Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Trailers Part 2 - The Mood Medley

Last week in the breathtaking earth-shattering grass-gnawing, teenager-angst enraging blog post I introduced the topic of the Book Trailer, that strange intersection between writing, film-making and social media. Because people like lists and I like people who like things, I broke down Book Trailers into these five categories.
  • The Blurb Spot,
  • The Mood Medley,
  • The Narrative Snippet,
  • The God-Awful Infomercial, and
  • The “Hey Looky Here!”
Last week, I looked at the Blurb Spot. It was a ruddy good blog post and set up the whole thing. If you didn’t read it, it’s okay. There won’t be a test, but if you want to, you can go here now and read it. I’ll wait.

See?  That wasn’t hard.

Now we’re going to look at the Mood Medley.

This category of book trailer is similar to the Blurb Spot except it doesn’t entice so much with textual description and as much as with raw emotion. Of course words are often used, but moving sound and music and provocative are the most important elements. This type of book trailer does not attempt to describe a book’s contents as much as it endeavors to re-create the mood of it. If done well, this kind of book trailer can be very impactful, resonating, and artful.

Let’s take a look at the this one by Cindy Sprigg for her book Composed in Blood.

(Here's the link:, short, evocative. Effective. And it cost Cindy five freakin’ bucks. True story. If you’re a starving artist you may already know about Fiverr. If not, it’s a good place to maek five bucks or in Cindy’s case, spend it. She sent the maker some graphics, a script idea and some money had got 22 seconds of internet presence.

I’m told that this particular video artist is no longer doing work on Fiverr, but there are others there who can help. Support a starving artist, for we are they.

With this next one, we’re going to wade out into deeper water with a larger press with deeper pockets and resources. (Mixed metaphors are my thing, man).

Heres the trailer for Richard Thomas’ book Staring into the Abyss.
Richard tells me he had minimum input in the creation of this trailer. All praise goes to George Cotronis at Kraken Press. Richard swears he is the author of the book the trailer is promoting, but the rest was handled by his publisher. (I know, right?)

This trailer epitomizes my arbitrary category, “Mood Medley.” It is a collection of impressions. Unsettling images and sounds are woven together with quotes from readers and critics. There is nothing of the actual text depicted. No plot or characters to relate to. No settings visited. It’s all just a feeling.

And that’s just right because this trailer is not promoting a novel but a collection of short stories by Thomas. These stories are all “dark fiction” some might say “horror” others “banana,” but don’t listen to those last guys. Since the united element of the collection is emotional, the trailer’s use of evocative sound and images is perfect. Further, rather than trying to cherry pick a story for an example, as might have been done, I applaud the use here of third-party blurbs. These are the textual impressions of readers, their emotional distillation of the whole. These fragments of praise become another layered element in the piece, shifting in and out of focus, stark and unsettling as the rest of the piece. My only criticism is that I think it runs a little long. Nevertheless, this is one of my all-time favorites. If you’re a fan of bananas, I mean, dark fiction and this trailer doesn’t get you clicking over to Amazon, you’re either broke or a liar.

Moving along, let’s check out The Missing by Sarah Langan.
Sarah actually has several trailers for this book. But we’re talking about this one, so pay attention.

This trailer was created by John Palisano. It was his first. This is a great example of artistic cross-pollination. John was not commissioned to make this video by the author or even the publisher (well maybe kinda’). He created this trailer for a contest. Yep, it was a contest entry and he won an award for it. Really - First Place. His prize was an iPhone.

It was filmed in Connecticut and John composed and performed the music himself. I’m not sure who the kid is. He probably just grabbed him from a school. I doubt he was paid. He probably got home safe. Probably. The spooky whispered words are actually from the book, but we won’t hold that against it and move it into another category. The text of the whispers is not important, the sound of them is. The boys and the bones, the trees and altered light and the sound – always the sound, make this a creepy and interesting book trailer. It’s also short which I think is a strength in this type. It’s an subliminal emotional commercial and it’s rather good, though I think the bones shouldn’t have been so white – but again, maybe it’s a plot point.

