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Welcome to my website, if you have found your way here, you are obviously a horror fan. I am a horror author, based in the UK. Please look around the site, and if you feel like please take a look at my books.
Welcome to the first in a new, regular series of blogs dealing with horror icons. These will be posts about actors, directors, and characters. The feature will appear every two or three blogs.
To start things of I decided to look at one of the most enduring characters in modern horror cinema.
A Legacy Of Horror
Charles Lee Ray first appeared on screen in 1988, in the form of Brad Dourif. He was being chased by cop, Chris Sarandon. When mortally wounded he transferred his soul, using voodoo, into the body of a friendly looking, red haired, good guy doll. This is how Don Mancini's iconic creation was born. With the release of ‘Child’s Play’, Chucky had arrived.
Between 1988 and 1991 the pint sized psychopath terrorised young Andy, the boy whose mother bought the possessed doll. Chucky needed to get back into a human body, and Andy was the choice. The first three movies in the series, despite the voodoo element, fit neatly in with that era's slasher genre. The films were tense, and exciting, and serious.
In 1993 the third movie was linked to the tragic murder of James Bulger in Liverpool. There was some evidence that one of the boys fathers rented the film, and that was enough for media ( In particular The Daily Mail of course) to blame the film for the crime. This, along with a change of style in the horror genre could have spelt the end for the demon doll, but you can't keep a good villain down for long.
In 1998, after a seven year break Chucky returned in a new film with a very different tone. In the wake of the post modern, self referential, slasher fad created by Scream, and furthered by the like of I know what you did las summer, the tiny terror came back in the ‘Bride of Chucky’. The film was a very black comedy, with lots of satire of the earlier movies, and the genre as a whole. In this film Chucky gained a wife, a doll possessed by his ex girlfriend Tiffany.
Directed with skill by Ronny Yu, the film was a huge success and it seemed that once again Chucky was here to stay. Unfortunately the follow up to 'Bride' was the hit and miss 'Seed of Chucky'. The film followed in a similar vein to the previous film with its comedic tone and meta conceits, this time the actress who played the human Tiffany in the previous film, Jennifer Tilly, plays herself in a ridiculous plot about Tiffany wanting to posses her. Though the film had some great moments, I personally found it to be the weak link.
In the intervening years there has been much speculation that there was a planned remake, directed by Mancini himself. This split fans down the middle into for and against camps.
This year saw the arrival of ‘Curse of Chucky’, the film is both a direct sequel to the previous five movies in the series, but also a 'tonal reboot' squarely placing Chucky back firmly in the realm of horror. Though there is some humour in the movie, it is of a much blacker variety than ‘Bride’ and the campy ‘Seed’. Curse comes across as a gothic slasher movie. The influences of other movies are clear to see, there is the house in the film, that looks like a toned down version of a Tim Burton house. There are feuding sisters, one of whom is in a wheel chair, bringing to mind ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane’, and much more emphasis on set up, and tension then ever before in the series. That's not to say that they skimp on the gore, when it does occur it is suitably extreme. The implications of the films ending, which I won't give away here, leave it unclear, if, or even how the series will continue, but I for one seriously hope we see more of Chucky after this installment. If not the best entry in the series, Curse is certainly second only to the first ‘Child's Play’.
This all leads me to wonder how such a crazy idea can not only work, and sustain a series of six films, but also constantly reinvent it's tone to slip into current trends. Let's not forget that the gothic, and creepy tone of Curse clearly fits in with the current phase of supernatural horror like The Conjuring and Insidious. It would appear that films never seem to break new ground in terms of what sub genre they fit in, but adapt to suit whatever is popular. When other films have tried to do this it has often been an abject failure, but with this series it always seems to work. Credit must go to Mancini for that, he is evidently a horror fan with his finger firmly on the pulse of the genre, ready to fit Chucky into whatever style will work best.
What is it about Chucky that has such staying power? When other, in many ways better, horror icons have fallen by the wayside due to their constant repetition and rebooting, Chucky is still standing tall ( well as tall as a two feet doll can stand). For me the answer lies in several details, the series has had big gaps in between phases, this has left fans wanting more and feeling nostalgia for the character. I myself could only have been twelve the first time I saw the original, now at thirty-five I remember that movie so fondly. Secondly is Mancini's ability to shift the tone of the films, not letting them stagnate like so many other series ( I'm looking at you ‘Paranormal Activity’). Mostly though I think the idea of a killer doll is inherently frightening. Something so innocent, and so comforting as a child being turned evil is truly disturbing. Chucky was of course not the first killer doll to grace the silver screen, but with his wonderful, iconic design, and personality he just works.
