Interesting Literary Facts for Halloween

What possible effects could literature have had on Halloween? You’d be surprised to find out that it has had a very large effect on the holiday. To find out how check out this blog post from a very knowledgable blog.

Interesting Literature

‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ as Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton began his 1830 novel Paul Clifford (and, in doing so, gave us perhaps the most famous – or infamous – opening line of them all). Since Halloween is looming, we at Interesting Literature thought we’d blow the dust off some mouldy tomes in the Gothic library here at the Castle, in order to bring you some of the most eye-watering literary facts and fancies from the season.

Halloween – or Hallowe’en, as in ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ – is a Scottish term, first recorded in print in 1556 (where it’s spelled, almost unrecognisably, ‘Halhalon’). This Scottish origin of the specific word ‘Halloween’ was continued when Robert Burns wrote a poem titled ‘Halloween’ in the late eighteenth century, which can be read here. The first reference to a Jack-o’-lantern (or pumpkin lantern), however, is, unsurprisingly, American: it’s found in a short…

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Author Biography: Anne Rice

Due to the Halloween season I thought it a good idea to profile one of the more prolific writers in the “horror” genre. While her books may not be as scary or grotesque as others, Anne Rice has definitely carved an image for one of our favorite monsters that will go on to influence many generations to come.

Courtesy amsaw.org

Courtesy amsaw.org

Not many authors can say they have changed the face of a genre as much as famed horror writer Anne Rice can. Her erotically charged romantic version of vampires is almost a must in today’s vampire fiction. The characters she created are vibrant, passionate, and sexy. Her settings are romantically classic. Both carry an almost mystical aura that most readers find hard to forget.

Anne Rice was born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien on October 4, 1941 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attributes her odd first name (which she legally changed to Anne in later life) to her mother, who figured that giving her daughter a boy’s name would give her an odd advantage over the world in later life. For much of her childhood she and her family lived with her grandmother in a part of New Orleans known as the Irish Channel, and area Rice describes as a “Catholic Ghetto”. For much of her childhood her and her family lived poverty. This wasn’t helped by the fact that her mother was an alcoholic. When she was 15 her mother died of complications brought about from her alcohol addiction. Because of the lack of support he had at home, Rice’s father was forced to enroll Anne and her four sisters in a Catholic boarding school.

In 1957 her father remarried. Shortly after this he moved the entire family to Richardson in northern Texas. It was here in Richardson that Anne would meet her future husband, Stan Rice, in a journalism class at the local high school.

In 1959 Rice graduated from high school and completed a year at the Texas Woman’s College in Denton. After this she would transfer to Texas State College, she was soon forced to drop out from TSC due to lack of funds to meet tuition. After this failing she convinced a former roommate to join her in moving to San Francisco. Her Rice took a job at an insurance agency and began taking night classes and the University of San Francisco. On Easter break she traveled home to Denton to visit family, her she rekindled her relationship with Stan Rice and not too long later they were married. She was 20 and he wasn’t 19 yet. They returned to live in San Francisco in 1962.

Two years after receiving her B.A in Political Science she gave birth to her daughter Michele on September 21, 1966. Unfortunately, in 1970, Michele was diagnosed with granulocytic leukemia. She died two years later on August 5, 1972. Rice took this sad event hard. To cope with her grieving she turned to her writing. She took a previously written short story and extended it to become a book. This was to become Interview with the Vampire. Several publishers would reject the manuscript. In 1974 she sold the publishing rights to Alfred A. Knopf for $12,000. This was quite a lot more than what most writers got. During this time she also developed OCD which would take a year of therapy to overcome.

