My top 15 strong, iconic and influential women in horror

My top 15 strong, iconic and influential women in horror

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I have talked about my influences and creative processes whilst writing Tapeworm Slim over the past few weeks so now, as a change but on the same continuum, I am going to countdown the 15 ladies who have just stood out for me over the years.

Lets be clear, this is personal taste and the poll of votes contains a total of ME and ME only! I also want to make it clear I am not talking about how good the film is, I am speaking purely how the character affected me subjectively and why. And finally, let me also be clear, I have omitted Ripley from Alien because I feel that is more Sci-Fi than straight horror so the film does not qualify even though Sigourney Weaver is brilliant.

And finally, I am combining the ACTRESS skill with the CHARACTER she played! So a great character has to be well acted and made believable to qualify in my esteemed list!

So is horror misogynistic? Sometimes. Is it hateful towards women? No. And the reason is because ALL the ladies here are crafted with love, passion and always end up kicking ass and turning the tables. Even if turning the tables meant surprising everyone as being evil, such as number 15! The inspirations may vary, but each one left an indelible mark which helped when making my characters come to life in the pages of my book.

So the criteria for my list is 1.) well acted, 2.) well written character and 3.) must undergo a journey of some kind to leave an iconic/empathic link which lingered in my memory. So then, 15 iconic characters played by 15 superb actresses which proves horror isn’t all about misogyny… Oh, and this isn’t about best looking either (although some of these ladies are very pretty) the list is about emotional AFFECT not just visual EFFECT.

So lets get underway and countdown starting from number 15!

15.) Betsy Palmer – Friday the 13th (1980)

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“His name is Jason, and today is his birthday…”

Who can forget the twist at the end of Friday the 13th? Before it became a part 1 to the others, a group of teenagers were hunted down my a middle aged lady in a knitted sweater out of vengeance for her sons accidental death due to the Camp Crystal Lake staff not being attentive. Betsy was adorable, affable and then… On a sixpence… she became psychotic and went full Norman Bates! “Kill them! Kill them mommy!”

Betsy was believable and, for a lady in a homely knitted seventies jumper, menacing and memorable and she is still spoken about even now.

14.) Sarah Polley – Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

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Ana is a nurse. She finishes a long shift, goes home and has a meal, has sex and then falls asleep. The next day she fights off a zombie girl in the early hours, goes on the run and is forced to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. More  proactive than Gaylen Ross (Francine) in the original she is heart and soul of the story and is both likeable and believable and isn’t objectified or side lined at any point during the film. We see much of the world through her eyes and this makes her our empathic link. For the first ten minutes alone in that film, from her nursing shift to escape from a collapsing neighbourhood of entropy, she establishes hr character and deserves a special mention in my list.

13.) Shawnee Smith – The Blob (1988)

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Before she was Amanda in SAW, Shawnee was cheerleader Meg in Chuck Russell’s remake of The Blob. Starting off as vacuous and evolving slowly as a giant pink jelly slowly absorbs the town, Meg dodges not only the titular terror itself but also government agencies intent on ensuring the infection is contained. Teaming up with Brian (Kevin Dhillon in a mega mullet) she goes from pom-pom waving bimbo to true action girl as she takes control with Brian and brings down The Blob with a combination of strength, courage and child saving luck! Much as I loved SAW, if I am asked which Shawnee Smith moved me more and influenced my horror love, it has to be her portrayal of Meg in a film which deserves much more credit than it has received.

12.) Clare Higgins – Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)

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Talk about scarring me for life! Clare Higgins Julia, who lured men back to her house on a promise of sex only to bash their heads in with a hammer and feed them to her skinless lover who was running from the Cenobites, made me VERY wary of women! Having grown up in a single parent household where dates came a went, and then being terrible at dating when I was old enough, I would sometimes wonder what I was walking into whenever I went to a potential girlfriends house. Julia was terrifying! She was a soulless creature so driven by the love for blood caked Frank (Sean Chapman) she had no limits. She was the ice queen who hated her husband, despised her stepdaughter and was prepared to literally kill again and again and again to get what she wanted.

Thanks Julia, you made dating an even more terrible experience for me!!!!!

11.) Jennifer Tilly – Bride Of Chucky (1998), Seed Of Chucky (2004), Curse Of Chucky (2013)

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WHOA! WHO IS THAT???!!!! WHERE HAS SHE BEEN ALL MY LIFE??!!!!!!!

