Interview: DeAnna Knippling on “One Dark Summer Night”

Things often take an unexpected turn in DeAnna Knippling’s stories, and One Dark Summer Night is no exception. In this book she’s created a dark, intriguing world with fairies who are more complex than they first appear.

One Dark Summer Night is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


They walked up to the bags of books. Della Rae picked up one bag, and the new guy picked up the other. Merc played out a length of shoelace, about two feet worth. The three of them walked along the broken road like they were in the Wizard of Oz.

Missing a fourth, Della Rae thought. I’m Dorothy, that’s the Cowardly Lion, Merc’s the witch…

But that wasn’t right, either. She squeezed the guy’s hand. I still don’t even know his name.

“Craig Miller, Jr.,” he said. As if he were reading her mind.

“Your name?”

“Yes, ma’am. And you are?”

It was a pleasant low voice with a Midwestern accent, more or less like Merc’s.

“I’m Della Rae Painter.”

“I’m Elizabeth Mercury. Call me Merc. And her name’s Doc, not Della Rae. Remember that.”

Della Rae had hoped she had forgotten.

The sun was setting behind them; the sides of the road, still thick with mist, were now filling up with shadows. The oranges were turning to reds, then deep purples.

The further they walked, the crazier it seemed. Her legs were tired, her mouth dry as a bone. The sides of her lips stuck together. She was drying out.

“Where was that?” she asked.

Merc said, “The bridge to fairy.”

Della Rae closed her eyes and looked back and forth under the lids, trying to ease the soreness underneath them. It wasn’t just dry out here, it was dusty, too. “The what?”

“I’ll tell you at Betty’s,” Merc said. “This town. About the most normal place you could ever be, right? But it’s not. There’s a way to get from here to the other side—to a different dimension, more or less. But the bridge only opens from the other side. At least as far as anyone has ever figured out.

“You don’t want to walk off the end it when it’s broken in half, either. Trust me about that.”

—from One Dark Summer Night by DeAnna Knippling

The Interview

One Dark Summer Night is the first book in your series A Fairy’s Tale, which is a collection of stories about the fae who came from another dimension to work on engineering the perfect changeling. How did you come up with the premise for this world?

A short story was due and it got out of control…?

So I was hankering to write something dark that involved the fae, and I knew I needed to come up with a series concept that I could live with (I hadn’t written an adult series before at that point). Once I got past the emergency freakout point of having the short story explode into a novel, I started expanding the world and the characters in it.

But the beginning came out of “OH CRAP NOW WHAT?” and I turned toward books that I loved for ideas. One of my favorites is Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, which is a book about the legend Tam Lin, only set in a college in the ’80s. So I went, “I’m going to raid my past for my own college book with fairies,” and it kind of grew from there. A lot of the characters are people I knew back then.

Why did you decide to open each scene in all of the tales in this series with a quote from Shakespeare?

As an English major, I somehow ended up avoiding most of the other English majors like the plague. They were Raymond Carvers in spirit, and I was a Kate Bush. I gravitated toward the theater department, which was awesome, and had a theater teacher and director who loved Shakespeare so much that he got married on Shakespeare’s birth/death day, April 23. I went to this magnificent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream one year and never recovered. It was just part of the culture.

What do you find intriguing about the mythology of the fae?

Okay, so…I love the way that they’re really dead people. Like, their sites are really the old sites of prehistoric Britons, and some of the sites are burial mounds. The name sidhe just means “mounds.” I grew up with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but I really got into them more when I read William Butler Yeats’s Irish Fairy Tales, where it becomes even more obvious that tales of the fae are about disease and death.

What gets me now, decades later, is that the prehistoric folk, the ones who lost against the Celts and other people who swept across Britain, are portrayed as the foreign, the strange, the seductive, the deadly. They lived somewhere else and they were the other. I feel like they get taken for being the “safe” monsters too much of the time and should be able to get their licks in, even if they do get wiped out eventually.

All of the stories (so far!) in this series are set in the Midwestern U.S., as are quite a few of your other stories as well. Why do you set so many stories in this part of the country?

I grew up there and am trying to process my roots. (Which makes it sound like I’m bleaching my hair, doesn’t it?) While I’ve moved around a bit, it was in the same general part of the country, until I moved west to Colorado. I’ve only just recently started putting Colorado into my stories.

You’re a co-editor of Amazing Monster Tales, an anthology series with (obviously) a monster theme. There are some pretty monstrous creatures in your fairy series. What do you enjoy about writing stories with these kinds of characters?

I’m not sure. My very first novel had monsters in it, and the fae, and a whole lot of other supernatural elements. My earliest stories were about myths and monsters. For a long time, I had to be restrained from putting monsters in everything. It probably goes back to something I’m trying to deal with, or at least at first it did. Hm…I write about bullies a lot. I was bullied as a kid, and into adulthood as well, and I regularly had stalkers, like, one new one per year, until I hit middle age.

(Which always made me go, “Why pick me???” I think I only make a third- or fourth-rate stalkee, at best.)

