Three Casting Ideas to Save Indiana Jones 5

While many of my generation subscribed to the fandom religion of Star Wars, my great love went for Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first movie that I can remember seeing in theaters. Being three years old, I wasn’t paying too much attention to what would become my favorite movie series. All I can remember was the classic Boulder Chase scene and my mother desperately trying to cover my eyes while Nazi faces melted off (I was probably playing with my shoes at the time and had no idea what was going on).

Temple of Doom was one of the first VHS movies that I owned.  And while I’m not much of a fan of it now, I watched it hundreds of times while I was younger. Last Crusade was brilliant, though cheesier than the first, and greatest, installment.  And while the world loathed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I was merely disappointed (I’m 50/50 on whether I dislike Indy 2 or 4 the most. It will require back to back viewings to decide). But Crystal Skull gave us a nice closure to Jones’ life as our whip-swinging hero.  He’s old, he’s married, and he has an adult son that’s probably going to disappoint him.

Being a fan, many expected me to be thrilled when Spielberg announced that Indiana Jones 5 was green-lit with Ford in the lead.  But I’m not.  Frankly, I’m worried that there will be yet another bad Indy flick that stomps on the beauty of the character.  Ford is simply too old for the role.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  Crystal Skull went out of its way to hammer home that Indiana Jones is now old and the last thing I want to see is another two hours of Old Indy struggling to hold on to his former glory.  It’s depressing.

So in order to keep Indiana Jones 5 from being just another sad case of Hollywood making a nostalgia cash-grab at an ageing franchise with aging actors, I have a few ideas that could make it the Indy movie that the character deserves.

1:  Focus On His Son (No, The Other Son)

Indiana Jones has 2 children.  There’s Mutt, the annoying biological child played by Shia LaBeouf and then there’s his REAL son, Short Round, played by Jonathan Ke Quan.


While Mutt grew up fencing at primary schools only to embrace his life as a Wild Ones wannabe, Short Round grew up as an orphan on the streets of Hong Kong until he failed his Pick Pocket roll on Dr. Jones.  The last we see him is in 1935.  So what happened to him?  The last we knew he was going back to America with Indy.

What I want:

Short Round has become a kick-ass archaeologist.  Think about it.  He’s been adventuring his entire life. Now in his early 40’s, he comes back to dad with a problem and they have to go on one last adventure.  This lets us have both Ford’s Indy and a younger version of the character that we can actually believe can swing around on a whip.  Hell, bring back Mutt for a moment where he says, “Hey, Pop,” just so Short Round (I mean, Doctor Round, just because you KNOW he’s a doctor now) can throat-punch Shia LaBeouf and say, “You call him Doctor Jones.”  Trust me, Hollywood, fans would lose their minds if this happened.

2:  Re-cast Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is the American James Bond. And when faced with an aging actor, the Bond franchise learned early on that they can just recast him.  Yes, there’s a risk. Yes, there’s going to be fans that say that only Harrison Ford can play the character. But the simple truth is that Indiana Jones is a popular franchise owned by Disney.  Disney is going to make more of them, so re-casting Indiana Jones is inevitable.  It’s going to happen.  So instead of digging our heels in like a child that doesn’t want to go to their first day of school, let’s embrace it.

Discussions of replacing him have already circulated the Internet.  Some say Bradly Cooper would be perfect, others say Chris Pratt was born for it.


What I want:

While Pratt and Cooper do look the part and could probably do an amazing job, they’re just not right for it.  Both are handsome, rugged, and have good comedic timing. However, they also suffer from the fatal flaw that they are already established Hollywood stars.  Their names alone draw crowds. If Pratt plays him, it’ll be Pratt. It won’t be Indy that just happens to be played by Pratt. We need an actor that isn’t already a super-star. We need a blank slate, an actor that comes in and makes us believe that he IS Indiana Jones.

Ford was nearly passed for the role because he was already too big of a star in Spielberg and Lucas’ eyes. When Tom Selleck wasn’t able to get out of his Magnum PI gig, they ended up going with Ford.  I suspect that it was at that time that Lucas hatched the most genius casting plan of all time…


3:  We Keep to the Plan

While it might be difficult to remember now, George Lucas was an insane genius when it came to storytelling.  Some believe that his last great moment of genius was with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989. After that, he spent the 90’s screwing up Star Wars with Special Editions, until finally ending the millennium with the screaming dog turd that was The Phantom Menace.

