Since 2007 book reviews, events, publishing announcements, opinions, wild ideas and more!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Fantasy Work Released

Author Eric Nierstedt announces the publication of  his new work, The Lightrider Journals.  The novel  is published through iUniverse (Nov. 2012; ISBN  9781475956122). Learn more and order via www.thelightriderjournals.com.
 
Description: Joseph Hashimoto is happy with his ordinary life. A man who believes in fairness and just action, Joe’s greatest love is his family. But as he moves about his days, he is completely unaware that his actions are carefully observed. With one momentous decision, Joe’s ordinary life is about to transform into an extraordinary existence.

While attempting to save a little girl from danger, Joe is killed in a violent explosion. But instead of dying, his soul is brought before the elemental Architects of the Universe, who tell him he has been chosen for a sacred duty. Reborn as Lightrider, the earthly representative of Light, Joe is given leadership over the Elemental Knights, a group of half-man, half-animal beings. Charged with maintaining balance between good and evil, Joe must police both sides and destroy anyone who threatens to ruin it. As Joe struggles with his conflicting emotions and longing for home, he must face his greatest threat- the ancient Chaos Demons.

 About the author: Eric Nierstedt, a reader since birth and a writer since high school graduated from Kean University with a bachelors’ degree in English. In 2011, his work was selected for the Unlimited Potential Theatre’s NJ Wordsmith Competition. He writes professionally for the Westfield Leader newspaper, the online magazine Suite101, and the official Lightrider blog (http://lightriderjournals.wordpress.com/), where he analyzes writing as a craft and in popular media. He is a lifelong resident of Garwood, NJ, and is currently working on the sequel to Lightrider, Equites.

A perfect selection for collections of fantasy, teen readers, and anyone looking for an enjoyable read.  The mythic  aspects of the story line are sure to please readers who look for a more epic nature in their fantasy reads.
 
You can catch him on Dec. 5th, at the Cranford NJ Public Library for a book signing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lisa Rogers Writes About Ghosts

Lisa Rogers is an Oklahoma author who writes fiction and nonfiction for adults and YA.   "When she’s not strapped to her computer at their rural Oklahoma home, she can generally be found poking around a dilapidated old building or visiting some historical place, perhaps searching for her next “out of body” character.."

You see. she is an author who writes about ghosts.  " I write for YA and Adults--but always about ghosts. I created ghost talk to help feed my unquenchable fascination with the paranormal. While the topics will mainly deal with ghosts there will also be post on writing, the road to publication, and of course things just for fun!"

On Haunted Ground, a nonfiction adult book can be found here
Angelina's Secret, a YA fiction can be found here


http://talkingaboutghost.blogspot.com/

Friday, November 1, 2013

THE CRIMSON MASK IS BACK!

 A SON’S REVENGE
 
The Crimson Mask is back…and Airship 27 Productions has him!  The Crimson Mask, the first title in an on-going series, features four brand new adventures by some of today’s finest pulp writers.
 
Veteran Police Sergeant Clarke is gunned down by hoodlums, shot in the back of the head.  As he lay dying, a rush of blood to his face formed a macabre mask, a crimson mask!  When his son, Doctor Robert “Bob” Clarke, saw that strange stigmata he interpret it as a sign, inspiring him to become his father’s avenger, the Crimson Mask!
 
Once again Airship 27 Productions digs into the dusty vaults of long forgotten, second tier pulp heroes to revitalize another great character in brand new, exciting adventures.  Writers J. Walt Layne, Terrence McCauley, C. William Russette and Gary Lovisi took on the challenge of creating new, bizarre mysteries for the pharmacist turned crime-fighter and, in doing so, have put together a terrific collection of fast paced pulp action echoing the thrills of the original classics.
 
“All of which is why Airship 27 Productions exist,” reaffirms Managing Editor Ron Fortier.  “Specifically for great, fun characters like this one. Characters relegated to forgotten back files of the classic pulp hero ranks.  Well, not anymore.  The Crimson Mask always had the potential to be something better; now our writers and artists are making that happen.”
 
Aided by retired Police Commissioner Warrick, his former college roommate David Small, and lovely nurse, Sandra Gray, the Crimson Mask must hunt down the villainous distributors of tainted heroin, stop an invisible thief, learn who ignited the latest city gang war and solve a killer targeting his father’s allies. 
 
