Monday, January 07, 2008

The Man Who Never Missed


Somebody asked me recently how I pictured Emile Antoon Khadaji, the protagonist of the first Matador novel I wrote, The Man Who Never Missed. There were three images originally submitted to Ace by James Gurney, who did the book's final cover.

This was my favorite of the three . The art director thought that it wouldn't make a good cover, but I liked it, and I've kept a color copy of it framed in my office since I got it.

Got the spetsdod wrong, but the man is right.

18 comments:

Jordan said...

Thanks for sharing -- the Matador series has always been one of my favorites of all time. Very interesting to get a bit more insight into what you were seeing in your mind's eye.

Brad said...

I like that one better than the one used. More in tune with what you described to me.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

I always saw him with a beard, even when he was in the Confed. Dunno why. That guy looks closer to what I imagine Sleel to be.

Steve Perry said...

That's the thing about writing to involve your reader -- readers will fill in some of the blank spots, and you want that. In the Matadors's future, most people are tea-colored, and you mention the ones who are not -- Dirisha, who is darker, and Juete, who is lighter.

Back in the day, when I was first asked who'd I'd like as Khadaji if I were casting a movie, I said, "Somebody who looks kinda like Robert Redford, but Arabic." The guy I liked, though he was already too old, was Mark Lenard -- who played Sarek, Spock's father ...

J.D. Ray said...

Just finished re-reading the trilogy last night; twenty-odd years since the last time. I've never been a fan of the art style on the covers. The pics have a decidedly sixties look about them, which may be intentional. Still, the covers do well to introduce you to characters.

I always figured that was Sleel on the cover of The Machiavelli Interface, with Bork and Dirisha looking on from the background.

Do I remember correctly that The 97th Step was Pen's story? One scene from these novels (I forget which one) that has stuck with me is the "fight" scene in the prison yard. One of the best fight scenes ever written, with a dollop of philosophy on top to help you remember it. Very nice.

J.D. Ray said...

Speaking of movies, have you ever considered approaching the SciFi Channel with the Matador trilogy? They produce a lot of miniseries from novels, and the storyline would translate well to the screen. With the writer's strike creating a dearth of material, there's a vacuum to be filled for proposals, even if you waited for the strike to be over to do the screenplay.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

It's a terrific portrait, but SF book covers are rarely that kind of formal portrait: that's probably what the art director was thinking.

Nowadays it might actually fly, on the "different is better" theory. Certainly stand out on the shelf at Powell's.

Steve Perry said...

I liked the cover art, mostly. Dirisha was a little off -- the original sketch of her was a little harder edged -- she looked more like Grace Jones and I liked that. As it turned out, she looks kind of like Tananarive Due, which is okay by me. Turned out there were two artists who did that cover, one for Dirisha, the other did the scooter, if I recall correctly.

After TMWNM, Rich Berry did the next two covers.

On Machiavelli, that's supposed to be Khadaji, wearing a skinmask, with Dirisha, Bork, and Geneva in the b.g.

Sleel is on the cover of Black Steel, different artist, Spanish guy named Royo. He did the second trilogy, as well as T97S and Omega Cage. He liked to use actors as models -- that's Mel Gibson on T97S, and Ahnahl and Lisa Hartman Black on the cover of The Omega Cage.
None of the Royo books have covers that match my images of the players.

The fight scene you mention came from Cage, I think.

Steve Perry said...

Last I heard, my would-be producer is trying to get somebody at Showtime to look at a pitch for the Matador series. He's got a couple more months and his option expires, and then we'll see what happens from there ...

Steve Perry said...

The thinking on the portrait cover was that I wasn't well-known and they wanted to feature what they thought was a clever title -- which I agree with, it's one of my best -- so they needed room to print the title large. To do that, they would have had to cover much of the image; plus they wanted to show a sci-fi element, with the futuristic city.

At Ace these days, I get larger print for my name than the title in the Matador series -- it's the new Steve Perry -- so they could use something like this now.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

J.D., I don't know if you actually see what the SciFi channel passes off as "entertainment" these days, but they were suffering WAY before the writer's strike. I reckon they score one mediocre hit every two or three months, and those seem to be by accident rather than good writing and thoughtful direction. Science Fiction is still treated as a cable version of the Kookla, Fran and Ollie show...Good for the kids, but no need to give them a deep, cerebral experience. "Tin Man" was great, and "Battlestar", of course...But that's it. They canceled "The Invisible Man", which I thought was one of the best shows of it's time, and stuck "Farscape" in it's place, one of the most booooooring.

