#BlackFriday and unusual paranormal characters in Romance

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. I hope you all have (or had) a lovely one. While we’re all eating and out shopping for Black Friday, I thought I would share with you an essay I wrote last year (slightly updated!) about unusual paranormal characters in Romance.

But before I do, I wanted to let you know that the ebook of PASSION’S SACRED DANCE is on sale for $.99, today and tomorrow–for Black Friday. You can find it at AmazonBarnes and Noble, Itunes, Kobo,  and Smashwords, and the paperback is also on sale at Createspace.

Modern paranormal romance caters to women who want to dream a little more than the average reader. They crave the weird and just looking at the romance pages in Amazon or at the shelves in a bookstore, you’ll see publishers are catering to that wish list.

These days the main star of the genre, though, seems to have gelled down to two factions: Vampires and werewolves. As a reader of the genre, and as a lover of mythology, I’ve often wondered why that is. After all, the world’s mythologies offer so many different types of monsters (yes, I said the M word ;)) to choose from.

springheel_jack_zpsn6xil1xcFor instance, in Victorian mythology you’ll find a nasty fella called Spring-heeled Jack . He could make crazy leaps into the air, or from buildings, had claws for hands and fireballs for eyes. Imagine running into him in a dark alley. Continue reading

Movie review: Beowulf

Caveat: I’m sure someone somewhere will disagree with me on this. This is just *my* feelings on this story/movie. It’s not meant to offend anyone.

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ImageThis is the 2007 animated version. You all remember the story from high school: a king awakens a monster who wreaks havoc on his mead hall. The king sends for a hero and Beowulf comes and saves the day. Kills the monster only to anger his mother who then attacks. And they all drink a lot of mead and boast.

Despite the fact that this is the best known and in some circles beloved story of all time (right up there with the Bible), strangely enough, it is possible to at once make it easier to swallow this Medieval fish tale—and ruin it.

Okay so the story goes as above. Grendel comes, destroys the mead hall, kills a bunch of people but oddly, won’t touch the king. Ashamed, when the word gets out of this strange occurrence the king calls for a hero.  Beowulf comes, screaming and full of himself from across the sea, eyes the queen with more than a little lust, drinks a lot, tells a lot of cockamamie stories (most of)  his listeners believe, and thrusts his sword (and damn near everything else) at the camera (did I mention the directors decided to buy into the 3-D gimmick?) and screams: “I am BEOWULF! I’ll kill your monster!” a lot, like that alone means victory. :p

Then he does just that to end up ticking off Grendel’s mother (whose grief is played way over the top). Turns out, maybe sorta kinda the king left one itty bitty detail out: He’s Grendel’s father and the mother? She’s an evil harpie. The king slaps Beowulf on the shoulder with a “good luck, my boy!” and sends him off to Grendel’s cave to face the mother, be raped by her (depending on your point of view) so she can later give birth to their next foe: a dragon. (The king gets a deformed wretch, Beowulf gets a beautiful dragon—do you see where the favor lies here?) Meanwhile, in a complete wtf moment I didn’t remember, the king throws himself from the battlements.

So, Beowulf takes over the kingdom, gets the queen he’s been lusting for and all the goodies that go with being a king, except he still can’t die, which apparently he wants to. Meanwhile somewhere out there the baby dragon grows up, and finally comes after the humans. Beowulf and he do battle, Beowulf rips out his heart, and falls to his death.

It’s an heroic story for sure, but… I’ve always wondered if the Medieval audience it was intended for even dismissed it as a little over the top. Because let’s face it, Beowulf talks a good game, but I always thought he was the kind of fella who was all talk, with nothing honorable about him (he steals the king’s wife, after all).

I was never a huge fan of the story and I had an instructor that flat out ruined any chance I might ever have to love it. But my hubby’s reading it right now so we gave the movie a shot. Storyline-wise the movie lives up more or less to its namesake, from what I recall.

Here comes where the whole thing, that could’ve been done well, utterly failed. Well, two bits. They could’ve done the whole thing by putting the, arguably otherwise great cast (Anthony Hopkins, Brendon Gleeson, Angelina Jolie, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright Penn) in period costume and shot it live action and only leave the CGI for Grendel and Mama’s harpie suit. But no. They decided to do the whole thing in 3-D. *headdesk repeatedly* Doing so caused it to feel like a video game, made all the characters look like creepy dolls, and let’s not forget the added touch of thrusting everything at the camera to play on the hot shit 3-D gimmick.

