Paranormal Romances – A normal outlet for forbidden desires or a tool for acting them out?

A good friend of mine called Arthur, who writes Tolkien fanfiction under the name of Fiondil, makes a very good point about the recent spate of young adult paranormal romances in his new story Elf Academy 3, which is a tale of the coming of the end of days, the Dagor Dagorath, and the Valar sending certain members of the Elven community who lived through the First, Second, Third and Fourth ages of the world, to interact with mortal men and women and help prepare them for what is to come.

The following passage describes the fall of King Finrod Felagund, as he was captured by Sauron along with Beren, son of Barahir and imprisoned.

“In the pits of Sauron Beren and Felagund lay, and all their companions were now dead; but Sauron purposed to keep Felagund to the last, for he perceived that he was a Noldo of great might and wisdom, and he deemed that in him lay the secret of their errand. But when the wolf came for Beren, Felagund put forth all his power, and burst his bonds; and he wrestled with the werewolf, and slew it with his hands and teeth; yet he himself was wounded to the death. Then he spoke to Beren, saying: ‘I go now to my long rest in the timeless halls beyond the seas and the Mountains of Aman. It will be long ere I am seen amoung the Noldor again; and it may be that we shall not meet a second time in death or life, for the fates of our kindreds are apart. Farewell!’ He died in the dark, in Tol-in-Gaurhoth, whose great tower he himself had built. Thus King Finrod Felagund, fairest and most beloved of the house of Finwë, redeemed his oath; but Beren mourned beside him in despair.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion p. 174

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In the story, Finrod Felagund, son of the King of the Noldor in Valinor and former King of Nargothrond, an Elven settlement on earth millennia ago, is now back in modern earth and working in a bookshop near the new Elven settlement of Edhellond in Alaska, near a town called Wiseman. He is asked to put some new paranormal romance books on the shelves and asks what they are about.

When the book shop owner tells him they are romances about human girls wanting to have relationships with werewolves and vampires, he turns white and reacts very badly, the point being that when he died, it was by being torn to pieces while still alive by a werewolf and that the vampire of his time, called Thuringwethil, was not a good and handsome creature, but a vicious predator. Nobody in Finrod’s time would even have thought it was possible to have sexual relation with such creatures and the thought would have  horrified them.

And of course this is the point isn’t it? The fact it that in myth, vampires were certainly not romantic creatures.  Far from it. They were vicious and unclean demons or spirits who used human form to lure in mortals in order to feast on their blood, because this was how they sustained themselves in the form of the mortal whose soul they banished.

They weren’t at all like Edward Cullen and his ilk;  charming, debonair, caring and careful around mortals.

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 They were more like Victoria and her people.  Ripping people apart was their raison d’etre, not stalking, controlling and then marrying some innocent 17 year old human girl.  

They weren’t like Angel from the Buffy series either, although the tortured human part of Angel was probably what he would have been like had he been handed his soul back, and it’s important to remember that it IS the fact that the soul has been removed from a human that allows a vampire to occupy the body and control it. Give them their souls back andthe memory of every person they ripped apart andcartonato_nomadi whose blood they drank, they would be tortured by that. Angelus was shown by Whedon for that very reason; so that viewers of the show could see the other side of the coin to the romantic figures that have modern maidens sighing and wishing for a fatal hickey on their necks. 

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Werewolves are slightly different, because for most days of the month they ARE their human selves, with their human thoughts and souls. It’s only for a few nights a month that they became a vicious predator that gave no quarter and fed off the humans they killed. However, the idea of actually having an intimate relationship with a person who could turn on them in an instant and cause a bloodbath instead of the post coital cigarette, should really turn people off. They are not a romantic figure, they are a tragic figure. Werewolves are figures of tragedy, but that doesn’t make them good boy or girlfriends.

Of course you could say that all women become tragic, vicious creatures seven or so days of the month as well couldn’t you? Perhaps that’s where the origins of the myth came about. You can almost hear the men of days gone by can’t you, while having a drink with their mates in the local tavern:

“Gadzooks, my wife turns into a vicious, bloodthirsty harridan when the moon is full.”

