Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover – Even though we all do

17nc0rmlk0dcejpg.jpgThe old adage takes on a more literal message in the world of books. We may tell people not to judge a book by its cover but we all do it and there’s a good reason for that. More people choose to pick up a book based on its cover design. And this industry is only growing with the rise in self-publishing, indie print houses and e-books.

The book industry is a never ending one. Formats may change from print to digital but the cover remains. Most books are bought via browsing (either online or in a book store) and this means that covers become one of the most important factors in selling a book. Even a bad book can have an intriguing cover. Trends in covers come and go but the attraction of a good cover be it for design or familiarity is still a big driving factor.

Why is a good cover so important?

A recent online survey by thebooksmuggler.com revealed that when asked, readers responded to the question ‘Do covers play a decisive role in your decision to purchase a book?’ 79% of respondents said yes.  And according to the Self Publishing Advisor statistics show that ‘the average person will decide to buy your book within 8 seconds of seeing your cover’.

 Current Cover trends

In the New Yorker article by Tim Kreider he says ‘the covers of most contemporary books all look disturbingly the same, as if inbred’. This statement rings true in most mass market books. It seems publishing houses are relying on a sense of familiarity to create covers.

The rise of John Green’s novels have created a plethora of ‘handwritten’ text on super simple background style covers throughout the YA market. This simple approach to recreating a personal feel through fonts designed to look like the scrawled handwriting of the angst-ridden teen protagonists seems to work. Green’s books are best sellers and other writers are getting their work picked up for these covers.

The popularity of paranormal romance both for adults and YA have also created the trend of red and white images and text on a black cover trend. This is most apparent in the Twilight novels; many readers did pick it up because of the cover of white and red on black. The stark contrasts of these colours draw the eye. This theme can be seen repeated in many books in this genre.

twilightsagabooksSymbolism based covers are also very popular. A single striking image or symbol being the only image has become popular with the Game of Thrones and Hunger Games covers. This also stretches to other genres such as action adventure and crime.

The lone figure cover is slowly working its way back into the fiction area. Be it a man with a gun or a woman in a cloak, this trend did die down but has begun to lay claims in cover design again.

However, with the rise in independent publishing houses and self-publishing, this trend is being bucked. With authors having more control over aspects of their designs, more freedom to hire a cover designer that matches the aesthetic they want for their books, the styles are starting to expand. We are seeing a return to customised artwork both digital and traditional being used and the ability to twist old clichés into modern pieces that stand out from the cookie cutter covers of mainstream publishing.

In the world of nonfiction covers still follow this same trend in mainstream publishing. Plain white covers with simple text and maybe one small, hand drawn image is commonplace or alternatively full photo covers. This trend has been around for quite a while now and for the nonfiction world this will probably remain the same for some times to come.

In the independent world, most nonfiction book covers follow this same formula but this is where we find the subpar covers of people attempting to publish their own works and make their own covers.

Problems in cover design when following trends is that due to the heavy use of stock images (in both traditional and indie publishing) is that without significant artistic reworking we are starting to see similar images showing up on several covers. Without moving from the current trends, and without the use of cover designers willing to artistically render original pieces using said stock images, we run the risk of a market flooded with carbon copy covers.

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 What are the skillsets for cover designers of the future?

For future cover designers to keep pace with industry trends, a combination of artistic and technical skills will be critical. Digital art and photography are two skills at the forefront as to capture the perfect cover, stock images just may not be available, but also a return to traditional art methods could be on the cards. The more versatile a cover designer is the more work they will be able to do as trends change.

A good eye for colour is also important with foundations in traditional art and colour theory. This coupled with having a broad knowledge of what is out there in the industry is going to cement a designer in the cover design world.

Graphic Design and Art classes are a great foundation for the theory and technical aspects of the skillset required, but prior skills in art do certainly broaden the scope of work a person can do.

 The world of cover design is an unmapped piece of territory. With such a broad range of genres available to design for, the future is bright with ideas. For major publishing houses it will most likely depend on what the next best seller is in any given genre. Although with the current trends unlikely to fade quickly we will most likely see more John Green’s and more Twilight’s in the near future.

