I hope everyone is surviving March madness. It's a very busy month for me. 2017 is a great year for science fiction movies. Kong: Skull Island is part of this year's line up and it surprised me in a lot of ways. I want to address the film's strongest and weakest elements. Let's break it down.
First of all, I thought Skull Island had many great elements. King Kong is part of the Godzilla franchise now and he fits into the mold beautifully. This movie was a total monster beat down. I was impressed with the amount of action that was stuffed in this movie. The film takes place shortly after the Vietnam War ends. A band of soldiers and researchers infiltrate Skull Island to study seismic activity. Things become ugly very quickly when the team encounters King Kong and other dangerous creatures on the island. I assume you can imagine the meyham. It's like the film makers threw together Platoon, Godzilla, and WWE wrestling. That might sound corny to you, but it was amazing. The fight scenes are very exciting. At times, humans are pitted against the monsters. Other times, you'll see gigantic monsters duking it out with each other. Skull Island is perfect for hardcore fans of action films. Plus, fans of the Godzilla franchise will love it. You'll see helicopter crashes, people being devoured by monsters, explosions, heavy machine gun fire, beasts clawing and scratching at each other, mass graveyards, and more. Chaos!
I would say this version of King Kong is more impressive than his predecessors. Despite being a monster, Kong is somewhat sympathetic and likeable. He's the island's protector and the lesser of other evils. Could King Kong stand up to a titan like Godzilla? Actually, this version of King Kong could give Godzilla a hard time. He's remarkably strong, athletic, and takes down multiple creatures throughout the film. I also appreciated the wartime component. Some of the soldiers haven't recovered mentally from the war and it brought out an interesting element in the movie. The film is violent, but I wouldn't say it's is inappropriate for children beyond a certain age. Maybe eight or nine and above. The ending is very satisfying with a decent sense of resolution. There's also a post-credits scene and I'm sure it will be quite thrilling for the Godzilla followers. No spoilers about it though.
What are the film's weak points? Honestly, not much. I suppose there isn't a lot of character development, but that shouldn't be surprising in a fast paced action film. Also, a few of the scenes seem a little bit silly. Occasionally, I found myself thinking, “Why is this guy doing that? One of the monsters is going to eat him. Look at that. He got eaten. Figures." So, I guess there's a little bit of predictability sometimes. This film is entirely tailored for action movie fans. If you want a really complex plot with drama, romance, well developed characters, and a coming of age story; skip this movie.
This review should give you the general idea. Have any of you guys seen Skull Island yet? Leave a comment and let us know what you thought. Next week is my trip to WonderCon. If I have enough time, my next blog post might be a list of photos and information about the convention. You guys really enjoyed my post about the Long Beach Expo. Hopefully, WonderCon will be great too. Have a good week and I'll be in touch.
Q: Good evening. I’m interviewing another candidate today. Our guest is Michelle Lowe and she’s an author of both fantasy and steampunk fiction. It’s really nice to meet you, Michelle.
A: Hello! It’s nice to meet you too.
Q: Why did you become a writer?
A: There's a quote from Toni Morrison. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hadn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I think that’s utterly true. For me, though, it wasn’t just books, but films and TV shows as well. I wanted to be part of the world of storytelling and tell the stories that I personally would like to read myself.
Q: Did you start as a self-published author or did a traditional publisher pick up your work?
A: In 2011, I self-published my first novel, The Warning. I had joined the wave of entrepreneurs, staring wide-eyed at Amazon’s free self-publishing program. Freedom! We thought. A chance to show our work to the world without the gatekeepers telling us our stories aren’t good enough, or dumping thousands of dollars in a vanity press in the hopes that we’ll make that loot back. There have been loads of pros and cons with this vastness of published work constantly being pumped out; one being that it’s extremely difficult for just about any author to get notice. In the end, though, it’s nice that storytellers can share their tales without the heavy hand of Big House Publishing halting them. I will say that it is also nice to have something you’ve written recognized by a good and well adjusted publisher.
Q: Writing is a very enjoyable craft, but it can also be frustrating. Do you agree with me about that statement?
A: I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t agree. It’s very frustrating, especially when jotting down that first draft. Pulling a story out of thin air can be, not only aggravating, but can drive a person to heavy drinking! It can be strenuous to maintain discipline. To sit down and actually write. It’s not difficult, just very annoying at times, but when that last word is down, it’s worth the struggle.
Q: Every book has a core structure. Some books revolve around the plot. Others focus more on the characters. Which camp suits you the best?
A: For me, it's the characters. It's the characters that we travel with throughout the story and it's the characters that we relate to. Yes, I love an exciting, surprising, and intriguing plot. I'm just more character driven and I strive to put them into, not only in a good plot, but an original one as well. And the more I love a character, the more hell I like to put them through.
Q: I believe Legacy is a steampunk and fantasy series. Granted, I haven’t read it yet. Would you mind telling us a few details about Legacy?
A: Don't mind at all! Legacy is a steampunk/fantasy story, set in the year 1843 where a web of events is about to happen to a cluster of characters. Our villain, Lord Tarquin Norwich, is after a journal that contains dangerous material. The journal belongs to a humble toymaker, Indigo Peachtree, and in order to find them, Tarquin needs to capture a pair of outlaw brothers, Joaquin Landcross and his younger brother Pierce. (So an enchantress who calls herself Mother of Craft tells him.) Tarquin sends his youngest son and his daughter, Archie and Clover to France in order to snare and bring back Pierce, while Tarquin and his oldest son, Ivor go after Joaquin. Archie and Clover succeed in their mission, but while trying to bring Pierce back to England, they’re met with all kinds of obstacles such as Apache privateers, old friends of Pierce’s, as well as the hunting party set out to find him, a vampire with a grudge and loads of other trouble. Legacy has also been published through Nordland Publishing.
