Saturday, April 28, 2012

Who doesn't love zombies, ghouls, and the half-eaten humans left in their wake? Here at "Things that Go Bump in My Head" we like to feed your hunger for human flesh... eating supernatural creatures, that is. That is why we are pleased to introduce the first official contest for "Things that Go Bump In Your Head": the "Feast: Flesh or Foul" Contest! to celebrate the Year 2012, the Upcoming Zombie Apocalypse, and the perfectly timed release of "Warmth"

We are looking for photographs in one of three categories:
  • THE AFFLICTED (Ghouls)
  • THE DEAD (Zombies)
  • THE FOOD (Humans)

See an overview of each type of entry below. You should enter a photo of yourself in one of these three roles as described at the end of the article.

Post a photo of yourself dressed up as The Afflicted (Ghoul), The Dead (Zombie), or The Food (Human) on Sumiko Saulon's Facebook Author Page here: - you will need to have a Facebook account to do this, so if you don't have one, create one. I'm pretty sure you will need to "like" the author page to upload the photo. When you upload it, write "CONTEST ENTRY:" with the kind of creature you are afterwards. For example: "CONTEST ENTRY: Ghoul".

Get as many people as possible to "like" your photo on the Author page, because the one with the most likes wins. In the event of a tie, we will have a Run Off between the winning entries.

You Win: You get a copy of "Warmth" signed by the author, and you have the opportunity (optional) to be included in an upcoming promotion for the book, where you are in costume holding the book. That means you'd have to take another photo with the book when it arrives. No, you don't have to (although we'd love it if you did)

The Afflicted: Sera, the good ghoul
The Afflicted: Sera, Unpretentious Ghoul
The Afflicted are Ghouls: Their ghoulish affliction causes them to age very slowly, and run a constant fever so that they are at most times sweating profusely. They require human flesh and blood to survive. Ghoulism is caused by zombie bite, so many ghouls have unsightly healed-over zombie bite scars. They fall into two basic categories:

- The Unpretentious Ghoul
The Unpretentious Ghoul accepts the fact that he/she is a ghoul, you may consider that he or she is a traditionalist. Most of your unpretentious ghouls still bear the scars of the zombie attack that cause the original transformation. They know that as ghouls, they do not require fresh human flesh or blood, and can survive on the flesh of the dead. The unpretentious ghoul may eat rotting corpses, human flesh jerky, and other substances that the pretentious ghoul would find gross and disgusting. Unpretentious ghoul heroine Sera had her teeth sharpened like shark teeth by the Mayan's to make flesh eating easier. She is a ghoul hunter who hates the Dead. Ghouls are not immortal, but age very slowly. Sera is pissed off because in her case, this has lead to a 600 year long pregnancy. 

- The Pretentious Ghoul
The Pretentious GhoulSome of the Afflicted are more pretentious than others. Pretentious ghouls, like Lizbet, like to pretend they are vampires, because vampires are just a lot more glamorous seeming than sweaty, rotten-flesh consuming, sickly long-lived mortal ghouls. Of course putting on such pretentious means investing a lot of money in plastic surgery to cover up nasty zombie bite wounds, and dental work to install fangs sharp enough to inflict a bloodletting bite. That kind of vanity keeps Sera's old friend and former lover Fadrique, Plastic Surgeon to the Stars (and more secretly, to the Afflicted) constantly in the money. In order to disassociate themselves from their ghoulish origin, the pretentious also drink the blood (and at times, eat the flesh) of the living, considering eating dead people as "low". The Afflicted are never able to make new Afflicted through bite wounds: after all, they aren't vampires. Only Stage 2 Afflicted, or Zombies, can make new Afflicted. 

THE DEAD (Zombies):
The Dead (zombie)
The Dead are always hungry.
The Dead are Zombies. The final stage in the life cycle of a Ghoul is as a member of the Resurrected Dead. When a ghoul dies - whether it is after a long period of extended life as The Afflicted, or immediately, following a fatal zombie bite that the parasitical combo causing Ghoulism is unable to heal, he or she resurrects as a hungry corpse whose only goal in unlife is to perpetuate the species: the symbio-parastical species, that is, of strange gut flora living in the host systems of the Afflicted Stage A (Ghoul) and Stage B (Zombie).  Zombie slayer Sera hates the Dead - they are always hungry and have no self-control. If the planet becomes infested with them, the whole Ghoul-Human part of the ecosystem would go to hell, leading to the end of all mankind. And all ghoulkind - they'd starve. No ghoul in its right mind wants that.

