Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Support the new Queensland Literary Awards

My home state of Queensland is currently in a world of shit. Turns out we aren't great with money, we're so bad actually, that the Government is looking at something around $100 Billion of debt by 2015. Needless to say, cuts have been made. Unfortunately, the Government decided the area that least needed support was the creative industries and library systems. First to get the slash was the Queensland Premier's Prize, which was an award to help new and upcoming authors establish themselves. It's been a wonderful help to some of the best writers this state has ever seen, and I was horrified to see it cut only days after the new Government was formed.

Luckily, the real people behind the award weren't so willing to let it go. They're currently crowd-sourcing the $20 000 prize which will now be called the Queensland Literary Award. They're raised just over a quarter of the desired amount, and have a little over a month still to raise the funds.I've just pledged $30, and my fingers are crossed that they make the full amount so that they can keep this award going. Whether you decide to donate yourself, or simply rage about it on Twitter, be sure to do something! This is about more than awarding a single author to continue in their chosen profession, it's to show the Government that we're not OK with them cutting funding from the arts!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Film Review: Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows

Directed by: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp
Eva Green
Michelle Pheiffer
Chloe Mortez

Synopsis: An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. (Via IMDB)


I'm really excited about some of the movies due to be released within the next two months. Despite the bad reviews, I'm still pretty excited about Prometheus (I freaking LOVE Alien), and I KNOW Batman will blow my mind. It's got me keen to watch movies at the cinema, but since these aren't out yet, I decided (along with the boyfriend and a couple of friends) to go see Dark Shadows.

Yeah, I know, I know. I definitely didn't go in expecting anything fantastic, but I've loved so many Johnny Depp and Tim Burton films that I'm not sure I'd ever be able to completely ignore a collaboration between them (although seriously, someone needs to force these two to spend some time apart). And you know what? I didn't hate it, I didn't even mind it. The ending is a train wreck, and there are some HUGE plot issues, but for the most part it was a fun, kinda silly movie that was visually quite impressive. So, should I start with the good or the bad? Actually, I might just switch between the two for as long as I can.

1. (Good) The 1970s styling was a great accompaniment to Burton's dark visuals. I'm a firm believer that when Burton mixes his dark/gothic stylings with hyper-real colours he produces his best films. Think Edward Scissorhands, Beatle Juice or Pleasantville (not a Burton film I know).

2. (Bad) Ugh, Johnny Depp is doing his vaguely English "I'm really quite odd" character again. What happened to the amazing character actor who played Edward Scissorhands? I feel like every character he plays lately is just a slightly different version of the previous one. It's not quirky or weird or outrageous, it's boring.

3. (Good) There were some real laugh out loud moments. The scene with the hippies in the woods was one of the best scenes of the film, and if the rest had been more like it, then I think we'd all be praising the campy awesomeness of this film rather than sighing and yawning.

4.(Bad) The story, in case you haven't been following this film, begins in the 1700s when Barnabas (Depp) spurns the maid he was banging (Eva Green) to marry a young delicate flower. Turns out Eva Green is a witch, and she kills his parents, his fiance and turns Depp into a vampire who is then buried alive in a coffin. With Depp gone, the Collins family line should be over, however when he finds a way out 200 years later there are 4 Collins' living in Barnabas' family mansion. Where did they come from? When the American line of Collins' died, did some cousins from England move over and claim the house? You need to explain this people!

5. (Good) Alice Cooper has a himself. This is hilarious and truly bizarre. They don't even try to make him look 40 years younger, he's old and wrinkly and freaking kick ass. But I love Alice Cooper so maybe I'm just biassed.

6. (Bad) Chloe Mortez, what the hell! She's such a fantastic young actress, but in this movie she's terrible! She's meant to be the moody teenager but she comes across as a caricature of this. She does this stupid lip snarl like she thinks she's Iggy Pop, and she's weirdly sexualised (I honestly thought something was going to happen between her and her uncle) which I found incredibly uncomfortable. She was not on form in this film, hopefully this isn't a sign of what's to come.

7. (Good) Michelle Pheiffer and Eva Green. These two women are both great throughout the film on their own (although Green doesn't seem to know if she's supposed to have a French or American accent), but it is their scenes together which truly shone.

