T. Michael Martin is the author of The End Games, a young adult zombie-thriller about brothers and brains, which debuted yesterday. Mike has been a screenwriter, a prank-caller, and a test-subject, and now lives with his wife Sarah in Virginia.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

1. I once met Joss Whedon in line at Los Angeles International Airport. (He’s super nice!)

2. The first movie my parents ever took me to was The Terminator (I was two months old.)

3. When I was eight, I tried to build a jetpack so that I could defend myself from some bullies who beat me up. Didn’t work. :/

4. I have a degree in Filmmaking, and I graduated with the highest GPA in the history of my film school.

5. I make YouTube videos every week at youtube.com/tmikemartin.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve been a book lover since before I could read: some of my favorite childhood memories are my mom reading Berenstein Bears to me. But the writer who made me want to become a writer was R.L. Stine. For my generation, Goosebumps was the introduction to the grand archetypes of the supernatural, and Mr. Stine sent me head-over-heels in love with horror. (That’s partly why it was so thrilling to receive a blurb from him for The End Games!)

So I wrote and wrote for, like, fifteen years, and then had a screenplay “optioned” (where a studio “rents” the rights to develop the project) during my senior year of film school. It didn’t work out, though, I think for a couple reasons: 1) the Writer’s Guild strike happened, and 2) as heartbreaking as it was to admit, I just wasn’t a good enough writer yet.

I worked a bunch of frustrating, minimum-wage jobs for several years after that (including a stint as a test subject in experimental drug studies). And honestly, those years were so scary: I was watching my childhood friends go on to promising careers in other fields, and more than once — as I scrubbed a toilet or got poked with another hypodermic needle — I despaired that I might be kidding myself with This Whole Writing Thing.

But one of the things I’m proudest of in my life is that I kept writing throughout all that pain. I had a feeling that a book I was writing (my third novel, called The End Games) might be a pretty good one. When I finished the book in the fall of 2011, I sent off query letters to agents on the scariest Saturday night of my life. I received multiple offers of representation first thing Monday morning. The book sold to HarperCollins about a month later.

(Do I have to tell you I cried?)

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

I’ve been blessed to have some amazing writer friends mentor me throughout this whole process, so I haven’t been too caught off-guard by anything (yet!). Getting used to working under deadline and contract required an adjustment, for sure, but I’m very grateful to be getting published and I’ve had a good experience so far.

The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

I’ve always loved what Stephen King says about why he writes horror, and it sums up so precisely how I feel about it, too: “I was built with a love of the night and the unquiet coffin, that’s all. If you disapprove, I can only shrug my shoulders. It’s what I have.”

Also, as strange as it might sound, whenever I encounter a great scary story, the primary aspect of my own fear is a sense of wonder. Modern technology has improved our lives in countless ways — but I can’t help but feel that they’ve also robbed our world of much of its mystery. The ability to instantaneously dial up the answer to almost any question sometimes makes me feel like there are no more uncharted lands to sail toward and discover. So tales of the extraordinary offer us a very precious thing: the re-enchantment of the world around us.

I also love that horror is, in so many ways, the genre of non-denial: Scary stories, or at least the best of them, reckon with the fact that life is sometimes scary and violent. And because they show the full spectrum of existence, they allow us to review and reframe our own struggles through the lens of the extraordinary and extreme. Which I find to be a pretty inspiring thing.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

There have been some criticisms of the narrative voice in The End Games, which can sting sometimes. But I also have to admit that I always knew that the book’s kinetic style — inspired by William Goldman and Cormac McCarthy — might be controversial. (And in fairness to the book, an equal number of people — including Booklist, who gave The End Games a starred review — have had hugely positive things to say about the voice. And that does make me feel really good.)

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

John Green (#1 New York Times author of The Fault in Our Stars) is my favorite Young Adult author, and he recently tweeted:

Where’s your favorite place to write?

