WIHM: Honey, I Teleported the President

Honey, I Teleported the President Or When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes The Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber Fights Horror Fiction With Horror Fiction

By: Marleen S. Barr

 

            Once upon a time the president of the United States bragged about pussy grabbing. It used to be logical to read this sentence as a feminist horror story’s opening line.  This particular horror story, as we are all aware, has become real. Trump habitually simultaneously turns what was categorized as fiction into reality and lies to distort reality. He routinely disturbs the space-time continuum which formerly defined the demarcation between fiction and reality. Since his discourse disruption is stranger than fiction, realistic literature does not provide the most useful method to counter it. Doing so is a job for science fiction. The science fiction subgenre I have defined as “Trumppunk” provides the best means to diffuse the prevarication which profusely emanates from what Stephen Colbert calls Trump’s “mouth hole.”  With this point in mind, I wrote When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes The Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber, the first single-authored Trump-focused short story collection. My intention was to fight his misogynistic horror fiction with satirical feminist horror fiction.

            When doing so, I tried to translate the ridicule Mel Brooks brandished in The Producers into feminist Baby Boomer mode. The fact that I hail from Forest Hills, Queens– a neighborhood located a stone’s throw away from Trump’s Jamaica Estates emanation point– facilitates my translation efforts in that I speak with his identical “New Yawk” outer borough cadence.  What his mouth hole throws out, I can immediately echo back.  Or, in Brent Stephens’ more august words, “in an era in which the president is constantly trying to impose his fictions on reality, it’s incumbent on the rest of us to keep the two separate. Understanding what fiction is, and all the ways Trump seems to spring from it, is a good place to start” (New York Times, December 28, 2018).  As someone who has dedicated her professional life to being a feminist science fiction scholar, I understand what feminist science fiction is, all the ways Trump’s discourse springs from horror fiction, and how feminist science fiction provides cognitive estrangement to becoming inured to Trump’s lies. When Trump Changed uses exaggeration to separate his horror fiction from women’s reality.  

            I take what Trump really says and turn it into fake news which is unreal to the extent that it could never be actualized. For example, after Trump used the phrase “the local milk people,” I wrote “Trump Uses ‘The Local Milk People’ To Lure Pussies Out Of the White House Basement,” a “trouble with tribbles” scenario in which feminist extraterrestrials from the planet Mammary deliver milk to the White House to control the pussy plethora (I refer to baby domestic felines) inhabiting the building’s basement. And in “Just The Two Of Us Or Trump Comes On to Comey,” I imagine that after Trump actually sexually propositions Comey, Bella Abzug and Ethel Merman, New York women whose mouths are louder than Trump’s mouth, save the former F.B. I. director’s honor. “Springtime For Trump Or Feminist Extraterrestrials Eventually Produce A Woman President” is self-explanatory.

            Okay, Trump bring on your misogynistic horror fiction. Anything you can make fake I can make faker. I can make anything faker than you. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Feminist science fiction, which functions as horror fiction from your perspective, can teleport you to a galaxy far far away.           

 

Marleen S. Barr

Marleen S. Barr is known for her pioneering work in feminist science fiction and teaches English at the City University of New York. She has won the Science Fiction Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction criticism. Barr is the author of Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist TheoryLost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond, Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction, and Genre Fission: A New Discourse Practice for Cultural Studies. Barr has edited many anthologies and co-edited the  science fiction issue of PMLA. She has published the novels Oy Pioneer! and Oy Feminist Planets: A Fake Memoir.  Her When Trump Changed: The Feminist Science Fiction Justice League Quashes the Orange Outrage Pussy Grabber is the first single-authored Trump short story collection.

Link to the book’s web page which contains a picture of the book:
 http://www.bcubedpress.com/available_now/when-trump-changed/ 

WIHM: Contemporary Dystopias; Women, Bodies, Horror

Contemporary Dystopias; Women, Bodies, Horror

Tracy Fahey

 

As I work on my third collection, ‘I Spit Myself Out,’ I’m dealing with body horror; terrors both physical and mental that come from within. And as I do so I’m contemplating the female experience, women’s writing, and the perspectives on body horror that emerge from this amalgam. Contemporary female horror writers write in many wonderful ways on the subject, from visceral bizarro and splatterpunk to nightmarish magic realism to quiet, literary horror. We are diverse, and therefore so are the voices on the subject – here I’m just going to focus on just a few themes that seem to keep resurfacing; bodies in dystopian settings, anxieties of dissolution, and acute physical fears.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) is enjoying a deserved resurrection, partly due to its wonderful TV adaptation, but also because it reflects real, current fears about reproductive rights, bodily autonomy and control. Atwood’s vision of a future where female fertility is tightly controlled and women’s bodies are at the mercy of a patriarchal government now looks disturbingly like a viable reality. Issues of body ownership are debated across the world, with increasing legislation curtailing women’s rights. And stemming from this we have contemporary novels like Aliya Whitely’s The Beauty (2014) where women die out, only to return as strange plant hybrids, and also powerful narratives of resistance, like Naomi Alderman’s The Power (2016) which sees the female body become a weapon.