Makes you realise why men were so willing to believe in witches eh?

Finrod, the Elven character in Fiondil’s story,  in reality reacted in the way we should all react to those notions. Just because a writer or their audience have forbidden and dark desires doesn’t really mean we should put them down on paper and publish them for all to see does it? Most people are able to keep their dark thoughts and desires inside in that place that is private to them, but the trouble is that some people can’t do that, and they want to act them out for real. There are many many criminal investigation cases based on the thoughts of the perpetrators like that, where murderers, rapists and serial killers have acted out their innermost desires and that is no joke.

Perhaps we should not be romanticising such things, especially with teenagers and young adults whose minds, moral codes and personalities are still in the development stage.

Related Articles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finrod_Felagund

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_(series)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Silmarillion.html?id=4OfWWfRDAXcC&redir_esc=y

http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterlistview.asp?SID=7213

With thanks to:

Fiondil (Stories of Arda)

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Elisha’s Bones – a Jack Hawthorne novel, by Don Hoesel

I have just spent two days trying to read this book, Elisha’s Bones, by Don Hoesel, which had a promising premise, but I’m halfway through it and all I’ve had so far are his intense feelings about his past, his girlfriend, his dead brother, his getting back with his girlfriend, what restaurant they are going to and what they ate and the feelings between them.

His female character’s name is Esperanza which means hope, blah blah diddy blah (can you see how much the reader would be caring at this point?) and the main character’s name is Jack Hawthorne. A very manly, capable sort of name don’t you think?

You can just tell that these two main characters are rekindling the romance, blah blah blah. Which would be fine if this was a romance, but it isn’t.. it’s actually a suspense, mystery novel involving the bones of the Prophet Elisha which apparently have reviving properties if you’re dead. The main character’s employer, who has the same name as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, needs the bones because and his granddaughter are both dying of cancer, the granddaughter has no name.

However Mr Reese who has paid the main man thousands of his moolah to find these bones begins to flounce as the two main characters get shot up on the road and are then held hostage for money. Mr ‘manly’ Hawthorne and Miss Hope then argue between them about owing people money, a side issue which the reader is supposed to find very amusing, but which is actually irrelevant to the storyline. Mr Hawthorne then calls Mr Reese and asks for the ransom money and Mr Reese says:

“No… because you haven’t found my bones”

… well d’uh.

So Hawthorne then calls Miss Hope’s brother for the money and they are rescued from a fate worse than death and somehow bond with their kidnapper because now he has the money and is all reasonable and ‘hey, here’s a lead for you.’ (Much rolling of the eyes at this point, and I am now half reading the book at the same time as watching an episode of Lewis on ITV3). Please don’t ask me why Miss Hope didn’t call her own brother and ask for money for their ransom, because I actually don’t know. In the book it implies that somehow Hawthorne knows her brother better than she does.

We are three quarters through the book at this stage and Mr Hawthorn has suddenly decided to go it alone… well, perhaps not so alone, Miss Hope is tagging along with him, all flirty one minute and all ‘You left me millions of years ago, I am furious with you’ the next. He feels duty bound to do this because his brother’s death is all wrapped up in the mystery, which apparently we are never going to solve this side of this century.

I would like to tell you the end, I would love to tell you that the bones of the prophet are found and miraculously restore all the sick people to life and as soon as I do I’ll let you know, if you’re all still alive and maybe if I still care.

My hint to the author, the premise was fabulous and the cover art instantly drew me in. I felt cheated once I started to read it, which just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its’ cover or the blurb on the back.

Cover of "Elisha's Bones"

Cover of Elisha’s Bones

Review of the movie The Ghost Writer, starring Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor

I recorded the movie The Ghost Writer on my Tivo a few days ago on the off-chance that it might be a watchable movie, heaven knows there are so few of them these days. I have just viewed it and although I am still ambivalent about Ewan McGregor as an actor. I found myself rather glued to the plot.

