Bleh with Barry

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Writing My Novel Part 1: The Basics of Things

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So over the course of this summer, I have taken my first venture into the writing of long form fiction. Now, this has been something of a task for me because I’m used to writing short stories and poetry; thereby, I create characters and set them free on the ocean of 2k -7k words. However, as my novel stands at around 50k words, I have invested a large amount of time and writing space for my characters and the premise of the story I’m going to tell. This post is to give a little insight into what I’ve been doing… here goes.

Premise: In the year 2042, the world turns all its nuclear warheads on each other and destroys the world in a cataclysmic event that causes the surface of the Earth to be uninhabitable to the humans that survived. (Matter-of-factly, I have written a short snippet that deals with this, which I hope to expand too.)  However, even as the human race is driven underground, the Eight monster races of the world (and some of their mutated offspring which don’t constitute a new race per say) which have existed in the shadows alongside humans come to power under the dust cloud covering the sun and making the Earth habitable for them. All Eight species try to live in harmony with one another, but like all those with power, peaceful cohabitation may not be possible… Enter our protagonist and her allies and enemies several hundred years after the great cataclysm…

The Eight Races (The races and a fun fact about them):

Vampires–Some feed on the  blood of the other seven… which is frowned and punishable by death. This is why it’s kept secret if they do. Others feed off the cultivated herds of mutant animals that they tend.

Weres— Werewolves and the like (there are more than just werewolves). They are called werebeasts by the other Seven races, which is a derogatory term… Prefer to be called Weres.

Arcane— The witches of folklore and legend who command external forces. In large covens, they have been known to shift the clouds and control the weather. Using their magic causes them to age physically; however, their youth can be recovered by focusing their magic toward rejuvenation.

The Fae— Similar to the witches in terms of their magical nature, yet they additionally are physically strong despite their lanky appearances. Known to be very beautiful. Their Queen is the Titania of lore. . .she rules them with a doll that contains the soul of Oberon, whom she trapped there so she should never be alone. Some call her the mad queen…

Elementals— Beings of immense power. Embody certain elements in a physical and magical way so that they become living fire, ice, shadow, etc. However, they can look human. Widely varying levels of power exist among them. Some are so weak that they barely exist. . .others can rend the Earth.

Harpies— One of the few flying creatures in the new world order. They are all covered in a fine layer of feathers that both protects them and streamlines them for flight. They are pack creatures that hunt, attack, and destroy creatures much more powerful than them through their group dynamic.

Infernals— Also called Demons by the other races. Usually remain in their monstrous / demonic form complete with flaming spectral wings and horns. They mostly appear to be genderless. Their ruler Bilge is known in the Christian Bible as Legion but not because he’s multiple demons…

Celestials— Called Angels by most creatures’ standards, they are additionally known as Valkyrie, goddesses, and more. Deemed by most of the other Seven (the Infernals won’t consent) to be the most powerful of the races, they are usually seen as the peace keepers because they can keep the others at bay. Have a club in the remnants of Carnegie Hall named “Heaven”.

There are other mutant species that exist that occur as splinter forms of the main groups… for instance, there are a few harpies that call themselves furies because they have acquired slightly different forms and powers. Hence, the variation of monsters throughout history.

Protagonist: Sadie is a highborn vampire who is relatively young by vampire standards (almost 2000 years old at the beginning). In addition to her youth, she is also plain by vampiric standards, which causes her purpose to be a little clouded. At first, she is just trying to find out from higher authorities what her destiny is, but inadvertently, she stumbles into a war that she finds herself at the epicenter of all because she chose to put on a necklace.

So there you have it, a little bit of insight into what it is that I’ve been writing. While I know that I’m being vague to a degree, I hope that my future posts will enlighten you  more. Maybe this will entice you to read more, even as I head to my 85k word count goal.

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A Taste of Night

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The end of the world happened March 15, 2042, a rather fitting date considering its reputed historical significance. Late on this day, all the superpowers of the world turned their nuclear arms against each other and fired letting the cards… and bodies fall where they may. What sparked such a response? One can only guess. Maybe someone insulted the American President’s wife? Maybe Spain got tired of trade negotiations with China? Who knows? However, all I can remember is the smell of burning flesh and seeing people I knew and love die painful deaths.

We were in our house when it happened, my wife and I. I sat in the den in my easy chair as I listened to my wife busying herself in the kitchen. It was her night to cook, and I still remember the crunch of the carrots that she chopped to put into the stew she prepared, while she hummed a jaunty tune to herself. As I sat there reading the Times, I remember hearing a pop from somewhere very distant from where we were and thought nothing of it as a result. As I sat in my windowless cave reading my newspaper, I soon felt the house begin to buckle and heard my wife’s humming replaced by a blood-curdling shrieking. I rushed upstairs immediately to see what was the matter expecting that she might have cut herself badly or burned herself on the stove top. Sadly, I was mistaken as she turned to face me, revealing the seared flesh of her face and twin trails of liquid running beneath where her eyes should have been.

