What is it about the dark? You know the shill about how our brains are still living in caves, cringing in fear during the hours of darkness when humans switched from being the hunters into being the hunted. (A notion recently disproven via some genome comparison wizardry – though how our brains have changed and the effect on specific psychological traits has yet to be laid out precisely.) Sure, here at Darker Temptations, when we say ‘dark’, we mean metaphorical dark – you, our beloved readers rushing in where angels fear to tread, allowing our heroes and heroines to risk their lives, their sanity and possibly their souls by walking face first into whatever scares them. Werewolves. Vampires. Demons. All of the things that could possibly go bump in the night and sure, some us DO mean that in the filthiest way possible. Authors have, in effect, turned a flashlight on in cemetery and have domesticated the creatures that once terrorized people. Our heroines routinely cuddle up with their vampires and some days I wonder what makes that romantically attractive. Then I buy more vampire porn (as one of my friends calls PNR) and just enjoy reading the stories.
But our topic this week is Even *Darker* Temptations. Humanity is rife with some horrific, fetid darkness. We’ve watched terrible things happen this past week in a pair of wars that have turned humans in two different parts of the world into utterly inhuman monsters. Throughout the past two decades, we’ve seen multiple instances of one person reducing another set of humans (usually women and children) into nonhuman possessions. Our identity as humans has been built upon the basis of human sacrifice – the blood, bones and suffering of countless men, women and children throughout prehistory. We, as a species, are a damned scary bunch. The fascinating piece (to me) is the slide from rational homo sapiens in the modern, civilized world into the twisted, inky jungles of the mind. What do you suppose has to happen to a person to make ripping the beating hearts from peoples’ chests in an effort to stave off the end of the world sound like a good idea?
What does darker mean to you? Are there shadowy corners of human fear and/or experience you wish an author would address?
I must be truthful. My favorite decade of last century is the 60s because people broke rules, dreamed big, and lived for a better w0rld. But two of my blogger peeps did the 60s so well, I’ll take another tack. I’ll pick the 50s. They felt rocking, full of hope and promise. But society was fraying at the edges, and they danced to keep it at bay.
The 50’s shows up as an innocent time, and there is an appeal to that. Music was fresh, TV was still a new medium (I still watch I Love Lucy and Mr. Ed Reruns), movies were breaking new boundaries (Rashomon, Streetcar Named Desire, All About Eve, Rebel Without A Cause, On the Waterfront, Forbidden Planet). There was an honesty in its innocence, a faith in the world that is provides hope to everyone who can partake. It broke open in the 60s, with the realization that not everyone could partake in the same way at the same level. And that we all looked at the world through very different lenses.
But we’ve seem to have lost that sense of innocence, replaced by technology, speed, and constant change. While today’s life is scarier, I like its pace and promise. While I admit to a pinch of nostalgia for more seemingly innocent times, and like the rhythm of the 1950s, I really don’t want to go back there.
How about you?
We’re talking about our favourite decades.
I was a child in the 80s, so I didn’t really have any idea how amazing they were. I recently watched the National Geographic documentary The 80s, narrated by Rob Lowe, and it was a somewhat eye opening experience. Some of the things I vaguely remember, some of them were complete news to me.
One of the most memorable occurrences for me and my family was when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. I am half German and lived in Germany at that time. My grandmother had been cut off from her family because of the Wall. I only met her bother when I was a tween because he had reached an age where he was allowed to leave East Germany. Years before that, one of his nieces had done the impossible-she had escaped East Germany by hiding in a false bottom in a car. As I said, I was pretty young. As a child you don’t understand what she had gone through to do what she did. I remember my mum and my aunt speaking about it in awed voices, but I wasn’t sure what was so important about it.
Now, looking back with adult eyes, I am amazed at her bravery.
So when the Wall came down it had a special meaning for my family;).
But the 80s also had Jane Fonda, New Coke (something I missed completely), computers, Ghostbusters and The Goonies, and shoulder pads. All in all it was pretty cool;).
Do you have a favourite memory of the 80s?
As a child, I was enamored with the sixties. So much so, years later, I wrote Formula For Love set in the late sixties in San Francisco and Berkeley. I’ve been accused of writing my memoirs, but honestly, I was too young for the antics of Rose Red! I have three older sisters, and yes, I took some liberty of stealing from their life stories.
I grew up listening to my sister’s AM radio stations – singing along with the Supremes, Herman Hermits, Dave Clark Five, The Associations, and of course, the Beatles. I watched with fascination as America’s social structure unraveled on television. Race riots, peace-ins, love-ins, marches on Washington, the rally cry of the day was make love not war. Even as a young child, then a teen, I knew times were a’changing. You only had to listen to Bob Dylan to figure that out.
The 60’s were filled with turmoil. Women’s Movement and the Gay Movement were born from the remains of the Civil Rights and Anti-war movements. In ten years, a President was assassinated, then Martin Luther King, followed by Bobby Kennedy. By the end of the decade, no one was safe, and disillusionment set in.
