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Posted in General

Q & A with Ghouliana Stories

Ghouliana Stories (Bess Sturgis) writes tales for young readers that are spooky but not too scary. She is one of the hardest working writers I know and also one of the most optimistic. She is a champion of literacy for children, and uses costumes and props to enact her stories. If you live in Indiana and frequent writerly festivals/events chances are you have come across Mrs. Sturgis.

Sturgis as "Ghouliana"

Sturgis as “Ghouliana”

You write “Not Too Scary Tales” for young readers. Where is the line between Not Too Scary and Too Scary?

I’m very old school when it comes to the line between “Not Too Scary” and “Too Scary Tales”.
Because I write for advanced young readers (7+), I refrain from putting my characters in situations of true terror. While they may become lost, frightened or bullied, NEVER are they stolen, unnecessarily terrorized or graphically eaten alive.

How do you walk it?

Very carefully! I use a lot of silliness and humor to keep the tension levels at bay. Grown-ups DO NOT thank you for giving their young readers nightmares.

How important is promoting literacy among the young?

Is this a trick question (insert snarky grin here…)???

The ability to read defines a person’s ability to navigate life.
I believe there is no such thing as “too early” to snuggle a baby and read aloud from a book.
It doesn’t matter what the text says. It’s the warmth, closeness and tone of voice that makes the little one smile and recognize books as something wonderful.

A display in a local library shows off "The Shoe Troll" by Ghouliana Stories

A display in a local library shows off “The Shoe Troll” by Ghouliana Stories

You are perhaps the most active author I know. Between all the public readings, fairs, appearances, and social media, when and how do you actually write?

I write ridiculously early in the morning, usually from 5:00am until whenever, however, some of my most beloved characters have appeared after 3:30 am and before 7:00am.
These characters didn’t shuffle in as yawning and sleepy wisps wearing pajamas and slippers. They arrived without warning; wide awake, fully formed and ready to play.
As to how I write: first drafts are almost always written by hand, in pen, on recycled paper.
I love the freedom of scribbling words across the clean side of a used page. This gives me a feeling of “No Rules-No Fear” and allows me to dance with whoever shows up.
Also, this allows me to write just about any time and anywhere I have a few extra minutes.

How important is “legwork” for new writers?

Legwork is crucial! No one is going to walk up, knock on your door and ask, “Do you have any books in a box under your bed I can buy?”
If you don’t “put your book out there”, who will? Even if you have a traditional publisher, you are still expected to do a lot of self-promotion.

Mrs. Sturgis matches costumes with her characters.

Mrs. Sturgis matches costumes with her characters.

In one sentence, why are libraries important?

“Libraries are equal opportunity information providers.”
(Original Copyright 1992: Bess Sturgis)

Works by Bess Sturgis




Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Author Robert Mullin

I recently had the pleasure of asking Robert Mullin a few questions. Robert is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is also a cryptozoologist who has been featured on the History Channel. A search for a living dinosaur has taken Robert to Africa multiple times.

I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it.


Your debut fantasy novel, Bid the Gods Arise, has been well received. In February, you released a standalone prequel to the events of BTGA. I assume this was, in part, to satiate your fans. So tell us, when’s the sequel?!

You are correct that the novella (Blood Song) is a hat tip to the fans who have been waiting so long for the second book in The Wells of the Worlds series. It is also a way to develop a popular character’s past, which will be explored in Book 2, and so I want to have that story locked in my head before I proceed further.

I hoped to have the sequel finished by the time my son was born (sometime near the beginning of August). However, as busy as things have gotten lately, the new goal is to finish before the end of the year.

My fans are extremely patient, thank goodness.

BTGA weighs in at a whopping 481 pages. How important is book length to you?

You should have seen it before my editor got to it.

I actually prefer shorter works now that I’m a busy adult, but I love the richness and depth of a well-developed world — so it’s the bigger books that still catch my eye on the bookshelf. Ultimately, though, my philosophy has always been that a well-told story is simply as long as it needs to be. We have all seen examples of those tales that dragged on longer than they should have, or those that simply whetted our appetite for what they could have been.

