I love me some guest posting! Dying Breed is Doomed…

I’m at the tail end of a very intense move this week but that doesn’t mean that I can’t  get down to some serious reviewing.  This time it was “Dying Breed,” which I did for Doom Generation, my go to site for awesome Horror reviews. Admittedly whenever I’m geared to write one lately I find that the lovely Alex and her team have beat me to it, but you know  what they say about great minds ‘n all.

Anyhoo, here’s the review. It’s not for the faint of heart or for those that like their movies to make sense. Hash tag ‘just saying’…

P.S. Please hold the line for Book 3, Amazon are mulling it over as we speak.

History’s Most Shocking Serial Killer Brought to Life: The Affliction Series by Romina Nicolaides

This wonderful post about my books, written by Eve Merrier, a fellow writer who is also a first class editor and proofreader, was a huge surprise for me this week. I love hearing people get excited about my work, especially people whose own work I respect and admire. Receiving praise is a very rewarding experience and I can never get enough!

In other news, I know I’ve been saying this since forever but the third istallment in the Affliction series will hopefully be going live by next week, so please hang in there a little longer until I make the final tweaks.

Eve Proofreads

Bathory's secret1609, Hungary. Powerful Countess Erzsébet Báthory has been searching for an illiterate book binder to collate her journals. Why illiterate? So that no one will discover her extraordinary, violent past. Kati, a local peasant, has just the skills she requires. The girl is keen to live in the castle with the Countess, until the horrors of her employer’s habits begin to be revealed. 

Horror isn’t always my thing, but Nicolaides’ novels are something totally different. They transcend the genre with their gritty action and gorgeous historical detail. They’re macabre and evocative, and there’s book binding, which I’m very into at the moment.

Chillingly, the title character is based on the real Erzsébet Báthory  (click the link to read about her deeds) – reputedly history’s most prolific female serial killer. Her legend has long been embellished with vampiric overtones, and Nicolaides seamlessly blends fact and fiction compellingly (she has an academic background…

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Holly, just Go…

Recently, my local culture centre was doing a rerun of classic films, and a few friends and I went to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I probably hadn’t seen this film since I was a kid so I thought it be a chance to refresh my viewing of this classic since it was an open air theatre, and most importantly a free showing.

The thought of reviewing classic books and movies has been in the back of my mind for some time, so what better way than to start with a film that is considered highly iconic in glamour circles and as well as an ode to love?

I did a little googling and was reminded that Breakfast at Tiffany’s had been quite a hit at the Oscars back in the day, receiving, Best Dramatic or Comedy Musical Score, Best Original Song for Moon River (which is an awesome song no doubt) while Audrey Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress.

I think part of the reason the film was such a hit in its day, was because it was written by Truman Capote, one of the most celebrated minds of his time, though from what I understand, the book and the film have many differences. Admittedly I’ve never read any of his work, though I have been meaning to read In Cold Blood since forever,  and I am aware of his status and impact.

I won’t go into details regarding the plot, which is all over the web, but in a nutshell we are told the story of a socialite, looking for a rich husband. Classic ‘girl needs boy’ to keep her in the lavish style to which she is not really accustomed. Holly is essentially a party girl who dates men who tip her to go to the powder room and also visits a mafia boss in Sing-Sing prison from whom she transfers messages to his lawyer for a small fee. Between parties she whiles her hours away by getting plenty of beauty sleep, with the help of some highly ridiculous ear plugs, and going to Tiffany’s where ‘nothing bad ever happens when the mean reds strike.’

Breakfast-at-Tiffanys-Wallpaper-Poster-Photo-4

When handsome Paul comes along, she takes a shine to him because he reminds her of her brother and the two strike a friendship, which eventually turns to love, which then turns to rejection-she is looking for a rich guy after all-culminating in a big “get your shit” together lecture from Paul to Holly. Why does Paul feel the need to give a Holly a piece of his mind? Because throughout, she behaves like a spoiled brat.

I know I’m judging this film with modern eyes, but I did try to view it with a Mad Men perspective, where women were mostly house bound, or at best secretaries in some office, condescended upon and made to feel powerless and inferior, and I guess that for the period, the independence of a socialite making a buck any way she could, might appear empowering and therefore propel the film towards iconicness. Correct me if I’m wrong.

