Great Summer Reads II – Paranormal

090717 paranormal summer reading covers

‘Paranormal’ is a genre I love to read, whether it crosses over with romance, horror, or pure adventure. It’s a pretty broad category, and these are all very different books. But the five I didn’t write myself are all among my favourites reads, and I recommend all of them.

Storm Bound is my favourite in Dani Harper’s Grim series – a modern take on fairies, witches, and transformative magic. Her books are exciting, romantic, and often quite funny, and even the most bizarre of her fantastic creatures becomes somehow completely believable. If your heart doesn’t break for spellbound Aidan then it must be made of stone.

Jami Gold’s Mythos series introduces a whole range of stories that spring from the supposition that there is a mythical realm lying adjacent to our own – from this realm all our human mythologies arise. She has written a series of books, each focusing on the interactions between a particular Mythos denizen and the human world. This one, Unintended Guardian, is a piece of short fiction, offered free as an introduction to the Mythos universe. There are four full length novels to read as well. Any of them would make a great summer read.

Walking on Wild Air, my own contribution to the genre, is a ghost story with a difference – a male protagonist who is bound to his island hilltop; Scottish noir with nary a kilt or bagpipe in sight. Dougie MacLean is (perhaps literally) to die for, and his love is definitely worth the wait.

Shani Struthers writes a different kind of ghost story in her Psychic Surveys series – ghostly carryings-on are investigated by a team of psychics, who all have their own problems to contend with. The simple process of  sending souls to the light becomes ever more difficult as Ruby Davis and her team are forced to confront a true evil. The Haunting of Highdown Hall is the first in a critically acclaimed series, and I love them.

Last Days Forever is a story about angels. But like everything Vanessa Knipe writes it’s an original take on a familiar trope – indeed a number of familiar storylines are interwoven here, including a time travel strand. Clever, entertaining, well worth a read.

And lastly, Robin McKinley’s Sunshine has been around for a while now, but it’s still the best book about vampires I’ve ever read. Forget everything you’ve been told. This is the dance of light and dark, and it doesn’t go at all the way you expect. Neil Gaiman called this ‘a perfect work of magical literature’, and who am I to argue with the master?

Whatever you decide to read this summer, I hope you’ll consider one of these six. Or do you have a better suggestion? I’m always on the lookout for quality paranormal reads. Let me know what your favourites are.

Walking on Wild Air myBook.to/WildAir

Unintended Guardian http://smarturl.it/UGKin

Storm Bound https://daniharper.com/storm-bound/

The Haunting of Highdown Hall http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00JY83HBI

 

 

Five Scariest Screen Psychos Of All Time

Eli Carros the watcher artwork

While writing my crime thriller The Watcher, and forming the make-up of my lead antagonist, I made a study of various infamous psychopaths.  I did this both from real life psychopaths, and from fictional psychopaths depicted in novels and on screen.  What I was attempting to do was to build up a composite, a unique character who possessed his own, individual motivations, but would feel authentic to readers by carrying on the long tradition of the fictional and cinematic psychopath.

The true psychopath is probably one of the most interesting and yet possibly one of the hardest characters to write, as although he (or she) might be superficially charming, the psychopath has absolutely zero good intention once you get down to the bottom line.  No empathy, zilch, none.

Unlike most villains, who might at least have a redeeming feature or two, a psychopath is defined by their distinct lack of empathy.  It’s hard to find redeeming features in someone who lacks this essential quality.

After all, people can be flawed, they can even do bad things, but someone who can’t identify with people’s pain, who might even enjoy causing harm and seeing others suffer is naturally abhorrent to us.

Quite rightly too, for that lack of empathy, that sadistic streak, is what makes them a psychopath after all, and not just someone’s who’s merely antisocial or has behavioural problems or violent tendencies.

With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how psychopaths have been portrayed on the big screen.   I selected five screen psychopaths, who I feel have made the most impact on viewers and on movie depictions of psychopathy in general, each selected for their own particular brand of psychosis.

