In 2015, my friends Nick Hayden and Tim Deal produced an episode of their podcast, Derailed Trains of Thought, about who “owns” a story. This included the writer, the audience, and the publisher. That planted a kernel in my head that has recently bloomed. It has to do with whether the fans of something—particularly in the creative fields—know what’s best for what they like.
The most immediate example I can think of is taken from this video on Linkin Park (produced before the sad death of frontman Chester Bennington). The host mentions that the band, which has experimented with different sounds in all of their albums, was constantly being asked by their fans if they’d make something like their first album, “Hybrid Theory,” again. This prompted an angry response from Bennington, who more or less said that was a great album but that the band was working on new things now.
Honestly, I sympathized with Bennington. It can be annoying when you’re trying new things but your fanbase just wants you to keep making all the same stuff. If I had readers coming up to me, saying, “Why don’t you write more books like Pandora’s Box?” I’d be vexed. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be a writer who got pigeonholed, as many have been. It’s why, believe it or not, many authors use pseudonyms if they write something outside their usual genre. The publisher thinks that readers won’t buy the book because it isn’t the same stuff they’re used to seeing from that author. Now, some authors are such huge names they can get away with it now (like, say, Stephen King), but they’re exceptions. It is something I’ve considered doing, though. I have some ideas so divergent, seeing my name on the cover might disinterest readers.
The problem is fans can like something so much they just want to keep getting more of the same. But no matter how much an artist tries to refine it, it gets stale. Instead of branching out and taking risks, they play it safe. That might bring them money, but it won’t help them grow as artists. Changing things up, though, could scare their fans away because it isn’t the same. People like familiarity and often oppose something new. Just talk to any Whovian (Doctor Who fan) whenever a new Doctor or Companion is introduced. Many won’t like them at first, if at all.
Am I saying artists shouldn’t listen to their fans? No, not at all. There are times when an artist could stray so far off the beaten path he produces something that ceases to resemble what he created that made his fans like him in the first place. Or it’s just plain bad. Believe me, I’ve often said that I could write a better script than most people in Hollywood when lamenting the dumb decisions made in films and TV shows I like.
The other problem, though, is the creator may hear what fans want and try to give it to them, but they end up not liking it. Now, this could be because the creators misunderstood what the fans wanted (i.e. the demand that DC/Warner Bros. make a Superman movie where he “fights” a villain, which resulted in the oft-criticized Man of Steel), but more often, I think, fans realize that what they wanted wasn’t what was best.
In the end (hey, an unintentional Linkin Park reference!), it boils down to trust. Fans need to trust creators to know what they’re doing and that the creators are taking their thoughts/ideas into consideration. Creators need to trust their storytelling instincts and abilities and not be people pleasers. It’s impossible to make everyone happy. Even the best-reviewed films have detractors. Even literary classics have readers who don’t like them. That’s why my mantra has always been, “Story is king.” Whatever is the right thing to do for the story, whether that’s what the fans or creator want, is what’s best.
Do you think fans or creators know what’s best for stories? Why? What are some good and bad examples of both?
I added my voice to this fire by speaking out against this casting and declaring that I was done watching the show. This led to arguments online and offline full of ad hominems aimed at me. As far as I care, if someone has to resort to such tactics, they automatically lose the debate regardless of how good their points are. I was accused of sexism and misogyny and told I would scare away any and all potential dates by saying what I was saying (in other words, I’d never get a girlfriend).
I kept quiet after a day or two, but now I’ll lay out what I think are nuanced reasons for disliking the BBC’s decision. I won’t repeat what I said in a 2014 blog (which has now garnered me some derision). This isn’t as simple as, “The Doctor is a woman, therefore I hate it!”
Let me begin by asking my female readers this:
If you heard Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games was being transformed into a boy and recast with a male actor, would that upset you?
If you said yes, then you may understand why I don’t like the idea of female Doctor.
It’s perfectly plausible that it could happen. Given the Capital’s penchant for genetic manipulation, vanity, and cruelty, it’s quite reasonable they could force a sex change operation on Katniss. But neither Suzanne Collins (the original author) nor Lionsgate ever did that. It would’ve made things needlessly complicated and messy. If they wanted to tackle gender issues within that universe, they’d have been better off creating a new character.
