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Vampire Movie Night: Fright Night (2011)

4 Oct

Welcome to a not-so-newish segment where we allow Liam Corchoran and Gianni Fiorenza, the so-called heroes of my upcoming vampire series, The Family, to regale us with their unnecessary opinions on various and sundry vampire films. Got a rec for the boys? Hit em up!

Tonight is the second of our two-part Fright Night extravaganza. 


Fright Night (2011)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writers: Marti Noxon (screenplay), Tom Holland (story)
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, and Imogen Poots

L: Vampires in Vegas! Okay, seriously, first impressions were: one–Wow, much better beginning and two–Holy shit, is that Chekov?
G: It’s like Six Degrees of Science Fiction with you every. single. night.
L: Shut up, I like Chekov. And, I mean, Hero-boy Charley’s vaguely creepy in this one, too, but not in a date rapey way. Just a general asshole teenager way. He’s a dick to his friends…
G: Don’t beat yourself up, darling. I actually like the friend, in this version.
L: Yeah, Ed is the man. I mean, he makes fun of the fact that the big bad vampire is called Jerry.
G: And he actually serves a plot purpose instead of just being the obligatory coked-up 80s loser-buddy.
L: Also has the best line in the whole movie: “He’s not brooding or lovesick or noble; he’s the fucking shark from Jaws.”
G: “And seriously I am so angry that you think I read Twilight.”
L: I thought Twilight was kinda fun.
G: And you wonder why I question your taste.

L: Let’s just pause for a second to appreciate Jerry in this movie. He’s so much more badass than in the 80s one. And smarter. That gasline thing was classic
G: He’s completely absurd and trying to get himself killed. Plus, he’s lost all the old-timey cinema charm that made the 80s version funny.
L: Except it wasn’t funny, so that’s actually a good thing. Colin Ferrell is all dirty and scary and hot. And he has that Dexter-like kill room–I mean a whole hall of them. That’s fucking genius.
G: He left a victim alive up there, went downstairs–went out of the house when he knew his neighbor was watching him. If you’re trying to pitch this as a more realistic vampire film–
L: Well, yeah, okay, but they at least tried to explain it. All the characters have motivations and personalities instead of just being caricatures–
G: You’re ridiculous. This is horrible.
L: If watching that guy drink blood didn’t give you a huge vampire boner, you should just set yourself on fire right now. You are already dead. Again.
G: … well, there is that, I suppose. But it’s still horrible.

L: They did keep the Jerry-eating-apples thing from the old version.
G: They added a fucking car chase and lost everything that was charming. The Renfield character, for example. Who admittedly had none of the awesome of Renfield, but–
L: No. You want Thirty Days of Night for awesome Renfield-like characters.
G: Liam, pay attention. You like what they kept from the 80s version, but you’re ignoring that that version was a nod to Dracula and its ilk. This film is like… reading a translation of a translation.
L: And yet it’s better. How funny was David Tennant as Peter Vincent? Losing the washed up Van Helsing shtick for a fucked up Criss Angel, Vampire Hunter–
G: Who drinks Midori constantly. Ugh.
L: That’s why it’s funny. And the bit where he’s bitching about the leather pants. I lost my shit.
G: You just like him because he was the Doctor.
L: Nine was the best.
G: I give up.

L: Another awesome difference: the ladies didn’t have to suck the whole time. Mom got to be a badass during the–
G: –hideously gratuitous–
L: –car chase bit. And Amy, who was basically just The Girlfriend Who Won’t Put Out and Gets Into Trouble in the old version, got to kick some ass wandering around Vincent’s awesome stockpile of eBay vampire-hunting paraphernalia.
G: I will admit that the bit where Jerry abducts her from the club and turns her into his “bride” was far less unfortunate in this version, as well. Not just because there was nary a Cosby sweater in sight. Anyhow, she’s your type.
L: I don’t have a type.
G: Girls who boss you around, make you feel like you don’t deserve them, and can mentally kick your ass.
L: Oh. Yeah, okay. She is kinda my type.

G: I suppose the movie wouldn’t have been so terrible if it hadn’t devolved completely into a spiral of action movie stupidity.
L: At least it looked cool, unlike the last movie.
G: Give it a decade and see how it holds up, sweetheart.

Vampire Movie Night: The Bleeding

16 Jul

Welcome to a not-so-newish segment where we allow Liam Corchoran and Gianni Fiorenza, the so-called heroes of my upcoming vampire series, The Family, to regale us with their unnecessary opinions on various and sundry vampire films. Got a rec for the boys? Hit em up!