Stemming from this are fears of dissolution. Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) imagines a future where women are silenced; forbidden to read, their conversation curtailed to under a hundred words a day. Their very silence begins to erode their identities; Dalcher’s dystopian vision is peopled with obedient wives and observant daughters. Likewise, the strange girls of Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) literally start to come apart, their disintegrating bodies mimicking the decay of their home town.

These fears stem not only from a patriarchal society, but a society where the abuse, murder and rape of women are endemic. Female writers of body horror echo the real anxiety of occupying vulnerable bodies. In an earlier WiHM post for The Horror Tree, ‘Men Use Saws, Women Use Scalpels’, JD Blackrose discusses the emotive fears inherent in the maternal body; of pregnancy, birth and infant helplessness. But there’s also the entire domestic noir genre which focuses on fears that are born in violent homes; BA Paris’ Behind Closed Doors (2016) and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train both detail the abuse inflicted on the female protagonists. Karin Slaughter’s novels offer horrific scenarios where women are tortured, raped and mutilated; most notably in Triptych (2006).

When we read these accounts of female body horror, there is a rawness there, a sense of urgency, an anger behind these voices that is mesmerising.

It’s horror. It’s reality. But we’re writing it out.

Tracy Fahey

Tracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. Two of her short stories were long listed by Ellen Datlow for Honourable Mentions in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 8. She is published in over twenty Irish, US and UK anthologies and her work has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. Her first novel, ‘The Girl in the Fort’, was released in 2017. Her second collection of Irish folk horror, ‘New Music For Old Rituals’ was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books. She is currently working on her third collection, ‘I Spit Myself Out.’ 

More information available on her website at https://www.tracyfahey.com   

Tweet her @tracyfahey

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tracyfaheyauthor

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Fahey/e/B00JTVZJ8Y

WIHM: Why Horror Poetry?

Why Horror Poetry?

Written by S P Oldham

I have a special fondness for poetry. I am aware that I am not well-versed (pardon the pun) in the technical aspects, that I know next to nothing about metre and so forth. I simply enjoy the flow of words, the pleasing alliteration, the enigmatic metaphors and fluid rhythms. I don’t for one moment, therefore, dare to call myself ‘a poet.’

But I don’t let that put me off dabbling in the art, so to speak, from time to time. I write and enjoy many kinds of poetry with many different themes, yet I have to say that there is something especially alluring about Dark Poetry.

I think this is in part due to the brevity of a poem in comparison to a short story or a novel, for one thing. You can get your fix of horror and chills in one brief read, when there is not time to sit and devour a longer piece. That is only one factor, though

I think that the very form lends itself quite beautifully to horror. You can evoke a genre merely by choosing the form. Short, choppy words, even a list poem, might lend itself quite nicely to a slasher/killer theme, for example:

Handle, slick, knife, blade

Run, quick, slip, slayed

Hack, chop, cut, gash

Sharp, sever, rip, slash

 

Carefully crafted, intriguing sentences might be just the thing for creating a creepy atmosphere, a frightening ambience, something like this:

There was a light, out in the hall; its flame burned bright, burned bold and tall

That light beguiled, that sweet flame beckoned, and so I answered to its call

Yet when I stepped upon the stair, that amber glow receded, died

As the darkness wrapped its cloak about me, I understood that light had lied

Lengthier verses might perhaps be perfect for telling a haunting story.

They talk, the people, of a place

They speak of it in whispered tones

They nudge and look, that glance a warning

Stay away! Don’t go near! Always knowing

That to a stranger, such a prohibition

Is as good as invitation

 

They spoke, the people, to the man

They whispered it in waiting ears

He heard and shook, took in their glances

Went anyway. Hid his fear. Never knowing

They would be the very last to see him

That goodbye a requiem

 

Like I said, a long way from perfect, not technically correct in any way, I just wanted to provide an example. As I said, I am not a poet in the true sense of the word. Why not have a go yourself, see what happens.