Granted, Sarah lucked out when John threw his hat into the ring for that contest, and also I guess, when her publisher ran the contest. And when she got that publisher. She probably has an agent too…. and a nice house. Maybe even a boat. Lucky lucky lucky.

Nevertheless, this shows how one artist can help another, creating new art together, and that, in and of itself, is cool. People like John are out there, entering contests, reaching out. If you’re an author or a publisher, you need only reach back and wonderful things can happen.

Richard Thomas turned me on to this next one. It’s for Matt Bell’s acclaimed book In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and The Woods. (Small titles are for small writers!) I don’t know Matt. He hasn’t responded to my Friend request, but he seems like a nice guy. He’s young and handsome, no grey in his beard that I can see. He publishes through Soho and has NPR and The Wall Street Journal giving him blurbs, so without the least bit of raging jealousy and envy, I present to you a very professional Mood Medley book trailer. Have a look:
Freakin’ amazing. Fantastic direction, suburb editing, top-rate sound design and execution. This could win awards. I don’t who made it. I contacted Soho Press for some info, but I’m sure they saw my name, assumed it was another submission query and I haven’t heard back.

But we don’t need to know who made it to appreciate it. We can assume there were many talented hands lending their labors to the trailer. From producer to key grip, top notch and slick.

This is a good one to end this post on because it begins to blur the boundaries between the Mood Medley and the Narrative Snippet. Though we see the familiar elements of other peoples praise with evocative images and haunting music, there is a story being told in the background. It’s about a guy cutting wood. A simple act which grows more tense and disturbing as it goes along.

Bell’s little book trailer here passes beyond the realm of social networking well into the world of commercial advertising. These 116 seconds of video were not cheap, were not easy to come by and not meant to languish as a link on a facebook page. The YouTube copy of it has over 13,000 views.

At this point (budget) the book trailer becomes another weapon in a professional publicists’s arsenal. It was distributed before the book launch like Advanced Reading Copies, disseminated across the internet as far and wide as an office full of promoters could manage. It’s perfect to proceed an author interview on a daytime television program or scare the shit out of misbehaving children. In short, this is beyond the reach of most of the authors I know. One day people, one day.

But is it worth it? Not knowing the cost of it and unable to calculate the impact of this slick trailer, how can we know if was a good investment? It’s a stellar piece of cinema for a top notch author, but did it really translate into sales? I honestly don’t know.

But here’s something to consider: at this level of professionalism a trailer like this says as much about the publisher as it does the author or the book it features. Soho is big league. Maybe not Big 5, but making noise. This video becomes a branding advertisement for Soho Press. It’s a chance for them to name drop – New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Boston Globe, etc. Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know and Soho Press, who I desperately want to know much better (check your submissions inbox, Soho), knows some really big guys.

So we’ve seen some four Mood Medley book trailers today - some made for squat, others with much squats and they’re all cool.

Sorry for being so long winded today. Sorry also for all horror books. I guess I know a lot of creepy authors.

Next week: The Narrative Snippet - Bring you popcorn!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Trailers Part 1 - Introduction & The Blurb Spot

With the Academy Award Nominations just announced and The Sundance Film Festival under way in my backyard, I thought I'd take a moment to investigate the odd intersection of writing and film-making: the book trailer.

The idea behind the book trailer is the same for a movie trailer - to titillate a prospective audience and produce sales. Books and film have much in common, the one often being the germ of the other, both being narrative and costing the reader/viewer about the same, depending upon the amount of popcorn your date wants and if you have an e-reader or no.

Like film trailers and the movies they’re selling, there’s a wide range of budgets and quality in book trailers. This is one of the problems. A great book can have a crappy trailer and vice-versa. It’s like the cover of a book: forget the writer, a graphic artist can sell a bad book or bury a great one. Book Trailers can bring many new artists to the scene; script-writers, filmmakers, editors, actors directors, technicians. More cooks to the stew.

I’ve seen a lot of book trailers. For this series of blog posts, I’ve arbitrarily put them into five categories describing their primary approach
  • The Blurb Spot,
  • The Mood Medley,
  • The Narrative Snippet,
  • The God-Awful Infomercial, and
  • The “Hey Looky Here!”
All these categories necessarily overlap in places but my general categorization works fine and would be a good grouping for any book-trailer award shows that might come along.

