Tag Archives: entertainment

Meet The Author… Jay Raven

Birmingham-based Jay Raven has written multiple horror/fantasy short stories which were published in many anthologies. He is an author with multiple books under his name, not all of them in the horror genre. Jay has been in the writing world for a while, as a journalist at first but now as a full-time novel writer. Let’s get to know Jay a bit better.

Jay Raven

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Tell us a little about yourself…

I have passion for all things horror, especially vampires. As a teenager I’d skip school to sneak into the cinema to watch Peter Cushing staking Christopher Lee.

I’ve been a full-time fiction writer for 25 years, widely published on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was only a few years ago that I began to focus on my dark fantasy output. Most of my stories are set in the past – I jokily label it “harpsichord horror”.

In my free time I do a lot of baking, although I’m not sure the description free time is strictly accurate as that’s when I dream up my best plots.

What is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to you?

Just before Christmas I was signed up by Junction Publishing to write two Gothic horror/dark fantasy novels. It’s since become a three-book deal.

What is your favorite childhood book, and why?

Alice in Wonderland. Even as a child I loved its creepy, menacing atmosphere, laced with barely controlled mayhem.

How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

I grew up in Glasgow which had more than its fair share of Victorian grave robbers in its past. The cemetery near us had a small building where relatives would stand guard through the night to protect their newly buried loved ones. Learning about that made a huge impact on me.

Jay_Raven_StorybookWhat was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

While still at school I used to write local history pieces for my local newspaper. One was a three-part reconstruction of a notorious murder of a foreman by gangers building the railway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. My articles documented the manhunt to bring the killers to justice and the resulting public executions.

Just after part two appeared I was taking a shortcut home from my girlfriend’s house and I bumped into the school bully in the dark. I thought he was going to beat me up, but instead he was all excited and in awe, demanding to know what happened to the killers in the final installment.

Who is your favorite author? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?

Michael Crichton, author of best-sellers Jurassic Park and WestWorld amongst others. His writing is so tight, pacy and cleverly structured that it leaves you breathless. There isn’t a wasted word, character or scene. He is a master storyteller. I try to make my writing just as fast-paced and lean.

Music or silence?

I write with earphones on, music pumping. It blocks all external distractions and helps inspire me. You could say that my stories are created with their own soundtracks.   

Do you outline or just write?

Before I begin a book I spend two weeks creating a highly detailed blueprint – every chapter, scene, major hook, key pieces of dialogue all go into it and I end up with a 30-page mini version of the novel, which I just need to flesh out.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d bake artisan cakes in the shape of coffins and sell them at Dracula events in Whitby.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym, and if yes, why?

Jay_Raven_MiddleofNowhereI already do. Jay Raven is the name I use for my dark fantasy work. I write humour under my real name. I try to keep both sides completely separate. As Ghostbusters advises: “Top safety tip. Don’t cross the streams!”

What is your writing style?

I concentrate on making the work as visual as possible. I want readers to forget they’re reading and imagine themselves watching a movie. I inhabit the boundary between horror and fantasy. My work relies more on suspense than gore.

Do you try to be original in your storytelling or to deliver to readers what they want?

I try to do both – I obey the rules of the genre but mix in loads of new elements to keep things fresh. In Blood Riders, for instance, my vampires have demon horses and can communicate with each telepathically.

Do you have any difficulty writing characters of the opposite sex?

No, I started out writing short stories for women’s magazines. That’s something many people would be surprised about.

Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?

Anton Yoska, the marshal caught up in the jailhouse siege, is an idealised version of me. But where he is brooding, I am just moody. He is noble and high minded, I come across simply as pompous.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Jay_Raven_ToSnareAWitchWitch Hunt – a series of whodunits set in an alternative history (1930s) where a Russian empire warlock is a homicide detective investigating murders that involve supernatural elements.

What writing wisdom would you bestow upon new writers?

Write the kind of books you would want to read, don’t slavishly try to recreate what is currently hot!

How do author friends help you become a better writer?

I kick about ideas with my fellow writers. They see things from a different angle, and are brutally honest  – which is exactly what you need.

What has been the best compliment?

