Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category
Secrets, secrets. What was my “first ever” book, and why? (Hint, long out of print, you usually won’t see it in my current bio-notes.) Do I claim a specific writing style? Does my novel TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH have an ultimate message for readers (and what is the relation of TOMBS to what dramatists call “the five act structure”)? In the process of coming up with a title, how did TOMBS differ from THE TEARS OF ISIS? And now the answers, to questions I wouldn’t have dreamed up myself and many, many more have been revealed, courtesy of blogger extraordinaire Fiona Mcvie on AUTHORSINTERVIEWS.
And maybe a little more will be there on ISIS as well, or how Peter Lorre might have made a good “Ghoul-Poet.” If curious, press here. (And if interest is piqued by what you find, links are provided at the bottom for pre-ordering TOMBS as well as ordering THE TEARS OF ISIS — or if in a hurry, just click on their pictures on this page in the center column.)
Quoting the Indiana University Cinema blurb for February 24: Set in a dystopian Texas of the future, THE BAD BATCH is a “post-apocalyptic cannibal love story,” as writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour describes it, “ROAD WARRIOR meets PRETTY IN PINK with a dope soundtrack.” This genre-breaking thrill ride won the Special Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and features a dream-ensemble cast of Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey, and Diego Luna. The film opens later in 2017. Director Ana Lily Amirpour is scheduled to be present. Asked herself afterward about PRETTY IN PINK, Ms. Amirpour allowed that was something she’d said in one interview and she’d never do it again, but she smiled when she said that. As for ROAD WARRIOR, there is a Mad Maxish ambience to THE BAD BATCH with scavenger societies, makeshift cities (one making use of an aircraft graveyard), and never-mind-where-the-gasoline-comes-from automobiles, though in this case more the speed of Vespas and golf carts.
Then another question: What was the significance of the bunny? Let us go back in time for a moment to Amirpour’s earlier movie A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT* and Masuka the cat (cf. January 19, 11 2015). Masuka acts there as a sort of marking figure, passed in ownership between people who become important; in this a bunny (unnamed in the credits unless I missed it) becomes the pet of a little
girl who in turn becomes the bond between principle characters Arlen and Miami Man. But beyond that, well, animals in some way may represent innocence and purity, Amirpour allowed, but (harking to another question too) this might not be a film to put too much stock in one-on-one symbolism.
What it is, though, she said is a “personal story of a girl who feels cut down, ripped apart by life,” as well as, as she was writing it originally, her “love letter to America.” She hastened to add, this was before current times with a President Trump. Yet a pervading image is that of a Texas desert divided by a wall, behind which are thrust the “bad batch,” the non-productive, the terminally ill, illegal immigrants (Miami Man was, originally, “a Cubano”), the homeless. . . . They then are further divided into two “cities,” The Bridge (so named from homeless who, in US cities, often take shelter under expressway bridges and the like), a machismo culture and also . . . cannibalistic, and Find Comfort, a more benign hippie-like civilization whose diet tends more toward pasta.** Needless to say, they hate each other.
So what is a girl to do — who’s already lost an arm and a leg (literally) to the dinner table? Or a doting father who’s lost his daughter, but wouldn’t turn his nose up at a human filet.
Might there be a third way?
But also beware, there’s a quality of dream, of fairytale about the thing too, of don’t always take too literally what you see. Be content instead to see beautiful images, though often enough combined with the grotesque — this is not a film for the faint of stomach! Enjoy the soundtrack, and worry not too much about details like where gas or electricity come from in the desert (or pasta, for that matter, or how many humanburgers it takes to sustain a weight-lifter physique). Or if the ending is, as we say in the romance biz, “happily ever after” or even, realistically, “happily for now.” Sneak previews aside (Friday’s screening was presumably the first outside the film festival circuit), THE BAD BATCH is set for a June 23 release by NEON according to IMDb and, when the time comes, just sit back and enjoy it!
*The night before, in fact, we got to see seven short films by Amirpour including the original A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, on which the feature-length version was based (although, in the short, without any cats).
**And, surely this is just my personal eccentricity, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel to this, and especially the ending, in the 1974 Sean Connery film ZARDOZ (see October 15, 2016). Or maybe I am nuts.
MEET CUTE (cf. November 23), the flash fiction anthology of unexpected, eccentric, or just unusual meetings of couples, has had a few changes in scope, according to Editor Kara Landhuis. An immediate one is a change in pre-publication funding from Kickstarter to Indiegogo, deemed a better fit for a smaller publication’s actual needs. For other news, publication is tentatively planned for January for distribution in February; the funding project itself will close December 31.
