It’s November which means two things if the internet is any indication:

  1. It’s Movember, where men are supposed to grow mustaches to show awareness for and raise money for men’s health.
  2. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing month, where you’re supposed to bang out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, presumably while growing a moustache (if you’re a man anyway).

Someone asked me if I was participating in either. I replied in the negative. One, because I’ve already grown my facial hair for the year and was not about to shave it all off and start again. And as a man in his early 40s, I’m well aware of men’s issues. Also my back hurts.

Regarding NanoWriMo however, it was also an emphatic no, because, and here’s where I alienate everyone out there who does NaNoWriMo, because I don’t see the value in it.

Oh stop it ...

Oh stop it …

I write for a living. Mondays thru Fridays and occasionally on weekends (though I like to keep those free for revising what I did the five days previous and for spending time with my family). So I wouldn’t benefit from trying to bang out a novel in thirty days, because I’m already at work on several things with a deadline and people are paying me to do that. They wouldn’t appreciate hearing I was taking a month to work on something not at all related to what they expect me to.

Another reason: Magicians Impossible, which is the novel I’m already writing, the one coming to fine bookstores everywhere from St Martin’s Press-Thomas Dunne books in 2017. The first draft of that took me three and a half months, and ended with a roughly 132,000 word draft. That was finished mid-September. I took a break from it for a few weeks, then just after Columbus Day, printed the whole thing out and re-penned it; a task which took me to, well, right now. The next few weeks will be occupied by plotting and outlining the changes, collating my notes on the draft, so on Monday November 30, I can commence the rewrite, in order to deliver my draft to my editor on my contracted delivery date of March 1st.

Amidst all of this I’m in revision mode on 60 Squadron, the TV series I’m developing with Copperheart Entertainment. There’s also the matter of Starseeker, another television project I’m working on for Little Engine Motion pictures, which is now being shopped around. So that fills the day.

And, of course, Dad life; as a stay-at-home dad AND working writer that’s like having two concurrent full-time jobs. Baby needs to be fed, changed, and played with. So again, no time for NanoWriMo

And even if I did have the time for it I still probably wouldn’t do it. The idea of writing for a page count/word count is antithetical to everything I believe a writer should focus on. And I say this having been that guy who once obsessed on:

  1. Page count
  2. Word count

When I began this writing journey in 1999 I wrote faster than I do now largely because I had no choice. On RoboCop: Prime Directives we had a punishing deadline LINK and had to adjust schedules accordingly. That meant a new 95 page screenplay every 2 weeks. So, 45-50 pages each between me and my partner on it meant I had to knock out 7-10 pages of script a day, and him likewise so by Tuesday-Wednesday we had an assembled draft. Two days and sleepness nights later we had a polished draft to deliver. On the weekends, we crashed. On Monday the process started all over again.

Subsequently I’ve had much more time to write screenplays, on assignment or on my own, but in general I stick to 5 GOOD pages a day. That’s written polished, rewritten some more. 5 pages a day gives me a 100 page draft at the end of the month, followed by a couple more months of rewriting before I’m ready to show it to anyone.

[Not: in the spirit of NaNoWriMo there’s now ZD30, where you’re supposed to write a feature length screenplay in 30 days. This is something I’ve been doing for some time now.]

With prose, on Magicians my goal was 1500 words a day. I had considered 2000, but given my son was due to be born midway through the drafting I knew those 2000 words a day would take a hit after the birth. 1500 made more sense to me; I knew that – good day or bad – I could hit that 1500. And with the exception of the 36 hours I spent at the hospital while my wife was in labor I wrote 1500 every day. I actually finished the draft only two weeks over schedule I’d set when beginning. Partially because a baby occupies more time than you could ever imagine possible, but also because I’d miscalculated how long the first draft of the manuscript was going to be. I’d guesstimated it would be 90-100 K words when in actuality the first draft clocked in at 30-40K above that. But that’s where revisions come in – I’d rather have material to strip away than have to write more of it.