The inevitable part of the writing process is rewrites. This task is as sure a thing as death, taxes and student nurses ( or so I'm told). The monumental feat of completing the first draft of a novel is an amazing accomplishment in itself. I know that each time I have reached this milestone I feel a euphoria that must be akin to what a climber feels after scaling Everest. This joy is short lived though, as quickly follows the dreaded rewrite.
There are writers out there who rewrite as they are going along, slaving over every single sentence until it is perfect, if you are that kind of writer then I have little advice I can give you, as working that way is not in my genetic make up. I write in a continuous splurge until that first draft is complete. I never re read anything until the draft is complete. I feel that this offers the best way to get the out, but it leaves you with a lot of tidying to do in the re write. Problems I have found are as big as a minor characters name changing half way through the book, times being completely out and details being different in different places.
As a few examples, in my latest novel (The Wilds, which is nearly completed now) I have a character who is originally called Harold, then for no good reason becomes Daniel. A character agrees to meet another at 8:30 in one chapter, in the next it is 10:30. My personal favourite is that a murder weapon changes from a knife to a hammer after the crime.
You will read all kinds of advice on rewriting your work, there are entire books dedicated to foolproof systems for these kind of revisions. Most suggest that you do several passes. One for plot point, one for consistency of tense, and one for spelling and grammar. Sound laborious doesn't it?
Well fear not here is the system I use. This takes at most two passes, but be warned you need a pretty good memory, or solid note taking skills, I have the former certainly not the latter.
Print the manuscript out, in a nice clear font, well spaced and easy to read. This sounds obvious, but a lot of people will just read it on a computer screen, but for me the ver fact it is on paper, a material thing I can hold, makes me pay more attention.
Here is the tough part, you go through the manuscript a page at a time, reading each sentence carefully. Have a coloured pen, red stands out the best but anything but black will suffice. On the manuscript I will cross out things I want to cut, change words or names as applicable, modify sentences to make them stronger and so on. If there is something I want to add in, I place a number next to the place I want it to go, then on the back of that page I write the number, and the. Write the additional material long hand. If this takes more than one sheet I add the extra sheets to the manuscript after that page.
With that all out of the way I got back to the computer and make all of the corrections to the file and add in the extra material, as I have already written it out long hand, this is merely a typing exercise.
Rest for at least a few days
Print out the rewrite, or 2nd draft if you prefer, exactly as you did the first time. Read it through. If you are happy with it move on to step six, if not repeat step 2 -4.
I am useless at picking up my own spelling and grammatical errors, though very good at spotting other peoples. So at this point I hand the manuscript over to at least two people and ask them to proof it, when I have there copies back I make the corrections that are needed.
If you are in the position to do this step I highly recommend it, send the work to a professional editor. They will find the myriad of mistakes that your, and your first readers, untrained eyes have missed. I cannot stress enough the value of doing this. With my first novel 'Beneath' I published without doing this step and my initial batch of reviews pointed out that it was a good story, but that it was let down by the plethora of spelling and grammatical errors. This led to some low scoring reviews, which could have seriously damaged my reputation as a writer. Luckily I found a wonderful editor, who is very meticulous in her job. She edited 'Beneath' for its 2nd edition, and also my short story collection 'Dark County' and will soon be working on 'The Wilds'.
This is not a foolproof system, I offer no gaur tees that it will work for you, but for me this is the only way I can do my revisions. If at least one person find this approach helpful I will be happy.
Firstly I must apologise for how long it has been since my last blog. I have been very busy and a little under the weather, plus I have given up smoking which is my current excuse for everything.
However, I am back now. I am still hard at work on my new novel ‘The Wilds’ and was amazed to see an item about big cats in the English countryside in one of the national news papers this week, so the book is quite topical. I am hoping that the book will be ready for release around Halloween, which i thought was perfect timing. More on ‘The Wilds’ in the coming weeks.
Today though I would like to share some recommendations for horror films I have seen recently.
James Wan’s latest horror film is a tour de force of tension. The film is based on the true story of the events that happened in the home of the Perron family in the 1970’s and was investigated by world renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The film is really well made, the cast are all superb. Wan uses the same slow build up he used in his previous film ‘INSIDIOUS’, but where as that film veered off into the surreal towards the middle, the conjuring remains a straight, fairly conventional, haunted house movie through out.
The film shows Wan’s skill at building tension, and restraint in revealing the payoff. Some of the build ups go on for an uncomfortably long time. The only thing that lets the film down is the over the top exorcism at the end. Here restraint is replaced with slightly heavy handed scares that jar a little with the rest of the film.
