Do I See It as I Write It?

That was what my wife asked me yesterday: “Do you see it as you write it? And do you hear the dialogue?”

The answer to both is yes. As the story unfolds, it’s like a movie playing in my head. I’d like to get some background music playing with it, too, but I haven’t yet mastered that facet of the art.

If I don’t see it, I reckon the reader won’t see it, either. I had some help with the lake monster from The Temple, pictured above: it’s really just the Liopleurodon from Tim Haines’ Walking with Dinosaurs, and I emailed artist Kirk DouPonce with the applicable clip from the movie. But I had to add the lake, the cliffs of Kara Karram, and King Ryons’ army reacting to the unexpected intrusion. Nothing to go on there but my imagination.

Kirk uses live models to pose as story characters on my covers. Because he takes the trouble to read the books before he goes to work on them, he sometimes paints a character exactly as I imagine him or her to be. I don’t know how he does that.

I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books because it helps me to harness my imagination. In my mind, the characters that populate the stories are as real as Kirk’s models. Sometimes I find myself casting movie and TV actors to portray them; and when that works, it works really well indeed. Wes Studi as Ysbott the Snake. John Nettles as Lord Chutt. And so on–it really works. And it gets me cranked up to imagine and describe things and people that I haven’t seen in any movie. I can even see and hear Helki the Rod–and I don’t know of any actor that can play him.

Patty’s last question, though, isn’t quite so easy to answer: “When you’re seeing and hearing all these things, how do you come back?”

But we don’t have to worry about that until I start having trouble coming back.

The ‘Bell Mountain Movie’: Bring on the Bad Guys

It will still be some months before I’ll be ready to write my next Bell Mountain novel, but I want to start psyching myself for it now.

And so I imagine an epic series of movies, no holds barred, and entertain myself by finding actors to play the host of characters involved. A lot of the major characters are children, though, and the right child actors for these parts have yet to be discovered. So I just cast for the adult roles.

Here are a few of my executive decisions so far.

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Villains (I’ve got the bad guys all lined up–don’t ask me why)

Lord Reesh: Claude Raines

Judge Tombo: Victor Buono

Goryk Gillow: Vincent Price

Lord Chutt: John Nettles (Midsomer Murders)

Ysbott the Snake: Wes Studi (Magua in The Last of the Mohicans)

Good Guys

Roshay Bault: Robert Shaw

Obst the Hermit: Max von Sydow

Szugetai the Horse Lord: Toshiro Mifune

Prester Jod: Martin Shaw

Chagadai the Ghol: Eli Wallach

Chief Xhama: Ken Gampu

Well, that’s as far as I’ve got. Looks like my readers will have to help me out! Which you can’t do, I guess, unless you’ve read the books. Some of them, at least. Be especially on the lookout for an actress in her late teens to play Queen Gurun, a most important and challenging role.