My Turn (To Review)!

Not a book review, sadly, but TV. I mentioned in a previous post the proliferation of vampire-related shows on television these days, so I thought I’d take some time to discuss some of them. So, here are my thoughts, in case anybody cared…

The Passage — This program premiered on ABC this last Spring. It’s based on a novel (all the best stuff is, even if they change a lot of the elements from the base material) about a top-secret government research program, the goal of which is to come up with cures for various disease and prolong human life. As so often happens whenever such things come into combination, the experiment goes wrong. Enter Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) an agent of this rogue government program, and young orphan Amy Bellafonte (played brilliantly by Saniyya Sidney). It’s Brad’s job to bring Amy to the top-secret facility so that government doctors can experiment on her (she’s young, so she might react to the experiment differently than the other victims — I mean, subjects). Brad eventually balks at this scheme, thinking that it’s wrong to experiment on unwilling children, and embarks on an adventure with Amy, which doesn’t go as planned. They end up at the top-secret facility, where Amy is eventually given a dose of the experimental medicine. Does Amy turn into a vampire (oh, I’m sorry, “there are no such things as vampires”, right?), or does something else happen? The Passage is an exciting and sometimes creepy thriller that had me hooked from the first episode — it hit full throttle right off the bat. The vampires here truly are monsters, but one is reminded that they were once human, as well. If you like your vampires scary and monstrous, and plenty of action alongside some well-done character development, then on-demand this show. I hope there’s a season two…

A Discovery of Witches — Also based on a series of novels. This is a romantic supernatural thriller in the same vein as, well, pretty much every other romantic supernatural thriller ever. Beautiful heroine Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer), a historian and witch, stumbles across a powerful ancient manuscript that might mean doom for vampires. Vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode) comes alongside to help her uncover the mysteries of the ancient book before darker competing forces force Diana to use it for their own destructive purposes. I have called this the ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ version of True Blood — pretty heroine has powers but doesn’t like them, falls in love with a handsome and brooding vampire, and complications ensue. In this series, there are three specific supernatural species (yes, they call them ‘species’): witches, vampires, and demons. When they introduce the concept of a lab run by vampires that looks into the DNA of the various species, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, ‘oh, dear God, no, not midichlorians again!’. There are good and bad witches, with varying powers. The demons don’t really seem terribly demonic, or even very interesting; one demon in particular lives in a large house in the Scottish Highlands, and that’s about it. I did like the political elements, and the fact that these vampires are not typical (they can hunt by day and have their full range of powers, and they don’t seem to have fangs, but just use their regular teeth), but other than that, I found this series to be somewhat tedious. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I like my vampires, witches, and demons to at least be interesting.

What We Do In The Shadows — This series is both based on and made by the same people who made the brilliant 2014 New Zealand mockumentary of the same name. The series moves the action from Wellington to Staten Island where three vampires (Nandor, played by Kayvan Novak; Laszlo, played by Matt Berry, and Nadja, played by Natasia Demetriou) live with Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo (played by Harvey Guillen) and a fourth room mate, the psychic vampire Colin Robinson (played wonderfully deadpan by Mark Proksch). The three more traditional vampires seek to get along in 21-century New York, while Guillermo pines to be turned into a vampire himself, but is ignored (humorously) by Nandor. Naturally, hilarious misadventures ensue. This series plays on all the traditional vampire tropes — they can only go out by night, they sleep in coffins, they can turn into bats, et cetera — and, in doing so, often places the three vampires in awkward situations. The one atypical vampire, Colin Robinson, is not well liked by his housemates, and is one of the only beings that has power over other vampires by being able to suck their energy, which is another source of hilarity. All together, they make What We Do In The Shadows a hilariously bloody treat and one of my personal favorite vampire shows of all time.

That’s all I have time for, right now. In a future post, I’ll discuss a couple other shows, including AMC’s NOS4A2 (spoiler: it’s good!).


It is Finished!

No, really, it is.

The massive project I’ve been working on for over two years is now complete. It has been a long, sometimes arduous journey, but I made it. This is my seventh novel, the fifth installment in the Suburban Vampire series (I didn’t include the Book of Origins, which would have made this the sixth in the series), titled Suburban Vampire Redemption. This is the project I quit early on, only to complete two other novel-length projects (the aforementioned Book of Origins and Thorn) before resuming. It was, at times, hard for me to write; I’ve mentioned previously in this blog that I had to tap some darker, more unpleasant parts of my memory in order to give this project life. In doing so, I created a beast of a story — Redemption is epic in scale, and the sheer length of this project supports that claim. It is a heavyweight, coming in at over 193,000 words (!), making it easily the largest and most ambitious writing project I’ve tackled to date. The real shocker is that it could have been longer — there were ideas I had for this novel that I decided to leave on the cutting room floor. Even so, Redemption ties up several plot lines that extended through the series, while leaving the story of Scott Campbell open to future development. I’m pretty proud of this project, and of the blood, sweat, and tears I put into it.

