Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Post!!

Hey everyone, I'm guest blogging. Check it out:

While you're there, you should definitely take some time to look around Gabriel Gadfly's site. He's an amazing poet, and quite a cool guy too. There's lots there to love and lots to learn.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Season 1 Episode 11

Well, I finally got the chance to watch the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries yesterday. I really feel like this show is one of the best horror-fantasy shows on television right now, and I'm surprised it's not getting more positive attention for its brilliance.

The latest episode was quite good for a number of reasons. First of all, I think I'm impressed by the character development in general on the show. I like how Bonnie is coming into her own as a witch. She's in a completely different place from the "I-predicted-Obama" girl from the first episode. Loads more depth. And of course, the major triangle of characters is moving right along as well.

It was interesting to see Elena go on this little road trip with Damon. What was even more interesting was to watch her beg for Damon's life. Why would she do that? Clearly, she has feelings for Damon she's not ready to admit to.

Damon's concern for Elena in this episode was clearly sincere. He cares about her too, which is nice. I like it. It's shades of Spike and Dru, but clearly different.

Damon's character is as always, deliciously complicated. He was his disarmingly charming self (sorry, couldn't resist) this episode, but as mentioned, showed a softer side of himself towards Elena. The most fabulous thing, however, was that after watching the interaction between Elena and Damon, it was relatively shocking to watch Damon rip out the heart of his old lover. (Sorry, I keep wanting to call her Jasmine, from when that actress played the anti-christ on Angel). I liked that especially.

Because here we are, thinking to ourselves, "See, Damon's not so bad after all." And then he reminds us that is that bad. That he's a killer, and he's not exactly concerned about who he kills. He's just so darned evil. :)

Finally, I'm interested to see who the heck this girl is that's hanging out with Jeremy.

The only thing I thought was disappointing about the episode was the reveal that Alaric Saltzman was just some vampire hunter seeking revenge for his dead wife. With that ring and all, I really thought he was a vampire. I know, I know, they faked me out, and maybe I'm just bitter. Still, I was kind of hoping he'd be something more interesting.

It's Open Pen Week!!

I got this idea from another author, and I thought it was super freaking cool. So, here's the deal.

The last week of every month will be Open Pen Week on the forum. This is a chance for all of you other writers to share your stuff with each other.

The rules. Go to the forum and click on on Open Pen. Or just follow this link: Once there, click "Post Now" to start a new thread. Post a snippet from one of your stories or novels (or hey, poetry's cool too!) of 500 words or less. If you post a snippet, you must comment on at least one other person's post too.

Have at it, people. Can't wait to read what you're working on!!

(Final note. This is meant to be a showcase, not a critique forum. To that end, when you comment, find something encouraging to say.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Demon Lover

Tomorrow, The Vampire Diaries airs again after a torturous hiatus since before Christmas!! Since my current favorite demon lover of the small screen is none other that Damon Salvatore, I thought it would be appropriate to blog a little about my favorite kind of leading man in fiction: the demon lover.

I think I first fell in love with this kind of anti-hero--the dark, brooding, sexy, tortured, and a lot (or a little) bad boy--when I read Wuthering Heights in my adolescence. Maybe it was earlier. There are shades of the demon lover in Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, which played a huge part of my childhood. Still, I think Heathcliff is probably the prototype and the measuring stick by which I measure all my demon lovers.

The demon lover as a trope of fiction has been popular in all its delicious forbidden-ness for hundreds of years. One of my favorite Coleridge lines is from "Kubla Khan": "A woman wailing for her demon lover." The image just sends chills down my spine. I adore it. There's something about the idea of a man who's not exactly wholesome that it utterly delectable. What could be better?

In recent fiction, vampires have filled this role nicely. Who could forget Lestat from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. He wasn't always very nice, but he was always sexy. And I positively love the character of Spike in Buffy. His arc from villain to love interest is one of the most intriguing on television.

For myself, I haven't been able to escape dropping demon lovers throughout my fiction. I think Jason qualifies, with his dark past and violent secrets. In Death Girl, Trevor is brooding and secretive. He can't shake his dreams, which are blood-tinged and disturbingly erotic. And my current work in progress is the ultimate culmination of the demon lover. A guy named Dannic. Here's a snippet from my opening chapter:

The room was a makeshift bedroom. A four-poster bed sat against one wall, its covers falling off onto the cement floor. One rug sat in the middle of the room, topped with a wooden square table. Several liquor bottles were clustered on top of it. The General himself sat in front of an open fireplace. His back was to the door. Gycia could only see his dark hair, which fell down to his shoulders in knotty curls.
"Leave her," said the General.
The door banged shut behind Gycia. She swallowed again.
The General didn't look at her. "Gycia Dunne," he said.
So he knew her name. And his voice sounded different. It wasn't nearly as deep as it was on the vids. He must have distorted it in the interviews, somehow wanting to keep his identity secret. Still… There was something about his voice. It was familiar, just the same. Where had she heard it before?
"You can get yourself a drink if you want," said the General, still not looking at her. "There are glasses on the table next to the whiskey bottles." A pause. "No ice, I'm afraid."
He was offering her a drink? Should she take it?
Yes. She should. If she was going to be viciously raped by a monster, she'd rather be drunk while it was happening. Maybe she could get enough drinks in her to vomit all over him. It would serve him right. She lurched toward the table. The men hadn't tied her up. She was free to move. But she was still shaking. She was terrified.
"I know you were always partial to frozen drinks," said the General.
Gycia stopped dead. How did he know that?
"Daiquiris, if memory serves," continued the General, and she could tell from the tone of his voice he was smiling. But it sounded like a cruel smile. It was a cruel voice.

