The Story of Writer & Filmaker Usvaldo De Leon

 

 

 

WELCOME BACK TO THE STORY OF THE WRITER SERIES

 

 

EVERYBODY HAS A ONE. WHAT’S YOUR’S?

 

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Everyone please welcome writer and filmaker USVALDO!!

 

 

 

Tuscon Screenwriting Group

@Usvaldo de Leon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where are you from?

I don’t know that I am ‘from’ anywhere. I was born on an army base, Fort Belvoir, in Northern Virginia, then grew up as a young child in my mother’s hometown of Hickory, North Carolina. Then it was back to Northern Virginia, living near the Bull Run battlefield in Manassas. 150 years ago, men from all over the country came here – twice – to duke it out. Now,.people come there from all over the country so they can commute to their government or technology centered jobs, which my dad had.

Since then, the army took me across the country and to South Korea, and as a civilian I have lived in Kansas, North Carolina (again), El Paso, TX and now Tucson, Arizona. What does it mean to be from a place? I am amalgamated from all of those places and many more besides: the Corleone compounds in New York and Lake Tahoe; Discovery One, on it’s ill fated journey to Jupiter; even Desi and Lucy’s Manhattan apartment.

I come from a tribe of wanderers.

Wow! You are literally a man of many places. 

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Do you write screenplays and novels?

I am a screenwriter, but I did begin work on a novel in 2014 that I completely pantsed. It is a zombie dystopia (of course) told in the first person from several perspectives; my favorite was the young woman in her late teens from Pacific Palisades, California, a wealthy beachside community of Los Angeles. The good and evil groups meet up in Las Vegas, in an homage to Stephen King’s The Stand.

That’s really cool that you’re a screenwriter. 

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Which do you like more?

Screenplays. They are a novel distilled to it’s essence. Put a novel in the dryer on too high heat: a screenplay results.

I love the visual! 

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How is writing screenplays different from fiction?

The biggest differences are texture and subplots. A novel, which could be a thousand pages, could have endless subplots. A screenplay can have two or three if it is long enough, but all the narrative drive has to be supplied by the main plot; there is barely space for anything else.

Texture is the novel’s greatest strength over the screenplay. Take It, for example. King spends an enormous amount of time detailing several horrifying events in the past of the town. Gradually it becomes clear to the reader that the town has been inculcated in the evil of It. If you watch the mini series, however, that is nowhere to be found, as there is not enough time.

Texture in a film is all a result of the scene and the decorative elements thereof. Take the opening of The Godfather. It is not by accident that it begins at Connie’s wedding, nor that it is seen through the eyes of Kay, the outsider. It allows Coppola to import texture so that we get a feel for what it means to be Italian American in the 40s, before we commence with the story proper, as it were. The fact that Don Vito is feared by so many, but gently cradles his cat: that is the distillation process in full effect.

Wow. This is amazing to see the difference between the two. I’m beginning to notice the nuances between the two mediums. Funny you mentioned the Godfather because I  just got the audiobook. 

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What’s the hardest thing about being a filmmaker?

The hardest thing about filmmaking is not filmmaking at all: it is financing. When people give you money, they tend to want it back, plus a profit. There are now just two entry points into ‘the system’. The first is make a cheap horror film. Horror does not require ‘names’, nor does it require lots of money. It does not even require a great script. All it needs is a great hook. Don’t Breathe, which came out recently, has a fantastic hook: a group of punks rob a soldier who is blind but has the keenest hearing and really objects to people breaking in. Or It Follows, from last year, which takes the horror formulation of sex = death to its logical conclusion.

The other way is to write a great screenplay for a name, which can then secure the financing. An example would be Brick, Rian Johnson’s amazing debut, which sets a film noir in a high school. This came to the attention of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was looking for a project to allow him to be taken seriously. It worked out great for both (you may have heard of Johnson’s latest project: Star Wars VIII?).

Wonderful!  I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great actor and chock full of talent. Then for Rian Johnson to have a ‘project’ such as Star Wars VIII is nothing short of amazing.

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What are your Top 5 favorite movies and what makes them great?

Very tough. I will go with The Godfather, Part II,directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The rare, perhaps only sequel to better it’s predecessor, G2 is the tale of father and son and the huge differences between them. The two key scenes are the old woman being kicked out of her apartment because the rent will be $30 and the landlord hates her dog. Vito first asks the landlord for a favor: tell the woman the rent is 25 and come see him for the rest. Plus, please let her keep the dog. The landlord refuses. Vito kindly asks him to change his mind. The man refuses. Vito Corleone, the most powerful man in Little Italy, debases himself to come to a mutual solution. Only once the man realizes what he has done – and to whom – does Vito apply the screws, but even then, he praises the man for being so generous. Why make an enemy needlessly?