McGregor was his usual vaguely cheerful and pragmatic self in the part of The Ghost, although I do tend to see a youthful version of Obi Wan Kenobi whenever I see him in anything, he’s one of those actors who sort of blends into a part after a while, which is probably a good thing.  He plays a writer who is hired to ‘ghost’ the memoirs of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a man called Adam Lang; the previous ghost-writer having turned up as dead as a doornail and as wet as a drowned rat on the coast of the island off the mainland of the east coast of America where Adam Lang is living. We are left to suppose that he was on the ferry and someone pushed him off. The movie begins with his body being washed up on the beach and the car left on the ferry.

Pierce Brosnan was surprisingly good at being an ex PM and Kim Cattrall was even more surprisingly good as his assistant and, as hinted by various comments by the wife, obviously something a bit more than that as well.

What struck me most of all was the similarity of Lang’s imaginary career to that of Tony Blair, the so called Peacemaker of the Middle East, that’s after he destroyed Iraq of course and dragged us as a nation into a war none of the people of Britain wanted, nor were we asked whether we wanted it.

All in all the movie was extraordinarily good. After visiting Lang at his rather isolated, windswept heavily guarded and very utilitarian home on the island in order to take up where his unfortunate predecessor left off,  poor old McGregor begins to realise that there is more to the situation than meets the eye; a realisation that is confirmed by the announcement that Lang is about to be tried by the International Court for infringements of human rights. Events go downhill rapidly after that and soon the poor ghost-writer is caught up in the same sinister series of happenings that led to the demise of the previous ghost-writer.

Lang is accused of being a war criminal and the situation is complicated by the fact that the British government announce that they will do all they can to support the courts rather than stand up for the former Prime Minister. With nowhere to run to where they won’t immediately arrest him, he ends up looking like nothing more than a satellite of the US administration who appear, on the surface at least, to be the only people who will stand up for him. His marriage is falling apart and the ghost-writer finds some very incriminating evidence on Lang left behind by the dead ghost-writer. He decides to do some investigating for himself  and rapidly comes to the conclusion that his life is very much in danger; there are nasty, ruthless people out there who don’t want these memoirs published and will stop at nothing to prevent it.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that one of the protesters against Lang is the father of a soldier who was killed in the ‘illegal war’ and he is camped out right outside the Lang compound. After that the events roll out to their inevitable ending… the ending you realise at the beginning of the movie is just going to happen, but you just don’t expect it when it does.

I won’t go into any more of the story in case anyone wants to watch the movie, but it was actually very played down as far as publicising is concerned and I can see why. The screenwriters did a good job of making the viewer realise that there are cogs and wheels within wheels in politics and that far from government officials, security services and the actual government not knowing what the left hand is doing, it becomes disturbingly clear that in fact they do all know what the others are doing and are often hand in glove when it comes to making sure the public who pay their salaries know absolutely nothing.

I worked for a little while in intelligence and I got to see first-hand what kind of people choose it as a career and most of them are so twisted that they screw their socks on in the morning.

What a world we have created for ourselves and how the makers of Ghost got away with making the movie is astonishing. The whole thing was a creepily similar version of Tony Blair’s life, except for the fate of the movie version of Blair, but I sat and predicted that right through the movie.

The final scene shows everyone who knew Lang and who hated and feared him applauding the speeches given by his grieving wife about how wonderful he was and you are left with the uncomfortable feeling that everyone who chooses to have anything to do with power and politics is twisted to hell and gone and the biggest hypocrites in the entire universe, which of course, they are. The Ghost is present at it and at the end he is shown leaving the building and trying to get a taxi in a dreary, wet and rainy London street with the file with the memoirs under his arm. I leave it to you to guess what happens next.

All in all a good watch and a very disturbing movie.

