Meet Author Kayla Krantz

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Today, I’m taking a moment away from my babbling about comics to introduce new suspense and horror novelist, Kayla Krantz. Her book, Dead by Morning, the first in her Rituals of Night series, is already available for purchase. I don’t know about you guys, but I think she’s pretty cool.

Q–Describe the moment when you first wanted to be a writer. How old were you? What pushed you in this direction?

Kayla–I never chose to be a writer; I think it chose me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written something down. I wrote my first short story when I was four years old, and I’d write pieces all throughout elementary school that my principal always wanted to read. As I got older, my stories just got more elaborate. I think it was around middle school that I realized just how much joy it brought me.

Q—I’ve seen you mention that you are a fan of horror and the darker side of storytelling.  While that might show in your writing now, has it always? Or was this a genre that you grew into? I can’t imagine that 4 year old Kayla was writing a scary story but with kids these days, you never know.

Kayla–As far as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in horror and creepy things. My stories weren’t as gory as they are now, of course, but I liked the paranormal element at the very least. When I first started writing, I wrote about eerie things such as haunted houses and mummies.

Q–Alot of people like being scared. Have you always enjoyed trying to frighten your readers? Have you ever created anything that you were able to scare yourself?

Kayla–I always thought it was an interesting concept to explore the idea of fear, and the fact that everyone’s range of fear is different. Even during our lifetime, our fears may change or progress. I think the thing that’s scared me the most with my writing is how evil my antagonist, Chance, really turned out. When I originally drafted him, he was evil of course, but nowhere near as malicious as he is now.

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Q–Speaking of Chance, how did you come up with him? Which came first, the creation of Chance, or the plot of your story?

Kayla–Chance definitely came first. The whole story focuses around him. It’s hard to say what exactly inspired him, but I think it was a mix of things. After doing research for serial killers for some projects I worked on for school, I wanted to try my hand at creating a character that could embody all the traits I had read about; someone who was cunning, dangerous, and of course unstable. A lot of his traits he seemed to create himself. The addition of the dagger, for example, seemed to sprout along with the story.

Q–Now that you’ve told us about Chance, tell us more about Dead by Morning. What do you think will set this story apart from others in its genre? Something drew you to write it so that same thing should draw us to read it.

Kayla–I think my series is unique because it’s such a blend of so many different genres. I would call it contemporary except it doesn’t quite meet the criteria for it. Dead by Morning is new adult, psychological, horror, and thriller novel with hints of paranormal though some could argue that the unrequited love/obsession element could also give it themes of romance.

My story shows the mindset not only of a killer but of a victim of stalking to give the story a unique realistic perspective in midst of all the crazy.

Q–With Dead by Morning being the first in a series, can you give us an idea what will be in the rest of the series? How many books and what will be different about each? Besides this series, what other works have you got up your sleeve?

Kayla–The rest of the series will basically involve the relationship between Luna and Chance, eventually moving on to other characters that’ll be introduced later on in the series. I’m planning to have about nine books in total, in which I’m currently working on the fifth. Each book will have their own sort of overlapping theme and tone such as love, insanity, friendship, and freedom. On the side, I’m working on a trilogy about witches known as The Witch’s Ambitions. A few weeks ago, I completed the first book, The Council.

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Recently, Dead by Morning was nominated in the horror category for the Summer Indie Book Awards ‪#‎SIBA‬. If you can, give her your vote.

https://www.facebook.com/kaylakrantzwriter/?pnref=lhc

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1945392983/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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Infidelity Crisis

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Soap operas have had a long standing tradition of infidelity. From the very beginning homebound housewives were the targeted audience. Well, housewives and my dad on his lunchbreak. In the beginning, soap opera producers believed that women only wanted one thing in their stories : a good romance. A boy and a girl. Will they or won’t they? Seduction and love followed by a beautiful wedding. That was the point where interest in the couple usually drops off dramatically. Once a couple gets together, nobody cares anymore. The excitement was all in the anticipation so they needed to find a plot device to bring back that thrill of waiting to see what would happen. Hence, the affair.

Like the original boy meets girl, they met and there was attraction, connection and the return of ‘will they or won’t they?’ but now you had the added edge of ‘will they get caught?’

