Friday, March 15, 2013

Nostalgic post on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It made me so happy the other week to get all nostalgic over Buffy with Tony Head in his Giles tweed. On this night when we celebrate his most recent project in the radio play Neverwhere, I thought it might be a nice idea to do a nostalgic post to the series that first introduced me to the wonderful man known as Anthony Stewart Head.

For those not in the know, Buffy is this amazing cult classic of a show, screening largely in the 1990s and written by this god man by the name of Joss Whedon. Joss earlier than this wrote an origin story for Buffy in the form of a feature length movie starring Kristy Swanston, but it flopped. After the end of the series Buffy, and it's spinoff Angel, Joss collaborated with a bunch of mates and made the post-series comics (also referred to as Season 8 of Buffy, and After the Fall).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came on my television screen when I was a lonely eight year old girl. I thought this looked good, and identified with Willow perhaps a little too much, but thankfully did not pick up her fashion sense (until around season 5, when it became AWESOME). I laughed and cried with the four main characters, made up of Buffy herself, two best buds in Willow and Xander, as well as the older, mentor figure as well as guardian to Buffy's mystical slayer heritage, Rupert Giles.

I also laughed and cried through the various love interests over the 7 years that the series screened: Angel being thrust into a hell dimension after being evil Angelus for 9 episodes, Oz's tearful goodbye when he realises he's the wolf all the time, Anya's ridiculous/hilarious antics in trying to learn about dating and love (which I suffered through the first time, and only came to love gradually, through several rewatches). Spike's love of Buffy through it's various forms seemed much more real and layered to me than Buffy's high school sweetheart relationship with Angel (rife though it was with him turning evil the moment they had SEX). Tara's relationship with Willow was something that went completely over my head in its beginning stages, and then was something I came to adore as I realised myself to be bisexual and able to fall in love with a woman, too.

The important thing was, this was the formation of story, how a story can be told, (how a story *should* be told?) for a number of long years. I still play a game right now with my fiancee, whenever I'm stuck on a decision to do with a story, of saying, "What would Joss do?" Earlier this year, I made a post on my Tumblr saying I knew that, in some small way, the inspiration for my cover art and some of my stories came from Joss

A couple of awesome Buffy related things happened this year. Firstly: Buffy's 32nd birthday was noted and celebrated on the 19th January on Twitter by YA and Queer novelist Melinda Lo, as well as by many of my other friends. (This also means I am old, as I was always two years behind the Buffy crew.)

Secondly, there was this:

Buffy may not have been with us on our TV screens for the last 10 years, but the magic still lives on.


Gothic has been featured this week on Goodreads poll 'Paranormal Movers and Shakers 2013'
If you have a account, please consider voting #1 Gothic. I know we can get it to #1!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Erotica.

Evelyn Waugh remarked in his diary: “I feel very much the futility of describing sexual emotions without describing the sexual act."

Obviously, this observation is ludicrously out of date. If anything, writer's of today have the opposite problem, that of being able to describe the sexual emotions without by necessity also having to delve into descriptions of the sexual act. 

Julian Barnes says, in this Telegraph article, that "Modern authors can feel commercially obliged to write about sex in all its lurid detail."

In the early 2000s, I wrote erotic fiction. It didn't last very long, and I didn't highly publicise it around my friends, but there you are. 10 years later, I came back after completely reinventing my writing and my online presence, and utilising some of the publishing contacts I'd made the first time round. Writing is a part of my blood, I was always going to come back to it eventually. I just needed to get out of my relationship at that time, finish my undergrad, progress into Honours, and find a part time job that didn't compromise my writing times too much. 

And then today. Today, I sat down at my trusty laptop after a hefty 8,000 word haul yesterday. I have a new project in mind, a Steampunk venture, that I would dearly love to see picked up by the likes of Loose Id, or Samhain Publishing. I know a number of friends who are with those houses and hear nothing but the best of things. However, they are in the market of romantic erotica. In order to even be considered for one of these houses, the story that I write for them has to have a romantic content as well as an erotic one.

That's fine, I told myself. There's nothing that I haven't done before. And I sat down, determined to write an erotic scene between two of my characters for this new project and.... nothing. 

Not just nothing at all, but also a not insufficient amount of annoyance to go with my healthy dollop of nothing. 

On paper in my writing book, it seemed as though I had come up with a plot and a story that would support reasonable looseness of morals within this alternative historical setting. I was actually quite enjoying the idea, in my head, of putting together a saucy romp for the first time in almost ten years. 

What happened instead, much to my devastation, was the complete drying up of any inspiration to write whatsoever. Not even an ounce of creativity was to be found even for Dahlia's fourth novel Harsh Light of Day

With strangely amazing timing, my New Adult community of writers had just started a conversation on the saturation of erotica in publishing today. This article, also from the Telegraph, notes the virtues of novels stopping just short of the bedroom door and began our conversation. From there we went on, with such interjections as this scene read out of Madam Bovary being linked to to further highlight the point of view.