I moved closer to investigate and started to weep myself as she continued to scream.

“Oh my fucking bloody hell, what the fuck should I…” I started to question to see what I could do for her. However, the cracking of timber and drywall met my cries as the house collapsed upon my wife and me. And then, all was darkness as I reached and found my beauty in the aftermath.

I held my wife one last time while she slowly sank into shock, and, then, her respiration stopped. Where my beautiful wife had once been, now an eyeless husk remained… An eyeless husk held by myself. I cried tears for her as I lay there in the dark holding what remained… tears of blood, the only kind that a vampire can cry. I held her for several days until the smell of rotting flesh became too much for my heightened senses. I kissed her one last time as I decided to go, leaving her there alone in the darkness and rubble of our former home. The same pile of rubble that I had to push through to escape from the dark and enter the world as we know it now.

At 6:32pm on a breezy, frigid Saturday in New York City, my world changed as my human wife died before my eyes. One week later or at least I assume it was about a week at 9:14am, I pierced through the drywall, timber, and bricks that encased me and found myself in a new world.

The sun still shone in the sky, but a thick cloud of dust and particulate debris now covered it, obscuring the full power of its rays. Surrounding what had once been our house, similar monuments of destruction and despair filled the spaces of our neighbors and our friends. What once was a thriving neighborhood was now a ghost town… or rather the ruins of one. Where green had been brown took its place. As life existed before, nothing but death met my sight. All was silent Human life had existed as the dominant species, now only death and the monsters of the world remained. A world that I was a part of and had been for the better part of four hundred years.

On this end day, the human race found itself instantly an endangered species of sorts with small groups living below the surface of the Earth. My kind would have its era upon the earth. . . my kind would reign. I shook myself into motion and walked toward the horizon, hoping that I would find someone. . .something to balm my ills and make me forget that I am Raymond Rothschar, that I once was married, and now I was irrevocably alone. . .

Written by barryr22

May 8, 2012 at 1:57 am

Origins

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Rajhym stood on top of Mt. Vijadt watching the people in the village below scurry about. He had been hiding for the past couple of hours, shirking his duties in the fields to do what he like to do best: people watch. Now, as it began to get dark, he decided to climb down the treacherous path to get home, where warm goat stew and cider would be waiting for him.

The journey down began as always with Rajhym using a small torch to light the precarious trail. It felt much the same under his feet as it had felt many times before, but after walking for at least forty-five minutes, he began to climb the mountain again. This was when he began to worry.

“I have taken a wrong turn,” he thought, “and now, I will surly die from exposure.”

When this crossed his mind, he sat down and started to cry for he had never been lost or alone in his fifteen years, and now, he was truly scared for he knew that Mt. Vijadt turned dangerous after dark and creatures roamed the paths that no one spoke the names of anymore. He remembered four years ago that his father had wandered into the mountains in search of his sister. Neither of them had returned, but he and his mother found a necklace of bloody teeth strung with his sister’s bloodied golden hair… and they knew that their family was dead and that they had suffered. After this, his mother had kept him close at all times… that was until his fourteenth birthday when he had to begin working.

He knew it was a risk to climb the mountain but did it anyway. Now, he wished that he hadn’t.

His tears continued.

“Ah, poor child,” came an ethereal voice just outside the torch’s ring of light. “Why are you sad?”

He wiped his eyes and replied, “I’m lost and find it impossible to find my way in the dark. If I have to stay here, I’m sure to be gotten by a creature of the mountain.”

“There, there,” answered the voice as a feminine arm came into the circle and its hand stroked his face. “I won’t let a creature of the mountain get you.”

As the he felt more at ease, Rajhym noticed the gnarled hand and the fingers that ended in talons. He gasped at the sight and started to run away.

“Now, where are you gong little Rajhym?” cooed the voice as steel-like grip clamped upon his shoulder. “Don’t you want never to be afraid again? Wouldn’t you like to haunt this mountain all of your waking moments, forever?”

“Let go. I need to make it home.” He struggled against the hand, but it was no use.”Help! Help! Help!”

“Poor little vagabond,” whispered the voice covering his mouth with another taloned hand. “I will make you strong. You shall be mine.”

