Tag Archives: Candy-Korman

Cat’s Cradle Time Yarns & Erinyes

Apologies for the uninspiring title to this post but I couldn’t think of any clever way of linking the two ebooks I just bought.

cats cradle smlThe first, Cat’s Cradle Time Yarns, is a new anthology featuring a short story by Candy Korman.

Candy is one of my favourite authors so I had to buy it. Besides, I’m a sucker for all things feline, and this anthology looks as if it’s going to be fun. Congratulations Candy! I honestly don’t know where she finds the time to sleep. 😉

The second ebook, Erinyes, is a science fiction novel by an author I’ve never heard of before. So why did I buy it? I’m damned if I know. It certainly wasn’t the blurb. I enjoy the concepts of worm-hole jumps and cryogenics, but on their own, neither would have been enough to make me click that Buy button.

The truth is, I think I was hooked by the name of the book. Erinyes is a good, strong name, and it’s unusual, however it could mean anything, and belong to anything.  Is Erinyes a person? A place? Something else entirely?

I have no idea what this name means but it was enough to get me to buy the book. I’ll let you know whether it was worth the outrageous sum of $0.99 in a few days.  Until then it might be fun to just ponder the power of names.

Are they as effective as a distinctive book cover? Or – rank heresy – is it possible a catchy title can do more for a book than its cover?

Okay, enough random musings, I have about 14 more chapters of proof reading to do if Vokhtah is to arrive on schedule so I’m off to the salt mines again.



POED – a review

I’m one of those people who only ‘know’ Edgar Allan Poe by a sort of cultural osmosis, so I can’t give you an expert’s perspective on Candy Korman’s third monster story, POED. I can’t even give you a horror fan’s view of the story because I don’t like horror. But I can tell you that POED is a dark story indeed. In fact it is easily the darkest of Candy’s three monsters to date.

POED is not a retelling of any of Poe’s stories, however it does contain many references to them. Those familiar with Poe’s work will recognize The Usher Institute for the Study of Criminal Psychopathology, the setting of the story, as a nod to Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.

The story of POED is told in the first person by the unnamed Director of the Institute, another nod to Poe’s style. For most of the story the Director appears to be speaking to a character named Edgar Allan who, we are told, is a journalist. As the story unfolds we learn that the Usher is not only a research institute, it is also the repository for a number of criminally insane inmates whose family connections guarantee they receive the very best of care, far from the eyes of both the public and the law.

The reason the Director is now revealing this information to a journalist is that he is in fear of his life. He has reason to believe that one of the three most powerful families with relatives in the Usher is moving to have him ‘disappeared’ out of fear that he may reveal their secrets and those of their murderous relatives.

Although the story is set in the modern day, the Director speaks in a mannered, almost prissy fashion that is reminiscent of earlier times. Yet despite this apparent affectation, his claims sound quite rational. At first. However as he reveals the horrific stories of these three inmates, his paranoia seems to deepen until the moment when he catches the journalist going through his files and accuses him of being in league with his enemies.

So, is the Director right? Is the journalist a spy sent to trap him? Or is this a dream within a dream? Yet if it is a dream then what is the reality?

I re-read the ending three times and I’m still not sure. But the ending is chilling no matter which way you interpret it because it is either a glimpse into insanity or… something else. To find out what that something else may be you will have to read the story for yourself, however I will say this, it will keep you thinking about the Usher Institute for a very long time.

Every time I review a novel, one of the things I ask myself is ‘did I enjoy it?’ Most of the time that question is easy to answer, but POED is such a departure from what I usually read that, like the ending, I’m still a little baffled. I can’t say I liked the character of the Director, and yet I was fascinated by him. In the same way,  the story of POED gave me the creeps, and yet I could not put it down.

On a more objective level, I have to applaud the way in which Candy Korman has written this story. It is hellishly clever and I suspect that if Poe were still alive today, he would approve of POED.

If you are interested in learning something of the background to POED then I highly recommend this interview Candy did with Bookcast.

