Tag Archives: psychological thrillers

Interview: Producer, Actress, Screenwriter Comika Hartford #HookonWiHM #WIHMX #POC #Horror

Today, I welcome Comika Hartford to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Comika is a writer, actor, producer, and phenomenal lady and I am so happy to have been able to interview her as part of my women in horror series for February, which fittingly is also Black History Month. This award-winning woman is certainly making history for women in her field! I usually stick to books here, but we all like film as well, so I felt it would interest readers. Professionally her work in the genres of horror and psychological thrillers interest me and we’ll talk some about that below.

Comika has been working in her career for some time now and has numerous credits to her name. Besides being a TV and short film producer and screenwriter, she’s also an actress. She had a reoccurring role on Saints and Sinners and has been a guest star/co-star on shows such as CSI: Miami, Nash Bridges and in short films such as First Impressions, Hoax, and Unlucky Stars.

As you’ll see during the interview, she’s not only intelligent, but very outgoing and extremely funny!

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Hi Comika, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you’ve joined me from Los Angeless in cold, snowy Ohio today – I hope you brought some of your warmth along with you! Come in for some hot coffee and we’ll settle in to talk. How do you take your coffee?

Hey Erin! I’ll have a Vodka and cannabis latte with almond milk. It’s cool if you don’t have almond milk.

Erin: The only milk I drink IS almond milk! Ha! It might be the cannabis I’m short on. Tell us a little more about you and your work so anyone doesn’t know you can become acquainted!

Comika: Well I started writing and performing with Rhodessa Jones’ Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women at the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco before attending Emerson college. I specialize in horror/thriller screenplays with a social commentary edge.

Erin: That’s so amazing! I love the poster for Bango as well as the film. But for others, tell us what’s Bango about? Where can one watch?

Comika: Thank you! Bango is actually the first episode of a horror anthology I wrote set in a creepy California suburb called HINTERLAND ZOO where every house is the nightmare next door. It’s about a quiet couple taking a walk on the wild side that goes sideways real quick! You can watch it on Amazon Prime & our website www.bangofilm.com takes you right to it.

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We’re pitching the rest of the anthology later this year so please leave a review on Amazon if you end up watching. Every review helps. And please feel free to be completely honest, if you dont like it just say why… My favorite review so far is “What psycho wrote this?” Mmm… Delicious.

Bango

Erin: You’ve also written and acted in a horror web-series turned film The Grey Area and it’s won so many awards! Congratulations! Can you tell us about it?

Comika: Yes, The Grey Area has been upgraded to a feature film; It was a lot of work to push that through but it’s on! We just shot the second chapter last November with Zorina Juan directing and my partner in crime Eric Shapiro, who directed Bango, producing and keeping blood off the furniture.

Erin: The Grey Area sounds fun. I know you’ve described it as “the female version of Supernatural that meets the West Coast version of Law & Order on the streets of San Francisco.” With it being a psychological thriller, it’s sounds totally like something I want to check out!

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What’s it like writing and/or producing films or shorts compared to acting in them?

 Comika: Hmm… Sorta like the difference between running a restaurant or dropping in for a meal!

 Erin: Do you ever direct? Or aspire to? Why or why not?

Comika: Nah. I love my director allies, but I don’t envy their job. Directing is like trying to organize changing Baby Godzilla’s diaper. No really! Think about it: There are a lot of people around. Lots of destruction. Lotsa crap to deal with. At least one crying monster. And if it doesn’t come off well… it’s all your fault!

Erin: Haha!! I don’t think I want that job either. And which of all the above do you like better in general and which do you prefer in horror?

Comika: I love writing. I prefer that over everything in any genre!

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Winning an Award for The Grey Area. Photo supplied by Comika Hartford.

Erin: What do you feel women bring to the horror genre that is more distinctive than men? How do you feel women shine in the genre?

Comika: Mmm… well being a woman involves a lot of blood and dealing with rape culture so… Yeah. Horror is kinda our genre. We own it.

Erin: What do you think most people of either gender can do better to support women in horror?

Comika: Watch our movies! There’s a lot of great work happening. The Soska sisters are doing a remake of Cronenberg’s Rabid, Aislinn Clark’s The Devil’s Doorway is on Hulu, and Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer looks creepy af!

