Character Flaws

•February 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

by Sumiko Saulson

Sumiko SL Bookstore_004.pngI don’t know when I first became aware of my passenger. The earliest hints of the other consciousness were so subtle I thought they were daydreams, figments of my overactive imagination. When darkness fell, I was most afraid. My pulse quickened when I felt my cat leap from her perch on the uppermost bunk down on to my futon mattress, or heard the distant sound of raccoons outside rattling through the neighbor’s garbage cans.

The other voices were persistent, but quiet. One voice began to overpower all of the others. Eventually, it grew so loud and demanding that it drowned out the sound of my own internal dialogue, replacing it with a string of bizarre fantasies and demands.

Late at night, the visitor kept me awake with a string of nonsense syllables it babbled like a toddler learning his first words.

The phrases eventually made their way from the inside of my mind to the outside of my body by way of sometimes irresistible force. My body and my mouth moved against my will, forming a series of strange sounds that eventually became first words, then sentences.

I was alarmed to find there was a full-fledged other being living beneath my skin.

I was terrified at first, but soon I became emotionally exhausted to the point of numbness. It may sound strange to you, dear reader, but in time, I entered into an uneasy truce with these foreign invaders living inside my form.  I asked the passengers to refrain from speaking to me in public, so I might enjoy some semblance of a normal existence.

It didn’t always work. There were days when the voices forced their way out of my mouth and into the air around me. I was alarmed when they made me speak at inopportune times. It was as if a deep, dark secret had been revealed to the word against my will.

Psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers and poets might describe these outside voices as aspects of my own splintered persona. They would characterize the interlopers as a part of my fractured native interior life, the fragments of a shattered mind. By contrast, the religious practitioners, the mystics and the spiritualists would ascribe these voices to some generally malevolent external source. They viewed these hangers on as nefarious and parasitic occupying ghosts or demons. I found these notions most terrifying of all.

I chose to believe that they were separate from me but that I was their source, that they were personal imaginings; my characters.

(I’m insane, Sumiko. I’m sorry to hear that, Flynn.
I’m sorry about that, Sumiko. I’m sorry too, Flynn.
My name is not Flynn. My name is Sumiko.)

Some of the voices were terrifying, even threatening. The most consistent of them was generally benign. It tried to encourage and befriend me. In a way, we are friends, but it’s hard not to resent a thing that runs your body like a sock puppet from time to time.

My man is my monster. I grew tired of bickering with him one day, so I gave him a name. I wrote him into my works of fiction, and created a world for him. I thought he would be happy as a character in my books, but at times he seems angry.\

by Flynn Keahi

Flynn SL_005

My name is Flynn Keahi, and I’m one of Sumiko’s characters. Please disregard what she just said about me. She’s very biased. The truth of the matter is, I dislike unnecessary drama. I didn’t want to fight with my author, but she kept putting me through changes.

Being a character really sucks. It’s like being on a reality show written by a psychopath who will do anything for ratings.  I’m tired of going through turmoil just to keep the plot interesting and the readers engaged. These horror writers are especially brutal. I guess I should be happy I’m in a dark fantasy. At least for the moment, my suffering is only moral dilemma and existential crisis.

Forgive me if I sound bitter, but she’s working on a fourth book, after she promised me this would only be a trilogy.

 

Master of Horror L.A. Banks and her contribution to Horror

•February 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Source: Master of Horror L.A. Banks and her contribution to Horror

Black Women in Horror Writing

•February 3, 2016 • 2 Comments

60 Black Women in Horror

“60 Black Women in Horror Fiction” is available as a free eBook on Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412513

February is African American History Month here in the United States. It is also Women in Horror Month (WiHM). In 2013, as an Ambassador for Women in Horror Month. This list of black women who write horror was compiled at the intersection of the two. The booklet also includes interviews with nine of the women. The eBook version includes a bonus: an essay, and four short stories not found in the paperback.

The electronic (eBook) edition contains the following bonus materials: four short stories, and an essay, not found in the paperback.

