Archive for April, 2012

Author’s Interview: Graham Masterton on Family Portrait

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Graham Masterton is a well known horror author in Europe. Having worked as a Deputy Editor for Mayfair, he has also worked as the editor of the British edition of Penthouse. He has authored a myriad of novels and short stories on wide variety of subjects from thrillers, horror (including horror books for children), and historical fiction, to his sex instruction books, creating a wider range of fans. Mr. Masterton can also be found as a regular contributor to Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Woman, Woman’s Own and other mass-market self-improvement magazines.

Of all the Graham Masterton’s horror novels, Family Portraitis quite popular for it’s being an update of the Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. In this interview Mr. Masterton talks on this truly horror epic and his other literary experiences.

Would you like to discuss your career graph started from a local newspaper reporter to a well known horror author?

I was always writing horror stories from a very young age, even before I became a newspaper reporter.  I was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and Algernon Blackwood and MR James and Bram Stoker.  When I was 14 I wrote a 400-page vampire novel which fortunately has not survived the passage of time!  I continued to write poetry and fiction even when I left school at the age of 17 and joined my local paper as a trainee reporter.  At that time I became very interested in the writing of “Beat” authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, who wrote a notorious novel called The Naked Lunch.  When I was 21 I tried to get a job on a national newspaper but had no luck.  Fortunately a girlfriend of mine had noticed somebody on the train reading a new men’s magazine called Mayfair.  It was a British copy of Playboy, with lots of pictures of girls with no clothes on but also some very serious articles which give the readers some justification for buying it.  I applied for a job at Mayfair and was immediately appointed Deputy Editor – even though the staff consisted only of the owner, the Editor, me, a secretary, and the owner’s dog.  I worked there for nearly four years, and learned how to commission articles, page layout, typography, and all kinds of other journalistic skills (most of which are completely out-of-date.) William Burroughs came to live in London at this time and I not only commissioned him to write a series of articles for Mayfair, but wrote a novel myself with his input and assistance – a very obscure piece of work called Rules of Duel.  I found the manuscript only last year and it was published for the first time (40 years after it was written!) by Telos Books.  I had a bit of an altercation with the Editor of Mayfair and went to work for Penthouse magazine, first as Deputy Editor and then as Executive Editor.  I also edited the sex-instruction magazine Penthouse Forum.  Penthouse had just started up in the United States in those days so I was a frequent visitor to their offices in New York.  There it was suggested by an editor at Signet Books that I write a sex-instruction book How to Drive Your Man Wild in BedThis turned out to be a huge success, so I followed it up with more sex books, all of which sold very well to begin with.  In 1975, however, the bottom fell out of the sex book market, so to speak.  I had a contract with my publisher for a new sex book but they didn’t want it, so I insisted they honor their contract and sent them The Manitou instead.  This was a novel which I had written in five days (in between sex books) for my own amusement.  It was about a Native American medicine man being reborn in the present day to take his revenge on the white man.  I was inspired by a story I had read when I was a boy about Native American spirits in The Buffalo Bill Annual 1955;  and by my wife Wiescka’s pregnancy with our first (of three) sons.  The Manitou became an immediate best-seller and was filmed with Ton Curtis playing the lead role of a fake fortune-teller, as well as Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens and Burgess Meredith.  After that I continued to write horror novels, as well as historical sagas like Rich and Lady of Fortune and Maiden Voyage.  Eventually I came up with the idea for Family Portrait.

Give us a brief of your well-received horror novel “Family Portrait”, a favorite amongst fans.

Family Portrait tells the story of a long-dead family who are only surviving because they made a pact in which their portrait was supposed to grow older and show all the signs of their debauchery while they themselves remain young.  Unfortunately for them, they have lost the portrait, and the poor technique of the painter means that the paint is beginning to flake off, which has a devastating effect on their physical selves.  Family Portrait tells the story of their desperate hunt for the portrait and the gruesome ways in which they are keeping their physical selves from falling apart.

Family Portrait is the imaginative reworking of the Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. What made you to do that?

I read The Picture of Dorian Gray when I was at school and always thought that it was a great idea.  So great an idea that it could very readily be expanded into a dramatic present-day horror story.  I have never been afraid to take another writer’s idea and put a new twist on it…in The Manitou I brought in the Native American gods that H.P. Lovecraft invented, and in Mirror I rewrote Alice Through The Looking Glass. Using an idea with which readers are already familiar can give a story much more credibility.