In the indie and self publishing world we are seeing major changes as more writers are using high concept designs and quality cover designers. This is raising the standard and we are now seeing resurgence in original art and digital imaging being used to create covers that are more specific to the books they are for than the mass market, ‘inbred’ covers of the major publishing houses.

For nonfiction I honestly hope that cover designers will be able to step up in the independent field. The times of homemade covers that look unprofessional needs to end for the self published world to be improved. These ‘homemade’ covers are quite common among the self published nonfiction world as many people are beginning to publish their life stories or self-help manuals on platforms without any form of quality control. I believe that nonfiction covers will mostly stay the same, either very stark covers of text and a small image or the full page colour image we see most commonly on memoirs and cookbooks.

As for the major publishing houses, I can’t see too many changes in the near future although more graphic based covers would be a nice change from the black on white covers and photo montages of late. We are slowly seeing a return to these styles of covers with a feature image dominating the cover, overlaid with text. More colour is being used as well which is a nice change from the tri-colour fare of late. This trend will also open up the cover design market to more artistic cover artists, both digital and traditional styles.

 So should we judge a book by its cover? No but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. We go looking for something that catches our eye and if we believe the major publishing houses we strive to find the familiar. However these trends, as all trends do, will change. A slow but inevitable change and we merely need to wait for the next big thing to tell us where the mimicry will lead. The exciting changes though are in the independent published books and their new faces in the cover design world. It’s definitely a space to watch in the design world for originality.

-By Sabrina Gidley

 

 

 

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Book vs Movie (TV edition) Under the Dome by Stephen King

Book vs Movie (TV edition)

Under the Dome by Stephen King

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Mostly spoiler free

Long time no see readers!  I thought I’d get us back in the swing of things by doing a book vs movie blog for you all of something that has been chewing away at my brain for the past five months. Now as some of you will know I am a big Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every book and seen almost all the movies/tv series/mini series that have come from this mega writer and liked most of them. So when I heard they were going to be making his recent epic Under the Dome into a tv series I was rather excited by the news. It was one of the few books that I hadn’t got around to reading and therefore I set off reading as fast as I could. I demolished the 896 pages in a week the day before the tv show began.

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I was excited this was definitely the type of King writing that I loved – plots upon plots with a massive intertwining of characters, a veritable cast of hundreds, mixed with real life drama in a totally unreal situation. This will be perfect for tv! I said to myself with glee. It was a big enough book to easily get four or five seasons out of it and enough cliff hangers to make for awesome season closers.

I was so wrong. Now I know the King endorsed the series and approved the changes that were made. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with minor changes to translate to film media – it’s inevitable. Hey I loved The Lord of the Rings movies and they had MANY changes made for filming purposes (except for the exclusion of Tom Bombadil *shakes fist at Peter Jackson*) but the show that I turned on in June was not Under the Dome. Sure there was a dome (with very few characteristics shared) and the names of characters still popped up but even the main character, Barbie, who in the book is the ‘every man’ character that even though you don’t love him, you have to like him for trying his hardest, gets turned into a hit man who is a complete douche (no this is not a spoiler as its revealed in the first scene). There no one to love in the show and not even many characters left to like. The town select man Jim Rennie is a fluffy kitten in the show (albeit one with claws) than the total megalomaniac he is in the book.

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I fought it out for 9 episodes before giving up in exasperation. There was no trace of the book left to see. Every element that made it great was ripped out from under it.

I thought I’d ask a friend who hadn’t read it what they thought and they were just bored. The characters were bland to them and most of it made little sense (and not in a Lost style what the hell is going on because this is a mystery way) with none of the characters being believable.

 So if you want my opinion read the book. If you must watch the tv show, watch it first.

Book 8/10

Tv show 2/10

~Sabrina RG Raven

Book vs. Movie: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I actually saw the movie on opening week but I thought I’d give everyone a chance to see it before I wrote this blog. Firstly, this is your warning: here thar be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen or read The Hunger Games, you might want to stop reading now (although I will try and keep them to a minimum). Granted most people seem to have the gist of the story any way so make your decision.