I love writing in libraries, particularly university libraries when the students are on break. (The silence and emptiness are both peaceful and I Am Legend spooky!) But probably my favorite place is in my home office, with the smartphone, router, and laptop turned off, and my old electric Brother typewriter set up by the window. (Most of The End Games was written by hand or on a typewriter, and “revised” for the first time when I typed it into Scrivener.)

What is one thing you wish you’d known when you sat down to write your novel?

Honey, this is gonna take a while. (Four years!)

How do you approach writing villains or antagonists?

With radical empathy. I’ve always tried to remember that every person alive is the “protagonist” in his own life, and almost no one (even really villainous people) would call themselves “evil.” So I try to write the antagonists with a clear idea of how they rationalize their own behavior to themselves. (Which has the interesting effect of making them even scarier, I think!)

Also, I’m a big believer in the idea that villains should be the hero’s “shadow.” This is a Jung/Campbell concept: The antagonist is necessary to the protagonist, because they represent the dark, unclaimed, unconscious impulses that the hero already has within himself. (In popular culture, this is most beautifully illustrated in a hallucination sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke slices off Darth Vader’s mask… and finds his own face inside it.) So really, an antagonist is the worst aspects of the protagonist, just taken to the extreme. And it’s only through conflict with the antagonist that the hero will be forced to grow into whomever he’s destined to be.

How do you construct the world and tonal environment of your story?

For me, everything starts with finding the emotional center of a story. In The End Games, the heart of the story is the relationship between seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick. Once I had that, I asked myself this question: What is the Very Worst World that I could put these two specific people in? And how — over the course of the story, if they can survive — can it actually turn into the Very Best (or Emotionally Necessary, at least) World for them?

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

Oh man, no doubt the last! By that point, I have a good handle on what the book is about thematically, so it’s always fun to try to end with a sentence that serves as a kind of resonant, lingering note.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I’ve been writing the climax of my next book this week, and although I’m a really tough critic of my own work most of the time, I’m so proud of it. (I can’t go into details just yet, but I think it has the most original imagery and action I’ve ever written.)

Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)

Quiet, and a goodish chunk of time (1.5 to 4 hours). Coffee helps, too.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my next novel for HarperCollins, which will be published in Autumn 2014. It’s another YA thriller that takes place in West Virginia, with lots of action and scares and humor and teenagers saving the world. We’re keeping the specifics of the plot a secret at the moment, but I will say that it isn’t post-apocalyptic or a sequel to The End Games, and it also doesn’t have any zombie-ish creatures.

Bonus Question! Would you rather be a book, or a computer?

Computer. (So I could download ALL THE BOOKS! :D )

Thanks, Mike!

Thanks so much for having me, y’all, and for all the great questions!

About ‘The End Games’:

It happened on Halloween.
The world ended.
And a dangerous game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia—armed with only their rifle and their love for each other—the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

For more about T. Michael Martin:

You can connect with Mike on Facebook, Tumblr, and on Twitter as @TMikeMartin. Check out his YouTube channel for pop-culture musings, and and for more information and contact details, visit his website, TMichaelMartin.com. The End Games is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

Read full article

The upcoming 25th anniversary edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes a couple of first looks at next year’s live-action adaptation.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a quarter of a century since the animated Beauty and the Beast hit movie theaters. To celebrate the occasion Disney is putting out an anniversary edition, and its special features section includes a treat: Our first look at Cogsworth and Lumière in the live-action installment, as well as a glimpse of a scene within Gaston’s tavern.

As confirmed by producer Jack Morrissey on Facebook, this photo of Cogsworth (played by Ian McKellen) and Lumière (Ewan McGregor) is concept art, but it gives us a sense of the style that director Bill Condon is shooting for:

cogsworth-lumiere-live-action-beauty-and-the-beast

While it’s nice to finally see a glimpse of a couple of the characters, a big question remains unanswered: How will these objects look once they have faces on them? (Cogsworth’s face might be hinted at in the center of the clock.)

