Interview with Ryan Tandy

533483_639420532067_938368833_nTell us about your publishing journey…

I started writing about three years ago, but have been focus on prose for the last 12 months or so. I’ve tried journalism, film & TV scripts and graphic novels, but genre fiction is the thing I enjoy most. I’ve had a few short stories published so far and am looking to bring out my own collection in the next few months as an ebook.

What do you love about being an author?

Being able to take the twisted ‘What If’ scenarios that spring into my head and make them into something that (I hope) will entertain people.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

It would have to be the great gonzo journalist Raoul Duke (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). I imagine any consumption would be 95% liquid but we’d have a hell of a party!

If your story was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

As the story is set in Britain I’d prefer the actors to be British. I based the Grandfather character on an older Brian Blessed, but he’d probably need to age a few more years before playing the part. For the grandson I’m a big fan of Russell Tovey.

Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?

Blood hungry monsters every time! I utterly loath the way Hollywood and YA fiction has taken all of these chilling, nightmarish creatures and turned them into tortured pretty boys. The best representation of vampires I’ve seen recently is in the film Stakeland, which cast vampires as a feral, more terrifying alternative to the zombie in a post apocalyptic scenario. If you haven’t seen it yet I’d advise catching it as soon as possible.

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why? 

Lost in the Witching Hour

Lost in the Witching Hour

The Victorian Era, just so I could try and solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

I wouldn’t say I have any particular piece of advice I wish I’d had sooner. If I could take my accumulative knowledge and experience and plant it into my 16 year old self it would probably give me an advantage, but at the same time it would take away the fun of learning from my long list of mistakes!

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

A werewolf, purely because I’m a huge fan of werewolf films!

Where do you write best?

My office at home; I’ve got the attention span of a concussed Labrador puppy so I need to be somewhere I can minimise distractions!

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

The last book I read was Idiopathy by Sam Byers. It’s an odd book to place in terms of genre but I’d happily recommend it. Very sharp satire of many aspects of popular culture mixed with a tale of people trying to deal with their own unhappiness with life in general. A little bleak and not the sort of thing I usually read but very entertaining.

If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?

Science fiction; I’m a huge fan of the genre and certain books and films that have left an indelible mark on me. Some of my horror stories do occasionally stray into that territory but I’m yet to write a straight Sci-Fi story as of yet, although I do have a few ideas.

Where can fans find you online?

Check out the website and blog at http://www.ryantandy.net/ or follow me on Twitter @TheTandyMan

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Book Review: Loup-Garou for You by Katalina Leon

loupgarouforyou_9781419947322_msrSynopsis:

Bayou Country, 1834. Aubert Marston awakens on the eve of his twenty-seventh birthday to discover he’s undergone some disturbing physical changes. His body is bigger, stronger and hairier than it’s ever been, and burns with the lust of a beast. To make matters worse, a hundred guests are about to arrive for the plantation’s annual ball.

A mysterious young woman named Corrine appears in his home, tempting Aubert to unleash the inner lycan, and family secrets from a medieval past surface. Corrine lures Aubert to a bayou camp of Cajun Loup-Garous—werewolves. Aubert’s wealth and good looks are no advantage here. He must surrender to his feral nature and fight tooth and claw against another male pack member to claim Corrine as his own.

Inside Scoop:  This story contains mild bondage, southern hospitality, consensual sexual torment, female/female, male/male, anal play, cage fighting and unfettered animal lust. Enjoy!

A Romantica® historical paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

About the Author

Katalina Leon – I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.

Ellora’s Cave:

https://www.ellorascave.com/index.php/authors/index/author/slug/katalina-leon/http://www.ellorascave.com/loup-garou-for-you.html

Loose Id: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/amber-skyze-katalina-leon.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BIXI8BQ

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html

Night Owl Reviews Author Page: http://erotica.nightowlreviews.com/V5/Authors/Katalina-Leon

http://www.katalinaleon.com/katalina_leon/Home.html

My Review:

Yet another well-thought out engaging tale (or should that be tail?) by Katalina. I really enjoyed the aspect of it being from the hero’s point of view rather than the heroine. It’s certainly not your typical werewolf romance either and gives a whole new take on the legend.

Aubert was a great hero too – you instantly fell in love with him and, looking at the front cover above, would instantly want to help him out with his (ahem) ‘problems’. I kind of couldn’t help imagining the actor that plays Alcide in the HBO Trueblood series, which was another bonus!

