a name by any other name

1

One Amazon reviewer describes BLOODANGEL as “speculative fiction with balls”. Thank you, Mike. I appreciate that.

One of my favorite blogs these days belongs to agent Nadia Cormier; if you’re a writer looking for a window in the wall of agenting/publishing, check out her ongoing ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ entries. They demonstrate a bit about how a manuscript gets chosen for representation and sent out to publishers.

2

I ran into writer/director Jason Reitman (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING) at the Century City mall the other day. We were both alone and absorbed in our own thoughts and it took us a moment to recognize each other. He doffed his baseball cap. “Justine,” he said gallantly. And launched right into a question he’d obviously been pondering, which had to do with novel advances and how they relate to royalties. I explained the term ‘earning out’ — when a novel earns out its advance, which first novels especially tend not to do. (And keep in mind, we’re not talking big advances here. Not usually, anyway.)

We were both headed into the nearby multiplex. He was going to see 16 BLOCKS, which I had recently seen; I was going to see INSIDE MAN, which he had recently seen. I was meeting my husband in the theatre. E always drives there from work, and I always head out from home, which confuses the valet people* a little bit, since they’re always seeing us together and yet we’re always driving off in separate vehicles: one time when I pulled up in front and dropped off my car, the valet said helpfully, “Your friend just got here five minutes ago.”

Jason was alone. I asked him if he often went to the movies alone.

“All the time,” he said.

“Me too. All the time. So it’s cool to meet someone else who does that. The only other person I know who goes to movies alone is David Sacks**.”

He was amused by this. “Really?”

I love going to movies with other people — provided they don’t talk during the actual movie, or even the previews — but I find it liberating to go alone. I can see all the movies I know will be crappy yet appeal to me regardless (STAY ALIVE, BASIC INSTINCT 2), and I’m free to go at any odd time of day when my schedule permits. If the movie proves too crappy even for me, I’m free to walk out any time, and if the movie turns out to be genuinely moving, I can stay absorbed in the experience, mulling it over, as I leave the theatre, without having to deal with a companion who hated it (as was the case with V FOR VENDETTA). And then often I’ll end up seeing it again — with a friend, or usually my husband — which gives me an opportunity to analyze how the story works itself out, catch the cool little touches and details I missed the first time.

Going alone is a habit I developed in my last year of university. I lived on a street that was great for movie theatres — a multiplex a couple of blocks up, a little art theatre several blocks up from there (where I saw Atom Egoyan’s EXOTICA for the first time, one of my favorite films ever), and an odd little makeshift theatre down the street, where for a buck you could see some bad yet interesting genre film that was first released two or five years ago. Since I didn’t have a car, proximity was crucial.

On weekend mornings I’d wake up hungover, would throw on jeans and my battered oversize leather jacket that used to belong to my uncle, and feel slouchy and antisocial. I’d go up the street to the multiplex — since this was a small college town, the multiplex was the only theatre that ran matinees, and only on the weekends — and choose my poison. Sit there in the darkened theatre with my nachos with salsa and jalapeno peppers and be happy as a clam. For some reason I have never been able to find a theatre with nachos even half that tasty and satisfying.

If the movie was good, it often made me want to see a second movie, so I’d duck into whatever was available, sit there as the title credits rolled and offer up a silent challenge: Okay, I’ll give you fifteen minutes. Make me want to stay. I saw ROB ROY that way — I had recently come off BRAVEHEART and wasn’t interested in ROY, which looked too similar and couldn’t be (or so I thought) half as good. But it was playing in the right place at the right time and I snuck inside and slouched in my seat and thought, Okay, show me what you got. ROB ROY had me right from the opening moments. And when Tim Roth came onstage — as an apparent foppish dandy who reveals himself to be something else entirely (one of the best. bad guys. ever) — I would have followed that movie anywhere it wanted to take me.

*Ah, the valet. An essential fact of life in Los Angeles, a city shaped so completely around the car.

** Friend and original producer of TYFS before the movie sold to Fox Searchlight

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