Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Afterlife Update

Once volume 1 of Afterlife came out, I was elated at the many great reviews the book received (you can read them here if you're curious).

Since then, Afterlife has most recently been nominated by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) for its reluctant readers program.

More recently, I found out that Afterlife is going to be translated into Italian! Soon I'll have a copy of "Posteriore Alla Morte" of my very own.

Mid-Ohio Con

I recently attended Mid-Ohio Con, in Columbus, Ohio. I had many interesting visitors stop by my booth.

Ray Bradbury

I moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to pursue my writing dreams. During my youth, I wrote dozens of short stories, but I knew the days of making a living off of the form were long over. No one wanted to pay for a good short story, since no one was reading short stories. So how to make a living at my craft? Screenwriting seemed to be the answer. Though I was lucky enough to find occasional gigs rewriting B-movie scripts, they were infrequent and I often had to take different odd jobs to keep afloat. One of those odd jobs was cleaning out a garage.

Ruth Schwartz had travelled the world. She was one of the first prominent female broadcasters, had worked in the arts, and most recently retired as a Dean from UCLA's film school. She had lost her husband a year or two earlier and was now ready to dispense with the past and turn to the future. And much of that past was stored away in a two-car garage.

Stacked front to back and wall to wall with boxes, packages, clothes, books, and tools, the garage contained everything except the vehicle it was built to house. For two days, I worked with her son-in-law and his friend as we tackled the project. It quickly became apparent that this stuff was not garbage (at the very least it could have gone to Goodwill), but we were mandated to simply throw away everything within those walls.

At the end of each day, I would fill my car with boxes of things that I wanted to keep for myself or that I didn't have the heart to throw away.

The worst was the books. I salvaged several boxes worth, but still ended up throwing away hundreds. I kept some simply because they were already boxed, but those sitting loose on the built-in shelves were thrown into garbage cans, hauled down the driveway, and emptied into a dumpster. As a writer, this broke my heart.

When the job was over, I came home exhausted and sore from my labour. My car was filled with boxes that I would deliver to Goodwill the next day. However, I brought the boxes of books inside to sort through them.

I quickly scanned the titles but nothing jumped out at me until I noticed a book called "Dark Carnival," by Ray Bradbury. Growing up, I loved to read short stories and science fiction. My own short stories were often inspired by such masters as Poe, Lovecraft, and especially Bradbury. The first Bradbury book I read was "The Illustrated Man," and when I was older I came to understand the inherent sadness of "The Rocket Man," a story that my own mother and I lived through when we lost my stepfather to a helicopter crash. As time passed, I continued to add many other titles to my collection: "R is for Rocket," "S is for Space," "The October Country" (where "The Wind" stood out as a great horror story), and many more. And so, I felt my heart pick up speed when, in the third box, I caught sight of this book.

I was excited because not only was "Dark Carnival" one of the few Bradbury titles I didn't have, but I could also see it was an old book. I immediately wondered if I had chanced upon a first edition. As I cracked open the cover, I was even more amazed by what I found written on the inside cover.

The book was indeed a first edition, but more importantly it was signed, autographed from an author whose words I had read often through my youth. And there was an inscription:

For Vincent Price - A small repayment for the pleasure your fine performances have given me over the years
From Ray Bradbury
April, 1949

I couldn't believe it. Not only did the book belong to Bradbury, but it was a gift for another legend, another person who influenced and shaped me through my youth. To this day, I don't know how Ruth Schwartz obtained this book. I've told many people about it, and more than a couple of them suggested that I sell it.


To give up such a treasure would be a sacrilege to my own heart. I will always value this book, a book I believe I was meant to find, a book that almost ended up in a dumpster, a book that, ironically, almost suffered a fate right out of "Fahrenheit 451."

(Stormcrow Hayes enjoys watching the glow of brushfires in Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A. For more information visit

Friday, November 10, 2006

From Out of the Smog #1

by Stormcrow Hayes

LOS ANGELES: I'm not going to lie to you, I really hate blogs. For the most part they seem to be nothing more than published journals, rants about how unfair the world is treating you poorly on any given day. Most of these blogs seem to be updated hourly and are authored by angst-ridden teenagers and college students (after all, who else would have the time?)

Then there are the wannabe blogs. These are usually written with purpose and good intentions. The purpose could be anything from "how to break into the film industry" to "this is what's wrong with politics" or "cooking tips" from a chef trying to build a reputation. The intention is to write often and build an audience. That rarely happens.

I can't tell you how many people have sent me e-mails announcing their new blog. I promptly look the blog over, favourite it and then, maybe six months or a year later, somehow find myself bored enough to check back. Inevitably, the initial bloom of love has long since faded and the last entry, usually older than my VCR is little more than a quick comment saying, "I can't believe it's been so long since I last wrote. I'll try to keep this updated more in the future."

There are literally millions of these blogs littering cyberspace; messages in bottles, floating adrift waiting for someone to find them, hoping their message is somehow still relevant. It rarely is. This is not a blog. This is a column.

What is the difference? A blog can be about anything, insights into current events, how you feel when you listen to your favourite song, or what you had for lunch. It can be long or short, and it often has "cute" characterics depicting what mood the author was in when they wrote it. My mood when I see these things is always: annoyed. The point is, blogs can be (and often are) completely pointless.

A column should have a beginning, a middle and an end. A column needs to say something. A column should be written in a professional manner.

I will try and do all of those things (though I make no promises) in this column. However, I will warn you now that there will be no specific theme or genre to what I write. One week I may rant about drivers on their cell phones, another week I may rave about a book I read. Mostly I'll just share stories and anecdotes from my own life.

I was drawn to this column for two reasons. One, my esteemed editor and colleague, Bandula Jayasekara, promised me carte blanche (i.e., I can write whatever I want!).

Secondly, a few years ago I read "Notes from a Dirty Old Man" by Charles Bukowski. The book is a collection of columns he wrote for a newspaper. He, too, was offered carte blanche. Some of them were good and some of them weren't. That's the problem with writing a weekly column, you can't always guarantee you'll have something to say.

Nevertheless, I feel up to the challenge. I hope you'll come along for the ride. Aayu-bowan!

(Stormcrow Hayes lives with his imaginary friends in Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A. For more information visit

How ironic...

In early 2000 I went to Sri Lanka where I met journalist Bandula Jayasekara. Recently, he took over as the editor of The Daily News, an English language newspaper that's been in existence since the early 20th century. Once he became editor, he asked if I wanted to write a weekly column. I asked, "Are you serious?" He was. He also said I could write about anything I wanted to, so I agreed.

I then spent several weeks struggling to come up with an idea for my first column. Nothing came to mind.

Meanwhile, the editor of AFTERLIFE (my original graphic novel, see side links for more info) urged me to open a profile on the Tokyopop website. Grudgingly, I jumped onto the site and tried to figure out how I might draw some attention to myself. Of course, a blog is always the answer. Except that I find I dislike most blogs. So I decided to write about that.

As I began my first blog entry, I realized I was writing my first column. Of course, I had to make some changes, but I couldn't believe that a quick promotional endeavor that I was dreading would supply me with material. Of course, it serves as merely an introduction, but I think it a good one. Meanwhile, I don't think the Daily News has an archive section. So, even more to my amazement, I decided to open this blog. I guess it's time. People have told me it's necessary for an author to have one in the 21st century. We'll see. If nothing else, I figure I can post my columns.

Speaking of which, I'll post it as my second entry. Of course, you can also check out The Daily News at this link here --