The Bleeding (2009)
Director: Charlie Picerni
Writer: Lance Lane
Stars: Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones and Armand Assante

This review contains spoilers. [Ed- Not that there’s anything to spoil, because for once, I agree with these guys.]

The Bleeding

GIANNI: What the fuck did we just watch?
LIAM: Oh god, I’m so sorry.
GIANNI: I am immortal. Well, I can be killed, but it’s not an easy thing. I have lived, well, for a long time–
LIAM: He turns 104 in December. Total cradle robber.
GIANNI: [Ed: he’s smirking.] My point is that I have spent a great deal of time on this planet, and I will spend even more. And yet, I’m still supremely annoyed that I just wasted nearly two hours of my life on that movie.

DMX in "The Bleeding"

DMX starring in: the only three minutes where you’re still holding out hope that this movie won’t suck.

LIAM: I only picked it because DMX was in it. I was thinking, “Oh, hey, DMX, so at least someone will be awesome.”
GIANNI: Yes, and didn’t that just work out for you?
LIAM: I kept telling myself he’d come back as a vampire. But nope. They really just did the horror movie thing and killed the black dude in the first five minutes of the movie. In 2009.
GIANNI: It’s so depressingly predictable.
LIAM: See, even the old guy notices. It’s that racist.
GIANNI: Fuck you. I should’ve made you turn it off the second the name “Kat von D” appeared in the opening credits.
LIAM: Okay, but to be fair, she always looks badass. And was one of the better actors.

Kat Von D in The Bleeding

This is as good as the acting gets. No, really.

GIANNI: Which should tell everyone just how fucking awful the acting was.
LIAM: Vinnie Jones is usually pretty entertaining too. And I’m pretty sure they were trying to be campy and Robert Rodriguez-y but just failed like a huge failing thing.
GIANNI: Oh, stop making excuses for this catastrophe. Let’s just get on with it. The vampires.
LIAM: What the fuck were they even doing? Was there a plot with them? Like, some dude was an Army Ranger and he got changed into a vampire in Afghanistan and… for some inane reason only his brother could take him out with some weird-ass blessed sword. And they were in a nightclub. And the party girl got killed because, you know, if you like sex, you have to die.
GIANNI: That does seem to hit the salient points. Oh, also, the vampires employed a giant butcher who hacked up women for them. Because apparently these vampires require hacked up women-parts for something-or-other.
LIAM: Yeah, I think the best part of the movie is when the so-called hero lands in the kill room in a pile of dismembered woman-bodies. And he says, “Well, that was great.” That guy, such a fucking comedian.

Random ugly butcher from "The Bleeding"

Hey man, thanks for dropping into my pile of chopped up women. Oh, just finishing up this one before I get to the ones hanging up over there. You know. As you do.

GIANNI: Hilarious. And what was going on with drunken priest Michael Madsen? He’s been waiting around for years with an arsenal of blessed weapons–
LIAM: Oooh, scary.
GIANNI: –with some random errand boy whose slavish attachment to him is never explained and frankly a bit creepy–
LIAM: And this is coming from the guy who stalked his college roommate. [Ed: here, Liam points to himself.]
GIANNI: –preparing for this totally unexplained slayer to come along and… end all vampires by killing his brother? Oh god, I feel like I’m getting stupider just talking about it. Is that possible?
LIAM: That was my favorite line: “I don’t know how my brother became this pure evil Cain. But if he is in fact evil, fuck him. He ain’t my brother no more.” [Ed: Liam’s laughing. It is kind of unpleasant.]

Michael Matthias in The Bleeding

You know what this movie needs to be perfect? A sixty-second touching montage of Michael Matthias running around in the rain as a metaphor for him running away from his destiny as his newly evil vampire brother’s slayer. Oh wait.

GIANNI: Darling, would you do me a favor? Please kill this movie with fire.
LIAM: Seriously though, I love the way DMX barks everything. He’d make a great vampire.
GIANNI: I wasn’t joking about the fire.
LIAM: It’s the least I can do.


And that’s all for today’s edition. Hopefully their next one won’t be so terrible or they might start to rebel, and I really hate unruly head-vampires. But until then, I’ll hold out hope.

images came from imdb and here.

Vampire Movie Night: Priest

12 Jul

Welcome to a not-so-newish segment where we allow Liam Corchoran and Gianni Fiorenza, the so-called heroes of my upcoming vampire series, The Family, to regale us with their unnecessary opinions on various and sundry vampire films. Got a rec for the boys? Hit em up!


