Books · Gothic Fiction

What Book Made You a Reader?

During my childhood, I would spend most of my time playing out of doors and watching television of an evening, so I never really spent much time reading. It was not until I discovered one book, in particular, that happened to change all of that.

That book was Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. This book would lead me to read within the Gothic genre, as well as horror from Stephen King and mysteries, such as Sherlock Holmes. Combined with my film and television viewing, where my interest was with horror and suspense movies and police dramas, it was inevitable my choice of reading material would be in the same vein.

When I discovered Dragonwyck, I was not looking for that book, let alone a book to read. Before that time, I cannot recall even reading an adult book. I came across this book merely by chance.

Frequently we would holiday down the south coast and it was when I was about ten years old that my parents eventually bought a caravan while we were down there. The previous owners had cleaned the caravan out, however, when perusing the cupboards, I stumbled upon a book lying in one of them. I don’t know if they left it behind intentionally or by accident, but the book title and description caught my interest. I began reading and I was hooked.

I enjoyed the romantic aspects as well as its dark themes, such as family curses, hauntings, and murder. Dragonwyck introduced me to the Gothic genre, and it was also through this book that I became familiar with Edgar Allen Poe.

I knew that Nicholas Van Ryn was a dark and menacing character, but as a child I was unaware of some of these darker topics until I grew up. When I saw him again through adult eyes, I was even more horrified, which only heightened the terror of the novel.

Some years after reading this book for the first time, I happened to come across the film version on television. The film stars Gene Tierney of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir fame, and one of my old favourites, Vincent Price. I only saw it the once, but I do remember the ending of the film version was somewhat different from that of the book, which disappointed me. At the time I was also disappointed with Vincent Price being in the lead male role, but all these years later when I think of it, it seemed appropriate. Now whenever I read the book, I can’t help but hear his voice in the role of Nicholas. Chillling! 😉

There are a number of things I owe to this book, for not only did Dragonwyck make me a reader and introduced me to the Gothic genre, but it cemented my decision at the age of ten, that I wanted to be a writer. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

What book made you a reader? What is your favourite genre to read? Have you ever read Dragonwyck? If you’ve seen the film version starring Vincent Price, what did you think?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Movies/Television

The Horror of Marianne.

Recently, I watched the Netflix horror series Marianne. It has proven to be a much talked-about series on the internet, as well as garnering good reviews.

Famous French horror writer, Emma Larsimon, has decided to put an end to her series with her character Marianne. However, she is soon forced to return to her hometown after an absence of fifteen years. Here, she is confronted with the knowledge that the nightmares from her stories are coming to life.

I like the fact that in this series, the main character of Emma, is a writer. Yes, it has been done in horror before, but part of this attraction comes from the character herself. When we first meet Emma, she comes across as an obnoxious, rude and at times, childish character. However, we do get to see another side to her, so that we start to feel for her.

Like Emma, the rest of the cast of characters is compelling and well-developed. Emma gets to meet her old school friends and we become engaged in their secrets and histories and we get to care about them. There are some dark and disturbing moments throughout this series, which can at times be hard to watch, and it’s because of these relationships between the characters that we remain invested.

Located on a coastal town, the scares are maintained throughout the entire series. There were moments when even I was gripped and wondered what to expect next, but such tension is released with humour. This series even met with Stephen King’s seal of approval (and yes, I’m one of those sickos 😉 )

The cinematography and imagery are wonderful to look at and there is also a great musical score. During one scene, the music reminded me of Halloween and in another scene, the imagery reminded me of It, so there is homage to the classics of the horror genre. And yet, it does have its own unique style. The narrator has a suitably eerie voice and I really like the use of flipped pages of a book to illustrate flashbacks, for example.

Of-course, there is one character above all that really stands out and that is Madame Daugeron, the mother of one of Emma’s schoolfriends. This woman is seriously creepy and is played so well by Mireille Herbstmyer; her facial expressions, combined with the dubbed voice and laugh create some scary scenes. Yes, this show is dubbed in English, although I have heard some people have managed to watch it in original French. I would have loved to have seen that version. Not only do I love the French language, but it would help to get another feel for the series.

The twist ending may come as a surprise however, the narrator does hint at what’s to come. Such an ending means that there is scope for a second season. Given the positive reception, one can hope that we shall see that soon.

Have you watched Marianne? Did you find it scary or did it not grab your attention? What have you been watching recently?

IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Finding Support as a Writer.

Recently I read a blog post from Anne R Allen about how well-intended loved ones can sabotage our writing careers. It clearly struck a chord with a lot of people for there were many comments and some sad stories were being told. Relaying my own personal experience made me realise that I was not alone.

When I told my mother, I wanted to write when I left school, she laughed at me and spoke with condescension. Since that day, despite the family knowing that I write and have had some success at it, they never ask me about it. It was the same when I was doing my University studies. For almost eight years, I studied part-time while raising a young family, and when I finished there was no word of congratulations; I was told that maybe now I could get myself a job. They would not be able to tell you what I studied, what my degree is in, nor how well I did, nor could they tell you what kind of writing I do.

This is why last year I began to set some boundaries and remove that level of negativity in my life. By doing so, it has been very liberating. It has made me much happier and allowed me to focus more on what’s important, such as writing.

Finding a great writing community (which for me is mainly on-line), such as the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Romance Writers of Australia, along with various other individuals I’ve met over the years, has been a Godsend when it comes to helping me move forward towards my writing goals. If it wasn’t for these people and for having such a supportive husband, I would not be thinking of self-publishing. Instead, I would continue to write, but my life-long dream of publication would be forever lost.

I’m getting ever closer to hitting that ‘send’ button for my short stories before the end of the year. It will be a happy and very nervous time, but I will not be sharing that experience with my family; they’re not interested. I will, however, be spending that time with my husband, children and the on-line writing community; those people who love and understand what I do and why I do it.

This post is not meant to be a Debbie downer (I hate that use of my name), but to demonstrate that we are not alone in our creative endeavours. 🙂

Have loved ones sabotaged your writing? What have you done to remove negativity in your life? Have you managed to find your ‘tribe’?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Movies/Television

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

Some months back, when hearing that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was coming out in August, I just couldn’t wait. After having seen The Dark Crystal when it first came out in the 1980s (yes, saying that makes me feel old), I fell in love with that movie. I loved the puppetry, the story, of-course the dark elements and yes, even the creepy Skeksis. So, when it came to this series, I had high expectations.

I have just finished watching it and I have been blown away. It is absolutely brilliant! It went beyond my expectations and I enjoyed it as much as the movie. There were actually moments when I had become so engrossed in the story, that I had forgotten I was watching puppets. Yes, I knew they were puppets, but sometimes, by the end of a particular scene, I had to stop myself and wonder how they did it. It was good to watch The Crystal Calls, a behind the scenes look at how it was created, once I had finished watching the show.

My favourite characters would have to be Hup and Deet. I love these two! It was sad to see the two of them separated, so I hope they get to see each other again. And, seriously, how can one resist Hup and his spoon? 😉

Humour is dispersed throughout the series, which helps to lighten the darker moments of the story. A scene involving the podlings (which are so cute, by the way), where they need to take a bath was a nice touch, as well as a way of learning more about them. The character Cadia, who has a habit of saying ‘Hello’, after an event early within the series, appears a couple of times, including just before an important battle scene, which also adds to the humour.

Another nice touch was the mythology, so that we learn more about the various Gelfling clans and the background to Aughra, the Skeksis and the crystal itself.

There’s a huge cast of actors who voice the characters, including Jason Isaccs (Star Trek: Discovery, Harry Potter), Helena Bonham-Carter (Harry Potter), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), but the big surprises for me came from Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead), who does the voice of everyone’s favourite Skeksis, SkekSil, The Chamberlain, who I think sounds so much like the original it’s spooky, and Mark Hamill (Star Wars) as Skeksis SkekTek, The Scientist.

I’ve enjoyed this series so much, I’m likely to watch it all again, it really is that good. We might have to wait a bit for Season 2, but after watching this first series, I know it will be worth the wait. 😊

Have you watched The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and if so, what did you think? Were you so caught up with the story, you forgot you were watching puppets? Who is your favourite character/s? Do you find the Skeksis creepy?

IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Are Your Fears Preventing You from Meeting Deadlines?

In August, my daughter and I were sick with the flu for some weeks and it wasn’t until I began to feel better that I began thinking of deadlines. The trouble is, despite my desire to self-publish, my fear has been preventing me from moving forward.