Also on the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is a shot from the the “Gaston” musical number. From left to right we see Alexis Loizon as Stanley, Josh Gad as LeFou (just over Gaston’s shoulder), and Luke Evans (with his back to the camera) as Gaston.

live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Update: And here’s another look at the movie, courtesy of this person on Twitter — this time we get to see Dan Stevens as human Beast!

human-beast-dan-stevens

We’ll be curious to get our hands on the anniversary edition in September, because we expect we’ll see more from the new movie than the two stills above.

Disney released the first trailer for the live-action Beauty and the Beast in May. It was very much a teaser trailer, as it didn’t provide any looks at the characters — except Belle (Emma Watson), appearing through the glass casing protecting the film’s iconic rose.

In fact, the trailer’s first looks at the various settings (Namely the Beast’s castle) fell in line with the visual style we see in the above concept art.

Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hit theaters March 17, 2017.

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

Read full article

Apple — always one to push the boundaries by simplifying their products as much as possible — is reportedly looking to remove the all-important Home button in next year’s new iPhone.

Apple loves making their products as simple as possible. The iPod was a success because of how clean it looked compared to other MP3 players. With Apple TV, Steve Jobs bragged about how few buttons the device’s remote had.

But since 2007, every new iPhone has had the same number of physical buttons, switches, and ports: A ringer switch, a lock button, volume up/down buttons, a USB port, and a headphone jack.

That changes next month, when Apple is expected to announce that the iPhone 7 will be lacking a headphone jack. Instead, users will be listening to music via the Lightning port (which you currently use to charge and sync your iPhone).

And for 2017, Apple will reportedly go one step further by removing the Home button.

Ah, the Home button. It’s always been there for us — it’s our captain for navigating the iPhone. We use it to switch between apps, we use it to get to our Home screen, we use it to summon Siri, and we use it to read our finger print. Back in the “old days,” we used it to force quit apps when they froze on us.

In a new report, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to remove the Home button for the 2017 iPhone, which will presumably be called iPhone 7s. It’s billed as a “major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display.”

Previous rumor mill reports have suggested that Apple will ditch the Home button in order to decrease the size of the top top and bottom bezels, thereby making the phone not as tall, or using the freed up space to add more screen.

Here’s a mock up of what that could look like, via TapSmart:

borderlessmockup1

What remains unclear is how users will be able to unlock and navigate their iPhone without the Home button. Reports have suggested that the whole screen will serve as a TouchID surface and a Home button (using the 3D Touch feature Apple launched last year).

Interestingly, next month’s release of iOS 10 will introduce a new way to unlock your iPhone: You’ll have to press down on the Home button to activate an unlocking. Previously, all you had to do was rest your finger on the Home button while your lock screen was awake.

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Read full article

Disney is making another live-action movie, and this time it’s James and the Giant Peach, to be developed by Director Sam Mendes.

To refresh your memory, James and the Giant Peach is the terrifying delightful children’s movie directed by Henry Selick and based off of the Roald Dahl story. It features nightmare-inducing adorable stop-motion animated bugs that helped James float away from his mean aunts in a — you guessed it — giant peach.

The original film was an interesting mix of live-action characters in the beginning and at the end, with stop-motion animated sequences throughout the middle.

Now, according to Deadline, Disney is developing an all-live-action remake of the film. Nick Hornby will write the script, while Joe Roth is in negotiations to sign on as a producer.

If Mendes’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he directed the last two James Bond features, both Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1999’s American Beauty.

You can check out the trailer for the horrifying original film below:

As of late, Disney has been announcing live-action versions of its properties left and right, including The Nutcracker (which has a huge cast of well-known actors), The Little Mermaid (with Lin-Manuel Miranda attached to help write the music), Beauty and the Beast (starring Emma Watson), and Cruella (starring Emma Stone), among others.

With the amount of remakes — especially in the live-action department — it’s no wonder James and the giant Peach is the latest to be announced.

Do you want to see a live-action ‘James and the Giant Peach’ movie?