Firstly I would like to address an issue I have come across. This series seems to be a love it or hate it book series. The movie seems to be much the same. I am a fan, albeit only a new one to the series so that’s the angle I’m coming from. If you hate the books you will probably hate the movie, for good reason, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

For those who are yet to hear anything about the Hunger Games, here’s a brief run down. The region of Panem is led by The Capitol. The Capitol is in charge of the 12 downtrodden and pretty much slum-like districts. In punishment for past defiance, the Capitol makes each district chose two children (one boy and one girl) each year to be entered into the Hunger Games; a to the death battle royale, put on purely for the entertainment of the Capitol and to watch the districts squirm in subordination. From the coal district (District 12) come our heroine Katniss Everdeen and her team mate Peeta. The rest I will leave for you to watch/read.

I had read the books first, having practically inhaled them the weeks previous. I had approached the books with curiosity but no expectations, expecting another monstrosity like Twilight. Instead I found a story that was actually well written, had strong characters, interesting (although sightly rehashed) plot points and a well flowing backstory. As I read though I was wondering how it would translate to film.

This is probably one of the better movie adaptations I have ever seen done by Hollywood. What does make it into the movie from the book is 95% accurate to source material. This I believe is for one reason alone: the screenplay was mostly written by the author of the books.

I’m a fan of movies being as ‘canon’ as possible. Sure there are some things that couldn’t be done on screen without killing the pace of the story, or just couldn’t have been done successfully (for the fans of the books, the mutts resemblance to former contestants doesn’t make it in, but the mutts do), and then there is the removal of characters (the mayors daughter which sort of removed some of the backstory of the mockingjay pin, that could have been done but wasn’t) which I felt lessened the strength of the film. I must say though, characters appeared on screen as I imagined them, the costumes as well. Scenes seemed to have been taken word for word from the books. It was a novel experience seeing it so faithfully reproduced in parts.
However, as usual the movie is the weaker of the two. There was too much added and unnecessary Capitol related scenes on how the Games were being run, in favour of the back story between Katniss and Gale, reducing him to such an unimportant character that I fear his role in the future movies will not be as strong or as conflicted as it needs to be. The movie is slow in parts where it doesn’t need to be and rushes through large parts of the Games footage that could have been extended. But all in all, I was happy with the film.

My recommendation is see the film first, and let the book fill in whatever gaps the movie missed. However if you have read the books, you should still go see the film (as I’m sure most fans already have) as it has many of the moments from the book as you would imagine it.

The book I rate a 4/5 and the movie a close 3.5/5, both on my must do list. Now to see what they do with book two.

~Sabrina RG Raven

Postmodernism be thy name

I remember studying postmodernism in university and the upmost hatred I had at the idea that there is no such thing as a new idea. But when examined this truth becomes self-evident. There is no such thing as new ideas, merely a new way of looking at or telling the same stories over and over again.

It can be applied to any type of philosophy and industry but one where we see it prevalently is in literature (and film – however this is not a film blog). It is more than a matter of genres these days when we talk about the subject of books. Think about how often you describe a book by using other books as an example.

As much as vampires would be a perfect example of this, I know we seem to harp on about a certain series rather frequently so I’ll choose another course of action.  I have recently finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, as I didn’t want the upcoming movie spoil the imagery I would create for myself first.

The Hunger Games, for those who haven’t read it or seen the previews for the movie is a post apocalyptical, adventure, action, political and emotional thriller focusing on the life of Katniss Everdeen. The story is based around the event of the title, the Hunger Games where 2 children from each district are sent into an arena to battle to the death, the winner being given a life time of so-called luxury on winning. I won’t go into any more detail so I don’t spoil the story for those who are planning on reading it and/or seeing the movies (unless they totally balls them up and only the first one gets made), but when asked what it was about, the first thing that popped in my mind was it was like a cross between Battle Royale and The Long Walk.

Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル Batoru Rowaiaru)is a 1999 Japanese novel written by Koushun Takami, later made into a movie of the same name by Kinji Fukasaku in 2000. Although I haven’t read the book yet, the movie is about a group of school children pitted against each other on an island in a battle of life and death, the winner will be the only one allowed to go free. And although the situation is vaguely similar in the child vs. child battle to the death there is no similarity in characters and story.

The Long Walk is a short story by Stephen King under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. Again child vs. child who battle it out on, as the title suggests, a long walk. Anyone slowing below 4 miles an hour gets 3 warnings, and is then shot dead by the military that run the walk. The winner will get a life of luxury at the end. Although a less aggressive and more psychological version of the theme it still rings true.

