The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #243: Reading from The Thirteenth Hour on Flying Through the Clouds and Like a Hood Ornament 3 – the Rocketeer’s Rocketpack

Episode #243: Reading from The Thirteenth Hour on Flying Through the Clouds and Like a Hood Ornament 3 – the Rocketeer’s Rocketpack

This week’s show is all about flying, both in the traditional part of the podcast as well as in the Rocketeer segment.  I’ll always aim for them to be related if possible, since, after all, The Rocketeer was one of the things that influenced the writing and creation of the Thirteenth Hour world.

In the first part of the show, I’m reading from the chapter where the main protagonist, Logan, is gifted a silver hoverboard he calls Lightning that has its own onboard magical “computer” (though that’s never exactly stated), allowing for a kind of magic artificial intelligence, and runs off the power of the sun (again, never exactly stated, at least not in this one).

Just to get us in the mood, I thought I’d include the intro from the 1984 film, The Neverending Story, for the quintessential audiovisual cloudscape experience:

Here is the passage from The Thirteenth Hour:

Lightning beeped cheerfully and drifted slowly forward down the lighted blue pathway that I had walked down earlier.  She really picked up speed in the windy section near the entrance. I crouched down low, white–knuckling the board with both hands.  Maybe I should have practiced a little first, I began thinking to myself.  But Aurora was in trouble, and I needed to concentrate on that.  The flight to Cordel would have to be my practice.  Lightning shot out of the Palace and began to climb steeply.  My heart plummeted into my stomach, and I prayed that we would slow down, eyes shut, knuckles even whiter as I gripped the edges of the board for dear life. 

The board beeped then; I opened my eyes slightly, and by shielding them against the torrential winds, I was able to see a message flash across the complicated, yet impressive looking front of the board. 

“Relax, Logan!  There’s no way you can fall.  Both your feet are now strapped in. You can let go of my sides if you want.  Have fun!”  

I looked down; my right foot was now securely strapped onto the board.  I stayed crouched low, but let go of the edges, first one hand, then another.  As soon as I did, I felt as if I were going to fall backwards and began to flail my arms.  Lightning slowed down a little, allowing me to regain my balance.  But at every dip, my stomach felt like it was shooting up to my throat.  I wanted to grab onto something solid, but I realized that there was nothing but air to hold onto!  In desperation, I gripped the side of the board again, but it didn’t do any good.

“This is harder than I thought!”

Another message flashed across the screen.

“Well, it really isn’t too hard once you get the hang of it.  Just relax and let me do the work.  Now, how about some aerobatics, my favorite?”

“Uh, wait a minute!  Aerobatics?  Is that anything like acrobatics?  I don’t think I’m ready for that!” I yelled.

“Sure you are!  You just don’t know it yet!  All you have to do is hang on!” flashed the screen.

I yelled a succession of curses as my stomach shot up to my throat as Lightning spun around three times in succession.  The screen read, “Barrel roll maneuvers complete.”

Whatever that meant!  She ended up in an inverted position, with me looking at the sea, dizzy.  I had paid so much attention to the insides of my eyelids that I hadn’t looked around to notice how high we were.  We seemed to be traveling at an insane speed.  The waves far below flashed by in a blur.  The wind kept getting caught in my gaping mouth and bellowing out my cheeks while I struggled to close my mouth.  At one point, I felt like I was going to fall out, dangling only by the straps holding my feet onto the board.  Instinctively, I grabbed both sides of the board.  Lightning rolled back over, and I breathed easier. 

“This might help you out.  I am going to deploy an invisible shield that will surround you and myself.  It’s just like a big bubble.  It will cut air resistance and protect you.  And just in case you’re interested, it will prevent you from falling should you manage to slip out of the foot restraints.”

“We couldn’t have done this before?” I croaked, as wind caught in my mouth, hard that time, stunning my vocal chords.

“No, my programming instructs us to be at least fifty miles away from the Palace before I deploy the bubble shield.”

“Why fifty?”

“If I overheat, I could self–destruct.  The explosion would level anything in the surrounding area within a fifty mile radius.”

“Self–destruct?” I repeated, horrified.

“The shield has never been tested before.  There’s a very slight chance that it will overload my systems.”


“Is it just me or is there an echo here?  It’s alright.  The shield’s up now. All systems are operating well within normal limits.  However, it’s written in my programming to warn all passengers if they aren’t.”

As if they could do anything about it, except maybe jump off and die hitting the ground instead of in a mid–air explosion.  The wind didn’t seem to be blowing as hard now, though I couldn’t see the shield, nor could I feel it.  But I noticed that it was much quieter, and I could talk without shouting, although there was still a ringing in my ears from the rushing wind.

“It seems to work,” I said, feeling around tentatively.

I looked back; I couldn’t see the Palace.  When I asked how far we were away from it, Lightning flashed across her screen, “About 75 miles right now.” 