Because I like my blog posts to be read while at stoplights on smartphones during rush hour and in the commode on iPads when the shampoo bottle just won’t hold your attention, I’m going to limit myself today to looking at just the Blurb Spot today, so you can get on with you day.

The Blurb Spot

In many ways the Blurb Spot book trailer is the truest form of book-tease. It is often literally the visual representation of the back of the book.

Let’s check out the trailer for Tammy Maas' debut novella A Complicated Life in a Small Town., it’s cheesy with the voice-over narrator, the text appearing as he says it, easy video effects and  stock photos, but it works. Tammy told me that she was approached on FaceBook by the producer of the trailer and got it done cheap and quick.

This to me is the essence of the Blog Spot category. It’s simple, visually interesting and creates the precence on the video side of the internet, where all the young wipphersnappers go for their pokeymons and wheely shoes.

You see, cheesy as Tammy’s trailer is, it has been seen by 250 people. That’s reach. That’s what we’re trying to do as new authors. Whether these translated into sales I don’t know, but Tammy has a YouTube presence to compliment her FaceBook, Twitter, blog and bathroom stall graffiti. Penny for product it’s as effective as anything she could have bought. And different.

Take a look at this trailer for The Crimson and The Frost by John Williams and James Colletti. is similar to Tammy’s in many ways, but the quality is clear step up. Instead of stock photos, we get some stock footage. The effects are better, flying text is mostly omitted for the interesting underlying visuals and the creator used some slick graphics for the title. All-in-all, very well done. (I’d have dropped the phrase “epic proportions” like a hot piece of kryptonite, but then again maybe it’s a callback to something in the book.)

This trailer is simple and compelling and compliments the book.

I consider the production of this video a fluke. It was made by one the the writers of the book who is in fact a video editor by day and he did it on his spare time with his equipment and talent. Lucky. This level of gratis personal video professionalism is not within the wheelhouse of most authors, but commissioning a video of this quality would not break the bank. There are plenty of starving video artists out there who'll love to hook up with a starving writer and make a starving deal. They too could use exposure.

This one  the cost is absolutely nothing. Take this next one for Beautiful Monster, a spooky book by Mimi A. Williams and Jared S. Anderson.
This is one of my favorites for many reasons. First it’s simple and effective. The narrator’s voice is omitted and a compelling soundtrack is added, which puts it close to the Mood Medley category. The visuals are stark, dark and best of all, the book’s own cover.

The trailer stays focused on what it’s doing - directing you to a book. The text is straight from the back of the novel, or could be, and the graphics are interesting without being distracting. And best of all, Mimi herself made it on her computer over a weekend. Mimi is not a professional video editor. She does not have a studio at her disposal. She has a computer, a mouse, some free software and a cup of green tea. This is the magic of modern technology. Nearly 300 views and a visual presence for a literary achievement. Well done.

Like Williams’, the next one is on the border between the Blurb Spot and the Mood Medley, but I’m putting it here because of the text it uses. Take a look at Isaiayan Morrison’s trailer for Deamham. you don’t know who Isaiayan I should probably tell you that she plays video games professionally. It is therefore probably not a surprise to hear that she too made her own book trailer. She said it took her all of two hours to do. Yeah, I know. If wishes were fishes we’d all have awesome book-trailers.

Knowing that the author herself made this trailer makes it all the more personal and meaningful. Particularly since the music, an emotional artform if ever there was one, is so prominently featured. At least I think so. Beyond the gripping music, the simple use of text adds to creating a curious mood. I’m interested in the book. I know it to be darker than the video would suggest, but the video is cool and that’s something. In fact, that’s something great.

Not all of us have the skill or talent to produce our own videos, but then again, with computers and a little effort, maybe we do. And if we don’t, there are people who do, who can create something for us.

And that’s the key: To be out there.

I’m going to be looking at other book trailers, more expensive ones, flashier ones and more famous in the weeks ahead, but I think it’s important to start here with these simple Blurb Spots because of their relative value. You can easily commission such simple videos or make them yourself and thus quickly and cheaply achieve effective YouTube social media presencing (Did I just invent a word?)

