Back To the Ripperton

Tomorrow morning, bright and early my son Jamie and I head out for our annual summer camping trip. This year is a special initiation of sorts–I will be teaching him to fly fish. No, it’s not the Ripperton River from the Zxap Jacket. Indeed, Jamie’s home waters will be as far from mine as possible in the 48 states. I learned to fish in NY State on the Esopus River and Schoharie Creek, both tributaries of the Hudson flowing from the Catskill Mountains. Jamie will learn to fish on the Kings River and its feeder streams in California. How different they feel and appear yet how similar will be the feelings each evokes in the initiate. Sometimes I pause to reflect that my third child, my younger son, is a Californian. His mountains are the Santa Monicas and the Sierras. Mine were the Catskills and more generally, the Appalachians. The western world is bold and dramatic with towering peaks and snow covered rocky faces that feed icy water into swift and steep falling rivers. My mountains–those which are so sorely abused in the Zxap Jacket, are older, softer, tree covered autumn carpets with gentler waters feeding into occasional falls and cascades. One can walk the eastern streams in waders most of the year if willing to face the cold. Not so out here where the rivers pull with a vengeance and the waters remain cold most of the time. Of course, dam flow is always dangerous anywhere.

It will be a challenge to fit my Catskill experience to these waters, let alone teach my 11 year old. Fly fishing is a form of mediation in a way. He may not be ready for it, or may simply find it out of sync with his i pod driven universe. But he is an open minded lad and the mountains of Sequoia Park and Kings Canyon are wonderful with or without a rod. We will certainly have fun. His older brother caught his first fish on Schoharie Creek. Some of my fondest memories are playing in the creek with my little girl in one of the local ponds, the mayflies rising, the shadows dancing under the
heavily leafed trees across the shining riffles.

It cannot help but bring me to the Ripperton, though, and its sparkling clear, acid dead waters. I hope that my children’s children will not have to experience the fiction I have anticipated. The gentle valleys of the Catskills are so beautiful and steeped in American history and lore. Whenever I pick up my reel, tie on a leader or change a fly,
I find those fondest images of my home waters there to greet me. I hope this is the beginning of many for Jamie, but either way, he is sure to connect with the water as he has never done before.

Location, location, location

During my interview taping of the Authors Show, Don McAuly asked me about my choice of NYC and State for the location of the Zxap Jacket.
Having grown up in the NY area, and having spent my first 14 years as a professional musician in the Metropolitan area, NY is a place I know fairly well. It is also the place where I developed my deep love of sci fi, discovering Phillip K Dick, William Gibson and Stanislaw Lem in particular. New York in the 70s and 80s was quite different from what it is today. It was shabbier and seedier. Crime was worse and neighborhoods were in decline all over the city. Having been back to NY recently and witnessing the ‘revival,’ if one will accept that tag, it is obvious that the City does go through major and perhaps cyclical changes. It is thus not a fantastic stretch to assume that things will turn down again at some point–whether within my time frame or not is really not important. It is the idea of a changing an dangerous landscape that is important, give or take a decade or two if need be. The emergence of powerful nationally ranging gangs is really just an extension of the gang culture of the 90s into the present. The Zxap technology is also just an extension of what we are already living with, in many ways.

I would also add that NY is a most fascinating environment physically and culturally. Its age, and the contrasts created by its age serve a story teller. My personal experiences as a young musician took me all over the city, through the neighborhoods both beautiful and terrifying, in the transit system, out in the night life and on the streets. Especially when I was hungry and starting out, the images burned hard into my memory–the harsh and the gentle, the beautiful and the vulgar.

The Authors Show Interview

I just finished an interview on The Authors Show: with host, Don McCauley.
It was fascinating. We delved into the essence of The Zxap Jacket, my feelings about it’s message, the locations and the origins of the characters. Our discussion helped me to pinpoint some of my less obvious influences. As a sci fi fan and now a novelist, the impact of Isaac Asimov, Phillip K Dick, William Gibson, Frank Herbert and the like is to be expected, but it is perhaps less obvious that an author like Michael Shaara could impact my writing. As a composer, my scores often take a POV, whether to shadow a character, play the action, create general tension or sweeten the mood. In all these circumstances, the music is “viewing” the picture from a specific
perspective, often that of a character–or the audience. In the Zxap Jacket, my experiences scoring behind the picture impacted my
decisions concerning POVs. I chose to follow multiple points of view–Detective Zinski, Max Zxap, his scientist DR Clofsted and Zinski’s girl friend. Although the major thread follows Zinski, I deleiberately turned the ‘camera’ and the ‘score’ on the others at times. Reality is relative. One man’s challenge is another’s opportunity.

As for the interview, keep tabs on the site. They will post the air date after the editors trim a bit and add the bumpers. I will
post it here for sure and on facebook and twitter.