That is another thing I love about poetry. You can get away with rich language and flamboyant phrasing; just as you can in prose, I think. In a story there is not such licence for heavily descriptive language. Too much description, too much ‘floweriness’ puts the reader off and distracts from the plotline. Not that you can go too crazy in poetry either, but there is certainly more room for it in that medium.

Another thing I love about writing poetry is the opportunity to be a bit clever. Not too much so – no one wants to have to work that hard when they are reading a poem. This is the perfect time to introduce something just slightly cryptic, to make the reader pause and think, only for a moment or two, before they get that ‘Eureka!’ moment and realise they get it; they understand what the author means here. That, hopefully, they can identify with, too.

The flip-side of this reader-realisation is yet another aspect of poetry I truly enjoy and that I find supremely interesting. The reader may or may not pick up on what the poet was alluding to, but they do come up with an interpretation all of their own. Something completely different and far removed for the original meaning, that is nonetheless valid for all that. I have had some interesting conversations, even debates, with authors and readers alike on this subject. It is amazing how many scenarios and meanings can be derived from just one well-crafted or compelling sentence, and how an individual’s experiences, backgrounds, expectations etc… can inform how they read a poem. Fascinating!

But why horror poetry in particular? The answer for me, is that I find the combination of the lilting, sometimes deceptively gentle medium of poetry, coupled with the sinister, half-hidden, shadowed world of dark writing is nothing less than completely seductive. When combined, the two can result in a piece of writing that you find yourself mulling over time and again, perhaps even reciting a line or two aloud or in your head. It is deeply alluring, and it can also be shocking. It carries impact, as much as any other form of writing in the horror genre.

It is a personal thing, and another aspect of poetry I have had many interesting conversations about over the years, but I see no reason why horror poetry cannot also be rhyming poetry. I like both rhyming and non-rhyming, whatever the subject may be. Yet I have known people who are adamant that rhyming verse does not belong in horror. I have also known people who insist that rhyming poetry is a thing of the past, and only non-rhyming verse deserves to be called poetry. Each to their own but I have to say, I disagree with both. Who knew poetry could be so controversial?!

I will finish with a spooky little poem of my own. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to drop in on me on any of my social media platforms, or on my website, if you happen to like what you read. Thank you and have a great Women in Horror Month!

Suspendery

In the depths of the woods, where nothing good goes
A twisted tree, gnarled and ancient, grows
Its spindly boughs reach out, like arms
To bear the weight of its eerie charms

For the rotten limbs of this forsaken tree
Are the purpose of the Suspendery;
Here hang things that twirl and spin
That rock and twist; that spit and grin

Here a bloodied horse tail whips
Frowning beneath, a brace of lips
See over there: that shred of lace?
That mourning veil still hides a face

A withered nerve rotates an eyeball
Like some gory Christmas bauble
And over there, a wreath of hands
Makes signs that no one understands

Bunting, made from blackened hide,
Strings tinsel-like all round the side
Whilst down the trunk in dark, wet trails
Blood oozes like the slime of snails

There is a fence of teeth and bones
A gate of skulls, a bell of moans
A ‘Welcome’ sign, with the ‘L’ scratched out
A warning to the wise? Or word to the devout?

Yet no one knows who visits this spot
Who hangs the offerings; who leaves to rot
The flesh of the dead, the parts of the defiled;
Who glories in what should be reviled

All you will discover, should you be fool enough to go
Are words clawed into the bark, many moons ago:
“You are come to the Suspendery; weary traveller, bear in mind;
That ere you go from this place, you leave part of you behind…”

 

S P Oldham

 

 

S P Oldham

S P Oldham lives in the beautiful Sirhowy Valley in South Wales. She has always enjoyed writing and has recently ventured into self-publishing, Although she writes mainly horror and dark fiction, she likes to dabble in other genres from time to time. She is also an avid reader. 

S P Oldham currently has five horror fiction books available on Amazon. Three of these make up The Mindless Trilogy – The Zombie Apocalypse: Where a Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.

The other two books are short story collections. Hag’s Breath: A Collection Witchcraft and Wickedness, and Wakeful Children: A Collection of Horror and Supernatural Tales. Wakeful Children is also available in paperback.

