Monday, 29 March 2010
Apparently eating curry and fresh pineapple can induce labor a week before the baby's actual due date (just FYI to all expectant mothers out there!), and the baby's name is officially Amelie May, but I know how much Marissa loves Jack Bauer and I'm sure she sneaked it in there somewhere!
Everyone is doing fabulously well and we wish them all a huge congratulations on their darling bundle of joy!
Hi all! Just a quickie to let you all know that our new baby daughter arrived yesterday morning.
Her name is Amelie May, and naturally she is gorgeous. She weighed in a 7 lb 15 oz and we are all doing well.
I’m sure you’ll all excuse me if the blogging takes a back seat for a few day while we find our feet!
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Thinking about this, I wondered if it had something to do with magical association of threshholds, and Taliesin reaffirmed my thoughts in his comment to the Black Count's post. So I did a bit of research into threshholds (mind you, on the internet, so there are bound to be gaps -- next time I'll do some good old-fashioned 'crack open the books at the library' research ;-)
I remember from watching HBO's Rome (what -- good research doesn't cite TV shows?! ;-) that thresholds had their own god, Janus, and one would pray to him when one was moving from one stage of life to another (like when Vorenus left the army to open up his own business).
Quite possibly this had to do with the fact that the threshold of a home, where one lived, slept, and raised a family, was considered the gateway between safety and the big, bad, scary world outside, where cold weather, disease, and pillagers were present. Thus, an idea grew, wherein blessing or making certain signs, planting rosemary, hanging horseshoes above or near the threshold of a house would ward off the big, bad evil that lay in wait in the outside world. As vampires were a big, bad evil, the threshold philosophy applied to them, and thus the idea that they were bound by magic to stay outside the home unless invited in came about. More about this idea is presented on this webpage here.
Of course, it also makes a great plot device in books, tv, and movies, and the mysterious, magical lore surrounding vampires is what makes them so popular and fun to write about/watch.
I can remember this bit of lore used strongly in The Lost Boys and Fright Night, but how about you readers out there? Do you agree with the threshold theory, or is there something more? We'd love to hear your thoughts, as would The Black Count over at his site here!
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Look, I'm an old dog. I still use hairspray every day even though it went out in 1995, and I couldn't name one song off the Twilight soundtrack even if I were faced with a firing squad (I just haven't gotten around to listening to it -- can't put away my Lost Boys soundtrack ;-)
I was of the Old Guard that had to feel the paper in my hands and know that I could flip back and forth between the pages (in case I missed something earlier). It was with great trepidation that I purchased a novel for my iPhone -- White Wolf of Avalon by Eva Gordon -- and now I LOVE reading books on my iPhone! I don't have to worry about buying more bookshelves, killing trees, or lugging a book with me when I go to appointments, etc. -- I just take my phone and off I go! I'm currently finishing White Wolf, as I got sidetracked by Dance On Fire by James Garcia Jr. and then Vampire's Seduction by Raven Hart. I read Seduction entirely on the iPhone and thought the experience was great.
If you're worried about reading on a small screen, you can ajdust the size of the font and the colors to suit your eyes and tastes. Also, Kindle has an app just for iPhone, as well as Kobo (which features Vamplit titles).
Did I mention that e-books are fairly inexpensive, too? Less than $10 for most titles. Kobo features Eclipse for $4.99.
So, if you've got an iPhone and are looking do do more things with it ;-) -- then head to Apps and start downloading Release and Alone!
Friday, 26 March 2010
For those who don’t know Brighton, it is a great town. It has a huge alternative and gay scene, great clubs, bars and restaurants. I’ve been there a few times and the thought of thousands of horror fanatics descending on the town does make me smile. Of course I would have loved to go myself, but at the price of £100 a ticket (yikes!) and with baby due to make an appearance any day now, it didn’t seem like such a great idea.
I guess I will just have to keep working hard and hope I get an invite in the years to come (yes…I know I am dreaming…)
I wanted to review a James Herbert novel as he is guest of honour at this years convention. Previous guests of honour have included Anne Rice and Stephen King, so it is a pretty big deal.
Jim True wasn’t there when he died. While he was ‘away’ on an out-of-body experience (something he has been able to do since he was a child) someone murders him. They chop his body into little pieces so he has nothing to come back to. In the days, weeks, and months that follow Jim True finds out things about his life he wishes he had never known. And in that time he tries to discover exactly who killed him – was it the serial killer who is terrorising the city, or was it someone much closer?