So that’s where strike one of NaNoWriMo comes in for me – 50K is probably too short for a first draft of a novel. It’s always better to chuck expectations, put butt in chair and write freeform than just to hit an arbitrary number of words.



Strike Two is because NaNoWriMo encourages you to update progress, to compare yours with other participants, and to write, damn it. But to me writing isn’t about the actual writing; the physical sit your butt down and pound keys. The best writing – to me – comes when I’m away from my desk. That’s where the ideas come. Going back to the 5 pages/1500 words model. On a good day I can make that goal by noon (starting your writing day at 6am helps). So what do I do the rest of my day? Before parenthood I’d go for a nice long walk, lie on the couch, listen to music, watch a movie, read a book. But the day’s work is never that far from my mind, which is why after a break, I go back to my desk, and read what I wrote that morning. I make edits, notes, changes, so by 5pm I’ve made my goal, revised pages, and ended up with something that hopefully won’t require much in the way of rewriting down the line.

I think if your primary focus is meeting that deadline, of making your page goal, then you aren’t writing – you’re typing. And anyone can do that. It makes reaching that magic number the reason to do it; not telling an actual compelling story. It’s about typing The End, not actually making the journey worthwhile.

Strike Three gets into much more philosophical territory. And with apologies to Frank Capra, I like to call it “Why We Write”.

If you’re a writer, or a NaNoWriMo participant (or both), have you ever asked yourself why? Why write? Is it because you have a story to tell? Is it because you get paid to do it? Is it because you have all these ideas and characters and voices in your head? Is it because you hope your manuscript will attract the eyes of an agent, then a publisher, then millions of readers round the world?

Why do it?

You’re only setting yourself up for heartbreak, you know. The odds of success – of publication, or production – are not in your favor. The fact I’ve been able to eke out a living doing what I do is a minor miracle, believe me. I’ve been without money much more often than I’ve been with it. And achieving success in the creative field has become more difficult with the advent of the internet where everyone expects you to do what you do for low to no pay. That book you toiled on thru NaNoWriMo and countless days and weeks and months of revision? If you’re lucky someone will buy the self-published version you release for Amazon Kindle for a whopping 99 cents.

Writing is a marathon. It isn’t a sprint. It’s hard work. It’s working when you’re tired, when you’re exhausted, when the ideas are flowing like molasses in January but your deadline is fast approaching.

It’s about constant motion. That’s not the same as ‘write every day’. It’s about constantly flexing that writing muscle. You do that through observation of human behavior. Through developing ideas. By reading books, of watching movies and TV. By travelling outside your comfort zone and finding something to write about.

I write because I have a story I’m trying to tell. After twenty years I haven’t managed to tell it, yet. But I’m trying to get there. I probably never will achieve that perfect moment but that’s why I keep pushing; because The End is not the goal –getting there is.

Very true

Very true


Everyday is Halloween

I realize I don’t write much about writing like a writer is supposed to. As someone who’s written movies, TV, comics, and now a novel you’d think I’d have lots to say. And I do have lots to say; I just choose not to say it. While I am happy to answer questions people have about my process, writing about it unprompted is just something I don’t do. I figure there’s already too much white noise from writers blathering on about their craft that the world doesn’t need another noise maker.

That said, there is one question I do get asked a lot, especially when people find out I’ve been doing what I do professionally for what will be 17 years this January;

“How do you make a living as a writer?”

To which I reply; “Well, it’s not much of a living.”

Then I answer the question as honestly as possible;

“By not doing it for free.”

That’s it.

No matter your level of experience, if you’re a writer, if you’re any kind of artist, you should get paid for the work you do for people because it is work. Hours, days, weeks, months, if not years of your life consumed by your art. You won’t get those hours back. And if someone is asking you to essentially sign over those precious hours of your limited and ever dwindling lifespan to write for them, they damn well better make it worth your while. Writing a review, penning a magazine piece, writinga screenplay – you have to be paid. That’s pretty much my mantra:

Writers. Get. Paid.