A magazine editor who paid handsomely for my first short story said – “Love this – do you have any more?”

What do your fans mean to you?

Everything. Their support makes it all worthwhile.

Can you give us a bit more about your latest book, Crimson Siege (Blood Riders – Book 1) as it is launched today, the 22nd of May 2018?

 

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When ruthless bounty hunters target one of 19th century Europe’s most feared vampire clans, the last place any lawman wants to be is caught in the middle…


But for Anton Yoska, Lord Marshal of the Imperial lands south of the Carpathian Mountains, fate has trapped him in a supernatural stand-off that can end only in terror, pain and destruction.
A gang of mercenaries led by Anton’s former army comrade Milosh Drubrick have captured vampire aristocrat Stefan Modjeski, wanted for a string of bloody ritualistic murders, and have come to Anton to claim the reward and seek shelter and protection. And as Stefan’s predatory undead kin lay siege to the jailhouse, Anton is faced with an agonising choice – hand over his prisoner and abandon the treacherous hunters to their unspeakable fate, or stand and fight.


What’s more, the vampires have made him an enticing offer if he co-operates – they’ll save his dying wife by turning her into one of their kind. He can join her, and the devoted couple will live forever.
The jailhouse defenders are outnumbered and out of options. It’s a battle that can’t be won, certain slaughter for them all, and Anton can’t trust his scheming allies. But Lord Marshal Yoska isn’t about to surrender.


For he’s an experienced vampire hunter, a dangerous man when cornered, and a single minded warrior who knows there are worse things to fear than death…

Why it is a must-read?

It’s pacy, visceral and packed with twists and turns.

Here’s the trailer for Crimson Siege:

Thank you so much, Jay, for letting us get to know you a little bit better. Besides reading your books, I’d love to try one of your cakes one day!

Jay Raven‘s books and anthologies containing his stories can all be found on Amazon. Why not get your copy of Crimson Siege now!

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You can follow Jay Raven via the following social media:

Email: jay@jayraven.com

Website: www.jayraven.com

Twitter: @JayRavenAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fantasywriterjayraven/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYpfhXi_m6ePYfeHG_MPO7A

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3153810.Jay_Raven

What To Watch? Safe

The other day we began watching the short series ‘Safe’ on Netflix. It is a murder mystery of only eight episodes long, but boy, is it binge-watch-worthy!

Safe

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Cast

The most notable actor of the series is Michael C. Hall, the man who also played the serial killer Dexter, now in the role of surgeon Tom Delaney. He’s lost some weight and has acquired an English accent, but performs the same great acting we’re used to. Less humoristic, more serious, still extremely entertaining.

There are multiple other actors and actresses that play an important role, but I’ll mention two of them. One is his buddy Pete Mayfield, played by Marc Warren, and Detective Sergeant Sophie Mason, played by Amanda Abbington, playing Tom’s girlfriend. Both played their roles splendidly!

Plot

The series follows Tom as he’s looking for his missing daughter and spans consecutive days in a gated community in England. Every single episode begins with a flashback to the evening when things go wrong. Parents have an anniversary and go out for a weekend, daughter throws a party, and a dead body ends up in the pool. The dead body happens to be the boyfriend of Tom’s daughter, who goes missing from that moment on. This should be enough to make you want to watch Safe already 😀 .

What I liked about Safe

I liked seeing Michael C. Hall again (who, I believe, is the executive producer of the series). Dexter was one of my favorite series, and I got used to seeing his cute face. In Safe, however, he is much more serious, showing off his acting talent.

The best part of the series is the plot. It keeps being driven forward. You keep wanting to watch the next episode to find out what happens next. There are so many red herrings! You keep on guessing who did it… and you keep being wrong.

What I didn’t like about Safe

There honestly isn’t much I didn’t like. Maybe it was strange to hear Michael C. Hall talk English instead of American, but I got used to it pretty quickly. The final plot wasn’t far-fetched and very believable, just very unexpected. The whole series was very well thought through.

Summary

I would recommend Safe being watched by teenagers and adults alike. It is real-world stuff. People make stupid choices, getting others hurt, without the blink of an eye. It’s got a good ‘moral-of-the-story’ of ‘don’t do drugs.’

