There is Magic in the World

May 27, 2013 in Media, Sports, Writing

Tony Kanaan Holding Necklace (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports)

Tony Kanaan Holding Necklace
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re as big an Indy 500 fan as I am, you were probably just as thrilled to see Tony Kanaan finally win the race this past Sunday. But as much as I loved watching a great driver get the accolade he so greatly deserved on merit alone, there was something else that struck me about his victory. Something magical.

If you don’t know the story, it goes like this…

Nine years ago, Tony Kanaan went to visit a very sick young girl in the hospital who was already in a coma and was about to have critical surgery on a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. Her chances were not good. In that moment, wanting to help her the only way he knew how, TK gave the young girl’s mother the good luck charm that his own mother had given to him for protection, which he carried with him whenever he raced. The necklace was kept close all through the surgery and turned out to be very good luck for the 15-year-old girl as well, who survived the ordeal and was able to make a full recovery.

But little did TK know that her gain was to be his loss. That year he finished second. And for the next eight races, after a series of frustrations and misfortunes that would include two races finishing under caution, the checkered flag would always elude him. Once, when TK’s young son asked him when he would finally come home to Brazil, he told his boy that he did not want to come home empty-handed; that he would return when he had a trophy for him.

Flash forward to last week. A few days before the 2013 running of the Indy 500, the now 24-year-old mother to her own infant baby FedExed a package to TK’s garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Inside was TK’s good luck charm that he had given to her nine years earlier and which had helped guide her back to health. For nine years she’d held that necklace on race day, hoping for nothing more than victory for her favorite driver, and for nine years she’d shared in his disappointment. So now she wanted to help him the only way she knew how. The note attached said that she was returning the necklace to him so that he could go out there on Sunday and win. Win. Tony Kanaan took the charm with him into the race, as he always did so many years earlier.

Running in 2nd place under a yellow flag with just under four laps to go, Tony Kanaan said over his radio that it was all or nothing; he was going to go for it. The restart was tight, with at least four drivers gunning for the lead, but TK passed on the inside and inched into 1st. A minute later, with just two laps to go, last year’s winner Dario Franchitti went into the wall and brought out another yellow flag with TK still in the lead. Once again, Tony Kanaan finished the race under caution, only this time he was the victor.

As TK wiped the tears from his eyes and pulled his lucky necklace from out of his pocket to show the world, I realized that there is magic in the world. Maybe not in the trinket he carried in his pocket, but certainly in the story itself. Sometimes a narrative comes along that is bigger than life itself—a perfect cocktail of tragedy and triumph shaken with an exact measure of coincidence or fate (depending upon your world view). A story like this is a story for the ages, and whether or not it ever gets shaped into a formal narrative, it is one that captures the spirit and essence of the human condition.

I don’t believe in physical magic. I don’t believe in the alchemy of water into wine or lead into gold, but I do believe there is a kind of magic we can all share, and that’s the magic of story. Real magic lies not in the physical world but in the way we interpret that world into our own existence. And that interpretation—that narrative—is enough to bring tears to the eyes and a standing ovation whenever it happens.

Congratulations Tony Kanaan, and here’s hoping that your first victory isn’t your last.

The Turn in Hemlock Grove

May 22, 2013 in Media, Television and Movies

If you have Netflix, be sure to check out the Netflix original series Hemlock Grove. It’s being helmed by Eli Roth, so you can expect a fair amount of gore in this series that involves gypsy curses, human experimentation, mutilated corpses, a gentle giant named “Shelley”, and of course, one or more werewolves.

The scene in Episode 2 where we see Peter transform into a wolf for the first time (called “the turn” in the show) is spectacularly done. It’s the best werewolf transformation scene since the John Landis classic “An American Werewolf in London”.

Hemlock Grove "Turn"

“The Turn” in Hemlock Grove

How to Shoot the Parkour in Data Runner

May 19, 2013 in Data Runner, Filmmaking, Parkour, Television and Movies

When most authors start thinking about movie versions of their books, they go straight to casting. I’m a little different. I happen to love the craft of filmmaking, and for that reason I’ve thought often about how to shoot the parkour in Data Runner, and this has led to an interesting dilemma of form vs. function.