In 1998 I watched Bride Of Chucky more out of a chore for a forgettable but likeable series rather than with high hopes of a classic but, within a few minutes, this super boobed blonde appeared and I fell in celluloid love! Tilly was perfect, that squeaky voice mixed with the white trash girl from the trailer park who just wanted her fiancé back from the dead, and she stole the film in both human and doll mode. Bride of Chucky was bold, brave and a black comedy which was hugely enjoyable. Tilly played Tiffany who kills a policeman for her doll, performs a ritual to bring him back and then realises her mistake all too late when she is fried in the bath by the murderous little ginger toy. Its a credit to Tilly that she overshadows a young Katherine Heigl AND does such a good voice over work that she spars beautifully with Brad Douriff who has played Chucky in every film so far.

10.) Monica Keena – Freddy Versus Jason (2003)

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I make no apologies for being an Elm Street fanatic. So when Freddy squared up to a certain Mr Vorhees I left Sixth Form College early, headed to the ODEON cinema and watched it on opening day. What a horrible experience it was with gangs of kids ruining the movie by shouting all the way through it. But Ronny Yu, who also directed the above mentioned Bride Of Chucky, made a superbly enjoyable film which perfectly meshed the styles of Elm/Friday and a huge amount of blood and guts! Oh, and there was also Monica Keena who squeaked, squealed and screamed her way from shy and put upon girl to a proper Dame of Freddy who ends up cutting off the dream demons head. Beautiful to look at, she is a perfect mix of the two franchises type of girls. She has the looks of a Friday machete fodder but the strength and sensibleness of an Elm Street final girl.

Monica played Lori Campbell, overshadowing Kelly Rowlands screen debut, and becoming another slasher icon for me immediately.

9.) Marilyn Burns – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Texas Chainsaw (2013)

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Sally and her friends take a detour to their old farmhouse and…. Well, the rest is history! Leatherface and his family of cannibals gave the British censors a tough time but they gave poor Sally an even more excruciating ordeal! Bashed with a hammer, tied up, teased, humiliated and chased by a chainsaw wielding sociopath, Burns runs and runs and runs… And runs some more… Until salvation for her and the audience finally comes in the shape of a passing truck.

If you know the story behind Texas Chainsaw, you’ll know they filmed in horrible conditions and the lead actress picked up all kinds of real life cuts and bruises from filming her scenes of torture and repeated escapes from the family home. Marilyn Burns was believable, pitiful and you rooted for her right from the start. She beats the 2003 remake star Jessica Biel purely on visceral performance because the terror in her eyes was real and the exhaustion in her tears was earnest due to the gruelling filming conditions. She sadly passed away not long after appearing in the Alexandra Daddario starring 2013 remake/sequel/3D version.

8.) Maika Monroe – It Follows (2014)

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What a marvellous throwback to a golden age of horror It Follows was. What a wonderful timeless age it had. What a great lead Maika became. After her character Jay sleeps with charming but nervous hunk Hugh (Jake Weary) she gets a sexually transmitted disease worse than any chlamydia! Finding herself relentlessly pursued by an unstoppable demon working his way down a line of sexual conquests, Jay undergoes a dramatic transformation from sweetheart of the neighbourhood to terrified runner and finally emotional wreck who will do almost anything to stay alive.

Yet alive she stays as she works with her friends and fights heroically against a mental breakdown, supernatural terror and she earns her stripes on this list. A film of such quality and homage to the era of Elm Street and Halloween is rare and it works because of her understated performance and believable angst.

She doesn’t really beat her demon either and, in movie world somewhere out there, IT is still following silently behind her……….

7.) Eliza Dushku – Wrong Turn (2003)

fhd003WTN_Eliza_Dushku_004-1024x554I’ve always been a huge Buffy fan and an equally huge Dushku fan after watching her turn as Faith in varying appearances from series 3-7. So when Wrong Turn came out I was very keen to see what she would bring to the  table in an 18 rated horror.

As Chris (Desmond Harrington) and Dushku’s Jessie become the heart and soul of the film they escape from the three cannibals in differing clichés, prolonged suspense scenes and full on fights. Far from a classic film, Wrong Turn is enjoyable and very entertaining. And, although she needs “the male to save her” cliché, Dushku commands the running time with an understated yet typically brave performance we have come to associate with her. She is an icon in my mind and, although I’m glad she didn’t come back for the lessening sequels, its a shame she didn’t push on from that performance and get more lead roles in the horror genre.

