Monday, January 27, 2014

Women in Horror Month

Today, as part of the 47North Author Blog Swap, I am pleased to introduce author J. Lincoln Fenn, whose book Poe won the sci-fi/fantasy category of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Today, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I turn my blog over to her to to talk about the horror and the women who write it.

Fairy Tales: The Original, Original Horror

Ah, fairy tales. You know, like The Little Mermaid and its happily ever-after ending, where the doe-eyed mermaid gets her legs and singing voice back just in time to marry the equally doe-eyed prince. Or Snow White, where the evil queen gets her just desserts from an unfortunate lightning strike.

Pure and utter bullshit.

No, I’m not on some kind of feminist rant, I simply read fairy tales, and not the sanitized, consumer friendly versions offered by Disney and other purveyors of suburban childhood. I grew up with original, original fairy tales, like the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, a collection of stories and fairy folklore spanning the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, Grimm's Fairy Tales published in 1812, and Fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1899.

These versions were a bit more…horrific. Granted, they were designed to be told around some kind of rustic hearth to instill terror into the hearts of children so they didn’t go off wandering alone in the woods or moors. But that’s a nuance lost on a 6 year old.

I was sure the wild-haired Struwwelpeter, a tailor with scissors for hands, would cut off my thumb if I continued to suck it. I heard the screams of the evil queen in Snow White as she was forced to dance to death, wearing red-hot iron shoes. And the ending of The Little Mermaid, where she gains a soul but loses her life and turns to foam, was downright spooky. Don’t even get me started about what really happened to Little Red Riding Hood.

And people wonder why I write horror.

So it’s odd that I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, people are surprised to find out I’m a woman. Yeah I know, the pseudonym doesn’t help, but I think it’s more the beheading, graphic serial murders, and demonic possession in Poe that throws them off. Because while the iconic Shelley and breakout stars like Anne Rice and Shirley Jackson easily come to mind when you think about the genre, women are only sprinkled through “Best of” horror lists. The question is why. The gender that passed on tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the bears rip poor Goldy apart before devouring her, is strangely missing.

Maybe we’re out there, just not being read. To help shine a light on all the fabulous women writers who know a thing or two about things that go bump in the night, next month is officially “Women in Horror” month and you can help spread the word. Share a link, pick a book, and get ready to be afraid. Very, very afraid.


SF Signal: MIND MELD: Our Favorite Women Horror Writers: Women In Horror--The Writers

NYT Sunday Book Review: Shelley’s Daughters TOP 25 WOMEN HORROR WRITERS YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T HEARD OF (BUT SHOULD KNOW) 20 Black Women in Horror Writing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reborn: A Dead Man Adventure

For those of you who enjoy horror, I have written the first two installments of the Kindle Serial Reborn: A Dead Man Adventure.

This started off as a proposed project fourteen months ago.  I was invited to contribute a novella to The Dead Man series, created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (Monk, Psych, SeaQuest).  Many months and rounds of outlines and ideas later, there was a proposal to reboot the series, and here we are with book one.  Yours truly, Lisa Klink (Star Trek: Voyager), Phoef Sutton (Cheers), Lee, and Bill gathered around Lee's kitchen table and we spent a sunny Saturday morning plotting it out.  I wrote the beginning, passed it to Phoef, who wrote the middle, and passed it to Lisa, who finished it up.  And Lee and Bill oversaw the whole thing, running the sort of ship that would make a showrunner proud.

This will be released in fifty page increments over the course of several months, just like the old newspaper serials of old.  I, again, would caution that this is horror, so only go into it if you dig gore and ick.  But if that's your bag, boy do we have a bag full of blood and guts for you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

April 1, 2013

Hey Mom (and Dad if you're reading this over her shoulder)!

Just wanted to let you know I arrived safe and sound.  The hotel is a quaint little place which faces a garden square.  The internet is lousy and so is the coffee, but other than that, I think I'll survive.  :)  My cell phone gets absolutely no service, but I might see about buying one of those monthly phones just for the heck of it.  In the meantime, I'll try to check in via email whenever I get the chance.  Love you tons!  Off to great adventure!

One minute, I was signing books at Wondercon. The next I was standing in the international wing of LAX two hours before my flight, contenting myself with browsing the bookshops and asking myself how much coffee I really wanted to drink before my red-eye.

As I board my Virgin Atlantic flight, my heart was filled with excitement. How long since I had actually been excited about boarding a plane? The accents around me are music. We are instructed to keep our blinds down because we will be flying into the sunrise. Our smart stewards and stewardesses, and yes, I will call them that with their jaunty neckerchiefs and perfectly coiffed hair, make their way through the cabin with sassy, no-nonsense authority. We are given socks and sleeping masks, earplugs and headphones. We have dinner and then dessert and then a hot chocolate course. As we wake, we are given breakfast and then a Cadbury course. How can you not love a country that you enter with the taste of sweet chocolate on your lips?

I land at Heathrow and am struck by the subtle differences. Toilets instead of restrooms. Walk slow on the left and pass on the right. But also gentle considerations that I have not seen before. Accommodations in the subway (henceforth called The Tube) for people traveling with disabled and elderly adults who might need a full room and table to change their pants.

