Sunday, 28 June 2009

Damnation Books - Artwork for Val and Tyne

Check out the new artwork for my upcoming release, Val and Tyne. The talented artist is Matt Truiano and you really should take a look at his portfolio:

Val and Tyne is a short horror story filled with black comedy and gruesome special effects (literally). It will be released on September 1st at the grand opening of Damnation Books, as one of twenty-five inaugural titles.

The CEO, Kim Richards, and her team have done a fantastic job setting up this new publishing house. If you have a dark tale you'd like to submit, check out the guidelines at the above link.

See you on the dark side,


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Saltwater Crocodiles in WW2

UPDATE! Sunset on Ramree is now available for purchase (priced $3.95) at: (eBook)

AND as a paperback novelette (priced $4.50) at

With just three weeks to go until the release of Sunset on Ramree, my WW2 crocodile thriller based on true events, I've compiled a few facts about saltwater crocodiles. If you're curious, head on over to the webpage for a look at these fascinating creatures. They really are the closest thing we have to living, breathing dinosaurs!

Friday, 5 June 2009

An Early Review for The Basingstoke Chronicles!

My time travel adventure novel The Basingstoke Chronicles won't be released until August at Uncial Press, but I've just received a very early (and glowing) review. Check it out:

A Caribbean Adventure to Dream Of

Appleton, Robert. The Basingstoke Chronicles. Aloha, OR: Uncial Press, 2009.

Who does not long for “an impromptu Caribbean adventure, without a care in the world”? For the armchair traveler who yearns for days of yore, The Basingstoke Chronicles by Robert Appleton is the perfect answer. After being introduced, in the prologue, to this first-person account by Lord Basingstoke on a “winter’s night [December 16th, 1901] on the shingle of Ten Gulls Beach in Devon, southern England”, the first chapter transposes the reader to a more recent, though still distant, “grey evening in 1979, a few miles outside Bucharest…”

Arriving at a semi-annual Archaeological Society get-together with his good friends, the guileful Lord Brooke and the beautiful Lady Brooke, “fine archaeologists both”, the slightly tipsy Lord Basingstoke finds the gothic stone decorated home of Georghe Dumitrescu, “a wealthy industrialist of some note in Eastern Europe”, much smaller than he had imagined. Immediately establishing rapport with Lord Basingstoke by swigging in tandem from his hip flask, his seemingly empathetic host horrifies the distinguished gathering by presenting the riddle of a partly decomposed body as the centre point in his “personal prologue to the evening”. Most startling of all was the fine Incan embroidered clothing in which the partially incinerated and fully drowned victim had been found drifting off the Cuban coast two weeks before.

The next setting, naturally, is Cuba, in which less rarified environs the narrator at once becomes Baz, Lord Brooke Sam, and Lady Brooke Ethel, whose flirtation with Baz adds a touch of spicy romanticism to the tale. Meeting up with Rodrigo, his companion for the adventures to come, the focus is from now on fully directed towards the scuba diving expedition on which they are about to embark. But first, the author reveals his familiarity with Cuban topography in his description of Jagua Bay, in Cienfuegos, the “Pearl of the South”, as “once a stalking ground for pirates and corsairs”.

Appleton’s cracking pace of narration flows smoothly and poetically, faster than the tides, while, at the same time, conjuring up visions of the Caribbean, always alert to “savor the pungent balm of a saline breeze”. The reader is inevitably drawn into the narrator’s love of the sea, a love that surely embodies the author’s own admiration for the underwater realms.

At the core of this fast-paced novel lies the questioning of the stabilizing nature of time as “embedded in the fabric of cause and effect” emanating from Baz’s discovery of a time machine lying at the bottom of the ocean. And so to pre-existing times…The scientific explanations of phenomena present in Appleton’s fictional scenarios not only show how knowledgeable he is about such natural features as tropical rainforests, but also add significantly to the realism of the scenes depicted. Baz’s sense of affinity with the bear, that he later names Darkly after the forest in which he appears, strengthens the reader’s awareness of the narrator’s (read author’s) appreciation of the natural environment. The keen interest shown in other lands and places reveals itself in the detailed descriptions of the village life that the chief protagonists encounter on the island of Apterona.

