Q and A with Author Christopher Benson.

February 20th, 2013
Image from PR By The Book

Image from PR By The Book

Christopher Benson is the author of a new vampire series that dares to look at vampyres as they truly are – bloodsucking murderers. But the Vampyre 2000 series also ponders that these creature feel regret about the lifestyle they did not choose. Sometimes the story conflict goes back 100 years or more.

Benson answers a few questions about his writing process and about the main character that is featured in all three books.

 

1. Vampyre 2000 is a complex and fascinating read. How did you come up with the story?

Vampyre 2000 (pronounced “vawm-peer”) was really a compilation of ideas that I had kept in my head and in a writing journal for years. I had read vampire novels, watched vampire movies and even seen them on television. In all those instances, it left me feeling that if I would’ve written the story I would’ve done it differently. So I finally decided to write one and do it my way. 

2. Tell us more about the world you have created.

I tried to create a world that mirrored our own. One where most people are completely oblivious to the dark realities that are hidden within it. Although it is a fantasy world and I had the liberty to make its environment any way that I needed to fit my needs, it is based on an actual metropolitan city in America; The Bay Area. Since no one in their right mind would truly believe that vampires actually exist, the original working title of the book was 
“You Wouldn’t Believe Me if I Told You”.

3. Before you began writing, you kept a journal. How did that help you create such a captivating world? Can you tell us a little more about your process?

In the beginning, that journal was the single most important tool for writing this story. Whenever I had an idea, anything at all, I wanted to record it there. I would throw out the weaker ideas and focus on the stronger ones. When I finally began to write Book One, the characters of Rita and Cornelius had already been developed as well as his unique origin. I kept ideas in that journal for three and a half years, without it I’m quite sure that some of those ideas might never have made the books.

4. How is this book different from other vampire books out there?

There are many things. It’s adult in nature without being overly explicit or excessively vulgar. It is based on a real world, one that the reader will have no difficulty in relating to. V2K contains a great deal of realism; for instance, the way in which the vampires feed is written with a lot of detail. But I think the biggest difference is the treatment of the vampire. Subtle things, as well as his origin, separate Cornelius from every other vampire out there.

5. How did your background as a history major play into the story? What research did you have to do?

It helped me to keep everything in context while writing this story. Even though this is a fictional story, I wanted the reader to feel that the book was taking place in our world. I did this by showing that Cornelius’ world shared the same history with our own; that they were one and the same. I researched West African vampire legend, used an actual slave ship that was prosecuted in 1807 for illegal slave trading, mentioned the events that led up to The Civil War and one of its actual battles.

6. Your goal in writing this book was to make modern day vampires seem realistic. What are some of the ways that you accomplished this?

I wanted to establish the theme of realism immediately with Cornelius’ origin. I wanted his back story to be believable and not come across as magical or fantastic. Another way was to define how a modern vampire would live and the extraordinary abilities that one would have. In my story vampires do not turn into bats or clouds of mist. They lie in their true state, a corpse, during the day and they need to drink human blood for survival. Although they are superior to a normal man they are also extremely vulnerable. A stake through the heart, beheadings and especially fire are some traditional ways to kill my vampires. As a matter of fact, since Cornelius does not hold a job, own a car, have a driver’s license or pay for car insurance, he uses the subway and takes the bus. And the money that he uses to clothe himself and do the things that he needs comes from the victims that he preys upon.

7. Cornelius is a complex hero. Did anyone from your life inspire him? And how did you balance his good qualities with his negative qualities?


Many people have claimed that Cornelius is more than a simple extension of myself. I’m still thinking about that, but the readers must remember that even though he has become such a likable character he is still a vampire. Whether he wants to or not, he must violently end the lives of innocent people in order for him to survive. Even though he is the perfect killing machine, Cornelius has retained his early nineteenth century morals and ideals as well as much of its dialect. Somehow he has been able to maintain a high level of dignity and sophistication throughout the dark and violent life that he has led; a 
life that he never wanted and never asked for. Being a good man at heart, he has always regretted and had great remorse for what he has had to do.