I really liked the concept of this novel – that you could ‘die’ while you were out of your body, but I did start to feel irritated by Jim True’s insistence that he ‘did not feel dead’, and his refusal to believe it. If I had come back to find my body mutilated beyond recognition I am fairly sure that I would jump to the conclusion I was dead, however shocked I was.
The whole novel is written in the first person, which was probably necessary given the content, but I did find myself wishing that I could get someone else's point of view – such as the wife or daughter’s. I wanted to know if they could sense him still being around them and how they felt about things. While Herbert does try to give an idea by their reactions, it is not the same as if he had written some of it from their points of view.
During the novel there are also some graphic and fairly disturbing scenes of necrophilia. The whole necrophilia part did turn my stomach, though it was necessary for the story-line to a certain extent.
Overall I enjoyed the book. It had a good pace and I did enjoy the storyline, however disturbing. I guess I would have liked a little more on how his essentially being a ghost was affecting his family, and a bit more of a spiritual side to the book, but he didn’t really go down that route, which was a shame.
I would give Nobody True 6.5/10
Other James Herbert books I LOVE are ‘Fluke’, and ‘The Magic Cottage’. If you’ve not read them they are both worth a go.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
But the truth is that the myth of the werewolf stemmed from something much darker and sinister.
Some of the following may disturb…
It was the late 1500’s and in the tiny village of Bedburg, Germany, children started to go missing. The village was made up of only a few hundred people and they lived on the edge of the forest. These ancient forests bred ancient fears and the wolf was the people’s natural enemy, so when the children went missing they assumed it was a wolf who was taking them.
But when the bodies of the children were found – dismembered and mangled – the villagers changed their minds. It was obvious that sexual abuse had also occurred and they knew this couldn’t have happened if it were simply a wolf attacking them.
When something so unthinkable happened it was easy for the superstitious villagers to jump to a supernatural explanation rather than believe one of their own had done such horrific things – so a man-beast was created.
In truth the villagers would have done better to look a little closer to home. Peter Stubbe was a respected, middle-aged man living within the village. He had a son and a daughter, but though it was claimed he loved his son, he also loved his daughter in completely the wrong way as he repeatedly committed incest with her. Over his time his crimes were unthinkable. He murdered and raped countless children, two pregnant women, and a group of two men and a woman. Possibly his worst crime of all was when he took his ‘much-loved’ son out into the forest and murdered him before eating his brain.
Eventually the other villagers tracked him down and they claimed that they saw the transformation of a wolf turning back into a man, who turned out to be Stubbe. We have no way of knowing what the villagers did see? Perhaps they were chasing a wolf and happened upon Stubbe by accident? However it happened, it was this eyewitness account that bore the first story of a man turning into a wolf, and it was published into a pamphlet which was then translated into English and subsequently became a best-seller.
Stubbe himself confessed to his crimes. Though it is said that he confessed ‘willingly’, he did so after being shown the rack. Stories vary, but some also claim that he told the other villagers that he had been practising black magic since he was twelve and that he had been in possession of a magic belt made from wolf-fur which gave him the ability to turn into a wolf when he wore it. How much of this is true it is impossible to say. The villagers ritualistically killed him by pulling his flesh from his body with red-hot pliers, broke his arms and legs, and eventually beheaded him. Most horrifically of all, and perhaps something that was as bad a Stubbe’s crimes, they then burnt his poor, abused daughter alive as to rid the village of any of Stubbe’s existence.
It is quite possible that Stubbe did believe himself to be a werewolf. Lycanthropy is the psychological state of a person who believes they are a beast. They will act ‘wolf-like’, and go on all-fours, and bark. Stubbe did exhibit wolf-like behaviour in the way he killed and then ate his victims, and at the time the way the villagers saw the wolf as being their main enemy would have given Stubbe belief in himself.
Who knows what from the story is true? Of course it is most likely that Stubbe was simply a very sick, deranged man. But then these days we do tend to look for rational explanations instead of looking for the paranormal, and who is to say that the villagers were not right?
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
The premise: William Cuyler Thorne is an old (circa 1500's) vampire who lives in Savannah, GA. He's got two ancient Egyptian guard dogs who shift into human form during the night, and a voodoo priestess at his beck and call to protect him. He's also got a 'son', or fledgling vampire that he made 140 years ago -- Jack.
Jack was a soldier during the "War of Northern Agression" (that's what some southerners term the American Civil War), and he's a good mix of modern fun compared to William's older, more serious personality. Both men enjoy women, with Jack being a self-described womanizer, and whereas William's tastes are much more refined, Jack is a good ole boy who runs an automotive shop and follows NASCAR religiously.
