Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: Morbid Seraphic (Anthology)

The Book:


Title:  Morbid Seraphic

Editor:  S.K. Whiteside

Authors:  S.K. Whiteside, Nathan Squiers, KaSonndra Leigh, Amanda R. Browning, Stephen Pearl, Dominique Goodall, Jana Boskey and Lisa Goldman

Publisher:  Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly Publishing

Released:  May 1, 2012

Anthology Info: 

This is an anthology of nine different short stories from eight different authors.  Stories included are “Fallen from Grace” and “Haunted” by S.K. Whiteside, “S(a)TAN” by Nathan Squiers, “Assassin’s Rose” by KaSonndra Leigh, “The Demon’s Playground” by Amanda R. Browning, “Better the Devil You Know” by Stephen B. Pearl, “From Hell” by Dominique Goodall, “For Death” by Jana Boskey, and “Illusions” by Lisa Goldman.


The Review:


The anthology as a whole is very comprehensive and put together well.  The stories balance each other out very nicely.  Morbid Seraphic is all about Good and Evil and the balance between the two.  I felt that the balance was perfect in the anthology with both sides being represented equally.


Individual Reviews:


“Fallen from Grace” and “Haunted” by S.K. Whiteside:


“Fallen from Grace” and “Haunted” acted as the bookends in this anthology.  The stories feature the same main character and story which is why I am reviewing them together.  They are the story of a Guardian Angel who gives up everything for the love of his life only to lose her as well.  His revenge consumes him as he takes on a new role.  I found the stories to be interesting and unique.  These will make a good series from this author.


“S(a)TAN” by Nathan Squiers:


In “S(a)TAN” we witness the transition of someone who is “good” becoming “evil.”  Stan is a well-developed character and the story is intriguing and new.  I also felt that the story was well written and flowed nicely.


“Assassin’s Rose” by KaSonndra Leigh:


Another short story that would be great as a series, “Assassin’s Rose” is unique and has a great story line with a cast of characters that would be able to support a full length novel.  I really hope to see a series or possibly a full length novel based on this story of a warrior betrayed by friends, and how the warrior gets past the betrayal to become whole again.


“The Demon’s Playground” by Amanda R. Browning:


This story is quite interesting as a paranormal twist on a true story.  Taking place in New Orleans and from the POV of the antagonist, Rhage, we see a dark and disturbing line of events.  The story will stay with you and possibly give you nightmares.  I could definitely see it as a horror movie.


“Better the Devil You Know” by Stephen B. Pearl:


“Better the Devil You Know” blurs the lines between good and evil and tells us that things aren’t always black and white and they are never as they seem.  This story could also turn into a series or a full length novel featuring the adventures of the Wizard Cop, Rick Alistair and his encounters with magical creatures, good and bad.  It a modern “Law & Order” story with a paranormal twist!


“From Hell” by Dominique Goodall:


Not all gifts should be accepted, especially when they are “From Hell”.  This short story is about how you are never on the same side as evil.  It shows the reader a look at a greedy woman who takes the place of her priestess in a sacrifice ritual.  She thinks she has pleased the Devil with her actions, but she learns that evil does not show kindness even to those who are loyal servants.  It’s a good short story that will scare you straight.


“For Death” by Jana Boskey:


This story stands out from the others as it is a look at good and evil from the Greek Mythology POV.  The story is about how evil is not always as it seems and that good lurks in unexpected places.  “For Death” is a good Greek Mythology inspired short story.


“Illusions” by Lisa Goldman:


“Illusions” is the perfect name for this short story that deceives the reader.  There is also an important message in the story that the author does a great job of weaving throughout this seemingly simple teenage tragedy.  The characters are amazing and I would like to read more about Hannah if the author writes more stories in her POV.  “Illusions” is quite possibly my favorite of all the stories in the anthology.

You can purchase Morbid Seraphic at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/S.K.-Whiteside/e/B007JL789Y/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/morbid-seraphic-s-k-whiteside/1110455126?ean=9780615605937

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Morbid-Seraphic/S-K-Whiteside/9780615605937?id=5352785951250

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar, a novella by Steven Katriel.


I have been presented the opportunity to read Steven Katriel’s novella, The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar as an ARC by Immortal Ink Publishing.  I knew it would be a great opportunity to do an interview with the author, but I never expected to fall so completely in love with the book and Steven Katriel’s writing style.

