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26. Ask a Book Buyer: Scary Stories, Calligraphy Books, and More

At Powell's, our book buyers select all the new books in our vast inventory. If we need a book recommendation, we turn to our team of resident experts. Need a gift idea for a fan of vampire novels? Looking for a guide that will best demonstrate how to knit argyle socks? Need a book for [...]

0 Comments on Ask a Book Buyer: Scary Stories, Calligraphy Books, and More as of 10/4/2013 2:00:00 PM
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27. Review: Bleach Vol 2 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol. 2

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Y?ichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved. By far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date, Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood

Review:

I loved this volume of Bleach!  Picking up right where the first volume left off, Chad  is in oodles of trouble because of a possessed parakeet.  Housing the soul of the a young boy, Chad has promised to keep him safe, unaware that a Hallow is hot on their heels.  It’s a good thing that Chad is a strong, sturdy fellow, because the evil spirit does its level best to thoroughly annihilate him.  Rukia tries to race to the rescue, but without her Soul Reaper powers, she’s even more helpless than Chad and the parakeet!  Ichigo is temporarily out of the picture.  His sister Karin is very ill, and he’s been tasked with seeing her home safely.  Will he get to Rukia and Chad in time to save the day?

I thought this story arc was very entertaining.  It revealed that Chad has some spiritual energy, and even though he can’t see the Hallow, he can pummel the heck out of it, holding it off until Ichigo’s arrival.  While creating a tense and exciting action sequence, Tite Kubo manages to sneak in some humor to the heightened emotions and make the action even more memorable.  I think that’s what I like best about the series; while things are fraught with stress and impending doom, the mood is altered ever so slightly with quick bursts of humor.  The opposite happens when the mood is light and Rukia and Ichigo are joking around.  The reality of their responsibilities intrudes, if just for a moment, causing a complete shift in tone.  The emotional roller coaster makes this a very engaging read for me.

During the battle over the little boy’s soul, we also learn what happens to people who were evil when they were alive.  Ichigo’s  zanpakut? can’t cleanse their souls of the evil they carry, and they are dragged down to Hell.  Wah!  That’s pretty scary!  Some of the Hallows weren’t decent people when they were among the living, so it’s somewhat gratifying to see them get their just rewards in the afterlife.

This volume also introduces one of my favorite characters, Kisuke Urahara.  He doesn’t seem like much here, other than a shifty merchant peddling in questionable Soul Society goods, and one all too ready to take advantage of Rukia unfortunate circumstances.  There’s also the hint that things in the Soul Society are not all rainbows and unicorns.  Experiments with dubious moral implications are just the start.  I like how these tidbits are scattered like so much bird seed throughout the chapters.  Both Rukia and Ichigo have a lot to learn about what’s really going on in the Soul Society.

This series is highly recommended if you enjoy action, gripping storylines, and likeable characters.   Yes, yes, the fact that it’s at 60 volumes and counting is a little daunting, but on the plus side – you won’t run out of new story for a long time!

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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28. Spotlight and Giveaway! Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

Guest Blog: Thrills & Chills While Doing Laundry (Wait. What?)

By Lindsey R. Loucks

Instead of taking one of the buses speeding through campus during my college career, I always walked, my gaze aimed at the ground for anything shiny and round. If I found treasure in the form of a quarter, it was well worth the few bumps on the head or rude comments I got from not looking where I was going. Like most college students, I was poor.

But I became a pretty successful quarter tracker, and when I’d find one, I’d add it to my carefully stacked pile with the hope I’d have enough to do laundry soon. With all that walking around campus, there were days when I came home smelling a tad ripe.

The washers and dryers were located on the basement floor of my apartment building, and let’s just say that going down there, alone, was the equivalent of walking into a dragon dungeon with my arms loaded with raw meat. That’s what it felt like anyway.

Storage cupboards took up the far wall that led from the stairs to the laundry area, each one about three feet long and three feet wide. Sometimes one of them would be open a crack. The single overhead light only cast a faint orange glow, deepening the shadows inside that open cupboard to an inky black.

Whenever I’d see one of those open cupboards, I’d stop in my tracks while my imagination tumbled over everything that could be lurking inside. Usually the things I imagined involved segmented legs, machetes, Brazilian poison dart frogs, porcelain dolls, or a combination of all of the above, just waiting to spring out.

My pulse racing, I’d give my laundry bag a squeeze and check to make sure I still had my quarters. Then, with my breath held, I’d race past the open cupboard, dump all my clothes into the washer, throw in some soap, push my quarters into the slots, start the machine, and sprint back out before I’d used up all the stored air in my lungs.

It was such a rush! It made laundry day pretty much the best day ever! Of course, I’ve always lived for that pump of adrenaline that fear gives me. I watch scary movies alone in the dark by myself on purpose. I guess I’m weird like that.

On one of my trips to the laundry room, my boyfriend’s brother went with me (I can’t remember why exactly, but I may have told him about the spooky basement). When he saw the wall of cupboards, his exact words were, “A serial killer stores his victims in these, huh?”

And that’s when I stopped doing laundry in that apartment building. Nah, just kidding. I still did. Remember that adrenaline rush thing I was talking about? Yep.

All of this was the fuel I needed to eventually write Haunted Chemistry. Who knew laundry could be so delightfully scary?

How about you? What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you while doing laundry? Have you ever done laundry in a particularly frightening place?

Haunted Chemistry by Lindsey Loucks

ISBN: 9781622662982

Book Description:

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.

Amazon BN Goodreads

Excerpt:

“Uh, Alexis?”

My name on his tongue sounds amazing, but I try not to notice. I turn, the bulk of my laundry bag holding the door open for me. “What?”

He swallows and glances at his black boots. “It’s great to see you again.”

I nod. It’s great to see him, too, but I’m not the one who didn’t show up for our date at the end of last semester and who vanished for an entire summer with no explanation. Maybe he forgot about our non-date, because he sure isn’t trying to explain himself. But why didn’t he call to tell me he wouldn’t be coming instead of making me wait for him?

My bag bites its weight into my shoulder. When I shift it to the other one, the door creaks closed in Ian’s face. I wince. I didn’t mean for that to happen.

“Well.” He frowns through the broken squares in the window. “See you.”

“Yeah.” With a sigh, I watch him walk away. I’ve missed our group study sessions where we’d always sit next to each other and accidentally nudge each other’s knee or foot. I’ve missed how easy it is to be with him. I’ve missed him. He doesn’t seem like the type who wouldn’t call to say he couldn’t make it. But he didn’t.

About the Author:

Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.

She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.

Website: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com

Blog: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com/my-blog

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LindseyRLoucks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindseyRLoucks

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6151511.Lindsey_R_Loucks

Giveaway:

$50 gift card. Winner’s choice of Amazon or B&N

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29. Ever After Release Blitz and Giveaways!

To celebrate the beginning of the scariest month of the year, I wanted to share news about Entangled’s Ever After releases for October. They are all keeping with the creepy Halloween theme, and you can enter a bunch of giveaways! I’m planning on reading all of these – let’s see how many I get through!


Find Your Ever After in Under An Hour
 
Ruby Hill by Sarah Ballance

From her earliest memories, Ashley Pearce has been drawn to Ruby Hill Lunatic Asylum, and she’s not the only one. Decades after the abandoned hospital ended its institutional reign of torture and neglect, something lurks in the shadows. Since she’s a paranormal investigator, it’s Ashley’s job to find out what.

Crime scene expert Corbin Malone doesn’t believe in ghosts. A born skeptic, he has no interest in entertaining the hype surrounding the mysterious deaths at Ruby Hill, but he won’t turn his back while more women die. He agrees to an overnight investigation, never expecting his first encounter would be with the woman he pushed away a year ago. But when he discovers Ashley is a target, he learns his greatest fear isn’t living with his own demons, but losing her for good.


