Thursday, 11 August 2011

Darkness IS Visible

Doesn’t it just grate when people use a lot of big, scary words to try and sound intelligent? The written word, dearies, not a pre-planned, self-satisfying canvas.

Because I write YA as one of my favourite genres, and read a lot of it, I have decided to give my thoughts on this article, published by the Wall-Street Journal.

Before we begin, I would like to tell you I am all for free media, free speech and expression, and the author was right to write down her take on the subject, however many assumptions and objectivist statements she made.

The article begins with Mrs. Gurdon describing the despair a mother feels when servaying the young adult section. Trust me, lady, I’ve felt it too. Those covers are so OTT, aren’t they? But the fact remains, they are not published to appeal to you. You maybe should have got your daughter a book token, I’m sure she’d have come away with six-to-ten books she wanted.

There are books in the Adult genre that deal with rape and drug-abuse and other semi-taboo subjects, that we do not criticize them because adults should know how to deal with these subjects, apparently. Even if the adult in question is offended or sickened by the content of a book it is never the author or publisher’s fault, is it? They should just know how to deal with it. Yet, younger people should somehow be shielded from this in a way that is not going to happen in the real world.

When you are a teenager your mind is developing, and you are making a lot of choices and decisions about the world that may change on a day to day basis. Hell, when I was about fourteen I thought I was the darkest kid in the world, who knew things that would make adults sick. I thought myself and my friends were unique in our knowledge of odd subjects. Read a few books? Nope, guess not.

I have heard an interesting point of view from a friend on youtube who suggests that parents really love anything that blames an outside factor for any problems encountered by their children, aka, schools, literature, media, the Government, etc. I cannot comment on this, because I’m sure some do and some do not. I don’t have kids, I wouldn’t know.

All I know is that for the longest of times stories have acted as guides, deterrents, entertainment, aids, educational sources, thrilling journeys.
Children can die, children’s family or friends can die, children can be abused or raped, bad, terrible things can happen to children. There is no bubble in the world protecting anyone under 18 years of age from ‘bad things’. Books that include dark subjects do not help or hinder this, they simply allow young adult’s to encounter these subjects, see how other people deal with them, learn about them and make decisions about them and how to deal with them in their own life.

I have heard many stories, especially concerning death and drugs, of people who have learned how to deal with these horrible subjects because of a book that was well-written and appealed to them and has, forever more, been close to their heart.
In the article, Mrs Gurdon mentions books of the 70s such as those written by Judy Bloom that helped young people to explore their bodies and sexuality. During that time these books were considered wrong and ‘going too far’. These were the books complained about in national media, these were the books parents looked to blame. Perhaps these were the books that the author read during her adolescence and took to heart? This is why she sticks up for them and fails to add in anything about historical continuity?

As for ‘The argument in favour of such novels is that they validate the teen experience.’ No. It is not, in fact there is no argument as to why these novels should exist, they exist because they are stories, to for fill every aspect a story should, as I have already explained. All though this does carry some merit, again, as explained above, a book would be worth nothing if it did not reflect the way people act with some strand of realism within a situation.

Teenagers know a lot more than you think, they’re minds are developing faster than your own. They need to be able to take in any number of topics to help them learn and form social and moral ideas. As well as, hey, be entertained! Not many people can forge a connection to a fictional world that is not realistic (no, I do not mean not fantasy or sci-fi, but realistic in the way character’s act and plots develop.) So, to have YA books that were about field trips and sleep overs, and where the first mention of drugs prompted someone to shake their finger and tell everyone ‘no’, without explaining why would be laughed off the shelves. The way in which the explaining is done is the story, the way in which we see the horrific effects of drug-abuse is what happens to the characters.

Oh, and I have not addressed this point yet because I do not understand how a clearly educated writer can make it. Glamorizing self-harm? Glamourizing something is not defined by simply writing about it. Because a character is led to harm herself does not mean that this is being praised, or is the right thing to do, it means that this is the mind-set of that fictional character, who is a person in and of herself. A teenager does understand what a story is, you know, and how the elements within it work.

On a side note, someone told me that Mrs. Gurdon, in a rebuttal interview, called self-harm a tragedy. Self-harm is not a tragedy, it is an issue.

A book will never not teach you anything. Even a book like Mein Kampf gives you insight into the mind of clearly screwy man. We have books in schools and libraries that Chronicle wars and terrors of human history. Children read them to learn in schools, and seem to come out without a wish to comit genocide or start war?

I will never agree with book banning, it is, to me, as bad as book burning and we all know what they say about that, hm?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Short Story: Moonlighters

Genre: Fantasy
Words: 1,214

Father Lante had always been quiet. He was the aging man in the corner, holding some kind of book, reading by some kind of candlelight, thinking some kind of thoughts. His face was not memorable, nor his thinning, musty hair. He would not harm a fly, so they said, truely a man of the God. Yet, still, a boring man, no goals, no lovers.