Erin: What types of themes do you explore or want to explore in your screenwriting?

Comika: I like to explore religious themes and mythology; I am very intrigued by the idea of vengeance- based deities.

Erin: What is a piece of writing or book or film or all by a woman in horror truly touched you, was memorable to you, or inspired you?

Comika: Kasi Lemmons’ Eves Bayou! It still messes me up.

Erin: Who are some women in horror you admire and who would you recommend to others to get to know?

Comika: Nikyatu Jusu came out strong at Sundance with Suicide by Sunlight. She is definitely someone to watch.

Erin: Have you ever thought of writing short stories or a book in the horror genre (or any other genre)?

Comika: I think I’d like to write a kid’s show… Seriously!

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Comika acting! Photo supplied by Comika Hartford.

Erin: What are some of your current or upcoming releases?

Comika: Well I’m working on a screenplay about Black vampires that travel to the Americas during slavery to rescue their kidnapped relatives. It’s called Legacy and much like American history it’s filled with blood, torture, and genocide… Yeah. Good times!

Erin: Oh, wow! And though true, the film sounds like fun! I can’t wait to hear updates on that.

Where can everyone find you to connect?

Comika: You can find me at comikahartford.com which connects to Facebook, I’m @blamethewriter on Instagram, and you can follow our progress with The Grey Area at:

www.enterthegreyarea.com

Erin: Thank you so much for joining us today, Comika! It was such a pleasure and please feel free to stop back by anytime! 😊

Comika: Thanks Erin… Um, can I have the rest of this Vodka to go?

Erin: Of course you can, how else would you juggle all the horrifying stuff you have on your plate? Please stop back by for me when Legacy is set to air.

Thanks to Comika for joining us!

Comika

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Ted Dekker Takes Risk with New Serial Novel Eyes Wide Open

Identity (Book 1), Mirrors (Book 2), Unseen (Book 3) and Seer (Book 4) are all part of a four episode thrill ride from New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker.  Combined, these sections puzzle together an almost 300-page book called Eyes Wide Open.  First launched at the end of December with the free Identity, it continued at a one book per week serial pace and are now all currently available in e-book format separately. In February, all will combine as Eyes Wide Open for purchase as a paperback or as one e-book. It is also available in audio book format.  I love the covers of each book too, which I’ll show throughout the post. They are amazing and fit the story perfectly! Great symbolism!

Eyes Wide open no whiteSynopsis for Eyes Wide Open, The Complete Story~
 
Who am I?
 
My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.Some will say that I m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.So who are you? In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern-day parable about how we see ourselves.Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally. (Young Adult)
 
My Review Continued~

Ted Dekker is one of my top five favorite authors of all time in any genre. When he sent out an e-mail asking his loyal readers to sign-up for an exciting release, and offered the first section free, I jumped at the chance to check it out. Identity really held my interest and I moved through it in an hour or less and couldn’t wait for the next installment. The action was intense and I felt like the main character, Christy, fell through the proverbial Wonderland rabbit hole and into a milder version of an evil asylum all to end up popping through (instead of in) a coat closet to Narnia. 

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By the way, Identity was still free at the time of this post:  http://www.amazon.com/Identity-Eyes-Wide-Open-ebook/dp/B00ATRCPSE

My head was spinning throughout Mirrors and I was as confused as the characters were. The Wonderland analogy in a demented and diluted sort of way kept appearing to me as well as similar allegorical themes such as sometimes illusions can seem so real that they become real.  I was really confused and a little horrified (which is a good thing) by the beginning of Unseen, but parts of it also really touched my heart and I could relate to this message. It’s one I struggle with. It is a Christian message, more clear than in most any other book I’ve read by him, but for me, so endearing. Really, anyone can use a reminder on the message of hope and beauty. It is about humankind and love.  I wish so much I could tell you, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

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I couldn’t wait for Seer to hit for purchase this week and luckily enough it came early. And with it, as I read it, came an enlightenment on the entire book, as how we stumble sometimes upon an enlightenment in our life.  I was so happy and fulfilled.  We need to sometimes not just “take off our rose-colored glasses” but also put on our lenses (or lamps as in the book) and see our light and “the” light.  Dekker, through the other characters, reminds us that everyone’s timing and road is different.  Just as some of the other characters weren’t complete by the end, I was also left hoping for more about a mysterious stranger we are introduced to in book 3 and 4.  At the end of Seer, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to see that he announced a new novel (maybe a series) focusing on this character and probably some of the other characters we already grew to know and feel compassion for.

