Guest Post: “Putting The Fear Factor Back In Tentacles”
Putting The Fear Factor Back In Tentacles
by Ciara Ballintyne
There are masses of tentacles in my latest story, Confronting the Demon. Coil upon coil upon coil of suckered flesh, rasping over stone, smashing walls to bits, and tearing people in half.
OK, slightly gruesome…
Not everyone likes tentacles, and that’s fine. After all, there are plenty of things I don’t like, and I’d be put out if someone told me it was wrong. One reviewer, in particular, described the tentacles as an eye-roll moment.
In one sense, the reviewer is absolutely correct. Tentacles are a little clichéd.
So why did I choose to use them?
They were included originally because the inspiration for the story was a line from Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero, which was essentially a reference to the fact that the tentacles on whatever creature had been caught for dinner didn’t spoil it at all. I’m pretty sure it was a chicken – or at least something that isn’t supposed to have tentacles.
So with that inspiration, there simply had to be tentacles in the tale.
Of course, I could have changed that on revision, particularly since I rewrote the entire story. But I didn’t. I made a conscious choice to keep them, and I had a reason.
While tentacles were once firmly the domain of fantasy, in the form of the mighty kraken, or horror (think Lovecraft’s Cthulhu), these days you are far more likely to find tentacles ensconced in the erotica genre.
If you didn’t know that, I’ll give you a moment to get your head around the notion.
Doing all right there? Need a drink? Busy on Amazon, maybe?
Now, I respect the right of any person to get it on anyway they like, but I’ll admit the notion of tentacle erotica gives me pause. I mean… tentacles. They’re like… slimy. And covered in suckers. I refuse to eat anything covered in suckers. The very notion of putting it on one’s tongue is enough to make my skin crawl, and that’s dead. If it were alive…
I think I’d be more likely to run shrieking in terror. I mean… suckers!
It seemed to me that somewhere along the way people had gotten a little confused and started to think tentacles were sexy instead of scary. This seems to be an infection that has spread to dinosaurs and now zombies. If you start to think a zombie is sexy, you are in real danger of having your brains eaten, and should probably seek medical attention!
It was with this in mind that I deliberately chose to keep the tentacles. Confronting the Demon is high fantasy, and this demon is huge, with a nest of tentacles sprouting from its shoulders, so I considered this a blow struck in the defence of some of the classic fantasy novels – The Fellowship of the Ring, of course, and the tentacled creature that attacks the Fellowship outside the mines of Moria, the Mist Wraith in the Shannara books by Terry Brooks, Cthulhu of course, and more. I’d give you more examples, but sadly if you Google tentacles and fiction, the top results are all erotica.
Tentacles are not sexy. Not the ones in Confronting the Demon, anyway. If you tried to cozy up with one of these babies, it would probably be the last thing you did. I wasn’t kidding about the guy who gets torn in half. The only thing these tentacles get wet is the cobbles – slick with blood!
Confronting the Demon – putting fear in tentacles since 2013.
The gates to hell are thrown wide when Alloran is betrayed by his best friend, Ladanyon, and framed for forbidden magic. He is hunted by the guards and the wizards both, tormented by the gruesome murder of his friends and loved ones, and crippled by fear for the living.
Now Alloran must face his demons, or damn the woman he loves.
Also featuring bonus short story ‘A Magical Melody’
KINDLE – US Kindle Store $2.99 ~ UK Kindle Store £1.93
ALL OTHER E-READERS
Kobo $2.22 ~ Nook $1.99 ~ Apple device $1.99
What early readers are saying about the novella
“Ballintyne gives wonderful descriptions and I found myself becoming lost in the magic of her words in a picturesque world with every turned page!” Bella Doerres
“The power-packed action will leave you breathless and the eerie suspense will make you chomp on your own nails, beware!” Satarupa
“With imagination and detail that paints a full scene for the mind’s eye, Ciara takes us on a short but exciting journey into a world of magic, love and demons from hell.” Miranda Wood of DustyKattís Stuff Reviews
“I actually enjoyed a good fantasy novel that didnít take days and days to read, but still offered the opportunity to get caught up in its world and story.” Tracy Riva Global eBook Awards Judge
“This story wasn’t quite what I expected; it was better! The first pages surprised me, reminding strongly of THE WAY OF SHADOWS by Brent Weeks (the scenes, setting and story feel). I was immediately drawn in.” – Dr. S. Drecker
“I will be recommending this to all my paranormal addicts.” – Leanne Herrera
She holds degrees in law and accounting, and has been a practicing financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.