A shorter book that only includes the list and interviews is available as a paperback for $5.50:

https://www.createspace.com/4695298

The Interviews

Linda Addison

Darlene BlackBWIH

Valjeanne Jeffers

Jemiah Jefferson

Briana Lawrence

Nnedi Okorafor

A.L. Peck

Eden Royce

Sumiko Saulson

L. Marie Wood

The Lists (with Bios)

Twenty Women in Black Horror Writing (List One)

Twenty One More Women in Black Horror Writing (List Two)

19 More Black Women in Horror Fiction (List Three)

The Full List (Alphabetical)

Listing with webpage links

1.      Linda D. Addison

2.      Pheare Alexander

3.      Angela C. Allen

4.      Paula D. Ashe

5.      L.A. Banks

6.      Darlene Black

7.      Chesya Burke

8.      Claudia Mair Burney

9.      Octavia Butler

10. Patricia E. Canterbury

11. Pearl Cleage

12. Crystal Connor

13. Arielle Crowell

14. Joy M. Copeland

15. L.M. Davis

16. Lexi Davis

17. Tananarive Due

18. Janiera Eldridge

19. Ann Fields

20. Robin Green

21. Dicey Grenor

22. Jewelle Gomez

23. Virginia Hamilton

24. Donna Hill

25. Allison Hobbs

26. Lawana Holland-Moore

27. Akua Lezli Hope

28. Nalo Hopkinson

29. Zora Neale Hurston

30. Monica Jackson

31. Tish Jackson

32. Valjeanne Jeffers

33. Jemiah Jefferson

34. N.K. Jemisin

35. Alaya Dawn Johnson

36. Tenea Johnson

37. A.D. Koboah

38. Faye McCray

39. Melinda Michelle

40. Donna Monday

41. Toni Morrison

42. Pam Noles

43. Nnedi Okorafor

44. Helen Oyeyemi

45. Ama Patterson

46. A.L. Peck

47. Dia Reeves

48. Evie Rhodes

49. Jill Robinson

50. Leone Ross

51. Eden Royce

52. Kiini Ibura Salaam

53. Anna Sanders

54. Sumiko Saulson

55. Nisi Shawl

56. Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

57. Sheree R. Thomas

58. L. Marie Wood

59. Zane

60. Ibi Zoboi

Women in Horror Day at the Asylum/SecondLife

•February 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Women in Horror Day at the Asylum/SecondLife

Suzi M and Sumiko Saulson Present

Saturday, February 27, 2016 – 2pm to 6 pm SLT (Pacific Time)

Horror authors Suzi M and Sumiko Saulson present Women in Horror Day at the Asylum in SecondLife.  Suzi and Sumiko have a lot in common. Both women are goths, prolific writers in the horror genre, and fans of the 3D virtual world SecondLife.  Suzi M has created a pair of gothic castles called Castle Nemesis and The Asylum, which are host to a number of attractions, including a library, movie theater, reading room, and two virtual dance clubs.  The four hour event will feature an open mike poetry/prose reading, question and answer sessions with the authors, music, and dancing.

SUZI M:

Suzi M writes for fun and occasionally profit. The Immortal War Series – comprised of NEMESIS, LAMIA, and THE TOWER – can be found in both print and Kindle formats.  In 2010, ten of Suzi’s short stories were published in the international Cover Stories Euphictional Anthology. Currently, Suzi is working on a several new projects and released The Lazarus Stone (Conspiracy Edit) under the pseudonym Xircon. When not busy with her own work or getting pictures and autographs of people who recognize her on the street, Suzi helps support the efforts of independent artists, writers, musicians, and film-makers.

You can follow her on Twitter @xirconnia or join the Suzi M Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/SuziMOfficial

SUMIKO SAULSON:

Born to African-American and Russian-Jewish parents, she is a native Californian, and has spent most of her adult life in the Bay Area. She is a horror blogger and journalist, graphic novelist, horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy writer. Her works include “60 Black Women in Horror,”“Death’s Cafe: Ashes and Coffee,” “Solitude,” “Warmth”, “Happiness and Other Diseases,” “Somnalia,” “Insatiable,”  the Young Adult horror novella series “The Moon Cried Blood”, and the short story anthology “Things That Go Bump in My Head.”

Visit her at http://www.SumikoSaulson.com

In SecondLife, contact Miki Bizet, Cinnamon Zemenis, Nemesis Navarathna or Xirconnia Morphett

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Book Review by Maria Ramos

•January 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Maria Ramos

Prof Pic 1Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy.