Or to put as The Joker so eloquently did in The Dark Knight (after killing a dude with a pencil, get it? A pencil) “If you’re good at something never do it for free.

And you wouldn't disagree with a psychotic clown

And you wouldn’t disagree with a psychotic clown

But Brad, you say; What if there’s a really great opportunity but not a lot (or any) money? What then? To which I answer: “They can still pay you without paying you.”

Then you get confused.

Then I explain.

For a month in 1998, I lived at a movie theater. The Bloor Cinema to be exact, as I was volunteering to help run that year’s installment of the FantAsia film festival. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did write about the pivotal experience here  as it was one that literally changed my life.

During this film fest I got friendly with Rodrigo Gudino. He was just at the start of a very long and very distinguished career as a writer, filmmaker, and creator and editor of a genre magazine of some note.


Julian Grant, festival programmer and friend of the magazine, had graciously offered space – for free – in the lobby for Rod to flog Rue Morgue which, IIRC, was only 5-6 issues in (currently RM sits at #161). But back then it was just this small, cool, well-written horror magazine still finding its audience. Anyway Rod and I spent a lot of time in that lobby between screenings, talking horror and movies, and when the festival wrapped, Rod invited me to write some movie reviews for Rue Morgue.

These would be unpaid reviews.

This was because, at the time nobody – not Rod, not publisher Marco Pecota, was making any money at it. They were both living at the magazine’s offices (which were owned by Marco’s family). Food and expenses were covered, but any dollars the magazine made – which were few – were rolled right back into producing the magazine. There was no money – let me repete that; There Was No Money. It was a genuine labor of love for Rod and Marco and for the small group of contributors who, to this day, Rod, and ubsequent editors Jovanka Vuckovick and Dave Alexnder would proclaim without prompting were the real backbone of Rue Morgue.

My first published piece as a magazine writer appeared in the November-December 1998 issue of Rue Morgue, issue #8. It was a review of Jack Hill’s Spider Baby, and appeared on the same page as my then writing partner Joe O’Brien’s review of Evil Dead 2, and Rod’s review of the Canadian thriller Trail of a Seriel Killer, whch was actually co-written by Joe, and starred Michael Madsen as “FBI Agent Brad Abraham.”


And for the next nearly 10 years I stayed at Rue Morgue even when my career as a screenwriter took flight. I stayed because I enjoyed the work, I liked the Rue Crue, and I just enjoyed being a journalist even though I wasn’t being paid to. I became RM’s man on the ground at the Toronto International Film Festival  from 1999-2002. As by then I’d become a full-time screenwriter, I had the time to spend the week at screenings and interviews and roundtables. I got to see movies before they were released, I got to meet and interview filmmakers known and (then) unknown. People like Guillermo del Toro, Eli Roth, Don Coscarelli, Angus Scrimm, Bruce Campbell, the Hughes Brothers, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, and the even more legendary Roger Corman.

And one of my featured cover stories, I might add

And one of my featured cover stories, I might add

Now I wasn’t paid for these interviews, reviews, or screenings either – well, not if you consider money being the only way to be paid. I was paid in experience, but also in access. To meet people I’d idolized my entire life in some cases. To ask them the questions I always wanted to.

And it wasn’t long before I started getting paid in dollars too.

In 2001 the screenwriting life hit a speed bump – a big project I was working on was canned after delivering scripts, and while I was paid for my work on that and wisely banked the proceeds, I had nothing lined up in the immediate future. I needed to find some way to make rent without having to go back to the 9-5 day job. By then I’d amassed a number of credits with Rue Morgue and while I hadn’t been paid for them, they had been published, and to some acclaim too. So, I selected my best pieces, and using them as a portfolio, began soliciting magazines that did pay.

