Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Title: Only Lovers Left Alive (OLLA Tumblr, OLLA Twitter)
Rating: 15
Tom Hiddleston ... Adam
Tilda Swinton ... Eve
Mia Wasikowska ... Ava
John Hurt ... Marlowe
Anton Yelchin ... Ian
Summary: Adam and Eve are vampires and they've been married for centuries. They are deeply in love even though half the time they live on different continents. When Eve realises Adam is depressed she returns to him in Detroit and trouble soon follows in the form of her little sister Ava.

I love this film and no, before anyone suggests it, not just because Tom Hiddleston spends a lot of it wandering around half naked. That is an added bonus, but totally not why I love the film.

In truth if this had had the wrong cast it would have been deadly. The whole film has a very dry sense of humour and is totally character driven; with the wrong people in the roles it would have been like watching paint dry. This is not and I repeat, not, an action packed vampire movie. OLLA is a character exploration and those character happen to be vampires. It is brilliant.

I have to admit there were two people in our cinema who got up and walked out in the first 20 mins, but then there were two people in the theatre when we saw Coriolanus who did that as well, so not everyone can enjoy the same thing. The rest of us were riveted.

Tom Hiddleston is Adam, a self absorbed musician and scientist who is depressed and suicidal. He lives in Detroit in part of the city that is mostly abandoned and makes his music and gets Ian (Anton Yelchin) to release his music for him with no name attached. He only goes out to pick up blood from the local hospital where he dresses as a doctor to sneak in. The first time we see this is comedy cold - Jeffrey Wright who plays his contact in the hospital is superb. I shalln't spoil it for you, but it's very funny.

Adam spends the entire film not smiling and delivering dry one liners. Tom is absolutely wonderful and he manages to make you sympathise with Adam even though he could easily have come off as an egocentric arse.

Then there is the unrivalled Tilda Swinton; wow is she fantastic. Eve isn't the opposite of Adam, but she does believe in going out and interacting and appreciating life rather than seeing everything that is bad. She can see Adam's issues and she does for him what she does best: she loves him. This is quite a still film; there are many scenes with not a lot of movement, but Tilda is one of those actresses that can fill a screen even when she is just sitting there.

John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska and Anton Yelchin are also all great as contrasts to Adam and Eve. Ava is all movement and excess; the blood addict who is nothing but trouble. Then there is Ian who is actually alive, or a 'zombie' as the vampires refer to humans and he is Adam's connection to the world. Finally the great John Hurt as Christopher Marlowe (and yes, one of the running jokes is the whole Shakespeare conspiracy) who is old and wise and gives Eve the freedom to need advice from someone else rather than be the voice of reason all the time.

I enjoyed the beginning of the film where Adam and Eve are living in different places, but I have to say I thought it was completely brilliant as soon as they came together. They are so sensual and beautiful together. There were scenes with them both that just left me sitting there with a huge smile on my face because they made me so happy.

There are also parts that are laugh out loud funny. The part where Adam and Eve are sat either end of the sofa with Ian in between them just looking at him, for reasons I will not spoil, is hilarious. There are one-liners all over the place that made me snigger and in places it's a really funny, but really subtle film.

Vampire movies often have the depth of a small puddle (this is coming from a huge vampire movie fan), but this one is an ocean. They talk music, literature, science and I ended up believing these really were two people who had seen history. My favourite touch, however, is the gloves and it is a master class in show, don't tell. We never have a human who has to be taught vampire lore in this film, so everything we learn about the vampires we have to see and the fact they pick up information off everything they touch is brilliant. It increases their connection to the world and to each other and it is superbly done. The quiet joy of Adam and his instruments and Eve and her books is simply beautiful.

I've already ordered the blu-ray even though it has no release date as yet. I want this on my shelf so I can go back and watch it whenever I want. You'd think a film about a depressed musician and his reserved but happy wife wouldn't be uplifting, but it is. I want more, but I suspect this is the kind of film that will never have a sequel, possibly that's actually a good thing since sequels are often not a patch on the original.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Some more Amber piccies for all to enjoy :)

So we have a new sofa and Amber really seems to like it, especially when we have a fire at the weekend. She likes to sit on the top at the back or down the end on her blanket. Rob took some piccies this weekend and here they are:
You dare to look at me?!

I shall deign to let you pet me.

Unimpressed with the flash.


Almost had enough of this...

Hello lower creature...

What do you think you're doing?

I survey my domain, Mortal!

I am above all that I see!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Guest Post: The Vampire's Concubine Blog Tour - Conflict & Angst in My Writing by Sophie Duncan

Thanks to Tasha for hosting me today and...


I thought that today there would be plenty of people talking about love and schmultzy stuff, so I'm going in the opposite direction, and in this leg of my Vampire's Concubine Blog Tour, I'm talking about using conflict and angst in my writing.

Now, if any of you have read my stuff, especially my fanfic, you'll know I'm a bit of an angst junkie ;P. There's nothing I like more than a little hurt/comfort, whether that's emotional, or physical. I suppose I can blame my penchant on my regular dose of 70/80's film and TV when I was growing up: the likes of Return From Witch Mountain, Blake's 7 and The Lost Boys had a significant influence me.