6.) Ashley Laurence – Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988), Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992)

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Ashley gets a high billing on the list because not only did she beat FOUR Cenobites and a giant scorpion hell-slug thing, she also outsmarted Frank and Julia as their net closed around her because she was the only remaining loose end in their sickening scheme. Ashley plays Kirsty Cotton, spunky daughter of the very wet Larry (Andrew Robinson), and she becomes a reluctant but persistent heroine as the jaws of hell close around her. Although she reprised her role in Hellraiser 2 and appeared as a cameo in the vastly inferior threequel Hellraiser 3, its her turn in the first film which lives long in the memory.

From bargaining for her life with Pinhead whilst the chatter Cenobite held her head, to outsmarting deviant Frank and even sending the four demons back to hell, Kirsty is an atypical heroine but one who lives long.

5.) Jamie Lee Curtis – Halloween (1978), Halloween 2 (1981) Halloween H20 (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

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WHAT?! SHE ISN’T NUMBER 1????!!!!!!!!!!!

Like I said, its a subjective list and not reliant on the quality of the film. It is down to the actress/character and impact she had.

Anyway, who could omit Laurie Strode who battles Michael Myers again and again and again… And I am not counting the sequels of Halloween 2/H20/Resurrection she sadly appeared in which kept reducing the character each time. In the first film she is the dork. She is the one no one wants to date. She is the babysitter who is great with kids but not adults. She is a fighter who stabs, pokes, stabs again and finally pulls the mask of the man who has been terrorising her. Strong, likeable and iconic she is the original slasher scream queen and should be in ANY list for the impact she made and quality of her performance in one of the most brilliant horror films ever made.

4.) Sissy Spacek – Carrie (1976)

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Much as I love Chloe Moretz, she cant hold a candle to the original portrayal of Carrie White by Sissy Spacek. Moretz is a great actress but she was miscast in the remake. She was too pretty, too likeable and didn’t have the same menace once the blood hit her head.

Spacek went fugue. Complete dissociation and entered an alternate personality of rage where she decimated the town on autopilot and with a depersonalisation which unleashed a vengeance on all the others who had bullied her. Its a towering performance and a great character and Spacek was a geeky, oddball and completely believable as the put upon girl who does what every bullied child fantasises about when they are cut off from real life and being picked on for just being different!

For both character and acting ability, Spacek is amazing!

3.) Lisa Wilcox – Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

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WHAT?!!! Elm Street 4 & 5 over Halloween??!!!! HUH?!

Like I said, its not the film, its what the actress and character did for me.

By the time of Elm Street 4 & 5 the quality was starting to diminish and Freddy was out of the shadows and now the star. So its a credit to Wilcox, who played Alice Johnson, that her journey from good little virgin girl to widowed mother who shows immense strength in defeating the dream demon TWICE, is so believable. Its also to her credit that she holds up the films and commands attention when Freddy wasn’t on screen. Something the lesser characters of the two films couldn’t do.

An underrated actress, she carries Elm Street 5 through its patchy pacing and throwaway characters and she moves centre stage once her boyfriend Dan (Danny Hassell) meets an incredibly grisly end during the first act. Wilcox is amazing, I’ve seen the two films more times than is healthy and (Englund aside) she is head and shoulders above everyone else. Its just a shame that Alice (and baby Jacob) were ignored for the then final part of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She will forever remain a loose end in Elm Street filmic canon.

Also, she is the only character to beat Freddy twice and live! Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) died in her second appearance in part 3 and I’m not counting her victory in the meta New Nightmare.

2.) Sarah Butler – I Spit On Your Grave (2010), I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance Is Mine (2015)

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Spend time watching the making of and interviews of the movie and listen to the eulogies from her co stars. Read reviews, good or bad, and see the vein that flows though each one is that Butler gives a powerhouse of a performance.

Re-imagined for the SAW generation, Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) heads to a remote retreat to work alone. After dropping her phone down the toilet and meeting four incredibly insidious men, the viewer is forced to watch near 30 minutes of explicit sexual violence. Once she barely survives that, Jennifer hides and then returns to murder her way through her attackers in increasingly convoluted/near impossible/overtly sadistic revenge traps.

She gives a fearsome performance and I mean FEARSOME.

