In Honor of National Author Day I thought it would be a Great Idea to have the Wonderful Novelist Charles Conyers write a Guest Blog Post.
If you were to tell me 10 years ago that I would be a novelist, I would have laughed in your face and called you insane. 10 years ago, I had no intention of writing a novel. I was a screenwriter above all else-- that’s where my heart was...writing for the screen.
I fell in love with filmmaking when I was 10 years old, when my dad brought home a black and white video camera. From those early first attempts, making kung-fu movies with my brother Preston and our friends, and animated adventures with clay and action figures, it was clear to me that I connected more with filmmaking than anything else. At that time, I was known as an illustrator and painter-- that’s what my parents were expecting of me, that I’d go off to art school and be an animator at Disney Studios, or something like that. After seeing Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” that was the end of drawing for me. After that, all I wanted to do was make films.
OVER THE YEARS
Over the years I made several attempts to break through as a screenwriter. I wrote over a dozen screenplays, went to screenwriting conferences in LA, pitched stories ideas to agents, all that stuff. Unfortunately, the only feedback that I was getting was, “You’re a good writer, but this is unfilmable.” Which is B.S., I mean if you have the imagination for it, NOTHING is “unfilmable.” I also heard “I wouldn’t know how to sell this,” and that pushed me into taking a 10-year stint in the advertising industry to learn about “selling” creativity.
Ten years ago, after over a decade in the ad industry, then moving over to broadcast, I still wasn’t thinking about writing a novel. At that point, I had built up a library of intellectual property but had absolutely nothing to do with it. Filmmaking had become less expensive, but ten years ago I was a single father with a 2-year-old daughter. I had rent and bills to pay, and a little baby to love-- I didn’t have the time OR the energy to produce an indie film. At that point, I hadn’t been writing on my own for a couple of years (again, no time). Every once-in-a-while though, I thought about a story that I had first developed in high school and over the years would take swipes at, and add to it. It was a story that over time got bigger and more involved. It was a story that I tried to write a screenplay but got 34 pages in before I realized that there’s no way I was going to be able to sell OR make a 6-hour movie (this was pre-Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/etc). Even though I had no outlet at the time, I kept developing what I was calling “The Maximilian Emancipation.”
Nine years ago, I was sitting in my Brooklyn apartment. I had just put my daughter to bed (it was our weekend), and I was sitting on the couch watching my VHS copy of the BBC TV version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the 100000th time. I can’t remember exactly what triggered this, I just remember the thought hitting me: “What if it was a novel? What if I wrote ‘The Maximilian Emancipation’ as a novel?” At this point, I was sure I was NEVER going to get it made as a movie. I just knew I had all this writing, all this work, this big story...and it was just collecting dust. After that internal dialogue, two words came out of my mouth: “F*ck it.” That’s when I decided that I would write my first novel.
As I write this, “The Maximilian Emancipation” has been out for 4 months (released in June). There’s a part of me that still can’t believe that I actually got this book done-- years of writing, draft after draft, saving and shelling out money to get it edited, and using my skills as a fine artist, I was able to design the cover, layout, and design of the book. It’s an amazing feeling to work on something so hard, and to have people respond positively to it-- ask any artist, you can get high off of those fumes for WEEKS! It’s motivated and inspired me to continue writing. I have two more books to follow up the story started in “MaxEman” (my shorthand name), the next of which will be out in June of 2018. On top of that, I can announce that this year I am entering the National Novel Writing Month event-- which means that on the 2nd week of December, I will be releasing my 2nd novel called “Shifters,” based on a sci-fi vampire story I wrote back in the 90s.
A lot will be said about the year 2017 (mostly bad, for obvious reasons), but I will see this year as a new beginning for me as a storyteller. 2017 is the year that Charles A. Conyers, Jr. became a novelist. This journey has been a long time coming, no matter how long I’ve deferred and ignored it. I’m glad I took the chance, and I’m excited to continue.
Learn more about Charles A. Conyers, Jr., his books “The Maximilian Emancipation,” and “Shifters” (coming December 2017), and blog at: https://www.stopslaverywithtimetravel.com/
Have a Wonderful Wednesday!
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