8. 
How did your childhood fascination with fantasy play a role in creating the books?

It taught that me that there was no limit to my imagination. My imagination is vast and probably infinite. Fantasy and Science Fiction books showed me that if I can picture it in my mind that I can write about it.


9. 
What author would you say had the greatest impact on your style?


Hmm, that’s a tough one. At first I wanted to say John Milton and then I thought about William Shakespeare. Both of them were responsible for cultivating my love of the classics. But I can’t forget about H.G. Wells either. 

10. What is it about love that can be so redeeming in characters like Cornelius?

Love can make people do things that they wouldn’t normally have done. It opens their eyes to what is important and shows them a path through the wilderness. Love has the power to take hold of the deepest recluse or a violent killer and give their life something worth living for. It provides purpose to those who had none.


11. Where can we learn more about your books? 

 Visit the V2K website at: http://www.vampyre2000.com


12. Do you have anything else in the works?

I do, a story titled “OS”. It’s a Science Fiction story set twenty five years into our future. It is a harsh and bleak world where man is forced to ask him self a frightening question. Should the activity inside of a computer chip be recognized as another form of life?

This Is Not Your Mother’s Fruit Salad

July 19th, 2012

This past week has been a challenge in making food that does not heat the house and looks tasty enough to eat.

Quite frankly, when it is this hot I do not want to eat. But then the stomach growls so one must. While it it tempting to eat nothing but ice cream during hot weather, that is smply not the way to go.

However, I am always on the look out for a new recipe and found it last week in the American Profiles supplement that comes with the Daily Journal every month. It was called a Very Berry Salad, which is true. There were several types of berrys in the salad.

The recipe called for strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries. You are then to combine these with goat cheese, walnuts and  a spring mix salad from the salad bag aisle.

Unfortunately, the day I went shopping there were no spring mix bags so I went with a ruby red bag. Nor could I find dried raspberries. However, I did buy a small bottle of raspberry viniagrette.

Now, let me say that I have always been a bit suspicious of salads like this that have fruit instead of veggies. It made me wonder if the lettuce leaves would work well with sweet pieces of fruit.

But I put in the most of the lettuce from the bag, about 6 oz. of sliced strawberries, 4 oz. of blackberries (made into bite size pieces as needed), two handfuls each of dried cranberries and walnuts, and most of the 4 oz. container of goat cheese. I bought all of these items at Ultra so there was no need to travel anwhere for special ingredients.

After tossing together the items, I gave individual servings in bowls. The dressing was on the side for those who wanted it. My youngest children were not very interested in anything but the fruit. My 15-year-old liked the salad but thought the dressing was too strong of a flavor while my husband and I tried not to devour the salad too quickly.

We paired it with pork chops that had been marinated with orange juice and rosemary before hitting the grill. Finally, we poured a glass of red muscato for the adults. It seemed to go with the fruitiness of the meal.

I wish my picture would upload and you could see the tasty combination of lettuce leaves with more flavor than iceberg variety and berries that are in season right now. For now imagine how the sweet strawberries meshed with the tangy bits of goat cheese and the crunch of walnuts.

Here is anothing thing to keep in mind, most of the ingredients are considered super foods that help people lose weight, fight off bad diseases, and make you feel great to boot.

What different foods are you making to beat the heat?

Karyn Bowman wrotes movie reviews as “Mom Goes To The Movies.” She lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook or send an e-mail to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net.

Cooling Off with Ice Age

July 13th, 2012

When I received the invite to see a preview screening of Ice Age: Continental Drift, I knew right away that only one of my children was going to see the movie with me.

That was going to be my seven-year-old boy.

I have an eleven-year-old and fifteen-year-old as well but they have become too old for this movie series. My daughter might have been interested because of the storyline involving Peaches who is now a young teenager. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

In this movie, we are dealing with a new problem for the herd consisting of Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo). The land mass is changing, greatly. Mountains and cliffs are rising or pushing forward.