I say this because that’s the sort of arguments I hear for making the Doctor a woman. Recent additions in the Who mythos—most notably his archenemy, the Master, regenerating into a woman—paved the way for this happening (despite the fact that if Gallifreyans could do this, their society would look vastly different, but I digress). Others say science fiction has always tackled the issues of the day, and issues of gender identity are certainly hot topics now. But as I said above, taking a main character who’s been established as being male (or female) and forcing a gender swap just to make a social commentary isn’t good storytelling. It just makes the character a means to an end and doesn’t do the character or the audience any favors.
What saddens me is I’m pretty sure that if a female character was changed to a male in a similar fashion, there would be huge backlash and it would be considered legitimate. However, most people who criticize the decision to make the Doctor a woman are met with nothing but trolling and accusations. That, True Believers, could be extrapolated to be a double standard.
Would I object to a rebooted Doctor Who with a new continuity and new characters that included a female Doctor? No. That’s worked for other franchises like Battlestar Galactica with a female Starbuck. How about a spin-off with a Doctor-esque Time Lady? That’d be cool. Heck, 5th Doctor actor Peter Davison even suggested that a few years ago while also saying the Doctor shouldn’t be a woman. (His opinion hasn’t changed, and he’s been criticized for it).
Another argument in favor of this decision is it’ll give little girls a Doctor for a role model. While I’ve argued that representation is overrated and people can relate to a well-written character regardless of demographics, the fact remains that people still gravitate toward characters who look like them. But what about the little boys who are about to see their hero morph into a woman? Wouldn’t that be a shock? Might they ask awkward questions of their parents? It’ll already be difficult adjusting to a new Doctor; this’ll only make it harder. They might even stop watching.
Admittedly, this is all pure theory. I have no way of knowing what will happen. Regardless, as much as it pains me, I don’t plan to watch the series beyond the Christmas special. I find this decision to be a desperate gimmick motivated by political correctness aimed to please a vocal group of fans who don’t speak for the whole fanbase.
Do you agree or disagree with me? Why? What do you think of this decision? (Please keep your comments civil).
That’s a sentiment I’ve heard often in the last few years. It’s spoken by either workaholics or braggarts who pride themselves on being able to function on little or no sleep. The sad thing is this is usually seen as a good thing, especially in the United States, which has a culture that idolizes work. Honestly, in many cases, it’s nothing more than disguised greed.
There was a recent episode of Doctor Who entitled “Sleep No More” that touched on this. The Doctor and his Companion, Clara, come to a space station whose crew was conducting sleep experiments, but the station has now gone dark, most of the crew killed. The Doctor discovers that the crew was developing a means to allow humans to get through the day with less than an hour of sleep so as to increase productivity. He was angered by this, accusing them of trying to “cheat nature” in their arrogance. Then, in true Doctor Who fashion, the “sleep dust” (the crust often found in tear ducts after much sleep) all collected into murderous monsters thanks to that sleep-cheating process.
What intrigued me about this episode is its theme was something I’d been contemplating for a while at the time. Call me crazy, but I think God designed humans to require sleep as a means of keeping them humble. If they were able to function without it, they would either become lazy (or lazier) or, more likely, they would get to the same point they did with the Tower of Babel, looking upon their accomplishments and thinking themselves gods. (The sad thing is there are people now who, in one form or another, think this already).
However, research tells us that humans need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Think about that: that’s a third of a day. Some look at that and, much like those scientists in that Doctor Who episode, say that’s a waste. What they don’t realize is that it’s part of an ideal balance for one’s life. For eight hours you sleep, and for eight hours you work. That leaves eight hours to spend doing whatever you want. Everything is equal. But as is typical with human beings, they want to tip that balance, and that often requires eating into sleep time. Heck, there’s at least one entire industry built around cheating sleep: energy drinks. From Red Bull to Monster to 5-Hour Energy, their marketing centers around giving you a boost to do more. That could be doing more work so you could have a bigger paycheck or staying up late playing video games. (These are just two examples). Unfortunately, as I’ve observed myself, people become addicted to energy drinks to the point that they can’t function without them. If they don’t have one, they crash, and they crash hard. Then they run the risk of drinking too many and overstimulating their hearts until they explode (their hearts, I mean. I doubt energy drinks make people explode). 😛
I’m not saying one should never use energy drinks or that one can always get eight hours of sleep a night. For example, parents with newborns will lose sleep because they must care for the baby. Some people also have health issues that can cause insomnia. Stuff like that aside, it’s best not to make a habit to lose sleep. It will catch up to you. Trust me, I know.