The setting of Savannah, which reminds me alot of New Orleans, with its eccentric characters, heat, and voodoo, was perfect -- there's a great blend of magic, vampire lore, shapeshifters, along with good old southern charm. The plot in this novel is as follows: William's sire, Redreek, has made the trip from the Old World to Savannah for the purpose of seeking out William, though for what purpose isn't clear -- to destroy him, or convert him to an ally in Redreek's evil cause. William HATES his sire, as Redreek destroyed William's wife and child before making William carry the memory of their deaths for all eternity.
William and Jack make for a good pair -- kinda like the guy-buddy movies you see of the more straight-laced guy with the reckless one. William didn't ask to be made into a vampire, but he doesn't sit around bemoaning that fact, and though Jack is sad about the fact that he'll never have a wife and family, he doesn't sit around whining about it, which is a relief. Redreek is evil and fun in that way, and the only thing I can really say that is a bit of a negative was that I found some inconsistencies in the presentation of the characters -- Redreek loves being an ancient vampire, lording over the human world, though he used some decidedly modern speech patterns and phrases. The same for William, and whereas William started off as describing himself as evil to the core, death on two feet, he's clearly not that as the novel progresses.
In terms of depth and themes, this is more of a plot-driven novel, and there's some very tense scenes when one wonders if Jack will succumb to the dark side. I didn't find it as deep as Interview With the Vampire, with its themes of 'meaning of life and death', though it's not a light, fluffy romance novel, either. The book is told in the first person from the viewpoints of both Jack and William, and I found the contrast in terms of thought patterns and language between the older and younger vampire very funny and well-done. All in all, the novel is a good blend of an entertaining read with some interesting, fun characters in a perfect setting, and I really do recommend it. I'll definitely be getting more books in this series, after I read Midnight Brunch by Marta Acosta!
Three out of 5 stars!
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Brittany plays, Alice a writer (like me and Marissa!) whose under pressure to get a screenplay finished, but she's also got another major problem -- her abusive boyfriend just got out of jail, and may be headed to finish what he started with her.
Alice's roommate (and we later learn, her lover) Rebecca has to go out of town on a business trip, and Alice doesn't want to stay in their apartment alone for the weekend, all by her lonesome, especially with psycho-boy soon to be on the loose. So she does what any sensible person does -- she accepts an offer from the film's producer to stay in his secluded, out of the way, remote, old, creaky house. Where no one can hear you scream. Because when you've got a writer's imagination and you're trying to overcome a nervous breakdown and your ex-boyfriend may be coming after you, that's the best, most comforting place to stay, right?
Okay, so you've gotta suspend your disbelief on this one, but I actually liked Deadline. It had some good, creepy moments, and I always like watching Marc Blucas (Riley from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). This is one of those -- did she dream it, or was it real? movies, wherein Alice stumbles upon a mystery -- or does she? It appears that something bad went down in the house when it was inhabited by a couple (Blucas and Thora Birch) a few years ago, which helps Alice in terms of writing motivation, but does not help her mental state and her sanity in the least. Is the house haunted? Or is it just Alice's overactive imagination?
I'll leave it to you to decide, but do make sure you've got company for this one, as it does make you wonder and there are some creep-tastic moments!
Also, if you're interested in getting to know Marissa or me a little better, please check out our individual pages at the top of the blog!
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Hey guys, just wanted to let you all know that there is a competition for the first series of True Blood over at Something Wicked …
With the second series now on our television screens it is a great way to catch up with what has happened so far.
And just to whet your appetites…
A giveaway on BOTH sides of the pond!
Our True Blood Season 1 DVD giveaway starts today!
First off, thanks to all our new followers, some of whom came over here from All Things Smart and Scary and the contest for Blood Ties over there -- congrats to the winner!
So, what draws us to these TV series?
Blood Ties: A hot, sexy vampire, a strong, smart female, and a cute police detective -- what more can I say? I'm not too into love triangles, but Blood Ties made it work really well -- I almost rooted for Mike at times ;-) Or maybe because I only wanted Henry all to myself! This series captivated me and captured my imagination -- it got me thinking into my own vampire protagonist's history (Henry Fitzroy, the vampire in the series, was based on the actual illegitimate son of Henry VIII), and thus Release was born.
Sadly, this series ended only after two short seasons. In order to get my Henry fix, I actually bought some of the books by Tanya Huff -- believe it or not, I'd never really read 'vampire fiction' before, other than Dracula or Interview With the Vampire! I loved the books, but I really enjoyed Ms. Huff's 'Smoke' series -- featuring Henry, but with Tony as the protagonist (instead of Vicki). I do encourage you to check them out if you haven't already!