The only hint that this might happen is when Sid’s family suddenly show up and leave Grandma (Wanda Sykes) behind without her teeth. A comment is made about the world changing but that is not their main concern.  Our herd does not worry until they start hearing some rumblings.

Manny still has time to tell his daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), that she is not hanging out with the cool mammoths. And she still has time to fight back. That is until another rumble begins to physically change their world and separates the three males from the herd. Manny vows to get back to his family while Ellie leads the rest of the herd to what appears to be a safe place.

Manny faces down a pirate crew in a life -or-death battle while Peaches takes on peer pressure during a march that could mean life or death.

Funny enough, it is Sid who says it best about these movies when trying to describe the dinosaur adventure when he says it doesn’t seem likely but it was great fun.

I could pick apart this movie, talk about the stories being tried and true, that a few characters need to examine their souls and where they stand in life. I could talked about the laughably bad musical number that introduces the pirates and the teen drama that plays like it always does.

But what an Ice Age movie is about is really the fun of it all. The fun of out-witting the bad guy, the action of the 3D as characters fly over ice or through the water, and cute cuddly creatures that are brave when it counts. That is what makes it fun for the kids.

What made it fun for me, the mom who is sitting there with the kid, were the silly little moments.  Such as the irrelevant question as the herd begins their journey to the land bridge. Or how Manny knows when he is being tricked by a group of monsters. Or when Peaches finally stands up for herself.

I enjoyed Wanda Sykes as Grandma and Jennifer Lopez was not too distracting as Shira. I loved the badger as a pirate flag and the whole nutty ‘Atlantis’ section.

While the 3D is OK and makes things pop out, it does not add to the movie going experience all that much for me. At least this time around the glasses were not too annoying.

Would I watch this movie again? Not really. It is OK for a fun night with the kids and I would not be overly bored with it.

It is a movie that is great for family time, just a little touchy-feeling at times, but with plenty of action to make you forget about that stuff.

 

What Ice Age:Continental Drift does not have the underlying issues that makes me want to watch others movies such as Toy Story or Shrek over and over again. While that is sad, I do not find it a great loss, just a little disappointing.

(2 Stars)

“They’re Coming To Get You!”

July 9th, 2012

 

This Friday night, on Friday the 13th, The Meadowview Theatre is planning to show Night of the Living Dead.

 

This is the original George Romero version that scared the living daylights out of all of us who watched it way back when.

 

It starts in a graveyard as Barbara and her brother visit their father’s grave. In the background is an old man shuffling towards them. The brother jokes with Barbara that ‘they are coming to get you.’

 

Unfortunately, he was right. By the end of the movie, we will see the destruction of families and couples because of zombies in search of human flesh that is, oh, so tasty.

 

I am willing to guarantee that there will be a long line of people wanting to see this movie. We like to be scared. We like to confront our fears in a safe manner. We are only in a movie theater for 2 hours and then the situation is over. We are no longer in the midst of the terror. And that is a good thing.

 

But then there is the half life of scary movies. They live on in our memories and dreams. After I watch a scary movie, I will dream about it. I no longer watch zombie movies because after Shaun of the Dead, a great zombie movie, I had dreams with zombies for a week. I had to watch a week’s worth of romance movies to get the images out of my brain.

 

Another theory out there is that scary movies, horror movies and thrillers are a safe way to confront our specific fears. This has been my pet theory about the Saw and Hostel franchises which gained their popularity during the second Iraq war period. We heard stories of people being abducted and tortured and there was an audience that wanted to see what that might look like.

 

An article from WebMD confirms this theory by reminding us that at the time, we were hearing stories about Abu Ghriab. Let me note that at the same time Clint Eastwood released his movies on WWII – Flag of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima- that explored some of the horrors seen in that war that was called ‘the good war.’

 

While many of us may not like these ‘kidnap and torture’ films, it may be helping those of our young people who are not going to Iraq and Afghanistan understand the fears their friends who have gone into the service are experiencing.

 

While Night of the Living Dead might help us face our fears about the possibility of zombies taking over the world, the other interesting part of this movie is the subtext. Filmed in 1967, the real world was facing a changing social order as leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., fought for civil rights.