And in the end, Dreamwatch Magazine rode in to the rescue.

Rule Britannia!

Rule Britannia!

The early 2000s ended up being the twilight years for genre magazines. The internet was around, but people still largely got their interviews and news from publications like Starburst, and Starlog, and Dreamwatch. The editors of DW looked at my portfolio, liked my writing, and when I mentioned I was covering TIFF that year, asked me to be their correspondent. 2001 was a particularly good year for horror-sci fi at the festival – it saw the premieres of the Hughes’ Brothers’ From Hell, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Christophe Gans’ Brotherhood of the Wolf, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone among others. At the end of the fest I had a good ten feature articles at 2000-2500 words apiece on average to file for Dreamwatch.

Oh, they paid. In pounds sterling. That’s 10p a word, but when you factored in the exchange rate on a then-weak Canadian dollar, when it was all over, I banked nearly eight thousand dollars for what was essentially ten days of work.

And right around the same time, Rue Morgue had grown successful enough that we started getting paid for our work there too. Again, not huge dollars, but enough for Rod and the others to say “thanks” to all the contributors who’d worked for them out of that love of the genre, and of seeing our names on the masthead and in print. We’d all done our part helping build the Rue Morgue brand, and making it the success it is today. You won’t find Starburst or Dreamwatch or Starlong around anymore, but you will still find Rue Morgue. Part of why it has remaned standing is on the strength of its writing; a tone and standard first set in 1997 with Rod’s mission; to explore horror in culture first, entertainment second. And they still do to this day.

But by 2002-2003 I was feeling burnt out. I’d contributed to every issue since #8, but wasn’t having as much fun. It felt like work. Reviewing films was a chore, and I felt like I was running out of things to say. I decided I was going to end my RM run that summer and had filed what I thought was my final piece. It seemed a good time to leave. But I still stuck around some years though less frequently.  An “occasional contributor” Rod caled me, and despite wanting to move on Rod, and Jovanka, and Dave still called me up and asked if I could go interview someone, see a screening, review a book. They like me, and liked my writing, and wanted me to stay in the loop in some capacity.

The mag went through changes, hired new staff and while I don’t want to say they never were more than professional the vibe had changed. I was no longer a part of it but I did feel like I had done my part in those early no paid years to help make RM an institution and one of the few genre mags still standing. But I’ve always been the guy who leaves the party early, and I was more preoccupied with telling my own stories rather than listen to people tell theirs.

But I learned a lot in those years, and a lot of those skills I picked up – economy of writing, making your points clear and concise – proved a boon to my film and TV and now literary work.

So yeah, writing for free can be a good thing. And a good thing to leave behind.

So that’s my story. And to reiterate, you should always be paid when someone asks you to create something for them. If they have the money to produce their book, magazine, movie, TV, whatever, they should have the money to pay you. Hell, if they rent office space and pay a staff, they damn well better have money to pay you.

But you’re ultimately the one who has to decide whether anything is worth your time, and how you should be compensated. A movie ticket may be enough, building your portfolio of work is  also a given. But in the end it’s your ass in the chair. And just because they aren’t offering money, they damn well better be offering you something to make that time worth spending.

Because it’s your time, not theirs. And you won’t be getting that time back. So make every minute of it count.


Free Stuff!

Pulp Cultured is a great website that takes a daily look at comics, movies, TV, and video games. I know; “there’s hundreds of websites on the internet that do just that, Brad”, you say. And you’re right.

But in Pulp Cultured’s case, they’re running a contest to win one of five signed copies of Mixtape #1 on their Facebook page. All you have to do is “like” the page, share the post, and submit your best playlist…or mix tape if you will.


Need a refresher on what they thought about Mixtape? No problem –  check out their RAVE reviews of Mixtape #1, Mixtape #2, and Mixtape #3

And don’t forget Mixtape 1-5 are available on ComiXology right now.

Mixtape #2 arrives in comic book stores next month.