So maybe monsters is just how I dealt with that.

You love Alice in Wonderland so much that you named your publishing company Wonderland Press. 🙂 You’ve written several books with this theme already—two novels in your Alice’s Adventures in Underland series (Wonderland with zombies), and The Clockwork Alice (Wonderland with steampunk). What’s next?

Oh, I wrote a short story about Alice, too, for Penumbra magazine, in 2014. It was a horror story.

I feel like Alice is one of the first characters I read that I really related to, as she gets dragged through a bunch of surreal situations that the other characters all treat as perfectly normal. But I feel like—and I’m kind of doing an internal check here—that I’ve said what I desperately needed to say about that. Content.

Who knows, though?

In addition to writing your own stories, you’re also a ghostwriter! What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from ghostwriting?

There is no such thing as writer’s block. There is a constellation of reasons writers get stuck, and they have to be treated individually, and not as one uniform disease.

You’ve written stories with many different styles, and have written across genres: fantasy, horror, mystery, middle grade, and more. Is there any type of story that you haven’t written yet, but would like to?

I want to do more romance at some point. I’m thinking about including romance plots as the–sorry, total side note–main plot points for a series of Gothic novels that I’m planning, set in a fictional European spa in the late 1800s, and inspired by the Bohemian Gothic Tarot. There’s an overall plot that isn’t romance, but I’ve been struggling to figure out the plot for the individual books. But if each book revolves around a different romance, that should work out nicely.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m writing this in early October. By the time this post goes live, I should have just finished a flash fiction challenge for a crime story a day (Crime du Jour) on my website, for my mystery pen name, Diane R. Thompson, and started either a Gothic horror novel set in 1816, which was the year that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, or a SF noir about a near-future detective finally undergoing therapy after having been the victim of a serial killer, although he didn’t quite manage to get killed. I’m running behind, so the projects I had scheduled are backed up.

The fun part about writing these flash fiction things is going from idea to execution to edits to posting in the same day. I have to remind myself that there’s no such thing as writer’s block at least once a day.

About DeAnna

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.

Find DeAnna

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Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 3

Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, brings you nineteen tales of magic, beauty, wonder…and sometimes danger, as the Fae can be unpredictable, and follow their own rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Interview

Part 3 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Leah Cutter, author of “The Ice Skating Fairy”
  • Leslie Claire Walker, author of “Treasure”
  • Ron Collins, author of “First Rays of New Sun”

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

Leah Cutter
What I most enjoy is taking a well-known story or trope and turning it on its head. I’ve always thought that a lot of those myths and legends were about society looking into a mirror and seeing either the best (or the worst) it could be. I like to make it more of a funhouse mirror. The reflection comes through dark and twisted.

Ron Collins
I’ve written several stories that touch specifically on mythology around the fae, and to be honest I think the reason it’s fun is that it’s difficult to do it well. At least it is for me. I mean, I went through a period when I read a lot of the field that was being p—and in the end, I find that fun.

Part of this is probably that in working at it, I learn a lot—and that, especially as I’ve gotten along as a writer, I’ve taken to push myself into blending genres a bit more often, and that’s both tricky and fun. I like to think that bringing myself into the things I play with means I end up taking fresh looks at things that no one else would, and that’s always fulfilling.

What do you find most interesting about the mythology/folklore associated with Midwinter?

Leah Cutter
I am such a seeker of the light. So I really enjoy the midwinter stories that go from darkness into light. Sure, it may start off in a very dark place, but eventually we get through that tunnel, past the hero’s journey, and back into the warmth and growth of spring.

Leslie Claire Walker
Midwinter is my favorite time of year. I love all things Yule, including folklore about Yule and its twin, Summer Solstice—specifically, the story of the Oak King and the Holly King. I love the idea of our consciousness traveling inward a bit, taking a break from so much outward activity to allow feelings, thoughts, and information to rise from deep within and shape the coming year.

Ron Collins
The Midwinter solstice is a pivotal time, right? I love the idea of the cycle of life that it represents. It’s the time for endings and fresh beginnings—which is a really powerful idea in the end. I like that writers can play so directly with life and death in this setting. That was Something that was firm on my mind when I sat down to write “First Rays of New Sun.”

Mythology and fairy tales often incorporate aspects from the locale in which they originated. For example, selkies appear in folktales from the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Is there an area of the world that you particularly enjoy including in your writing, whether from a mythological aspect, a geographical one, or both?

Leah Cutter
I take my myths from all over. I do try to borrow from mythology that not everyone is familiar with. For example, I’ve retold Hungarian myths, as well as Chinese and Siberian. I also love making up my own mythology for my fantasy worlds. Those are also very much based on the location of the people there. I strongly believe the creation myths of a people influence everything about them. I generally start with the creation myths and go from there. However, the creation myths are also always influenced by the area.

Leslie Claire Walker
I love Ireland. I’m fortunate enough to have traveled there several times, and to spend a good part of my days there exploring old sacred sites, from the Hill of Tara to Newgrange to Owenygat (the Cave of the Cats). Most of my understanding of myth and folklore was born of the adventures I had while there.