 

That the hero of the movie is a black man is a big deal. He is alone in a farmhouse with a white woman for part of the movie. And he seemed to be the smartest of the group in that house. This was a huge social wrong in that era. While Romero stated that this was not a part of his initial planning for the film and actor Duane Jones was deemed the best actor for the role, the choice of a black man in that role appeared to others as a statement about the racial wars happening in our country.

 

Secondly, the 60s were a time of space travel and part of the story is that the bodies in the cemetery were animated because of material that was on a NASA ship that crashed on Earth. It gives to idea that we have no idea what is coming back on a space ship be it a virus or radioactive material. It also plays into our fears about nuclear waste and the dangers of radiation. Remember, the Godzilla movies dealt specifically with turtles and lizards transformed by radiation a decade earlier.

 

Perhaps in today’s world we cannot understand the fear that ‘radioactive material’ used to conjure in our societal consciousness. We no longer live in fear that a nuclear war can happen at any moment when school children did nuclear fallout drills under their desks.

 

We still live in fear of zombies, vampires and monsters whether it comes in the form of fairy tales, books, movies, or video games.

 

Friday night at Meadowview Theatre is simply another chance to feel good by exploring our fears.

 How do you like to be scared?

 

 

 

Karyn Bowman wrotes movie reviews as “Mom Goes To The Movies.” She lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook or send an e-mail to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net.

Going to see “Brave.”

July 1st, 2012

 

Ever since the ads for Brave began showing up, my daughter wanted to see it.

 

With every sneak peak of different scenes, with every extended commercial my daughter made it clear we were going to see this movie on the first night. She even wrote it on our calendar.

 

Brave IMDb comWe were going to do that right up until we noticed that soft ball practice was at the same time as when we needed to leave for the drive-in theater.

 

So we changed our plans and went the following night to Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Theater all the way in Gibson City.

 

The movie tells of a young Scottish princess who has come of age during the middle ages. Her father (Billy Connelly) is the king and must preside over her betrothal to one of the sons of the three lords. Each man must participate in a skill test of the princess’ choosing to see if he is worthy of her hand. Along the way, her mother, the Queen (Emma Thompson), has been trying to teach her daughter decorum and the ways of royalty.

 

Unhappy at the turn of events, angry at her mother, and wanting to find an easy way out of her dilemma, Merida (Kelly MacDonald) seeks the local witch to create a spell to change her mother about the idea of marriage. But like many spells in fairy tales, this one has unforeseen consequences and Merida must clean up the mess she has made before it is too late.

 

What I loved about this movie was the stunning animation that reminds me of the quality of hand-drawn anime from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.  I also appreciated the dead-on casting of voice actors. Billy Connelly was great as the king while Emma Thompson seems to be sitting in her rightful place. Kelly Macdonald was excellent as Merida.

 

While this may go down as one of the weaker movies by Pixar, I still find it a strong tale about a girl who finds she has to fix a problem she created. She has to learn to take responsibility for her actions, which can be hard for a teenager as those of you with teenagers know very well. In that sense it is like many Pixar movies which forces the lead character to confront their own worst traits.

 

There are parts that might be scarier than pre-schoolers want to see. We took along our 7-year-old who loved the movie but, then again, he was sitting next to Dad. I could see how some of the fight scenes could be especially daunting for the youngest members of the family. Otherwise it is a fun action-filled movie suitable for the whole family.

 

As for the bear thing, I never saw it coming although when you think about it, the storyline fits with the first part of the movie. Would I go see Brave again?

 

Absolutely.

 

And I would definitely get another funnel cake sundae from the concession stand.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Wednesday Morning Movies Are Back!

June 20th, 2012

 

The Bowman household has a favorite activity every Wednesday morning.

 

We get up in time to go to the Paramount and take in the Wednesday Morning Movie Series. Before I was working outside of the home, I would pack up the kids and go. Now it is my husband who takes the kids to the theater.