She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.
She enjoys horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D.
On the recent Star Chamber podcast, I met and chatted with Jorie of JorieLovesAStory, and the subject of profanity and obscenity came up. Now, I don’t seed my books with curse words for specific shock value, but I don’t censor myself, either. If a character would use an expletive, I don’t pull punches and substitute sanitized words. I write the dialogue as I feel is natural.
I did a search in Word to count up each of four four-letter words. I’ll say even I was surprised at the frequency of some words in some of my books:
|Four ’til Late||22||18||9||16|
|Me and the Devil||37||26||20||13|
My books are not YA, they’re not intended for kids. In my books, these four-letter words are almost exclusively used only as expletives or gratuitous curses, not graphic. Or even “cheerful” in the case of Gonzo’s peppering of his speech with the F-word. You can see his influence in the Road Ghosts books (the first three in the table) versus my other works, those are almost all his.
Jorie and I have had an open, honest, and polite discussion on the topic in her blog’s comments. What’s your opinion on cursing in novels? Should it be cleaned up for the more sensitive readers, or should it be honestly vulgar when the story or characterization requires it?
I’ve never done a Throwback Thursday post, and I don’t plan to make a habit of it, but I thought this would be appropriate. Compare my 2008 photoediting work for the self-published edition with Bonnie Wasson’s gorgeous new cover for the much-improved re-release of Sinking Down. Go on and click, I’ll wait.
I’ll say, I was quite proud of what I came up with 5 years ago on my own, and I still kind of like it. In fact, of the covers I’ve created, this is the one that people react to the most, Sinking Down always got picked up and looke dat first when I had my first four self-published books on display. But anyone who’s seen my Whiteboard Wednesdays knows I am NOT an artist.
How it was made: I searched Flickr for Creative Commons licensed pictures. I think I used “lost in the woods” as my search term to find the original to this. Even though the license meant I didn’t have to ask, I did anyway to make sure the photographer knew it would be used for this book. She gave her blessing, and so I went to work in the GIMP photo editor. I outlined areas of skin that showed and changed them to grayscale so she’d look kinda dead. I darkened the gamma and played with colors to make a daytime scene seem like nighttime. The original had the blur already, and I liked that dizzying effect.
So, it’s no coincidence that my ideas for the updated cover started with this, I wanted the eerie quality and sympathy that my original cover had with that version of the Little Ghoul.
Since someone asked, Sinking Down will be available as an ebook next week, possibly as early as Tuesday, and the print book will be available the following week, just in time to get it, along with Four ’til Late, for Christmas!
I had such fun as a guest on the Star Chamber podcast tonight, talking with Susan Roddey, Michael West, and the delightful book blogger Jorie (who loves a story).
Did you miss listening in live? Well, here’s a link to listen to the show anytime!
HERE IT IS! This is the cover done by amazing Seventh Star Press artist Bonnie Wasson! I love it! Click on the cover image to see the press release.
Of course, this means that Sinking Down will be released very soon now!
Find out more tonight at 9pm Eastern on the Star Chamber podcast, where I will be a guest, talking about Road Ghosts books Sinking Down and Four ’til Late, home brewing and any other things that come up from questions from the listeners!
(and below, see my snazzy new links for all the places you can get Four ’til Late)
If you buy a small press book (like one of mine from Seventh Star Press or Hydra Publications) as a present for someone on your list, it counts for both Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday at the same time! :-O
I’ve decided to combine the two concepts into one: Small Press Saturday!
Four ’til Late is the haunted roadtrip story that kicks off the Road Ghosts trilogy. The second book, Sinking Down, should be out before Christmas.
Reality Check is my “Quantum Leap meets Sliders” science fiction adventure!
I won! 50,122 words in Restless Spirit written in November! I have a couple of chapters I wrote before to tack on the beginning, and at least 2-3 more chapters still to write, but I won National Novel Writing Month for the 6th time tonight.
Damn, I’m tired.