Monday, December 3, 2018

2018 TBR: Homestretch Edition

It's December. As of this writing, we only have four weeks left of 2018.

And can I just ask - and I don't think I'm alone in this - what the fuck was that?!

2016 was the year that went by in a tornado of fuckery, while 2017 was the year that would never end. 2018 was some weird combination of the two. (On the bright side, every passing year takes us further away from the nightmare that was 2016.)

2018 hasn't been all bad - on the contrary, I got a lot of good news this year, some of which I've mentioned elsewhere online, some I haven't. But it's been a rough, confusing year for all of us, and I think a lot of us are just ready to be done and move on. (*insert obligatory "thank u, next" joke here*) In particular, I'm hoping 2019 will be a better reading year for me.

As you've probably noticed, I haven't read nearly as much as I hoped to this year, and this blog has been kind of a ghost town. I have a million excuses, some good, some not, but I know no one's interested in hearing those.

Instead, let's talk about four books I hope to get through before the year ends.

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy


This book isn't out yet, but the publisher reached out to me and sent me an ARC! (Isn't this cover so pretty?) It's a sci-fi retelling of the Arthurian legend, in which Excalibur is wielded by a young woman named Ari. I plan to start reading this as soon as this post goes up. Honestly, it had me at "Queen Ari." 

Wildcard by Marie Lu


The followup to Warcross, which I raved about last year! I've had it on my shelf since the day it came out, so there's really no excuse. I've miraculously avoided spoilers, but who knows how long that will last if I don't get off my ass and start reading. I haven't heard much about it, but that's because I've refused to even GLANCE at reviews. I know Goodreads says to tag spoilers, but I don't trust y'all.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend


The sequel to Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow... and avoiding spoilers for this has been a TRIP. There are only a few people talking about this series on Tumblr at the moment (though it's doing really well with critics, so I have hope), which means that most of us are aware of each other. (When you love an amazing book but you only have so many other people to scream your feelings with, you get acquainted pretty quick.) Consequentially, I seem to be the only one in the tag who hasn't finished this yet.

Or started it.

I'M SORRY.

Everyone's been saying it's a great followup to the first book, so I can't wait to dive in!

(Also, READ NEVERMOOR, PLEASE.)

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard


This is a relatively short book that I've owned for quite a while now. I impulse-bought it after stumbling across it on Goodreads, because, honestly? This seems like it was written with me in mind. Steampunk, necromancy, vampires, family drama, selling your soul to Satan... and that's just the first book! 

When I posted on Tumblr that I'd bought this, I got like 10 messages from people all yelling at me to read it immediately... so I'm guessing I've stumbled across another relatively small fandom that's desperate for new blood. Stay strong, guys. I feel your pain.

Four books in a month. I can read four books in a month.

Probably.

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Thank you so much for reading this list. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

What books are you hoping to finish before 2018 ends? Let me know down in the comments below!




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Thursday, October 11, 2018

5 Ways Out of The Closet: an essay for National Coming Out Day, 2018

It's National Coming Out Day!


Yes, October 11 is the day we celebrate being able to come out of the closet, whether as gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, asexual, pansexual, or any number of things. (Or some combination thereof.) While the number of people who identify themselves as being part of the LGBT community is rising, there are still plenty of us who are in the closet. And that's okay. If, when, and how to come out is a personal choice. There are literally hundreds of ways to go about it, so in celebration of the day, I thought I'd share five coming out stories. These are all 100% true, gathered from people in my life.

As you read along, see if you can guess which one is mine.

Interested In...?

A 13-year-old girl, thanks to recent exposure to Liz Gillies in Victorious, has realized she's into girls as well as guys.


(Seriously, you can't show a young gay this and expect her to not fall in love.)

She knows her parents will be fine with it. Some of her friends, she's not so sure, but her parents, she's certain about. She debates how to go about telling them -- or if she even wants to tell them. It's not like anything will change, and frankly, sitting them down and starting a personal discussion sounds like a real drag. Not to mention like it'd be a lot of work. So, what's a girl to do?

She changes her "interested in" on Facebook and figures, if they notice, they notice.