8. (Bad) The plot. It...isn't great. It was written by Seth Grahame-Smith (who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and I wonder if part of his talent is adapting, rather than writing original content. I know this was based on a TV show, but from the reviews I've read it isn't particularly close to the show at all, so it seems he was mostly on his own. Without a plot framework to work on, the pacing was off, threads of stories were introduced but never expanded upon or concluded, and the ending was like a 15 year old writing fan fiction - so many weird things are dropped in without warning. Maybe I'm being unfair on Seth, but until I see a book or film that is amazing that was truly an independent work, I stand by this.

Ok, to be honest I can't really think of any more good points, but a fair few bad ones. So I guess I'll leave it here! It isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I think both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp need to push out of this quirky comfort zone they've created, because while it can be amazing when done right, the last few they've done together have been stale and unpolished and only so-so. If they had spent more time ( a lot more time) on the script and swapped out Chloe Mortez for someone else, I think it could have been a really successful film. Instead it seems rushed, and the plot holes over shadow the good acting, interesting visuals and geniunely funny comedic moments.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Links

*Pixar were kind enough to share their 22 rules of storytelling (via io9)

*Some awesome sauce mock-ups of famous sci-fi films transferred into pulp books (via poster collective)

*Anita Heiss, author extraordinaire, worked on a pretty awesome project with some students in my home town. (Via Anita Heiss' Blog)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Author Interview: John Vorhaus, author of Lucy in the Sky

Gather 'round readers, I have another author interview for you! John Vorhaus is an interesting man and writer who has one of the most enviable jobs I can think of! Also, not only is he happy to share some advice for budding writers, as a writer, but he's also imparting some invaluable knowledge bombs as someone trained to help writers for a living. So take note, I think you'd have to be crazy not to take away some great little gems, whether you're a fiction, non-fiction or blog writer! Enjoy!

Short and fast:

Ebook or physical book: Lucy in the Sky is available in ebook, paperback and author-narrated audio
Classic or contemporary: The novel takes place in Milwaukee in 1969. That time and place sure ain’t classic, so I guess it’s contemporary by default.
Fantasy or reality: Reality, with just a soupcon of wish-fulfilment thrown in.
Traditionally or self published: I’m not a fan of the terms “traditional” or “self-published,” since neither seems to capture the current realities of book publishing and marketing. I use the phrase “indy publishing” to describe what I do.
Favourite Author: Tom Robbins.
Favourite Book: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Let's get a little deeper:

You've had quite an illuminating career working around the world in a myriad of positions relating to television. What have been some of the highlights?
J.V: Well, I’ve taught and trained writers in 28 countries on four continents (at last count). The most challenging gig was running the writing staff of the Russian version of Married… with Children, as my knowledge of Russian is nonexistent, and Moscow is, well let’s just say, not the happiest place on earth. My most gratifying experience was co-creating the social-action TV drama Contracorriente in Nicaragua. With its no-nonsense look at such tough issues as gender identification, sweatshop labor and commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents, it really did some good in a country that needs all the help it can get.

You’ve worked on a number of non-fiction, educational books such as The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even if You’re Not.” What pushed you to write fictional books, and what challenges did you find yourself up against?
J.V: My growth as a writer has been about trying progressively harder things. I started out writing songs and graduated from there to sitcom. From sitcom I moved to hour-drama and screenwriting. Then I tackled non-fiction – more words, bigger challenge. I’ve always seen long-form fiction as the hardest sort of writing there is, and so I pushed myself to be equal to that task. The biggest challenge was – and is – cutting through the clutter and helping my readers discover my work and my voice.

Would you like to tell us anything about your latest foray into the fictional world with your book Lucy in the Sky?
J.V: Lucy in the Sky is the coming-of-age story of Gene Steen, an earnest young striver who wants to be a hippie in the worst way. He doesn’t know what a hippie is, really, just knows that there are none where he lives, as far as the eye can see. Then one day into his life dances Lucy, his very hip, very wise, witty, spiritual, sensual, hot and sexy 17-year-old… cousin. Good news, she’ll teach him to be a hippie. Bad news, she’s his cousin. Good news, things are not always what they seem. But Lucy has demons of her own, and in helping her fight them, Gene learns that being a hippie is not about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take.

What did you learn from writing Lucy in the Sky that you didn't know before?
J.V: Well, I learned that I can use my own writing to exorcise the significant demons of my life. See, I always wanted to be a hippie, but I was born just a tad too late to ride that train, and this has always filled me with regret. After I finished Lucy, I was surprised to discover that the regret had gone away. In the world of my imagination I had finally had the transcendent “hippie experience” I had always wanted to have, and now need to chase that ghost no more. I’m excited to consider what other demons I might slay using this same strategy, and commend it to other writers’ attention: figure out what’s bugging you, then write about it until it bugs you no more.