However, just before his mind went out, George Lucas set in motion the greatest actor handover of all time. So in 1992, he began grooming Ford’s replacement by casting a young, unknown actor as Indiana Jones.


Sean Patrick Flanery played Indiana Jones for 22 episodes of the Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones. At 45 minutes an episode, that seals Flanery’s title as the man who has spent more hours playing the character than for anyone else alive. Now Flanery is old enough to embrace his destiny and step into the movie role that he’s spent over 20 years preparing for.

What I want:

Open the movie with Harrison’s old Indy.  Give him an eye patch and some audience that asks him about some adventure in his past. Harrison sighs and begins to recount the time he once chased a magical MacGuffin. Have the scene fade as his voice continues and and we now see a familiar figure in a fedora on a grand adventure. Then the character turns to the camera and we see Sean Patrick Flanery.

Since we’re recasting with a younger Indy from the POV of Old Indy, it allows us to recast all of the roles (after all Indy’s memory might show them different than they were).  This brings us back Sallah, Short Round, Marcus Brody, Belloq (Mother of God we need more Belloq), even Indy’s dad.  In fact, this single move of Ford passing the torch in a movie transition allows us to smoothly reboot a franchise without actually rebooting it.

While you might say, “Seth, I highly doubt this was Lucas’ original plan back in 1992,” I say, “You can’t prove otherwise.”  Sure you could call Lucas up and ask him, but remember, he’s already gone on record saying that Greedo always shot first when we have scripts showing that he didn’t.  George Lucas is no longer a credible source in saying what his plan was.  All we know is that Flanery is the right age, the right look, isn’t a huge super-star, and already knows how to swing a whip.  Let’s just go with it.


As Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones would say, “Trust me.”


Fourteen Facts About Hounacier

Hounacier 2One year ago today Hounacier hit the digital shelves.  In honor of its birthday, and keeping with the tradition that I started with Dämoren’s first birthday, I wanted to share a few fun facts about it.

**Spoilers Below**

1:  Originally, Hounacier wasn’t intended to be the second novel. I’d planned to write Ibenus, followed by Hounacier as the third. However, after a trip to New Orleans, the ideas for for the story were too good not to act on, and Hounacier muscled its way ahead in line. (I have a longer blog about Hounacier’s inspirations from that trip over at Singular Points)

2:  The killers in the Missouri house with the Mistcat were partially inspired by the real serial killers, Leonard Lake, and and Charles Ng (do not read those links unless you are ready for some seriously dark and horrible shit).

3:  The line Malcolm is given about, “I bet I can guess where you got your shoes,” is a real New Orleans street hustle.  I lost $20 to it.  I have since been told by a friend that his uncle lost $50.  I suppose he should have just read Hounacier and saved a few bucks.

4:  The picture that Malcolm sets up in his room with Nick and Colin in Paris was a pre-reference to Hungry Eyes.

5:  Malcolm was a character that caused a lot of conflict for Matt in Dämoren. The move of taking a conflict character and making them the hero in the sequel was inspired by Anne Rice (I called it, “Pulling a Lestat”).  It’s just a coincidence that Anne Rice’s stories also take place in New Orleans.

6:  Malcolm is described as resembling a young Martin Sheen.

Sheen 33
Badlands, 1973

7:  The werewolf, Gulmet, refers to itself as the rougarou. The rougarou is a Cajun folklore monster believed to be a werewolf stalking the bayous around New Orleans.

8:  Flashback scenes with Gulmet take place in Greece between April and October of 1792, when a pair of lunar eclipses occurred within 6 months.

9:  The demon that Ulises kills in Haiti is an asanbosam, which is a vampire-like monster from Ashanti folklore.

10:  Gulmet mentions that there is a lamia named Niriffo that rules the Mid-City district of New Orleans with a pack of ghouls. As of the end of the novel, she’s still there.

11:  Malcolm kills 8 people while under Gulmet’s control.

12:  The original inspiration for the novel was the idea of Malcolm waking up naked and covered in blood in a French Quarter courtyard.  The trick was figuring out the story as to how he got there.

13:  Being a demonic spirit, Gulmet is sexless, though it does prefer male bodies. Gulmet is referred to as either he or she, depending on the sex of the body it inhabits. 