 

Our kids love it. First of all the movies are geared for them and they tend to be fun. Last week started with Kung Fu Panda 2. The Smurfs hits during the middle of the series. These movies scream fun.

 

Secondly, they love getting a big bucket of popcorn and putting on the different flavor sprinkles. Sure the Kettle Corn flavor is sweet and the Nacho cheese has a little spice. My favorite is the chocolate marshmallow that appears and disappears. Sometimes the kids and I combine flavors to mix and match to find the salty and the sweet.

 

 Lastly, if you get there early enough there are games or characters making appearances. It is a totally fun and, no matter who goes, we have a ton of fun. The kids have brought home promotional materials (mini posters) and met characters from various movies.

 

It started last week but that does not mean you have to miss out. Counting the 21st of June, there are seven more weeks of movies. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is on for this week. Puss In Boots comes out next week. And then there is the surprise movie at the end.

 

Wait, I forgot to mention the price. This might be the best part because it costs only $1.00 per person. Mom, grandma, kids – everyone gets in for $1.00 each. Suddenly, getting that big bucket of popcorn is really affordable. Plus, it helps support the theater.

 

But here is one word of warning. If at all possible leave your devices in your bag/pocket. Otherwise someone, like my husband, might throw popcorn kernels at your head. Believe it or not, the lighted screen of your device is distracting to other people in the theater.

 

I am willing to bet that the world will not end if you put the smart phone/i-pod away for an 80-minute movie. This is a time of movie watching and not being on a device talking to a friend about how boring the movie is for you. That behavior is for our teenagers. Live in the moment and have fun with the kids watching a totally silly movie.

 

Maybe you should eat some popcorn, too.

 

For more information, visit the website for the Paramount Theater.

Did You See The Hummingbird?

May 31st, 2012

With summer comes the arrival of hummingbirds.

Every year my husband puts the feeder on our porch. The kids sit at the front window from time to time to see what birds are coming to that one as well as our other feeders.

But the one that really gets our attention is the hummingbird. They are so tiny, so fast. Sometimes they even rest on the top of my shepherd’s hook.

9-11-hummingbirdI usually put out a basket of red or purple petunias to attract the birds and that seems to help.

Now my husband does not color the water and that seems fine by the birds near our house. But at my mother’s house in the Ozarks it is a different story. She normally dyes the water red. But one day she did not for whatever reason. She just wanted to get the feeder out there because her hummingbirds will knock on the window when the feeder is empty.

On this day she had clear water in the feeder and it was full. But the hummingbirds were not happy and knocked on the window to get her attention. They wanted their nectar to be colored. So she made it a dark blue and they were happy again. True story.

Our birds came back early, they were here in the beginning of May. We see them at regular intervals, which means I really need to get that hanging basket up and ready so there are a few places for them to rest as needed.

How do you get your yard ready for hummingbirds?

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook or send an e-mail to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

May 20th, 2012

It is not June yet and my roses are in full bloom.

With all of the crazy weather we have been experiencing, flowers have been blooming much earlier. My roses are about two weeks early.

Small Roses

These roses is simply one branch from my rose bush.  As I drive around town, I have seen some great rose bushes. Some are the normal bush type of roses. Others are climbers, which is what my bush is classified.

Perhaps you have a rambler which is  tall bush-type of rose. Of you are growing tea roses. I like climbers that extend long branches with old fashioned wide blooms that smell sweet.

Genetic breeding changes a variety. A tighter bloom loses their smell, various colors might lose a different attribute. I have yet to hear about a thorn-less rose.

Have you seen any beautiful roses?

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing The Avengers

May 15th, 2012

 

The Avengers is one movie that had a huge build-up.

 

It has been years in the making starting with the first Iron Man movie in 2008. In Iron Man 2 we met the Black Widow, a spy whose beauty matches her skill.  Last year we were treated to the first Thor movie which had audiences falling in love with an arrogant man forced to learn honor through difficulty.

 

And I cannot forget Captain America. The hero from years past charmed us with his earnestness as he fought Nazis and secret organizations.

 

And now the Marvel characters have come together in The Avengers. 