Have you started or made any plans for your next fiction book? Any hints you’d like to share?
J.V: Right now I’m working on a short mystery called Secord and Smoke: Scream Bloodless Murder. It features a sassy young police detective, Anne Secord, and her curmudgeonly partner, police consultant Dave “Smoke” Sawyer. I hope to make it a series.

What is your writing process?
J.V: I start my writing day before nine a.m., but after the newspaper and coffee. I work until noon or until the dog demands a walk, whichever occurs first. After a break of fresh air and sunshine, I get back to my desk and stay there until the late afternoon. Eventually my brain turns to cheese and I can no longer think productively about the creative problems I’m trying to solve. At that point, I turn my attention to other aspects of my professional life, such as promoting my books, writing press releases, or doing interviews like this. Hope my cheese brain doesn’t leak through…

Since you have experience on both sides of the fence, so to speak, what advice do you have for any writers who may be reading this? Both as an author, and as someone who has advised others who write.
J.V: The secret to successful writing is really very simple. If you want to get better, write more. If you want to get a lot better, write a lot more. Here’s why that system works: because even a bad day of writing is a good day of writing, simply as a function of what we learn and how we advance our craft. It’s also useful to remember that “a writer is a subversive who uses entertainment to instruct.” Keeping that idea in mind will help you to inform your work with ideas that matter, and give you faith that it is exactly your job as a writer to do so. Finally there’s this: “Keep giving them you until you is what they want.” Each of us has a singular voice, a way of expressing ourselves that is easy and fun for us to write. That’s what we want to focus on, the organic path to an ever richer and more satisfying writing experience. Be the best writer you can be, according to your own vision, and then work to help readers discover and cherish this best version of yourself.

Thanks to John Vorhaus for taking part in this interview! His book Lucy in the Sky can be purchased at Amazon from here, and his full range of non-fiction books can be found here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Film Trailer: Anna Karenina

What do you guys think? I still haven't read Anna Karenina (I really want to, but the length terrifies me!) so I don't know how close an adaption this looks, but it certainly looks like a beautiful production. I'm not sold on Keira Knightly. I've definitely warmed to her over the years, but I don't think she has the emotional range to keep playing these historic/literary characters. Also, can we maybe hire a few Russians in the movie based on a famous Russian novel, I mean, seriously guys. But anyway, it looks good enough to catch my attention, fingers crossed they don't destroy it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Petroplague Giveaway

Hey everyone,

Just a quick note to let you all know I'm extending the Petroplague giveaway end date until the 25th of June. All you have to do to enter is fill out this short little giveaway form.

This giveaway is open internationally, until the end of June. You don’t need to be a follower of Nylon Admiral to enter, but it is one of the ways to receive additional entries (they complete list can be found in the giveaway form).

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I have good news readers!

Amy Rogers has generously offered a shiny new copy of her science thriller Petroplague as a present for one of you! It’s almost too easy to add this book to your collection, all you need to do is fill out the giveaway form with your details and you’re that much closer to calling it your own!

Not sure if this book is for you? Check out my review here on Nylon Admiral and Amy’s website for more information on why this is a must-read and a must-win!

This giveaway is open internationally, until the 25th of June. You don’t need to be a follower of Nylon Admiral to enter, but it is one of the ways to receive additional entries (they complete list can be found in the giveaway form). Once the giveaway closes, I’ll pick a winner at random (thanks!) and contact the lucky guy or gal by email.

Good luck everyone, may the odds be ever in your favour!

Review: Gerald's Game by Stephen King

Gerald's Game
Written by Stephen King

Published in: 1992

Synopsis: A game of seduction between a husband and wife goes horribly awry when the husband dies. But the nightmare has just begun...


Dammit I love Stephen King. Seriously, i'm still amazed when I read a King book and realise how freaking talented this dude is. Some books remind me of this more than others, and Gerald's Game is a perfect example of everything that is good and right and incredible about Stephen King. In case you can't tell yet, I really liked Gerald's Game. Like, really REALLY liked Gerald's Game. Like, it's probably in my top 5 Stephen King books of all time. Yeah.