The question is, what now? Well, I don’t plan on resting on my laurels for long. I have plans for the future development of the Suburban Vampire series, including a few spin-offs. I also have plans for projects not related to Suburban Vampire, and, in fact, not even in the paranormal/supernatural/urban fantasy genre. There’s still a lot left to do, both for Scott Campbell and for yours truly.

I hope I’ll eventually get to publish this one, and that you will eventually read it. It’s pretty epic. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll thrill, you’ll geek out. Trust me on this; it was worth the effort for me to write, it’ll be worth the wait to read.

H-Hour, D-Day

I have a friend who is very familiar with the horror genre. He’s familiar with several different subgenres of horror (psychological thrillers, spiritual horror, monster horror, survival horror, ‘slasher’ horror, and probably more that I don’t even know about), from the written word to the screen, both large and small. He’s read everything from Poe to Lovecraft to King, and seen everything from Hitchcock to Romero to Raimi. He once told me what he thought was the most horrifying scene he’d ever seen in a motion picture. Hint, it wasn’t from a ‘horror’ movie.

It was the first twenty minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

When asked why, he said it was because it actually happened, and there were men still alive who endured it and could confirm the accuracy of the reenactment of the action of the movie. When you consider that the action at Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6th, 1944, actually occurred over several hours, and was not limited just to that particular beach, and that thousands of young men (American, British, Canadian, and free French) died that day, the scale becomes even more tragic and horrifying.

People who are familiar with me, and are familiar with my writing (especially Ragnarok) know that I have a soft spot for “the greatest generation” and the Second World War. It comes from my father, who, as a tanker in the 3rd Army, saw combat in France, Belgium, and Germany. He did not go ashore that day in June; he landed well after the beachhead was secured (I don’t remember if he’d just arrived in England at the time, or if he was still en route). Yet, he too confirmed the reality he saw on that screen, with the comment to me that it was indeed realistic, but it was not like being there. Being there was far worse, he said.

I’ve heard criticisms of Saving Private Ryan as being too jingoistic, or too “pro-America”. I don’t know about that; maybe they saw a different movie than I. I’ve found that the most effective anti-war movies are those that simply show what happened, that show the reality of war. That way, you don’t need to rely on hamfisted preaching. The point of the movie was to show what these men (and women) went through in order to liberate Europe, and the world, from the clutches of evil men. It demonstrated the sacrifices they made, and that it is nothing to take for granted. It showed that liberty was bought and paid for with blood, the blood of young men whose lives were cut tragically short.

The point is to honor these men and the sacrifices they made. They were called by their county, their republic, their king (in the case of the UK, Canada, and commonwealth nations), to put their lives on the line, and they did. Today, June 5th, 2019, I want to honor the heroes of D-Day. May their memory live forever in the hearts of free men.

First in Category!!!

Okay, I told you guys that my novel Suburban Vampire Ragnarok won First in Category for the CIBA Paranormal/Supernatural fiction awards,right? Well, here it is, on the Chanticleer website, along with my fellow category winners! I’d like to thank Kiffer Brown and the wonderful folks at Chanticleer, and congratulate my fellow category winners!  PARANORMAL Book Awards 2019

Back from Bellingham!!!

I have returned, triumphantly, from the Chanticleer International Book Awards Conference, where my second novel, Suburban Vampire Ragnarok, received First in Category for the 2018 CIBA Supernatural/Paranormal Fiction awards. This is, of course, big news, and I fully intend on allowing this to go to my head (for a short time, at least). It is vindication for me, after struggling for so many years and ignoring my calling as an author (it’s one thing for friends and family to tell you you’re a good writer — they’re just being supportive, you know — but for total strangers to tell you that you have something worthwhile is on another level entirely).

So, now what? There’s no resting on my laurels, which relates one of the big messages I heard at the various workshops and panels I attended at the conference — keep writing. Write every day. Write as often as you can, wherever you can (which reminds me, I need a laptop. Buy more of my books!). The classes and workshops were all great and I probably got more from this conference than any other conference I’ve attended (Not that I’ve attended many). There was plenty of one-on-one time with other authors, including the headliner, J.D. Barker, bestselling author of The Fourth Monkey, Forsaken, The Fifth to Die, and (with Dacre Stoker) Dracul (a copy of which I bought and had autographed at the conference!). All of them were approachable and more than willing to offer their knowledge of the craft and the industry. Hopefully some of that will sink through my thick noggin!

The other highlight for me was sitting on my first discussion panel, which I did on Sunday afternoon. The panel, hosted by J.D. Barker, was about paranormal and horror novels, and we discussed our interest in the topics and our motivations and inspirations for writing in those particular genres. I had a blast, and I can’t even remember what I said. I hope it was something intelligible!