One Thousand and One Nights by Ruth Browne

Sheri spends her days fighting zombies and her nights chained to a wall, earning her every breath by telling stories to her captor Aleksy—stories that make them both forget the ruined world. Sheri could put up with the conditions—at least she knows her sister is safe in the community Aleksy leads—until she realizes she’s falling for him…even though he wants her dead.

When Aleksy allowed Sheri and her sister into his compound, he didn’t know about the zombie bite on her back. It’s only a matter of time before she turns into one of the rising dead and threatens their existence, but Aleksy has a secret need for Sheri and her stories. For everyone’s safety, he chains her to his bedroom wall, hoping for just one more day. But how long will the community allow Aleksy to ignore his own rule: always kill the infected. Always.


Mercy by Jan Coffey

Julia Klein’s life has begun to unravel—her daughter Amy has been suspended from school, Julia is about to lose her job, and her boyfriend Garrett is being transferred thousands of miles away. Overwhelmed, she and Amy leave for a weekend at a rambling old colonial inn. Julia never suspects that Garrett, desperate to find a way to keep Julia in his life, has decided to surprise her by joining them. Nor does she expect her daughter to befriend a mischievous ghost…or that she herself would be possessed by the malevolent spirit of a long-dead mother.

As a dark secret emerges, Julia, Amy, and Garrett find themselves pitted in a fight for survival against a savage presence that intends to resurrect/repeat/relive a horrible crime committed two centuries ago. And this time, Amy and Julia will be the victims.


Haunted Chemisty by Lindsey Loucks

When bookish college co-ed Alexis heads to the laundry room in her new apartment, she runs into Ian Reese, the chem lab partner she crushed on all last semester. And the guy who stood her up on their first date. But she’s down for an awkward reunion, and no better place than her creepy laundry room.

Ian has every intention of making amends, but just when Alexis begins to trust him again, a new threat calls more than their future together into question. A ghost from the apartment’s past is hellbent on revenge, and if he wants to get his girl, he’ll have to get the ghost first.


Wish Upon a Star by Michelle McLean

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancé Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as a zombie uprising threatens them all.




Northern Light by E.J. Russell

Nothing gives art fraud investigator Luke Morganstern a bigger rush than busting forgers, the low-life criminals who dare victimize true artists. But when his latest job sends him to a remote cabin in the Oregon Coast Range, he’s stunned to discover the alleged forger is his former lover, Stefan Cobbe, the most gifted painter Luke has ever known.

Stefan, left homeless and destitute after the death of his wealthy partner, doesn’t exactly deny the forgery — he claims he doesn’t remember, an excuse Luke can’t accept.

But Luke’s elderly client suggests Stefan may be telling the truth and presents another possibility – a dark presence in the woods, a supernatural fury simmering for decades. Luke must face down his fear of the uncanny – and admit his feelings for Stefan – if either of them is to survive.




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30. Review: Bleach Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

 

Title: Bleach Vol 1

Author:  Tite Kubo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach, has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.


Review:

Bleach is one of my favorite series, and I realized with a great deal of dismay that I am far, far behind in my reading of this title.  I don’t think I’ve reviewed many of the volumes, so I opted to take advantage of a comp copy through Vizmanga.com to reacquaint myself with Ichigo, Rukia, and the rest of the gang.  This is a very fun series that features a ton of action, surprisingly touching emotions, and fan favorite protagonists in both Ichigo and Ruikia.  If you enjoyed The Ghost and the Goth or The Curse Workers by Holly Black, I think you should give Bleach a try.  Admittedly, the length of the series is daunting, and it’s still being published, but there are enough volumes released in English that you can read it in manageable chunks by utilizing online sales and trips to the library. 

Ichigo Kurosaki is 15 years old and he can see ghosts.  His sisters can too, though all they can see are faint outlines.  Ichigo can see, touch, talk to, and channel these pesky spirits that he thinks are a pain in the butt.  He just wants to be left alone to mind his own business but NOPE!  That’s not happening.  Ichigo also has a high moral obligation to help anyone in trouble, even those troublesome ghosts.  When an evil spirit threatens to hurt his family, he’s forced to borrow Soul Reaper powers from Rukia, a Soul Reaper who was badly injured saving his bacon.  Too hurt to fight, she offers to lend Ichigo half of her dark powers so he can save his family.  She’s dismayed to discover that he’s so spiritually powerful that he steals all of them, and now she can’t get them back!

I love the relationship between Ichigo and Rukia.  Their back and forth banter is humorous and full of snark.  While Ichigo isn’t exactly disrespectful, he doesn’t understand the need to put himself in danger, fighting the Hollows, regardless of the obligation he acquired when he snatched away all of Rukia’s power.  When the chips are down, though, her forceful prodding  makes him realize how important a Soul Reaper’s duties are.  If he doesn’t take care of the restless spirits, they will eventually turn into Hollows, and once they become these evil monsters, they lose their last shred of humanity.  There is no going back, and the Hollows have an insatiable need to feed on souls.   Rukia put her life at risk to save Ichigo and his family, so he acknowledges that he has a duty to help Rukia until she can figure out a way to get her powers back.

Ichigo is one of my favorite characters because he can’t stand to see an injustice and not want to correct it.  He and One Piece’s Luffy have a lot in common. Both of them will give their heart and soul, not to mention their life, to defend those needing help.  They are white knights in attitude.  Ichigo can’t turn his back on bullying, or just stand by when someone is about to get hurt.  He’s not perfect, and there are many times when he should learn to keep his mouth shut, but he can’t do it.  He is fiercely devoted to his friends and family, and he won’t let anyone hurt them.  Now that he’s a Soul Reaper by default, he can’t ignore when a soul is in danger, either.

The first volume of Bleach is fast-paced, brimming with frantic action, yet it doesn’t let the characters and their interactions take a back seat to all of the fighting.  That is what I enjoy most about Bleach.  The character come to life for me, and I so badly want Ichigo to master his new powers so he doesn’t come to harm.  It’s hard watching such a likeable guy getting the crap beat out of him, even though I have few doubts that he’ll always persevere.  That assurance is the main appeal of manga for me.  I know that even as the protagonists are facing certain doom, they will eventually find a solution to all of their problems.  Reading along as they figure that out is what makes reading them so rewarding.

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

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31. Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?      In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?


Review:

Last year, I read The Hallowed Ones, and it totally creeped me out.  It was scary and suspenseful, and protagonist Katie was brave, level-headed, and firmly grounded by her Amish beliefs.  I eagerly awaited The Outside, the next book in the series, which picks up right where The Hallowed Ones left off.  The end of the world has come, in the form of a terrible sickness that turns its victims into blood sucking monsters.  Katie, her English boyfriend Alex, and Ginger are trying to stay alive after being expelled from Katie’s Amish community.  They have no shelter, dwindling provisions, and the vampires are dogging their every step.  Only sacred ground is keeping them safe at night, as they trek north to find Alex’s family.  Winter is coming (sorry GoTs fans!), and the odds of their continued survival are bleak.

While I didn’t think The Outside was as suspenseful as the previous book,  I still had a hard time putting it down.  This outing is all about the running.  Running from vampires, running from the weather, running from the knowledge that the world has ended and there few survivors of whatever horrible virus has turned humanity into monsters.  Along the way, they meet some of the desperate survivors, and Katie and Alex are at odds about what to do with the weapon they receive to alter themselves to survive the fight with the Darkness.  Alex jumps at the chance to save himself and have a better way to protect Katie, but Katie struggles with her decision about what to do.  She has already gone against her belief system so many times, and she’s afraid that this measure of self-defense will steal away whatever humanity that she has left.  I thought that this method of battling the vampires was genius, in a Ha! Take THIS evil vampires!! kind of way. 