The conventional wisdom would be to shoot all the parkour action with a handheld (i.e. shaky cam). The idea here is to put the audience in the shoes of a runner, giving them the visceral experience of running on the heels of Jack, Dexter, and Red Tail. You see this kind of camerawork a lot in television and feature films.

Here’s my issue with that. I’m of the opinion that handhelds are used way too often and unsparingly. Occasionally, a constantly shaking camera can be immersive (Bourne Ultimatum), but most of the time it gets annoyingly distracting (Hunger Games). Nevertheless, handhelds do give you a tightness and intimacy that is often lost when you have to mount the camera to a large gimbal. Steadicams do deliver a smoothness and fluidity that handhelds can’t, but generally have to sacrifice maneuverability in order to get it. So it becomes a question of form vs. function.

Enter the MoVI M10 by Freefly Systems. When I saw this video, and the quality of footage the filmmakers were able to capture with this 3-axis gimbal, I knew that this was the perfect rig to capture the action of the book. This mount allows fast-paced shots to be composed in-camera, preserving the intimacy of a handheld while simultaneously delivering a fluid motion that can showcase all the beauty and elegance of parkour. Watching this video, it isn’t hard to mentally replace the content of each camera movement with material from the book. It isn’t just a perfect melding of form and function, it is the perfect rig to shoot the parkour action of Data Runner.

Check it out, and please comment to let the rest of us know what you think…

Data Runner Reviews Coming In…

May 17, 2013 in Books, Data Runner

Hi Everyone,

So it looks like some blogger reviews for Data Runner have started pouring in on Goodreads. One reviewer even said it reminded her of early William Gibson, which (in addition to being a huge compliment) is exactly what I was going for. Here’s a snippet of her review…

Yay for this book! It’s been a while since I read such fun sci-fi. What I love about the best sci-fi is not aliens or futuristic technology but how it illuminates important social, political and cultural issues in our world. And Data Runner does not disappoint.

It touches on timely issues like fraking, water rights and combines it with great world building, fun data running, engaging conflict and great characters. Data Runner reminded me of the storytelling I enjoyed so much in early William Gibson novels but made relevant for today.

I can’t wait to read book two!

You can check out this and other reviews here at Goodreads.

Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to review the book.



Data Runner cover revealed at Page Turners Blog!!!

May 2, 2013 in Books, Data Runner


In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.

Greetings and Salutations!

If you’re finding this post, it means you’ve probably clicked on over here from Page Turners Blog, who were kind enough to do our big cover reveal today. I just want to thank everyone over at Page Turners for all their hard work in helping us put this together, and for helping to get the word out about DATA RUNNER. You guys rock!!!

In addition to Page Turners, I want to give a quick shout out to everyone at Diversion Books who have been doing an outstanding job with the book (they rock too!!!).

But the people I’m most excited about are you guys, the readers. I’m super excited for you to get the book into your hands so you can take a run on the sneakernet alongside Jack, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about it. As the clock to your right counts down to zero, I hope you’ll continue to check in with me for updates about DATA RUNNER (and maybe even some additional content to expand the DATA RUNNER universe). I’ll also be posting some really cool stuff about parkour, sci-fi, media technology, and all the other things I love to think (and write) about. In the meantime, here’s some links that may be of interest…

Click here for DATA RUNNER by Sam A. Patel at Goodreads

Thanks for coming by,


New Parkour Gym for Wannabe Secret Agents… and Data Runners???

May 1, 2013 in Data Runner, Parkour

This is awesome! There’s a brand new parkour gym in Bushwick called the Brooklyn Beast that teaches the art of movement to people who secretly yearn to be secret agents and the like. Hopefully there’s be more gyms like this popping up all over the country. I can just envision a whole bunch of kids reading DATA RUNNER and then (literally) running right over to sign up for lessons.

Click here for NY Post article