Vampire Film Night #1:
Priest (2011)
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Writers: Cory Goodman, Min-Woo Hyung (graphic novel series “Priest”)
Stars: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet and Maggie Q

Thanks to Brian Fatah Steele for the rec! The following review contains spoilers.

Priest (2011)

Liam: I would have sex with this movie. And I have no biological sex drive, so that’s saying something. I might feel different if I’d read the graphic novels–which I will now. But seriously, it’s fucking perfect.
Gianni: I think we’re working with different definitions of the word “perfect”.
Liam: Here, let me read you mine. Perfect: A movie set in a futuristic-steampunky dystopia with wild west trains, a neon Catholic church, and mean-ass vampires. Fucking perfect.

Paul Bettany in "Priest"

This is his serious face. Not that he has another face over the course of the entire movie, but that’s all right. This is serious business.

Gianni: Hmm, no, we’re not using the same dictionary. I would eat the hell out of Paul Bettany, though. There’s something about him with the cross on his forehead that’s even more blasphemously hot…
Liam: Okay, so let’s start with him. Nameless priest hero gets the thumbs up. Definitely a great hunter-character, right?
Gianni: You do realize you’re a vampire?
Liam: Yes, asshole, just go with me.
Gianni: Then yes, certainly. And they did a good job with what should’ve been an absurd and obvious plot twist with his back story. Or maybe the rest of the movie was just so ridiculous it didn’t matter to me by the time we got there.
Liam: [Ed: he’s rolling his eyes.] Okay, but Karl Urban, aka Black Hat. Awesome bad guy. Evil and scary as shit. Also, dirty-hot.
Gianni: Yes, agreed on all points. And I like the idea that other than him, the vampires are extremely feral and inhuman. I think we need more of that propaganda spread around. It lulls the humans into a false sense of security if they think they can see us coming.

Karl Urban in "Priest"

Black Hat: also very serious about his serious vampire business. And owns a cool train.

Liam: True–plus, I always give bonus points for remorseless throat-tearing vampires.
Gianni: And they say I’m the vain one.
Liam: Har-dee-fuckin’-har.
Gianni: Maggie Q as nameless priestess–
Liam: Pretty sure she was just called a priest like the dudes.
Gianni: Right, then, nameless priest who happens to be a woman was also delicious.
Liam: She was, but I was kinda meh on the love story. I guess it explained why she wanted to help him, but I don’t know. It seemed kinda tacked on. Like, “Hey, she’s a woman, she has to be in love with the hero!”
Gianni: Either way, she was the only one I’d actually be afraid of.
Liam: Yeah?
Gianni: She killed multiple half-vampire-what-the-hell-ever creatures on motorcycles while she was wearing heeled boots. They weren’t horrifically impractical heels, but still. That’s a good day’s work.

Maggie Q in "Priest"

Kicking motorcycled ass; not bothering with names because fuck vampires, amiright?

Liam: Yeah, I couldn’t do it.
Gianni: I’ve done worse in more inconvenient footwear, but for a human, it’s impressive.
Liam: So, that’s a story I need to hear.
Gianni: It was the seventies. Moving on. My bonus points always go to the music, which was decent, with an appropriate use of Mozart’s Requiem. It’s not a futuristic Catholic dystopia without some Dies Irae.
Liam: Yeah, this movie reminds me of Giuseppe a lot.
Gianni: Me too, now you mention it. Parting thoughts?
Liam: They obviously told everyone just to do an American accent so they all sounded like they were from the same place. But I want to know why Stephen Moyer thinks all Americans sound like they’re from Louisiana. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–
Gianni: Yes. Yes, there is. I suppose the movie was entertaining, if ridiculous.
Liam: Sex. Me and this movie. It’s happening.
Gianni: You’re such a charmer.
Liam: Right?

Cam Gigandet in "Priest"

Oh, and then there was this guy, the Sheriff of Podunk-town. Called “Hicks”. And his kidnapped girlfriend. Whatever. Vampires.


Images from here, here, and here.

Aaaand that’s all for tonight’s Vampire Movie Night. Back in a few with some more. Because vampire movies are awesome–even the ones we don’t want to, uh, have sex with. (Not sure how that works. Liam’s not either, but he won’t admit to it, so there we go.)

Family Film Night — Recs Needed!

6 Jul

No, not my family, but my little vampire family. Oh, they’ll grow and grow as time goes by, but for now I refer specifically to the lovely fellows I’ve introduced in the past month, Liam and Gianni. Some of you who’ve been long tortured by this blog may recall their Vampire Awareness Month movie commentaries from two years past. I’ve decided that since I’m in a vampirey mood I’m going to watch a bunch of vampy films and have my own little Vampire Awareness Month.