What I enjoyed best about The Outside was Katie’s struggle to accept the bad things that had happened to her.  She made some choices in both books that had very serious repercussions for both herself and for Alex and Ginger, and while she regretted some of the outcomes, she never regretted the initial decision to save Alex.  That one choice was the catalyst for everything else that happened; being shunned, being forced from the protection of her community, seeing the terrible things she saw while she was Outside.  She is angry with the Elders for not believing the Hexenmeister, and for how their treated Ginger.  She’s hurt that her parents did nothing when she was kicked out of the community, yet she can’t stop worrying about them.  Even though her friends and everyone she knows have turned their backs on her, she is still willing to give up her life to save as many of them as she can.  She’s a very admirable character.

One quibble with the book, and it’s the same quibble I have with most post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels, is how quickly they start to feel repetitive.  The steps are always similar to this – travel as far during the day as possible, forage for food and water, seek a safe place to sleep, encounter monsters and life-threatening events along the way.  Stop to rest after finding a safe haven, then gear up and get back on the road, facing even more danger than before.  The pattern and the pacing occasionally frustrate me.  Katie was an interesting enough character that I remained engaged in this story.  With her Plain upbringing, she’s even better prepared for the end of the world than most heroines.  Katie hasn’t been exposed to modern conveniences, so she’s used to a more rugged life-style.  She knows the land, and knows how to forage.  She hasn’t had a cushy life, but instead had chores and obligations to her family and her community.  I thought this gave her a huge advantage that made her survival more believable.

I enjoyed Laura Bickle’s foray into YA, and look forward to her next project.  I like her voice and I really like her characters.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

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32. Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction: An Interview with Philip Athans

the-guide-to-writing-fantasy-and-science-fiction

With the release of our updated edition of Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, I figured it was the perfect time to catch up with one of our newest contributors to this classic tome from Writer’s Digest Books—the right honorable Philip Athans.

Phil was one of the first people we reached out to when we contemplated updating the book, and as the editor who worked with him, I must say I was highly impressed with his knowledge and passion for fantasy and science fiction, and also highly entertained by his advice and observations! Here are a few more questions I threw Phil’s way, and if you like what he has to say, you’ll find his contact information below, and you can read all about the newest, most exciting developments in the fantasy and science fiction genres in his chapter in Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction

—available now!

Writer’s Digest: What are some of the things that an apprentice writer within the genres of science fiction and fantasy typically “gets wrong,” or at least gets under your skin? Or, to put a positive spin on the question, what should a padawan scribe focus on if he or she wants to “get it right” when it comes to speculative fiction?  

Philip Athans: Your own rules you must follow, young Skywalker!

In terms of the SF and fantasy genres in particular, consistently applied internal logic is absolutely essential. Genre readers want to believe, and your readers are happy to suspend their disbelief while your characters travel through hyperspace or battle the twenty-headed liger, but where they’ll start to turn on you and begin to complain that your SF and fantasy is “unrealistic” is when your characters spend three days in hyperspace to travel eight light-years in chapter one then get home again in fifteen minutes in chapter nine. You’ve established that the trip takes three days, how can they suddenly go faster and why didn’t they do that before? Now our entirely created FTL drive is “totally unrealistic.”

And beyond the SF, fantasy, or horror genres, I continue to advise authors of ANY genre to spend real effort learning the CRAFT of writing. I’ve seen some manuscripts come across my desk that have interesting characters, unique settings, and creative original ideas, but the author obviously has no idea how to punctuate a sentence, the manuscript is riddled with run-on sentences and/or sentence fragments, and spelling and style rules are out the window. And honestly, there are very few (read: NO) editors and agents willing to wade through a sea of errors to discover the heart of your story. Read newer published books with an eye toward where the commas go, where the quotation marks come in and out, or better yet, find a good English class either at your current school or at your local college’s continuing education program. A lot of the rules of English grammar and usage are “made to be broken” but there’s a big difference between intentionally bending or even breaking a rule, and just not knowing the rule in the first place.

 

WD: If given the power to greenlight a summer blockbuster, what unrepresented or “unknown” (to the mainstream, at least) science fiction or fantasy book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

PA: In honor of the great Frederik Pohl, who just recently passed away, I’d love to see a $200 million dollar version of his classic novel Gateway, but that’s hardly “unknown.” In general I think that in the same way that special effects have finally caught up to the vision of the comic book writers and artists, there’s now a huge backlist of classic SF and fantasy novels just begging to be filmed. I could probably rattle off a hundred off the top of my head. But as for the more obscure or older titles, I’d love to see a TV series that mines the classic Ace SF Doubles for Twilight Zone-style episodes. Tonight’s episode… “Gunner Cade”!

Get goin’ Hollywood!

 

WD: Which speculative theme do you feel is the most played out at this point: zombies, vampires, or superheroes? Or do you think these still have a leg to stand on?

PA: To some degree, every trope is equally played out or fresh. I’ve been saying for almost twenty years that we need a ten-year moratorium on vampires, but then there’s 30 Days of Night and Let Me In, and I think, okay, THOSE were fantastic, but the rest are … whatever. Zombies had lost it for me, too, until The Walking Dead hit AMC. I’m starting to see an awful glut of minimally-creative post-apocalypse stories now, but again, it’s not the fault of the genre or the sub-genre but the author. If all you’re doing is assembling Teen Vampires vs. Zombie Apocalypse in a ‘one from column A, one from column B’ sort of way, then you’re going to end up with a lifeless blob of text. But if you have something original to say and use those archetypes in a fresh, creative way, nothing is ever entirely out of style or off limits.

 

WD: Who is the greatest science fiction or fantasy villain who has yet to become a household name in mainstream pop culture? Do you think this dog will have its day?

PA: The bigger mainstream audience has yet to be really effectively introduced to the drow of the Forgotten Realms world. With Hasbro now a force in the movie business post-Transformers, there’s more reason to hope for a Drizzt movie now more than ever, and I think that’ll be what it takes to make the drow, and in particular characters like Matron Baenre and Malice Do’Urden, into pop culture icons beyond the Salvatore/Forgotten Realms/D&D fan communities. These are smart, sexy, powerful, and Evil (with a capital E) women that, if portrayed correctly, will knock people’s socks off.

 

WD: What is the first book you read that made you think, “I have got to write something like this someday!”

PA: I had this great illustrated SF anthology when I was a kid and in it was a short story by Harlan Ellison called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” that literally made my head spin. That single short story took me from a kid who loved space opera entertainment and wrote and drew his own comic books to someone absolutely obsessed with the full spectrum of the genre. Harlan Ellison didn’t just raise the bar for writers of speculative fiction, he stole the bar, used it to beat people up, then jammed it into the genre sideways to permanently prop it open.

 

WD: Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) have you excited? What are you reading right now?

PA: I’m always reading multiple books, jumping back and forth from five or six, and one of them tends to be some classic, golden age SF novel like Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars, which I’m reading, and loving all over again right now. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Paolo Bacigalupi might save science fiction. If you haven’t read The Windup Girl, consider this an assignment. On the fantasy side, I’m eagerly awaiting the third book in J.M. McDermott’s Dogsland Trilogy and I will read anything by Catherynne M. Valente.

 

WD: Any new projects of your own around the corner?

PA: I’m hard at work on The Guide to Writing Monster & Aliens, a follow-up to The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction that’ll concentrate on monsters (of course). I love monsters of all genres and media, and I’m having a ball putting this together. My other current work-in-progress is a dark high fantasy that I have high hopes for. It’ll be full of demons, and I plan to take all my own advice on creating great monsters, and get as much additional advice as I can from some friends and associates, too. Writing the novel and the monster guide at the same time should make both of them better!

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and more than a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the recently-released How to Start Your Own Religion and Devils of the Endless Deep. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (http://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/

) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.