Pick what you like about the film, and I for one enjoyed Jennifer’s revenge far more than the over lengthy and uncomfortable to watch humiliation she is forced to suffer in the first 45 minutes of the run time. In the final act, she emerges as a great actress and revels once the tables are turned and she becomes a feminist Jigsaw killer who castrates, acid baths and anally violates her attackers with a shotgun. She would later reprise her role in I Spit On Your Grave 3: Vengeance is mine, where she was a vigilante against rapists and perverts and, although it was another great turn from a hugely underrated actress, it doesn’t quite match her unbelievable portrayal from good girl/broken human/vengeful monster in the first film.

She deserves more high profile roles.

1.) Heather Langenkamp –  Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

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Only one winner for me and that is Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson who battles Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s amazing slasher film. Nancy is timid, gentle and chaste as the film begins. I mean she even turns down sex with Jonny Depp out of decency to her friend!

Nancy then grows and grows as she is forced to battle he dream demon, her alcoholic mother and her disbelieving and estranged father all whilst staying alive via coffee, relentless fights in her dreams and a booby trap finale where she finally turns the tables and shows lethal ingenuity as well as composure to turn her back on the creature who killed her friends and drain him of his power.

She would return in the well received Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors where Freddy finally  rid of her by stabbing her in the stomach but, even then, she held on long enough to overpower her nemesis and save her friend whilst Neil Gordon (Craig Wasson) finished the holy water ritual which once again (temporarily) vanquished Freddy at the finale.

Elm Street 1 & 3 were two of the first horror films I saw in the 80’s and she remains someone I am a huge fan of. Her journey, when she returned as the counsellor/Freddy hunter in the 3rd film, was even complete when she tried to make peace with her father. Well written, well acted and game enough to return and play herself in Craven’s meta pre-Scream New Nightmare, long live Nancy Thompson!

So there you have it! Horror isn’t just misogynistic, it casts brilliant female characters who steal the show and can become as iconic as the villain/film title itself. All of the above have bled into my work over the years (published or not) and they are all special for differing reasons.

I even gave my lead female mercenary in Tapeworm Slim the name Elm as a little nod to the film which kick-started such a strong love of horror.

Thanks for reading, more lists and general dissections of horror to come soon, be they relevant to my book or not, so please subscribe if you enjoyed what you have just read. or head over to Amazon and get hold of a copy of my new book! Its horror from a horror loving writer!

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TAPEWORM SLIM (2016) is on sale now!

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The importance of being different…

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I always felt as a writer, “I want to do something different, even if people think I am mad or if it turns them off my ideas a little bit!”

I never wanted to work under ANOTHER stalk and slash horror… ANOTHER zombie book… ANOTHER young adult teen vampire pandering love story!

I have two rules when starting a new book. 1) An idea which jazzes me and makes me excited to sit down and write. 2) Something original which is atypical from others in the genre.

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When  wrote my first book, Bezmel’s Vespiary, it was more about coping with a difficult part of my life and writing was my way of getting through it. I was playing a lot of computer games and watching zombie films and one of the thoughts I had was to write a book which contained zombies…. But not average zombies. They had to be different from the others.

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It cant be argued that George A Romero pretty much invented the Zombie Genre with his Night of the Living Dead and the follow ups. I’ve seen them all many times and love them to bits! I’ve played resident evil games more times than is healthy! But now zombies are now everywhere! Games, clothes and even god damn teen romance films in Warm Bodies and Life After Beth. I wanted mine to be something new, plausible and containing the same DNA but a represented as a new twisted creature. So I created what were known in the book as Human Wasps. Zombie-type people who were catatonic cannibals made from systematic abuse. Bezmel, our lead protagonist, works for the CIA and tortures people for a living. When the camp is overthrown and the inmates take control, the human wasps of the Vespiary are mute, dissociated and have no neurological impulse other than to eat other people. They are zombies in everything but they are alive Yet their psychological damage is so bad, their minds so warped by horrific abuse, that they are mentally disturbed and mentally comatose. It was a new way of writing something which has been done to overkill in recent years honouring the films which I fell in love with over twenty years ago.

Inspirations come from within. Wes Craven enthused about the stories of kids dying in their sleep and the man in the hat who stared at him through his bedroom window when he was a boy. That moment alone defined one of the greatest pop culture icons of all time and also gave us one of the greatest horror films of all time. The undeniably brilliant A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984).