What I don’t get however, is why it’s still iconic today, almost 60 years later, where women are in many ways still struggling to overcome those stereotypes. Ironically, modern women still face many of the challenges and injustices they did back then, particularly in places like the States where maternity leave is non existent, pay inequality prolific and condescending attitudes not a thing of the past. So again, why is this film still considered a classic?

And if we were to ignore the hair-brained heroine, there are two more points that are so wrong with this movie. One, was the “small” issue of the abandoned cat in the alley when she has her aforementioned hissy fit. I know we’re told she doesn’t own him so feels like she’s setting him free, but it was such a jarring scene for someone who loves cats. You just don’t do that to your pets ‘cause animals get scared when things change.

Finally, the thing that bothered me the most however, was the portrayal of Mr Yunioshi as the stereotypical Asian caricature. The mind boggles that even as recently as 1961 something so offensive was consigned to film, and a film that is highly celebrated no less! Where do I start? The dayglo skin, the fake squinty eyes, the buck teeth and the anal attitude of a character who can’t decide if he’s the offensive stereotype of a Japanese or Chinese immigrant, (I mean they all look the same right?) and one which makes you cringe, when I assume, the intention was to make you laugh. I dread to think what was going on there, even in 1961, but once again, it doesn’t fare well anymore; assuming it once did.

On a side note, you might have heard about the MAC cosmetics furore that exploded on the net last week where an African American model’s lip size was  racially mocked after MAC instagramed a pic of her wearing one of their shades. One of the reaction videos I stumbled upon online (regretfully I couldn’t find it again in order to verify) rightfully featured several tweets of incensed black women condemning the abuse and expressing pride in their heritage, which would have been a good and meaningful gesture if it had stopped at that, but in the end they closed off with a picture of Holly Golightly, which I’m guessing was put there to symbolise poise, becauty etc. Shame about the missed racist undertones though… So prolific is the idea that this film embodies feminine power, that whoever made it didn’t think twice about how racist it was as a whole.

So, just because something might have been iconic in its time, doesn’t mean it has to hold the title for ever. Perhaps way back when it came out it was seen as the ultimate in female emancipation, the farm girl who strikes it out on her own to become an “independent” socialite in search of herself (though she’s really looking for Hubby McBucks), but well over half a century later, the one dimensional, erratic, purposely vacant headed Holly character smacks of misogyny. The casual racism and animal abuse peppered throughout the rest of the film just add insult to injury. Have we not moved on at all?

Mirror mirror on the wall…

Everybody turns at the sound of breaking glass. There’s something dramatic about it, irreparable, frightening even. Broken glass is a symbol for the point of no return, a change so drastic it’s impossible to fix; that was why everybody turned at the sound of the fallen picture frame.

“Thank God it’s not a mirror,” somebody exclaimed trying to see the up side, because what’s worse than broken glass? Broken glass with a silver backing…

Superstition is a funny thing. It’s the sum of a random act with negative societal associations multiplied by the person’s fears and added to a number thought to have mystical properties. Superstition is so powerful it would make the person responsible for the break watch their every step and attribute all negative experiences between now and the next seven years to the broken glass, the one with the silver sprayed on the back of it.

People are born not knowing what they look like, which I find extremely poetic. You can form an impression from people’s descriptions, but getting to look into our own eyes is impossible without the help of a reflecting device. When I was four I used to love looking at the little girl inside my closet door so much my parents actually thought I had a narcissistic disorder. No one ever thought to ask if I understood it wasn’t somebody else.

Beyond children, to the unknowing people of the past it is understandable how an object that reflected a person’s image could be captivating. Without knowledge of light waves it’s not difficult to attach magical properties to such a thing. It’s easy for us to forget how the manufacture of plate glass was a relatively late discovery and that in order to turn that glass into a perfect reflecting surface, a currently simple, yet formerly complex chemical process is required. Imagine the excitement and the novelty of seeing your image in a plate of silvered glass as well as the terror experienced when the “magic” that held your face within it shattered to a million pieces.

Mirrors have held mystical attributes ever since antiquity and in fact, the ancient Romans believed that the mirror reflected a part of your soul. A broken mirror, presumably obsidian, signified a break in the person’s wellbeing. Some say seven years was the time it took for the soul to renew itself after the break. To some even now, a mirror’s fall from the wall means a death is imminent and in fairytales they know true beauty. In Jewish tradition mirrors are covered when someone dies in order to avoid their soul getting trapped in them or so that demons are not attracted through them by the void left by the death. And not forgetting my personal favourite of course: Vampires cannot be reflected in mirrors for they have no soul.