If we look further this idea appears again and again. An earlier example is that of The Most Dangerous Game, a short story by Richard Connell, later adapted to film in 1932. A big game hunter ends up stranded on an island with an eccentric man who claims he hunts the most dangerous game. This is when the hunter becomes the hunted as he realises the man hunts humans on his island.

I’m sure there are many more examples of this story throughout literature and history as well, and this is but one example of postmodernism. Think of your favourite book; now think about how you would describe it to someone. Does the description liken it to another book or a film perhaps?

Postmodernism is a bitch but don’t let it discourage you. Sure no ideas are new and maybe even the way you look at it or approach it may have been done but people keep on reading the same stories over and over by different writers in different covers, and will continue doing so, because everyone tells a story slightly different to the next person. And it is the familiarity of theme combined with the spark of imagination needed to find the way to tell it that keeps us opening books and watching films etc etc even if we have seen them dressed in a different cover many times before.

 

~ Sabrina R G Raven

The Classics Challenge

The classics. It’s a term that gets bandied around quite a lot. Now we’ve spoken of literary snobs before but the literati seem to wax lyrical about the list of books all people should read. I realised that I have not read quite a few books on this list. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not a literary heathen. As I’ve mentioned previously I was a Shakespeare geek in high school, I have read some of the period romances from the Pride and Prejudice family, I have adventured through Middle Earth and have gone down the Rabbit hole with Alice. I have gone along with Homer’s Odyssey and have spent time with Anne of Green Gables. But there are many books I have not read.

This year I had set myself a challenge to read 50 books I already owned. Alas this has failed because I found way too many new books to buy and read along the way but did manage to get through 27 books I owned (and 16 I bought this year). So for next year’s reading challenge I am setting myself a more doable goal plus also appeasing the literati who seem disgusted that several so called classics have never met my eyes. But now the challenge begins as to which 10 I should read. And what makes a classic.

For some the period romances of Pride and Prejudice etc are classics. Personally I find them dull and have only managed to get through the afore mentioned Pride and Prejudice and Little Women and I began Sense and Sensibility but i was bored to tears. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these books but they are just not to my taste. I’m much more likely to read Sense Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

So far I have chosen a few and please don’t judge me for never have read these. I do won them all so I’ve intended to read them for several years but they have fallen by the wayside of new books.

First up is To Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone is appalled that as a writer I have not read this. I will be remedying this. I’ve also never seen the movie so going in with fresh mind and eyes.

Others include Watership Down, Lord of the Flies, War and Peace (this one is going to kill me i fear) and Anna Karenina. But now to pick the others.

So classics: Anyone have any suggestions of books everyone must read? And who wants to join me?

Published in: on December 7, 2011 at 3:37 am  Comments (3)  
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Book vs Movie: The Golden Compass

Firstly this one is short but sweet. Secondly minor spoilers, you have been warned.

The Golden Compass (2007) movie is based on the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman, called Northern Lights. And I use the words ‘based on’ quite lightly. For those who have read the books and have not made the jump to see the film for the love of all things literary DON’T. It will anger you.

Now I hadn’t read the books when I went to see the movie and as such enjoyed the story of Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pan (a sort of familiar that take the shapes of animals) and her search for the missing Gyptian children across the snowy lands. The movie boasts stunning visual effects and is the only thing I still enjoy about the movie post book reading. Seeing the polar bears, especially armoured bear Iorek Byrnison  come to life was amazing.

The problem with the movie is the giant chunks of story that is taken out or changed. Apparently (so I’ve read anyway) director Chris Weitz was made to change a lot of the script because of its anti-Catholic and atheistic themes that are quite blatant in the book (despite Catholicism never actually being named in either).  Lyra’s world is run by the Magisterium who are conspiring to end tolerance and free inquiry. And I guess I understand this was done as to not anger the Catholic Church (although personally when people protest a movie it usually does better) so instead they angered the fans of the books.

For those who have only seen the film, please, please, please read the books. All of them. They are well written with layers and layers of plot, several wondrous storylines and have parts that will make you laugh and cry. Most of all they make you think. Something the movie was sorely lacking.

