Fantastic New Article By Suzanne Church on SF Signal… How to Justify Your Horror Obsession!

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/04/guest-post-suzanne-church-on-10-ways-to-keep-your-sff-loving-boyfriend-happy-while-enjoying-your-horror-fix/

I can totally relate to this article. Sometimes it’s hard to justify your love of horror to fan friends that enjoy lighter fare, and I love Suzanne Church’s humorous take on it.

It reminds me just how lucky I am to have a zombie nut at home. ❤ His office even comes complete with a wall o’ skulls.

Feel the spoopy...

Feel the spoopy…

 

Yup, we’re just a couple of work-a-day professional eccentrics.

In fact, I think that he is definitely the more hard-core horror fan of the two of us, which is tough, because there’s always a little bit of a dark twist to everything I do. But he’s a wily one… and I think he may have used some of these tactics to get me into more horror, especially the one about offering up stuff with more fantasy elements to it. Before being with Robin, I hadn’t experienced how wonderful fantasy/horror hybrids could be… I thought it was all vampires and werewolves, which although I know a lot of people enjoy that kind of dark/urban fantasy, just isn’t my favorite. I think you either love it or you don’t. It’s funny how the people you meet influence your work sometimes…

How about you, out there in blog land? Has anyone come into your life and shown you things that changed the way you think about your art?

Life (A)musings: The No Break-Up Corridor

Robin and I were having one of those nostalgic conversations the other day, the kind that always seem to happen on lazy Sunday afternoons. We were looking back with a touch of humor at all of the people we’d dated before getting together, and we touched on something that both of us has experienced at one time or another that doesn’t seem to make much sense.

 Why is it that there is no good time to break up with a person between the beginning of December and the middle of March?

 Think about it: break up with someone anytime in the month leading up to Christmas, and everybody rules against you because you broke up with them ‘right before Christmas’. Your ex will say stupid stuff about you, and even people who would normally be inclined to rule in your favor will be all like ‘Yeah Man, that was cold.’ But try to plan an exit strategy after Christmas, and not only do you have the awkwardness of potentially having accepted gifts from them, but also you open yourself up to accusations of being two-faced and only pretending to have been into them to get through the holidays/get presents. Then, once New Years is solidly over, and you’ve cleared the holidays, you’re coming up to Valentine’s day, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a month before Valentine’s day, you’ll inevitably be accused of breaking up with someone ‘right before Valentine’s day’, because they don’t really have enough time to find someone else before then. This is also considered a cold move… so basically the situation doesn’t get any better until about mid-march, when you’re well clear of all the holidays.

 I’m not saying it’s illegal or anything to break up at this rather long time of the year, but it does seem like there’s no good time between December 1st and March 15th to make a clean break of it, without facing accusations from friends and family of being cold-hearted. We dubbed it ‘The No Break-Up Corridor’. Has anyone else ever noticed this? Do you think break ups should happen when they need to, or do people have an obligation to spare their partner’s feelings, barring any kind of abusive situation?

I Didn’t Do It… But I Might Have.

This is part two of a series I started on Thursday about character development, and how my characters both are and aren’t myself and people that I know. If you want to read part one, it’s here.

 For a quick recap, on Thursday I wrote about the oddities that ensue when writers draw characters from real life experience. I concluded that, personally, I don’t believe that writers can ever produce a character that isn’t drawn from their own experiences and biases, in large part because that’s ultimately the only well we have to draw from when creating stories. I then went on to impart a story of how one of my villains came to be, and the real-life circumstances he was drawn from.

 As therapeutic as turning my frustrations with a former crush into a villain may have been, I have had far more powerful experiences with some of my protagonists. Three protagonists in particular stand out in my mind as having helped me work through major life changes.

 The first is Nemra, from my second published short story, Beyond Nemra. At the time I wrote this story, I was in the process of letting go of my relationship with my first real love, and falling in love with the man who eventually became my husband. My relationship with my ex boyfriend had been very difficult at the end, devoid of affection, and full of secrets. I found at the end, that he was telling things to friends of ours that I should have been told, and was only ever told after the fact. He wanted to railroad me into marriage by trying to convince me that I wasn’t getting any younger (at 23, ha) and yet he clearly didn’t feel any affection for me anymore. I was scared to break it off because we lived together and had joined our resources, but eventually, after many tries to reconcile and make him open up again, I realized that it was over.

 After I broke up with him, I was left with a lot of resentment and unanswered questions as to why he went cold on me. I started dating again, but I still had a lot of grief and rage bottled up inside over what I saw as him ruining a good thing. I felt, often, like I had a fire caged up in my chest, trying to explode outward, I was so filled with emotion. My new love for Robin and my old resentment of my ex warred with each other for dominance within me. Then, in my quiet moments on the way back from a writers’ retreat that summer, my feelings took human form in Nemra, the girl with a fiery enchantment trapped inside her that she will either release, or die.

 Despondent after being abandoned by her wizard lover, Nemra swallows one of his talismans and throws herself into the world as an adventurer for hire, hoping to die quickly by the sword, or slowly by the enchantment trapped within her. Then, she meets Kerimar, a man who convinces her, through a series of trials, that she may yet love again. Nemra releases the talisman just as she and Kerimar are surrounded by enemies, and the enchantment flies up out of her mouth into the clouds, and comes back down as burning blue hail that fells their enemies and leaves the two of them free to love again. Writing this story exorcised the last of my resentment toward my ex, and allowed me to love again, too.

