The Momentum Blog
Posted July 27, 2012 by Greig Beck
I know this is where I should list weighty tomes by authors with unpronounceable Eastern European names. Or perhaps even demonstrate how, as a well-rounded author, I dabble in a little Lithuanian poetry after dinner… but alas, I cannot. I have to be true to what I read and enjoy.
Below are the real books that have influenced me, and still to this day, are the ones I may pull off a shelf in between new purchases.
1. Charnel House by Graham Masterton.
My favorite horror author. This story, and Masterton’s earlier works (such as The Manitou), has some of the most amazing and original terror scenes. This particular book has the killer first line of dialogue – ‘It’s my house. It’s breathing.’ Many of his stories, like mine today, have as their basis an underlying myth or legend.
2. John Carter of Mars series, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I read the entire series when I was about 14… then again at 18, and again at 25. The series was written by Burroughs almost exactly 100 years ago and follows the adventures of ex soldier, John Carter who is transported to Mars. He meets and falls in love with the beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris, and must battle monstrous creatures while saving the red planet. Like the writer’s Tarzan character before, John Carter came from a time when heroes were heroic (recently made into a slightly disappointing movie).
3. Who goes there? by John Campbell.
A rare short story from the 1950s. It was later turned into a movie (called The Thing) in the mid 50s, once more in the 80s and then just recently in 2011. Campbell’s description of the psychological breakdown of the men when trapped in the Antarctic while encountering a hostile alien creature is still very powerful, very claustrophobic, and very frightening. The 50s and 60s were a great time for monsters!
4. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
I remember being in Basel, Switzerland on business, and being in a bookstore on a Saturday morning as they were putting it out on the shelves – I took it straight out of their hands! The story was so fantastic – the research, the characters, and the concepts – wow. I slept about 4 hours the entire weekend, and finished it just in time for work on the Monday morning!
5. Alien by Alan Dean Foster.
I’d like to start by thanking Alan for reminding us that aliens might not be all weird little turtles with lights on their fingers. From the moment the author had a crew pulled from hypersleep to touch down on the bleak planet LV426, it had me rapt. Mixed up POVs and a very small book, but one I have reread several times and each time can still feel the sense of dread, tension, and downright fear as they try and stay ahead of the creature running loose on board the massive mining vessel Nostromo.
6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
Later made into a great movie starring Cliff Robertson (Charly). I know, I know, this seems incongruous after the other books I’ve listed, but the science is terrific, and effects of the science, brilliant. A simple man undergoes an experimental treatment, and ends up a genius. The book is written like a diary – the main character’s entries progressively go from a crayon-like scrawl, to a very polished prose. The way Keyes has the character grow both emotionally and intellectually is awesome. Read it to see the growing sophistication in the writing style. (This concept has been used many times – hello Limitless).
7. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
I saw the Rod Taylor movie when I was a kid, then read the novel. Since then I have collected many antique copies, marveling at the fantastic cover art designs. I also have the Easton Press edition with the missing chapter called the ‘Grey Man’. This fantastic tale influenced too many stories and authors to count. He gave us the term “time machine”, and also brilliantly explored the concept of divergent evolution – think Eloi vs Morlok. This work certainly inspired my Valkeryn Series. Wells gives us a story that is every sci-fi reader (and author’s) dream – science, fantasy, excitement and fun.
8. Phantoms by Dean Koontz.
Following my novel, Beneath the Dark Ice, how can I not mention this book by Koontz, and the parallels with my own first story? Of course it influenced me!
In Phantoms, two sisters, return to their hometown to find everyone missing or dead. The few bodies they do encounter are strangely mutilated. Later, the police managed to find a reference to an author of a book called, The ‘Ancient Enemy’, where he describes various mass vanishings of people in different parts of the world over the centuries. Koontz describes in fantastic detail how and why the townsfolk are gone, where the mass disappearances have gone throughout history, and even ties it in with the possible extinction of the dinosaurs. Fantastic science, eerie scenes, and like in The Thing, a monster that could be hiding in the body of the person right next to you – I loved it!
Greig Beck, horror, list, The Time Machine, This Green Hell, thriller, Valkeryn
Posted July 17, 2012 by Anne
“This is such an endearing and funny book. Ever been stung to death by a queen bee boss at work? You’ll love this humorous fantasy tale which culminates in glorious revenge.
The protagonist, Liz Smith, is satisfyingly true-to-life, as a middle-aged woman with no family whose life has centred around her job. She is suddenly ‘let go’ and throughout the book ponders the meaning of her middle-aged, disconnected new self.
The magical element of the story centres around a second-hand mirror, which is prone to populating its sometimes-visible internal world with captured people. Liz is seduced by its charms at first but, along with her adopted house-mates, comes to realise just how dangerous it can be.