I’m not going to give away any of the plot because it really has so many elements, but if you haven’t read the book, go see the movie, enjoy its prettiness, then go read the books and discover the wonder and intrigue Pullman has created that is sorely lacking in the film.

Plan vs. Not Plan

There are two very different schools of thought when it comes to writing I’ve found – the planners and the free writers. This difference becomes widely apparent at this time of the year, especially in my house. That’s right folks; NaNoWriMo is once again upon us. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, please see last year’s entry on NaNoWriMo here.

It has become a bit of mother-daughter rivalry at my place; as we both battle to beat each other on daily word counts, rushing to fit in writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days while still holding down full-time day jobs and keeping the household running smoothly. Things get a bit crazy.

But it’s the lead up where the planning styles, or lack of, show themselves. My planning involves purchasing copious amounts of sugar free Redbull/V/*insert energy drink*, candy and food I can eat one handed. I am a free writer. This how I approach most my books. On November first I will be up at 4am to start writing and at this moment all I know is a general premise and my main protagonists name…  and that’s how I like it. For me planning a story makes me feel bogged down. It stifles my muse. I like to let my characters write themselves and take me on their stories like I’m merely a ghost writer for a group of fictional entities. Being made to write outlines for stories at school was hell for me. Most times though I had awesome English teachers who understood me and let me write my stories and then write a synopsis. (Thank you Mrs Morris)

And then there are writers like my mum. My mum, Mara Harrison, whose beautiful illustrations for the next Ouroborus Book Services’ book Everdark Realms can be seen at www.everdarkrealms.com, is a planner. She approaches her writing and art with surgical precision, planning meticulously every detail before even starting to write/draw. Watching her during NaNo is an experience. Whereas I sit typing on the couch, caffine in reach; she sits surrounded by notebooks and bits of paper. She stops at intervals to rifle through her papers, rustling away as my dog looks on perplexed from the safety of my side.

I guess deep down though our planning styles match our personalities to a tea. Although I like to know where I’m going in advance in life, I certainly am more of a head first, try it and see person. My mum on the other hand is a meticulous list maker. She’s very ordered and things don’t get left to chance. And they both work. We stare at each other in shock at the approach we each take to our writing, and life in general, but in the end, the goal is the same. We’re in it for the words and in the end, as another NaNo comes to a close we will both hopefully have our 50,000 words or more ready to be enhanced once the insanity dies down and I lower my caffine levels enough to actually sleep.

So my advice is do what works for you. Don’t get bullied into planning and mapping because it’s what is expected. Alternatively, if you are a planner, especially if surrounded by opinionated free writers, don’t feel that you’re planning is wrong or cheating. If it helps you to write and keeps you going, more power to it.

For those doing NaNo this year, good luck. Feel free to friend me. My name on the site is theravensclaw. Have Fun and happy NaNo-ing.

Book vs. Movie – The Mist by Stephen King

I was planning on writing about Planet of the Apes but I realised that I couldn’t remember most of the older movies so gimme a few weeks on that one. Now before I begin SPOILER WARNING. If you read through these book vs. movie columns and it spoils the ending of either then it is your own fault. Okay, now that that is over let us begin.

I was eight when I first experienced the joy and terror that is Stephen King. My mother was always pretty liberal on what I could watch and read (within reason of course) and she knew of my love for the odd, creepy and downright gross from an early age. At seven I had devoured most the Goosebumps books by RL Stine and by age eight or so I had moved onto Christopher Pike and other teen horror books. One night on a school holiday I was up late and watched the movie Cat’s Eye (which consisted of three short films: Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and The General) and from that day I had to find more of this master’s works. Little did I know how much more I would love the books as my life progressed.

 I was around nine when I got my first Stephen King book, not having convinced mum to buy me any of my own just yet. I remember vividly that day mum and I went shopping with my aunt. We passed a second hand book store, that musty, dust smell wafting from the semi-lit doorway. I dragged at her hand, begging her to let us stop for a minute. Even at that age I was enthralled with the smell of old books. With a smile she let me run free into the stacks and overcrowded shelves. I emerged after a few minutes holding a thick paperback, its pages and cover dog eared and creased. The spine so bent you could barely read the title. Its cover held a cracked image of a skeleton holding a scythe and the title Skeleton Crew by Stephen King.