 

You can find me on the following platforms:

On my website, So Lost in Words: https://solostinwords.com/

My Amazon book page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01N2LSUMX

On Facebook:

S P Oldham https://www.facebook.com/solostinwords/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15116823.S_P_Oldham

Twitter: @dogskidssmiles

WIHM: Fairy Tales: Bring Back The Fear And The Strong Women

Fairy Tales: Bring Back The Fear And The Strong Women

by: Charlotte Bond

Not only is February Women in Horror month, but 26 February is also Tell A Fairy Tale Day. It seems only apt to take the opportunity to explore the darker side of fairy tales – gore and all – and ponder: where have all the strong women gone?

 

Ask children to tell you a famous fairy tale and they’ll likely recount their favourite Disney movie. Alternatively, they might tell you about a book they’ve read at school or got from the library.

 

Whatever answer they give, the chances are that they won’t have been exposed to a version of that fairy tale which was as dark and cruel as the original version.

 

When Rapunzel was first published by the Grimm brothers, her plot to escape was discovered not because of her foolish exclamation, but because her belly was swelling with twins. But Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm felt that extra-marital sex wasn’t a suitable topic for their audience, so the next published version of their book introduced her verbal slip instead.

 

It’s worth noting that while allusions to teenage pregnancy were removed, the part where the prince falls from the tower and is blinded by thorns below is kept in. Violence is fine, but sex is out of the question.

 

The original book of Grimm’s tales was called Children’s and Household Tales. However, its reception was mixed as it was felt that the contents were not suitable for children – even though many of these tales had been told to adults and children alike for hundreds of years.

 

So, while the Grimms might have imposed their own political and social opinions on their versions, society also restrained the tales even further.

 

Red Riding Hood is a perfect example of a story that has been sanitized until all of the original meaning is lost.

 

Charles Perrault was the first to put a version of Little Red’s tale on paper in 1697. The Grimms added their own interpretation in 1812.

 

The most notable change between the two versions is the ending. In Perrault’s tale, the wolf eats both the grandmother and Little Red, then lies down to sleep. And that’s it. No happy ending (except for the wolf, of course).

 

But in the Grimm’s version (and in many versions afterwards), a hunter or woodcutter comes along and frees both women from the wolf’s belly. They spring forth miraculously unharmed.

 

The Grimms added a happy ending as a way of toning down a tale they thought too cruel and tragic. But since then, the story has been censored even further.

 

Pick up a modern version and you’ll find that the part where the woodcutter slices open the wolf is often omitted. Generally, the grandmother runs away or hides under the bed. Often the wolf runs away too, instead of being killed by the huntsman. Whatever the fate of the grandmother, Little Red is invariably saved before the wolf gets near her.

 

But removing these darker elements is denying an essential part of fairy tales: fear. While these tales might be filled with wonder and magic, they hold a deeper message that is diluted if you stray too far from the original.

 

Fear is necessary in fairy tales so that the audience – particularly children – can face that fear, explore it, and resolve it. How can a child know how to act in a dangerous situation if all mention of it has been expunged from their storybooks?

 

In pre-industrial times, wandering off into the woods and being eaten was more likely than today. But that doesn’t mean the message in Little Red’s tale is any less relevant to modern society. You only need to look at any of the devastating kidnapping cases where children have been lured from their gardens or taken from shopping centres to know that it’s just as important as ever to tell children not to talk to strangers.

 

Little Red Riding Hood works on a number of levels and delivers a variety of messages. Don’t go into the woods alone. Don’t talk to strangers. Ensure you look after the elderly.

 

However, these messages mean nothing if the tale doesn’t show the consequences of breaking these rules. Modern versions seem to say “Don’t go into the woods alone or talk to strangers because if you do, well, a woodcutter will come to save you, the wolf will run away, and it’ll all be a lark.”

 

Such a story serves no purpose at all. But return it to its original form and the message is: don’t do these things otherwise you put yourself and the people you love at risk. Keeping all these elements in the story means that the message gets through. Cutting them out just weakens the significance of the story.

 

But the horror and the gore are not the only things to be removed. Perhaps the most unforgivable part to be cut out of Little Red’s tale is her own part in it.

 

The intelligent and fascinating Jack Zipes brought together a wide selection of variations of this tale in his book The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood. He suggests that Perrault didn’t like women much and his attitude was reflected in his version.

 

The essential elements of the Little Red Riding Hood story (numbered 333 in the Aarne Thompson Uther Classification) existed in oral traditions before Perrault put pen to paper. It appears that Perrault decided to pick and choose the bits he liked to incorporate into his own moral tale. One key thing that he cut out was the fact that, in the older versions, Little Red saved herself.

