Friday, February 2, 2018

Everything Was Better in the ‘80s



I miss the ‘80s. That decade took place while I was aged between 5 and 15 years old. A strong argument could be made that it was the best decade ever for pop culture. Sure, most people I guess look back on their childhood/early teens and have fond memories and sometimes Father Time taints those memories with nostalgia and gives them an even sweeter taste than they originally had. One thing is for sure: The 1980s was a special decade. Just look at what’s going on in the film/TV/music industry right now. Everything seems to be a throwback to that beloved decade. From new TV shows with a retro vibe like “Stranger Things” to the current talks of a “Magnum P.I.” reboot, to the Synthwave music movement that is here to stay (inspired by Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder and John Carpenter’s music), to all the movie sequels based on ‘80s properties like “Blade Runner 2049” and the new “Star Wars” films. The ’80s are back in a major way. But there’s nothing like the real thing, the genuine article. I’m talking about going back to the source and enjoying what was really made in the ‘80s.
It was the best time in any era to be a kid when it came to cartoons. Us boys had He-Man, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while the girls had Jem, She-Ra, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony and dozens more. TV shows were colorful, light, and so much fun; this was the decade of Miami Vice, The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard, Magnum P.I., MacGyver, Dallas, Dynasty, Cheers, Night Court, Family Ties, Full House, Married With Children, Growing Pains and a slew of others that would go on to become all-time classics.
It was also the decade that put video games on the map, first with Atari 2600 and ColecoVision with their classic straightforward games like Asteroid, Centipede, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong moving forward to the birth of Nintendo and Sega with Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Mega Man, Contra, Double Dragon, Castlevania, Altered Beast, After Burner, Tetris, and Out Run to name only a few. As an avid comic book collector, it was the best of times, smack in the middle of the Bronze Age of comics, enjoying all kinds of crossover comics and big event limited series like Secret Wars, Crisis, the birth of The Punisher, Chris Claremont’s legendary run on the X-Men and mutants revolutionizing the comic book industry, DC heroes being given a very first reboot, including John Byrne’s revival of The Man of Steel, and many independent comic book publishers saw the light of day during that era.
























Some of the fondest memories of my life stem from watching baseball; our beloved Montreal Expos had the best team in all of baseball from 1981-1983 and if it hadn’t been for a cruel twist of fate, they would’ve won the World Series. My hometown of Montreal, which no longer has a Major League Baseball team since 2004, had one hell of a run in the ‘80s up until 1994. Not to mention all the various baseball cards that came with a stick of gum and the sticker albums; it seems baseball card collecting was one of the biggest trends growing up in the ‘80s and would go on to reach new heights in the ‘90s when collecting cards in general became a hot topic.
























As a young boy discovering the wonders of music and the video clips of MTV (MuchMusic here in Canada), it was pure magic to witness Pop/Rock artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, and Phil Collins come into their own. Rap music was taking flight with the Beastie Boys, Ice-T, Public Enemy, and Run DMC. New Wave took the world by storm with Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, New Order, Tears for Fears, A-Ha, Soft Cell, Simple Minds and a plethora of others. Hair metal/bubblegum rock was at its best. The lyrics might not have meant much but they made up for it in style and pizzaz; bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Poison, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Ratt, Whitesnake, Cinderella, Twisted Sister, and Quiet Riot were the soundtrack of my youth. The arrival of more heavier-sounding bands like Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer were a taste of things to come and are still around today. It was also the era of teen bop and boy bands: Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, and New Edition. Find me a girl who grew up in the ‘80s who didn’t have a poster of the New Kids on the walls of her bedroom!

