Although we’ve never met, the actor Tony Shaloub and I have had an indirect relationship for years. He is entirely unaware that in my writerly life we’ve crossed paths and even spent time together–him on the screen and me…well that’s today’s story.
In 1998, I worked with Neal Shusterman, NY Times bestselling author, on a Young Adult X-Files novel which was later published by Harper Collins in 1999 under a pen-name of Neal’s–Easton Royce. The project was novelizing an episode of The X-Files, Season 2, called Soft Light. We were given the script and a Fox Network VHS tape of the episode. Tony Shaloub played Doctor Banton, a researcher of dark matter. Side Note: We suggested changing the name of the novel to Dark Matter; Chris Carter (The X-Files creator) and Harper Collins agreed.
Neal wrote the non-Mulder/Scully scenes while I wrote the others, giving me time to study Mister Shaloub’s interpretation of Banton. Hours of painstaking attention to his expressions, voice and body reactions, how nuanced and how palpable he responded to each person, situation, and shadow began my admiration of his craft that has only grown over the years.
Another side note: Neal and I again collaborated on a YA e-novella–Unstrung, published July 2012. Writing Unstrung was a different matter (no pun intended) as it was in Neal’s Unwind world and we had more freedom to play with different ideas, locations, and characters. For me there were also similarities: as with the X-Files world, I still had rules to follow, deadlines to meet, story lines I couldn’t change, fidelity to roles I hadn’t created, and absolutely no power to save the characters I loved.
My last encounter with Mister Shaloub was more indirect but having perhaps more impact on me. Studios were beginning to show interest in my Micky Cardex hypochondriac detective series published in the Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (1992 to 2006). The contacts stopped in early 2001 with the announcement of Tony Shaloub’s new series Monk. One producer apologetically told me that the studios felt the premises too similar. I’m still not sure how a hypochondriac female private investigator in Wisconsin relates to a former San Francisco policeman suffering from OCD. When the Monk seasons went to DVD, I bought each one, watching them over and over. I’ve never blamed Mister Shaloub for scotching Micky Cardex’s small screen career and admire his accomplishment in creating a character so flawed and so indomitable, and whom I still miss.
I’m currently writing a quartet of mystery novellas about a college student who marries brain-dead men. Tony Shaloub’s latest movie Pain & Gain, released last month, is about bodybuilders who turn to crime. I don’t see our paths crossing at present, but I’ve no clue what the future will hold when I could not have anticipated our past.