Archive for Heart-Shaped box

HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2009 by stanleyriiks

HEART-SHAPED BOX By Joe Hill

Debut novels are often not judged on their merit, but rather, on their author’s potential. First novels are often more heart-felt, simpler, more personal and direct than the books that follow.

While the Heart-Shaped Box contains all the goodness of a debut, it feels much more accomplished, more experienced and complex than most first novels.

At the book’s heart it an emotional integrity you rarely find with veteran authors, let alone newbies. Judas Coyne is a semi-retired rock star in the vein of Ozzy Osbourne, a Satanic-ish rocker in his mid-fifties, and a collector of strange items. When his assistant finds a ghost for sale on an auction website Coyne buys it, little knowing that the ghost in question is the stepfather of his ex-girlfriend – who killed herself after Coyne threw her out – and is out for vengeance against the man who ruined his daughter.

What follows is a chase across the US as Coyne and his current girlfriend attempt to outrun the ghost and destroy it, while the ghost plays havoc with their minds, trying to punish Coyne and getting him to kill his girlfriend and then himself.

There is no black and white here, only shades of grey, as the ghost uses the bad in Coyne to create the horrific scenarios.

This is tense stuff, brutally realistic and heart wrenching, despite the ghostly aspect. Besides that there’s far too much child-abuse, in all its varied forms, for this to be just entertainment.

What Hill has produced is a book that makes you uncomfortable and nervous, makes you enjoy some of the pain, and produces a character in Coyne at once unlike able and loveable.

Much more complex and daring than a young novelist normally allows themselves to be, Heart-Shaped Box is an extremely accomplished novel. It’s one of those books it hurts to put down, but in some ways it also hurts to pick up. Hill writes with a skill that makes this writer want to give up. Every single word drags you deeper into the story, wanting to find out more as the mystery unravels.

Heart-Shaped Box is one of those rare treats, a first novel that astounds in its brilliance and leaves you begging for more. Give me more Joe Hill!

Inspiration! The Seeds of a Story…

Posted in Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Inspiration hit me in the face like a brick this weekend, repeatedly bludgeoning me into submission. It was a bank holiday in the UK, so a nice long weekend. Perfect, you would have thought, for doing some writing…

I’d just finished editing my review of Emma Westwood’s Pocket Essentials Monster Movies (coming soon to Morpheus Tales #5!), bloody good book btw, and was well into reading Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, more of that later.

I’d done my shopping and preparation for the rest of the week, a handful of ham and mustard sandwiches for lunch at work, and I’d made sure I had enough food for breakfast, so the chores were out of the way.

On the train on my way home on Saturday from my nephew’s second birthday (the joy, a kid’s party! at least I got a goodie bag so not a completely wasted journey down to Kent) I went past this house with a huge Union Jack and massive shed at the bottom of the garden. [Inspiration 1.]

Perfect place for the Unibomber, I thought. [Inspiration 2.] While listening to Papa Roach’s Had Enough on my ipod, connotations of Columbine planting seeds in my brain. [Inspiration 3].

You can’t ignore a trilogy of ideas. Although I did try. Monday was virtually clear, so I could write all day, after letting my inspired ideas become more fully formed on Sunday. Except I swapped things around and decided to go to the cinema to see Wolverine: Origins. Similar to the other X-Men films I was left reasonably entertained but mildly disappointed, I’m more a Sandman or Preacher fan myself. Although his wife is bloody gorgeous! I think I’m in love!

So the cinema, then some more reading Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box. It is one of those really annoying books. One of those you pick up and don’t want to put down. One that for a writer is hideous, in that it doesn’t provide any inspiration or ideas that you can steal, instead it gives you the fear. The fear that you will never ever be able to write that well, that you will never be able to evoke emotion and tension and excitement like that. The same effect that Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Joe R. Lansdale and Stephen King all give me.  They make me want to give up because I can never be that good. Can I?

Having put off writing anything for long enough I decide to watch some porn and then have dinner. It’s now half way through the evening and it’ll be bedtime before I get any writing done. I’ve almost managed it, I’ve nearly procrastinated long enough!

Then I stop. I sigh with resignation and open up a blank word document, I take a sip of my cloudy lemonade, turn 30 Seconds to Mars up until my ears bleed and I start to type. Half a page in my word document dies on me. Some kind of fucking error. I almost give up right then and there. I open another document, listening to The Pretender by Foo Fighters. [Inspiration 4.] I have a title. I type, I save after every breath.

A hour later I have a 1000 word story called The Pretender: two school kids shoot up their school and then go back to the arms dealer who sold them the gun to get help. Only he’s not as helpful as they’d hoped….

Now all I gotta do is edit the bugger!