 

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33. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

danceparty tsurumi inorder lowres 7 425x550 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

Andrea Tsurumi is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist working on a number of platforms. She’s a Harvard graduate currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, but in the meantime her work has been published by Penguin Books and The New York Times. Her long work DANCE PARTY (featured above) appears on her  website, and shorter comics work YAKITORI can also be found there. She also contributes, with Keren Katz, to the site UNCANNY EATING, documenting the metamorphic and bizarre qualities of food across cultures. Recently, she’s also started blogging about comics events for THE RUMPUS. Tsurumi’s style is innovative and expansive, taking in the bizarre and grotesque while infusing them with a sense of humor. Her panel designs often break the frame and expand into full page spreads populated with active figures and mysterious vistas. She draws influence from film, pop culture, and the world of illustration and has a lot in common with a multicultural weird tales tradition in her art.

 

 

1 Comments on 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi, last added: 4/9/2013
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34. Flashy Fiction Bundle Now Available! Save 25%

Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales volumes 1 and 2 are now available in a bundle! Not only do you get both books together, you save 25% too!

 

Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales (Bundle Vol 1 & 2) 

by Jen Wylie and Sean Hayden

Anthology Bundle

Published March 17 2013

Price: 2.99 (save 25%)

Available at [Amazon]

IT’S THE BEST OF BOTH BOOKS!
Okay, technically it’s just BOTH BOOKS in ONE seriously funny and scary easy to read, purchase only once, compendium of the deranged! And you save almost a WHOLE DOLLAR! Do we rock or do we rock?

An anthology of the strange, bizarre, and just plain weird.

Zombies, vampires, ghosts, and …crickets? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to twisted, there is something for everyone.

Unicorns, zombies, devils, dark whispers, teddy bears, and …fireflies? Try a taste of writing from two very different fantasy authors. Flash fiction stories are super short and perfect for when you ‘just have a minute’. This anthology contains 15 stories (both flash and longer short stories) from authors Sean Hayden and Jen Wylie. Run the rampart of emotions in this exciting mix of tales. From humor to horror, sweet to twisted, there is something for everyone.
~*~

Note: Some stories contain adult language.


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35. Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

 

Title:  Something Strange and Deadly

Author:  Susan Dennard

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


Review:

I was disappointed with Something Strange and Deadly.  Honestly, I don’t know if anything could have lived up to the hype surrounding this title, and since I was waiting with such a sense of anticipation, it fell short for me.  The beginning was intriguing – Eleanor is searching for a sign from her brother that he’ll be returning home soon, and poof!  A stinky, reanimated corpse gives her a note from Elijah.  That’s so much better than using a carrier pigeon!  Just wrestle up a corpse when you need to pass a note to somebody!  It will terrify the recipient, but  who’s going to try to incept your missive? 

After it is apparent that Elijah has decided, yet again, to delay his homecoming, Eleanor’s mother decides to use the opportunity to hold a séance, instead of the already planned and paid for  welcoming party.  She has to marry Eleanor off, if they hope to retain their current lifestyle, since Elijah isn’t doing his job and providing for them.  With Elijah a constant no-show, Eleanor’s mother is getting desperate.  With her husband dead and her son failing to care for the family, desperate measures are called for.

I loved the séance.  It’s creepy, and her mother’s foolishness calls forth a very dangerous spirit.  Whoa!  Who would have thought that a parlor game would have such frightening results?  The evil spirit dogs Eleanor’s footsteps for the entire book, so, yeah, thanks, mom, for messing around with stuff you are obviously not capable of handling.

I am trying to put my finger on why this story didn’t work for me, and I think it was because there is so much going on.  And because Eleanor is constantly leaping into danger.  There are zombies lurching around the graveyard?  Let’s go check them out!  There are headless corpses wandering the streets?  Let’s go out without a chaperon and see what we can find out.  While all of the sneaking around showed that Eleanor was headstrong and wasn’t going to take a backseat to anyone, it also proved that she lacked the one thing necessary for living a long and zombie-death free life.  Yup, that common sense stuff.  Eleanor needed to display a little more of it.  A lot more, actually.

Another thing that drove me batty was how the characters snarled, shrieked, growled, and screamed at each other.  All of those noises!  Nobody just talked or held a quiet conversation.  Nope!  That’s just a pet peeve of mine, though, and your mileage may vary.

There is a dreaded love triangle, between handsome, wealthy Clarence and Daniel, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is on the run from the law.  He’s a gifted inventor, though, and his devices help battle the zombies.  I never liked Daniel, which was another impediment to my enjoyment of the book.  I didn’t like the way either potential love interest treated Eleanor, but Daniel’s demeanor was particularly grating.  Nicknaming her Empress, he was constantly dismissive of her,  at least until the very end of the book when she saved his bacon.    I don’t know that  I would have thrown myself into the midst of a zombie horde to save anybody in this book, other than Jie. 

While Something Strange and Deadly failed to impress me, it will appeal to action lovers.  If the book hadn’t been so hyped for me, I think I would have enjoyed it more. 

Grade:  C/C-

Review copy obtained from my local library

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36. The Devil in Silver

I highly anticipated Victor LaValle's Devil in Silver, and it surpassed my expectations! I absolutely loved his fantastic writing and amazing story. LaValle never lets up, one great chapter after another. Books mentioned in this post $27.00 New Hardcover add to wish list The Devil in Silver Victor LavalleVictor Lavalle 9781400069866

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37. Interview with A. E. Rought, Author of Broken

Strange Chemistry author A. E. Rought dropped by the virtual offices to chat about her new book, Broken.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[A. E. Rought] Yep, and alliterative to boot! “Compulsive, creative, caring.” The compulsive and creative go hand in hand. And I’m always cooking for, listening to, taking care of people—it’s the mother in me, I guess.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Broken?

[A. E. Rought] For me, it’s reimagining the whole of the Frankenstein story, and choosing a different character to tell it. Victor Frankenstein’s story has been told, and brilliantly. So I thought about his “monster” and all the fun I could have breaking hearts if he fell in love. To make it stand apart, I told it from the point of view of the girl he falls in love with.

I took the tropes of Frankenstein, added some theology, and then told the story of Emma, the girl who falls in love with a boy who’s not wholly himself anymore, and what happens when they find the truth of what his father did to make him that way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[A. E. Rought] A long chat on the phone with my beta reader. I knew I wanted to play with a classic revisit, and fairytales are so popular right now I turned to Gothic fiction. Both my beta and I adore Van Helsing (Yes, I know, not the best in its genre, but still fun) and that movie’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, so we decide to make Alex a “monster” that was a product of his ‘creator’s’ actions, and a victim of them, too. It all snowballed from there. It may be Emma’s story, but Alex came first.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Emma?

[A. E. Rought] Stubborn, funny, broken.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Daniel had a theme song, what would it be?

[A. E. Rought] Oh, wow. What a tough question! I’ve gone round and round with this one since I read it. I think I have to go with So Much, by The Spill Canvas. (It fits Alex really well, too…)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Alex won’t leave the house without.

[A. E. Rought] His cell phone. There are other things he can never leave behind, but that might give too much way…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Alex’s bedroom?

[A. E. Rought] A mess because he’s one of those tidy types. A picture of his father—their relationship defies being captured in a photograph. A picture of his mother, because his father wouldn’t allow it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Emma’s greatest regret?

[A. E. Rought] Leaving that balcony to go find help. Her entire future changed in that moment.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[A. E. Rought] My parents. Mom is always busy with a handcraft of some sort, and my dad was constantly building something. He would even make tools to get the job done. They taught me to embrace my creative side, and the many ways it can filter into my life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[A. E. Rought] Caffeine, music and the atmosphere. My ultimate place of writing Zen will have a mug of tea, the current project’s playlist, and no outside distractions, like TV, family noise, etc. At the height of drafting, I will often grab up my mug, curl my laptop to my chest and slink off to the Writing Cave, otherwise known as my bedroom.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[A. E. Rought] I think my ultimate sock knock-offer book will always be Across the Universe, by Beth Revis. Other books have come close, but nothing has quite matched the Holy crap! response I had when I finished reading it. The tension, the layers, the concept… That book makes me want to be a better author every time I read it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[A. E. Rought] I would have to say The Hobbit. I had always been a reader, but after that book, reading became something more than just an escape.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[A. E. Rought] I can be caught baking, sewing, weaving baskets, beading jewelry… Thanks to my mom, I’m a big handicraft person. I also like to occasionally drop my butt to the sofa, curl under a blanket and watch a movie. My latest favorite is The Avengers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[A. E. Rought] I’m all over the place online!