This is usually the point in my ramblings where I point out a particular love triangle but infidelity has practically become the norm with even the most steady couple falling victim to it. I’ll just refer to my very first encounter. General Hospital taught me about infidelity before anything else in the world. At an early age, I witnessed Monica Quartermaine trying to lure Rick Weber away from his wife Leslie. I remembered liking Rick and even at my single digit age I had seen that Monica’s husband Alan was a douche, but I wanted Rick to stay with Leslie. Why? Not because I valued their marriage. No, I was eight. I just thought Leslie was prettier.

When comic books utilized infidelity, it wasn’t for the same purpose as soaps. Soaps used it to bring interest to a couple. Comics actually used it for the story. Sometimes there were extenuating circumstances, like possession, or mind control, or even just a general means to an end. Comics tried to add an actual reason for the break in the relationship, instead of just to spice things up.

DC comics tended to have a great deal of unfaithfulness in marriage. Though I have had trouble finding documented evidence, I have had many DC comics readers tell me of affairs in the unions of Adam and Alanna Strange and even in Ralph and Sue Dibny.  (Here, I must remind my readers that my knowledge of DC comics is limited and I have spent hours trying to find proof but haven’t found any.)  I did find it interesting to note that both of these rumored dalliances occurred just prior to the deaths of the offended wife. Sue Dibny’s death was the centerpiece in the title spanning story “Identity Crisis”. She was supposedly murdered as a targeted loved one of a superhero.

One case of infidelity in comics that I did know very well also occurred just before the wife’s death. In the latest death of Jean Grey, her conflicted husband Scott Summers had psychically cheated on her with Emma Frost. Leave it to Marvel comics to find a way to cheat without actually touching. After Jean’s death, Scott immediately fell into the White Queen’s arms and the new couple seemed actually a bit more realistic and supportive to each other.

Next week, I will be interviewing the talented writer, Kayla Krantz whose new book Dead by Morning is sending chills down readers’ spines. Here’s a link to her Facebook author’s page.

https://www.facebook.com/kaylakrantzwriter/?pnref=lhc

Meet Dana Provo

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For today’s blog, I’m going to try something new. My wonderful writing friend Dana Provo is debuting her first novel Bleeding Hearts with Clean Reads Publishing. To promote Dana and her great book, I wanted to share a little about what makes her tick.

Q–When did you first want to be a writer?

Dana– Honestly, I only started writing about 4 years ago. I had always wanted to write a story growing up, but I never thought I was smart enough or talented enough. Then after I started writing around the age of 23, I knew I loved it. It wasn’t until after I finished my first book, Under The Willow Tree, (not yet published) that I wanted to publish something. After I started writing Bleeding Hearts, I knew I found the genre I wanted to write in and knew this book would be a hit. So, that’s when I wanted to be a writer.

Q–Tell me a little bit about Under the Willow Tree and how you moved from that to Bleeding Hearts. What is this genre that you’ve called home, and what makes it home to you?

Dana– Under The Willow Tree is a young adult, fantasy. Willow, a 17 year old empath, is banished to the Islands of Cadeaux because she is ‘Special’. She molds her new life around helping other Specials adapt to island life. With the World Challenge on the horizon, she and her best friend, Basil prepare to compete.  Only 100 will enter and four will remain. The Olendeae World Challenge is a race around the world that tests six attributes of the inhabitants of the Islands Of Cadeaux. This book is complete, but I am in the process of rewriting it.
I have always read YA growing up so I thought that was the way to go as far as starting to write, but I really wanted to write a romance with two different story lines. So, when I moved into my current apartment, I immediately came up with the idea for Bleeding Hearts.

I am such a romantic. I love reading romance, and writing it. All of my stories will have a romantic element because I truly think that’s what I’m meant to write and share with my readers.

Q–When you say you “came up with the idea” for Bleeding Hearts, how did that happen and tell me what is unique about it that will help it stand out.