14:  Malcolm’s tattoos described in the book are:

  • Warding Eye on left palm (Earned with his first demon-kill. Killing Gulmet allowed him to replace it.)
  • Empathy Eye on Right Palm (You’ll have to read Hungry Eyes.)
  • Blue Scarab on wrist allows him to sense demonic entities (Earned with a triple kill. He no longer has this tattoo by the end of the novel.)
  • Smell three times better than any human.
  • Three tapered golden lines on forearm gives him night vision (Earned by killing a mistcat)
  • Stamina to stay awake for days at a time (Earned by killing a jorogumo)
  • Serpent on bicep detects poisons.

He has more, but those don’t  have as obvious of benefits.

So there you go.

If you want to give Haounacier a gift for her birthday, she’d love reviews on Amazon or Goodreads (and a huge thank you to everyone who already has).  Also, there is a list of Memorable Quotes on Goodreads.  Please click which ones you like, and feel free to add any ones that I forgot.







Eleven Facts About Mountain of Daggers

Mountain Cover FrontToday marks one year since Mountain of Daggers‘ release.

I’ve written before about the journey it took for it to finally hit print, as well as the various inspirations. But in honor of Black Raven’s birthday, I wanted to share a few bits about my roguish hero. And because there are eleven stories, I figure I should give eleven fun facts.

***Spoiler Warning***

1:  The first story, Birth of the Black Raven, was meant as a stand-alone with an open ending.  I’d never intended for it to have any sequels.  I nearly changed it to a flashback story where at the end a much older Ahren is recounting the tale to a new initiate into the Tyenee.  Thankfully, I decided against it.

2:  While most fantasy thieves are usually depicted in a cloak, Ahren always wears a wide-brimmed hat. I chose the hat because that’s what seemed the most practical for a sailor to wear. (Despite the cool appearance, cloaks murder peripheral vision.)

3:  A news article about diamond smugglers loading their goods into hollow crossbow bolts and firing them outside the perimeter of diamond mines to retrieve later is what inspired The Reluctant Assassin.

4:  Because the first story lacks any magic or fantastical elements, I wrote the The Porvov Switch to bring in demons, magic, and introduce Delakurn’s only obvious non-human race, quellens.

5:  The Ferrymaster’s Toll was originally slated to appear in Flashing Swords #13 as the featured story.  The magazine folded before it hit print. flashswordscovermockup13

6:  Originally, Mountain of Daggers was 14 stories and over 90,000 words.  When Rogue Blades wished to publish it, I was asked to cut that down to 60,000 words, add some newer stories I had already written, and release it as two 60,000-word collections. Three stories were cut and moved to Sea of Quills. Washed Ashore was originally set after Reluctant Assassin. The Gilded Noose was to take place after Darclyian Circus. The Raven’s Cage was the original closing story.

7:  The Seventh General came about after I had a new boss that immediately began pushing me out of a former job. It was also the last story written for the first collection.

8:  Dolch is inspired by the repeat villain Murdoc on MacGyver.

9:  While Ahren has a reputation as an assassin, he never actually murders anyone “on screen.” The people he’s shown killing are always armed and actively posing a threat to him or to his companions.  This was an intentional throwback to the old pulp heroes.  In The Ferrymaster’s Toll he does commit murder, but the reader only sees the bodies after the fact. He’s also shown murdering the unarmed villain in The Reluctant Assassin, but that guy was a dick and totally deserved it. 

10: Race for the Night Ruby was the second Black Raven adventure I wrote.  It’s also my favorite in the first collection.

11:  The Tyenee symbol is described as a mountain of upturned daggers.  I had no idea how that actually looked when I wrote it, but thought that it sounded cool.  When artist Dider Normand was commissioned to create the original cover art, we had to figure out what the symbol actually looked like.  It took several rounds before we had the final look.

BR - Concept MedallionsBR - Mountain Rough

Original concept sketches

Mountain Cover 1st Dr

Final Design


Actual medallion made by Campaign Coins
And you can buy one at my Store!

So there you have it. If you’d like to give Ahren a birthday present, he’s always happy to have a review or rating on Goodreads or on Amazon.




Endings: Setups Versus Cliffhangers


In the past year I’ve had multiple unfortunate experiences of reading a good book only to have it end in a Cliffhanger.  For me, it yanks the enjoyment of a wonderful story out from under my feet and leaves me feeling rather cheated. I hate Cliffhangers.

No, not this Cliffhanger

I’ve read reviews and chatted on Reddit and learned that while I’m hardly the only one, I discovered that there’s a whole lotta confusion as to what “Cliffhanger” means. I’ve even been accused of using one at the end of Mountain of Daggers. Some people confuse a Cliffhanger with a Setup.