The Ghost Writer (film)

The Ghost Writer (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Cover Reveal – Falling to Pieces By L.T. Kelly

A very nice lady and fellow author put out a call for bloggers and authors with blogs to preview her upcoming novel Falling Into Darkness. It is my great pleasure to introduce and host L T Kelly and her upcoming novel here. I’d give a fanfare but I can’t find out how to do audio files on here!

For those authors and writers looking for decent covers I have put some relevant information which appears at the bottom of the page. You can click on the cover art for her book to bring up a larger image. So here she is, explaining the amount of agonising we authors go through when trying to select something that is very important for many reader before she got to the finished result; and very nice it is too!

As with any author, my cover was so important to me. I can be quite fickle, *hee hee*, and I’ve judged many a book by it’s cover. After all, isn’t it appearances that drive us as consumers to pick it up in the first place?

 I stumbled across a FaceBook page called Cover It Designs! The owner, Arijana was running a competition to win a cover design amongst other things. I’m habitually unlucky, but having checked out her designs on the page and on her website I made a snap decision that she was the cover designer for me.

 Alas, I didn’t win the competition. I started to stalk her page and website…ok, that had started straight away. I’d sit there salivating over her covers, pre-designed and already owned.

 I just had to have her…

 And so our task began. We selected three photographs together from stock photos. I sent her several ‘could be Marc’s’ and one ‘could be Teagan’. I was rather merry after a fun session of checking out half naked male models whilst sipping delicious rose wine. Well, maybe not sipping, more like guzzling.

 The next morning Arijana messaged me – ‘I hate this thing I have created.’

I immediately dismissed the message knowing that she has a dislike for ‘busy’ covers.

 When I received it was like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over me.

 I hated it…

 I looked at the woman that I’d selected as Teagan. She was all wrong. She was like a cheap version of her…I must have been more than tipsy to have chosen that woman. It was like I had dressed my beautiful children in cloth sacks whilst gorgeous clothes remained in the wardrobe.

I set to work having realised I was looking for someone very specific. I loved the rest of the cover, so I searched for a girl who would fit with the image in my mind as well the rest of the cover.  Eventually, I found the right image. She was beautiful, no doubt, but she needed work. Poor Arijana spent hours fiddling with the image, responding to each request, faultlessly sculpting the female’s image until it was one that was good enough to be called ‘Teagan’.

 When she sent me the final image I’m unashamed to say I cried. My hands shook for an hour and I stared at it for several hours…ok, seven hours in total.

 I’ll never be able to comment on how other cover designers work because I’ve found the perfect one for me. The one that will work relentlessly to give me what I want and what my characters deserve.

 Without further ado….

L T Kelly

Cover art Falling Into Darkness 2

Who needs, editors, publicists, printers? We ALL do!

“Many people say that he doesn’t need the middle men of booksellers and publishers in order to make money, that his popularity is evidence that he could strike out alone to increase his profit margin. But as John Green, cult author with more than 1.5 million Twitter followers, a hugely popular Tumblr page, and more than a million YouTube subscribers for the channel he shares with his brother says, isn’t only about the money, it’s also about the quality of the editing and the support he gets from the existing publishing, bookstore and library structure.”

John Green says he has no issues with self publishing, other than that no author can do without any of the people in the title above in order to be successful. In an extraordinarily weird filmed acceptance speech for the American Booksellers Association Indie Champion award, Green refutes that he would be better off self publishing work himself in a very vociferous, and with lots of swear words, video.

I actually found myself wondering how someone with such a bad and limited vocabulary got published by an actual publishing house in the first place, Indie or otherwise.

But he did and despite supporting self publishing on the surface, he then goes on to tell us exactly why the rest of the writing public who bust their balls to get published by publishers like Random House, Penguin etc and getting enough rejection slips to paper the walls of at least four houses in their street shouldn’t be going down the self publishing route. Apparently Green thinks that self published authors have never even heard of editing, publicising, or printing.

I have news for him and it’s all bad.

