Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween and Horror Movies!


Hi everyone!

In honor of the upcoming holiday (and it's my personal favorite), this blog is off the usual topic of writing. Today, I’m sharing a bit about horror movies. I have a background in film (it was my major) and I’ve taken dozens of courses devoted to different genres, styles, and directors. And writing and movies are connected - after all, every movie begins with a story idea!

Horror movies (like ice cream) come in a variety of flavors, and horror movie fans/buffs have their own personal likes and dislikes. Some people are devoted to the classic 1930 and 1940 Universal Studios films starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Others enjoy the British Hammer films of the 1960s. Other types of fans are attracted to a specific genre (torture porn, mutant cannibal families, clowns) or a monster (werewolves, zombies). Still other folks are loyal to a specific character (Jason Voorhees) or franchise (Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm St.)

So what are my favorites among these categories? I have my list of “classics” but I have a special fondness for 1970s horror films. Some are considered classic or revolutionary and others are just plain bad. (The “so bad they’re good” kind.)

I could go on and on (really!) but here’s a list of my top ten classics (in alphabetical order – with 1 tie.). They’re not all necessarily gory or scary, but they have a good story, tense camera work, or are just plain cool.

  1. The Amityville Horror (1975) – Some houses are cheap for a reason!
  2. Dog Soldiers (2002) – Best werewolf movie ever.
  3. Dracula (1931) tied with The Mummy (1932) – Can’t choose between them, sorry
  4. Evil Dead (1983) – Gave us Bruce Campbell in the worst cabin ever – yey!
  5. Halloween (1978) – An instant classic that still freaks people out – and the music…
  6. King Kong (1933) – A classic for its time – the island part is the best
  7. The Other (1972) – Often overlooked story about creepy twins – need I say more?
  8. Pitch Black (2000) – Life on other planets isn’t always nice
  9. Psycho (1960) – Leave it to Alfred to scare everyone out of the shower
  10. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Paranoia and persecution = Polanski

And, in my personal favorite genre, 1970s horror movies, here are the top ten.

  1. Bad Ronald (1974) – Who’s living behind your walls?
  2. Black Christmas (1974) – The first really creepy Christmas movie
  3. The Car (1977) – Before Christine started trouble, this scared everyone
  4. Dark Night of the Scarecrow – Okay, it’s really 1981, but who’s not afraid of the last scene in this TV movie?
  5. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) – When someone tells you not to open something, don’t!
  6. Frogs (1972) – One of my favorites – original poster had a hand hanging out of the frog’s mouth
  7. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – A family goes camping and meets another, stranger, family
  8. Race with the Devil (1975) – Again, while trying to go camping, a group meets up with trouble (anti-camping movies are their own genre!)
  9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The horror classic about a dysfunctional family – and there’s no blood – really!
  10. Twisted Brain (1974) – Horror in high school (makes a great double feature with Bad Ronald!)

So there you have it, my take on horror movies. What are yours? What do you think of these? Check a few out and enjoy them – at your own risk!

Happy Halloween!

Kelli

Yes, the photo is of my 1970s Halloween decorations!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Have you ever read a Bigfoot romance? Beauty & the Bigfoot – a paranormal-comedy!

Hi folks!

This week’s blog is devoted to one of my paranormal Amber Quill Press romances, Beauty & the Bigfoot. It’s interesting to see how this unusual story came about….

Beauty & the Bigfoot, (Yes, it’s a Bigfoot romance!) offers readers a quirky look at the legend of Bigfoot. When I told people I was writing a Bigfoot romance, they said, “You’re kidding, right?”

Nope! As anyone who knows me will attest, I’ve always been interested in the paranormal or supernatural realms. (In fact, “Supernatural” is one of my favorite shows! Go Dean! Love the car.)

Maybe I watched too much “In Search Of…” as a child or “unexplained phenomena” appealed to my imagination, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the strange and unusual.

I started out writing horror short stories and it was only a matter of time before I went down the paranormal romance road. (Beauty & the Bigfoot is my second paranormal romance. My first, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover, is a more serious love story.)

Beauty & the Bigfoot was a lot of fun to write and I had a great time creating the characters. Through Tara and her eccentric father, Charlie, I was able to turn up the camp level and add in many wacky references and asides. Readers fell in love with the characters and the humor, and I’m happy to say that the book got several great reviews!