Why do I like it so much? First, it is terrifying! It's Stephen King's special brand of grounded-in-reality-this-could-is-will-be-you horror. Nearing her 40th birthday, Jessie Burlingame (wife of Gerald, subject of his game) is apathetic, disinterested and removed from everything in her life. As the book opens, Jessie is having her wrists snapped into handcuffs by her paunchy, boring lawyer husband Gerald and is finally realising how little she likes the man she's shared a life with for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, realising this when your hands are held tight by police-grade handcuffs invariably leads down a dangerous path. As she realises how little she likes him, she realises he's only interested in dominating her, and reducing her to, in essence, a sex toy. Trapped, Jessie lashes out when her husband refuses to listen to her pleas to be released and she believes he intends to take advantage of her vulnerable position.Unfortunately, what was meant to be about a wake-up call to snap Gerald back to reality, is the catalyst to the heart attack that has been looming over her over-worked, over-stressed, overweight husband. With Gerald dead on the other side of the bedroom, Jessie is now trapped with her arms over her head, unable to move in any substantial way. Oh, and did I mention they were up at their lake house in the middle of nowhere? So Jessie is trapped, almost naked, in the middle of no where in Autumn. This aspect of the novel had real ties to Misery (another favourite King novel of mine) and really affected me. This is such a simple situation that could happen to ANYONE. Unlike Misery where you really need a nutso fan to come across your prone broken body for the events to unfold, it isn't unheard of for a husband and wife to embark on some kinky sex games, and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of reported cases of a sexual partner dying mid-coitus. Fortunately, most people aren't chained to a bed far away from civilisation.

Alongside the pain and terror that accompanies being trapped in a bed with your husband lying dead nearby, Jessie is forced to remember another terrifying moment from her past. Forced, I hear you ask? As the book begins, we realise that Jessie internal voices. Not in the sense that she's possessed, but in the sense that a lot of people have voices. There are two main voices, at least to begin with, and a series of "UFO" voices that come and go. There's Goody Burlingame, who basically denies that anything bad is happening and is happy to heap blame on Jessie. The second is new to Jessie and sounds an awful lot like her old college roommate, Ruth, and refuses to ignore the shit that's going on. She forces Jessie to accept the reality of the situations, and it's this voice that refuses to let Jessie ignore the event that occurred years earlier when Jessie was only 10 years old. And seriously, when you're stuck to a bed and are looking at dying, shouldn't you perhaps try and face the evil in your past which has stained your entire adult life? I should note, that it's this look back which ties in with the book Dolores Claiborne, as there is a brief cross over in each book which occurs as terrifying events happen to the two females during an eclipse.

As if being trapped and forced to recollect past horrors as you wait to die isn't horrifying enough, Jessie wakes up one night to find a shadowy man-creature in the corner of her room.So now she's tied to the bed and unable to escape, reliving an upsetting moment of her childhood, and is being confronted by what appears to be death, itself. THIS TERRIFIED ME! I could not handle it, I had to actually put the book down one night and watch an episode of Mythbusters to free my imagination from the depths of the book. Because of Jessie's inability to escape, the reader can't escape either. Stephen King drills the three-fold horror of the situation into you by describing the minutia of the story, little things like being desperately thirsty, needing to pee, or seeing shapes and shadows outside of the window are thrown into sharp relief when you read them knowing the hell Jessie is feeling. There are also some downright squeamish bits that will make your stomach somersault, but you'll struggle to tear your eyes away from the page. This book is one of those brilliant Stephen King novels which is grounded in real horror, and anything supernatural is thrown in to accentuate the reality of the horror. Does that make sense? Hope so!

The other thing I loved about this book is the character of Jessie and King's handling of her situations. One criticism I've had for King in the past is that I never find his female characters particularly interesting or well-developed. This is mostly because they're secondary characters to the King stand-in, but I've always felt like it is his biggest weakness. Now bear with me because this might get confusing and messy and make no sense. Jessie herself is and isn't a particularly fleshed out character. She's a woman in a bed, and what we get for much of the story is what she (and her voices) are thinking. However, she is one of the best female characters I've ever read written by King because he totally gets it. Jessie has been prayed on since she was 10 years old. She's been abused and taken advantage of in one way or another for nearly 30 years. As she lies chained to the bed, and she realises her husband is going to ignore her pleas for release and force himself on her regardless, she realises how the entire aftermath with play out. He'll get his rocks off, she'll file for divorce and accuse him of rape/assault, he'll say he thought she was just "in character," it'll be her word against his (a successful lawyer), and she'll have to live with that weighing her down forever more while he moves past it. Dude, STEPHEN KING GETS IT. That's all I could think as I read through this scene and the ones like it, King gets how fucked up society can be to women and the bullshit that forces women to keep quiet when they're the victim. Jessie isn't really a single female character, she's women, fullstop. She's every woman who has kept quiet because she doesn't want to get her father/brother/uncle in trouble, or because she thinks she'll be blamed, or because she knows no one will believe her over the man. She's the woman who has given up believing she really deserves anything because of the cloud hanging over her, that she had promised never to tell anyone about. Perhaps not everyone woman finds herself chained to a bed, stalked by a mysterious shadow demon/space cowboy, but the real horror of this story is a horror that many woman have experienced or empathised with.