Next week - Mood Medley

Thursday, January 16, 2014

S.P. Miskowski helps with the new pets

S.P. Miskowski
Doesn't like my Christmas present
S.P. Miskowski comes by the Blog Mansion to talk horror, books and short-sighted Christmas presents.

Johnny: How was your Christmas? Get anything good?

S.P.: One of our nephews came to visit. So my gift was a glimpse at the life of a 16-year-old. Pretty great, really.

J: I have one. Terrifying, but maybe it looks different from a distance. Hey, I gotta do something, grab that hose.

S.P.: What are we doing?

J: My wife surprised me with a new dolphin aquarium. Six dolphins rescued from The Cove.

S.P.: Weird. What’s that noise?

J: Mittens. We gotta hose him off.

S.P.: In the kitchen? Is your wife okay with this?

J: Yeah, So you’re from Georgia originally? What is it about the south that spawns horror writers?

S.P.: A fairly recent history of brutality, insanity, and despair. Mostly.

J: Is it common in Georgia to have initials for a first name?

S.P.: Yes. My dad was called P.T., a nickname for Paul Taylor (Poage). Many Southern people use initials because we have names that are overlong or strangely ornate. I had an uncle named Posey Dorsey Skelton. All of my aunts had middle names. Eudora Welty said poor Southerners substitute unique names for things they can't pass along, like money or land. Maybe that's true.

J: Do you think that maybe your parents were filling out your birth certificate and just got distracted? Like your name was supposed to be Spamela or Spinach or Spazzamatron?

S.P.: I'd love to say yes. Actually, the initials caught on in grad school. Before that I'd used them only on manuscripts. When my ex-husband took off I paid for the divorce and made the initials part of my legal name. And everyone at school called me 'S.P.'

J: Georgia….

S.P.: Why are three dolphins on your kitchen floor?

J: Yeah, so there’s a little delay with the tank. UPS mis-shipped it somewhere.

S.P.: They shipped separately?

J: Ebay. Avoid the spout-hole, but keep them moist.

S.P.: That one's looking at me funny.

J: That’s Margaret. I think she’s pregnant. She doesn’t like the floor.

S.P.: Who would? How long have you had them like this?

J: They were wrapped and under the tree Christmas morning. It was so cool seeing the bows and ribbons flapping around. Most had gnawed through the paper, but the effect was magical.

S.P.: They smell pretty fishy, my friend.
J: Keep the hose on them. When they dry out they get fussy and smell more. Okay, so S.P. is your actual name. I’m named after my father. I’m a “Junior.” I have a cat called Junior. It’s a girl. There she is. She keeps licking Mr. McChirples there. I don’t think he likes it. My kids named the dolphins. They named our cat before they knew her sex and it stuck. But I think they got the dolphins right. What’s your cat’s name?

S.P.: His name is 'Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.' We call him Remo.

J: Is he named after the movie or the Destroyer books?

S.P.: The movie. Our cat is an incredible kick-boxer. When he was a kitten his fighting skills reminded us of Fred Ward.

J: So you write books. How’d you get into that?

S.P.: I wrote my first book (a very short one) when I was about eight years old. I was always writing as a kid, entertaining myself and my parents. Then for years I wrote short stories. I never expected to write a novel until a few years ago when Knock Knock occurred to me. The more I wrote, the more complex it became.

J: So I feel I should know you but I don’t. That’s dumb because we both work for that tyrant Kate Jonez at Omnium Gatherum, at least a little. Tell me about yourself.

S.P.: Much of my life has centered on writing. I never expect friends to read my stories or books, but I have to say, anyone who hasn't read my work probably doesn't know me very well. My work isn't autobiographical but the way I present the world in fiction reveals more about me than I offer in conversation. In conversation I'm a listener.
J: With the awesome Kate Jonez, you edited Little Visible Delight, a great anthology featuring awesome writers (like me!). What’s that about? Where’d that come from?