Dana–I moved into my current apartment in April of 2015 and we have a state trooper in the building and I thought to myself, “if I were to ever get in trouble, I can go to him for help” then I met his fiancé and we are good friends. So my main character, Cami Lucks is based off of my friend and somewhat myself. I wanted to create a dark romance between a young woman who falls in love with the man who tries to kill her. I talked it over with my sister about writing a unique story line with two different plots; the present story after the attack and the past story of how she met her attacker.

Q–Are you telling the story in a nonlinear way, where you show the end and then go back and show how she ended up there? Why so dark? Will this be a pattern for future work?

Dana–Yes, the first chapter of Bleeding Hearts is considered the present and each following chapter Cami has a flashback of how she got there. They are both chronological, present runs from March to June and the flashbacks run from January to March. It’s very cool to read and experience both times in Cami’s life. At least I think so.

Q– Does your friend know that you are basing the character off of her?

Dana–I have mentioned Cami to my friend Stef and how I came to create her and she thinks it’s pretty cool.

Q– Why so dark? Will this be a pattern for future work?

Dana–Not every romance has a happy ending. There are people in the world that are not very nice and treat their girlfriends terribly. I wanted to show what that relationship looks like. Cami accepts a ride from a stranger. It was the biggest mistake she’s ever made in her life. What she does can happen in reality. So next time someone offers you a ride, make sure you know who they are.

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In the sequel, Silent Hearts, there will be three POVs and two of those characters will have some sort of flashback story that will be written. I won’t tell you which characters I’m writing though.

Q–So you’ve mentioned a sequel, Silent Hearts, do you have any plans for anything else coming down the bend? Like, what’s your five year plan?

Dana–My five year plan has lots in store. There are actually two more books in the Bleeding Hearts series. Book two is now called Bleeding Alone and the last book will be called Bleeding Silence. I hope to have those out within the next two years. I also have another series I’m working on. The first book is called WHISPER and it’s a young adult SciFi which will be published by RRPI. I’m hoping that will be out by the end of 2018 but we will see.

Oh and there’s a few other projects I want to work on that are spin offs from Bleeding Hearts, but right now, they are just plans. I haven’t worked on them yet.

Me now—I’m so glad the Dana let me interview her and I hope that you will give her book a view and visit her release party and give her a like https://www.facebook.com/events/1233414473358329/

 

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Family Power

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Soap operas wrap emotion around scandal and plotlines and at the very core of these are families. Mention a soap and usually a family name is the center of its gravitational pull. For years Days of Our Lives couldn’t have a storyline that didn’t revolve around a Brady. The two brothers, Roman and Bo were like the main members of a superhero team. Adding an extra feminine emotional level to their dimensions were their sisters, Kimberly and Kayla. With the romantic tension and suspense that follows them around and the near immortality of this particular soap, the Brady family can only just continue to grow for generations.

Although it suffered cancellation a few years ago, One Life to Live also had anchor families. The focus shifted from the Lord family as Viki married into the Buchanans. Once this regime changed, it seemed like the Buchanans were connected to everything. Once again, like a superhero team, this family is filled with men, from the patriarch, Asa, to his headstrong sons, Clint and Bo. (Another Bo? Really?) These men dominate.

In dramatic fashion, these families take over their respective soaps and continue to grow in surprising ways. Siblings show up, sometimes from out of time, sometimes by the results of a clarifying paternity test. Family members coming out of the woodwork happen so often in soap operas, I can’t pick a particular instance.

Comic books aren’t restricted by aging actors having to continue the genetic legacy to subsequent generations. These fictional characters are truly timeless.

(Sometimes. Yes, I know. Marvel killed off Wolverine and now his cloned daughter X-23 has taken on his namesake and matching costume. But really? These are comic books. How long do you think he’s going to stay dead.)

Comic book family names can carry the same strength as soap opera families. Look at the Flash, for instance. Readers could see the inevitability of Barry Allen and Iris West getting married for years. Now it seems that anyone with the last name Allen or West has had more than their fair share of exposure to the Speed Force. Even Bruce Wayne was surprised with a son named Damien whom he later took as his latest Robin. (But like Jason Todd, Damien also died. Robins are so hard to keep.) (Yes, I know! Jason Todd didn’t really die! He came back like everybody else does and probably so will Damien.)

