Note ye ed's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned, the Halloween Midnight Ghost Show issue, in glorious black and white, was the first to reveal the impending publication of Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show. It's nice when predictions come true.
Greetings. I apologize for repeating an entry, but I'm excited that my novel Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show has finally arisen, hence am repeating the interview that we ran here in October. (It isn't every day that you get interviewed by a zombie.) Do not be deterred by the "middle grade" label. There is plenty for magicians to enjoy, both overtly (it's about midnight ghost shows, after all) and covertly (people and places bear names that only magicians will recognize).
Additional items for consideration include a podcast with IBM prez Shawn Farquhar, a podcast with Amazing Randi, a reel magic magazine interview with Brian Gillis, a YouTube clip of David Regal, and a plea for It's Magic! anecdotes and photos.
The closing shot is of my granddaughter singing in Disney's The Little Mermaid, jr. It wasn't magic, but it was magical.
HAUNTING A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU -- For those who wondered what I was talking about with the Lucas Mackenzie references at various times, my October 2014 Midnight Ghost Show issue finally cleared up the mystery. Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show is my first middle grade novel, now officially published February 24 by Month9Books, and available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you would like to see it in your local bookstore, just ask them to stock it! Meanwhile, the publisher set up a podcast for me on iTricks and created a blog tour that ran from February 23 - March 8.
Back in October, to help spread the initial word, zombie correspondent Gus Grime from radio station WZMB stopped by and interviewed me. His transcript is repeated below, modified from its original wording to accommodate a slight delay in the publication date.
The ad that got me interested in ghost shows.
GG: I am on the air with Steve Bryant, author of The Little Egypt Book of Ghosts and the Genii article "Zombieland," about magician Jack White and his Dr. Blood's Zombie Show. His latest offering is Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show. Tell me, Steve, what is your new book about?
Steve: It's a middle grade novel about friendship, family, and phantom romance.
GG: Are you being cryptic, or just alliterative? Tell me a little more about your book. What is the story?
Steve: Hmmm, I should probably issue a spoiler alert if we are going into details. How about this:
Emerging from four years of postmortem amnesia, young Lucas Mackenzie comes to realize that he is dead and his family is alive, and he yearns to get in touch with them. But Lucas is a ghost in the company of a traveling midnight theater ghost show, and contact with the living is against the rules.
Lucas keeps his attempts at contact a secret as he and his fellow phantoms hobnob with the celebrated dead at Forest Lawn, party in abandoned funeral homes, watch movies outdoors in cemeteries, vacation at Lily Dale, bowl in all-night bowling alleys, and frighten teenagers in old theaters on Saturday nights.
Can Lucas keep the show going despite dwindling audiences and a dedicated ghost hunter? Can he capture the heart of the incomparable Columbine, the show’s enchanting fifteen-year-old psychic? Can he find his way back to his once-forgotten family? Keep reading long, long into the night, to the final act, when the London Midnight Ghost Show plays in Lucas’s former home town, to surprising and afterlife-altering consequences.
GG: Delicious. Where is this story set?
Steve: As my magician friends know, the midnight theater ghost shows flourished in America from 1929 to 1960 or so. My story is set in 1959 Americana, near the end of that era. It was a fertile year for those of us who lived through it and loved all things spooky. It was the year we grinned over Charles Addams cartoons, cringed at classic and contemporary horror movies, searched for Bridey Murphy, scanned the skies for UFOs, worshipped Forrest J Ackerman and his Famous Monsters of Filmland, and anticipated Disney's Haunted Mansion. My cast of spooky thespians interacts with many of these elements as they crisscross the country giving performances.
Lucas haunts a shelf at Barnes and Noble.
GG: I'm salivating. How did the book come to fruition?
Steve: My agent is Anna Olswanger, and she's fantastic. If you hang out in the children's section of any Barnes and Noble, not that you should, you will find that many of the top titles are represented by her. That includes the recent Newbery Honor book Paperboy, by Vince Vawter. Anna hooked me up with Month9Books, the perfect home for Lucas and his pals.
GG: What is Month9Books?
Steve: Month9Books is a young publishing house (it turned two on October 31) that specializes in spooky and fantasy fiction for teens. Its motto is "Speculative Fiction for Teens & Tweens ... Where Nothing Is As It Seems!" Month9Books is one of three imprints under the amazingly multitasking Georgia McBride. Georgia has completed over 100 publishing deals in the past two years. You might like Dead Jed: The Adventures of a Middle School Zombie, by Scott Craven. For Lucas, I spent about a year working with one of Georgia's top editors, Jackie Kessler, who has credits in the Buffy universe, and the book was released February 24. You can order it today on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
GG: Now that the book is out, does this mean you'll be devoting more time to your web site?
Steve: Not quite. I signed a two-book contract, and the second book is due out in the fall of 2015. So the fun continues. Meanwhile, I hope everyone enjoys Lucas.