S.P.: Is that dolphin still looking at me? Well, Kate and I wanted to edit an anthology together. And we wanted each writer's voice to come through. Obsession seemed like an excellent theme, with the potential to be both universal and extremely personal.

J: Tell me about your Skillute Cycle.

S.P.: As soon as I completed the novel Knock Knock, I had new ideas about the story. I imagined the history of the midwife and how she came to live in this strange, little town. I wondered where Ethel, one of the main characters, drove off to, when she left Skillute. I thought about the little girl, Ruthie, at the end of the novel. I saw her as a continuation of the spooky cycles of motherhood and violence presented in Knock Knock. So each novella covers a different part of the story you don't see in Knock Knock, with characters and timelines overlapping. How you see the whole story depends on the order in which you read the books.

J: Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd were shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. Tell me about that?
S.P.: I've been in love with the stories of Flannery O'Connor and Shirley Jackson for many years. To have Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd nominated for Shirley Jackson Awards meant a lot to me. It's a nice tap on the shoulder that says maybe I really am in the right place, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I hope so.

J: Our next anthology should be about envy. I have an idea.

S.P.: I love envy as a theme, envy and revenge. Everyone experiences envy at some time, but how many people act upon it and in what way? Fascinating.

J: We'll see. Okay that’s enough. Grab that bucket of fish.

S.P.: Now what?

J: Bubbles is upstairs in the bathtub. Jaws is in the guest room and Nosey Doris is in the master suite Jacuzzi. They’re probably hungry by now and Jaws’ sheets have probably dried out a bit.

S.P.: Where’s the tank?

J: Last they have tracking it was in Boise. But that was New Year's Day. Haven’t heard since then.

S.P.: He looks pretty mad.

J: He is and he bites. We think he’s the alpha. That’s why he gets the guest room. Keep away from the mouth. Just toss the fish on the pillow. He’ll flop around until he gets it. Oh, he made a poopy. We’ll have to clean that up.

S.P.: Yes, you will. Don’t you have a pool?

J: Had to drain it after some laser beam equipped sharks put holes all through it. But enough about the Mansion, tell me about “dark fiction.” How do you define it? What draws you to it?

S.P.: You know, I don't think anyone can choose dark fiction. An affinity for fiction that doesn't promise a way out, or any confirmation of our best hope, is something that comes naturally. When people adopt a cynical professional interest in dark fiction, because they think the market is somehow better or easier to break into than mainstream fiction, that attitude shines through and ruins the storytelling. You have to have a dark heart to write dark fiction. You have to wonder, truly wonder, if everything we do is worthwhile or entirely pointless.

J: Tell me about your journey to get published. I’m always curious how writers break in.
S.P.: I have no idea how to break into anything. A close friend with whom I exchange manuscripts and notes while revising gave Knock Knock to her agent, and she loved the book. We sent it to some publishers. Two editors were quite interested. But they didn't know which category to fit it into--horror, suspense, literary, women. Ultimately they passed because they were not sure how to market it. Then Kate came along, because we were friends on Facebook. She expressed an interest in the novel and my idea for three accompanying novellas, and I was happy to work with her. She's a wonderful fiction writer, and a brilliant editor. So the books found a home at Omnium Gatherum.

J: How did you get such great blurbs?

S.P.: I just asked writers whose work I admired if they wanted to read the books and consider writing blurbs. Everyone said yes. Only one person couldn't do it, and she was a very busy author whom Kate had approached informally. The blurbs are swell, and I can honestly say I'm a fan of the people who wrote them. It would never occur to me to ask for a blurb from someone whose writing I didn't love and respect.

J: What do you think of debut occult thriller, BEATRYSEL, now available on Amazon and at The King’s English Book Store in Sugarhouse?

S.P.: I think it's a book I haven't read yet. But it certainly looks like a dazzling debut. You're very imaginative.

J: Hostage swap? I’ll send you a Beatrysel and you send me your cycle. That’s four for one.

S.P.: Perhaps when the dolphins have settled down and I've written this last novella of the Skillute Cycle, yes. I think your book looks like a real treat.

J: Who besides me and my debut occult thriller BEATRYSEL, now available on Amazon and at The King’s English Book Store in Sugarhouse, have influenced your writing?