In Marvel, the X-men have the Summers family, Scott (aka Cyclops) and his brother Alex (aka Havok) and Scott’s various romantic dalliances. With the tragic Madelyne Pryor (I’ve told her story before in this blog) he fathered the boy who would later return from the future as the mutant hero Cable.  In an alternate future with Jean Grey, he had a daughter named Rachel (shown above), who like her brother, also came from the future and took on her mother’s mantle of Phoenix and then Marvel Girl. In this alternate future, Rachel had loved Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four. Imagine, if not for the apocalyptic nature of this future, they could have made one hell of a family dynasty.

The X-men tried to make another powerful mutant family with Sam Guthrie (aka Cannonball) and his sister, Paige (aka Husk), but no matter how well written their characters were, the Guthries just didn’t have the staying power of the Summers.

When next I talk about soaps and comics, I will talk about marriage and infidelity, the making a breaking of family.

Next week, I’m going to feature new romance writer Dana Provo and we’re going to talk about her new book Bleeding Hearts and why you should read it when it comes out August 27th. Take a look at the festivities she has planned : https://www.facebook.com/events/1233414473358329/

Multiple Personality Disorder as a Plot Crutch

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I observed a while back while I was deep in my soap opera fandom that when a character has lost their luster and has become dull, secret familial connections had begun to surface. A surprise offspring, a long lost sibling, an estranged parent or spouse often appeared out of nowhere to juice up the plotline. On the rare occasion that a wayward family member wasn’t enough, soaps had gone the extra mile to give the lackluster character an extra personality.

Multiple personality disorder has made appearances on General Hospital, Guiding Light, Days of Our Lives, Another World and One Life to Live. The one that had the longest staying power and I’m most familiar with is from One Life to Live. The character of Viki Lord Buchanan had lasted as long as the soap itself and while she had been there, lurking in her subconscious had been her alter ego Niki. Where Viki was rich and refined, prim and proper, Niki was a loose, barhopping, cheap tramp, complete with a very convincing wig of long red-hair. After several appearances, intense therapy revealed that Niki was a product not just of Viki’s extremely strict upbringing under her father Victor Lord but long hidden sexual abuse that happened during her childhood. Her multiple personality haunted Viki even after she died as she had to confront Niki herself while she travelled on the spaceship to heaven. (Yeah, One Life to Live got REALLY weird.) Viki also managed to pass on her disorder to her daughter, Jessica, whose alter egos were Tess, Bess, and Wes.

Geez, what was I thinking? Not too long after I began thinking about stopping my daily ritual of soap watching, I was introduced to the comic book world. There, I found the best story of multiple personality disorder in the character of Rogue of the X-men.

Rogue’s mutant power was to absorb another person’s power and psyche at the touch of her skin, an odd power to understand until you can truly see it in action. Before she joined the X-men, she was a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (I kid you not). On one of their terroristic exploits, Rogue attacks Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, and holds on a little bit too long. When Rogue absorbed Carol Danvers, she did it permanently. All of Ms. Marvel’s Kree powers along with Carol Danvers’ consciousness had transferred to Rogue. It was great that she now possessed super strength and the ability to fly but she also had a different personality inside her head just itching to take over.

Unable to deal with the aftermath of her powers and the guilt of what she had done to Ms. Marvel, Rogue turned to Professor Xavier and the X-men for help. After proving herself as a good team player, she was taken in by the team. Occasionally, when the situation grew out of Rogue’s comfort zone, Carol Danvers’ personality asserted itself and took over. It wasn’t always a bad thing but it did tend to drag out the guilt for poor Rogue, who began to wonder if she deserved to live her life when she had taken away Carol’s.

Eventually, through a divine mechanism called the Siege Perilous, (I might explain that someday. That was definitely a plot device.) Rogue and Ms. Marvel are separated, but there is only enough life force for one of them to survive. (See above picture.) As Rogue begins to sacrifice herself to let Carol win, the decision was taken out of her hands by Magneto. Rogue lived and Ms. Marvel was no more.

Until, the “House of M” storyline brought Carol Danvers back into existence without so much as an explanation. One day she didn’t exist and the next, it was like she had never been gone.  I do wonder though, if Rogue remembers what it was like to fly.