Ron Collins
Well, going back to your earlier question, the local aspect of mythology is something that makes using it so interesting. Settings change everything. The fae I wrote about in a story set in the modern-day deep south (which I used in an Uncollected Anthology a few years back), and those I wrote about in this story are quite different—as are the godlike paranormals I used in your earlier project, Beneath the Waves bundle.

I don’t really set down to write about mythology of a specific location, so much as once I figure out where I’m writing from, I want to spend time learning about what makes the place magical, and then go from there. I recently published “The Robin Club,” for example, that was set in an alternate-world version of Brooklyn and focused on baseball and sports fandom. I envisioned the magic of that environment as coarse and gritty rather than sleek and sexy—a mythology that comes more from friction than anything else. So, to me it was only natural that the most powerful and supernatural elements of that story were just that.

So, yeah, I’d say my locations drive me to think about the nature of the tale than any particular need of my own to venture into a specific zone.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

Leah Cutter
Some year, I’m going to write a Cinderella story, mixed and twisted with the myth of the phoenix and rising from the ashes.

Ron Collins
I’m sure there is, but my brain hasn’t let me in on the secret, yet!

Question for Leah Cutter:
Cindy is sidelined with a fractured tibia in “The Ice Skating Fairy,” unable to perform in the midwinter jubilee she’d been looking forward to. The fairy she befriends is dealing with a loss of her own. What did you most enjoy about writing the interaction between these two characters?

I really enjoyed being able to make them a little immature and more teenaged than most of my characters. They don’t know everything though they feel pressured to act as if they do. Being younger characters they tend to say exactly what’s on their mind. They don’t lie yet, not like adults.

Question for Leslie Claire Walker:
Addie pays quick cash for cursed objects in “Treasure.” She does this to keep them safe from their owners, and their owners safe from them. What inspired you to write this story, and do you plan to write any other stories in this very interesting world?

I wrote this story as a kind of exorcism. That’s a heavy answer, right? Sometimes, it’s like that. Every bloodline has secrets, and everyone has regrets, and some people give far more than they receive—or spend their lives trying to redeem past mistakes. So, sometimes I write stories as a way to give the souls of my ancestors some peace, and to let them know they are still loved.

In the Jewish tradition in which I was raised, when someone passes away, we say, “May their memory be for a blessing.” In a reciprocal vein, I feel it’s my joyful obligation to bless their memory as well.

To be clear, there are no characters in Treasure that correspond directly to any of my people—just a sincere wish on my part to shine a little healing light into shadowed corners.

The world I created in Treasure certainly provides a lot of rich territory to explore, so it’s likely that I’ll revisit it in the future—as soon as another tale rises to the surface and demands to be told.

Question for Ron Collins:
“First Rays of New Sun” combines faery mythology with an interesting twist—for the fae wield power over more than just humans. Which of the elements in this story that are based on folklore and mythology are your favorites, and why?

The whole idea of how fae magic works is interesting in itself, isn’t it? What, exactly, is that power? Where does that power come from? It’s religious in its own sense, but carries an paganistic essence of nature rather than the more hierarchical elements of our more modern day views, I suppose.

Like I said earlier, I loved the feeling of endings and beginnings associated with the theme, but I also wanted to play with genre a bit. Once I played with the theme a little, as you note, I began to think about the idea of the allure the fae have on us as human beings–both those inside the story as well as us as readers. The fae are attractive, right? Meaning the concept of multiple worlds alongside our own—which we often think of as science fiction these days, but is obviously as old as the first faeland tales—is interesting, and the existence of immortal creatures of both savage beauty as well as sometimes savage disregard for anyone but themselves is always going to draw interest.

I mean, who doesn’t fall for the beautiful bad boy, right?

So, yeah, there are mechanical elements in “First Rays of New Sun” that I like. The idea of consuming food is a lever used to trap a human, for example, and the basic structure of what a midwinter celebration would look like. They’re all fun. But what I enjoyed most here was leveraging them into a narrator who I found to be fun to inhabit, and who in retrospect I hope readers will be able to relate to in ways that might surprise them.

Find the authors!

Leah Cutter

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Leslie Claire Walker

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Ron Collins

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Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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Interview: Sharon Kae Reamer on “Primary Fault”

Primary Fault, the first book in Sharon’s Schattenreich series, is set in Cologne, Germany. Sharon, a retired archeoseismologist who actually lives in Cologne herself, creates a unique, engaging, magical world which combines mythology, seismology, history, and romance.

Primary Fault is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


Leaves of every color littered the forest floor. They smelled like sunlight and summer, and my paws rustled the leaves as I ran through them. My fur felt chilled; a faint, cold breeze whistled between the trees. Unsure of my direction through the dense thicket of trees, I kept on in what I felt was a straight path through this Königsforst. A forest fit for a king.

