So, the Aussie Zombie got this from Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner, who came up with an awesome idea—the A to Z Book Survey. I loved the idea and thought it would be a fun way to let you all know a little more about me beyond what I write/analyze/critique. Author you’ve read the most books from: Stephen King. Best Sequel Ever Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon (a very loose sequel to Last and First Men, only connected by an expansion of theme, not by plot or protagonists). Currently Reading Deathwatch by Lisa Mannetti. Drink of Choice While Reading Café mocha.E-reader or Physical Book? I love collecting physical books, although I prefer more and more to read on my Kindle because I can adjust the font size.Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School Holden Caulfield; I was a pretty messed up teenager. Glad You Gave This Book a Chance: Indiahoma by A. Ray Norsworthy. Hidden Gem Book The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich. The most amazing book I’ve ever read.Important Moment in your Reading Life Reading Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut—it inspired my love for dystopian literature.Just Finished I’d rather not say.Kinds of Books You Won’t Read Romance.Longest Book You’ve Read I’m not sure.Major book hangover because of Writing Finding Poe; it was a wild ride, one that left me brain dead for some time after finishing it.Number of Bookcases You OwnFour. One Book You Have Read Multiple Times Butterfly Potion by Trent Zelazny.Preferred Place to ReadCurled up in bed.Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read “When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s CradleReading Regret Reading far too many novice Indie authors’ books (i.e. self-published first novels and the like). There are some great diamonds in the rough, but too many of them have been so awful I’ve actually gotten angry that I’d committed to reading them.Series You Started and Need to Finish (all books are out in series) The Joe Grey series by Shirley Russeau Murphy; it’s a charming series.Three of your All-Time Favorite BooksThe Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise ErdrichThe Heart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Autobiography of Malcolm XUnapologetic Fangirl for Marvel comic books.Very Excited For This Release More Than All the Others My current work in progress, The Private Sector.Worst Bookish Habit Editing grammatical errors in the books I read. People’s use of grammar these days is atrocious, and I cannot help but take notes when I start to see the errors piling up. I then offer the author my list, as well as an educated critique, which is not always well received. I’ve actually made a few enemies over it. Still, I cannot stop. I’m far too honest (and critical) for my own good.X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book Foe by J. M. Coetzee.Your latest book purchasePlague Nation by Dana Fredsti.ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late)Poe’s Mother by Michael Meeske.
It’s fascinating to watch social trends as they unfold, shift, and pave the way for the ones to follow. People are pack animals, most following the leader wherever he or she might take them, allowing popularity alone to dictate their own choices in taste and opinion. I think about the whole Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, how just the right people decided the series was worth shouting about and somehow turned a mediocre-at-best collection of fan fiction into a bestseller. More recently, J. K. Rowling flipped the fate of her recent mystery novel, taking it from nowhere to the top of the charts by outing herself as Robert Galbraith. It gets a person like me, a relative nobody, thinking about what it actually takes to stake any real claim on the author’s frontier. Moreover, how many exceptional books are going unread by the masses simply because they were never discovered by one of the ever-influential pack leaders? Popular brands sell. Stephen King could write a story about a haunted fig tree and it would sell millions.
I’ve never been popular on any front. I was the loner in school, the kid picked last in dodge ball, the girl who couldn’t start a trend if her life depended on it. How many others are there who are just like me, with much to contribute but no pack leaders touting their merits? How many potential Stephen Kings are out there who will never realize their potential simply because they lack either the right connections or the right luck to be read by someone influential enough to put them on the map?I know nearly every author out there has faith in his or her writing, so I’m not unique in that regard. I’m not unique in feeling that I deserve my fair shot. I’m anything but unique in my desire to make my mark in the literary world.
What I am, however, is unique—period.
Is that alone worth your readership … or are you waiting for the pack leaders to tell you what the next big trend will be to follow?
I could spend a few hours looking for photos that fall within public domain, but in this case, I believe content is more important than any possible pictures or files.
I sit at my desk, struggling to catch my breath, in awe over the literary brilliance that went into the first episode of Fox’s new series The Following. I have read pre-release reviews on the show, and they have been as varied as the speculations portrayed in Poe’s art. Denver Post television critic Joanne Ostrow writes, “[The Following’s creator] seems to be treading a familiar path but with a more adult sensibility. [Kevin Williamson has] left the vampires behind, kept the scream-worthy horror and added some smart plotting.” In stark contrast, The Washington Post’s reviewer, Hank Stuever writes, “…I realized: ‘The Following’s’ fundamental problem is neither its gore nor its brutality; it’s the display of arrogance. Tangled up in easily avoidable clichés of the genre, this is a show that is entirely too pleased with itself and its pretentious concept. It’s not that we’ve become numb. It’s that we’ve become dulled."