And who better to do the commentary than my dudes, Liam and G?

Okay, so that’s misleading. The truth is that I am incapable of watching a vampire movie without these two going off in my brain on loudspeaker. Might as well blog about it, since their time has finally begun. (About time they were useful. Hmph.)

So I’m asking for recs. I’ve already decided to do Thirstwhich I watched recently, Mark of the Vampire, which is the best Lugosi vampire flick ever, and maybe some stuff about Being Human and True Blood just to change things up with a little TV in the mix, but I need some other good movies I haven’t seen before–or haven’t seen in a long time. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment for me! I want somewhere between 4-8 I guess, so loads of room for stuff. Here are the ones they already did:

  • Part 5: 30 Days of Night, Let the Right One In, Twilight
  • Part 4: Cronos, Interview with the Vampire, Shadow of the Vampire
  • Part 3: The Night Stalker, Vampire Hunter D, The Lost Boys, Near Dark
  • Part 2: Martin, Dracula (1979), The Hunger
  • Part 1: Nosferatu, Dracula (1931), Brides of Dracula

If you have anything else for them, please let me know.

<3

Fun With Vampires: Gianni

2 Jul

Yes, back with more vampires. It’s just about a big old holiday here in the US, so I’m not gonna be around, but I’ll leave dude here to entertain you. Gianni Fiorenza is the first of the big bad vampires in my upcoming series, The Family, which starts with Liam late this summer.

It’s hard to pick a defining characteristic for G since, according to him, he has so many excellent ones from which to choose. (Modesty not among them, not-so-incidentally.) G’s been with me for over a decade now, though, and I can honestly say that he appeared after one long night catching Frank Langella as Dracula while hanging out at my parents’ on a long weekend. I said, “Hey, now that is what a vampire should be!” and then there he was–apparently forever.

To be fair, he apparently haunts my friends’ dreams too. But that’s another story.

Bearing that in mind, I’ll go with Gianni’s charm as a defining characteristic. There’s a movement to have vampires look on the outside as they do on the inside. I like that idea very much*, but I’m not too into in writing it–a book you can judge by its cover isn’t quite as interesting to me. No, for nature to provide a vampire with a charming cover seems an appropriate adaptation. Well, except in G’s case, it’s not really natural: he doesn’t believe in ugly vampires, so the causality goes the other way.

Also another story. My point is that G gets away with saying things no one really should. Like expressing too much interest in his roommate’s moods. Because he’s totally a Creepy Old Man–whether he looks it or not.

“It’s called being moody.” Not only was this weird as hell, but I wasn’t following why it was interesting. Especially to his smooth, cosmopolitan self, devoid of all the insecurities and stupidity native to normal twenty-year-olds. “Awfully observant over the last three days, huh?”

“I’m never halfway interested in anything,” Gianni said. “If it’s not worth being very interested in, it’s not worth the trouble.”

I could get uncomfortable and prickly and question this bizarre logic. And then he could leave. And then I’d have to go back up to the room alone.

Instead I asked, “What about you?”

“What about me?”

Hard to know where to start, really. “Well, you told me you were a liar.”

“I’m too good at it not to want to do it all the time.”

How did he say things like that and not make me want to hit him?

But that’s just the surface stuff, before Liam the Brilliant (note: please imagine my voice dripping with irony there) notices, oh hey, dude’s totally undead. Once that’s evident, it becomes clear the charm isn’t just natural talent, but also something a little more, er, supernatural.

Vague spoiler alert here, but if you know Dracula, you’ll figure this bit out long before Liam does. (Note: Liam… sorta knows Dracula, but it’s been a while. He’s just dumb.):

I asked, “How’d you do it, that thing at the party? Telepathy?”

“In a way. It’s my particular vampiric gift to be able to make people think they’re seeing and feeling things that aren’t real. Does wonders for my popularity,” Gianni said.

Seriously, trying so hard not to laugh. This should not be funny. “Like you need it.” A pause. “Gift.”

“Yours will come. Give it time.”

Yeah, so, I could hardly deal with the telepathy. Back to the main issue, thanks. “So, you went into my head and made me all…” I made a few gestures there, mostly in the crotch area.

He gave me this infernal, knowing look. “You didn’t need much help.”

Okay, that was not my fault. He knew goddamn well he was like good porn. “I wonder why.”

“Because I set you up like the professional I am.”

“Because you’re a dick.”

“Isn’t it marvelous?”

Yes, it fucking was, but I’d be goddamned if I was going to say it.