A bib of white fur covered my breast, and I had reddish coloring on my legs. Red wolves were very rare, almost extinct. But that’s what I was. I shook out my fur. A wooden cat talisman hung from a leather cord around my neck. Through the darkness, light blazed. It seemed far off. I felt immediately drawn, and ran towards it. It resolved, as I got closer, into a bonfire. Fire conjured a feeling of danger, but the human in me imagined warmth and companionship there. I quickened my pace.

A shadow rose in front of me, darker than dark, and blotted my view of the fire. Whatever it was moved towards me. I stopped. A bear the size of a small tree ambled closer. I did not feel scared. I started to go around, but it growled once, halting me. I tilted my head, hoping to get a sense of its purpose, but it remained standing where it was, continuing to block my progress.

Leaves rustled behind me. I turned as a graceful wildcat approached on large, thick paws. A lynx, I recognized, as it stopped a short distance away and sat on its haunches. It was larger than me by half with tufted ears edged in black and a short, bushy tail, also tipped in black. Its rich golden coat was spotted with dark brown. It watched me, curiosity showing in its consideration.

A second cat padded up and sat next to it. I recognized it as my talisman, now animated. It was not a tame house cat as I had first thought, but a thoroughly wild relation. Its markings were similar to those of a tabby, but it was larger, and had a bushy, ringed tail that it wrapped around its paws.

To my astonishment, the talisman cat spoke to me. “You should not go to the fire.” Its voice had a rich, masculine timbre.

— from Primary Fault by Sharon Kae Reamer

The Interview

Primary Fault is the first book in your Schattenreich series. What inspired you to tie romance, mythology, suspense, seismology, and the netherworld together?

Pure wish fulfillment. I wanted earthquakes. And I wanted druids. And, because it’s how I roll, there needed to be romance. I had the idea that my druids, who don’t think of themselves as druids, would be highly agnostic about the deities they served.

You’ve pulled a number of elements of Celtic mythology into this series. Which were the most fun to write about?

All of it. The history of the continental Celts, the speculation about who and what the druids were (or if they even existed), and imagining what their gods were like. When I first started the series, I had one or two books on the Celts and their religion on my shelf. Now I have two whole shelves on the Celts alone and another couple of shelves on fairy tales and other ancient religions.

The Sundered Veil is a follow-on series to your Schattenreich series. How do these two series relate to each other?

If I tell you a lot of details, it would be a bit of a spoiler for the first series. I will say that there are five new characters who now not only have to explore the Schattenreich, they have to save it. It’s set in the very-near future and so will have some interesting things to explore.

Your work as both a seismologist and archeoseismologist wound its way into Primary Fault, as well as into a number of your other stories. What do you enjoy about this area of science?

I love science. I’ve had a subscription to Scientific American since 1988 or so and try to read every issue, pretty much back to front (my favorite column, Anti-Gravity by Steve Mirsky and the book reviews are in the back).

Seismology was a choice I made back when I was trying to figure out what kind of geophysicist I wanted to be. It’s something that affects everyone, whether it’s an earthquake or a volcanic tremor or even a loud truck shaking the glasses in the cabinet when it trundles by. So there’s always a way to work it into a story.

My main character, Caitlin Schwarzbach, is a seismologist, and she approaches things intuitively but always trying to figure out what the ‘data’, be it a murder or some kind of phenomenon from the Schattenreich, is trying to tell her. That’s so me.

You grew up in Texas, and now live in Cologne (Köln), Germany. Germany features prominently in your Schattenreich series. What do you enjoy about weaving real places into your stories, and what is it about Germany in particular that you like as a setting?

Setting is so important to ground stories, and I try to write about places I’ve been because it’s really hard to do a setting right when you haven’t been there and seen it, smelled it, or tasted the food (I’ve not been to the Schattenreich, but it’s a very real place to me). The light, the people, it’s all connected, and I love being able to pull all that out of my memory and put it in a story.

You weave myths and legends into many of your stories, and pull in historical elements as well—as in your short story “Alexander’s Gate,” which appears in the Monster Road Trip anthology. Do you have a favorite historical period that you like to incorporate into your writing?

The late Iron Age is one of my favorites as well as the Bronze Age, which I’m just now exploring in my non-fiction reading—I have an immortal sphinx novelette series where I’ll be doing a story from that period as well as a romance story. Also the Middle Ages because Cologne, near where I live, and much of western Europe, is still so steeped in it. It’s easy to get back to the Middle Ages if you live in Europe. I’m also playing with ideas for an alternate-history ‘Victorian’ mystery set (mainly) in Germany.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Putting the finishing touches on The Sundered Veil is my highest priority right now. And hugely fun to see that the Schattenreich has taken me to places I never imagined.

Alone, the short stories/novelettes that have sprung from it. The Red Stilettos, Night Shepherd, and A Recipe for Disaster have been published so far. Once Upon a Wild Hunt in America is finished as well as How I Got my Raven Prince Back. Three more are in various stages of being written/edited. They have all been amazingly fun to write as ways to explore character and the world I’ve created.

Five books for the new series are planned, each featuring one of the major characters.