Self published authors do use editors and they either fast become decent publicists or they sink without trace.  I pay a professional editor an inordinate amount of money to ensure that my manuscript is good enough for putting out there in the public domain. I have had to become au fait with websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook promotions and getting out my book by word of mouth. I found out the hard away about Smashwords for the ebook version of the first book and now my sales have jumped simply because the book is getting to more outlets.

I discovered for myself the art of giving away copies of the ebook for free when I needed to publicise it. Nobody told me, I just saw all of these free ebooks of other works and found out for myself how it all works.

I didn’t just submit a manuscript, sit back and wait smugly for the editor to edit it, the publisher to publish it and send away to the mainstream reviewers for a review. John Green is one of the lucky ones, he got a publishing deal but there are many really good books written by excellent authors out there that are self published and whose authors didn’t get a deal of any kind.

Green is the kind of writer who wants to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds. He gaily throws out a sop to self publishing authors by telling them that he ‘has no issues’ with it and then proceeds to tell everyone in a lengthy, pithy video just exactly why those authors are really pathetic and really need an editor and a publisher!

It’s through authors like Green that the mainstream publishers keep their elite monopolies going. The readers, who are the ones who actually decide the success of a novel or any kind of book, are duped by these publishers who seductively whisper into the shell likes of the reader that only those authors who are published ‘properly’ through ‘proper’ publishers are worth reading and the worst thing is that the readers fall for that line in droves. These seductive whispers that somehow self published authors are not very good unless they have the approval of the publishing industry keep the elite at the top of the pile and the rest of us at the bottom of the slush pile.

An acquaintance recently smugly told me that she wasn’t going down the self publishing route, when she got published she was going to be published ‘properly’ with a ‘proper’ publishers and her comment indicated to me just how much the public have been duped into thinking that anything self published has to be rubbish.  Good luck with getting published by the proper publishing company by the way!

I remember the old days of the Vanity Press, so called because the only people who published themselves were people who couldn’t get published elsewhere or who only wanted a couple of copies of their book for Auntie Flo and Cousin Joe. It was considered to be the most heinous publishing crime in all history to go to the Vanity Press.  You were practically put on a literary level with Jack the Ripper, publishers made fun, other published authors smirked smugly as they sat gloating at the publishing deal contract and readers never got to hear about the book, even though they might well have loved it.

The publishing industry has lived off that for far too long. They have created this elite society of publishers, reviewers and authors and the people, who generally are sheeple follow them meekly because it’s like the old old maxim of “Well they must know what they are talking about mustn’t they?”

Must they? Did E L James think anyone would think that about her fan-fiction turned book Fifty Shades of Grey when she self published through The Twilight Coffee Shop?  Of course she didn’t. She already had thousands of devoted followers of the fan-fiction version, enough to make a solid fan-base even before she was published. Add to that the fact that she had contacts in publishing and worked for the media and her book was set for life.  She got enough sales and reviews to push her to the top of the best seller list and then got noticed.

She wasn’t noticed for the keen insights laid out in the actual storyline, she wasn’t noticed for the wonderful characterisation of her main characters and she certainly wasn’t noticed for the 118 ellipses and frequent grammar and location errors in the book, all of which a real professional editor would have fixed before publication was even allowed… oh wait… she didn’t need an editor did she? The elite publishing house who took her work on didn’t even bother with an editor.

Self published authors, those with a reasonable amount of know-how, do know about editors and they do hire them to edit the work. It costs a bomb, but at least they get what they pay for, but because James was published ‘properly’ by a ‘proper’ publisher, the lack of editing somehow became acceptable, except by any reader with the faintest notion of good grammar, decent plots, good characterisations, good spelling and continuity.

Whether the elite of publishing, the readers or anyone else likes it or not, Self Publishing is the big publishing revolution that’s happening right now. It allows you complete control of your work and if you do it sensibly and learn about becoming your own publicist, getting a good editor and also how to work out the financial side, you can earn some money a month in sales, perhaps not enough to be a millionaire, but enough to be able to pay for an editor and you also get to feel satisfied that your work is in print and available for readers to read and comment on.

What could be better than that?