Emby Press Giveaway

Emby PressEmby Press, home of monster hunting stories and much more, not only have a rather dramatic new logo, but a giveaway offer you cannot refuse.

It is your classic buy two get one free offer and all you have to do to take advantage of this great deal is write a couple of short Amazon or Barnes and Noble review.

My personal recommendation would be Both Barrels of Monster Hunter Legends, a massive collection of monster hunting stories and Use Enough Gun, the third volume of monster hunter stories. Did I mention that both titles have Violet Reincastle stories in them? That is another reason to read them along with the astounding selection of monster and monster hunters. There is some vampire, werewolf, demon, ghost and tentactled creatures. Yes that last one was tentacled creatures.

There is also the A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests: Occult Detective Monster Hunter,Volume 1 and Monster Hunter Blood Trails that contains a Virtue and the Dandy story.

Check out the Emby Press Facebook page for more information.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Supernatural Appearance

Recently we looked at the supernatural beginnings in The Picture of Dorian Gray. In a novel where the main character achieves eternal youth by transferring his soul onto his painting, there comes a moment when he realizes what happens.

Dorian has broken up with his fiancee Sibyl Vane because she used to be a great actor and now that she is in love with Dorian she is terrible. Dorian has been cruel and he returns home to find his painting has reacted to his actions.

510YBMY7APLHe turned round and, walking to the window, drew up the blind. The bright dawn flooded the room and swept the fantastic shadows into dusky corners, where they lay shuddering. But the strange expression that he had noticed in the face of the portrait seemed to linger there, to be more intensified even. The quivering ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing.

He winced and, taking up from the table an oval glass framed in ivory Cupids, one of Lord Henry’s many presents to him, glanced hurriedly into its polished depths. No line like that warped his red lips. What did it mean?

He rubbed his eyes, and came close to the picture, and examined it again. There were no signs of any change when he looked into the actual painting, and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had altered. It was not a mere fancy of his own. The thing was horribly apparent.

He threw himself into a chair and began to think. Suddenly there flashed across his mind what he had said in Basil Hallward’s studio the day the picture had been finished. Yes, he remembered it perfectly. He had uttered a mad wish that he himself might remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beauty might be untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought, and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious boyhood. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were impossible. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. And, yet, there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the mouth.

Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was the girl’s fault, not his. He had dreamed of her as a great artist, had given his love to her because he had thought her great. Then she had disappointed him. She had been shallow and unworthy. And, yet, a feeling of infinite regret came over him, as he thought of her lying at his feet sobbing like a little child. He remembered with what callousness he had watched her. Why had he been made like that? Why had such a soul been given to him? But he had suffered also. During the three terrible hours that the play had lasted, he had lived centuries of pain, aeon upon aeon of torture. His life was well worth hers. She had marred him for a moment, if he had wounded her for an age. Besides, women were better suited to bear sorrow than men. They lived on their emotions. They only thought of their emotions. When they took lovers, it was merely to have some one with whom they could have scenes. Lord Henry had told him that, and Lord Henry knew what women were. Why should he trouble about Sibyl Vane? She was nothing to him now.

But the picture? What was he to say of that? It held the secret of his life, and told his story. It had taught him to love his own beauty. Would it teach him to loathe his own soul? Would he ever look at it again?

No; it was merely an illusion wrought on the troubled senses. The horrible night that he had passed had left phantoms behind it. Suddenly there had fallen upon his brain that tiny scarlet speck that makes men mad. The picture had not changed. It was folly to think so.

Yet it was watching him, with its beautiful marred face and its cruel smile. Its bright hair gleamed in the early sunlight. Its blue eyes met his own. A sense of infinite pity, not for himself, but for the painted image of himself, came over him. It had altered already, and would alter more. Its gold would wither into grey. Its red and white roses would die. For every sin that he committed, a stain would fleck and wreck its fairness. But he would not sin. The picture, changed or unchanged, would be to him the visible emblem of conscience. He would resist temptation. He would not see Lord Henry any more—would not, at any rate, listen to those subtle poisonous theories that in Basil Hallward’s garden had first stirred within him the passion for impossible things. He would go back to Sibyl Vane, make her amends, marry her, try to love her again. Yes, it was his duty to do so. She must have suffered more than he had. Poor child! He had been selfish and cruel to her. The fascination that she had exercised over him would return. They would be happy together. His life with her would be beautiful and pure.

He got up from his chair and drew a large screen right in front of the portrait, shuddering as he glanced at it. “How horrible!” he murmured to himself, and he walked across to the window and opened it. When he stepped out on to the grass, he drew a deep breath. The fresh morning air seemed to drive away all his sombre passions. He thought only of Sibyl. A faint echo of his love came back to him. He repeated her name over and over again. The birds that were singing in the dew-drenched garden seemed to be telling the flowers about her.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: The Supernatural Begins

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a nineteenth century classic, but don’t let that stop you picking up a copy. Oscar Wilde’s novel was not well received when it was first published. Then Wilde had a little trouble with the law and no one wanted to read his work. Thankfully, things changed and now this novel is a widely read, frequently referenced and the character is often stolen.