And then I’m finishing up the first novel in my first science fiction series (Daughters of Earth) that I’ve had on hold forever. But it needs to get out there. The novel was a huge pain at first because I thought I wanted to write hard SF. But then, I let myself revert to type and just wrote the story that wanted to come out and ignored all the critical voices trying to tell me what it needed to be.

Then it was fun again. Especially designing the plate tectonics for three planets in a far-flung solar system. I’ve already got a couple of shorts that are related to the series bubbling around on the back burner in my subconscious.

It’s a colonization novel with…wait for it…mythology infused with science and mystery and romance. Oh, and earthquakes.

About Sharon

Now a full-time writer living near Cologne, Sharon Kae Reamer’s speculative fiction is inspired by her participation in various archeoseismology projects during her twenty-something years as a senior scientist at the University of Cologne. Locations that include the Praetorium and medieval Jewish settlement in Cologne, ancient Tiryns in Greece, and Greek ruins in Selinunte, Sicily, provide perfect backdrops for creating fantasy stories rich with history and mythology, such as her Immortal Guardian and Schattenreich Mystery novelette series and her five-book Schattenreich novel series.

Her love for mixing and mashing science fiction and fantasy continues unabated. Night Shepherd, in the Schattenreich universe is a spinoff (one of many) of her soon-to-be-published first novel in The Sundered Veil series, a further conception of science fantasy.

Sharon still pursues archeoseismology projects. She also cooks daily (German-English), gardens (chaotically, at best), knits (badly), does needlepoint (rather well) and reads (everything) all the damn time.

And, of course, she has cats.

Find Sharon

Website ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at

Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!

Interview: Alethea Kontis on “Tales of Arilland”

Step into the enchanting, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous world of fairy tales in Alethea Kontis’ Tales of Arilland. Alethea received a volume of unexpurgated fairy tales for her eight birthday, and the impact of reading those stories of magic, monsters, darkness, blood, and hope is clear in the nine tales in this wonderful collection.

Tales of Arilland is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


“I will listen,” said the frog. “Read me your story, the story that you have just written there, and I will listen.”

It was completely absurd. Absurd that Sunday was somewhere in the middle of the Wood talking to a frog who wanted her to make him what she desired most in the world: a captive audience to her words. It was so absurd, in fact, that she started reading from the top of the page in her book without another thought.

“’My name is Sunday Woodcutter—’”

“Grumble,” croaked the frog.

“If you’re going to grumble through the whole thing, why did you ask me to read it in the first place?”

“You said your name was Sunday Woodcutter,” said the frog, “and I thought it only fitting to introduce myself in kind. My name is Grumble.”

“Oh.” Her face felt hot. Sunday wondered briefly if frogs could tell that a human was blushing, or if they were one of the many other colorblind denizens of the forest. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

“Thank you,” said Grumble. “Please, carry on with your story.”

—from “Sunday” in Tales of Arilland by Alethea Kontis

The Interview

One of the stories in this collection is “Sunday,” a novelette that inspired your award-winning novel Enchanted. What made you decide to expand on this story?

I knew before even writing “Sunday” that it was bigger than a short story. (The minute the character of Aunt Joy and her nameday gifts popped into my head.) I made a promise to myself that I would only write the “abridged version” if I promised to go back and write the novel. (The novel took me five years…but I did it!)

You write stories that are magical and beautiful, and are sometimes dark and haunting. What do you enjoy about writing darker stories?

I believe in hope, above all things. But—just like science tells us—light shines brightest in the darkest night. We all have varying shades of dysfunctional lives. But that doesn’t mean we should ever give up hope, no matter how sorely we are tempted.

“Sweetheart Come,” in Tales of Arilland, is a story about werewolves and love. What inspired you to write this story?

It was actually inspired by the Nick Cave song of the same name. My little sister suggested it—I had never heard it before—and I was instantly enchanted by the recurring violin solo. “Today’s the time for courage, babe—tomorrow can be for forgiving.”

You review books for NPR (National Public Radio)! What have you learned from doing this?

There came a time when I realized that I had been writing (and worrying about my career) so much that I wasn’t reading anymore. That thought devastated me. When I first queried the review editor at NPR, she asked what genre I would prefer. I instantly chose contemporary YA romance because 1.) I do not know a lot of authors in this genre so there would be few conflicts of interest and 2.) the books would bring me joy. Boy, was I right about #2. I had no idea how much! It’s been a year now, and I am thankful for this column every day.

The original fairy tales were often cautionary tales, told to teach lessons. Do you find some of these lessons still apply in today’s world?

You know what I’ve found? The more fairy tales I read, the more I realize that most of them didn’t really teach anything. (I cover a lot of these in my “Fairy Tale Rants” on YouTube.) There are some STRANGE fairy tales, about cats deceiving mice and disembodied heads falling down chimneys and pins and needles getting too drunk to drive home (there are multiple stories about inebriated pins and needles!). Popular household stories over the years—and even now, over the internet–have always been kind of strange. Back then, they generally gave the impression that clever people would be rewarded over lazy ones, and the more generous the soul, the more generous the reward. Those kinds of stories are still told and touted…but I suspect the general public pays them about as much attention now as they did Way Back When.