And if you’re in the middle of reading POED right now, then I wish you… pleasant dreams.

A community service announcement – freebie alert!

I’m Australian and we don’t really do Halloween, although I believe the custom is growing amongst the younger generation – by which I mean anyone younger than 50! So please don’t come to my door expecting treats coz you ain’t gonna get none!

There is one treat I can offer though, and that’s a free novella or three. 😀 My good friend Candy Korman is literally giving away her wonderful stories for free until November 1st, including her brand new one – POED. I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while,  so as soon as I finish here I’ll be heading over to pick up my own copy to complete my collection. You can expect a review tout suite, but honestly, why wait? If you have any doubts, you can read my reviews of Candy’s first two Monster novellas here, and here. Trust me, POED will be every bit as good as its siblings.  And if you haven’t read any of Candy’s Monsters then jump in and grab yourself 3 bargains as well as 3 very special treats! 

And now, over to Candy :

Tricks & Treats!
Posted on October 29, 2012

A few years ago I made an unusual New Year’s Resolution: I will eat only good chocolate. It turned out to be one resolution I could, and did, keep. It’s extended to every year since.

Even my Halloween offerings are good chocolate or not chocolate at all. Living, as I do, in an apartment building with few Trick or Treating aged kids, I hang a black, spider-web shaped basket on my doorknob and fill it with sweet treats. My neighbors and the staff in the building know where to find “the good stuff” so I have no need to advertise. I also fill my pockets with give out candies all day long.

This year, I’m expanding the reach of my Halloween treats to my Internet friends and their friends. All three of my Candy’s Monsters ebooks will be FREE for three days! October 30, October 31 & November 1 are FREE MONSTER DAYS.

Three Monsters?

Yes, three! If all goes well (Frankenstorm & formatting folks) POED will be available in time for Halloween and FREE!

POED is my tribute to the master of gothic horror, Edgar Allan Poe. I hope that both Poe fanatics and readers who haven’t dipped their toes into the depth of Poe’s dark and twisted, macabre stew since they were 12, will enjoy my story.

“The Mary Shelley Game” (my mystery inspired by “Frankenstein”) and “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” (my dark comedy, vampire un-romance inspired by “Dracula”) and “POED” are my Halloween treats for readers. I’ve got some nice dark chocolate caramels for my door. Too bad I can’t send them along with the ebooks.

* * *

Breaking News! Just before posting, I received an email from Candy. She is in NYC and has been hit hard – no electricity, no hot water, no nothing – and had to go to a friend’s place to get online. If you can help her do some last minute marketing I know she would be very grateful.


Work-in-progress Blog Hop

Just when I think I’m starting to understand the blogging world, something happens and bam, I feel like a nOOb again. Today though, I’m more than happy to be a nOOb because I’ve finally found out what a blog hop is all about. I’ve also been nominated for this particular blog hop by a buddy of mine, Alex Laybourne. Alex is a writer, a kindred spirit [even though he writes horror -gasp-] and a participant in this year’s nano marathon, so basically he is an all-round great guy. Thank Alex. 😀

Now, is there anything a writer likes to talk about more than their current work-in-progress [WIP]? That was a rhetorical by the way. Clearly, the answer is no, so it should be obvious why I jumped at the chance to wax lyrical about my WIP. My only problem is… which WIP? Technically I should be talking about Vokhtah, book 2 but, I’d rather talk about the story I’ve been ‘plotting’ ever since I decided to do nano this year.

I hate the straitjacket feel of an outline which is why I am a pantster through and through. This time however,  I’m not allowed to jump in and start writing until November 1st, so I’ve been scribbling ideas down instead. Some of these ideas relate to the plot, so technically I am outlining something,  but I fully expect most, if not all, of this pseudo outline to disappear after the first 1000 words. Imho, logical outlines lead to predictable plots and I hate reading those, so I encourage my inner pantster to take me in unexpected directions. -cough- End rant.


***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog.
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

What is the working title of your book?