Describe “Mullinesque” Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

By “Mullinesque,” I’m going to assume that you mean fantasy that reflects my personal tastes or worldview.

There is a trend in modern fantasy to approach the fantastical from a nihilistic perspective. It is no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to hopelessly romantic fantasy stories wherein reality is considered to take a back seat, and good always triumphs over evil. I actually understand where this “grimdark” sensibility comes from, but I fundamentally disagree with it as both a reader and as an author. I was enraptured by the world-building, characterization, and richness of story that George R. R. Martin brought to ASOIAF, but (sadly) ultimately abandoned that author for the same reason I did Stephen King many years ago: I decided that no matter how talented he was at bringing a story to life, I no longer cared to be saturated with such a hopeless viewpoint.

I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it. As a Christian, I can see both dark and light in the world, and want to make sure that they are accurately represented. (This does not mean that I don’t believe in shades of gray or even moral complexity; I simply don’t approach life or writing with an amoral or nihilistic viewpoint, and my books reflect this.)

With fantasy, I tend to prefer “mythic” or “mystical” over “magical.” I’m more interested in spiritual themes than magic-as-technology, so no matter how consistent or in-depth the magical system in any given world, it’s going to be lost on me if that is the primary focus of the book. With science fiction, it’s the same. I’m more interested in Romantic ideas (in the classical sense) than I am in nuts-and-bolts, or clinical storytelling that ultimately neither inspires nor informs. Take me on an adventure. It can be scary, it can be wondrous, it can be sad, but give me a world I’m interested in and characters I can relate to. I’m fond of stories that are not afraid to blend genres somewhat (as mine do), and that focus on character as much as setting. Ultimately people are drawn to the human condition, and I think that is what makes a timeless narrative.

Robert Mullin in Africa

Name two authors that inspired you. Why?

C.S. Lewis for his ability to expand the mind and cause the spirit to reflect. Timothy Zahn for his ability to make one forget that one is reading, and simply absorb the twists and turns as if one were watching a movie. I know of many more authors that are probably more artful, but those are qualities I would wish to emulate in my own writing.

Plug someone else’s work. Not yours, not mine. What author should we know more about?

I’m actually intrigued by several up-and-coming fantasy novelists whose tastes seem to reflect mine, but have not yet had a chance to delve into their works, so I hesitate to recommend them. Rest assured, though, that I shall. (Some of these have been kind enough to read and recommend my own books, so I have gotten introduced to them as readers first, and writers second.)

Probably the most influential author in my recent life has been J.C. Lamont. Her epic, Frank Peretti-meets-Tolkien take on history (Prophecy of the Heir) is probably one of the most ambitious projects one is likely to encounter.  I think that one day, should her novels ever reach public acclaim, she might be considered one of the ground-breakers in the speculative/historical fiction genre.

Robert Mullen, Fantasy-Science Fiction author

Robert Mullen, Fantasy-Science Fiction author

Pick up Robert’s Books

Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Fantasy Author John Adcox

“…with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves.”

I interview John Adcox and receive some of the most-detailed answers to date. We explore John’s varied background, relate his marketing background to writing, and ask him to predict the future.

John Adcox

John Adcox

The first impression I have of you is that you are a man who wears many hats – publisher, author, and screenwriter for starters. You also boast a solid background in marketing and communications, and have helped some notable companies develop their brand. As a writerly person how important is it to be flexible in the age of the internet?

Well, with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves. The publishers, even the larger ones, really don’t do that anymore … at all. Even when they did, they never did it well. By and large, publishers have always marketed directly to booksellers, not book readers. That means, out of all the people in the world who might fall in love with your story, publishers are, at best, marketing to the few who happen to wander into bookstores.