All around me are these kindnesses. As I board my express train to the city and produce my ticket, the ticket taker responds with, "Brilliant!" I have perhaps thought myself above average, but brilliant! For a ticket! I shall continue to strive for those gold stars!

I arrive at Paddington, which is like if It's a Small World gave birth to a train station. White iron work scrolls across the ceiling. White marble upon the floors. I see a parent correct their child and it is with a well placed word instead of a striking hand. I drag my rolling suitcase behind me and up a ramp, noting the Paddington Bear statue and store, and out into Paddington proper. Two blocks away, I turn the corner to my hotel and find myself in a garden square.

My hotel looks just like those you can see across the square. The building is so old, the keys are plastic punch cards which I must deposit at the front desk every time I go out. The lift is old and rickety. The carpet worn. The room sparse.

And glorious!

The promise of in room coffee means Tasters Choice and a hot water kettle.

As much as my American self, my inner coffee snob, my Starbucks micro-roasted purist rebelled against the horrors of instant, I have to say that to this day, whenever I miss this city, I keep a can of Tasters Choice in my pantry and sip a cup of memories.

Outside, London awaits! On the rooftops of London! Coo! What a sight!

That night, I just walked.  I wrapped myself in my big wool coat and headed out into the streets of London.  I have no idea where I went.  Perhaps Marylebone?  I think I saw St. Pancreas.  And perhaps ended up by the back side of a hospital?  All I know is that the world was dark.  The sidewalks were barren.  It was cold and windy... and I was in love.  I wandered through all these back alleys and side streets.  There were all these shops and pubs and cheese shops and French bakeries closing up for the evening.  There were hand-lettered words in gold painted on the glass.  The light coming from their windows was warm and soft.

I turned the corner and found a Tescos.  A Tescos!  I had heard of Tescos from all my friends who had visited the UK!  I now know that being excited about a Tescos is about as glamorous as being excited by the sight of a Walgreens.  But oh...  I walked in and there were foods I had never heard of before.  Sandwiches that were nothing but cheese!  Salads that were nothing but cheese! Chocolates!  Biscuits (the cookie kind)!  Crisps!  Everything a girl could want!

 I walked up to the counter where a lovely Indian woman was checking people out and we just struck up a conversation.  Her face lit up as she heard my accent and she asked if I was American.  We talked about how this was my first trip to England and that I was visiting from LA.  She commented how the weather was much different, and I laughed that I was in heaven.  As I left she said, "You just made my day brighter."  Well, right back at you, you wonderful cashier at Tescos!

That's what I noticed most of all during my time in London.  People just talk, there is a fearlessness which we in the states lost long ago.  The comfort of gentle politeness is that you are safe to reach out to a stranger and say hello.  You find yourself talking to the people beside you. Looking into their eyes. Sharing a moment. Giving kindness. You don't realize how frightened we've become of each other in America. You don't realize the crushing grind of the media and the consumption machine until you leave and realize that there is another way to live.

I said I wanted to drink their water. And so I got my first sip.

Friday, January 10, 2014

London. April. 2013

It's the funniest thing about achieving a dream. You are then faced with the rest of your life and have to figure out what you want to do with it.

My biggest dream since graduating college was to make a living from my art.  Sure, things hadn't quite shaken out on the acting front like I had hoped.  But the book thing.  That had taken off.  And suddenly I was at home.  Writing full time.

And feeling a little lost.

People had warned me about this.  I had smugly thought, "Oooooh, you don't know me very well, I'm afraid.  I am the Queen of Adventure!  Boredom?  Existential crises about my place in the world?  I thiiiink I have got that covered."

But, still.  It happened.  I got my dream and was faced with the great Now What.

So, I made a list.  And at the top of that was that I wanted to see London before I died.  See, the thing I realized about Hollywood is that we were making movies inspired by the movies we were making.  It was like an orosboros of suck.  Everything was being pulling from the same source material that everyone else was watching.  It was one terrible carbon copy after another.

But then I started watching the BBC.  And suddenly, there were new stories.  New twists.  New statements upon humanity.  There were fat people and thin people and pretty people and plain people... it didn't matter what they looked like, they were being hired because they could act their pants off.  The writing!  The directing!  I started watching Green Wing and that show became my spirit animal.  I wanted to drink THAT water.  What was going on culturally which was giving rise to such genius?  Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Zen, did I mention Green Wing?  Let me mention it again.

And then I found out that some of my favorite actors in the world were performing on the West End.

So, I bought myself a plane ticket and bought tickets to the West End.  But then, I had to cancel, so I rebooked.  But then I booked a film.  But then found out that all the shows I wanted to see would be closing four days before my plane was scheduled to touchdown.

So I said screw it and scheduled my Secret Trip to London in four days time.

Friday, January 3, 2014

99-cents A Spirited Manor

Been holding off grabbing your copy of A Spirited Manor?  Well, today is your lucky day my friends!  Actually, today and every day between now and January 6th.  But enough of the details!  A Spirited Manor is on a Kindle Countdown Deal and you can grab it for only 99-cents!  And if you love it?  Leave a kind review.  Merry 2014!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My overdue trip report to London

I went to London this year.  In fact, I had such a great time, I did it twice.  In the interest of historical preservation, I bring you: The London Time Capsule Posts 2013!