(Yes, the sex analogy is to be found in the description of the cab ride, which suggests the nature of activity going on within.)

In conclusion, it seemed to me a statement worth making that, just like you wouldn't include a horrifically gory scene within every novel or movie in which a death occurred, erotica shouldn't be the go-to for every single romance/paranormal fiction/urban fantasy novel being published by small (and increasingly larger) publishers right now. I would make a comment about popularity of novels like 50 Shades of Grey pushing the buck on this one but, truthfully, it's been going on a lot longer than that. 

That said, I've thought a lot today about the above quote by Evelyn Waugh, and if not writing the sex scene is holding you up just as much, that obviously isn't the answer either.

When all's said and done, what I'm saying is I don't think that all books need to have erotic and/or horrific content, just because the sensationalism of it sells. What are your thoughts?


This post now has a follow-up post on the same subject: On Erotica, part 2.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2013 reading list.

Media preview

My reading list for March.

Black Heart.
4/5 stars. Very enjoyable read.

The only problem I'm going to have with starting this book is that there aren't going to be any more of the 'Curse Worker' books after I finish this one. The first one left me 'bleh', the second one really excited me. If it continues along in this trajectory, I'm half expecting to want to throw myself off a cliff in anguish at the close of this one. Still, my heart must go on and this one has been on my reading list for so long... I know that I really should get started on it before I forget the important plot points that happened in Red Glove.

This gets the 'Surprisingly Awesome' vote for the month. I had some trepidations going in, but I found this a really great read on the whole.

I've been meaning to read a book by Naomi Wolf for a while now. I don't actually know very much about this book at all, only that a friend of mine has most kindly donated it for me to read and I am quite looking forward to it.

Grave Mercy.
2/5 stars. Something was just missing for me here.

The votes on Goodreads were close between The Book Thief and Grave Mercy for this particular monthly read, but Grave Mercy won my heart at the very least, and although it didn't win the larger group's vote, popular demand had us starting a group in which to vent our love of women in long flowing, red dresses.

At least, that's what I'm here for.

5/5 stars. Almost utterly flawless piece of writing.

Last time I was at my library, I walked past a shelf with the fourth book in this series. On the cover boasted a review that Hounded combines "the magic of American Gods by Neil Gaiman with the writing of Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files)" which is just about the fastest way ever to get me to pick up a book I've never heard of. I just hope that it's as good as it sounds!

3/5 stars. Fun read without anything particular about it jumping out as amazing.

This is also a book for a Goodreads monthly read. We had so much fun with Northanger Abbey and Persuasion last month that, when someone nominated this for March, how could we say no?
Last month's reading of Persuasion included such dialogue as:

A conversation that happened between me and a girlfriend just now.

Me: Oh god. Such satire! How is this even happening?

Me again: Oh, oh god no! Whyyy!

Me: Okay, okay, I have to read this out to you.

(It is at this point useful to note that my friend has been reading 50 Shades of Grey and has been tormenting me with excerpts for hours.)

Me: *paraphrasing* Anne's friend is saying, 'Oh, I appreciate you coming over. I know that you spent last night with the man you most highly consider.'

Anne: How does she know about Captain Wentworth?

Friend keeps speaking, 'So you must tell me about Mr Elliot.'

Anne says, 'Mr Elliot? Mr Elliot! Oh, goodness, you must only think of us as relatives.'

Anne's friend, 'Oh, I understand. You were not chaperoned. Well, you must tell me when it would be proper to ask you about it again.'

Anne, 'Never! No, never! Not next week, or the week after, I have no designs on Mr Elliot whatsoever!'

Anne's friend, 'I understand. A woman has no designs on any man until he asks her.'

Me: *head explodes!!*

My friend: And that was when Jane Austen Fight Club broke out.

Me: You know, the first rule of Jane Austen Fight Club is that you don't talk about Jane Austen Fight club...

My friend: No, it's a real thing. Look --

This leads me finally to...

DNF. Unfortunately there's one every month, and this one was that.

This book came up on my library's website while I was booking Grave Mercy and Hounded. My thoughts were that it looked a little bit in the same vein of 50 Shades of Grey and that could mean one of two things: 1. It's going to be as hilariously awful and so worth a couple of chuckle points, or, 2. It actually could be good. Contemplating this now has also brought me around to thinking, 3. If it really is ludicrously awful, at least it's half the pages to suffer through.


And that's me for the month! Hopefully I get through them all. I have a to-read list taller than myself. For updates on how I'm going on all these books through the month, follow me on