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Ascendant book tour

So Simon & Schuster has set up some preliminary dates for The Ascendant book tour, and here they are: The book comes out January 7th, 2014. The next morning, January 8th, I'm scheduled to be on Good Morning America. Yes, I'm nervous about that, and yes, I have convinced myself that they will bump me [...]

By |November 25th, 2013|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Working round the clock

As some of you know, I’ve been writing and producing a limited series for ABC called The Assets. It’s a great project, eight hours of programming, from a true story, about the final years of the Cold War and the battles between the CIA and the KGB. The first episode, which I wrote, is scheduled to air January 2nd, 2014, at 10 p.m. Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania Part of the fun — and hardship — of showrunning The Assets is that it is a period piece, much of it set in Moscow in the 1980’s. So we had to find a place that looked like Moscow behind the Iron Curtain. Shooting in real life Moscow was out of the question. For one thing, modern Moscow is full of billboards and fancy modern cars and skyscrapers, so finding angles that can pass for 30 years ago is hard. For another, Russia now is so expensive and corrupt that shooting there is both prohibitive and dangerous. We were told that it would be hard to insure the production, and that for every dollar you spend in the budget, you need another dollar just for bribes.  […]

By |November 24th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Working round the clock

The new site, up and running

Okay, I am back from the wilds of Eastern Europe (more on that later), and am turning my attention to two things: getting ready for book one of The Ascendant to come out, and finishing book two. To accomplish task one, I've revamped my web site. So now it's a splash page for the book, [...]

By |November 23rd, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The new site, up and running

In scripted TV, now is the boom era

You often read about how network television is dead. About how TV is an outdated medium. That social networking is more important, that Americans want video games or micro brews in artisanal bars in hipster neighborhoods. That they are sick of sitting in front of the boob tube, as it was once known. Part of these arguments are true. But they are also, at the same time, dead wrong. TV has never been stronger or more relevant to American culture. TV shows are the things that shape the cultural conversations in this country — Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones. People pay attention to these shows in a way that they never have before. They filter into everyday life the way movies or books used to — but no longer do.  Just think about Breaking Bad’s “Tread lightly,” or Mad Men’s Ludlow suit style, or HBO’s continuing use of “sexposition.” Cultural iconography, started by TV shows. And scripted programming — the making of filmed dramas to be shown on your TV, computer or phone or tablet — is a boom industry. Seriously, things have never been more prosperous.  […]

By |September 15th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on In scripted TV, now is the boom era

The curse of hard work

Sometimes you work so hard, for so long, that you forget what it is like to take a day off. You forget why you are working. The job becomes an end unto itself. Your only thought, from the moment you wake up, is to how you are going to get the work done in the allotted time, and how you will make the best possible product. You — I guess “I” would be the more proper personal pronoun — become work obsessed. The job is all. There is nothing else. This is the curse of the hard-working, responsible, middle-class American. We are so invested in our careers, so caught up in what our jobs say about us, that we have trouble letting go of that job. Even just for a day — and a Sunday at that. […]

By |September 9th, 2013|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Russia and the law

Russia issued an advisory to its citizens travelling abroad to avoid going to countries that have an extradition treaty with the United States. Article from the NY Times here. I guess the US nabbed a Russian as he was visiting the Dominican Republic in July. The guy was wanted for cyber crimes. He was hauled back [...]

By |September 3rd, 2013|Uncategorized|3 Comments

The Faked and the Dead

Apologies to Norman Mailer. One of the biggest issues in writing a TV show based on real people — and their real stories — is figuring out the delicate balance between what actually happened and what is good drama. Unless you are Alexander the Great or Winston Churchill, chances are the day to day details of your entire life would not make a riveting story.  So the job of the storyteller when telling a “true life” story is to edit, judiciously, compress and then, when you have the bare-bones of a plot, fill in the details with fiction. Which is what we are doing with The Assets. Our leads were front line soldiers in the Cold War. They battled the KGB, lost spies, recruited new spies, were betrayed, had their hearts broken, and broke the hearts of their enemies…but they did most of this from behind a desk, using phones and telex machines. They held a certain number of meetings. They argued with their superiors, made nice with their husbands and wives, reprimanded their kids and then told those same kids that they loved them. […]

By |September 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Faked and the Dead

The first reviews are in…

So Goodreads.com has a page for The Ascendant here. So far, nothing but good reviews. Actually, better than good. Dare I say they are…great? There, I said it, and the world has not coming crashing down around my shoulders. Not yet. We writers are a superstitious lot. We tip-toe around our own self-promotion, lest we offend the gods of The Good Review. Also, we fear seeming overly ambitious or vain. A striving writer is a most disagreeable thing.  And of course that is a debilitating contradiction, because what the publishing industry needs most is writers who are willing to go out and self-promote. Simon & Schuster needs Drew Chapman to be vain and ambitious. So if I seem that way to you — well, blame S&S! It’s not me. Okay, it is me.   […]

By |August 29th, 2013|Uncategorized|1 Comment

What a spy really does

So, as I posted earlier, I am currently writing an eight hour mini-series for ABC about the last years of the Cold War, and the battles between the CIA and the KGB that raged in that period. It’s a fascinating story to research, and part of the great fun of doing the job has been my continuing contact with all these real life CIA officers, both old and new. The CIA, as it turns out, is far less exotic, but far more interesting, than what you normally read. Most CIA officers are paper pushers. Men and women who spend an inordinate amount of time reading files and reports and letters and cables. But they are doing this — pushing papers — in an intense, life or death cause. And they are paper pushers and spies at the same time. How is this so? Because the truth is that most other spies — whether they work for the KGB, the Chinese Ministry of State Security,  the UK’s MI-5, or any other intelligence gathering network — are paper pushers as well. Allow me to explain. […]

By |August 28th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What a spy really does

NY Times hacked

So I've been trying to read the New York Times all afternoon, but Google kept telling me that they couldn't connect to the site, and of course I just thought it was my always troublesome computer making more trouble, or maybe my even more troublesome wi-fi router. It never occurred to me that the NYTimes [...]

By |August 28th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on NY Times hacked