So here it is, my round up of the five all time scariest screen psychos – ever.  Feel free to comment if you agree, or disagree, and mention your fave screen psychopaths in comments, if they haven’t been included.

Max Cady in Cape Fear (Robert De Niro) 1991 Directed by Martin Scorsese

Cape Fear was one of the first films I remember watching that scared the hell out of me, which was mostly due to Robert De Niro’s sinister portrayal of convicted rapist Max Cady.  Cady is a menacing, violent and revengeful psychopath, who’s determined to seek revenge on the lawyer he sees as having betrayed him.

The Scorsese directed film also stars Nick Nolte as Sam Bowden, the aforementioned lawyer, and  introduced me to one of my favourite actresses ever, Juliette Lewis, who went on to star in another psycho flick, with Oliver Stone’s bloodsoaked Natural Born Killers.

Cady is manipulative, a master at getting his own way, but he’s also predatorial, as evidenced by the way he expertly works his way into Nolte’s family, via his grooming of Lewis.  There are many points during this movie where I felt the suspense grab me by the gut and the end scene is particularly tense; the first time I saw it I was, literally, on the edge of my seat.

This film is important in the hisroty of fictional psychopaths because it emphasises a common trait many who possess the psychopathic personality have and that’s being unable to rest until perceived injustices are righted.  In Cady’s mind, that’s his rape conviction, and in the movie, his mission number one is to cause maximum damage for the person he perceives as responsible for that conviction, Nolte’s Bowden.

Annie Wilkes in Misery (Kathy Bates) 1990 Directed by Rob Reiner

A truly chilling depiction of a screen psychopath, the sinister yet chillingly everyday Annie Wilkes, brilliantly portrayed by Kathy Bates in Rob Reiner’s adaptation of the Steven King novel.  Annie’s psychopathy unfolds slowly, which only prolongs the intensity and suspense for the viewer, as we all suspect what’s coming for James Caan’s poor writer Paul Sheldon, but we have to wait to have our worst fears confirmed.

When I watched Misery for the first time, it struck me that a claustrophobic domestic setting such as Annie’s cabin can be just as scary, if not more so, than any scenario involving high octane chase or outright kidnap or abduction.

Often it’s the ordinary things, mundane situations carrying a hint of the sinister, that have the power to elicit more creepiness out of us than any amount of over-the-top outright psychotic displays.  What could be more ordinary than the stereotypical middle-America character of Annie Wilkes, at first glance?   Though of course Annie does go on to unleash the full power of her terrifying psychosis in Reiner’s film, at first it’s this subtle undercurrent of menace that grips us and makes us watch on.

Eli Carros the watcher banner

Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (Christian Bale) Adapted from the Bret Easton Ellis Novel

As well as being a brilliant satire on corporate America’s culture of greed, and more, more, more, American Psycho introduces us to one of the most chilling psychos I have ever seen depicted on screen, or in fiction for that matter.

Bateman exudes danger, and unpredictable menace, and what’s more he inflicts the most brutal carnage without showing one shred of remorse.  The film, adapted from the excellent novel by Bret Easton Ellis, is more than just a slasher fest, but is also a fusion of bitingly acerbic social commentary, horror movie, and sly observation on just what happens when a character with no soul like Bateman is enabled by a society committed to some truly selfish mores.

American Psycho features some bizarre and disturbing scenes that perfectly depict the senseless violence of a psychopathic and damaged mind.  More than that though, I think it goes further, and forces us to take a long hard look in the mirror, at our society, and some of the values we currently embrace.

Norman Bates in Psycho (Anthony Perkins) Directed By Alfred Hitchcock 1960

Norman is the classic movie psycho, the gold standard of terrifying madness depicted on the silver screen.  Influenced by his bullying, sadistic mother, Norman goes on to become a psycho of utterly horrifying proportions, butchering seemingly randomly selected hapless guests who’ve had the misfortune to book a stay at the Bates Motel with merciless frenzy.