What left the biggest mark on me though were the movies. No other decade is responsible for more of my favorite movies. Where do I start? The Star Wars phenomenon really took off like a rocket in the ‘80s with the release of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” accompanied by more toys and licensed merchandise than anyone could buy in a lifetime. Same goes for the Superman craze of the ‘80s, to a lesser extent. There were all kinds of amazing fantasy and sci-fi films like “Blade Runner”, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”, “The Thing”, “The Dark Crystal”, “The Neverending Story”, “The Last Starfighter”, “Tron”, “Labyrinth” and two tons more. Some of the funniest comedies ever came from that decade as well, from the teen comedies of John Hughes with “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Pretty in Pink”, and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” to what I like to call the Eddie Murphy Factory (back when he was in his prime, he was killing it!) with “48 Hours”, “Trading Places”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “The Golden Child”, and “Coming to America” along with two filmed shows of the best stand-up comedy gigs of all-time with “Delirious” and “Raw.” Fun genre-bending movies like “The Goonies”, “The Ghostbusters”, “Weird Science”, “Howard the Duck”, “Gremlins”, “The Back to the Future Trilogy” to more adult-oriented/frat gems like “Stripes”, “Caddyshack”, “Porky’s”, “Police Academy”, “Heathers”, and the “National Lampoon” movies. The ‘80s was the Golden Age of horror films with the slasher craze in full swing helmed by “Halloween II”, “Friday the 13th”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Child’s Play” and a bunch of knock-offs (many of which went on to become cult classics in their own right). It also spawned horror classics like “Re-Animator”, “Hellraiser”, “Fright Night”, “The Fly”, “The Lost Boys”, and “Poltergeist” to barely scratch the surface. You had a lot of music-driven movies like “Fame”, “Purple Rain”, “Flashdance”, “Footloose”, and “Dirty Dancing.” More than any other actor, Tom Cruise pretty much had a small industry to himself with the string of hits he had in the ‘80s: “Risky Business”, “Top Gun”, the lesser-known Ridley Scott fantasy classic “Legend”, “Cocktail”, “The Color of Money”, “Rain Man”, and “Born on the Fourth of July” all contributed to solidify his superstar status. Other films in various genres come to mind that are staples of the ‘80s for which you’d have a hard time finding someone who isn’t aware of them like “Scarface”, “Platoon”, “Wall Street”, “Fatal Attraction”, “Robocop”, and “Die Hard.”

































Perhaps most of all when it comes to movies, the ‘80s will be remembered for the onslaught of action movies and the dawn of the age of VHS. Straight-to-video movies were all the rage and The Cannon Group became a giant purveyor of ninja/martial arts and B-movie flicks. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Norris became legends in the ‘80s. Arnie went from “Conan the Barbarian” to “The Terminator”, blowing up the bad guys as Alyssa Milano’s dad in “Commando” to fighting a space hunter in “Predator” to dabbling in comedies like “Twins.” Sly continued his successful “Rocky” series, defeating Mr. T and Ivan Drago, and then he became the iconic “Rambo”, Marion Cobretti in “Cobra”, went to jail in “Lock-Up”, and also dabbled in comedy with Dolly Parton in “Rhinestone.” Chuck Norris, the unkillable, God-like hero whose celebrity status is legendary nowadays thanks to thousands of funny memes floating around the Internet started out the decade with the great ninja flick “The Octagon”, rescued Vietnam POWs in “Missing in Action”, got his Texas Ranger freak on in “Lone Wolf McQuade”, fought a Michael Myers-type evil in the under-rated horror film “Silent Rage”, saved America from a Russian invasion in “Invasion U.S.A.” and rid the world of terrorists in “Delta Force.” The ‘80s also saw a revival of the Bruce Lee craze from the ‘70s, introduced North American audiences to Jackie Chan, saw the birth of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Jeff Speakman, went through the ninja craze with Michael Dudikoff’s “American Ninja” movies and Sho Kosugi’s string of classic ninja flicks “Enter the Ninja”, “Revenge of the Ninja”, “Ninja III: The Domination”, “Pray for Death” and half a dozen more.
It was the decade of BMX bikes, where skateboarding peaked in popularity, everyone had a Rubik’s Cube, owned a Speak & Spell, played Pogo Ball, knew someone who had a Teddy Ruxpin, rolled their eyes at the Cabbage Patch Kids, were disgusted with the Garbage Pail Kids, had fluorescent shoe laces on their sneakers, wore the most colorful clothes and hairdos you’ve ever seen, we’d all rather forget the Mullett, the Reebok Pump shoes were selling like hotcakes, you couldn’t go out without crossing paths with someone listening to music on one of those yellow Sony Walkman, Jordache jeans were giving Levi’s a run for their money, arcades were always packed, Nintendo introduced Game Boy and changed the face of hand-held gaming, we all clicked away on our Polaroid cameras, the infant age of home computers had just begun, and last but not least, cassette and VHS tapes were responsible for millions of hours of memorable music and movies.
I’m sure I forgot a lot of stuff. These were some of my favorite memories/things from the ‘80s. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t miss that magical decade as I’m constantly reminded of it by the music I listen to, the movies I watch, the memories that are forever etched in my mind. I’ll always look back on it with a child’s eyes and heart, maybe with a little too much nostalgia, but it’s all good and it doesn’t hurt anyone. Whenever life gets too much to handle, I think back to that enchanted childhood I had and it helps make things a little easier. I’m very grateful to have been an ‘80s kid. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. What about you? Are you a child of the '80s? What do you remember/miss the most?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Here's to a happy and healthy 2018!