Compare to the son, who upon hearing the demands of the Nevada senator for a gaming license, arrogantly tells the senator will give him the license and get nothing in return,  because Michael knows he can set the senator up and make him grateful for Michael’s help. Why spend money needlessly?

If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, G2 makes clear that Michael’s apple landed on the slope of a hill and managed to roll far away.

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick succinctly and hilariously shows how war begins. It is banal, tragic, petty and most of all absurd. What I love most is the cognitive dissonance Kubrick initiates: we root for the War Room to shoot down the last B-52, but we also root for the intrepid, brave flight crew, which is determined to carry out their duty, culminating in the famous ride of Slim Pickens, riding the bomb like a bucking bronco to the extinction of the human race.

Wild Strawberries, directed by Ingmar Bergman. Ostensibly a road movie of a man getting a ride from his daughter-in-law to get a lifetime achievement award, it is actually about the man’s life, it’s mistakes and tragedies and his feeble attempts to keep his son from making the same mistakes. The way Bergman literally intertwines the past and the present is shot through with emotionality.

Stray Dog, directed by Akira Kurosawa. A cop in Tokyo loses his gun; the man responsible for taking it goes on a rampage. Though made in 1949, it has modern narrative sensibilities. Seven, for example, feels very much like it in atmosphere and in the hot headedness of its protagonist (Toshiro Mifune). It is set in August in Tokyo and everything is sweating, seemingly. The heat is very much on Mifune to get his gun back and stop a murderer.

Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair. This film does what only the magic of story can. It takes a very specific situation (an extended Punjabi family preparing for a wedding) and lets us see the universality of it. Once we recognize what we have in common with them,which is much, we can appreciate the ways we are different – and accept them. Starting with this point of empathy, we can celebrate the ways this Indian family are different from us. The story is very common (there are only a handful of story forms), but it is the specifics – the jumble of Mumbai, the idiosyncratic romance of the wedding planner and the family servant, how cell reception is awful in India – it is a joyous riot.

Nice starting five. I’ve only seen the Godfather, but that was many years ago.

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Your favorite sports?

My favorite sports are NHL hockey (go Washington Caps!), major league baseball (go Washington Nats!) and NFL football (go Washington Skins!).

Who’s going to win the Superbowl?

The Patriots are undefeated despite starting nobodies at quarterback. When Brady comes back, how are they going to be stopped? They have to be the favorite right now.

Your least favorite team?

My least favorite team across all sports is the Dallas Cowboys, followed by the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. May they all have a bad end.

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Name a few movies you’re dying to see.

Birth of a Nation; Manchester by the Sea; Doctor Strange (Marvel plus  Benedict Cumberbatch should equal can’t miss); Passengers; La La Land wasn’t one I was anticipating,  but it won the top prize at the Toronto Film Festival – as have the last four Best Picture winners, so I want to see what the fuss is about; and finally, always: the next under the radar horror movie.

Definitely looking forward to seeing Marvel’s Dr. Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch. Passengers looks like a winner, and of course, Star Wars VIII!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or
what inspired you?

 

I got started writing at 7 when I wrote a story about a leprechaun. I think (either a leprechaun or an elf). My teacher said it was a good story. Then, as now, I take some things completely literally. If my teacher thought I had a good story, then I needed to sell that story. My friend suggested we get copies made, which involved some parental logistics but soon I had my copies and went door to door, selling my story for a quarter. Not a single person bought, which is mystifying and heartless (when an eight year old comes to your door selling an elf story for a quarter, you give the kid a quarter). I did not take any rejection from this – my teacher said it was a good story.

I started writing my first screenplay at 15, but didn’t finish. 12 years later, I started another script and finished – 4 years later. The third time I stole the structure from Richard III, so it only took about a year and the time has dropped since for a first draft.

I always find it rather amazing how some people begin writing so young. 

What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My goal is first, to just make something a quality. After that, it is to be produced. Further, to produce my own scripts. Finally, to dethrone Gone With The Wind as the all time domestic box office champ. All I need is a movie capable of making $1.7 billion…

That’s a pretty lofty goal, yikes! 

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A goal is a dream with a deadline. -Napoleon Hill

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What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I have been stymied by: low budgets. The Richard III script was produced for nothing and it became a boring movie. I began shooting for better funded producers, but I needed much higher quality scripts. So I have worked over the past several years to become a higher quality writer. Finding these producers amenable to my script genre also has been stymying.

Sounds like a tough business, even harder than publishing novels.

What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

I have no choice but to tell stories, even if only to read to Jehovah’s Witnesses who have stopped by for coffee.