What do you think is the most frightening scene in the Family Portrait?

Certainly the most horrible scene in Family Portrait is when Vincent discovers Edward’s body and it is nothing more than a mass of maggots.  “The mindless twisting and turning of all those semi-transparent bodies, and the way they glistened in the daylight.”

You have been authored more than 35 horror novels. Which of them you think is the scariest and why?

Actually I have written 58 horror novels, plus several collections of short horror stories.  It is impossible for me to say which is the scariest, because when you write them yourself they don’t scare you!  But I think the story which still gives me a feeling of unease when I re-read the first chapter is The Pariah.  In the middle of the night, a man thinks he can hear his dead wife swinging on the swing in his back yard, even though there is nobody there.  I have also just finished a new novel called Community, in which our hero discovers that there is something very wrong about the woman with whom he has just gone to bed…

How did you become passionate about writing for the horror genre of fiction world?

As I mentioned before, I started reading Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination when I was only ten or eleven years old, and I began to write my own horror stories to frighten my friends at school.  Thirty years later, I met one of my friends and he told me he still had nightmares about one of the stories I read out to him in the school playground!  However, I don’t really consider myself a horror writer, only a writer who happens to write horror stories amongst many other things, such as historical sagas, thrillers, and even humor.

Your first horror book, The Manitou, published in 1975, was adapted into an awesome film in 1978. How you felt then to see your very first book becoming a best seller and then turned into a movie?

Extraordinary.  Very exhilarating…especially the trip to Los Angeles to see the premiere.  I had talks with the director Bill Girdler about making a movie from my next book,  The Djinn,  but tragically he died in a helicopter crash soon after.

Of all the books you have compiled so far, which is your favorite as a reader?

I still have soft spot for Trauma (aka Bonnie Winter) because I love writing about women and their personalities and their day-to-day problems.  I will have two new crime books to be published in 2013,  White Bones and Broken Angels,  and they both feature my Irish detective Katie Maguire,  who is a feisty but very sensitive and complex character,  with a lot more difficulties to deal with in her life apart from police work.

Who is/are your role model(s) in writing world and how far your passion for writing is influenced by the same?

When I was younger I loved the work of Nelson Algren (The Man With The Golden Arm) and Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny), American writers who could tell a story plainly and evocatively without the personality or the opinions of the author coming in between the reader and the story.  These days I have no heroes and I read nobody else’s fiction, although that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them.  After writing all day I simply don’t have the time or the inclination.  If I were a chef I wouldn’t spend all evening cooking.

Would you like to say something to your readers and fan club?

I have the warmest and friendliest readers I could ever wish for.  The messages I receive on my Message Board (www.grahammasterton.co.uk) and the postings I receive on my Facebook page are all evidence to me that I have not only succeeded in entertaining my readers but making them feel that they are living inside the worlds that I have created for them.  For a writer, that is very gratifying.  There are plenty more books on the way…The Red Hotel comes out in June,  2012,  and will be followed by Garden of Lies,  a new book about Jim Rook,  the college teacher with supernatural insight.  Also, I am happy to say that many of my backlist books will soon be available as ebooks, which you can download.  While I was answering the questions in this interview, I was given news that a further 15 books will soon be downloadable, including Burial, The Hell Candidate and House of Bones.  My best wishes and thanks to all of you, and good luck!

Readers can access the books by Graham Masterton from our Bookstore.

Relic: The Quest for the Golden Shrine

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Author: Tom Egeland

When I set out to write Relic, I wanted to write a mystery novel without a crime. This may sound odd. I wanted to write a story as one would a traditional suspense novel – but without any murders and violence. The core of the mystery is a quest – the quest for knowledge, for understanding.

Relic starts out with an international archaeological dig in Norway – under the supervision of the albino and rather quirky archaeologist Bjorn Belto. A medieval Norwegian monastery conceals an archaeological sensation – a gold reliquary containing a 2000-year-old manuscript that might well change the course of world history.

When the internationally renowned archaeologist Graham Llyleworth disappears with the reliquary, Bjorn Belto reluctantly wants to set things straight.

