James Christie is a West End resident with Asperger Syndrome who recently published his first novel, Dear Miss Landau, the true-life story of his historic trip across the United States to meet Juliet Landau, one of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. James won a Daily Express short story competition in his early teens, won College Colours for work done during his creative writing course at Crewe & Alsager College of Higher Education, and edited the script for Ghost Dancer, a film which won Glasgow University’s 1993 MacTaggart Prize. Then – after fifteen years trying to write the Great Scottish Novel – came Drusilla the vampire. Flatmate, muse and guide along the way.
Sometimes truth really is strange than fiction, and a decision I made nearly four years ago to answer an email from a Hollywood star has led to a situation in which I find myself with a vampire flatmate, an online celebrity correspondent, the resolution of an unfinished story arc which – if published – could turn Buffy the vampire slayer’s fictional universe (the “Buffyverse”) upside down; as well as memories of the metaphorical theft of the USS Enterprise in search of my own personal Helen of Troy in a Los Angeles which for me, was Camelot.
A reviewer in Goodreads.com even said of Dear Miss Landau that:
I read this constantly thinking “is this for real?” An autistic Scottish man in his 40s has an obsession with a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and writes a 250,000 word novel based on the character and ends up travelling to Hollywood and meeting the actress who plays her. You couldn’t make it up.
Sometimes I ask myself whether our fates are already written, and it’s hard to be sceptical when, four years after answering that email from Hollywood, I find myself (along with James Doherty of the National Autistic Society Scotland [NAS]), on a Scottish street late one Sunday night meeting Joss Whedon, the man who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The Oscars are happening in Hollywood, but as far as I’m concerned, Hollywood is here.
The facts are beyond dispute. Joss is Hollywood’s golden boy. Creator of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. Director of The Avengers, third-highest grossing film ever. He is, without irony, Numero Uno, A Number 1, the Head Honcho, the Big Cheese.
He’s standing three feet from me. He knows my name. Dear Miss Landau is in his hands, and if and when he reads it, who knows what might happen.
Luck, timing and happenstance has brought him to Glasgow. Dear Miss Landau has been published but the Drusilla trilogy with the secret twist remains under wraps. It has been difficult to attract media attention despite a well-reviewed true story which reads like “Rain Man meeting Notting Hill via 84 Charing Cross Road” and only a few weeks ago I was (not very happily) contemplating the possibility that this wild four-year ride could all end tomorrow.
Then I hear the word on the grapevine. That Joss Whedon will be at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) for a screening of his new film Much Ado About Nothing. The chance seems too good to be true, but I try and seize it all the same. I contact the NAS and the GFT. Arrangements are made and the chance is offered. The meeting must be secret. I even use the old Foreign Office phrase “I can neither confirm nor deny” a couple of times at work.
Sunday 24th February, Rose Street.
Jim and I are at the GFT on time, only to be told by a distraught press officer that Joss has cancelled, feeling that he cannot give any one fan special treatment.
Fate, however, does not seem to want to send us home empty-handed. The press officer promises to get the packages – a signed copy of Dear Miss Landau and the complete Drusilla trilogy – into Joss’s hands. If we wait outside in the queue, we are told, we’ll probably get to meet Joss.
As we run down to Rose Street, I ask her if Joss knows my name.
A silver Mercedes draws up. A familiar face is seen, coming down the line, glad-handing ‘til he reaches us.
I open with the words:
“My name is James Christie.”
And I see Joss recognize them. I show him my own copy of Dear Miss Landau and we talk for a few seconds.
Jim captures the picture for posterity and the moment is past.
I don’t know what will happen next, but this is a West End tale. Nearly four years ago I sent a couple of Drusilla’s Roses to Juliet Rose Landau from a post office in Great Western Road, never allowing myself to believe she’d actually read it. But she did. Now, Joss Whedon has received a copy of the book it inspired at a theatre on Rose Street.
I can’t allow myself to believe he’ll read it.
But I hope he does.
James Christie - writer.
Wednesday 23 Jan 2013
"You broke the bank! You broke the b***** bank!"