Innerscape. Or possibly Mira. I may just go with Mira because it’s shorter. 🙂

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the character of Mira came from the very first short story I wrote – 2080. But I’ve been thinking about the evolution of online gaming and virtual living for a very long time. Tad Williams explored the idea in his wonderful series called Otherland, and I’ve read other sci-fi versions as well, but I wanted to push the concept a little further.

What genre does your book fall under?

Hmmm…. the closest definition I can think of is ‘soft-ish’ science fiction. No two writers agree on exactly what soft sci-fi is but the definition I like the most is psychological, social sci-fi. I’m going to be adding a bit more speculative tech to the mix but the overall focus will be soft.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ugh, this is a question I don’t even want to think about. The minute you visualize an actor in the part, some of their quirks and mannerisms inevitably colour the character’s development. I really don’t want to do that, especially at such an early stage.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Another problematic question this one. And no, that was not my answer! Just sort of thinking aloud. Okay, this is the best I can do for now : ‘If you could extend your life by entering a digital reality, would it become heaven or hell?’

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As this will be a nano project I don’t expect the story to be ready for publication for a very long time. However, once it is, I expect to publish as an indie.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oops. As this story is still just a twinkle in my eye, I can’t really say anything about the gestation period. Knowing me, however, I’m sure it will take years!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The obvious choice is Otherland, by Tad Williams. One of my favourite series 🙂

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My direct inspiration was Lady Julia Prosser. She is fighting a losing battle with cancer, yet she lives each day to the fullest. Being a writer, I couldn’t help wondering how I would spend my time in similar circumstances. That’s the underlying thread of the story.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Despite my hard-baked, cynical facade, I am a romantic at heart, so there will be a romance of sorts in the story. Hmmm… correction, there will be love in the story and there may be a bit of romance as well but please don’t expect it to be the focus; you’ll be disappointed!

My 5 nominations are:

[This is hard as so many of my friends have just published so I’m not sure if they have WIPs or not but I hope they do!]

Candy Korman

Ilil Arbel

Laurie Boris

M. Edward McNally

Lord David Prosser

Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth – a review

Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth is an anthology of short stories. The ‘ends of the earth’  part of the title is a reference to the diverse countries and cultures of the authors who contributed to the anthology.

The reason I bought Unexpected Tales was because Candy Korman contributed seven stories to the anthology and I was curious to see what Candy’s shorts were like. [No pun intended!]

Those of you who read my reviews will know that I’ve loved, and reviewed, both of Candy’s novella length stories. [My reviews are here and here].

I’m pleased to tell you Candy’s shorts are just as good as her novellas!

Writing in short form requires a great deal of skill. The author has to find a way to compress background, character arc, mood and plot into a very tight space. As with a novel, each short story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Beyond that however, the story has to trigger the reader’s own imagination to fill in the ‘blanks’. The reader has to become a willing, eager participant in the telling because the author does not have the luxury of waffling on. Ok, waffling is not good in any form but you know what I mean!

So, back to the anthology. All seven of Candy’s short stories were a joy. No surprise there because she is a superb writer, imho [in-my-humble-opinion]. Her stories, however, were all surprising. Each one drew me into a different time and place… and then turned my expectations on their heads!

My favourite short story was the one about the residents of a retirement village. As I’m nudging 60 – and a bit scared of getting truly old – I enjoyed the depiction of these older citizens as real people enjoying much the same activities I enjoy right now. Romance, sex, love. Apparently none of those tender emotions atrophy with age. That was good to know. And then Candy started weaving in ‘the twist’. I won’t tell you what it was but I guarantee that readers of any age will appreciate it!

Of the ‘unknown’ authors contributing to the anthology the standout, for me, was Xarina. She wrote quite a long story in a number of parts. Her story, Alliances, was surprising in many ways. It began with a wedding and and it was  soon obvious this wedding was eastern in flavour. I guessed Indian and I was later proved correct. [Thank you Monsoon Wedding. If you haven’t seen this delightful Indian movie then I highly recommend it.]

