Casting the Modo Movie

With the news of a Modo movie in the works I thought it'd be fun if you and I played casting director. But I will readily admit that I'm ancient and don't know any of the young actors these days. So feel free to add your choices to the comments section and I'll throw them in the mix. MODO

First off there's Modo. Here he is from a few of the covers:

Since he's always wearing a mask or shape-changing (his special ability) he could be any actor. He should be around sixteen years old and exude youth, strength and social awkwardness.

Yes, I know, Nathan Fillion isn't sixteen years old. But Modo does change his shape and so could look like him. And, well, any movie with Nathan Fillion is a good one.

Octavia Milkweed

Young. Feisty. Smart. The ultimate secret agent.

Doctor Hyde

The mad doctor who likes to make metal-plated dogs, powerful elixirs, and giant mechanized war machines. This would be an over-the-top fun role.

Mr. Socrates

The mastermind behind the Permanent Association. An aging intellectual and adventurer. British to the core.


Tough. Intelligent. Dedicated. And kind.

I've only seen The Great Gatsby. But after reading their bios...I must watch more.

Miss Hakkandottir

Okay. Officially the funnest role in the show. One metal arm. One mean sociopathic streak. No remorse. No surrender. Oh, and did I mention ruthless?

There! That's what I've come up with. Any suggestions?


How to Use Cat Videos to Improve your Writing

I have read the first page of thousands of "HOW TO WRITE" books and have spooned and spooled my knowledge into this post. With the information provided you will go from begging the muse to toss a few ideas your way to commanding her to "pick up some java and donuts and be back in five minutes with an fully formed idea for a Hunger-Games-style trilogy." The secret to writing: cats. The Egyptians knew this. Now, thousands of years later, we have figured it out ourselves. Well, to be honest, I have figured it out for you (but I don't want to brag).

You have likely wondered why the felines lord it over us. It turns out they know everything. Everything about writing, that is. And just by watching them you will find your inner inspiration. You will break down that writing block a kung fu kitty cat fighter (*this phrase copyright Arthur Slade forever). Reclaw your declawed imagination! Your prose won't ever need neutering: that's how good it will be in the first draft. And your characters will be within a whisker of perfection (because we all know a perfect character is boring--yes I'm looking at you Superman).

Keep reading and you will be writing like this in no time:

Remember. To become a good writer you have to read. I recommend three books a day, whether you need them or not. If three books is not possible then two books and a poem. Since we all know that one poem has the equivalent verbal density of a book and twice as much fibre.

Every novelist struggles with romantic themes and, more importantly, romantic scenes. You need to knock romance right out of the park. Examine this scene to discover the great, great secrets of writing steamy romance.

Now see the debonair grace that is the cat? That is what your writing should capture. The smouldering eyes! The raised paw of nonchalance. The longing that already appears in the woman's glance. She'll be back. Even though he's bad for her.

Are you stuck on an idea? A plot point? Can't figure out how to open your laptop? Well, there will always be moments of self doubt for writers. A cat never has these moments, of course, but being human you likely have experienced them. There is only one answer to that:

There! Remember that next time you hit a writer's block.

Characters are the foundation of stories. Your main character should always make a memorable entrance. Darth Vader didn't just come waltzing in, he burst right through a blown up wall. See below for an entrance-ing example:

Aren't fight scenes hard? Is it left thrust, right thrust, parry and jump? You can inject action into your story and make it real. Life and death. The universe hanging in the balance. See below for inspiration:

Notice the bravery of the cat despite the size of the enemy. And when he's outnumbered he pulls out another lightsaber. That's an important rule of writing. Whenever it seems your hero or heroine is about to be defeated have them pull out the equivalent of a second lightsaber and win the day. Readers eat that up like cat nip.

Oh, and remember: sometimes you have to throw bad ideas away. You can't polish a litter box. Or the stuff inside a litter box. In fact you should always think outside the litter box. Unless you're writing for kids.

Speaking of ideas. Don't use the same ideas over and over again. You'll get nowhere.

I know. I know. You need more inspiration than just one cat gif can give. Can't figure out the next thematic moment in your novel? Not sure why you wrote that 150,000 word book about talking gerbils? Don't worry, just keep digging and you'll find a way out. Or, as they say in the cat world, just hang in there.

Sometime you have to bump off one of your characters. And when it's time to channel your inner George RR Martin then this video will provide the perfect inspiration.

Listen. I am sensing this might be too much awesomeness for just one post. That your brain is a little overstimulated right now. I also know that all those "dog" people are starting to mutter things about how cat-centric this post is.

SO I'll leave you with this:

Your novel is the squirrel. Pursue it. Catch it. Consume it if you have to. And make it a part of you. You have been given the great cat wisdom. Do good with it. Write well. And keep purring.



