Interview: Dr. Laurence B. Brown – author of The Eighth Scroll

Hi all!

One of the books in my queue to read and review is The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown. Though I haven’t had a chance to dive in, it’s been described as a thriller in the vein of The DaVinci Code from Dan Brown, so I’m definitely curious to check it out.

In the meantime, I was granted permission to post an interview with Dr. Brown to get a bit of insight into his thought and writing processes…

Q: One of my favorite things about your novel is that you write great action scenes. What would you say is the key to writing a great action scene?

You have to write an action scene as if you are living it. The most important trick is to show the scene, not tell it. Telling the scene (i.e., narration, like this: “Jack turned to Jill, who pointed her gun directly at him.” *yawn*) kills action, whereas showing the scene (i.e., painting a word picture: “Jack turned to give Jill the good news, and stared straight down the barrel of her gun. Her eyelids were squeezed shut and her face turned away. His heart first skipped a beat, then pumped hammer-blows into his brain.) turns the written page into a movie in the audience’s mind. Remember to tickle all five of the audiences’ senses, always throw in some unexpected twists, and never let the scene end the way the audience might expect it to end.

Q: Your story could easily be described as a page turner. What would you say you did consciously to achieve this?

To me, writing a page-turner is all about dramatic pacing. If the pace of the novel is too fast in the beginning, you lose your ability to ramp up the action toward the end. You have to hook the audience with each scene, end each chapter with a cliff-hanger, build tension throughout the book and bring it to a head-spinning, knee-buckling climax at the end. To enrich the story I interweave multiple subplots, each with its own dramatic pace. Then I bring all of these subplots to a crashing crescendo so each page of the ending brings a new shock or surprising satisfaction. It’s kind of like having multiple . . . uh . . . donut holes. Yeah, donut holes, each of a different and shockingly good flavor *smiles and waves* “Hey, kiddies, you all like Dunkin Donut’s, don’t you?” *whispers aside to the older members of the audience* “You know what I’m really talking about, right?”

In any case, you’ll see what I mean. And by the way, although I joke, one of the things I take pride in is writing clean. In the words of one reviewer, “My congratulations to Dr. Brown for writing an exciting and thought-provoking book that is suitable for the entire family. The book contained no obscene language and no scenes that could be considered “adult situations.”

Q: Your “modern period” takes place in 1987. Why did you choose that period instead of the 21st Century?

The “modern period” begins in 1987, but follows the characters through their adventure into present day. If I had started in the 21st Century, the timeline would have been too compressed to be workable.

Q: Where can we get a copy of your book?

You can find The Eighth Scroll for sale on Amazon by clicking HERE.

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Brown and to Jeff Rivera, Editor-in-Chief at the Gatekeeper’s Post for hooking me up with the book and the interview.

I’m looking forward to checking out The Eighth Scroll this summer!!

–Fitz

p.s. Check out this book and other thrillers below!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Book Review: The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw

Hi all…

The scholarly adventurer is not a new construct in popular media and fiction. Though Indiana Jones may be one of my favorite smart heroes, many other writers created similar characters long before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Jules Verne explored huge worlds beyond the everyday while Arthur Conan Doyle focused on the little clues of the everyday that we all leave behind (just ask the writers behind the successful CSI series, The Mentalist, NCIS and others). More recently, Dan Brown brought symbologist Robert Langdon to the fore in his wildly successful book The Da Vinci Code, mixing clues from the past with events in the present.

So when I saw the book The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw, I couldn’t help but see a connection between the title and Dan Brown’s work. But it was the addition of “Lucifer” that intrigued me. How would the Prince of Lies be worked into a Da Vinci Code-type story structure?

Though Brokaw’s debut – The Atlantis Code – was released last year, I somehow missed it. Though The Lucifer Code builds on the first book and includes references to earlier adventures, it wasn’t required reading before hand. What I found was that the adventures of linguist Thomas Lourds managed to provide a fun rollercoaster ride that starts quickly and doesn’t let up to the end.

Lourds, an older gentleman fresh from his discovery of Atlantis, is heading to Istanbul, Turkey to speak at Istanbul University about his field of linguistics. While still at the airport, he’s approached by a beautiful woman. And, being a bit of a womanizer, Lourds is flattered by the attention at first. He’s subsequently caught off guard when she aids in his kidnapping. Lourds finds himself in the company of terrorists leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. And when the group eventually descends into the catacombs beneath the city, their leader presents him with a book.

To stay alive, he must decipher the code contained within and lead his kidnappers to a lost scroll written by John of Patmos – the author of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. But if Lourds succeeds, will he bring about Armageddon or will he stop one?

There are numerous twists and turns to the book, but it follows a traditional pattern. The hero is thrust into a conspiracy that he must unravel along the journey to prevent an evil plot. This one involves terrorists, scholars, and the White House, so it ranks right up there with Angels and Demons, in which Dan Brown used a similar structure. The action in the The Lucifer Code hardly takes a breath and it eventually involves the Prince of Lies in a war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the conclusion was a bit far fetched even for me.

I have to say I enjoyed The Lucifer Code, but that it will be quickly forgotten. It’s the kind of book that would be perfect for a long flight or business trip. But though Brokaw’s style was fun, I don’t know that I’ll seek out the next book (or the first one) telling more of Thomas Lourds’ adventures.