In marketing, we call that “white hart” marketing. That’s a term that comes from mythology — the white hart is the object of the quest, a sort of walking Holy Grail. It grants wishes. The point is, they are (at best!) few, and they’re really, really hard to find.

The better way is to concentrate on all the other harts, the plain old brown ones. There’s lots of those, and no one is after them.

In this case, think of white harts as the people who frequent bookstores, and buy two or three books a week … pretty much every week. That sounds like the ideal audience, right?

The thing is, there are hundreds of new books published every week, and this white hart is buying three.

Books like, say, The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter series reach way, way beyond the audiences that usually buy books. Those people are hungry for stories, too. They are the brown harts. Go after them. Of course, the publishers will never do that.

So it’s pretty much up to writers. That’s not something we’re necessarily comfortable with, but I think it’s easier if you think in terms of building genuine relationships with audiences, or potential audiences, rather than selling.

Technology gives you amazing tools for communicating, and participating in the kind of communities that develop around stories. When you write, you’re writing for an audience. As much as we all like to think of ourselves as writing for the entire world, we’re actually writing for a smaller, specific audience — at least to start with. You might every well grow beyond that base, but you have to start someone.

The people in this audience share things in common … interests, passions, hobbies. There’s something in most of us, I think, that yearns to meet people “like us,” people who understand. C.S. Lewis put it like this in The Four Loves: “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” So those people tend to congregate somewhere.

For example, my agent is shopping a book of mine that’s set at a Renaissance fair. At least five million people go to a fair somewhere in the US every year … twice. Now then. Count the ones who go once a year, or every other year, and you have a fairly significant audience. You can use, say, Facebook to find people who love Renaissance fairs and, again for example, fantasy and/or paranormal romance, and you start to have a group that you can start interacting with.

You’ll find that most of them will say, “wow, here’s someone like me!” And they’re eager to help. Treat them with genuine respect and gratitude, and pretty soon you’ll have an audience. Just be sure to give back.

Your bio mentions that you are now focusing on storytelling, how do you bring everything together and streamline your efforts?

Mostly, that was a case of eliminating all the things that weren’t focused on storytelling. Sounds simple, right?

My company, Gramarye Media was lucky enough to be accepted into a business accelerator, Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint program. That program is designed to eliminate years of startup mistakes (and literally millions of dollars of wasted money). As a result, we were able to attract the attention of major investors.

Now, my job is to make books and movies – we’re the world’s first cross-media story incubator (basically taking the Silicon Valley business incubator model and applying it to storytelling and franchise development). So I am always in that creative space. As a result, it’s easier for me to switch gears when it’s time to concentrate on my own stories.

Plus, I’m constantly surrounded by extraordinary individuals who raise the creative bar so high that I can’t help being awed and inspired. I can’t say enough about the idea of creatives working in community.

Which one of your works best represents you? Why?

That’s way hard to answer, because I think on some level, they all do. At the very least, there’s something in all of them that I am passionate about, or even that I love dearly. Otherwise, why on earth would I devote so much time and energy to them? I think writing has to come from passion. It’s the difference between art and artifice.

But if I absolutely had to answer, I guess I’d say The Widening Gyre or The Sword and the Grail

John Adcox getting his pirate on.

John Adcox getting his pirate on.

You are an avid reader with an interest in Arthurian lore. Tell me, what is your favorite Arthurian work to read and way?

That’s just as hard to answer! I borrowed from so many (and I tried to acknowledge as many as I could) in The Widening Gyre. If I had to pick, I’d go with the first ones I fell in love with as a child, the ones that have never quite left me. One was (I think) The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier (I was in the second grade at the time, so it might have been Howard Pyle’s.) The other was The Once and Future King. I adored that, and it changed me as the best books do. It’s where I learned philosophy, lovely writing, irony, and the ache of loss.

Tell me, what does the future hold?

Okay. Let’s see.

Sloths will one day rule the world. Seriously. Sloths. Don’t let the apes fool you. This will happen not when mankind dies out, but when we finally perfect the holodeck from Star Trek, because seriously, when we have those, why would anyone ever come out?

