So here’s what happened.
I finally get around to doing print books. Yay, I suppose.
But actually, I do print editions of my LEXX series. And I’m really happy about that. LEXX has been a really long drawn out project for me, almost twenty-five years, with a lot of work, a lot of money, a lot of ups and downs.
In the end, I poured it all into writing the book I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. And eventually, starting in 2017, I started releasing the series as ebooks, finishing in 2021. And now in 2022, I’d done print editions.
I was happy. After all these years, all this work, I had a sense of closure, of finality. With print books, I’d taken it as far as it could go, polished it as much as I could. I had something physical that I could autograph and ship to Brian, Paul, Jeff and other people, “Here’s my tribute to your good work, have a nice life.”
It was done, I had closure and completion, and I could finally let it go, lay down the burden.
So I post on the Facebook LEXX groups that I’ve done print books, they’re all out. That’s right. For anyone who is still a fan of LEXX after 20 years, and somehow can’t get enough about LEXX through wikipedia and other Wiki’s, etc. etc., there is now an actual series of trade paperbacks chronicling the rise and fall of both Salter Street Films and the LEXX series, in excruciating detail.
Some dick write back.
“Print books are okay, I suppose. But I don’t like to read. I’d rather have an audiobook. Could you do an audiobook?”
As of June/July, 2022, literally twenty years after the show went off the air, long after almost anyone else cared, my long, long relationship with LEXX comes to an end, with the release of trade paperbacks of each of the four volume LEXX Unauthorized series, and the release of an audio-book version of volume one.
This feels significant, if only to me. But here I am, I’ve got a blog, so I’ve got a forum to talk about it.
To begin with: What is LEXX?
It’s a television series that ran four seasons from 1997 to 2002, about an organic spaceship, a ten mile long dragonfly designed to blow up planets. The ship was stolen by a wayward crew of misfits – Stanley Tweedle, a former security guard fourth class; Zev or Xev Bellringer, a rebellious wife and escaped love slave; Kai, an undead former assassin, and 790 a love-struck robot head.
Over the course of four seasons, they fought an evil empire, destroyed a planet sized bug, presided over the destruction of an entire universe, went to heaven and hell, and ended up on Earth, where things didn’t go well.
It was also a marvellously surreal and subversive show, owing as much to Barbarella and film makers like Bunuel and Jodorowsky as it did Star Trek and Star Wars. It frequently indulged surrealist and absurdist sensibilities, introducing stunning images and ideas. It was, quite simply unique.
And it was a thoroughly Canadian product, even a regional product, conceived, produced and populated by Atlantic Canadians, from Salter Street Films in Halifax. The background story of its creation and production was almost as unconventional, bizarre and entertaining as anything on camera.
I loved it.
I loved it enough to write books about it.
Well, so much for 2021. I thought I’d step back and take stock, do a year in review in terms of my career as a writer, or as an attempted writer.
The Bottom line:
All titles collected, I sold almost a thousand books this year, and legitimately made more money as a writer than I’ve ever done in my life. I released three new books this year: LEXX Unauthorized, Little Blue Marble; Axis of Andes and New World War. I had two more books almost ready to go, but couldn’t quite get the right artwork for the cover. In terms of unpublished new work wrote another novel and several short stories. Published a story in Wild Hunt Press’s anthology, Duel of the Monsters. Altogether, I think I wrote about half a million words.
I was recognized and certified as an Artist for purposes of Canada Council and Manitoba Arts Council, which will allow me to apply for grants. I did three Workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild and appeared on or presented panels for Keycon, When Words Collide and three panels for World Fantasy Convention Montreal, including a reading. Less successfully, I pitched a couple of novels to over fifty agents and a few publishers, no takers, but maybe a couple of nibbles.
All in all I think I can say I worked pretty hard at being a writer, all the while keeping the day job going. Is this bragging? I dunno. I remember something the late Lex Gigeroff said to me. “That’s a lot of work to put into such a mediocre career.”
I keep bashing my head against the wall, I’m not sure there’s a future in it. But I keep plugging away. You take your small victories when and where you can.
LEXX Unauthorized, the final volume! The amazing behind the scenes chronicle of the most brilliantly surreal sci fi series ever made. Twenty years in the making. Releasing next week! Be sure to get your copy and don’t forget to buy the previous books.
I remember the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.
Forgive me, I’m trying to promote the final book, so that means talking about it and the other books. But I’m coming to the end of my run with LEXX, this thing that’s shadowed me for twenty years, and I think that makes me contemplative.
So… the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.
It was amazing. We kind of forget that sometimes. We are so awash in stories, in film and television, books and games, there’s only so many ways to play something. After a while, we just get used to it, we get jaded, and there’s so much that becomes so predictable. Genuine surprise and wonder eventually gets dulled.
Ever have a moment where you’re watching a film or television show for the first time, and it’s so utterly formulaic, that you can literally shout out the lines before the actors do? Because even though this is the first time you’ve watched it, it is so dull, so much a part of things we’ve seen over and over, that there’s no surprise. Watching it for the first time, you can recite the actor’s dialogue and the story beats.
But what about those times when an actor says something, when the story does something that you didn’t see coming. When it’s honestly new and unexpected. Remember that thrill?
