Thursday, October 27, 2011
Happy Halloween! In honor of the holiday (it's my personal favorite and yes, those are my decorations above), I’m sharing a bit about my favorite horror movies. Although this is off my usual topic of writing, writing and movies are connected - after all, every movie begins with a story idea!
I recently watched a show on AMC where Stephen King shared his views and ideas about various genres of horror movies. He talked about the classics and went into his favorites by subject. So I figured, why not do the same?
Horror movies (like ice cream) come in a variety of flavors, and horror movie fans/buffs have their 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 families, clowns) or a monster (vampires, werewolves, and 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 short list of my favorites in alphabetical order by genre. They’re not all necessarily gory or scary, but they have a good story, tense camera work, or are just plain cool.
The Bad Seed (1956) – An 8 year-old sociopath fools everyone (almost!)
The Other (1972) – Often overlooked story about creepy twins – need I say more?
The Shining (1980) – Red-rum! Would you stay at the Overlook?
The Amityville Horror (1975) – Some houses are cheap for a reason!
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) – When someone tells you not to open something, don’t! And the 2011 “remake” was pretty good too!
Werewolves & Other Monsters
Dog Soldiers (2002) – Best werewolf movie ever.
The Mummy (1932) – Don’t mess around in tombs
King Kong (1933) – A classic for its time, and the island part is the best!
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) – Spooky TV movie!
Frogs (1972) – One of my favorites – original poster had a hand hanging out of the frog’s mouth.
Murder & Mayhem
Halloween (1978) – An instant classic that still freaks people out
Psycho (1960) – Leave it to Alfred to scare everyone out of the shower
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Paranoia and persecution = Polanski
Twisted Brain (1974) – Horror in high school (makes a great double feature with Bad Ronald!)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The horror classic about a dysfunctional family – and there’s no blood – really!
Black Christmas (1974) – The first really creepy Christmas movie – still holds up after all these years
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – A family goes camping and meets another, stranger, family
Race with the Devil (1975) – Again, while trying to go camping, a group meets up with trouble (anti-camping movies are their own genre!)
Enjoy them – at your own risk!
And here’s a treat:
I’m having a mini-contest and will be giving away a PDF copy of one of my Amber Quill Press romances. It’s easy to enter: all you need to do is sign-up to follow my blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/ between Nov. 2 and Nov. 22. A winner will be chosen at random from all the new followers. Check out my blog on Nov. 1 for more details.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In a previous 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
My flash fiction story, “Death is Just a Tick Away” appeared in the premiere issue of Dark Moon Digest’s e-magazine (Issue #1) this summer. The story is based on a real superstition! You can order a Kindle version here: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Moon-Digest-Magazine-ebook/dp/B005BSSL66/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_7
Look for a special Halloween-themed blog next week, then exciting changes in the new year!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Despite the latest trendy TV shows, vampires traditionally aren’t angst-ridden sexy heroes wearing ruffled shirts with relationship problems. “Authentic” vampires are undead blood-drinking ghouls with little or no social skills. In the past, people (wisely) feared them and entire villages went out of their way to dig up, behead, and stake corpses they suspected of vampirism. (Sound romantic? Not quite.)
Tradition notwithstanding, nowadays almost everyone can embrace the image of a suave, black caped Bela Lugosi (or Christopher Lee, or Frank Langella) wandering around a castle in search of his long-lost love… and so the connection between vampires and romance was born.
My Amber Quill Press paranormal romance, Confessions of aVampire’s Lover offers a different view of a vampire romance. For starters, the novella is told in the first person from the hero’s point of view. The story also makes use of an unusual setting – the beach!
So, how did this story come about? My original idea for the story was: “What if a vampire went to the beach and fell in love?” (It’s sort of a twisted summer romance…)
I’m married to a surfer and one of our trips to the beach got my imagination going. I liked the idea of contrasting typical sun-worshipping beachgoers and surfers with a darkness-loving elusive vampire. (Besides, what could be more mismatched than a die-hard surfer falling in love with a nocturnal blood-drinker?)
Although the story is about a vampire, I wanted to keep the central focus on Brian and Cassie’s relationship and not on the ‘bloodier’ aspects of vampirism. I think there’s a fine line when blending horror and romance into paranormal romance. Too much gore or a “too terrifying” creature can snap the readers (and the characters) out of the romance and into a full-on horror story.
I write horror and romance (you can check out my horror stories on my site or on my blog) so I have a love for both genres. Some people think it’s strange, but writing horror lets me explore characters, settings, and plots you don’t normally find in romance. And every so often, it’s good to mix the two a little and see what happens.
Here’s a book summary, a steamy excerpt, and some great reviews:
The moment Brian spotted Cassie sitting on the moonlit beach, he was hooked. Beautiful, smart, and sexy, Cassie is the girl of his dreams. She didn’t mind that he spent the hot summer days riding the ocean waves, because once the sun set, he belonged to her–all night long!
Everything is perfect between them–until Brian discovers Cassie’s shocking secret. Can Brian give up the sun, sand, and surf to be with the woman he loves?
Read Brian’s first-hand account of their unusual love story in… Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover!
As soon as we got to my place, Cassie had me close all the blinds and run a hot shower. She stripped in the middle of the living room and casually tossed her clothes on the couch.
I stood gaping at her like I’d never seen a naked woman before. “You’re beautiful,” I whispered. And I meant it. Her pale skin was flawless, and the sight of her perky breasts made my mouth water.
Cassie stepped in front of me and ran her fingertips down my bare chest. Her touch sent a shiver through me, but for some reason, it aroused me.
I moaned and closed my eyes. Cassie slid her cold hand lower, past my ribs, down to the waistband of my bathing suit—then stopped and pulled away. I opened my eyes and caught a glimpse of her as she headed into the steamy bathroom. For a second, it looked like she was vanishing into vapor. I shook my head to clear it, then followed her in…
Here’s what reviewers had to say:
“In Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover, Kelli A Wilkins writes a story filled with seeming incongruities. It is only one of a dozen reasons her stories are so intriguing and exciting. She manages to put such a variety of characters together, and melding them so perfectly you never notice the things that shouldn’t be possible. Her stories premises always seem to include the unusual, and that is evident in her very unique ways of telling her tales, whether they are fantasy, contemporary, or paranormal. Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover makes for interesting reading, and a story too good to put down. If you want a good look into one of the world of Kelli A Wilkins, then head on over to Amber Quill Press and look for her book Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.” - Rose, reviewer, romanceatheart.com
“My first thought after finishing Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover was “what a fun story.” Kelli A. Wilkins has spun a fast, entertaining, deliciously wicked tale that was wonderfully satisfying. What makes Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover somewhat unusual is that the story is written in the first person, entirely from the hero’s point of view. I was delighted by Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover. It’s fascinating and sensual with two immensely likeable protagonists. I am fast becoming a fan of Ms. Wilkins’s stories and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.” - Shayna, Reviewer, Joyfully Reviewed
“3 Coffee Cups! “Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover” is a hot read. Cassie is a person who goes after what she wants. I loved the way she could often read Brian’s thoughts and end his sentences before he spoke. Some of their more ardent moments were so visual, I could almost see the intensity on their faces. Kelli A. Wilkins creates two different characters who connect well with each other and with the reader. She pens a delightful story I could read again and still fall in love with Cassie and Brian all over again. This enchanting tale has a way of spreading sunshine to the heart.” - Cherokee, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
“4 Stars! Wow! Confessions of a Vampire's Lover is one scorching read. When I said that Brian and Cassie couldn’t keep their hands off each other, I wasn’t joking. The sex between these two was so steamy that if it got any hotter, Brian and Cassie would be on fire. At just only 49 pages, Confessions of a Vampire's Lover is one quick read and I have put Kelli A. Wilkins on my must read list.” - Cheryl, Reviewer, Manic Readers
Happy Halloween everyone!
PS: Be sure to check out my blog on Nov. 1 for details about my book contest!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I’m devoting this blog to one of my Amber Quill Press paranormal 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! Maybe I watched too much “In Search Of…” as a child, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in the strange and unusual. I write horror stories and romances, so it was only a matter of time before the two blended together.
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.)
To get a feel for the character of Charlie (the resident cryptozoologist) I did a lot of research on Bigfoot and become an “expert” on the subject. Charlie and Tara have been surrounded by Bigfoot evidence forever, and I needed to know everything they would know about Bigfoot (size of his tracks, etc.) so I could convey it to readers in a realistic (believable) way.
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!
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 and a hot excerpt:
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 HOT Excerpt:
He squeezed her breast and a low moan escaped her throat. Every time she took a breath, all she smelled was the heady scent of flowers mixed with musk. Her body felt dizzy and heavy, like she was being drugged.
Joe licked her neck while he fondled her breasts. Her lower body throbbed, and a slick heat built between her legs. If she kept her eyes closed, she could pretend Joe was a guy she’d just met and they were out for a good time…
Part of her knew this was nine different ways of wrong, but another part of her wanted to do what came natural. It was obvious what Joe wanted, and honestly, she wanted it, too.
Tara repositioned herself so she was kneeling on either side of Joe’s hairy hips. She glanced down at his penis. It had to be at least ten inches long, and she wasn’t sure he was fully erect.
“Wow! You are a big boy, aren’t you?” Joe sniffed the air, then slipped his hand between her thighs. She shivered as he touched her. What was Joe thinking? How did he know how to do this? Right now, none of that mattered. “Yeah, that’s good. Keep going,” she whispered.
Joe swirled his finger around her wet folds, taking his time and rubbing her slowly. After a minute, he pulled his hand away and made a noise that sounded like a combination of a grunt and a growl.
She got the hint. Her body ached and pulsed, desperately needing to be filled, and Joe’s huge cock would certainly do the trick. “Did you ever have sex? Do you know what’s coming next?” She giggled at her own joke, then slowly lowered herself onto his thick shaft.
Tara moaned as her body molded and stretched around him. It had been six months since her last date, and Joe’s penis was twice the size of her last lover’s—in width and length.
The book link is: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/BeautyBigfoot.html
Here’s what reviewers had to say:
4 Coffeecups! "I thought this story was going to take a weird and strange turn when I first started reading it. A large sigh of relief escaped my lips when I discovered it to be a regular love story with an odd twist. I enjoyed this book a lot. I have always been fascinated by the idea of Bigfoot and the author heightened my curiosity by adding a hint of the Native Americans’ belief. Tara’s father, Charlie, adds a certain comedic flair to this book. His dedication to Bigfoot and not caring about public opinion won my heart. This is one story where you will laugh and sigh all in one reading."
Kimberly, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More
"An Erotic Twist on the Classic Bigfoot Tale"Having a father who is a certified Bigfoot investigator was not easy for Tara MacAllister growing up. He has been obsessed with the fictional creature for years, even claiming one lived within miles of their own place. Not believing in Bigfoot, Tara warred with her father constantly, until the day he actually brings Bigfoot home.
Feeling an instant connection to the tall, hairy creature that looked very much human, Tara is strangely not afraid around him. Deciding he needs another name besides Bigfoot, she names him "Joe". Succumbing to the desire between them, Tara learns there is more to Joe than anyone knows. What she finds under all of the hair is something more than just a legend, she finds true love.
Beauty & the Bigfoot is a thoroughly entertaining read on a classic legend, that I found enjoyable and sexy! Ms. Wilkins puts a twist on the bigfoot myth, that left me pleased with the ending. Beauty & the Bigfoot was a well thought out, erotic and downright fun read to the end! I loved Tara and her take on what is happening to her, and Joe is just a downright yummy male, even if he is a little hairy! If you are looking for a fun, erotic and entertaining read then Ms. Wilkins delivers.
Reviewed by Missy Brown – paranormalromance.org
In my next blog, I’ll share a bit (or a bite!) about Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover…
Thursday, October 6, 2011
To celebrate my favorite month, my blogs for October will be devoted (in some way) to the horror and paranormal genres.
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.
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:
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 share an inside look at my paranormal romance, Beauty & the Bigfoot.
Links and excerpts from my other horror tales are on my website www.KelliWilkins.com
Until next time,