She experiments with a bit of romance, with cooking, with interior decorating, and with nurturing younger folk who flagrantly take advantage of her. All the time she is reinventing herself, exploring who she might become, while relishing her new-found freedom.
There are lots of Lizs about, and although they may not have magic mirrors, they will recognise themselves here, laugh a lot, and rejoice. And so will all their friends and acquaintances. Read, learn and inwardly digest–and giggle.”Tagged: ebooks, feminism, fiction, horror, reading, review, speculative fiction
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Posted July 13, 2012 by Mark
1. It by Stephen King
A novel that taps into primal, childhood fears starring a creature that can take the form of your most terrifying nightmares.
2. The Ritual by Adam Nevill
Four friends go on a hiking holiday in a Swedish forest. Taking a shortcut (always a bad idea) they find themselves stalked by an ancient horror that dwells in the forest. Brilliantly written and truly terrifying.
3. Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James
Brilliant, scary, creepy short stories that are simple and frightening.
4. The Tailypo by Joanna Galdone
This children’s book about an old man who is stalked by a ghostly dog-like creature in a forest scared the hell out of me when I was little. I have bought a copy for my daughter and can’t wait until she’s old enough to be scared by it.
5. The War of the World by H.G. Wells
I find something completely terrifying about this book, that’s not been captured in any subsequent adaptations (barring Orson Welles’ infamous broadcast). I think it’s because the novel completely lacks hope. The Martians are too strong (plus they drink blood).
1. Haunted – Chuck Palahnuik
Fantastic concept around the torture that writers put themselves through – real and imagined.
Based on the true story of Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in Brooklyn in 1964. It is alleged that 38 people watched her die, each assuming someone else would do something. A masterful and chilling interpretation of a truly horrific event.
3. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
While it is about a serial killer, the scary part in this book is the intricate detail with which Patrick Bateman describes not just the heinous murders he carries out but his superficial material concerns.
4. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The idea of ageing is horrific, and this book conveys that perfectly.
5. The Vampire Chronicles – Anne Rice
Mark actually suggested this one as a joke, but I am an out and proud Anne Rice fan. Okay so it’s not so much scary as sexy, but throw in the Mayfair Witches series and I think the Rice oeuvre is a valid Friday the 13th selection.
Scary vampires. I was really worried for Bella in this book.
2. New Moon
There are even scarier vampires and wolf but he’s ok and so’s Bella.
4. Breaking Dawn
I am so glad the movie is in 2 parts it took me ages to read the book its really loooong.
5. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
I read this five times and it always scares me.
Tagged: horror, list
Posted July 3, 2012 by Gillian Polack
Some people can type “Hi, my name is…” and the words are seen as challenging stereotypes and bringing justice to the world. Me, it doesn’t matter what my past is or how I apply it in my fiction or in my teaching, everyone remembers me as the person who gives chocolate. Until I wrote my second novel, when people started saying “You write horror, don’t you?”
I write a novel that challenges assumptions about middle-aged women and it’s not seen as the feminist (slightly amusing) story I penned, but as horror. Humorous horror (with food and clothes), but scary. I know people who refuse to eat chocolate at my place for fear of the Mirror.
The fact that the mirror is not the same as the one in the book is irrelevant. My lovely antique mirror inspired the one in the book and therefore it might suck their souls and then where would the chocolate be?
Let me explain that mirror… no, let me not explain it. Honestly. It was meant to drive fear into the souls of innocents. So was the Beehive. They’re the sort of things that scare middle-aged females, you see (evil mirrors and bosses from hell). And it turns out that they scare other people, too.
“Horror latte,” its first editor called it, once.
I told her “It’s a feminist diatribe! And it’s funny. Very funny. Suburban fantasy. With art galleries and food. Canberra as it ought to be seen.”
She said “You can call it whatever you like: that mirror is creepy.”
“Middle-aged heroine,” I said. “Breaking stereotypes. Challenging assumptions.”
“I wouldn’t have that mirror in my lounge room,” she retorted, far too quickly. “I wouldn’t even have it in my house. I would take a blowtorch to it.”
“If the book sells a million copies as a horror, I’ll give you the mirror,” I declared.
I’m not sure she heard my declaration. She was munching on chocolate. People often do this in my presence. I reason that it’s because I’m terrifying. Short round people who carry chocolate are always terrifying.
“Because it’s not a horror. I don’t write horror novels. Or romances. I write speculative fiction. Besides, I like the mirror.”
“It ate your soul, years ago,” was her response. “That’s why you’re a feminist.”
“Why do people have such a strange concept of feminism?”
“Why do you write creepy mirrors? Have you got any more of that chocolate?”
And this is how I came to be known as a horror novelist, when the real me is an overweight historian who thinks she’s writing happy stories for the home.chocolate, feminism, horror, writing