Talented artist, Andy Fish, provides twelve stark black and white interior illustrations plus a truly wonderful, colorful and iconic pulp cover painting. Art Director, Rob Davis, handles book design to offer a truly stunning, quality package that will delight even the most jaded pulp fan.
 
Hold on to your fedoras, jump onto the running board and get ready for blazing thrills galore pulp fans as the Crimson Mask is back!
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – Pulp Fiction for a New Generation!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SCARY TALES AND TWILIGHT TOUR: NO TRICKS - EVENT TO BENEFIT HISTORIC MANSION

Scary Tales & Twilight Tour
@ the Overholser Mansion!!! Thursday, October 24th & Friday, October 25th, 2013.
Two sessions each night:  7:00pm and 8:30 p.m.

In the old Edwardian house in Heritage Hills (Oklahoma City) known as the Overholser Mansion, tales of spirits, shadows and things that go bump in the night will be shared.  The Overholser’s were known to host many evenings of games, the arts and delightful conversations, over the years many ghostly events have been reported and so it is appropriate the mansion celebrates this fall season with the art of storytelling.

The tales, collected and recounted by local storyteller and author Marilyn A. Hudson will be about the house, the city and all the delightful things that bring shivers.

The Ghost Teller, aka storyteller Marilyn A. Hudson, will return to tell tales of shivery fun on two nights this October. Two sessins will be held on Thursday evening, Oct. 24 and Friday evening, Oct. 25.

Scary Tales & Twilight Tour
@ the Overholser Mansion!!! Thursday, October 24th & Friday, October 25th, 2013. Two sessions each night:  7:00pm and 8:30 p.m.


This event is by RSVP only, which will begin October 2nd.

Admission: $10.00 - adults, $5.00 - children under 12 years.

Event may not be suitable for younger children.

Call  405/ 525-5325 to make your reservation.  Space is limited.

What some listeners have said...

"You tell amazing stories unlike anyone I have ever heard. Every time I hear you tell a story I get goosebumps." 

"You might think her writing can't be beat -- until you hear her talk!"-- Jim Marion Etter, Oklahoma author

"Marilyn a. Hudson is an amazing storyteller for audiences of all ages.  Her animated, sparkling personality lends itself toward spellbinding her listeners.  Her non-verbal communication skills seem to lift the listeners above the mundane ...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Offers a Little History of Oklahoma Halloweens

Halloween: Oklahoma Treats-n-Tricks, 1900-1980

A short and fun memory filled journey through some of the Halloweens of Oklahoma... Author Marilyn A. Hudson explores the historical transformation of Halloween from its origins in pagan harvest festivals through years of controversy to the popular status it enjoys today. 

Citing intriguing first-hand accounts and obscure news reports, Hudson illustrates the erratic yet enduring allure of this complicated holiday. Also, explore an urban legend of the Cry Baby Bridge and learn who some of the figures who are keeping the "spirit" of Halloween alive and well. 

Hudson holds degrees in history and Information that serve her well in plumbing the deep forgotten recesses of the past to craft tales rich with detail. She is the author of When Death Rode the Rails, Tales of Hell's Half Acre, The Bones of Summer and co-author of the novel, The Mound. She also writes a blog combining mystery and history, "Mystorical".

Available on Amazon and in Kindle format.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jim Anthony: the Super Detective - Returns in Volume Four



THE ACTION CONTINUES WITH THE SUPER-DETECTIVE


He’s half Comanche, half Irish and ALL AMERICAN!! The fourth volume of Jim Anthony: the Super Detective returns in brand new adventures from Airship 27 Productions.


Managing Editor Ron Fortier expressed his enthusiasm for this latest release. “Bringing back old classic pulp heroes is the reason we created Airship 27 Productions in the first place,” he reiterated. “Thanks to our efforts, new readers are discovering the real fun of such characters as we purposely bring them to the forefront and put the spotlight on them. At Airship 27 Productions they become 'A' list heroes.”