You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Book Review

Pride_and_prejudice_and_zombies1Zombies, vampires, and other creepy crawlies are currently enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, to the delight of horror fans everywhere. Not only that, but the groaning death machines of yore have given way to more fun, hip monsters that the whole family can enjoy watching. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fits right into this new genre, which also includes gems like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Victor Frankenstein, and the even more whimsical zombie romance, Warm Bodies. Like many great films before it, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies started its life as a book, and with the movie’s release date fast approaching, it’s time to take another look at the source material.

Before reading a single word, the premise of the book is already genius. It is loosely based Pride+and+Prejudice+and+Zombies+-+The+Graphic+Novelon the 1813 novel by Jane Austen about a group of sisters and their struggle to see themselves settled in life. Author Seth Grahame-Smith took that novel and turned it on its head in the best way possible, while still retaining the writing style and tone of the Regency-era original. Taking what was an extremely proper tale about the search for a suitable husband and introducing face eating monsters into it could not help but be entertaining. Writing the solemn and sometimes prim maidens as capable warriors instead of damsels in distress elevated the entertainment tenfold.

pride-prejudice-zombies-movie-poster-suki-waterhouseIn fact, prim is the last word that comes to mind about heroine Elizabeth Bennet. The original character was somewhat unforgiving and self righteous – this modern adaptation is positively implacable in her quest for justice, and has no qualms about getting her hands dirty in the process. Mr. Bennet goes from being a very passive and absentminded father to having trained his daughters to be his own personal army. Not all the characters have changed so drastically, however. Mrs. Bennet still has marriage very firmly on the mind, though the zombie hordes roaming the countryside complicate her personal mission. Wickham is still a fortune hunting cad and Bingley still relies a little too heavily on Darcy’s opinion. Other key plot points also remain the same, including Darcy’s original misjudgment of his friend’s romantic prospects and Lydia Bennet’s unfortunate elopement.

This combination of old and new, demure and zany, come together to form what is pride-prejudice-zombies-poster-lily-jamesperhaps the best adaptation of an Austen book the world has seen in recent years. Though many older movie versions of Pride and Prejudice can be found on your local channels and through cable TV, including some which are themselves well worth watching, none are as original as this latest insane attempt. Battles of wit are turned into real knock down, drag out fights. Social slights are punishable by far more than behind-the-gloves gossip, and readers can be sure that any passive aggressive behavior in the original novel has been re-written without the passivity. Author Grahame-Smith was reportedly given the idea for the book by editor Jason Rekulak, and if that is the case he owes Rekulak a very nice bottle of wine in thanks.

If the film adaptation is half as clever as the book, there’s no way it won’t become a cult classic. Director Burr Steers is also the author of the screenplay, and has previously worked on such projects as How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and Charlie St. Cloud. Though the tone of this project is decidedly different, he certainly has the industry experience to pull it off. Actors Lily James and Sam Riley play the central characters and are both photogenic and charming enough to pull in an audience. While better books than this have been ruined by bad movie adaptations, there’s a lot of reason to hope that this time they’ll get it right.

 

Insatiable Visits The Asylum

•December 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I had fun creating SecondLife avatars of my characters from “Insatiable” – the third book in the “Somnalia” trilogy (which started with “Happiness and Other Diseases.”) Then I took them on a tour of Suzi M‘s Asylum in SecondLife. You can pick up free sample chapters from her book “Nemesis” all over the Castle Nemesis and the Asylum in SecondLife.  I also have a bookstore in SecondLife at the Buffalo Readings Theater.

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How Victor Frankenstein Attempts to Revive Shelley’s Classic

•December 18, 2015 • 2 Comments

Guest Post by Maria Ramos

Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

How Victor Frankenstein Attempts to Revive Shelley’s Classic

victor-frankenstein-poster

Victor Frankenstein

Frankenstein’s undead monster has been depicted on film over 70 times, each a little different than the last. The galvanist experiments of physicist Giovanni Aldini first popularized the notion of reviving the dead via electric current. These morbid experiments later inspired Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Since its publication in 1818, Frankenstein has served as source material for theatrical productions, movies, songs, and even video games on top of being a pop culture phenomenon years after it first appeared on the page. Victor Frankenstein, starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, adds a fresh new perspective to this oft-told tale by majorly focusing on Frankenstein and his assistant, Igor’s relationship more than anything else.