The second series of True Blood has just started here in the UK (finally…), so what better way of catching up then by entering our competition.
And keep your eyes peeled as we’ll be giving away some of Charlaine Harris’s novels very soon!
So there you have it -- True Blood and Blood Ties: hot women, even hotter vamps, and some cute human guys thrown into the mix! What more could a girl ask for? ;-)
Today's contest question is: What would you prefer as a boyfriend/girlfriend (amended the question per Taliesin's suggestion ;-) -- a human, shape-shifter or werewolf -- and why?
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Featuring Melissa George (30 Days of Night – a pretty good vampire movie for those who haven’t seen it) and directed by Christopher Smith who did Creep and Severance.
Although this movie is set on a boat where weird things happen, it is not actually about the Bermuda Triangle, despite the name.
The main character, Jess, has an autistic son, Tommy. She is invited to go out sailing with a group of friends and straight away Jess is acting strange, though you don’t actually know why. The group go out on the yacht where Jess falls asleep and starts to have strange dreams. When she wakes up a terrible storm hits and the yacht is overturned, killing one of the group. The others survive hanging onto the bottom of the boat. They have been there a while when a huge ship approaches them. They manage to wave it down, but when they board the ship appears deserted. Jess starts to experience déjà-vu and is convinced she has been there before. The ship is called The Aeolus who is ‘a God who made a promise to death that he did not keep.’
Then the killing starts and Jess is confronted by the worst déjà-vu anyone will ever experience – Groundhog day eat your heart out! Where Jess starts out as a likable, but fragile character, she quickly proves herself to be a fighter, and then goes on to be someone else entirely. It is a truly mind-bending plot and if you try to think about it too much I honestly believe your brain will probably start to melt. There are plenty of shocking moments will keep you gripped. Although the film does contain plot holes of a paradoxical nature, especially at the end, it is still a horror that gets you thinking. I would highly recommend it for a night in.
Something Wicked rating of 8/10.
And as someone who doesn’t like boats it is another great reason not to go sailing!
Also, Nicole has a short story published at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11115. It features the vampire from her novel Release and is set in New Orleans, classic vampire territory. It is available for download for FREE!!! So don’t miss out.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
It's Mothering Sunday here in the UK, so I hope everyone has had a day of either being spoilt rotten by their offspring, or else showing their mothers how much they mean to them.
It's true that you never know the amount of sacrifice made by your parents until you become a parent yourself, so today's post is dedicated to the 'mothers' in horror and the lesson we may learn from them about how NOT to raise your child...
Norma Bates – Psycho
Possibly not the best example of a great mother, Norma preaches to her son, Norman, that all women are whores (except herself of course)and sex is evil. They live together in an unhealthy state of co-dependence until Norma takes a lover and drives Norman insane with jealousy. He then kills Norma and her lover and preserves his mothers corpse. Norman goes on to develop a split personality, taking on his mother's identity, and goes on to kill anyone who threatens his belief that his mother is still alive.
Ellen Ripley - Alien 3
Okay, I'm probably stretching the definition of 'mother' on this one, but in the third Alien movie Ripley becomes implanted with the Queen alien embryo. Despite others wanting to surgically remove the embryo she refuses, but then surprises them all by throwing herself into a giant furnace just as the queen is bursting from her chest. She still manages to grab the alien and drag it down with her, but you feel her emotional pain as she is doing it. Some part of her feels empathy for the alien.
You've got to love Ripley as a character. She is the ultimate tough bitch who is harder than all of the men she works with, but she still manages to have a soft side that makes you love her. She is a mother, but her daughter dies at the age of 66 while Ripley is in hyper-stasis. This loss and then her subsequent 'adoption' of Newt, a child she saves from the aliens in the first Alien, makes you warm to her otherwise tough character.
Sarah Conner - Terminator (1 & 2)
Now this is a woman to contend with. One hell of a tough cookie, she will do anything to protect her son, including sporting some serious firearms and muscles that would make a grown man weep.
Happy Mother's Day to them all!
Friday, 12 March 2010
Just a quickie today to let you all know that myself and fellow Vamplit author, Nicole Hadaway, have teamed up to create a brand new blog dedicated to all things supernatural. We hope you’ll take a moment to head over there and check it out.