The Book:

Title: The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar

Author:  Steven Katriel

Personal Website:  http://stevenkatriel.wordpress.com

Publisher:  Immortal Ink Publishing

Release Date:  June 2012


Overview:

When Gabriel Holland’s beloved Helena vanishes from his life, he journeys to the home of disgraced artist Cristian Salazar, the man he holds responsible for her disappearance and the death of several friends. Once in the town of Carliton, Gabriel finds only malice and mystery in the tales told by the few brave enough to speak ill of Salazar and the sinister Cousin Beatriz. And within shadows, in the guise of night, walks Alatiel, the creature Helena has become. . . .

My Review:

The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar will take you back in time to the years 1879 through 1881.  Even Katriel’s writing style reflects this time period.  The characters are so deep and well written.  We bare witness as Daniele Navarro, an artist, falls in love with his muse Alatiel Salazar.  Their relationship bears strange in the society of this time period. 

We also are introduced to another artist, Julian Paradine and his sister Elizabeth Paradine.  Elizabeth is wheelchair bound, which is truly tragic as she was a very talented dancer.  Julian feels much guilt for his sister’s accident and also ends up feeling another guilt that leads to his destruction.

Matthew and Helena Graham are also introduced as brother and sister.  Matthew is an exceptional artist, and Helena is better at writing than art.  Helena can see that something isn’t quite right about Alatiel-- the woman who has acted as a muse for her friends.  She just can’t quite put her finger on it until it is too late.

The story then follows Gabriel Holland as he searched for answers for Helena’s disappearance.  He is lead to Cristian Salazar, who has a vendetta of his own.

If you liked The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, then you will love this novella.  There may be some similarities between the two, but The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar stands on its own as a wonderful piece of work that takes some of the themes seen in The Picture of Dorian Gray to a whole other level. Written in a style that will make you think you are reading something from 1881, the novella will keep you guessing and leave you wanting more from this author.  The creature that Alatiel reveals herself to be brings out an old kind of mysteriousness that only the classics can compare to.

The Interview:

Kayla Curry:   Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Steven Katriel: There's little that's interesting about me which is why I write outlandish fiction; real life is rather dull and pales in comparison to the imagination.

I'm from what was once called Great Britain but is now informally known as the Divided Kingdom. I'm a failed poet who now writes poetic prose. I'm one of many who wish that life was more like fiction - the plotting of my life is awry and I'm still working on correcting the errors.

KC:  What is your writing process like?

SK:  I always plan. A brief outline of a potential story is an essential element of my work, because I'm a rather disorganised person. So, I generally write a few lines detailing each chapter's ingredients and then spend ages perfecting the prose as best I can.

KC:  What has been your happiest moment related to your writing? The moment that made you say all the typing and brainstorming and research was worth it.

SK:  That moment hasn't arrived yet. Obviously, there have been highlights, but I won't be truly happy until I feel competent as a writer; and that only comes with experience. I'm enjoying the process of learning the craft.

KC:  Can you tell us a little bit about your novella The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar?

SK:  Portrait is a Gothic novella, a pseudo-ghost story and, at heart, a look at how we as readers identify with literary characters - perspective is as important to Portrait's plot as it doubtless was to the artists involved; I wanted to make the reader question who they side with - the heroes, heroines, the villains etc etc - and to wonder if the (fictional) realms of

good and evil are as black & white as fiction encourages us to consider them. My male characters are all flawed, morally imperfect, which made a refreshing change for me as I've long been tired of books in which women are practically faceless victims; my anti-heroine Alatiel is both "faceless" - in effect - and victorious.

The writing style or, at least, the characters' dialogue is old-fashioned and formal because I wanted this to contrast with their actions and yet complement the elegant nature of their violence - a contradiction which only fiction permits; real-life violence is abhorrent to me. Portrait's horrors, though not truly graphic or gratuitous, have a dark glamour, an artistic aura.

KC:  In The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar, we are taken back in time to the years 1879 through 1881. How did you research this time period to get all the details just right?

SK:  I did very little research, because I've a passion for Victorian literature and grew up reading Nineteenth-Century novels. The only genuine research I conducted was geared towards the subject of Basque witchcraft, as the Salazar clan are steeped in this. I discovered a striking coincidence - a Seventeenth-Century scholar named Salazar (like some of my characters) became known as "the friend of the witches" after his seductive words of wisdom brought a halt to the execution of those accused of sorcery; I found this suggestive. The long, infamous history of the Salazars - posited by me as kings and queens, so to speak, of the Catalonian witch cult - became very interesting to create given this authentic historical background.