What do you think? Would humanity become more arrogant if it could function with little or no sleep? What would happen? Do you try to “cheat nature” by avoiding sleep? How has that worked out for you?
I’m getting into a bad habit of not blogging in a timely fashion. Or on time. My friend/co-author Eric Anderson definitely kicked my butt on this one since he blogged about it two weeks ago!Hence why you’re getting this and another blog today.
Anyway, Eric asked me to join him at Alma-Con, a small but growing anime/fandom convention held at Alma College in Alma, Michigan (seeing a pattern here?) 😛 He purchased a table to promote his nerd/geek outreach ministry, Nerd Chapel, but he was selling copies of our devotional book, 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom, so he wanted me present. He’d asked me to attend other cons with him, but I wasn’t able to make it, so this was exciting.
What follows will be similar to write Eric wrote about, but we did have some different experiences.
I arrived an hour or so after the con began. The vendors’ hall—at least the one we were in—was only open for a few more hours. Not much happened while I was there except we met a panelist (whose name escapes me) who saw the title of our book and said, “That sounds like something Vic would say.”
Quoting Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy, I said, “Who?”
He explained he was friends with Vic Mignogna, a popular anime voice actor (among other things). I was surprised to (re)learn that Vic was a Christian and went to panels to discuss faith in anime. This gentleman, Eric and I learned, was a practitioner of sect of Buddhism strangely similar to Christianity. He shared his story of how he came to this faith. He said he’d come back later to talk with us, but sadly, he never came. (If you’re reading this, please contact Eric and/or I!)
Saturday was the long day. Eric and I cosplayed. He was Martian Manhunter and I was Superman. I enjoyed wearing the costume because I’ve gotten into better shape since the last time I wore it, and given that it’s, well, spandex, I was glad for that. The most interesting stories that came from that day was meeting a young man who was a member of the “Church of Satan,” yet they didn’t worship Satan or even believe he existed, which was interesting. While Eric was gone, though, a belligerent cosplayer dressed as some blue-haired anime mad scientist (or something) came over and proceeded to insult me and denigrate Christianity while in character. I wasn’t sure what to think of it, so I just ran with it and smiled.
Two Alma College students were kind enough to give Eric and I their lunches from their meal plans, so we got some food from the college diner, Joe’s.
I, too, wandered around. It was then I learned one of my few gripes with the con: the buildings it was held in were too far apart. It was a Michigan winter, so obviously it was cold, and tights provide little protection against such weather. I did go check out the other artists and vendors, and as usual, I had to refrain from buying a bunch of stuff (including a book self-publishing comic books). I did purchase a replica of the fob watch used by David Tenant in two episodes of Doctor Who, though. It went great with my cosplay.
Speaking of which, once the vendor hall closed for the day, I changed into my 10th Doctor cosplay. Eric and I got dinner at Joe’s, where we met a fellow Whovian/cosplayer.
We then went to see MacSith, a play performed by a traveling theatre troupe from Chicago. It is Shakespeare’s MacBeth if it took place in the Star Wars universe. It. Was. FANTASTIC! It combined two of my favorite things—Shakespeare and Star Wars—in a seamless and wonderful fashion. Thankfully, I don’t have to describe it all to you since, unlike most theatre, they allowed (non-flash) photography and video to be taken. The costumes, the fight choreography, the little Star Wars flavoring to the original dialogue—it was amazing.
Sadly, I couldn’t say the same for the next event Eric and I attended. It was billed as a “masquerade ball.” Since we’ve had ballroom dance training, we were interested in going to this unlike the rave that was held the night before. The con program even said there was a dress code, and the organizers reserved the right to turn people away if they didn’t abide by it (hence my 10th Doctor cosplay). But when we arrived, this “ball” was essentially a rave with fancier clothes and no glow sticks. Seriously. The attendees broke off into a few cliques like this was a school cafeteria and gyrate to the music…sometimes. The liveliest they got was during a line dance I didn’t know. I asked the DJs to play “Tank!” by the Seatbelts, which is the theme song to Cowboy Bebop, since the Pokemon theme song was played earlier—and almost nobody got excited! “Haven’t they seen this show?” I wondered. The kicker, though, was every girl Eric and I asked to dance either didn’t know how or flat-out turned us down. The best I could get was doing a line dance when “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show played, and even then people didn’t seem that excited and even fewer knew the line dance, so I wasn’t able to learn it. Eric and I left after an hour.