The threat and the thrill to the protagonists in these shows, was usually accompanied by emotional challenges, especially in the likes of Blake's 7 and even Dr Who (especially in the era I grew up watching, Peter Davison, who was always angsting about decisions and concern for his companions). I hooked onto this conflict both mental and physical, finding it exciting and engaging. So, naturally, when I started writing, both fanfic and then my own original fiction, this kind of tension began to feature in my work.

Rather than the distress, I find the emotional and physical resilience in the face of such a challenge compelling. I enjoy exploring how characters react in extreme circumstances and also how they recover from those events. My novel, Death In The Family, focuses on how a young man, Tom, deals with a series of revelations about his past and how he reacts as he learns more about his father, a vampire, and faces changes in his body and mind as his nightcrawler heritage emerges. Tom battles his own body, his mind playing tricks and dangerous instincts; it's a very personal journey for him, but it happens within a setting of threat not only to him, but also those around him. Tom's changes set him apart from his companions, as well, which adds a sense of isolation to his situation and I used these different levels of conflict, concern and separation to fuel the story.

The Vampire's Concubine stories, too, are based around a form of conflict: secrets. In, Rage. Umi, slave and newly made vampire, has not revealed his name, or anything about his past before arriving at the castle to Hieron, who is now his master and maker, and that secrecy, although Hieron had initially agreed to it in An Amusement, instigates the events in this second story. Hieron is dangerous and he is angry, and, in such a young relationship, that makes for a vicious reaction. Given that Rage is only the second story in The Vampire's Concubine sequence, Hieron and Umi have no in-depth relationship to cushion the antagonism Umi's secrets generate, so it is this that continues to drive the story. In future stories, their relationship will evolve, but for now, I am finding it fun to play with the mystery and it's consequences. :)    

However, even though I do occasionally, put my characters through the wringer, I'm also a happy ending addict ;). I remember being very confused and upset when I first saw The Empire Strikes Back - all that angst and conflict, and no pay off at the end?! It's the contrast I like, y'see. I enjoy reading, watching and writing challenges and difficulties for my characters and gradually moving towards resolution. Now, 'a happy ending' doesn't mean perfection to me, in fact, if everything is lovely and perfect and a bed of roses, I'll be looking for the thorns, because that's what sparks further stories, but there have to be some blooms along with the prickles (and yes, I know I'm pushing my metaphor way beyond its limits ;P).

So, there you have it, I am a self-confessed hurt/comfort reader, watcher and writer. Tie me up in knots throughout the story, but give me a satisfying (and yes, happy ending), please. :)

What about you, do you like angst, or does it drive you stark staring crazy? ;P


Rage & An Amusement Giveaway!

For a chance to win copies of Rage and An Amusement, check out the giveaway below.


About Sophie Duncan

Sophie Duncan is a UK author of genre fiction with Wittegen Press. She has been writing since she was a child and has been sharing her work with others since she discovered the internet in the 1990's. She has published original works in many genres, from contemporary fantasy, through crime and mystery drama, to erotic romance. All of her published books can be found listed at her author page on the Wittegen Press website.

Other places Sophie would love to connect with you are:

When, Hieron, vampire lord of Harkham, is approached by a mysterious young stranger, he finds himself tempted by the bargain his bold visitor makes: ninety nine years of absolute service in return for vampire power. With no name and no explanation of the reasons behind the offer, the attractive enigma becomes Umi, Hieron's slave, concubine and vampire childe. 

Yet, from the very first moments the bargain is sealed, Hieron discovers his concubine to be an erotic and obsessively maddening challenge.

The Vampire's Concubine is an erotic romance told in short-story episodes.

Rage - The Vampire's Concubine #2 ($0.99/£0.77/EUR0.86)

The bargain has been sealed, Umi is now a vampire and belongs to Hieron as his concubine. Yet, Hieron cannot reconcile himself to the secrecy behind his new slave, it makes him dangerously angry and the vampire lord lives up to his warning to Umi that he will be cruel.

Hieron's demands weigh heavily on Umi, who, it seems, cannot please his master. As Hieron's rage grows, Umi's time is running out. Desperately, he searches to find the key to salving Hieron's fury before the beast within his sire rises to destroy him.

Purchase 'Rage' and get 'An Amusement - The Vampire's Concubine #1' FREE - see inside the book for details.

Available at Amazon and Smashwords - for buying links, please see this entry on the Wittegen Press website:

An Amusement - The Vampire's Concubine #1 ($0.99/£0.77/EUR0.86)

Hieron, vampire lord of Harkham, is unaccustomed to visitors in his private bedchamber unless he has expressly invited them. Such an unsolicited intrusion should mean the interloper's death, but Hieron finds himself unusually fascinated by the stranger who appears before him unbidden. Offering no name and no explanation of his reasons, the young man offers ninety nine years of absolute service in exchange for the gift of vampire power.

