Friday, November 18, 2011

Scary Scenes

Recently a fellow on the Facebook group Moody's Survivors asked:
What is the most spine chillin, hair raising, goosebump inducing, one scene from a movie that you can remember?
Spine chillin, hair rasing, goosebump inducing scene, huh? Le'me reach into the old bag of tricks and see what pops out!
 

When we were living in Japan, my dad was able to get his hands on an early version of the VCR. The enormous top loading ones with the tapes that weigh a million tons. I know you're thinking, big deal. VCR? Woopty doodle do. Sure, everyone has one now, or rather had one they replaced with a DVD player, but back in the day this was a big fecking deal! A VCR folks! And we had one! WOOP!



As a family we tended to watch mostly horror movies. I think perhaps that's all they were putting on tape in those days ... well that and porn. Our parents would have to screen the horror movies first, not for the violence, but to make sure we hid our eyes during the sexy scenes. Because as we all know, a beheading via machete is okay for a little girl to watch, as long as there isn't a couple humping in the background! As a result of this previewing, they always knew what was coming and relished every jump, shout of surprise, and scream of fright.

This paid off in spades once for my father, because a the end of Friday the 13th, when the kid jumps out of the water and pulls the lead female from the boat, he knew it was going to happen. So what does good old dad do? He hides behind the couch where all three of my sisters and me, ages 10, 9, 7 and 7, all sat innocently watching the end of the film. When Jason jumps out of the water, Dad leap up from the back of the couch in the same sweeping motion, grabbing us up on a tight little group.

We all screamed.

And peed.

Screamed and peed.

Then screamed and peed some more.

I can honestly say, from the bottom of my black little heart, that it's the only time a movie scene genuinely scared the piss out of me. I think perhaps I have been chasing that same emotional reaction ever since. I think maybe that moment in time is etched into my memory, and my obsession with horror is merely an attempt to recapture that precious moment of fright.

Or maybe I just wanna have an excuse to pee on the couch again. Not that I need one. I mean, I am an adult now and it is my couch. But just peeing on it for no reason?
That's just .... weird.

I thought I should also mention yet another side effect of all the horror watching at a young age. For the longest time I associated sex with death. It's a natural thing, I suppose, with this whole idea that sex itself is one step from death. But in this case I genuinely believed that sex lead to your mortal demise. (Not just your moral demise.) Why? Well think about it: you watch two folks necking, are told by your mother to turn your head, and when you are allowed to look back again the happy couple is now happily split ... into pieces spread all over the place! A head here, a liver there, and what led to this terrible fate ?

That's right, sex!




Thus well into my teenage years I really believed that sex started off with kissing but always ended with someone getting an arrow in the throat.

Turned out I wasn't too far off, eh?  Tee hee hee!







Feel free to post your favorite horror movie scares, with or without couch pissing fright.
Later taters,
Tonia

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lamentable Language

Language is tricky. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there are some words that can impart far more than a photograph could ever hope to convey. Love is one. I love you. That's nice, isn't it? A picture of a baby in it's mother's arms may paint that same sentiment, but when your loved one says, "I love you," the feeling is much deeper. Hate is another one of these words. I hate you. Ugh, what a terrible thing to hear! You would be hard pressed to capture my hatred for certain folks on the page without drawing the actual word itself.

In regards to this whole idea, I ran into a problem recently with the new novel I'm working on. The story is set in the late 1800's, and one of the characters is a freed slave. When it gets down to the nitty gritty of things, about 25k into it I found one, without warning, of my characters said the N word.

(You know the one.)

I typed the word. I sat and looked at it. And I was shocked. This comes from a woman who writes erotica for fun. I can type the word cock or cunt without thinking twice, but this word forced me into a blush. For some reason when I decided to make the lead male a man of color, the word wasn't something I thought would come up. I think perhaps because it's a word I avoid, even though I hear it on a weekly basis. (I live in the South, folks. People still say it here. Unfortunately.) I didn't know what to do with it. Delete it? Mask it? Pretend it didn't happen? It was a puzzler. I felt not to use it would seem untrue to the time and situations. At the same time, I really, really hate that word! (go on, draw it out ... I dare you ...)