On the whole a thoroughly enjoyable film 8/10
I missed seeing this film at the cinema, and caught it recently on the SKY STORE. The set up of the film is all to familiar. A family experiencing strange happenings and noises in their home at night. In this respect it fits in well with the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY type films (in fact the setting up of security cameras through the house to capture what is happening, and the father reluctant to believe could actually have been ripped straight from PA2). Things then take a turn into more original territory, when the nightly intruders turn out to be aliens as opposed to ghosts.
What follows is a family trying to protect themselves from abduction by a superior alien race. Despite its relatively low budget, and some of its cliches the film is paced nicely and builds up to a tense climax. Also considering that this film is directed by the man who made the CGI heavy ‘LEGION’ and ‘PRIEST’, this film never shows the aliens all that clearly.
Yes it rips off some other films, and if you added in Mulder and Scully could have been an old X-FILES episode, but it is none the less an entertaining way to waste an hour and half. 7/10
This film got its premiere at Frightfest last year, and does contain some horrific scenes and themes, but it more of a brutal thriller in reality.
Set shortly after the Bosnian war, the film tells the story of a deaf mute girl who, along with many others, is captured by soldiers and sold to a brothel. Believing that her disability, and birthmark, will reduce the price he can get for her, the owner of the brothel keeps her as his own. She works cleaning the house, and preparing the girls by pumping them full of heroin.
So far so incredibly bleak. When the soldiers who kidnapped her, and killed her mother, arrive at the brothel one of them brutally rapes one of the girls who is our heroines only friend. She tries to save her friend in one of the most realistic and vicious knife attacks I have ever seen on film.
What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse through the house and the surrounding woods, where the villains rapidly turn on each other as well as the girl.
Rosie Day, who plays our heroine known only as ‘Angel’, is superb in this role that is both physically and emotionally demanding. The fact that she portrays so much emotion and thought in this film without ever speaking is a credit to this young actress. Though this is her debut feature I think we will see a lot more of Miss Day in the years to come.
Sean Pertwee and Kevin Howarth are also both alarmingly menacing in their respective roles as the leader of the soldiers and the owner of the brothel.
The film is incredibly realistic, and graphic in its depiction of violence and the treatment of the girls in the house. It is not an easy watch in that sense, but it is powerful and thrilling. Despite the realism, I couldn’t help but notice that the film at times seems to play with fairytale themes and imagery, which surprisingly sits very well with the brutal and bleak nature of the film.
Seriously I cannot praise this film enough. If your looking for something horrific, bleak, brutal and intelligent just watch it 10/10
Hello everyone, firstly apologies for it being so long since my last blog I have been incredibly busy. Secondly thank you to everyone who made the free promotion on my books such a success last month.
This week I wanted to share with you my top ten favourite horror movies of all time, and the reasons I am so fond of them. So let's start at number ten and work our way down to the top spot.
10. PROFONDO ROSSO
(1975) director: Dario Argento
This film by Italian horror maestro, Argento, is possibly the greatest example of the giallo sub genre. These were pretty much exclusive to Italy, they took the form of extremely violent 'whodunits'. The killer was always dressed in the same way, long dark coat, gloves, hat, and the reason for their crimes was usually founded in some long passed secret. They would form the inspiration for the 90's teen slasher revival like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
This film, known also as Deep Red, contained all of the classics elements of the giallo, but tied together with Argento's artistic sensibility. The music, the cinematography and everything about this film is beautiful and elegant, and extremely brutal.
9. PAN'S LABYRINTH
(2006) director: Guillermo Del Toro
Set in fascist Spain in 1944 this dark fantasy centres on a young girl who goes to live with her new stepfather, a vicious captain in Franco's army. Her pregnant mother is too ill to spend much time with her and the girl finds a fantasy world within the grounds, presided over by a faun, who tells her that she is a princess of his kingdom, and in order to return there she has to complete a series of tasks.
The real beauty of this film is that no matter how sinister and grotesque the fantasy world, and its inhabitants are, the real horror exists in the real world of fascist Spain, and the evil of the stepfather.
(2010) director: James Wan
The most recent film in this list Insidious is a film that starts out as a haunted house film, then becomes an exorcism movie, and finally a film about astral projection. There are those who thought that this movie was average at best, but I really enjoyed it. Director James Wan’s love of theatricality sits very well to create a film that is incredibly creepy. The cast are all very likable, and it has hands down the best jump scare of recent years.
(1978) director: John Carpenter
The first of three Carpenter films in this list, and the grandaddy of the slasher movie. Though debate has raged long and hard that Psycho was the first slasher movie, and Last House on The Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre both predated Halloween, but it was Carpenter film that set out many of the conventions and rules of the sub genre.
Shot on a modest budget, Halloween is stylistically marvelous. The opening steadycam shot has gone down in cinema history. Though the film may seem tame in comparison to the slew of imitators that came after, Halloween has aged far better. Partly down to Carpenters direction and partly due to its narrative simplicity. The story is so straightforward that it is almost mythic.