KC:  The relationship between Daniele Navarro and Alatiel Salazar reminded me greatly of the relationship between Basil Howard and Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. How do you view the relationships as similar and dissimilar as the author?

SK:  I have to admit, I didn't even think of Wilde's wonderful novel when writing The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar. There are, of course, numerous connections between Oscar's book and my own - even my title is homage to the book's influence on me and my writing - but Dorian Gray was far from my mind while writing. Portrait's world is really that of the Pre-

Raphaelite circle of artists, not Wilde's decadent types, and Daniele and Alatiel's relationship draws on the tragic real-life marriage between the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his wife Elizabeth. But, it must be said, Oscar Wilde lurks in the novella's shadows and subtext, and informs the character of Cristian Salazar.

KC:  Your writing style brings me back to my favorite classic novels like Wuthering Heights, Dracula, The Count of Monte Cristo, and of course, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  What is your favorite classic novel and why?

SK:  My favourite novels are vintage Russian works but perhaps a more modern classic resembles The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar this is Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, the magnificent ghost story...which entirely lacks a visible ghost. Instead, in that book, we are presented with "ghosts" that haunt the mind, the emotions and live on after death via their influence on the behaviour of others. Portrait's SalvaciĆ³ House only rivals the legendary Manderley in its capacity for tragedy; my Beatriz Salazar is perhaps the shade of Rebecca's Mrs Danvers; and Helena, the bonair heroine, is similar to the nameless protagonist of du Maurier's wonderful tale. But in reality, it's the whole aura and atmosphere of Rebecca that inspires me rather than its plot and players - subtle heartache amidst such splendid grandeur. Maxim de Winter, Cristian Salazar, the vampire king Dracula: all these characters speak to me of a ruined nobility, an insidious despair and the loneliness of those who cannot be understood by more human, more humane people.

KC:  Alatiel is portrayed as a sort of muse.  Is there someone or something that inspires you to write?

SK:  Not really, no, because I use practically nothing from my own life for my fiction. However I will say that B. Lloyd, the writer and artist, has been an invaluable support to me for a long time, and if anyone she is a muse of sorts. My book is dedicated to her with good reason.

KC:  How did you find your publisher, Immortal Ink Publishing, and what has it been like to work with them?

SK:  I enquired about the Immortal Ink submissions "window" and was fortunate enough to converse with The Forever Girl author Rebecca Hamilton (one of IIP's owners), someone I already knew as fine writer and an excellent editor; thankfully, things were quickly concluded from there.

KC:  Are you working on anything right now? Do you care to tell us a little about it?

SK:  There are several projects on my "to do" list: a traditional ghost story, a Gothic Romance, a Portrait sequel and prequel, and a Clockpunk/Steampunk book set in the court of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn which is a lot of fun to write.

KC:  When reading a book, what is your biggest pet peeve?  Something that just makes you say, “ugh!”

SK:  There are many basic elements of a writer's skills that I'm still learning, so I try to be patient with what I perceive to be the faults of other authors. I guess the one things above all others I find disappointing is the assumption that male characters should behave in generically-male ways, and females in typically female ways - I think intelligent people are far more subtle than that. I also think that the best books are written by women, so it was a pleasure for me to write as the female character Helena, to make her own writing (in Helena's journal) soulful and insightful. In general, my female characters have far more "depth" than their male counterparts.

KC:  What is something that pulls you further into a book?

SK:  The element of mystery, the parts in which we get to play detective - so to speak - and decipher clues the author has placed within the text. I'm not, of course, strictly speaking of crime novels but literary mysteries of all kinds - for example, I'm currently reading Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies, a work of historical fiction in which the outcome is known to all (the execution of Anne Boleyn). Yet it's nevertheless a pleasure to detect the pointers which lead to the inevitable climax, to work towards comprehension of the players, their motives and techniques whether it be a seemingly minor piece of Court gossip or the words and deeds of the various self-interested factions. At the centre of the schemes lies Anne the Queen, a very imperfect person but, such is the skill of the author, we are led to empathise with Anne and not simply because she will suffer an untimely death. We even overlook the nagging truth that the Queen would have relished getting her revenge in first and executing her critics and enemies- including Henry's child, Mary - on a mere whim; this is true artistry and emblematic of the requisite talent which pulls a reader into a story.

KC:  What is the strangest thing that has happened to you in connection with writing?

SK:  A publisher I once dealt with suggested that I include dinosaurs in my Victorian Gothic novella, possibly to cash-in on Jurassic Park's success. Enough said...