Genius.

What Friends Are For

For the past six months, a girl has been lying to her best friend. Which she feels really shitty about, but whatever. She's been confiding in her friend about advice for romancing a boy she's interested in, and the friend, like any true pal, has been guiding her as best she can.

One fateful day at lunch, the girl decides she's done lying, and decides to just go for it.

"There's something important I need to tell you. It's kind of a big deal. The boy I like..."
"Wait, did he kiss you? Oh my God, did you kiss him?!"
"What? No! I wish. It's just... I've been saying I like a guy, but it's really a girl."
"..."
"..."
"...OHHHHHH. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. Man, I wish I'd known that. No wonder my advice hasn't been working. Girls are totally different."

The girls then go back to eating their lunch as if nothing happened.

Strangers Behind a Screen

An extremely nerdy "straight" teenage girl joins a small, Harry Potter-based roleplay group online. Although her writing is atrocious, she has a great time, playing Astoria Greengrass. She decides to play Astoria as a bisexual girl who doesn't yet realize she's bisexual. Astoria quickly gains the nickname Oblivious Gay Astoria within the group.

Now, here's a fun fact: not even a month after the group folds, the "straight" girl realizes she's the Oblivious Gay.

Some months later, before this girl has discussed it with anyone in person, she bumps into another member of the group elsewhere online. The two discuss the group and their characters, and eventually get to discussing the inside jokes the group had -- including, of course, the legendary Oblivious Gay Astoria. The girl now fully recognizes and appreciates the irony. And she decides to go for it.

"To be honest," she says, "I think I may have been projecting a bit. Like two weeks after we closed, I realized I'm bi."
"Oh!" the other person responds. "That's great! I'm happy for you."

They then continue chatting, and the girl feels more at ease than she has in weeks. Every now and then, people on the internet can actually not be shitty.

Random Acts of Kindness

A panicking high school freshman outs herself to a complete stranger in the school bathroom, when said stranger notices her freaking out. The discussion goes as follows:

"Whoa, are you okay?"
"My skin is breaking out!"
"Oh, I feel that. Hopefully it'll clear up soon."
"I'm seeing a girl I really like tonight! I can't show up looking like this." And then, internally: Shit.
"..."
"..."
"..."
"..."
"...I have some concealer in my bag. Want me to fix th--"
"Yespleasethankyou."

Psyche!

A college student sits in a psychology class that she is only taking because she needs more credit hours to graduate. They're on the chapter about human gender and sexuality, which she was already guessing would be a shitshow. And she was so right.

"I could never date a bisexual guy," a girl in the next row says. "I don't need the competition, or the worrying about cheating."

The student decides to chime in with, "That sounds more like a you problem. It's not like straight men don't cheat all the time."

The discussion continues, and a third student brings up their own bisexuality -- again, trying to debunk some ugly stereotypes. Emboldened, the first student speaks up once again.

"Whoever said bi people have twice as many options are full of it," she says. "Straight people think we're gay, gay people think we're straight. There's so much biphobia on both sides--we basically have to date each other, or die alone."

Much to her relief, this garners no reaction whatsoever, except for one guy mouthing "oh, shiiiiiit" to his friend, but she pretends not to notice that.



So... which story do you think is mine?

Have you decided?

Is that your final answer?

No matter which you picked, you're right... and you're wrong. Because one of those stories isn't mine.

All of them are.

Coming out isn't a one-time thing. It's a constant process for queer people, and it's never over. (At least, not until everyone stops assuming straight and cis is the default. But while I'm wishing, I may as well ask for an impeachment, too.) I've come out approximately... let's see, I want to get the number right here... a billion times. Sometimes more than once to the same people, when those people couldn't get a very simple concept through their heads. None of my experiences were particularity traumatic, and I laugh about them now, but you have to understand, all of those situations were terrifying, even if only for a split-second. And it's not over.

On TV and in movies, the coming out is always done in one, big dramatic speech, and then it's over. The character is just "out."