(1980) director: John Carpenter
This film is the story of a coastal town, celebrating its 100th birthday, that is engulfed in a sinister fog containing the vengeful spirits of a ship load of lepers, betrayed by the towns people a hundred years earlier.
When I was teaching film studies I used tell my students that if they wanted to learn how to make a horror movie, all they had to do was watch The Fog as it is as near to perfect as you can get. It is like a masterclass in tension and suspense. The jump scares in the film are executed with the kind of precision that only a master like Carpenter could achieve.
(1982) director: Tobe Hooper
Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, this film was directed by Tobe Hooper, as Spielberg was to busy with another 1982 film about a certain little brown alien. Hooper was at the time most famous for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s vampire tale ‘Salem’s Lot.
The film tells the story of a family who begin to experience supernatural happenings within their home. What starts out as fun and exciting soon becomes terrifying as the youngest daughter is kidnapped into the spirit world. The family seek the help of professional ghost hunters and the best movie psychic ever.
Though the film now feels a little dated, it is very much of its time, it still has a huge charm, a film that manages to be sweet, funny and frightening. The true genius of the film is putting the supernatural into the most mundane surroundings. An ordinary 80’s home and family.
4. THE THING
(1982) director: John Carpenter
A loose remake of The Thing From Outerspace, this film is about a group at a scientific research station in Antarctica who find themselves attacked by a shape shifting alien life form.
This is my favourite Carpenter film. Firstly the special effects are amazing. Practical effects that still stand up today, creating some of the most horrific body horror ever seen. Also though the atmosphere of the film is brilliant. There is a real sense of claustrophobia and paranoia that permeate the whole film.
(1979) director: Ridley Scott
The original script of this film was titled Star Beast, and could have just become yet another bad space set monster movie, if it wasn’t for the hiring of Ridley Scott to direct. Scott wanted to bring a realism to the world of the humans in the film. Not unlike Star Wars (two years earlier) this film showed a used world. Space ships were not all clean and gleaming, they were dirty, lived in and beaten up.
The next stroke of genius was bringing in H.R. Geiger to design the alien creature. Taking inspiration from the Nazi’s, insects, machines and human reproduction, Geiger created a bio-mechanical, psycho-sexual nightmare. A monster like nothing that had been seen before.
2. THE EXORCIST
(1973) director: William Friedkin
The classic story of a young girl possessed by the devil is really the ultimate tale of good versus evil. This film is so exceptionally well made that even despite it’s 70’s fashions it still stands up today. The film has a slow burn feel, it takes a long time for the possession to be in full force, and we as the audience get to see all of the subtle changes the girl goes through as the devil takes hold. The film has some of the most frightening make up ever seen, and sound design that really heightens the terror.
Though not as fast paced, or in your face as most modern horror movies, The Exorcist is much scarier, a film that slowly creeps into your mind so you don’t realise until too late just how scared you are.
1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
(1984) director: Wes Craven
In the number one spot is the film that introduced the world to Freddy Krueger. Craven had already made some great horror movies, Last House on The Left and The Hills Have Eyes to name but two, yet he had trouble getting this film made. He had taken the script all over Hollywood before New Line took it on.
The film tells the story of a group of teenagers being stalked and killed in their dreams by a burnt maniac with razor fingers. The dream demon was the spirit of a serial killer who had been murdered by a group of vigilante parents after getting off on a technicality.
Craven’s story is perfect, blurring the lines between dreams and reality until they are virtually indistinguishable. Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger created a character who was truly terrifying, a gleefully sadistic monster.
So there you have it. My top ten horror films of all time.
As part of todays All Author Blog Blitz, today I am hosting a Q&A with author Harmony Kent. My blog will be guesting on http://danaroquet.blogspot.co.uk
What is your name? Do you use a pen name (if so, why?)?
My name is Harmony Kent. I do use a pen name, as this allows me the freedom to write whatever I want to, without worrying about what my family, old colleagues, etc might think! (I used to be a Nun, and my writing definitely doesn’t fit into that Genre!)
Tell me a bit about yourself:
I am 40 years old (okay, if I’m being really honest, I am 40.96)! I am single with no children, but have plenty of cute gremlins around me who claim that they are my nieces and nephews. When they get too much for me I throw them on the rebounder for an hour (kidding). Six years ago I suffered a major injury during routine surgery which led to a below knee amputation three years ago. This is mostly why I am no longer a Nun and have the luxury of being able to spend as much time as I want writing, reading, making cards, learning the piano – oh and occasionally remembering to sleep.
What type of genre do you write?