What do and/or don’t you like about traditional fairy tales?

What I do like: Fairy tales were my first love. I believe they instilled within me a deep and abiding love for all genre fiction. There is adventure, mystery, romance, fantasy, horror…all of it…and I think at this point I’ve written short stories set in every single one!

What I don’t like: I personally despise the “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale. Hate it with the passion of 1000 fiery suns. Always have. Couldn’t tell you why. Of course, I ended up being required to write a retelling…so I set it in Arilland and cast Jack Woodcutter as the hero of the piece. I still don’t care for Red Riding Hood, but “Hero Worship” is now one of my favorite stories to read aloud to audiences!

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I am currently working on a middle grade manuscript that is sort of…Stranger Things meets The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s 100% inspired by all my fabulous real-life storm chasing adventures and SO MUCH FUN TO WRITE!

About Alethea

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a voice actress, and a force of nature. She is responsible for creating the epic fairytale fantasy realm of Arilland, and dabbling in a myriad of other worlds beyond. Her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups across all genres. She is the host of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” and Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con. Alethea has narrated for ACX, IGMS, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, Shimmer, Apex Magazine and Clarkesworld Magazine, and she contributes regular YA book reviews to NPR.

Alethea’s YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won both the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award and Garden State Teen Book Award. Enchanted was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013 and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, Hero, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Tales of Arilland, a short story collection set in the same fairy tale world, won a second Gelett Burgess Award in 2015. The second book in The Trix Adventures, Trix and the Faerie Queen, was a finalist for the Dragon Award in 2016. Alethea was nominated for the Dragon Award again in 2018, for her YA paranormal rom-com When Tinker Met Bell. In 2019, the third in her Harmswood Academy trilogy–Besphinxed–was nominated for a Scribe Award by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

Princess Alethea was given the honor of speaking about fairy tales at the Library of Congress in 2013. In 2015, she gave a keynote address at the Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference in New York City, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She also enjoys speaking at schools and festivals all over the US. (If forced to choose between all these things, she says middle schools are her favorite!)

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives on the Space Coast of Florida. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.

Find Alethea

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Interview: Charlotte E. English on “Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver”

In the frozen depths of winter, 1812, Phineas Drake struggles to make ends meet. Wearing away his youth making plum-cakes for the people of Lincoln-on-the-hill, he dreams of a better life.

Out of the faerie realm comes Lady Silver: beautiful, angry—and determined. Desperate to reverse an ancient curse, she will stop at nothing to find the traitor, the hobgoblin Wodebean.

Together, princess and baker’s boy make a formidable team—and so they must, for their quest will take them deep into the lawless depths of the Hollow Hills…

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


The Greestone Stairs. That was where she had last seen Wodebean—disappearing, so she had thought, through a Solstice-Gate, and back into Aylfenhame. But when she had gone through herself, he had been nowhere in evidence. Invisible? Or had he, somehow, contrived to go somewhere else altogether? The rose had not been a typical example of his arts; it was too delicate, too pretty, and above all, too useless. She did not see that there was much chance of a market for such a frippery, or not one that would much interest Wodebean. He did not deal in trifles.

So: why had he been carrying it about with him?

She got out of bed and lit her sole candle, but its wan glow did not afford her any glimpse of the odd rose in any part of her room. The flower proved to be absent from her chest-of-drawers, and her closet too. Where—

Oh. It darted into her head, then: a memory of the rose, lying on the counter in the baker’s shop, and of herself, walking away without it.

‘Fool!’ she cried. The one link she had with Wodebean, and she had left it with that blank-faced baker’s boy? Who knew what he might have found to do with it by now?

“Cabbages and sugar,’ she muttered with a sigh, discarding her nightgown—ouch, the sudden bite of the cold ate at her perishing flesh before she contrived to don her undergarments, and her favourite carmine gown. Half-boots! And today, a hat, for perhaps she ought to make some small concession to appearances once in a while. Away she went into the dark early morn, the sky snowless by some small blessing, though a brisk wind did its best to carry her hat away again.

‘Come now!’ she protested, clutching her bonnet as she hurried through the empty streets. ‘Propriety dictates that I must have a hat! You would not wish to expose me to still more censure, surely?’

The wind, being an uncaring sort of fellow, did not lessen its importunity one whit.

— from Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver by Charlotte E. English

The Interview

Mr Drake & My Lady Silver, like all of your Tales of Aylfenhame books, is a historical fantasy set during the Regency era in England—as well as in the otherworldly realm of Aylfenhame. Why did you choose to write in Regency England?

This was actually my first historical fantasy series. I love history, and I read a lot of historical fiction, so I was eager to travel back in time. I chose the Regency because it’s the period I’m most familiar with and feel the most comfortable spending time in. Why? Well, I became a huge fan of Jane Austen around age 15 (it all began with that certain TV series of Pride and Prejudice…), and since I followed that up later in life with a passion for Georgette Heyer’s books, I ended up loving the whole Regency period.