I know, I know, I’m making him out to be a shallow dickhead. But that’s okay, because that’s what he wants you to think. When shit gets real, it becomes apparent what’s really going on in that pretty head of his. But until then, yeah. It’s allllll about the charm.

Did I mention G was changed in 1931–the year Browning’s Dracula hit the silver screen? Well, it’s not why he has those powers, but hey. Fun vampire facts? Or something. Yeah.

Okay, so I don’t have a pro drawing of G. Ummm, here’s a sketch I did of an AU Gianni, hence his weird clothes. That’ll have to do. Sorry. There’s a reason I elected not to go to art school.

AU Gianni by Katey

Gianni Fiorenza: Prettier Than You

*Except for the times when it’s a shameless kneejerk of the horror lover in an attempt to seem anti-paranormal romance. Dude, get over it. Sex can be scary too. (Like we didn’t already know…)

Fun With Vampires: Liam

13 Jun

I’m kind of freaking out (in a good way) about Liam, now the time is drawing nigh. It’s currently slated for late August, sooooo hell yes. I thought I’d do some character introductions beyond what the site gives.

For the first one, we’re stuck with Liam Corchoran. Who, spoiler alert (but not really cuz, yeah, no shit), becomes a vampire somewhere in the first, oh, third of his book. In terms of defining qualities, one will inevitably be a vampire’s method of killing — which, for Liam, is described amply through his first kill excerpt (scroll down to the middle here). In short, he’s the smash-grab-rip-mess kind.

Bloodlust is all-pervasive, but these vampires retain much of their human personality, if in a twisted way. Liam’s other defining quality, if I had to pick just one, would be his inability to relate to other people through anything but fiction. This occasionally takes the form of a normal book discussion — which then tends to go awry, in the wrong (or right) hands:

[Gianni said,] “By the way, I read your books.”

He couldn’t have made me happier if he’d been trying. “And?”

“I liked them.”

“A lot, right?”

A sigh then, and he leaned an arm on my shoulder as if the weight of the admission was too much for him. “A lot.”

I took another drink, extremely pleased with myself. Just call me The Motherfucking Educator, thanks.

“But…” He breathed against my ear, resting his cheek on his arm, which effectively draped him over my side. “I guess now isn’t the best time for an in-depth discussion. I’ll make a full confession some other night, if you like.”

Mmm, not fair, Gianni, using the drunk guy’s love of Dune to get close to his neck like that. Creepy fuck.

But this habit of Liam’s can also take a more alarming form, when he actually explains human motivations and situations to himself with the advertised “harebrained literary analogies”. For example, in re Gianni:

I watched him until he faded into the dark, wondering if this goddamn uncomfortable mixed-up feeling made me the resentful, admiring Nick Carraway to his effortless, romantic Jay Gatsby. A crap idea, since it made my confusion about what was honest and what was a lie that much more solid. What real motivation was there for him to take me into his confidence like that, regardless of his credibility, and how much bad news would it be for me to like him, either way?

It can also be used against him more effectively than any other weapon, by friends/lovers. As with Madison:

[I said,] “Be careful, I might out-Sherlock Holmes you.”

“Dupin is cooler, anyhow.” Madison looked over her shoulder and tried to make a disapproving face, but a grin split it quickly. That grin was so familiar (and it was so hot of her to make a Poe reference) that I nearly asked her to reconsider taking advantage of me.

And Gianni:

His hand emerged with a pack of cigarettes, from which he armed us both. “You’re a terrible liar–I’m ashamed you ever fooled me. Have a cigarette; what is it Wilde said about them being so perfect?”

I didn’t feel like dancing, so ignored the first statement. “That they’re exquisite and leave one unsatisfied.”

“How appropriate.”

Never one to complain about a literary theme being introduced, I kept quiet for a moment. […] Then I said, “It’s only human to want more. Lowered standards never made anyone happy.”

“That’s true.” He held the match out for me. “But even if people were offered what they really wanted, they wouldn’t take it. I believe the quote was that the dissatisfaction was the reason for preferring cigarettes.”

By that time I’d finished lighting and had a drag, so I held the smoke in my lungs. Now there was another interesting idea. “But that’s just some little momentary satisfaction. Almost everyone likes holding off on those.”

He smirked.

Let’s just say I was glad the lack of light and my cloud of smoke would hide my flush.

Or:

“No Long Island girls and Harvard boys?”

[Gianni said,] “Not even lazy, good-looking, aristocratic Princeton could tempt me.”

His tone spoke of quotation, so I asked, “What’s that from?”

This Side of Paradise*.” More smirking, a little smug.