All my other guesses about ‘Alliances’ proved to be wrong but the story was so enjoyable I hardly even noticed. Bright, colourful, exotic, all are words that spring to mind in describing this story. Yet there is a dark thread beneath its gentle, Bollywood-bright facade. And the ending will make you slap your head in disgust at not seeing the ‘clues’. Trust me, they are there. Xarina [the author] has not short-changed her readers in the slightest. Once you know, the signs are obvious. But of course she doesn’t let you ‘know’ until the very end.

In my humble opinion [there’s that caveat again], Candy Korman and Xarina make this anthology well worth the cost of the ebook. For me, though, the rest of the short stories somehow missed the mark. With some, the problem was me; I simply couldn’t relate to the content. With others, the style annoyed me. I enjoy beautiful prose but I really don’t like self-indulgent prose. Enough said.

The short story that disappointed me the most, however, was one that just… stopped. This particular story was interesting enough but it ended so abruptly I was left feeling baffled. And somewhat cheated.

At first I thought I’d paged past the ending. On a Kindle that’s quite easy to do if you press the page forward button too hard. So I paged back and discovered that I hadn’t missed the ending at all. All the main threads were resolved but the underlying thread, the one that gives you a sense for why the story was written in the first place, was missing. To me it felt like a long, involved joke without a punchline. Now I know that not all short stories have to have a ‘twist’ but I do expect them to give me a sense of… closure. This particular story didn’t.

One of the reasons I swore I would only write reviews of books I loved was that I hate being ‘mean’. I can empathize with other authors too well to want to hurt them, especially when my opinions are so very subjective. Millions of people love Twilight. I don’t. Millions of people love romance novels. As a general rule, I don’t. Still more millions love horror stories.  Surprise, surprise… I don’t. By contrast, I love science fiction, yet I know that an awful lot of people find sci-fi a yawn. So castigating any author for writing something I don’t like just feels wrong to me.

But what do you do with an anthology? Not writing a review of Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth –  because I disliked some of the stories – would have been like throwing the baby out with the bath water. For those young ‘uns who haven’t heard that saying before… just think about it. 🙂

Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth is an anthology with ups and downs, however for me, the ups far outweigh the downs and I can recommend it with a clear conscience, especially as I know you may love the very stories I disliked. That’s what subjective opinions are all about. Read the anthology and then, if you think that I have missed the mark, please tell me so in comments.

Honestly, I’m not just saying that! Life would be very boring without different points of view and, well, I do love a good argument. 😀



Sight, sound, taste and reading treats for the weekend

It’s Friday morning in lovely, changeable Melbourne so I thought I’d pile up a few goodies for you to try over the weekend.

First and foremost, a feast for the eyes and ears. Thank you Bluebird Blvd for introducing me to this utterly, completely, totally glorious few minutes of BEAUTY!

Never doubt that there is wonder in the world.

Next, something for the taste buds – spinach sauce and french toast. This is a very Hungarian meal and may not be to everyone’s liking but Mum made it for me all through my childhood and I still make it for The Daughter [and myself].

Spinach sauce

1 large bunch of English spinach

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of plain [all purpose?] flour

2 tablespoon of Peanut or olive oil



Begin by stripping the spinach leaves off the stalks and washing them AT LEAST 3 times. This is the part I dislike because it takes time and patience but if you don’t get all the minute bits of grit or sand or whatever it is off the spinach leaves your sauce will crunch between your teeth – most unpleasant!

Once the spinach is clean put a small amount of water to boil in the bottom of a pot large enough to hold all the spinach. When the water is boiling throw the spinach into the pot, cover and let the spinach wilt for no more than 1 minute. As soon as the spinach collapses into a green ball remove from heat, strain through a colander and refresh with a quick rinse under cold water. Let it drain.

While the spinach is draining peel the garlic and mash it with a heavy knife. I find the easiest way to do this is to use the back of the knife to scrape away at the cloves until they break down into a paste. Garlic presses are no good because you end up with small bits of garlic that can be rather overpowering when you bite on them.