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Don’t try to read that cover of Unseen instantly, it won’t work. It is just the only cover I could find….

I will always want to read anything he likes and I won’t judge if I’ll continue to read him or not based on any certain book or series. Why? Because he is always pushing his own boundaries as well as ours as readers; he’s trying new things and taking risks. Sometimes that works better than other times, but he always entertains as well as makes a reader think (as long as that reader is willing to think).

He is a Christian author and sometimes his books are allegorical in nature, but many of his suspense thrillers can be read by anyone who just loves straight mind-bending psychological suspense. He doesn’t always sell himself as a Christian author.  However, in this series none of the marketing materials or content (plus he self-published using his Outlaw Studios so there isn’t any Christian publisher involved) mentioned that there would be a Christian message. He already has some secular horror and suspense readers up in arms over there being no “warning.” Is that something that needs to be done? What do you think?  I thought the message was an important one, whether you are a Christian or not, and anyone of any belief could find inspiring and motivational insight behind the message he presents in this book. 

Ted Dekker SeerIn regards to his marketing choices as well, he also didn’t really announce it as a young adult novel. Reading his other books, I felt the writing style was plainer and thought it didn’t quite feel like him. Anyone reading him for the first time should not judge his other works on this. I felt that he either rushed this plot and prose and didn’t polish it up, or he meant it for young adults. Without him saying which, I struggled with the whole book on this point since I was caught off guard. Again, as with the point previously mentioned, maybe he wanted to gain as many readers as possible to get to a #1 Amazon spot, but I feel he did himself a small injustice as an author.

Also, I bet if he announced as young adult appropriate, which it was, he would have gotten more readers. Many of his books teens probably shouldn’t read due to their nature so parents wouldn’t know to purchase for their kids too. It is totally teen appropriate and the message such a good learning point for them. It needs on a YA list!  When doing research for this blog (there is nothing up on his website as of 1/15/2013) it took me days to find any reference to it being a young adult genre, which I finally spotted on an Amazon synopsis (you can see for yourself on the synopsis I posted from there).

The only other final thing I have to remark on, and I hate to do it to my favorite author, but he really needed to slow down with this book. He really needed to hire an editor and if he did, he needs his money back. This was the most awful display of missed words and errors that I have ever seen in a bestselling author. Many times I got held up on a word that was missing and I am fast reader who skims. I don’t know how many times I remarked on this. It made me feel as if he just didn’t put the care into it. Yes, the first book was free but his reputation is on the line with new readers. What kind of impression is this? Also, the next three books were $2.99 each for about 100 pages each…that is quite a bit of money for me to spend–$10 for a 300 page e-book.  We have a collection of his books on our shelf too, if we wanted to get the combined paperback in February it would be another $14.99 and how do I know that the errors will be corrected??  He may get away with leaning on the fact that people like me who are dire hard fans will purchase anyway, but really we should still get our money’s worth.  If you are going to self-publish more works Ted Dekker, please hire an editor (I’m available!!).

That said, readers and Ted too, don’t take me wrong. I am a marketer and PR person by trade and I tend to have an eye that looks towards these issues. I know that Ted Dekker took a big gamble on self-publishing, which means he has to write and market his own books. (I’m happy to offer advice!)

Overall, it was a great new endeavor in taking a risk and trying several new things which are serial e-books, making a prequel so huge that everyone wants to join the club for what’s coming up next, offering his first free e-book section to create a buzz, and for him, self-publishing. I’m glad I was paying attention to his Facebook page and was already signed-up to receive his e-mail messages. It’s how I knew about the book coming out…his website doesn’t have any info. He really does treat his loyal fans well, so if you are a fan, be sure to sign-up on his website to get email notices or follow his Facebook updates.

