Don’t you hate it when you’re watching a good TV drama that you’ve been enjoying and suddenly it turns into this kind of “what the fuck?” show?
I’ve been watching an ABC (Australia) drama on Sunday nights called “Top Of The Lake”. It’s a little confusing who made this show – the BBC, ABC and someone in New Zealand all have a hand in it, and it’s actually filmed somewhere near Queenstown on the South Island of NZ. Jane Campion gets all the producer’s kudos while the main actress is Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men).
It was going okay until the most recent (fifth of six) episode. It’s like the show’s writers or maybe the producers got lazy when it comes to credibility – and that pisses me off. So far, it’s about finding a pregnant 13 year old teenager who is missing, probably dead, in Deepest Darkest New Zealand Rain Forest and bringing to justice whoever is responsible. Lots of nasty relatives look likely, there’s a bunch of permanently angry, weirdo lesbians and female sex addicts in a commune who oddly insist in frolicking naked in freezing rivers, and the local police are possibly corrupt and – in the case of David Wenham’s character – at least guilty of acting with all the dynamics of a cardboard box. But okay, that’s Wenham’s thing.
For me the wheels began to fall off when our heroine and hero, Detective Robin Griffin (Moss) and her rough bit of shag, Johnno, decide to jump in a kayak and follow a suspicious dude paddling down the lake. This guy’s miles away, right? And for those who don’t know, these lakes and the surrounding mountains in NZ are huge and very, very wild. This is finding a needle in an enormous, wet and rugged haystack. Still, our intrepid duo manage to easily find not only the (hidden) kayak of the suspicious dude, but Johnno nearly catches him – he fails.
So what do they do next? What anyone else would do apparently – they have a shag in the middle of Deepest Darkest New Zealand Rain Forest. Not just a quickie knee-trembler against a nearby tree, it’s the full-on, get-all-your-gear-off bonking on the forest floor.
Folks, this is NZ, the south of the South Island in winter-ish weather. It’s FUCKING FREEZING. No wonder Johnno jumped on top. It must have been like laying down on the floor of a Woolworths meat freezer after all the lamb chops had fallen off the shelves.
Then, despite this all happening in the remote parts of Deepest Darkest New Zealand Rain Forest, two scumbag-type blokes appear out of nowhere and try to film the naked, shagging couple with a mobile phone. Supposedly they have a Scumbags-R-Us YouTube account. Like… what? Where the fuck did these guys come from? A fight ensues, Johnno gets the phone off them while Robin scares them away by shooting a few trees (she’s a detective with a gun, remember), but not before Johnno gets badly knifed in the groin (serves him right for picking fights naked). Do they jump back in the canoe and paddle to help? No, apparently it makes better sense to walk (on a buggered groin) Rambo-style through the impenetrable forest and freezing rivers to eventually arrive at the angry lesbian/hippy commune. Hmm…
Here, while Johnno’s get stitched up by women barely containing either their unbridled lust or their man-hatred for his rude bits, it’s discovered the mobile phone has a video of the missing, pregnant girl in the forest – kind of proving she’s still alive. Everyone celebrates by drinking gallons of champagne and passing the phone around for a look. For fuck’s sake, anyone who’s ever seen any kind of police procedural show – even Noddy Visits Mr Plod – knows that phone is suddenly a prime and vital piece of evidence. But hell, don’t worry, let’s pass it around a bunch of drunken, permanently angry lesbians and sex addicts for a few hours before handing it in for evidence. Shouldn’t be an issue…
The final scene is Elizabeth Moss (the detective) bursting into tears supposedly because the missing girl is alive. Most likely, I suspect, it’s with relief because she’s finally reached the end of this ridiculous episode.
I’ll watch next week, which is the final episode (there are rumours of a sequel) to see if Top Of The Lake redeems itself. And I might catch another glimpse of Elizabeth Moss naked again – maybe shagging on top of Mount Cook or inside a party ice machine.
I’ve been really brain-storming how to get my books in front of people who might want to read them – meaning reaching the right readership, and it occurred to me I’m going the wrong way about it.
The thing is that my Lukas Boston Mysteries should appeal to female readers who like this kind of roguish, smart-arse, womanising, amusing main character with ridiculous good looks and charming bedroom manners, but my new covers were screaming “horror”, which couldn’t be further from the reality. All the paranormal stuff in my Lukas Boston books is funny, kind of quirky shit. Definitely not frightening. Lukas gets annoyed by ghosts. They’re a pain in the arse most of the time.