I loved when he did that to me. I was never sure if that was because it fed my ego that he went out of his way to speak my language, or if it was just that his brain was generally sexy. Probably a little of both. I gave him his point, anyhow: “Haven’t read that one.”

“You had better; I think it’s about you in a past life.”

And oh, god, when his family pulls out the stops and starts on James Joyce, it’s near world-ending, but we’ll save that for another time. The point is that it’s a pretty big weakness, and one he has occasion to regret pretty often:

Jesus, that was the kind of night you read about in books full of champagne and jazz and rich kids with nothing better to do than fuck each other in every way imaginable. My Great Gatsby analogy coming back to haunt me.

That’s what you get for making shit literary references, Liam. Way to go.

So yeah, the guy’s a monster. But he has some crushingly human qualities that clash with his natural violence, especially once the whole raging bloodlust thing makes the violence even harder to deny. But don’t worry, he doesn’t spend the whole time angsting about it. Just the requisite time.

G’s there to make sure he devotes himself to glorying in it, instead. But I’ll do that guy next.

Liam by C. Bernard

Liam by C. Bernard

*This is why I left F. Scott Fitzgerald a thank you note. A month later, Belfire sent me a contract, so I am now not-so-secretly convinced he’s Liam’s patron saint. They’re both privileged Irish Catholic boys with ties to the Lost Generation, in love with art they don’t quite understand (or, perhaps, in love with with not quite understanding art), and devoted to people who may well destroy them but will be totally worth it. And I invented Liam before I knew jack shit about FSF. Let me have my illusions.

On Revisions and the Wanky Bits

22 May

First up, free fiction. The lovely Dagan Books folks are posting many of the Cthulhurotica V. 1 stories to the website just now, and mine, which is a bit of a shipwreck tale, is available now. Yay! Check it here:

Transfigured Night

In an interview we did for the blog when the book dropped, we were asked to pick one line from the story. I picked this one: “I either need to jerk off more, or throw myself into the ocean and get it over with.” But it’s scary, promise! It sprang from a re-reading of Lovecraft’s “The Temple”, for the record. A pretty, dead boy with a creepy artifact. You know I’m all over it.


In other news, revisions are done. ALL the revisions. Both vicious vampireboy Liam and my newly accepted romance novel, By the River, got facelifts. While Liam was me getting rid of some of my bad habits and paring things down yet again, River was me getting rid of some of my bad habits, but mostly plumping . I added 5k to that fucker — and it was only 25k to start.

Oh, what an illustration of the kind of writer I was and the kind of writer I have become. I’m nowhere near finished in this evolution and I never will be til I finally drop, but it’s telling, that’s for damn sure.

When I first wrote Liam it was like 120k. I was 20 or 21 years old and had only written for my best friend’s eyes and my own amusement before that. Really, that was for my own amusement too, but then I started writing fanfiction and people seemed to like it. No one was more surprised than me. One of these awesome people, Sue Penkivech, asked to see my original stuff and was like, “Hey, this is good!”

(Yep. It’s her fault.)

I worked on it for years before trying a few queries (I do mean, like, five), but the response was always the same: “This is really good, but too long for what it is.” I was totally lost, of course, because someone telling you, “Just cut a few [notes] and it’ll be perfect,” when you have zero idea what you’re doing — I don’t know, they might as well be speaking Moon Language or something. How does one cut a bit? Which bit? I give up, I’m writing another book!

I did. Like, loads of them. I actually have no idea  how many books I’ve written and I fear it would horrify me to find out. The count from last year alone made me want to sleep for days. The material point is that I learned not only how to cut, but how to not write the bits that need cut (which I affectionately refer to as “the wanky bits” — the bits no one but the author gives a shit about, therefore, author wank) in the first place.

Liam had long since been pared to a svelte 85k when I finally worked up the courage to send him off to Belfire last year. This last little runthrough wasn’t even really a revision, more a bit of tinkering to take out all the times I used “felt” constructions (we know it’s Liam feeling it — he’s telling the goddamn story!) or too many -ing constructions. Tweaking some of the language that felt off, that kind of thing.

Which leads me to the revisions I just sent to my romance editor for River. It’s a tiny little magical realist love story, quite different from the other romance novels I’ve done — equally simple, but a bit more with the pretty and emo. And my revision notes from Raven and TPTB were mostly* along the lines of: “More, please.”

I’m thinking, “But… I didn’t write the wanky bits. You want me to put them in?”

And then I answered myself (oh, you know you do it too), “Those aren’t wanky, Kate. Those are character development. It’s kind of important.”