Norman though, is unlike our other screen psychopaths.  In fact I would argue he is a psychopath made not born, as we the viewers are shown that while indeed he is under the grip of a psychosis of  biblical proportions, his madness is at least in part someone else’s fault aka his mothers.

Hitchcock, of course, was one of the masters of suspense, and in this movie he peaks, with a chilling portrayal of a disturbed and abused mind.  Norman is important in the pantheon of movie psychosis because twisted and depraved as he might be, because of what he has had to endure, viewers can even find some empathy with him.

Hannibal Lector in Silence Of The Lambs (Anthony Hopkins) Directed by Jonathon Demme (Academy Award Winning)

Ah, Hannibal Lector, the menacingly muzzled psychotic, first introduced to us on the silver screen in Jonathon Demme’s dark psychological cinematic foray, The Silence Of The Lambs.  The movie, starring Jodie Foster as FBI agent with a troubled side Clarice Starling, and Anthony Hopkins as the charming but psychotic Hannibal, dares to probe beneath the typical trappings of the big screen psychopath and lets us glimpse at the even more horrifying psyche beneath.

Silence Of The Lambs is particularly scary because Hopkin’s Hannibal knows no bounds.   In his world, everything can be justified, and morality is all relative, held in thrall to a madman’s slanted perspective.  Everything Hannibal does, he can justify, at least in his own mind, and frequently, extremely eloquently to others.

Lector is such an expert manipulator, and so adept at getting under other’s skin, that even Foster’s tough-as-nails FBI Agent Starling starts to unravel. Even in Lector’s most brutal killings there is a chilling restraint and meticulous execution, unlike Bateman, or Bate’s frenzied violence.

Who’s your favourite big screen psycho and why?  Leave a comment below and tell us why you agree or disagree with the top five cinematic psychos featured in this article.

If you enjoy probing the recesses of a psychopathic mind, you’ll love THE WATCHER, a terrifying journey into the twisted mind of a master predator.  The novel is released on June 21st by Crooked Cat Books, and you can pick up a paperback copy at special discount price ahead of the official release, or pre-order your e-copy
GET YOUR COPY OF THE WATCHER AT PRE-ORDER PRICE HERE!

Eli Carros is published by Crooked Cat

Eli Carros author picCClogosmall2Eli Carros the watcher cover

Broad Thoughts from a Home

Here I am on Sue Barnard’s blogspot, talking about the writing journey, and my new book, The Ashentilly Letters (third in the Calgary Chessman sequence, published 18/11/16).

https://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/letters-patent-interview-with-yvonne.html

Walking on Wild Air

A haunting story of love lost, and of the healing only time can bring.

wowa publicity pic tablet

At the summit of a bare hill, on a quiet island in the bleak west of the world, a storm was brewing. Lightning flickered and dark clouds glowered over the hilltop, their rain-heavy bases lit from within by sullen flashes.

A bolt split the sky and the rain sheeted down, half hiding the ground with its jumbled boulders and sparse coating of grasses. For a moment the scene flickered, like a jerky film noir, and then a figure could be seen on the hilltop, curled up in the foetal position, unmoving.

Thunder cracked overhead and the man raised his head, hauling his body wearily after it. He climbed to his feet and pressed them against the ground, as if testing its ability to hold him. On one buttock there was a red mark, where a rock had pressed into his side, but as he stood in the rain the mark bruised and faded, leaving no trace.