Deeply skeptical to all the rumors surrounding the reliquary, Belto sets out to trace the reliquary’s origins. His quest takes him from the monastery via a scientific ‘intelligence organization’ in London and a research establishment in the Middle East to a Crusaders’ castle in a French village.

Here he meets a man with a revelation that has to be kept a secret for mankind.

A couple of years after the publication of “Relic“, Dan Brown published his immensely successful “The Da Vinci Code“. Mr. Brown’s success laid the ground for my own worldwide breakthrough. Although the two novels are very different in style and approach, they both deal with the same basic question: What really happened to Jesus Christ? Why do the gospels have different accounts of the same Biblical people and events?

I don’t claim to have the answers to these fundamental questions. However, literature is made for exploring “impossible” ideas and question. The two magical words in literature are: “What if …”

Relic” is a “what if” novel. What if world history has to be changed? What if the Bible does not account what really happened?

I hope my readers view “Relic” as a different kind of thriller, in which myth, mystery, history and theology are inextricably intertwined.

Interviewing Lauren Oliver on Pandemonium

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Lauren Oliver is a New York Times bestselling American author known for her young adult books. Her first YA novel Before I Fall (2010), also her debut one, earned a huge applause from book-lovers and hence become a NY Times bestselling novel. She has also authored a middle grade book, Liesl and Po (2011) that is widely acclaimed for its great fun and fantasy. After celebrating the success of her young adult debut novel, Ms. Oliver is on the move to compile a trilogy of YA novels, of which Delirium (2011) is the first installment followed by its penultimate Pandemonium released in 2012 and yet to be released Requiem, the third and final installment in the trilogy.

Here is an interview with Lauren Oliver on this trilogy of YA novels with focus on the recently released Pandemonium.

Tell us something about your passion for writing. How passionate you are about writing?

You have to be pretty passionate to commit to doing something very hard every single day of your life. I feel I can’t NOT write; the only thing more painful to me than writing is not writing!

Pandemonium is a penultimate of Delirium. How far the former complement the latter?

Delirium really tells the story of one girl, Lena, as she begins to transform, and starts to question whether everything she has learned—specifically, the idea that love is a disease—is a lie. Pandemonium broadens the lens. We see more of the country, more of the landscape, more of the political and social order (and disorder).

Give us a brief of the storyline of Pandemonium.

Pandemonium takes place in two different time frames. In one, we pick up directly after Delirium, and follow Lena into the Wilds as she begins to recover from the trauma she has experienced. In another, we fast forward about six months, and see Lena working with and for the burgeoning resistance movement. The two time frames ultimately converge.

How close you are with Lena, the protagonist?

In certain ways, she is of course like me, particularly with respect to some of her fears, her feelings of grief and anxiety and confusion. But she’s a lot shorter than I am. I’m 5’9”! :-)

Lena in Delirium and Lena in Pandemonium, which one would you say is most alike you, though both are boasting entirely different characteristics.

Hmmm. Wow. Well, I’d like to think that I’m stronger than Lena is at the start of Delirium—more obstinate and rebellious, too—but I’m definitely not as hardcore as Lena in Pandemonium. I still need a nap every day!

Compare the characters of Alex and Julian, Lena’s love interests in Delirium and Pandemonium, respectively. Who is more influential?

I’m not saying! They are very different. Alex teaches her about love for the first time, of course—but Julian teaches her that there is love after loss, which is equally important.

Would Lena continue to be the protagonist in the next installment of Delirium Trilogy?

Yes, she will, although the third and final book in the trilogy, REQUIEM, actually takes place from two different points of view—so we have two protagonists.

Tell us something about the next book of this Trilogy.

That’s all I’m saying! My lips are sealed :-)

As a writer, who whetted you appetite for writing?

I started writing because of my great love of reading. When I finished a book I loved, I would write sequels and companion stories. It was an early version of fan fiction. My father is a writer too, and my mother an English professor, so they were very influential.

What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?

Write every day! Discipline is so important, and it’s hard NOT to become good at something you practice regularly.

Any message for your readers!

Just a great big thank you!!