But that's not how it works in reality. For a lot of my life, I've been out to some people but not to others. (I've recently hit "fuck it," but it's a very recent development.) Straight, cis people reading this, I want you to know, you absolutely know someone who's queer, even if they haven't told you. If they decide to tell you, I am begging you to make it a painless experience. The world needs more pain-free coming out stories.

If you come out today, I'm proud of you. If you stay closeted for whatever reason, I'm still proud of you. Don't let anyone tell you when or how to come out; that's one choice that should be 100% yours.

Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone.

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Thank you so much for reading this essay. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

I'd love to read your thoughts on this essay, coming out, or being queer in general in the comments below. Unless, of course, your thoughts are bigoted, in which case you can kindly fuck off.




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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

NOTE: This book is now available for purchase. I was given a free Advance Reading Copy by Pegasus Books in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to send me an ARC, please see this page.


TITLE: The Oyster Thief

AUTHOR: Sonia Faruqi

GENRE: fantasy, romance

PLOT SUMMARY: Coralline is a sweet, shy mermaid whose world is upended in three major ways. First, she's sacked from her job at a local clinic. Second, the merman of her dreams proposes to her. And third, a dangerous oil spill sends her little brother to the brink of death. Meanwhile, a human man, Izar, has created an invention that will bring him untold riches... as well as drive merpeople to extinction. When Coralline leaves home to try and find a way to save her brother, she crosses paths with Izar, recently turned into a merman for reasons neither of them can figure out. The two form an unlikely alliance to try and find a solution for both of their problems, before the oil spill can claim Coralline's brother's life, and before Izar's enemies can catch up to him.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I was super-stoked to receive an ARC of this! I love mermaids, and I had a lot of fun reading Sea Witch last year. While I wouldn't say The Oyster Thief is "like Sea Witch" (the plots are actually quite different), I would definitely recommend this to people who are fans of that book, or fans of mermaid mythology in general. While it did have its problem, I really enjoyed this one, and tore through it in three or four sittings. (Not that you'd be able to guess that, from how long I've taken to write this review... Sorry!)

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: This begins as a gender-flipped version of The Little Mermaid, but I was very pleasantly surprised when it veers off in a different direction and does its own thing. Retellings are great, but it's always nice when they take on a life of their own. I have mixed feelings towards the first third, which is mostly dedicated to setting up the circumstances under which Izar and Coralline meet. I really enjoyed Izar's sections, showcasing his work at Ocean Dominion, but the sections focusing on Coralline felt a bit draggy. The pace improved significantly when Izar and Coralline finally cross paths, and I always enjoy a good "get the thing" plot. My main gripe is that I wasn't fully invested in the romance (more on that in the section below), and since it was so integral to the plot, that kept me from being 100% into it. But that being said, I did really enjoy the overall plot of this book, especially concerning Izar's backstory.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Something of a mixed bag. Gleaning off other reviews of this book, I know the heroine Coralline is... divisive. But I liked her -- and I did find a lot of the criticisms of her to be kind of unfair. (The girl's brother is dying, she's got the right to panic.) One criticism I did agree with, however, is that she seems to act much younger than she's supposed to be -- I initially thought this book was YA and Coralline was supposed to be like... seventeen, eighteen years old. But she's supposed to be in her mid-twenties, which does make her seem a touch immature. In spite of my initial misgivings (since he's, ya know, introduced trying to drive a sentient species to extinction), I did wind up liking Izar, and I enjoyed watching him develop into a better person. However, I did find that development to be a bit rushed; I would've liked to see more time spent on his redemption arc. Consequentially, I also found it hard to believe that Coralline fell for him so quickly, especially since she has a perfectly nice fiance at home. Most of the side characters were pretty one-note (especially the antagonist of Izar's subplot, which was a real disappointment), but we did get one major exception: Coralline's boss at the clinic, Rhodoelma. I would totally read a book about her, she was great.