Jeez, we were going fast.  We couldn’t have been in the air very long; under an hour, I guessed.  I looked back again and noticed a plume of colored, sparkling mist in our wake.  It looked just like a rainbow.  I looked under the board; the mist was coming out of three separate locations on Lightning’s bottom side. 

“Those are my engines.”

I realized that I had been so caught up in the excitement/horror of my ride with Lightning that I had never even questioned how she generated her power.

As if reading my mind, Lightning flashed, ”I can show you the owner’s manual later that discusses more of the specifics, but for now, all you need to know is that there’s a readout on my display that shows how much power I have left.”

I found the icon on her display, which read 95% power.

“You know, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or anything, because I really appreciate you going fast since you know I’m in a hurry and all, but do you think you could slow down just a little?  I think I left my stomach somewhere behind the last mountain.”

“No, according to my scanner, you still have it.”

“Oh … it was just a manner of speaking, you know …”

“A joke?”

I laughed.  “Well, almost, I guess.”

“Tell me a joke then.”

“Oh, I don’t know any good ones.  When we find Aurora, we’ll ask her.  She’ll know some.”

“All right.  Nothing like learning how to swim by jumping in the deep end, huh, Logan?”

“Right.  Without a lesson.”

“Well, no one ever did learn to swim in a turtle pool.”

“What’s a turtle pool?”

“You never had one of those?  One of those little plastic kiddie pools about a foot deep that you fill up with a hose?”

“Plastic?  Kiddie pool?  Hose?”

“Ehh, never mind.  Probably just some stuff that hasn’t been invented yet.  One of these days I really have to organize my files.”

“So … how long until we reach Cordel?” I asked.

“About thirty minutes.  How do you like flying around like this so far?”

“I like it, especially with the bubble shield.”

“Good!  We’ll always fly with it on from now on.  I’m glad you like flying!  I knew you were a flyer when I first saw you!” flashed the board, with a few friendly beeps.

“We’re going to take a little detour, and I think I’ll throw in a few tricks, just to keep things interesting.  Wouldn’t want you to fall asleep or anything!”  

“Oh, I really don’t think you’ll have to worry about …” 

Just at that second, I tried to scream as Lightning shot upward suddenly, but my voice was still somewhat hoarse.  All that came out was some kind of croaking sound.  Then she hung a hard right, shot into a loop with a couple of twists thrown in, and straightened out high above the clouds.  My stomach, however, took a little longer.

“Guh … give me a minute to recover,” I panted.

“Okay.  It’s pretty much a straight trip from here, so we’ll take it easy so you can get used to doing turns and things like that. Of course, you can always count on me to fly, but I thought you’d like to give it a shot yourself.”

By shifting my weight left and right, I was able to make turns.  By leaning forwards or backwards, I could either climb or dive.  I even tried a tentative loop with all the grace of a one–legged stork.

“Hey, not bad!” flashed the message board.  “See, it’s not so hard!” 

“I guess …” I said.

“Logan, I know what you need!  A little attitude!  How about some music?  ‘Cause there isn’t much to see up here.  Just clouds, and when you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  And there’s nothing like music to boost your confidence!” 

“Music?” I asked, a little surprised.

“Yes.  One of my unsung talents.”

“Hey, Lightning, that was a joke!  Well, kind of, anyway.  I think that’s called a pun.”

“Really?  Well, see, things are looking up already!”

I heard a sound suddenly.  Or sounds, rather, but they were like nothing I had ever heard before.  The music sounded slow, at first, then it picked up pace, until the speed of the music matched the speed of our flying.  It was strangely futuristic, but at the same time, it seemed like I had always known the melody. [When I was originally writing this passage, I had the melody from When in Rome’s “The Promise” in mind.]

There were words sung, too, but in a language that I neither understood nor wanted to understand; somehow, the mystery of the words added to the mystique of the music.  In a way, this is in vain, as my description here will do no justice to the melody, because there are some things that are perhaps impossible to describe in words and are better left unspoken.    

I felt, at that moment, an incredible rush of energy and indescribable exhilaration.  I felt ready to take on the world – or, at least, a dragon or two.  All my fears of flying vanished like the mist of the rainbow behind us. The feeling of gliding through the air with the wind rushing through my hair, sleeves and pant legs flapping back and forth, and the music rushing up to meet my ears was indescribable.  But it is perhaps best compared to that day, long ago, when, as I stood at the top of the hill near the castle, looking out at the landscape around – I let the wind take my hand and lead me to dance.

I later wrote a song for Long Ago Not So Far Away about this part of the book that became the song, “I’ll Fly Away.”  It has two versions, both below – with varying levels of synth and tempo depending on your mood!

Today’s Rocketeer segment is also about flying – the Rocketeer’s rocketpack!