The Food (Human):
The Food is Human
Solyent Green is People: The Food is Human
The Food is Human:  Ghouls and Zombies have a lot in common with people: the thing is, they are people. It all starts with a bite: the first step in the Human-Ghoul-Zombie cycle is the part where the Zombie bites the human and infects it: so the human because the Afflicted (part A or B). Some humans become food because they are bitten while still alive: either unwillingly, though a hostile attack, or because they are masochistic vampire groupies who haven't discovered (yet) that the Afflicted Ghoul is incapable of granting eternal, or even extended, life. Some human beings are eaten after death, in various states of decomposition or even after cooking and other methods of preparation.
THE DEADLINE: This contest will be accepting entries until June 1st, 2011. Remember: the sooner you enter, the longer you have to ask people to "like" your picture. Yes, you can use an old photo of you dressed as a zombie, a ghoul, or a ghoul we presume is pretending to be a vampire because in Warmth, vampires don't bleeping exist, an old photo of you with an apparent zombie bite, or whatever works for you.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview with A.L. Peck,

author of  “Abstract Murder”

This is the first in a series of interviews with women in horror fiction.
I hope you will enjoy this interview is with psychological horror/suspense writer Andie Lee Eames, who writes under the penname A. L. Peck. Today we will talk about writing, perceptions of women and women of color in the horror genre, and why female writers would still feel a need to use a gender neutral penname 150 years after the Bronte sisters did. 

The Book:

Abstract Murder (Paperback)
Abstract Murder
Abstract Murder is a disturbing psychological suspense tale told from the viewpoints of various characters. The characters speak directly to the reader taking them into the dark recesses of dangerous minds while calling into question the validity of good and evil.
If you liked "Pulp Fiction Silence of the Lambs" then you'll love Abstract Murder, which is told in flash forwards, backs, and present time.
It is a high concept thriller not for the faint of heart and one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride. There are three different killers and you'll get to see what made them that way.

The Author:

Born in Washington D.C., Andie Lee Eames is a free-lance journalist and author. She wrote the well-received novel “Abstract Horror” under the pen name A.L. Peck.
Abstract Murder is her first novel, and she is currently working on a prequel. Links to other writings by the author that are available online can be found at the bottom of this page.

The mother of two teens, Andie Lee Eames is an American of Irish, Mexican and Caribbean heritage, and divides her time between the US and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Interview:

Sumiko Saulson:
How did you get started writing?

Andie Lee Eames
I began writing seriously with my cousin Sarah in Ireland on Bebo where we've created an epic sci-fi fantasy Carpe Ominous=Take it All! That's where I got the idea of building up a fan base and writing on line.

Sumiko Saulson
When did you start writing, and what were you doing before?

Andie Lee Eames
I was once a fire fighter/ medic, but once I got married and had kids I started
Paula Patton
In Andie's Dream Cast for the book, Paula Patton plays FBI Supervisory Special Agent Lenie Larson
writing. I released Abstract Murder published by Authorhouse September 2008 It took me two years of research to learn the correct terminology and I got assigned an F.B.I agent to help so it was cool and frightening to be at Quantico

Sumiko Saulson
Women in horror are rare; women of color in horror are exceedingly rare. I wanted to do the interviews as a way to bring exposure to women in the genre but also, to encourage others who are just getting started. What advice would you give to other ladies getting started in the genre, what do you think?

Andie Lee Eames
I know when I looked up horror writers/directors etc. and they stay within their race and that's fine but to me there's only one race and it's human but with religious and cultural differences

Sumiko Saulson
It is true that there is only one race, scientifically. Prejudice is not a construct of scientific fact but human perception - the hateful comments about the dark skinned girl in Hunger Games being played by an African American actress all over Twitter are a good example. The fact that there is no scientific reason for a culture bias or, in that case; one called colorism (which is bigotry against a skin tone) doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Andie Lee Eames
Exactly, I wish more people viewed the world that way. So what the little girl was black does that really make a difference?