Website:

http://aerought.com/

Blog:

http://aerought.blogspot.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/aeroughtauthor

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/aerought

Pinterest:

http://pinterest.com/aerought/

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!!

[A. E. Rought] Thanks for having me!!

You can pre-order Broken from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

 

About the book:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

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38. Book Trailers for SF, Fantasy, & Horror Children's & YA

Readers' Advisory is an important part of every librarian's job! Nowadays, with book trailers, it's easy to find out about books, and even easier to give your patrons a taste of what's to come inside them.

The following is a collection of fantasy, science fiction, and horror novels for children and young adults. 


Video #1 - High fantasy from Lena Coakley - Witchlanders


Video #2 - Chasing the White Witch by Marina Cohen


Video #3 - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


Video #4 - Partials by Dan Wells


Video #5 - The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


0 Comments on Book Trailers for SF, Fantasy, & Horror Children's & YA as of 12/6/2012 3:45:00 PM
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39. YA eBargains for Your Kindle

Here’s a small round-up of nicely priced YA eBooks for your Kindle or Kindle app.

 Eve by Anna Carey ($2.99)

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.

.

 

Partials by Dan Wells ($2.99)

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

 

These Harper Collins’ contemporaries are at a lower price point, so check them out.  I enjoyed both of these.

 

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley ($5.69)

Meet Corrinne. She’s living every girl’s dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . .

When Corrinne’s father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she’s stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she’s supposed to be living. She doesn’t care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.


A Long Way from You (Where I Belong) by Gwen Heasley ($5.69)

For too long, Kitsy has had to satisfy her dreams of becoming a real artist by giving her friends makeovers before prom. So when her best friend Corrinne’s family offers to sponsor her for a summer art course in New York City, Kitsy bids a temporary good-bye to Texas to say hello to the West Village.

Between navigating the subway and the New Yorkers—namely, the Art Boy who has a nice trick of getting under her skin—Kitsy knows that this summer is going to be about a lot more than figure drawing.

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40. The Diviners

The Diviners Libba Bray

At a party gone boring, restless flappers unknowingly raise a once-buried evil. In Ohio, a careless Evie reveals something she shouldn't and is sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York City until the scandal dies down. In New York, Memphis runs numbers by day and writes poetry by night. He used to be a healer, but lost the ability when it mattered most of all. Theta is a glamourous Ziegfried girl just trying to forget. Mabel's parents are communist organizers but all she wants is to catch the eye of Jericho, Uncle Will's assistant at the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition and the Occult, aka the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.

It's 1926 and their stories collide as a gruesome serial murder strikes the city. Uncle Will is called in to aid the investigation as the murders are steeped in the occult. Evie knows her supernatural powers can help, but she'd rather drink and party to forget that she even has them. The investigation leads them to the Great Awakening, WWI, and beyond our world as commets and dreams are portents of things to come...

Sprawling and epic, this is paranormal/horror/historical fiction. It lacks the zany humor of Going Bovine or Beauty Queens but that's ok, because it would be really out of place here! The action and focus frequently shifts between characters and storylines, interspersed with set and mood pieces to paint a picture of the city, the country, and the time period. It's dark and atmospheric. I love how even though it's historical fiction, it's also haunted (literally and metaphorially) by history, especially Sprititualism and the Great Awakening movements, both of which appear in US history classes but can be hard to make sense of in a broad survey class setting. I loved the miltary mesting aspect. We tend to see army conspiracies and top secret projects taking place in WWII, but not WWI.*

Now the immediate storyline wraps up by the end of the book, but it's also very very very much the first in a series. Lots of smaller plots become larger questions that are no where near answered by the end. In the hands of a less skilled author, this entire project would be a hot mess, but Libba Bray makes it brilliant and spooky.

*This makes sens because WWII saw things like the Holocaust, Unit 731, Enigma, and the Manhattan Project. Also, the post-WWII era saw the space age and TV and was such a period of massive change that military secrets in the recent war made more sense, storytelling wise. It was tapping into a different psyche.)

ARC Provided by... the publisher, at ALA.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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41. Interview with Laura Bickle, Author of The Hallowed Ones

Laura Bickle is a favorite around the virtual offices, and I’m always delighted when she has time to drop in for a chat.  Today we are going to talk about her soon to be released young adult title The Hallowed Ones.  This is a scary glimpse at the end of the world!  I enjoyed this thrilling, frightening, exciting read, and I wanted to ask Laura a few questions about it, so let’s see what she has to say.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Laura Bickle] Cat-rancher, Tarot enthusiast, and sometime salamander chaser. Writing urban fantasy and YA as Laura Bickle and Alayna Williams.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Hallowed Ones?

[Laura Bickle] Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: no one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Laura Bickle] I was thinking about what would happen if the end of the world came…I know this is a common thing to think about on an everyday basis! But that’s part of the joy in being a writer. I get to think about odd things.

I was wondering who would be best-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster. It occurred to me that the Amish would be uniquely equipped to survive. They are incredibly self-sufficient and are not dependent upon things we take for granted in our world, things like electricity and cars.

I live not too far from a large Amish settlement. When I was a child, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like. And that’s where Katie came from.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you research Amish culture and traditions?

[Laura Bickle] I spent some time visiting the Amish settlement near where I live. I also did a good deal of reading…there are a lot of great books out there that look at the Plain way of life from a sociological perspective. National Geographic has also done a number of very good documentaries about the Amish. Many of the ideas were very foreign to me. For example, the Amish do not wish to be connected to the outside world, so power lines, phone lines, and electricity are not used. That kind of voluntary isolation is fascinating to me. The only parallel I can draw in my own life is when storms came through our area and we were without phone, cable, electricity, and internet for a week. It was very still and very peaceful.

I’m acutely conscious that I can’t know or understand everything about the Amish, never having lived in an Amish community. But I learned enough to develop an immense respect for the Amish way of life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Katie?

[Laura Bickle] Katie is strong, quiet, and resolute. She’s a young woman growing into her power.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things would Elijah never have in his room?

[Laura Bickle] Hmmm…Elijah is the boy Katie has grown up with, who she expects to marry someday. Elijah is something of a straight arrow. He’d never have the keys to a car, a secret stash of Star Wars action figures, or anything with a remote control.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alex would never have in his pockets?

[Laura Bickle] Alex is an injured man Katie finds outside the boundaries of her community. Katie brings him inside her barn to recover, but can’t be sure what kind of evil he’s bringing in with him.

Alex is a graduate student in anthropology. You wouldn’t find any of the following in his pockets: more than twenty bucks, a comb, or directions to the nearest church.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Katie had a theme song, what would it be?

[Laura Bickle] Hmmm. Katie doesn’t spend much time listening to popular music, but she was caught by her father humming “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones while milking the cows.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Laura Bickle] My herd of cats would say they’re my greatest influences. There’s always one or two draped on me while I’m trying to type, trying to hit the delete key.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Laura Bickle] Quiet, Coca-Cola, and someplace to sprawl out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Laura Bickle] FEVER by Lauren DeStefano. Her voice is so incredibly powerful – I can’t wait for the third book in the Chemical Garden trilogy. Both WITHER and FEVER were books that lingered with me for a long time after I finished – I love it when a story takes up real estate in my head and haunts me like that.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Laura Bickle] My all-time favorite is Robin McKinley’s HERO AND THE CROWN. I read it when I was a pre-teen, and fell in love with fantasy ever after. It was the first book I’d read that had a female protagonist who slew her own dragons. I was hooked.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laura Bickle] In my day job, I work in a library. I get to pet all the new books and come home with armloads of books to read for research and pleasure.
My husband and I are amateur astronomers. We were excited to finally get a break in the cloud cover to see a bit of the Perseids meteor shower this year.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Laura Bickle] I love to connect with readers! My website is www.laurabickle.com. I blog about nerdy stuff like my action figure collection at http://laurabickle.com/category/blog/ I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Hallowed Ones from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

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42. Enter Your Horror Story & You Could Win $$$!