Sounds like you’re very determined!

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What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Some of my antagonists: Laziness. I can slide form my writing for the day for various reasons. Work is a big one as well: I generally work 28 or 29 days a month, for around 10-14 hours. It doesn’t leave much time to write, particularly if the lazy grabs me.

I know this all too well. Once the tank is tapped, that’s it. A couple of days ago I saw a bumper sticker that read: MAKE USE OF YOUR ENERGY 

I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

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Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Discouragement. Rejection. Discovering they aren’t very good. My dad did a lot of writing, for maybe 10 years, then he just stopped and did other things. I never asked him why; I think I was afraid of the answer. I didn’t think he was very good, and I worry I led him to stop.

These are all too familiar. 

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What would you say to a struggling writer?

(I think) What, exactly, does it mean to struggle? There is no end to ‘the struggle’. The Buddha tells us that life is struggle and pain. I would direct this writer to Stephen King, who was nearly killed; is that not struggle? Brad Pitt had everything until September, 2016, when his wife abruptly left; is that not pain? After Michael Jackson made the biggest album of all time, the only question was: how are you going to top it?

This writer, they think they struggle now. Their struggles will be unceasing. Their nature may change. Stephen King’s struggle is gathering the cash to buy the Boston Red Sox or whatever. Oh my God, the Rolls Royce needs a new engine!

There will always be struggle. Many, perhaps most, writers, successful or not, stare at the blank page or a story problem, and wonder the same thing: is this it? Will I ever write again? This is the one where they discover I’m a fraud.

The only cure for your struggles is to keep writing. At which point your struggle will change: how do I market this book? How do I find an honest financial advisor? Should I buy or rent a private jet? How do I increase tourism to my private island?  #TheStruggleContinues

That’s great! 

 

 

 

 

 

The only cure for your struggles is to keep writing- Usvaldo De Leon

 

 

 

 

 

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The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow-Uknown

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THIS IS YOU

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I love the struggle, after all we’re going  to need something to talk about at the top. -Picturequotes.com

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Thanks Usvaldo!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Reading and Inspecting the Sleuth with Ingrid Bouldin

 

 

 

WELCOME TO FORENSIC LENSES

Investigating the reader’s experience…

 

 

 

 

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“Never theorize before you have the data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” -Sherlock Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyone please welcome writer Ingrid Bouldin!

 

 

 

 

The reader’s experience is the best evidence. -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

*What is your favorite genre (s)?

I really have no distinct favorites although I can say, I’m not fond of romance novels.  

I read pretty much any genre and love the variety.  You’ll find me reading three to five books at the same time.  Two or three will be fiction of different genres, then a book or two on writing structure, and maybe one that’s research for my own WIPs, etc.

I gravitate towards Murder/Suspense, Crime, Science Fiction…at least for now.
It’s far more important for me to be experiencing a great read that I get absorbed into, versus limiting myself to any particular genre.  Close runner-ups would be Fantasy and YA (yes, young adult!)    

Often, I’ll pick up a classic or what’s currently popular at the time, outside what I might be more inclined to delve into.  I do this because it stretches my brain cells and may spark my interest in some other genre that I otherwise might not think of reading.    

Very good! The exact same taste as I do. 

 

 

 

 

*What is your educational background?

 

I’ve had several years of college but alas, no degree…yet.

Since way back, I can’t begin to remember a time that I didn’t create art and have my nose in a book or three, or was ‘covertly writing’ in hidden notebooks.  I grew up in a family where no one else devoured books like I did, much less wrote wacky stories about flying to other planets and talking animals.

Through Junior High, then High School, my focus was initially on
artwork…pen and ink and pencil that lead to several successful one-man art shows.  I had one of my pieces displayed at the Smithsonian / Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. for a month, even.

Straight out of High School, it was determined that I would become a Registered Nurse, so I attended two years of College, Pre-med and clinicals, before I decided nursing was not my cuppa tea.  I left college to marry my High School sweetheart (our 35th Anniversary is today, Sept. 5th!) and two years later, happily began our family as my major shifted to Mom.  I raised our four phenomenal younglings plus semi-fostered a waffling tally of seven other younglings through their school years and into colleges, all the while continuing to do commissioned artwork on the side.

As my younglings became sassy and more independent, I entered the working field as a professional rescuer where I discovered I, by far, preferred being the one to call the shots and make the lifesaving decisions.  I attended formal college level training to the Advanced EMT / Shock Trauma / Cardiac Tech and Enhanced levels… operating as Medic and Training Lieutenant for 27+ years, now currently semi-retired.  My certifications fill two 2″ notebooks.