The original Frankenstein depicts the trials and tribulations of Victor Frankenstein, a university student determined to unlock the secret of life and mortality. Upon discovering the process for reviving the dead, Victor reanimates a corpse composed of body parts taken from a graveyard. Victor’s monster wreaks havoc on his life and murders his loved ones, leading readers to question the morality of “playing God” through scientific experimentation.

The newest film to depict Frankenstein in all his glory, Victor Frankenstein seeks to retell Shelley’s classic horror story from the perspective of Igor, the misfit assistant of Victor Frankenstein which, at first, seems like a refreshing change from the original tale. Igor (Radcliffe) is meant to be the film’s voice of reason, challenging Frankenstein (McAvoy) and questioning his outlandish attempts to revive the dead. The film focuses on the budding relationship between Victor and Igor, relegating the story of Frankenstein’s monster and what it represents to the background.

Paul McGuigan‘s interpretation of Frankenstein bears more resemblance to other cinematic depictions of the tale than it does to Shelley’s revered novel. In the original tale, Victor Frankenstein works alone – no character named Igor is depicted in the novel at all. Rather, Igor is a composite character, based on different hunchbacked assistants and mad scientists featured in Universal’s Frankenstein films produced throughout the 1930s and ’40s.

Victor Frankenstein places Igor firmly in the film’s foreground. In this incarnation, Igor is a hunchbacked freak discovered by Frankenstein during a visit to the circus. When Frankenstein sees Igor save trapeze artist Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) after a horrific fall, he decides that Igor is the assistant he’s always needed and takes him in, fixing his deformities. The film continues to explore the relationship between the two men, their quarrels with a police inspector, and Igor’s budding romance with Lorelei.

Radcliffe, McAvoy, and Findlay all give commendable performances in the film. McAvoy portrays a comically unhinged Frankenstein, shooting spittle with each of his booming proclamations. Radcliffe puts in a solid performance as Igor, the voice of moral reason tempering Frankenstein and his wild ambitions.

Unfortunately, Victor Frankenstein neglects to explore the most fascinating element of Shelley’s tale: Frankenstein’s monster himself. Is Frankenstein’s monster a natural-born killer or did Victor’s neglect make him one? This intriguing question is central to Shelley’s novel. Though the monster commits numerous gruesome acts throughout the tale, Frankenstein’s own moral failings and dreams of conquering death are perhaps even more heinous than the monster’s bitter rebellion.

Instead of subtly leading us to contemplate Victor’s own monstrous tendencies, Victor Frankenstein relies upon Igor to voice the audience’s moral qualms. This heavy-handed moralizing, coupled with the film’s neglect of Frankenstein’s monster, are perhaps Victor Frankenstein‘s two biggest failings.

Though the film offers a new perspective on Shelley’s novel, the film is hardly among the best interpretations of this timeless story. Universal’s 1931 classic Frankenstein and Mel Brooks’ farcical Young Frankenstein (1974) are far more engaging depictions of the tale. Both Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein take many liberties with Shelley’s source material. The 1931 film, for instance, includes a hunchbacked assistant named Fritz, portrays the monster as a mute savage, and attributes the monster’s behavior to his criminal brain rather than to Victor’s neglectful behavior. Young Frankenstein tells the tale of Frankenstein’s grandson, Frederick, and comically depicts the relationship between Frederick and his creation. The film’s happy ending vastly differs from the tragic conclusion of Shelley’s work and you can still check out this ‘70s classic on television (more info here).

Though many films have interpreted Shelley’s novel in unique ways, they maintain a focus on Frankenstein’s monster. By naming Victor and Igor the stars of the show, Victor Frankenstein abandons the very best part of the Frankenstein story. Indeed, critic and viewer appraisals of Victor Frankenstein have ranged from lukewarm to abysmal. Even the most dedicated Franken-fans will be disappointed by this mediocre movie.

Despite its creative retelling of Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein fails to live up to the successes of its many predecessors. By neglecting to tell the tale of Frankenstein’s monster, McGuigan’s film loses the very element that made Shelley’s Frankenstein so great. One can only hope that future Frankenstein films will learn from the failings of Victor Frankenstein. The story of Frankenstein’s monster is the tale that truly needs to be told.

 
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