 It took a bit of convincing but I persuaded her to let me buy it with my pocket money for the pricely sum of $1.50 (that was a lot of money in 1991 especially for a nine year old). I started reading as soon as we got in the car and amongst all the gems there were two shining stars The Raft and one of the longer stories in the book, The Mist. I hoped to one day see either of them as movies so when they announced they were making The Mist  in 2007, I was stoked but apprehensive. I was a lot more discerning by that age and had seen how most of my idol’s books had been made into bad telemovies or just changed way too much.

 When I went to see it on the big screen it was at a small cinema with a few friends and the cinema was mostly empty as it was the end of the movie’s run. And I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few changes but only one that really split the King fans down the middle on opinion. I’ll get to that one soon.

 The Mist for those who haven’t seen/read it (seriously you should stop reading if you intend to) sees a thick, soupy mist begin to spread across the town of Bridgton, Maine, making it nigh on impossible to see more than a  few feet in front of you. In the movie the storm that brings the mist and the aftermath that leads to the story is very rushed through (albeit containing a an easter egg for King fans with a painting of a movie poster of Roland Deschain from the Dark Tower series), but the book, along with King’s usual demeanour, ambles along, showing the intricacies of the characters’ ‘normal’ lives. A tree has fallen in the storm and crushed the boathouse of our main character David Drayton (played in the movie by Thomas Jane) falling from his neighbour, Brent Norton’s  (Andre Braugher) yard. Despite the ill feelings between the two, they head into town for supplies together with David’s son Billy (Nathan Gamble).

Once at the store we meet a mixed group of people, from checkout chicks and bagboys, some soldiers from the military compound nearby working on a secret mission named the Arrowhead Project (the book hints at this being the cause of the mist, the soldiers following suicide being further hint of this. The movie straight up blames this project of ‘opening doors to other realms’ for the mist and the monsters from it – another Dark Tower reference perhaps), and the crazy Mrs Carmody. This is when stuff starts going pear shaped. Creatures start to attack from the mist.

I won’t give away too much of them away because it’s rather cool. But one of the other differences between the book and movie is Mrs Carmody. Although personally they both work well for me, the book Mrs Carmody is more strange crazy in the book than religious zealot crazy like in the movie. But as I said both work and by the end she had convinced most the people in the store that the mist is part of the end times and that God wants a blood sacrifice to appease him – in the form of David’s son, Billy. (For the fans: please note in the movie all the King paperbacks on the book shelves). Her getting taken down by a well aimed can of peas to the head certainly brought cheers to the people in our cinema.

Things happen more or less like in the book until the end, and this is the BIG change that personally pissed me off, but some fans loved it. In the book the end sees David, Billy, Amanda the checkout operator and an elderly, yet tough, school teacher Hilda Reppler, escaping in a car driving into the mist. The very last part reveals that they hear a single word come through the crackling radio, ‘Hartford’, giving them hope that there is something out there, and THAT’S IT. And I would love to have seen the movie end this way, but to placate the masses they gave it a ‘real’ ending.

There are still David, Billy and Amanda but swaps Hilda for Irene (same character as Hilda, just different name) and Dan. They drive over to David’s house to find his wife dead – victim to the creatures. Then they start driving away again. Eventually they run out of fuel and pull over. While Billy sleeps, they discuss their fate and with 4 bullets left in the gun David had they decide to end it, having not seen any other survivors on the way. David shoots Billy, Amanda, Irene and Dan and then resigns himself to the fate of the creatures ending his life. He steps out of the car when all of a sudden he hears the rumble of a truck. The mist begins to clear and he sees military personnel and survivors. He falls to the ground screaming realising how close they were to rescue and that his son and wife are now dead.

Yeah…

So my recommendation is read the book first. Get the Skeleton Crew book (because it’s full of awesome stories) and not the novelisation of the movie because it’s not the real deal.

Also if you’re new to Stephen King and his 1000 page epics of fear seem a little overwhelming, this is a great way to start, with bite size stories you can read in one sitting.

As for the movie, it’s good. Personally I stop it before the stupid ending so it’s more like the book but if you’re not a purist or you don’t intend to read the book, the movie is probably one of the better King adaptations.