 

The details vary, but after entering the cottage, the little girl is encouraged to get undressed and climb into bed with the wolf. He instructs her to throw every item of clothing into the fire because she won’t need them anymore.

 

Little Red complies but, once in bed, she sees the danger she’s in. At that point, she devises an escape plan. She tells the wolf she needs to defecate. The wolf is cross and says she should just do it there and then. Little Red protests that she cannot possibly do it in the bed and must go outside.

 

As a compromise, she suggests that the wolf ties a rope around her waist to make sure she can’t run away. Except when she gets outside, she does just that after tying the rope to something else.

 

In some versions, the wolf chases after her. In many versions, she still gets away. One tale in particular has Little Red encountering laundresses at the river. They hold their sheets taut to make a cloth bridge. They allow Little Red to cross over it but when the wolf is in the middle of the bridge, they let go, and the wolf drowns.

 

Perrault’s audience were upper class. He wanted to pass on them the moral message that young girls could bring disaster on themselves. In his version, Little Red is clearly to be blamed for her own death because she was tempted from the path of domesticity (which led straight from her mother’s house to her grandmother’s).

 

The Grimms took Perrault’s story and moved Little Red on another few steps. In Zipes’s words, “Perrault fixed the ground rules… and these were extended by the Brothers Grimm and largely accepted by most writers and storytellers in the Western world.”

 

The Grimms got rid of the violence and gave Little Red a happy ending – but one where she is saved by a man (no laundresses in sight). They kept in the strong implication that the girl’s behaviour was the main factor in the events that followed. And they focussed on her disobedience as the main cause of all her strife.

 

They also added an addendum: a second, shorter story where Little Red is tempted by another wolf. This time she runs to her grandmother’s house and the old woman suggests that they fill a trough with water in which she’d previously boiled sausages.

 

The wolf, who is hiding on the roof, smells the aroma of sausages and leans over to investigate. He loses his balance, falls into the trough and drowns. Thus Little Red is saved yet again.

 

Little Red’s tale has gone from one about an independent and quick-witted young girl, to a lecture on why women are just asking to be violated if they happen to wear eye-catching clothes and walk in the wrong direction. But she isn’t alone in being vilified by the men who told her tale.

 

As we noted above, Rapunzel went from being a sensible, proactive young woman to a rather dumb one who participated in own destruction, simply because the Grimms disapproved of her choice of lifestyle.

 

In the original story of Hansel and Grettel, it wasn’t the evil stepmother who forced the father to lead the children into the woods. The mother was their biological mother, and the blame was shared equally between the parents.

 

And while Beauty and the Beast might at first glance appear a heart-warming tale of redemption, it was often used in the past as a tale to help girls accept an arranged marriage, even to someone they might find unattractive.

 

Fairy tales have been part of our culture for generations. They remain popular and relevant because they can be adapted to suit the needs of society. They allow us to explore fears and morals within the safety of our own heads.

 

So sure, change the fairy tales and update them – but leave in the fear and bring back our strong women.

Charlotte Bond

Charlotte is an author, ghostwriter, freelance editor, proofreader, and podcaster. She is also a reviewer for the Ginger Nuts of Horror website, as well as the British Fantasy Society.

 

Following her own advice, she’s written The Poisoned Crow, a dark fairy tale filled with horror, magic, and featuring a young woman who saves herself.

 

Her articles have appeared in such places as Tor.com, War History Online, and Writing Magazine.

 

She is a co-host of the podcast, Breaking the Glass Slipper, which in 2018 was shortlisted for a BFS award for best audio and was longlisted for a Hugo.

 

You can read more about her at www.charlottebond.co.uk. Her Twitter handle is @offred85. If you want a regular Twitter-length fairy tale on a Wednesday, you can follow The Singing Wolf @RavenWithCheese.

WIHM: The Power of Horror

The Power of Horror

by Willow Croft

Horror typically revolves around a certain disempowerment of its characters. And of the reader. Horror readers, like myself, relish the helpless feeling that arises when witnessing the terrible things happening to the people in the books we are reading. It’s the literary version of a car crash we can’t stop ourselves from gawking at as we drive past. We are safe in our own homes. In our own cars. And in our own lives. We horror readers like to have both security and fear, balanced on the knife edge of our reading experience. At least, that’s what I’ve loved about the horror and suspense genres since I was maybe around ten or eleven. Clive Barker. Stephen King. Victoria Holt. My grandmother’s collection of V.C. Andrews books. Back then, nobody cared too much what a kid was reading, as long as they were reading.