Aliens will make contact within the next century, mark my words. However, they will turn out to be the equivalent of intergalactic Amway salesmen, and everyone will be just all kinds of disappointed.

We will be able to buy self-cleaning clothes, but we’ll still find it too much trouble, and they’ll still wind up in piles in the corner.

The flying car will (soon!) become a reality. Alas, the invisible car will become real at about the same time, and it won’t go well. I blame the sloths in their secret, slow-moving labs.

Student essays and government bills will both be limited to 140 characters. They still won’t be read.

Walt Disney, who really IS frozen under Disneyland, will be thawed out to save the dystopian future with the magic of imagination. All of the news channels will use the tagline “Disney on Ice.”

Smart homes will become real. Unfortunately, that means most people will have to live elsewhere.

McDonald’s will exit fast food and go gourmet. The McQuick-seared Salmon with McMint-lime Cream Sauce will be to die for. The kid-sized portion, only available well done, alas, will still come with a Happy Meal toy, but they will all be sloths dressed as Marvel or Disney characters. No one will question this. It is all a part of the plan.

Star Wars Episode XXIII: The New Shadow will have an all-female cast. They still won’t release female action figures.

A frustrated electorate will demand that a third option, “Let’s Just Do Without a President for the Next Four Years” be added to the ballot. It will be a landslide.

The porn industry will collapse and die out when technology makes nurses, flight attendants, and pizza delivery boys obsolete. I mean, without the stories, why would anyone want to watch?

Lost will be remade, and it will still piss people off. [Editor’s note, I still haven’t finished the last season of Lost.]

Jesus will return in glory, and the Westboro Baptist Church will be there to protest.

Shortly after all this has come to pass, Patrick Rothfuss will finish book three.

If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Adcox please visit his website

Posted in Author Interviews, General

Creatures: A Collection of Short Stories, pre-order and release date.


Creatures make us uneasy because they hold our insecurities and other nasty bits.

Creatures: A Collection of Short Stories will be released for Kindle on July 15th.

This collection is like nothing I’ve written before, very much experimental. I am very happy with the outcome and grateful to the many beta-readers for their feedback.

Get to know a suicidal raccoon, a book goblin, a power-hungry seagull, a woodchuck fed up with the impossibility of life, and a dragon who wages psychological warfare on the human race.

Find out more & Pre-Order here


Posted in General

5 Questions with Author C.D. Gallant-King

I recently sent C.D. Gallant-King a list of five questions. In his upcoming book, Hell Comes to Hogtown, a comic book nerd and a pro-wrestler try to clear their names in a kidnapping while evading a bloodthirsty demon hobo…