Anyway, in my efforts to figure out a solution, someone on a forum suggested my books were “Urban Fantasy” and it might be the key to reaching those women readers, since it’s popular. Now, say to me fantasy and I going to think dwarves, elves, dragons and wizards – and all the above shafting each other with swords and axes in pursuit of some kind of Holy Grail (in a castle at the End Of The World). Asking the forum for clarification (what is “urban fantasy?”) triggered a fierce debate. A touchy subject, apparently.
However, I can safely tell you that these days “fantasy” applies to just about anything paranormal. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches… you name, they all get categorised as a kind of fantasy figure now. In fact, someone went so far as to say there is no such thing as horror anymore. Instead “Horror” needs to be correctly identified as whatever fantasy sub-genre the story demands.
I had another problem. If you start labeling any sexual or naughty stuff in your books as in any way… well, rude – you run the risk of the Erotica Police abducting you in the middle of the night and dragging you screaming away into the darkness, never to be seen again. In other words they get pissed off, if you try to kind of cash in on the popularity of erotica without actually writing the “wet plumber shags bored housewife” books. But Lukas does get a bit risque now and then – think “Fifty Shades of Benny Hill” here (well, not quite). So what can I do?
However, it seems you can include romance-like keywords in your metadata as long as you don’t register your books in the actual Amazon Romance categories – go figure. And we’re talking a foreign language here. Stuff like “rake”, “rogue” and “alpha male”.
So this all led to me rewriting the Lukas Boston metadata and redesigning the covers again, including adding the handsome chap in the top right-hand corner who, I should point out, looks nothing like me. I’m sure he’s disappointed about that.
At least this is a really good thing about self-publishing. You can tweak and change stuff on the fly, trying to adjust your books to find that readership as much as you like. Fingers crossed…
I love space shit. Fill the screen with cool-looking planets and spaceships and stuff, and I’m happy as an alien pig in extra-terrestrial crap. We don’t really need to mess up any of the plot with too much explanation of how all this quantum-physics impossible shit can happen — you know, faster than light travel and super-secret space stations that no one notices. We can ignore all that.
But the movie Interstellar seriously tested my patience.
Not because of the script or storyline — which does have its weird moments. Example? Okay, like the incredibly sophisticated robot/droid thing that looks like a Coke vending machine and can pretty much do anything, but NASA still needs a top-gun human pilot for its last remaining spaceship to “fly” it properly using a little joystick thingy.
No, Interstellar pissed me off because I spent 2 1/2 hours asking myself, “What the fuck did Matthew McConaughey just say?” Between the indecipherable southern drawl and the “I’m so cool I’m never going to raise my voice even when the whole world is turning to shit” delivery I spent most of the movie trying to hear what McConaughey was saying. The useless mumbling bastard needs subtitles — damn! Why didn’t I think of that last night? Sod it, no — sub-titles annoy me.
And then, to really get up my nose, it took headphones and about five rewinds to figure out what Michael Caine was whispering on his death bed scene (sorry, but that’s not really a spoiler) — only to discover it didn’t make sense anyway. Caine gasps and gurgles that apparently the whole thing didn’t have to happen (or something) and Smelly McConaughey (a few years back one of his co-stars complained he never uses deodorant) was on a wild goose chase. Which is utterly at odds with all the urgency and drama powering the story up to that point. But okay, maybe McConaughey muttered something earlier that explains this better and I missed it.
Matt Damon makes a fat appearance as a stranded astronaut on another planet. It’s only a small role in the overall movie and obviously allowed him to spend more time in the catering tent. Otherwise, existing alone on a remote planet at the other end of the universe is apparently a good way to pack in the calories.
And the ending? No surprise that there seems to be a blatant device for a sequel, but perhaps not. Maybe the director just said, “We’d better stop there, the audience will have had enough by now”. No argument from me.
Tonight it’ll be “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise running around some planet and carrying lots of big-arse guns. Or maybe they’re normal-sized guns and just look big, because Tom Cruise is such a short arse? I’ll let you know.
By the way, if you’d like to see my own efforts at a space shit story, check out Ghost Beyond Earth. Here’s a link to my web page and it’s available as an ebook. Lots of readers reckon it’s science fiction, others say it’s space opera, but I’ve always insisted it’s a ghost story — with a particularly nasty zombie-like dude included, too.
Really, it’s a ghost story.