Seriously, Alma-Con. If you say it’s a “masquerade ball,” make it a masquerade ball! You have a swing dance group on campus: try appealing to them a bit better to run this event.
::steps down from soapbox::
The next day was gonna feature our big event: the Nerd Chapel worship service…
…and nobody came. L
So Eric and I shared communion and I recorded his sermon (which, come to think of it, I need to send to him to post online…).
I left soon afterward so I could return in time to go to work that evening.
How many times can I apologize for missing “blog days” before you, dear readers, dump me like a bad boyfriend? It’s been a few weeks since I posted a video detailing some of my experiences at Tri-Con 2015 in Evansville, Indiana, and I promised a full blog on it, which only now am I writing.
I’ll say it, anyway: Sorry for the delay.
“And now for something completely different.”
Tri-Con got off to a rough start. I thought the vendor hall opened at noon, but it was gonna take me five hours to drive there. It didn’t help that I worked late the night before at my day job. So, I bought two bottles of 5-Hour Energy to get me through the day. I took one just before leaving and one more just before I arrived. Complicating matters, since both the CD player and tape player in Silver Sable (my car) weren’t working, I created a makeshift stereo system using my iPhone and a portable speaker. This disallowed me from using my phone’s GPS because of the battery drain, so I had to print out directions. It made things a bit more annoying.
After a harrowingly long drive, I arrived at the Holiday Inn where the con was being held. I was surprised to learn that the vendor hall opened at 2pm, and thanks to slipping from eastern time to central time (barely), I ended up being early instead of late. (I think. My brain was buzzing more than a beehive at the time). I set up shop and introduced myself to my neighbors, which included chiptunes artist Professor ShyGuy and anime crafts company Sweets Haven. I was glad we all got along since the vendor hall was cramped. The aisles were narrow and the vendors were practically sitting back-to-back.
I did manage a few sales that day. Here are photos of my first buyers (I regret I lost my note with their names. Sorry!):
As usual, I explored the convention and checked out the evening events. I quickly learned that this was a party con. I think I saw more drunk people during the three days of this small convention (400-500 in attendance, at most) than I did all four days of Gen-Con, which had 60,000 in attendance. One of the events I checked out briefly was a what I thought would be a concert, but it was more of a rave. Raves aren’t my thing, but I did take a few photos and videos of the dancers.
I left to check into my hotel room—courtesy of a friend of a friend—and ran into a woman I’d met in the dealer hall. She wanted to talk with me about some stuff. We ended up chatting for at least two hours about reconciling faith with fandom because she had concerns about her teenage son. She and her pre-teen daughter were the only Christians in her family, which made things even harder. I think that conversation was the most important one I had the entire weekend and was one of the biggest reasons God wanted me there. It was a miracle I was still awake since my energy drink had worn off.
I checked into the hotel room and met my roommates. They were a bit rough around the edges, but despite starting as strangers, we got along and became friends.
Day Two I slept in a bit since the dealer hall didn’t open until 11pm, I think. I took that opportunity to get a photo-op with Michele Specht and Chuck Huber who, among other things, are cast members from the fan-created series Star Trek Continues. Both were enthusiastic about their work, especially Michele. My gosh! And people think I’m crazy on caffeine. She’s a whirlwind!
I regretted not wearing my 10th Doctor costume on Saturday like I normally do since I missed some great photo-ops.
As for the vendor hall, it was shockingly slow. The most interesting thing that happened was one of the waitresses from the Maids Café came by and asked vendors for orders, so I got homemade Butterfingers. They were delicious! I made sure to tip her.
A attended the Star Trek Continues screening/panel, though I missed the screening. It was still great seeing Michele and Chuck interact with fans, though.
The next event was another 21 and up party, so I skipped out on it. The alternative was an open play for Cards Against Humanity. I decided to watch before trying it, and I quickly learned it wasn’t the game for me (though I did make some great jokes while watching). I especially didn’t want to play when I saw Loki (a cosplayer) winning almost every round. He is Loki, after all.
Day Three The last day of the con was one of the slowest, as you would imagine. I did wear my Doctor cosplay, but that was because I attended a “steampunk prayer service.” Only six or so people were there, but I still enjoyed it. It was presided over by an Anglican minister, so I got a taste of how that denomination conducted their services. It was educational. I gave the minister one of my business cards, and he came by later and bought a copy of 42: Discovering Faith Through Fandom.