He squared his shoulders against the deluge as the clouds roiled overhead. A great shaft of lightning hit the hilltop precisely at his position, limning his figure for an instant in a halo of blue and white. He looked down at his fists, unclenched them and regarded his hands as if seeing them for the first time. He put his head back, staring upward as the rain poured over his face, drew in a deep, shuddering breath, and howled a cry of pure anguish.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Wild-Air-Yvonne-Marjot-ebook/dp/B01AYBRBBU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463930151&sr=8-1&keywords=walking+on+wild+air

https://www.amazon.com/Walking-Wild-Air-Yvonne-Marjot-ebook/dp/B01AYBRBBU?ie=UTF8&keywords=walking%20on%20wild%20air&qid=1463930186&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/610394

https://www.facebook.com/TheCalgaryChessman/

https://twitter.com/Alayanabeth

 

My Best Books of 2014

the rothko room back coverthe rothko room front cover

Never mind anybody else’s Best of 2014 list. Here are some books I’ve actually read and still want to shout about. Prose works and Poetry. Some of the words below are taken from my Amazon reviews of these works.
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman
It’s not often I wish Amazon allowed the award of six stars. This is one of those books. I’d award it maximum points for its use of language alone: Ice Cream Star speaks to us in a patois of childspeak, mutated grammar and sophisticated reasoning that is compelling to read. She has a unique voice.

The story itself is a beautifully written realisation of a harsh, unforgiving world. It’s full of hardship and misery, and the kinds of half-baked systems that you would expect to be invented by children left in charge of their own future. The plot is horrifyingly plausible: a brilliantly realised dystopian vision, with Ice Cream Star front and centre; a reluctant heroine we cannot help but love.

Diamonds and Dust, and Honour and Obey by Carol Hedges
From one of my fellow Crooked Cat authors, these are beautifully written and very readable.
Superbly written melodrama with not one but three strong female characters. Diamonds and Dust is grittier than Pullman, darker than Dickens, more amusing than Shaw and drops more names than Debrett’s. I’m reduced to name dropping myself as I can’t come up with adequate superlatives to describe this story. It made me laugh, more than once – it’s clever, funny and very, very good.

I settled down with a pile of biscuits and the first chapter of Honour and Obey, expecting to enjoy it as my evening read for the rest of the week. Three hours later I had to force myself to put it down. I only stopped reading because my eyes were closed and I couldn’t see the words any more.

It’s a grimy, warts-and-all portrayal of Victorian London, with foul deeds galore and a nasty mystery to solve – just another day in the lives of London’s finest at Scotland Yard. As usual there is a cast of great characters, including one of my favourites, Trafalgar Moggs, who appeared in Diamonds and Dust. There are no swooning heroines – simply a number of feisty, clever, capable women sorting out their own lives – which might, or might not, include a little romance. Eventually. I loved every dastardly deed and bout of derring-do.
Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? By Kenneth Koch.
Not new (it was published in 1998) but new to me – by far the most wonderful book I have read on teaching poetry to children. It has a lot to say to any of us who fancy our hand at rhythm and rhyme, and it’s full of the most wonderful verse created by children who worked with the author. And what a gorgeous title!
The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, poetry collection by Kei Miller
Winner of the 2014 Forward Poetry collection prize. I just want to stake my claim – I saw it first! This is a wonderful collection, and it’s even better read in Kei Miller’s own voice – check him out on Youtube. Every now and then I treat myself to a single-author collection of poetry, and this is the best I’ve read in a long time. Here’s my Amazon review, titled ‘A Map on Human Parchment’:
I confess I came to Kei Miller through listening to him online. I wondered if the poems would have the same magic when I read them in my own head, in my own voice. They do. There’s a careless joy in some of these works, mingled with a pain so deep you can feel it. Even when he’s consciously poetic (as an artist may be painterly) it works – putting the construction of his work on display is like laying out the mapmaker’s tools on the desktop before the map is begun. I feel for the cartographer, trying to map his literal way through the human soul. I hope he makes it.
Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
On the face of it this is pretty standard mainstream Romance. However – there’s something different about it. It’s Archer Hale, the heart and soul of this book (though not its protagonist). Sheridan came up with a great idea here, and the book’s all the better for it. Far better than the usual run.
The Rothko Room by Russell Cruse
This is a wonderful, blackly comic fest of action and intrigue that leaves all competitors gasping in its wake. I first read it as a working project on authonomy.com, and rushed out to buy this self-published work as soon as I could. Available in e-book and print versions. By far the most original and enjoyable read of 2014.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This counts because I read it in paperback, which wasn’t released until 2014. I loved this little gem of a book. Compared to some of Gaiman’s work it’s spare and restrained – and it really works. I’ve always been a fan, but never quite felt he hit the spot (although one or two have come close). The Ocean at the End of the Lane received mixed reviews, and of course it demonstrates Gaiman’s trademark plundering of world mythology for his own uses. For my part, I think it’s the best thing he’s ever written.

