Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Hi everyone. I know it’s been a while since I last posted something (eight days, actually), but I didn’t have anything lately I felt passionate posting about. Until now, that is. You see, just a little while ago, the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association finished a chapter meeting. Not only that, but it was our first Zoom meeting, and we had a pretty decent turnout. We’d been discussing doing things virtually for a while now, but COVID-19 really pushed us to do things online.

And that probably had a big part in our discussion during the meeting. We got onto talking about how COVID-19 has been affecting the writing industry, from the stories we tell to the events we go to. And it has been changing. Or at the very least, it’s in a state of flux.

If you’re part of the writing community as well, you know how it is. A lot of events had to be canceled because of the virus. StokerCon, the biggest horror convention in the world, was canceled, as was ParaPsyCon in Mansfield, OH, which I was supposed to attend. More than a few authors I’ve spoken to have said that their summer travel plans have been canceled and they’ll be spending more time at home than expected. And there’s a good chance my summer plans will be canceled by the end of next month, if not sooner.

Some events have moved online. A writer friend of mine told us during the meeting that he was supposed to give a talk in London around April, but it was moved online. According to him, it had probably more attendees than if he’d been there in person. And there are more events moving online. Hell, some people prefer it that way. Sure, you miss the personal touch that comes from doing cons and panels and readings face-to-face, and maybe lose a little business. But it can be easier on our schedules and wallets and, at least these days, health.

Perhaps some of our events will move online permanently.

Then there are the stories we write. A lot of discussion has gone on about how coronavirus is affecting what we weave together with words. Many of you already know that I’ve written a story, What Errour Awoke, which includes the virus for most of the story as part of the setting. And since then, I’ve had a few more ideas that take place during this current crisis, after this crisis, or uses imagery from the crisis to enhance the terror.

This virus is changing so much of our industry.

For others though, this pandemic has put a crimp in their writing plans. More than a few people have said their planned pandemic or zombie stories have been put on hold or readjusted due to COVID-19. One of my fellow writers mentioned how her students turned in a story about zombies created from the COVID-19 vaccine, and how she told said student that it wouldn’t be published (sounds too much like I Am Legend, for one thing). Others have mentioned how a lot of their stories have become period pieces, because they’ve had to move their stories to pre-COVID days. Or how they don’t think they can use COVID-19 in their work right now because they’re going through the pandemic right now, and don’t have the right mindset right now for those sort of stories.

I mentioned how I expected a lot of people to write Gothic stories about evil homes, inspired by being cooped up in their homes and the stress caused by that. Others mentioned how themes of isolation, fear of touch, of each other, might show up more in our fiction.

And this is likely only a few changes that will occur in the industry. Probably, we will see more changes to stories, publishing, marketing and event planning. What they will be, I can’t say for certain. I can only guess. But I think, at some point, we can expect plenty of writing about them.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll hopefully have a new post out very soon. Remember, you can still get a signed copy of Rose from yours truly. Send me an email for details. And until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

The Witcher books by Andrezj Sapkowski are a prime example of dark fantasy.

You’ve probably heard the term “dark fantasy” thrown around to describe different kinds of stories, and the simple definition given when asked what constitutes dark fantasy is “fantasy but darker or grimmer.” And yet, that doesn’t seem to fully encompass the subgenre or quell debate on what dark fantasy is. I’ve heard people say all horror that has to do with the supernatural as a kind of dark fantasy, or that the line between the two is very thin. Even authors who are known as dark fantasy writers have trouble pinning down a definition.

So while I’m no expert myself, I thought I would ask, “What is dark fantasy?” Especially since depending on the definition, my stories could fall into this genre on occasion.

And in the course of my research, I did come across some things. While an exact definition isn’t agreed upon, there are some things that fans and writers can agree upon. For example, both TV Tropes.org and Fantasy Book Fanatic.com agree that dark fantasy is fantasy (no duh), but unlike high fantasy or swords-and-sorcery fantasy, there is a much grimmer, more ominous tone to the stories. While in other subgenres of fantasy, gods can be clearly defined as good or evil or maybe just neutral, gods can be very evil or at best cruelly ambivalent to humans. If they show up in the story at all, that is.

Likewise, magic is a neutral force at best, unlike magic in Harry Potter or the Force in Star Wars (which is a fantasy element in science fiction). Magic may even be the source of corruption that creates the villains in the stories, and could be considered a necessary evil or even the source of evil itself, needing to be rid from the world. As for heroes, there are a distinct lack of heroes in the world, and at best you get anti-heroes or mercenaries. Anyone who could be defined as a “hero” may be filling the role reluctantly. They’re doing this not for some noble goal like saving the world or defeating an evil warlord, but for revenge, their own goals, for profit or because they haven’t been given a choice in the matter and are really bitter about that.

