Hello, nocturnal readers!
I believe you all know by now that I'm a huge urban fantasy fan. There are many series I follow and many authors I adore, but Jenn Bennett's Arcadia Bell has a very special place in my heart. Jenn's new historical paranormal romance series, Roaring Twenties, is also a huge success. I was over the moon when Jenn accepted my invitation to participate in this event.
I'll leave you to Jenn and her choice of Halloween movies! Don't forget to enter the giveaway below.
Essential "Fun" Halloween Moviesby Jenn Bennett
October is one of my favorite months. The temperatures are cooling down, the leaves are turning, and, most importantly, my favorite holiday is just around the corner: Halloween. Though the holiday's custom of dressing up in costume to trick-or-treat isn't celebrated around the world, here in the States and Canada, it's part of every kid's childhood. As an adult, I now spend my Halloween on the other side of the door, handing out candy to the costumed trick-or-treaters—something that's almost as fun. But the best part about the spooky holiday is the lead-up to it, when my husband breaks out horror movies. We watch them all month long, and though the rotation of titles changes, a few have become compulsory. An October tradition. Some are scary, some are classics, and some are just plain fun. Those "fun" ones are some of my favorites, more "treat" than "trick," so I thought I'd share some them with you. Here are my Top Five fun horror movies to watch in October:
5. Shaun of the Dead (2004): Both an homage to zombie movies and a celebration of pop culture, this British movie remains funny and wildly entertaining after multiple viewings.
4. Young Frankenstein (1974): A Mel Brooks classic that fans of my Arcadia Bell series might remember referenced on the door to Jupe's room. As a parody of classic horror flicks, and not a horror movie itself, it is both charming and hilarious.
3. Trick r' Treat (2007): This is an newer horror anthology movie—a group of connected stories—that has sneaked into our Halloween routine. Though it occasionally surprises with a few chills and thrills, even its scarier moments are delivered with a low-key, dark humor. Plus: Anna Paquin as a...well, I won't spoil it for you.
2. Zombieland (2009). A badass Woody Harrelson, quick wit, zippy thrills, a sweet boy-meets-girl apocalyptic romance, and the always brilliant Bill Murray. What more do you want?
1. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). If you can't see a midnight showing of this campy cult classic in your town, pop some popcorn and enjoy it at home. The music is terrific, the mood is delicious, and no one can resist falling in love with Magenta, Columbia, and Dr. Frank N. Furter all over again.
About Jenn:JENN BENNETT is the author of: the Roaring Twenties series (Berkley Sensation) and the Arcadia Bell UF series (Pocket Books). Her first YA contemporary romance will be released in 2015 (Macmillan). She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs. Visit her at www.jennbennett.net.
Want to be notified when her next book is coming out? Join her mailing list: http://eepurl.com/V5il9
Thank you, Jenn, and a huge thank you to Feri from Le Non Design for the wonderful banner above. Please visit her at http://www.le-non.com
Something Wicked Strikes in Exquisite Captive
When I first started working on my new YA fantasy, Exquisite Captive, I did a lot of research about jinn mythology, reading all kinds of Arab folklore about the creatures that fascinated me so much. Exquisite is the story of Nalia, a jinni who’s been trafficked from her homeland and sold as a slave to a human master. Before I started doing my research, all I knew about jinn was pretty much what every American knows: Disney’s Aladdin and I Dream of Jeannie. Wishes, magic lamps and bottles, harem pants. But as I delved more into the mythology I realized that there is A LOT more to the jinn than I knew. One of the types of jinn I discovered are ghouls. I’d heard the word before, of course. To me, it vaguely translated as “monster of some horrible kind.” But in Middle Eastern mythology, ghouls are cannibalistic jinn who lure their prey in various treacherous ways. According to what I consider the Bible of jinn mythology, Legends of the Fire Spirits (a seriously excellent scholarly guide to all things jinn by Robert Lebling), ghouls are “flesh eating” and disguise themselves in order to capture their prey by shape shifting (a common jinn trait). They are solitary creatures who often appear at night and are accused of being “violators of graves.” In some accounts, the ghoul uses sex as a means to trap their prey. Color me intrigued.
Ghouls and jinn are also known to haunt desolate places, which is why when I went into the Sahara Desert in Morocco to do research for Book 2, my driver, Moustafa, said a bismillah to protect us. In Islam, a bismillah is a kind of blessing and protective prayer. Many Moroccans believe in the existence of jinn and shared personal stories with me of experiences they’d had and people they knew who’d been possessed by jinn. So let’s just say I was happy Moustafa said the bismillah.