~ Sabrina

 

 

 

WWSD (What Would Shakespeare Do)

I must admit I’m a bit of a Shakespeare nerd. I remember walking around at high school lugging around the school library’s only copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare in my school bag. It was a monstrously sized, hard cover volume, bigger than a dictionary and I’m pretty sure if anyone tried to rob me I could have easily knocked them out with the weight of it. So when I was posed the question of what Shakespeare would think of Twilight, it got me thinking. The idea evolved even past that question and into what would Shakespeare do in today’s literary market.

 As for the original question, I’m sure Shakespeare would be amazed at how such sub standard rubbish could make so much money but, and if pains me to say it, Shakespeare could, if he were a modern writer, be churning out similar books himself.  His works would go one of three ways: amazing books, in depth television shows or tacky paperbacks.

 His tragic love stories would either be brilliant, heartrending tales like a Bryce Courtenay novel or, most likely, be mills and boon romances or turned into Neighbours or one of the cookie cutter dramas common on tv today. He was known as a writer for the masses and from emo poet to romance writer, I fear his work would most likely to the way of the supermarket paperback or television soap.

 Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly hope that if the bard were alive today the works he penned would be merely modern retellings of his works. Prose for the masses; his poetic nature being encapsulated in epics akin to Mr Courtenay’s extensive catalogue. We already see many of Shakespeare’s works being retold in contemporary settings so could we perhaps see a sparkly vampire ridden version of the Taming of the Shrew.

 I hope that if we ever get the ability to bring the past back to life and have Shakespeare able to fill our bookshelves with new works it will be more of the classic works. A Midsummer Nights Dream would work as an urban fantasy or even a True Blood-esqe tale for tv. But if we return to his probably best known and much misquoted work Romeo and Juliet you know this would end up being a teen romance or a Mills and Boon. Sure it could end up being a wistful saga akin to a Colleen McCullough but would marketing hold up for a relative new comer to this genre.

 But returning to the original question, Shakespeare, if writing classic tales would probably think Twilight is the badly written panty-wetting, tween market rubbish… either that or he’d be the author or adapting it for the small screen.

 

 

~Sabrina

The Eternal Muse

Writers block is something all writers get at some point. Be it for a day or several months it happens to us all. In frustration some of us with curse our muse for deserting us, but how many of us know where the term muse came from?

The muse was actually a group of nine goddesses in Greek mythology each ruling over specific types of arts/skills. Their origin stories seem to vary but my favourite is that they were created when Pegasus the winged horse touched his hooves to the ground in Helicon causing 4 water springs to appear from the ground and it was from these springs that the muses were born.

The muses, as I said had their own skills they ruled over and also had a symbol used to evoke them. They were as follows:

Calliope, muse of epic poetry, symbolised with a writing tablet;

Clio, muse of history, evoked with the image of the scroll;

Erato, muse of love poetry, represented by the cithara (like a lyre);

Euterpe, muse of song and elegiac poetry, shown as the aulos (a type of flute);

Melpomene, muse of tragedy, symbolised with a tragic mask;

Polyhymnia, muse of hymns, evoked with a veil;

Terpsichore, muse of dance, whose symbol is the lyre;

Thalia, muse of comedy, shown as a comic mask; and

Urania, muse of astronomy, represented by the globe and compass.

Now they may seem rather specific but these nine muses were believed to help with the creation and inspiration for everything from dance to art, writing to mathematics and science to music.  The idea of a human being a muse to someone was a much later idea, and one that is most widely known today.

How many people do you hear saying ‘such and such is my muse’? For artists it may be a specific model or idea, for a writer it may be a loved one or a person they look up to. In fact in some fields it may be claimed that any role model that encourages someone is a muse.

But maybe the Greeks were right. Instead of cursing our muse when our minds go blank and our creative flair is having a bad day/week/month, maybe we should invoke one of the beautiful aspects of creativity that they had with their nine muses. Maybe a few kind words out into the realm of imagination could bring forth the gift they bestowed on many through time from Plato to Michelangelo, instead of cursing them away in frustration.

So next time writers block hits, take a deep breath and ask nicely and maybe you will get a visit from one of the lovely ladies known as the muses.

~Sabrina