(based on a line of Alan Rickman's in Galaxy Quest)
There is a bank in Abington, the outside walls washed in white and window frames laced in black. It is solid and cheery and old, an image of stability and source of continuity.
People with autism like such stability and continuity and the routine it engenders, and if you think about it, that isn't such a bad thing. I didn't know I was autistic when I opened my account there, but all I asked of them was that they kept my money safe and let me bank for free while I was in credit.
But it's a neuro-typical world, and such safe and boring stereotypes seem easy prey to Ronald Searle's robot ant boys who, desperate to curry favour at board meetings, show the world their fixed grins and make changes for the sake of change, submerged that world, shattered Steagall's Glass, let Fred Goodwin tread and shred with gay abandon, and drove the bank into debt and merger via Dutch and toxic waste.
The biggest annual loss in UK corporate history (pound;24.1 billion).
84% owned by the taxpayer or they'd be bust.
Then, not long after, my bank asked me how I (the customer) could regain their trust? At the same time it knocked the bank at Abington's hours down from full-time to three mornings a week.
I decided I'd take them literally. Act more like an Asperger than I'd normally do.
Okay, I said. Open two more mornings a week and I'll forgive you.
Did they do so? Did they hell!
They no more listen to me now than they did before, but stagger on into Libor rate-rigging scandals and systems failures by the score.
We've bailed them out, we'll fine their ass, but their behaviour is, in toto, crass.
To a neuro-typical obsessed with change, the safe and boring stereotype I bought into might seem deranged.
If this to you is sanity it's mad I'd rather be. At least my money might have been safe if the Royal Bank of Scotland had had a routine-minded Asperger at the helm instead of one of thee...
You broke your b***** bank, there's no more cheer for me. That stable facade's a false veneer.
And the loss of trust? That will cost you, cost you dear.
Thursday 17 Jan 2013
Quantum mechanics, in its most simple state, could be defined as the science of probability. In essence, something could probably be either in one state or the other. A cat in a sealed box, for example, could in probability either be alive or dead and until the box is opened this probability cannot be swapped for certainty. The question the theoretical scenario of Schr?dinger's cat asks, then, is at what point can the superposition of probable states be swapped for the certain state of the cat either alive or dead.
Great way to start an article, talking about a dead cat, and Juliet Landau is allergic to cats as well...
If the tale of the last three years, richly alluded to over the last few articles or so (most notably Last Night I Dreamed a Deadly Dream), means one thing, it means that the timeline created in the early hours of October 3rd 2009 is (in all probability, anyway) valid, but is in my opinion facing another pivotal moment where the superposition of probable states must now be swapped for one certain state via quantum decoherence, the term defining what may theoretically happen when the box is opened and probable futures become actual futures, consistent with Hugh Everett's "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics in which alternate futures are created where the cat is, simultaneously but separately, both alive and dead.
So I'll say it.
And probably get shouted at.
In one probable future anyway.
In one of Everett's many worlds, Miss Landau will make a decision and the timeline which began in October 2009 will peter out. This timeline, to clarify matters, is the one where I found Juliet's "lost" email and had to decide whether or not to answer it (Dear Miss Landau, chapter 25). If I had not done so, it is highly probable that the time line in which you, the reader, are now living and reading this article, would not exist.
There would in all likelihood have been no enduring correspondence between the Hollywood star and the Rain Man from Partick, no sequels to Roses and no Dear Miss Landau. The two trips across America would never have taken place, Juliet Landau and I would not have met that day on Sunset Boulevard, the possible unfinished story arc would never have been spotted by me and so on.
However, nothing more need happen. I've stolen the Enterprise for my Helen of Troy, crossed the world for my Hollywood film star, met Miss Landau on Sunset and published Dear Miss Landau.
By some reasonable interpretations, that should be enough for one lifetime and even earn me breakfast at Milliways...