 

Loki is a Norse demi-God who wants to rule Earth and the rest of the universe. He has teamed with other evil creatures that are looking to control Earth.

 

While Loki is capable of controlling some people to do his bidding, there is a group of people willing to do whatever it takes to keep earth safe. That team is called the Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk. They have been brought together by Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

But Loki is tricky. He likes chaos, he likes creating disturbances. He is capable of doing that to anyone. With a touch of his scepter on the heart, he can make just about anyone follow him.

 

We saw the movie at the Harvest Moon drive-in and loved it. I was happily surprised to see six different back stories weaved in to something that made sense. Plus, it was clear that people had history together in their comments and body language. Not every one liked each other, but with the proper motivation, they were able to work together.

 

The movie was long but thanks to a tight screenplay that gave a real voice to each superhero and interesting, compelling action sequences, the movie never feels as long as it should. Just as Jon Favreau did with Iron Man, director Joss Whedon has put in a certain amount of lightness with all the seriousness of a comic book movie.

 

Now the question you might be asking is “do I have to watch all of the other movies to see this one?” My answer would be yes IF you do not have a thorough knowledge of the Marval Comic characters.

I was not familiar with Iron Man before the movies nor was I all that knowing about Captain America. Because of a youth spent watching Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, I understood The Hulk and enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s performance. That allowed me to not watch the Ed Norton Hulk movie.

 

On the other hand, we went with friends who were not familiar with the whole story and they enjoyed it. Part of it was the experience of being at a drive-in but the movie was exciting. If you go to the Harvest Moon, you have to get the Funnel Cake Sundae. Decadent but easier to take if you share with others.

 

The other part was the stunning special effects that created leviathans and creepy ice guys to cause trouble. They were seamless and wonderful even if I knew there was a computer doing the heavy lifting.

 

Strangely enough, I found the movie to be mostly kid appropriate. It has a PG-13 rating, mostly for the action shots. If your child is not used to such movies, then it will not be appropriate. However, our 7-year-old watched and loved it. Granted, he has also seen many of the movies leading up to this one and knew what to expect.

I have a friend with a five-year-old and she reported he did just fine with the movie.

 

A good story with great dialogue and thrilling action along with characters that are more than cardboard cutouts make for a great movie. It is everything I would want for a summer blockbuster movie and much more.

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook or send an e-mail to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net.

The Jar of Boredom Busters

May 3rd, 2012

Summer is coming.

The heat is here, graduation is near and school is almost over.

Every year we go through a summer in which the kids say “I’m Bored.” Before you know it they are picking at each other which is driving you crazy.

We have had that problem for years. I tried another mom’s suggesttion of having a ‘Hogwarts’ camp at home or finding a Vacation Bible School (VBS) every week that the kids are home. The year that every one planned their VBS on the same week was not so good.

Being an avid blogger, I read a lot of blogs. Some moms are ingenious. But my favorites are the ones who come up with an “I’m Bored Jar.”

A few of the Slips

A few of the Slips

What these women did is take an empty peanut butter jar, clean it out, then they fill it up with slips of papers with a suggested activity written on each slip. This one gal came up with 150 slips.  

I know, 150 slips with ideas for activities!

I thought about stealing her list, just print it out and cut out each one. But then I decided to make my own instead. That way I could personalize it to my kids’ interests and chores around the house.

So I started writing and writing and writing. I lost count of how many I made up. But here are a few that I did.

Find a recipe using raspberries.

Call Grandma

Clean Your Closet

Read a Book

Give the dog a bath

When I set it out, the kids and the husband looked crossed-eyed at the jar. They were not interested and told me so in no-uncertain-terms.

That is until one day when it was raining and the kids were bored. Some one said those words and the next thing that happened was the jar was opened. They started shifting through the slips until they found one they liked.

Later that day we were treated to a play about pirates. Granted, it was really an excuse to jump on the couch for most of the five-minute run time. But the point was they had fun while being creative. And the kids love pirates.

Win-win for all of us.

What kind of ideas would you put on your slips for the boredom buster jar?