From a writer’s perspective the flow of the story was strong and faultless, much like Aubert himself. And I loved the little touch at the end – I wont spoil it, you have to read it for yourself. It’s also the perfect length for a romance to get lost in, but to come out when the cold, real-world calls you away.

The front cover was great and represented the story well, which was another tick in the box.

Overall I’d give Loup-Garou for you 4 out of 5 stars – an excellent romantic werewolf read

Loup_garou_Large-Banner

Book Review: Shadow Embraced by Cheree Smith

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Synopsis:

No escape.

Those words haunt Scar’s dreams. She thinks the creature that terrorises her while asleep isn’t real, but when she’s abducted and taken to a reform school meant to contain creatures too dangerous to function in society, she starts to wonder whether she isn’t some monster.

She turns to an underground fight club full of vampires, werewolves and witches established by the students to control her urges, and who is she kidding, she loves to fight.

When fighters begin to disappear, turning Scar into the prime suspect, she must race to prove her innocence before her true nature is exposed.

The only problem is that she’s not entirely sure she’s innocent.

About Cheree SmithCheree-Smith-225x300

Cheree Smith lives in a country town in Australia as a high school English teacher where she writes paranormal, horror and dark stories for young adults. She enjoys listening to and learning about legends and myths, watching scary movies and dreaming up new worlds where monsters can come alive. When she is not in her writing cave she can be found listening to music, even dabbling in the occasional writing of music or reading.

Website –  Blog – Twitter – Facebook – Goodreads

My Review:

Shadow Embraced is a kind of Harry Potter meets Twilight, and although there’s nothing really new here, in terms of story line, it’s still a great read – especially if you’re a Twilight fan.

From a writer’s perspective the whole book is written first person present tense, which is really hard to maintain – so my hat is off to Cheree for doing this – keeping it present tense is a great way of cranking up the tension and keeping the reader in the moment. There were a few mistakes in there – but I’m assuming that’s because I had a galley copy rather than the finished manuscript.

The whole story was interesting and it encapsulates the whole supernatural world nicely. It was written exceptionally well and the plot was thought out – which is always a tick in my book as, with paranormal stories, it’s all too easy to simply rely on that aspect to make your work interesting.

Scar was a a slight let down as a character – she’s kind of two dimensional and the only interesting part of her is that she is a Dhampire. But, in her defense, it’s kind of a hard thing to find out – so perhaps she would be all-consumed by that and not much else.

I’d give Shadow Embraced 4 stars out 5 as I really loved the Twilight books and, in the absence of any new ones coming out any time soon – this really filled a gap.

Link through here for a competition

Link through here for a competition

List of Romance Genres

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I just can’t stay away from those lists!

My two top genres are horror and paranormal romance and as I’ve already covered horror genres, I thought I’d do the same for romance. Looking at the list, the explanations tend to be a little obvious, so rather than patronize you with over-blown explanations, I’ve kept it brief and included links to examples where necessary.

Adventure Romance:

Strong hero, even stronger heroine. These face paced and full of danger and can be set anytime and anywhere. Happily Ever After OR HEA is preferred here by most publishers, but as always, do read each publisher’s guidelines carefully when submitting.

Chick-lit:

Relatively new genre, these are romances with a dash of humor and HEA (happily ever-after ending) is more flexible here. It’s a bit cliched but think Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.

Contemporary/ Main Stream:

Not to point out the obvious, but this is set in the present and will date quickly. HEA is optional. So many authors and examples here, as they are set in the normal world, with natural human characters.

Dark Fantasy:

This combines elements of supernatural abilities and paranormal creatures. It goes a little beyond the normal sword and magic fantasy romps, but can also have quite serious themes. A good example of this is the WindLegends series by Charlotte Boyett-Compo. HEA here is optional.

Erotic Romance:

Not to be confused with Erotica, Erotic Romance focuses on the development of romantic relationships through sex making it a consistent theme through the story. The sex is not there for titillation sake but should be so bound into the story line that taking it out would ruin the plot. HEA is a necessity here.

Erotica:

Shall I just say it… Fifty Shades of Grey. Although there’s a case that E L James’ novels should be sitting in Erotic Romance, as the main character’s relationship is both cemented and complicated through sex. I personally think that the amount of it required to show this is less that what was shoe-horned in. You’ve also got a lot more license in Erotica to delve into the darker/ more fetish related practices here. A great example of well written Erotica is Liliana Hart’s Erotic Fairy Tale books. HEA is optional, although I think still preferred by most publishers.