My first book, Brisingamen, is in the Genre of Fantasy Fiction. Whereas my current book in progress, The Glade, is more in the area of supernatural thriller (I think)! I am playing with the idea of trying my hand at YA next, as this is a Genre I particularly love to read.
What genre to you personally read?
I read fantasy, fiction, action/adventure, crime thriller, young adult, paranormal – I enjoy a broad range of books and am always ready to try something new. I don’t go for outright erotica, that is just not for me.
Tell me about your latest?
My latest book is called Brisingamen, and is in the genre of Fantasy Fiction. The idea for the book came after having read news reports online about the finding of Britain’s “Atlantis”, which really sparked my imagination. Here is the blurb about the book:
Beneath the North Sea a land of magic lies undetected. The lives of many are drawn inexorably closer together in a race against time, as both energy companies and evil beings attempt to destroy the magic which is protecting not just this land but all worlds. The unwitting protagonists have no idea of how suddenly and irrevocably their lives are about to change. Are they up to the challenges they now face?
Excerpt: Matthias watched, appalled yet relieved, as Irina slaughtered the advancing palefaces. She seemed to transform before his very eyes into some kind of white demon, still exquisitely stunning – even in her terrible fury. He remained frozen where he was as she turned her attention toward the dwarves, and Aart and Else. Ashudder ran through him as he saw wolves bounding into the fracas. He crouched over Gemma as best he could, she was unconscious again, he worried at how badly she may have hit her head when she fell...He [knew] he had failed, he had not managed to protect any of them
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?
Since being a small girl (really for as long as I can remember) I have had a love of reading and making up stories. In school it came as no surprise to anyone when I excelled in English studies …. We’ll stay quiet about the maths marks though!
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way?
A heart as Wide as the World by Sharon Salsberg – a book on Buddhism that really changed my life hugely … after reading this I went on to spend 13 years in a Buddhist temple, ten of those as an ordained nun! So I guess we could say this little book had a big impact! This book really spoke to me. More recently, and in the realm of fiction, I would have to say that the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and also the Harry Potter books by J K Rowling have all caught my rather vivid imagination.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Not to be controlled by our random thoughts, and that we can be in charge of our own lives. Things happen that are outside our control, but only we can change how they affect us. We have the choice.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career?
By far the hardest part is getting the book discovered, finding readers. The writing is easy and something I enjoy immensely, but the marketing … yikes! I am also having to get to grips with running a blog and being active in various forums – as you can imagine, having spent 13 years out of circulation, this is somewhat of a challenge for me.
What has been your best moment as a writer?
Seeing the book in print and holding it in my hands … ooh, my first book!
Who is your author idol?
I don’t know that I have one. There are so many author’s that I respect and revere it would be unfair to try and single out any one of them alone. Sometimes it can be one line out of a whole book that just does it for me, you know?
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Well, I would have to say that some of Aart’s experiences after his accident are from my own personal experience and absorbed into his world. Dirck’s self-searching and inner learning are also quite close to some of the things I have discovered for myself over the years.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do?
My dream of writing a book and publishing has been realised – my next ambition is to have it read! As I enjoy writing so much, this is what I will continue to do. Even if only one person ever reads my work, if it enriches their life somehow then I have done my work and am happy.
What does your workspace look like?
Most of the time it is boringly neat, although there are times when there are bits of paper with notes written on strewn all over the place! My computer faces the window onto the back garden, and I frequently stop and gaze at the view.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?
Never – not with my writing, it is just too much fun for me.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read! I also make cards, listen to music, and am learning to play the piano. These days I am also to be found writing on my blog.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Have fun! Take a break once in a while and RELAX.
Did you have a moment when you realized you were meant to be a writer?
My first English essay at school – much to my teacher’s dismay! (She got more pages than she bargained for)…
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write for yourself – don’t try and imagine what a prospective reader, your family, your boss, etc might think about this that or the other – you will just strangle your writing if you do this. Don’t try and force it if the ideas dry up for a time, just relax and sit down to write when the story starts flowing again. This will help you to achieve a vibrant dynamism in your book and it will flow beautifully for the reader.
After this book, what is next?
More books! I am currently writing my second book, The Glade, which is based very loosely on the Forest of Dean – which I believe J K Rowling based her Dark Forest on. It is one of the few true, large forests left in the UK and Europe …. A tranquil forest clearing that seems like a dream come true for the Wenstrops, but all too soon strange things start happening. Helen is arrested for the murder of her husband, but did she do it? What is really going on? What is more, her husband’s body goes inexplicably missing whilst she is being held in custody. Keep an eye on my blog for upcoming sneek peeks and giveaways.
Where can your book be found?
The ebook has been distributed to Sony, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo – due to technical issues between Smashwords and Amazon it is not yet on Amazon, but hopefully will be soon!