Traveling the globe, Anthony battles all manner of twisted villainy in four new tales and his challenges are herculean. Writers Erwin K. Roberts, Joel Jenkins, Frank Byrns and Mark Justice have whipped up a quartet of high adventure stories that are the hallmark of the Super Detective. From Mexico, where he encounters a Nazi spy ring to the streets of Manhattan where he hunts down a brutal serial killer, Jim Anthony proves once again why he is one of the most exciting and original heroes ever created in the golden age of American pulps.

“Aside from the western pulps,” Fortier points out, “Jim Anthony was the only modern pulp adventurer with a Native American heritage; something several of our writers enjoyed exploring in their stories.”


This volume, the fourth in an on-going series, features interior illustrations by Michael Neno and a dazzling cover by Eric Meador, with book designs by Rob Davis. Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to continue the exploits of the one and only, Jim Anthony – Super Detective.


AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – Pulps For a New Generation!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Today's Werewolf Has No Bite

Curling up to watch some seasonal mayhem, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, played out in the darkened room.  Curious as to how other had viewed this particular film I learned it was generally seen as a poorly directed, acted and plotted tale of the werewolf legend.  Not enough onscreen wolfy-ness apparently.

There are many excellent novel interpretations of the legend and even a few good movies. That got me to thinking why are there are so few stellar were movies?

The werewolf (or even were animal legend) can be communicated, in my opinion so far,  in one of two ways:


  1. The unknown outsider whose motives, abilities, and hungers we cannot begin to fathom. A threat that is mindless, soul-less and such an 'other' we feel superior because we know we are not such animals. We are civilized victims of the terrible monster  bloody of tooth and claw who acts by ancient instincts we have long ago outgrown. As such, we are in danger each time we exit a building to enter their domain. The conflict comes from this encounter.
  2. The other is the creature who seems an extension or reflection of our own deeply hidden selves.  We understand this creature a little too well because he/she/it is able to act on the hungers and desires we keep hidden deep within. This creature fulfills those secret thoughts and acts on those forbidden fantasies. This is the source of the tension and suspense, this realization that  maybe there is less difference and distance between the beast and the man in the mirror.
The problem with a movie such as Howling IV was not its lack of werewolves but of the fear and tension generated as a result of whichever interpretation was being used.

At its essence the classic werewolf legend is the story of the outsider who follows his own code and satisfies his own hungers and needs without regard for his victim. I use male pronouns here because I believe the imagery of the werewolf was saying something about their societies. These 'werewolf'  actions reflected all the actions seen in war and  struggles for domination.  The 'werewolf' was metaphor and symbol of the worst beast of all released without ties, without community, without restraints, and without conscience.

The worst beast was the human...a werewolf story that does not show that tension, that fear, that hunger and that disdain of being in conflict with the hidden, secret self will be believable or suspenseful.

Friday, October 4, 2013

New 'Zine Features Article about 'The Mound'

Authors Cullan Hudson and Marilyn A. Hudson are excited to note the inclusion of a piece about their paranormal suspense thriller, The Mound. " The inaugural issue of Dark Recesses E-Zine is a one-page
write up (a bit of self promotion, really) about The Mound and a hint at where we pick up the story next. www.darkrecessesezine.com"


Monday, September 30, 2013

Alert

Someone has recently opened an email address using the name paranormalib supposedly from me. I know because I was sent the alert from Goggle. Be advised no such address exists related to this page.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shadow Legion - New Roads to Hell

SUPER HEROES WILL RISE

Airship 27 Productions is excited to debut the first of a new line of pulp-superhero books with
Shadow Legon – New Roads to Hell, written and created by Thomas Deja.

“Thomas proposed this idea to me last year,” explained Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier, “and I thought it contained fascinating perspectives on the whole idea of supernatural beings.

“Every sci-fi, pulp fan knows comic book superheroes evolved from pulp magazine heroes,” Fortier added. “The idea of turning the tables and doing prose stories of superheroes isn’t anything new, and there have been several publishers who have explored that hybrid world recently. We didn’t want to copy what others had done; which is why Shadow Legon appealed to me in the first place. In creating the city of Nocturne and its unique characters, Thomas has put a decidedly fresh spin on this genre, and we think our readers are really going to enjoy these adventures.”

There has always been something strange about Nocturne, Florida; the City That Lives by Night. It is an entertainment nexus luring tourists from around the world to its night clubs, music, and other, more adult entertainment venues. But there is a darker side that these carefree revelers never see; one of dark doings, violence and eldritch evil.