Now, even as an adult, when I confess I love horror stories and movies, people edge away. Out come the suspicious looks. I’m suddenly classified as one of those quiet ones they need to be wary of. I’ve been typecast. Dark, depraved, disturbed, secretive, untrustworthy; the person who gets faint at the sight of blood in real life, and is perpetually rescuing everything from stray animals to tiny bugs. Yes, one of those evil lost souls. Which is why I choose not to buy into any of those stereotypes I constantly hear about horror readers (and those who write it). I believe, instead, that those individuals are extraordinarily caring and sensitive. Otherwise, horror stories and movies wouldn’t have much of a market. We horror readers feel every stab of the knife, every whack of the ax, every drop of blood that hits the fictional floor, and every spooky chill when we realize that the character and I aren’t alone in the house. Horror readers are deeply empathic and that vicarious fear has a deliciously intense, lingering effect on our permeable souls.

Horror, therefore, is a powerful, and empowering genre; both to me as a reader, and as a writer. Horror liberates me as much as it does my characters I am trying to develop. Horror gives my fictional women agency. Horror gives me a way to take all my women-centric frustration and wrap a story around it. To have a space to put all my emotions. To create a place where women are not trapped. Where they are not limited by everything that still seeks to curtail them, even in the 21st century.

I am fairly new to the horror-writing community, but I love my vision of my women characters, and I hope they grow and evolve with each new story I write. To write women who have the deepest, darkest souls sitting comfortably alongside a spirit of perfect purity. Their dark purity of hate. Their dark purity of fierce emotions. Their I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore sort of cleansing wrath. The kind of women that are the stuff of nightmares. The kind of women that are the powerful saviors of their girlhood dreams. Not of anyone else; it is a horror story, after all.

For, within horror’s safe space, they are only saviors of themselves.

Willow Croft

Willow Croft is a freelance writer and poet who currently lives in the high desert but dreams of a home by a tumultuous ocean. When not writing, she cares for her rescued stray calico and two very fat TNR feral cats.
 
Author Page: Willow Croft

Dan Jolley’s The Storm Blog Tour – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pitch Meeting

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pitch Meeting”

 

I’ve wound up wearing a lot of different hats over the course of my writing career. I started out doing comic book scripts, but over the last two-plus decades, I’ve written professionally for kids’ books, licensed-property novels, movie novelizations, original novels, and video games.

 

One hat I’ve been trying to wear for a while is “film/TV writer.”

 

I’ve done it once. Sort of. Shawn deLoache (a good friend and occasional writing partner) and I managed to sell a live-action pilot last year to a major children’s programming outlet. Following a purge of top-level executives by the parent company, however, that project is not moving forward. (Not at the moment, anyway. We have further plans.)

 

Part of getting involved in the Hollywood scene in the marginal way that I have is that I’ve been doing rounds of pitch meetings. I don’t live in L.A., much to the frequent vexation of my manager, so about twice a year I fly out there for a week and stay with friends and do what I’ve heard described as “the couch and water tour.” That’s where my manager, Alex, reaches out to a bunch of studios and production companies and schedules meetings, and when I get there, I always have to sit on the couch in the waiting area, and an assistant brings me a bottle of water.

 

I’ve been through two different kinds of meetings so far.

 

The first is what’s known as the “general” meeting. “I’ve got you set up for a general,” Alex might say. That’s where I’m meeting some people for the first time, really just a get-to-know-you kind of thing. Generals are easy. There’s not much in the way of pressure. I mean, yes, you need to make a good impression, but it’s basically setting up groundwork and building relationships. I try to be charming, they’re charming, everyone says lots of nice things to each other. Occasionally it involves lunch.

 

The second kind is the actual *pitch meeting*. That’s where you try your damnedest to sell a specific project. You have a tight, cohesive, exhaustively-rehearsed pitch ready to go; sometimes there’s a little bit of small talk before you launch into it. Other times, you walk into the room, shake their hands, and they immediately say, “Okay, let me hear what you’ve got.” That’s much more nerve-wracking—though, to my intense surprise, I’ve discovered that I’m actually pretty decent at the formal pitch.

 

A year ago, during a week of generals, after I told people about my Middle-Grade Urban Fantasy novel trilogy (“Five Elements”) and my Urban Sci-Fi novel trilogy (“Gray Widow”), I frequently got asked, “So, Dan, what else are you working on? Any pet projects?”

  (more…)

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