Friday, April 20, 2012
Take a minute to remember Bram Stoker who was laid to rest a hundred years ago today. Bram Stoker wrote 11 other novels besides the one he is well known for, Dracula, including what is considered an early science fiction piece called The Lady in the Shroud. He was cremated and his ashes are housed at Golders Green Crematorium in London, along with the ashes of his son, Noel Stoker.
Dracula, originally titled The Dead Un-Dead and then just The Un-Dead, was published in June of 1897 in an initial print run of three thousand.
Dracula was not the first vampire novel. Along with numerous plays, short stories, and poems starring the undead, in 1847 a novel called Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer garnered popularity. Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu was published in 1871 and told the story of a lesbian vampire who preyed on lonely young women.
Bram Stoker upped the fright factor with his whack at vampires by telling the story through detailed diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship's logs, and newspaper clippings, making the fiction seem less fictional. One could say it was The Blair Witch of its time.
After the original manuscript went missing, it was found in a barn, not in Transylvania, but in Pennsylvania and was later acquired by Microsoft co-owner Paul Allen.
Bram, we thank you for the scares.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Quite a peculiar thing happened to me the other night. I was minding my business, studying the second draft of my thirteenth novel, which I have carved meticulously into the wood of my coffin with a small piece of slate, when I heard a knock. I do not crawl up to the surface for anyone, let alone a stranger, but this knock sounded desperate, in need of something only I could provide. My curiosity peaked, I stretched my bones and began my six-foot rise to the earth.
Standing there, by the light of a single candle, was a writer in need of a review. I accepted the task and was handed a most unusual object that had me frightened at first and retreating back into the ground, back to my grave that has kept me for almost a hundred years now. The writer said, "Be still. Not to worry. It's just an iPad. You can read my book on it." My eye sockets squinted. I slid my phalanges across its soft surface. "Oh nice," I responded, and started reading where the writer instructed.
The novel, called Revamp, is about those beings that bump and bite in the night. Vampires. I was very well excited since I hadn't read a vampire novel since my own Dracula that was so successfully received, so many years ago.
I write today, on the seventeenth of April, in the year two thousand and twelve, to say that Revamp is a very good book indeed. I have heard hushed whisperings in the afterworld (no one wants to offend) of works of vampire fiction that have the un-dead and werewolves and fairies and humans all having relations and the news made my mandible twitch. Vampires with eyes the color of jaundice and skin sparkling in the sunlight like women's jewelry. Oh my. Revamp honors the traditional vampire, my vampire. I found myself sitting on the edge of my gravestone, a turn of the page too long to wait to find out what would happen next. The main vampire antagonist is devilish, his need for revenge all-consuming.
My only issue with this novel is that there aren't a lot of long treacherous journeys. And letters. And cargo. Now that I have come to the aid of a fellow writer, I must go on a long journey of my own. During some research on what I've been told is called "The Internet," I have uncovered a most horrible truth. I have lived dead and as bones for so long now, that family is just flesh-covered skeletons to me and I'm afraid I have no allegiance. Let me declare, I will die a second time over before my beloved Dracula becomes a trilogy.
Dacre, I'm coming.
Friends and neighbors, I bequeath this review.
Revamp has hit three stores. Buy it on Amazon for your Kindle, B&N for your Nook, and Smashwords for any device you please. Smashwords is the only place you can download a FREE 19-chapter preview. Here are the links:
Barnes and Noble:
Barnes and Noble:
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
When I saw this book in the bookstore, I gravitated toward it. Maybe because new "real" horror books are few and far between, especially ones that are placed on the sacred, front-of-the-store shelves. The cover's interesting, too. And the big names they got to LOVE the book caught my attention: Stephenie Meyer, Audrey Niffenegger. I'm actually late on the whole zombie-horror-reading craze, and Warm Bodies is the first one I picked up.
The start of the book had me hopeful. The plot is different, unique. A zombie story told from the zombie's perspective. Hooked. The author, Isaac Marion, is a good writer. No doubt about that. However, in the acknowledgements at the back of the book, he thanks his agent for discovering his stories on the internet, and then it all made sense to me. Marion is an avid writer of short stories. I'm not saying a writer can't make the transition from writing short stories to writing full-length novels (ahem, Stephen King) but the art is very different.
When ending a short story, it's not as important to be specific about how the characters got from Point A to Point B. Vagueness is OK, because you only have a certain amount of pages to explain everything. But in a novel, the reader has taken a long journey with the characters and whatever plot you have going has to be explained and tied up in a nice knot at the end. Marion failed to do this.