I'm ashamed to say that I even considered changing the character's race. I thought perhaps it wasn't terribly important to the tale that he be black. But then again changing that one point, that one characteristic, would've changed everything about the man and in the end it would have altered the soul of the novel. Theophilus Jackson is a man of color. I couldn't make him not be. It might be untrue to the time period to censor the N word, but it would be even worse to change everything about it, and him, just to avoid the word.

My sister solved the conundrum for me by pointing out that it isn't my voice speaking ... it's the story's voice. It isn't my opinion about race I am expressing, it's the bigoted opinions of a fictional character. I thought about this, putting it into perspective for all of my novels. If I take weight for everything everyone of my characters have ever said, then I would be a devil and an angel, a whore and a virgin, a mother and a murderer, a sadist and a masochist, a bigot and a hippie all at the same time.

And maybe I am.

Perhaps I am a little bit of all of these things, both terrible and wonderful. I'm not proud of my transgressions, and I try very hard not to display my good deeds like a badge of honor. But maybe, just maybe, a little of these things I am, good and bad, leak into the shadows of the characters I create. While they aren't a complete reflection of me, I can see so much of myself in them.

Maybe you do too.

But back to the N word, yes? The trouble with the whole thing is that while the word was standard description for the African American during that time(whether meant in hate or just said in passing) the word has twisted so much now that as soon as a reader sees it they will think RACIST! This is fine for that character because he's not a very nice man, but I really didn't want the word to become a cudgel wielded by the 'bad guys.' Then again, I couldn't see the 'good' characters saying it in our frame of mind. In the end I meditated upon it for a while and decided that minimum usage in this case would obtain maximum effect. I use the word Negro quite often, and colored (both of which were also in large use at the time) and the N word about twice.

I think my point of sharing this with you is this:

Don't speak for your characters.

Let them speak for themselves, and everything will fall into place.

Later taters,
Tonia

Monday, November 7, 2011

Riddling Richard

Wowzers! October had me jumping like a June bug on a hot frying pan. Sorry to leave you folks hanging. I had several more interviews to post, and was sure I'd get around to it on my loverly lengthily vacationy, but alas the whole week slipped away and here we are.

And ... here we are.

So, back into the fray with another interview of a man I can't help but admire. Smart, clever, handsome, wordy, all around bad ass Richard Godwin is a writer of noir, crime, and horror. Oh and he's a playwright to boot. (Black satires! Who knew!) His first crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ was released on March 10, 2011 and is available online and on the shelves of all good bookstores. I had the chance to pin him down and ask him a few short questions to which he gave us a few short answers. British spelling included at no charge.



What is your favorite genre to read and why? What's your least?

I don't have one. I read almost every genre conceivable because literature and storytelling are organic.

Ever notice that cherry flavoured things don't usually taste like cherry? Red just tastes ... red. In that sense, what is your preferred food color? (example: I like yellow when it's supposed to be banana, but not lemon.)

I eat cherries, real cherries. Artificial tastes and colours are annoying. I don't think I have a favourite food colour. To me it is about how all the colours merge on the plate.

If you could talk to one animal type on the planet, which would it be and why?

I wouldn't because I couldn't. Dr Doolittle was tripping out.

Who do you consider to be the most influential writer of the last twenty years?

Cormac McCarthy. He took America back to the frontier and tipped it on its head.

What moves you to create?

The desire to explore the human condition.

If you knew you had exactly one year left alive, would you spend it any differently than you do now?

I would still write. I would also spend more on fine wines.

Coffee, tea or soda?

Coffee.

If you had to eliminate either Orwell's 1984 or Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which would you get rid of? (eliminate as in they were never written)

I wouldn't I never take either or choices Aristotle started that and he is responsible for major pathologies, hey buy a car but it has to be a Ford or a Vauxhall. I would let them copulate and become one thus creating a new prophetic model.

Sneakers, sandals or barefoot?

Italian leather.

What is your favourite/scariest monster?

The President.


********
Richard Godwin is the author of bestselling crime novel Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer is crucifying politicians
He is a widely published crime and horror writer, and his next novel will be published early next year.
********* 

Thanks again for letting me pick your brain, Richard. And yes I went this whole interview without referring to him as Dick. Except for just then. I think I did rather well!

Later taters,
Tonia