Author Peter Bracke Discusses New Crystal Lake Memories!

When we first found out about and were the first website to report that a brand new Crystal Lake Memories eBook was being worked on, it was very exciting and fans shared our sentiment. That being said, there were a few concerns about the new release, such as what information was going to be included and was there only going to be an electronic version available? In the months that followed the first announcement, a few more details have been released concerning the contents of the new eBook, however, there are still a lot of fans that would like a more definitive outlook for the book.

Well, when you have questions and fans are seeking answers, what better way to get those answers than to go to the exact source of the new book, author Peter M. Bracke. Peter was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of the questions that fans have been asking, and in the process, we decided to dive further into the history of how the original book came to be published and the motivation for creating this new eBook. In doing so, we found out there is going to be a slight delay in the release of the eBook, pushed back from February 13 to February 28, 2012 (A more detailed explanation will be given in a full press release tomorrow).

So, please read the following interview for a very in-depth look into the genesis of Crystal Lake Memories and the new eBook follow-up! Big thank you once again to Peter for talking about the new release.

Peter M. Bracke And Friday The 13th: The Film Franchise

(F13th Film Franchise) Your work on Crystal Lake Memories has helped so many Friday The 13th fans learn in-depth information about their favorite slasher franchise. What was your inspiration for starting the long and arduous task of putting together a truly definitive look at the legendary franchise and when did this journey actually begin for you?

(Peter M. Bracke) Wow, it’s been such a long journey. I can’t believe, as we are finishing up the ebook versions, that I originally started the book back in 2002—a full decade ago.

I originally had the idea when I went to a screening of Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D, at the NuArt Theatre in Los Angeles, in August 2002. It was the 20th anniversary of the movie, and they were showing it in 3-D for the first time in many years. A few of the actors from the movie had been invited, including Larry Zerner, Paul Kratka, the late Steve Susskind and (in a surprise by his friends) Richard Brooker. And at that time, the Friday films really hadn’t gotten any love in terms of DVDs or online sites devoted to them. Nor had Freddy vs. Jason officially gone into production. The actors there that night all said they really hadn’t thought about the movie a long time. This, too, was before Friday had the resurgence that it has had on the convention circuit. So the feeling at that screening was one of immense nostalgia—like this big, untapped franchise that had fallen through the cracks over the years was finally being remembered. It was a really fun night.

At the time of the screening, I had been an entertainment writer for about ten years. I ran a couple of my own movie and DVD websites, and had also just finished a book on digital filmmaking, My literary agent and I were attempting to come up with ideas for what was next, and hadn’t really thought of anything like Friday the 13th. But a couple of weeks after the screening, the idea just stuck in my mind. Wouldn’t it be great to revisit one of the big classic slasher franchises? And I ultimately chose Friday because, though all of the other franchises also hadn’t had much in the way of scholarly attention, at least the first Halloween had had a cool laserdisc produced by Criterion that commemorated it, and there was a Nightmare on Elm Street DVD box set at the time. So Friday was still sort of like the total bastard child of what was already considered a bastard child by the mainstream film community. And it certainly seemed unlikely way back then that we’d ever get any love from Paramount at all for the series in terms of a special edition DVD or the like.

Anyway, the book was originally intended to be something much smaller. Probably a paperback, and I thought, “maybe I’ll do 20 or 30 interviews.” Well, three years later, it just slowly grew and grew into what became Crystal Lake Memories.

(F13th Film Franchise) The first edition of the book was released in 2005 and promptly sold out. Many fans clamored for the book after the fact and a second run was ordered to appease the fans. Were you surprised by the success of the book and what sort of fan reaction did you personally receive through snail mail, e-mail or message forums?

(Peter M. Bracke) Yes and no. I knew there was an audience of fans that, like me, grew up on the movies. I also started to notice the success companies like Sideshow Collectibles had with their Friday figures. Obviously, if they were selling out 5,000 or 10,000 copy runs of these items, well, those fans would almost certainly enjoy a hardcover book about the series, too. Still, I had no real concrete idea of just how many actual fans there were for something like this. There was no model to point to—no other slasher-related books out there that had an established track record. But I still remained somewhat confident, if hardly totally convinced, that Crystal Lake Memories would see strong sales.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, at the time, which was shortly after I had the idea for the book, the initial reaction we got from publishers was that we may be overestimating the appeal of the franchise. There were still a couple of notable publishers that did remain interested, but it came down to a production cost issue. A slimmer paperback was one thing, but a full-fledged, 320-page, full-color coffee table book about Jason Voorhees that would likely cost $50!? It was a big gamble to take.

