Interview with Mary Shelley 2015

Mary Shelley 2

We have managed to resurrect none other than Mary Shelley. We are most grateful, she has agreed to do an exclusive interview with us.

Interviewer: Welcome Mary, I suppose it must be a little strange being alive once again and in a totally different era.

Mary Shelley : Being brought back from the dead, was not something I anticipated.
Interviewer: Some might say that your previous life was a difficult one…

Mary Shelley: Yes , I suppose, it certainly got more complicated when I met Percy (Bysshe Shelley). Father didn’t approve. Do you know we used to meet at Mother’s grave. Father was fuming when I returned pregnant from France, he had his reasons, Percy was not greatest of choices for a partner; given that he was married to another woman, I found myself ostracized by many on account of this. We had no money and Percy was always running away from debtors, times were hard. My life was characterized by tragedy and death, of course Percy was taken in a storm, a sailing accident. In truth my previous life was a tangled mess.

Interviewer: You achieved success at quite a young age, how did it feel?
Mary Shelley: It was quite strange at the time. I published my book Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus anomalously, indeed people attributed this book to Percy, it was he who set up the publishing deal and did a lot of the proofing, to an extent he was almost a co-author. Five years on I accredited for writing the book. It all came about because George (Lord Byron) had this idea to set up a challenge to see who could write the best horror story. We were in Italy during a period of the most awful weather on record. My idea for Frankenstein was born out of dream. My book seems to have touched many people and is still talked about in this day and age.

Interviewer: Much later after you death, your book has been adapted into films, you have had the chance to watch some of these, I believe, how do you feel about the film versions?

Mary Shelley: I feel horrified about some of these adaptations. My monster has been turned into a parody. When I wrote this story, it was written with serious intent. Human beings are capable of realizing extraordinary feats…but they have to be watchful. I think this is very relevant to the era I have been resurrected into. I have read about notorious “earmouse”, some creation by Charles Vacanti, no good can come from such mutations, humans should know their limitations. You have brought me back into a world that I sense is facing Armageddon, it is out of control and I don’t thank you for this. As to these terrible films based on my story, they fill me with both rage and disappointment. This Kenneth Branagh, did a reasonable interpretation, other than this…

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Hell updated, new interpretations of Hell

Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.
Bonnie Raitt

Hell2

It’s Halloween… people will dressing up as Devils, but what of hell? Does it exist? Is just some clever marketing to keep people in check, a menace to keep people from doing “bad’ things.

Traditionally Catholics believed that if you die in a state of mortal sin you go to Hell. So for example if your spouse killed you in the act of adultery you go to hell. If you died after having homosexual sex you go to Hell. If you commit suicide you go to hell. In ”The Inferno,” Dante tells of his imagined journey into hell, his entry into a ”kingdom of eternal night” where he hears the voices of the damned rise ”in a bestial moan” and sees sinners stung by wasps, burnt by falling fire and frozen in a sheet of ice.

The most recent Catholic interpretation “hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world. What’s more, this condition is chosen by the damned themselves, the ultimate exercise of free will, not a punishment engineered by God, so our creator wipes his hands of any responsibility. In this latest interpretation Hell ”is not a ‘place’ but a ‘state,’ a person’s ‘state of being,’ in which a person suffers from the deprivation of God,” declared La Civilta Cattolica, an influential Jesuit magazine based in Rome and closely tied to the Vatican. The magazine insists that it is not God who inflicts pain ”through angels or demons as is illustrated in many paintings or is read in the ‘Divine Comedy,’ ” but the sinner who masochistically brings about his own punishment by deliberately rejecting God’s grace, thereby entering a great state of pain. Has Hell become too unbelievable for the church in this day and age…that they needed to revise their point of view. The magazine still insists that hell is real.

My own interpretation of hell is somewhat prosaic. It appears at the beginning of one of my short stories called “Cast from Hell” a story about a middle aged man who is rejected from hell, who comes back in the body of a women, who goes on to wreak havoc on earth.