So yes, I really liked this book. It was scary and twisted up my stomach and came very close to giving me nightmares. But it was also a completely different book than I'm used to reading from King. The discussion of rape and assault and that never-ending horror that causes women (and of course, men too) that features so heavily in this story was incredibly well written and handled with the care, intelligence and empathy it needs. The only downside, to me, was the ending. I won't discuss it because it is a major spoiler, but it really removed me from the urgency and claustrophobic fear that predominated the first three quarters of the story, and that's a real shame. Nonetheless, I think you should go and read this. Like right now, OK? Thank you!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Links

*50 wonderful bookish craft projects. Best avoid this link though if the thought of cutting up a book makes you cry... (Via Saved by Love Creations)

*Can you match the actors with the Stephen King book to film adaptation they starred in? A neat little quiz! (Via Quitzer)

*A wonderful set of futuristic illustrations drawn in the 1880s by Albert Robida. (Via Science Blogs)

*These carved book sculptures are mind-blowing. Guy Laramee is out of this world talented! (Via This is Colossal)

*Don't forget to enter my current giveaway! One of you lucky reader McReadersons could be sent a bright and shiny copy of Petroplague by Amy Rogers. Follow the link --> (Via ME!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Giveaway: Amy Rogers' PETROPLAGUE

I have good news readers!

Amy Rogers has generously offered a shiny new copy of her science thriller Petroplague as a present for one of you! It’s almost too easy to add this book to your collection, all you need to do is fill out the giveaway form with your details and you’re that much closer to calling it your own!

Not sure if this book is for you? Check out my review here on Nylon Admiral and Amy’s website for more information on why this is a must-read and a must-win!

This giveaway is open internationally, until the 20th of June. You don’t need to be a follower of Nylon Admiral to enter, but it is one of the ways to receive additional entries (they complete list can be found in the giveaway form). Once the giveaway closes, I’ll pick a winner at random (thanks!) and contact the lucky guy or gal by email.

Good luck everyone, may the odds be ever in your favour!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Petroplague by Amy Rogers

Written by: Amy Rogers

Published: 2011

Synopsis: What if bacteria turned all the gasoline in Los Angeles into vinegar?Carmageddon doesn't begin to describe it.PETROPLAGUE does.Christina Gonz lez expected her research to change the world. But not like this.The UCLA graduate student wanted to use biotechnology to free America from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Instead, an act of eco-terrorism unleashes her genetically-modified bacteria into the fuel supply of Los Angeles, turning gasoline into vinegar.With the city paralyzed and slipping toward anarchy, Christina must find a way to rein in the microscopic monster she created. But not everyone wants to cure the petroplague-and some will do whatever it takes to spread it.From the La Brea Tar Pits to university laboratories to the wilds of the Angeles National Forest, Christina and her cousin River struggle against enemies seen and unseen to stop the infection before it's too late.

Other than Michael Crichton's Prey I've never read a science thriller. Why I have no idea, I love science and I definitely don't mind a good thriller, but for some reason this genre has never hit my radar. Now that I've finished Petroplague though...Well, I think that may be about to change.