What To Read? Cursed: Ruadh’s Story

I have a little gem for your today. I’m particularly proud of this one as I’ve helped the author, Troy A. Hill, a little bit with it. It is published today!

Cursed

Ruadh’s Story

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You may remember the Dark Fantasy Spring Giveaway Event not long ago. I won this book in Troy’s competition after guessing the correct shifter form of Ruadh (and no, I didn’t see the bear in the moon on the image that he showed us 😀 ). That’s the first thing that attracted me to this book; the cover. The artist did an excellent job detailing the atmosphere described in the story (not that I knew that when I saw the cover for the first time, of course).

It’s a short read, with only one hundred pages. This doesn’t diminish the reading entertainment, though. Mr. Hill has a particular way of writing, one that suits the character of Ruadh very well. He gets you to experience exactly what Ruadh is going through as he shapeshifts and on his flight from evil but without getting overly descriptive. His words are straight to the point yet transporting you into the scene. You get drawn into this ancient world with shapeshifters, banshees, and godesses creating havoc. There even is a comic relief in there, although this may not have been intended 🙂 . There truly is not a dull moment in this story. It is a good set up for the main novel to come, and I hope to read the other books soon.

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All of Troy A. Hill’s books are available on Amazon and Cursed is on sale at the moment, so grab it while it’s hot!

And the Winner is…

You may remember that I posted a St. Patrick’s Day Rafflecopter Giveaway in March.

St.Patrick's Day Rafflecopter Image

Well, they have announced the winners this weekend!

Winner of my book Living Like A Vampire is Jaclyn Mercer, from Canada.

Winner of the Good Luck Charm key ring is Sharon Extine, from the US.

Sharon, I have tried to send you an email, but it keeps bouncing. Please contact me on jackydahlhaus@gmail.com via an email address that accepts mine, so I can send you your prize!

Congratulations, Ladies!

Don’t forget there is a new Spring into Reading Rafflecopter running with fantastic prizes again:

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PS: Please note that when you enter the Rafflecopter, you will be subscribed to all these wonderful authors’ newsletters, offering promos and freebies!

What To Watch? Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Yesterday we watched Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011), a golden oldie, again. It wasn’t as ‘golden’ as I remembered, but it was good fun anyway. It’s a quirky look on the paranormal, and I’m all for quirky 🙂

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

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Cast

Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas
Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas

Dylan Dog is played by Brandon Routh, and it’s not surprising he played Superman in Superman Returns (2006). He has the chin, the body, and the overall looks for it. Dylan’s sidekick, Marcus, is played by Sam Huntington who, to my surprise, also features in Superman Returns (I’ve got to watch that one again, now). The love interest, Elizabeth Ryan, is played by Anita Briem who has featured in Journey to the Center of the EarthDr. Who, and The Tudors.

The main villain, Vargas, is played by Taye Diggs, an actor who has been nominated for and won many awards. Another character with an important role is Peter Stormare, who plays Gabriel the werewolf. I like him. He has an extensive list of filmography but usually doesn’t play the main character.

Plot

Dylan Dog used to be a detective for the paranormal creatures of this world (‘no pulse, no problem’ was on his business card), but since the death of his girlfriend, is now retired. This changes when his buddy Marcus is attacked by a super zombie and is turned into a zombie. Dylan now wants to know why Elizabeth Ryan’s father has been murdered, where this super zombie came from, and why they’re trying to keep him from taking the case. Together, the three go out to seek the truth, dealing with werewolves, vampires, and zombies on their quest.

Marcus is being told he's a zombie
Marcus is being told he’s a zombie

What I liked about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Obviously, it’s great to see another movie about paranormal creatures that is not doom and gloom. This is a funny movie with the role of Marcus the funniest. He gets killed and turned into a zombie sort of in the first chapter. From that moment on and continuing for the whole movie, Marcus has to come to terms with the whole ‘being undead’ thing. His dialogue and acting are hilarious and worth the watch.

The creature Belial, who features at the end of the movie, is well done and not too fake (although he does look like he’s wearing huge boots).

What I didn’t like about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan_Dog_Beliar.jpgI won’t lie. The acting is bad. I tried to figure out why as all these actors have an extensive list of experience. The only thing I could come up with is that the dialogue is often cliche and/or unnatural.