As someone who plans on self/indie publishing I have the luxury of setting my own deadlines. If truth be told, I have changed my deadline to self-publish a number of times now. I have been telling myself this entire year that I will self-publish this year and not later. I don’t want to put it off any longer. I have also been blogging about the prospect of self-publishing for a while now, so I don’t wish to come across as someone who says they will publish, but never do. I don’t want to be someone who is all talk and no action and sounding like a complete fraud.

To be perfectly honest, I’m afraid of pushing the ‘publish’ button and exposing myself to the world.

When I thought about deadlines, it also got me thinking about how much do we tell our readers? Mainly, is it better for self-publishers to give them a release date or announce our book’s release once it is actually up and running? If we give our readers a release date that we can no longer meet due to circumstances beyond our control, it could create problems. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter if you are self-published.

Now that we’re in September (how did that happen?) and the year is coming to an end, I’ve decided upon a date (birthdays are always a good time aren’t they? 😉 ). Now it’s just a matter of sticking with it. The time for procrastination is over, and besides, I’m not getting any younger!

Does fear prevent you from meeting deadlines? If you’re self-published, do you prefer to give your readers a release date or give them a pleasant surprise? How do you deal with deadlines when life throws you a curveball?

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

IWSG · This Writer's Life

IWSG: Attending a Writers Festival.

Back in April, I mentioned that I could not afford to attend this year’s RWA conference in Melbourne. In retrospect, this turned out to be the right decision, as I had not attended a writer function in at least three years, so I needed to start with something on a much smaller scale.

Over the weekend, I attended a local writers festival, organised by my local library. There were five authors who came to speak about their books and writing, one of whom I had met ten years ago. In 2009, I was one of six successful candidates to attend the Write Around the Murray Festival, including a writer’s workshop with author and Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Debra Adelaide.

I introduced myself and our talk was brief under the circumstances. She told me my hair was a different colour to what it was back then, which I found to be an interesting anecdote. I mean, she didn’t remember my dazzling prose?!

It wasn’t until lunchtime, when I had mingled with other people, trying to make conversation, where I really began to feel insecure. After having been locked away in my writing cave for some years, with only social media my ‘go-to’ when it comes to socialising, I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I sat there, alone, wondering why I was there, but the answer was all around me. I was there to meet and listen to other writers and be with other people with the same or similar interests.

So, what did I learn from attending my first writers festival in three years?

• After ten years, I am still writing; it is something that I cannot be without.
• I believe my writing is better than it was ten years ago, even though back then it was good enough for me to win a competition.
• My passion for writing is what helped me to get out of my comfort zone, despite my insecurities.
• Mixing with other writers has given me the confidence to keep going and believe in my capabilities.
• Self-publishing/indie-publishing is the right path for me to take.
• When it comes to meeting other writers, I really need to get out more!
• Maybe I shouldn’t change my hair colour quite so often. 😉

What have you done recently to get out of your ‘writing cave’? Do you feel awkward in social situations? When was the last time you attended a writers festival?

Side Note: In the next few months I’ll be spending less time blogging to spend more time writing. As well as getting more writing projects done, I will also be focusing my efforts on self-publishing. I will continue to post for the IWSG, but otherwise, posts may be on a fortnightly basis. Thanks for your understanding and I hope you will stick with me. 🙂

The purpose of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

This Writer's Life · Writing Process

How are Your 2019 Plans Going?

It’s difficult to believe that we are already over half-way through 2019, which is the time when one can sometimes stop and take stock of how one’s plans for the year are progressing.

For the past few weeks, thanks in part to the winter school holidays, I have been assessing my writing goals for the year. Some goals I have achieved, others I have yet to reach, while others have changed completely. Some of the goals I had made towards the end of 2018 have changed because I have changed. I have been reflecting on who I am as a writer and as a person; what my passions are and what’s important in life.

Previously I had talked about focusing on what we can control, as well as recognising the fact that I am a highly sensitive writer. I guess you could say that lately I have been doing a lot of self-reflection. 😉

Self-publishing is still my No.1 priority for the year, however, I need to remind myself that despite the enthusiasm for experimenting with different genres, I need to remain focused upon just the one for now. This early in the process, I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself and take things one day at a time.

There may be times when our smaller paths may change, but the destination remains the same. Sometimes we need to take a step back before moving forward.

How are your plans for 2019 progressing? Have you needed to take a step back and reassess your writing goals?

Main Image courtesy of Pixabay