We have big plans for the blog, with lots of competitions, reviews, and author features. Become a follower by next Friday and you’ll be in line to win a box set of the True Blood series. The competition will be open to both sides of the water as I am in the UK and Nicole is Stateside!
Thursday, 11 March 2010
For hundreds, even thousands of years, in every culture known to man, there have been stories of the supernatural. Whether it be ghosts or demons, vampires or werewolves, even the existence of angels and a God, the supernatural has filled our lives.
The topic had spawned some of our best loved writers and film makers.
What beats the thrill of feeling cold fingers down the spine, the tears of fear pricking the backs of the eyes? The possibility of a world existing just beyond our consciousness holds the promise of excitement, danger, and maybe even romance….
Here we will be blogging about every aspect of the supernatural. From fiction to fact, if it has to do with the supernatural, we will be blogging about it. Both being writers ourselves we will also be featuring other writers who want to showcase their work, and of course, we will be keeping you informed about projects of our own.
Nicole Hadaway, author of the novel Release, has a few upcoming short stories and hopefully later this fall, the novel Return. She also blogs over at All Things Smart and Scary.
Marissa Farrar is the author of the vampire novel, Alone, and also has a second novel due out in May.
Marissa and Nicole are connected through Vamplit Publishing and wanted to bring together their love of vampires and the supernatural, providing sometimes the same, other times different perspectives on the amazingly popular paranormals.
We hope you'll join us for book reviews (Nicole is fond of pointing out that her review of the Anne Rice novel, Angel Time, was featured on Ms. Rice's own Facebook page -- but she promises to cut that out in about 2 months time ;-), movie reviews, features on upcoming novels, and authors.
Also join us for some great competitions and giveaways – starting next Friday with our huge True Blood giveaway. And the best part? Because we have a foot either side of the pond (so to speak) the competitions will be open to both the UK and the States!
Please feel free to leave us comments - we love to hear your thoughts!
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
I am finally back on-line! Hurrah!
It feels like it has been forever since I have had the internet and, however sad I may be, it has felt a bit like I have had my life on hold. So now I am back and trying to catch up on lost time.
Just because I only write horror doesn’t mean I only read horror (though I do read a lot of horror!). I’ve decided to branch out a little about what I write about on my blog, because I have a new, totally horror based project which will soon be coming to fruition.
I’m sure there will be some of you out there who hate Jodi Picoult, but I am a fan. There was a little while where she was becoming a bit formulaic, and she still is to a certain extent, but what she does she does well.
Handle with Care is about a little girl called Willow who is born with OI - Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). She has multiple broken bones before she is even born and has over fifty breaks by the time she is five. The story is essentially about Willow’s mother, Charlotte, suing her obstetrician (who is also her best friend) who she believes missed a sign that would have told her about Willow’s disease and so would have given her the option to terminate the pregnancy. But to sue her doctor also means saying in court that if she had of known about the disease then she would have aborted the pregnancy. Heavy stuff, huh?
I really enjoyed this novel. Picoult has a way of making you feel empathy for every character, but also disliking them a little as well. She writes each chapter from a different characters point of view which helps you get insight into their emotions and motives. Nothing and nobody is black and white in her novels. One minute I found myself taking one characters side, the next the oppositions. Throughout the novel I was putting myself in each of the characters positions . On the front cover of each of her books is the question, ‘what would you do?’ and I honestly found myself asking myself that the whole time.
Though I did really enjoy the book, and found it hard to put down, I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I won’t spoil it for everyone, but the book does have a bit of a sting in the tail that left me feeling a little cheated. Even so, I would still highly recommend Handle with Care – an honestly written novel that leaves you thinking…
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
I am now on countdown until the BT engineer turns up and changes my life by installing Broadband. The mobile internet service didn’t work out so well for me as I only had very sporadic connection which led to some extremely harsh words being said to my much loved laptop! Still, only six days to go now and I will be back up and running!
In the meantime it is amazing how much else you get done when you don’t have the internet to distract you. I have been reading ferociously and so storing up plenty of books to review once I am back in the swing of things. I have also re-discovered the library (who knew you could just take books out for free?!).
After the trauma of moving house I am also back into my writing (thank God!). I hate it when I am not writing – it kind of makes me feel like my day has been a waste if I’ve not written something. I’ve also discovered that I find it very difficult to work if I am feeling unsettled and distracted. I don’t really suffer from the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ as such, but if ever I find it hard to write it is because something else in my life isn’t quite right.
So in the meantime please be patient with me. As soon as I have my broadband back up and running I will have another exciting project to let you know about. For all of you who know Nicole over at Smart and Scary, keep your eyes open!