Once the garlic is mashed make a white roux with the oil and flour in a pot large enough to hold the finished spinach sauce.  To make the roux stir the flour and oil together over a gentle heat and keep stirring for about 2 minutes until the flour cooks. Do NOT let it go brown!

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mashed garlic. The roux can now sit for a little while.

Put the strained spinach onto a wooden chopping board and chop until very fine.

Add the chopped spinach to the roux and combine well until there are no lumps of white showing.

The next bit is a little hard to quantify but pour in at least 1 cup of cold milk and immediately stir into the spinach mixture. At this stage the sauce should be quite ‘wet’. If it looks too thick add a little more milk then return the pot to the heat and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. You must keep stirring [with a wooden spoon] until the sauce is completely cooked. Depending on quantities this could take ten minutes.

As the sauce simmers it will start to thicken and the spinach will ‘bleed’ that lovely green colour into the milk. The sauce is done when it has a nice overall green colour and has thickened to the point where you could almost eat it with a fork – so not runny but not like porridge either. Set aside while you make the french toast.

French Toast

The Hungarian version of french toast is called ‘Bundás kenyér’ and translates as ‘fur coated bread’ [bunda means fur coat. Don’t ask]. Each slice should be golden brown, slightly crunchy and sprinkled with salt, not sugar!

4 whole eggs

6 slices of bread – stale or fresh. [I allow roughly 1 egg to 1.5 slices of bread, depending on the size of the slices]

peanut oil for frying – should cover the bottom of the frying pan with a bit to spare but remember, you are not deep frying here.


I use a heavy cast iron frying pan so it needs to be heated ahead of time while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. Adjust to suit your own pan.

While the oil and pan are heating, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork – just enough to mix the white and the yolk.

Cut each slice of bread in half and arrange bread and egg mix near the frying pan. Place a serving plate within reach of the pan.

Once the oil is hot [it should be radiating heat but not quite smoking] dip a piece of bread into the egg, flip it with a fork and immediately lift out of the egg. Let the excess egg drip back into the bowl and then gently place the bread into the hot oil.

[Note : you have to be quick getting the bread into and out of the egg because you don’t want it to get soggy. If it gets soggy it will not fry to a crisp finish.]

Fry the bread in batches until the bottoms go a nice golden colour. Turn, fry the other side and then place onto the serving plate. You can drain the bread on kitchen towel if you want but I rarely bother.

Once the bread is all done, sprinkle with a little salt and it is ready to serve. Reheat the spinach just a little bit and stir the slight ‘crust’ on top until it reintegrates with the sauce.

To serve

Arrange slices of golden bread in a fan shape on a plate and pour half a ladle of spinach sauce next to the bread. It should look rather pretty. Then spoon some of the sauce onto the bread and eat the two together to get the combination of smooth, garlicky sauce and crisp, eggy bread. Enjoy!

And last but not least a little something for the mind. I’ve spoken before about Candy Korman’s book called  ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet’. Well today I just want to let you know that you can read about it on Indies Unlimited. You can also get it from Amazon for a bit of compelling, weekend reading!

Ok, that’s it. Enjoy the weekend and I’ll see you all on Monday. 🙂


A behind-the-scenes look at author Candy Korman

I promised you all a treat today so I’m stepping into the wings as freelance writer and author Candy Korman takes centre stage. Go Candy!


When Meeka asked me to share the back-story on Bram I was honored and then embarrassed. I was embarrassed because it means revealing my wacky process. You see, “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” started with a violin player living next door. He’s very nice looking, but I only see him in the evenings and… No, my vampire Un-Romance is definitely not autobiographical. The genesis goes back to growing up with those old Bela Lugosi movies on TV. “I want to suck your blood,” was more funny than scary, but it was intriguing and I know I’m not alone in my romantic dance with the vampire image.

