Get to know the real me.

I'm Alverne. I'm a writer and project manager, and I'll occasionally be posting my thoughts about comics, writing, and more. So check back in.

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Why Frank Calhoun Exists

April, 8, 2011

Since I tend to write so many different things I’ve decided to add a new category to the blog post.  This new category will be called, “Street Level”.  It’ll be my ramblings about my adventures in writing crime novels.

Now I’ve been back in Chicago for about three months, and I can’t lie, I love this city.  Yesterday I got a chance to visit the fictional crime scene from my next novel, Blue Religion.  I have to say there is nothing more exciting then stepping foot onto a piece of land in which you’ve written about and discovering new scenery that enhances the place within the story.

This is probably one of the reasons I write from a “street perspective” when dealing with Frank Calhoun and the world he lives in because I, like so many fans of the Wire, am intrigued by the secret world of the streets and the players who star in it.

Having grown up in the notorious K-Town, on the west side of Chicago, which I will always proudly represent; I found myself diving back into a world I had long moved away from (even though I still had family and friend which I associated with) and wondering how had I, a native and a firm believer in the street code become interested in writing about cops?

I grew up hating cops.  Not because I was told to, or even taught to (one of my older cousins was a Cook County Sheriff), but because cops harassed me so much as a kid and as a teen that the only thing I could do was hate them.  But somewhere between hating the police and reading detective novels I came to respect the police.  Now I don’t mean I respect the badge or the uniform, truthfully, I don’t know if I ever will respect them.  But I became very aware of the human side behind the shield and with that thought in mind I wanted to know what drove a person to become a cop and to continue to be one?  From this and many other thoughts Frank “Preacher” Calhoun was born.

Frank’s a detective born from the streets, a modern day Shaft if you will, but without the leather jacket and smooth demeanor.  Frank Calhoun brides the gap between the streets and modern society.  He’s a voice for an underrepresented people that I am finding more and more have been lost in the society of novels written by my peers.

Just to clarify I am not judging I am simply stating that I think there is a hole, which I plan to help fill along with a handful of other writers out there in the world.  I once read that crime novels reflect a piece of society back on us?  I hope that in writing about Frank’s life I’m able to do just that,  but only time will tell.

Thanks for reading.  In return for your attention here’s a small “reflection of society” from the short story “Pain” that’ll be published soon on http://heatedforest.com

Pain was the name on the streets.

It was a name that carried with it enough power that the crooked Narco detectives out of the 25th district on Chicago Avenue didn’t even attempt to pull Pain over and rob him for what he was worth (possibly millions) because they knew he was paid up to the right people.  The kind of people who could force a cop into early retirement with half the pension.  Plus, it didn’t hurt that he was backed by cold-blooded killers who could go out and make whole families disappear in the dead of night, and then return home and make love to their girlfriends as if it were nothing.

Pain was a name that warranted fear; and it was that fear that churned deep down inside Dr. Jesse Crain’s stomach when the bone-colored SUV with its dark-tinted windows pulled up to the curb of his mother’s two flat brick home, which he had just recently sold, and the back door was thrown open wide like a venus flytrap.

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So what’s going on

December, 8, 2010

I know, I know, I’ve been away for a while.  Don’t stone me.  It’s been for a good reason, I’ve been off writing.  Yes, the passion that fuels the fire, but seriously, I have been writing.  For the last few months I’ve been working on a “Big Project” for a publisher and today I can finally say that the project I’ve been laboring on is a graphic novel based on a little spiritual monk called the Dalai Lama.

Yep, the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet.  That’s the one.

Getting to this point has been a long road and it’s not even over, in fact, it’s just beginning.

In between writing the Dalai Lama graphic novel I have been writing a new novel entitled, “Blue Religion” it’s a follow up to my first novel, “Only the holy remain”, which is under consideration with a publisher as I write this.  But that’s not all folks!  I’ve also written a graphic novel entitled, “Virgin Wolf” which should see the light of day in the first quarter of 2011.  I’m writing a six issue mini-series for a creator entitled, “One Nation” and I’ve recently adapted some scenes from a screenplay into a comic book, which I’ve been told is going into the hands of a man by the name of Will Smith.

Told you I’ve been writing.  I guess I should also mention that i’ve written a Neo-noir/thriller graphic novel entitled “Dime”, which is in production and will most likely be published in 2011.  In between all this i’m also writing a screenplay with the soon-to-be great director Aaron Lewis on a untold and unfathomable World War II story that can be summed up as “Schindler’s List meets Band of Brothers.”