As Ms. Landhuis explains, MEET CUTE was born out of a love for several things, most notably: Storytelling and connection. I wanted to create a book that celebrates human connection, and I thought there was no better way than to invite writers and illustrators to collaborate. MEET CUTE will include around 20 short stories (very short — fewer than 1000 words each) written by writers from around the world. There will also be 10-15 black and white illustrations that enrich the stories. My own entry in this is “Butterfly,” a saga of forests and fairytales — or was that insects and axes? To find out more, one will just have to buy the book, or for an inside track, check out the Indygogo crowdfunder by clicking here.
In other action, The Bloomington Writers Guild’s December business meeting and end-of-year party was Saturday afternoon. As in previous years, it ended with an open reading for about a dozen participants, my contribution (in lieu of a story which I suggested I’d save for February’s First Sunday Prose, as being perhaps a bit long for this session) was three Santa Claus poems, posing the question — especially in the case of the first two, which also appear in my collection VAMPS — do we really need Krampus?
As Editor Kathie Giorgio puts it (from the “Introduction”), Think of all the words we have for time, phrases that many of us use and hear every day:
Time to go. Time’s running out. All the time in the world. Time and tide waits for no man. It’s high time. A question of time, a race against time. All in good time. Ahead of your time. The right place at the right time. Better luck next time.
Time dominates us and directs us. We are ourselves timepieces, our hearts are our pendulums, beating out the seconds we have on this earth.
What time is it for you today?
Well, you get the idea: IT’S ABOUT TIME. Yes, that’s the anthology’s name, and yesterday, Friday, it made its appearance in ye olde mailbox to kick off the Veterans Day Holiday Weekend (yes, technically a postal holiday, but packages get special treatment). And as might be inferred, quite the eclectic collection it is, with scads and scads of mostly short stories and poems of all aspects of time, so that even my story, a science fiction/romance including time travel, seems mundane and routine. A reprint titled “Curious Eyes” (cf. September 20, et al.), it has been around, though, with four prior appearances starting with THE FICTION PRIMER way back in December 1988.
But to see more for yourself, press here.
Then speaking of re-appearances, today’s email also brought a confirmation from Marge Simon, editor of the “Blood & Spades” poetry column in the Horror Writers Association’s monthly NEWSLETTER. We had been talking about reprint rights for my “It Begins With the Sound” essay (currently in the Autumn ILLUMEN, see November 5), and it is now officially set for the January 2017 issue.
I had had to skip the open mike part of last week’s Last Sunday Poetry due to getting ready for early check-in for my “Raising the Dead” reading at that evening’s Ryder Film Festival (see October 31). This week, however, all was on schedule for November’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic” (cf. October 3, et al.) with local short fiction writer Tom Bitters and a tale of young love nearly torpedoed by an inflatable doll named Mistress Ping; poetry and prose performer Gabriel Peoples with the rambling and funny quasi-historical “The Story of Jack Daniels,” including audience participation; and First Sundays MC and co-sponsor (with host venue Boxcar Books) Bloomington Writers Guild member Joan Hawkins with more of young love, the “Ballad of Renee and Buzz,” and the start of a second piece, both examples of creative nonfiction.
The crowd was reasonably large at the start although, as sometimes happens, it thinned down to about half its size during the break, after which two people read at the open mike session, me and local poet and essayist and sometimes short fiction writer Tonia Matthews. My piece this time was of young love also,”Smashing Pumpkins,” that of the vampires Aloysius and Vendetta in an adventure of Halloween, ice-blood (or is it “bloodcream”) cones, and rampaging clowns, all ending up with a trip to the polls on Election Day.
On a far-future, exhausted Earth a ghoul — an eater of corpses — explores the ruins of one of its greatest cities in hopes of discovering the one thing that made its inhabitants truly human. This is the premise, the quest. . . . And so starts the first answer to British blogger Sonnet O’Dell’s questions on DUSTY PAGES (see also just below, et al.) for October 24, exactly one week prior to Halloween. Other topics include if the glass is half full or empty, motivations, appearing in public, and my first crush — at least that I’ll admit to. And at the end, we’re back to my upcoming TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH with a quote from the book for the start of a final blurb: “The city had once lived, blazing with light. The books all described this. The Ghoul-Poet sat in the midst of a heap of them, pages torn, rotting, spread out all about him. This was a library, the pride of New City, or rather a square that had faced the library, that had received this avalanche of thought — words embossed on parchment — that cascaded down when the library burst, its walls weakened with age. . . .” For more, one may press here.