I loved the story overall. It messed with my mind and made me think and cry and wonder all at various times. It felt surreal and yet real and it took ahold of my thoughts for weeks. I’d recommend the read and I really can’t wait for the next novel.

Ted Dekker, Biography~

td-headshotTed Dekker (born October 24, 1962) is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans.
 
He is a New York Times bestselling author of over thirty novels. Heralded as a “master of suspense” by Library Journal, Dekker has sold millions worldwide, establishing himself as one of the most widely recognized author brands. Dekker was born to missionaries and grew up among cannibals of Indonesia, and his peculiar upbringing gives him a unique perspective outside the cultural bubble, allowing him the freedom to share provocative insights in his fiction.

Because his parents’ work often included extended periods of time away from their children, Dekker describes his early life in a culture to which he was a stranger as both fascinating and lonely. It is this unique upbringing that forced him to rely on his own imagination to create a world in which he belonged.

After leaving Indonesia, Dekker graduated from a multi-cultural high school and took up permanent residence in the United States to study Philosophy and Religion. Upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree, he entered the corporate world and proceeded to climb the proverbial ladder. But his personal drive left him restless and, after many successful years, he traded corporate life for wide range of entrepreneurial pursuits that included buying and selling businesses, healthcare services, and marketing.

In the early nineties while visiting a friend who had just written a book, Dekker decided to pursue a long held desire to be a novelist. Over the course of two years he wrote two full length novels before starting from scratch and rewriting both. Now fully enamored by the the process and the stories, he realized that storytelling was in his blood and a new obsession to explore truth through story gripped him anew.

He sold his business, moved his family to the mountains of Western Colorado and began writing full-time on his third novel. Two years and three novels later his first novel was published.

Dekker’s novels have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.

You can find him at Teddekker.com and Facebook.com/teddekker.

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A Brand-New Religious Artifact Thriller with a Strong Female Lead: Love it!

Joanna Penn’s Pentecost, her first fiction novel and first in a series with main character Morgan Sierra and a covert British company call ARKANE, is definitely a thriller full of action and pulse pounding events.  Although there is not a certain mystery involved to keep me reading and guessing, it wasn’t needed as the motion of the book kept me from wanting to put it down. I became interested in seeing the character solve the situation before evil won out!

The action moves so quickly in this book, as well as the story line, that you just want to keep reading in hopes of helping the characters move faster in finding the religious artifacts that are at the cust of the story.  Morgan, an independent, strong woman previously trained in the Israeli army can certainly hold her own as she bounds throughout several international countries with covert organization ARKANE on her heels trying to assist her for reasons unknown to her.  Their employee, Jake, and Morgan work tirelessly together and seem to have some unspoken chemistry that brings just enough hint of romance to the novel. 

Morgan is not just after the stones for herself, even though she is a Keeper of a stone, as well as her twin sister.  When her sister and niece are kidnapped, and other Keepers murdered, Morgan is motivated to find the stones fast. These twelve stones are rumored down history to be stones cut from Jesus’ tomb by his 12 disciples, which were taken with them into their new lives in other ancient countries such as Italy, Iran, Spain, and more. If joined together, the stones could bring about great power and another Pentecost, creating the power to destroy the world.  Morgan needs to stop the stones from being used for evil before it is too late!

ARKANE is realized to be a covert organization that is always keeping tabs on anything that has to do with religious artifacts and in the end, they wish to recruit Morgan.  After having placed her stone in the care of ARKANE’s artifact vault she leaves the reader waiting for more. Penn does expect a second book in this series with Morgan, called Prophecy, to come in 2012.

Penn is a self-published author based in Australia (even though she is British).  This is her first novel. Her Masters in Theology and a post-graduate diploma in psychology brings her academic interests to the fiction writing stage. Her expertise certainly hovers over all the religious locations and relics presented in this book to make it a very believable story. Joanna herself explains the book as being a religious and psychological thriller, a Lara Croft meets Dan Brown.  However, though religious relics and theology abound, it is more an action thriller than a religious or historical thriller. Penn’s character development is superb.  It will be one you won’t want to put down until the end.

To read more about Pentecost, you can view information here (as well as a book trailer): http://www.thecreativepenn.com/books/. It is available from Amazon in paperback and immediately to your Kindle for a great price. Grab it up!

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