KC:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

SK:  Have faith in your gift, and use your illusion.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Movie Review: Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows, another Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration to die for.

I'll try not to put in too many spoilers.

Overview (Small spoilers):

Barnabus Collins endures a curse from a witch named Angelique which turns him into a vampire after the love of his life is destroyed by the same witch. He is then imprisoned in a steel coffin for almost two hundred years when he is discovered by an unlucky construction crew in 1972.  Meanwhile, a woman with a strange past comes to be the governess of his distant relative. He discovers that Angelique is still very much alive and still trying to ruin his family and his life and he resolves to stop her.

My Review:

Over the weekend I went to see Dark Shadows with two of my friends. I hadn't really heard much about it, besides seeing a few trailers and reading a few online blurbs. I knew it was a vampire movie and that it was a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp. (Who else?)

Of course, Helena Bonham Carter was in the film as well.  She is another Tim Burton favorite, and plays her roles well.

Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp are similar in their versatility when it comes to acting.  They become the characters so easily, and their roles in Dark Shadows were no exception.

One thing I didn't know about the movie before watching it is that it also features other paranormal beings. Ghosts, witches and (Spoiler Alert) a surprise towards the end.

The world of Tim Burton as we all know is a dark one. Nothing is ever sugar coated (besides Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that's literally) and happy resolutions for character's problems are hard to come by.

The characters have the usual Burton quirks about them and are well developed. They are quite the eclectic bunch.

Overall I thought the movie was quite good. It's almost a spoof on all the other vampire movies, but it still holds its own, as it is based on a television series from 1991.  I feel that it pokes fun at the recent vampire explosion that has hit pop culture while at the same time, is a legitimate addition to it.

Johnny Depp was awesome as usual. (Spoiler Alert) The ending of the movie allowed for a sequel that I hope takes place, I would love to see more of these characters and, of course, more of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. The dark humor in the works they collaborate on is something I've come to love about their movies.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Release news

I just got word from my publisher that we are shooting for a late June release, so I will be entering the editing and cover art process over the next six weeks for Obsidian.  I'm so excited and I can't wait to give you more details!

Anyone who would like to be on the mailing list for the official release date please direct message me on facebook or twitter with your e-mail address and I will put you on the list!

Twitter: @KaylaCurry1

Facebook: Kayla Curry

If you haven't checked out the blurb on my website, click the link to take you to it: http://sites.google.com/site/kaylacurryauthor

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Review: Four in the Morning by Christi Goddard


I was recently presented with the opportunity to read an ARC of Four in the Morning by Christi Goddard.  I had planned to read the book over the weekend, since I received it on a Friday and I have Saturday through Monday off.  It took me less than 24 hours to read it.  I was finished by 2 pm on Saturday.  I just couldn’t put it down.  The surprises and twists are timed perfectly!

The Book:

Title:  Four in the Morning

Author:  Christi Goddard

Publisher: Immortal Ink Publishing

Release Date: May 2012

To sign up for release info go to:  http://www.immortalinkpublishing.com/notify.php?book=9

The Overview:

Kathleen Hayson thinks her biggest problem is her mother. The only runner up—her mouth. With a wit sharper than her mother's perfectly manicured nails, her clever remarks create more problems than they solve.

But it's not her clever remarks landing her knee-deep in trouble. This time, Josh Colby is to blame. Kathleen's former childhood friend has become the school's most stuck up jerk. Before, she'd have told him to piss off and write his own stupid letter to the town slut/minister's daughter. Now Kathleen's escalating problems at home force her to reevaluate how flexible her principles are. She agrees to write the controversial letter Josh has requested.

Enter Rigel, a smartass magical creature who invades her room one night, promises he has come to help her. When a boy Kathleen hates turns up dead and her mother goes missing, the letter becomes a key piece of police evidence – implicating Kathleen. As she fights her way out of a web of lies, the trust she has in those closest to her shatters. In the end, she's pushed to a terrible choice: who lives, and who else dies.

See the website here: http://www.immortalinkpublishing.com/books.php?id=9

My Review:

Characters are well developed.  I found myself able to connect with Kathleen.  I found her to be flawed, but in a good way and I felt that she did find herself in this story.  Aka was also a great character.  I’d wished to see a little more of Kevin, Kathleen’s father, but the scenes towards the end satisfied that wish. 