Her son, Christopher, was born in 1978. He would later follow in his mother’s footsteps and go on to become a bestselling author in his own right. A year after his birth, both Rice admitted to being an alcoholic. She and her husband both gave up drinking as to avoid putting her son through the same thing Rice’s mother put her through when she was a child. After the publication of Interview, Rice went on to right two historical novels, Cry to Heaven and The Feast of All Saints, which was later made into a miniseries in 2001. She also wrote the highly erotic Sleeping Beauty Trilogy during this time. This trilogy of novels is infamous for its images of BDSM. After these literary experiments she would return to vampire stories with the publication of The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned, both of which were sequels to Interview. Not long before Queen of the Damned was published Rice and her husband returned to New Orleans. It was here that she wrote the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy.

Starting in the late 1990’s she began to have serious health issues. First in 1998 she fell into a coma and nearly died. After this she was diagnosed with diabetes and became insulin dependent. Before his own death, Rice’s husband, Stan, underwent a gastric bypass and shed slightly more than 100 pounds. A few years later she again almost died due to an intestinal blockage. It was during this time that Rice returned to Roman Catholicism, which she left shortly after high school. This embrace came with conditions, however. She was still a vocal supporter of Gay Rights as well as that of abortion.

In 2004 Rice left New Orleans for California in order to be closer to her son, who had moved to Los Angeles. She was gone during the events of Hurricane Katrina, but continues to be a tireless supporter of New Orleans related relief projects. It was also during this time that Rice began writing a series about the life of Jesus Christ, beginning with the book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. This would be followed by Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana.

In 2010 Rice renounced her dedication to Christianity. While she still considers herself a follower of Christ, she no longer believes in the concept of organized religion.

Wikipedia, AnneRice.com, and biography.com contributed to this post.

Courtesy godlessgirl.com

Courtesy godlessgirl.com

Courtesy AnneRice.com

Courtesy AnneRice.com

The Greatwinter Trilogy by Sean McMullen

IF

Spoilers

When I first had the book Souls in the Great Machine suggested to me by my significant other, I initially had my doubts. It was supposedly a steampunk novel which is a genre that I really don’t take to seriously and my significant other and I usually don’t agree on what books and literary genres we enjoy. When I was halfway through this book though I had come to realize that I was pleasantly surprised.

Before I begin to discuss what I really enjoyed about this trilogy I really should give some info on the plot. All three books take place 2000 years in the future. The first book takes place in Australia (called Australica by the time the books take place), while the second book takes place in North America (called Mounthaven), The third book takes place in both places and beautifully combines the stories of the first two books. This world is very much different from our own. This is because 2000 years before a strange phenomenon known as “The Call” occurred killing a large swath of the world’s population. The Call when it strikes cause people and any animal larger than a cat, sans all birds, to surrender all control of themselves and to slowly walk into the sea and drown themselves. While most inland area are struck by a Call every few days or so all coastal regions are in a permanent Call that never stops. This obviously had ill effects on the human race and nearly destroyed it. However, out of this humans still survived. To make things worse high above the Earth satellites from before The Call destroy anything over a certain size or speed as well as all electrical devices. This has forced human society into an artificial dark age. I won’t give the source of The Call, nor why there are technology damaging satelittes in the upper atmosphere as these plot points are to big to be given away so easily. 😛

Despite all this humanity has still adapted and is largely prosperous. Cities are built and organized in such a way that if a person is caught in a Call there are various barriers along roads to catch them, houses have no windows or doors on sides that face the sea and most people have clockwork call anchors that if not reset occasionally will release a hook or other sort of anchor that will catch hopefully catch on something or lodge itself in the ground to stop people long enough for the Call to pass. Trains are in existence in Australica, but due to religious precedent by all religions cannot be powered by anything but wind or muscle. Mass communication is maintained to a point by a series of beamflash towers that use mirrors and sunlight to deliver coded messages across large distances. In Mounthaven where there is no such religious precedent a rigid class system has developed which is more similar to feudal Japan than anything else. The ruling class is made up of Airlords and their Wardens who fly above the Earth in small personal aircraft. Wars are fought in the air solely by the airlords and their wardens, both to spare the civilian population at large from brutal warfare, but to also conserve resources. Personal duels have also returned to both continents.