Petroplague is a fascinating look at a reality we may very well find ourselves tangled within. When a university experiment in biofuel is targetted by an eco-terrorist, a chain reaction of devastating events soon follow. Designed to "eat" oil, the syntrophus bacteria (the stars of the experiment) begin to destroy the fuel supply when they're released into the Los Angeles soil, screeching life in L.A to a grinding halt. One thing this book did very well, was paint exactly how devastating this event would be. Even if, like me, you don't rely on cars for your transport, once the petrol (gasoline to those of you in the States) is contaminated, EVERYTHING is affected. It has a huge knock on effect. If you can't drive your car, catch a bus or hail a cab, how do you get to work? If you can't get to work how do shops run? If cars/trucks/buses are down, how do you get food and supplies into your area? If you have an accident, or something happens, how does an ambulance or fire engine reach you? How can people broadcast the news on any other devastating effects if they can't get around? And if there is bacteria in the fuel supply, who knows what kind of affect that could be having environmentally. Now imagine this going worldwide, imagine the efforts officials would be making to contain it so that it doesn't spread that wide. Terrifying to think of, right?

Petroplague managed to convey exactly how devastating this type of accident would be to a wide range of people very successfully by incorporating vignette chapters which focused on one of characters from around the city. Not only did this demonstrate the catastrophic possibilities of such an event, but it added an extra weight and dimension of humanity to the story. It showed people of all ages, creeds and classes struggling as a result of these loose bacteria, and how quickly chaos reigned. It never quite reached Lord of the Flies levels, but it wasn't far off. Moreover, it felt real. I could imagine reading about this in the papers, and that scared the pants off me.

In the thick of all of this chaos and panic is Christina, PhD student extraordinaire. As one of the students working on the syntrophus experiment, she finds herself a key player in trying to solve the crisis that has consumed L.A. To make matters even more difficult (as if life-saving science isn't hard enough!) there are several individuals trying to stop her, and her supervisor Dr Chen, from solving the problem. For the most part Christina is your traditional heroine. She's wicked smart, athletic, attractive, moral and responsible. She's definitely the complete package. And while I found her almost too perfect at times (and a little goody-two-shoes-y), there were enough imperfections added to her character to base her pretty close to reality. Sure she was saving the entire city almost single-handedly, but she's incredibly naive and almost thick when it comes to solutions sitting right in front of her. She also isn't immune to pain or heartbreak, and her reactions to such events are completely understandable and realistic. The balance isn't quite there though, but it was nice not to completely despise (or even dislike) the female protagonist for once!

Christina forms the focus of the story, but she's far from the only character. She's joined by her kinda spoiled eco-loving-anti-authoritarian hippy cousin River, and River's boyfriend Mickey for much of the book. These two, equal parts obnoxious, stupid and loveable, are frequently employed as the vehicles to impart the scientific data without making it too preachy, complicated or boring. Though it sometimes comes of a little cardboard-y, the discussions between Mickey, River and Christina were a clever way of informing not only non-scientific Mickey and River of the "petroplague" (the name for this devastating event) and its ramifications on everyday life, but informing the reader on the issue as well. The clarity through which the science was communicated in this book was fantastic. Not once did I feel like I was over my head or unable to comprehend what the characters were talking about. Perhaps I couldn't have joined in the scientific discussion between Christina and her supervisor Dr. Chen, but I sure as hell could have followed every word they were saying.

The success of this is due not only to author Amy Rogers successful writing, but because she knows what she's talking about. This isn't science fiction, it's a horrific tale of scientific possibility, a story of 'what if' told by an M.D PhD. While Rogers admits in the concluding pages of scientific background reading that she employed a little poetic license to speed some things up and invented a couple of causal catastrophes, much of the story is very, very real and very relevant to today's society. Not only does this make the book far more interesting than one which just makes the science up (which is always easy to spot by the way), but it makes the story that much more thrilling (and chilling).  This is a reality you have to face as you read the book, this could actually happen. Sure it might not occur just the way the book describes it, but unlike your typical sci-fi or dystopian fiction, our (possible) demise is laid out in front of us and we have to recognise its potentiality.

Petroplague was a unique find. I'm not sure that I'd have picked it up if I found it in the bookstore, but I enjoyed the hell out of reading it. There were a few flaws, a few moments of bumpy or stiff dialogue and a love interest that I wasn't keen on at all, but these were small issues. Overall, this is a dynamite first novel for Amy Rogers and I look forward to fearing for my safety and longevity when I read the next book she releases!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Links

*100 ideas which changed film. Really interesting, well it is to me! (Via Brain Pickings)

*The most powerful photographs ever taken. I'm not going to lie, a few of these brought a tear to my eyes. (Via Buzzfeed)

*A comic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" commencement speech. Lovely. (Via Neil Gaiman's blog and Zen Pencils)

*Such an amazing photography blog. It might not sweep you off your feet, but it sweeps its subject of their feet with each post (Via Yowayowa Camera)