6 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: I thought that the author's descriptions of the ocean world where Coralline lives were just beautiful. You could really visualize this magical, undersea society, and I just loved reading about it. As mentioned above, I did have some problems with the initial pacing, but I was glad to see that that sorted itself out once Izar and Coralline actually did meet. Overall, I think Sonia Faruqi has a real talent with prose and descriptive writing, and she did a great job of creating her world.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: So my main complaint about this book is that nearly all the female characters besides Coralline (and her too, to an extent) seem to exist primarily based on their relationships to male characters. Even Rhodoelma, who I really loved, fell victim to this, which is a real shame since she was otherwise a really cool mentor character. In fact, aside from Rodoelma, and her mother's muse, Coralline doesn't seem to have any positive female relationships at all. In particular, Izar's human girlfriend seemed to exist only to be his human girlfriend, and cause some convenient plot tension. It just feels like a whole bunch of opportunity was wasted here, especially with regards to Coralline's relationships with her mother and Rhodoelma.

4 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you're looking for a fresh, fun take on The Little Mermaid, I'd definitely suggest checking out The Oyster Thief. It's a bit tropey, yes, but tropes aren't necessarily bad, and it was an extremely entertaining ride. I thought it created a fun world with a lot to offer, and it's a great read for anyone who's looking for some good fantasy fiction for adults. (Though there's no reason fans of YA wouldn't enjoy this one.) While I did have my issues with it, I enjoyed myself while reading, and I think others will, too. Who knows? Maybe mermaids will become the new hot Thing™ in the fantasy market. One can dream.

FINAL GRADE: 6.5 / 10


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An extra-special thanks to Tasneem for sending me an ARC of this book! I really enjoyed it, and I'm glad I got a chance to read it before it officially hit the shelves.

Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

If you've read The Oyster Thief, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Classics I Wish Had Modern Adaptations

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group that posts a weekly "top 5" list for book reviewers to tackle! If you'd like to join in, the group is HERE.

This week's topic was classics I wish had modern adaptations!

As I've been binge-watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and I've been thinking about all the other classics I want to see adapted similarly! 

I'm a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, as well as modern adaptations of books in general, so this pretty much felt like it was tailor-made for me.

5. The Fall of the House of Usher



This is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe that I read in high school, and from the day I read it, I thought it would make an excellent short film set in the modern day. After all, there's no reason it couldn't be set in 2018 -- have a storm knock out the phone signal, or have a blizzard snow everybody into the house, and you're good to go. The story is simple, but incredibly spooky, and I'd love to see it come to life in a new way.

4. Twelfth Night



Besides She's the Man! (Which, don't get me wrong, is a hysterical movie that I will watch anytime.) This is my favorite Shakespeare play, and I think it has great potential for a modern update, especially since we live in a time that's so much more enlightened about gender and sexuality. (Viola is nonbinary, it's canon, fight me.) Also, the Malvolio subplot was made for the era of catfishing. Seriously, can't there be a webseries of this?

3. The Great Gatsby


I know this story is all about the pointless decadence and emptiness of the 1920s, but there's a reason it's still so popular to this day... some things never change. The 2013 film used a lot of modern music, and I'd love to see how it'd turn out taken a step further, moving the action up to modern-day. I'm not saying I guarantee it'd be good, but it'd certainly be interesting.

2. Dracula



The vampire craze that consumed the early 2010s may be over, but let's be real -- I'm never gonna be out of my vampire phase. We already have an excellent modern adaptation of Carmilla in the form of a webseries of the same name -- let's get one for the most famous vampire of them all! I'd love to see the classic, creepy gothic horror brought to life in the 21st century--



No. No. Not like that. Definitely not like that. No no no no no.

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray


PLEASE GOD LET THIS HAPPEN. I love this book so much, and I'd love to see its sense of horror and cynicism translated into a modern-day setting. (It'd also be nice to get a decent film version of it for once. But I digress.) Dorian Gray is a villain protagonist for the ages, and he'd fit in just as easily in 2018 as he did back in 1890. (Baby boomers think my generation is narcissistic? I'll show them narcissistic!) I'm not sure who I'd cast as Dorian, I just know that I need to see this movie that doesn't exist that I just made up.

If any of these adaptations exist and I somehow missed them, please tell me!