Today marks the third Rocketeer segment as a part of the podcast.  Below are a few previous episodes about the Rocketeer:

Ep 18 on comics (Dave Stevens)

Ep 53 on rewatching the Rocketeer as an adult

Ep 235 on making the resin miniature Rocketeer

This week, we’re discussing three versions of the rocketpack (in descending order below): 1.) the sliver-purple one with fins from the comics, 2.) the finless silver double barrelled Art Deco one from the movie, and 3.) the silver and purple double barrelled one with fins from the cartoon that came out this past fall.


The Rocketeer - Meet Kit Secord (Promo) - YouTube

Here are a few design ideas on the gloves and rocketpack from the film, showing the original prototype (closer to Dave Steven’s original drawings), then how it evolved into the double silver bullet shape seen in the film (these come from The Rocketeer Official Movie Souvenir Magazine).

Here are some excerpts from the original comic drawn by Dave Stevens about how the rocket pack was controlled and refueled.  (The images below come from The Rocketeer: The Complete Deluxe Edition, which is unfortunately quite difficult to find now – look on Amazon and eBay for used copies at more reasonable prices).

This little animated .gif is, of course, from the point in the movie where the Rocketeer, not above a little self conscious vanity, asks how he looks.  Peevy, not above a little blunt honesty, says “Like a hood ornament!”  The Rocketeer blasts off for the first time, Peevy gets blown backwards into the hangar, and I get a name for this part of the podcast!

Stay tuned for more Rocketeer gear talk next week!  Stay safe!




There are now Thirteenth Hour toys!  If you’d like to pick up one of these glow in the dark figures for yourself, feel free to email me or go to the Etsy store I set up ( and get them there.

If you haven’t checked out “Arcade Days,” the song and video Jeff Finley, Brent Simon, and I finished one year ago, click on the link below to do so!

You can find more pictures and preview clips of “Arcade Days” on IG as well as this podcast’s FB page.

Empty Hands, the synth EP soundtrack to the novella, Empty Hands, is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

empty hands ep cover_edited-2.jpg

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #23: What is Fairytale Fantasy?

Episode #23: What’s Fairytale Fantasy? NYNB2016 Blog Tour Intro

In this episode, I attempt to explain what fairytale fantasy as a genre is.  My take on it, anyway.

At some point, I’ll have to delve more into this, but based on what other people have told me after they read The Thirteenth Hour and its spin-offs is that there are a few titles in the same genre (fairytale fantasy) that I should check out, as they’re similar in style.  All are very established, classic titles, so comparisons to such giants make me uncomfortable, but based on what I know, I think the tone and overall feel is similar (I use the term ‘title’ since in many cases there’s a movie and a book, and it becomes hard to separate the two):

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (read the book, watched the movie) – I’ve spoken about this one a lot and can say it directly influenced the writing of The Thirteenth Hour – though probably moreso the movie than the book.

The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle (recently listened to the audiobook read by the author; still need to watch the cartoon)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (saw the movie in college for the first time; in the process of going through the book, which starts quite differently from the movie and seems a bit more cynical than the movie so far)

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett (on the list to read)

Stardust by Neil Gaiman (about halfway through the book; never read anything by him before aside from maybe a few Sandman comics as a kid which I don’t remember well and probably didn’t understand)

With the possible exception of the Discworld books, which I haven’t read and can’t really speak to, all fit into the genre of fairy tales aimed primarily at adults.


On an entirely different note, thank you to everyone who helped support The Thirteenth Hour in it’s recent 3rd edition re-launch, and thanks to everyone who helped to support the Thunderclap, which was success – so many thanks for helping me spam the hell out of social media!! 🙂

Don’t forget about the Goodreads Giveaway for the chance to win a copy of The Thirteenth Hour!

Lastly, over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing three fantasy authors from the New Year, New Books blog tour (see this post for more info).


Don’t forget to sign up at the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win some free stuff supplied by the blog tour authors themselves.

I have a Thirteenth Hour magnet and a dropcard containing the book in various ebook formats with some bonus media in the raffle.

Stay up-to-date with the latest blog info at the main page here.  Stay tuned!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #17: Books That Influenced The Thirteenth Hour

Episode #17: Books That Influenced the Writing of The Thirteenth Hour

This episode talks about literary influences to The Thirteenth Hour, partly based on a post which can be found here:

I also refer to the TSR Endless Quest series of gamebooks, similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the time.

Image courtesy of Elfsteaks and Halfling Bacon

Here is a link on Goodreads to the historical gothic romance adventure books written by Madeline Brent, pseudonym for author and comic book written Peter O’Donnell.  He was creating great independent female characters before it was as trendy to do so as it is now.

“When You don’t know what to do, just do whatever comes next and go from there.”
Madeleine Brent, Moonraker’s Bride

Although not mentioned in the podcast, another book that I remember enjoying in grade school that is somewhat similar to books like The Neverending Story (but written for a somewhat younger audience) is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

The Phantom Tollbooth

Episode 18 will talk more about comic books and illustrations.

