There was lots of drama in the apartment complex this past week. To begin with, it's no longer an apartment complex -- it's going condo. And in that process, they've cut down almost all of the trees in our environment. I was saddened by this more than I thought I would be. The place now looks like a concrete institution. But I also thought it had ended the escalating feud with the squirrel. Even the hummingbirds had disappeared. To my relief and, surprisingly, that of my room mate, the squirrel came back. As did the hummingbirds. We think it was the noise of the tree cutters that scared them away for a while. I'm really pleased that we have not lost that part of our routine -- however strange it is.
It seems my life and my creative work have attached me to several strange 'families.' I'm not counting my blood relatives and in-laws as strange, no matter what I've muttered during holiday gatherings. Out here in LA, I have among my friends lots of novelists, screenwriters, poets and actors. No musicians, which is odd. There is one stand-up comedian though. Our room mate is the odd man in the mix, but he has enough eccentricities to be a creative person. But I digress.
They are all strange in some sort of way which makes for volatile mixes at times, but we are all very close. I can't think of them as any other way but family. Which is the only reason I answer the phone at 1:30 am knowing that it'll result in an ordeal that'll last hours when I really need to sleep. At least this time he wasn't nearly naked. Hey, wait, I actually enjoyed that part of the last pre-dawn adventure. Ah, well.
With the holidays coming, having an eclectic and unpredictable family means making sure there is enough food for anyone and everyone who may take a notion to cross our threshold. This gets really interesting when my friends hand out my card to actors with nowhere to go because they looked forlorn. Some of them I know can afford a really good meal (I see the re-runs, I know there are residuals). I suppose they come for the camaraderie and the comments during bad movies we show.
Having these relationships seems to mean that I am fascinated by the dynamics of families -- even ones cobbled together because of common interests. This theme keeps coming up even in my erotica. In the Surrender novels, the relationship between Nikulainen and his brothers is as important as his relationship with Sarianna. I ended up healing the relationship between Nikulainen's father and grandfather when I hadn't planned on having that thread in the novel. I wrote The Price of Surrender because I could bear for Armas to remain estranged from his family.
In A Soldiers Choice, I started with just the two men but soon built a family around them. I think these other characters help define my protagonists. Know a characters relationships and you get to know them. These relationships also give the drama higher stakes. It's very clear that though my main men are a physcial match for almost anything, those around them are vulnerable to attack. The threat of losing someone close or the danger for the main characters that stems from them trying to protect a love one makes for more suspenseful drama.
Jon tells me that all of my work has that family theme somewhere. In Demon Under Glass, it's like the Odd Couple gone terribly wrong (can a vampire and a doctor share an apartment without driving each other crazy). In the cop novel, Freak Experts, the romance begins in the midst of a failing marriage and involves forging a new family with a squad of cops. Geez, I sound like one of my professors.
A total non-sequitur. In the Simpsons tonight, Gor Vidal mentioned my Ala Mater, Temple University and the year I was in the graduate writing program.
Enough literary analysis. I didn't spend the week doing that. In fact, I was only thinking about it as I start the polish on A Soldier's Choice. This past week was power meetings in Beverly Hills and conference calls from Europe. All of it less aggravating than usual. This was in part because I got to hire some friends for parts they've been waiting a long time to play. I also landed a major anime voice actor from FMA (Fullmetal Alchemist) to do excerpts on my booktrailer and audition for this film. That was a lot of fun. The big fat hairy deal of the week though was being solicited by and hired a highpowered agent to make the film happen. It was really cool to have this guy come after us on the strength of the concept and the script. Of course, he's one of those guys with a blackberry who may call at 5am because of something happening in Japan. Now, I only answer my cell when we're in production. I'm as laid back as he is high-powered. This should be interesting.
I must now morph into Martha Stewart. I've got six pies and pounds of side dishes to start.