But with incredible change comes incredible growth. Good comes from bad and vice versa. Some historians say we are coming into another decade similar to the sixties, where institutions will break down and we’ll experience tremendous changes. We can see some of that now, with our banking system breaking down, even the changes in publishing.
The old paradigm must give way to the new.
Peace and Love,
Kenneth Hailey, an uptight conservative mathematician, believes he’s in control. After all, every problem can be solved in a deliberate and logical manner. Even love. When his fiancée dumps him for his best friend, he leaves Manhattan for the West Coast. What better place to forget his past. It’s 1967, and San Francisco is the place to turn on, tune in, and drop out.
But is he ready for Rose Red?
Rose Red, a free-spirited flower child, challenges Kenneth, thrusting him into her world of love-ins, protest rallies, and rock concerts. Kenneth finds himself falling down a rabbit hole, hanging on for dear life.
Old habits die hard, and he retreats, but Rose Red has other plans for him.
Amazon and Musa
The greatest decade of the twentieth century is this week’s topic. 1900 to 1999. Let’s see. The 90’s had okay clothes. Music, though Grunge is not my thing. It did have some good Techno, though, and you can sort of date me musically to the 90’s based on how much Nine Inch Nails and Frontline Assembly shows up in my playlist. Got to see my first total solar eclipse in the 90’s, too. On a ship. In the Caribbean. The three plus minutes of totality were worth having gone into debt for. I got married in the 90’s. Graduated from college, too.
If you look at the radio station I favor and look at the music I buy these days, you’ll find that I’m a throwback to New Wave and to the dance music (not disco – oh GODS – not disco, that crap’s way too slow) of the 80’s. I spent a lot of time in under 21 dance clubs (no alcohol, no real meat market, fewer fights, stabbings, shootings). The fashionable – which I was not and have never been – had insanely big hair and clothes that were more accessory than clothing. Teenage anthem movies were big. (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Flashdance, Footloose . . .) It was a huge political decade. We saw the end of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall came down. In the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens came down as ash all over the state.
The 70’s? Great decade despite the clothes, the music and the hair. Thank the gods I was a child and therefore not subject to the fashions of the day. I still have shame over some of the bell bottom jeans I wore as a kid. Man, some of those things doubled as split skirts. What I liked about the 70’s was that Nixon ended the Vietnam war – before getting his butt impeached. This mattered. Dad was in the Air Force and got stationed to Vietnam. Ended up not going because THE day he was to report to his transport, he came down with mono. Flight surgeon grounded him. Thus, I still have a father. We ended up stationed in Iceland during the 70’s. My sister and I got to see things few other people ever get to see: Blue whales migrating past the rocks we were standing on. A volcano erupting (from a distance). Geysers – up close. The slash through Iceland that is the mid-Atlantic Rift pulling the two sections of the island apart. It was an amazing experience. The rest of the decade, after we returned to the US, was full of things like Girl Scout camps, strep throat and ear infections. Sometimes, all three things at once.
Ah, but the 60’s. THIS is the one I think takes the title of Greatest Decade. Yeah, yeah. Stupid clothes. Stupid hair. But hope and optimism? Available in spades. Along with enough people all questioning the status quo at the same time that great changes in social policy followed. Granted, I’m a little annoyed that a bunch of the people who participated in all of that activism seem bound and determined to undo it all now – but that’s another post for another time. I’d rather focus on the power of the masses to effect great change in a country when the people are galvanized by any number of causes. Civil rights were won – not that racism died – but a meaningful start to recognizing humans as humans regardless of skin color at least got underway. Above all things, I think the 60’s were the greatest decade because of the power of a single event to spur a generation of kids just barely old enough to remember sitting in front of their tiny black and white TV sets while dressed in footy pajamas, watching the first men step onto the moon. Had you been there and asked any of us who watched that with our own eyes what we wanted to be when we grew up, we’d have all given you the same answer: Astronaut. A bunch of us buckled down in science and math because we understood that’s what NASA wanted – our teachers made sure we knew. I harbored the astronaut fantasy right up to the point that the Air Force Academy recruiter told me that asthma disqualified me 100%. None of the militaries would have me. Since I get air sick just thinking about flying, it was probably for the best that no one wanted to entrust me with multimillion dollar equipment.
But the images from when I was 5, feeling the weight of what I was watching, it never quite went away. It’s no mistake that my first published book was about a woman who’s the captain of her own space ship.
I ruthlessly and unapologetically borrow recipes. That means that most of my favorites are from somewhere else. But I do give credit. So I will share one easy summer cooler from me and several links from one of my favorite food/recipe website.
Mine: Flavored Ice Cubes
There’s nothing really original here but one of my favorite summer coolers is fruit juice frozen in ice cube trays. Pineapple, orange, grape, anything you like. You can even mix them. But grabbing one to suck on outside on when you are running around in the heat is a great way to cool off in the blaze of summer.