That 5k I added was already written in my head at one time or another. I had considered upping the conflict with one of the boys’ family. I had thought about showing a little more in the bedroom (if you haven’t read one of those things, I’m a big proponent of the sex scene as a window into a character’s personality — what the hell else is it there for?). I had considered writing out a tense scene that I off-paneled.** But I thought, “Nah, no one wants to read that.” With this editorial directive, I added all of it in, and oh my god, this book is so. much. better.

And so I finally come to the point — speaking of wanky bits, but hey, that’s what a blog is for. I have officially swung the other direction. All four of my romance novels this year have had similar notes. (Though I do take it as a sign that I’m improving with that, even, since the notes went from “this scene and that scene” to a general “more, please”.)

Will I find the middle ground? Of course I’ll never please everyone, but to please the people for whom I’m specifically writing and maybe even myself would be lovely. Or will I swing back the other direction and start spilling authorwank like so many (who shall not be named but yes, I am looking at you, epic fantasy) others?

I have no idea. But we all know that awesome feeling of looking back and saying, “Okay, I figured that out, at least.” So I got that going for me.

 

*The other one was: “Can the MC possibly be less of a moron at this bit?” Good point. Poor Adam, he is a bit clueless.

**I don’t know what that’s called, off-panel is a comic book term. Um… off-stage? D’oh.

Because I can’t resist a map…

11 May

I spent most of my week doing my final combthrough with Liam. It was a weird experience since I haven’t really seen it since I submitted it back in… whenever. Last year sometime. Had a great time with it, though. Getting all excited.

Anyhow, I’ve got vamps on the brain, and I’m still kind of wistful about Italy, so I figured I’d do a little combo post. One of my kind of back-of-the-brain things the whole time I was 0n vacation.

So of course the Italian word for Florence is Firenze–the outdated version being Fiorenza. In the books, the growing “family” of vampires would be the Fiorenzas, which if you’ve seen the website will be abundantly clear. A lot of times I just pick names because they sound right, but that one was deliberate. They’re from Florence originally–which is pretty rare in the US, as most of the Italians who came in the early 1900s were southern or Sicilian. A namechange at Ellis Island was standard (see the “O”s and “Mc”s getting dropped off Irish names and Italians ending up named after their hometown all over the place), but combined with their weird provenance, probably indicative that they weren’t your average immigrants, this well-dressed guy in his late twenties and his three-year-old nephew. Not just looking for a new start, but running from old troubles.

This is not why I wanted to go to Florence, for the record–I’m sure when I made up this whole backstory, I had no idea I’d ever actually go there, though I totally wanted to. I was living in a shitty frat house (no really), surviving on ramen and Camel Lights, and pretty sure it was going to stay that way until I dropped. But that didn’t stop me giggling when B told me the name of the place he wanted to stay:

Fiorenza
Seriously, he picked it, not me. Good though, look it up if you’re ever in town!

Anyhow. There’s not much about it in the books because Gianni has been long-forbidden by his uncle to go back to Italy, let alone the actual city. (Why, and why he actually listens, well, all will be revealed. Eventually.) But like all Americans, there’s a certain amount of clinging to “home” as somewhere else. So every now and then in Italy I’d see something  that’d make me stop and think of them. Because this is what being a writer is, and we all know it: random imaginary friends invading every aspect of your life, to the point where sometimes you can’t even watch TV or look at a painting without thinking, “Huh, bet Liam likes this.” Insert-your-character-name.

Rosselli's "Fiorenza"

19th C. Copy of Francesco di Lorenzo Rosselli’s Pianta prospettica della Catena, c. 1471-1482 in the Museo Firenze com’era.* If you click to enlarge and look really close, you can even see the names of some of the landmarks written on it. “The so-called Pianta della Catena, attributed to Lorenzo Rosselli, is the first known exemplar in the history of cartography which is intended as a complete representation of the city with all its buildings and the dense network of streets and squares.”**

In Liam (and all subsequent books), there’s a wall-hanging in the Fiorenza living room in New York that’s meant to be a map like this, almost exactly. I wrote it before I even knew this painting existed and was semi-famous–in Florence, anyhow. So you know when I saw this thing on every damn coffee mug, mousepad, and everything else ever while wandering around on vacation, I stopped and grabbed the prettiest print (at the Accademia, as it happened) I could find, brought it back here, and looked that shit up.

So one of the fun things I got to do with my Liam runthrough was describe the wall-hanging much, much better than I had originally.

Yeah, I don’t know, I thought it was fun.

I bought this little map too, which is super cool, but wasn’t precisely what I needed for the book. It’ll look kickass framed on my wall, though.