Thanks for listening!  Feel free to leave comments below!


thunderclap 13th hr picture_edited-1




Influences Behind “The Thirteenth Hour” Part 4: Music

A few months back, I wrote posts about influences from movies, books, and games that went into creating The Thirteenth Hour.  This is the last in that series and focuses on the music that went into writing the book.  It’s mostly 80s material, which is probably why the theme music I wrote for the book trailer sounded like something out of an 80s movie.

I dunno, there’s something about the lonely wail of an electric guitar and the soft, swirling moan of a synthesizer that gets the creative juices flowing – at least for me 😉

I’ve linked the music below to videos and when I could.

-Alphaville – “Forever Young” (amazon link)

When I first heard this song, I thought, “Man, this is a great song.  I totally don’t understand the lyrics, but … who cares?”  I also immediately thought it was from an 80s fantasy movie.  It wasn’t (at least not to my knowledge) but has been used and sampled in countless movies, commercials, and other songs since.

In the original draft of The Thirteenth Hour, I added a quote from the lyrics at the end of the book.  Since both the book and song touched on mortality and getting older, I thought I’d include a little homage to the song as a way to end the book:

So many adventures couldn’t happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams swinging out of the blue
We let them come true

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever?
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever?

When I decided to publish the book, I actually contacted the band and asked about permission to reprint those lyrics.  They routed me to the Hal Leonard Corp. in the USA, which publishes sheet music (and apparently also handles rights to song lyrics, which I didn’t know).  I obtained the rights to reprint the lyrics in the US easily enough, but since Hal Leonard is a US only company, they had no jurisdiction outside the country.  I tried one more lead but eventually shelved trying to obtain worldwide permission for another day (when I’ll hopefully have the help of someone who better knows how to do these kinds of things).

So, at this point, no copies of The Thirteenth Hour have these lyrics, but … there are always future editions.  Until then, there’s this backstory and a link to the video.

-When in Rome – “The Promise” (amazon link)

Songs like “Forever Young” and “The Promise” by When in Rome were examples of the New Wave music that was popular in the 80s.  By the time I finally became interested in music and could afford to buy tapes and, later, CDs, the genre was already out of date and the albums were getting hard to find in most stores.  It was before the internet made it easy to obtain whatever music you wanted, so you had to go to a music store, like Sam Goody, and hope for the best.  Sometimes the people working there could order the CD for you, but once I figured out that you could buy things on the internet, that became obsolete.  But before giving up and going the online route, I’d usually try a used record store in the town where I went to college that had tons of used CDs and a dwindling collection of tapes.  There was always a hopeful, though remote possibility they might have it and then there would be no need to wait for it to be shipped.  (But it was hard to find what you wanted there unless you were able to commit to a few hours of hunting through the racks, CD by CD, fingers crossed, hoping you’d find what you were looking for.  Most of the time, I didn’t, though I did find other albums I ended up liking.)

But this album by When in Rome I think I did find in a store.  I forget where, but I must have been in high school since I know I had it when I was writing The Thirteenth Hour ; it was the music I imagined playing in the background when Logan was flying on Lightning for the first time, going to find Aurora.  The lyrics didn’t quite fit the situation, but the general message of the song seemed appropriate at the time.  In my early drafts, the romantic relationship between Logan and Aurora developed a lot quicker than it did in the final version, so the song fit better.  I ended up changing the pacing of the romance to be slower and what I thought would be more realistic for two young people new to navigating the complicated, confusing game that love creates.  However, whenever I hear this song, I still picture a pink-hued setting sun reflecting off snow-capped mountains and Logan, wind whistling through his hair, shooting past on Lightning, intent on finding his Aurora.

Maybe I’ll make a video or picture of that in the future, but until then, here’s the music video of the actual song.

-Tangerine Dream – “The Unicorn Theme” from Legend (amazon link)

I actually wrote about the music from the movie Legend before.  The totally 80s sounding unicorn theme was, not surprisingly, my favorite track from the album and dare I say, my favorite part of the whole movie.  But it wasn’t actually 100% complete on the album – they truncated it for some reason.  I distinctly remember wishing they had included the whole thing, but I think later editions did, since you can hear it here.

The Jerry Goldsmith score used for European versions of the film, is more lyrical and doesn’t use synthesizers.  It fits the movie in a way that makes it more timeless, while the synth Tangerine Dream version plants it firmly in the 80s, which, arguably, is not necessarily a bad thing 🙂  To me, it meant that fantasy could co-exist side-by-side with futuristic synthesizer sounds, which, though some may disagree, adds a bit of flair to the movie.

There’s an interesting retrospective look at the film, its version, and its score here.