Next time, I’ll talk about odd family relations.

The Cosmic Do-over

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Some of you may be old enough to remember the prime time soap, Dallas. Everyone remembers the famous tagline of ‘Who shot J.R.?’ but Dallas was also famous for a cosmic do-over. During the beginning of their third season, Pamela Ewing woke up to find her husband Bobby taking a shower. This simple encounter completely negated the previous season where Bobby had been shot and killed. The entire season had just been Pamela’s bad dream.

Daytime soaps have done this to varying degrees. Speaking with my dad, a lifelong Days of Our Lives fan, he told me of one great example of where entire plotlines were undone. Days had had more than their fair share of serial killers. One of them, by the name of the Salem Stalker had caused so much chaos that the viewers protested. Not only did the writer, James E. Reilly kill off beloved characters in ridiculous fashion, he had written series favorite Marlena as the killer. One theory had the producers, due to the viewer outcry, insist Reilly undo it all. All of the victims ended up alive on the island Melaswen.  No one had been killed, not even Marlena. It had all been an elaborate scheme with hypnotism and doppelgangers.

That was one of the best examples of a cosmic do-over in soap operas. Honestly, soaps are limited in the degree that they can pull of a do-over. The characters are portrayed by live actors who do things like have lives and age. If a story line is going to be undone, it usually has to be undone in a short period of time, like a year or in television terms, a season.

Comic books don’t have such a restriction. When they perform a cosmic do-over, it can truly be cosmic, on a universal scale. When comics do them, they are often called reboots. DC Comics is rebooting right now in a storyline spanning multiple titles called Rebirth. The entire DC Comics universe is starting from scratch, and this is not the first time. They had done a full reboot only a few years before with the New 52. Why would they reboot so frequently? To draw in new readers. No one wants to start in the middle of a story. A reboot gives readers a chance to start reading at the first issue with a retelling of a character’s origin story.

I suppose the real question is, does it work?

Marvel Comics had done a sort of reboot with the aftermath of the recent Secret Wars. Part of the reasoning behind this was an effort to make the comic universe resemble the Marvel movie universe. They kept the characters they wanted and made some of them simply not exist anymore. Marvel had done smaller reboots, to fix minor reality injustices. One of them came about as a result of the ending of the “House of M”. While trying to repair twists in reality caused by the insane Scarlet Witch rewriting the universe, the character of Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel made a triumphant return to Marvel comics after an absence of practically decades.

Carol Danvers is now Captain Marvel and is on the side opposite of Iron Man in Marvel Comics’ Civil War 2. She also is supposed to have her theatrical debut in her own movie in the next couple of years.

Where was Carol Danvers and why did she need to be brought back? Anyone who has an extensive knowledge of the Marvel Comics Universe and who knows the history of the X-men’s Rogue will remember what happened to Carol Danvers. I’ll talk about that in my next blog when I tackle the subject of split personalities in comics and soap operas.

Sunshine Blogger Awards

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Gracie Mae DeLunac tagged me last week for the Sunshine Blogger Award. (Thank you!) You can find her blog here : http://graciemaedelunac.blogspot.com/2016/06/sunshine-blogger-award.html

These are the questions she posed to me, followed by my answers:

  1. What is your favorite movie/tv show quote? What is it from? Why is it your favorite?

 

I thought about this a lot. I really wanted to go towards the irreverent, something from Deadpool or a Ron Swanson quote from Parks and Recreation but I made a promise that I would always be honest in my blogs. So here goes a baring of my soul.

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something of equal value. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange.”—from Fullmetal Alchemist. Not only does it say so much about their story, it speaks so much about life in general. Spoken through the voice of young Alphonse Elric gives it devastating weight.

 

  1. What do you like to think about most when plotting? (Characters, plotline, plot twists, villainous acts, etc.)?

 

If I say that my stories just come to me, I’m certain somebody out there is going to want to club me over the head with something. When I explore where a story is going, I focus on dialogue, what people say, how they say it, what they are feeling when they say it. If I can’t make this as real as possible then no one will believe the story I’m telling them.

 

  1. What is your preference of apocalyptic groups, zombies, aliens or mutants?

 

Zombies definitely, because I at least know what they want and what they’re capable of.