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Tom Six speaks of the conversation he was having with friends about the child molester who was on the news and someone said “He should have his mouth sewn to the anus of a fat truck driver!” and this created The Human Centipede. I love Tom Six. He doesn’t care what people think and he has introduced a truly demented concept into reality. His trilogy has been rubbished, banned, praised and followed by fanatics in equal measure. Yet he remains resolute in his mission to be different, dogmatic and do what he wants whatever anyone thinks because he wants to keep to his originality. Whilst I am not going to compare any films here, the directors of horror are truly special people who all have a tale to tell of what inspired them to write their stories of darkness. Not to mention the amount of darkness they keep within!

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I grew up with horror films. Writing horror and watching horror was about the only thing I enjoyed and stopped me from either killing my entire class or myself as I hated my teenage years. It was my escapism. A place where I felt scared and happy at the same time! Every Friday and Saturday night, house to myself, horror films on VHS cassette!

When not watching I was writing! I wrote stories all the time. Even drew their book covers on my desk in my room. I cant draw for toffee so don’t expect them to surface here!!! The first ever story I wrote was called “The Ghoul” and written when I was about 14 years old. It was a slasher rip off and not very good but it was inspired by Halloween, Elm Street, Friday 13th and anything else I could get to watch when my family went to bed and I could be alone with the TV. Since then I have optically consumed so many films I genuinely don’t know how many I have seen but, as with Vespiary and Tapeworm Slim, my love of horror floods my work.

Speaking of designing my own covers, this was one of the first teaser images I knocked up for Tapeworm Slim when I was off sick from work one day.

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The brilliant social media site Twitter has now given me a chance to follow (or stalk!!!) my icons of horror, Elm Street and Mr Six himself. I enviously follow them and dream of one day being a successful author who is too followed by thousands and has my work either filmed or debated by fans. My casting choices are in the previous blogs…..

I’m not as thick skinned as Mr Six, and nowhere near as commercial as Wes Craven, but I can dream. You see I struggled with reading when I was a kid. I still do at times. So I was unable to get into horror books and instead had to rely on films. Maybe its my attention span or lazy left eye but I struggle with text and it takes me an age to finish a good book. I recently, in researching Bezmel, read more text books and history of torture books than was healthy but I had to. And don’t get me started on the horrors I had to study for Tapeworm Slim. Nasty stuff indeed….

Anyway, I digress.

The reason for this blog is because last week I started work on Tapeworm Slim 2.

I don’t want  write another copy cat book. I’ve done with the lab stuff and gross experiments. I’m moving onto something new. Sahara Scarseed will still be there but she will be more background. I don’t want to overkill her. Two new villains are coming and both are despicable for different reasons. And this one is still horror, but it is more a political book which will deal on a global scale after the Shropshire/Lake District centred nightmares of The Scarseed estate and The Facility where the Tapeworm Slim pill was created. It is going to take nearly two years of my life so I have to love it and bury myself in a world and not lose interest. Writing it tough. It exhausts you and frustrates you as much as it thrills and excites! So I don’t want to churn out something copycat. I want the sequel to be a completely different beast to the first but contain the blood line which made the first book so special to me.

When Tom Six created the notorious Centipede 2 it went meta! A truly bold and brave move for a sequel and I have to applaud him for such a brilliant and original idea! His first film inspires a mad man! The sequel is a real life nightmare of the first!

Some sequels don’t work. The nightmare of Elm Street 2 was more disaster than scary. Watch the brilliant Never Sleep Again documentary to see just how the cast and crew felt it wasn’t going right and ended up as a confusing mess. Many sequels are inferior. From Jaws 2, Halloween 2 to even some of the recent sequels of Sinister 2 it is a hit and miss affair trying to recapture the magic of the first. Take the SAW franchise. I loved the films but felt, after the first, the sequels were hit and miss and only really thrilled me when part6 came around with its social commentary on the American healthcare system.

Sequels are stories. They carry on the saga. They should not be cash ins.

Therefore, I always had a vision for Tapeworm Slim and after the claustrophobia of the first book, its time for mass market and political thriller as Scarseed’s nightmare hits the shops. Its different, exciting and I am loving writing it already.

Many people have said they wont read Tapeworm Slim because they feel it is too gross! That is a good start to me as its connecting with a fear and causing revulsion and challenging! I am thrilled about that! A biological horror story which s really pushing tolerances. The main inspiration for the book, as listed in the preface, was my time in hospital in 2014 and how scared I was at the time. Yet the book was also inspired by my research into eating disorders, the proliferation of diets and the clients I have dealt over the years who struggle with their self concepts and self esteems from how they look. It also comes from my own insecurities and, having grown up in a female household  and worked with mostly women, dieting has been something I have been exposed to for years. And social media is creating as many problems as it claims it is solving……

Tapeworm 2 is a long way off yet! Many things will change before it comes out and the story will be shaped my multiple inspirations and events just like the first one!