-The Neverending Story OST (amazon link)

The NeverEnding Story [Complete Score]

Like Legend above, while I touched on music from The Neverending Story before, it deserves special mention again since it’s clearly a soundtrack that fits well into the decade (came out in 1984).  If it were made today, it would probably sound much different, but I would argue that there was something about the synthesized score and the upbeat Europop sounding theme song that fit the movie well.  The score is as much a part of the character of the film as the visuals.  Indiana Jones wouldn’t be Indiana Jones without his theme.  Rocky wouldn’t be Rocky without a power ballad by Survivor.  Jean Claude Van Damme jump hook kicking Bolo Yeung in Bloodpsort just wouldn’t be the same without the synthesized backing track.  And The Neverending Story without its unique soundtrack would be, well, like The Neverending Story part 2.

Anyway, here’s the swirling cloud intro with the theme song.  The hard-to-find soundtrack (some of which you can listen to here) deserves a listen as a whole if you like the film.  Not surprisingly, when making the trailer for The Thirteenth Hour, I added some swirling cloud scenes as a homage to the film.

-The Prince Valiant cartoon OST (amazon link)

Prince Valiant was, in my opinion, an underrated cartoon that ran in the early 90s on the Family Channel.  I remember it being on Sunday mornings and tried to watch it whenever I could, through I never caught all of the episodes (there were 65 total).  The characters were likable, and there was an epic intro theme song, which was pretty kickass for a cartoon intro.  It was, after all, about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, so maybe was all fitting.  A soft rock ballad with a slightly more new-agey feel, the song also fit the time (early 90s).

A few years later, I found the soundtrack in the bargin bin of a local bookstore since it had a damaged case.  Intrigued, I bought it.  The theme song was as kickass as I remembered.   This was before I knew much about mp3s or any other digital music, so it kind of sucked to buy an album and find you only liked one song.  But I surprised myself by liking the rest of the CD, too.  Like The Neverending Story OST, this one had a largely synthesized/electronic soundtrack that was probably largely a product of the time.  Like the other music here, it provided inspiration for the theme I wrote for The Thirteenth Hour.

-Van Halen – “When It’s Love” (amazon link)


Unlike the others on this list, this Van Halen power ballad isn’t New Wave, but it has this synthesized intro (full song here) that I’ve always liked and is the music I pictured playing in the background as Logan and Aurora get married at the end of the book.

As the song comes to a close, there’s one last synthesized break, and I always pictured them flying away into the setting sun on Lightning, off to find a better life of their own making on their island of purple mountains and wild horses.



The Thirteenth Hour Kindle Edition 60% Off Sale – This Week!

Get The Thirteenth Hour for the Kindle this week for $1.99, as opposed to its usual $4.99 price!

That’s a discount of 60%!

Want to try before you buy?  Check out the links below for excerpts and other free stuff.

Here’s the link to

logan and aurora castle grounds moonWM


One sentence summary: a nontraditional faerie tale for adults about a young man and his childhood friend who journey to the ends of the Earth to find the secret of eternal life for a narcissistic King, learning a little about living, loving, dying, and dreaming in the process.

You might like this book if you enjoy … 

  • 1980s fantasy and scifi films
  • books like The Neverending Story by Michael Ende or Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • adventures with unassuming, introspective protagonists
  • coming of age stories
  • irreverent (probably politically incorrect) humor
  • fantasy art
  • martial arts
  • gymnastics/acrobatics
  • archery
  • throwing cards
  • skipping stones
  • contemplating the nature of human existence
  • backflipping chimpanzees (yes, there is one)


Influences Behind “The Thirteenth Hour” Part 2: Film

This is a continuation of my previous post that looks at media influences behind The Thirteenth Hour.  Previously, I talked about how novels, illustrated children’s books, and graphic novels played into the writing and art style of the book.  Today, we’ll be looking at how movies and television programs did the same.  I’ve tried to include links for each where you can find out more if curious; all pictures are linked to their source sites.


ET – I was obsessed with this movie when I was eight years old.  As much as I liked the idea of an alien visiting my backyard, I think I also wanted to Eliot, the main character, too.  I mean, he got to drink Coke out of a can, had Star Wars action figures, and ate Reese’s pieces.  In 1988, that seemed like the bees knees as far as I was concerned.  And, he was a misunderstood youth who was picked on and bored at school – a sympathetic main character for an eight year old trying not to zone out while the teacher went on about long division.  There was also a scene near beginning of the film where his brothers are playing a board game I thought was Dungeons and Dragons (more on this below … or maybe the game Tunnels and Trolls), with little men and a diorama-like set that (I guess) was supposed to by a dungeon (you can sort of see it below and in this clip).

That seemed awesome at the time, too.  I created the character of Alfred, the boy who falls asleep in class and dreams the events in The Thirteenth Hour, with at least a little of Eliot in mind.

The Neverending Storyanother contribution to the Alfred character was one of the main characters from this 1984 film, Bastian, the boy who finds The Neverending Story book in an old bookstore while running away from bullies and gets transported inside its covers.  I saw this movie before I read the book.  They both have different merits, but I must admit that from the start, with the swirling, dreamscape clouds (see below) and 80s synthpop theme, I was hooked.