Fantasy:

Like Fantasy in general there are both saga and political elements involved with this genre. Game of Thrones is a classic example of a good fantasy. When adding this element into your romantic mix though, you have to be careful. It’s a strong genre and can easily over power your romance. It’s kind of like banana in a smoothie, it doesn’t matter what other fruit you put in there, if you throw in a banana – it only taste of banana! HEA is optional.

Futuristic/ Sci-Fi:

Strangely Stephanie Meyer’s The Host comes to mind. Set in the not too distant future, and with a strong theme of ‘love will conquer all’ and an emphasis on the deep love of both family and partners. This is a great genre to really let your imagination run wild. You can create your own world and therefor tailor the situation to the needs of your romance. HEA is not always found in these worlds, but personally I’d always try for it.

Gothic:

I think we’re on the verge of a comeback for Gothic Romance. Often described as brooding and dark, a classic example would be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Check back at my horror genre list for more info on Gothic Blue Books.

Historical:

Not hard to work out what these ones are all about, but tread carefully, some time periods are just simply not interesting so won’t appeal to either readers or publishers. Lots of information and authors can be found on Historical Romance Writers.

Medical:

Novels in this genre centre on characters in the medical profession and even have their own Mills & Boon line. These books reached their peak in the 1960s but still have a place in modern romance, especially if mixed with other genres. Vampire doctors and werewolf surgeons?

Military:

Don’t just stick to the obvious on this one. Think sexy assassins and sassy bounty hunters – also don’t be afraid to throw in the supernatural on this one too. Kaylea Cross does this genre justice and she also has some great suspense romances too. Usually a HEA here, or Happily Ever After For Now – again check guidelines.

Mystery/Thriller/ Suspense:

Danger abound in this genre. There’s usually something to solve either a murder or another crime. These can get pretty dark and HEA is optional.

Paranormal:

My personal favourite. I love reading them and writing them. They’ve never been so popular and have even morphed into Dark Romance too. The best example, and one of my fav authors, is Keri Arthur, although some of her books also drop into other genres listed here too.

Regency Romance:

The Regency period was between 1811 to 1820 and although strictly a Historical Romance, is so popular that it has a genre all to itself.  For a massive list of books see Regency Reads.

Time-Travel:

I shy away from time travel in my stories, as its hard to keep a good grip on what’s going on. If you tackle this one you have to be ubber vigilant with your plotting. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a strong example of this genre.

Urban Fantasy:

So, as per the horror list, this is supernatural elements within an industrial/ town/ city setting. I personally love these as the setting itself makes the paranormal aspect slightly more believable. Lots of examples here, however there’s a really comprehensive anthology aptly called The Urban Fantasy Anthology which would give you a great selection of authors such as: Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black & Patricia Briggs.

Young Adult:

The Young Adult category was introduced in 1983 and includes all the above, but for a younger audience. We’ve spoken a number of times about this genre and of course the most obvious and popular example for this genre is The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer.

 

There are probably hundreds of more genres for romance, after all, its one of today’s most popular reads. If I’ve missed any off this list, please feel free to leave a comment with the addition, a description and links to good examples.

 

 

 

Playing with the Paranormal

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One of my favourite things about horror is that you get to create your own monsters and mayhem. You can design your own death scenes, and even concoct a whole butt puckering apocalypse. The only limits, I’m finding out, are your own.

So how do you go about it? Well, if you’re reading this, you probably have a fairly healthy horror disposition, so let’s get started with myths and legends. These were some of the first stories ever written, these are your foundations. Looking at them, you’ll find most will have some horror or paranormal theme. There’s the obvious Gods & Goddesses and there’s also the familiar creatures we know and love, like vampires and werewolves (I always found it interesting that they appear in every culture, even when the world was confined and countries didn’t know about one another – there’s stories and paintings from all over the world depicting these monsters) Check out the Roman and Greek myths, but don’t get lazy, I’ve discovered some awesome Asian creatures and some downright scary Native American ones too.

There’s also, of course, fairy tales. I have talked about these before, so have a gander at my archives (does that sound rude?) and check them out. Some of the Grimm’s stories were downright gross – in the Red Shoes, a young girl dances till her feet drop off! Again a great source of supernatural creatures and lore for you to paw through and find something of interest.

Moving away from the traditional monsters doesn’t have to be painful for a writer. There’s a wealth of legends available to a writer willing to do a bit of research. Get yourself a decent monster encyclopedia, read a few factual paranormal books. I personally like to keep an eye on Fortean Times – a monthly magazine dedicated to the paranormal and all things weird.