Descent from hell 2014 final

Existing in hell amidst the fallen angels, some of the sickest souls
who ever existed in Christendom, had been grueling, to say the least.
Lucifer, the so-called Prince of Darkness, had proved to be a letdown.
The centuries had worn him down, and he had an irritating habit of
droning on and on about the “good old days.” He didn’t possess the
charm I had anticipated, or command the fear for which he was
notorious. Okay, he was still trying to mess up the world to get back at
God, but he had become generally bereft of ideas to the point of
lacking any originality. Lucifer’s mind dwelled constantly on religious
wars. He was still pinning his hopes on igniting religious hatred,
polarizing nations, waiting to the perfect moment when total chaos
would reign and he could step in. I had imagined him in strict control
of all his minions, sending them about on virulently destructive
missions, infiltrating them into positions of power and influence, as
heads of huge multi-national corporations, for example, but, no, he’d
given up on this strategy, he couldn’t be bothered.
The Middle Ages had been his peak time, his heyday, slugging it
out with God for souls. In those days he warranted respect. He was
feared. He kept society in check. He actually served a function. You
couldn’t afford to be sent to that correctional place known as “Hell”
because you’d pay for your sins with eternal damnation, cast into a pit
of fire, brimstone to agonize through endless inventive tortures. These
days, the world’s leaders had usurped his job with their ineptness, lies
and monetarily-advantageous wars. This, allied with natural disasters,
hurricanes, earthquakes, food shortages and environmental degradation
resulting in increasingly destructive world epidemics had created Hell
on earth. Lucifer had grown lazy in his ways. He’d become insipid. He
no longer had to conjure up evil, that task being performed daily for
him by literally millions of mortals. The world, at the same time, had
become more informed, more educated, more pragmatic. There were
so many disgruntled disbelievers, some even dared to call him a sham,
and Hell just another cock-and-bull story no less.
Hell’s merchandise still went up for sale every year around the
thirty-first of October, but Satan himself had been trivialized,
cheapened, and was no longer to be taken seriously. Even the churches
were detaching themselves from him. Whereas in the past, he’d been
used as a rod to beat people back into their places, now he was largely
ignored. As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.
It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s
Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.
To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being
grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning
coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.
There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking
brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which
they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.
The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be
living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing
or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the
bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had
grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation
to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering
experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected
criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants. And despite all this, the sad
truth was that I hadn’t made the grade. I was simply one of the
unwanted, a fence sitter, between the two divides.

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Interview with Jack Torrance, lead character in Stephen King’s “Shining”…

Jack Torrence 2We have fed all Jack Torrance’s data into software we have created to enable us to do a realistic interview with a fictitious character Jack Torrance, who plays a lead role in the Stephen King’s “The Shining”.

Interviewer: It is great to do an interview with you.

Jack Torrance: Yeah well, as you can imagine I have got a lot to get off my chest.

Interviewer: It all went wrong with you when you took that job at caretaker’s job at the Overlook Hotel.

Jack Torrance: Of course with the benefit of hindsight, it was a major mistake on my part. We were just an ordinary family, Wendy my wife and five year old Danny. Of course Ullman, the manager tried to give me advice, but I was preoccupied with writing my play and an isolated hotel seemed the perfect setting, without distractions. Ullman even went into the history of the Hotel, talking about Delbert Grady, who murdered his wife and two young daughters in a drunken rage, before killing himself…was that not a warning for me? Ullman knew I was a recovering alcoholic, he should never have considered me for the job. Maybe he even had premonitions about was about to happen. I knew little Danny doted on me and was scared shittless Wendy and I were heading for a divorce. Even on my first visit to the Hotel, I should have seen the warning signs, the Hotel was steeped in bad history and I was about to add to this.

Interviewer : What happened when you installed your family in the Hotel?