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BOOK REVIEW: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones


TITLE: Wintersong

AUTHOR: S. Jae-Jones

GENRE: fantasy, romance

PLOT SUMMARY: Liesl's grown up hearing stories of the wicked Goblin King, and now, she's going to have to face him head-on. The King has claimed Lisel's sister Kathe as his new bride, and in order to recuse her, Lisel's going to have to journey through the enchanted Underground. Lisel has always been the responsible, protective older sister, and would do anything for Kathe... but what happens when the King becomes something other than her enemy?

FIRST THOUGHTS: I've noticed that this is a book that inspires very... passionate feelings, whether for or against. (Seriously, scrolling through the Goodreads reviews for this book is like walking through a field full of landmines.) I have a feeling that no matter what I say, I'm gonna piss someone off. So, is Wintersong good? Honestly... no. But that question is not the same as, "Is Wintersong enjoyable?" And the answer to that is, "Mostly!"

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: So the main reason I bought this book is because the plot summary had be thinking, "Labyrinth. It's Labyrinth." But that's not a criticism -- that is, after all, one of my favorite movies. I am just 100% convinced this book is the result of S. Jae-Jones watching Labyrinth as a young girl and being sad Jareth and Sarah didn't get married. (And I am completely on board. Is it a problematic ship? Yes. Absolutely. Totally. But she who is obsessed with Phantom of the Opera shouldn't throw stones.) The first half of the book is about Liesl's journey through the Underground, and I really enjoyed that part. I thought it was really creative, and I was so invested in her trials. So it was a real letdown when I got to the second half, and everything sort of started to fall apart. I will say that the second half is a good deal more original than the first, but it's also not nearly as engaging, and it's where I felt that Liesl's character started to get confused. More on that below.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: So Liesl is a... mixed bag. As a protagonist, she's easy enough to understand and relate to, but she also didn't feel very fleshed-out or relatable, and it feels like her personality does a total 180 halfway through the book. It often felt like her personality was just whatever it needed to be in order to move the plot forward, and that leads to a pretty wishy-washy protagonist. I did genuinely like the Goblin King, as well as Liesl's brother Josef, who I feel was underutilized. I just wish our heroine had had a more concrete identity, so it'd be easier to sympathize and root for her.

6 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: So with all my criticisms, you may wonder why I still said this book is enjoyable. Well... the writing is fantastic. The prose is absolutely beautiful, and it really does sweep you up in this enchanted, fantastical world. This is a pretty long book, but whenever I actually sat down and read it (yeah, that whole "read every day" resolution of mine? Didn't happen), I'd often read a hundred pages in one go. While there were sections that felt too wordy or too flowery, overall, I really loved Jae-Jones' writing style, and I'd be curious to see what else she's written.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: This is a very vanilla story, in that there are no POC, no queer people, and no disabled people. Nothing overtly offensive, but in a world full of diverse reads, the vanilla ones are always a bit of a disappointment. I did appreciate that the story avoided pitting Kathe (the girly-girl) and Liesl (the tomboy) against each other, but since Kathe wasn't used very much, she often felt more like a stereotype than a properly fleshed-out person. The romance is... well, it's definitely not as problematic as Labyrinth (probably helps that we're not seeing adult David Bowie trying to romance a 16 year old here), but I'm not gonna lie, it has issues. But those issues didn't stop me from enjoying the book, and I did genuinely like the couple. (Again, Phantom of the Opera. Stones. Not throwing them.)

4 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: This book wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but it was a pretty fun ride, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a dark, indulgent fantasy read. I'm debating with myself on whether or not to pick up the sequel... If you've read both books and have an opinion, let me know! (No spoilers!)

FINAL GRADE: 6 / 10


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Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

If you've read Wintersong, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



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Friday, June 8, 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Derek Milman


"Derek Milman was born in New York City, and studied English, Theater, and Creative Writing at Northwestern University. He started off as a playwright and screenwriter–his first play was produced in New York City right after he graduated college–and went on to receive an MFA in acting at the Yale School of Drama. As a classically trained thespian (Derek’s favorite word), Derek has performed on stages across the country, and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, working with two Academy Award winning film directors. [...] Derek currently lives in Brooklyn, where he writes fiction full time, wanders the waterfront staring at the Manhattan skyline, plays video games, and buys lime green hoodies made out of locally-sourced hemp."