Happy New Year everybody! I've been mostly on sabbatical from writing these past two years and dealing with a lot of stuff in my personal life, so that's why you haven't heard from me. I'm back now and I have a brand new novel, a thriller, that will be published in September 2018 titled OBLIQUE which I penned under my Neal Vandar pseudonym (an anagram of Alan Draven). I've also begun work on IN MEMORIES WE TRUST, a Sci-Fi novel that I'm penning under my Chris Kubrick pen name, the one I use when I write Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Stay tuned in the months to come for more updates. Until then, stay safe and have a terrific 2018!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here's to a happy 2016!!

As we are about thirty-six hours away from a new year, I'd like to take this moment to wish all of my readers and fans a very happy 2016. May you be healthy, in love and prosperous in this new year. The year 2015 has been a rough one for me both on a personal and professional level. It was a year of transition and as I'm about to begin my tenth year as a professional writer (where does time go), I am confident that 2016 will be full of promise. I'll be shopping around book 1 of my Atlantia series in the mid-list publishers, looking for literary representation to be able to submit my mainstream thriller (and what I deem to be my masterpiece) Oblique to the big pubs in NY and around the US. I'm also about to begin writing a brand new urban fantasy/romance novel set in Bitternest (a first in over three years) titled Midnight, and working on a screenplay or a graphic novel during the second half of the year. 

It's been quiet writing-wise during the past eighteen months and you haven't heard or seen much of Alan Draven, but I'm about to resurface in a big way. Keep your eyes peeled to this blog and on my Facebook fan page for all the latest details. Until then, may your trip to 2016 be a safe one and I'll see you on the other side of the rainbow.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time for a reboot!!!


First of all, since this is my first post of the year, I'd like to wish all my readers, old and new, a very successful year 2015 in all your endeavors. I'm back to writing (or rewriting, I should say) from a near six-month hiatus. I was creatively drained and needed to recharge the battery. I'm currently working on the second draft of OBLIQUE, my first mainstream thriller which I've penned under the name Neal Vandar (an anagram of Alan Draven for those of you paying attention). I'm hoping to be done sometime early April. Then I'll move on to the third and final draft of the first book of my sci-fi/fantasy epic series ATLANTIA which I've penned under the name of Chris Kubrick. Different pen names for different genres to keep it fresh. I'll keep you posted on what will happen next once these manuscripts are finally completed to my satisfaction. In the near future, I have an urban fantasy novel in mind that I’ll write as Alan Draven and which will take me back to my fictitious city of Bitternest (I really miss that place!), and my very first (gasp!) romance novel under a yet to be determined pen name.


As you may have noticed in the past couple of days, the majority of the pictures are gone from my blog, dating all the way back to my first post in 2011. This spontaneous combustion is due to a freaky sync issue between Blogger and Android (don't ask). Since a lot of those images weren't on my hard drive (or backed up anywhere), they are gone forever. So while the posts remain, the images won't return. I was debating whether to delete the entire history of this blog since 2011 because quite frankly, it looks a little bland right now, but I think I'll just leave it as is as a testament of my evolution over the last four years.


So you can consider this post a reboot of my blog. It's not just a reboot of this digital version of me, but a new beginning for me as a writer as I’m weeks away from taking my writing career to the next logical step and to the major leagues. I intend to submit the two manuscripts I'm working on to literary agents in the hopes of finding bigger, more mainstream publishers. At this juncture in my career, after nine years of writing and having half a dozen books published under the Alan Draven pseudonym, nearly a dozen short stories published in various anthologies/magazines/e-zines, it’s high time I started making a name for myself. Also, perhaps just as important at this point, to finally start making decent money from my writing.


While it’s an honor to be read in the small press, there comes a time when a writer must look at the bigger picture and decide that the time has come to start earning what his/her books and stories are really worth. After all, my books are so dear to me and I invest so many countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears that it just doesn’t make sense anymore for me to have them published to an audience of only a couple of hundred people. I’m still at a level where very few people even know I exist, in the grand scheme of things. I need a push, hence why I’m trying to make the leap to other genres than the horror/dark suspense genre I’ve used as stomping ground for the better part of my career.


In closing, there can be no future without the past. I’d like to use this opportunity to direct you to quick links on Amazon in Canada and in the US if you’d like to purchase my books, whether it’s in good old paperback format or Kindle and other types of e-books. You’ll find everything you need to know below as well as a plethora of reviews on each book’s respective product page that will give you a second opinion if you’re hesitating. I am very proud of all these books. They represent a perfect snapshot of me at the time they were written. As usual, your support is greatly appreciated.