If any of you are writers or artists out there, then take this as a suggestion. Be unexpected, do the unexpected. The most interesting thing for people is not knowing what happens next. That’s what people watch for. Because if they know what’s next… why do they need to bother watching or reading? Maybe there are other reasons, but if there are, you damned well need to deliver something.
I Worship His Shadow? It was absolutely brilliant. Things happened that I wasn’t expecting or anticipating, everything was new. It was that ‘first time’ sense of wonder and excitement. I literally had no idea what was coming next, who was going to live, who was going to die, where the story was going to go, who was even important to the story, what anyone was going to say. I just had to keep watching to see what happens, I was watching without a net.
It’s odd. I’m not really a fan by nature. I liked Star Trek, enjoyed Star Wars, but I’ve never really gone overboard. I’m mostly a take it or leave it kind of guy. I go through life appreciating things, but I generally don’t obsess.
Well, maybe two exceptions. LEXX and Doctor Who. I step up for those. I like the Doctor because he’s good. I like the LEXX because they’re bizarre. Of the two, I think it was LEXX I went overboard for. Almost to the point of obsession. I wrote the book – the LEXX Unauthorized series. Along the way, I wrote fanfics, submitted spec scripts, watched, wrote and researched obsessively, I even edited together my own versions of LEXX episodes.
I make no apologies, LEXX was endlessly fascinating and anarchic, behind the scenes and on screen. There was an energy, a creativity, a sheer imagination and bravado to the show that still amazes me decades later. It wasn’t perfect, there’s a weird stunted sexuality, they suffered from too much ambition and too little money, and sometimes it went off the rails. But it’s best, it was brilliant. And more than brilliant, it was subversive and surreal.
I’m glad to have had had the access and the contacts that allowed me to research and write, LEXX Unauthorized.
Honestly – this post is just shameless self promotion. I’m trying to get you to by the last book – hell, buy all of them.
Here I am working on the fourth and final book of LEXX, and it’s a bittersweet experience.
I’m going through old notes, re-reading interviews with Lex Gigeroff and John Dunsworth, hearing their voices in my head, the friendliness, the enthusiasm, the sheer joy of life, and it saddens me to know that they’re gone. That now those voices are only in my head, triggered by the words on screen. The world is a little smaller, a little duller.
With the fourth book, I’m coming to the end of my own long journey with LEXX, and that’s also a little sad I suppose. It’s been with me for such a long time, and finishing this book, setting it loose in the world, will mean the end of something personal for me.
I’ll take a moment and be completely honest. I’m doing a bit of huckstering. I’d like to sell a few books. Honestly, I’d like to sell a lot. But I’ll settle for a few. And hell, maybe even interest some of you in some of my other work. I’m a writer, so I figured the best way to do that is to write something. Offer up something to people that they haven’t seen with LEXX, something that’s just not another publicity photo of Eva or a screen cap of Michael. Offer up myself.
You see, I genuinely believe that LEXX really was something special, something unique. That it was visually innovative and startling, that it plumbed depths or surrealism and absurdity. Everyone knows Vadim for Barbarella, or Jodorowsky or Bunel for surrealism, or Ionescu for the Rhinoceros or Ubu Rex. They teach courses in these guys, they have classes, they’re studied, people do Masters degrees and PhD’s, and I honestly think LEXX is that calibre, that innovative, that subversive and ground breaking. That LEXX is that significant, and the story of LEXX is fascinating and important.
So yes! Yes I want to sell books. When I released the first volume, I just wanted it out of my hard drive, and out in the world. But now, years later, putting all the work into it again and again, damned right I want people to read it!
Fire and Water, Heaven and Hell
Cause it’s hot and it’s cold
It’s “Yes” or it’s “No”
It’s in if it’s out
It’s up but it’s down
It’s wrong or it’s right
It’s black and it’s white
Apologies to Katy Perry
SERIES THREE OF LEXX, when everything radically. Gone were the Sci Fi adventures from planet to planet, the dark, funny, furious adventures. In it’s place was a thirteen part serial in which the LEXX was trapped in orbit around two warring planets, Fire and Water, and the crew journeyed between them, solving the mystery of Heaven and Hell. Behind the scenes, the genesis of series three was just as topsy turvy, with story roots going back before the first series was even released, driven by the crises and struggles of the second season, and wrestling with financial cutbacks. Volume three covers everything and anything to do with the third series.
WHAT IS LEXX: A ground breaking Canadian sci fi television series, created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeff Hirschfield, shot and produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Salter Street Films, that ran four seasons between 1996 and 2002.
I’m losing track of how many ebooks I have out. I think ten. Might be twelve. Whatever the number, will probably be more before the year is out.
Anyway, recently, a facebook friend asked me if a paperback version of one of my ebooks was available.
I said no.
That lead into a discussion of why I hadn’t bothered. Basically, at this point for me, it’s cost benefit analysis. Something like half or two thirds the market is ebooks, up to 95% for some writers. So how much time and effort do I want to put into doing a paperback version, when I could put that time and effort into something more useful to me… like doing another ebook, writing a novel or more short stories, looking for an agent, yadda yadda.
And to be really honest, doing a paperback seems like a lot of work for little practical return. Suppose I do a paperback. Online sales of the paperback are likely to be marginal. Like I said, maybe 95% of online sales are ebooks, and 5% paperbacks. Once the paperback is done, what do I do with it? I’m not going to get distribution through Barnes & Noble or Chapters, sorry. That just doesn’t happen.