“Pretentious” is often a term used by those who are too ill-educated or unsophisticated to appreciate the brilliance or depth of a particular work. Stuever clearly doesn’t know his Poe, nor can he appreciate the literary merit that has gone into the series pilot. As both a well-read student of Poe and an artist, I can say with certainty that Stuver has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s poorly misinformed, a fact easily discerned by anyone who has any background in the genre.
It is with great irony that I begin with the response to the antagonist’s first novel, which he himself calls “literati pretense.” He understands the gap between art and perception, and the writers take this concept to its own level. Clearly, its naysayers have no clue of the brilliance they review. While they cover the ramblings of a madman, unaware of the literary implications, the most important being the realization of one of Poe’s greatest fears: falling into the chasm of insanity. Poe also often used the theme of the (often insane) “unreliable narrator” to express ideas far beyond the scope of his characters. Anyone who has studied Poe will know that the themes explored by The Following explores themes only barely touched by many of Poe’s works. “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Raven” are three stories mentioned by name, but beyond story titles and thematic implications, the mere mention of these stories says something important about the series and where it is going.
Starting from importance, “The Tell-Tale Heart” hints at the physical issues implicated through other characters’ dialog. Retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy obviously has some kind of health issue related to his heart, an issue that will surely reveal itself in greater detail in episodes to come. Ryan is also a clear parallel to Poe’s deductive amateur detective Auguste Dupin.
The symbolism included in the series premiere is as important as any other aspect one might analyze. Hardy’s discovery of not only Carroll’s part in the continuing murders, but the connection to Poe’s works in his followers, suggests “The Murders of Rue Morgue,” as well as other prominent Poe works. The significance of “Rue Morgue” demonstrates the implication of Carroll’s ability to reduce his followers to the mental state of an orangutan—capable of great destruction but unaware of the effects of their mayhem.
By connecting the murders with the unfinished work, Poe’s “Lighthouse,” the writers make a point about the power of words. Poe died after writing three pages of “The Lighthouse,” and yet Carroll is able to harness the power Poe has left behind and use it against his fellow man. There is repeated reference to “The Black Cat,” as well as reference to the often poorly understood “The Cast of Amontillado.” By referencing the lost clues that might reside behind closed walls, the story's authors offer deep commentary on what is versus what is perceived, an offshoot of Poe’s strong themes of the unreliable narrator. When Carroll refers to Hardy as “the flawed hero,” he speaks not only of the ex-agent who has lost sight of his greatest nemesis’ intent. This, of course, plays upon the literati philosophy of author intent. The gay couple draws attention from the babysitter, the babysitter represents the “unfinished work” portrayed in Poe’s unfinished short story “The Lighthouse,” and Carroll’s antagonistic leads play against Hardy’s predetermined views about the serial killer and the power he holds over all he’s affected.
The only other thing made clear is that Carroll is intent on creating a Poe-inspired masterpiece of his own by riding the coattails of the Gothic horror master. Whether or not he will succeed lies in the hands of The Following’s writers. I suspect they have a decent idea of what they’re going. Whether or not the general audience will identify with the brilliance the writers are tapping into remains to be seen.
As most of you already know, my Edgar Allan Poe-inspired novel Finding Poe contains references to over twenty-five of his best (but some not so well known) works. Are you a Poe fan? Think you can name the most references?
If so, send me a private message with your list using the web form on my Contact page. The winner, whom I’ll announce at the end of the month, will receive a signed paperback copy of Finding Poe, a signed cover art postcard, and a cover art refrigerator magnet.
Remember, Finding Poe is only $0.99 on Kindle through the anniversary of his birthday (January 19).
Do you love Poe as much as I do? If so, you'll enjoy this video released today through Bookish Friends. It opens with avid reader Bunny Cates reciting Poe's haunting poem, "Alone," and then cuts to a mini biography of Poe's writing and motivations recorded by yours truly.
Thanks again to Bunny Cates for inviting me to join in on this fun, Poe-filled venture!
With the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday coming up, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about his life and his amazing collection of short stories and poetic works. Most people think of “The Raven” or “The Tell-Tale Heart” when they think of Poe, but those who have read a decent sample of his writing know that he was as eclectic and innovative as he was prolific. Although my favorite works of his all fall under his vast umbrella of horror, he also wrote strange tales, humor, and detective mysteries (he was the inventor of the deductive sleuth).