 BITTERNEST (2007) (iUniverse) Out of print but you might find used copies





THE BITTERNEST CHRONICLES (2010) (Pixie Dust Press)





FRACTURED TIME (2011) (Black Bed Sheet Books) 



Black Bed Sheet Books (Direct from publisher Website)



SPOOKY SHOWCASE (2012) (Pixie Dust Press)





NOCTURNAL OFFERINGS (2013) (Black Bed Sheet Books)



Black Bed Sheet Books (Direct from publisher Website)



HEROES OF THE NORTH: OCTOBER DAWN (2013) (MSD Publishing)




And now for some downloadable free stuff: 










Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween is here!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, folks! I'll be scaring kiddies in my Frankenstein outfit tonight, handing out chips and chocolates. Then I'll treat myself to a double bill of vintage '70s horror classics: "Tales from the Crypt" (1972) followed by "Vault of Horror" (1973). And tomorrow it's an all-out horror movie marathon all-day with a delicious pizza and red wine dinner. What will YOU be doing to celebrate?

I'm currently on a well-deserved writing break after being quite prolific these past three years, having written four novels and two novellas. I plan on resuming fiction writing sometime early in 2015, once I've recharged my creative battery. But in the meantime, I'll be starting a long-term non-fiction collaborative project. I won't divulge anything about it for now apart from saying that it will be an ongoing project that will most likely take over a year to achieve, resulting in a wonderful book. I'll tease you a little more about this in the coming months.

Again, have a happy Halloween, be safe trick or treating if you have kids, and enjoy those horror movie marathons; 'tis the season, after all!




Monday, June 23, 2014

Reviews and interviews...

I'm really bad at making updates. Another three months went by and I haven't updated my blog. In the course of that time, I received a handful of reviews and did two interviews. Here is the link that will direct you to the interview I did for BloodBorn Magazine and the great review they did of Nocturnal Offerings.


I was also interviewed by Readers Lane and they provided a glowing review of Nocturnal Offerings as well.


On the writing front, I'm about three weeks away from finishing the first draft of Oblique, my man-on-the-run thriller. This one is quite the mind-fuck, ladies and gents. I think you'll have a lot of fun reading about all its twists and turns. That's it for now. Have a great summer and don't forget to bring an Alan Draven book with you if you're going to the beach or camping; they're good summer reads!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

First update of 2014!

Well, spring is here ... technically, anyways, since it's snowing hard outside and there's already a significant accumulation on the ground. Did I ever mention I hate winter? Yeah, with a passion. I don't do winter sports, heck, I'm even more of a recluse in the winter, only venturing outside when I absolutely have to (to buy food and to go watch live wrestling PPVs at the local theatre, amongst other things). Anyhow, I can't wait for the real spring to finally arrive. The smell of nature being reborn, longer hours of sunshine, barbecues on our terrace, taking long walks with my sweetie, going for drinks outside at the local pub; good times!

I've been busy all winter finishing up the first draft of the first book of my Sci-Fi/Steampunk/Fantasy book series titled Atlantia which will span seven books and cover a period of 400 hundred years. It's my most ambitious project to date and it was quite gruesome at times to write, taking its creative toll on me. I often felt very much out of my element. A challenging book to write, but I did it and I think it's a very good one at that. After seven long months, I finished the first draft and after another two solid months of rewrites, the second draft is now done. Soon I will send it to my editor then I'll set it aside until January 2015 at which point I'll go over the manuscript for a final third draft and I'll begin writing Book II. After that, it'll be going out to literary agents in the hopes of landing a major publishing deal. I'm very excited at the prospect of what lies ahead at this juncture in my career.

In the meantime, I've just begun writing what I like to call a man-on-the-run type thriller under a brand new pseudonym which I won't reveal for the time being. This book is titled Oblique and after two weeks, I've already written 41 pages and several chapters are outlined in great detail; not bad for a part-time writer! This will be the first manuscript I submit to literary agents, sometime later this summer. This is a brand new phase in my career that I like to refer to as Phase II. It took me eight years to get to where I'm at and I've done pretty good for myself, with half a dozen books published in the Horror and Dark Suspense genres. Now I need to crack open the bigger doors that will one day permit me to write for a living. That's always been my dream and my goal. I can feel that I'm getting closer and closer, and I'm more focused than ever in doing everything in my power to ensure that I accomplish what I set out to do.

I'll keep you posted on my progress and various happenings from time to time. There are no new books from me planned in the near future; my two most recent ones were published last fall and are available everywhere online in print and ebook formats, so pick up a copy if you haven't already done so: Nocturnal Offerings, which I consider to be my Horror masterpiece, and Heroes of the North: October Dawn which I wrote for the Heroes of the North web-series/comic book franchise. Until next time, stay safe and keep reading!