#Vampires: Love them or hate them?

Tell me. Leave a comment and let me know.

I generally hate vampires. I find them to be an overplayed theme in genre fiction and one whose mythology has been warped and bastardized over the years.

However, as a long time fan of horror, the vampire has always been there as a key figure that symbolizes the entire genre. And while I hate vampires, I would still list Dracula as one of the greatest films ever made, far better than Stroker’s disjointed novel. I also love Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, an unconventional vampire movie, but they were undead blood suckers that can be killed by sunlight. I would say it qualifies.

The mythology of the vampire is perhaps the best part of it. Do you know why garlic keeps away vampires? Garlic oils on your skin or in your blood will help keep away mosquitoes and ticks, so one would have to assume it would work on other blood sackers. Why a stake through the heart? It was to keep the body pinned down so they wouldn’t rise and walk again.

The real reason I ask is that I started writing a story about goth kids pretending to be vampires. I’m also working on the outline for a novel about non traditional vampires. So what do you think?

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Book Review: Room by Emma Dono

Room by Emma Donoghue may be the most unpleasant book I’ve ever read. The basic premise, for the few of you that don’t know (I didn’t), is about a woman that is kidnapped and locked in an 11’ by 11’ room and used as a sex toy. She has a son in the room and raises him to the age of 5. This is not a spoiler, as this all has happened prior to the books beginning and is revealed in the first 5 pages. If this as the premise for a book doesn’t already have it established as an unpleasant read, imagine this if you can: the entire book is narrated through the spatially challenged five year old boy.

From a psychiatric standpoint, the book was phenomenal. Some of the commentary on society and how we are shocked and outraged by all the wrong things is horrible, how we judge the actions of people in unthinkable situations without allowing ourselves to really think about them is horrible, and how we live in a society that such things even happen is horrible. Tie all of those up with how a socially impaired child reacts to them, and the book really becomes a fascinating read.

I read for enjoyment though, and while I am a fan of horror, the reality of this horror is one that I didn’t enjoy reading. I do not regret reading it. I actually think everyone should read it. But I did not enjoy it.

Also, if you read to relax and have young children, this is like putting your child to bed only to sit down and listen to someone else’s child ramble in your ear like a Chatty Kathy Doll.

 

Book Review: Horns by Joe Hill

Some spoilers!

I have not read much Joe Hill, but I have often thought of him as a privileged author that would be steered by a large team of editors to a guaranteed success. I have given his writing ability little credit in the past, often assuming that he has been counseled and edited by the best money can buy. I have read his most popular work, NOS4A2, and thought it was basically the same book as Dr. Sleep, using the same cheep sympathy trick of children killing and using stereotyped characters.

My hopes for Horns were low, but I found it to be far better than expected. The books main character is in many ways an anti-hero, but he is also the moral superior in the story. The villain’s character is perhaps the only one that I really had a problem with. He was supposed to be a clean-nosed goody-two-shoes, yet before introducing him as such you hear about depraved behaviors that would instantly get around any small town and have him labeled as a bit of an ass-hole.

The premise of the story was a fun one. A young man with a checkered past wakes up with horns one morning, and the horns make people tell their worst desires. There are many fun things that could venture off the basic premise, and Mr. Hill does have quite a bit of fun with it before getting into the real nuts-and-bolts of the story of finding out who murdered his girlfriend. Eventually, Hill wraps the story up with a nice resolution and an explanation of the horns.

The constant allusions to music (especially the Stones) was a fun diversion from the story. I give this book 3 ½ stars, a good showing that makes it worth reading.

On a side note, I also just read The Devil’s Lament by Kenneth W. Harmon, and I found it to be a far more serious and interesting look at the nature of the devil. Neither book is scary in the slightest though.

Book Review: The Devil’s Lament by Kenneth W. Harmon

This book is interesting. It is not a subject matter I would usually go for as I’m not religious, but I found it very well written and offers far more than most books dealing with topics of spiritual Christianity. This story is likely blasphemy to many believers, so clearly not for everyone. 
Very well written with great settings, lively characters, 

  and engaging conversation. I’m glad I read it. 

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interesting. It is not a subject matter I would usually go for as I’m not religious, but I found it very well written and offers far more than most books dealing with topics of spiritual Christianity. This story is likely blasphemy to many believers, so clearly not for everyone. 
Very well written with great settings, lively characters, and engaging conversation. I’m glad I read it. 

Book Review: Doll Bones

I read a lot of horror books. I feel that it is a part of my duty as a horror writer to read a lot of horror books. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am also reading a fair number of other genres also, but horror is my go-to, and I love my horror books. Also, having authored a children’s horror book myself, I have a deep fondness for the subcategory. I love a horror story that can scare you while maintaining a PG rating. This led me to read Holly Black’s Doll Bones.

I found it to be a fun coming of age story on par with Stephen King’s The Body. It had the elements of adventure and innocence lost, but mixed in there was a terrifying undercurrent. The Queen, as a character in the book was creepy in a way that most writers for adults cannot capture. It was among the scariest books I’ve read in years and ranks up there with Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always as the best children’s horror I’ve ever read. Thank you Holly, for writing it right.

 

Writing Novellas

I just finished writing my first novella. It was not as easy as I had expected. Having pounded my way through one novel and blundered my way through another and having authored hundreds of shorts, I truly thought a novella would be a piece of cake, or at the very least a whole cake. This novella has been occupying my time and thoughts for over a year now. And that is a very long time for a novella, something that will not be an easy sell.

I often thought novellas were a good bridge between the novel and the short story, but I was dreadfully wrong. The novella is not just a short novel. It is a precise and telling of long story. It is a novel with all the fat trimmed off, leaving only a lean story without fluff, without secondary character development, without side stories. It is a show-ready house rather than a lived in home. It is also far more complicated than a short story. While short stories tend to stay within the realm of the immediately important, Novellas can broaden the scope and show the importance of things that might be glossed over in a short. The structure of the novella is also more like a novel in the rising action. Short stories are often more direct to the climax. Novellas sway towards it like a roller coaster.

All and all, a great experience that I’m glad to be done with.

Book Review: Desert God

Wilbur Smith returned to his Egyptian series for a fifth book (fourth surrounding Taita in the ancient world). While I liked all of the books in the series, I felt that The Quest ventured a bit too far into the realm of fantasy, not that I have any problem with fantasy, but I prefer to keep my fantasy separate from my historical fiction. This book came as a rather big surprise. Chronologically, this book would be the second in the life of Taita. While it is far-fetched to the point of ridiculous, you are reading Taita’s accounts of the events which works to explain the unexplainable as simple misunderstandings made by the ancient genius who was no stranger to self-flattery. The book ventures into uncharted territories as the Egyptians travel out of the Nile Delta and visit some of the other great cultures and witness some of histories most remarkable places and events. It is great fun. It may be more tongue in cheek than the rest of the series, but I think the series was ready for it. Well worth the read if you liked River God, which is a must read if you enjoy action, historical Fiction, or adventure books.