26
January

The Butterfly Effect

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So, by now most people know that I’ve got a book trailer. I’m pretty psyched about it.

This is because it’s AWESOME. Book trailers have a deserved reputation for sucking. They are so bad, so much of the time, that it’s kind of a running joke on reddit, goodreads and other social media forums that nobody has ever made a good one. For reasons I cannot understand, people don’t invest the time, energy and dollars into doing it right.

I feel pretty damned confident that we did all three here, and that makes me incredibly proud.

But even cooler is how it came to be.

A butterfly flaps its wings in Thailand, and there’s a tsunami in Florida. We’ve all heard the theory about how your actions in life can have vast and unintended consequences The idea is usually cautionary, warning us to be cognizant of every action, to consider carefully its impact on others. SF time travel stories are rife with this. Step off the path and crush a beetle in the Jurassic, and suddenly Rome was never founded.

But the thing folks never tell you is that it works both ways. Sometimes, your actions, your associations, you past life has unintended consequences for the better.

In 1997, I was wrapping up my masters degree in Washington, DC with every intention of returning to New York City (a plan that got derailed by my discovering I had a talent for security, coupled with 9/11, which kept me in DC for another 14 years) when I was done. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I split my rent with a roommate, a young blond-haired, blue-eyed army reservist named Chris.

Back then, I was not the dashing officer you see before you. I had hair down to my ass, went everywhere by motorcyle, and wore black concert t-shirts as a uniform. This kid looked like Thor’s son. He was in the f*!king ARMY. He made no goddamn sense.

But he was kind to me. I’ll never forget the day I moved out, and he showed up with a friend and helped me move. I hadn’t asked, he hadn’t offered. He just did it. It was the kind of quiet charity that comes when you really mean it.

We lost touch, and I mean completely, over the next decade and a half. I didn’t know it, but he’d moved out west, made his fortune in business. Like most folks living through the social media revolution, he explored his own past through links of Facebook. He found me, having just moved to New York City and started my writing career.

He reached out, reconnected and asked me to send him a copy of my book. He’d just founded a video company. Part of their business was making book trailers. After reading CONTROL POINT, he freaked. He thought it was going to be big. He wanted to work with me on a book trailer for the series.

Can I be honest? I sort of rolled my eyes. After all, I’d never seen a decent book trailer before. I’m protective of my brand. I’d far rather do nothing than do something half-assed.

But then I saw his work.

Chris had done the trailer for Ryan Holiday‘s TRUST ME, I’M LYING, and it didn’t suck. In fact, it was f$#king fantastic. Somebody had written a decent script. Somebody had put thought into pacing and sound. Somebody had invested time and money and sweat and bled until they created art.

I dug deeper, looked closer at Simplifilm’s work. It was all as good as the Holiday trailer. Chris had founded a company that was setting a new standard for book trailers, one long overdue.

We kicked a script back and forth for months, and then settled in for a long spell of waiting. This was because Simplifilm’s work had attracted the attention of an industry, they were drowning in work. I’d all but given up hope on them ever being able to slot me in when I got an email with .mp3 files of the voice actors auditions.

Two weeks later, I had a finished trailer, one I’m obscenely proud of. It is the most sublime experience one can have as an artist – seeing your work reflected in someone else’s. I did my art, Chris did his, and the combination is a thing of beauty.

My point is this: If you had come to me in ’97 and told me that my old roommate would one day collaborate with me on this, that our careers would intertwine, I would have said you were crazy. If you’d told me that Chris would be out of the military and I would be in, I’d have laughed until I cried. But that butterfly’s wings were flapping, and this time, the wind they whipped up blew fortune to my door.

Lucky guy.