Ten Thousand Days has great reviews. But I’m not letting you off so easy. What are you happy with about your first novel, and what are you unhappy with? 
I’m most happy with how polite all the reviewers were, and I’m unhappy with everything else.
Seriously though, overall I think the book had a lot of good ideas (and I think I surprised a few people), but structurally the pacing was way off. I could pick it apart for hours but the short version is the first act was too long and the third act was way too short. I’m honestly considering giving it a thorough revision.
Hypothetically, the main character of your next story is a river goddess in sub-Saharan Africa who rides a hippopotamus. What’s the conflict? 
Knowing nothing of African culture or folklore, I’m going to say it’s an aggressive clan of piranha people who are plaguing the river and pillaging the land, but they’re secretly controlled by a hive-mind swarm of termites that are the true villains. The hippopotamus definitely dies in a heart-wrenching scene.(Do they have piranhas in Africa? If not, replace them with some kind of trout or tilapia.) [Editor’s note: No, there are no piranhas in Africa, but I found something just as good.)
Okay, Okay, so what are you really writing? What’s next?
I have a brand new novel out July 1st. It’s called Hell Comes to Hogtown and it’s about a comic book nerd and a pro-wrestler trying to clear their names in a kidnapping while avoiding a bloodthirsty demon hobo.It’s a horror comedy, sort of in the vein of Christopher Moore (Practical Demonkeeping, You Suck: A Love Story, and many others). I am really excited about this one. If you like black humour and don’t mind a few cuss words (okay, a LOT of cuss words) this should be right up your alley.
Plug someone else’s work – not yours, not mine. 
She probably doesn’t need my plug, but some of the best Indy stuff I’ve read lately is Celine Jeanjean’s The Viper and the Urchin series. Ostensibly it’s a YA steampunk fantasy, but really it’s a series of  fast-paced mystery/thrillers with a pair of mismatched buddy cop-style antagonists. It’s entertaining, the characters are really enjoyable and the story moves along really well – it’s not at all bogged down by extraneous world-building or backstory, which I appreciate immensely. The second book just came out and it’s doing really well. The third book should be out later this year.
You are a gamer, how does gaming mesh with your writing? 
Writing seems to go hand-in-hand with game-mastering, doesn’t it? Most writers I know of use their gaming to develop their story’s background, sending their players through their fantasy world to test out their ideas. I much prefer my games to be a joint effort between the players and game master to write the story together – with everyone taking part equally. You get way more interesting outcomes this way, the players are more invested, and I don’t have to listen to my own stupid ideas in BOTH my writing and my gaming. So if anything I try to keep my “author voice” out of my games.


Title: Hell Comes to Hogtown
Author: C.D Gallant-King
Genre: Comic Horror
Length: 65,000 words
Cover Art: Jason Salvatori and Max Covers
Editing: Amy Allen-MacLeod
Release Date: July 1, 2016

Fitz is a broke night manager for a grubby comic book store. His only friend Dee is a drugged-out, womanizing pro-wrestler. Together they’re the most pathetic losers on the face of the planet. Their lives cannot possibly get any worse.

And then they’re implicated in the kidnapping of the prime minister’s wife.

On the run from the cops, Fitz and Dee discover there is something far worse than the RCMP stalking the dark streets of Toronto. They are being hunted by an ancient demon of unspeakable evil with an insatiable taste for blood… or maybe it’s just your run-of-the-mill giant murderous hobo?

Either way, life in prison might be better than whatever the creepy drifter has in store for them…



You can purchase Hell Comes to Hogtown at any of the fine retailers below:





Writer, tabletop gamer, pro-wrestling aficionado. Dad.

C.D. Gallant-King is an independent writer originally from Newfoundland, Canada, though he’s not fond of fishing and hates boats. He moved to Toronto to study theatre, and then later moved to Ottawa where he does absolutely nothing related to theatre.

He hangs out on Twitter and Facebook, and blogs at Stories I Found in the Closet and Rule of the Dice.





Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Christian Fantasy Author Hope Ann

What follows is the first of many author interviews I’ll be posting throughout the summer. Hope Ann is a Christian Fantasy author and contributing member of Fantasy Writers and Readers Facebook Group.

Christian Fantasy Author Hope Ann

Christian Fantasy Author Hope Ann

What are the challenges of being a devoutly Christian author?

Quite frankly, the challenges of being a Christian author aren’t all that different from the challenges of authors in general: creating distinct characters, forming a tight plot, not getting distracted, writing realistic emotion…oh yes, and figuring out what on earth to title the book. As a Christian author, there is the additional challenge of presenting the message or theme of the story without it being forced or sounding preachy. Sometimes the presentation is harder than other times, but in the whole scheme of writing a book, it’s only one challenge among the normal amount of complications.

How do you “keep it real” when it comes to the Christian faith when writing fantasy?

In fantasy, the worlds, settings, and terms of region change, but people and emotions remain the same. And that is what I build my stories around; the characters and their actions and reactions as well as the plot. I also build in central themes into my writing. Sometimes they are obvious and sometimes they are more subtle, but a good theme is intertwined with the characters and plot until it is indispensable. It’s not forced into the story, but builds it up and weaves through character arcs so that, if absent, the story would feel like it was missing something.