Summary

Dylan Dog is a fun watch if you haven’t got anything else lined up.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

Meet The Author… Vanessa Ravel

Vanessa Ravel is an author I met on the Dark Fantasy Books website. She is a far cry from the standard girl next door and I expect her book, Four o’Clock Alice, isn’t any different.

Vanessa Ravel

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You are an epidemiologist by trade. Do you still work as a scientist or are you now a full-time writer? Does your work feature in some way in your book?

I still do consulting and medical writing on a freelance basis, which allows me to devote time to my real passion of writing fiction. Funny enough, after all my schooling, epidemiology doesn’t at all figure into Four O’Clock Alice, but I do have some ideas stewing on the back burner where I might be able to use my public health background. 

Why do you write dark fantasy?

Horror is my favorite genre, but I’m not really a fan of gore or graphic violence. I like writing about ugly things in the most beautiful way possible, so I think dark fantasy allows for that outlet over horror. To me, writing delicate prose about vile things is more shocking than any gorefest because, strangely enough, there is beauty in vile things. There is beauty in everything. You just need to find the right words.

Four o’Clock Alice is your debut novel. Did you intentionally write a novel or does its creation have a different story?

I did set out to write Four O’Clock Alice, although the original idea doesn’t at all resemble the finished product! The impetus for writing was a series of personal tragedies which afforded me the perspective to ‘write what I know,’ not in a sense of ever having been in any of the characters’ situations per se, but nonetheless being newly able to empathize with those situations.

How old is Alice and what is the target audience for your novel?

Although the book starts with a ten-year-old Alice and follows her until she is 17, I would not say this is necessarily a book for that age range. I believe the target audience for my novel is adult, although the older ‘young adult’ market (say, 14+) would sympathize with Alice’s coming-of-age situation.

 

Four_OClock_AliceCan you give us a quirky detail about Alice that doesn’t feature explicitly in your book?

Her second toe is longer than all the others. But don’t tell anyone; she gets enough hassle for having the touch of death.

What can people expect when they read your book?

You’re in for a surreal trip down the rabbit hole! Four O’Clock Alice examines the human condition from a unique perspective, and the book takes a surprising twist. There are certainly aspects of horror as the antagonists run the gamut from Lovecraftian creatures to evil overlords to flesh and blood humans (in my opinion, the scariest type of monster).

You have a lot of dogs. Please tell us more about them. Do they feature in your book?

I currently have four small dogs: Anaïs the dachshund (11, she may be short, but you’re still beneath her); Zoë the mutt (9, says she’s Chihuahua-beagle-dachshund, but she won’t show us her papers), Dolce the Chihuahua (7, she’s only comfortable if she’s sitting on another dog’s head); and Penny the schnauzer (6, if there’s a worm on the ground, she’ll roll on it). While my dogs don’t personally appear in my book, their humanity—particularly that of my beloved Dudley who passed in 2014—is largely what inspired me to write about what makes us human.

Are you working on another book? If yes, what’s it about, and could you give us a little ‘preview’?

My upcoming release will be a short story collection called Demon Dance: 10 dark stories to rattle your psyche. This book will be a big divergence from Four o’Clock Alice in genre and in tone, and can be classified as more horror/speculative fiction than dark fantasy. The 10 standalone stories examine the boundaries between personal demons and the ones that come from Hell. Here’s a preview from The Wild Hunt:

The rumbling intensified. Thunder? No—hooves. Dozens of them. Moving fast. Shaking the room. Then an additional sound rode in on the heels of that stampede. Howls and yips punctuated by agitated pants echoed through the night. As the racket came to a crescendo of howls, whinnies, and neighs, the glass French doors to the terrace exploded, and Marcus dove behind the couch. The late December air blew a rare handful of snow flurries onto the brand new pine floors. A dark form eclipsed the streetlight pouring in through the broken French doors. Horses chuffed. A hideous stench mushroomed into the lounge, provoking Marcus’s gag reflex. He peeked over the couch at Vesta. “What is that?”

