(I did my best to be vague and spoiler-free.)
I read romance almost exclusively, but I used to love good horror (so hard to find) on the page or on the screen, and The Haunting of Hill House was the best thing I’ve watched in a long time. It reminded me how much I enjoy the genre, so I was intrigued by the buzz for Netflix’s BIRD BOX. I also saw people talking about loving the book, though. It was only $2.99, so I grabbed it and found myself with a dilemma on my hands. I know the right answer is always to read the book first, but I’m not a fast reader and I wanted to watch the movie. But I also knew if I watched the movie, I’d probably never read the book.
So I read the book on Thursday. I bought the Kindle edition at 1pm and finished it at 9pm. Again, I’m generally a slow reader—not so much in speed as in attention—and it’s been a long time since I’ve inhaled a book in what would have been one sitting if I didn’t have a family who likes to eat an evening meal. Such a good book, both in story and craft, with use of paragraph and sentence structure, style and white space to manipulate the tension. A good horror writer can use structure much the same way a horror movie uses music, and Josh Malerman does it well.
I watched the movie adaptation Friday morning, hitting play about fourteen hours after finishing the book, which was the least amount of time I’ve ever had between the two. And right from the beginning, there were huge differences between the movie and the book, but in a good way. BIRD BOX doesn’t have big bad monsters (maybe). No ghosts. No jump scares. The terror is literally unseen. The problem with unseen terror is, of course, that movies are visual. And I could see how the changes helped make the core story of an excellent book into an excellent movie.
If there was one thing that did suffer in the transition from book to screen, it was the relationship of Malorie (Bullock) with the children. Without spending so many pages literally IN her head, the foundation upon which their unique dynamic was built is flimsy at best. A significant change was made to the plot in the final third of the movie and I think it was so she’d have the opportunity to verbalize some of what went into the dynamic, but I don’t know if it was enough to explain her to viewers who haven’t read the book first. And that change not only altered the reality of what Malorie had been living, but required the addition of a scene that was grossly out of step not only with the book, but with the movie it was actually in.
And the ending was handled very differently, but since the crisis in the book was largely psychological, it had to be jacked up for the screen. And I liked it.
So they were the same and yet different, and both engrossing. Oh, and besides the stellar acting of Sandra Bullock (as expected), Danielle Macdonald (who played Willowdean in the amazingly awesome Dumplin’) plays Olympia and that was a cool surprise! Trevante Rhodes and John Malkovich were also excellent.
In conclusion, if you like horror, you should read the book AND watch the movie.
The Stacey family went out for dinner last night because somebody (me) didn’t have anything in the house to cook. I’m not great at meal planning because how do I know on Sunday what I’ll feel like eating on Thursday? There are also only three or four meals made from ingredients all four Staceys will eat and after a score-plus years, we’re all a little tired of them.
Anyway, I happened to catch my oldest giving me some serious side-eye and he gave a pointed nod toward my traveler’s notebook, which goes with me pretty much everywhere.
Why? Because inside the TN are four notebooks, one of which is for jotting down whatever crosses my mind while I’m out and about. I also have an iPhone, which has several handy-dandy note-taking options, as well as actual Office programs.
And there I was, scribbling notes on the placemat.
I had to blur quite a bit of it, so it looks weird, but yes, I was scribbling on the placemat instead of writing in the notebook designed for that purpose or jotting the notes on my phone. I can understand why somebody would side-eye the use of a placemat while the systems set up for just that reason are within reach.
There’s nothing more freeing for my brain than a restaurant placemat. I love scribbling on them. As a matter of fact, a ridiculous amount of 72 Hours was written on the back of placemats from one of our regular dining spots up north. All of my books contain some placemat words. But most often, I use it for brainstorming relating to the broader aspects of publishing and work.
Even when a notebook is intended for capturing random ideas and fleeting thoughts, I feel as if there’s a slight, subliminal pressure to put that information on the page in an organized way. Whether it’s the order things are written in or just writing in a straight line, notebooks have expectations.
But a placemat? I can scribble and make arrows. I can turn the placemat sideways or even upside down and just keep growing notes in any direction. Crooked. I can make boxes around things. I can cross something out with a mad scribble and shift the paper. No structure. No boundaries. No lines. Just coffee rings and the occasional spot of ketchup.
Sometimes, like last night, it’s just a quick burst of notes, so I take a picture and just leave the placemat. Other times, I fold it up and take it home with me. (They’re used to me at our usual haunts. That whole she’s a writer thing is real.) Every once in while, I’ll fall in the hyperfocus hole and my husband will have to clear a place on the table for the server to set my plate. There was even one time the bill was paid and my food had been put in a to-go box before I ever looked up. My brain loves placemats.
Sadly, it doesn’t work at home. If the actual placemat could draw words and coherent thoughts out of my brain, I’d order my own in bulk. And plain paper doesn’t work, either. I’ve bought sketch pads in the past, hoping it was just the freedom of a big, blank page. It wasn’t.
It’s just the magical, mystical power of the diner placemat.
A SECOND SHOT, previously published in the HOCKEY HOLIDAYS charity anthology, is now available as a single short novella for only 99 cents!
Andi Morgan was the one who got away—the woman Erik Burke walked away from to focus on the game—but when their paths cross once again, all he wants for Christmas is the chance to take another shot at love.
And because we’ve run into the holiday season, when schedules get set on fire, I’m shooting for a January 7th release day for HERE WE GO, which is Kristen and Cross’s story (and, yes, should technically have come first). I’ll announce a preorder soon!
♥ Hockey Holidays – 99 cents UNTIL MONDAY ♥
18 best-selling authors.
18 exclusive stories.
100% of author proceeds will go to USA Warriors Ice Hockey
USA Warriors Ice Hockey assists wounded veterans by organizing & administering an ice hockey program that provides a recreational, therapeutic experience & education adapted to their ability level.
Don’t wait! Not only is this is a LIMITED RELEASE (off the shelves Nov 30), the price goes up on Monday to $3.99.
🏒 ❄️ 🎄
Apple ➜ https://apple.co/2z39PEX
Nook ➜ http://bit.ly/2KCOWnI
Kobo ➜ http://bit.ly/2KwtHEb
Participating authors: Author Toni Aleo, Shannon Stacey, Jami Davenport, Jaymee Jacobs, Jean Joachim, Jennifer Lazaris, Kat Mizera, Kate Willoughby, Lily Harlem, Lisa B. Kamps, Mary Smith, Melanie Ting, Melody Heck Gatto, Rj Scott, Stephanie Julian, Stephanie Kay, Susan Scott Shelley, Vicki Locey