Now a new, sinister force threatens Nocturne, and only a handful of unique, gifted beings can protect the city’s innocent. They are Nightbreaker--a radio star turned vigilante; he exist in a strange limbo world; the beautiful Dreamcatcher who bends all magic to her will; the mysterious Ferryman, a living conduit to the world beyond, and their leader, Black Talon, the embodiment of the unfettered fury of the African Veldt...stalking a jungle of concrete and glass!

Together they are The Shadow Legion, a secret alliance of mystery men and women who battle the fantastic threats that can tear apart the metropolis they call home!

Their saga begins here in New Roads To Hell, a gripping novel that reveals the secret origins of Nightbreaker and Ferryman, and features the menace of Rose Red, a crimson haired devil with a talent for murder! The book features interior illustrations by Chris Kemple and a cover by Pulp Factory Award (PFA) winning artist, Mike Fyles, with designs by Rob Davis, another PFA art winner.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – New Pulp Fiction

Monday, August 26, 2013

DARK SKIES

2013 (a Scott Stewart film)
Sometimes the key to being terrified is who is watching a movie with you.  With me as I watched this film, Dark Skies,  about a family under the stress of unknown and unbelievable unnatural forces, was a woman who had experienced as a child 'missing time' and a possible encounter with aliens.  Certain scenes in the film highlighted her unconscious reactions and that added a bit to the movie night.

Watching my friend, her hands subconsciously pressing into each other in a nervous, anxious manner, as the young boy in the movie rides his bike and senses 'something' high above him in the sky, past the towering trees that seem to lean down towards him.

The way she moved, as if unable to  get comfortable, as family members were discovered outside of the locked and alarm secure house.  Their haunted gaze as they stared beyond the dark skies above them were mirrored on her face. It was clear the film was a little too accurate in conveying certain atmospheric elements. 

The film was gripping and reflected a layered approach of a family in turmoil from within and from without. Kerri Russell is superb and Jake Brennan is a good foil as the leaders of a family on the verge of economic collapse being threatened by something worse than a bank recall.  

The unseen threat from powerful forces is a metaphor for all contemporary life but also is the classic storyline of the alien abduction myths.  The film was well acted, skillfully directed and had a good dose of restraint. This kept it from being a caricature movie about "UFOs" and moved it into the realm of the horror genre. The building stress, the spiral from the normal world, and growing sense of your own lack of power are at times tangible.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Frankenstein ala Koontz

Finally...I have finished the series of five books about the monster Frankenstein by Dean Koontz. This sage of  the war against humanity by the mad, or just bad?, doctor may seem old hat. A well worn path but not in this author's deft hands and mind. Yet, there is the mad doctor, his creation(s) and a struggle between good and bad.  Leading the defense in the ongoing war against humanity is Deucalion, the doctors first creation.  Scarred in both body and soul he transcended both to become more human than his creator...

Koontz totally reenvisions the mythic story, adding believable scientific elements and horrifyingly possible , even inevitable, social elements.   There is true horror here. There are characters so unique they stay in the mind long after the book has been closed.

The books (in order) are Prodigal Son, City of Night, Dead and Alive, Lost Souls and The Dead Town.

Get them all, lock the doors, take the phone off the hook and settle in for a marathon book reading weekend. Oh, and don't forget to close the shades and lock the doors.  Just in case.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An Interview with Author Dennis McDonald

PARANORMAL LIBRARIAN caught up with Oklahoma author Dennis McDonald on a rainy day in spring as winter reluctantly kept a toe-hold on the region.  Our meeting occurred in a warm medieval style tavern tucked away on a quiet and forgotten street.  It was a sensory banquet that brought visions of ancient knights, wizards, and heroic quests. The dark beams were satuarated with the aroma of strong ale, chunks of Irish peat moss on the fire added a smoky intimacy, and across the room there was a small group  with lute, bodhran, and a fiddle playing a muted but lively jig.  The horror/fantasy author of 13 Nightmares, Ebon Moon, and Undead Flesh was sitting at a cozy corner table, a mug on the table, and a broad smile on his face as his fingers kept time to the music.  I was warmly greeted and we settled down to learn more about this up and coming voice in the world of horror and fantasy.



When you are not writing or being you, what is your work or activity?