The Last Starfighteranother 1984 film about a young man, Alex Rogan, from a trailer park who is recruited into an interstellar space war after acing The Last Starfighter arcade game implanted on Earth by an enterprising alien recruiter.  Although I don’t think I realized it at time time, there are a lot of parallels in this story to how Logan from The Thirteenth Hour is recruited by Wally, a fast talking wizard, into becoming an Imperial Ranger.  There’s even a part where Wally tries to convince Logan he should stay in the Imperial Rangers, just like how the film’s alien recruiter tries to convince Alex he’s destined to be a starfighter and not just a kid from a trailer park.  (At least, that’s how I remembered it, I haven’t seen the movie in a long time.)  And, now, as I write this, I’m just realizing that Logan and (Alex) Rogan sound … kind … of … alike.  (I can’t remember if his last name is mentioned in the film, but it’s the one listed on  Hmm.  I guess the things you consume do influence you in unconscious ways.  But … that’s kind of the point of this site – to explore where all this came from as much as possible!

Labyrinth – a film featuring a young Jennifer Connelly playing a girl that faces off against David Bowie (in tights and big hair) in a labyrinth filled with fantastical creatures to rescue her infant brother, who is kidnapped by David Bowie’s goblins.  Why David Bowie has goblins and is wearing tights is anybody’s guess, but it might have something to do with it being 1986.  Jim Henson and his team created the goblins for the film, and it’s a wonderful example of puppetry prior to films dominated by CGI.  I recently rewatched the movie with my brother, and we felt to held up pretty well over the years.  But one thing I was struck by this time was a scene where David Bowie is pointing at a clock with 13 hands:

Umm … 13 hands … 13 hours … uh … was I aware of this at the time when I wrote The Thirteenth Hour?  I’d seen the movie for sure; it was one of my favorites since first seeing it at age nine or so, but I honestly can’t remember looking back 16 years.  Who knows;  like I said above, the unconscious works in weird ways.

The Flight of Dragons this early 80s animated film (which I think was done by Japanese animators since the characters have that vaguely early 80s anime look) is another story in which the protagonist is transported into a parallel world, this time into the world of a game.


In the game’s world, there is a (if I remember correctly) subtle romance between the main character (the guy in the bowtie) and the princess character (the piece on the right).  Now, I haven’t watched this movie since I was in elementary school, but I seem to remember this part of it was, well … nice.  Yeah, really nice.  There was a kind of warm, fuzzy, wistful feel about the way the writers portrayed the growing attraction between these two characters.  Not sure what was responsible for this – it have been could be the 80s Japanese influence or just two and a half decades of fuzzy memory at work, but that’s what I remember for whatever reason.

Flight of the Navigatoranother 80s film in which a boy meets an alien (in the form of a spaceship), though this time, he’s abducted and transported 8 years into the future.  I think the scenes of the ship and its interior served as inspiration for some of The Thirteenth Hour‘s locations, like the Palace of the winds, with it’s floating chairs and staircases.

Flight Of The Navigator(the page this picture is from has lots of other great movies on it with clips and comments)

There are also some great scenes of the ship zooming through the clouds and over water, which was sort of what I was envisioning when Logan zooms around the sky on Lightning in The Thirteenth Hour.  I wonder if this was something of an 80s movie staple – films like The Neverending Story, The Flight of the Navigator, and The Lost Boys come to mind as ones where there is aerial footage of flying through a sunset-lit clouded sky.  I tried to do something similar in the book trailer.  I guess it was my way of paying homage to these films.


logan flip clouds black cover no infinity

Update (2/7/16): Old and new covers of Logan soaring and backflipping in the skies.

The Sword in the Stone – This animated film from the 1960s had a great portrayal of Merlin the wizard.  It was based on the first part of the book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, but this was one of the few cases where I enjoyed the movie more than the book.

There’s one part where Merlin transports himself to Bermuda, and when young (future King) Arthur asks where that is, Archimedes, Merlin’s pet owl and requisite Disney animal sidekick, says, (roughly) “Oh, some place that hasn’t been discovered yet.”  In the picture above, you can see Merlin is sporting shades and Bermuda shorts.  And that gives you some idea of the humor they imbued in the film.  I tried to give a nod to these kinds of anachronisms with the banter Logan has with Lightning, as well as with Wally, Wander, and William (these three wizards I envisioned looking something like the Merlin in this cartoon).

Willow unlike some of the other examples above, in this 80s fantasy film, there is no alternate world in which the protagonist is transported.  You started off the movie in it, which, after all the parallel universe shifting in 80s movies, was a nice change of pace.  (You can only stretch the fantasy thing so far – when fantasy characters pop up in the modern world and end running around in New York city or something, it gets a little weird.)  Anyway, I saw this when it first came out, thought it was basically the second coming, and now am kind of afraid to rewatch it for fear it may not have aged well (that’s probably true of a lot of these films, by the way).  However, I remember liking the epic score.  And, the idea of an unlikely, somewhat naive hero going on a quest to save a world is a fantasy staple that never really gets old.  Joseph Campbell has written about the archetypal tale of the hero’s journey and why it has appealed to us throughout the ages.