Jack Torrance : Well you know little Danny was an exceptional kid. That kid could Danny can read minds. I believe he was told by Dick Halloran, the Overlook’s chef that he had the gift called “The Shining”. Poor old Danny began seeing things… blood and gore on one of the walls, while we were being given a tour of our new “home”.

Interviewer: You must have some real regrets in your life…what are some of them?

Jack Torrance: Where to begin, my alcoholism, my violent streak, you know I hit a kid at the school I was working at, in a fit of violence, and this was well before the goings on in the Hotel. I also broke my own kids arm…how can any father live with such guilt? The way I treated Wendy was beyond horrendous.

Interviewer: You were going to write a book I believe…what was it going to be about?

Jack Torrance: At one point I thought about writing a book about the Overlook, it seemed to have a really dark history. All I managed to write was “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again, the biggest case of writer’s block in history.

Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your childhood…was it easy?

Jack Torrance: Hello no, my Father was violent don’t you know…saw him beat my mother with a cane, could never get this image out of my mind, how was ever going to be a good Father to little Danny after my own experiences?

Interviewer: Why were you so violent to Wendy?

Jack Torrance: It was that old devil alcohol, being served Martinis by that bartender Lloyd. I guess I began to freak out Wendy more and more and she felt a need to protect herself and Danny, which I felt was a kind of betrayal. She even had to resort to violence herself, as well to lock me in a cellar. This was more than a man could take.

Interviewer: Is it true to say you were always a highly disturbed man who became overcome by a Hotel with an equally disturbing past

Jack Torrance: Damn that Hotel to Hell, it saw the end of me, but at least Wendy and Danny got away.

Interviewer: Well Jack, you seem to be a very interesting, messed up man, I guess you reside in a fictitious Hell.

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What kind of Horror do you like?

horror do you like copie

What kind of Horror do you like?
Having not seen a film in a far too long time, due to work commitments, a gap appeared in my schedule, and the only film that seemed remotely possible was a film called Crimson Peak. The scenario seemed to suggest it had potential. But then when I watched the film trailer, I thought no this is not for me. It looked stylish, well done, but some of the images of a freaky entity crawling along, a floor, turned me off.
Then I thought about horror writing. There seems to be different types. There is the type that has the aim of terrifying the reader to the maximum. Those that really don’t hold back, their going full force, blood soaked violence, the author lets rip, with a gore fest, in which things get messy. They write about insatiable demons or sadistic and unspeakably cruel torturers, take Survivor by J.F Gonzales, where you will find necrophilia, cannibalism, torture, baby mutilation on the agenda.

The old Haunted House theme rears its head often enough. Check out this opening line from Shirley Jackson “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”

When talking about extreme horror …this book has to be worth an honorable mention. “The Shining” does not center around a house, it’s more a hotel overloaded with horror from its dark past. Who can forget how the main character, Jack Torrance, who has his surfeit of problems before he decides to unwisely take a job in a remote hotel. This is a hotel dogged by a grim past, previous caretaker Grady, who succumbed to cabin fever ( defined as lassitude, irritability, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter) went on to kill his family and himself.

There are others that perhaps try and mess with your head.
Take a classic Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, in which a young wife arrives in a house called Mandalay, a house beset by a tragic past, as her new husband’s previous wife had drowned in a cove near Manderley the previous year, and her ghost haunts the newlyweds’ home. Anyone would struggle under such conditions which are compounded by the sinister Mrs. Danvers, who is still in charge of Manderley, who does her best to scare and intimidate her new mistress, as well as to plant traps for the new mistress to fall into, like suggesting a costume for a Ball that, it turns out, is the same dress that Rebecca the first wife, wore at the last ball. Mrs.Danver’s power is such that she almost nudges the new mistress of Manderlay close to suicide. Later we discover that the previous wife had had a murky past, and had had among other things affairs. With the truth of Rebecca’s death revealed finally the burden of her ghost is released and the couple can finally start married life…be it after the house is set on fire.