This author bio was taken from Derek's website, which you can find here. I reviewed his upcoming debut novel, Scream All Night, and now have had the pleasure of interviewing him. Scream All Night is a dark comedy with a backdrop of schlocky horror movies, and it's out July 24, 2018. Don't miss it. You can find my review here.

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Did you always want to be a writer? What made you decide to peruse it as a career?

I've always been writing stuff--short stories, plays, screenplays--even if I took long breaks and didn't write much at all. But it was only about 2013 or so where I think the YA marketplace reached a certain point where I saw a way in, and thought, with my specific voice, I might find success. It was very much about the timing, and where I was creatively.

This is your debut novel. How long did it take, from the start of the writing process to finding out you were going to be a published author?

I got my agent with an earlier YA manuscript I wrote. I've stated this in numerous interviews and panels, so sorry if I'm repeating myself here, but I wrote SCREAM ALL NIGHT while that first manuscript was on submission. That first manuscript got very close--twice!--but didn't sell. SCREAM sold fairly quickly, so looking at just the window of SCREAM, I would say maybe a year. But my relationship with HarperCollins began about three years before that.

What was it like when you found out you were going to be published?

Wonderful relief. Some fear. Lots of excitement. A little bit of disbelief too.

What made you decide to write Scream All Night?

When I broke into the publishing world, people ask you if you have other ideas, and I had had this vague idea about a kid who inherits a horror studio from many years back. People reacted very strongly to it, whenever I told them. Then "life" happened. One of my best friends passed away very suddenly. I had to speak at her funeral. I wound up moving from Manhattan's Upper West Side, where I'd been living for a decade, to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which was like moving to a different planet. All of this happened in like...a span of two weeks. There's a vivid dreaminess to Brooklyn that absolutely 100% went in to the writing of SCREAM. I can't pretend the whirlwind screwball tone, especially in the funeral scene from the first chapter, that I get asked about a lot, wasn't actually influenced by genuine loss, and is me dealing with that in my own weird way.

Scream All Night is heavily influenced by classic Hammer horror films. What's your favorite Hammer horror?

I listed it on my website, but I have to say Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. It's a vampire movie crossed with a kung-fu movie. I mean, aren't you comforted we live in a world where that exists?

What are your top three horror movies, Hammer or not?

Rosemary's Baby. The Shining. The Exorcist. They just freak me out every time.

Who is your favorite character in Scream All Night and why?

Oren was a lot of fun to write, because he is so pernicious, yet childlike, self-destructive, yet naïve. Delusional, stubborn, but he's deeply flawed, damaged, but has a good heart. All his absurdities and his unique darkness proved a great challenge. He's one of my favorite creations.

Do you outline? Why or why not?

I do and I don't. I tend to take loose notes, sketch out ideas by hand in a notebook, sitting in a café. Then a lot of it gets filled out, comes alive, at home in front of the computer. The notes just prevent the blinking-mocking-cursor-on-a-white-blank-bright screen thing, that writers fear. I don't formally outline. It feels too regimented to me, like it's academic, not creative. But that's just me. I have a Master's Degree. I wrote a lot of papers in my life. I don't want to be reminded of homework.

If you could choose any three authors in history, living or dead, to have lunch with, who would you choose and why?

Arthur Rimbaud, because I know he would order Absinthe in the middle of the day and spout Symbolist poetry. Donna Tartt, because she's just so cool, and an absolute genius. And Hemingway, so he could take me to a bullfight and I could watch his reactions and how he forms thoughts. Although, I actually went to a bullfight when I was sixteen, in a small French town that bordered Spain. It was so violent and upsetting.

What's your advice for new authors?

Write as much as you can, whenever you can. Write when you feel inspired, and always take notes--on your phone's notes app, a notepad, whatever. Compile those ideas. They'll lead to something one day. No one path is the same. Just because you do something your own way doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Do what feels best, and works best for you. That can include not writing every single day. You don't have to write every single day to be a real writer. Go see a movie sometimes.