Okay, I’m off to WV for the weekend. Happy mother’s day, all y’all moms out there. <3

*I didn’t go to that Museum, so I had to come home and research the fuck out of it to figure out what it was and where it was from. That sounds like I’m complaining, but no. This is my idea of a good time.

**Source: Official site of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, which I did in fact visit and adore, as I may have already mentioned.

Blood on your lips

6 May

Not yours, but Liam’s anyhow.

Yeah, so, if anyone happened by here over the last few days, they may or may not have noticed that I accidentally killed the site. Like, Thursday morning or Wednesday night. I was trying to figure out how to host multiple domains with my single hosting account. First I screwed up by accidentally changing my hosting to windows, which tanked my wordpress installation apparently. Except I didn’t know because I went to see The Avengers with Hayley. And we spent the whole day before watching Avengers movies. So the next morning I woke up and my site was dead, and probably had been all day. Which is always hilarious when you have no idea why.

And by hilarious I mean it makes me shouty and stabby. So, hilarious in an impotent rage kinda way, which is awesome.

BUT! I did actually win that battle. Then made the mistake of updating wordpress, which decided to take issue with a twitter plugin I don’t even use and tank the site again. This problem solved…

I finally got to do what I’d been trying to do for the last three days. And so now, I have it. No longer exiled to a single lonely page at kvtaylor.com, Liam and co. now have a real space. I am super excited about this fabulousness:

 http://fiorenzafamily.com/

It’s not done, but it’s got the skeleton in place and some fun character bits for the moment. More when the time draws  nearer, but I couldn’t have that beautiful art and not do something with it straightaway. Even if this isn’t your kind of book, you gotta see Courtney’s Liam drawing. Yes, barring disaster, it will be used for the cover — though not as is. But seriously. Dude looks rad.

And now back to combing through his dirty manuscript so I can have a nice shiny version for the Belfire folks to work from. Yay!

WiP Wednesday Comes Out of the Coffin

25 Apr

In theory, I am now home from Italy, but I’m setting up another WiP Wednesday post because I’m sure jet lag owns my ass right now. Here we go, more vampire fun.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned several times that Liam is the first in a series. This is currently called The Family because, while these vampires aren’t particularly clannish, the events in Liam start a chain reaction that lead to, naturally, a lot of blood and mayhem. But there’s also another force working  to bring them together in a way that isn’t terribly natural to lone killers. It has its own reasons for making a family of them. That’s another story for another time. (Meaning, of course, book four or five.)

The second book is called James, the title hero being Liam’s little brother. Yeah, woo, you heard it here first! Well, at least, those of you who haven’t been listening to it for the last decade heard it here first. James has some issues that are hinted at in Liam’s book, and that come to a head three years later in his own. They sort of force big brother’s hand about that whole coming out thing.

Awkward.

So here’s a little snippet from my rewrite, which I’ve been pecking away at intermittently for some months now. Unseen by editorial eyes, so this is me in my proverbial writer underwear. Here’s James. Ta-dah!

“Yes. I’m coming. And I’m going to watch you vamp the fuck out on someone. And then I’ll be sure you’re not out of your goddamn mind, and I’m not out of my goddamn mind, and I can get on with deciding if I want to hate you or not.”

Liam winced.

So sensitive for a monster, right? Next thing, he’d be crying into his blood wine and eating rats or some stupid shit.

But even while I was making up these mean, sarcastic scenarios in my head, the truth was that my heart fucking ached. All I could think of were all those nights he’d kept me from crying. All the times I’d come to him and he’d made me feel better. All the secrets and laughs and, I mean, eighteen years of him being a dependable bright spot in — okay, my life hadn’t been a bad one so far, but there had definitely been rough, dark patches.

My point is that most kids scream for their mother when they have nightmares. I screamed for Liam.

I fucking loved him. This guy.

This unrepentant monster. He never apologized to me, never even looked sorry. Oh, about upsetting me, sure. But not about the murder.

So, fine. Bring it, monster boy.

He sighed. “James. I don’t — Fuck, I’m sorry. I never thought you’d have to know.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better? Knowing you planned to lie to me my whole life? Really?”

Another wince. “You really want to do this?”

“No, I do not fucking want to do this. I want it all to be a bad dream, this and the last three years of mass fuckery. But it’s not, so I’m gonna do it anyhow, and you’re gonna help me and like it, you prick.”

He clicked his keychain. The car unlocked.

And we endured the most awkward fifteen minutes in the car ever.

Normal service should resume soon. Thank you for enduring my random ass WiP rambles this month, but I couldn’t bear the thought of the blog being barren, and all my vacations are working vacations, with loudmouths like this in my head. <3