I discovered this when a friend shared it on facebook. Its steel cut oats, which I never get to eat in the summer because I don’t feel like cooking or eating a hot breakfast. Yogurt and fruit and a few others round out the ingredients. Cool, delicious and healthy. What more could you ask for.
And from the same website, directions for making naturally flavored water. For those, like me, who like water with a little spice to it. Totally awesome and perfect for summer.
My apologies but my life took over the past two weeks and I missed my blog post on evil minions. So I’ll make up for it with a photo. Here is my favorite minion. Guess which one!
I am not much of a cook. Mostly I chop vegetables for salads or stir fries or to “warm them up” in the oven. However of the last couple of months I have become a little bit more daring and it is due to a fabulous cookbook: The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Lidden. It is a vegan cookbook, but all the recipes are easy to follow and most of the ingredients are in your cupboard. One of my new favourites is the
Mighty Chia Pudding Parfait:
3 tablespoons (45ml) chia seeds
1 cup (250ml) non-dairy milk (almond or coconut are my favourite)
1/2 teaspoon (2ml) pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons (7-15ml) maple syrup or agave nectar to taste
fresh fruit, whatever is in season or to your liking
1. In a medium bowl whisk together chia seeds, milk, vanilla extract and syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours to thicken.
2. Serve the chilled pudding in glasses alternating with layers of fresh fruit and/or granola. You can also add ice cream to the mix.
As you can see super-easy and very quick prep-time. Then you pop it in the fridge and pick it up whenever you fancy something sweet.
Do you have a favourite summer desert?
I’m not much of a cook, but I love a refreshing cocktail, especially when the temperature hits over 110 degrees. Last year I discovered St. Germain, a french liqueur made from elderflowers. It has bright, floral notes, perfect for a sunny day.
The elderflower has small, starry flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers are harvested on the slopes of the French Alps, which in my mind, is very cool and romantic!
There are several cocktails made with St. Germain, but I keep it simple:
Glass of Ice
Shot of St. Germain
Shot of Champagne – sparkling wine
Spring of Mint
You know it is summer in the Pacific Northwest when I break out the guacamole. Why? First, because only in summer does the rain stop long enough that you can eat corn chips without them turning soggy twixt the bag and your mouth. Second only to that: the guac is all about the avocado and summer brings them in spades (usually from places in the same hemisphere as you). You want avocados that aren’t too soft. They should have a little give when you exert gentle pressure on the skin. The longer an avocado spent on a tree to get to that point and not in the back of a truck means more flavor. Third: Tomatoes. Guacamole that will make your eyes roll back in your head in pleasure relies on truly ripe tomatoes rich with flavor. Roma tomatoes are my fall back tomato position because even when they aren’t at their best, they have more flavor packed into their small packages than any other tomato that isn’t fresh off the vine.
Guacamole on the Dock
2 firm, ripe avocados, seeded, flesh scooped and dumped in bowl
1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped (to peel a tomato, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, run cold water over it. Cut, and the skin should slide right off.) Add chopped tomato to bowl – try to leave most of the seeds and juice on your cutting board or your guac will be soupy.
1/4 – 1/2 white onion, minced. Add to bowl
juice of 1/2 lime. Add to bowl
sprinkle of garlic salt to taste sprinkled over all
Mash. Eat. If you like cilantro, add that. My family hates it so we leave it out. Want some kick in your guac? Seed, mince and add part of a jalapeno. The lovely thing about guacamole is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. But the biggest point of it? Sitting outside in the sun with friends shoveling chunky green goo (it’s a technical term. Trust me.) into your mouths with corn chips. And look. You still have half of a lime for the beer you’d drink…
I like a cat-stroking, sitting-in-his-chair-laughing-evilly kind of villain. They can be rather entertaining and drive the plot. However the villains I find most disturbing are the ones you can emphasise with, the ones you can understand their motivation, the ones that make you struggle not to like them.
In Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha trilogy, a YA series starting with Shadow and Bone, the Darkling is a villain who will stay with you forever. He is incredibly seductive and makes you question what side you are on. I remember a friend of mine said she wanted to kill the author because for the first time in her life she didn’t know if she should root for the hero or the villain.
In Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series she describes Councillor Henry Scott. He is a villain with a mission and what he gets up to achieve his goals is upsetting, but I found his minion Andrea Vasquez far more disturbing. You see the most of him in Heart of Obsidian. Andrea is a follower, not a leader. He follows orders with dogged determination, but he is not stupid. He can adjust and change his approach, but he never loses sight of his goal.
I find this kind of unwavering determination unsettling. You cannot argue with someone who is a zealot, someone who only sees their way as the right way and is completely unwilling to consider another side. Out of all the villains and evil minions I have come across in my reading Andrea Vasquez has stayed with me.
Do you have a favourite villain or Evil Minion? I’d love to hear who has stayed with you.