Friday, June 19, 2015

Gravitas Showcased on The Virtual Bookshelf

I've loved books (and bookshelves!) for as long as I can remember. I'm particularly happy to see Gravitas in the spotlight on The Virtual Bookshelf!

Thanks to Glynis Smy for allowing me to unwrap some of my favorite Reviews in her virtual space! Though she's in the UK, in the seaside town of Dovercourt~Harwich and I'm on the oceanside edge of San Francisco in the US. Different oceans notwithstanding, the internet makes us neighbors!


Reading this Lynne Murray book is like being a kid in a candy shop. Sure, she can weave a thrilling story line, but she also makes you feel as if you can indulge your dreams and fantasies about living in a different, much more delightful world. Read the book. It is more fun than eating chocolate while sipping wine. Frannie Zellman, author of The FatLand Trilogy

Escape to the outer reaches of space….and San Francisco…in this intriguing thrill ride of a tale that had me hooked from the first page. I was on the edge of my seat and reading on to see what would happen next. I truly did not want it to end, and am hoping there is a sequel that I can get my hands on as soon as it comes out! Tracey L. Thompson, author of Fatropolis A Novel

If you like Terry Pratchett, you’ll enjoy Lynne Murray, who blends social issues, fantastic worlds and humor in breathtaking stories! Jaqueline Girdner, author the bestselling Kate Jasper mystery stories

Murray hurls the reader into her story and her universe, with links to daily reality, which make it seem more possible. The strong-minded protagonist displays Murray’s trademark flashes of wit. Well imagined and thought provoking!” Leslie Moïse, Ph.D., author of Judith and Love Is the Thread

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happily interviewed at Little Birdy Blog!

Snippet from Little Birdy Blog interview--

LBBB: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?

L.M.: I like to turn situations upside down when I write. For example, Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone stemmed partly from a Carl Jung book called Flying Saucers, where he suggests that the UFO craze is an example of a religion being formed in front of our eyes. That led me to think, "What if the people of Earth have been doing this for thousands of years, creating a new religion every time they run into alien tourists?" I also liked the idea of a heroine who comes from a planet where women are expected, indeed required, to have several husbands.

More at Little Birdy Book Blog

Friday, June 12, 2015

Update: Blood Tide Snuffs Candle--Moth Unharmed

I have to follow up on the post last week, where I whined what about being powerless before the elegance of ABC's television series Hannibal. I'm still liking Aquarius, the Flower-Power-Meets-Noir-Police-Procedural show that airs just before it. But last night's episode of Hannibal restored my critical faculties. I still watched it only in snippets, but the opening sequence was bizarre in a way that helped me get some distance, to see what bothered me about the thing.

It begins with long-suffering (and I mean that literally) FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) almost mortally wounded by Lecter. This may have happened more than once over the earlier two seasons, but I seriously don't care. I think it was a dream sequence, but again, who cares? I couldn't help thinking about a quote about Titus Andronicus (maybe from Margaret Webster's Shakespeare Without Tears) "When the stage direction reads, 'Enter a messenger with two heads,' the reader can be forgiven for wondering if he's carrying them or wearing them."

Lecter holding a knife, slashes a girl's neck, also fatally wounds a stag and, of course, Graham. Then he asks for Graham's forgiveness. For what? Oh, so many things. Then blood flows from oh, so many donors. The tidal wave of blood gets deep enough that Will, helplessly wounded, sinks into it as if into a swimming pool.

What is it with magical realism and blood tidal waves? I'm no expert, but I've seen blood flowing on occasion, and it clots pretty fast unless there's hemophilia or blood thinning chemical present. However, watching Will Graham submerge in a lake of blood brought home the point to me: the blood is filmed as if it had the liquidity of wine or possibly paint, i.e., visually prettier than actual gore, although plenty of more authentic looking gore coated the actors as well.

It was blood porn. The pornification of blood (also suffering and pain). I was reminded of Cindy Gallop's insights in Make Love Not Porn on how hardcore pornographic video has created clichés and myths that have distorted an entire generation's actual experiences of sex and sensuality.

Similarly, the blood in Hannibal behaves like wine and the suffering that Hannibal inflicts on those around him is romanticized and prettified into a relationship, a dysfunctional bromance that glorifies the psychopathic killer as a hero. Oh, yeah and Graham forgives Hannibal at the end of the episode. Domestic violence mass murderer style.

It's like a conjuring trick, once you see how it's done you can't un-see it and I don't want to.

I'm now turning off masochistic anthems á la Billie Holiday's My Man ("He isn't good, he isn't true. He beats me too. What can I do?" Um, call 911? Get the hell out of there? Seek counseling?), and put on The Thrill Is Gone from B.B. King (RIP)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Moth Meet Flame - Why I Can't Seem to Quit Psychopathic Killer Stories

I wrote this on June 5, 2015, but Thursday is one day away and Thursday is Psychopathic Murderer night on NBC. I had mixed emotions from my June 4th viewing.

I looked forward to Aquarius, which views Charles Manson's 1967 heyday through the eyes of a cynical Los Angeles cop and World War II veteran beautifully portrayed by David Duchovny.

As a '60s survivor, my own path to novel writing led out of the sex, dope & rock and roll world through the Raymond Chandler L.A. noir mystery stories. So it was not just the nostalgia of all that 1960s music that captivated me. With the mystical babble removed, Duchovny's assessment of Manson as a simple, garden-variety pimp and con artist was refreshing. Then after watching Aquarius, I found myself fluttering like a moth working a 12 step program backpedaling away from the much-promoted show that followed.

I feel both drawn toward and repelled Hannibal. It has been visually beautiful from the start, but I stopped watching during Season 1 for reasons shortly to be discussed. This season they upped the ante in the poker game of beauty.