Can’t believe we’re into late October already. Since I last checked in I finished the first draft of MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE, MIXTAPE #1 returned to comic book stores, and I took a very much needed break from work to focus on being just “dad”, which has been awesome.

But I’m, back on the clock now, editing Magicians, clearing some old projects off my desk, and hoping to update this website with a little more frequency. To be honest, balancing being a stay-at-home dad with being a stay-at-home writer has been a bigger challenge than I anticipated. Something was going to fall by the wayside, so no surprise it was blogging that took the hit.

So, hopefully you’ll see more activity here soon. And as a picture is still generally considered to be worth a thousand words, here’s a quick 3K



Yes, that’s 150 signed copies of Mixtape #1, now available through Space Goat Publishing’s official store http://www.merchgoat.com

So … if you’d like a signed copy, there you go!


I don’t know what compelled me to look it up but this exact week 23 years ago I began college life.

Well, to be exact I was a week away from beginning classes – those started right after Labor Day. The week before I was settling in to my room at the residence, met my roommate, my floor mates, and did the usual stuff; registering for classes, picking up textbooks and so on. But I was still … I don’t know if haunted is the word. Maybe still tied to home, my friends, my previous life. This was a week and a time I had been looking forward to for the previous five years – I was entering Film School – but I was still feeling conflicted. Worried. Scared.

By June that year, I’d settled into something of a comfort zone. As one of those kids who never quite fit in with any group, by my senior year I had fit in … with the other kids who didn’t fit in. We weren’t preppy, we weren’t nerds, jocks, burnouts, or stoners. We just … were. If you were to look at us you’d see the Doc Martins and flannel shirts and think “grunge kids” but that was just how we dressed and that was before Alt Rock made its mainstream splash. We were maybe more “artistic” than the norm, but not enough to be considered one of the “artsy” crowd. We were average, and average wasn’t a bad thing. I think you’ll find most kids that age fit into the category of “normal, average types”.

No comment

No comment

So after the previous four years of High School (this being at a time when HS in Ontario was grades 9-12, with Grade 13 being part of the Ontario Academic Curriculum or “OAC” – basically if you had plans to attend a university you needed Grade 13/OAC – 6-8 credits to qualify for University. There were no SATs – just OAC), I settled in with a group of friends – guys and girls – into the same stuff as me; music, movies, the culture of the day. That group fluctuated from time to time, but when you got down to it the core was me, Elliott, Moira, Janet, Nathalie, Jill, Andy, Anthony, and Charles. Guys and girls not romantically linked, though Elliott and Moira were a couple for a spell. As for what we did … mostly we hung out. At one or another’s house, on the beach, by a bonfire. A large group of us went to see The Pixies in November 1991, and again, the entire group much went to Lollapalooza 1992 en mass. For the first time in a long time I was at ease in my own skin. Ticket But once we graduated our summer began, it felt like we were living on borrowed time. We had summer jobs so only really got together on weekends, and sometimes at the place of one or another’s employment. I worked at the local newspaper, on the assembly line. Basically, the newspaper you had delivered to your home began there (hot off the presses as they say). Then it went down the line where people stuffed the day’s advertising inserts in, it went through a machine that wrapped the bundle in plastic, then it reached me, who ran the machine that tied the papers into bundles to travel down a conveyer to a waiting car. Those bundles in turn were delivered to the kids mostly who in turn delivered the individual papers to the homes on their route. It was about as exciting a job as it sounds.

We were all around town, but we weren’t. Our schedules didn’t overlap much. Parties, movies, hangouts were increasingly infrequent. It was like we knew we were drifting apart but didn’t want to admit it. There was always going to be more time, right? But we all knew with every day we were closer to that inevitable parting of the ways. June turned to July, and by the approach of August, shit, as they say, began to get real.