Q: What makes Legacy different than other steampunk series?
A: Unlike most steampunk stories where many technologies and gadgets are already invented and are in use, I’ve started the series during the cusp of when this new era is beginning. It’s set in an alternate world, of course, and there are plenty of inventions and machines throughout the entire series, like a Spanish galleon that can produce its own winds by way of huge fans powered by water, an oven that makes cremated corpses into diamonds, (a real thing by the way) the first airship ever made, living automatons, a cryo chamber that promises to bring back the dead, robotic limbs, and all that fun stuff. Yet there’s also this old supernatural world that still exists, and these two worlds, machine and magic overlap one another. I s’pose you can say that it’s the transition between this old world and new.
Q: It also sounds like you’re planning an audio version of Legacy. Why are you choosing this project?
A: An audiobook is a great way to reach so many people who want to escape inside a good story no matter what they’re doing. Some people don’t have time to read a book, but they still want that mental getaway. I want to offer readers more than just paperbacks and digital copies. I want to give them Legacy as a real voice, and in turn expanding its reach to many more who otherwise may not have had the chance to read it. The only real challenge is coming up with the money to do so. That’s why I’ve began a Kickstarter campaign ending March 25th, to help raise the funds to pay for a narrator and bring Legacy to life in a whole new way.
Q: Aside from your own work, do you have a favorite steampunk or fantasy book series?
A: Tales of the Ketty Jay series, written by Chris Wooding! I love, love, love, love fast-paced, action stories with fun, entertaining characters that is also well-written. And these books deliver all of that. Every story is completely made to be a television series on HBO or Netflix, yet the writing is so well done its pure literature. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.
Q: The Victorian Era is becoming a popular setting in fiction. Why do you think authors and readers are so fascinated with the Victorians?
A: I believe it's the idea of the Victorian era. The clothing, the grand houses, the fact that it was a time where new technologies and steam powered inventions were coming about, especially in the last twenty years of that century. There’s a certain Gothic magnetism to the era made perfect for all kinds of creatures and it was a time where a lot of ideas and experiments were developing. Lots of material to work with, both good and bad. In Legacy, there’s a scene where Pierce and Joaquin are separated from their gypsy family in London as young children, and are hauled off to an orphanage where they’re put to work as child labor inside a mill factory. Using children as salve labor was a very common practice back then. Granted, steampunk can take place anywhere, in any time, that’s what makes this a fabulous genre, and I hope to read more steampunk novels that spread their stories throughout time and other worlds alike.
Q: I find a lot of inspiration from novels, films, video games, and cosplay. Where do you find ideas for your writing?
A: All forms of entertainment are a great source for ideas and inspiration. I find a lot of it there, too, but I also find that the world itself holds an abundant of inspiration. Real stories, small moments, movements, even a basic conversation someone might be having on the bus. If a keen ear listens in at just the right time, an idea for a novel is there. I’ve gotten lots and lots of helpful insights from history and love to incorporate certain moments into my work.
Q: Steampunk authors need to have a vivid imagination because the genre has so many fantasy elements. How do you approach world building? It’s a daunting task for some writers.
A: It can be daunting. When I wrote Atlantic Pyramid (not a steampunk book, by the way) I needed to create a world within our own, and yet keep the two different in ways that would make sense to the reader. Make it plausible, as it were. World building takes a lot of fine detail to achieve not in just how it looks, but how things function and why, how things feel, taste, smell, the types of religious practices, cultures, etc . . . In fiction, I find that diversity is one of the strongest backbones to any good world building. Being able to bring ethnics groups to the table enriches the story and makes it all that much more real no matter where this other world is. With Legacy, I used the Seven Years’ War to help create the Sea Warriors. The Sea Warriors are Native American tribes that the French trained to be naval fleets to fight against the enemy and had carried on ever since, stopping slave ships from bringing over Africans to America. There’s also these tinkers called the Contributors, who invent new machines and gadgets from all over this world, which opens up more diversity to the Legacy stories. The best way to approach world building is to remember that where there’s an action there’s a reaction, and that when something happens it will affect something else along the way, sometimes throughout the history of that particular world.
Q: The year is still young. What are you planning to accomplish in 2017?
A: First off, I’d like to convert Legacy into an audiobook. I would like to also get the second and third book ready for publication. Did I mention that I’ve already written the entire series? Just thought I throw that out there. I plan to write one of my other novels, if not three of them into TV series scripts to pitch to studios. Dream big, right? In short, I’d very much like to see my career get off the ground and just continue to write more stories.
Q: That wraps up another interview. I really enjoyed talking to you, Michelle. You’re the first steampunk author I interviewed on my blog. So, it was pretty exciting for me. I wish the best for your writing and long term goals. Thanks for joining us.
A: You're welcome.
I read Michelle's book and it was a very interesting twist on the steampunk genre. You guys should give it a shot. Please leave comments if you want to say anything about this interview. I'm leaving a list of links for Michelle and Legacy. There are quite a few projects on my plate. I'm going to post more film reviews, photos and links at various conventions, steampunk writing tips, etc. Something like the Boysenberry Festival at Knott's Berry Farm might be a good post too. 2017 is going to be a busy year. Thanks for joining us today and best wishes.
- Michelle Lowe's Amazon page
- Legacy on Nordland Publishing
- Legacy on Barnes & Noble
- Michelle Lowe's Author Website
- Legacy's Kickstarter audio project
- Legacy's Facebook page
- Legacy on Twitter: @LegacySeries_6
- Michelle Lowe's Twitter: @michellelowe_7
- Mailing List
- SlideShare for Legacy
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