Of course, you can always mix it up a bit. Take two or three legends and mash them up into something scary with sharp edges and a dark appetite. Or even create your own monster and weave a new legend – the urban legend ‘Bloody Mary’ has appeared in countless stories and movies, but is a relatively new creation.

So what sort of monster should you create? Well it all depends on what it’s there to do. If you’re writing a balls-out gore fest adult horror, then you need something that can adequately  and quickly bump up the body count. If you’re writing a YA horror story, you need something scary but reasonably easily defeated (my personal opinion on YA horror is that you shouldn’t play it down – they want to be scared too, but making the monster venerable mutes the monster’s presence so they’re not going to be sat up at night worried that it’s still out there and coming to get them!)

Now, one thing to remember while you’re off being a literary Dr. Frankenstein, all monsters need an Achilles Heel. There has to be some way for your hero to beat them, to propel them back into the dark abyss with their hunger un-sated. If you’re writing an adult horror, then really the world is your bloody oyster – have the victims discover the weakness too late, have the reader know it – but keep the characters in the dark. In YA – kill the monster off, we want to scare them – not scar them for life!

So what’s your favourite monster? What have you created?

Monsters – Part 2

Dragons

Many years ago ‘Here be Dragons’ was written on maps to indicate unknown areas of land and sea. Frightening creatures, Dragons are so similar to Dinosaurs, Crocodiles and Alligators that they could easily be turned into a horrific monster who stalks your protagonist with the echo of a hungry growl. Lots of publishers are out there now putting together Dragon anthologies and they are pretty easy to make work in horror.

Fae

Ok, the Fae have started to creep into the mainstream, after all Sookie in TrueBlood is part Fae and Karen Marie Moning has been using Fae as evil alien like god creature since her Fever series. But I feel that they still haven’t really hit their stride yet. Faeries and Fae creatures dominated old English folklore – even, when I was a little girl, I was told by my mum not to dance in mushroom circles lest the Faeries take me! They are a massive race of lots of different creatures, they even have their own vampires and werewolves, so exploration of these creatures is actually fairly top of my list of research. Remember though, don’t feel you have to stick with tradition here – what’s to stop you from creating your own race of Faeries?

Gargoyles

Supposedly so ugly that they scare away evil spirits, Gargoyles are either guardians or rogue monsters. I have read stories that interpret them as both, but these guys are still peripheral to all other monsters and, to be honest I can understand why. Unlike Vamps and Weres they don’t have the handsome side that can be used in paranormal romance, and being made of stone their scare factor can be a little bland – although the stone Angels in Dr Who are pretty darn scary! If you want to utilise these bad boys in your work you’re going to have really think hard before putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard.

Incubus

Perfect for paranormal romance – a bit of a problem for horror. Most publishers in their guidelines state that there should be no rape scenes in your story, and as Incubus feed off sex, well that can be a problem; if its not consensual it can’t go in. These guys are beautiful and fantastic lovers, so for supernatural erotica they’re right on the money. Of course there are Succubus  as well – Bo in the series ‘Lost Girl’ is a Succubus and also Fae in origin – so really the world’s your paranormal romantic oyster when it comes to them – but be careful though if you’re looking to include them in horror.

Doppelgangers

I find these monsters very nasty indeed. Exact evil identical twins who want to kill you and take over your life. All your friends and family would think you’re mad and, quite frankly they could cause no end of French Farce type situations. For me – worse still, if they managed to kill me, they’d probably do a better job in managing my life than I’m doing! Doppelgangers are not used enough in horror or paranormal romance – so roll the idea round in your imagination and see what sticks!

Sirens

Also known under the broader Fae family and even Merfolk, Sirens are wonderfully rich in their history and have the capabilities of both paranormal Romance and horror – depending on how you write them.  In my opinion, to come into their own they really need to have their story line out of the ‘attack the ship’ box and perhaps should be updated into something more modern – what would happen if a Siren got an audition at X Factor?

Willo-the-Wisp

OK – not really a proper monster but the Willo-the –Wisp cartoon in the early 1980s was my very first introduction to the world of weird and when I was small I loved it! Kenneth Williams rocked!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willo_the_Wisp  But hey looking at the legends they could be manipulated into something quite nasty and, with a bit of creativity, even something ghostly romantic too…

Monsters – part 1

 

As we rapidly approach Halloween I’d like to talk about…monsters. They really are the main ingredient in the majority of horrors so I feel like now is the perfect time to talk about them, not just about the ones the we all know, but also about the lesser used creatures who rarely grace our books, TV and film screens and seem destined to wait on the literary side lines.