A few years back, I’d returned to college full time to attend a massive mix of lectures, practicals, clinical rotations, and field duty.  I had zero life beyond academia and regular duty for two full years as I worked towards achieving my AAS Degree in Paramedic Sciences, on the Dean’s list every semester.

As I began the final semester of my two year program, my mother passed away.  It was sudden and unexpected.  I deeply loved her, was close to her in both location and heart, and was entirely devastated.  In the mayhem of closing down my mother’s life and home by myself, I had to pull out of the Paramedic program at the eleventh hour.

Much soul searching later…one day soon I’ll get that Associate’s Degree, but it’ll be a general diploma.  Now I’m following a dream I had back about a hundred fifty years ago, when I was that scrawny little quiet kid that hid notebooks in boxes under her bed.

Navigating through life experiences is by far the greatest education.  Although you never graduate, it constantly teaches you.

 

 

 

 

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*What part of the earth are you in?

I reside on my peaceably beautiful homestead in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I’m a stone’s throw away from the Shenandoah River and every outdoor activity possible.  From 2014 to this year, I was the Stable Manager and a Professional Horse Wrangler with my string of 30 amazing horses in the heart of the mountains on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

Oh my, that sounds so adventurous! I’d love to go there one day.

 

 

 

 

 

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*Who are your favorite characters?

There is no way on this planet I could narrow down my favorite characters to even a dozen or so!  I’m currently infatuated with Inspector Rebus in the Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Trilogy.  Also Hitch and Jael in Katie Weiland’s “Storming” novel at the moment.  


Okay, okay… if you’re gonna put my arm behind my back… I adore Sherlock Holmes, Severus Snape and if I can squeeze in a movie character that I’m currently fangirling on (plan to read the books asap) it would be Jason Bourne.  I know I’ve left off at least two or three obvious others that once I push the ‘Send’ button will pop into my mind and complain about being left out…

I don’t know Inspector Rebus, but I’m acquainted with Jael and my good buddy Hitch. Quite a treat aren’t they?  Oh yeah, Jason Bourne and I are pretty tight.  Don’t say anything though. He’s still undercover.

 

 

 

*Favorite books?

Good grief!  Again, you’re asking the impossible of me, Benjamin!

Every Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, “Angels and Demons”, and “Inferno”.

Nearly all the Stephen King’s, every Agatha Christie, the entire collection of “Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  


J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series believe it or not, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, “Lord of the Rings” and every Grimm’s Fairy Tales…(which I got into trouble for sneaking in 4th grade, I was black opping it to the 6th grade section of the school library to read them and had to get a permission slip from my mom so I could ‘officially’ access the 6th Grade level books that I could barely reach…yeah, making trouble wherever I go *;) winking)

Also the first seven of Patricia Cornwell’s “Scarpetta” series, along with her fascinating theory in “Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper”, also Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island”. 

Asking me which book is my favorite is exactly the same as asking me which of my children is my favorite…how in the name of Odin am I supposed to be able to answer that, eh?

There is never a wrong answer to this question. Seeing everyone’s’ favorites is exciting. 

 

 

 

 

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*What do you like most about reading?

What do I like the most about reading…..hmmm.
This answer’s not as hard to pin down as the others.

When I pick up a book, cradle it in my hands…all eBooks aside, there’s so much more than paper, printed letters, and compressed cardboard there.  More than I can put into words well enough to know, beyond any slight shadow of a doubt, that you’ve grasped what reading truly means to me.

‘Escape’

That’s probably the one word I would choose if I had to narrow it down to that.
Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.  

Reading gives me that respite from what ails me along the path of life.
And then there’s the learning about new places and worlds, civilizations and eras, and…..

I have sacrificed precious sleep more times than I will confess, all in the name of the next chapter that I must just read a little more of.

That’s a great way of putting it, Ingrid!

 

 

 

 

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“Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.” -Ingrid Bouldin

 

 

 

 


*What do you appreciate about Inspector Rebus in the Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Trilogy?
The first and second installments of the Inspector Rebus Trilogy, penned by Ian Rankin, are my most recently read novels in the Murder / Crime genre. I’d been wanting to read this trilogy for quite some time and finally was able to get to it.

I’ve enjoyed “Knots And Crosses” (1987) and “Hide And Seek” (1991) quite a bit!
The ‘Tartan Noir’ aspects of Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector John Rebus are well met in the story lines of both novels thus far.  Descriptions of local spots around Edinburgh that Ian Rankin gently places into his narratives effectively pull the reader into vivid depictions of each location, affording credibility to his settings…both good spots and the ‘bad’, like back alleys and abandoned buildings, as if the reader’s been placed directly into Edinburgh and not some postcard depiction.