In 15th-16th century Venice where the science of mirror making was the most advanced in Europe at the time, mirrors were astronomically expensive. Any servants discovered to have broken a mirror were forced into indentured servitude for seven years in order to pay back the cost of the object. Add that to the centuries of awe caused by the mystical qualities of the reflected image and a powerful superstition takes shape.

What’s the most enduring fact of all? Fear of ill luck can race through the generations, fuelled only by the power of the spoken word, without a shred of proof other than what we interpret as misfortune. We can find bad luck in anything if we search hard enough or if we are looking to confirm what we think we know. As it turns out, the impact of words is more powerful than a thousand broken mirrors…

In the Presence of Blood…

…A Vampire is Born.

Without further ado, here’s the final cover for the third book in the Affliction Series.

With some luck and more hard work, it will be coming out in April provided both my editors are done on time and my ARC reviews don’t take too long. I’ll be sending ARC copies by the end of March so anyone interested comment below or contact me via all other available channels and I’ll put your name on the list.

In other news, Bathory’s Secret print version has been a little delayed, but will also be available in the coming weeks. I’ll send out notifications as soon as that’s nearing completion as well. Vampire Edifice will follow but not before the end of spring.

3-50%

 

Affliction Series gets a facelift!

You’ll be happy to know that after a brief hiatus my cover designer is back to work on my covers. After some thought I decided that though the old look was very beautiful, it didn’t scream Vampire Hist Fic so we decided to tweak the look a little. The cover for Bathory’s Secret has received a face lift and Vampire Edifice has been given a new cover altogether, and one that I was initially going to go with before opting for the current one. Having thought about it however, I came to realise that the initial one was better so we went back to it.

Book three, which will be titled In the Presence of Blood, is in the final stages of editing and with some godspeed and luck will be out by April. I will share the cover as soon as it is finalised but for the moment you may feast your eyes on the first two, which will be going live in the coming week.

Without further ado I present you with the new covers:

Tada!

Merry is a word just for Christmas…

As Slade once said: It’s Christmas! That time of year when the “Western world” gets jolly, celebratory, let their hair down-if those hideous jumpers are anything to go by, and feel all warm and fuzzy. Christmas, as the marketing spiel likes to drum into us, is a time for family, connection, reflection and affection. Awesome! Right? I mean I’ve seen Rudolph horns on cars y’all!

Besides Christmas, it’s my understanding that most cultures make an approximate three-month habit of celebrating something whether it’s New Year’s, Easter, Diwali, Hanukah, Holi, Day of the Dead, I could go on… My point is that people feel the need to celebrate something grander than their boring old mundaneness every few weeks and aspire to something loftier, holier and connect, both to each other and whatever sense of the divine each community has.

So my wish for Christmas, (make it real sparkly tree) is that people learn to connect to whatever natural desire is within us for divine expression and have those cutesy thoughts in mind every day and not just because a stupid day on the calendar is approaching. He wasn’t even born in December, ok? How cool would it be if people baked for old people’s homes every month for example, instead of just because they’re reminded it’s JC’s b-day? (No more than that though, old folks have diabetes and shit.)

As for the bidness at hand, i.e. book news, and on account of the fact that I have to live in society, I too shall become engrossed (though begrudgingly) in the baby Jee festivities and be back in a couple of weeks with more updates. (See what I did there?) Anyhoo, I’m currently feverishly working on preparing the paperback version of Bathory’s Secret and finishing the edits for book 3. I’m also seriously considering changing covers ‘cause my graphic artist has disappeared and I need stability in my life right now; you don’t dump me, I dump you alright?!

Despite the fact that I’m much enamored with my existing cover, perhars it’s time to look at it afresh; so, unless a Xmas miracle ensues and she decides to make an appearance, I’ll probably be entertaining you with new visuals, though I do resent the additional spend-xmas stole all my money already!

So, Happy, Merry (who says that anymore unless it’s xmas?), Holi Christmukah y’all and I shall catch you in the new year.

Peace! And I mean that literally. I’m off to write to Santa for some moola!