It seems I’m not alone in seeing Poe as a creative inspiration. Last year’s The Raven came out shortly after I released Finding Poe (you can read my review of the film here) and the Poe-inspired Fox television series The Following premieres later this month. Although The Raven and The Following are vastly different from Finding Poe and each in their own way, both incorporate elements of his most well known works.
| |The muses hit me with the idea for Finding Poe after I had read (or re-read) a number of his short stories, and in order to do the best justice to my tribute, I read and studied literally every work of his that I could find. PoeStories.com is a great resource, as is The Literature Network, and you can find several free or low priced Poe short stories and poetry collections for your Kindle at Amazon. Not every work he wrote is brilliant, and a handful of his short stories are downright awful, but they’re worth sifting through.
In honor of Poe's upcoming birthday, I’m reducing the Kindle price for Finding Poe to $0.99 through January 19. His is a legacy that few other authors have achieved, and I’m proud to be among the writers and artists who have strove to pay him his due homage. Happy reading—you might want to leave more than one light on.
I’m sure you’re preparing yourself for some clichéd rambling about my writing because I must, or that I knew I was a writer since I was seven, or something else to that effect. While all that might be true, I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the subject, while at the same time offering a few candid words behind my motivations in sharing the written word.
I’m not your typical thirty- (around the corner from forty-) something. I’ve spent much of my life observing rather than participating, documenting rather than doing, and analyzing instead of simply enjoying the moment. I can only assume that a good number of other writers have shared a similar path, although it is a difficult one to admit.
If not in talent, then at least in demeanor, I am a Salinger … a Dickenson … a hermit. I strive to understand the human condition, many aspects of which thoroughly confound me, by exploring it through my writing.
I write from an outsider’s point of view. This is both to my detriment and to my advantage. It is only human to want to connect, and so my greatest wish is to reach others in the only way I truly know how. Throw me into the heart of a booming party, and I’m clueless. My heart will race, my body will glisten with sweat, and I will stand awkwardly in the corner of the room, unsure how to interact. The truth is, I don’t fit in. I’ve never fit in. And it is painfully obvious to anyone who has encountered me in person.
I spent my childhood clinging to my books and my studies for some sense of grounding, while bullies singled me out and chiseled away relentlessly at my self-esteem. They saw my weakness, and as any young person will do, my peers exploited it to their greatest advantage. I spent my high school years finding ways to stay as invisible as possible, lest someone notice the bull’s eye painted across my forehead and the word “outcast” visible within the furthest depths of my horrified eyes. Some people fear spiders, some fear snakes, and some fear the dark. I fear none of those; I fear people.
One of the greatest motivations behind what I write is a stern desire to understand all that eludes me. I seek to gain as much from my works as I would hope others might gain in reading them. Of course, what we each derive will likely be very different, and that is the beauty of it. I write because it is my way of reaching out to you, readers of the world—people I might never otherwise have the chance with which to connect. I write because, although I might not understand you, I know you. I know you very well. That is the gift and the curse of people like me.
So I entreat upon each of you: pick out one of my books, one that might suit you better than the rest. Let us connect through that book. Let me touch you, if I can; in the process, let me offer you a tiny piece of who I am. That is all I have to offer you.
It is with much pleasure I share with you all my most recent interview. The BlogTalkRadio show, The New American Dream, was gracious enough to invite me to be a guest, and I'm very happy with how the interview went. We discussed my novel World-Mart and the implications and warnings embedded within the text.For those who missed it, you can catch the feed here. My interview begins at precisely twenty-three minutes into the show. I think we were able to cover some poignant points, and our discussion on World-Mart and the warnings it holds for the future were covered nicely.My thanks to the hosts for having me. It was a blast, and I hope your audience enjoyed listening as much as I enjoyed the chat.
I'm very excited to share that Finding Poe is a finalist in the upcoming EPIC Awards. EPIC holds yearly awards for books published in electronic format, judged by a panel chosen by committee. I won't know if Finding Poe has won until EPICcon this upcoming March, but I'm honored even to have made it this far. Keep your fingers crossed for me!Here is a list of all of the finalists.
For The Benefit of Rockcastle Regional Hospital & Respiratory Care Center: Book Summit, in association with EFW Publishing Proudly Present 14 Tales of Terror.
Featuring (in order of appearance)
Stephen A. North
Joseph M. Monks
Jacki Wildman Wales
Leigh M. Lane
Jerry W. McKinney
Lori R. Lopez
Eric S. Brown
Billie Sue Mosiman