An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

Posts tagged “vampires

The road goes ever on and on…

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As you lovely folk are reading this, I’m taking a trip. I know, it’s just another reason to be separated from my laptop and doing NO writing whatsoever, but I think this might have some great research potential. You see, dear friends, I’m off to Budapest today.

Can't wait to explore this!

I know NOTHING about the city. Nothing at all. And I think that’s why I’m so excited. New York last year was incredible and I can;t wait to go back, but one of the main problems was that I knew too much about it. Being the utter Film-Geek that I am, I knew where all kinds of movies were shot and OBVIOUSLY had to visit them, then hitting the tourist attractions because there’s a compulsion to at least see the big stuff. And then I absolutely had to see the National History Museum. It was great, but there was a lot of pressure to run around and not much time to chill.

Budapest should be the exact opposite. There’s no pressure to see anything or be anywhere, nothing I really must see. And so it’s going to be an utter chill out. More than that, I have a real love of going places which have a completely different culture to ours. Again with New York, it was great, but the culture is so similar, and the language identical, that I didn’t really feel like I’d left home at all. It was lovely and warm and cosy and friendly. Now and again, I like a bit of cultural and linguistic discomfort. I like struggling to get by. It makes me feel like an explorer, if only in a diluted way and for a few days.

And then there’s the research. Being in such a wildly different place with its own architecture and styles (and from what I’ve seen, quite a gothic style) will be a great boost to my creativity, I’m sure. Alan Shaw’s next adventure might even be based there. Who knows? We’ll just have to see. But you know I’m a sucker for a gothic facade and a network of alleyways. they make me go all gooey and goosepimpley 🙂 Expect dark things to be walking abroad when I return.

Another reason for going somewhere different is to drop off a whole bundle of my writer’s business cards. Lets see if it works! By this time in a month, I might have a whole new bunch of Hungarian readers! Probably not, though… 😉

Anyways, folks, I’ll see you when I get back, and regale you with tales of Hungarian adventure. I hope you all enjoy your week!

 

Thanks for reading.


Not Before Bed update!

Thanks to the very kind H. Conrad Miller, Not Before Bed has had another great review! Take a look:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great collection of horror short stories ranging from Lovecraftian to werewolves to that thing that goes bump under your bed. Each story is finely crafted by Craig Hallam in an enjoyable and easy to read way while still having each story have it’s own voice and feel. I think that is one of the most remarkable things about this collection. While it is easy to see how all of the stories came from one author, each story was told with a voice all it’s own that was perfect for that specific sub-genre of horror.

Craig out did himself with his variety of stories. The dark sci-fi in Mandy in the Jar-O have an alien abductee’s horrific realization that her wildest dreams of being wanted are not so wonderful. The Lovercraftian tale of Albert that has little dialogue but such gripping description that every pool of water larger than the size of a drop suspect from harboring tentacled elder gods. These stories have the ability to catch and hold a reader’s attention. After every story I was left asking “When can I read a full story about this?”

I highly recommend this to anyone who loves horror. But I especially recommend it to anyone who wants to look into horror for the first time. It will give you a great primer for the genre and help you find a niche inside of it you will like.

 

Good job Craig
Cheers!

Well, I could hardly have asked for a better review than that! Let’s hope that it hitting Goodreads and the web in general gives Not Before Bed another little jolt of downloads. I think this is probably the appropriate time for me to give you some updates on the collection itself, too.

Since moving the collection from Smashwords to Kindle Direct Publishing, I’ve forced myself to NOT constantly check how many downloads I’ve been getting every month. And, because of that, I actually forgot to check altogether. Until today. And so, I can now inform you all that in the last year Not Before Bed, Amazon and Smashwords combined, has had a staggering…

13,426 downloads!

I have no idea how this happened, but July last year showed a massive surge which then frittered out to just a few a month. And since I’ve only been looking at the last few months, I almost missed the huge 12,000ish downloads from middle of last year.

While it may be like this...

 

...it feels more like this.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think this causes for a huge thank you to everyone, whether they’re reading this or not, who has taken the time to download Not Before Bed. I never thought my shoddy little short story collection would be such a (relative) hit. I have no idea WHY this happened, but I’m not going to argue. If I can get but a portion of those downloads for Greaveburn, I’ll be a very happy camper. Special thanks, of course, go to those who went the extra mile to review it, too; you’ve all been extremely supportive and helpful in your feedback.

And with that, I think it’s time to put Not Before Bed to….well, to bed. It’ll still be out there to download for all those people who still manage to stumble onto it. But for me, it’s been a great experience that’s over now. I’m going home to concentrate on the next project. From here on in, it’s all about Greaveburn’s release later this year. And so, I’d like to bid a final thank you to everyone who made Not Before Bed a huge personal success. Stick around, there’s more writing to come!

Thanks for reading.


How far can writers go…? (Here be Vampires)

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Recently on Twitter, I had a rant (if that’s possible in 140 characters). It was regarding my three cardinal rules of Vampirism; rules that, for me, should never be broken no matter what. They are:

1. Vampires go cripsy in the sunlight.

2. There is NO cure.

3. They’re hungry and you’re what’s for dinner, not their BFF.

A follower replied with a good counter argument, the fact that the most famous vampire in the world breaks one of those rules. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the eponymous character does indeed walk around in the daylight. I argued the toss, of course, and pointed out several factors which exempted Dracula from that rule but I wont discuss them here. Maybe a later post, if anyone’s interested.