I want to break down these racial barriers

Sumiko Saulson
What was it like releasing your first novel back in 2008, and how did you like working with Authorhouse?

Andie Lee Eames
AnnaSophia Robb
AnnaSophia Robb plays Meghan McHugh in the dream cast for "Abstract Murder".
It went really well and I recommend authors who go the self-publishing route to try them out. I've a cult like following around the world and recently found out that the book as reached Japan and been translated for them

Sumiko Saulson
It must be exciting to have readers as far away as Japan.

Andie Lee Eames
It is, I'd no idea but it's really cool. Most of my fan base is UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand and now Japan; it's strange how it works out

Sumiko Saulson
Women in the horror genre are still rare; women of color exceedingly rare. I wanted to ask you: what made you decide to write in the genre of psychological horror?

Andie Lee Eames
I wasn't aware of how rare we are until you mentioned it. I like to understand the reason that people do horrible things to one another and the best way for me to do this without sounding preachy was the horror genre

Sumiko Saulson
And as a follow up... do you think there is any reason that mostly men have been writing horror? Such as do you think women have any cultural identities that make us believe it's not ladylike to write scary things?

Andie Lee Eames
I honestly don't know why it's a predominately male dominated genre but I
Zoe Saldana
In Andie's dream cast, Zoe Saldana plays Detective Mena Vincent.
plan to change that. Women have so many ideal thrust upon us as to what constitutes being a lady. I think it limits some of us in what we think we should be instead of who we really are. I do not like that double standard

Sumiko Saulson
So if I understand you correctly, you believe that in an ideal future, we would begin to be motivated internally by what we care about - such as figuring out why people do horrible things in your case - and not externally by what we think society believes we should care about?

Andie Lee Eames
Yes, in a way but we're visual creatures by nature. I think that more women will change from the horror vixen to more powerful positions. The reason I published under A. L. Peck is because I didn't want the reader knowing I was female. I wanted the book to stand or fall based on its contents not because I'm female. There’s a bias about women in horror most are models or actors who are paving the way for the female writers of psychological horror.

Sumiko Saulson
Understood. That's why J.K. Rowling published “Harry Potter “ under a gender-neutral name. It's also why Emily Bronte published Wuthering Heights under a masculine pen name Ellis Bell. But isn't it interesting that 150 years later women still have to do as Ms. Bronte did in order to be taken seriously? Do you
James McAvoy
In A.L. Peck's dream cast, Brian Thomas is played by James McAvoy.
think this will at some point change?

Andie Lee Eames
I hope that it will change at some point but it's going to take for more women to succeed before that. I actually had someone tell me that if they'd known I'd written Abstract Murder they wouldn't have met me and I thought that was pretty messed up because you don't say that to a man who has written horror...people choose to see what they can process and right now it's easier to be gender neutral.

Sumiko Saulson
That is an excellent example of gender bias in horror - and the stereotypical thinking that suggests that a woman isn't as capable as a man of creating a terrifying character without being disturbed - no one seems to think Dean Koontz is disturbed, or Stephen King.

Andie Lee Eames
Exactly and it's not a fair assumption for people to make but they do it anyway. I want to be able to change that because when people realize that Abstract Murder was written by a woman some give you that doe in the headlight look. Some people not all

Sumiko Saulson
Different writers have different processes. Notably regarding you and your process: I see that on your popular Facebook page, you role-play your character Mr. Nobody. That is a unique approach. Do you think this kind of thing is part of your creative process, as well as an effective marketing tool?

Andie Lee Eames
Cillian Murphy
Cillian Murpy - Andie's ideal actor to cast as "The Artist/Mr. Nobody" if Abstract Murder were made into a movie.
I've tried role-playing on other sites with characters from different stories that I've written and it worked out really well so I figured to try it out here on FB. In this market you have to be competitive and try new things, so I thought by putting an actual face and speaking in the voice of the characters was worth a shot

Sumiko Saulson
And the face is of the actor you envision playing the role?