I’m looking forward to getting to the third installment of this trilogy, “Tooth And Nail” (1992).  There also are just over a dozen more Inspector Rebus novels that carry this character on beyond the trilogy.  I’ve definitely found these first two interesting enough to keep with this series beyond the third book, “Tooth And Nail”.

I found Rankin’s smooth writing easy to get lost in as he blends a certain gruff, “hard boiled” twist to the main character’s disillusioned, slightly non-compliant persona that conflicts with his inner turmoil.  The Inspector pushes his limits a bit against the grain to get the job done, at times in a sort of bumbling, human way.  This, in spite of his own personal problems along with inner political issues within his job.

Inspector Rankin is probably the second most contemporary detective I’ve read (the first being Patricia Cromwell’s Kay Scarpetta).  That being said, this trilogy’s publication dates are still dated enough to make the lack of today’s modern technology a bit noticeable and a little odd to have it missing in the narrative… he has to find land lines to make phone calls, rely on maps, etc., kind of a flash back to the late eighties situation which lends a unique voice to this trilogy, not such a bad thing and rather vintage.  Different than say, an Agatha Christie when you know you’ll be warping backwards by nearly a century.

What I appreciate about Ian Rankin’s character is Rebus’ humanness, the way he occasionally has to fall back and punt when he’s run out of clues, quite literally at times…and has to still deal with life in general, for better or worse, along the way like the rest of us.  In the first of the trilogy, Rebus must overcome an overwhelming past experience that threatens to be more than he can deal with, an interesting sub-plot that presents without a clear and obvious solution. 

I’m going to have to meet this Inspector Rebus. Interesting name isn’t it?

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*Who are your top 5-10 sleuths? What do you appreciate about them?

1.  “Sherlock Holmes” – Author / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — “The greatest Detective who never lived”.  I adore Sherlock Holmes and have since I first read this collection when I was about ten years old.
This memorably grouchy, introverted, antisocial character solves murders and crimes utilizing aspects that I find very interesting myself…Sherlock Holmes combines forensic science, his extensive knowledge of medical sciences, and his keen powers of observation and unbiased deductive reasoning to decipher clues and hunt down suspects.  Often on the run while thinking on his feet.

Sherlock is also purported to be a fairly rare MBTI personality type known as INTJ, which I am myself…another likely reason I appreciate this character no matter who portrays him, or whether I find him solving crimes in the pages of a book, via tv, or on the big screen.  Not thinking linearly like 99% of people do, but rather in three dimensions, the contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes accesses his Mind Palace with an ability to store information for retrieval at any time which is supposedly a trait of this personality type.  I’d love to think so anyway!

No matter what the medium, any version of Inspector Holmes has him discovering solutions by going outside the box while using unconventional thought processes with total disregard of social standards…offending nearly everyone as he goes along much to the chagrin of his sidekick, Dr. John Watson.

You could say I’ve pretty much loved every rendition of Sherlock and Watson…from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories, Basil Rathbone’s late 1930 b&w portrayals, all the way to the current Benjamin Cumberbatch version.  My gravitation towards murder mysteries began the minute I read “A Study In Scarlet”, the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes that led to other installments resulting in Holmes becoming so well loved by the populous that when Sir Doyle wrote Sherlock plunging to his death at Reichenbach Falls at the hands of (and with) his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, all of London rebelled.  I can understand that, I was young and devastated myself when I read that moment of Sherlock’s ultimate sacrifice…the feels.  I’m pretty sure I was in a foul mood for weeks.


2.  Kay Scarpetta – Author / Patricia Cornwell — Once again, here’s another character I totally enjoy reading.  Cornwell portrays Kay Scarpetta as a confident, strong female protagonist.  In a male-dominated genre no less!

Scarpetta utilizes quick-thinking intelligence and forensic technology to solve murders and stay alive as she pursues killers, yet dodge her own premature demise.  This series first novel begins with Scarpetta as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, out of Richmond.  Cornwell modeled Kay Scarpetta after real life M.E., Dr. Marcella Farinalli Fierro, based out of Richmond.

I’ve read the first nine consecutive novels in this series, all fast-paced and undeniably a series that compels me to stay up reading all night.  Kay Scarpetta is written realistically, preserving her character as intelligent with an astute, sophisticated ability to not lose her own self, her integrity or her compassion in a high stress occupation.  She deals with real world problems, both personal and professional yet remains focused on solving the crime even under adverse conditions.  More than capable of taking care of herself, she still recognizes her own vulnerability and sees her own flaws.

This is not an easy character to convert to written word in any way without it coming across as false and two dimensional yet Cornwell does this, and creates a character that grows with the progression of each chronologically progressive novel.