Not giving the plot away, something is happening in the book and no one can explain why. Okay. This starts from maybe the middle of the book. Then, throughout the book, Marion's characters are saying how amazing this thing is and they have no idea how it's happening or what it really is. They actually repeatedly state this, somewhere along the lines of "I have no idea how this is happening." One character goes to another character somewhere along the lines of, "You'll have to tell me later how this is happening." Well, don't hold your breath, because no one ever really knows, including the reader, and if Marion knew at some point, he's not divulging.
***SPOILER***: A near-the-end scene has a somewhat insignificant character falling off a building and stopping an entire onslaught of zombies in its tracks. They just walk away.
Huh? Apparently, two plus two equals a hundred in this book. It really annoyed me that right up to the end the characters are stating out loud that they have no idea how it is all happening. So, either the writer had no idea, or he simply decided he was done writing the book and that he was going to end it with a mysterious air - cue fog machines.
***SPOILER***: Was he implying that the strange "magic-ness" of love was curing the zombie epidemic? Maybe.
But love between a semi-rotting corpse and a human girl is a whole other story. Don't. Get. Me. Started. I imagine in the movie, R the zombie is going to be "Edward-ed" up.
Overall, Warm Bodies was a decent read. Marion is a good player of words and his imagined zombie-infested world is intriguing. But the book's ending was just too frustrating to post a recommendation.
While doing some research for selling my book, I have realized that the Amazon Kindle Bookstore is a vast swampland with only a few select books allowed to bubble up to the top for some air. James Patterson and friends' books are certainly dry. Along with Suzanne Collins' books. Scorchingly dry.
A horror search brings up over 22,000 titles, a vampire search accounts for 8,700 titles. I fear that purchases from random look-sees are going to be few and far between, with the best time being now, as my book is newly released. But as more new books get piled on top of mine, and as Patterson cracks the whip on his clone writers, I'm worried that my book will be sucked under into the mucky depths of the swamp, to be consumed by file-eating alligators.
Anyone else out there have thoughts on, fears of, insights into Kindle publishing?
My book is currently up on Amazon Kindle, available for $2.99. I had high plans to do a free extended sample (about 350 pages) but have recently found out that Amazon doesn't allow books to be listed for less then 99 cents anymore. This is relatively new. So, I am currently rethinking my business plan and figuring out the next move. BUT if you want it, it's there, and for pocket change! Go get it! Land on the link below:
Thanks and be scared!
Thanks and be scared!
I am very happy with them. I initially wanted to find an old photograph from the 50s or 60s of a child dressed up as a vampire and found some great photographs of children dressed up for Halloween, but no undead. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I asked a family friend if I could employ her son as a model, bought a crappy Dracula costume from a Halloween superstore, and arranged for a shoot at my brother's place.
My friend's son is autistic and I had just a few minutes to get the shot. He didn't like wearing the mask, and in the end, it worked out well, with him trying to pull the mask off (fitting with the plot of my book and forced vampirism on American society). Enter: Chris Deal, Savior, who did the final design. Not at all what I was expecting, but exactly what I wanted.
Monday, April 2, 2012
SIX AND A HALF STARS OUT OF TEN
So somewhere between editing my 600-plus-page novel for the umpteenth time and changing a billion dirty diapers - literally, a billion - I managed to see this movie in its entirety. It was about a month ago, but I will now attempt to squeeze out a review.
The Signal was released in 2007 in select theaters. Starring AJ Bowen of House of the Devil and Hatchet 2 fame, the movie is split into three different parts and follows three related characters through the madness. People have gone crazy listening to a signal relayed through television, phone, and radio. They turn on each other, employing various tools to up the brutality factor. This film is not for the wishy washy horror movie fan - it is gory, Gory, GORY.
The beginning of this movie drew me in. The director was really aiming for that 70s/early 80s cult horror classic feel. I'm no film school graduate, but I imagine some of it has to do with the type of film stock that is used. Also, the choice of blood red for the titles/introductions and the overall rawness of the opening scene. In the end, the first scene had little to do with the story or any of the main characters, and in turn was kind of random.
The plot of the movie is not very original (read The Cell by Stephen King), but that doesn't bother me as much anymore. I mean, what hasn't been done before? As long as the movie or book brings something different to the table and brings it well.
This film is quite scary in Part One, but takes a nosedive in Part Two when it splits personality and can't decide whether it wants to scare you or kind of make you laugh, but not really. Part Three is disappointing, too, with the ending fizzling out and leaving you (or maybe just me) like "Uhhhh, so what just happened?"
On a positive note, throughout the film the distorted television signal is constantly on the screen, and it had my viewing partner and I worried we were going to start smashing things over each other's heads. For a movie to achieve The Fear of Going Crazy, it has to be doing something right, right?