P.S. If you chuckled...please feel free to share this post. Buttons below.

Steampunk Movie News: The Hunchback Assignments

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.27.37 AM I'm pleased to announce that the movie rights for The Hunchback Assignments have been sold. This deal has been percolating in the background for some time (years, in fact)! The story itself has always been very visual and I'm excited that steps are now being taken to bring that vision to the screen. I've had a glimpse at the script and it looks excellent. Here's the official press release.

Press Release:

Thunderbird & Sandpiper to Develop Modo, a Feature Film Based on The Hunchback Assignments

Vancouver-based Thunderbird is teaming up with Western Australia's Sandpiper Entertainment on the development of a feature film based on the novel The Hunchback Assignments by award-winning Canadian author Arthur Slade.

ScreenWest, the Western Australia government's film and television agency, is funding initial script development with Thunderbird.

The script is being written by Canadian-born, but Perth-based, Paul Barron working with Thunderbird's Vice President of Production, Alex Raffé. Paul's recent credits include creating, writing for and producing Parallax (Nine Network, BBC, ABC), Space Channel's Stormworld and Serangoon Road (a co-production with HBO (Asia) currently screening on Superchannel). Alex's features include Patricia Rozema’s iconic Canadian film, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, and her more recent credits include the series Some Assembly Required (YTV, Netflix), Mr. Young (YTV, DisneyXD) amongst others.

The working title of the film is Modo, taken from the principal character’s name, a shapeshifter who is at the centre of the first novel and its sequels. Alex notes that "Arthur Slade has created a unique world, an action-filled steampunk adventure with compelling young adult characters that will resonate with audiences worldwide. We are delighted that Paul brought Arthur's books to us and are thrilled to be involved in developing a feature film based on such an exciting story."

Arthur Slade is the winner of the Governor General's Award in Canada for Youth Fiction and France's Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire. The Hunchback novels have been published worldwide.

Thunderbird is a rapidly growing Vancouver-based TV and film production company with offices in Los Angeles, Toronto and London. Thunderbird produces award-winning programming for Canadian and International broadcasters. The Thunderbird group of companies includes Vancouver-based Reunion Pictures, Great Pacific Media and Atomic Cartoons, UK-based theatrical distributor Soda Pictures, and a joint venture with Lionsgate, Sea to Sky Entertainment, which is dedicated to creating content for the US and International market.

Sandpiper was established by Paul Barron several years to focus on co-productions. His Producer and/or Executive Producer credits range from contemporary feature films such as Father, Shame and Blackfellas to the long-running children’s/family TV comedy/drama series Ship to Shore to the Australian-Irish primetime mini-series Kings in Grass Castles. His past productions have won over fifty national and international awards, featured the screen debuts of Nicole Kidman and Heath Ledger, and include AFI Best Actor/Actress winners Max von Sydow (Father) and Stephen Dillane (Kings in Grass Castles).


And there you have it! Whew! I'm going to go out and buy a "I'm sitting next to the director" chair.


How Tinnitus has made me a better writer

15433978031_d0a494c95a_z Tinnitus is a perception of noise or a ringing in the ears that affects about 1 in 5 individuals. It has a variety of causes, middle age and genetic hearing loss being somewhere on that list. I am affected by it because of either too much time in tractors when I was younger or too much heavy metal (say it isn't so). At times, sometimes for weeks on end, I hear a high-pitched ringing. It's like when you're trying to tune your radio but you just get feedback. Oh, and that sound I hear? It's not real. I mean the sound seems real, but no one else can hear it. No one. I've asked.

I've decided that this condition has made me a better writer. I now have a much deeper understanding of those Joan of Arc-like characters who hear voices. I empathize with what it would be like to be a twitchy conspiracy theorist who can "hear" the wireless waves of the government in the air. Or, of course, I totally get what drives axe murderers to, well--you axed for it--to go out swinging.

But, of course, this constant ringing hasn't affected my own personality. After all here's proof:

All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy. All work and no play makes Art a dull boy.




P.S. my next post will be titled How My Cold Has Made Me A Better Fantasy Writer. After all, if you've never had a cold, you could never write about those snotty-nosed trolls or really get to the deeper matter of their congested mindset.


Photo credit: ucumari photography via / CC BY-NC-ND

Dust has been released as an audiobook...

Dust_A 3 As of right now, DUST is available as an audiobook. And the narrator is me, myself and I. Yes, all three of us. It was quite the adventure to head into the studio and lay down these "tracks" or should I say words? And it was also a curious experience to return to a novel so many years after it was first released (DUST came out in 2001 and due to an incredible series of lucky events won the Governor General's Award and hit the bestseller list). Reading the book aloud was like travelling back in time but not getting any younger (sadly). Anyway, I'm really pleased with how the audiobook turned out. I do have an official page for the book at Dust: the audiobook.