GG: I look forward to reading it. It would be faster for me to absorb it, of course, if I could just skip the reading and feed on your brain.
Steve: Thank you for having me on your program. I'll be going now.
It's been a light month for new material. Rather, I've spent more time than usual sampling stuff from the internet. A few unearthed gems are mentioned below
CHECKING IN WITH THE PREZ -- I have frequently applauded Scott Wells' Magic Word podcasts, and I listen to them diligently as I walk laps around the gym, as folks my age are supposed to do. A recent offering from Scott was a two-part podcast with IBM prez Shawn Farquhar. I thought, "Ah, I know all about Shawn Farquhar," and so moved on to Scott's next podcast, an interview with Nick Lewin (excellent). After all, Shawn first came to my serious attention at a Magi-fest, when he was performing his signed card to sealed deck routine as he rotated from room to room. Mike Powers and I followed him from room to room to try to figure the thing out. It was terrific. His star has only risen since, including performing the same routine for Ellen and taking the helm of the largest international magic organization, among much else. We all know him.
Shawn Farquhar reveals secrets.
But, wow, was I wrong. I didn't know squat about the stuff he reveals in Part One of the podcasts. Shawn was a major special effects consultant for movies and television, performed early on before extreme hecklers (one burned down his 13-unit apartment house), and acquired his own magic shop. Listen in: the stuff in this podcast will amaze you.
JOHNNY'S FAVORITE MAGICIAN -- Back when I was regularly writing lengthy articles for Genii and MAGIC, the one "who got away" was Brian Gillis. He is a a close-up idol of mine, a performer to the stars, and deserves to be on the cover of both magazines. A favorite memory from the Magic Castle is walking downstairs with Jon Racherbaumer, in the area that used to be the Haunted Wine Cellar stage, just as Brian was beginning a set. He performed killer close-up and then closed with two-person mind reading with his partner Sisuepahn. Just lovely.
Brian Gillis fields questions.
Brian is the cover boy for the most recent issue of Kozmo's reel magic magazine, featuring a three-part interview by Garrett Thomas. Garrett caught up with Brian at Niagra Falls and does a fine job of establishing Brian's origins (like Mike Skinner, he came from the Eddie Fechter camp), how he became Johnny Carson's favorite magician (I've watched the episode with Buddy Hacket many times, and Johnny does something amazing in this clip that I never saw until Brian pointed it out), and his ongoing career. Check it out. For five bucks a month, Kozmo has much to offer.
MY AGENDA IS SIMPLE -- "My agenda is simple. Each week I plan to bring you in-depth insights into the creative process of storytelling." With these words, Jeff Goldsmith begins each episode of his popular, thought-provoking podcast (The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith), an event that usually begins with the screening of a new movie followed by a Q&A session with the writers and occasionally the directors or actors. This is one of my favorite podcasts, must listening if you are a movie fan. A recent favorite was Jeff's 8th Annual Screenwriting Nominees group session. He's been at this awhile.
The Randi documentary.
This month, on March 3, my interests converged as Jeff visited the Magic Castle for a screening of the documentary An Honest Liar followed by an interview with its principals, Amazing Randi, director Justin Weinstein, and Randi's partner, Jose Alverez. I look forward to the film, and I hope this magic-related episode introduces some of you to Jeff's ongoing movie podcast. I subscribe to it via the iTunes store.
DAVID REGAL UNPLUGGED -- I don't even know what that means. David Regal is both a superb creator of magic and a superb performer of magic. Usually the two are intertwined, that is, I usually see him performing only his own creations. I recently tuned into one of his Castle performances, via YouTube (he has several), and in this one I was delighted to see him performing two classics, a straightforward version of Card Warp and a straightforward version of Jerry Andrus's Coins from Cards, and he got screams. It was a nice trip back to my early days at the Castle, fun to see. (Oh, not to worry: David does plenty of original material in the routine as well.)
Do you think they will notice the tear?
IT'S MAGIC! DIAMOND JUBILEE -- Those of you who read every page of the Magic Castle's March newsletter may have noticed that the dates have been set for the 60th anniversary edition of It's Magic!, Milt Larsen's internationally famous home town magic show. The dates are October 28-30, 2016, and the performances will be held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, its home for the first twenty years. As part of the celebration, Milt is preparing a new book on the history of the shows and is appealing for anecdotes and photos. If you have these, especially if you were one of the performers who helped populate six decades of magic, please send them via email to email@example.com. Ideally photos should be 300 dpi and you should include the date or dates of appearances. Please don't send original photos. We would love to receive your recollections over the next two to three months. The target publishing date is June 2016.
Share your stories with Milt.
On the left, Scuttle sings "Human Stuff" as her gulls dance behind her.
Introduce your kids to spooky fiction!
Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.
Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from an iMac in Bloomington, Indiana. He used to frequently journey to and perform magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.
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