Andie Lee Eames
Of Mr. Nobody?

Sumiko Saulson
Yes. Because that's who you currently use on Facebook. But I also notice you had photos of the actress you had in mind for the young female detective, so in both cases.

Andie Lee Eames
In the book he doesn't really have a face so when I decided to do the behind the book series. The first face I saw when writing was Christian Bale then when I
Christian Bale
Christian Bale - in the Dream Cast as FBI Special Supervisory Agent Michael Hallard
decided to do this I had to find the actors that I saw in my mind when I was writing the book
In developing Mr. Nobody referred to as The Artist in the book I wanted a face that could easily do or get what he wants and be forgotten as easily by those who have seen him
I wanted an actor who could pull this off and Cillian Murphy was the first actor that came to mind to be Mr. Nobody

Sumiko Saulson
I see. And I notice that in your writing, you trying to emphasize the frightening notion that this serial killer could be anyone - the reader's next-door neighbor - and that really underscores the menacing nature of this character. Is the way he looks part of this unnoticeable persona as suggested by the book?

Andie Lee Eames
Yes, I am because when you break it down and this is going to sound jaded but it's anything but. I don't think that we can ever truly know someone and that instills horror and awareness. In the book he's a much less likeable characters who isn't really one of the primary characters but one of three killers in the book. I decided to develop him and the other characters more without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it yet while keeping those who have further entertained. Thanks I don't have many reviews on Amazon but I hope that the information on Amazon is enticing and insightful

Sumiko Saulson
It's been great speaking with you. Before we wrap this interview up, can you let my readers know where they can find you on the Internet, where they can pick up a copy of your book, and things like that?

Andie Lee Eames
Thank you. Abstract Murder can be found on line around the world on Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Other Writing By Andie Lee Eames

A tale of erotica, horror, suspense and viciously biting comedy
This is a behind the book and fan site where you'll be able to interact with other fans and the author
The story of mixed up young girl whose journey through her life is brutal and unrelenting.
This is a behind the book and fan site where you'll be able to interact with other fans and the author on Facebook

Dream Cast Video

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mixed Feelings (Politics of Tokenism)

Mixed Feelings

Politics of Tokenism

Me finding out about tokenism the hard way circa 1989.
Mixed Feelings

Part 2 of 3

Mixed Feelings is a three part series on my personal and political feelings about being a person of multi-ethnic parentage in the United States of America. I don't claim to speak for and represent every Black/and/Whatever kid in the United States, I'm just saying I've had a lot of ' time to think about what it means to be mixed like me.

Token: 4. One that represents a group, as an employee whose presence is used to deflect from the employer criticism or accusations of discrimination. (from

Me in my late teens - pimply and naive
Part of my personal journey as a woman of color, a black woman who is biracial, has been to come to understand what tokenism is, and what it means to be a token, through emotionally painful personal experience. I grew up in the U.S.A. in a particular time and geographic region: I was born in 1968, making me a teen and a young adult in the 1980s. During the period of time when I grew up, a practice of tokenism involved finding the least threatening seeming minority to included to deflect criticism from your organization. People in the African American community are very aware of this as a pro-female hiring bias in the black community: the gap is closing every year but for a long time it was a lot easier for a black woman to get an office job than a black man, due to a prejudiced mentality that made black men seem more frightening to the biased employer. For the same reason females have been preferred for token positions, biracial or even just light skinned black people have been selected as tokens.

Makode Aj Linde and his artwork
Recently I came across something via the Internet news article postings of my more political friends that seemed to me an example of the worse type of tokenism. Although I view it that way, the artist involved clearly does not. Are you familiar with the controversy surrounding Makode Aj Linde and his "Venus Hottentot Cake"?  Linde  is an Afro-Swedish performance artist who invited the Swedish Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn-Lijeroth to participate in what he said was a performance art piece designed to increase awareness of the African practice of female genital cutting, also known as female "circumcision" or mutilation. Many found his performance distasteful and exploitative. In a moment, I am going to get to why I describe this as tokenism, but first, here is an open letter to the Minister of Culture explaining African Women, among others, found the piece morally reprehensible:

I couldn't have said that any better. Now, let me explain why this is an example of tokenism: here, the performance artist is the only person of African heritage present. His Afro-Swedish heritage has been repeatedly bought up in order to deflect criticism, and other black people who disagree with his actions or the actions of the Minister of Culture are attacked as "ignorant". This is the absolute definition of tokenism - a situation where a single member of a minority is propped up in order to deflect criticism by other members of that minority group.