When not in the dealer hall, I wandered around for some photo-ops. At 3pm, the vendor hall closed an hour before the con did, which was kinda weird. After packing up and saying goodbye to all my friends, new and old, I began the five-hour drive home.
The 42 Challenge If you’ve followed my social media, you’ll know that my 42 co-author Eric Anderson, founder of Nerd Chapel, was attending Grand-Con in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that weekend and challenged me to see who could sell more copies of our devotional book. The loser would buy the winner a board game expansion. I was probably a bit overconfident. Eric beat me 20-6. It helped he went to a larger con, but that’s not an excuse. I will make good on my promise and buy him a game.
I hope you enjoyed this report. You can watch my video on the con here.
After another long, unintended hiatus, I return with a summer movie review–one that left me with the most nerd rage I’ve had in a long time! The “Terminator” franchise, which includes some of my favorite films, has been “rebooted” stupidly. So much so, my old friend the T-800 returns to protect me from the new movie!
My text review of the movie for GIGA Geek Magazine.
My apologies, fair readers, for neglecting to blog last week and for posting this one late. I was busy last week, what with the holidays and giving a science fiction presentation last week at the Roanoke Library. Perhaps I’ll post two blogs this week to make up for it.
I’d originally intended to write about something else, but with the brewing, well, brouhaha over this topic, I felt I should say something. If you’re not a Whovian (fan of Doctor Who), feel free to skip this post. It’s one of my favorite franchises, so I felt I should give my thoughts on the matter.
Recently, some fans have been clamoring for a female Doctor. At the risk of sounding sexist and/or misogynistic (FYI: I am neither), this is a bad idea. Here my reasons why.
1) It’s motivated by political correctness
No matter what showrunner Steven Moffat or anyone else says, the big reason this is getting pushed is because of political correctness. The Doctor has been male all his life. Making him a woman is nothing more than an attempt to placate an outspoken minority of women (and possibly feminists?) who, apparently, think they need to be represented by the character. It’s stupid, perhaps even insulting. It assumes women can’t enjoy a good story unless it features a female character(s). The Hobbit films made the same mistake adding a lady elf to the cast who wasn’t in the book because they thought it’d attract a female audience. The truth is that a good story can and should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of the characters’ ethnicity, age, and/or gender. Making the Doctor a woman because it might appeal to a female audience is shortsighted.
2) Gender is not interchangeable
I could be wrong on this, but I wonder if making the Doctor female is at least partially inspired by this modern notion that men and women aren’t that different (other than their “plumbing”). This idea is, in general, false. The differences between men and women go beyond reproductive organs and hormones. There are huge differences emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. Men and women think differently. Gender and sexuality isn’t some tabula rasa (“blank slate”). Much, if not most, of it is innate. There seem to be exceptions because of the corruption of sin. God created mankind male and female (Genesis 1:27). (I realize I’m talking about fictional aliens here, but its born out of ideas related to humans). To suddenly switch that is an insult to both genders.
3) Ruins the “romantic” appeal
I was chewed out a bit in a Facebook group for saying this, but I know this is true. One of the appeals of Doctor Who (particularly the new series) is that it’s a romantic fantasy. A handsome and mysterious man who comes to young women and offers to take them on fantastical adventures. While not every Companion falls in love with the Doctor (precious few don’t on the new series), this appeals to men because they want to be the man who leads the adventure, and women want to be taken on adventures. By making the Doctor a woman, this dynamic is ruined. Either she asks (or drags) men on adventures, which won’t appeal to a male audience, or she’ll ask other women to join her, effectively making the show a “chick flick,” thereby alienating the male audience. This sounds harsh, but it’s reality.
4) It’d alienate old-school fans
Doctor Who has been around for over 50 years. Like it or not, that means the franchise has built traditions, and those aren’t easily broken. One of those is the Doctor being male. By changing that, many, if not most, longtime fans who’ve been watching since the days of Tom Baker (or longer) will abandon the series. It wouldn’t be the show they loved. It’s hard enough keeping people on board after the Doctor regenerates—adding a gender swap would be killer.
5) More backlash if and when “she” regenerates back into a man
The flipside of the issue would be the backlash that would probably come if and when the hypothetical female Doctor regenerated back into a man. You can bet accusations of sexism would get thrown around. Feminists would probably say something about the show going back to its “chauvinist roots.” If this was being done because the female Doctor wasn’t well-received and, much like what happened with Colin Baker in the 1980s, she was being quickly replaced, this controversy would kill the show.