We can likely figure out what binds you to other Christian Fantasy authors, but I’d like to ask what separates you from your peers?

There are other Christian fantasy authors who write allegorical books. I’d love to be able to say that I write in a completely unique style that no one has tried before, or that I have a revolutionary view on fantasy and allegory no one else has thought of. Unfortunately I can’t. What I do enjoy doing is taking themes which are familiar to Christians in theory, but harder to grasp in reality because of their abstractness (such as the source of true joy or relying on God completely for peace during trouble) and showing how such ideas look and work in the lives and struggles of my characters. And, by extension, how they can look and work in the lives of my readers.

Hope takes aim.

Hope takes aim.

Who are the Realm Leapers?

Stealthmaster Kirin and Scrollmistress Elena were two characters I created who can ‘leap’ between all realms real and imagined. Oh yes, and they can time travel. I can use the monthly stories I write about them to build up backstories of my characters or worlds, write a fanfiction in another realm such as Middle Earth, or just have fun. Their original intention was to liven up my newsletters and be my ‘on location researchers’ for fantasy articles on my blog. But recently they’ve taken on lives of their own and now want me to write a book about them. Someday, I might just listen.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Chocolate, notebooks full of random ideas I’ll never have time for, and lots of writing. As I’m getting more ideas than I have time to write, I plan, Lord willing, to write for the rest of my life. In the more immediate future, however, I am working on writing and self-publishing the Legends of Light; a series of nine novellas which retell fairy tales and focus on the nine aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit. I’ve another novel I hope to submit for traditional publication late this year and after that…more writing.

For more on Hope Ann please visit her website.
Hope Ann’s Work:

Posted in Author Interviews, General

Eff it! Why I (Sometimes) Write with Bad Words #Amwriting

To Swear or not to Swear

To Swear or not to Swear

Recently a conversation sparked up in the Fantasy Writers and Readers group. As with any such group, many people hold strong personal convictions about swearing and the use of bad words when writing fiction. Suffice it to say, as I am a writer who tends to get a little naughty now and again, the conversation inspired me to investigate my own use of such words.

The Suspension of Belief.
For many people, they can believe in literary worlds where bad words don’t exist. Tolkien and other masters of the genre proved that believable worlds without swearing are possible. But these are a certain kind of worlds, innocent in a way, but what if the world you create isn’t innocent? In an age where emphasis is placed on realism and grittiness, words and action need to match certain situations. If you have adult themes, there ought to be adult language or variants thereof (Many people have made up swear words for their world to great effect, some not so much). Our writing isn’t just dialogue, it’s thoughts, and human thoughts are dirty.

TV as a Guide to the Believable.
Consider, for the moment, a series like The Walking Dead. Does it suffer from a lack of profanity? Yes. Because people don’t say “crap” in a zombie apocalypse — they say much worse. Society has crumbled. Morality has been turned upside down. But certain words just don’t exist in The Walking Dead, and the lack of profanity sometimes takes the viewer out of belief when the crap hits the fan. American TV censorship, whether nudity or language, directly affects the believability of its shows. Why do you think so many adults are flocking to HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, etc? Many British shows are quite liberal in their use of profanity and likewise build the strongest, flawed, and most relatable characters in existence (Ever watch Misfits? Being Human?). Dare we wonder what Game of Thrones would be like without the swearing?

Does this Mean We Should be Lacing our Works with Profanity?
In the same vein of thought about how a lack of profanity can take away from a story, excessive profanity can also be detrimental. The key is that the lack of profanity, or excessive presence of profanity, cannot seem forced either way. There are many instances where I’ll remove a bad word during the editing process. Each word, profane or other, has to hold up the words around it.