Craft Books for Hobbies to Explore During Vacations

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Summer is here and it’s time for holidays to chill around in beating hot days. In coming months, housewives and students will have a break from their exhaustive daily routine and schooling hours. It’s time for them to have fun all around, to hone their contemporary hobbies as well as to grow some new ones.

Scrapbooking, Mixed Media, Mosaic, Stenciling and Toy making are some exciting indoor hobbies that housewives and students can develop during these cozy hours and use them to enhance the decoration of their houses.  But the fun in learning these hobbies would be vanished, if they go out of the home in sizzling summer days to explore the hobbies. Here, we have brought a solution to this quandary.   We are offering a list of widely-acknowledged Craft Books on these hobbies that housewives or students may curl up with under home cooling and learn about the tools and techniques of these hobbies. Here’s the list:

Scrapbooking Made Easy – This book is the best place to start with the hobby of scrapbooking. At its core is the notion that even the simplest pages will make for treasured family heirlooms. While starting with quick ways to enhance layouts, and gradually moving on to more advanced techniques, it offers the basic techniques of scrapbooking in a step-by-step process. It also includes popular articles from Simple Scrapbooks magazine.

The Encyclopedia of Scrapbooking Tools & Techniques – Covering A-to-Z techniques, every major designer and all scrapbook possibility, this encyclopedia of scrapbooking is described in glossary style and completed with photos and tips that no scrapbooker can do without. It further includes dozens of projects come from the most creative minds in the field like Andrea Grossman (Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Company); Rhonda Anderson (Creative Memories); Bridgette Server (Making Memories); etc.

Surface Treatment Workshop: Explore 45 Mixed-Media Techniques – Mixed Media is an artwork which involves application of more than one medium of visual art forms. So, if you are pondering how to begin a new piece of art then this book has the answer. The authors of Image Transfer Workshop are back to show you 45 stepped-out mixed-media techniques that will add depth and texture to your artwork. These techniques are the perfect jump-off point for creating art you will love to look at, and, in some cases, touch.

Flavor for Mixed Media: A Feast of Techniques for Texture, Color and Layers – You are invited to a fanciful feast of color, textures and luscious layers that will tempt even the most discriminating painter’s palette. In this book, artist Mary Beth Shaw shares her mixed media painting techniques for working with color, incorporating many different textures, creating multiple layers, developing a distinct flavor and making all sorts of clever combinations.

Mosaics: Inspiration and Original Projects for Interiors and Exteriors – The art of mosaic has been around for centuries. This book brings the process into the present, as two accomplished artists Candace Bahouth and Kaffe Fassett invite readers to explore dramatic color combinations using a variety of materials. This is a rich collection of creative projects for both interiors and exteriors, including detailed instructions for working with broken crockery and tiles, and preparing items such as window frames and mirrors. The book offers stunning yet practical ideas — from a fine mosaic vase and window surround to a mosaic garden terrace, table, and planter.

The Complete Stenciling Handbook – With the simple stencil — a template that lets you easily create a painted shape on a surface and allows you to repeat the exact pattern wherever and whenever you wish — you can transform and beautify just about any surface from boxes to walls to floors. This special book of Stenciling is a compendium of the latest techniques, tools, equipment and materials, presenting innovative methods and products that have taken stenciling from a rustic craft to a breathtaking art form.

Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions – With this incredible, entirely original stencil collection anyone can learn to make their mark. This book in handy portfolio format includes 25 reusable stencils along with tips and tricks for stenciling on all sorts of surfaces, from walls and furniture to T-shirts, cards, and even cake. Stencil expert Ed Roth has chosen for you his favorite designs, ranging from urban-cool boom boxes and power lines to naturally fanciful sparrows and branches.

Make These Toys: 101 Clever Creations Using Everyday ItemsFocusing on fun and homemade projects, this is an ingeniously simple and fully-illustrated book for crafting toys from objects found around the house or that can be purchased for a fraction of what a commercially-produced toy can cost. With everyday objects from cardboard tubing to paper to clothespins, readers will discover how to make toys like a milk carton balloon boat, a rubber band banjo, a cardboard tube kaleidoscope, an embroidery hoop tambourine, and many more.