If you’re looking for a lively book for the plane, definitely check out The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw. But if you’re looking for more than a race around the world against the Devil, I’d look for something else.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books at Barnes & Noble…

Enhanced by Zemanta

DVD Review: Legion (2010)

Hi again!

When Legion hit theaters in January 2010, I understood from the trailers what the movie was about. The angel Michael (Paul Bettany) has come to Earth to countermand an order from God to kill all of humankind, including the child that might bring about its salvation. Still in the womb, the child’s mother – a girl named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) – is working as a waitress at a diner in Paradise Falls, a speck in the middle of nowhere. Michael must save the kid from an army of angels and God’s wrath, or mankind is doomed.

Ah yes, our extermination. We, like the cockroaches we abhor, have spread across the Earth devouring resources and abusing our gift of free will. As Michael says in one scene, “The first time God lost faith in Man he sent a flood. The second time… he sent what you see outside.” Like our world is a giant Etch-a-Sketch and God wants to shake things up to erase us from the planet.

And, like cockroaches, we’re not such an easy race to erase off the map.

Though largely panned by reviewers far and wide, I liked Legion. It doesn’t have the philosophy of The Prophecy from back in the mid-90’s. But it takes a simple premise (The Apocalypse), a chance of redemption (an unwanted child), an interesting battleground (a diner in the middle of nowhere), and shows us angels like we haven’t quite seen them before.

Plus, if you add in the interesting cast of characters – Michael (Bettany, Iron Man 2, The Da Vinci Code), simple mechanic/protector Jeep Hanson (Lucas Black, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), inner-city tough guy Kyle (Tyrese Gibson, Death Race, 2 Fast 2 Furious), unlikely mother-to-be Charlie (Palicki, TV’s Supernatural), Dad simply trying to get to Christmas Howard Anderson (Jon Tenney, TV’s Brothers & Sisters and The Closer), bitchy wife Sandra (Kate Walsh, TV’s Private Practice), bratty wild child Audrey (Willa Holland, TV’s Gossip Girl and The O.C.), ex-military fry cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton, TV’s Roc, Alien 3), diner owner Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid, Pandorum, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra)… and one ticked off angel Gabriel (Kevin Durand, Robin Hood (2010), X-Men Origins: Wolverine)…

Honestly there were so many different demographics represented by the population of the diner and its visitors that it was the perfect place to stage a heavenly battle. Anybody who thinks America isn’t diverse hasn’t been watching our movies I guess!

Now I know there are those people who didn’t like this film. I get it. It’s certainly not perfect. And it does get a little preachy and take itself too seriously from time to time. But this is an extremely visual film co-written and directed by a visual effects guy – Scott Stewart. Stewart has been involved at The Orphanage and ILM doing visual effects since the mid-1990s on such movies as Mars Attacks!, Sin City, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Superman Returns, and others. So it came as no surprise to me that this would be an effects-heavy film.

What did surprise me was how old school many of the effects were. Yes, we had scenes where peoples’ faces were vibrating as they were possessed by angels and where characters like the Ice Cream Man (played beautifully and far too short by Doug Jones – Hellboy, Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Pan’s Labyrinth and many others) transformed into grotesque beings attacking the diner. But then you had more subtle scenes with lightning and fog where you’d catch brief glimpses of the hordes of possessed beings in the dark and simple explosions as gunfire, gasoline, and vehicles met briefly to light the night.

Is this a film for you to think deeply about your own mortality? No. Definitely not. Is it a film to enjoy as you learn bits and pieces about the battle and watch as cool effects grace the screen? Yes. Definitely. If you’re looking for deeper spiritual or philosophical discussions, I recommend you check out The Prophecy and its sequels.

Included with the DVD are three short extras – “Creating the Apocalypse,” “Humanity’s Last Line of Defense,” and “From Pixels to Picture.”

“Creating the Apocalypse” provided a great segment about how they made Jones into the Ice Cream Man. What a process… With four prostheses, Jones ran from the ice cream truck towards the diner and jumped into the air. How he was able to pull that off is beyond me. Hearing Jones talk about the preparation alone was worth watching. The cast and crew seemed to appreciate his efforts even though he was just in that one scene. I have to admit to being more freaked out by the mechanical baby that was built for the film than the Ice Cream Man. At a bit more than 23 minutes, this is a very detailed look behind the scenes at how they did some of the movie magic.

Where the last feature dealt with the effects, “Humanity’s Last Line of Defense” focuses on the ensemble of actors. It’s quite obvious that the director and crew wanted to have the best group of actors they could get for these roles. It’s kind of fun to think that Bettany really wanted to be in an action film and fire machine guns. The mutual respect and admiration between the cast and crew was obvious as you hear Quaid, Bettany, Gibson, and others talk on set.

And in “From Pixels to Picture” you get a better understanding of the amazing efforts that went into the visual effects not only in post-production, but during the production on set. These visual engineers had some serious challenges integrating live action stunts with computer generated effects to create a number of seamless scenes. Between Gladys, the crazy possessed old lady on the ceiling, and the swarm of flies as they try to drive a character to the hospital, they did a great job in merging old school matte paintings, light, and shadow, with CG for the film.

Legion is definitely not for everybody. It’s rated R for bloody violence and language. But I found it to be an entertaining mix of religion, horror, and story. Be sure to check it out on DVD and VOD today!

This article first appeared on BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]