The book started out with the premise: “What if a girl fell in love with a captured Bigfoot?” I liked the idea, but I wasn’t sure where I could take it. Later, when I was doing research for the book, (Yes, there was research involved!), I came across several historical accounts (dating back to the 1500s) of huge, hairy “wild men” living in the woods. Native American tribes have several names for Bigfoot and they took the subject seriously. After reading these stories, my imagination took over from there. (Once you read the book, you’ll see how it all ties in together.)

So, is Bigfoot real? Is the Patterson film a hoax? Are there Sasquatches roaming the forests of the Pacific Northwest? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the legend continues on – with a happy ending – in Beauty & the Bigfoot.

Here’s a synopsis:

Beauty & the Bigfoot

Can true love exist between the species?

Tara’s world is anything but normal. Her father is known as the resident crackpot – just because he’s on a personal mission to catch a Sasquatch. Despite all of the “Bigfoot evidence” cluttering their house, Tara never really believed in Bigfoot – until the day her father brought him home.

She affectionately names her father’s prized catch ‘Joe’ and discovers there’s something oddly familiar – and erotic – about him. With a media circus descending on her father’s ranch and a showdown brewing with the local sheriff, Tara risks her life to save Joe. When Tara finally succumbs to her animalistic urges, she learns that Joe is not exactly who – or what – he seems. Joe is more than a Sasquatch – he’s her soul mate!

The book link is: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/BeautyBigfoot.html

Next week, I’ll share a bit (or a bite!) about Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover

Happy Haunting,

Kelli

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Exploring Horror Stories – Part 2


Greetings!

In my last blog, I talked a little about horror stories in general. Now I’ll get more specific. How does a person write a horror story? What makes a great one? How can you make a convincing story about a monster if monsters aren’t real?

First, it’s important to realize that horror can take many forms — gore-filled splatter-punk with buckets of blood… mysterious, cursed people living in isolated Gothic castles (or even tropical islands!)… psychological, unsettling horror that makes you feel uneasy… or your ordinary “classic monsters” such as vampires, ghosts, zombies, and werewolves. Each kind of horror story has its fans, probably because everyone is scared of different things (heights, monkeys, bridges, etc.). But whatever type of horror story you write (or read) there are a few universal elements that should go into any horror tale.

An important element in writing horror is to invent a believable horror universe where monsters, angels, vampires, and other paranormal elements are possible – and conflict with the characters you’ve created.

The TV show “Supernatural” is an excellent example of horror world building. The Winchesters go around hunting “things” for a living. They were raised believing that paranormal creatures were more than legends – to them, they’re 100% real, no question. That’s what every horror author has to do – make the reader believe in the element of horror (whether it’s a nightmare-invading serial killer, a 60 foot sea-creature, or a ghost) and take the reader on a journey with the main characters. The situations need to be plausible and told in a way that grips the reader, even if the premise seems a bit far-fetched (at first).

As with any story, the author has to establish a believable setting. Whether your tale takes place in a gritty, post-apocalyptic city or a foggy rural graveyard, you need to give your readers a concrete foundation of where the story is taking place. Use lots of details and props to make your descriptions come alive. Ask yourself why your story has to take place where it does, then take your reader there. My story, “Kropsy’s Curse” makes great use of setting. What’s better than a horror story set in a graveyard on Halloween? It’s available on www.fictionwise.com. The link is: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook17627.htm

Remember that all characters (even the monsters) need to have a purpose. Why are your zombies in Wegmans? Your readers will want to know why (and how) the events in your story are happening. Your job as a writer is to get readers to suspend their (dis)belief and buy into your story. This is done by giving characters a goal and following it up with in-depth characterization and details. You don’t have to go into a lengthy explanation, just give your readers a reason, have your characters believe it, and move on. In my story, “The Man in Apt. 3-A”, the main character really didn’t believe a vampire lived upstairs…until he met him. (Read it for free in the horror section of my site!)

And try to avoid clichés like the plague! Masked killers hunting campers in the woods, serial-killing cannibal families, miserable Goth vampires in ruffles, and mindless zombie attacks have all been done to… well, death. When writing horror, don’t be afraid to break patterns, make your characters different or have them go against the stereotype. Give readers something unexpected, turn a cliché on its ear, or use a different point of view — it’ll make your story stand out. Why not set your werewolf story in Hawaii? My flash fiction story, “Guest of Honor” uses setting, mood, and purpose to deliver a clever ending. It was featured in The Best of the First Line. Read more about it here: http://www.kelliwilkins.com/horror01.html


Remember, when writing horror, the only limit is your imagination!

Want more horror? Visit the horror section of my website: http://www.kelliwilkins.com/horror.html

Next week, we’ll see what happens when horror meets romance!

Happy Haunting,

Kelli

Friday, October 1, 2010

Exploring Horror Fiction - Part 1


Happy October Everyone!

To celebrate my favorite month, my blogs for October will be devoted (in some way) to the horror and paranormal genres.

As most everyone knows, I write in several genres, including romance and horror. For some, that might seem an odd combination, but it works for me. One half of my brain writes the horror, and the half writes the romance.

Although I write hot and spicy romances for Amber Quill Press, I actually started out writing short horror stories. Since I grew up reading horror fiction and watching horror movies (the whole horror movie thing is a blog for another day) it only seemed natural. (After all, Halloween is my favorite holiday!) Later, I branched out into science fiction and published 40 or so pulp fiction-style sci-fi stories for the Sun.

In horror fiction, I get to explore different settings, plots, and characters that I couldn’t develop in romance. Sometimes after working on several romances, I’ll switch moods and write a horror story to give my brain and writing muscles a change of pace.

My horror short stories are more psychological/spooky/creepy than gory, and I like to explore the darker aspects of a story and not always give the characters a happy ending, as I do in my romances. It’s fun to take a seemingly normal situation (a Halloween party, a man living in an apartment, a boy with a grudge) and add a supernatural/horror element.

Recently, two of my short stories appeared in horror anthologies published by Pill Hill Press. (Both books are available on www.Amazon.com)

Haunted: An Anthology Of The Supernatural - contains 42 short stories about haunted places. Set in a haunted house, “Whispers from the Past” blends the paranormal with a startling bit of reality. Here’s a short excerpt:

Paul rolled over in the narrow twin bed and tried to ignore the faint whispers. No matter what he did, they invaded his mind like silvery moonbeams.

He closed his eyes and counted to fifty, hoping to focus on anything but those quiet sounds on the edge of his sanity. Ghosts did not exist, yet he was hearing eerie noises in the dead of night.

The whispers grew louder, more insistent. Now and then, he could make out a word or two in the hushed voice he recognized from long ago.

It can’t really be him. It’s just my over-stimulated imagination, or maybe the contest people are playing tricks on me.

“Stop it!”

He snapped back the bedclothes and stood up. The whispery voice fell silent.


To order the paperback, click here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1617060216/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0Z66HE40JJ7NBMK2CXXB&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938811&pf_rd_i=507846

To order an electronic copy, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Haunted-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B003VWCJ4Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1279655717&sr=1-2


The Four Horsemen – An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death This anthology of twenty-five short stories is based on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In “The Ape” a young boy in South Carolina uses an unusual “toy” as a tool for revenge. Here’s a snippet:


South Carolina, 1961

Billy wrinkled his nose as he entered the dimly lit shop. The air smelled funny, like a mix of spices and smoke. He closed the door behind him, cutting himself off from the outside world.

His mind fired a jumble of warnings. Nobody knew where he was… he wasn’t supposed to be here… who knew what might happen to him?

He fought the urge to yank open the door and run, but he couldn’t. He had work to do. It had taken every bit of courage he had to get this far, and he wasn’t going to give up now. Everyone in town knew where the voodoo-lady practiced her magic—but no kid in fourth grade had ever been brave enough to come inside before.

The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/Four-Horsemen-Anthology-Conquest-Famine/dp/0984261036/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273504039&sr=1-5

In my next blog, I’ll talk about what elements go into making a good (creepy) horror story, and share bits about my other short horror fiction. Links and excerpts from my other horror tales are on my website www.KelliWilkins.com

Until next time,

Happy Haunting!

Kelli