But although it is inspired by real and fictional events, it needs to be different! I need to keep it original because its my own work and whatever happens to my books, laughed at, ignored, bought in millions, discovered by a few who are browsing a website or WHATEVER path they take…

…I want them to have ME proudly stamped all over their content and for them to be known as different and unique.

So please, whether you have a Kindle or just read paperbacks and like horror, head over to Amazon and check it out.

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TAPEWORM SLIM is on sale now!

Music, mood and the importance of Simon and Garfunkel when writing horror!

Music, mood and the importance of Simon and Garfunkel when writing horror!

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There’s no argument in psychology that music stimulates, relaxes and inspires the mind. In fact, what with the effects it has on the physical senses and the neurological chemistry which fires the hippocampus and amygdala, music does the brain a whole world of good.

Music is also cathartic. It is something we listen to whilst we are at our worst, going through a breakup, bereavement and also when we need that loud and non argumentative voice which supports our splenetic mood. So of course music has always had a big part to play in my inspiration when writing.

I normally need silence and only write when I am focused. When I do write with music, classical is the best. There is something so relaxing and inspiring about classical music. It just hydrogenates the mind with clouds and causes a denseness of the senses.

When I was writing Tapeworm Slim, I was also approaching the age of 40. And I wasn’t really coping well with reaching the big milestone. So much life gone, so much not done and so many bygones that I couldn’t move on without a massive sulk. So I listened to music with a more downbeat tone. I have often been a collector of tunes. Sure, I have my favourite bands, but I often find myself hearing a song in a supermarket, catching a tune in a commercial or at the end of a film and thinking “I NEED THAT IN MY HEAD!” before heading to iTunes and finding it.

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Tapeworm Slim was already conceived, moving forward and taking shape before any of the next list occurred. They just deserve honourable mentions because they helped make the book what it was.

So then, having hovered up “going in for the kill” by La Roux in Asda, falling for Dido’s “Let us move on” at the end of No Good Deed and collecting a whole horde of inspiration from the Luther TV soundtrack, I was asked to watch the film Wild. To me, a horror loving typical man who likes man films, I expected a horrific two hours of Reese Witherspoon getting on my nerves.

Nope. Loved it.

Especially at the end when, after a wonderful film which bought nostalgia to my mood and tears to my eyes,  I heard El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel and it simply blistered me. I was captivated, haunted and just fell in love with the most amazing piece of music I had heard in a long time. Okay, now I’ve heard it about a million times and it is both my ringtone and wake up alarm song but, at the time, it was new and it moved me deeply.

Those cords, those words, the simple fact the song is so short and leaves you wanting more! It’s very essence contains a feeling which makes something squirm inside your heart and head. That squirming, that tingle every time I hear it, makes me want to just sit and write like a hypnotised sleeper agent!!!!

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Of course I got into more Simon and Garfunkel and soon found myself drunkenly wailing to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “The Sound Of Silence” and “Scarborough Fair”. It was here that, during frequent writers block, I would pause and have myself some time with the sound of S&G and I would soon find myself back on the right tracks. Their music helped shaped many elements of Tapeworm Slim. Cadie’s emotional moments with Banu and Nurse Six, Kane’s lovelorn connection with Elm and even Scarseed’s sub zero sadism were all gestated from their music.

I still loved classical music. I was also still inspiring myself with some frankly dark and miserable songs but there is nothing like discovering old music which is new to your ears. It’s like falling in love with someone new! It just infuses your senses and becomes addictive as every olfactory, gustatory, aural, visual and tactile senses begin a delusion of control over your body and mind. Even the most passionate song can inspire a deep darkness at 16:00 in the afternoon when you are enjoying wine and chocolates whilst typing on a laptop.

I believe in decadent writing!

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Special mention to Hi-Finesse and their song “Rebirth”. That tune, which I heard on the trailer for the film LUCY still inspires me everytime. What a tremendous piece that is and how much more inspiration will come from listening to that song late at night whilst I drown my sorrows and explore where imagination and characters are heading to next. If you haven’t heard it yet, head to YouTube and check it out.