A Setup is when a story is complete, the narrative is wrapped, and while the problems might not be over for the heroes, the reader or audience can leave there and still feel a sense of closure.  A great example would be 2002’s Resident Evil.

In it, our heroes have escaped the Hive, closing the plot narrative, but then Alice awakens to a city overrun with zombies.  The closing shot is our hero, severely under-dressed, holding a shotgun, and ready to face-down what comes next.


While the movie might end with the audience screaming, “Oh my God! I want more!” it does not end with them requiring to know the very next thing that happens to Alice in the 30 seconds following the fade to black. We leave the theater knowing that while her initial adventure is done, there are more to come.

For me, that’s the essential definition of a Cliffhanger. “Do We Need To See What Happens In The Next 30 Seconds?“. If the answer is Yes, then you have a Cliffhanger.

Cliffhangers came from the old serial shorts that played in theaters. Every episode would end with the hero in some hopeless bind, such as sinking in quicksand, falling from an airplane, and most obviously, hanging from a cliff.  The gag was used to leave viewers in suspense and make them feel obligated to come to the next movie to see how the hero makes it out.

The 1960’s Batman also used Cliffhangers to end the first half of each two-episode adventure. Leaving the audience with the line, “Tune in Tomorrow!  Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!”

“Oh no! How will they escape? I’d better tune in tomorrow.”

Aside from being a cheap ploy, the key for an effective Cliffhanger is that they are not endings.  They’re chapter breaks.  Ending a chapter with a Cliffhanger is perfectly fine.  I don’t need to wait long to get to the rest, and I’m not required to buy another ticket or book to find out.  Authors that coax me into buying a standard-sized book, only to pull a surprise Cliffhanger at the end, leaving the plot unresolved and forcing me to buy the next book, make me feel cheated. 

“But what about a series?” you ask.

Well I’m glad you asked, because I have an answer for that, too.

First, the fantasy obsession of taking a massive epic tale and breaking it into multiple parts at seemingly random points is attributed to Lord of the Rings.  However, Lord of the Rings was never intended to be a trilogy.  Tolkien’s publisher was daunted by the costs and commercial appeal of a single enormous book so they chopped it up.  Even then, readers were not forced to wait years between installments.  The entire series was published between July 1954 with Fellowship of the Ring, and October 1955 with Return of the King.  There was no waiting presidential terms between installments.  Authors that hold a story ransom and extort readers by forcing them to keep buying books are not following Tolkien’s tradition.

Second, it’s my opinion that a series with Cliffhanger endings is perfectly fine, providing it follows two simple rules:

  1. That the first book be effectively a stand-alone.  That way, readers have a moment once the dust has settled to decide if they want to keep going.  Some might say, “I’m good with this,” and simply walk away, happy that they had resolution. Or they might say, “Holy shit that was awesome! What happens next? Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” Either way, they get to decide.
  2. That each installment has a beginning, middle, and end.  While some stories might take multiple volumes to tell, there are still sub-stories within the larger plot. As long as the heroes have an obstacle and resolve the obstacle within the covers of the book, even if the much larger problem is unresolved, then that is perfectly fine.

Waste LandsA good example of this is the Dark Tower Series.  Readers can enjoy the first book, The Gunslinger, and be perfectly happy. Yes it ends with a setup, but the story is complete.  The Gunslinger chased the Man in Black across the desert and then caught him.  You can end there.  However, readers that continue the series will enjoy several self-contained adventures along the way, even experiencing the massive cliffhanger ending at the end of The Waste Lands.  That book is the only one that ends on a cliffhanger because the heroes are in an active moment of peril in the last sentence.  However, even then, the story still has a beginning, middle, and end (They enter the waste lands, they leave the waste lands.)

MistbornTrilogyEven though I say that there is a specific time that a Cliffhanger between series installments is acceptable, a Setup is much, much nicer.  Harry Potter is a perfect example of a series that follows these rules, choosing a setup, versus a cliffhanger. A reader can enjoy Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and leave there being perfectly happy. The readers that do keep going with the series are treated to small, self-contained stories that occur while the larger narrative is unfolding. Another favorite of mine in the Mistborn Series, which follows the same rules.

People that claim books like The Well of Ascension, The Republic of Thieves, or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince end on cliffhangers are completely wrong.  Yes, readers are invested in the story and are desperate to see what happens next, but in none of those stories is our hero in a hopeless situation that might kill them in the next 30 seconds. This need to know is the product of great writing and storytelling, while a Cliffhanger is merely a cheap trick used to make up for a lack of great writing.