Are you passionate about writing horror stories? Do you have one that will hook readers from page one? Take a chance and enter your story in the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards!

The Prizes:

Enter the WD Popular Fiction Awards now online or submit your entry via snail mail!

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43. Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

 

Title:  The Hallowed Ones

Author: Laura Bickle

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

Review:

This book had me extremely freaked out at several points during the story, and I could not put it down.  Well, I did have to put it down once, because everyone else had wandered off to bed, it was dark, and I was FREAKED OUT.  I just could not sit in the living room by myself and continue to read, damn my easily frightened heart.  So I carefully marked my place, set the book down, and waddled off to bed, already counting down the hours until I would be home from work and able to read again.  It was probably for the best; it was a work night anyway, and the weekend beckoned just a few hours away.

I loved Embers, also by Laura Bickle, for both the heroine and for her cuddle-worthy elemental, Sparky.  I read a lot of books, and if I can remember most of the plot and even character names months after I have finished, it was a great reading experience.  When I saw that she had a YA title coming out, I was beside myself with excitement.  Would I enjoy it?   The Hallowed Ones intrigued me for another reason, too.  Katie is Amish, and she is about to set off on her Rumspringa, the time that young Amish are permitted to live with the English away from their communities, in order to determine whether or not they wanted to return and be baptized, and fully accepted as adults in their society.  Being baptized also meant putting aside non-Amish things, and having additional pressures to conform to accepted behavior.  I wondered if I would find Katie an interesting person.  She is supposed to be  humble and agreeable, and not make waves.  Guess what?  She is a fascinating heroine, strong, brave, and more than willing to make waves when she thought that an injustice was being committed.  This got her into a lot of hot water with the Elders, but Katie just could not step aside when she thought that someone needed her help.  Unfortunately for her people, everybody needed help after a devastating catastrophe befalls the Outside.

I can’t remember having read another book with an Amish protagonist, so I don’t know how authentic Katie is, but I liked her a lot.  She never backed down when she was needed, regardless of how unpleasant, and in several instances, how downright horrifying, the task was.  I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, because I want you to be as freaked out as I was.  Let me just say that there are evil, awful monsters Outside, and they are ravenous.  They are scary.  They are strong.  And worse of all, they are smart.  With the Elders denying that a darkness has descended and threatens to survival of the human race, things are looking particularly grim.  An Amish community, with its wooden houses and lack of technology, isn’t the first place I would choose to make my last stand with the world ending around me.  There are no radios, TV, or internet for the news, and cell phones?  Forget it!  You aren’t going to be able to send urgent, terrified text messages to your friends and family because they don’t have those there!  Several times I was struck by how difficult communication would be even without the end of days.  Heck, if I wanted to talk to my neighbors on the other end of the community, I would have to walk there.  Or hitch up my horse and drive there.  Thank goodness I know how to drive a buggy.

I thought the beginning of the story was a little slow, but now that I have finished the book, I don’t think that anymore.  We needed that calm before the storm, to establish both Katie and Elijah’s personalities, their role in their society, and what their hopes were for the future.  Katie firmly believed that she and Elijah would go on Rumspringa together, and after kicking up their heels, they would both be baptized, and then eventually they would be married and start a family of their own.  Everything was laid out in a simple path, and all she had to do was follow it.  But then the unthinkable happens, and there is no Outside anymore.  When the Elders, in an abundance of caution, closed off their community, Katie begins to question everything that she once accepted without a qualm.  She disobeys the Elders, and soon she has first hand knowledge of the evil they are up against.  Things don’t look good, and Katie thinks that it is just a matter of time before everyone in her knows and loves suffers an unspeakable end.

While I liked Katie, I think that the Hexenmeister is my favorite character.  There is just something about a crazy old guy who turns out to be a magical bad-ass that appeals to me.  While he lived on the fringes of his society because he was quite odd during times of peace  and contentment, during the end of the world he was just the guy to have on your side.  He, too, was strong and unwavering, even when confronted with the corruption that seethed within their community. 

The Hallowed Ones is an exciting, and at times, terrifying read, with a strong heroine ready to do whatever is necessary to save the lives of her family.  Without technology on her side, Katie has to rely on something many of us have forgotten how to use; her own cunning and common sense.  I enjoyed this book very much, and can hardly wait for follow-up.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

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44. Title Horror: Ruth Symes


Coming up with a title:

Some authors don't write a word until they’ve thought up a title for their work, whilst others spend weeks chewing their pen’s end and pulling tufts of hair out trying to come up with just the right one, only to have their publisher announce that they've thought of something much better.

My first children’s novel to be published (back in 1997) was a gritty urban school based story with an extremely elusive title. Whatever I suggested my publishers, Puffin, didn't like. At one point there was a class of thirty or so 10 year olds being read the manuscript and trying to come up with something suitable but my publisher didn't like any of those either.

The Master of SecretsFinally my then editor, the lovely Lucy Ogden, told me they'd decided my book would be called 'The Master of Secrets' and later I found there was also going to be a picture of my anti-hero, Gabriel Harp, on the cover rather than the story’s real hero, Raj.

Much as I loved working with Lucy I found the publisher’s title to be confusing for readers who assumed, quite naturally, that they were going to be reading a fantasy novel.

Do titles make a difference to book sales?

Yup: When 'Dancing Harriet' was about to be published by Chicken House my editor told me the feedback from Scholastic in the USA was that they would prefer it to be Harriet Dancing.
Dancing Harriet'Of course it's up to you... but the potential for thousands of copies...' she murmured.
Harriet Dancing the book became.

'Chip's Dad' was originally ‘Colin's Dad’ until the publisher asked for it to be changed (I really should have realised it was going to be aimed at the US - which is the only place it sells and asked for a larger royalty than the pittance the educational publisher - who seem to have now gone bankrupt - thought was fair).

Little RexAnd ‘Little Rex’ started off as a crocodile with another name not just a title but a whole species change (I think – although crocs and dinosaurs must be related....)



Adult BooksAnd finally my 2010 memoir written under the pseudonym of Megan Rix was originally 'The Puppy Mum' (my title) then ‘Puppies from Heaven’ (my agent’s title) before becoming ‘The Puppy that Came for Christmas’ (publisher’s choice). I liked this one – although with it’s pink cover the book does very often get mistaken for a children’s book rather than an adult one.

What title horror stories / experiences have you had?


Poster for ScareFEST 3And speaking of HORROR I wanted to let you know that I am going to be onstage around a cauldron talking about my Bella Donna books at SCAREFEST 3 on Saturday the 6th October at The Civic, Crosby from 1pm. Please come along if you can. It should be WILD. Tommy Donbavand, the writer of Scream Street, is hosting an interactive game show. There’s a budding author's workshop from 10-30-12, an exclusive staging of the 'Spook's Apprentice' and the 'Doom Rider' show from 4-5.30, and a 'Spook-Tacular Extra-GORE-Vanza' in the evening.

More info from the wonderful Tony Higginson at www.formbybooks.co.uk

PS Have just spent all weekend re-vamping my website so if you have time to click by it’d be nice to see you at www.ruthsymes.com

7 Comments on Title Horror: Ruth Symes, last added: 10/1/2012
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45. Gretchen McNeil: ‘The setting of a horror story is as important as the plot.’

Happy October! In honor of the Halloween season, we’ll be interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers. Recently, we spoke with young adult novelist Gretchen McNeil.