You are also welcome, of course, to visit these fine retailers. And to hit the share buttons below to let people know about this new version of the book.

audibleamazonScreen Shot 2015-08-07 at 7.25.30 AM

I should probably mention that the book is about a rainmaker who comes to a small town promising rain but the children begin to disappear. So, umm, it's a little bit creepy. Just a little bit.

"Read the riveting first chapter of Dust and you're already past the point of no return. Arthur Slade writes with the art and grace of a hypnotist, and you won't be able to put this book down. It's sensational!" -- Kenneth Oppel NY Times Best Selling Author of “Airborn”

It's OK to Hate Your Novel

cover_jolted "You must really love your book." Sometimes this comment is tossed toward we writers. And it's true, you don't fall in love with an idea, a set of characters, spend a year or several years writing about them and not have some kind of joyous affection for the book you've created. In fact we authors have been known to jump up and down on Oprah's couch and shout out our love for one of our own works (actually, that might have been a dream I had). Classrooms of young readers have asked me, "Which is your favourite book that you've written?" I answer, "DUST, because it made the most money for me." That gets a laugh. Then I explain how the initial idea for that book arrived in a flash and the process of turning that idea into a novel was relatively natural because THINGS FELL INTO PLACE ONE AFTER ANOTHER WITHOUT TOO MUCH FUSS and I was completely happy with how the book turned out and how it was received by the reading public.

But the dark secret is that we authors can grow to hate our novels. We loathe them. Who let this dreck into my house? Who put these boneless, wishy washy characters on my page? Is this a plot I see before me or Swiss Cheese? You may think I'm joking, but there have been times when I have felt an "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" rage rise up in my soul over the inability of one of my books to twist itself into a shape that is readable. Let me use JOLTED as an example. I wrote this book following a novel of mine called MEGIDDO'S SHADOW, which was a World War One story. After spending nearly three years writing about and researching that war, I wanted to create something funny. After all, I can sometimes be a funny guy. So I looked in my tickle trunk of ideas and found one that had been waiting to be created. It was this: lightning is attracted to a boy and his family due to some genetic oddity and he has to learn to survive and by the way his family is all dead because, over time, they've been hit by lightning and make sure there's a pig in the story. OK, that doesn't sound really funny, more of a quirky story. But it was a big step up from the trenches of World War One. And I was pretty certain it would fall into place rather handily.

I was wrong.

The first draft had the boy, Newton, in Grade Twelve and, being a chef, he was schooled in Moose Jaw but travelled all across Europe with his girlfriend looking for truffles and along the way picked up a sentient truffle pig. The book was angsty with a bit of grit, funny, dealt with older teen issues and did I mention it was funny? My first editorial note from my editor had a full page of compliments then this howitzer hiding on page two: "If you want your book to be a funny book it has to be really funny."

What? I thought it was really funny! So, I went onto draft two, and I made it hilarious. I tell you it was hilarious. The next edit letter had one word that still burns in my mind: disjointed. Oh and there was another sentence about how the humour was perhaps not quite working on a gut-busting level.

What? But I'm funny. I'm really, really funny. What's wrong with this stupid word processing program that it's taking all the funny out of my funny?

Let's skip drafts two through five.

In draft six I realized my character did not have to go to Europe. That was a quarter of the novel that I tossed out like a dead goldfish. Kerflush, it's gone. Funny, eh?

In draft seven it dawned on me that my characters were too old. Grade Twelve! That's ancient. The reader needed to know how this Newton guy actually survived the first year of high school, not the last, and the teenage angst was clouding up the story like a swarm of acne and finally having the characters younger would make the story a little more innocent and I could boil it down to more essential elements.

Oh, and I made the funny more that type of humour that comes out of a dark comedy.

And then I did two more drafts. Let's drive over them in our mental Chevy truck and speed right past and the copy edits and line edits and edit edits. By the time I was done the book I HATED it. With a vengeance. I had no idea whether or not it was working. And, frankly, I just didn't care. I wanted it out of my house. Out of my head. Never to be seen again. Send it to whatever circle of Hades it belonged in. I no longer had faith in it and in my writing and I needed a break from the Muse's merry go round.

So my publisher sent it out into the world.

It has become my second most popular novel. When I read portions of it to students, they laugh. They ask me to keep reading even though I warn them that the next chapter is so gross it will make them vomit and people with hazmat suits will have to come and clean up after them. The fans of the novel are hooked on it.

So it's OK to hate your novel. Give in to the dark side. And remember that sometimes we authors really have no idea whether an idea is working or not, whether what we've written is good or bad. Sometimes we are just too close to it. When it gets to that stage just kick it out of the house.


P.S. I actually quite like JOLTED now. It took me about five years to get to that stage. Perhaps that's another lesson I've learned: forgive your books for their trespasses.