Lollapalooza 1992 hit Molson Park on August 5. After the show ended I stayed in Toronto because on August 8th I had a one-day orientation at Ryerson University – my university. I got to stay in the residence, meet a lot of the Residence Supervisors and kids attending that fall. I met someone who was in the same program as me, also named Brad. I got the lay of the land and the campus, but by the time I got back home I realized in just a few short weeks I’d be back there and it would be my home for the next eight months. It seemed like the inevitable was crashing into my life much faster than it ever had before. Summer had dragged up until that point. Now it was accelerating.

Those remaining weeks were a blur. Buying bedding, buying supplies, things for my dorm. In a pre-internet age that meant my electric typewriter, my stereo and cassette tapes, my posters, my portable TV. It meant leaving a town I couldn’t wait to get out of, but found the closer moving day got the more I wanted to stay. To crawl into bed and cocoon myself in it and never come out. To be 18 for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong; I was excited. I mean, this was Film School, which I’d been dreaming about for years. Not just any film school but The One everyone wanted to get into – the one that only allowed 50 new students a year. I was one of those students. I was lucky. This was my future, right on my doorstep. But that meant having to say goodbye. To my town. To my friends.

And on the last weekend of August – Aug 29-30 – I said goodbye.

I’m not sure who’s idea it was, but someone realized that two of us – Nathalie and myself – would be leaving Sunday, as we were both attending Ryerson, and our classes began a week before the other schools’, which meant orientation began a week earlier. And we knew this would be the last time the whole group of us would be together at the same time for a good number of months. What we didn’t know was it would be the last time that group would be together in any place. What did we do? We went to Andy’s and hung out in his basement like we had countless times before. Drank, snacked, listened to music, shot the shit. But a countdown that had begun with months and dwindled to weeks and days was now measured in hours. My dad was driving me to Toronto the next morning and he wanted to get an early start so I think I may have been the first one to leave. There were no group hugs or tearful goodbyes. I think we’d all convinced ourselves that things wouldn’t change that much. Charles, Elliott, and Moira were going to university in Toronto also so we’d still see each other a fair bit (and did in that first year, but even then that faded like most friendships). Soon enough I was back in my car, back on the road, back to my house. My room was all but packed. The shelves looked barren, given everything I was taking with me had already been loaded into the trunk of the car.

We left at 8am the next morning. I said goodbye to my mom, my sister, our dog. My mother managed not to cry until we were pulling out of the driveway, and I’ll admit I got a little misty eyed too. We drove the three hours to Toronto, dad helped me carry stuff up to my room, we grabbed lunch nearby and he told me how proud he was – that I was only the second man in the Abraham family to go to university after him. We parted ways and I went back to my room and when I closed the door and sat there I realized I really was alone. Then I unpacked.

The years that followed – 1992-1996 – would go on to be some of the happiest of my life. I forged friendships both personal and professional that remain to this day. I still work alongside people I met that first week of university. When I visit Toronto I still see many of them.

That was 23 years ago.

Right now kids the age I was back then are trekking off to university, leaving home for the first time. Some just said goodbye to their friends and promised they’d stay in touch. And maybe they will – with social media can you really lose touch like you used to? But there’s something about when goodbye really meant goodbye. I think it made us cling to those moments a little tighter because each other’s lives weren’t a text message or Facebook post away. I think to say goodbye to childhood you really do have to say goodbye.

I don’t want to sound like another aging Gen X-er going “in my day things were better” because they weren’t. But in an era where things weren’t videoed and documented like they are now I feel like we held onto those moments a little more because we couldn’t revisit them with the click of a button. When they were over they really were over. I have few regrets about those years, and that place in my life. Sometimes I miss that town, those basement parties, and those faces. Some I’ve managed to reconnect and stay in touch with. But if there is anything I do wish is that there were photographs of that last party and that last night together. It only exists in my memories now; of a night twenty three years ago when that group of friends came together for one last hurrah, and then say goodbye so our lives could truly begin

But sometimes you have to recreate the memory you lost