S.P.: Janet Malcolm, O'Connor and Jackson, Kurt Vonnegut, Zoe Heller, and more recently Lynda E. Rucker and John Ajvide Lindqvist.

J: Where on the interwebs can peeps find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page
Knock Knock
Delphine Dodd
Little Visible Delight

Interviews (not as good as this one, but they're out there)

My installment of The H Word column, "In Search of Horrible Women" in Nightmare Magazine--

J: Make sure there’s water in that tub.

S.P.: Uh, Johnny. There’s no dolphin in here.

J: Damn. Bubbles got out again.

S.P.: Where can he go?

J: She.

S.P.: She.

J: Last time I found her heading toward the neighbor’s koi pond. Yep, there she is outside.

S.P.: How’d she open the window?

J: Opposable fins.

S.P.: What?

J: Fukushima.

S.P.: Oh. Oh dear.

Federal Law and author courtesy requires me to say that Russell Dickerson designed the covers for Knock Knock, Delphine Dodd, and Astoria. Good work Russell!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jenniffer Wardell – Party Aftermath

Jenniffer Wardell
Author, Vacuumer
Back in April I had Jenniffer Wardell over to the Blog Mansion to celebrate the release of her first book, Fairy Godmother’s Inc. and challenge her obviously misguided devotion to the Monkees over the Beatles. Sheesh. That was back in April you fool – you know, way back in 2013. So I caught up with her these many months later to check up on her. We spent the time cleaning up after a party.

Johnny: Still like the Monkees more than the Beatles?

Jenniffer: Always

Johnny: That’s just sick and wrong, but if my teasing won’t change your mind I don’t know what will.

Jenniffer: I may be crazy, but I'm crazy and loyal.

Johnny: Lucky for you, they also come cheap. They were willing to come serenade us for as much beer as they could drink.

Jenniffer: I think they've drunk too much. I'm pretty sure I just found Davy Jones here under the crepe paper.

Johnny: Good. Keep looking. Still two guests and one drummer unaccounted for.

Jenniffer: Quite the party. What were you celebrating?
Johnny: Wednesday. So you’re a few months a head of me on the book thing with a different publisher. If you had to describe the experience in one word what would it be?

Jenniffer: Exhausting.

Johnny: Okay, one word is a stupid limitation, please expand your answer to more words.

Jenniffer: After all the work it took to get the book together, and to finally get it accepted for publication somewhere, most authors think that the work is over. It turns out that it's just beginning, and nothing we've learned in the process of getting there is the slightest but of help.

Johnny: Watch the glass. Those damn Russians would toast and toss their glasses on the floor. I don’t get it. They were drinking Pepsi. Anyway, what’s been your favorite part of the new author experience? Watch the glass – I told you.

Jenniffer: Readers. They make the experience a joy.

Johnny: And of course what is your least favorite thing about the experience?

Jenniffer: Marketing. As a writer, I'm much more comfortable watching people from a distance than I am interacting with them and asking them to do things.

Johnny: Good answer. Oh, congrats on the Whitney Award nomination.

Jennifer: Thanks.

Johnny: I understand you and Neil Gaiman are chums now. Tell me about that.
Neil Gaiman

Jenniffer: I worship the man, as do most fantasy fans, and when a store displayed our books together I was so thrilled that I immediately had to tweet a picture (and, of course, tell every single person I've ever met). Neil, being the most wonderful man on the planet, saw the picture and responded to my tweet. Naturally, I fainted.

Johnny: So can you hook me up with his agent? I invited him but I’m not sure if he showed up.

Jenniffer: It takes a very complicated ritual to summon him. You need a half a cup of mermaid scales and a lawyer's lost joy just to get the process started.

Johnny: You were working on Dreamless last time we talked. What’s up with that?

Jenniffer: I'm in the last legs of the editing process, which has been a beast. One character changed dramatically while I wasn't looking, and I had to take a couple of stabs at figuring out how exactly an undead wraith would talk to people it doesn't want to murder. I think I've got everything solved, though, and hopefully I'll be able to wrap things up shortly.

Johnny: How goes the sequel to Fairy Godmothers Inc.?