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You can follow Derek on Twitter and Instagram, and you can find his website here. You can pre-order Scream All Night here.

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Thanks a million to Derek for agreeing to this interview! I can't wait for his first book to officially hit the shelves, and I look forward to his next work.

Thank you so much for reading this interview. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.



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Monday, June 4, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Scream All Night by Derek Milman

NOTE: This book has not yet been released. I was given a free Advance Reading Copy by HarperCollins and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released on July 24, 2018. If you would like to send me an ARC, please see this page.


TITLE: Scream All Night

AUTHOR: Derek Milman

GENRE: black comedy

PLOT SUMMARY: It's been a few years since Dario got himself emancipated from his difficult, uncaring father, and moved out of Moldavia. Moldavia Studios is more than just a horror movie production company; all the cast and crew members live in the giant castle where the film set is, and once you enter, it's notoriously difficult to leave. After he got emancipated, Dario never intended to go back. But when his older brother Oren calls and says their father is dying and arranging his own funeral (and his own death), Dario decides to return one last time. A wrench is thrown into that plan when the will is read... and Dario finds out that his dad wants him to run Moldavia.

FIRST THOUGHTS: Even though I don't watch horror regularly -- I'm too easily freaked out by jumpscares -- I have always had a soft spot for Hammer horror films. And, as you can probably guess from that summary, this book was heavily inspired by the schlocky horror movies that Hammer created. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this going in, but just from the concept, I knew I wanted to give it a try. I'm really glad I did; it's not quite what I was expecting, but in a good way. (I will say, though, that I think Goodreads shelving this as "horror" is a bit of a stretch. For a book that's set in a horror movie studio and begins with someone blowing up, it's not very scary.)

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: There are basically two plots going on here: Dario's family drama, and Moldavia potentially going under. I thought that the two storylines were balanced extremely well, and I liked how they both tied in to each other. And, happily, this wasn't one of those books where I heavily favored one plot over the other; they both fit perfectly, so I loved them both. The story moved along remarkably quickly, considering it covers a couple months. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about the ending, but I can't get into the details without totally spoiling it. Overall, the book has a strong hook and an equally strong execution. (I would've liked to see more of Oren's script, though; that shit was hilarious.)

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: I LOVED Dario. He was hilarious, and surprisingly relateable despite his truly bizarre upbringing. I also loved his relationship with his best friend, Jude. (Jude was a great side character, and I lowkey wish he was in the book more.) Their friendship provided a lot of the book's sweeter moments in the middle of all the craziness. Oren was a mixed bag for me; he's a complete douche, but that's basically the point of his character. And he is definitely a douche with personality. I did think the love interest (whose name escapes me) was a little bland; she had a lot of potential, and some of her scenes with Dario were cute, but she sort of blended into the background.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: This is another one of those books where I was hooked almost instantly. I got through about 90% of the book in one sitting -- the writing style is incredibly fun and easy to get into. I loved Dario's inner monologue, and a lot of his snarky comments actually made me snort out loud. My only real complaint is that I felt like the flashback scenes weren't quite as naturally sewn into the narrative as they could've been. Sometimes it felt a bit jarring, especially mid-chapter. That said, there aren't a ton of flashbacks, so it's not a huge problem.

9 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: Nothing to talk about here. There's nothing especially progressive or diverse about this story, but nothing glaringly offensive. (Obviously that's better than the political stuff being bad, but it does make it hard to fill a section...)

5 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you're looking for a fun, slightly dark story to devour this summer, give this book a read. I doubt I'll be the only one to fly through it. It's a great story about family, as well as a great tribute to the classic Hammer horror movies. Now, if you excuse me, this book has made me want to rewatch my favorites. (Horror of Dracula because I'm basic, and The Vampire Lovers because I'm gay.)

FINAL GRADE: 8 / 10


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An extra-special thanks to Rebecca of MindBuck Media for reaching out to me and sending me this ARC! As the review above shows, I loved it, and I'm so glad I got the chance to read it before it officially hits the shelves. 

Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute! Even if you can't donate, you can feel free to follow me on social media; the links are in the top-right corner.

If you've read or plan to read Scream All Night, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!



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