Here is another definition:

'In the artsemployment, and politicstokenism is a policy or practice of limited inclusion or artistic and/or political representation of members of a traditionally marginalized group, usually creating a false appearance of inclusive practices rather than discrimination. (from the Wikipedia

Sometimes the position of tokenism is like the position that early African American actors were in in the butt-of-joke comedies they were forced to accept in order to break down doors. It's hard to think of people who lower themselves as breaking down doors, but they are part of a continuum of milestones. Every token doesn't break down any doors, though. If you have no knowledge of the community you say you represent, you can wind up doing something as grotesquely inappropriate as what Makode Aj Linde did. I'm going to post it here with a Trigger Warning for PTSD because frankly, I'm personally categorizing it among things I wish I could unsee... and if you're a woman like myself who has had any sort of issues with the girl parts, this video of the black skinned cake with the blood-red insides being carefully incised from the genital area by the smiling Swedish Minister of Culture will probably traumatize you.

If you want to know what the artist has to say... this is  a very good video by CNN explaining both the outrage over the piece and Linde's own reasoning behind doing it from his personal perspective:

Me and my mom, Carolyn
Being someone isolated from the rest of your community can make you very naive when it comes to the whole idea of tokenism. Linde's personal explanation seems to me, naive. But a less forgiving word for this naivette is ignorance, and that kind of ignorance can be dangerous. The words of the African women are more relevant to the subject of Female Genital Mutilation than Linde's take on it as a man, not a woman, living in a far away country with no personal experience on it. Tokenism often involves placing a token's voice into a role of greater importance than a person directly experiencing something: it involves failing to allow people to speak with their own voices. Linde is well qualified to speak to racism he experiences in Sweden: why he decides this portrayal of a woman from the African continent as a stereotype from a racist pass speaks to his own experience is beyond me. But I would say he is out of touch. I can speak to my own experiences, but I can not speak for my mother. My mother has breath, and she can speak for herself. My mother is a black woman who, having both Irish and Native American blood is mixed, too, but the kind of bigotry she experiences due to colorism is different than my personal experience. So love and understanding: but one would have to be very isolated from issues of colorism to believe as Linde did, his action of putting on black face and integrating themes of cannibalism into genital mutilation would not offend other black people. The problem with tokenism is that it relies upon the token to be isolated from the culture he or she is said to "represent".

President of the United States, Obama
When someone is connected to and knowledgeable enough to actually represent a community, you may see some kind of "backlash" from a majority culture. We see this a lot in the USA with Obama is in office. The direct racism comes in the form of people making fun of the President's choices of musical entertainment or food for events at the White House, and when it is not coming out in the form of direct racism it comes in the form of the Birther set. However, even the Birthers are becoming more direct in their bigotry. We all know that Obama is a US citizen by now, so we are getting more and more desperate iterations of the birther argument with less and less sense to the nonsense, such as this idiot Gordon Warren Epperly who wants to bring back the Dred Scott decision:

Me when I was 6 days old and protected by ParentGate(TM)
Notice that Epperly calls Obama by the "M" word and as I've already said - in Part 1 of "Mixed Feelings" - mulatto is a slave term. Epperly goes out of his way to make sure that people know that both "negroes" and "mulattoes" were declared as non citizens in Dred Scott. But I'm not going to spend this whole blog discussing the Epperly fool. I only bring him up so that I can make sure we are on the same page about why this kind of thing needs to be discussed, yes even nowadays, no racism isn't "over" it's still here in the good old US of A. But as I said earlier, my parents were brave when they decided to marry and have me and my brother Scott. They were also parents, and like most parents, they best they could to protect their children. As as result, Scott and I mostly grew up in very integrated and racially mixed neighborhoods in first Los Angeles County and then the State of Hawaii - which is a very integrated state. For the most part, they avoided having us live in segregated areas. If you're not an American, or even if you are not a Californian, I think it is important to point this out: there are largely race-segregated areas in the United States, and there are largely race-segregated areas in Los Angeles and in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Because I lived in largely integrated areas, I was pretty sheltered until I reached adolescence.