Legendlike Willow, the world of Legend is self-contained.  It also has Tim Curry in tons of makeup and a young Tom Cruise running around in armor but no pants (which, if you’re a straight dude, fail).  The story in this one I remember being, how shall we say … a bit shite.  I also saw it as a teenager, so I was probably a bit more critical than I would have had I seen it earlier.  But I recall enjoying the scenes with the unicorns and liked the soundtrack, which if I remember correctly, was a more traditional score (by Jerry Goldsmith) in some versions and a synthesizer-based one by Tangerine Dream in others.  I saw the synth one, and though I think fans of the film often knock it for being out of place, I thought it fit just fine for the 80s (The Neverending Story did something similar).   And, what the hell did I know at the time – it made perfect sense for unicorns to be frolicking about with a pantless Tom Cruise doing roundoffs on a table in the fight with Tim Curry while electric guitars and synthesizers wailed in the background.  I loved every bit of it, and that’s why I made a synth theme for The Thirteenth Hour.

  logan hair

As a total aside, in my opinion, the Tom Cruise character (like Noah Hathaway’s Atreyu character in The Neverending Story) had great hair.  Maybe it was more fashionable in the 80s when big hair was a thing, but to my untrained eye, I thought the longish, somewhat unkempt look was the perfect ‘do for an unassuming hero, and gave Logan from The Thirteenth Hour something similar.  Again, this may be just me looking back 16 years later and trying to make connections out of thin air, hey, if the shoe fits …

(Movies and book illustrations obviously don’t have to contend themselves with the obvious realities of trying to make hair like this look at least somewhat presentable.  Having unfortunately dabbled in the longish hair for a time when trying to um … save some funds, I erroneously thought long hair would be less hassle than short hair since you had to cut it less and do less with it – you know, like combing it.  Right?  Nope.)

The Black Cauldronlike Willow above, this Lloyd Alexander book spun into an unlikely children’s movie, which I remember being quite dark for Disney, was another example of the hero’s journey, where a reluctant hero (an assistant pig keeper, I think) goes on an epic journey because he believes in something bigger than himself.  I haven’t seen the film in a long time, but if I remember right, there’s also a cute romance that develops between the main character and the female lead, that, like in The Flight of Dragons, portrays those awkward, tentative first steps young adults make on their way to figuring out what love is.  In the future, perhaps I’ll write more about this aspect of writing Logan and Aurora’s relationship in The Thirteenth Hour, but for now, I’ll say that it look quite a few years to get their story right, as I suppose it took a number of years of life experience to be able to reflect and write about something that is so central to human existence, yet so mysterious and complex.

-“Wildfire” (cartoon) – a hard to find Hanna Barbera cartoon from 1986 about a girl who has another identity in a parallel universe and a magic horse called Wildfire that can transport her back and forth.  I remember it most for its catchy theme song which stuck with me all these years.  I can’t say this for sure, but I’m sure there was a reason why I thought it was important to have songs as a part of The Thirteenth Hour.  Maybe this is one of them.

“Dungeons and Dragons” (cartoon) – I had no idea what Dungeons and Dragons was as a kid.  I mean, I knew it was some kind of game set in a fantasy world with the potential for quests and epic battles and creatures like dragons and elves, and I had a few choose-you-own-adventure style D&D books that made the whole things seem just … epic, like something out of a video game (but almost better, since the graphics sucked back then).  Then, when I was older, I found out what a “role playing game” really was – you, well, played a role.  Like in a play.  You had to act.  And you had little funny shaped dice that decided your fate.  I never did figure out if you got to have those little action figures like in the ET scene and what, if anything, you did with them.  I mean, I don’t know what I expected, but for some reason, I remember being incredibly disappointed.  Looking back, I think what I really wanted was what video games now are capable of offering – an immersive fantasy world.  But obviously, that didn’t really exist in 1987 (or if it did, I certainly didn’t know about it).  But … there was this little cartoon which I watched sometimes on weekend mornings.  I don’t think I really understood what was going on, either, but it had knights, wizards, and dragons, and that was good enough for a seven year old.

In the next post, I’ll continue the video game talk and how my stumbling attempts at playing them influenced the creation of The Thirteenth Hour. 



Influences Behind the Thirteenth Hour Part 1: Books

There are no new ideas, really.  But we do take things in our experience and make them our own by changing or tweaking a little here or there.