In Exquisite, Nalia is the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her entire royal caste and, as such, is the heir to the throne. She’s now being hunted by the caste of jinn that instigated the coup—the Ifrit. Since Nalia’s hiding out in the Hollywood Hills with her evil (and, yes, hot) master, I knew I had to come up with a way for these Ifrit to hunt her. Nalia is incredibly powerful. Unlike the other jinn, who can only access one of the four elements for their magic, Nalia can use all four. So sending in a few assassins wasn’t going to do the trick. I had the feeling that Calar, the evil empress of Arjinna—the jinn realm—would send one killer, very stealthy-like, to take Nalia down and thus secure Calar’s position on the throne. It had to be someone incredibly powerful. I decided on a ghoul. I took the mythology I’d learned and expanded on it so that my ghoul, in addition to being a cannibal, takes on the appearance of his victims. In this way, he’s able to hunt Nalia down without her knowing it and disguise his true terrifying form from the rest of the world as well. The bonus? Most jinn don’t believe in ghouls—they think they’re just figures in scary legends. So when a bunch of jinn all around the world go missing, nobody suspects that one nasty ghoul is enjoying an international buffet.
The segments that feature my ghoul are separate from the other chapters and only last for a few pages. Each one takes place in a different international location and features one victim that he’s hunting. I quickly realized that my ghoul was also a bit eccentric and had a personal connection to Nalia’s past. I don’t want to spoil anything, so that’s all I’ll say. Below is an excerpt from the first ghoul segment, which takes place in Beijing. It’s the first of the seven segments in which we follow the ghoul on his hunt for Nalia. Here, he’s tracked down a Marid jinni (the type of jinn that do water magic). The ghoul is currently disguised as an Ifrit jinn (the fire magic jinn who have taken over the jinn realm) and so his victim does not yet know that he’s a ghoul.
The jinni whimpers as she steps into the moonlight, silently crying out to the gods. Her body trembles as a gust of wind swoops through the courtyard. The rancid smell the Ifrit has brought with him gets stronger the closer she is to him, like rotting food or, no, more like . . . rotting flesh. And suddenly she knows this is no ordinary Ifrit, and the word, the horrible word for what he is, fills her with mindless terror.Ghoul.The Marid stands, horrified, as the ghoul’s smile stretches to his ears, then grows wider, splitting his face open to reveal dozens of eellike teeth. Her agonized shriek lasts only a moment as those teeth sink into her soft flesh. As soon as they break her skin, she can no longer speak. No longer move. Limbs frozen.But she can feel everything.When he finishes his meal, the ghoul licks his lips and sighs with satisfaction. Then his body shudders and the air around him warps as his limbs and face transform into those of his victim. The ghoul gazes at his reflection in a stagnant pool of water on the courtyard floor. As long as he stays out of the moonlight, his true form is hidden. He touches the birthmark beside his mouth and smiles. Next time, his quarry won’t see him coming.
To read the first few chapters of Exquisite Captive, go here. If you just want to freak yourself out in proper Halloween fashion, go to page 17 after you click on the PDF link above and that will give you the full Beijing section with my ghoul.
I had no idea I could write such grisly stuff! It’s not the kind of thing I would normally like to read, either. But what makes these sections special to me is that I get to write about places I’ve traveled to and it was great fun creating short, terrifying scenes. If you’re like me and can’t do too much terror, then this is for you. It’s just enough, but not overboard. Don’t worry—there are only seven ghoul segments in the book. Book Two of the series includes other kinds of jinn monsters who I can’t wait for you to meet. For now, though, don’t forget to say a bismillah whenever you’re alone. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows, licking its lips.
When she's not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real, whichPublisher's Weekly calls “[An] addictive yet thoughtful debut” about reality TV stardom. She is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN trilogy), as well as I’ll Meet You There. Coming from Macmillan in Winter 2015, I’ll Meet You There is a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl rapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. Heather is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. She is proud to have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can always find her on Twitter (@HDemetrios), ogling the military dogs she wants to adopt (but can’t because her NYC apartment is way too small). Find out more about Heather and her other books at wwww.heatherdemetrios.com andwww.darkcaravancycle.com.
Thank you, Heather, for the wonderful post! And a huge thank you to Feri from Le Non Design for the banner above. Please visit her at http://www.le-non.com.
Giveaway time!Enter to win a copy of Exquisite Captive. The giveaway is international! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below and keep your fingers crossed.Thanks for stopping by!
The Reaper/Vampire Hybrid Heroby Kristen Painter
When I set out to write Dead Man’s Hand, I already knew who my hero was because I’d set him up in Queen of Hearts, my first Sin City Collectors novella. But I didn’t really get to know Ares until he took center stage. Sure, I know what he was – a wraith, which is a half reaper, half vampire hybrid—but who was he? What made him tick? Did he like being a wraith?