First things first, let’s look at the ones we all know and love? Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Ghosts, and Witches. Next blog will cover some of the lesser known entities that still deserve a mention.

 Vampires:

These guys have been in the forefront of horror and paranormal romance for the past couple of decades. We all know the legends, starting of course with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the book rather than the film). Many historical figures were rumoured to be Vampires and remains of ‘Vampire burials’ have been discovered all over the world. These blood suckers have, in fact, been haunting our nightmares for centuries. The science of Vampirism is even more interesting with ‘Renfield Syndrome’ now an official clinical term.

Only recently have they been morphed into more romantic figures and, in my opinion, lost their scare. When monsters are humanised and romanticised like these guys, well it’s hard to feel that sense of dread anymore. I remember watching Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ when I was little – when that little boy tapped on his brother’s first floor bedroom window, I decided to ask for a cross that Christmas! Nowadays I leave the cross at home to make my neck more enticing!

So OK, let’s be realistic here, the only way these guys are ever going to be scary again is if they don’t look like Alexander Skarsgard! Think Nosferatu rather than Edward Cullen. But rather than ruin anyone’s day dreams Vampires do still firmly belong in paranormal romance (I’m guilty of using them as such myself) but make sure that when you write their characters, you give them a bit more grit and lot less maudlin – remember they are still monsters!

 Werewolves:

The two-natured beasts have also been somewhat muzzled in recent years, perhaps not to the extent as the Vampire, but still they’re certainly not what they use to be. Werewolves have been with us just as long and were, more than likely, the supernatural explanation for some very real psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, and lycanthropy. Being a ‘Werewolf’ was a handy excuse for townspeople that couldn’t believe that the ‘nice bloke down the road’ had murdered his wife and children. Here’s a handy link to a list of 10 real life historical Werewolves:

http://listverse.com/2012/01/25/10-true-life-werewolves/

These guys definitely need a re-vamping (pun intended) they have so much that could be explored and of course have the capacity to still be bloody scary. One need only read Angela Carter’s ‘In the company of wolves’ to see how both their violent and sexual natures can be combined into a terrifying story.

A good Werewolf tale (I punned again!) can be a number of things: an out and out stalking monster story, a who’s the Werewolf Cluedo game or of course you can keep them as romantic figures – but hey let’s at least give them their claws back!

 Zombies:

People take the piss out of me when I say that zombies could happen, but you only have to read this article:http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/neurophilosophy/2012/may/03/zombie-ant-parasitic-fungus to realise we are just one mad scientist away from an un-dead apocalypse.

Zombies are one of the few monsters out there today who still retain their scare factor. You can’t reason with a Zombie and well, they’re pretty up front with what they want from you. This might change with the cinema release of ‘Warm Bodies’ next year, based on the book of the same title by Isaac Marion; as this firmly puts a romantic spin on the whole Zombie/ human relationship. Still, if Zombies where behind door number one, then I’d choose the box every time!

When writing Zombies, it’s really down to the gross factor. You can’t write a polite Zombie story. Pick a scenario that screams outrageously hard to escape, throw in a ravenous Zombie hoard and prepare yourself to kill off your characters!

Ghosts:

Kind of the poor relation of the supernatural at the moment, but I truly think that they’re ready for a comeback. I remember listening to ghost stories when I was a little girl and thinking they were the best entertainment ever, that was until nightfall and I started rolling around their existence in my mind,whilst sitting up wide eyed in bed! Everyone you know, and care to ask, knows at least one ghost story – they really are universal.

One thing to remember with ghosts is that they are the ethereal manifestation of people – so are neither good nor evil – in theory. The key here to writing a cracking ghost story is the actual back story of the ghost itself, who they are and why they’re trapped.

 Witches:

Hubble Bubble Boil and Blah! In my opinion Witches are so old big black pointy hat nowadays. To get these guys in the forefront would take a truly magical idea and a new spin on a tired stereotype. Now, in saying that I’ve seen the trailer for ‘Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters’ which is coming to a cinema near you early next year and it looks pretty good – the witches are more scary than sexy and it has a kind of dark gothic feel to it. Let’s hope it inspires us to take Witches and place them firmly back into the horror genre.

Again Witches can work well in paranormal romance, they are human after all and so side step that awkward mix of species – just as long as you stay clear of the whole Love potion Number 9 malarkey!