Based on these definitions, the Overlord novels by Kugane Maruyama and their adaptations (which I recommend) count as dark fantasy as well as isekai fantasy.

And finally, there’s a good chance evil can win. Bad politicians can stay in power while good ones may lose their heads. The Demon King can take over the continent and establish an empire. The witch may kill the princess and release the plague upon the land before getting slaughtered by the princess’s lover. Things may just go to shit.

Yeah, bleak. And under these parameters, series like The Witcher novels or some of my favorite isekai fantasy series from Japan, such as Overlord, The Rising of the Shield Hero, or Arifureta,* count as dark fantasy.

But given those parameters, doesn’t that make supernatural horror dark fantasy after all? Not necessarily. While some might prefer to use the term “dark fantasy” for their stories to avoid horror’s negative connotations in society, and the two genres do overlap, there are key differences. Namely, dark fantasy focuses on the monster and fantasy elements while horror uses the monster and fantasy elements.

Look at my own novel Rose, for example. The protagonist Rose Taggert is transformed into a plant/human hybrid by a magical book given to mortals by a nature god. Sounds very fantasy-esque. And if Rose was a dark fantasy story, it would follow Rose Taggert’s attempts to live a life and understand her place in the world now that she’s changed, as well as to understand this new magic dimension in the world around her. But it doesn’t. Instead, the magic is a means by which to place Rose in the power of the antagonist, Paris Kuyper. It’s a means to create the terror of not knowing how dangerous Paris is, nor knowing what he’ll do to her if she doesn’t respond to his desires as he wants her to. That’s why Rose is a fantasy-horror novel rather than a dark fantasy novel.

Similarly, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles can be considered dark fantasy because they use the state of vampirism to explore psychological and philosophical truths and beliefs among the characters. If they were full-on horror, the vampires would be the means to terrify the readers. You know, like Salem’s Lot (which I need to reread, with a new adaptation on the way and all).

While some might categorize “Rose” as dark fantasy, how those fantasy elements are used distinguishes it as a horror novel.

And while we’re distinguishing between genres and subgenres, let’s talk about the difference between dark fantasy and grimdark. Grimdark is another subgenre of fantasy, characterized by apocalyptic, dystopian or hellish settings and a very bleak atmosphere, but still containing all those fantasy elements. So, what makes it different from dark fantasy, when both can contain those settings and atmosphere? According to Fantasy Book Fanatic.com, the difference is in hope:

“The concept of hope seems to be the primary differentiating factor between dark fantasy and grimdark. Hope is still able to be an integral theme in dark fantasy narratives. In contrast, the central theme of grimdark almost never entertains the possibility of hope. The central theme revolves around cynicism instead. This differentiation is vague at best, which is why many of the works of dark fantasy and grimdark are so easily confused.”

So what is dark fantasy? Well, by this definition, it is fantasy with darker or horror overtones. However, it distinguishes itself from horror by using the fantasy elements as a means to tell the story, rather than as a means to terrify the reader. Think vampires as tortured souls rather than vampires as supernatural man-eating monsters. And, unlike grimdark, there is still an element of hope in the story. Things may go to shit, but people are still allowed to hope.

My name is Rami Ungar, thank you for coming to my TED talk.

*Which, unlike the other two I just mentioned, will not appear on any of my anime recommendations lists. The anime did the original novels a poor service, which is a shame, because I devoured the first four books in a week, they’re that good. Check them out if you’re interested.

 

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If you’re interested, I’m still taking orders for signed copies of Rose. Send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com for details. Or you can check it out on Amazon and Audible. And if you do check the book out, let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’ll be neck deep in Victorian England again, but I hope to put out another post very soon.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last review, and nearly two months since my last review of a movie. Well, it’s the first of the month and a Friday night. I recently found out about an American remake of a Thai horror film that’s one of the best known Thai horror films and Thai films in general known internationally. The Thai film is on Netflix. Let’s get into it.

Shutter follows Tun, a photographer, and his girlfriend, Jane. On the way back from a friend’s wedding, they accidentally run a girl over and flee the spot. However, nothing is reported to the police or the hospitals, and things get weirder from there. Spirit images show up in Tun’s photos, and the more Jane digs into things, the more she realizes that the girl they ran over wasn’t just a random accident. Something’s coming for Tun and his friends, something from their past. And whether in a photo or in reality, it’s not going away.