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Quite why some songs trigger things in us and others don’t are all subjective and down to personality, perspective, experience and taste. Yet I couldn’t write without music. It is an essential component. I just think its funny that the benign sounds of Simon and Garfunkel contributed to the most heinous character I have ever had the pleasure of writing for!

So there you have it for the time being. Following on from last blog, if Tapeworm Slim ever becomes a film, Keeley Hawes will play Sahara Scarseed and the soundtrack will have Simon and Garfunkel on it! Everything is taking shape!

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Why it would have to be Keeley…

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Whilst I was starting to write Tapeworm Slim, I was pondering what my antagonist Sahara Scarseed would look like. Then, as I often do in my dereistic thinking time, I began to picture her if someone made a film of my book.

In fact I often picture things purely from a filmic/trailer point of view. Or I imagine scenes playing out in my head like I am watching a film for inspiration.

The episode Time Heist had already aired when I started my book. I had my characters and was busy building them. One day, as I sat at home eating a pizza and catching up with old episodes of Doctor Who, I watched Time Heist again because I have a rather large crush on Keeley and think she is superb. I have watched her in Spooks and Ashes to Ashes and even have a talking Lara figure which has her beautiful voice recorded on it.

In Time Heist, she plays Ms Delphox who works at the bank of KaraBraxos. She is a cold, selfish and utterly monstrous woman concerned only with her wealth.

She has much in common with Sahara Scarseed.

Although Keeley smiles a lot and plays quite a sexy and powerful woman, Scarseed is depicted as hollow and emotionless. Yet the way Keeley looks, the design of Ms Delphox, is something that just got me and I thought “If I ever get Scarseed to screen, Keeley will play her!”

I’m no JK Rowling. My book hasn’t sold millions of copies and I can hardly bargain a casting demand with a film studio. Yet I can dream. I can imagine what my creation would look like on screen.

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So, if ever  do make it to the film world and become involved with making a film of my book, this is the first and only time I need to put it on record that Keeley HAS to be Sahara. In fact, thinking about it, trim away the snide flippancy of Delphox and she looks perfectly like her! Dye the hair black, takeaway the glasses and the tall, elegant and deadly snake in a silk suit I envisaged is all there!

Sigh…… I need to become a millionaire multi seller of my literature first. Then I need to convince my favourite actress of all time to star in a horror film about a diet plan gone wrong and a doctor who creates mad, horrific and a nightmare vision inside a medical facility.

Oh, and she needs to sign up for parts 2 and 3 as well.

Like I said, I am dreaming and living in a world of delusion but, when I was writing much of Sahara, I saw Keeley dressed in the role and heard her voice through the words on my page. She can play beautiful and cold. Arctic and venomous and she is just wonderful. I’ve even collated 3 autographs of Keeley Hawes (as Delphox) around the house because every time I see her it inspires me to push on with my trilogy and I can envision a flesh vision of my most perfect villain of all time.

So, bit of a rambled blog really! Just had to put another piece of this journey down as I continue the story of Tapeworm Slim.

If you happen to read the book, then see what you think in your head of what the pulchritudinous lady who is the worst thing in humanity would look like. And if you don’t read the book, at least check out the early series of Spooks, Ashes to Ashes and the episode of Doctor Who called Time Heist.

I may not convince you to read my book about a horror story involving a new medication which will lose you five stone in two weeks, but I can at least encourage you to check out one of Britain’s finest actresses.

As I start on part 2, which may contain a little less Scarseed as two new villains are rising from the mess Scarseed has created, I know that when I come to writing the first words for Sahara I shall have the image of Keeley Hawes as Ms Delphox in my head!

TAPEWORM SLIM is available now on Amazon and Kindle.k

 

 

Dieting and horror, the perfect bedfellows…

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When I came to write my second book I was completely bereft of ideas. I was struggling and couldn’t settle on a topic. The people around me urged me to do a book aimed at children and, although that is one day a target, I wanted to stay in the world of horror.

I’ve grown up with horror. It was my best friend at the weekend when I had none and I was alone with my mother and sister out on the town. I consider myself a massive lover of the genre and have hundreds and hundreds of films. Horror is my life and, therefore, it is natural I am going to want to stay with what I enjoy.

But there are many questions when one writes a new book. The first is “What the hell am I going to invest nearly two years of my life in?” and then, once you have an idea, “Is anyone going to want to read it?”.