I liked the fact that the skunk came out of nowhere.  It was a great twist that I did not see coming and caught me off guard.  At first it was confusing, but once I got used to the idea and he showed up more and more, I found it very creative.

The story was filled with twists and turns that really took me on a rollercoaster ride.  I enjoyed learning the information in the way it was revealed.  The bluntness of the writing and the feeling that you just got hit by a literary freight train were just awesome.  The end was very surprising and I hope to see a sequel!

Also released by Immortal Ink Publishing:
The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton

More info here:  http://www.immortalinkpublishing.com/books.php?id=3

Another great book with awesome characters and an amazing story line!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Character Bio

Today, I'd like to give you a little look at one of my protagonists.


The character I’d like to introduce you to is Ava Tanner.   She is the main character in my novel, Obsidian, which is book one of the Mystic Stones Series and will be released later this year.  I will tell you about her as if it is the day before Obsidian begins.

She has long dark hair, blue eyes, and a secret about herself that even she doesn’t know.  She lives in Hilo, Hawaii--on the Big Island.  She lives in the house her parents left her, which is near the beach in Hilo and drives a blue Mini Cooper. 

She works for a company named Herrick-Peyton.  She takes pride in her work and does everything she can to help out her clients--especially the really good looking one that runs the Hawaiian branch of Psytech.  He’s always asking her to work for him at his company, but she declines saying that she is loyal to Herrick-Peyton.

Ava likes to sing, or at least she used to sing with her mother when she was still alive.  One of her hobbies is throwing knives, although she hasn’t had much time to do it recently.

She’s not dating anyone, although her best friends’ brother is very into her.  Unfortunately, she sees him more as a brother than as a love interest.  Ava's has no relatives, but considers her best friend, Alani and Alani's brother and grandmother to be part of her family.


Find out the secret of Ava’s ancestry in Obsidian--Coming Soon!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why do you like Paranormal Fantasy?

I’d like to know why you are interested in Paranormal Fantasy and how long you’ve been interested in it.  Also, do you remember what got you started on Paranormal Fantasy?


What is your favorite Paranormal book, TV show, or movie?


To answer my own questions:

I’m interested in paranormal fantasy because it takes me to a place that’s totally different than the world we live in.  It’s nice to get away sometimes.  I’ve been interested in paranormal fantasy since I was in high school, although I really started getting into it a few years after I graduated when I read Twilight.



My favorite book is more of a classic, but if it came out today it would definitely be listed under paranormal: The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde.  TV show: Trublood  Movie: Fright Night (Both the original and the new remake.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why I write, and How

I'd like to tell you a little about my process and why I write Paranormal Fantasy.

My process for coming up with a story is like any writers--it's not.  Which is to say that every writer has a different process.  There are similarities of course.  Many get their ideas from dreams and random thoughts or conversations.  I am one of those writers.

My process is something you could compare to an onion, like on Shrek, when he says Ogres have layers, so does my work.

The process begins with layer one: the idea.  The idea acts as the inner most layer and the basis for everything that goes on top of it.

Layer two is the cast of characters.  Once I have an idea I figure out exactly who I want to put in the situation my idea describes.  Do I want vampires? Do I want witches? What are the humans like? I figure out the personalities of everyone involved in the story and how they are important to the onion.

Layer three: Setting.  Where does my story take place? When does my story take place? Why Hawaii and not Alaska?  These are questions I have to ask myself.

Layer four: Elements.  When I say "elements" I mean, What do I want to include in the story to make it more interesting?  Love? Action?  Evil lurking around every corner?  Magic?  Friendship?  Lust?  Family problems?  Mystery?  Then I have to figure out how to balance these elements so that only a few are in the spot light at one time in the story.  Having more than two or three elements as part of a climax can be both confusing and take away from whichever one should be the most important at the time.

Then there are other layers, like the development of my world, the development of my timeline and the pacing of the story that hold the other layers in place.

The layers compell me to keep going with the story I'm writing and to peel them back to reveal the core of what the story is.

And that's how you write a book.  Layers.  Sometimes, if I find a layer is lacking, I can go back and make that layer thicker throughout the story.  Broaden it and deepen it.  Am I confusing you yet?  Good, because that's how I feel half the time I'm writing.  Once you peel open those layers, you'll see that I didn't need an outline and that because I had the layers, it developed itself.

So there you have it.  That is my writing process in a nutshell.  Layers are just so much better when you have the paranormal element involved.  That's why most of my stories include that element.  The paranormal element can pretty much be a layer of it's own, and I feel that strengthens my stories.