This is the now-famous Cooper Family ghost photograph. I’m fascinated by pictures like these. Years ago I borrowed a book from the library called (something like) “350 Famous Ghost Photographs” and it contained – no surprises – 350 pictures of ghosts, fairies (Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle was a big believe in fairies or “faeries”) ectoplasms and lots of other paranormal stuff. This picture wasn’t one of them, but the concept behind the book was interesting. Every photograph included was, to the photographer’s knowledge, genuine. In other words, they may well have been the victim of some kind of hoax, but the person who took the picture believed it to be real. With that in mind, it only needs just one of those pictures to be genuine and ghosts exist – and at odds of 350 to 1 what’s the chances…? Actually, you can apply the same thinking to UFO sightings. Really, is every single UFO sighting over the past, let’s say even just a hundred years, completely false? Every… single… one? (Hmm… worth another post I think)
Anyway, one of the pictures in that book prompted my short story called “The Girl In The Back Seat” a totally creepy photograph of a family that got lost driving to friend’s house. They used a pay-phone to call and ask directions, so their hosts were waiting in the driveway to take a photo of their arrival. When the picture was developed, a ghostly girl was sitting in the back seat. It’s the kind of innocent, utterly out-of-the-blue ghost photo that has infinitely more credibility than any team of ghost hunters running around haunted castles.
So what do you think of this one? The background story is distorted and retold by countless websites – many debunking the picture, some suggesting it’s real. Basically, it was a straightforward family photo that proved very, very different when it was developed. Is it a hoax by someone? Well, you’d have to say it’s an imaginative one. Hardly your standard “unexpected ghost in the background” picture.
I think it could be real and no amount of 21st century internet analysis about “wrong” shadows or angles and can lessen the impact of its original form. What possibly caused the hanging man is another debate altogether. Bottom line for me is that they are simply too many of these incidental ghost photographs for each and every one of them to be a hoax. They can’t all be fake – one of them must be real. Just one, remember? Maybe it’s this one?
Here’s the latest installment in my Lukas Boston paranormal thrillers. This is what they call a full-length book at 60K words, but you know… back in the good ol’ days that’d be about half a book – hey still, for US$2.99 you can’t wrong. You can buy it from Amazon here.
Lately with the rebranding of my Lukas Boston thrillers and the Horror Story books my website hasn’t really matched the look and feel of the cover designs, so I’ve gone for a new theme with bits of dripping blood and whatever (sorry Manu, after all your work). It’s still a bit of a work in progress while I get my head around what the theme has to offer.
Let me know what you think!
Buy At Amazon US $0.99
The Hangman’s Ghost
I’ve released a new horror story, called Horror Story Volume V: The Hangman’s Ghost. This book is more like what I’ve been planning for these stories – shorter, traditional tales of ghosts, evil spirits… you know the sort of thing. As the latest in the series you can buy it for just US $0.99. I’m always keen on feedback about my books. Bring it on!
Back to Horror Writing.
This has been bugging at me for a long time. With eBooks and self-publishing there is a renewed demand for shorter books and what we used to call “short stories”, and this has given new life to my old passion – writing horror. I’ve decided to regularly publish new “short” horror stories – each one will take around an hour or so to read. It’s actually great fun writing this kind of thing, because you can concentrate on the horror, scary bits and hopefully frighten the behooters out of the reader, without labouring away at a full novel that takes perhaps years to write.
To kick things off I’ve split my collection of “Ghost Tales, Four Stories of the Dead Among Us” into four separate books and given the series its own branding and “look” calling each a “Horror Story” with a subtitle and volume number. Each one will be a stand-alone horror story (or perhaps two, if the one tale is too short) and don’t need to be read in any order. These first four are quite long compared to my basic idea of publishing something new every two-three weeks. In fact I have a new one, called “The Hangman’s Ghost” already written and it should be available within a week following a final edit and cover design.
And, even better, I get to compose a new tune for each horror title – an outlet for my music with direction, rather than doodling with song ideas on rainy days. Awesome.
It isn’t the end of my Lukas Boston mysteries. far from it – again, a new as-yet unnamed novel is finished and going through the last edits and cover creation. Mind you, I want to tweak the Lukas Boston series a little… give them a similar branding appearance to the Horror Story covers and remove the “Book 1, Book2…” references, because they really don’t need to be read in any sequence.
So, you’ll see a couple of new books here very soon. Let me know what you think.
Happy reading, Graeme Hague.
One of the good things about being a long-established author these days is that several manuscripts that in the past never saw the book store bookshelves can be self-published instead. We’ve all got ’em. Plenty of manuscripts – not just mine – are rejected by publishers, because they don’t fit a certain criteria or their “list”. It’s not about whether the book is good enough or not.
I always had a lot of faith in The Mirror Of Madness and it bugged me no one saw its potential. So I’m really glad of the opportunity to publish it for myself. Of course, it needed a good editing spit-and-polish, then I had to design the cover. This is the end result. I’m calling it a paranormal fantasy, but it’s also all about modern witchcraft.
Here’s the Amazon US link http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Madness-Story-Modern-Witchcraft-ebook/dp/B00QVFWNM6/ref=asap_B0058SQWQ0?ie=UTF8