As the story unfolded, I found out. Because his touch kills, he keeps to himself by choice, never wanting to accidentally take the life of an innocent. What I didn’t suspect was how lonely that choice made him. It also caused him to build a wall around himself. If he didn’t let anyone in, he couldn’t hurt them and couldn’t get hurt by them. Although as you’ll find out in the story, there was a time when he took down that wall for someone. It didn’t end well, which only adds to his gruff exterior.
Q. Does he like being a wraith?
A. I’d have to say not a hundred percent of the time. By the end of the story, he’s much more okay with it.
Q. Was he born a wraith?
A. Yep. He doesn’t know his parents. In my background for him (which didn’t make it into the book), he was abandoned to an orphanage for supernatural children.
Q. Are wraiths rare?
A. Somewhat. He’s not the only one of his kind, but there isn’t exactly a convention every year either. He’s fairly special.Kristen Painter likes to balance her obsessions with shoes and cats by making the lives of her characters miserable and surprising her readers with interesting twists. She currently writes award-winning urban fantasy for Orbit Books. The former college English teacher can often be found on twitter @Kristen_Painter, Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristenPainterAuthor where she loves to interact with readers and her blog: http://kristenpainter.com/blog/
Thank you, Kristen, and a huge thank you to Feri from Le Non Design for the banner above. Please visit her at http://www.le-non.com.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. When I was young, preparations usually began somewhere around August. I'd get so excited when the stores would pull out their Halloween inventory, and I'd scour through all the awesome latex masks and horror props.
The holiday's appeals have changed for me over the years. Once, I looked forward to all the free candy my mother normally wouldn't allow me to have. As I grew older, my big focus shifted to going out with my friends for high jinks, and Halloween parties. My love of dressing in costumes has spilled into other activities such as renaissance fairs, conventions, or any other excuse I can find. I even had a masquerade ball wedding. But through all those years, my fundamental love of Halloween has never changed, and that is that for one night we can allow ourselves to believe that the fantastic is real. On that night, monsters walk among us, haunted houses reside on every corner, and secret cults summon Elder Gods.
Urban Fantasy appeals to me for the same reasons. Unlike Historic Fantasy or Sci-Fi, the world depicted is our own. The monsters aren't lurking in some ancient castle or alien world, they're walking down our streets, they live next door, they're hiding in our closets. Sometimes the world is one where supernatural creatures are out in the open, such as Anita Blake or Sookie Stackhouse. And while it can be fun to show vampires and ghouls fighting for equal rights, I prefer my monsters secretly living in the shadows, plotting their nefarious plans while the outside world is blissfully unaware of their existence.
My novel, Dämoren, is set in a modern world where no one believes in monsters, save the few brave enough to face them. For them, vampires, wendigos, and forbidden cults don't just exist on one night a year. For them, Halloween is eternal.
While the monsters and magic might have a unique spin, I wanted it feel real. The more grounded everything is to reality, the easier it allows me (and hopefully my readers) to pretend that it's true. I researched different folklores to find creatures that many people might not know much about (at least those of us in the Western World) and blended them in alongside some of my own. Because the order that my monster hunters belong to has a rich history that spans to the Crusades, I wanted their history to match reality enough that it pulls the reader in deeper. Suspension of disbelief is a finite thing and extremely valuable. We want to enjoy stories by using as little of it as possible. So by grounding as much of Dämoren's world as I could in reality, a reader can let themselves believe the fantasy even better.
The scariest stories are the ones that begin with, "Based on a True Story." The reason for that is that even if we know it's not true, it helps that little part of our brains that doesn't want to believe in Halloween to sit back and say, "OK, I'm listening," and that's when we can really enjoy it.
About the author:Seth Skorkowsky was born in Texas in 1978. He currently lives in Denton, Texas, with his wife, and works for the University of North Texas. His short story "The Mist of Lichthafen" was nominated for a British Fantasy Award (long list) in 2009. Dämoren is Seth's debut novel. He recently signed a two-book deal with Rogue Blades Entertainment for his "Black Raven" sword-and-sorcery collection.
When not writing, Seth enjoys travel, shooting, and tabletop gaming.Visit his website at skorkowsky.com.
Thanks, Seth, and a huge thank you to Feri from Le Non Design for the banner above. Please visit her at http://www.le-non.com.
Fill the Rafflecopter below to win an e-copy of Damoren. The contest is international. Thank you to Ragnarok Publications for providing the giveaway copy.GIVEAWAY TIME!Enter to win a book of your choice by Jenn Bennett. This giveaway is international, anywhere The Book Depository ships. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below, and as usual, keep your fingers crossed.Good luck!