Back to the embarrassing back-story and my process, I often stumble on ideas, snippets of assorted ephemera, that roll around in my head for a while, mixing and mingling until they glom onto other bits & pieces to form the background, character or hook for a story. Meeka was among the participants in a blog conversation on my Candy’s Monsters blog: http://candysmonsters.com/ that led immediately to a new short story.

I had posted a short riff on the kind of vacations a monster might take. I imagined a lonely vampire living at an island resort and in no time I was asking for ideas about rum punch names and scribbling what became “Hurricane Castle.” That’s how I “make” a short story. Longer works of fiction take much more time, but the process of gathering and filtering and shuffling and playing, is pretty much the same.

Reading Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” knocked me off my feet. It was nothing like the long chain of movies that followed. In many ways, it’s the quintessential gothic novel — gloomy castle, mysterious characters and tons of atmospheric details. It’s an epistolary novel (written in letters, diary entries and other documents) a fiction format that was very popular at the time. The story unfolds slowly and with it a late 19th century erotic sensibility and fear of female sexuality.

Beware of young ladies who walk in their sleep!

I did not want to write an imitation of “Dracula,” so I took the epistolary form and updated it, mined “Dracula” for character names and subtle descriptive details and then let go of Bram Stoker’s story. Well, not exactly. I didn’t really let it go; it hovered. There is a great and terrible loneliness and sense of isolation in “Dracula.” That kind of isolation is a key element in “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet.” Willie is not visiting a faraway castle to get a mysterious stranger to sign some legal documents, but she is living a subway ride away from her usual haunts and her temporary home is a weird sanctuary, a place to hide, while she gets her act together.

Her strange castle is an apartment on Tompkins Square in the East Village in New York. If you know Manhattan, you’ll know that there are many important landmark “squares” including: Madison, Cooper, Union, Tompkins and Washington Square. I live near Union Square and lived in a dorm off Washington Square back in my college days at New York University. Even if you’ve never set foot in the city, Washington Square will ring a bell because it’s the name of the famous Henry James novella set on that square.

My original title for Bram was “Tompkins Square” in homage to the James masterpiece. My protagonist, Willie, is not at all like the good-hearted, yet unattractive heiress that Henry James created. But how the lovely Olivia de Haviland was cast in that role in the 1949 film (“The Heiress”) is something that Willie might ponder during one of her long walks with the dog.

That trek with the dog circles us back to the back-story/process that mixes and mingles various influences. While Willie is in her self-imposed isolation, recovering from a romantic disaster, her mind is a sponge absorbing — seemingly without a sensible filter — extraneous facts, images and ideas from everything and everyone around her, including Jerry Springer, Oscar Wilde, her horoscope in the newspaper, postcards from her former fiancé, email “fun quizzes”, voicemail messages from her mother, conversations with strangers, etc.

In some ways, Willie’s method for processing her grief and moving on with her life mimics my own process for writing a story and that’s pretty darned embarrassing!

Conceptually, the Candy’s Monsters ebook series offers me the opportunity to explore voices, styles and story-telling techniques in the relatively short format of a novella, as well as the chance for me to revisit the MONSTERS of my childhood in their original form — without the distortions of “Creature Features,” Roger Corman and Vincent Price. That’s how “The Mary Shelley Game” — my Frankenstein, became a Suspense/Mystery and “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” became my Vampire/Un-Romance/Comedy.

I’m working on the third monster right now. It’s called POED — yes, I’m using Poe as a verb in the past tense. I want my readers to get Poed (alarmed, tickled, disturbed, frightened and swept away in Poe-like paranoia) by my contemporary story set in the Usher Clinic for the Criminally Insane.

I don’t know if other writers feel this way, but I’m always in love with my current project. I have zero objectivity until later when I see all the flaws. That’s when I feel dreadful and hate my work. If it’s actually good, I grow to like it again later. I hope to have POED done and ready to be e-published by the end of 2012. I’m already booked to do a reading from it at the semi-annual Poe Room night at NYU in December, so I’d better get cracking. A black cat, a purloined letter and a deadly pendulum await me!


Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet on Amazon:

The Mary Shelley Game on Amazon:

The Candy’s Monster Blog:

Candy’s Monsters on Facebook

Candy Korman on Twitter: @CandyKorman

Short stories by Candy Korman are included in the Mardibooks Collection “Unexpected Tales from the Ends of the Earth” to be e-published in August 2012 http://www.mardibooks.com

The Monday unpost

My big news for today is that on Wednesday, 1 August I’ll be handing the blog over to Candy Korman [author of The Mary Shelley Game and Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet]. Candy will be talking about some of the behind-the-scenes events and inspirations that have influenced her work.

I don’t know about you but I’ve always been fascinated by how and why a writer writes. Are they like me or are they very different? Is the writing process as effortless as the finished product or is it work?

Having had a sneak peak at Candy’s guest blog I can assure you that it will be interesting… and quite funny in spots, in an understated way of course. 😀 So please make sure you check out the blog on Wednesday.

In other news I’ve updated the ‘Indie Recommendations’ page. Given my general sloppiness when it comes to housekeeping I’m rather proud of that. 😀

And last but not least I still have not seen my profile pic. on the google search lists. I’ve been told by a reliable source [thanks Laurie!] that in this era of instant gratification one must… wait. So I am being patient. Sort of. I have been typing my own name in the google search box rather a lot but other than that I have not been cursing and shouting, pulling my hair out or generally being obnoxious. For me that counts as the epitome of patience! If by some glorious chance the situation changes please believe I will let you know. 😀

Meeks [who can also be found on Google ]

Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet – a review

We all know what it means to see life through ‘rose-coloured spectacles’ but no-one ever talks about the bruise-coloured glasses that cover our eyes when love goes wrong. I imagine that a simple ‘growing apart’ would result in purple specs but what kind of glasses would you wear if you discovered your fiance in bed with another woman… just two weeks before your wedding? Is there a filter deeper than black?

In ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet’, Willie is that woman betrayed but we don’t know that at the start. Her story begins in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar the dog wanting to go for his morning walk. The apartment in which Willie wakes is not her own. The neighbourhood is not her own and Quincy the dog is not her own either. We learn that Willie is pet-sitting Quincy and Renfield [a talking parrot] for a month while their owner is away on holiday.

Everything seems very normal, even mundane until you begin to see that Willie is not just pet-sitting, she is in hiding from her own life because she can’t face what HE has done to her, HE being the fiance who cheated on her. She can’t face HIM and she can’t face the apartment they shared so she is literally homeless until her new apartment is refurbished. She could have taken her small suitcase and gone to stay with friends or her family but she can’t face them either. And she most certainly can’t face Facebook, not with her wall plastered with wedding news, so it’s just as well that she left her computer behind with everything and everyone else.

Willie believes that pet-sitting in a strange place where no-one knows her is the perfect way to retreat from the world while she licks her wounds but she is not aware of how isolation can distort the dark lens through which she already views the world. She begins to see significance in small things – a cab goes by showing an advertisement for a sexy new vampire movie and we learn that she is attracted to bad boys like her fiance. She says ‘HE wasn’t a vampire – although he certainly sucked the life out of me when I found him in bed with another woman…’ A little later she notices that the “coffin corner” on her floor is empty of decoration ‘as if it were ready for the undertakers.’ [In older buildings coffin corners were built into the bends of the stairwell to allow coffins to be carried down stairs.]

A little further in the story Willie catches the tail end of a news flash on tv, about the sudden increase in violent crimes… in her new temporary neighbourhood. Small things given special significance by a dark lens. I could go on but I think you can see the pattern unfolding.

When I read the Sublet just over a week ago I was too enthralled by the story to give much thought to how it was written but now I can appreciate the cunning way in which Candy Korman has woven these moment of special significance into the mundane world of dog poop, misery and day-time TV. It all feels so real and so normal yet with every page the influence of the dark lens becomes deeper and the impossible starts to feel… plausible.