So Asian horror films can be hit-or-miss with me, but this one actually did okay with me. While the plot feels a lot like a basic Blumhouse formula film–you know, characters somehow catch the eye of something evil, it slowly comes after them with jumpscares and other weird moments to scare them before killing them, and then finally there’s some sort of climax after all the backstory is revealed–here, it’s done pretty well. The jumpscares aren’t overused and are actually pretty effective, partly because the ghost of the film is so damn creepy.

Along with that, the film does some great scenes full of tension. There’s one scene with a flashing camera in a dark room that I’m sure was terrifying on the big screen, and there was another scene involving a biology lab full of preserved specimens that actually had me curled up a bit in my seat.

And as I said, the ghost of the film is so damn creepy, thanks to some great makeup and not overusing her appearances.

However, there are some things Shutter could’ve done better at. As I said, the story is kind of formulaic, so there were plenty of things I saw coming and which I’m sure other people would see coming. Sure, there were some good twists and some excellent foreshadowing at times, but still predictable at times.

And if you’re photosensitive, I would recommend skipping over the camera-in-the-dark room scene. Also, this film contains some elements that might upset certain viewers, so trigger warning.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Shutter a 3.5. If you’re looking for a popcorn horror film to last an hour and a half, this might do the trick for you. It’s on Netflix, so enjoy.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m still taking orders for signed copies of Rose, all you have to do is email me at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. In the meantime, there’s a book that’s literally screaming my name (surprisingly not a grimoire of dark magic), so I’m going to go read that. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Happy Monday, everyone! How are you? Did you have a good weekend? I did…until Sunday evening, when an incident occurred in the vicinity of my apartment complex that required the police to be called. Yeah, that happened. Don’t worry, I’m fine, as is everyone who was involved, as far as I know. I won’t go into details, just saying that stuff happened and while I didn’t have a front-row seat, I heard quite a bit of it.

Which led to me staying up later than I meant to, getting a headache that lasted all night and through most of the morning, and feeling so off when I got up that I nearly called in sick to work. Yeah, I was not a happy lord of evil and master of nightmares.

Thankfully, the events outside gave me some wicked inspiration for a short story. And feeling that inspiration take hold, after work was done and after dinner was consumed, I sat down to write the story. And I finished it all, as the title suggested, in one sitting. I can only think of one other time that’s happened, it’s that rare. And a good thing too, because writing all that in one go is exhausting. All you other writers know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, details about the story. The House That Comes and Goes is about a white colonial house that suddenly appears in a vacant lot one night, and a nurse who goes to investigate after someone she knows go into the house and doesn’t emerge. How is it related to events in my neighborhood? Well, the opening loosely reflects what happened in my neighborhood. I won’t say much else lest I give away spoilers, but I have to say, this story was great revenge against the people who kept me awake and made me feel sick.

Now, what’s going to happen with this story? Well, it’s very short for one of my stories, 3,353 words, so I think I could find it a good home much more easily than some of my other stories.* First, however, I’m going to see if I can’t get it looked at and get some feedback so I can edit and improve it. I’ve already reached out to a couple of interested people, so now it’s just a matter of waiting for a response.

In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll return to my Victorian England story (which is coming along very well, by the way). At the rate I’m going, I think I’ll be finished around mid-May, which works great for me. After all, my goal is still to finish ten short(er) stories between March and December this year, and I’m well on-track for that.

In the meantime though, there’s a nice, warm bed calling my name. Goodnight, my Followers of Fear. Stay safe, be healthy, and pleasant nightmares to you all!

*Yeah, that’s a lot for one day. I’m not sure how I did that in one sitting, either. But on the bright side, at least I didn’t write something a whole lot longer in one sitting. Can you imagine what I’d be like after writing a story like that?

Normally I don’t do this for first drafts, especially ones that are still in progress, but I’m having so much fun with this story, and I love the opening so much, I can’t resist!

So for those of you who haven’t seen this little meme before, this is #FirstLineFriday, something I used to do quite a bit on this blog but now reserve for special occasions. Here are the rules for the meme:

  1. Create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

As many of you know, I’m working on a story set in my beloved Victorian England. I haven’t settled on a name for the story, so I won’t give you the placeholder title. However, I can tell you that this story is a distillation of not just my enjoyment of the era but a representation of my thoughts and understanding on it. And this opening represents that understanding 110% percent. Enjoy:

A stream of shit and piss fell from the second floor of the Avondale house, where it mixed with the piss, shit and mud that already littered the avenue.