A noxious breath blew across his torch, causing it go out. Rajhym was left in the dark with the creature. Slowly, his eyes adjusted, and he began to make out the outline of what looked like a nude woman with glowing eyes, looking at him hungrily as she continued to grip his arm.

“I shall kiss you and make it all better,” she said. “And none of the others will attempt to take you ever again.”

She stooped down closer and closer toward him until her toothless maw covered his tender face. He felt something like warm flesh in his mouth that he assumed was her tongue, but soon, he realized it was more like liquid energy flowing from her into him. He felt stronger as his limbs started to extend and claws began to grow from the tips of his fingers. Quickly, he felt more powerful than he had ever dreamed of becoming.

“And now it is finished, my child,” she creaked withdrawing from him. “My journey is done, but yours is just beginning.”

“What do you mean?” he questioned, recognizing a deeper, more raspy voice which frightened him.

“You are now one of the Draknar. An ancient race, very powerful of sorcerers that some worship as demons… and to a certain…*Ack, ack*” her coughing interrupted her speech. “…extent we are, I suppose.”

“What is this about your journey being done?” again the deep raspy voice came.

“I have endowed you with the eternal essence, the source of your power. But like a bee sting, once given the stinger must die.”

“So, you’re leaving me?” tears began to fill his eyes again.

“You’ll be okay, my child. But all things must come to an end, Ahsa. . .”

“You create me, and then. . .” the deep, raspy voice trailed off as he noticed the light leaving her eyes. He knelt beside her for a moment before her flesh started to flake away in the breeze.

The last thing to go were the eyes in which he saw his reflection. His eyes glowed with a cold fire from the depths of his now gaunt, cadaverous face. Jagged teeth replaced his once boyish smile. And a desire to inflict pain filled his heart because he lost everything as all Draknar do but gained so much more.

Written by barryr22

April 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

A Bargain

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A fetid smell rose from the slave pens. Another had died in the night, and it would surely be days before their overlords would notice. . .and by that time, there might not be anything left for them to find, save a few chips of bone.

Rhoda had been praying for seventeen cycles for someone to come and rescue them, and even as he gave up hope, a figure appeared at dusk. One who seemed to be little more than spindles, allowing its hollow voice to fill the darkness between them.

“He who has summoned me, I am Ahsa the Blight of the Seven, the Bringer of Pestilence, and a Lord of the Under Realms. What would you have me do?” hissed the tall lanky figure from the shadows.

“Free us,” Rhoda replied.

The creature’s two eyes gleamed like fire as it whispered, “There are many of you. This will require a lot of power. Are you willing to give everything for these your people?”

“They are my family. They are all my brothers and sisters. We have suffered much pain. I would do or give anything for our freedom.”

“Anything?” Ahsa half questioned, half chuckled.

“Anything,” Rhoda answered tentatively.

“Good. A future favor is my price,” whispered the old one. “One to be asked sometime hence from now on my terms. It shall be one of my choosing that you must ask no questions about. Do you agree to these terms  Seridian mutt?”

“It seems that I have no choice.”

“Then, we seal it with our blood,” the figure responded as it slashed one hand with a gnarled talon from the other, and after doing the same of the slave, they clenched hands in a salute of understanding.

“And thus it is done,” creaked Ahsa.

In a blink, the creature extended its hands from the darkness and a ghostly light started to radiate from them. And for a moment, Rhoda held his breath as he waited for his friends, family, and himself to be transported away from this place of terror. However, Ahsa’s hands soon stopped glowing, and it turned to him.

“And now you are free, little Seridian. Remember our agreement. I will require something from you, one day,” it said, its jagged teeth gleaming in the light of its eyes.

An instant later, Ahsa was gone, and Rhoda found himself confused about what had happened. Then, he noticed the two guards, who had been standing watch in front of the slave pen, now hung from the side of the small hut closest to the pens. Slowly and cautiously, Rhoda exited the pens without alerting any of the others and walked closer to the hut’s wall. Suddenly, a metallic smell filled Rhoda’s nose, and he realized with horror that the men hung from small stakes that pierced their hands. What’s more, he saw that their entrails spilled out into the dust and understood that they were dead.

This dawned on Rhoda gradually, but then, he turned and began running toward the main body of the city Urant, yet even before he got too close, Rhoda noticed the grim forest of bodies. Some hanging from houses, more dangling from the trees, and others strung about the plaza fountain. Whether man, woman, or child, all were represented in the gruesome tableau, and not a single soul remained alive.

Rhoda fell to his knees at the sight, choking back the vomit. Tears filled his eyes, ones of disgust and joy, happiness and pain as he knew all this freed his people. But he did not want it to be like this. Not like this at all.

