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Lights Camera Hollywood

I've always been fascinated with the movie business. As a kid growing up in a blue-collar town in Ontario, Hollywood seemed so glamorous and full of possibility as to be otherworldly, unobtainable for normal people like me and my friends.

So I lived it vicariously, through books like Michael Tolkien's THE PLAYER, and Nathaniel West's DAY OF THE LOCUST, and Bret Easton Ellis's chronicles of the lives and depravity of rich Beverly Hills kids. Through TV shows like, sigh, ENTOURAGE and CALIFORNICATION, and movies like David Lynch's MULHOLLLAND DRIVE, and Sofia Coppola's SOMEWHERE.

I know I'm not alone in being drawn to the bright lights. Hell, that's how people wind up in Hollywood in the first place, right?

When I moved to Vancouver, I met a few people in the movie industry. And I met a lot of people who were jaded by the movie industry.

Vancouver is Hollywood North. In my neighbourhood, walking Lucy, you couldn't go three or four blocks without running into another film set.

TV shows like Arrow, Smallville, The X-Files, Once Upon A Time, all set up shop in my hood. And to people raised in Vancouver and used to the spectacle, film sets had long ago regressed to the status of mere annoyances and inconveniences, streets blocked off and people to jostle between on the way to the hair salon or your favourite pho joint.

But me, I always got a little thrill when I saw a New York yellow cab parked on my block, or a Star City PD cruiser in the lot down the street.

Once I saw a bombed out NYPD cruiser flipped over onto its roof in the middle of the downtown core. Another time, a row of futuristic Detroit PD vehicles lined up for a RoboCop chase scene.

Gus Van Sant closed a park by my house overnight for 1970s riot scene. And I can take you to the strip club where Stan Lee has his cameo in DEADPOOL; it's just a few blocks from my old place.

I just loved--and still love--the idea that these amazing, imaginative worlds are being created literally in my backyard. And that people I know are helping to create them.

The obvious question is: Where do I sign up?

Readers often ask me when my books are going to be made into movies. And I have to confess, it's something I've always dreamed about.

So far, I've made limited inroads. My first novel, THE PROFESSIONALS, was briefly connected to Twilight star Robert Pattinson, which came to very little but did expose my writing to legions of Edward Cullen fans, who I'm pleased to report are singularly wonderful and passionate human beings and with many of whom I've struck up friendships.

Pattinson never starred in THE PROFESSIONALS, but the option money did pay my rent for a couple of years, and I certainly won't complain about that.

We've had nibbles of interest on other books of mine, but thus far, no bites. THE PROFESSIONALS is the only book to be optioned, and only just the once.

My mindset when it comes to Hollywood and the movie rights to my work has often been that it's a bonus, ancillary to my real job, which is writing novels.

It's found money, so to speak. No expectations. Pleasant surprises.

And that's been fine.

But #ProjectNomad is all about challenging the status quo, and looking for new opportunity.

I've been reading a lot of articles lately about the film and TV industry. This Vanity Fair one really got me antsy.

Essentially, by any metric, the film and TV industry is starving for fresh content right now. Literary works are a hot property, because they're already fully developed and, I gather, adapting them to screen is easier than developing a whole new property.

The Vanity Fair article talks about how studios and producers are mining their bookshelves for projects.

As someone sitting on nine fully developed properties, I definitely feel like there's opportunity here.

And as someone who makes his living telling stories, and who has always dreamed of a Hollywood connection, I'm excited to try to kick the door open a little bit.

I believe there's opportunity for the books that I've already published, given a little bit of tenacity and imagination. And I also believe that writing for the screen might help fill the gaps as I try to plot my path forward on the literary side.

I have four sequels plotted out for GALE FORCE, for instance. They're unlikely to see print anytime soon.

But damned if one or two of them wouldn't make a good summer movie.

I'm dusting off my old screenwriting chops and trying to get back into practice. It's time to see what I can do to make this Hollywood dream into something real.

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