What follows it is short extract from chapter two when the supernatural elements of the painting referred to in the title of novel begins. After listening to Lord Henry Wotton’s ideas on youth and beauty while Basil Hallward paints his portrait, Dorian sees the portrait for the first time and makes a wish…

dorian-gray-by-ivan-albright-1943Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly in front of his picture and turned towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. He stood there motionless and in wonder, dimly conscious that Hallward was speaking to him, but not catching the meaning of his words. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. He had never felt it before. Basil Hallward’s compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggeration of friendship. He had listened to them, laughed at them, forgotten them. They had not influenced his nature. Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth, his terrible warning of its brevity. That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him. Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.

As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck through him like a knife and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver. His eyes deepened into amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. He felt as if a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart.

“Don’t you like it?” cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad’s silence, not understanding what it meant.

“Of course he likes it,” said Lord Henry. “Who wouldn’t like it? It is one of the greatest things in modern art. I will give you anything you like to ask for it. I must have it.”

“It is not my property, Harry.”

“Whose property is it?”

“Dorian’s, of course,” answered the painter.

“He is a very lucky fellow.”

“How sad it is!” murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. “How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June…. If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!”

“You would hardly care for such an arrangement, Basil,” cried Lord Henry, laughing. “It would be rather hard lines on your work.”

“I should object very strongly, Harry,” said Hallward.

Dorian Gray turned and looked at him. “I believe you would, Basil. You like your art better than your friends. I am no more to you than a green bronze figure. Hardly as much, I dare say.”

The painter stared in amazement. It was so unlike Dorian to speak like that. What had happened? He seemed quite angry. His face was flushed and his cheeks burning.

“Yes,” he continued, “I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your silver Faun. You will like them always. How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle, I suppose. I know, now, that when one loses one’s good looks, whatever they may be, one loses everything. Your picture has taught me that. Lord Henry Wotton is perfectly right. Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.”

Suicide Squad Trailer

Is it just me or is there something missing here?

When it was just clandestine stills circulating the internet like a bad secret there was a scandalous excitement attached to the film. Now, having watched the trailer it seems too much like every other bad guys do good film. Like the Expendables made up of comic book characters.

Unfortunately my level of interest has dropped from looking forward to the film to generally interested.

With so many possible aspects to the film it is possible the 2 minute trailer is only focusing on those cliched elements the producer considers relevant to making the film acceptable to a general audience. Alternatively there is the Batman/Superman element. Was Suicide Squad overshadowing? Is it necessary to pull Suicide Squad in line with the larger film? We will have to wait until next to see how it plays out.

Growing Pains is Growing

It has been nearly a month since the Growing Pains anthology was published and we have now moved to Amazon. I don’t know if you have heard, I think they sell more than just books. You’ll have you check it out. Try this link to the Growing Pains Amazon page.

While the anthology is a collection of the kind of teenage pain and suffering no one wants to have, my story, called ‘Transforming Alice,’ is a steampunk horror.

growing-painsThe story inhabits the Victorian Steampunk world of Violet Reincastle, monster hunter. While Violet does not make an appearance, there is more than enough in terms of monsters and unusual events in the fictional Victorian England she inhabits. The main character is called Alice, a young girl struggling in the poverty of Victorian London and it’s not exactly your everyday Dickensian tale of the destitute rise out of the shackles of poverty. No, there is something far more sinister happening to Alice.

Femme Fatale: Lucy Westenra

Not all femme fatales start off morally corrupt women who use a sexual allure to put men and women (don’t forget Carmilla) into dangerous situations. Sometimes we get an insight into the creation of a femme fatale. Such is the case with Lucy Westenra, a hapless socialite who falls foul to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

So how does one move from respectable London ‘it’ girl of the 19th century to a deplorable blood-sucking vampire? Well first of all you need a vaguely annoying and self-righteous friend like Mina Harker. You need a few unusual habits, such as walking in your sleep (91). Then you find yourself a collection of interested suitors. Lucy attracted the attention of three suitors Arthur Holmwood, John Seward and Quincey Morris. She then confides to Mina that she would like to marry all three:

“Why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it.” (76)

Marry three men! Are you not shocked and appalled by the gall of this girl? Well you shouldn’t be. Her desire to marry three is born out a sensitive nature that does not want cause any of them harm: “Three proposals in one day! Isn’t awful! I feel sorry, really and truly sorry, for two of the poor fellows” (73). If you are going to make a femme fatale, we want to develop a little sympathy beforehand and make the transformation clear so when you become that vampiric femme fatale “The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness” (252-3).

In order to become that woman, you’ve got to begin to establish a pattern of men submitting to your will. Your suitors come in helpful here. By giving Lucy a number of blood transfusions, Holmwood, Seward and Quincey begin to sacrifice themselves for Lucy. This is good practice. Then there is nothing too it, just die, become resurrected as the undead and head off on your way as a femme fatale.

One brief note, if some guy turns up with a big case, garlic flowers and some old books, watch out. He might be named Van Helsing and carry wooden stakes around with him. This kind of things can really dampen your ability to feed off others.

To see Lucy in full on femme fatale mode, watch a clip of the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula. After Lucy returns to the crypt with a midnight snack, she goes full force on former fiancé Arthur Holwood. The creepiest part is watching Jude Law’s ex-wife getting the hots for The Dread Pirate Roberts.

The femme fatale rouges gallery:
Phyllis Dietrichson
Poison Ivy
Carmilla
Xenia Onatoppa
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Ayesha