All of the books in Tales of Aylfenhame begin with an introduction by the troll Ballingumph. How did you come up with Ballingumph’s character, and do you plan to write any stories about him?

Mr. Balligumph is secretly one of my favourite characters. He appeared one evening over dinner, during a conversation with my husband, who said, why don’t you have a storybook narrator for this one? Which I thought was a fantastic idea, and I immediately decided on a loveable giant manning the toll-bridge into my fictional Lincolnshire town. So Balli the troll was born! He doesn’t have his own stories yet, but I’d like to change that. I do extra short stories for my Patreon audience sometimes, so he’ll likely end up holding forth on there in due course.

Each book in your Tales of Aylfenhame series has a different set of protagonists, and can be read stand-alone, but there are a few things that appear across the stories and tie them together. Did you plan all of the connection points, or did some pop up on their own as you wrote the books?

When I wrote the first book, Miss Landon and Aubranael, I expected it to be a one-off standalone. One of the major connection points across the series—the long-ago disaster for the fae royal family—popped up entirely by accident about three quarters of the way through. And I was intrigued by it myself, so I did a book two, and now we’re at book four… I’m not much of a planner, so this kind of fortunate accident happens all the time!

What’s your favorite part about the world you’ve created in Aylfenhame?

It’s hard to pick a favourite. Other than Mr. Balligumph, though, it’s probably the fact that it gives me such a wonderful excuse to play with fairytale and folklore. Each book has its own unique elements in that respect, and I get to spend time reading and researching weird, wonderful little folk tales every time I’m ready to get started with a new installment. It’s huge fun, and now that I’m talking about it I want to get on with book 5…

Jane Austen is one of your favorite authors. What do you enjoy about her books, and have they influenced any aspects of your own stories?

I love her gloriously happy endings, her razor-sharp wit, her fantastic characters. There’s also a baseline integrity to her worldview which I appreciate, even if some of those early 19th-century morals haven’t survived into the modern era. And while I’ve never tried to ape Jane Austen in my own books, my love for those things probably comes through. I like to write about memorable, different kinds of people, lower-key conflict (no grand melodrama for me!), and plenty of humour. Plus, of course, everybody gets to live happily ever after.

The main character in your Modern Magick series is an agent of the Society for Magickal Heritage—her job is to track down and rescue endangered magickal creatures, artefacts, books, and spells. In addition to being published in ebook form, this fun and charming series is available online as a fantasy serial. Why did you decide to follow this approach, and how many more stories do you plan on writing in this world?

I’ve been intrigued by serialised fiction for a while, perhaps from the sense that, if Wattpad or its ilk had been around when I was a teenager, I’d have been utterly glued to it. And you know, when you find a story and a set of characters that you love, what do you want to do but sink in deep and stay there forever? Serials really lend themselves to that desire to just live in a story for as long as possible, and that’s why I wanted to write one—because I get that as a writer, too. That being the case, we’re at book 9 and counting, and I expect to write lots more episodes of Modern Magick in years to come! It’s the closest thing to pure fun I’ve done yet.

You’re from England, but now live in the Netherlands. Has this geographical change affected your writing?

It’s hard to trace a direct impact, but I think my choice of setting for a few of my series has been influenced by a degree of homesickness. Not that I don’t love my adopted country—I do! And I hope to write some directly Dutch-influenced stories in time. But for the past few years I’ve been writing series set in the England I left behind, and I think it makes me feel at home. The Tales of Aylfenhame, of course, have a more personal setting still; I chose Lincolnshire, which is where I was born and where I grew up. Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is set in the city of Lincoln itself, my home town, and I loved writing it. It felt like going home for a few weeks.

“Wonder Tale” is another term for a fairy tale, and it’s a perfect fit for the magical stories in your Wonder Tales series. What inspired this series, and do you plan to expand any of the stories into series of their own?

This series was one of those that I didn’t quite plan. I began with Faerie Fruit, because I was in a highly fairy tale mood at the time, and I wanted to write an odd, dreamy, fae-tale of my own. I love them, because I have a highly whimsical imagination at times and the Wonder Tale really lends itself to that. Having done one, of course, I wanted to do more, so I went on to do Gloaming, and that’s when I decided to group these kinds of stories together—I’d call it a collection rather than a series, if I could. I don’t currently plan to expand each individual tale into a series, because I’ve two or three ideas yet for more, very different wonder tales I’d like to do. Maybe when I’ve exhausted that well of concepts, if that ever happens…

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m actually doing another Regency historical fantasy series at the moment, though it’s very different in character to the Tales of Aylfenhame. This one’s fun because it combines my interest in creepy, Halloween things with my favourite period of history, together with influences from some other things I love, like the Addams Family. What could be more entertaining than grabbing up several things that thrill you, chucking them in the cauldron and mixing them up? What I ended up with this time is the House of Werth series, about a highly supernatural family and the series of disasters they end up falling into. I can’t wait to write more!