It’s Really the Character’s Choice, Anyway.
The reason some of my work has profanity and some does not is simple: Each character is unique; has a unique voice, and a unique vocabulary. I happen to write a lot of pessimistic characters. Pessimists, unless language is the focus of their pessimism, often think in crude terms and tend to speak their mind in profane manners. So yes, don’t have a talking gopher cuss out the friendly rabbit in a book for children. Use lesser profane words if you’d like to take it up a notch to the YA arena. If you are at the adult level and you write about a farmer whose family is slaughter by a rich tax collector, and we follow said farmer throughout a trilogy of books before he finally takes his revenge, it just might take away from the story if your character runs the villain through with a sword and says “Take that, you evil man!” But maybe your farmer is just a nice guy with a strong code of conduct, I get it. But then so is everyone else he comes across? You, the writer, are truly a lucky person if you’ve spent a lifetime away from loose-lipped friends and angry conflict. Profanity happens. At some point, it has to.

I understand that many people won’t use profanity because they do not want to alienate their readership. That’s fine. But that is not a choice made toward perfecting your art. It’s a choice made toward business and market. Your story has now been handicapped before it began, and may never recover. Sometimes stories are meant to stay clean. Sometimes not. Just because you are a childrens’ author doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your other self (no one is saying it needs to see the light of day). Because writing is a compulsion, we all know there are drawbacks to suppressing what we’d like to say.

Editor’s Note: I actual changed “crap hits the fan” to “sh*t hits the fan” while editing because I felt “crap” didn’t have the same effect. But then I found out from Will that was the point. Well played.

This blog post was written as part of a Fantasy Writers and Readers discussion. Please contact me for an invite if you are an avid fantasy writer and/or reader and would like to participate in this closed Facebook group.

Posted in General

#Review of “Pretty Deadly Vol 1: The Shrike” #Graphicnovel #Comics

Three and a Half of Five Stars

Three and a Half of Five Stars

The pace of the art and the narrative is intimidating at first, but the activity settles down after a few pages (only to spike again later on). The narrators are a butterfly and a rabbit skeleton — so that’s cool. There’s also a talking crow, and as you might imagine, this perked things up a bit for me. It should be noted that there is a fair bit of sex and violence along with elements of horror. The characters are lively and evocative even if the randomness of the story tosses them around like a ship in a violent sea. Feminist themes run throughout the comic though not in an overbearing, militant way. I find the story borrows themes from Westerns about forgiveness and atonement to great effect.

Three and a Half/Five Stars. Characters are well-developed, Art is nice to look at, and reminds me of the art from Jing – King of the Bandits – The Complete Collection. Pretty Deadly‘s story moves fast, maybe too fast, and at times feels a bit directionless.

Pretty Deadly is food for the experienced Comic Book / Graphic Novel reader and not for newbies. Add a half star if you are into heavily into dominant female characters.

Posted in General

#Review of Pride of Baghdad, #GraphicNovel. #bookreview

Three of Five Stars

Three of Five Stars

Pride of Baghdad is a graphic novel written by Brian K. Vaughan with art done by Niko Henrichon. Published in 2006, it is definitely a work of its time when the USA and America struggled to come to terms with what was happening in Iraq. The illustrations are top notch and Vaughan exhibits a keen, dark sense of animal humor that’s all-too-human.

The story looks at the loss of innocence and reminds the reader that we humans are still part of the animal kingdom. In the post-apocalyptic landscape of bombed out Baghdad we are the walkers, the ones who bring pain and devastation.

As good as the opening pages are (right up to the Giraffe scene), this novel, like the Lions it follows, loses its way. It gets bogged down by a bit too much expository in the middle (I doubt the story needed a sea turtle to emerge from the Tigris River to unload an information dump).

From this point on the author takes shots in the dark at themes concerning freedom, protection, exploitation, and other bits of the human condition. It is after the first third of the novel that Pride of Baghdad loses its status as an instant classic.

The analogies in the novel become thicker and harder to ignore over time. The resulting dialogue explains a bit too much and consequently comes off as little preachy.

Conclusion: Three/Five Stars Subtract or add a star depending on you views of the Iraq war. Regardless, I still recommend it for a quick read that remains relevant today.

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