Listen, Hollyweird, 3-D died out a long time ago because it was so corny. Time and “upgrades” hasn’t made a difference. It’s still corny, and worse, like I said above, you still fail to get it right. All you end up with is a piece that feels and looks  like a video game, creepy dolls included—whose graphics will be passé and old fashioned in about two–five years. Sadly for them,Beowulf (the movie)’s  fame didn’t last that long.

And don’t get me started on Grendel. Personally, and my husband being the bigger fan of Beowulf right now said it first, Grendel is the big, fat FAIL of this movie, in our opinion (though friends of mine were more ticked by Grendel’s mother). Don’t get me wrong, Crispin Glover is good, he pulled off the motion cap as well as the other actors, (if you can call motion cap pulling off acting), but the decision—whoever’s it was, Gaiman’s or the director’s? Shame on you guys! Yes, the story was written 1200-nearly 1500 years ago (Crossely-Holland says we’re not sure which) for a barely literate audience who spoke a Middle English dialect.

But fellas, this ain’t 1300-1500 years ago!!!

I’d venture to guess that only maybe 1-5% of your audience (and I may be being generous saying that many) don’t understand Middle English. Don’t you think maybe it would’ve been a good idea, if you had to insist on making Glover wrap his tongue around the language, you could do him–and your viewers–the favor of, oh, I don’t know, captioning his speeches? For gods sake, man! He’s the most important character in the first half of the story, and no one can understand a word the poor thing mushmouths—er, grunts—er, says.

If the 2001-era movie lost an audience (and they got slew of  huge glaring FAIL reviews on this thing) that might’ve been the culprit. Yeesh! I don’t know how many ways to say this: it’s one of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers in literature and it didn’t fail to do so here, if your character needs to be understood DON’T PUT DIALECT IN HIS MOUTH!! It just doesn’t work!!!!

*puts hammer down*

Anyway, yeah. Love the actors and gods know they tried, and while  it sticks to the story from what I recall and I applaud them for that, it gets a big thumbs down for animation and gimmickery.

But I never cared for the loudmouth that is Beowulf. As Kevin Crossely-Holland says in his introduction to the translation of the poem:  “It is rude and rough… singularly cheap in construction… thin and cheap…’ And, yep, the movie isn’t much better. If you’re in the mood for creepy dolls, go for it. Otherwise you’re better off with the book.

Beowulf in print. Gutenberg Project.

Beowulf translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland.

Beowulf translated by Francis Barton Gunmere

Beowulf on Wikipedia

Beowulf on IMDB

Chat with author Jolene Dawe

*Doorbell rings*
*Night Mistress checks monitors* Holy smokes.
*minion peers over Mistress’ shoulder* What’s the matter, m’lady?
The Lord Mayor’s son is outside–right behind our guest! Oh, this is a disaster! I wanted everything perfect for her. *Mistress sighs* Better bring her in through the underground gate.
*Minion scampers off and Mistress eyes monitors. Minion appears on screen and says something to a young woman outside* I wish I could hear what she said.
*Minion and young woman escape the Lord Mayor*
That’s better. *footsteps outside doorway. Minion and guest step through door*

Welcome Jolene! *Mistress holds out arms and hugs Jolene* I’m sorry for the trouble outside dear. The last thing I wanted was for– *jerks finger to screen* –that man to follow you in!
First off, tell us a little about yourself and your work.

Jolene Dawe: You know, one thing I really enjoy about the advent of the Internet and, these days, with blogs, is the ability we have to get to know bits about folks we might otherwise not get to see. I really enjoy reading about other authors; I love blogs as exposure opportunities, and I think they’re an awesome tool in this distribution revolution. That said, this is generally the hardest bit of marketing for my work — talking about myself. It’s an interesting little conundrum, isn’t it?

Mistress: Come now, don’t be so shy. Can’t you tell us a little something about yourself? *Mistress smiles* There’s candy in it for you.