*******************************************************************************************************************

All the while, Ahsa watched from the shadows with a jagged smile parting its cadaverous lips.

 

 

Written by barryr22

April 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Romero and Post-Romero Zombies as Gothic Antagonists and the Sublime

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Recently, in my Spectral and Sublime Gothic Literature class, we had a discussion in which the majority of people agreed that the gross-out, bloody zombies of modernity could not render a Gothic tale because they lack the element of the sublime which makes them the enemy that is foreboding yet one that you want to embrace you in some way. While on one hand, I do agree that in the traditional sense of the Gothic, the Romero-type zombie does not make one want to come to it and be converted into the path of the zombie (unlike the vampire which can be a very Gothic because they are unapproachable and sublime all at the same time). However, as I watched a marathon of The Walking Dead, I came to a conclusion that more than just the zombies exist as the supernatural, antagonistic elements of the show itself that does produce a Gothic tale of sorts.

By Mark Marek Mark Marek Copyright Mark Marek Photography ©2007 URL: Zombie Walk Picture Gallery – Full Coverage with Video on Alberta Stars (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To begin to deal with my ideology of the Romero / Post-Romero Zombie Gothic, I think that it is important for me to explain how I see the zombies begin to act as a sublime element within the movies, television shows, and comics in which I feel the Gothic exists rather than the norm of just horror. Whereas the zombies themselves are a representation of horrific / gruesome element of the sublime creature / person within a Gothic novel, they additionally represent the figure of death that comes into play in many Gothic tales. However, this death that they represent is not the beautiful death that one may identify with the Gothic notion of the sublime. Zombies represent a gruesome kind of death or undeath because they are not genuinely alive or undead with all their faculties and personalities about them like a vampire or a ghost, yet (and this is where it gets complicated in my mind) in many zombie movies, novels, etc., there is usually talk of “opting out,” as they call it in The Walking Dead.

While the zombies themselves are not what one would call sublime, this natural death to end human suffering in the zombie filled world takes up this sublimity. The humans themselves by “opting out” or committing suicide, usually from a gunshot to the head, create an air of the sublime in the natural death that does not happen as a result of being bitten or waiting to be bitten (cause let’s fact it… it’s only a matter of time in a zombie filled world). The beauty that natural death represents in this isolated and inhospitable world holds a certain air of that sublime that they want but what they are afraid to get because it is suicide. Moreover, this suicide sublimity also provides a stark contrast to the gruesomeness that is the zombie, walking till either starvation or some outside force takes them down. The need to be truly and definitely dead rises to conflict with the zombies.

Then, the nature of the sublime that exists within the modern zombie movie, television show, novel, etc. becomes a triangulation of sorts from humans to zombies / undeath, from zombie / undeath to natural death, and from natural death to

By Mark Marek Mark Marek Copyright Mark Marek Photography ©2007 URL: Zombie Walk Picture Gallery – Full Coverage with Video on Alberta Stars (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

humans. Thought the zombies themselves do not equate a form of death that can be considered sublime, the full equation of death that they and the natural death paralleling them represent the sublimity of the Gothic. As the concept of gruesome death in the form of the zombies overruns the world in zombie stories, the desire to have a natural death without the possibility of a sub-par undead resurrection plays at the corner of the survivors minds, even before a zombie literally plays with and eats their brains.

Written by barryr22

March 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Dracula: My Hypothetical Movie Casting

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Today in the Gothic Literature class I’m in, we started our discussion of Dracula by Bram Stoker. While we did the usual discussion of Jonathan Harker’s uselessness, Mina Murray’s man brain, Dracula’s foreignness, and the many ways in which one can read the text, we additionally talked about the four prominent movie adaptations of the book:  Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Horror of Dracula (1958),and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). However, after listing these movies, we discovered that an adaptation of the novel hasn’t come out in the past 20 years that even tries to be faithful to the original story (there was the ill-fated Dracula 2000 with Gerard Butler… but yeah…). So we were tasked with casting a movie if we got the opportunity to pick anyone to be in our version of said hypothetical movie. Therefore, my list that I am posting below was born. I think that each of the actors that I’ve placed in certain roles would be able to bring a certain truthfulness to the movie that would resound well with the novel itself. Moreover, I know that some of my choices are a little odd, but I feel that each of the people that I picked would something to the characters that would make them memorable in some way. I hope you enjoy thinking about this as much as I did. 🙂

Dracula Cast List

Dracula— Michael Fassbender

Jonathan Harker— James McAvoy

Dr. Seward— David Tennant

Lord Arthur Holmwood— Matthew MacFadyen

Quincy Morris— Robert Downey Jr.