Fun fact: I posted this on my personal Facebook page, and someone immediately guessed this took place in Victorian England. I was like, “You’re right on the money!” Turns out, she spent some time abroad studying at Oxford (lucky), and Victorian novels were a big part of the curriculum. So of course, she knew.

But what do you think, Followers of Fear? Did this opening grab you? Make you laugh? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And in the meantime, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s a lot of fun, and a nice way to promote your work. And with that in mind, I’m going to tag one of you. Iseult Murphy, you’re on the chopping block! By the power of the tag, I hereby designate you to do this tag next Friday. I look forward to seeing what you post next week. Mwa ha ha ha!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Hope you enjoyed the opening to the story I wrote. And in the meantime, if you haven’t heard, I am now sending signed copies of Rose through the mail to people. Send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com and I’ll give you the details on how to get a copy. Doesn’t sound like a bad proposition, does it? Especially since we’re all stuck inside these days.

I hope you all have a relaxing and safe weekend. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Hey everyone! So, a lot of my fellow writers, especially within the horror writing community, have been posting videos of themselves reading all or parts of stories they’ve written. This is actually something I wanted to do for a long time, so seeing my colleagues doing it gave me the push I needed to finally go ahead and do it. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to make a special announcement (more on that below).

Specifically, I read from “Car Chasers,” the short story that was published in the anthology The Binge-Watching Cure II back in December. It doesn’t have an audio version, and I wouldn’t want to try with Rose on a YouTube video when the audio book’s narrator, Sara Parlier, did such a great job, so this was the perfect choice.

However, this video almost didn’t make it to the Internet. Yeah, YouTube has this stupid policy where it won’t let you upload videos longer than fifteen minutes unless you go through this whole rigmarole with them. And they didn’t tell me this until I already spent nearly three hours uploading the video. So I had to go through that process, then wait another three hours to upload and release a video. Thanks, YouTube! Ruined my evening plans! I thought you were trying to be more creator-friendly! Hmph!

Anyway, here’s the video. Please give it a watch, and stick around till the end for a special announcement.

Well, what did you think? Hope my reading voice didn’t cause your ears to bleed.

Also, if you didn’t stick around to the end, here’s the announcement: you can get a signed copy of my novel Rose from me! All you have to do is send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com to get the full details.

Of course, you can still get Rose from Amazon and Audible, as well as any bookstores that happen to have copies in stock (there are a few), but this would be a bit more special. And you’d get a physical copy without forcing an Amazon employee to run around the fulfillment center while Amazon ignores social distancing rules.*

And if you haven’t already, please consider getting a copy of The Binge-Watching Cure II from Claren Books. You’d be supporting a great company and encouraging them to print more anthologies. And this book has a lot of great authors in it: Nick Younker, Amanda Crum, Bill Adler, Armand Rosamalia, and many more. And every story is chilling in each its own way. I’ll include links for that down below as well.

And remember, if you buy a copy of either and read it, please leave a review so that I and the other authors know what you thought of our stories. Thanks!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, happy reading, stay safe, be healthy, and pleasant nightmares!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

The Binge-Watching Cure II: Paperback, Kindle

*Hey, I make money through them, but that doesn’t mean the company is above criticism.

Sometimes, when working on a story, we find that it might be a bit longer than you had originally anticipated. And then you find out it’s going to be much longer. Perhaps even the length of a novel.

I may be on the verge of one such story. There’s a good chance after I begin writing this story set in Victorian England, it may not end as a novella, as I expected, but a full novel. And after finishing Toyland less than two months ago, plus River of Wrath to edit still (which I plan to do very soon, believe me), it feels too soon. And it’s hard to judge how big these stories can get just based on the outline I wrote up these past couple of days. Perhaps it just feels like a novel based on what I wrote up and will still be under sixty-thousand words, the threshold I establish for novels.

Then again, River of Wrath was originally supposed to be a novelette, but ended up being somewhere over sixty-thousand words. Not to mention there are two or three other stories I’ve written that I plan to someday expand into longer stories. This might be another sort of story like that.

Well, I always knew my plans for this year might change, depending on how things develop. And I am dying to get into this story, so one way or another, I’m going to write it and see where it goes. I just hope that when it’s done, no matter its length, it’ll be one hell of a story.

I also hope that when it’s finished, I’ve come up with a good title for it. I hear those are essential for telling a good story.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say. Just wanted to get all that off my chest before the writing process began. I’m off to board a carriage drawn by four demonic horses and driven by a skeletal figure in a top hat to take me to a fear-infested past. Wish me luck on my journey.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, stay safe, be healthy, and pleasant nightmares.