Thank you so much, Vanessa, for letting us know a bit more about Four o’Clock Alice and your dogs. Please give a cuddle to all four of them from me 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading your book one day.

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Four o’Clock Alice is available on Amazon.

What To Watch? Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

It’s the school holidays, so we’ve been going to the cinema a few times and watched a couple of movies on TV. With my daughter, I went to see Coco on Friday morning, a very entertaining and musical movie. I didn’t keep a dry eye watching that one, no matter how hard I tried. On Saturday evening, the whole family went to see Ready Player One. My daughter had read the book and told us the movie didn’t follow what happened in the book. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining movie. But, what was in the front of my memory queue was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a movie on Netflix. Here’s my review.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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Cast

This epic sci-fi movie is written, directed, and co-produced by Luc Besson and is based on the French comics series of Valérian et Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. Although there are some great names in the supporting roles list, with Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, and Rutger Hauer making an appearance, the main characters were played by Dane DeHaan as Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, actors I have never heard of or seen before.

Plot

The setting is a huge, ex-earth space station, called Alpha, floating in deep space where millions of creatures of a thousand planets reside.

The story is about two Alpha ‘space agents,’ Valerian and Laureline, who need to rescue a creature, the last of its species. It’s a special creature as it is able to replicate anything and is very valuable on the black market.  Of course, nothing goes as planned, and all sort of excitement and mishaps happen. A thread throughout the story is the relationship between Valerian and Laureline.

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What I liked about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

This is an incredibly colorful movie, full of strange creatures, adventure, and action. Even though the movie lasts well over two hours, I only got bored one moment. Mostly there was so much to see and so much happening. I don’t know if it was my writer’s brain or not, but I want to watch it again just to see all the creatures in the background. The ideas are all wonderfully unconventional, a nice change from the usual.

The special effects are phenomenal and the choreography of the action was good to follow. The scene with Rhianna performing was perhaps a bit over the top, but very entertaining.

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What I didn’t like about Valerian and the City if a Thousand Planets

As you can see on the image with the comics illustration above, the actors don’t really look like the comics characters. I didn’t know the movie was based on the comics series before I watched it, so it didn’t bother me. What I did find annoying was that Cara Delevingne doesn’t have a lot of facial expressions and has extremely thick eyebrows and that Dane DeHaan comes over as a spoiled teenager rather than a handsome, dashing space agent. For such an expensive movie (apparently the most expensive non-American and independent film ever made), you’d think they could have gotten better actors for those roles.

As I mentioned before, toward the end there was one moment my thoughts drifted away as the story was getting a bit bland. According to my husband, I didn’t miss much.

Summary

If you like sci-fi, adventure, and strange creatures, this is the movie to watch! It’s a movie for all ages that will keep you in your seat for over two hours.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is available on Amazon.

 

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Mistral Dawn Blog Feature

Hey everybody,

I just wanted to share with you that Mistral Dawn interviewed me and it’s up on her website! You can find it here. You may find out something about me you didn’t know yet 😊.

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Thanks for the opportunity, Mistral! 😘

Meet the Author… David W. Thompson

David W. Thompson reacted to one of my Tweets and we began chatting. He was so kind to read and review my book (thank you again so much for this, David!) and, as I was intrigued by the blurb of his book, I bought his book, Sister Witch-The life of Moll Dyer (Legends of the Family Dyer), and I am reading it now. It is a wonderfully written book, with many details and descriptions of real-life experiences of the ‘olden days,’ that I can thoroughly recommend.

David W. Thompson

David W Thompson

You’ve always been reading, but you’ve had an extremely varied career before you began writing. What made you decide to write?

Most of that variety was prior to my stint in the Army. I was lucky—in terms of job security—to stay with the same aerospace/defense company for 32 years. That’s rather unusual nowadays. I’ve always written, but with my little people grown up (and retirement!!!!), I’ve discovered the time to pursue it in a meaningful way.  It’s what I’ve always aspired to, but making a solid living created a detour.

Your first book ‘Sister Witch’ is about the life of Moll Dyer. How much research did you do into Moll Dyer’s life and how much of your story is true?