Jenniffer: It lost the shoving match that all my plot bunnies have to go through, so it's currently been pushed to the back of the queue. I have, however, written a brief epilogue to "Fairy Godmothers, and posted it on my blog:

Johnny: So Jolly Fish Press is going through a big transition now, moving from Ingram to IPG, the Independent Publishing Group. How’s that been for you?

Jenniffer: Beast Charming got pushed back into 2015, which was tough, but things happen during transition periods. It's too early to see what the other changes might be, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Johnny: I invited them over too, but I don’t think they could find parking. Plus Kirk said Wednesday wasn’t a good enough reason for a rave. Like I need a reason.

Jenniffer: He's very picky that way.

Johnny: What do you think about book signings? Waste of time or good times?

Jenniffer: Honestly, it depends on the people. I've had some terrible experiences, but I've also had some absolutely lovely ones. I never know what a signing will be like until I get there.

Johnny: So with all this writing how far have you gotten in Beatrysel, my debut occult thriller now available at Amazon and The King’s English Bookstore?

Jenniffer: Beatrysel? Oh, I ... uh ....

Johnny: Uh huh…..

Jennffer: Honestly, I just finished the book and I loved it (next challenge: When to find the time to do some posts....) So much horror sacrifices genuine emotion, but yours explored the full depths of it and still managed to deliver a chill. Well done, sir. Well done.

Johnny: Those poppers are still smouldering. Speaking of which, what promotions have been the most successful for you?

Jenniffer: Kindle sales. No one can resist a bargain.

Johnny: Okay, enough shop talk. What else ya’ got going in your life?

Jenniffer: I have no life other than writing (and reading, of course) but I love it that way. When my book makes a top 10 list I'm as happy as if I'm the one who managed to do something interesting.

Johnny: And reading Beatrysel, my debut occult thriller now available at Amazon and The King’s English Bookstore. Don’t forget that.

Jenniffer: Actually, I need new reading material. When's your next book coming out!

Johnny: I've got Eleanor coming out in July. It begins the trilogy.

Johnny: And your links.
Johnny: Oh god. There was a cigarette butt in that glass.

Jennifer: Why are you drinking leftover booze like a homeless person?

Johnny: I’m a writer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: ONE BOY, NO WATER by Lehua Parker

Nihui Shark Saga, Book 1
One of the great powers of reading has always been its ability to translate a reader to a different place. In the time before easy travel and mass communication, the only way a land-locked reader could visit the Pacific was in a book. Readers flocked to titles for their locations as much, if not more, than their stories. When a great location was fleshed out and the people there made real was combined with a ripping yarn that titillated the imagination, a classic was born. Those elements that made Treasure Island great have fallen out of fashion as writers can rely on shared knowledge.

But the formula still works and is as powerful as ever. Witness One Boy, No Water, by Lehua Parker. This gem of a book, young adult, is the embodiment of what location fiction can be. Taking place in Hawaii, the story follows the coming of age adventure of a rather unusual boy, Zadar, found as an infant on the lava rocks jutting into the sea where sharks are known to be.

Zadar is allergic to water. With his brother Jay and adopted family to help, he must face the school bullies, his strange history and his rare condition all while living on an island surrounded by death for him.

I loved this book. The story is gentle and endearing. The characters warm and sympathetic. The setting lush and hypnotic. No, it's more than that. The absolute strength in the book is the setting. Parker not only makes us feel the sand between our toes, smell the salt in the air, taste the mahi, but she also sits us beside the locals as family to share in their jokes and stories.

This is done by the use of "pidgin" the specific Hawaiian dialect spoken by the natives. Her language, dialog and description. is sung in the tilting cadences of the inhabitants, seeded with Hawaiian words and phrases. This measure of authenticity raises the adventure story to its own genre niche - Pacific Literature and is to my knowledge the only book of its kind.

After reading One Boy, No Water, I felt enriched on multiple levels, culturally as well as artistically. It is a short, but important book.

And there'll be more. The book ends open for the next book in the series which I understand is due out any time - One Shark, No Swim. Zadar's adventures will continue and I'm glad of that.