"He has empty eyes," Jarrow had told Bowen.

"I'd have empty eyes too, if I had to sit by some poor sod's grave all night," his other friend, Kass, pointed out.

"I reckon he doesn't," Jarrow smirked, "he must sneak off to some lass, I know I would."

That had been one of the last talks Bowen had shared with his friends before the Anointment came. Each Apprentice was given a Master and a new order. Jarrow, to his disgust, was whisked away to the library to forever rule over mothballs and parchment, Kass, to the font, to learn to bless, and Bowen, to everyone's suprise, was given to Father Lante to watch over the souls of the dead.

That first night was cold. The grave was some farmer who had died of the Red Wind, a common ailment amoungst out-of-towners. The Funeral had been a day before, and it was custom for Watchers to remain at the graveside for three days and three nights to safely guide the soul across the Plains and ward off any demons. That's why they called them 'Moonlighters' - because they would usually sit for hours in the cold of the night, nothing to occupy their thoughts.

"What.." Bowen asked, after the harsh silence became too much, "what do we do?"

"We guard," the old Priest did not even look up from his book. "You may wish to sit, boy, we are not going anywhere."

Bowen was a weedy thing, fair haired and pale skinned, as if sickly. He rounded the grave, keeping a safe distance. "I knew it wasn't true, what they said-"

"What did they say?"

Pausing, he realized the mistake he had made and opened his mouth to retrace his words, but the Priest only smiled. "Words spoken cannot be reclaimed, what did they say?"

With a nervous swallow, the boy admitted, "that you sneak away to some girl... But they didn't mean it, everyone is always saying things about Moonlighters."

"About us, then."


"Well, you are one of us now."

The boy nodded, though did not speak. He had not thought of that... Spending every night out here, alone, for the rest of his days, until he became empty like Father Lante. He had never even held a girl's hand, or used a real blade.

"The Plains are full of demons, you know?" The Priest closed his book. Beside him, there was a pole, etched into the dark soil - but then, even the grass looked dark as ink that night. From the top, hung a burning lamp, sweeping the sweet smell of lavender into the air. It was the only thing keeping Bowen's fear at bay.

"I know," he whispered, "we learned in Study. The Plains are desolate, but for the blades of a thousand dead warriors strewn across the ground. But every person who has ever lived and died-"

"Must find their way across them, to Paradise," he finished for the boy, watching him shake. "The cold you are feeling is what he must feel," he gestured to the tombstone. "Tensen Driond, he must be afraid. You form a link with them, the dead." Father Lante sighed, "By the time you are my age, boy, you will be freezing." Holding out a thin, weathered hand to the boy he nodded. Bowen reached out, touching his fingers and rapidly withdrawing, feeling the cold snatching back at his own.

"But every man deserves peace, and we shall give it to them in death as a Priest must give it to them in life,"

"So we shall help them find their way?"


There did not seem to be much in the way of help, that night. Bowen began to suspect it was a metaphoric thing, as Kass had once told him so many things in the Church were. It was some old tradition, not necessary any longer.

Father Lante was not close when it happened, he had stolen away to the large oak shading half of the graveyard beneath it. Bowen was sat on a stump, half asleep, when the grave soil moved.

At first, it was a lurching, as if a thousand insects had come to life underneath the dirt. Bowen's head snapped round, widening eyes watching the movement. Soon, though, he saw the ground beginning to eat itself and fall downwards.

Beetles were crawling free, large, swollen, obscene beetles, or so he thought at first. When he realized they were fingers he screamed.

His own screams were overshadowed by that of the head that burst free from the earth. It looked like no man's head, certainly not the head of Farmer Driond. It's eyes were black, perhaps empty, the hair having rotten to it's scalp, now clumps of puss and black blood, darker than ink-grass. For skin, the beast wore leather, blackened and burnt. It's screaming was the worst, high and piercing, enough to make Bowen clap his hands to his ears to try and block out the pain.

"Father!" He cried, as the ghoul claws at the earth, wrenching it's half-body from the dirt. It's empty eyes set on the boy, as it slammed it's hands into the earth at his feet, twisting and winding like a broken doll.

Bowen thought he felt it touch him. The pain had been so cold that it burned his blood, and then it was over.

Father Lante stood on the other side, the pole bearing the lamp had been seized from the soil and rammed through the chest of the dead man. His high-pitched scream cut off instantly, though his movement did not. He flailed, fingers brushing Bowen's leg where he had once gripped. When Lante ripped the pole from his ribs, Bowen heard the snap of brittle bone and the squelch of liquids, like someone treading mud.