There are other types, those who appeal to teenagers…there is often a formula notably that the main character does survive, even though the reader may doubt this fact right up until the end of the story. Ultimately, the protagonist is stronger because of this survival. Teenagers lean towards supernatural creatures, to the unknown horror, to more reality-based horror (mysteries or dramatic teen issues). Halloween is naturally a good time to be selling you YA horror book.

Then there is spooky funny stories for children… Roald Dahl for example seemed to tune in really well to children’s minds and created some memorable characters as well creating stories that might leave some adults feeling a little uncomfortable. Take for example “The Witches” . Imagine going on a holiday in a hotel only to find out that the hotel is the site of a convention of witches, equally the hotel is overrun by mice seemingly mice that were once children before the witches transformed them into hairy little rodents. Not being fond of mice, (we used to have visits from them when we lived in our old apartment in Paris) a mouse infestation could ruin any luxury vacation.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT
When thinking about Crimson Peak, I would prefer to see a film similar to “The Others” the film with Nicole Kidmen, written by Alejandro Amenábar which is far more subtle.

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Horror Moments

Horror moments 22

I wouldn’t describe my book as all out horror, but there are certainly some dark moments. The first story in my book is about a man who is obsessed by a name of a person he cannot place. He becomes obsessed as well as paranoid about what the man whose name he can’t place might do to him. His partner goes out for the evening leaving him a state, in which he imagines the worse possible scenarios.
Things come to a head when he imagines an entity is forcing its way out of his stomach, not unlike the famous scene in “Alien”.

Here is an exert from this story.

Writhing on the bed, screaming in agony, the buttons of his shirt
popping off as his stomach continued distending, his last cohesive
thought was that the force inside him was seemingly poised to make a
decisive thrust to exit his belly. Something jostled inside him and he
watched with horror, the seam of his belly split open like a sliced ripe
watermelon. Blood, the deep red of mature geraniums, abruptly began
pouring out, soaking the beds heets and dripping onto the floor.
As he watched in stunned astonishment, a pair of wrinkled, baby sized
hands appeared from within the opening, followed by a
grapefruit-sized, shiny bald head. The two hands grasped tightly onto
either side of the ragged incision and began pushing and stretching the
cleft open until the head popped out. The head however was fully
developed, like a man who’d almost reached his twilight years, replete
with age-lines, wrinkles, and sagging features, the eyes turned and
stared at him blankly, without recognition, as if the man had awakened
from a long deep sleep.
The entity pushed the rest of its body from Branden’s, fell limply
onto the bed, then dropped with a thud onto the floor, where it began a
process of stretching and enlarging itself to that of a full-sized fully formed
man. Branden heard the man groaning and panting, and, as he
continued to unfold, saw him become more animated. The last thing he
saw as he slipped from consciousness, was the triumphant look of the
being, which had accomplished its sortie.
The second story in my book, involves any parent’s worst nightmare. Imagine if you were a man, trying to give your wife a rest, by taking you recently born baby out for a stroll in the park. Nothing could go wrong…could it? In this story the man returns home, however minus the infant. The story is called Snatched. His wife is quite naturally increasingly bitter towards him. There is no sign of the baby, until one day his wife tells him that “Baby” has returned. Naturally the man wants to see Baby…however his wife is adamant under no circumstances can he see baby siting his major fault of mislaying the infant while walking in the park. His wife gets more and more irrational as well as the fact that inexplicable occurrences begin to occur in the household.
In the coming days, Renton would discover other inexplicable
things: another pile of bones that looked like they had been mauled,
empty jars of baby food piled against a wall. He also noted the food
bill rising. Mother and Baby, it seemed, were consuming food at an
increasingly alarming rate, to the point that Renton began wondering if
she might be keeping more than one baby upstairs, and he began
dreaming of many babies, each one taking a turn clamping onto one to
his wife’s breasts and sucking her dry, only to move on to huge
quantities of succulent meat when she could provide no more milk.
Things were also being inexplicably moved around. He discovered, for
instance, a family photograph album, that included pictures of Baby,
just after his birth, some scribbled on, some torn to shreds. It was as if
an unseen entity had come to live with them in the house.