6) Female versions are usually either new characters or reboots
Gender swaps have been done before with traditionally male characters, but in most of those cases those were either brand new separate characters or part of a reboot. For example, in the mid-2000s, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, seemed to die at the end of “Avengers Disassembled,” a tragic storyline published by Marvel Comics. A young woman who had admired Barton then took up his name/mantle and became a superheroine in his honor. Or when SyFy rebooted Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck was a woman. The former worked well and the latter, while weird, also worked for most people. But since the 12 (or 13, depending on how you look at it) incarnations of the Doctor are technically the same person, it wouldn’t get a pass. Now, if the Doctor passed on his name to a worthy Time Lady as his dying act, I think fans could support that. (Sidenote: Ever seen a traditionally female character becomes a man?)
7) Difficult to write (and cast?) well
I’m not saying a female Doctor wouldn’t have the Doctor’s trademark quirks and witticisms, but I’d argue the usual challenges faced with recasting the Doctor—age, appearance, costume, etc.—would be worse and judged more harshly. If a young actress is cast, will that alienate older fans? Should she dress and/or act sexy? Some fans already object to how some the female Companions have been eye candy, so you can bet there’d be an uproar if the same happened with a female Doctor. Her every word and action would be scrutinized. (This isn’t to say there aren’t any actresses out there who play the part, though).
8) Need more nonviolent male heroes
As someone pointed out on the Fans For Christ Facebook page, one of the things that makes the Doctor great is he is an nonviolent hero. Most other famous fictional heroes—James Bond, Superman, Aragorn, etc.—distinguish themselves in battle. They aren’t bad characters, but the Doctor differentiates himself from them by using his intelligence and wits to save the day. This is a great thing for boys to see and admire so as to remember that not everything can be solved through violence.
9) Oversteps the limits of regeneration
While the concept of regeneration has been around since the First Doctor, the rules surrounding it have been murky. Except for a few throwaway lines implying a gender swap was possible through it, it never happened until this season when it was learned the villainous Master had become a woman (I argue this is open to interpretation). Regardless, I say a gender swap is beyond what regeneration can do. It makes sense that things like hair color, eye color, and body build can change because that’s still using the basic building blocks available. Swapping genders means adding whole new organs, glands, and hormones. In other words, it’s going from a renovation to a complete teardown and rebuilding. That’s ridiculous, even for Doctor Who.
10) Lesbianism (or Bisexuality)
As said, a staple of the new series has been Companions falling in love with the Doctor (to date only one hasn’t). If the Doctor becomes a woman, would she still have her old attractions, or would they switch too? Doctor Who is a family show, and despite Britain having a liberal definition of what constitutes such a program, I doubt a lesbian or bisexual Doctor would be deemed acceptable. Yes, there have been oblique pro-gay lines in the series sometimes, but most of those go over kids’ heads. And yes, there was Captain Jack, but even he wasn’t allowed to go full-throttle homosexual on Doctor Who (that was saved for Torchwood, which was an adult show). Again, it’s asking for trouble.
These are purely my opinions. You are welcome to disagree. If you’re a Whovian, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, whether you agree with me or not. Please leave comments so we can discuss it.
It’s been a week since Gen-Con 2014 ended, and as usual, I miss it. Not only does Gen-Con have a great Authors’ Avenue where I can sell books and a great Writers’ Symposium where I can attend seminars, it’s one of the few places I can be an unbridled nerd and nobody judges me.
If you follow me on Facebook (and if you don’t, you should), you saw my almost up-to-the-minute updates while my brother Jarod and I were at the four-day convention. There’s a lot I could write about, but for now I’ll focus on a few highlights not mentioned in those posts. UPDATE: More photos from Gen-Con have been posted on my Facebook page!
Want to see photographs from the convention? I recommend checking out my Facebook page. Until I figure out how the new photo gallery plug-in I downloaded works, that’s where I’ll be posting photos from signings and such. Sorry.
First, here are the fans/readers I met while I was at the con, both new and old.