The print book is available through lulu, and is in the process of entering their distribution system which will include sites such as Amazon, and B&N.
It’s been lovely talking with you!
All the best
This week I had myself a little holiday. My wife and I went away for a few days to Bram Stoker’s favourite holiday spot, Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast. Those of you familiar with Stoker’s classic novel ‘Dracula’ will of course know that part of that book is set in Whitby. The Russian ship that brings Dracula to England crashes into the stone Jetty there ahead of a fierce storm. It is also there that Lucy is first attacked by the Count and Mina catches her first glimpse of him in St Mary churchyard, after running up the 199 stone steps that lead to the top of the hill.
Yesterday I climbed those 199 steps walking and had to rest halfway up, so Mina must have been quite worn out running. The view from up there is spectacular though. Behind the church are the ruins of Whitby Abbey, which was partially destroyed during it’s suppression by Henry VIII. These are some stunning ruins, they stand watch over the town like some great, skeletal beast.
As a horror writer I found myself, throughout the day, wondering if Stoker had sat in the places I was, if so was he planning Dracula? It felt quite amazing to think that maybe I was sat in the same spot as the man who wrote the most famous horror novel of all time. I doubt there is a single person on Earth who does not know who Dracula is. Whitby is incredibly proud of it’s connection to Stoker’s masterpiece. Everywhere you go there is some connection to it.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing places that we visited was the Dracula Experience. This place bills it’s self as a terrifying attraction, dedicated to the infamous Transylvanian Count. It is not a terrible place to visit, and for a mere £2 I suppose you cannot expect the incredible, but I would have preferred to pay more and have the attraction be better. Firstly, it was way too short, it took us less than five minutes to go through the whole thing. Secondly, too much of it was hidden in darkness. Things that were supposed to make you jump would light up, or pop out, too early and then when you stood there waiting to see it again, nothing happened. It is annoying, as with a little more thought it could be a wonderful place to visit. The final thing I found weird about it was that all of it’s decal and many of it’s set pieces were designed to look like Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’. Now though that film has many faults, it is still a film that I personally really enjoy. However, that version completely cuts Whitby out of the narrative, having the Russian ship crash directly in London. So I find it odd that an attraction in Whitby would model itself on that film.
Lastly I must praise the place we stayed, the wonderful Bats and Broomsticks B&B. This gothic themed guesthouse was superb in every respect. Kev, the owner, was a wonderful host. He gave us a warm welcome and seemed to be willing to help in any way he could. The room we stayed in was called the ‘Green Man Room’, and it gave us a wonderful view of the Abbey, illuminated at night. The grand, iron four poster bed was stunning, and incredibly comfortable. The little features like the ivy wrapped around the bed frame, complete with vampire bat, were so interesting and made a delightful change from the dreary neutrality of a Travelodge or Holiday Inn, and we even had a vampire killing kit in the wardrobe. The breakfast this morning was huge, and delicious.
The town holds a horror film festival and a Goth Weekend every year, which both must be great fun. If you are a fan of horror, it is the perfect destination. I certainly felt myself being inspired to write by the scenery, the people and the ever present spectre of Bram Stoker and his most famous creation.... Count Dracula.
This week I want to take some time to talk about my life as an Indie Author. All my life I have dreamed of being a writer, a filmmaker and a musician, and to some degree I have achieved all of these goals. It has not been easy though, and to date my only directing credit has been on a very bad short film made some years ago, but this is something I aim to rectify sometime soon.
As I was growing up it seemed the only way to succeed in any of these areas was through the mainstream, big corporations. If you didn’t have a major record deal, a big name publisher or major studio backing then your chance of success was slim.
Then along came the internet, and in many way it leveled the playing field for all. Now as a filmmaker there are unlimited distribution and funding options, as a musician you are able to upload and sell your songs on iTunes or Amazon alongside the biggest names in the business. As and author the kindle and kindle store have really changed the nature of publishing. Now an author can upload their work and sell it to potentially millions of customers.
The problem is that this means there is a massive sea of books being uploaded everyday, some are fantastic, and some are God awful, and many are somewhere in between. With all of these constant uploads the chances of someone stumbling across your book is almost impossible.
This means that a self published author these days has to really be both the author and the publisher. Without the huge marketing machine and budget it can be difficult to point people towards your work. I use things like Twitter and Facebook, and for my first book, ‘Beneath’, this worked really well. The book hit the the top of the bestsellers list in it’s category within two weeks and stayed in the top ten for two months. Sales of the book have been consistent, and though not wealthy, I am earning money from the book.
My second book seems to be taking longer to get going. I don’t know whether this is due to it being a short story collection rather than a novel, but as yet I am still waiting for ‘dark county’ to achieve the success of the first book.
