job. I grew up on sci-fi movies and comic books and such, and I still get a thrill out actually getting to write some of my favorite characters and series.

ROBERT VARDEMAN: I’ve done game tie-in novels in the Star Trek (TOS) universe and for such diverse games as Magic: The Gathering, MechWarrior:Dark Age and most recently, Pathfinder (a short story titled “Plow and Sword” is due to be posted on that website any time now). The pleasure of playing in someone else’s sandbox, maybe picking up a toy or two and examining it, then imagining something even more than already exists, is a wonderful challenge. As an author I have to play fair with the established material but find new ways to “make it my own” expanding what is there into a complete tapestry of a story. The challenge possibly generates the same feeling as a race driver surging around the course at high speeds. Adrenaline pumps, ideas flows and the actual writing is often done at close to the speed of that race driver–but without the catastrophic result if there’s a crash. Hopefully the checkered flag drops for both race and novel.

JONATHAN MABERRY: I got a call out of the blue. I was at home one Saturday night watching a monster flick (the outstanding Neil Marshall werewolf film, DOG SOLDIERS) when I get a call from a woman who says she’s a vice president with Universal, asking if I’d be interested in novelizing the remake of THE WOLFMAN. I had no idea I was on anyone’s radar for this and for a few seconds I thought I was being punked. When I realized that this was serious, I got very excited. I’ve always loved media tie-in novels. I had a shelf-full of them as a teenager –Murray Leinster (TIME TUNNEL, LAND OF THE GIANTS), Michael Avallone (THE MAN FROM .U.N.C.L.E., BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES) and others, and kept reading novelizations and books expanded-universe stuff. Among my favorites are the Buffy and Angel novels by Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder and John Passarella.

Since I did WOLFMAN, I’ve played with other tie-in stuff. I did a GI Joe novella (‘Flint and Steel’) for a collection called GI JOE: TALES FROM THE COBRA WARS edited by Max Brooks. And I do a lot of comic book work with Marvel, which involves writing characters and stories set in a well-established world not of my making. It’s all great fun.

Vote for Carleton Eastlake for WGA Board

Carl Eastlake 3 My friend Carleton Eastlake is an incumbent running for re-election to the Writers Guild of America board of directors. He has done an exceptional job on behalf of writers and, if you are a WGA member, I hope you will not only vote for him, but will endorse him as well.  I have. You can read his compelling and thoughtful candidate's statement and endorse him by going here.