Heh, heh, heh. Is redemption in the cards for Dannic, or is he a monster through and through? I'm having loads of fun finding out.

I'll be tuning in for my Damon fix tomorrow, that's for sure. And here's the hard sell: buy my books. I've got yummy, tortured guys waiting for you inside those pages. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's wrong with me??

Today, as I was working on my WIP, a futuristic romance story in which the battle of the sexes has become a literal battle with guns and everything, I realized something disturbing.

I write about rape a lot.

Well, I don't write specifically about people who have been raped, but there are lots of near misses with sexual violence and muddy incidents of consent. And I keep putting this in young adult fiction. What the eff is wrong with me?

Understand, I feel that rape is horrible, that it's real, and that its victims are often too confused and too ashamed to know how to deal with it or to even ask for the help they need to deal with it. I have never, in any way, wanted to trivialize such a serious issue by using it as a mechanism to move my plot forward. And I've never thought, while planning out a book, "Oooh, where will I put the sexual violence in this one?"

And yet.

Let's look at the evidence stacked against me. In Breathless, Azazel is nearly raped by Toby, who needs to have sex with her in order to bind her into the Satanic circle. Jason, after killing the Sons in Aunt Stephanie's house, is an emotional wreck. He begins violently kissing Azazel and rips at her clothes. (Then he stops, of course.) In Trembling, Sutherland is a serial rapist-killer (although, in my defense, I was reading The Lovely Bones while I was writing that book and let's just say I am not the only person who writes about sexual violence in entertainment, okay? I won't even bring up the needlessly sensational rape of the therapist in The Sopranos). In Tortured, Azazel has a disturbing dream about Jason and afterwards, he nearly forces himself on her until she makes him stop.

In Death Girl, the supremely disturbed Jared manipulates both his English teacher Ms. Trask and Maureen into bed. Ms. Trask is so freaked out by it that she kills herself. Trevor, the main guy, is pretty disturbed himself. He gets sexually excited when he has dreams about mutilated women.

And finally, in my current work in progress, the supremely disturbed Korin is convinced that the only way to reverse the current matriarchal society is to show women that men are boss by using brute strength and by tying them to men by impregnating them.

Ugh. Wow.

All right, so, why am I doing this? Am I insane?

One of my ex-boyfriends and I were once talking about rape in entertainment. He wasn't a fan. He said that rape was cheapened and sensationalized in the media and that it was appalling. For this reason, he wouldn't watch I Spit on Your Grave with me, which was a bummer, I argued, because I said the movie was undeniably powerful for what is billed as a crappy horror flick, and unsettling to the extreme. (If you're unfamiliar with I Spit on Your Grave, it's a 70s horror flick, originally titled Day of the Woman. It features the longest rape scene in movie history, clocking in somewhere around 45 minutes. It also features a kick-ass chick hunting down each of her rapists and killing them in really gory ways. Someday, I may write at length about that movie, but today is not that day.) I maintained that he was uncomfortable with rape in entertainment and in the movie because he was frightened that he'd find it titillating and that would make him feel ooky. I said that there was no way that anyone could find I Spit on Your Grave titillating. It was simply too horrible for that.

And here's where I think I can explain why I keep writing about rape. For me, it's the absolute most terrifying thing I can think of. I've imagined what it would be like. I think it would be something like being tickled. Okay, no wait, hear me out. You know how when you're a little kid and someone bigger than you holds you down and tickles you? You know how horrible that is? Like, at first you struggle and try to say, "Stop!" You fight and fight and fight. And then there's a moment where your spirit breaks. You realize you have no control. You can't stop what's happening to you. And something in you just goes a candle being snuffed out. You lie there resigned to your fate and the tickling just continues and continues. But you don't care anymore, because you're broken.

That's what I think it would be like. Except the person doing it to you wouldn't be someone who mistakenly thought tickling was pleasurable because it produced laughter, who was playing a mean-spirited joke for which they'd apologize for later (maybe). Instead, it would be someone who didn't care about you at all. Someone who just wanted to use you. Maybe someone who wanted to break you.

That, for me, is scarier than dying.

I've been very influenced by the horror genre. I wouldn't say that I'd categorize my books as horror necessarily, but I do routinely feel the need to put my characters in the worst possible situation I possibly can. Why? Because that's what makes a story good for me. When I watch a character go to the deepest, darkest place possible and nearly be swallowed by it, but somehow manage to vanquish the monster and come back stronger, then I feel like I've experienced something somewhat transcendent. That is what story is to me.

But if I keep using rape as that deep, dark thing, it's going to stop having its power.