Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love is a Battlefield

by Brittany Geragotelis

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

If you're like me though, you're not IN LOVE with Valentine's Day. It's not that I dislike the day, I just think that if you're single, it's a reminder of that fact, which can make most people feel depressed....and if you're a part of a couple, you're sort of required to profess your love on a specific day, instead of showing your significant other that you love and appreciate them every day. But this isn't to say that I don't like getting gifts (hint, hint Matt: pick me up something pretty) and spending some time with my man....just, do we really need a day designated to do all this?

Anyhow....in honor of this love-a-dub-dub day, I thought I'd give you a little something to start it off right. Whether you're single and a little annoyed at Cupid or involved and looking for love every day of the year, you're going to dig this great read by debut author, Ryan Gielen.

Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon is an adult novel that blends the military with a little don't ask, don't tell action. After pissing off the wrong people, General Newman Ginger is forced to participate in a top-secret government experiment that turns a whole platoon of unwanted soldiers gay. But that's not the only side effect...the men also acquire other special skills that make them into the ultimate fighting machines. Needless to say, the military does not take the news well, and what comes next is explosive.

Here's what author and film director Ryan Gielen had to say about his controversial but love-ly book:

You're doing a big push for Love Bomb on Valentine's Day...Can readers expect an epic love story?
Ryan Gielen: Absolutely! A bitter, old washed up general must learn to love his all-gay platoon in order to survive his mission. Because the central experiment potentially turned him gay, too, he also wrestles with his love for himself--is it great enough to withstand such a life-altering event?

Where did you get the inspiration for your book?
Ryan: The book is based on the true story of the military's secret aphrodisiac testing program. They wanted to sexually arouse the enemy to distract him on the battlefield. It felt like the perfect vehicle to examine the military and government's bizarre fear of all sexuality--I truly believe that most self-righteous politicians are terrified of their own reproductive organs, and that makes me laugh.

You tackle two very controversial topics in the book--people's stance on the military and war, and homosexuality. What do you hope people get from reading the book?
Ryan: I hope people laugh, and see a few things they've always wanted to say or always thought, in print. I hope the book does for some people what Orwell or Dr. Strangelove did for me--they enhanced my distrust of "very serious people" and helped cement my complete and unwavering distrust of authority. If I can make even one person point to a pundit or politician on TV and yell "bullshit!" at the screen I will feel like it was all worth it.

Do you think some people are going to be angry after reading the book? Do you care?
Ryan: I do not care at all. I'm sure if the book is successful enough, and reaches enough people, it will anger some of them--but good art challenges. There's no fun in playing it safe.

You're actually a film guy who's written several screenplays, one of which has been made into a full-length film that's garnered quite a bit of attention from indie fans [The Graduates is available to watch on Hulu and Netflix]. In fact, Love Bomb was actually a screenplay before you adapted it into a novel. What was that experience like for you to switch over to novel-writing and why did you decide to turn it into a book?
Ryan: I was always a writer--growing up, I wrote and sketched and took photographs constantly, and I write humor pieces for websites, so the novel wasn't a huge leap. And 90% of the filmmaking process is writing and rewriting, even in the editing room. So the process was both familiar and new. I was thrilled to be able to discuss the inner life of characters--in a screenplay you have much less room, a fraction of the words, and you can't really jump into characters' minds. I loved having the room to follow a thread inward, on the page.

I think the next 5-10 years will favor those artists who work with multiple forms of expression. The audience has exponentially more options for entertainment now than even 2 years ago, and that's only going to continue to increase exponentially. We have to be prepared to express our ideas across media to reach as many people as possible.

Read any good books lately?
Ryan: I absolutely loved Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser. It was simple, honest and moving. I also really loved Life, the Keith Richards autobiography. He was pretty honest if you read between the lines, and lived 10 lives in one.

You're an indie guy who's had a pretty good track record for self-distributing.... what made you decide to self-publish and do you have any advice for others who are thinking about going down this path?
Ryan: I forced myself to go through the whole agent submission experience, which was just as pointless as the screenplay submission process. Gatekeepers want something familiar and easy, and Love Bomb, in my opinion, is bold, new and complicated to sell. So, predictably, it was universally rejected. I was fully prepared for this with my marketing plan already in place. I'm taking from my experience marketing my films and others' and adapting that approach to book selling.

My advice is to let go of the romantic notion of the tortured author who gets paid to write and paces around his cabin in the woods, then hands his manuscript to a waiting, eager publisher who markets it to the world. Accept that when the laptop is put away, you are the marketing department, and start studying people who have created their own success in book selling. John Locke is a good place to start, regardless of what you think of his books. I'll be creating a whole series of videos and blog posts about my approach as well.

What's one thing people might not know about you?
Ryan: I have more pictures of my golden retriever, Tyler (it's a girl), than of the rest of my family combined. I love my family but I--like most golden retriever owners--believe I have the greatest dog in the world.

Whose career do you admire?
Ryan: Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Stanley Kubrick, the writers of "Modern Family," Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney and Louis CK. There are too many authors, screenwriters and artists to list them all.

As a film director, can we expect to see the book made into a full-length film one day? If given your pick, who would play the cast in the movie-version?
Ryan: Yes--and you'll have to wait and see. ;)

So, there you go. Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon is available nationwide today. For more on the book or the author, visit the site at www.lovebombbook.com, or you can purchase it in paperback here, for the Nook here, the Kindle here, the iPhone/iPad here and the Sony Reader here.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!