This was Jarod’s first time at Gen-Con, though it wasn’t his first convention. He’s gone with me to several others this year as attendees. We made prints of the illustrations he’s done for my short stories and the titles cards he’s made for my YouTube show, “But I Digress…”. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we weren’t able to sell any of these. I was shocked. Conventions seemed like the places where people would eat up his artwork. Perhaps it was because we were in the authors’ section and not the art show area. Regardless, he did manage to get a pair of commissions: one for a steampunk pin-up girl a guy wanted for a restaurant he wants to start called Pandora’s Lunchbox (he told us about it because of the title of my novel), and another for a con-goer who wanted little pictures of Wile E. Coyote and a Digimon for a Magic: The Gathering card. Jarod also drew a few random sketches during our downtime, especially when things were slow on Thursday, including Maleficent, a ballerina Dalek (no joke), and a ninja Elsa. He gave the last one to a Jedi Elsa cosplayer, who inspired the artwork.
As for my book sales, they were slow again this year. I took fewer books with me assuming I’d sell out, but I didn’t. I got a few bits of advice from my fellow writers on how to improve that:
1) Get new signs. I’ve been using Jarod’s handmade sign for three years now. It’s time I upgraded. It’ll help me look more professional.
2) Have more books. For whatever reason, people will be more interested in buying books when they have more choices. I thought the opposite was true, but I think it would diversify my appeal and show people I’m still writing.
It didn’t help that the new books I wanted to take—Children of the Wells, Volume 1—didn’t arrive in time, so I wasn’t able to sell them until Saturday. Even so, that was a bit of tough sell since I wasn’t in that collection (but I’ll be in volume two).
However, I think my networking was much-improved this year. I talked with more of the writers there and shared my business cards with them. I think I even found a publisher interested in seeing Ninjas and Talking Trees. J Hopefully, in the coming year, that will all pay off.
As usual, while other vendors were too tired to enjoy the convention after the exhibitors’ hall closed, I was still running around with boundless energy like the Doctor. (In fact, I cosplayed as the 10th Doctor while I was there on Sunday).
I attended many writing seminars since many of the other events I wanted to attend were sold out. (I waited to sign up since I was on the waiting list for months and wasn’t sure I’d make it to the convention). Regardless, I was still able to participate in an “Ultra Street Fighter IV” tournament Friday night and see the Five Year Mission show Saturday night. I wasn’t able to play any board games, though.
Overall, I don’t think it was quite as good of an experience as last year’s convention, but I still want to return next year. That, sadly, is uncertain since the organizers didn’t allow writers and artists an early sign up at the end of the convention like they usually do. I have no idea when tables will be available. On the bright side, I could have as many as three new titles to sell at next year’s convention if all goes as planned (more on that later).
You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks. Well, I’ve been a busy fanboy. I decided to utilize the connections I’ve been making in the writing world—most notably Jonathan Maberry—and you won’t believe what I managed to do. I convinced Steven Moffat, the showrunner for Doctor Who, to let me make an American version of the show!
A promotional title card for the series.
First, I must say that I was honored that “the Grand Moff” took time out of his busy schedule (what with Peter Capaldi filming his first season as the Doctor) to talk to me. I told him about a Buzzfeed article (and subsequent video) published a few months back where a fan mused about the equivalent American actors who could’ve played the Doctor had the show been an American production. This inspired me. I was a longtime Whovian and had written the pilot for what I thought would be a respectful American remake of Who. The episode was entitled “Bigger on the Outside.” The episode would start in the 1960s, and the TARDIS would be a phone booth. He said he’d look it over. A few days later, he called me and said he loved the script and so did BBC. Obviously, my jaw dropped. “This might distract the fans from hating me,” he said. I immediately started talking about casting. I told him my friend Scott Klaus, an even longer-time Whovian, would be perfect, but then Moffat threw me a curveball. “You should be the American Doctor!” he says. “What?!” I blurt. He says Mr. Maberry referred him to my Facebook page, and he liked the photo of my Tenth Doctor cosplay. But what convinced him I should play the part was this photo:
He took one look at that and thought, “He can play the Doctor, too!”
I tried to tell him I wasn’t cool enough to be the Doctor, but he would hear none of it. He was already talking with executives at BBC America and the SyFy Channel about the show. “A thirteen-episode season should be enough, right?” he asked. “Um…sure…” I replied.
Looks like I finally got my big break, True Believers! The writer and star of my own science fiction TV series!
Whether it’s picked up by BBC America or SyFy, the show will premiere April 1, 2015.
As my favorite Doctor always said, “Allons-y!”
A Man from Another Time Exploring Another Universe