Abraham Van Helsing— Ian McKellen

Lucy Westenra— Rachel McAdams

Mina Harker— Gemma Arterton

Renfield— Andy Serkis

Bride #1— Kiera Knightly

Bride #2— Natalie Portman

Bride #3— Claire Danes

I have my reasons for placing certain people in certain roles. Moreover, I know that some of them could occupy many different roles in the grand scheme of things.

Tale of the Body Thief the Movie, or “Oh God, Please Don’t Let It Be Another Queen of the Damned”

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By Anne Rice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today on Anne Rice’s facebook page, she announced that Imagine Studios have gotten the rights and are developing a Tale of the Body Thief (TOBT) movie based on her book first published in 1992. On her page, Rice said, “Nothing makes Lestat happier than making news! Here’s the Hollywood Reporter story on Imagine optioning Tale of the Body Thief for a motion picture, with more names and details.” While I am excited by the prospect of a new vampire movie based upon one of Anne Rice’s books because I love the intricacies of the vampire world, I am additionally apprehensive as a result of Queen of the Damned (2002) starring Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend, which was awful… just awful… especially when compared to the success of Interview with the Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. However, this movie could see a return to that of the first film with Cruise and Pitt which might be a good thing, but there are somethings that might need to be thought about / changed.

1) The scope of this film will be relatively more focused than that of the book Queen of the Damned (QOTD). While the movie of Queen of the Damned resembled nothing of the book that Anne Rice wrote other than character names… and some chosen events, the book of TOBT takes place with very few characters actually taking part in the full of the action (mainly Lestat, David Talbot and, Raglan James). Moreover, if the adaptation does not lend itself to compression of other novels… whereas in the QOTD, this book and The Vampire Lestat were condensed into one movie that didn’t even reach the two hour mark… please….

2) Whereas QOTD (the book) is filled with intricate subplots and creates a new vampire mythology that the filmmakers didn’t seem to want to deal with and used multiple characters to narrate the complexity of the story (again filmmakers didn’t deal with), TOBT is pretty straightforward in terms of its plot. SPOILERS: Lestat being bogged down with his life… undeadness…. vampiric nature… decides to off himself in the desert,

By Anne Rice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

which doesn’t work considering he gobbled up a lot of Akasha’s blood (making him as powerful as most of the old ones…). So, he gets an offer from Raglan James to switch bodies for a day… Lestat, being the brat prince that he is, cannot resist the chance of being human and agrees. Long story short, James won’t give back Lestat’s body, and Lestat and David must fight for it to get it back. Pretty easy to follow and streamlined…. one would hope that it would not be hard to plot… all I’m saying…

3) Most of the book deals with human Lestat rather than a passel of vampires. In QOTD, a crap ton of vampires appear due to many circumstances surrounding Lestat’s music, the Queen’s rising, and story time / planning session with Maharet. Thus, it would be difficult to get the characters right considering that by Rice’s third book we know a lot of the characters that are cavorting very well… Also, the additional problem of the vampires themselves and the powers they have institute themselves. In TOBT, however, Lestat is a human most of the time, and David is too. Thus, this should be a moot point… yet, I somehow still believe that it can be screwed up… possibly with a flashy action scene on a freeway in California, involving a car chase with human Lestat and Raglan James in Lestat’s body…. Ugh…

4) A new Lestat would be nice. While Tom Cruise does a serviceable job as the evil, non-complex Lestat from the first movie (i.e. Louis’s perspective of him), I don’t know that he could do the truly complex nature of Lestat as a stand alone character very well. Additionally, I hated Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat…. I feel that he did not carry the brat prince charm and the overall charisma of the character (this could be because it was a horribly written movie… “You’re a vampire?” line from the goth / punk / glam band member complete with southern twang comes to mind). Maybe we could see someone bring a little class to the role… also remember too that there have to be two Lestats in this film which complicates it… the one real body Lestat and the displaced body Lestat. This adds another level to the difficulty of casting this film… (God help me if I see Johnny Depp put into one of these roles either… I couldn’t stand to see a quirky Lestat with Goth make-up and weird hair… I just couldn’t…). I think that they should cast someone who is naturally blonde too… that’s just a pet peeve of mine…

5) Well, I haven’t really got a five… I’m not going to lie… if this purported film turns out to be anything like the QOTD movie, I might have to hurt someone… yeah… possibly Ron Howard since Imagine is his production company…

So there you have it, I look at this with much apprehension, but I am also hopeful that Lestat will once again get to live big on the theater screen… Hopefully, this reincarnation of Lestat (whenever the film may be released) will be better than the best that we have at this point. I look forward to the film and to Anne’s new book that will come out later this month.