Monday, August 9, 2010

Tim Kring Gets Shift-y About A Conspiracy Novel

Ever since the schedule for Comic Con 2010 was announced, attendees who were also fans of Zachary Quinto were excited at the opportunity to do him twice in one day.

We were also glad that Zach was able to make time for Comic Con. He had been in NYC since early this year, and looking at his tweets and tightly-packed schedule, we surmised that he had probably endured a grueling red-eye flight in order to make it for his Comic Con appearances.

The first panel Zach appeared in was for "Shifting Gears" where he acted as moderator for "Heroes" creator, Tim Kring regarding his new novel, "Shift".

There were quite a few other panels before "Shifting Gears" and many dedicated fans stayed in that same room since morning in order to secure good seats for the panel.

Before the panel began, a couple of "Jackie O's" in cute, candy-pink suits went around the room, handing out free promo buttons. I didn't realize why they were there until Tim filled in on what his book was all about. (So I was sleep-deprived, ok?)

By the time Zach strode in with his new buzz cut and coffee cup accessory to introduce Tim Kring at the rostrum, the entire room was filled!

Knowing that the room was mostly filled with "Heroes" fans, Tim started straight off by thanking the fans and apologizing that he has no news regarding "Heroes" and that they are "still talking to NBC". You could almost hear the loud but resigned sighs emanating from the room.

Zach then swiftly fielded the introductory question to Tim, referring to his preference in using transmedia to "tell stories differently".

On cue, Tim gave a brief introduction on the premise of "Shift" and said that in conjunction with the launch of the book, there is a scavenger hunt going on at Comic Con using text message clues. And that there is also a video trailer for the book.

After screening the book trailer, Tim revealed that the person doing the voiceover was none other than Zachary Quinto. Speaking with a strong Southern accent, Zach sounded very different (but still sexy!) in the trailer. Check out the trailer from Crown Publishing here:

Tim mentioned that, it was during the writers' strike in 2007 that he had a lot of time in his hands and was approached by his agent to write a novel. He accepted the proposal and researched on the story. Armed with his penchant for using different media, he later developed an internet video trailer for "Shift", which he sent to publishing companies on flash drives.

As a TV writer, Tim admitted that he still thought about stories more in "filmaic terms" or "scenes" and hence, the book follows this concise, cinematic feel with short chapters. His agent introduced him to novelist Dale Peck, whose strength was in the use of language, and this led to a writing collaboration which would take the first book to a trilogy called "The Gate of Orpheus".

In summary, "Shift" - a historical thriller with a scifi twist - is set in the 1960's during the days of JFK's presidency and is about the protaganist, Chandler Forrestal, who was subjected to LSD mind-control experiments that gave him supernatural abilities. Chandler then uncovered the plot to assassinate JFK and was forced to be on the run from various unsavoury characters.

Like "Heroes", the book would have multiple story-lines. There is a rogue CIA agent as a villain and a lady in distress "who shares Chandler's abilities who Chandler has to save and protect".

Despite the take on a well-known historical event, Tim stressed that it will not be his intention to change history. He did, however, share that based on his research for the book, there were indeed "messy" LSD experiments that occurred on many unfortunate human guinea pigs, and that this was not revealed till 1975. (Note: This Diva did a mini-search on this event and found that there was a covert operation called Project MKULTRA.)

Tim related that he was in first grade on the day JFK was assassinated and they were called back to class early during recess. He clearly remembered passing by the principal's room and seeing him - a big imposing dude - slumped in his chair in sad repose.

In the last 15 minutes of the panel, Zach invited questions from the floor. A fan posed Tim a question about his obsession with supernatural abilities. Tim admitted that "Shift" and "Heroes" are like distant cousins and he likes to deal with the subconscious and how people cope with changes. Zach chimed in and agreed how he himself is interested in the effect of the subconscious and dreams.

Obligatory ZQBiceps shot during the panel *g*
During the panel, I couldn't help noticing how fidgety Zach was. In between fielding key questions to Tim, he leaned his cheek on his palm, rubbed his neck and closely-shaven head with his hand, took sips of coffee, poured water in a glass and checked his mobile. But not once did he lose awareness or momentum of the panel.

I sat enraptured by his fluid and constant use of his nom-my biceps. Truth.

I love conspiracy theories. I was an ardent X-Phile and I thoroughly enjoyed John Grisham's earlier novels like "The Firm" and "The Pelican Brief". So, Tim's new novel "Shift" did sound intriguing to me.

Yes, I did nab a free unedited copy of "Shift" from the Crown Publishing booth at Comic Con. But like Tim Kring, I have been *really* busy and haven't read it yet. ;) When I do, a review will be posted!

Feel free to write post comments on the book, if you have already read it.

The book "Shift" will officially be available for purchase on August 10th from Crown Publishing Group.

In Singapore, "Shift is already available at the Kinokuniya book stores. Click here for their monthly newsletter.

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