In September, HarperCollins Children’s Books published McNeil’s latest novel. When Barnes & Noble decided not to carry this title in their stores, she launched an internet marketing campaign called the “Army of TEN” and offered incentives for readers who helped to promote the book.

Currently, this title holds the #88 spot on Amazon’s list of bestselling teen books in the “mysteries” category. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

continued…

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46. 13 Days of Halloween: Flesh & Bone

by Jonathan Maberry Simon & Schuster 2012 Benny and his friends continue on their quest to find what's left of civilization before the zombies and death cults get to them first. Third in a (seemingly) endless series. Why is it so hard for writers, agents, editors and publishers to know when a story has gone on too long and jumped the shark?  Long-time readers here at the excelsior file might

2 Comments on 13 Days of Halloween: Flesh & Bone, last added: 10/26/2012
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47. Review: ZOM-B by Darren Shan

 

Title: ZOM-B

Author: Darren Shan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish.

B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn’t work, B doesn’t hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks.

That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.


Review:

Spoiler free!

This is the first Darren Shan novel that I have read (I have read some graphic novel adaptations previously), and despite some reservations, I enjoyed it very much.  ZOM-B kept me happily entertained on a flight to OKC; it’s a fast read, with blistering action and compulsively readable prose.  I gobbled this up in just a few hours, and was disappointed when I reached the last page, because this one comes to a painful, screeching halt.  It has no ending, just one of those annoying To Be Continued on the last page.  While I now feel invested in the series and will be on board for the next volume, I worry that the next book won’t work for me as well.  This one hit at the right time; with Halloween looming, I was in the mood for something scary, and being trapped on a plane for was few hours, I needed something to occupy my time and keep me from wallowing in boredom.  ZOM-B did that; in spades.  I don’t know if I will feel the same way, or have the right circumstances, when ZOM-B Underground hits stores February of next year.

B is a high school student, and after hearing reports of a zombie invasion in an Irish town, B’s father laughs the news off as a hoax.  When B’s mother voices her concern, her husband reacts violently, silencing her fears.  B isn’t sure what’s going on, but if the videos and the pictures of rotting dead people viciously attacking and eating helpless people is true, B doesn’t know what to do.  When the zombies show up at school, chaos erupts.  Only those brave enough, and willing to do anything to survive, will live through the massacre.  Will B make it out of school alive?

B is a hard character to like.  After years of trying to fend off his father’s abusive attacks, both on B and on B’s mother, B is exhausted.  Playing along with his father’s racially biased views in order to avoid beatings, B comes across as just as bigoted and narrow-minded as his dad.  While he tries to deny his prejudice, because, hey, he has a black friend, it’s hard to ignore the things B says and does.  The intolerance towards other cultures is a strong theme in the book, but it is so heavy-handed that at times it didn’t work for me.  It grated on my nerves.  Yes, B’s dad is a bully and a jerk, but I didn’t need to be reminded of that every other page. 

B has a lot to deal with at home as his father’s temper often flares out of control.  When news of a zombie plague hits the news, everyone laughs it off as an elaborate joke.  When B’s worst nightmare comes true and the zombies overrun  school, it seems as though the world is ending.  Only quick thinking and brutal reactions keep B and a small handful of students alive.  The zombies are relentless, and B’s little group is shrinking fast.  One after another is picked off and eaten by the ravenous zombies.  Soon, it’s everyone for themselves.  While the small group is forced to work together, it is painfully obvious that the peace will only hold as long as it is mutually beneficial.  If tossing a student or two to the zombie mob will buy the more ruthless survivors a reprieve from a painful death, so be it.  The group dynamics  were always shifting, which made the read even more suspenseful, because you never knew when someone would be sacrificed or eaten by the zombies. 

This is a fun, fast, gory read, right up until that dreaded, hated, To Be Continued.  I like a little more closure to my books, but as this is the first in a projected 12 book series, I guess I need to get used to running into a lot of brick walls.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

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48. Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Today I'm participating in WinterHaven's Author Fright Festival.

Here are some of the authors participating in this event:
Marianne de Pierres, April Henry, Kate Avery Ellison, Kelly Hashway, Rachel Harris, Jamie Manning, Lea Nolan, Chloe Jacobs,  Victoria Scott, Angela Scott, Paula Weston, Anne Greenwood Brown, and Jennifer Shaw Wolf!

Be sure to visit WinterHaven for this Spooktacular event.

And in honor of this scary holiday, I thought we could all suggest books that creeped us out in some way or another. Here are some books that scared me:


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A Whisper to a Scream by Lauren Hammond
Fractured by Majanka Verstraete

And I have a cover reveal for you, too! Here's To Love or Die in a Steamy Reamy World by Emily White:



10 Tales of Steampunk Silliness and Spookery.

In the cozy seaside village of Steamville, New Hampshire, an unfaithful zombie, out of control werebots, succubi in corsets, and more wreak havoc in this short story collection. 

Pub Date:
December 22, 2012 on all major online retailers ($.99 for ebook/$2.99 for print)


Add it on Goodreads.



What was the last book that scared you?

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49. How To Submit Your Work To Random House’s New Digital Imprints

Random House has released writer guidelines for four digital imprints, seeking submissions from romance, new adult, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

Follow these individual imprint links to submit your manuscript: Loveswept (romance & women’s fiction), Alibi (mystery & suspense), Hydra (sci-fi, fantasy & horror), Flirt (new adult). There is no official word count, but the editors are looking for both shorter submissions that range between 15,000 and 30,000 words and longer works that range between 40,000 and 60,000 words. Here’s more from the publisher:

You may present any manuscript in which you control exclusive copyright.  We are open to previously-published manuscripts as long as the submitting author now controls all electronic and print publishing rights.  Please submit the entire query form at the link below.  If we are interested in considering your full manuscript, you will be contacted with further submission instructions.  We make every effort to respond to submission inquiries within 2-4 weeks after submission of the submission query form; please do not resubmit previously submitted queries, as this may create delays.

 

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50. Monsters, Zines, and MonsterZines with Stephen Bissette

Weird tales and comics naturally go together. From the days of pulp stories with enthralling illustrations, through EC’s Wertham-harried evocation of the fantastic and grotesque, to the heydays of Vertigo and Darkhorse, readers want to see an artist’s interpretation of the strange and bizarre. And the most exciting weird comics bring visual elements to the narrative that the reader could never have predicted or expected. Stephen Bissette has spent a great deal of his life contributing to shock and wonder for readers, and through his work teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies, making sure that tradition continues.

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As mythology and urban legends attest, some of the greatest frisson when it comes to monster stories comes from attaching them to a particular landscape, the spookier and more remote, the better. Bissette and friend Joseph A. Citro started constructing geographical maps of Vermont’s own ghost tales, and then monster tales, which culminated in the publication THE VERMONT MONSTER GUIDE from University Press of New England. It features “fiends, winged weirdos, terrestrial terrors, and water whatzits”. If the cover seems playful, be prepared for a number of surprises lurking within its covers ready to pounce. Firstly, the table of contents arranges the Vermont-native beasties according to their elemental homes like a creepy medieval grimoire, giving the impression that the state is not safe by land, mountain, or sea, and add to that the chilling category “town”. Town?! But that’s only the first indication of the genuinely spooky stuff Citro and Bissette have catalogued. Then there are the names. They are disarmingly simple, and have that ring of folksy authenticity that makes a particular mark on the imagination: there’s “Pigman”, “Human-Faced Calf” and “Serpent of Dead Creek”. Shudder.

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Maybe it’s the fact that these creatures are not easily identifiable within wider horror tradition. They have their own unique dwelling place in remote and rural imagination. The “Hopping Horror”, for instance, has a very specific haunt along “Route 7”, and is simply described as a “naked, hopping, man-like critter”. Honestly, that would be enough to freak me out on a dark autumn night, but Bissette’s illustrations conjure far more than your own imagination is likely to construct on its own. A personal favorite of mine is the “Man-Eating Stone”, which Citro explains is a rock which “becomes less solid, and like a living thing, swallows the unfortunate trespasser”. Bissette builds fear from the ground up by working with the familiar. The stone surface subtly shifts into glowering eyes and sprouts a tortured human arm reaching skyward in the wilderness. Bissette’s “stomach dwelling snakes” are not for the faint of heart, to say the least. I had to know more about this project that made me uneasy about road-trips from several states away, so I asked Bissette a couple of questions.