Where is the dark lens leading Willie? That is the question that kept me turning page after page. By three quarters of the way through I could see where the story was headed yet I still did not want to believe because I’m a normal person and I know vampires aren’t real. Are they?

And that is all I am going to tell you, except perhaps to say that ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet’ is one of the best psychological thriller-cum-literary monster stories I have read in a very long time. The writing is superb, of course, but you won’t notice that until the end because you will be too busy wondering who the real monster truly is.

I knew that Candy Korman was a great indie writer when I read her first novella, ‘The Mary Shelley Game’, but now I know she is a great writer, full-stop because ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet’ is a great book. Great as in one of the classics. Great as in ‘will be remembered’. Great as in ‘would have been published in a bygone era when traditional publishers still cared about merit’.

This is a book you MUST read and I do not say that often. 5/5

[Note : Those of you who have followed my reviews from the beginning may have noticed that they have changed, becoming more and more positive as the months have rolled along. You may have wondered whether my reviews could be trusted. I just thought I’d take this opportunity to explain that I still read books that leave me dissatisfied but I no longer review them. This was a conscious decision on my part because I find negative, or even just so-so reviews very hard to do. They upset me. I put them off. I feel guilty. Then, when I finally force myself to write them I spend far too much time trying to be diplomatic, time I should be spending on my own writing. So I decided that I would only review books that made my greatness antennae go bzzzzzz. You may still disagree with me about what makes a given book great but I promise you that I’m not faking it!]

Dr Horrible’s blog award

My blogging schedule is completely up the spout this week and I shouldn’t be posting today but Daud [aka Lord David Prosser] sent me such an interesting award nomination that I simply couldn’t resist. Thank you Daud!

So, what makes this award so interesting? Well, there is no set number for how many other bloggers you can nominate. If you’ve ever spent hours agonizing over who to nominate you’ll understand what a joy this is.

The second interesting thing about this award is that it’s like a mini interview with three set questions to answer. Again, this makes life so much easier, especially as the questions are kind of fun. I’ll list them before I answer them.

And of course there’s the graphic of the award itself. I’m a bit of a graphics whore so this one really appeals to me. 😀

And the 3 questions are :

a) If you ran the world, what would you outlaw immediately?
b) Boxers or briefs?
c)If you made a Nobel speech, who would you thank?

Now for the answers. Daud’s answers were witty and b) in particular was very funny as he interpreted ‘boxers’ as pugilists [e.g. Muhamed Ali] and ‘briefs’ as lawyers [I think that might be English only].

I can’t do funny, except by accident, so I’m going to be super serious. 😀

a) If you ran the world, what would you outlaw immediately?

Meeks : Well, I believe food is the single most basic thing that all living things need, apart from air, so I would ban GMO’s of all descriptions. [GMO = genetically modified organism]. Food ain’t broke, it don’t need fixin’ so leave it alone Monsanto!

b) Boxers or briefs?

Meeks : Hmmm…. I’m female so sorry, not going to wear either, however on a guy it would just have to be boxers! Briefs are what my late father wore. No contest.

c) If you made a Nobel speech, who would you thank?

Meeks :  I thought this one would be easy but it’s not! I mean, what am I winning a Nobel prize for? Peace? Neuroscience? [rofl] I’m sorry, I did say I’d be serious.

Ok, I’m going to thank fate for all the kicks and shoves that pushed me out of my comfort zones and made me think. Why? Because no-one ever achieved anything of lasting value by sitting in a comfy chair with fluffy slippers and a glass of shiraz.

And now for my nominations. After due deliberation I’ve decided to nominate 3 bloggers who will all be launching new books in the near future :

Alex Laybourne – Alex is a writer of horror.

Candy Korman – Candy writes literary thrillers on a monster theme.

M. Edward McNally – Ed writes epic fantasy.

All three of my nominees push the boundaries and innovate. They also write damn well.  Check them out!



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