J. RICKLEY DUMM
And now for something completely different.
Former Magnum, p.i. producer J. Rickley Dumm is also a skilled novelist, who has released two books so far: SKAVENGER HUNT and CHRONOLOGY. Both are available via Amazon, and solid paperback copies can also be ordered in any local bookstore (I tried, it worked!). The former came out in 2015, and here's an overview of what it is about:
"Dr. Raymond Skavenger is a devoted family man with a very successful career as an orthodontist. Unbeknownst to his family, however, he's a former elite, anonymous Army sniper who once possessed unimaginable autonomous access and authority to carry out his missions, and now his past has thrust him and his family far beyond an appropriate degree of mortal danger. Returning home after completing a successful final mission for his controller, a man named Rapsody, Skavenger discovers he and his family are targets of revenge by the siblings of one of the men he'd assassinated. It's now imperative for him and his family to literally vanish in such a way as to be undiscoverable by authorities and technology. But when things intensify and unravel further, Rapsody, the F.B.I., local law enforcement, and the siblings, want him back. All Skavenger wants back is his family. Despite his upper hand, information on each of them begins to surface, each walking a treacherous course in this abnormally striking and extraordinary adventure."
I quote from my Amazon review:
"(SKAVENGER HUNT) is highly topical and well researched. The first half plays out like another favourite of mine ("The Osterman Weekend", the basis for Sam Peckinpah's last movie). SH, of course, adds all the contemporary computer/mobile stuff and all kinds of technical wizardry. This is presented in loving detail, which I found a bit hard to follow occasionally.
The novel moves along at breakneck pace. There are no spaces between paragraphs - much like the hero, readers never really know where they are. All the characters come alive on the page, they're truly three-dimensional. You never know who's on whose side, which is exciting as well as enjoyable: everything seems possible ...
Language-wise, it's tempting to say the completely decluttered prose of the experienced TV writer rules supreme. It's elliptic in the right places (depiction of violence, sex) - the author does not resort to relying on cheap thrills. The scene approach is definitely that of the TV writer: Don't waste any time, keep 'em hooked. And it works, Rayboy!
The writing is very "visual", too - I can see this being turned into a movie without too many alterations.
CHRONOLOGY (subtitle: Show Business. It can get bloody. Who killed Jeannie Alcott Pearson?) came out late in 2015. The summary on the back cover reads:
"Pamela Pearson is very dead from what appears to be a savage, hateful murder and a postmortem rape. The husband, editor Howard Pearson, is covered in her blood and in a catatonic state. When homicide captain James J. Moran finds the deceaseds diary and discovers the deceased is former collegiate tennis champion, Jeannie Alcott, the investigation goes in another direction and things begin to transform. Howard Pearson, after recovering from his catatonia, realizes nothing has prepared him for what hes about to encounter. Chronology is a story of murder, love, revenge, and psychological blood-letting when a disguise-in-reverse, show business and law enforcement converge, keeping the reader guessing to the bitter, bloody end."
No review available here yet, as I'm still in the process of reading it. But J. Rickley was kind enough to provide some insights into his work. In spring 2016, he said:
"I had written both novels, one right after the other, and hadn't really thought of self-publishing on the Net. I finally got into (it) through the direction and encouragement of friends."
(Why was the publication of CHRONOLOGY, originally the first book to be written, postponed?)
"I just thought SKAVENGER would be a better first publish as it was pure fiction (with facts here-and-there tossed in) and more of a thriller-type. Plus, I was still wanting to update and tweak various things in CHRONOLOGY, so I just wasn't ready with it.."
(Were you inspired by anything or anyone, real-life or fictional?)
"CHRONOLOGY, some of it, is based on incidents I'd witnessed or been a part of, and on people I'd worked with. There are 3 characters that are based on specific people, and others are compilations of people I'd worked with in the biz. The murder mystery, of course, is fiction."
(Howard Pearson, your fictional editor, is "right" for Foxtail, your fictional TV pilot, while another editor isn't - was it like that during your Magnum days?)
"I want to give you a comparison between the analog days and the digital age. You're correct in thinking that some editors, like Al Zuniga and Doug Ibold et al., were better for certain shows. Some editors are better with pacing and timing on comedic episodes, others with more dramatic, others with action.
In the analog days, a series might have had 4 or 5 editors assigned to a particular series; they might have had 4-to-6 sound/sound effects editors working on one episode, which depended on how busy that episode was (actions shows always require more time to track even in the digital age).
Regardless of analog or digital, series (or mini-series) have shows in various stages of production -- prep, production, post-production (excluding writing).
Today, in the digital age, it's a much faster process. A series my only have 2 (or 3) editors assigned to the series. In post, it may only require one sound/sound F/X editor (plus a sound designer/supervisor; my oldest son, Rickley, is often the only sound/sound F/X editor on a series; by the way, he just won a Golden Reel Award for his work). Plus, within the process, you might have green screen, or motion capture or CGI, so you have those editors as well, but they're usually stationed at other working venues. Obviously, picture editors, visual effects and CGI-types are in constant communication and collaboration as the processes move forward.
In CHRONOLOGY, Howard was a better fit for Foxtail than Barry Arne; hence, Alex Towne's going to bat for him upstairs. It was Alex's job to make that move because 'The picture is the main thing.'
Obviously, there are many other elements and people that factor in besides 'the editor'(s). Believe me, it's a lot of hard work and many hours are involved. The only make believes are any screening parties and awards ceremonies after the picture's 'in the can'."
(Is that the pace at which you'll keep on writing?)
"Uh...no. I'll not be doing two-thrillers a year. I'm currently finishing a third book, RED PEARL. We're in the throes of getting the cover worked out, then the process of the design and proofing/editing begins. "