In the end, we decided to go more grassroots. We created a website for the book that primed the pump with photos and quotes and things. We also had a great amount of help from Sean Cunningham and Crystal Lake Entertainment, and eventually New Line and Paramount. We had a really fun launch party at Universal Studios, and with my background in entertainment journalism, I was able to call in a few favors and get things like our book press release out to the major newswire services (which normally is not so easy). So there was a good feeling around the time it was coming out. It often looks easy from the outside, but a lot of work had gone into it, so honestly I may have been more surprised if the book hadn’t sold well at first.

But was has been totally shocking is that the book is still in print. Titan, our distributor, has been terrific in getting Crystal Lake Memories out to most other territories in the world outside of the United States. I still can’t believe it continues to sell seven years later! I still get emails and FB messages almost weekly from fans. It’s hugely complimentary. I’m just glad fans seem to like it. I tried to write the book about the series I wanted to have when I was a kid, and that seems to have connected with other fans. I can only say thank you.

(F13th Film Franchise) When did you start looking at the possibility of revisiting Crystal Lake to provide the fans with more interviews and information? Is the new e-Book a companion to the existing Crystal Lake Memories book or is this new work a full revision of the previous print work with added content?

(Peter M. Bracke) To be honest, completing the first version of the book wiped me. The deadline was probably too tight and, at that time, I just didn’t know how to ask for help. I also was learning how to put together a book like this for the first time. I had done many interviews before Crystal Lake Memories as an entertainment writer, but when you do 200 at once, just the sheer amount of transcript was overwhelming. Then there was editing it, writing it, doing the layouts, and the promotion. Not to mention the legwork to try and track down so many cast and crew. It was great, great fun, but those last three or four months, they are a blur of staying up two days straight at times and just burning myself out.

So the idea of a “double dip” never, ever occurred to me. I didn’t even watch a Friday the 13th movie for about three years afterward. I figured there would eventually be a remake, but it seemed so far in the future that any new version of the book with new content didn’t seem needed anytime soon. And though I saw plenty of mistakes and omissions and things I wanted to change about the first edition of the book, overall I said what I felt needed to be said about the franchise. At a certain point, too, there is only so much you can put in a book, and then it is up to other venues, like websites like yours and the DVDs and the conventions, to do the great job you do in expanding the fan base and keeping the franchise alive. So I really thought I was done with the first edition.

It wasn’t until about a year ago or so that I really paid much attention to ebooks at all. Since the market was taking off, it seemed worthwhile investigate. But to be honest, just personally, I’ve been pretty resistant to electronic books. I like print. I like flipping pages. I like going to the beach with a beat-up paperback. Lugging an iPad instead, no matter how cool it is, along with your sunblock and getting sand all over it still just seems weird to me. But regardless, ebooks are taking off, and if a Friday fan wants to read the book in that format, then that’s great.

So, after I started to explore how ebooks worked last year, I realized there are some cool things you can do electronically that you can’t do with print. Print and electronic don’t really cancel each other out, maybe they complement each other? I did worry at first that an ebook of Crystal Lake Memories may appear to “invalidate” the print edition, but quite frankly, the print version is now seven years old and it will never change. It has its own validity, and a permanence that can’t be diluted. But with more or less no space limitations in the electronic realm, and the much lower production costs, there was an opportunity to give fans something new but at the same time not rip them off with a high price tag.

Overall, the electronic versions are new editions. The skeleton of the book is the same. Anyone who didn’t buy Crystal Lake Memories in print won’t miss anything if they only pick up the ebook. However, because again there are no space limitations like print, it seemed like a waste not to give fans the material that had been lost. There were some fun stories that didn’t make it solely to space considerations. Likewise many photos. Also, I was able to expand on a good deal of content that had previously been confined to the photo sidebars only, again all due to space and list price considerations.

Then there was the opportunity for new material. Given the continued popularity of the franchise, some cast and crew now made themselves available for interviews. I was also able to go back and give some alumni the chance to respond to stories that were in the original book. Lastly, some of the references and statistics in the book simply had to be updated because it’s seven years later.

All told, to give you an idea of the expansion, the previous book was about 200,000 words. The new ebook is over 300,000. And that doesn’t include new photos. Further, we’re taking the best advantage we can of the technical capabilities of the individual formats. The Apple-based ebook, for example, utilizes the new iBooks 2 format and we’ve been able to include some surprises, like interactive photo, storyboard and document galleries, and even some video material.

Quite simply, if we tried to do a new print version of the book with all this new stuff, it would be about 500 pages long and would cost $100. So hopefully fans will enjoy this new material and still enjoy having the collectible original print edition on their shelves, too.

(F13th Film Franchise) What was the focus when laying out where to go next in adding new information? Was the task to get interviews with cast and crew that did not make it into the previous book or was there existing material, i.e. photos, that was in-hand previously that just could not fit into the print version before?