There’s so many more projects that I can’t even speak about but as things move forward I promise I’ll keep you all up to date.

Now that you’ve done some reading for the day I challenge you to go write.  That’s right, Challenge!

Here’s an answer from the great crime writer Michael Connelly when I asked him what advice would he give aspiring writers. It’s been a response that’s always lit a fire under my ass.  Hope it helps.

“Don’t wait. If it’s what you want to do then start practicing now. Your life experiences will catch up with you and then it will start to happen.”

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First POV or Third POV?

June, 24, 2010

First point of view or third point of view?   That is the question.  It’s a parable that I’ve been wrestling with for a few months as I’ve tried to decide which point of view fits my novel.  To better understand the way my kooky mind works you have to understand that I originally wrote “Only the holy remain” in third person and then I changed it to first person then back to third before realizing that the character’s voice better served the narrative in first person.

I came to this conclusion after listening to the character.  Yeah, that’s right, I said, “listening to the character”.  I know it sounds crazy but in truth it’s some of the best advice I was ever given.  Listening to the character allowed me to find Frank Calhoun’s voice and in essence it allowed me to find my own.  No longer did I feel as though I was imitating, and at times, parodying the works of other writers that had come before me.  By allowing myself to be open to listening to the voice of my character I started to see that I was blazing my own trail, or in my case, going down my own dark alley and discovering what was around the corner.

As a writer, especially a crime writer coming from the tough streets of Chicago’s West side, I felt that I had a love/hate relationship with cops.  At one end of the spectrum I lived by the unwritten street code that cops, and I do mean all cops, are bad.  But on the other end of this spectrum I loved detective stories, and even felt a working class kinship (if it can be called that) to the everyday patrol officers.  Now I know that every cop isn’t bad, but I’ve run into a lot of them that give the phrase “one bad apple” a strong conviction.  I’ve also known some very bad criminals, which I could say the same about.

I guess this is why I wanted to write crime and suspense-thriller fiction, or more so, I wanted to write about “crime” without writing just about cops or just about criminals.   I guess this is how “only the holy remain” came about.  You see, I wanted someone like Frank Calhoun that understood the reasoning of having a legal system, but also understood that the streets lived by its own laws.  I wanted a character that could blur the lines between the two worlds when needed, but not cross them, and more importantly, I wanted a character that came from a different part of Chicago.  A Chicago I’ve never read about (so far, unless you count Native Son) but I knew existed.  A Chicago that is grey and where only the holiest of those that believe in a brighter day fight to survive and remain.

This is why first POV worked for me.  Because It allowed me to do all those things, but I wouldn’t have been able to do them unless I had allowed myself to listen to my character and follow his every command.

Read the first chapter of Only The Holy Remain here

Next update:  Writing an animated Bible.  You might as well just write a novella.

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Looking forward

May, 26, 2010

I know I’ve been away, but for good reason.  I just graduated with my Masters in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago.  Yep, one small step or something like that.   Trust me, it’s been a loooooong road that I’ve had to travel.  And in truth my journey is just beginning.

Now, that I’m officially a graduate I can no longer hold on to my internships and must now go into the world and work.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to work, I love to work hard and earn a good buck.  I’ve been working since I was 12, but that’s a story for another day.

Today is about giving you, my audience, a glimpse into my creative world.  Over the past few months I’ve been writing my life away.  Currently I have three new comic book ideas in development as I speak.  And by development I mean that right now they’re being drawn.

Here’s a run down of what they are.

Guilds is a fantasy story about a young street performer named Adrian who discovers she is the last living heir to a magical armor called the Armor of Osiris. Haunted by a merciless warrior by the name of Brun the Skinner, Adrian finds herself accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, each a different species from a guild that helped to create the armor, as she sets out to assemble Osiris Armor and unlock it’s secrets in order to destroy the greatest evil her world has ever known…Shadazar the blighted.

In The Dead Of Night is the story of Detective Jimmy Bones and his Partner Frank Estrada who are investigating murders that could be linked to a serial killer who is copying one of the first serial killers in the world: Jack the ripper.  With every crime scene Detective Bones discovers a clue, which helps him draw one step closer to catching the killer, but could these clues also be leading the killer to his most prized victim:  Detective Jimmy Bones.