One unique aspect of this story line are the oft times, true to life descriptives of scenes, diagnostics and procedures involved in solving the murders…an inside look at the world of present day forensic sciences which I’ve found fascinating though undeniably, not everyone’s cuppa tea.  Cornwell changes the narrative POV from book to book at times which gives the reader the experience of different perspectives within the same character series…an interesting and somewhat unique approach, at least for this genre.

This book series is the inspiration for several current popular Crime tv shows, such as “CSI”.  I’ve found Patricia Cornwell’s blending of narrative, action, and technical info fascinating across the board.


3.  Hercule Poirot – Author / Agatha Christie —  I very much enjoy vintage Detective stories. Undeniably,  Agatha Christie spun these yarns with classic suspense as the ‘Queen of Crime’, creating Detective Hercule Poirot as an absolute opposite of the vast majority of grizzled inspectors, to be sure.

A Belgian Detective and perfectionist at heart, Poirot practices sleuthing via use of his self-described “little grey cells”, preferring to solve murders in a manner that will preserve the upturned, perfectly groomed tips of his magnificently impeccable mustache, and without scuffs to his impeccable shoes.

Quite a change from other sleuths, the neat and tidy Detective Poirot with his frequent stomach issues usually stages a classic great reveal to a room full of people by story’s end in true Agatha Christie style.  This “opposites” approach Agatha Christie used as she created Poirot’s fastidious obsessions produced an interesting protagonist that proved immensely popular over time, and I found just as interesting decades after his creation…once again, at a very young age.

(3 and 4 are a close tie)


4.  Inspector John Rebus – Author / Ian Rankin — Pretty much covered up there ↑.  I plan to be reading the third in the trilogy soon and hope to go on from there with Ian Rankin’s numerous further adventures with Inspector Rebus.

From this point, I can’t say that I’ve read complete collections of other singular Detective characters or sleuthing authors recently enough for me to be comfortable commenting on them.  Most of the Crime / Mystery novels I’ve read were from many years ago but included some Ellery Queen, Sam Spade and “The Maltese Falcon”, Edgar Allan Poe’s character C. Auguste Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robt. Louis Stevenson, and others.  Several suspense novels, and other genres, etc.

I am in no way an authority on Detective / Crime novels and have definitely not read all the works of these authors, or all the novels in any Crime / Detective series.  Hercule Poirot alone has somewhere around thirty novels to this character.

Awesome! If this were the NBA and you had one more sleuth, these would be your starting five!
private detective road sign concept

*What do you like most about crime thrillers? Is it the hunt? The suspense? A meaty hook?

That’s a good question, Benjamin!


I believe I love this genre because of that classic challenge, the thrill of the hunt.  I enjoy the settings, the exotic characters, the mysterious unfolding of plots as I read along to uncover clues along the way, at times along with the characters.  Other times, deciphering whodunnit and solutions in some Sherlockian fashion as I read to the end.

I enjoy the suspense, the cerebral exercise, the stretching of the “little grey cells” and the challenge to see by the story’s last page if I was right or not.  And if not, what it was that stumped me.  I like figuring out solutions to seemingly impossible problems…some labyrinth that makes me think outside the box.  It’s good to know when I’ve deduced the solution on my own brain power which is it’s own reward. Not to mention, a good mystery is it’s own form of escapism.

The plot and story line are far more important to me than a meaty hook! Sure, it’s great to grab my attention but if the rest of the story can’t keep me absorbed in the plot line…
That’s right on the money. I enjoy the same cerebral exercises!

*Name your favorite Murder/Crime/Mystery/Thrillers of 2016. (In no particular order)

I’ve been writing myself, Beta reading for others, reading outside this genre and catching up on Technical Writing, Paramedic and so forth. My fiction Murder / Crime / Mystery reading’s been pretty limited for 2016 which I’ve recently been changing so that I’ll get more of this genre under my belt, it’s been awhile and I’ve missed it.

By default, I would have to say the Inspector Rebus novels have been pretty good thus far for 2016 although recently reading Dennis LeHane’s “Shutter Island” might qualify for a mystery thriller!


Great, I love hearing the best reads of the year. I’ll take all your recommendations. 
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THANKS INGRID!

ingrid-2

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “Nip Syncing with Terry Crews” on YouTube

REJOICE, IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!!

#HILARIOUS 

The Worlds first ever Nip-syncing duet

Terry Crews & Jimmy Fallon 

 

 

 

 

 

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I got a huge kick out of this, did you?  Tell me in the comments!!!



Benjamin Thomas 

@thewritingtrain 

http://www.thewritingtrain.com 

Watch “Adult Books I Want To Read!” on YouTube

TELEVISION TUESDAY 

Book Recommendations with Sasha Alsberg: Branching out to the New Adult Genre 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

THE WINTER SEA

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND 

BROOKLYN 









Have you read or heard of these books? Tell me in the comments!!