So much has been covered in literature. So much has been done to death. So many clichés and genres are now saturated to the point of extreme levels of ‘meh’ in the audience. I decided I wanted something kind of obvious and everywhere but yet to be tapped into. I won’t go into the idea process too much as I chronicle that in the Preface of the book, but I do want to explain why I have chosen a topic which will probably turn more readers off than it will entice them.

Dieting is everywhere. The thin ideal is permeating so many parts of young people’s culture and a whole new generation of people are discovering themselves through the world of social media. The world around us is built on convenience and, as we are never more focused than we are now on constructing and projecting images of ourselves for the world to see on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram to name but a few, our levels of privacy and somatic narcissism are changing all around us.

I grew up in a female dominated household, and spent a long period of my youth around men having a midlife crisis. Diets, gyms and image were everywhere but, as a geeky and awkward eleven year old, I had no real concept of why everyone was so bothered by how they looked. As time went on, and I grew up, I too became very aware of my body and grew to hate it as much as many teenagers do these days.

I didn’t develop any eating disorders, mine was more about getting muscle and putting weight on my scrawny frame, but I was just as bothered about how I looked as my sister, mum and friends were.

Many diets came and went in our house, and I was upstairs lifting homemade weights every night. Then, as time went on and social media came into my life, I became even more preoccupied with my profile pictures. Social media is as much about performance and audience as it is keeping in contact with people. So, therefore, I have spent the last eight odd years constructing this online persona which causes as much despair as it creates joy.

When thinking of book two, having already written a very basic story about a man dying in a terrorist interrogation camp, I wanted a proper, in depth and convoluted story that would keep me interested. It was no surprise then that, as well as working in psychology and dealing with low self esteems and mental health problems from people struggling with their own identities, that I decided to create a story which would tap into our desire to be thin, perfect, attractive or even just an improvement over what we didn’t like in the mirror.

Yes, the concept is gross. Yes, parts of the book are explicit. Yet when writing horror I don’t want to be another zombie story, another rape revenge, another haunted house and so forth. I wanted something relatable, important in life and constructed around an idea that is as terrifying as it is sickening but also believable.

After all, even the Kardashian’s pondered getting themselves a Tapeworm to lose weight in a story that appeared on the internet. Oddly enough, even though I read that after the book was finished, it made me feel sad that young girls may feel compelled to even consider the advice of these very affluent and attractive model/television narcissists. It actually furthered my belief that we are not far from Doctor Sahara Scarseed’s vision of a chemist/supermarket accessible Tapeworm pill.

Sadly, there have been darker and more real life stories going around than that of the attention seeking words of reality TV stars. A mother who fed her child tapeworms to win a beauty contest is as sickening as it is sad. I would also like to point out, this was not the inspiration for the story. I wanted mine to focus more on the medical side and megalomaniacal area of a twisted doctor and greedy capitalist corporation.

I received some criticism when my idea was unveiled, some people thought I was mocking that awful scenario. I was not, had no idea it had even happened and, although I am pleased my idea is affecting and challenging people, I would not take a real life case so directly.

My story is about asking the question, what if someone developed an over the counter tapeworm drug which was as easy to buy as Paracetamol? What would the world think and just who would invest it in. That is the idea.

Oh, and the effects of what could go wrong once that goes under trial! This is a horror story after all!

So, on 4th March 2016, Tapeworm Slim will be released on Amazon and Kindle.

It’s very much a people story. From the disturbed progenitor of the idea to the poor souls who are in the trial to even the backers of the new product.

Remember this is fiction though! It’s not as if a real Tapeworm Slim pill would ever take off…

Or could it?

 

Launches 04-03-16

The second book by Chris Lowe, Tapeworm Slim, will launch on Friday 4th March on Amazon and Kindle.

It is the fictional story of a brilliantly gifted but deeply disturbed consultant who believes in her own grandiose and incorrigible delusion that she will change the face of dieting forever.

The first in a planned trilogy, Tapeworm Slim will deal with the first stage which is the clinical trials of the product. All new products have to be tested before they go on sale and the eight volunteers, bariatric patients who are desperate for help, are all placing 100% faith that their doctor will help them.

The story is as much about them as it is about the product and those behind the insidious launch of the most exciting progression in diet research ever pioneered.

So look out for your copy on Amazon this Friday and immerse yourself in the world of the most revolutionary new medicine ever to hit the market!

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