Then Sunday evening, at downtown Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley theatre, I was to read the same quote and a little bit more as an introduction to the flavor of TOMBS, followed by one of the book’s story-chapters, “Raising the Dead.” This was an entr’acte of sorts between screenings of THE EXORCIST and a new Korean film, THE WAILING, as part of a three-film Halloween festival sponsored by local magazine THE RYDER (cf. October 17 — the other film, screened first, was ARSENIC AND OLD LACE followed by a live mini-dramatization of Angela Carter’s short story “The Company of Wolves” by Cricket’s Bone Caravan), billed in THE RYDER’s calendar as “a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love.” But a funny thing happened on the way from the 1 p.m. sound check to the actual screenings having to do with, live stage sound okayed, a glitch in the sound for the films themselves. This took about 40 minutes to work out, which was okay for the first two films and the “Wolves” presentation, but by the time THE EXORCIST ended, it was already a bit past 8 p.m. As a result, including a significant audience drop-off (it being Sunday night, meaning many had to be up early for Monday), we decided to postpone my reading to get THE WAILING back on only-slightly-delayed schedule.
So, tentatively, but more if/when it actually comes to pass, “Raising the Dead” will be read by me at the Ryder Film Festival’s continuation next Sunday, October 30 (yes, All Hallows Eve Eve) at local Bloomington drinkery Bear’s Place at probably a bit after 7 p.m., sandwiched between HORROR OF DRACULA at 5:30 p.m. and an 8 p.m. reprise of THE WAILING. And, oh yes, for this one you must be over 21.
We are screening 3 films at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater: Arsenic and Old Lace, The Exorcist and The Wailing. Frank Capra’s Halloween comedy Arsenic and Old Lace stars Cary Grant as a man learns that his eccentric but sweet aunts have been seeking out lonely, elderly men, poisoning them, and burying them in the basement. Controversial from the day it opened in 1973, The Exorcist is now recognized as a defining classic of the genre. Our third film, The Wailing, is a 2016 release. A foreigner’s mysterious appearance in a quiet, rural village causes suspicion among the locals in The Wailing. Released in June of this year, The Wailing has garnered enthusiastic reviews on the film festival circuit and is currently the highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes. You can read more detailed descriptions of these below.
The Halloween Fest will also include spine-tingling live performances in between films by James Dorr and by Cricket’s Bone Caravan, so come early and stay late.
So begins Bloomington’s local Ryder Film Series announcement of the coming weekend’s special showing, from 2:15 p.m. to 10:45 p.m., “Halloween Fest: Sunday, Oct 23 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.” That’s right here, downtown on Kirkwood Avenue for those unfamiliar with the venue, with my part scheduled for the intermission between THE EXORCIST and THE WAILING. And for what I’ll read (hint: it’s the same tale I read for the 4th Street Arts Festival in September, cf. September 4), let us let the Ryder explain: [Dorr] will be reading a selection from his newest book, TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, a novel-in-stories scheduled for release by Elder Signs Press in spring-summer 2017. Set on a far-future dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis known as the “Tombs,” “Raising the Dead” is about a young woman who seeks to restore the soul of her newly deceased husband to his body; a tale of necromancy, dark fantasy, airships, and doomed love. “Raising the Dead,” I should add, has also been published in White Cat Publications’s 2015 steampunk anthology AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS (cf. May 27, April 7 2015, et al.).
Schedules, ticket prices.and more can be found on the Ryder’s own site by pressing here. And, if all the above weren’t enough, they also add: Wait, there’s a fourth film. On Sunday, October 30th we will screen the 1958 classic, Horror of Dracula, at Bear’s Place. If you purchase a movie pass for the films at the BCT on Oct 23rd, you can use it for Horror of Dracula as well.
It’s a contest put on by Grey Matter Press, publishers of SPLATTERLANDS and others (cf. September 11 2015, et al.), to select a small number of flash fiction pieces to play with the big boys (“five disturbing visions from five diverse authors that include Josh Malerman, John F.D. Taff, Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone, and Joe Schwartz”) in a new anthology I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD. The prizes include publication, a copy, and a modest gift card and entries must be published in advance for the judges and others — readers who can vote for their favorites too. The stories must be inspired by the “bloody” title, be 500-700 words in length, and, the month almost over, thought I “why not?”