(Peter M. Bracke) A bit of both. In doing the original book, I felt I had to give each chapter the same basic structure. Everyone has a favorite film in the series, and I didn’t want to slight anyone. So I went from pre-production through casting, to filming and editing, to release. That meant that most of the stories I included had to support that basic outline, and then whatever other stuff I could fit in, I did my best. But often it really was a coin toss. I’d have three or four interesting stories, but could only fit in one or two. So the ebooks are sort of like the “director’s cut” in that I kept the basic structure of the original work but just expanded everything. More of the same, only bloodier!

Likewise, it was fun to make a list of alumni who were not involved previously, but that hopefully I could include this time around. Not everyone was interested, of course, but all told, there are over a dozen completely new interviews. Plus, I did some follow-ups with people from the first edition. For example, Part 5 remains a very controversial film in the series, and if you read that chapter in the book, you know that there were plenty of opinions on writer and director Danny Steinmann. I felt it was important to go to him and offer him the chance to share whatever thoughts he had about what was said, and without any worries about editing for space. So I’m glad content like that is now in the new ebook versions.

My only frustration, as it were, is that there is no single unified ebook standard as of today. That makes it impossible to provide the same exact experience for all ebook platforms, i.e., Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc. For example, Apple’s iBooks 2 format is currently the most advanced available, and is the only one that can allow for embedded video clips and image galleries. We toyed with the idea of just limiting Crystal Lake Memories to one ebook format, but it hardly seems fair to expect fans to buy a new iPad or Kindle because the book is only available on one type of device. So depending on which ebook platform you have, you will have your own selective interface and experience. That’s just out of the control of ebook publishers at the moment, unfortunately.

(F13th Film Franchise) When did you start the process of conducting new interviews and gathering information for the new e-Book? Was there a certain timetable to meet to release the book?

(Peter M. Bracke) I started in earnest late last Spring. Just feeling out the ebook technologies and thinking about whether or not I was ready to go back and really do a full and committed update to the book. I had no timetable. One of the reasons I decided to do it at all was because, this time, I was going to put my physical and mental well-being first and foremost. When it got done, it got done. Also, it’s a wonderful position to be in, where you have no real deadline. So much of what is made today, whether it is books or movies or music, is often more about meeting a release date rather than letting the release date naturally follow the organic creative process. And let’s face it, it’s not like the world was awaiting or expecting an ebook of Crystal Lake Memories, so why rush it?

Of course, inevitably you have to give yourself a stop date. And a book is just a book—you can’t interview all 2,000 people that have worked on a Friday film or include every last story. But overall, I feel this is the complete version, from Friday the 13th through Freddy vs. Jason. A book that has a real arc with a beginning, middle and an end. I really feel it says all I have to say on the subject.

Lastly, what is also very exciting about the ebooks is that they can be updated in the future at no cost to you, the consumer. That’s because you can just re-download your purchase. For example, if we feel like adding an image or two, or a new interview, we can just upload the updated file to the ebook retailers and you can download the updated version for free. So trust me, there will be no triple dip! There is no need for one with electronic books.

(F13th Film Franchise) Overall, what was the expectations for releasing this updated look at Jason Voorhees and the legacy of Crystal Lake? Personally, was this a point to complete a journey started years ago and what have you wanted the fans to get out of your experience in talking to the many people involved in the Friday The 13th film franchise?

(Peter M. Bracke) While the original book didn’t feel incomplete, it was so taxing that there are plenty of parts of the book that make me cringe. You can’t help it—you only see the mistakes and the woulda-coulda-shouldas. So it was an impetus, and a nice opportunity, to go and improve upon something you’ve created. Especially with seven years of hindsight. It’s gratifying to have the freedom to sort of top off with a cherry something that, already, you were overall pretty happy with.

As for the fans, hopefully it’s just that they enjoy the book and feel like it delivers the answers to the questions they’ve always had. And that this weird interest we’ve all shared over these years is at least getting some sort of due. Obviously we’ve all had different experiences, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many a Friday fan wasn’t told growing up that their particular interest was wrong or unusual or suspect in some way. There is just still something very funny and maybe even a bit subversive to me about going into a book store and seeing a big coffee table book about Jason and machetes and a slasher franchise. I don’t believe Friday needs to be made “respectable” (as if it wasn’t worthy of respect in the first place) but it does make me happy if anyone feels that the book, in any way, has given them a connection to something that meant a lot of them in their life.

(F13th Film Franchise) Lastly, would you ever consider being a consultant for a new film in the franchise either in a writing capacity or as a producer? Fans have been asking for more people to be involved that have an intimate knowledge of the films.

(Peter M. Bracke) Well, no one has asked me in any official capacity, needless to say. I have been lucky to keep in touch with some Friday alumni so I get a few tidbits here and there. But the structure around making these movies is so huge, and so many studios and such are involved, that I think they have it all covered. So I’m just content to remain a trivia question on Wikipedia.

More About The eBook:
Official Crystal Lake Memories Facebook
Press Release
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