On top of it all, the location (the Bellwether Hotel, located right alongside Bellingham Bay) was beautiful, the weather was beautiful (mostly sunny, and, while not exactly warm, was comfortable), and the food was good. On top of it all, I met a ton of great people from all over North America and from as far away as Australia and the UK. I had a wonderful time at this conference, and whether or not I submit my work again this year, I’d still like to attend the CIBA conference next year. If you’re an independent author, consider attending next year. Maybe I’ll see you there next year!

4/20 Update (2019 version)!!!

I haven’t done a general update in a while, so, here I go. I did one last year on this date, so why not again? Therefore, in honor of Bernie the Bigfoot and his favorite choice of recreational activities, I present this year’s 4/20 update!

  1. I am still working on what is my seventh novel-length project, which will be the fifth installment in the Suburban Vampire series. You may have seen a few references to this particular project; I am calling this one Suburban Vampire Redemption, and it is a monster in itself. I now see the light at the end of the tunnel: I recently set up the final movement in this magnum opus and the denouement is not far. It’s actually getting more and more fun the closer I come to the climactic action. I predict I’ve got another month of writing, then I’ll have it “in the can”, as they say in film-making. As I’ve mentioned before, this has been a tough one, but it’s been rewarding as well. I can’t wait to put it all together and get a working first draft ready!
  2. I will be attending the Chanticleer Authors Conference next weekend (April 26 to 28) in Bellingham, Washington.  As mentioned previously, my second novel, Suburban Vampire Ragnarok, is a semi-finalist for the 2018 CIBA Paranormal Book Awards (Ragnarok is a semi finalist). This is a pretty big deal, of course! Copies of both my novels will be available for sale there. If you’re in the NW Washington/SW BC area, maybe I’ll see you there! For more info, check out this link: Chanticleer Authors Conference
  3. A spot of bad news: I may have to delay publication of my third novel, Suburban Vampire Reckoning. Money problems, wouldn’t you know. As a self-published author, I have to make some fairly substantial financial investments in order to get my work out there, and while I’ve been making some money, it hasn’t been enough to support the publication of a third book. Let’s face it — self-publication is the bane of the self-published author. Now, this could all change if my books suddenly hit high positions at Amazon or other vendors, or if some other miracle should occur (like winning a major award? See above). Otherwise, I’ll have to wait on publication. I’d hate to have to put it off for another year, but I might have to.

That’s really all I have for now. Hope to see you in Bellingham, and buy my books!!!

Vampires are passe!

When I first pitched the idea of Suburban Vampire, I ran into a few publishers and agents that told me (either directly, or posted on their websites) that the whole vampire thing had run its gamut and was now old hat. “Nobody is interested in vampires anymore,” one publisher told me, then continued to tell me to drop that old and broken junk for some new hotness (whatever that was, they weren’t too specific). The funny thing is, I hadn’t started out to write a vampire story; that is just how my story and character evolved (perhaps, if I’d waited around a few years, they would have evolved into something else. Who knows?). However, when I started writing it down, I’d already settled on the vampire genre as the best way to to tell the story I had in mind. Now, am I a day late and a dollar short? If so, that’s the story of my life. Maybe, in terms of publishing, if I’d come up with this idea ten or fifteen years earlier, I might have a huge readership and be making the big bucks. But I didn’t have this idea ten or fifteen years ago. The whole “woulda/coulda/shoulda” thing is wishful hindsight, but it has no bearing on real life here and now. And the fact is, I decided to stick with the vampire genre (for now) and tell the story I have in my mind now. But does that mean I’m hopelessly outdated and unhip? I mean, I am outdated and unhip, but that’s just me. My question is, is the vampire genre used up? Are there no more tales to tell of our favorite bloodsuckers?

I say no. And lots of other folks say it, too. I have some evidence for my optimism, not from literary circles (although I’m sure I could find it there), but from my good friend, television. And behold! What should I see on TV these days? Well, here’s a peek at what I’ve been seeing lately…

The Passage

Midnight, Texas

A Discovery of Witches

What We Do in the Shadows


And I’m not even mentioning the now canceled CW series The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. I’m also not mentioning the upcoming AMC series NOS4A2, or the rumors of a new Blade series.

How is that for proof? Now, compare that to zombie TV series. Here, we have:

The Walking Dead

Fear the Walking Dead


Z Nation 

And two of those series, iZombie and Z Nation, are ending. That leaves two zombie series (although, since one is a spin-off of the other, does it really count?). Zombies were supposed to be the next big thing, the supernatural (although, the ‘walkers’ of TWD seem to have a biological origin of some sort) replacement for vampires. Maybe not, it seems.

For me, it’s simple — vampires are passé when I say they’re passé. I’m not done with my vampires yet, so, guess what? Readers, of course, get a powerful say as well, and they’re not done with vampires either. So, quit worrying about whether or not a certain genre is outmoded or not, and tell your story the way you want, or enjoy those stories you want to enjoy.