*I love a good minimalist book cover, and it seems I'm not the only one! Here are 25 of the "best" minimalist covers (Via Flavor Wire)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune

“If we listened to our intellect we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go in business because we'd be cynical: "It's gonna go wrong." Or "She's going to hurt me." Or,"I've had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . ." Well, that's nonsense. You're going to miss life. You've got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A question to any American and Canadian readers

I'm in the process of applying for a scholarship to travel overseas and study at a foreign university for 4-6 months. I've decided I'd like to look at American or Canadian universities, so I need you help! There are freaking 1000s of colleges/universities over there, so does anyone know from personal experience which schools have really decent film/cinema studies departments and/or Asian studies departments?

Any advice is much appreciated!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Graphic Novel mini-reviews #5

Crossed (Volume #1)
By Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows

Published: 2006

My Thoughts: Remember how I reviewed a few single issues of Crossed a few weeks back? Well I finally got my hands on Volume 1 and 2 of the primary story. Volume 1 was fantastic!! Infusing elements of the zombie genre (these aren't zombies though), with global fears of contagion, primal aggression and the end of the world, this book is dark and nihilistic yet incredibly compelling. I found it so easy to slip into the mind frame of the primary characters, which only made it more clear how ill-equipped I would be for anything like it! This isn't for the faint hearted...if you find it hard to read violence, viewing it in graphic novel form is not going to make it any better. However it isn't mindless violence, the social commentary runs thick through it and it never feels like it's just for shock and awe sake. A really great read, I highly recommend it.

Crossed: Family Values (Volume 2)
by David Lapham and Javier Barreno

Published: 2011

My Thoughts: Remember a few lines back when I said the violence wasn't gratuitous...wasn't simply for shock and awe? Well one volume later, that's all that I could take from this story. A new writing and art team tackle a new story with all new characters in this volume. The only similarity is  that the world is still over-run with the "Crossed". Where the first volume showed restraint, reality and was full of commentary on the state of our current society, this volume  just took it too far, horrendously far, and lacked the substance to back it up. It wasn't terrible, there was a few really decent story threads and the basic premise was very promising. I just wish it hadn't felt like a snuff film. Only read this is you're a completest.

Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom (Volume 4)
By Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Published: 2011

My Thoughts: I seriously cannot say enough good things about this series. The writing is fantastic, the story is amazing and every time I think the artwork has hit a new high Rodriguez goes and blows himself out of the water! This book continues to advance the story of the Locke family as they discover even more mysterious keys and slowly seem to be piecing together the larger mystery. Dodge is batshit crazy as ever, and the sneakiest motherf*cker of all time....but man oh man do I love him! This is such a rich series, even if you don't normally read graphic novels you simply have to start reading this one. It will blow your mind and convert you to a comic lover for life!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Links

50s/Rockabilly Batman is the best thing ever.

*Using zombies to teach geography? Uh, yes please!  (Via Kickstarter)

*Some more amazing book sculptures. These are truly spectacular. (Via My Modern Met)

*Ever wondered what authors think about fan fiction? Well here's a pretty comprehensive list that makes it pretty clear which authors are pro and which are VERY, VERY con (Via Fanlore)

*A great new blog I came across on Twitter. All Kinds of Writing is a great resource for any writers out there, as well as a really interesting read for readers and writers alike. (Via All Kinds of Writing)

*John Birmingham (an awesome-sauce author here in Brisbane) wrote a blog article about e-book piracy and competing against Amazon. (Via Brisbane Times)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Author Interview: Michael Drakich, author of The Brotherhood of Piaxia

Hello everyone! Today's interview is with Michael Drakich, author of The Brotherhood of Piaxia, Grave is the Day and Vows Above. It's a little different in format this time. Along with the usual questions, I've added a few either/or questions to start with. I've found these are a pretty interesting way to get to know the author straight off, are they a lover of old physical books or are they firmly within the modern technological age? Are they advocates or self published or traditional publishing? Michael is the guinea pig for this new addition, and I think his answers are perfectly representative of the reader and writer that he is, which is only illuminated further in the longer questions that take place below. But enough about that, read on to get to know Michael Drakich!

Short and Fast:

Ebook or physical book: Ebook
Fantasy or reality: Fantasy
Traditionally or self published: Self published
Novella or epic: Epic
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Let's get a little deeper:

Your author’s bio on Goodreads says “no awards, no accolades, no writing degrees or diplomas, only a deep rooted love of reading and writing”...Are you a writer full-time or is this something you’re juggling with another job?
MD:As a relatively new author, I am still employed in my thirty-two year career as a Realtor.