But the debate brought up a good question. How far can a writer remove their characters from the existing tropes before it becomes TOO removed?

Let’s stick with the Vampires for this one.

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Vampire!

As far as I’m concerned, this is a Vampire. Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi are creepy, scary and will nosh on your neck as soon as look at you. Vampires are supposed to be scary. And I’ll admit that these films are responsible for much of feelings toward the Vampire trope. When Lee clutches his hands to his face against the sunlight and turns into something resembling the contents of a men’s Working Club ashtray, it hit me as petrifyingly cool. But their source material, the original Dracula novel, breaks the Rules. Bram Stoker took the myths/legends/folk tales and warped them to the benefit of his book. Dracula is seen on several occasions throughout the day. Also, he isn’t killed by a wooden stake (which Stoker states as the weapon of choice) but by knives.

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Vampire?

Now let’s think about Stephanie Meyer. I personally don’t rate the Twilight saga very highly. Sorry. But I’m firmly in Team Stoker. It isn’t the romantic element. Dracula is a gothic romance itself (especially if you watch the Gary Oldman movie version). Anne Rice’s awesome Interview series is more sex than scare and I still love those first few books (lost interest after that, mind). But Meyer breaks my cardinal sins twice. Edward Cullen not only shines like a fairy in sunlight, but manages to be an utter nonce in the blood-sucking department too. Bella should be lunch. A thousand times over.

But now I’m going to argue against myself. Is Meyer’s vampiric interpretation any worse that Stoker’s? He makes vamps able to walk in the daylight, she makes them sparkly. Is there such a difference other than aesthetically?

Not really. But those two novels split readers into opposing camps.

Since I’m obviously incapable of answering this one myself, the question goes to you. How far can a writer take something away from the original material before it becomes a bastardisation, or a renewal of tired tropes? Are we bending the rules to keep it fresh or ignoring them completely? I can think of examples which do both. Let’s see what you lot think…

 

Thanks for reading


New reviews for Not Before Bed

Well, it’s time for my favourite holiday. All Hallows Eve is upon us once again. And it seems only fitting that the new print editon of Not Before Bed with its striking white cover be on the shelves and ready to rock. And, thanks the emminent thriller writer Pete Denton and the lovely Ecowitch, I also have two new reviews! Here they are:

Pete Denton

One scaaaary Hombre

“I don’t usually read speculative fiction but I’m glad that I downloaded Not Before Bed, which is a collection of short stories from the twisted mind of Craig Hallam!

This is the second e-book that I downloaded when I bought my Kindle and there are plenty of great stories to entertain you on a cold, dark night. I enjoyed reading each and every one of them, though my favourites are Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster, Lovecraft and Albert. I like it when you can read a collection of short stories and have so many good ones to try to pick the best from.

Once I had started each story I had to read to the end. One of the longest stories in the collection is – Albert. I thought it was an excellent narrative tale that draws you into his world. Craig’s writing brings each story to life and I have to give this book the 5★ rating.

Well done, Craig. I look forward to reading new stories and, hopefully, your debut novel.”

Thanks Pete! Now on to Ecowitch and what she thought:

Ecowitches love the outdoors!

A superb collection of fourteen chilling tales that you really shouldn’t read before bed (unless you’re like me and you really can’t help yourself).  Hallam has a knack for building the tension and fear slowly with Laughter on the Landing, Sarah and the Monster and Albert while giving the reader a short sharp shock with March of the Broken, The Fly Man and the title tale Not Before Bed (which by the way may be the shortest but it packs the biggest punch).  Hallam also takes the more traditional horror genres and gives them his own unique twist with the original viewpoints of Daisy Chained, Hunting Grounds and Sleeping with the Dead.  Each story is very well written and the style changes to suit the story being told with reflections of Poe and Stoker in some and Lovecraft in others.  Hallam uses his words carefully weaving the story and atmosphere together to pull the reader in and keep them there until the very last moment.  I can’t quite bring myself to pick a favourite from these stories but the one that sent the biggest shivers down my spine was the title tale Not Before Bed, which takes your own night fears and gives them a voice, and it’s not one you really want to hear.”

Incredible! I couldn’t have hoped for a better review than that!

And since we’re here talking about it…Not Before Bed is finally ready to buy from Amazon! Own yours today!

I’d like to thank everyone else who’s taken the time to read and review it, I hope I didn’t give you nightmares (Oh, who am I kidding? I hope it did!). Everyone has been extremely supportive, helpful and friendly while I’ve been putting this little project together. Now only if I could get Greaveburn accepted…

Thanks for reading!


New Edition of Not Before Bed!

Banshees and Ghouls!

This may be a bit of a surprise to you, but Not Before Bed has released a new edition!  New cover, new stories, new horrors. Bigger, better and more petrifying than ever before. The really cool bit? IT’S IN PAPERBACK!

You can feel it already can't you? Fear in your fingertips...

That’s right, you denizens of the night, Not Before Bed just made all your fears so horrifyingly real that you can now touch them. The problem is, they can touch you too!

And you could have YOUR copy ready for the fateful All Hallow’s Eve. It’s already available on the Creatspace eShop. And it has just hit Amazon too. But, because I love you, and I have a thirst for hunting long-pig, you can compete against the other victims to win yourself a copy RIGHT NOW over on Goodreads *EDIT – Competition has closed. thank to all who entered*. Go ahead, take a look.

Check behind the curtains, kiss your loved ones good bye.

Then turn out the light, if you dare.