As you may know, Moll is both a historical figure and a well-developed myth in this part of the U.S. There’s a lot of evidence to support her existence including Moll Dyer’s Run (a small stream) and a local road named after her that traverses her old homestead. Her rock (where she died leaving knee and hand imprints) is on display at our county courthouse. There is also a letter written by a colonist describing her (in very unflattering terms). Despite this, some still doubt she was real. Most historical evidence was destroyed in a courthouse fire, but after nearly 350 years, it seems every local family has an oral tradition about her! I spent many months interviewing folks about their version of her tale and started a Facebook page (Moll Dyer Fans) to gather more. Sister Witch is a novel incorporating all of these facts, tales and divergent points of view. Her story is a tragedy, and I cast her as I felt she deserved. Both in life and in legend, her story is heartrending.  How much is true? I can’t say with any certainty, I only repeated what she whispered in my ear.

The book has supernatural/paranormal topics. Do you believe in the supernatural? Have you had a supernatural experience yourself?

Yes and yes, but you have to promise not to tell! Isn’t that what people say for fear of being mocked for their experiences? On the Facebook page I mentioned above, I received so many PMs, but very few posts on the site. Most were “don’t mention my name” comments. But I digress. Yes, I saw both of my grandfathers after their deaths. Also, Sister Witch would never have been published if not for a nudge from my Mom—years after she passed. (Love and miss you, Mom!)

In your newest short story, ‘My name is Samantha,’ you feature another woman as the main character. What is your reason to write female main characters?

Hmm, I never really thought about that! I like women, and I don’t mean just that way. I grew up with very strong women in my life and respect how hard that must be in western society. I love what women represent—creators and nurturers… protectors of the innocent. From a literary perspective, I feel dialog is easier with women. I hate to make a blanket statement, but women seem to be so conversationally brave to me! While a group of hardheads are in a corner bragging about a favorite sports team, women are at the table discoursing on life, love, and solving the problems of the world. There are thoughts and feelings I find hard to make believable coming out of a man’s mouth. That said, Book 2 in the trilogy (My Father’s Blood) is told from Moll’s male descendant’s POV. The rough draft for Book 3 is split between the male and female main characters.

You also write under a pseudonym. Do you find it hard to keep up with the different names and accounts?

It can be. I don’t make a big secret of my pseudonym, but I thought at the time that it would be easier to segregate my writings by genre. Davina Guy also writes paranormal, but with a more romantic twist. I confess I spend much more effort on my “real” name accounts, so I’m not convinced it was the right move for me.

Which writer has inspired you the most and why?

One? How about a few? First, everything Thoreau and Tolkien ever touched. Albert Camus’s ‘The Stranger’ really struck a nerve with me. I love dark fiction, so I have to throw a thank you out to Poe, Mary Shelley, and Stephen King.

Does your family help you in any way writing your stories?

It would be impossible to separate life and family from my writing. I was blessed with a loving family and wonderful kids, but there’s always the “what ifs” simmering in the back of my brain.  As a parent, nightmares revolved around “bad things” happening to my children. What if something terrible happened? What if I wasn’t there to protect them? Of course, everyone has real-life trials and tribulations, moments that can turn your life dark or that you can rise above. That’s the allure of dark fiction—exploring those dark corners and what-ifs. Will your character be the guy or gal cowering from the scratching sounds under the bed or will they grab a baseball bat and dive in!

Have you already begun writing a new story? If so, what is it about?

Book 2 in the Dyer Legends trilogy is in editing. Moll’s spirit makes a cameo appearance. The rough draft of Book 3 is about done. I’ve also started a novel about a Native American couple. Still not sure exactly where that one is going, but we will see where the characters take me. That segment of history is particularly attractive to me.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us, David. I can’t wait for Book 2 to come out 🙂

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David W. Thompson’s books are available on Amazon.

What To Watch? Black Panther

For Mothers’ Day, I wanted to see Black Panther. There was such a hype about it and it was a Marvel movie, so I had to see it on the big screen.

Black Panther

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To be honest, the first time I heard about Black Panther was in the Forrest Gump movie and since then thought it was a movement, not a superhero (yes, I dropped history from my high school package as soon as it hit the twentieth century. My bad, but I had a reason). As I’m a fan of any superhero, I was eager to see this Black Panther movie.