The promos for Season 3 were stunningly evocative. One used an Edith Piaf vocal with a motorcycle trip past the Eiffel tower at night with leather-clad biker Mads Mikkelsen removing his helmet to say, "Bonjour." Announcing without further ado that the seductive bad boy had arrived. Another Hannibal trailer "Bride of Hannibal" used the 1967 hit song "Happy Together" by The Turtles to tie David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson together, even though Hannibal and Aquarius have no overlap and almost nothing in common aside the psycho killer theme and the fact that the two actors collaborated so memorably in The X-Files--which I loved.

I started out watching Hannibal in the first season because of the wonderful actors (Mikkelsen, Anderson, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne to name a few) and the sheer power of the images. That was part of the problem.

The subject matter so beautifully presented soon drove me away. Even elegantly done, I can only stand so much torture, murder and gourmet cannibalism.

So I consciously avoided the season premiere of Hannibal. I tried to distract myself watching an old rerun of Blue Bloods--a police procedural that could qualify as the "Anti-Hannibal." But I changed the channel back to Hannibal and then away again when the sadism and gore started to flow.

One phrase from the snippet I watched while channel surfing was Mikkelsen's remark to a fellow amoral fan of medieval torture devices: "Ethics becomes esthetics." I don't know. I'm struggling with this.

Beginning with the print versions, I have a troubled history with the works of Thomas Harris. I've been in discussion groups where his gory scenes are dissected frame by frame. On paper he is a skilled author, and his "Hannibal the cannibal" character is both compelling and disturbing. (Although my standard joke on the subject is that if Harris had named the character "Norman" he would have had to make him a Mormon.)

When I was picking up paperbacks carelessly I even accidentally read Harris's Red Dragon twice. I couldn't stop the second reading, even when I realized what I was doing and knew I was going to regret exposing myself to the images again. It bothered me for years.

A close friend who knows my sensibility advised me to stay away from The Silence of the Lambs. She probably remembered staying up with me till dawn after the night we watched Night of the Living Dead because I was too scared to be alone.

I did eventually read Silence of the Lambs during a period of angry depression as a kind of literary equivalent of Russian Roulette. I wouldn't do it again, but it wasn't as harrowing as I had expected. The female FBI agent as the central character helped.

One positive outcome was that I finally managed to quit Thomas Harris's print books for good. Reading the final chapter, I realized that the author had fallen in love with his psychopathic killer and lost whatever objectivity had previously existed. From that point on it was all about Hannibal, his evil genius and inevitable appetite for human flesh. To me it seemed clear that Harris saw his former ultra-villain as Everyman. Or maybe he just realized he'd struck a nerve and decided to keep hitting it. In any event, I hated it enough to stay away from future books.

The audience for this heroic psychopathic cannibal broadened immensely with Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Hannibal as the ultimate boogeyman in the movie. Eventually the killer "got the girl" and functioned as a romantic lead of sorts in the movie, Hannibal. The character's troubled youth is explored in the 2006 book and 2007 movie Hannibal Rising.

Hopkins portrayed Hannibal as the creepy, yet hypnotic predator. The television series uses charismatic actor, Mikkelsen to make the psychopathic killer seductively refined. His predator is connoisseur of unknown delights, smarter than everyone around him and infinitely more refined. It's his gourmet palate that demands human flesh and his inner sadist wants to do the butchery himself. To paraphrase Auntie Mame, his view is that life is a banquet and suckers with ethics don't know what they're missing.

I still mean to quit the TV series. Maybe the first step is to realize I am powerless in the face of dazzling artistry. Now where is that dang higher power when I need it? Maybe a candle-snuffer would do, or a TV remote and a strong dose of mental moral. Oh, no that never works, I'm doomed.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Have you ever known a murderer?

I met Jaki Girdner in the writer's critique group where she made the following confession:

I mentioned that I’d known two murderers during a mystery writers’ critique group meeting some years ago. There was a shocked silence among the other aspiring writers. None of them had known a murderer! I was as shocked as they were. I thought everyone had.

Was my predilection for knowing murderers just because I was a good listener and people told me their sins? Or was it because I’d worked in a mental hospital? She goes into riveting detail in her Lineup article

I joined the group a little later, but I probably would have made Jaki feel less alone if I'd been in it when the question was asked because I've known a few murderers as well. On the other hand, Jaki really IS the sort of person strangers share their secrets with.

When my late husband Charlie, worked in the law library while going to night law school, he amused himself by reading criminal case law. He was shocked to see the name of a mutual friend who was involved with and helped the police catch a murderer. Charlie mentioned it to me and I had to say, "Oh, yeah that guy, he used to hang around with [mutual friend's name omitted]."

Charlie adjusted quickly--after all, there had even been a murder in the apartment above us, though we moved in after most of the parties involved had moved on. Charlie soon learned to tease visitors by mentioning the crime when the weather got hot enough that flies circled around the apartment. No connection with the murder upstairs. We just didn't have window screens back then and the flies did that in all the apartments when it got too hot. But the homicide was real.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Click to read a sample of Gravitas at Sneak Peak

I landed, naked, on the highway with a lust-crazed Roggarian warrior trying to scramble on top of me. Heavy, wheeled machinery thundered past. I could hardly breathe. I shoved Gelbrave off and struggled to my feet. I’d been alone in my room at the Conference meditating when he attacked. By the Triple Goddess, how had we ended up here?

Horns blared all around us and squealing sounds as hulking, metal vehicles skidded and swerved around us.

I threw a curse over my shoulder as I scrambled to the side of the roadway. More at Sneak Peak!