I work for Diagnostic Labs of Oklahoma and pick up lab specimens from hospitals and doctor offices. I do a lot of driving every weekday.

When did you become an author? How did it develop, and what was your inspiration?

I published my first book 13 Nightmares about four years ago, but in reality, I’ve always been a writer since the age of 13. It just took me forty years to actually finish something I started. I wrote and published my own role playing game system back in the early nineties titled Adventure Maximum. I sold all the books and have since retired from gaming after thirty years involvement in the hobby. My love of writing continued however. I found a site called FanStory on the internet where writers could post their stories and get them read and critiqued. I wanted to be a fantasy writer and posted chapters of my novel up on the site. I received a few positive reviews, but that was about it. This site also sponsored contests for short horror stories. I entered a few of my horror tales and won against a hundred other writers. One Halloween story contest I won four hundred dollars. I decided to switch from writing fantasy to horror. In 2009 I decided to put out a collection of horror stories called 13 Nightmares. Since I was a total unknown writer and knew very little of the publishing world, I decided to self-publish like I did with my game system to see if readers would embrace me as an author. I’ve since self-published my werewolf novel Ebon Moon and just released my zombie novel Undead Flesh. 

What are some interesting events from your career as a writer? Any bloopers? 

I can’t think of any real bloopers. I’m sure they are there, I just can’t recall any. I can tell you that I started writing Undead Flesh a couple of years ago for Nanowrimo. The basic premise of the novel was zombies rising from the grave after a massive earthquake in Oklahoma. It was while writing about the earthquake one morning, that a real quake rattled through the state. I had lived here all my life and never experienced a quake until that morning. Now we have them all the time. Hopefully, we don’t have the big one like in my novel.

What do you think your impact has been among members of your audience? Your community? 

I hear about my books every day either by people in the town, the internet, or through my work. As a self-published author you reach out to readers first, instead of publishers and distributors. You build a dedicated readership among the people in your community and spread from there. I continue to do just that. 

What would you have liked to do with your work if there was more time, money, wider support, funding, staff, etc.

I would love to see my stories on the big screen. I scripted a small film from my short story The Last Trick or Treater and it shot by a woman filmmaker in Tulsa. I went to the premiere at the Circle Cinema and it was so cool to see my story and dialogue on the big movie screen.

Where do you see yourself in the coming years? Will [insert author name here] remain or transform within the book world or move on to something else?

I’m a writer to the end. I don’t even think of myself as an author. I’m a writer first. My goal now is to take on the traditional publishing world. I’ve proven to myself that I can write and sell books. I’m ready to move to the next step.

As a writer, what and who are your influences? Where do you get your ideas?

I saw a saying on the internet that a writer is someone who has a thousand tabs open in their mind at once. This is me. While writing this, I’m thinking of a short story where someone has a computer with the power to reach back in time to interview the greatest authors of all time and post their ramblings on the internet. I’m imagining the story in my head as I’m thinking about what I’m writing right now. As a teenager I read voraciously back in the sixties and seventies. My favorite authors were Asimov, Clark, Heinlein, Tolkien, Bradbury, and Robert E. Howard. 

Readers often like to find authors similar in tone, subject, or style to another. Who would most enjoy your work: readers of Stoker, Lovecraft, Shelley, King, Koonze, etc? 

Probably King. I’ve had a lot of fans of Stephen King say they enjoyed my work. 

When you write, do you require a special place, quiet, mood music, a favorite chair or sweater, etc.?

I live in a hundred year old home and my writing room is an upstairs bedroom. The walls are covered with pictures and posters of dragons, Bruce Lee, Count Gregore, and art work. My chair is a broken office chair in front of my Dell. I write in silence most of the time. 

Who is Dennis MacDonald? How similar are the two personas of author and  Dennis? In the real world, do you like sports or other pursuits? On any given day where would someone find you and what would you be doing?

I’m usually just sitting at home most of the time. I’m basically a recluse when I’m not at work. I like to watch Netflix and play a few games on my Xbox. If you want to lose your social circle, be a writer. It’s a lonely craft. On the other hand, I’m a convention junkie and love sci-fi horror cons, writing conferences, book signings, etc. These are the times I get out amongst people and away from long hours on the computer. 

What is the next big thing on your personal and professional agenda? 