 The next character that helped me work through a lot of life stuff is Ravoth Yonfarion. Ravoth, unfortunately, will never see print, because he is part of a license novel that I wrote that will never see the light of day. I can’t talk much about what the project was about, but I can still tell this character’s individual tale without getting into too much hot soup. Ravoth is nearly immortal, and very, very old, but he can only survive by receiving immortality treatments from his best friend, a terrible dictator whose former ideals have sunken into a lust for power and order at any cost. When Ravoth learns that something he and his friend created long ago that could unite the land and bring peace and understanding has not died, but merely lain dormant waiting for a time to grow, he must choose whether he will kill his creation and live, or take a stand for his ideals, protect his creation, and die.

 When I wrote Ravoth, I had just left my home and come to animation school. I was older than just about everyone around me, because it had taken me time to gather the courage and maturity I needed to take a stand and own my love for art. I felt lonely, and like I’d been fighting for years just to make it as far as I had, and still I had a long fight ahead of me. Ravoth, the old soldier alive beyond his years and homesick for a time long gone, comforted me with the thought that no matter how long you’ve spent going down the wrong path, it’s never too late to tap into your inner fire. I still love him, and wish others could have ‘met’ him too.

 The third, and most recent character on this list is Denny, short for Felicia Dennigan. Denny is a strong, independent woman struggling to survive without much support from her family, in a decayed Ontario where the dead have started rising from the grave and tormenting the living after dark. Denny lives outside the zone affected by the monsters, but she is quickly drawn into a wilderness adventure of epic proportions when she discovers that her missing father is one of them. She faces many dangers along her journey, but the hardest challenge for her by far is learning to trust others.

 At the time I wrote Denny, I was very lonely. Many of the friends I’d had for years were dropping away from me, one by one, and people at school gave me a wide berth, for reasons I’m still not sure of. I spent most of my days feeling isolated and a bit abandoned, all while having to achieve high marks and spend a lot of time on schoolwork. Denny helped me work through the things I was doing to push people away, and the trust issues I had that contributed to my loneliness. As I wrote her, I started to see the same traits in myself, and learn how to push back against them. I used my new-found realizations to find community outside of school, and became much happier and less isolated.

 And now, it’s time for the question of the week:

 Has a fictional character ever helped you work through something big in your life? I’d love to hear the story. Comment, or better yet, blog it!

The Music Is Back

This week, I went out for dinner with my folks. As we scarfed down some seriously delicious Italian food, our discussion drifted to stuff we might like to buy in the future. I mentioned that my next big purchase, when I got my financial feet under me again, was going to be a pawn shop electric guitar. My Dad then said that the Hubs and I could borrow his electric guitar and bass, along with his practice amp.

 This may seem like a small exchange, but it marks a huge, if gradual, change in my life.

 For the past five years, my life has been nothing but school. Some people say that, but I really mean it. I went directly from a one-year intensive Master’s Degree program into one of the most scary-hard art programs in the world. Now, before you think I’m getting whiny, let me clarify: I know what I signed up for. However, one of the things I’ve discovered after running this journey to its end is that you can never truly predict what something will do to you, how it will change you, despite having consented fully to it at the outset.

 One of the things that living and breathing school and work for five years did to me was take away my joy. I became mean, because I saw the people in front of me as obstacles to efficiency and success. I stopped cultivating hobbies, of which I previously had many, because I didn’t see the point. I would start a video game, or a knitting project, or commit to a performance project, and then work and school would inevitably keep me from following through. I had a feeling of never living up to expectations and failing, all the time, because I could never make school and work balance with everything else in my life. Both schoolwork and the rest of my life suffered.

 And yet, if you’d asked me at the time, I would have told you I was getting meaner, more restless, and less capable, and I never would have been able to tell you why. The slow leach of joy from my life happened so gradually, I never even noticed that it was a problem. I just knew I was miserable. It’s taken me nearly a year to sort all of this out, and it’s still unravelling. The saddest part about all of it is that if your were to ask me, even now, I would still say that it was unavoidable. I had to do this kind of schooling to get where I was going. It was a sacrifice I made knowing what its potential effect could be, because the alternatives were so much worse.

 Things started to turn around when I moved, got a steady job, and a car. I started listening to the radio again as I drove, liking the rush it gave me, a rush I hadn’t felt in years. After a while, I started singing along. Singing along made me yearn for a guitar so that I could perform again. I had sold my guitar when I needed money to go to school. I’m slowly coming around, starting to want things for myself again, just for the fun of them. My vocal coaches used to tell me that I had a hard time emoting during performance. I think I just needed to go through the wringer a bit, to really live, to appreciate the act of expression through music. Soon, I’m going to play that guitar, and I’m going to sing with joy.

 So, that brings me to Liz’s Question of the Week (TM):

What in your life costs you no money, but brings you joy? Would you ever let it go for a larger gain?

 Answer in the comments, or better yet, use it as a blog prompt, and I’ll answer on your blog!

 …And, if you’re ever in Hamilton, you owe it to yourself to check out Chicago Style Pizza. Just do it, but show up early. They don’t take reservations.