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Dennis R. Upkins was born and raised in Nashville, TN. A voracious reader, a lifelong geek and a hopeless comic book addict, he knew at an early age that storytelling was his calling.
Receiving an academic scholarship, Upkins graduated from the University of TN at Chattanooga with a BA in English. After working as a reporter for a local newspaper for a few years, he moved from Tennessee and relocated to Atlanta, GA where he procured a BFA in media arts & animation from the Art Institute of Atlanta.
In addition to writing, Upkins is also a freelance artist and a digital photographer. His artwork and short stories have appeared in a number of publications, most notably Drops of Crimson. And his audio short, Stranger Than Fiction, can be found at Sniplits.
Upkins regularly critiques and analyzes the representation and portrayal of minorities in comics and media as a regular contributor to Ars Marginal and Prism Comics.
When he's not out saving the world and/or taking it over in his spare time, Upkins's hobbies include drawing, photography, rollerblading, martial arts and of course writing.
Hollowstone is a poorly-written, poorly-edited piece of garbage. Before you finish the first page, you will understand why it was vanity-published. The grammar is atrocious; further, the structure and plot are reminiscent of a thirteen-year-old fanfic author's Supernatural/Twilight crossover.
And all of that is leaving out the egregious misogyny on the author's part. The protagonist's friend, meant to be a good character, nonchalantly characterizes two girls as "the biggest skanks in the school", adding that he would know, as he did them both in the hot tub -- completely unaware of the hypocrisy inherent in that confession. And that's not even the worst of it. In the world of Hollowstone, it's commonplace for Music Theory teachers to make crude oral sex jokes about their female wind instrument players.
If that statement was confusing to you, I must clarify: Yes, Upkins seems to be under the impression that Music Theory involves actually playing instruments. Many things in the world of Hollowstone do not work as they do in the real world. For further evidence, one needs only look to the courtroom scene at the end of the novel, in which the judge sees fit to overturn a jury's guilty verdict for no reason other than she felt like it. It's clear that Upkins cast a woman in the role of the judge for this very reason: Women are silly and irrational, after all. They can't see the evidence that's right in front of their noses.
In short, if you're looking for a good piece of fiction, you have better options than Hollowstone. And if you're looking for a piece of terrible writing to make fun of, you still have better options than Hollowstone. Pass this one up if you know what's good for you.
Although I was originally excited to see a YA novel with a POC as a protagonist, Hollowstone ultimately left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Misogynistic themes aside (because I feel other reviewers have hit on that point thoroughly), this is a poorly paced book that tries to fit in too many genres (mobsters! angels! demons! murder mystery! etc.), is packed with unlikable characters, and is dire need of some kind of editing. I find it hard to believe the author even reread and thoroughly edited this book; it's full of typos, misused words, and research failures. This is a good example of new writers needing to stick to what they know or can easily study - don't write about a musical prodigy if you are unfamiliar with basic musical terms (i.e. musical theory), and don't make your self-insert gifted poets if your own poetry is without rhythm and completely lacking in grace. This book was not ready for publication, and this is why vanity publishing isn't a good idea.
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There was a lot of hype about this book in certain circles pre-publication, and I was one of those who were really looking forward to getting their hands on it. The characters sounded fantastic and it was great to see a main character who was a POC. Doesn't happen often enough.
And the characters are great. They're well-rounded and likable and almost enough to keep you reading past the terrible writing. Almost. I'll freely concede that I'm a nitpicker who twitched with every grammatical error and misuse of punctuation, but I kept reading until I was past the halfway mark in the hopes that the plot would carry me through. It didn't. The Satanic-esque evil of the bad guys is ridiculously predictable - place it in the midst of a high school and you have the recipe for a B-grade horror movie - and the writing style is jerky, stopping and starting every few pages. Most of the dialogue is terrible, with run on sentences that would require a breath or two given no punctuation at all detracting from what the characters are actually saying.
In short, while the issues of racism and prejudice are handled in a very eye-opening and realistic way, they're the only things that are. Hollowstone reads like a bad nano novel, and no matter how much you may want to enjoy it, the writing just won't let you.
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I won't comment on the misogyny inherent in the book, but I will comment on the author's own misogyny, as I've reviewed the book itself elsewhere ([...])
Mr. Upkins believes all prejudices gay men and men of color face are the fault of white women (and women in general, but mostly white women), so it's no wonder he's gotten women bloggers and reviews of his book, Hollowstone, banned under 'copyright infringement' and DMCA notices.
Because people dared to criticize his book for the gender existentialist, sexist piece it is, his sycophants have commented with all kinds of comments, including rape trolling. His false, manipulative whining led to the suspension of entries detailing his history of offensive statements in Livejournal as well. I've been harassed by his sycophants myself, but as a woman of color, I have no problems calling out Mr. Upkins on his self-serving hypocrisy.
Mr. Upkins, please don't write another book until you improve your mastery of the English language, as well as acquire some integrity as a writer, because banning negative criticism of your piece by getting women bloggers banned and balancing out negative criticisms by getting your friends and yourself to write five star reviews under sock accounts will spell disaster for your career as a proper writer and a bastion of social justice.