Since I finished my trilogy of terror, I’m shifting gears into my fantasy novel. The first 100,000+ word manuscript is done in rough form. The project is too big for me to self publish, so I’m sending it to traditional publishers. I still write short stories when I need a break, and have a couple of horror novels on the back burner.

The evening was creeping up to peer in the windows at us and the after work crowd began to shuffle in bringing the scent of more cold rain.  As I left Dennis McDonald friends were hailing him and a discussion of a recent convention began to fill the void left by the departing musicians.  It looked like a perfect night to read his newest work....if I dared. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Old Dark House Motif

In horror and thriller movies the motif of the old dark house is a road well traveled and often abused.  It is a
motif requiring a deft hand to keep it from descending into camp or cliche and in the right hands it rises to more lofty realms of art.

A silent film from 1925, The Monster, directed by Roland West,  marks what is considered the first movie to utilize this motif. It also introduced the 'mad scientist' riff, and it is a surprising and delightful piece of cinematic work.    Although just as melodramtic as one might expect, it also pioneers a light touch in character and situation that presages more firm characterizations in  later films.  A version can be found on cable with music added the addition is distracting and seems disconnected from the mood of the scenes or the genre itself.  The silent version is better and allows the imagination to provide the necessary gothic tones.

There is a witty nature to the bumbling and easily frightened would be detective, a true understanding of mood and building tension in the more frightening scenes, and a firm romantic touch in its conclusion.  This is a model that influenced many later films but it is enjoyable to revisit the original and see its fresh energy, the awakward stumbling toward establishing a genre, and the ability of actors, director and writers to craft a story first to guide the entire film.  It is clear the actors had a firm idea of who they were in the film and built more authentic reactions as a result.  In the silent films large and grand stage movement period, this provides some interesting nuances to the film and no doubt influenced later film makers crafting early horror films.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Devil is in the Details

This new work from Troy Taylor THE DEVIL AND ALL HIS WORKS, subtitled "a history of Satan, Sin, Murder, Mayhem and Magic" is a detailed look at the roots of our idea of evil, the ways it has been expressed and worse, the manner in which some people have actively sought to encounter it in all its hellish glory.

Descending into this book, there is the feel of heat in the air and the smell of brimstone and sulphur overlaid all too normal  human faces and places. 

Scary, informative, and very insightful.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Howling At the Moon: Werewolf Bibliographies

Ebon Moon by Dennis Mcdonald,
OK Paracon '12













A werewolf bibliography here.    A werewolf bibliography by students here.    One of the most detailed and annotated collections on the topic is Brian Frost's book, An Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature.   See also this entry on another old class work.


Danse Macabre: A Classic

No library should be without this book and no academic should attempt to teach horror without it.  Danse Macabre explores, as only Stephen King can, the bloodline of 20th century horror through film, television and literature. It is a foundational work crucial to understanding not only the literary or visual genre but to the mind out which they spring.  Other, highly academic works, exist but they lack the viseral and conversational style of King.  Fear, like humor, often is most successful linking with the stresses of its context. King illustrates this by noting the most frightening scene in the Amityville Horror.  It is not, he stresses, the flies, the goo, or the eyes glowing outside the window that gave the person in the theater seats the most discomfort it was instead when the lead character finds his money gone.  The cash only reception payment suddenly, mysteriously, stressfully goes missing...and the film coming out in the middle of the 1970's recession tapped strait into the vein of true horror as  it explored the growing stress, anger, and fear of the ensuing search.  We love the gothic and atmospheric horror since it is distanced from us....the greatest of fears, the deepest horrors stem from the 'it's just  little too real for comfort' bedrock of shared human experience. 

Here is a link to a .pdf version (including useful bibliographies).

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Mythic Core

I have to admit, I like M. Night Shyamalan's body of work.  This writer, producer, and director has brought many popular films and some  viewed as less than popular:  The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), The Happening (2008) and The Last Airbender (2010).  This summer, After Earth, is set to appear (2013).

He is often misunderstood by a culture seeking the gross-out, the obscene, and the heavy-handed in their suspense and horror-thrillers.  These are the cinematic and story versions of a stomp dance.  Shyamalan's works, by comparison, have the grace, mythic bones, and naunced touch a classic ballet.