Amused and aroused, Hieron agrees to the bargain, names his enigma, Umi and decides he will become his newest concubine. The only thing left is to seal the deal in a bond of sex and supernatural power.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and iTunes - for buying options, please see this entry on the Wittegen Press website:

COMING SOON - Dark of Mind - The Vampire's Concubine #3

Umi is no normal concubine. His master's gift of vampirism notwithstanding, there is much more to him than the Lord of Harkham has yet discovered. Hieron is no longer angry with Umi's secrets, but he remains intrigued and, demon-owned twice over Umi maybe, but it is his mind that interests Hieron the most.

Under Yan's tutelage, Umi is discovering the rites and skills to being a concubine, and Hieron is master when it comes to the night in his newest concubine's veins, mostly. That bond holds a limit that Hieron has never experienced before: his childe has resisted the most intimate of contacts, that of the mind to mind control that normally lies within a sire's remit.

There is power in his childe, power not of the vampire's giving and, before Heiron is ready to deliver Umi to the harem, he means to discover it.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Author Interview with

I was lucky enough to do an author interview with last week. If you want to read some of my deep dark secrests (okay so that may be an exaggeration) please pop over and take a look :). They also have interview and articles and lots of useful information.

Author Interview with

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Day 33: Fic: Alleviation, Corruption Sequence #4.1, Harry/Draco, PG13

dameange: I would love to know what happens in the Corruption Sequence.

Title: Alleviation (ficlet for The Corruption Sequence set after #4)
Author: Beren
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: none
Summary: Draco needs to reclaim his place as top Slytherin, which includes Quidditch. Someone really doesn't want him to take back his crown.
Author's Notes: This is a ficlet for The Corruption Sequence set shortly after part 4. It's not a long fic because it was written as a request and I didn't have that long to complete it :). Thanks to Soph for the beta.
Word count: 2,710
Links to Alleviation: LJDW | AO3
Links to TCS: LJ | DW | AO3
My Fanfic Listings (LJ) | My Fanfic Listings (DreamW) | My Fic on AO3

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Day 27: Filing off the Serial Numbers from Fanfic, yes or no? (requested by Temaris)

temaris Is it worth filing off the serial numbers or just write original fic to start with?

Now this is a very interesting question and I think it totally depends on the fanfic in question. I believe there are four ways that you can come up with a decent original fiction from a fanfic without infringing copyright:
  1. The premise is so generic, i.e. two cops solving a case, that if you change the names and alter the situation slightly no one is going to know it wasn't an original fic anyway.
  2. You've written an alternative universe fic so changing the names and tweaking some of the minor characters gives you a whole new playground.
  3. You've added something new to the fictional universe that can be extracted and it might take work, but the original parts and some tweaks to the characters make it completely original.
  4. You've written real person fanfic (RPF) and a few tweaks and name changes mean you can pretend they never were real people.
Of course there is the question of should you file off the serial numbers and, personally, I don't see anything wrong with it as long as you're not taking anyone's copyrighted material with you. However, I firmly believe it should be done well. Converting a fanfic into an original fiction can be as hard as writing the original fiction from scratch. It should be undertaken carefully, thoughtfully and only after serious consideration. In some cases it might even be easier to take the premise and simply write the original fiction from scratch in the first place.

I have books out there that started off as a fanfic ideas, but which I then wrote as original fiction. Two of them were RPF so I simply fictionalised the characters before I started writing and one I had started writing as fanfic, but it had so much original material in it that it barely resembled the universe it was set in, so I ripped out all the fanfic parts and wrote it as a completely new idea.

I also have one that was published as a fanfic, but it fits in category four and I took it down a long while ago and have just about finished converting it. I also added some large chunks because fanfic assumes the audience know things that original fiction cannot. Since werewolves don't happen in real life I don't think many will catch on that it used to be RPF.

Now if you look as something like 50 Shades I think it fits into category 2. Even though it was once a Twilight fanfic it was an AU so, love it or hate it, by changing the names it's an original story.

The problems arise when the serial numbers aren't filed off very well. Fanfic writing in most cases has different requirements because of the audience and original fiction usually needs a lot more world building. If this is missing or too much of someone else's fiction universe is used you end up with a book that is thin or cheating. This is problematic for the reader and the copyright owner.

There's no such thing as a completely original plot or even an original universe, but there are distinctive things that make a fiction universe special. Having wizards use wands is not unique, having them going to a shop in a magical street where a funny old man hands them wand after wand until they find the right one is. Letting your heroine be bitten by a handsome vampire is not unique, having him be the guy next door who fixes up old houses and your heroine is the girlfriend of the teenage boy watching said vampire from his bedroom window is. Harry Potter and Fright Night (1985) respectively; in case you were wondering.

It's all in the delivery. Two fanfic writer can use the same premise and come up with entirely different stories, so it's quite possible for two writers of original fiction to do the same. As long as you bring something different, something original to what you are creating then who cares how it started out. Write well and don't steal other people's universes for your own gain and everything should be fine.