However, in truth, I don't think that's all that is supposed to happen. So here is my probable scenario regarding the way I believe things should pan out:
a) Dear Miss Landau, with its melding of fiction and reality, was published in March 2012. I originally conceived the idea as a screenplay while walking down the hill from Candlewood Drive, and it can easily be turned into one.
b) My next published book should be the Drusilla trilogy - Roses, Redemption and Revenant. The three novellas which would make up this book would give it a nice, neat length of about 100,000 words - and the novellas are already, written, proofed and edited! They're all done! One signed set is sitting in my bookshelves in Glasgow, (I just got Drusilla Revenant signed at the Vampires Ball at Heathrow) and Revenant is waiting to be read. Chaplin and I are having trouble getting this to the attention of Simon Pulse (a division of Simon & Schuster) and we need help from the Buffy fanbase to do so.
c) Dear Miss Landau should be optioned as a film. During two trips across America, virtually everyone I met either had a friend or relative with autism, or knew of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - sometimes both. I've no doubt there is a large potential audience out there. The film version (with Juliet Landau's permission) would differ quite a bit from the book and is probably the only possible means in existence today by which some of the original cast of Buffy could return (albeit briefly) to their roles... Again, Chaplin and I need help to achieve this.
Incidentally, I'm also working on a fourth Dru tale, recently renamed Spike & Dru: the Graveyard of Empires, which should (I sincerely hope) be the romantic tale of love and bullets which James Marsters apparently always hoped would reunite the deadly duo.
So that's it. One possible future for the Buffyverse is sitting on a bookshelf in Glasgow like the Lost Ark of the Covenant, just itching to be revealed. A unique book which would make a unique film is waiting to be noticed.
It will be a great pity if such potential never fully saw the light of day, but I should accept everyone's right to exercise their own free will.
On the other hand, I do have a theory about why all this has happened.
As most fans will know, the 2009 Star Trek reboot featured a plot line wherein a bad guy from the 24th century came back in time and knocked the tapestry of Kirk and crew's 23rd century destinies askew.
"Whatever our lives might have been, if the time continuum was disrupted, our destinies have changed."
It's as if, a few years ago, something went wrong. Maybe not a big thing. An opportunity was missed, a story arc unfinished, a character and a person's potential perhaps slightly overlooked. Even a small glitch can cause major alterations in a timeline. This is known as a ripple effect.
Something which should have happened, but didn't. Events and destinies not unfolding quite the way they should have. This concept was most recently explored in the 2008 Doctor Who episode Turn Left where Donna Noble's decision to turn right instead of left at a junction led to massive temporal changes and millions of deaths, including the Doctor...
Over the past three years, I've always felt that the probable scenario detailed here is the one that should be taken. The original timeline, if you will, which should be restored. It has already enabled me to change my life and redeem myself by becoming a published author. Until recently, I took a highly conservative position regarding this scenario, but not long ago something convinced me that this is the way to go and there is more to be done.
It feels like somebody up there is trying to do a repair job, and it's not finished yet.
To be clear but partisan about it, ever since Dear Miss Landau was published I've been able to say that if it all ended tomorrow, I would have nothing to complain about.
But I think fate or quantum mechanics has, sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, thrown us all a curve ball; and if we don't run with it, we'll regret it to our dying day.
The Black Man, the Asperger, the NHS and the Bigots...: Tuesday 20 Nov 2012
Scotland the Whaaaaa..?: Friday 26 Oct 2012
The Greatest Country in the World: Sunday 16 Sep 2012
Crossing the Continental Divide: Tuesday 28 Aug 2012
Things to do in Denver if you're not dead...: Tuesday 28 Aug 2012
Went looking for America and couldn't find it anywhere...: Sunday 19 Aug 2012
In Search of Smallville: Friday 17 Aug 2012
Flight of the Clara Pandy: Friday 17 Aug 2012
Meet Miss Landau, miss the President...: Tuesday 14 Aug 2012
If all good things happen in threes...: Tuesday 10 Jul 2012
What if Wakefield was Right?: Monday 2 Jul 2012
Trust at the Coach House and fulfillment of a dream: Wednesday 30 May 2012
The bitter and twisted writer in the blue silk dress: Saturday 5 May 2012
Hang the BBC Committee for Boredom from the yardarm!: Thursday 3 May 2012
Last night I dreamed a deadly dream...: Monday 9 Apr 2012
The second scoop: Wednesday 28 Mar 2012[ RSS .91 RSS 2 ]