Possessing the descriptive power of a modern day Jules Verne and the narrative pace of a twenty-first century Sir Rider Haggard, don’t let Robert Appleton’s easy flowing, yet thoughtfully worded, adventure just drift on by!

--Lois C. Henderson

Movie Catch-Up - May 2009

I saw quite a few films this month, some old, some spanking new. I don't necessarily subscribe to the nostalgic view of cinema, that pre-Star Wars Hollywood films were on average better than modern efforts. Filmgoers have probably said that in every decade. We have always produced fodder. Remove the gems from Golden Age Hollywood and you're left with an awful lot of garbage. This decade has been no different. The few exceptional films each year tend to define the year. The rest is quickly forgotten.

Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Academy Awards this year and made a truckload of money. The poster quote whores endorsed it as "the feel-good movie of the decade" blah blah blah. Whatever. The tone of this film never sat right with me. It was clearly meant as a rags-to-riches fantasy, but the sheer weight of unending hardships suffered by the hero--who literally suffers all his young life--completely killed any uplift for me. This shouldn't have a fairytale ending. Most of the story is told in flashback, and it is a harsh and fairly realistic overview of slum existence. The boy loses his girl time and again, his brother spirals into criminality. It is a bleak tale.

And then there's the gameshow. An utterly contrived storytelling device links each question to a chapter in the boy's life, gifting the director free reign to jump back and forward far more often than is necessary. This is becoming a tiresome trend in modern moviemaking. Is there anything wrong with a linear narrative? One or two flashbacks is fine. But this sort of time-jumping mosaic hasn't made a single film I can recall more engaging, affecting, or dramatically powerful. Quentin Tarantino films are playful pastiches. A film like Slumdog should make the heart soar. Unfortunately, what I took away from it was an admiration for the technical virtuosity, an appreciation for the nimble screenplay, and a feeling of utter indifference toward the characters. I realise it's a fantasy, but it felt like a rigged game from minute one. If you want an honest slumdog film, forget this fake uplift and watch Fernando Mereilles' City of God.

Bette Davis' classic 1938 meldrama Jezebel hasn't aged well. She is tremendous as an egotistical southern belle who wrecks the lives of all around her before a Yellow Fever epidemic hits her home town. No one beats Bette in that kind of role (except maybe Vivien Leigh), but the rest of the film is fairly quaint. It's very much of its time--a woman's picture of stoic manners and mercurial temperaments and a scorned title character. Bette is never referred to as a screen beauty, but in these early movies, she is a stunner.

Jennifer Garner charms her way through 13 Going on 30, a kind of girl's version of Tom Hanks' Big. I wasn't expecting much from this one, but Jennifer's brilliant performance and what amounted to a nice, heartfelt ode to innocence really hit the spot. The ending perhaps should have been more bittersweet, but I give this one high marks. Mark Ruffalo plays another of his lovable sadsack boyfriend roles. He has great chemistry with beautiful Jennifer.

Drag Me To Hell is a return to his roots for Sam Raimi, after his brilliant Spider-Man trilogy. The Evil Dead formula, with which he made his name, mixed twisted humour with even more twisted scares. They're so fun to watch, even now, that I really think he's one of our better directors. Such low budgets yet so much creativity. And the films play superbly well to audiences. You can tell he's dying to entertain us (so to speak). Such is the case with his new one, a kitchen-sink-included horror rollercoaster starring Allison Lohman as the unfortunate victim of a gypsy curse. In three days, her soul will be taken by a demon. Cue lots of jumps, funny gross moments, and a rollicking good time. Though for my money, it would have been infinitely better with Bruce Campbell in the lead. Allison does well, but Bruce would have made this pure classic.

Tomorrow I'm off to see Terminator: Salvation. Middling hopes for this one, but I've a feeling I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Till next time...