The last story in my book has a particularly gruesome passage. A reject from Hell returns to earth to wreak havoc, only to find herself the victim of a particularly nasty bit of revenge.

My body froze when a hand touched my shoulder, and I turned to
face the grey specter in what seemed like slow motion. A white light
flashed in my eyes, and I felt a watery splash on my face followed by
excruciating pain. I began to scream at the sound of flesh my own
flesh sizzling. Trickles of liquid ran from my face into my hands,
which instantly began sizzling and dissolving, adding further to the
pain. My legs buckled and I fell to the ground, writhing in agony,
screaming until my voice went hoarse. My assailant, whoever it was (I
would never be able to identify him or her, having been instantly
denied my faculty of sight) hovered over me for some time, no doubt
to witness my agony and relish the results of the effort.

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Trick or treat and pranks that went horribly wrong

tRICK OR TREAT PRANKS THAT WENT WRONG 2

It is fair to say Halloween has become this appallingly commercial event, with those in marketing licking their lips at commercial possibilities. Where I live in France, there is only a muted enthusiasm for this event. There was a push to try to get it in the public eye, but it does nor rank too highly in the calendar. Last year I do recall some kids walking around in costumes. The notion of trick or treat however goes back a long way. Though its present format goes back a hundred years and is highly popular in the USA, you can trace its true origins back to ancient Celtic festivals, early Roman Catholic holidays, and medieval practices.

Halloween itself was originally the pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago and populated Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain. People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices and pay homage to the deceased. The practice of “trick or treating” originates in Scotland and Ireland, young people took part in a tradition called “guising”, dressing up in costume and accepting offerings from various households. Rather than honoring the dead they would sing a song, recite a poem, tell a joke or perform another sort of “trick” before collecting their treat, which generally would be fruit, nuts or coins. The dressing up part was like a defense mechanism, if they encountered a demon, the demon would leave them alone, believing them to be a fellow demon.

A trick is a form of prank…but what if a prank goes wrong?
Some people go to extremes during Halloween. What kind of father would pretend to murders his two children’s mother? The children being six and eight years old. The children escaped the gruesome scene to take refuge with the neighbours, who informed the police. The police no doubt were left wondering about the idiocy of the parents. It seems parents are not the only ones to succumb to such folly. Teachers, in a Massachusetts high school equally got up to a highly ill-judged prank. Imagine you are a fifteen year old student, there is a knock on the door, you open it and standing in front of you is a man with a mask carrying a chainsaw. You would freak out. This what happened, resulting in the traumatized student injuring himself in his trauma. Massachusetts seems to be place where there are a number of unhinged teachers. At the Institute of Technology, a man by the name of Phi Kappa Sigma, a fraternity member dressed up as the grim reaper and rigged up a contraption to emit smoke and shoot out Halloween party invitations into a crowded classroom. Instead the machine blew up, giving the student severe lacerations and prompting the bomb squad to be called in. Several campus buildings had to be evacuated.
Sadly some pranks can result in death. Eric Morelli, 18 killed his sister, Kristen Milano. He thought it would be funny to throw a lit sparkler into the family apartment. Pranks in which you kill one of your own siblings, would be weight enough on anybody’s conscious for the rest of their lives…

One of my stories “Little Mite” does not take place on the night of Halloween, but just prior to Christmas…it does involve a prank that goes horribly wrong. The idea for the prank came about after I read a real life story about a man shooting his own daughter. In my story a young girl, who goes by the name of Little Mite, enacts a terrible prank herself, when she glues the hand of a young boy to a coffee table. Her older sister is at the time of this prank in the process of arranging a dream marriage to the man of dreams. The young boy is her fiancé’s younger brother. The prank causes the fiancé to call off the wedding. Little Mite is grounded and in disgrace, the prank has not only a strong effect on her older sister, but other far reaching consequences. In order to win back her parents favour she decides to carry out another prank. While her family are away buying Christmas presents, she dresses up in one of her mother’s dresses and hides in a cupboard. When the family get home they imagine the house is being burgled. The older sister urges her father to get his hunting rifle. The father duly agrees…you can imagine what happens next…
Here is an exert leading up to a prank that goes horribly wrong…