"The lay brothers," the Priest spoke, dropping the pole, "how do they speak of Moonlighters?" He did not look at the boy, nor look away from the half-opened grave, yet his eyes were full of apathy. Snapping the back of his hand across his face to wipe away blood and dirt, he spat, as casual as a man who had just lost his fresh catch at the lake.

Bowen had to steady himself and his thoughts, stuttering as he answered, "that we a-are useless, unfit for any other job, that we... come out here to drink and are lazy." All of these things he had heard while delivering a drink or sitting at study. None of them paid him any attention.

"But we are not," the Priest said, "Moonlighters must do the work of the God, as well as the work of men. We protect them..." the curve of his boot snuck under the chin of the dead thing, "from themselves."

With a sickening crack, it's head was kicked back. A dislocation, a break, and then it shattered off the tombstone.

Friday, 22 July 2011

E-books, Audiobooks and... Books

Bonjour, bonjour, salut!

Today I'm planning to ramble on about the great debate. Which do you prefer? Sure, It's a personal thing.

I, myself, think nothing can beat the feel of a book in your hands. I don't mind lugging them everywhere, because I love them. I love the spine, covers, smell of fresh pages nearly as much as I love the fact that they are tiny treasure coves of imagination. (Yes - I have a problem.) Everything else is lodged into thin, metal gadgets these days, and I love it - iPod, iPad if I was rich, blackberry... But, I draw the line at books.

My mum and stepdad bought me an E-reader for Christmas a few years ago, but I only used it a few times. I ended up spending more money because if I liked a book so much I'd want the hard copy, too. So that was a fiver for the book online and a tenner for the hard copy.

All the arguments are about convinience, and a friend of mine made a good point that yes, in a fire you can grab your E-reader and BAIL! But, if you love books, you'd still own a lot of them and they'd still burn. The E-reader, In my opinion, is only ever a back up.

As for audiobooks, I can understand them more because I have bad eyesight, so reading for long periods of time as I love to do can sometimes be painful. I like to put an audiobook on my iPod and go for a walk or listen to it while I'm travelling somewhere or in bed. The same principle still applies, though. I have listened to most of the books in Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series on audio but I still need to buy them, because I love them so much.

Now the downside to audio is the price. When I checked a few websites the price of books was around forty pounds, but perhaps that was a one off. Still, I have not seen a book for under twenty. I understand how long the voice actor worked, but, It will not have been anywhere near as long as the writer who's likely worked a year or more on their piece.

I guess I do get a little bit... biassed. I never feel bad about the piracy market surrounding music. I get all VIVA LA REVOLUTION and think of people taking back the music and those overpaid pop stars weeping! But, I know it won't dent them too much, they have gigs and such. I get all tear-eyed when piravy happens to authors. ...Awful, aren't I?

Well, that's all for now. Please give me a buzz, tell me what you think!

Bye for now.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The First Post

Hello everyone!

Heck, I don't know what to do here AT ALL. I hate the first post thing, there should be some kind of 'first post syndrome' research done here. If you like, you can give me some questions and I'll try to answer them, but for now I'm going to go over a few things, see what we can find out about each other, yepp?

What is your name?
Well, my name's Rain... That's a silly question, who made th-? Oh... Me, right. Sorry.

What is this blog about?
Writing, mostly, writing and books! I'm not the best writer, I admit, but I have been writing since I was little and always intent to get better. I love Fantasy and Supernatural books. I'm also quite into manga, comics and ye fabled graphic novel, but I'm not a that good (or that disciplined) an artist.

Are you writing something now?
Yepp. I'm writing a YA book, the first in a series, I hope. It's going to be an urban fantasy collection, with a tagline something along the lines of, 'Corah was murdered. Then, she woke up.' 

Don't worry, it's not SO MUCH about the vampires.

What's the most random thing someone has linked you on Youtube lately?
Uh, my friend linked me some kind of Spiderman musical... I was confused, scared... and also, it was kinda' catchy. 8D

What are some of your favourite books, so we can get a feel for your writing?
Oh, okay, I love this! A song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, I love them! The first proper novel I read was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. Outside of my usual genre, my favourite novel is The Book Thief by Markuz Zuzak. I also enjoy Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, Collins did a good job of a new take on that series. Neil Gaiman, by the way? Love him.

Politically, morally, what type of person are you?
I'd say I was pretty left wing, though I might man that in a Brian from Family Guy kinda' way, y'know, pretending to be cultured? There's not many things I take a side on, because I believe everything depends on circumstance. Even if there are things I do take sides on, such as abortion, I would never push my views on someone else. 

As for religion, well, I believe in higher beings, spirits, dieties perhaps. One of these may be the Christian God, the Islamic God, Buddha, Thor, Zeus, Hecate, Santa Claus, my cat Loki... Who knows? I don't go in for the Bible or most teachings of man. 

...Well, that got a bit deep. Let's end it there, yepp? I'll get back to you with more information soon, I promise!