Tags: dark shadows


Deja Vu

It's been so long since I posted here. I had to read my last post and I had serious deja vu.

My second Dark Shadows script, "Final Judgement", recorded on Saturday. And guess what, Paul and I are going to Las Vegas. I don't know what the connection between DS and LV is -- I'm going to have to explore that one.

"Final Judgement" pits Josette and Angelique against each other in a ghostly trial. I wanted to play with this confrontation between the light and the dark. I wanted to see Josette and Angelique go after each other, something we never really saw in the original series. I won't tell you who wins. Hopefully the CD will be out by Christmas.

Dark Shadows

I've done a lot of different kinds of writing -- teleplays, screenplays, short stories, novels, essays.

Now I'm writing an audio drama for the 60s cult classic Dark Shadows. How totally cool is that?

I used to work for Dan Curtis before I actually got a staff job on Dr. Quinn. I loved working for Dan. Not only did he create Dark Shadows, but he produced and/or directed Trilogy of Terror (remember Karen Black getting chased around by the little Zuni doll?), Night Stalker (the movies, not the series) and versions of Dracula, The Portrait of Dorian Grey and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not to mention he won an emmy for direction Winds of War -- or was it War and Remembrence.

But I digress. When I was 8-years-old I used to run home from school to watch Dark Shadows.

So I was contacted about a month ago to write for Big Finish, who does the DS audio dramas. I turned in two pitches, they liked both but chose a Willie/Angelique story first. I did a treatment. They sent me scripts to study.

Now I'm working on the scripts. It's a combination of a teleplay and a short story. There are only two actual characters (all recorded by the original actors -- so Lara Parker and Johnny Karlan in my episode). The story is told from the point of view of one characters (Willie) so there's a lot of internal dialog.

It's different from writing a teleplay because there are no visuals. So if I want to describe a place or a person, I have to put the words in the character's mouth. And all the monologue part is written in past tense. There's no setting the scene in a descriptive paragraph. It's more like a short story because you're in your character's head, hearing his thoughts.

It is like a teleplay because you are writing established characters and have to be true to their voice. There are some real fans out there who will bust me big time if I make Willie use proper Queen's english.

When there are characters other than the two designated for this episode, their actions and dialog are once again filtered through the POV character. So if I write actual dialog, Willie will be imitating these characters. This seems to go against the show don't tell rule.

In the audio drama I also have to put in sound effects. Josette's theme is one of my favorites. Also the sound of howling dogs whenever Willie starts to remember Barnabas.

There's lots of atmosphere in these scripts. Once again it is written in the POV of the main character. You might be saying that you do the same thing in a short story. But this is different because this is a first person account that is actually going to be spoken by that character. So you're really doing all of the above in dialog -- remember audio drama. No words on a page. No visuals on a screen.

It's a very interesting learning curve. I'm having a great time writing this script. Every day I go back and have to rewrite what I did the day before -- whether it's because I slipped into the present tense in the monologue like I would in a teleplay, or that I wrote some stuff in dialog which should have been in monologue.

Don't you just love learning a new style of writing!

And let me just say once again -- I'm writing a Dark Shadows script! Yippee!

Writers second-guessing themselves

As many of you know, I'm writing some audio dramas for Dark Shadows. I'm totally jazzed about this. I loved DS, loved working for Dan Curtis and love the fans with whom I've become acquainted.

I was sent some scripts. They were great -- right up my alley. A combination of short story writing and television writing. Very atmospheric and creepy.

But now I have to come up with some pitches. So I order videos and start having a DS marathon, which I'm totally enjoying. The acting was really good -- even allowing for the flubbed lines and the problems with shooting a live tv show in the 60s.

So I wrote up two pitches and sent them off. One of them I questioned sending because it was too close to the original show and the people at Big Finish are looking for -- well, I'm still figuring that out.

I sent the pitch anyway. The first pitch was way better, much more creative.

Which one did they flip for -- right, the second pitch. And with their notes on it, I'm flipping for it as well.