What pushed you to start writing your own novels, and what challenges did you find yourself up against?
MD: I have always been an avid reader, but the years of bringing up a family interfered with that love. As my kids became older and parenting requirements changed I found time again to read. I picked up a novel some six and a half years ago by a reputed author. It was a fantasy and part of a very successful series, even spawning its own television series. Having high expectations, I read it through and thought it was terrible. I believed I could do better. On Monday, February 20, 2006, at 5:23:53 PM I sat down at my computer and started writing. It took me ten months to bang out my first novel. When I showed it to a few friends, the lukewarm reception told me what I needed to know. It was crap. From there I joined a local writer’s group. Disappointed in how slow the pace was I joined an online workshop. From there I went to a different workshop, and then onto a third one. Through constant writing, editing, critiquing and discussion, I learned the craft. I began the querying process to agents but to no avail. Then a year and a half ago I landed a traditional publishing contract with a small publisher, a very proud moment. Again, my expectations were more than they should have been. As a result, I have chosen to self publish this latest work so that its success or failure can be laid at the feet of only one person, me.

What I love about that bio is the role your love of reading and writing obviously plays in your life. What are some of your favourite books and authors?
MD: As a youth, my passion ran for science fiction and fantasy. I loved all the old masters, Heinlein, Asimov, and Tolkien. I find my favourites by each, Stranger In A Strange Land, The Foundation series and Lord of the Rings as constant re-reads, each at least five times. In my middle years I began to buy books, not by the author, but by the blurb. If the blurb appealed, then I would chance it. I read some not so good books in those years, but discovered others by authors who since have gone on to great success, for example, Iain Banks. I am a great fan of his writing. The last six years have been dedicated to reading the works of unpublished authors in workshops as we collectively strive to improve our skills. There’s a lot of talent out there. It just needs to be discovered.

What is your writing process?
MD: I've read how new authors set goals of one thousand words a day. Hogwash. I’ve also still had to go to work and earn a living. When I decide on starting a new novel, it usually begins with a concept and I begin. As I go, start to calculate the plot twists and turns. I always leave my WIP up on my screen. As ideas arise, I bullet them at the bottom so that they are always visible and as reminders to incorporate as I go. I try to write a minimum of a paragraph a day, just to keep the project in my mind. At times, I’ll sit and pound out a couple of chapters at once. When the story reaches a turning point, I find myself immersed in its completion.

Your books fall within the fantasy and science fiction genres, what is it about these genres that inspire you to write?
MD: One word, escapism. One can argue that all books offer that, but in my opinion, speculative fiction offers the greatest amount.

Do you plan to keep writing within these genres or would you like to try writing within a different one?
MD: In all honesty, my next book is a thriller. But truth be told, there is a touch of fantasy in it.

Your latest book is The Brotherhood of Piaxia, would you like to tell us anything about it?
MD: Remember how I earlier said my first book was crap? This was it. I had put it aside and gone on a written two other novels in my quest to be an author when I decided to revisit this work. Needless to say, I did an absolute re-write. Along with the help of my superb editor, Kate Richards, (she deserves a plug) I am very pleased with the final product.

Are there any plans to turn it into a series?
MD: Not a series that requires all, no. I like books to stand alone. I’ve read many series over my years that required me to read them all to get closure and many that can be read separately. I think that readers out there should not have to chase down earlier stories to know what’s going on. Saying that, I do have another planned using the same cast and world, but it would not require the reading of this one to be enjoyable.

Reading your blog posts on Goodreads, it’s interesting to see an author navigate their way through the new world of online publishing, digital distribution and book blogs. What are some of the things you've learned and do you have any advice for writers who may be reading this?
MD: If you read them all, then you know the trials facing all new authors. I cannot think of any other advice today than of one of passion. As a new writer, passion will drive you to produce a better and better product. Passion will allow you to accept all criticisms as solid, concrete advice. Passion will lead you to research the industry and rely on yourself and not others. Passion will guide you to your goals.

A big thank you to Michael Drakich for taking the time to answer my questions! To get to know Michael even better, be sure to head over to his Goodreads page where he keeps a small blog.
Michael's book The Brotherhood of Piaxia can be found at: and Barnes and Noble


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...