Here is my interview with Yvonne Marjot

My blog interview with Fiona McVie. Thanks, Fiona.

authorsinterviews

Y Marjot author pic Aug 2014

Name Yvonne Marjot
Age 52
Where are you from? I was born in England but grew up in New Zealand. Now I live on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on an island off the West Coast of Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

She has worked in schools, libraries and…

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…yeez’ll never guess… what do Crooked Cat Publishing, the Middle East, and Tobermory on the Isle of Mull have in common?…

…yeez’ll never guess… what do Crooked Cat Publishing, the Middle East, and Tobermory on the Isle of Mull have in common?….

The Calgary Chessman book launch – all welcome

Ever fancied a visit to the Isle of Mull? This Saturday, 6th September would be a great time to go. Not only is the weather still warm, with the prospect of sunshine, but the local book (and fishing gear) shop, Tackle and Books, will be hosting the launch of my novel, The Calgary Chessman. 11am to 1pm. I’ll be reading excerpts, signing books and enjoying a glass of wine or two with friends and visitors alike. It’s going to be great!

Of course, if you can’t be there you can still soak up the atmosphere of Mull by buying the print or e-book version of the book. It’s available from Amazon, Smashwords and direct from the publisher, crookedcatbooks.com. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Calgary-Chessman-Yvonne-Marjot-ebook/dp/B00MLBQ6SG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409769634&sr=1-1&keywords=the+calgary+chessman

TCC first copy at Green Rooms Aug 2014

A crannog?

Crooked Cats' Cradle

For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

It’s also a sort of a cheat because I’m doing a ‘reblog’ of the post on my own blog today.(Nancy’s Novels)

If you’ve never heard of a crannog, then you’re in for a treat- historically speaking. There’s an explanation of why this crannog sparked my imagination when writing my Crooked Cat novel  – The Beltane Choice – Book 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series.Image1

For more information on this fabulous structure click HERE.

I do have another reason for posting here and that is because The Beltane Choice has its 2nd anniversary tomorrow- 31st August. To celebrate I’m offering 2 chances to win an ecopy of my novel if you haven’t yet read it!

Pop into my blog tomorrow ( 31st August 2014) to find out how that could be YOU!

You can also by all three novels for less than…

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The Calgary Chessman – new book by Yvonne Marjot

Thanks, Angelika, for coming up with a really fun interview – and for hosting me on your blog.

Angelika Rust

Yvonne Marjot, the name rings a bell, doesn’t it? Right, over the past months, she contributed greatly to my little PublicTransport PoeTry project. Today, her book The Calgary Chessman was published. I’ll admit, I haven’t yet finished reading it, but I’ve read the first few chapters when it was still on authonomy, liked it a lot and thus was delighted when she asked me whether I’d be willing to bang a few drums for her.

So let’s move straight on to what she has to say.

WhoY Marjot author pic Aug 2014 are you?

My name is Yvonne Marjot, and that’s also the name under which I’m published. I did think about having a pseudonym, but my surname’s pretty unusual and I hope that means I stand out. Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to pronounce it – even my family aren’t entirely sure!

Until now, I thought it’d be with a j as…

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