 

  1. What kind of food do you eat to feel decent enough to write?

 

At this point in my life, I’ll eat whatever food is put in front of me. My go-to staple, if I can’t find anything better, is breakfast cereal, specifically Frosted Mini-Wheats.

 

  1. Do you bring your own personal views (especially political and religious) into your tales?

 

How can you not? My characters come from my mind and that’s the same place my personal views come from. Even if I have a character counter to my point of view, they are still seen through my eyes.

 

  1. Would you say you “commune” better with nature when gardening (hands on), lounging outside (kinda near) or viewing it from inside your place (far away)?

 

Viewing it from inside my place, definitely. Having grown up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, I’ve come to the conclusion that the outdoors is overrated.

 

  1. What is the strangest/rudest thing you have ever heard your written characters say?

 

I honestly don’t know. This would have to come from someone who is very direct and won’t hold back. I’ve got a character who plugs into the brains of dead people to learn what they know. She can be pretty weird and blunt but I can’t pinpoint a specific thing that she says.

 

  1. Paper or plastic or re-usable?

 

Plastic because it’s always right there. I gave up on re-usable a long time ago.

 

  1. What movie/book/show would you say has made the most impression on you? When? Why/how?

 

In the past couple of years I have totally and completely fallen in love with the manga and anime, Bleach.  I recognize that the filler episodes on the anime can be total crap but the main story has everything. I love ALL of the characters and they hardly ever do anything that I would call a bad decision. The best things always happen in this story. Like the above picture. The moment when the breeze lifted Neliel’s shirt to reveal the bold #3 on her back, that just sent chills down my spine. But I guess you’d have to be there or just watch Bleach. It’s on hulu.

 

  1. What is your favorite color? (Monty Python reference.)

 

Blue—no, green! No really, it’s blue! I swear to God it’s Blue!!

 

  1. If you were able to publish one of your tales and go somewhere to showcase it (author tour, opening night for the movie, etc.) Where would you go? Why?

 

I want to be Featured Author at Gen Con. I’ve always trailed behind my husband who is a famous sculptor. Just once I want to achieve in the same arena on my own merits.

 

I am now tagging the following bloggers to answer my 11 questions :

Tanna Tan and her blog, http://teapunknoveling.blogspot.com

Kayla Krantz and her blog, http://kaylakrantz.wix.com/horror

Dana Provo and her blog, https://authordanaprovo.wordpress.com

Dave Martin and his blog, https://weavingthewolfsong.wordpress.com

Laura Hartman and her blog https://writeknit.wordpress.com

Karin Shah and her blog, https://karinshah.wordpress.com

Alison Weaverdyck and her blog, https://balancewithoutsymmetry.wordpress.com

Kade Cook and her blog, https://kadecook.wordpress.com

Angela L. Lindseth and her blog, https://angelallindseth.com

Crystal MM Burton and her blog, https://crystalmmburton.wordpress.com

A.F. Stewart and her blog, https://afallonblog.wordpress.com

Here are the questions:

  1. If you dress up for Halloween, cosplay, or other less commonly accepted occasions, describe your last two costumes.
  2. What movie or tv show would you consider a guilty pleasure?
  3. If you could live in any fictional world (whether it’s yours or someone else’s creation), where would you live and why?
  4. You’ve been imprisoned for high treason and have been sentenced to death and there is no chance that the governor is going to call. Describe in detail your last meal.
  5. Answer one of these or both: Name your favorite Doctor on Doctor Who. Name your favorite James Bond.
  6. If you could choose any piece of music or song to be your theme song, what would it be?
  7. Concerning sleep, do you consider it a wondrous thing that you just can’t get enough of, or are you one of those “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” people?
  8. Has any character that you’ve created ever done anything that took you by surprise?
  9. Describe something from a movie, book or tv where you would have written it better.
  10. Are you a shipper? If so, name some of the ships that you love. (For example, if you watch the Flash and you think Barry and Caitlyn should get together, that means you are shipper for SnowBarry.)
  11. Sentence fragments. Love them or hate them?