Benjamin Thomas 

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com 

Watch “Terry Crews Does the Greatest Robot of All Time” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY 

#HILARIOUS 

A must see interview with Terry Crews!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was #HILARIOUS!! Tell me what made you laugh in the comments!


 


Benjamin Thomas 

@thewritingtrain 

http://www.thewritingtrain.com 

Watch “Sofia Vergara Chats with Jimmy While Sucking Helium” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

#HILARIOUS 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you crack up laughing?  Tell me in the comments! 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas 

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com 

Watch “Writing Authentic Settings And Keeping A Series Fresh With Toby Neal” on YouTube

TELEVISION TUESDAY 

 

With Joanna Penn and Toby Neal

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you learn? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Meet and Greet: 09/25/2016

Sherrie's Always Write

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend!! Ok so here are the rules: Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!

Source: Meet and Greet: Taking the Weekend Off

View original post 174 more words

Meet and Greet: 09/25/2016

Sherrie's Always Write

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend!! Ok so here are the rules: Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!

Source: Meet and Greet: Taking the Weekend Off

View original post 174 more words

Talking Television, Movies & Characters with Writer Meg Bonney

 

 

 

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WELCOME TO THE TRAIN MEG!

 

 

 

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Meg Bonney is a mom, writer, blogger, freelance writer and TV extraordinaire. Her YA fantasy novel Everly is due this November through Pandamoon publishing.

 

 

 

 

TAKE ONE…

 

 

 

 

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*Were you born and raised in Wisconsin?

Meg Bonney: Yes, I was! I work in Illinois and often get asked why I don’t just move there, but I am in love with Wisconsin. My town is right on Lake Michigan and the lakefront is gorgeous. I can’t imagine moving away from it.

It sounds like a nice place. I should have asked you for pictures!

 

 

 

*Which diva cat rules the household?

That would be my older cat, Sammy. He is the less dominate cat between my two kitties, but Sammy is the most demanding of his humans, for sure. He will meow at you and jump on the counters if he can see the bottom of his food dish. He is a snuggler but gets so mad when you move. He’s a total diva.

Wow. Sounds like a domineering feline-diva cat snuggler. Yikes!

 

 

 

 

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*What did you study in college?

I went to school for Paralegal studies. I work for a large company in the Mergers and Acquisitions legal department. It’s really fast paced and keeps me on my toes.

Oh cool! I enjoy legal stuff. We’re going to get along just fine. Sherrie, another blog-buddy of mine is also a paralegal. 

 

 

*Why did you pick to write YA Fantasy?

That’s always been what I gravitated towards as a reader and as a writer. I think that there is something more magical about those teen years before you are slammed with actual real life problems. It’s just a much more emotional time and I love writing characters at that age. And Fantasy is just plain fun. I take the firm stance that real life is boring. Fairies, goblins and magic just make anything more exciting.

I’ll completely affirm, that life is rather boring at times. Mundane even. That’s why being a writer is so much FUN! You can live an adventurous life over and over again. 

 

 

 

*Tell us about your upcoming Everly Trilogy

Everly is the story of Madison Rosewood and her quest to save her aunt. She and her best friend, Jason must travel to a hidden world called Everly where Aunt Ruth is taken in order to save her from a terrible fate. Once they get there, Madison comes to realize that Everly holds all of the answers she has been searching for about her family and her past. Book 1, which will be out later this year, introduces you to the world of Everly and the emotional struggles that Madison must face when she gets there. Book 2 and Book 3 will continue to chronicle her journey as she tries to figure out where she fits in and how to manage the devastating events of Book 1.

I like your premise! Sounds very interesting and adventurous. Love the name Everly. It gives it a nice fantastical feel.

 

 

 

 

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*Can you give us a snippet about the protagonist?

Madison lives on a tiny Florida island with her icy, fitness trainer Aunt Ruth and her cousin. Madison is the star athlete on her school’s track team. Even though she is a gifted runner, she has no passion for it and yearns for something more. Her life goal has always been to find her birth parents and escape the constant work outs and self defense classes that her Aunt makes her participate in. She is withdrawn and snarky to everyone but her best friend and constant companion, Jason. She is outspoken and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is far from perfect but always tries hard to do right by the ones she loves.

YES. I feel like I’m already drawn into the story. Love the dynamics of the relationships here. I was just reflecting on this today actually. Our characters and the ones we love in our favorite books round out in dynamic relationships. Just think of Sherlock and Watson. Stories or movies that have a great sidekick are more enjoyable than the typical lone wolf hero. 