All of this self promotion takes up time. Endless hours spent on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and the like. Another good tool is having a website and a blog (like this), writing these blogs also eats into your time. I am a stay at home Dad, while my wife works, but looking after a 17 month old takes time and energy. So just lately I have been feeling the pressure, with all of these other things to do I find very little time or energy left to write. I also suffer from bipolar disorder, meaning my motivation tends to fluctuate. Lately I have found my self getting stressed and depressed at how little time I get to write. Then I sat back and thought about it, I was the only one putting pressure on myself to write. I felt that because I can’t manage that regimented 4 hours a day writing that so many authors do, I was in some way failing.
You know what though, I am not. I have released two books in three months, and am well over a quarter of the way into my second novel. If that isn’t success I don’t know what is. I enjoy writing, and when I find the hours hear and there to do it, what i am producing is good, probably better than if I was forcing myself to stick to a regime. I know that a lot of the writing courses and book, and other writers out there would always advise aspiring authors that they must write everyday, and with a routine. I am now going to impart my own wisdom.... Don’t worry about it, write when you can and enjoy what you do. There is plenty of time to become successful, but the first step is writing because you want to, not because you have to.
I hope this helps some people out there who have been getting themselves stressed over the time they spend writing. Relax, it’s only writing.
This week sees the first installment of a new semi regular feature for this site. I am not only a horror writer, as you have probably gathered from previous posts, I am also a massive fan of the genre. Horror films, horror novels, horror comics, I love it all. To this end I intend to post occasional interview with other people in this field.
The honour of being the first interviewee goes to my fellow English, Author Michael Brookes. It seemed fitting, having read his work, as we are both based in the East of England, and both write dark fiction. What follows is a short Biography of Micael, and then the interview
Michael Brookes is an Executive Producer with a leading UK games developer. Working in games and writing are two of his life passions and her considers himself fortunate to be able to indulge them both. He lives in the east of England, enjoying starry skies in the flattest part of the country. When not working or writing he can sometimes be found sleeping. Which is good as that is where many good ideas come from.
How did you start writing?
I've been writing short stories for many years. My job as a game producer also has me writing design and fiction documents which has helped my development as a writer. I wrote my first novel a few years ago, a few people read the first draft and said I should keep working at it. So I did and finally released it to the public and I'm pleased to say I've been receiving favourable reviews for that and my subsequent works.
Why do you write horror?
The great thing about horror is that it encapsulates aspects of most genres. I write stories, they tend to be about dark characters or events, so that kind of slots them in the horror bracket. Horror is also one of the genres (ironically romance is probably the only other genre to do the same) that really speaks to something ancient and hidden in all of us.
What, in your opinion, is the greatest horror story ever, and why?
Now that's a hard question. The greatest story ever told is John Milton's 'Paradise Lost'. I guess some people would consider the fall of Lucifer and mankind a horror, so I'll still with that!
What scares you?
Another tricky question. I guess it's the human condition that scares me. Our amazing ability to achieve wonderful things, yet still try to screw each over when we can. We're a young race yet, so hopefully we'll grow up in time :-)
The horror genre is a huge thing, which particular areas of it appeal to you most as a writer? Are there any that don’t interest you at all?
Part of horror's appeal is it's inclusive nature, almost any story fits in the horror definition - depending on how you tell it. I'm not a big fan of the modern concept of romanticizing monsters, vampires in particular. I'm a big fan of supernatural and metaphysical horror, as anyone who has read my books will know.
Do you have any writing rituals that you have to stick to?
I have to maintain a routine. I try to write something every day. It might only be a drabble (a 100 word story), but I have to keep writing.
What do you think it is like to be an author at this moment in time?
This is an exciting time to be an author. Technology has democratised writing, it is easier than ever to release a book. That comes with a responsibility, as authors we need to make sure that we only release what is worth reading by others. Of course it's difficult to be successful, but anyone writing purely for profit should probably find another living.
What was the last nightmare you had?
Not very exciting one I'm afraid. I was trapped in a hotel with everyone from work and none of us knew what was going on.
What is your latest book about?
Faust 2.0 is about an evil force coming to being on the Internet. The moment it is born it is attacked by humans (without us realising it), in that moment of its birth it comes to hate humanity. It's up to Sarah Mitchell to figure out what is going on and try to stop it.
What do you have planned next?
I'm current working on the first draft for Sun Dragon, a science fiction story about the first manned mission to Mars. It doesn't go well.
How would you try and sell your latest book to someone in one sentence?
Many people believe that the Internet is the source of much evil, they're more right than they know.
Thank you to to Michael Brookes for this interview, if you wish to find out more about the author and his work please go here
Here are links to Michael's books on Amazon UK, though they are available also from other sources.