You'd think I'd learn this lesson by now. When Danna (my writing partner at the time) and I were pitching for Murder,She Wrote after it had been on the air for 10 seasons, we came up with a list of ideas. I had one -- a vampire comes to Cabot Cove. I didn't want to pitch it. I thought they'd never go for it. But Danna talked me into it. And yes, they bought it. The next season we pitched a ghost ship sailing into Cabot Cove harbor. They bought that one too.

So many times we writers try to out-think the people, whether they be editors, producers or whatever, who are going to buy our work. And you know what? You can't. If I hadn't sent in that second pitch I'd probably would still work on the second one, but they wouldn't have been as excited about it and who knows if it would have actually made it into production.

So the moral of the story is, send your stuff out. Don't try to second guess what the people out there buying want. Yes, look at guidelines and read the magazines. Don't send a horror story to Analog. But if you find yourself saying, "Oh so and so wouldn't like this," slap yourself up alongside the head and send that puppy out. You just never know.

Dark Shadows Audio Dramas

I was contacted by Big Finish to submit ideas for Dark Shadows Audio Dramas. This is so exciting. I was a fan as a kid, and ended up working for Dan Curtis during my early television years (for those who don't know, he created DS).

So they sent me several scripts, which I very much enjoyed. And I'm working on my pitches.

But I want to talk about the scripts. They very different from television scripts. They're more like short stories writing in the first person point of view. There are always 2 characters, and the story is narrated from one character's POV with dramatized scenes scattered throughout.

The writer also scripts in some sound effects and music for emphasis and atmosphere.

This is such a great fit for me. It pulls from both of my skills and feels a lot like playing rather than working! Now I just have to come up with some pitches they like, and I'll be golden.

Can you tell I'm excited?

You can check out Big Finish at Bigfinish.com. They also do audio dramas for Stargate Atlantis and Dr. Who, as well as some other shows I haven't heard of -- them being a British company and all.

Holidays are over

I'm so happy the holidays are over. Going to Florida for Thanksgiving and my Dad's B-day, then turning around and going to Texas to spend the Christmas with Paul's family, ended up being just too exhausting. My mother is still going downhill, my father needs surgery and 93-year-old grandmother had bleeding behind her eye which detached her retina. She had surgery and is now doing well.

Whew! I really used to love the holidays.

But now Paul and I are back home and I feel like I'm getting my life back. I finished the rewrite of my dragon story and set it off to Fantasy magazine. I'm rereading my novel and making some polishing changes. At least I'm still enjoying the story and the characters. And I'm rewriting another story to submit to my short story writing critique group. So I'm feeling quite accomplished after so much time away from the keyboard.

This has also been a time of surprises. Out of the blue I was contacted by some old friends from my days on Prodigy when I was part of the Dark Shadows board. I worked for Dan Curtis (who created DS) and he asked me to get on and ask a few questions of the fans. It took a while and a phone call from Jim Pierson, who handled all Dan's DS work, to convince the members that I really did work for Dan. But I made some great friends there and even met some at a convention.

I lost track once I got staff jobs writing for TV. I simply didn't have the time to keep up. Now, out of the blue, Craig Anderson found me and convinced me to sign up for Facebook in order to get back in touch with my old friends. And guess what, one of them happens to be brother to Bob Angell's half sister. Small world!

Dark Delicacies

I just came back from a Dark Shadows signing at the Dark Delicacies Bookstore. Lara Parker and Katherine Leigh Scott were in attendance. I got to know them both when I worked for Dan Curtis. And I have an acknowledgement in Lara's Dark Sahdows novel, "The Salem Branch".

Del Howison, the owner of the book story and co-editor of the Dark Delicacies anthology, pulled me into his office and showed me this?


Or if you can't cut and past from that, go to Amazon.com, do a search for Dark Delicacies and along with the hard back and trade paperback you'll see the new, very cool cover for the mass paperback that will be released this August. Just as exciting is the fact that the first three pages of the book are the stellar reviews we received (along with the fact that it is a Bram Stoker award winner). The lead review is from the LA Times, the very review that mentioned a certain D. Lynn Smith with the likes of Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker. How cool is that?

The second Dark Delicacies is due out this June, I think. I'm not in it, but hey...

Also I'd like to mention that Lisa Morton is nominated for the Stoker Award for short story this year. Girls Rule!