In the process of editing The Thirteenth Hour, I tried to reverse engineer where the various ideas making up the book came from (or contributed in some way, served as inspiration, or broadened my horizons).  This first in a series of several posts will look at what I came up with so far.  I’ve included links to goodreads and other sites where appropriate:


I read a lot as a kid, and while I always wanted to like fantasy books became they had cool covers, I always had trouble getting into them – the obscure name with a zillion consonants, the fact they they often just plopped you in the middle with little to no explanation of the backstory, the fact that it was usually impossible to find the first book in the series, leading you to have to to figure it out on your own, etc).  Some of those gripes are a thing of the past given you can find pretty much anything on the internet, but at the time, it was frustrating.  So I found myself gravitating to the ones that weren’t necessarily pure fantasy, were a little more user-friendly, and ideally, didn’t necessarily take themselves too seriously.  I’ve also listed some picture books, non-fantasy novels, and comics that I grew up reading that influenced the art and writing style in The Thirteenth Hour.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende – probably the first fantasy style novel that I was able to successfully read.  The hardcover edition I read was printed in red and green text depending on which character’s story it was, which influenced me to do something similar with the text of The Thirteenth Hour.  I was about nine when I read it, and remember feeling very proud after finishing it – not only was it over 400 pages long, it was housed in the adult part of the library.  But it was also a book for grown ups that had pictures (the beginning of each chapter was adorned with a montage-style picture of the chapter’s contents), which blew my mind at the time, and has forever biased me to novels that also have illustrations.  It was also one of the many stories of the time that used the guise of a young protagonist getting sucked into the world of a story to advance the plot).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – my mother started reading this story to my brother and I when I was about twelve or so.  I ended up finishing the rest of the series on my own and always enjoyed the irreverent, dry humor of the book, which probably influenced the narrative of The Thirteenth Hour in some underlying ways).

Lost in Place by Mark Salzman – a memoir, actually, of author Mark Salzman’s childhood.  Probably one of my favorite books of all time because of the irreverent, honest writing style.  I read it as a teenager and particularly delighted at his descriptions of his martial arts training and his youthful obsessions to be an astronaut and kung fu monk, all of which I could relate to.  The writing style probably influenced me giving Logan from The Thirteenth Hour a similar voice).

The Teddy Bear Habit by James Lincoln Collier – I think I had to read this book in the sixth? grade.  I remember it being hilarious, and although it’s a product of the times (written in the 60s with lots of period slang throughout), that didn’t really seem to matter.  It’s a funny story, and the part I recall most fondly is the narrator, who’s a twelve year old but has the perspective of an adult.  Like the proceeding books on this list, the style influenced the first-person narrated sections of The Thirteenth Hour.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien – I think this was another one we had to read for school, but like The Teddy Bear Habit, it was a good choice.  This book also used the premise of a parallel world operating right under our noses (in this case, one of animals), which was (apparently) a common theme of a lot of stuff I liked then.  Like all those works, that idea probably influenced the creation of the world of dreams in The Thirteenth Hour.

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – a wonderfully illustrated and written version of the St. George tale.  We had a bunch of books illustrated by Ms. Hyman (see below for another example) when I was growing up, and the artwork probably influenced how I drew some of the scenes in The Thirteenth Hour.

Swan Lake by Margot Fonteyn/Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – see above.

Bone comics by Jeff Smith – my brother had a few magazines when he was a kid (I think they were called Disney Adventures) that had a serialized version of the first few parts of this comic.  I later checked out a few volumes from the local library but never actually got around to finishing the rest of the story (it’s on my to do list).  But I really enjoyed the inked black and white art, probably one of the influencing factors behind the stylized, semi-cartoony look I gave the characters in The Thirteenth Hour.  Plus, this was the probably first time I’d seem a fantasy comic done in a graphic novel form.  I flirted with the idea of making The Thirteenth Hour into a comic, and even had some comic-esque scenes that I drew, but in the end shelved those for another day.  I think the only one that made it into the book was a frame where Logan is telling Aurora to run (and you can see the word bubble).

Logan with beardWM

Archie comics – my brother also had a ton of Archie comics which I’d occasionally read.  I don’t recall the stories being terribly engaging (except for one where Archie meets the Punisher – see the link!), but I did like the stylized way the characters were drawn.  I even tried tracing, then copying, a few to get the hang of drawing cartoons.  (I remember having a lot of trouble with eyes and noses and found it easier to make them look acceptable the way they were drawn in these comics rather than in a more photo-realistic way).  So, like Bone above, it influenced the art in The Thirteenth Hour.

Logan pushupsWM

Speaking of art, it took years, but I finally figured out that although fantasy novels were always a kind of plus minus experience for me, with a few key exceptions, what I really liked were the covers.  In other words – fantasy art.  There, it was all spelled out, so to speak – the entire story in one picture.  If you, too, enjoy pictures of surreal landscapes, dragons, and the like, check out the great fantasy art on deviantart.  The Thirteenth Hour has its own page there.

In the next post, I’ll transition entirely to visual media with movies and television programs that influenced The Thirteenth Hour.





-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

-Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.