Well it has been a busy few weeks for me, hence the lack of a blog for a while, but here I am returning to let you all know what is happening in the world of Kit Tinsley.
Firstly, I have been hard at work writing my second novel, ‘The Wilds’ this is going well, and I am hoping it will be released later in the summer, certainly by early autumn.
Also the final cover design for my short story collection, ‘Dark County’ is now complete. I must say a big thank you to Brad at Something Wicked Productions for the awesomely creepy photography for the cover. The collection itself is in the final stages of editing, and should be available very soon in both ebook and and paperback formats from amazon. I am incredibly pleased with collection and proud of every story in it. The collection covers many elements of the horror genre, from the supernatural, to very human horror. I hope that the collection will get the same response that my debut novel did.
Speaking of which, ‘Beneath’ is still doing very well, it is selling consistently, and gaining more and more great reviews. To all of those that have enjoyed and praised the book I would like to say a huge thank you, it is a great pleasure to know how much you have all enjoyed the book.
Finally I have the news that I will be doing some more acting later this year. I have been given a major role in an independent British horror movie called ‘The Harvest’, this is due to start filming in September and promises to be a real treat for fans of the slasher movie.
Well that is all the news that is fit to print... for now.
This week I want to talk about the film ‘The Lords Of Salem’, the latest film from writer/director/ rock god Rob Zombie. The film is the third release from the Haunted Movies production company, the first two being ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘Insidious’.
It is the story of rock DJ, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie, in her best role to date) who lives and works in Salem. 400 years earlier her ancestors, along with many other in the town, were responsible for the deaths of a coven of witches. Now the witches are back for a gloriously grisly revenge. Heidi, who is also a recovering drug addict, is sent a mysterious record, which she ends up playing on air. The record contains ominous, atonal music, that send many of the women who listen to the broadcast into strange trances.
Can local historian Frances, and Heidi’s fellow Dj, ‘Whitey’ save her from the clutches of an evil modern day coven, or will they succeed in resurrecting the long dead witches, and usher in the anti christ.
That is the plot of this film, many have complained online that it is a very thin plot, but by the standards of some horror films I think it is a strong enough plot. I was shocked that with the big name director, and big name production company, that this film didn’t receive a cinema release here in the UK, instead I stumbled upon it in ASDA’s DVD section, when I was expecting to see it at the cinema. This however is a sad trend in horror in the UK, great recent films like ‘VHS’ and ‘The Bay’ have bypassed the multiplexes entirely.
People who are fans of Zombie’s earlier films like ‘House of 1000 Corpses’, ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ and his two ‘Halloween’ movies, might very well go into this film expecting more of the same. The sort of in your face, brutal, action packed horror we have come to expect from Mr Zombie. ‘The Lords OF Salem’ however, is a very different beast. It is a slow burner, that gradually builds up the tension. Zombie’s visual style is still apparent in many of the scenes and design choices, but this film is not like his homages to 70’s horror by the likes of Wes Craven and John Carpenter. This film is much more akin to a different breed of seventies horror. Zombie excels in showing where his influences lie, without ever copying them. I saw hints of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Polanski, ‘The Exorcist’ by Freidkin and most notably ‘The Shining’ by Kubrick, these films were woven into the fabric of Zombie’s own visual style.
However it is Dario Argento’s supernatural masterpiece ‘Suspiria’ that most springs tom mind when watching ‘The Lords Of Salem’. They are both films about witchcraft, about vulnerable women falling prey to covens, and about dark secrets from the past. The most striking similarity between the two films though is the feeling of unease that both create whilst watching them (and late at night after watching them). There are jump scares in ‘Lords’, but they are more subtle than in many films. There is gore, but it is not as disturbing as the acts that create it. Like the first time I watched ‘Suspiria’ I felt an unsettling feeling of unreality, and unpredicatbility whilst watching ‘Lords’. There are many bizarre, and disturbing sequences in the film. Some of these are Heidi’s nightmares, but as the film progresses the line between reality and dreams seems to blur, and become unclear. Some would argue that it is style over substance in these scenes, but I disagree with that. Yes they overtly stylised, but they serve a purpose of creating unease, which they do very successfully.
If you like your horror, fast and action packed, and neatly resolved, with a clear delineation between good and evil, then ‘Lords’ is not for you. However, if you enjoy a slow burn of tension, and genuinely unsettling films, that ask more questions of you than they answer, then you will really enjoy this film. I am a fan of ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ and his ‘Halloween’ movies, but in my opinion this is Rob Zombie’s greatest movie to date. It shows a real skill for creating atmosphere, and hypnotically disturbing visuals. I am going to give this film 10/10.