 

 

 

*Which medium do you enjoy more, reading or TV?

That’s so hard! I guess I would have to say reading because your imagination has no budget. But TV is great because of the community aspect, especially when you are watching a show live and you can discuss and theorize together. That’s very fun!

I can’t wait to ask you more questions since you’re a TV buff. I’ve been enjoying comparing and contrasting the two mediums a lot recently.  One of my favorite authors, K.M. Weiland, will be posting an analysis about the movie Avenger Civil War this week. If you’re so inclined, check out her site:  Helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

 

 

 

 

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*Who are your favorite TV characters and what do you enjoy about them?

I love Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is flawed yet strong and faces her destiny with determination even though her lot in life isn’t always fair. She is one of the greatest television characters ever. I also really like Bellamy Blake from The 100. He tries so hard to do the right thing but is tragically misguided and makes some pretty terrible decisions. I love characters that want to be the good guys but have a hard time aligning their goals with their morals.

Please don’t stone me, but I haven’t seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer yet. I’ve always been the slow one in the family. Go figure. BUT I LOVE BELLAMY and the entire 100 series. I was so hooked on the first two seasons!!!  Then I dropped off the map for some reason. 

 

 

 

 

“I love characters that want to be the good guys but have a hard time aligning their goals with their morals.”

 

 

 

 

*Who are your favorite fictional characters and what do you enjoy about them?

Hermione Granger. She goes from stuck up young girl to brilliant young woman over the course of the story and its captivating. Her journey is still one of my favorites. I also really like Batman. He is just so complex and the older I got, the more I grew to appreciate how messed up he really is. He is one of the most emotionally screwed up heroes out there and that makes him super interesting to me.

Hermione certainly sounds popular. Not acquainted with her either, but I have a feeling I will be pretty soon. Batman is once of the best characters ever crafted. Definitively a timeless classic that keeps coming back again and again. Even the whole story of Batman is classical. Gotham city with its backstory, villains, police department etc. Gotham the television series is also EPIC. Loved it until I fell off the map again. 

I got a kick out of your appreciation for Batman’s twisted emotional state. Because we can totally relate to these “screwed up” characters. That’s why I never could relate to Superman. He too *super* if you know what I mean. Even Clark Kent is essentially flawless. In Avengers Civil War they tried to make Captain America go through some sort of change, or arc, perhaps. But it utterly failed in my opinion. Simply due to the fact that he’s too flawless. Mind you I’m no expert, but he’s seems too confident and sure of himself to have flaws. Captain America is the representation of our idolization of old school heroism and is the epitome of American idealism. He stands for freedom, rights, liberty etc. But too perfect if you ask me.  

 

 

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*Which inspires you more TV or reading?

Reading is what made me want to write. I spent most of my childhood reading and it solidified my love of books and storytelling. TV inspires me in my writing when it comes to character development. There are certain things that a show can do subtly with characters that you maybe can’t do in a book. There is a lot more chance for subtle moments in TV that you may not get in a book simply due to the point of view of the story.

Yes, I find the contrast between these two mediums very fascinating. I also get inspired by TV. That’s actually how I got started writing!! I kept watching all these awesome shows with great characters until the light bulb finally went off in my head. Every time I’d watch something interesting I’d say to myself, write it yourself…write it yourself. So I did! Or, am still writing. But there are things we can do in books that you won’t get in a movie. Like fully develop a character the way you want without the time restraint of a movie. 

 

 

 

 

~Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere~ Mary Schmich

 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about PureFandom.com.

PureFandom.com is all about the fans and their nerdy loves. I write recaps and reviews for them covering Supernatural, Agents of SHIELD and The 100. I also write all sorts of news items. They are a site dedicated to fandom and working with them is a blast!

Sounds like it. That would be so fun! I love Agents of SHIELD and the The 100. They’re wonderfully written and keep you on your toes the whole time. 

 

 

*Tell us about the hiddenremote.com and your contributions.

For Hidden Remote, I will be covering Supergirl! Supergirl is making the big move to the CW and I think it’s going to be an amazing change for them. I can’t wait to cover it! #girlpower

You go girl!! (Pun fully intended).  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Superhero Child With Cityscape To Sunset

 

 

 

 

*When will your book be available?

My book will be available later this year! I am in the crazy editing stage and its been a blast so far. I love sharing stories with people and I can’t wait to share the world of Everly with you!

We can’t wait to read your story! I bet you’re an excellent storyteller. Looking forward to it. 

 

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them” -Ira Glass

THANKS MEG PLEASE COME AGAIN!

Connect with Meg!

Meg Bonney

@MegBonneyWriter

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com