Me and Scott in the safe Carson, California of the 70s
There is a thing about being sheltered and tokenism: separation from your community makes it easy for you to become completely ignorant. When I moved to San Francisco at the end of the 80s, I had already experienced a great deal of prejudice in my young life: specific anti-white or anti-black prejudice when I lived, briefly, in segregated areas, and anti-black prejudice during my adolescence in Hawaii regarding the texture and length of my hair. What I had not experienced was tokenism. I wouldn't even find out what tokenism is until I moved to San Francisco and found out the hard way: by being a token. The thing is, my parents spent so much time sheltering me and my brother by keeping us in integrated neighborhoods that they left me unprepared for this particularly reality, so I didn't even know what was going on.

Me in the late 80s getting schooled on tokenism
I was living in the Tenderloin, and I was 19 years old. I managed to get out of the cycle of 28 day a month Single Room Occupancy hotels by getting into a residence hotel: this warrants some explaining, but before the laws changed to prevent it, San Francisco low-rent hotels in the Tenderloin used to prevent tenants from staying for more than 28 days in a row because if you stayed 29 days you would establish legal residence and that would mean the landlord would be forced to evict you to get rid of you. The residence hotel I wound up in was a cooperative hotel with a lot of artistic residents. It was also a hotel with a population of mostly single, mostly either white or black, mostly middle-aged tenants, but the tenants weren't really all that universally liberal about race relations. There was a big racial tension going on that I was naively unaware of. They elected management staff, and I was elected to the position of assistant manager. After I was elected, some drunken tenant ran up to me and told me that he and his buddies voted for me because they thought that I was "neither black nor white" and would somehow maintain some secret racial balance that would keep the powder keg from exploding.

Me being Repair Manager
That was an example of one form of tokenism - as I mentioned earlier - which involves seeking out a less-threatening representative to perform in the role of toke. When you are being a token, you are being objectified - you become something, not someone. You are some thing to represent an idea, not an actual group of people. At the point where you decide to represent, you are no longer a token. Soon afterward, I would find myself working at a computer company where I would be elevated to the position of Board Member on the Board of Directors simply so that their Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) status would include Minority and not only Women. This second case was a textbook example of tokenism: that is placing a person who is part of a minority group into a position of perceived power, when the person actually has little or no power, in order for your organization to have a monetary or public relations gain. In that case, I was indeed, the Repair Manager. I did not, however, have any power as a board member but was plastered on photos at trade show booths and asked to tend booths for public relations reasons.

Malcolm X
Now... here is the thing: there is a thin line between being a door opener - a ground breaker - and a person who kicks down doors for other people like you to get in. In fact, you can be both things at once, because sometimes you are let in the door because you seem less threatening: it's like the way that MTV, upon criticism of not having any black artists on, put tons of videos by a young Michael Jackson on. He was a young teen idol and as such, perceived as less threatening than a more mature and openly sexual black man would have seemed. But after he was on MTV, a sort of door opened and there were more black artists.

But there is a line... that has to do with whether or not you intend to represent for your community - if you will not represent, how can you kick down any doors? The line is essentially defined by how well you understand your relationship to the community. If you don't understand your community, you can't represent it. The secret to creating a token is to keep him or her isolated from his or her community, so that this person is just standing up there like an idiot being someone a bigot can point to and say "but I have a black friend," or, "my black friend said it's okay to do this so how can say it is bigoted?" Essentially, tokenism is like The Highlander: there can be only one.Being light skinned or even mixed doesn't mean you can't represent for a community. Malcolm X chose to represent his community and didn't let having white blood stop him. When I first came to San Francisco, I had a book in my pocket which was Aldus Huxley's "Malcolm X" and I read it, gaining wisdom and strength I would need through the years.

Now some things have changed but everything has not. Tell your children to keep their eyes open.