All these books can be accessed from our mega Online Bookstore. In case, our readers are interested in exploring some other crafts and hobbies, they can browse through Crafts & Hobbies Books category having tens of thousands titles under sub categories like Appliqué, Beadwork, Boatbuilding, Bookbinding, Cabinetmakers, Candle Making, Carving, Ceramics, Crocheting, Embroidery, Framing, Gilding, Handicraft, Knitting, Marquetry, Mosaics, Needlework, Paper crafts, Parchment, Patchwork, Potpourri, Pottery, Puppetry, etc.  

Earth Day, 2012: Read Books and Support the Cause

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Tomorrow, April 22, is the Earth Day – a day proclaimed to ponder upon the Earth’s deteriorating health, its endangered natural environment and to increase awareness and appreciation for it. The very first step towards this endeavor is to know and discuss why and how our Earth’s health is worsening day by day and this can be done by reading books written by some great environmentalists. Books always come out as rich resources for illuminating ourselves on any subject.

In this blog-post, we offer our readers separate lists of books-to-read on Earth Day for children and grown-up ones. All the books in this list we have selected on the base of their popularity.

Children’s Books for Earth Day:

Earth Day is a grand day to talk more about the Earth and its ecology with our children as well as to discuss with them why we need to keep it clean and safe. If we tell them to turn off the lights, save water and recycle their trash, they would think we are just bossing them around. But we can make it by gifting or reading some eco-minded books to our children to help spreading message of this Day across them. Books that we can get for Children are:

The Lorax - This is a classic eco-book for kids, an ecological warning that is as true today as it was when the book was first published in 1971.  Dr. Suess writes about the dangers that clear-cutting, pollution, and industrialization pose against our earth’s natural beauty. He explains everything in a whimsical style that gets the message across children without being scary.

What’s It Like Living Green?: Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They LiveWritten by Jill Ammon Vanderwood, this book tells kids how other kids live green and how they can go green by taking simple steps. It includes lessons taught by other kids who are actually on ways to go green. Read about a teenage girl who learned to drive with a car fueled by used cooking grease or the 7-year-old boy who raised funds to build his first well to provide clean water for a whole village.

Earth Day Birthday – Earth Day is an environmental holiday that is worth to celebrate every day! Here is a sing-along, read-along book that honors the animals, the environment, and a universal holiday all in one fresh approach. While tuning up with “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” this book appreciates twelve endearing North American species like eagle, grizzlies, panthers, salmon, fawns, owls…. in their natural habitats. It further includes suggestions for Earth Day activities.

Fancy Nancy: Every Day Is Earth Day – In this book Eco-minded book, Jane O’connor teaches kids a few simple tips to go green in true Fancy Nancy style.  Being green is so important to Nancy that she wants her family to take care of the Earth’s morning, noon, and night. If you kids love reading Fancy Nancy, gift this book to them, and they will come along with the message that how fabulous it is to go green.

Books that Grown-up People can Read on Earth Day are:

Grown-up ones need to curl up with some informative and motivational literary works of true environmentalist and should act and react accordingly on this Earth Day.

Silent Spring – This book of Rachel Carson launched the American environmental movement at its very first publication in 1962. Drawing on a scientific angle, she was able to showcase the dangers of careless pesticide use for human and ecological health of the Earth. This book is centered at the effects of insecticides and pesticides on songbird populations throughout the United States, whose declining numbers yielded the silence which the book title is based on.

Desert Solitaire – From the author of the radically environmental book The Monkey Wrench Gang, this pick describes a deep and personal view of nature in its purest form through the eyes of a Utah park ranger. Through his honest solidarity and comments on the exploitation of the natural surroundings, Edward Abbey asks “if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.”

Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America from the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels - Dangerous CO2 emission, massive oil spill and dwindling fossil fuels are driving a long overdue reassessment of our nation’s energy policies. U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney, a renewable energy engineer and the first representative with expertise in energy independence, leads the way to change. In this book, he and journalist Martin Cheek make an impassioned argument for drastically reducing dependency on fossil fuels and developing sustainable, readily available energy sources solar, wind, bio-fuel, geothermal, and hydrogen-based power.

Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans – A prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher, Charles Moore, shares his shocking discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, and inspires a fundamental rethinking of the Plastic Age and a growing global health crisis. This is a book that everyone should read.

Readers can grab all the above mentioned books from our Online Bookstore and may also share and comment to us their own referral for the Books-to-read on Earth Day.

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