Epidemic Sacrifices

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As stories go, I love a good epidemic.  When I go back to rewatch an old Star Trek or Stargate episode, I always gravitated to the ‘medical mysteries’, those stories where some virus or infection would break out and infect the major characters and there was always a race against time to find a cure before passing the point of no return.

As a series, their stories had to fill the confines of just an hour. Soap operas and comic books could spread the story out over many months, giving them that extra edge of building suspense or the emotional impact of the characters who could perish. Soaps and comics have a long history of being subject to various viruses, be they completely fictitious creations or something very real, taken from current events. The soaps had a variety of stories involving AIDS, encephalitis, the superflu and in one disturbing Guiding Light storyline, ‘the Dreaming Death’, where the virus caused its victims to actually dream themselves to death.

In comic books, diseases took on a more fantastical quality, not so much like ‘the Dreaming Death’ but something more exclusive to the characters and the world in which they existed. In a couple of titles, the scope of the epidemic encompassed the entire series, such as the Walking Dead and Y : the Last Man. For my comparison, I want to focus on how comic books that weren’t primarily about disease treated it as a storyline.

The X-men had a couple of epidemics that shook the stability of the team, the ‘techno-organic’ virus and its related descendant, ‘the Legacy’ virus. The techno-organic virus had infected the infant, Nathan Summers and resulted in him being transported to the future to ensure his survival. This was how baby Nathan became the time-travelling mutant, Cable. Honestly, it was an obvious plot device. Babies don’t have much story potential in comics except by drawing on the emotions of the parents, in this case, Cyclops and Jean Grey (taking over for her deceased clone Madelyne Pryor). The disease gave them a way to draw out the drama of losing a child and at the same time losing the weight of writing a baby into the story. And lo and behold, we have a convincing origin story for Cable. I think I was surprised when I found out that he was Nathan Summers.

Years later, a similar disease struck the mutant population, the Legacy virus.  Specifically targeting mutants, this virus first claimed the life of Illyana Rasputin, sister of Piotr Rasputin aka Colossus. This virus changed so rapidly, a vaccine had become nearly impossible to create. I remember feeling that the story became tired very quickly. Everything was affected by the Legacy virus and it transformed how everone lived. Nothing could be done and everyone seemed hopelessly useless. By the time Colossus sacrificed his life so that a cure could be synthesized, I almost didn’t care anymore.

Besides, no one ever dies forever in comics. Both Colossus and his sister Illyana returned to the story years later. I guess that’s why comics really couldn’t do the epidemic story justice. There has to be a true sense of sacrifice and loss. Somewhere along the line, the comics lost that. I don’t think the soaps did. My favorite story about disease happened on One Life to Live, where Viki’s daughter, Megan suffered and died from lupus, a very real disease which is widely misunderstood. Until I had seen it on that soap, I had never heard of that disease before. Not to say that it did the best job in educating me about it but at the very least, I became aware as I tuned in every day to watch the emotional scenes of her suffering and the love she had for those she left behind. Losing Megan was a loss that I could feel. Losing Colossus had a lot less impact.

So in this respect, I think the soaps are doing it right. Next time, I hope to talk about how soap operas and comic books deal with starting over. The reboot, the great megando-over.

The Drama of Cloning

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When I started watching soaps, I had to make choices. I would start my daily stories with Days of our Lives and then I would change the channel to watch One Life to Live and then General Hospital. My one true love of daytime soaps was General Hospital. I was there in the early days of Luke and Laura. The Webers, the Quartermaines, the Hardys, I knew them all and followed their lives for years. That is why I missed out on the stupendous story on the soap on the opposite channel, Guiding Light, and story of the cloning of Reva Shane.

Unable to go on any longer without his love, Josh Lewis had her cloned. He accelerated her aging so that she could assume the role of her predecessor. The clone, named “Dolly”, possibly as a nod to the famous cloned sheep, became paranoid at the sudden return of the original Reva and ended up taking her own life by overdosing on the same drugs used to accelerate her aging.  Makes a soap opera fan shake her head slowly in disappointment.