So think of it as a pre-Halloween lagniappe, free stories for all! Mine is about, natch, sweet lesbian vampire love (so why not?) in a 698-word bare bones version of a longer tale originally published in MON COEUR MORT (Post Mortem Press, July 2011*), “A Cup Full of Tears.” But here’s the thing, for “A Cup Full of Tears” to be published in the anthology too, it must be voted on by those who read it. A jury of sorts will look at these too, but when the smoke clears, by noon I believe on Halloween Day (the voting itself ends at 12:01 a.m. October 26), it is those with the most votes that get to move on. Voting consists of clicking a button to the right that follows each story, and leaving a comment — hopefully positive. Also, up until October 21, you can enter your own mini-story as well if you desire.
So to vote — or just read — one must press here. You will see the rules, the details of the contest, but then you must scroll down. Down and down, passing stories and comments, until you reach the sixth (6th) story. My name will be above it in blue, then the title in all caps, “A CUP FULL OF TEARS.” And should the spirit so move, the vote button is at its bottom right, labeled “Reply.”
(Or if, by now, even the idea of elections has you down, just read and enjoy.)
*See also July 28, 14, June 17 2011, below.
Hurry, hurry, hurry. The IT’S ABOUT TIME early ordering period, with early bird discount, is ending in just under two weeks according to MSR Publishing editor M. Scott Douglass. You have seen the inside galleys. They have been corrected and sent to the editors for final review. That means we are approaching the deadline to shut off the Advance Sale Discount price from the MSR Online Bookstore. . . . Advance Sales WILL expire October 3.
My story in this one is called “Curious Eyes,” about a time traveler, a chance encounter, and a good night in a Kansas City Bar. It’s a not very heavy science fiction story, from a long time ago when I was writing a fair bit of SF, and actually published in a general fiction magazine, in the December 1988 THE FICTION PRIMER. Nothing fancy, mind you, just plain folks, plain setting (well, maybe a little after-hours loneliness, cue in alto sax, a little brush work on the drum, but muted and sad-like, a rainy night outside — you know the scene), pleasant when it’s all over. Yes, I’ve written a few stories like that. Way back when-like. . . .
So think of “Curious Eyes” as a rarity, one of a kind I don’t write too much nowadays, but yours to savor in IT’S ABOUT TIME, and one to be had at a discount to boot — but only for the swift. For more information, pre-ordering press here.
From the essay on poetry I mentioned writing two posts below: . . . when I was much younger, poets sometimes read poems with jazz in the background. A muted piano, stand-up bass, a drummer for accents with cymbals and brush, an alto sax, maybe, while the poet recited the words over it, not as lyrics, but for their own sake, the musicians having the job to make sure their own sounds worked with them. So Saturday showed the art may not be lost completely. Saturday I had other work downtown as well (well, on Sunday too) but, when I had a chance, I kept coming back to the Spoken Word Stage. And one half hour slot had been taken by a group called “Shakespeare’s Monkey,” billed as a “poetry band,” and, yes, there was a poet reading and accompanied by music. The mix was different — two guitars and percussion, the last sometimes switching off to kazoo-like muted horn sounds, even “echos” of parts of one poem’s words, the modes were different, traditional jazz-like for one poem about “surrealism,” more strictly rhythmic for a poem that had come before, but the principle was the same, and the sound of the poems with musicians sharing them was delightful.
The event is Bloomington’s annual Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts (to give it its full, official name), with artists’ booths up and down 4th Street and parts of the cross streets, drawing in artists across the Midwest and beyond. In conjunction with this, the Spoken Word Stage is co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild, taking up Dunn Street south of 4th, with an information and “Poetry on Demand” booth (the latter where people can have personal poems written for them by Guild members, in exchange for hoped for donations) as well as the stage. And, while most of Saturday’s readers were poets, there was a children’s theater and, later, a radio theater group too. As well, of the poets, both the present and a past Indiana Poet Laureate.
Sunday, by contrast, brought fiction too, two slots billed as “fiction,” three “storytelling,” and one “horror fiction.” Guess which one was mine! These in all cases were half-hour readings, with eight more (one billed as including “personal essay”) taken up by poets. Mine was relatively late in the day, from 3:30 to 4 p.m., out of prime time but not so late that, on a beautiful sunny day, people would have been leaving already. The piece I read was a story called “Raising the Dead,” originally published in AIRSHIPS & AUTOMATONS (White Cat Publications, 2015 — cf. May 27 2015, et al.) and to be in the final section, of five and an entr’acte, in TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH, to be published next year.
All in all a good time, for more of which (the Writers Guild part anyway) one may press here.