Palm is the story of Paris Milano.  A young college educated Sicilian woman that returns to her hometown to discover that the local Mafia Don has killed her family.  This in turn sends Paris on a wild and vengeful journey to America where she seeks Vengeance against the man that had her family killed.  Torn between falling in love with the FBI agent that’s trying to capture her and revenge, Paris will have to decide if the blood on her hands is worth the price of her heart.

So that’s about it for now on the comic side of things.  I’ll talk more about my 200-page graphic novel in another post.  All I can say at this moment is that all the pencils are in.

I’ve also been writing a feature screenplay called “Relics” it’s an action adventure, thriller in the vein of Angels and Demons.  Right now, I’m doing a rewrite on it.  I hope to share it with you soon.  Ah, what the hell, here’s the first few pages.  Enjoy!

Now for you that continue to read on I’ve also been writing the animated series bible for Guilds.  Let me tell you, writing series bibles are not fun.  Especially for animated works because there’s so much building up of the world and characters, but I can’t lie, it’s been a lot of fun.

Now some of you may be saying, “how can you write so much” and I’ll tell you my secret.  Now read this slow and out loud so you don’t forget it.  Here’s my secret.  I sit down and write.  Simple as that.  I give myself a deadline to keep myself motivated, but I sit and write, even when it’s not going well I write.  I tend to write in the morning or late and I do mean late at night.

Now this little update seems to be going on longer than I anticipated.  So I’ll talk about the webisode I wrote that will be shooting at the end of June in another update.  Yep, one small step.

But for now let me leave you with this little bit of advice.  Write from your heart.  Believe wholeheartedly and sometimes foolhardily that what you’re writing is meant for you to write no matter what some may say.

Till next time.  In the words of Veto Corleone, “Every man has but one destiny and in that destiny is his ultimate fate”.

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Rock Church Vol 1. 2 News and things

January, 4, 2010

Welcome to another installment of Rock Church.  This here is where I stand on my soapbox and try to inform the world about the events going on in my life.  So the New Year has started off pretty good and I’m going to share some exciting news with you.  First, the image that you see to your left is taken from the Virgin Wolf Graphic novel.  It’s been a work in progress for quite some time, but I’m happy to say that there is a contract on the table to publish it, which means VW could see the light of day this year!

I’m currently adpating a screenplay into a comic book script for a publisher.  I know, isn’t that backwards?  To some extent, yes, but that’s a discussion for another day.

I recently received a phone call from a friend during the holidays and he wanted to thank me for helping him get his life together.  When I asked him what he meant, he said “that my work ethic had inspired him”.  I thought about this afterwards and it brought me back to one of my old mottos:  While you sleep I write.  I know it sounds a bit corny or even old school, but it’s a motto that in some respect sums up everything I’m trying to do out here in LA; and that is to write.  Not just novels, graphic novels, screenplays or teleplays, but to be open to writing everything and anything I want.  That is the ultimate goal.

So with that said my dear friends I challenge you to write while I sleep.  To invest in yourself as a writer and to beleive wholeheartedly that your mission in life is to write because if you don’t I will be writing while you sleep.

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Rock Church Vol 1.1

December, 23, 2009

If you’re wondering what’s with the title it’s from a Langston Hughes short story.  Now on to the sermon.

Okay, so I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated the blog but I have a good reason.  I’ve been writing.  Well, not only have I been writing, but I’ve also been working with animator and writers to bring to life two animated projects.  One of which I’m producing.

Yes, producing.  It surprises me, too, but I’ve decided to do it.  So I’ll keep you posted as things move forward.

So for now lets talk about the now.

Recently I lost my notebook, which had my second working novel “Blue Religion” in it.  Yep, I write long handed.    So the adventures of Frank Calhoun have been stymied as I try to crawl back into the writing and find my footing.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve not been writing.

Recently I just finished writing my second pilot “Soul Survivor” and I as I write this I’m writing my third pilot “Specter P.I.” which is about a down and out private detective who inherits ghosts from his uncle, which helps him become a better detective.

But that’s not all.  I’ve recently been tapped to adapt a screenplay for a publisher into a graphic novel and I’ve been asked to pen a short story for a literary magazine.  Yeah, that’s an honor and I’m hoping that segues me back into writing Blue Religion.

I have a few other projects in the making, but I can’t really say what they are until they’re completed, plus I’m sure you’d rather hear about the good news instead of being tantalized with it.

So with that said, happy holidays and lets start a new sermon real soon.

-Alverne

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