This may seem like a lot to take in, but the author does a very good job in slowly orienting the reader to this new world of his. Also the imagination the author obviously put into all of this is quite impressive. He imagines humanity, despite numerous impediments to its advancement still moving forward, both culturally and technologically. It is quite interesting to see how the author finds ways to get past the barriers he has set for himself. This is quite impressive.

I also enjoyed all the characters. There was not one that I hated, nor found disinteresting. All were interesting in their own right. I have never encountered this in a book before. I mean in most books there is at least one character you can’t stand or at the very least would rather skim over the parts they’re in in order to get to more interesting characters. This is not a problem here. Each character also seemed to have a drive behind them. Some purpose that they all felt they needed to carry out. While this may seem cliché and somewhat unbelievable, I found it quite interesting, this was it was intriguing to see how the author tied in various seemingly unconnected plot points together to become something greater in the end.

The writing was also phenomenal. I have never before encountered a work or series of works that so masterfully combined comedy and action so well together. There were so many witty remarks in all the books that each time you picked up the books to read you were guaranteed at least one laugh. This was a good change of pace for me as many of the books I read are quite serious in nature.

The fact that this trilogy is sometimes labeled as steampunk quite annoys me. This is because it quite simply isn’t. Steampunk is largely Victorian in nature and is needlessly showy. It’s also completely unbelievable, technologically speaking. These novels on the other hand have instances of technology that are quite possible. It’s easy to imagine, for instance, a complex network of towers that deliver messages to each other through sunlight. It’s also easy to imagine pedal trains.

Overall these were amazing books. I was genuinely crestfallen to have had to finish them all. I hope you’ll give them a try and fall in love with them the same way I have.

The books in this trilogy are in order:
The Souls in the Great Machine
The Miocene Arrow
Eyes of the Calculor

IF

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A History of Zombie Literature

So recently I found this really interesting article. It give a quick rundown of some of the most famous cases of our famous undead friends making appearances in books! I hope you all enjoy!

http://www.bestzombiebooks.com/a_history_of_zombie_literature.htm

Survey Results

Interesting Books Person 1 Results Many Eyes

Interesting Books Survey Results 2 Many Eyes

Interesting Books Survey Results Graph 3 Many Eyes

Interesting Books Survey Graph Results 4 Many Eyes

View The Location of Two of our Surveyors in a full screen map

The above are various answers by some of our survey takers. This part of our survey was for a school project. This is why I’m posting graphs on a book review blog, so don’t worry if it seems weird. If you filled out the survey please don’t worry. You were kept anonymous and this is demonstrated in all the graphs and the map that is posted as well. Thanks again to everyone who took our survey! The results we got were very interesting and I will put the answers to good use in providing to everyone good content. Cheers!

Prague Writers’ Festival

Courtesy: Pointpark.edu

Courtesy: Pointpark.edu

I’m happy to say that tomorrow I shall be attending one of the seminars at the Prague Writers’ Festival at Point Park University. This festival will play host to a number of historians, writers, poets, and other authors who will come together and discuss such subjects as the founding of the first Czechoslovak Republic at the end of the First World War, discussions on the freedom of writing, as well as a reading from famed author E.L Doctorow’s book Andrew’s Brain by the author himself! I will be attending the discussion about the creation of Czechoslovakia through the Pittsburgh Agreement which was signed here in my hometown of Pittsburgh. I will be live tweeting this event and I hope you will follow Interesting Book’s twitter (https://twitter.com/Intersting_Book) for live updates from the event! The event is from 3-430 PM United States Eastern Time. I will also later be writing a proper blog post about it. I hope you will be able to join us!The link for the festival:http://www.pointpark.edu/News.aspx?id=1027

Survey Time!

Hello All! We would like to hear from you, our loyal followers!Lol. For one of my classes as school I have to utilize a survey and use to to generate various graphs and the like, so I figured this would be a great way for me to learn what you all like and dislike about IB! Please take our survey so that I can pass my class, and so that I can make this blog better for everyone!

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N3ZK5X6