Jolene Dawe: I am a resident of the gloriously wet Pacific Northwest, specifically Eugene Oregon. I moved here with my partner and our pride of cats and one dog in 2008, and have been in love with the place since before day one. I’m one of the transplants who delights in our nine to ten months of rain, laughing in astonished delight when natives bemoan how grey the weather is come January . . . with vibrant green from grass and moss and lichen rioting all around, and hearty winter flowers poking up in random places. Grey? Here? Well, maybe the sky. Okay, definitely the sky . . . What is this mythical globe of fire in the sky which people speak of?

*Mistress shakes head* I’m not sure either, my dear. All I see is a pretty pearlescent white globe nightly. 🙂 My minion tells me she loves your writing. Why don’t you tell my guest something of your stories?

Jolene Dawe: To date, I have two collections of short stories available. Treasures From the Deep is available via Lulu.com, a short collection of stories inspired by the myths of Poseidon. The Fairy Queen of Spencer's ButteThe Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales is available in print via Lulu.com  and for Kindle through Amazon — it’s a collection of stories inspired by this wonderful part of the country, where folklore and mythic tales mix and mingle, where magic and the mundane rub elbows and are both left better for it. I also have a short story in The Shining Cities: An Anthology of Pagan Science Fiction, an anthology published by Bibliotecha Alexandrina, as well as few stories published over at Eternal Haunted Summer.

From that bibliography, one might come to the conclusion that I’m pagan, and they’d be right. 🙂

Mistress: Well, all are welcome in our castle…and you know, I’ve known a pagan or two in my time. Don’t ask how long a time…. 😉 Now for the questions. What inspired The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte?

Jolene: Most, immediately, the city of Eugene and its environs. More broadly, the Willamette Valley itself, the history of the Pacific Northwest, the close proximity to its past, the pioneering spirit that lingers in this make-do, make-beautiful, create and make better city. The willingness to dispose of the mold when the mold no longer fits, to make your own way while being true to yourself, to leave behind that which does not work, but to cherish that which does even after its no longer fashionable.

That, and the stories came whether I willed them or no. They were too many, too strong, too intriguing to try to ignore.

*Mistress nods* I hear that same sentiment from many writers. Now then, shar with us some of your favorites? All Hallow’s Eve or All Saint’s Day?

Jolene: Halloween! In our household we differentiate between Halloween and Samhain, though both end up being days to honor our beloved dead; Halloween is for our beloved furry dead (Howl-ween?) and Samhain for the human deceased. So, for us, Halloween is a more fun, goofy, somewhat joys (in a bittersweet way) than Samhain proper is.

*Mistress nods* Ah, Samhain, yes. I’ve been to some fantastic Samhain romps…back in my day… Dr. Frankenstein, or Dracula?

Jolene: Dracula, easily. Come on. Vampires, and vampires before they were all sexy, even!

Mistress: Yes, well, *preens* Some of us have always been sexy. 😉 How do you think I got Drac and the good Doctor fighting over me? Candy corn or chocolate?

Jolene: What is this ‘or’ of which you speak?

*laughs* All right. I’ll share with you. Are you going to dress up for Halloween this year?

Jolene: Sadly, I’m not. I think Halloween has become broken — we don’t get trick-or-treaters, they all go to the malls around here. While I firmly believe that Halloween should be a bit about confronting our mortality and poking around on the darker side of existence, being safe and responsible and keeping kids away from predators is important, and I understand the need for safety these days, but I mourn Halloween, I really do. It’s not at all what it used to be.

*Mistress nods* Yes, that’s very true. We don’t get many trick or treaters around our castle either. Just *frowns* angry mobs. What did I ever do to them?

Never mind. Next question: If you could be in any classic horror novel, or story (such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Carmilla, Turn of the Screw, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Tell-Tale Heart? The Raven?), which would it be?

Jolene: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Mistress: Oh good choice! What is it about that story that intrigues you?

Jolene: I grew up reading horror novels, and they generally don’t scare me at all, but the motif of The Headless Horseman has something to it that spooks me to my core; I love that tale!

Mistress: Where can my guests learn more about you, dear?

Right here: http://thesaturatedpage.wordpress.com/about/

Thanks for being with us tonight, Jolene. Now, don’t you worry about that Lord Mayor. Come with me and we’ll see if we can’t talk some sense into him….