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HM-S: What was the genesis of this book?

SB: I’ve been friends with the author, Joe Citro, for a couple of decades or more now. Joe is one of my best friends on planet Earth, that’s all there is to it. Sometime in the 1990s, we decided to “get into some foolishness,” as Joe calls it, and we self-produced and self-published the first version of a cartoon map of Vermont entitled VERMONT’S HAUNTS. I drew up a template map, Joe tagged where peculiar events had happened, and I illustrated the key “weird” sightings and events around the state, what would fit of them, and Joe wrote captions for them. We did pretty well with that, and every so many years we get a hankering to “get into some mischief” and work up another project. THE VERMONT GHOST GUIDE was one of those, which was published in 2000 and is still in print and selling well in and around our home state. THE VERMONT MONSTER GUIDE was our sequel/companion to that book. I pitched the book to our GHOST GUIDE publisher, University Press of New England, and got the best deal I could for Joe and I, and we got to work.

HM-S: Is there still a strong monster storytelling element up in Vermont?
SB: I wouldn’t have said or thought so, but since doing the book, I’ve been approached by more than one person or couple claiming to have seen “things” around Vermont. So I reckon there is.

HM-S: What did you most enjoy about illustrating the book?

SB: It was just a pleasure to draw, period. It was great working with the art director and team at UPNE, but nothing was as much fun as just drawing the creatures. It was a path to getting my own drawing chops back up to speed after a lengthy period in which I really didn’t do much drawing, save for my work in the classroom at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

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As unexpectedly frightening as THE VERMONT MONSTER GUIDE is, it works on the basis of a kind of subtlety that blends the urban legend with the uncanny. Bissette’s imagination runs wild on a very personal new project, an old-fashioned ‘zine called MONSTER PIE, created alongside Center for Cartoon Studies graduate Denis St. John. The indie monster ‘zine is a no-holds-barred freefall into the play of the darker side of the imagination, featuring illustration, short comics, and informative discussions about the horror genre. It’s inspiration lies in monster movies that both Bissette and St. John grew up with, and expresses with gusto their mutual enthusiasm for stretching the boundaries of horror illustration. Glancing through its pages proves the point that horror actually crosses genre boundaries regularly, from the folk-tale, to the sci-fi, to gothic tradition. A healthy does of mixing brings you the ingeniously “baked”, MONSTER PIE.

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It packs a particular punch for this very reason: I’ve seen few mainstream or indie works that truly made me feel unsure of what lay beyond the next page. There’s a certain exhilaration in going off the map in this way, and as a ‘zine, it doesn’t have to follow the constraints of sequential narrative in doing so. That feature may, in fact, make it more spine-chilling than even THE VERMONT MONSTER GUIDE. You’ll find features of pulp sci-fi, literary horror tradition, and monster films that should be recognizable, but they are combined in sensory-twisting combinations and in widely differing art styles that both Bissette and St. John adopt. Bissette was kind enough to comment on MONSTER PIE and on his close collaboration with St. John. It still doesn’t explain how the two manage to bring the nether-reaches of the imagination to the page in such a fluid manner, but it does bring some new angles to the question.

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HM-S: How did you and Dennis St. John get together on such a unique project?

SB: We would throw together these little monster minicomics for movie events—when we screened a double-bill of THE KILLER SHREWS (1959) and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) for the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, VT a few summers ago, Denis, Tim Stout, and I did this little “Killer Shrew/Zombie Survival Guide” minicomic. This past summer, Denis and I did the same for a 35mm Saturday Fright Special (a Keene, NH-based cable-access horror host TV series) theatrical showing of the Chiodo Brothers’ KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. We threw together, in a few days, a sick little book of ersatz parody poetry and monstrous clown sketches, and that was fun.

Cartoonists in Denis’s circle, including me, also contributed “pin-up” portraits of Denis’s characters in his serialized graphic novel AMELIA to his own comics zine MONSTERS & GIRLS over the past couple of years. AMELIA was Denis’s first expansive graphic novel, taking five years to complete, and major commitment, and he just finished it in the spring of 2012. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to tackle next, but he needed a breather, without stopping the flow of ink and drawings. That prompted me to suggest we just do our own free-form monster zine, mixing art, articles, and a smattering of comics in light enough combination to keep it from ever being anything but fun. No heavy lifting or content: just fun stuff. Denis was up for that.

This past Halloween, the Spooktacular folks screened a gorgeous 35mm print of the original British TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972), based on the EC horror comics, so we got ambitious and did two zines for that event, and one of them was MONSTER PIE.

Denis goes way back with this stuff: he was part of a collective in his home state of Indiana called Atomic Age Cinema, another “horror host” live-monster-introduction-and-stage-act accompanying revivals of vintage public-domain horror, sf, and fantasy films. I met Denis when he was among my students at CCS, and we shared a lot of common interests. Denis graduated from CCS some years ago, and has made a commitment to the CCS community by sticking around, and we’re now colleagues and friends. So, MONSTER PIE is our way of keeping our hand in just drawing what we love to draw—movie monsters—for the sheer pleasure of it. I was the one who pushed to include zine features like the monster movie review and the archival monster movie article in each issue, and we’re going to keep doing MONSTER PIE until it’s not fun anymore, or our brushes give out.

HM-S: What can an old-fashioned ‘zine bring to readers today, as suffused as we are with digital content, corporate comics, and media-hyped magazines?

SB: Zine culture was part and parcel of my experience growing up; some of my first published artwork appeared in 1970s genre movie fanzines like CRYPT OF TERROR, JAPANESE FANTASY FILM JOURNAL, and Ted Rypel’s OUTER LIMITS fanzine, and I contributed a fair amount to comics zines of the late 1970s and early 1980s, too. Zine culture was also central to Denis’s generation, via other kinds of comics and media zines; CCS’s first Fellow who became a fellow instructor, Robyn Chapman, rekindled my own enthusiasm for zines of all kinds with her sheer passion for zines. Robyn’s love for zines was absolute and genuine, and fueled the whole CCS zine culture in many ways. CCS is a zine and comic factory in its own right, its incredible what comes out of the basement production lab on a monthly basis.

Zines just don’t go away. I’m started experimenting with ebooks, which I’ll be into in a major way in 2013 and 2014—I see that as an extension and mutation of zines, in a more expansive way. But there’s a tactile experience on both ends of the equation—the zine maker, and the zine reader—that digital media can’t supplant. I don’t get that from blogs or ebooks or online zines. There’s something about holding a zine in your hands, spending time with the physical object, that’s irreplaceable.

There’s also a purity and playfulness to zines that I love. However much work one pours into it, it IS play. The fact that there are no gatekeepers, save the access to a photocopier and enough money to print a few copies, remains a central attraction, too—and Denis and I have an entire production lab at our fingertips at CCS. We don’t need permission, we just need to be able to pay for the printing. Given all the gatekeepers corporate and mass culture erects and maintains between inspiration and publication, zines remain the personal steamroller over all of that—you think of it, you make it, you publish it, it’s in your hands. That’s still a real kick, in 2012.

A gargantuan “thank you” from The Beat goes out to Stephen Bissette for his insider view of monster-creating. Both THE VERMONT MONSTER GUIDE and MONSTER PIE are certainly a “kick” even in 2012, and for fans of the messy roots of horror tradition, they are two mileposts to look out for, particularly if you find yourself wandering in remote Vermont. After reading these, I don’t think I’ll venture up there without an armored vehicle. Just saying.

 

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress

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