If they got ahold of my beloved Matadors, well, I can only imagine that Dirisha and Geneva would come across as a couple of hookers named Velvet and Roxanne, with Khadaji as their pimp. I SHUDDER to think of what they would do to the 97 steps...Probably get some green belt in Tae Kwon Do to choreograph it.

And I would be forced into acts of violence not seen since the assistant to Gary Oldman on "The Professional" had to tell him that they were out of filterless cigarettes.

J.D. Ray said...

Hey, don't be dissin' on Farscape. That show rocked! Of course, you had to watch it from the beginning to really understand it all, as the writers presumed the viewers were in on all the jokes, characters, etc. And they sort of spiraled into a wormhole with the story line. They could have saved it by making an entirely new series with new characters in the same universe. But that's another story.

The thing about Farscape, Battlestar Galactica and other series on the SciFi Channel is that SciFi didn't produce them, they only distributed them. Companies like British Sky Broadcasting, NBC Universal Television and Jim Henson Productions were responsible for creating the series.

I haven't seen any Showtime series yet, so don't know about the production quality or writing. We just picked it up on a "two for one" deal with DirecTV along with HBO. We had HBO up until late '06, but they quit making Deadwood and Rome, which had great production quality, so my interest waned. We're trying them both out for a few months. If Showtime commits to doing a Matador series, we'll keep that one when the trial period is over.

Steve, would you write the screenplay? I've seen some "reality" shows on TV about the movie making process, and it always seems like the screenwriters end up shredding the original story in an attempt to fit what the producers are looking for (usually some assurance of marketability based on their own ideas of what people want). If you (the original author) were doing the screenplay, I would think there'd be a better chance of some vestige of the original story sticking around. And, with a miniseries, maybe you could throw The 97th Step in as the first episode, making the series four parts.

Anonymous said...

these books there amazing.
i see alot of talk about a tv show that would be really nice this is one of the few books i force feed to my friends, i pictured Emile almost exactly like the guy who plays in Burn Notice and if there ever was a show i say give him a shot he is a great actor.

Steve Perry said...

Yeah, Jeff Donovan, he'd look good, though he doesn't have the martial arts. Somebody was trying to get it to Adrian Paul, back when he was doing the Highlander series, but nothing ever came of it.

And, of course, Brandon Lee wanted to do it, right after he finished The Crow ...

Anonymous said...

I have been hoping for quite some time that the Matador series becomes a movie or mini series. Either the man who never missed or the 97th step should be a full blown blockbuster movie. As far as the actor to play Emile, how about Joey Ansah who played Desh in The Bourne Ultimatum? I think he did great with the fight scenes.

I am also wondering if there are any more Matador series books in the works. I am hoping to see (at least) another one that would take place after The Musashi Flex and before The 97th Step.

All I can say is keep up the great works.

Steve Perry said...

I have one more in mind to finish the series, can't get to it yet. It'll pick up right after Musashi, dealing with the establishment of The Siblings of the Shroud.

James said...

I've read all of the books, and I've enjoyed them more than once. I read them more for learning about the characters and how each evolved into who they are in the books. I work to keep my character development at a goal so that I don't let my childhood baggage (similar to Sleel's) get in my way. Unfortunately, I don't have Kildee to help ;p

I greatly enjoyed Black Steel, and I was hoping to learn Sleel's real name... Had you worked that out?

I had no idea you were self-publishing (how is that going?). I've a few ideas knocking around, but I've yet to send anything to anyone as my mother was a minor editor who tells of major edits for "marketability" purposes which I am loath to do...

Thanks for the stories, and I'll look to order some of your self-published works.

Sincerley,

James Taylor

Frogman27 said...

http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Patterns-Kuntao-Silat-Indonesian-ebook/dp/B00K2BGGX2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427994842&sr=1-1&keywords=fighting+patterns+of+kuntao+and+silat+chinese+indonesian+combat+arts

Have you seen this book? Reminds me of the stepping patterns you described.