Plot and Characters

The movie starts with a flashback, when Wakanda king T’Chaka (played by John Kani) visits his brother N’Jobu (played by Sterling K. Brown) in the US, finds out he is planning to help the African-American people by using Wakanda’s secret resource of vibranium, a meteorite metal that affects a plant which gives superpowers to those that ingest it, and kills him, leaving his son behind.

Fast forward to the here and now. King T’Chaka is killed (which is seen in Captain America: Civil War) and his son T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) takes the throne. The arms dealer N’Jobu was dealing with, the South-African Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis), finally steals a piece of vibranium from a museum, and shit hits the fan. (I’m not going into further detail as I don’t want to spoil the plot). What I must say is that the plot was very predictable.

Michael K. Jordan as N'Jadaka in Black Panther
Michael K. Jordan as N’Jadaka

All characters, except for CIA agent Everett K. Ross (played by Martin Freeman) and arms dealer (played by Andy Serkis), are African-Americans. Well, I don’t actually know if they are all American, but they’re of African descent for sure. I loved watching Michael B. Jordan, who played N’Jadaka, T’Challa’s cousin, even with all the scars from his killings. That man is beautiful. I liked his acting as well, very convincing. To be honest, more so than Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. I liked Letitia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s sister. Boseman and Wright played their roles well, although I found it hard to believe they were related, but this always happens in movies.

What I liked

I liked the colorfulness of the movie, the well-choreographed action, the use of cg-rhinoceroses, and the technology suggested. If only it could be true (the technology, of course).

Some parts of the dialogue were funny, but, to be honest, I had hoped for more one-liners.

The music was notable. When the first African sounds blasted through the speakers, I experienced a ‘Circle of Life’ moment, but it was short-lived. I liked how they adjusted the music to the change of location.

I was very impressed with the graphics. Especially the technology looked believable.

I liked there was a female ‘Q,’ and liked the session where the new Panther suit was shown, albeit a bit cliché.

I liked the way they added political hints that living in America is not good for all Americans and that things still need to change in a big way. Not sure it had a place in a Marvel movie, but it was a great way to convey the message to a large audience.

What I didn’t like

Now, I’m having some issues with this movie.

Yes, it is good to see more African(-American)s on the big screen. In the current US political climate, we can’t see enough of them to show the world is a multiracial place. But is it necessary to put them all in one movie? I mean, I’m opposed to segregation, and yet, this is how I see this movie. No integration whatsoever. Oh wait, there is a white fellow featuring the full length of the movie and, lo and behold, he saves the day. Honestly, wasn’t there one Wakandan pilot available who could have piloted the aircraft? I’m having a ‘The Great Wall‘ moment here. Last week, I watched ‘Last Knights‘ and that movie was so much more multi-racially appeasing. If they wanted the movie to be a complete African-American feature, they should’ve left Martin Freeman out. Sorry, Martin.

Another issue, something that I can’t leave out, is that I don’t understand that a country like Wakanda, surrounded by multiple third-world countries, focusses on helping African-Americans. Why don’t they help their African neighbors around them first? Those that don’t have running water in their homes, those that don’t have an infrastructure to rely on as a basis for thriving enterprise, and those that are suffering genocide. Basically, their fellow Africans need more help than African-Americans. Why don’t they show Wakanda helping those people? Why does it always revolve around America? Maybe it was implied, but I must have missed it.

Yet another issue is the fact that the ‘rebels,’ those that want to use the vibranium to help African-Americans, immediately revert to violence. They want to make weapons and ‘overthrow’ the white Americans. Why conquer? Isn’t that an eye for an eye, i.e. rather barbaric? Why lower yourself to the level you abhor? The ending of the movie suggests T’Challa is finally willing to share Wakandan technology, but the majority of the movie shows that change is only achieved after resorting to violence first.

Maybe I’m taking this too far. Maybe I shouldn’t think this movie exists to help multiracialism forward and just watch it as a Marvel superhero movie.

Summary

An excellent addition to the Marvel movies, with colorful images, spectacular action, great acting, and a moral-of-the-story that is debatable.

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Just in case people get me wrong 🙂 :

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