What drew me into Unbreakable and the Lady in the Water were the underlying mythic structures.  He tapped into archetypes, legends, and the hero's journey to craft those movies.  Instead of lowering his vision to the common - the bloody, visceral, crude and heavy-handed approach to thrilling tales - he tapped into the river running through human experience.  The problem is that society has been fed the inferior so long it cannot appreciate the fresh air and multi-layered complexity of Shyamalan's work.  Shyamalan's work is the higher education course in a high school drop-out world.   His work is not without shortcomings, but his works have developed and evolved, and hopefully will continue to do so without caving into the commerical forces that would kill that vital difference in the name of boxoffice success.

Great art is seldom fiscally successful - at first.  It takes an audience understanding of the complexities, nuances, and deeper elements to finally and fully appreciate their importance.  Hopefully, we are on our way to that place where we can not only recognize the vital mythic core in his films but come to appreciate them.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE WHEEL TURNS...

I first met The Wheel of Time series when someone recommended it to me in the mid 1990's.  Not a regular, or enthusiastic, fantasy fan, I had commented how I had never found such a book I really liked. I had read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, some Andre Norton and similar titles.  I had tried, and failed, to read The Hobbit six times!  My friend said, "You have to try these...."

I opened The Eye of the World (book one) and was immediately hooked... Here was not just fantasy, but excellent storytelling, action packed adventure, a mythic journey, and a world made believable by an author who understood the basic underpinning of myth, culture, military science, and history. The skillful Robert Jordan utilized all of these in crafting the world occupied by Rand, Mat, Perrin, and all the rest.  I read them each Christmas as a special gift to myself. Geek that I am, I even read them backwards and noted the masterful links of plot and foreshadowing unnoticed in forward chronological reading.

Two decades and thirteen books later...I eagerly opened the fourteenth (and final book), A Memory of Light,  with the same anticipation as the second one I had read.

In moments, I was drawn once more into that world...where people had strange powers, where a great battle of good vs evil was ongoing and a final confrontation imminent. 

A series of the depth and scope reflected in The Wheel of Time is an incredible achievement, especially in light of the fact the author died in 2007 and someone had to step in to complete the work.  Brandon Sanderson did that well, following detailed notes left by author Robert Jordan.   Some may complain, some may be dissatisfied and quibble about slight deviations in character or action due to the transition.  All I can say is as I closed the book, 900 plus pages of it, I took a deep breath and wanted to start the series all over - again. 

I have to go now...I have to see what books I need to complete the series....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PARANORMAL ACTION WITH A TWIST OF ROMANCE

 I discovered this author just recently writing for the Harlequin/Mira brand. Heather Graham is a bestselling author who has been around long enough to have established a good following of devoted fans.

"The Unspoken" is part of a series with slightly (or heavily accented) paranormal aspects.  Part of the "Krew of Hunters" series the books  ( several titles ) feature members of a special team of FBI who have special psychic skills and are utilized in cases requiring their extraordinary skills.  They use psi skills but also work using normal police procedures - so the audience of both should enjoy these with a little flexibility. See titles at  http://www.eheathergraham.com/heatherbibliography1.html

The books are similar to the special ops FBI team created by Kay Hooper and her 
"Bishop series:" but they are still a good (translate an enjoyable) read.  I will no doubt read others in this series as opportunity affords.  They are not grippers or great literature but they are enjoyable, especially if you like some romance with your paranormal fiction. 


ZOMBIES, YOU BETCHA

Parody horror...a surprising genre but one filled with more social commentary than frightful terrors. Unless, that is, you think too long on the social commentary's underlying truths.  I ran across this book by accident...word of by mouth by a fellow customer in the book store encouraged me to give it a try.


Horror parody is a new genre and not everyone's cup of tea. If you are culturally literate, horror motif aware, and slightly warped this is the book for you!

The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten is based on the idea that every town has secrets, the book proceeds to then rip down the walls to reveal in comic and bizarre the nature of those secrets.   It is filled with sex, deviance, hate, drunkenness  murder and that is BEFORE the zombies show up!

It is a one book motivation to double check your secrets and what might happen when .... not if... that awful zombie apocalypse strikes.  You can never be too careful.



From Night Shade books...if this sounds interesting you may want to also read The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten.