Posts Tagged ‘horror’
Today I’m thrilled to have my friend Lesley Conner visit Little Red Reviewer. Lesley is an author, the Managing Editor of Apex Magazine, and all around amazing person. A wrangler of slush readers and girl scouts, Lesley somehow manages to find time to write her own fiction. Her debut novel, The Weight of Chains, comes out today from Sinister Grin Press. A historical thriller of power, torture, and escape, The Weight of Chains is the story of Gilles de Rais and the woman who defied him.
Lesley was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her new novel. Let’s get to the interview!
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your forthcoming novel, The Weight of Chains! What can you tell us about the novel?
Lesley Conner: Thank you! I’m extremely excited!
So what can I tell you about The Weight of Chains … I could go the old boring route and tell you it’s an alternative history horror novel inspired by the crimes of Gilles de Rais.
That’s true, but it doesn’t really get to the heart of it.
The Weight of Chains is about power and control. Gilles de Rais is nobleman who has absolute control over every aspect of his life. He’s also a killer with very dark desires, and he uses his status and power to make sure that he can play out his every fantasy. It is a novel full of torture and death. It’s also one that examines what happens to the people who get swept up in that world, who have no control and no choice, but have to fulfill their master’s wishes for safety and security, or just to make it through one more day. But what happens if Gilles’s control begins to slip? What if another power comes into play and the carefully constructed life that Gilles has built begins to crumble?
The Weight of Chains is full of murder, deceit, magic, desperation, a demon, and a little girl who wants to figure out how to do more than just survive. She wants to be happy.
LRR: The novel takes place in medieval France. Tell us about some of the research you did to get the historical details just right.
LC: Gah! Research! By the time I was finished with the novel, I was to the point of telling any who would listen that if I EVER said I wanted to write another historical novel to smack me. And then I immediately got an idea for a novel heavily influenced by the 1920s New York speakeasy scene and fell right back down the research rabbit hole.
Researching a novel set in 1436, France was difficult to put it mildly. First, Gilles de Rais was a real person. I spent a lot of time reading about him, the crimes he committed, and the people who were involved. The facts of his life have been twisted – he really did hire a wizard named Prelati, but the real Prelati was very much a conman, whereas the one in my novel is a victim of Gilles cruelty – but anyone who knows about the historical figure will see little details that point to the real man.
Second, a major character in my novel is an eleven year old peasant girl. There is little detailed information about the peasantry at this time. So much what is out there seems to focus on nobility. Finding information about peasant children – girls in particular – was even harder. I wanted details like footwear and what they would eat to be as accurate as possible, so I ended up contacting some historical re-enactors. When all else fails, ask an expert! They were fantastic about answering my questions. Plus, they were always in character and would begin emails with “Dear fair lady,” which is kind of fun.
LRR: Without giving us any spoilers (if possible), what is your favorite scene in the novel?
LC: There is a scene where Jeanetta is serving Christophe a bowl of soup. It doesn’t seem like much, but something happens that makes her realize that life could be good, it could be more than the drudgery of moving through each day doing what needed to be done so she and her family could survive, she could be happy. It’s a very small moment and isn’t incredibly flashy, but it is integral to Jeanetta having the will and the strength she needs at the end of the novel. I don’t know that it’s my favorite scene (can a writer really pick a favorite?) but it always makes me smile because it’s a sweet moment, and I’ll be honest, there aren’t a whole lot of sweet moments in The Weight of Chains.
What do you get when you mix nightmares with prose poetry and then set it all to the sound of unique and unexpected typography? You get something like The Quick Shivers anthologies from The Daily Nightmare. and when they say “quick” shivers, they aren’t kidding. Every entry in the anthology is only and exactly 100 words long and based on a Nightmare that was submitted to their website. And the typography? Certainly I remember typography from my college graphic design classes, but I never knew it could be used like this. This is quite literally, graphic literature. Jim and Janice Leach of The Daily Nightmare were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the anthology series, the genius and challenge of unique typesetting, snob horror, and more!
LRR: I absolutely adore your Quick Shivers anthologies. the writing is smart, snarky, fun and punchy, and the graphic design is just beautiful. It’s one thing to do an anthology of 100 word prose-poems, and a completely different thing to type set each entry differently and creatively. Can you tell us a little about the artistic process of putting these anthologies together?
Jim: Thank you for the kind words. The Quick Shivers anthologies are rather non-traditional, and not everyone appreciates the big concept. For instance, we’ve submitted both anthologies for consideration for the Bram Stoker Awards, but they don’t know what to do with them — they’re not poetry, not fiction, not graphic literature so there’s no category where they fit. And that’s kind of the point. We’re making something that’s intentionally interstitial.
And our other goal is to slow down the reader. I’ve had a long love affair with weird typography partially because it’s “difficult” to read. In our quickly paced society, we all rush through too much of our lives. We present the works in a way that is both expressive and helps a reader work through a piece with a bit more leisure.
Janice: But you’re not answering her question, dear. As far as artistic process, our books are a team sport, perhaps even a relay race. The writers pick the nightmare, give it their own interpretation, then we pass along our selections to the designer who works hard to make every piece unique. It’s fascinating to read the different takes on the same nightmare, to see how individualized and open-ended stories can be.
Today’s guest post is from Lesley Conner. Lesley is one of my go-to people when I have a crazy idea at 4am and need someone to tell me that yes, the idea is crazy, but let’s do it anyway. Everyone should have a Lesley in their life.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, on Page and Film
a guest post by Lesley Conner
Lesley Conner is a writer, social media editor and marketing leader for Apex Publications, and Managing Editor for Apex Magazine. She spends her days pestering book reviewers, proofreading, wrangling the slush pile, doling out contracts, and chatting about books, writing, and anything else that crosses her mind on the @ApexBookCompany Twitter account. Most of her nights are spent with a good book and a glass of wine. She recently sold her alternative history horror novel, The Weight of Chains, to Sinister Grin Press. It’s slated to be released in early 2015. To find out all her secrets, you can find her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.
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Invasion of the Body Snatchers has become an iconic cultural reference over the years. If things feel off, if people seem to be acting a little strange, whispers of how it must be the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers fly. I smile and bob my head like I know exactly what people mean, and go on with my day. And the thing is, I do know what they mean…. vaguely. In the hazy vision of a giant seed pod popping open and a perfectly formed, adult body emerging to take the place of my friends and neighbors kind of way.
Until recently I hadn’t read Invasion of the Body Snatchers or seen any of three movies that the 1955 novel inspired. I knew the basic premise of the story – we all do – an alien species is taking over Earth by replacing all of the humans with exact replicas grown in giant pods. But beyond that… shrug, I didn’t know.
So when the chance came up to do another vintage sci-fi post for Andrea, I decided it was time to find out more, reading both the novel and watching the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers so that I could compare and contrast the book to the film. (Why did I pick the 1978 film? Besides the fact that Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum were in it? It was available through Netflix streaming. I searched and pushed play. Easy peasy.)
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originally published in Orbit Vol 9, 1971
where I got it: purchased used as a Tor Double
Can you believe I’ve never read a Kate Wilhelm? Famous for The Hugo award winning and Nebula nominated Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, she’s been awarded multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003. Along with her husband Damon Knight, Wilhelm was instrumental in the creation and running of the Milford Writers Workship, which would grow into the Clarion workshop.
Nominated for a Nebula award in 1972, The Infinity Box first appeared Orbit 9 and then again in 1975 as the titular story in a collection of Wilhelm stories. I came across the novella in a Tor Double alongside Zelazny’s He Who Shapes. I’d like to track down the Infinity Box collection, or at least issues of Orbit that contain her work while I continue to hunt for a copy of Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang.
The story is told from the point of view of Eddie Laslow, happily married, father of two, owner of an electronics lab and a few patents. When the shy and petite Christine moves in across the street, Eddie immediately feels like they’ve met before, even though she doesn’t look familiar. He’s a little creeped out by her, but can’t avoid her company when Christine and Eddie’s wife Janet become fast friends.
After an evening of drinks, Christine begins to talk about her childhood and failed marriage. In and out of institutions as a child, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, among other things. Falling in with a psychology professor, he discovered she was able to see objects and scenes in every moment, not just this moment. Almost like a long term time lapse photograph, when she looks at a tree, she sees it as it is right now, and as it was every moment since it sprouted from a seed. They end up getting married, but he died of a heart attack after abandoning his researches. She is going through his papers, hoping to find his final documentations that involve her condition(s).
Posted November 20, 2014on:
The World Fantasy Convention was held earlier this month, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her name will be familiar to fans of historical fiction, as she’s the author behind the famous Saint-Germain Cycle. The first novel in the Cycle, Hotel Transylvania, was published in 1978, and there are now over 25 volumes. She’s written over 80 books, and over 70 works of short fiction. No stranger to awards either, she’s received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, the Grand Master award from the World Horror Association, and she was the first woman to be enrolled as a Living Legend of the International Horror Guild.
Chelsea was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy day to answer a few of my questions on her famous series, music, and the occult. Wanna learn more about this amazing author? I do! let’s go!
LRR: Your bio briefly mentions you are also a musical composer. Could you tell us a little more about this? Personally, I believe there are a lot of connections between music and other means of communication. Have you found any similarities between writing music and writing fiction?
CQY: There are many things that cannot be said with words, and it seems to me that’s where music comes in. When I get worded – out, I do music to deal with all the things that words cannot express. Words and music are powerful communicators, but they communicate different kinds of things. So while composition and writing are at the opposite end of the communication scale, they serve the same basic purpose. At least that’s my opinion.
I’ve been lucky enough to interview some pretty cool people over the years. But Ellen Datlow takes “pretty cool” to a whole new level. An editor of short fiction for nearly thirty years, Ellen holds four Hugo awards, ten World Fantasy awards, five Locus awards, three Bram Stoker awards, and I’ll stop there even though I could happily continue to list her achievements for the next hours or so. She’s co-edited twenty one Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror volumes, edited six Best Horror of the Year volumes (through Nightshade Books), and most recently was the editor for Lovecraft’s Monsters and The Cutting Room for Tachyon.
To say she is a rock star of the industry is quite the understatement.
Last weekend at the World Fantasy Convention, Ellen Datlow was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award, along with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.
I was first introduced to her work through one of many anthologies she co-edited with Terri Windling, Snow White, Blood Red, which has since become a beloved paperback on my bookshelf. That collection would become the first in a series of six, and many of them recently become available as e-books through Open Road Media. If you are interested in fairy tale retellings, dark fantasy, or the short fiction of acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Charles deLint, Gene Wolfe, Storm Constantine and many others, this is an anthology series you should consider.
Ellen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on her lifetime in the field and the joys and challenges of putting anthologies together. Let’s get to the interview!
LRR: I remember reading Snow White, Blood Red in the late 90s, it was a collection my soon-to-be husband and I bonded over. That was your first Fairy Tale anthology with Terri Windling, and it would become a series of six anthologies. When you start a new anthology, how do you know it will be a “one of”, such as Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells or a series, like the Fairy Tale or Best Horror of the Year volumes?
ED: That’s really lovely to hear!
One rarely knows in advance if an anthology will sell well enough for the publisher to offer a contract for a second, although for a year’s best one always hopes it will become a series as that’s its purpose. Snow White, Blood Red was intended to be a one-shot but it did well enough that our editor commissioned another (or two that time). I don’t think we ever got more than a two-book contract at a time for what became a six book series. It just ended up that way. And by the time the sixth came out the publisher had changed hands (possibly twice) and I was burned out on retold fairy tales — for a time.
published in 2004
where I got it: borrowed
I read this book because I really enjoyed the movie versions. This novel took Sweden by storm when it first came out in 2004, quickly becoming a best seller with critics lauding Lindqvist as the country’s Stephen King. It wasn’t long before a movie was made in 2008. As has become a pattern with best selling Swedish thrillers, Hollywood wanted to do their version, and so an American version of the film, titled Let Me In, was released in 2010 starring Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee. I’d seen both movies, enjoyed them both, and so was very excited to come across a copy of the book. The films are rather loyal to the premise and the first third or so of the novel, and the final few pages. Everything else is, let us say, glossed over.
This is mostly spoiler free review. I will not surprise anything that isn’t already revealed on the cover copy of the novel. the “spoiler” that I do reveal? Not the biggie, not by a long shot.
It’s 1981, and twelve year old Oskar is a loser. He gets beat up at school, and has a bed wetting issue and a shoplifting habit. The boys who bully him might be impressed by the shoplifting, but they still torture him mercilessly, and Oskar fantasizes about getting back at them. And he’s not the kind of boy to ask for help. One day, he meets a girl in the courtyard of his apartment complex. Eli is confident and smart, and since she’s new to the neighborhood, she has no idea Oskar is the local loser. She doesn’t go to his school, but they try to see each other every day. He confides in her, and she contemplates how much of her life she can share with him and Oskar knows better than to risk a new friendship by prying. He doesn’t mind that she’s weird, doesn’t mind that she doesn’t wear a coat when it’s snowing, or that she only comes out at night and has thick blankets covering the windows of her apartment. All that matters is that she’s not mean to him.
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