“Little Mite, we’re home,” her father and mother yelled at the
same time, as they walked over the threshold, laden with Christmas
gifts, their guilt at leaving their youngest alone at home apparent in the
worried tone of their voices. There was no sign of Little Mite, but
there were clothes scattered everywhere.
“Little Mite, where are you?” her father called with growing
concern.
Little Mite, ensconced upstairs in her parent’s closet, rattled some
wooden coat hangers and stamped her feet to attract their attention.
Hannah, hearing the faint commotion upstairs, eyebrows
furrowed, said in a low whisper, “Dad! I think we’ve a burglar in the
house!”
Mr. Dashville looked at his daughter and then back at his wife
with grave concern. The two women, lead by Hannah’s remark, clearly
expected him to act. Hannah quickly came to the conclusion that the
situation had all the hallmarks of a Little Mite prank. She was up to
one of her antics, another pathetic stunt to win her undeserved parent’s
favor. Then Hannah thought of Connor holding Cherry strongly in his
arms, and her face twisted in rage. This situation presented an
opportunity to teach her brat of a sister a lesson, and, more poignantly,
the opportunity for revenge. Hannah put on a face of fear, tensed her
body, made her teeth chatter, and whispered in a quavering voice,
“Dad! I’m scared, please, do something!”
At first, Mr. Dashville seemed undecided, as if weighing the
situation. Then they heard another muffled thump from above. “I’ll get
my gun,” he replied and crept stealthily across the room to the gun
cabinet. Quietly unlocking the cabinet, he removed his hunting
shotgun, and loaded it. Cradling it in his arms, he searched the living
room, then the dining room and kitchen, and finding nothing
untoward, approached the stairs. At the foot of the stairs he heard
another rattle coming, he was certain, from his and his wife’s bedroom,
more precisely the large closet which was full of his wife’s clothing
and accessories, including a jewelry box laden with family heirlooms.
With visions in his head of some low-life meddling about in the closet
and stealing their most valuable possessions, he mounted the stairs.
Hannah and her mother watched as Mr. Dashville trod lightfooted
up the stairway and into the master bedroom. He was about to
demand that the intruder or intruders give themselves up, when the
closet door burst open and out sprung a grotesquely dressed figure,
shrieking and waving it’s hands menacingly in the air…….

I would suggest before you embark on some audacious prank, for Halloween, think very carefully about the awful consequences that might result.

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Halloween author countdown

For Richard

CLICK THIS LINK FOR EXTENSIVE Francis H Powell author interview

http://www.richardschiver.com/2015/10/hhac-day-28-francis-h-powell.html

EXERT

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I moved to a remote village in Austria. It was not far from Vienna, but a very oppressive and strange environment. I thought I should try writing a book. I launched into it…nothing came of it. I do many creative activities, painting as well as writing music. Writing lay dormant, put to one side. Then later, living in Paris at this point in time, via an advert, I made contact with a man called Alan Clark, who had a literary magazine called “Rat Mort” (dead rat).  I submitted four short stories for this magazine, encouraged by Alan, I began to write more and more short stories, and developed a style…I have written many short stories of varied length.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) Keeping cohesion.  Keeping the intensity from the start of the story to the end.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  It is quite a big moment, it’s like when you get given your first one man show in a proper Art Gallery,  or have your first track released by a record company on vinyl, you have a sense of personal satisfaction.  You spend hours looking at this story on a computer and it is strange to see it in this new format, in paperback.  Also I was intrigued because I did the illustrations as well as the cover for my book, so I wanted to see how they turned out.

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