I’m not sure if I did the slow head shake when I read the X-men story about Madelyne Pryor. I probably should have but to be honest I ended up just feeling sorry for her. She was created by the villain, Mr. Sinister, as a clone to Jean Grey, after Jean had died and then died again as the Phoenix (see previous blog entry). Mr. Sinister’s ultimate goal was for Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, to fall in love with this mysterious but innocent doppelganger of his beloved Jean, to marry her and eventually conceive a child. This was a long con, taking more than a few years to reach its inevitable conclusion but comic books like soap operas are perpetual, right?

Unable to ever fully move on with his life without his beloved Jean Grey, Scott leaves his wife and son, Nathan, at Jean’s return from the dead. Poor Madelyne. Powerless and alone with a small child, she begins to lean heavily on Scott’s brother Alex, aka Havok, and they grow close. What did I tell you? Comic books and soap operas are practically indistinguishable. During this time of simultaneous abandonment and comfort, she learns of her husband’s reunion with Jean and that she is herself only a clone of that same woman. This overload of too much damaging information makes Madelyne’s mind vulnerable to takeover by a demon named S’ym. Madelyne Pryor becomes the Goblin Queen. With her new power and evil inside her mind, she confronts the original Jean Grey (see above image) and is ultimately defeated.

Poor Madelyne. She wasn’t always supposed to be evil. She was a plot device meant to put Scott into retirement. She was just supposed to coincidently look identical to Jean. Other writers took over and came up with the clone scenario and then offed the character in a very undignified fashion.  I didn’t like it, although her costume as the Goblin Queen was hot. But really, she was a mother! What about poor little Nathan Summers?

The writers had their way with Nathan too by giving the baby an incurable “techno-virus”. In order to save his life he is whisked away to the future. Weird, incurable diseases may have to be the topic of my next blog.

But don’t worry too much about Nathan.

He comes back—-as Cable.

Death is not the end

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I’ve done this comparison before, years ago. It was easier then because I was still keeping up with my soaps while I was reading comic books. Like soap operas, you sort of forget that comic books exist if you don’t get regular exposure to them. We’re all solipsistic beings whether or not we want to admit it but that’s a post for another day.

I bought some comics as I grew up. I’d see them in the magazine section and sometimes the cover art would just draw me right to it. This occasional excursion into comics gave me the key knowledge that set me apart from the other girls.

I knew that Dick Grayson wasn’t the only Robin.

I swear my brain is full of tons of random information that comes useful at odd times. This one helped me snag my husband. The first time he fixed me dinner, he sat me in his room with the four issue series featuring Wolverine and Kitty Pryde. I was hooked. I read every issue of Marvel’s the X-men he could loan me. Kitty Pryde (known in the comics as Shadowcat) was my favorite.

Comic book fans don’t want to admit that these books share many plot devices and formulas of the soap operas their moms watch.

One of the biggest ones is that death is not the end of a character. I used to believe that a character was truly dead if they left behind an identifiable body. Then along came Days of Our Lives’ Roman Brady. This man died in his brother’s arms, dramatically, tearfully. His loved ones have a funeral and just as everyone adjusted to his absence, he returned. He was played by a different actor who was several inches taller and bore no physical resemblance to what he looked like before but he held all the same memories. After a while he was accepted as Roman Brady by everyone including the audience. Cue the return of the original Roman Brady portrayed by the original actor.

The comic book world has Jean Grey. The X-men’s Marvel Girl first died tragically in a shuttle crash after being exposed to a lethal amount of cosmic rays. Not long after her death, she returned, claiming that her brush with death had intensified her powers of telekinesis and telepathy. She adopted the name “Phoenix”. After her near omnipotent powers send her on a cataclysmic killing spree, she sacrificed herself to save those she loves. After a suitable mourning period, readers learn that the Phoenix wasn’t actually Jean Grey. The Phoenix force had witnessed Jean’s first death and saved her at the last moment. It has assumed her name and likeness and preserved the original Jean Grey to be revived safe and sound later.

Without the superpowers, Roman Brady’s and Jean Grey’s stories are mirror images. Death, replacement and eventually the return of the original. I didn’t even go into the whole added story of Jean Grey’s clone Madeline Pryor. That had the vivid ridiculousness of a soap opera storyline in spades. Maybe when I can find a good comparison in the soap opera universe, I will tell you more about it.