About Charlotte

English both by name and nationality, Charlotte hasn’t permitted emigration to the Netherlands to change her essential Britishness (much). She writes colourful fantasy novels over copious quantities of tea, and rarely misses an opportunity to apologise for something. A lifelong history buff and Jane Austen fan, the Tales of Aylfenhame series combines her love of Regency history with her deep appreciation for fantasy, whimsy and magic—and all things fae.

Find Charlotte

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Interview: Leslie Claire Walker on “Faery Novice” and “Faery Prophet”

Welcome to Leslie’s series The Faery Chronicles, a fast-paced world of magic, intrigue, and romance, where faeries, angels, and demons are all very, very real!

Faery Novice and Faery Prophet are the first two books in this series.

After his mother’s death, Kevin fights to build a new life on his own terms in Faery Novice. When he begins to hear others’ thoughts, he fears losing his grip on reality. Until he meets a charmed girl who reveals the thriving Faery underground in the shadows of his city…

In Faery Prophet, Rude is everyone’s friend, the life of the party with uncanny luck, but only because no one has discovered his secret. He is a faery seer’s apprentice, training to enforce magical law, and magic is the only true family he has. When a troubled girl asks him for help, he realizes too late that she—and her supernatural emergency—are way out of his league…

Will Rude’s blossoming powers be strong enough to prevent a demon from rising? Or will he lose, and become a demon himself?

Faery Novice and Faery Prophet are both available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


When I came to—when both of us swam out of unconsciousness—we lay in the street beside the car. The bus was gone.

I could’ve tricked myself into believing I’d hallucinated it all, from Rude’s nu-metal vocals to the name the fae girl had given me. But the asphalt in front of us was stained with freshly leaked oil and the name hovered on the edge of my tongue.

It took a minute to stand up and brush myself off. I felt like I should say something, but didn’t know what.

Rude made four attempts at running his mouth, fifth time the charm. “You okay, dude?”

Not even close, but I nodded anyway. “Where’d the bus go?”

“To Faery. That’s where it always goes when it disappears, according to Oscar. Always before dawn.”

I stared at him.

“It’s no weirder than anything else that happened tonight,” he said.

—from Faery Novice: The Faery Chronicles Book One by Leslie Claire Walker

The Interview

In Faery Novice, the first book in The Faery Chronicles series, Kevin discovers a faery world thrives underneath the real one—and now the fae are after him! 🙂 What inspired you to create this fascinating world and series?

I was inspired by two things. One, I love YA. Two, I’ve always been fascinated by all things fae, from fairy tales to folk beliefs to the idea that there is a veil between our world and theirs. Some folks believe that veil is a physical barrier, but I wondered if it was something different—a veil over the hearts and minds of humans that keeps them from noticing the non-human world around them. Kevin wants nothing more than a normal life, but every choice he makes only draws him deeper into a world that’s anything but normal. In that way, he reminds me of myself. I’m always interested in what happens when someone gives up on the idea of being what other people expect and allows who they truly are inside to be reflected on the outside. That’s the seed from which the series blossomed.

Faery Prophet, which can be read standalone, is the second book in The Faery Chronicles series. The protagonist is Rude, aka Rudolph Diamond Davies III—he’s the class clown and, unbeknownst to his friends, is a faery seer’s apprentice! How did you come up with Rude’s character, and what was your favorite part about writing his story?

Rude appears as the best friend with a secret in Faery Novice, the first book in the Faery Chronicles series. I wrote Faery Prophet because several readers loved Rude so much, they wanted to read his story.

My favorite part about writing Rude’s story was giving a voice to what was going on with Rude beneath his happy-go-lucky exterior.

I knew someone like Rude when I was in school. He’s the kid who always seems happy and always seems to get away with breaking the rules, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface that others don’t or can’t see and understand. One reason for that is that we, as human beings, spend a lot of time comparing our insides to other people’s outsides.

A thing about Rude that very few people know is that his Hawaiian shirts are an homage to Jay Lake. I spent two weeks in a workshop intensive on the Oregon coast with twelve other writers, including Jay, and have a lot of amazing memories.

In addition to faeries, there are demons in Faery Prophet. What inspired you to come up with this combination, and what have you most enjoyed about interweaving the different elements of folklore, mythology, and legend?

Faeries, demons, and angels have been a part of many human spiritual cosmologies or understandings of the world. Whether we consider them to be real or metaphors for natural forces we can’t otherwise explain depends on place, time, and culture. In Faery Prophet, I most enjoyed exploring the edges between reality and metaphor, and the understandings—or misunderstandings—among those who have always been human and those who have never been.

Bright and Dark Fantasy with an Edge is your (super awesome!) author tagline. Tell us what this means to you, and how this phrase comes through in your fiction.

To me, Bright and Dark Fantasy with an Edge brings together the bright (hope, love, chosen family), the dark (the ways in which we deal with our inner and outer demons), and the knife’s edge we sometimes walk between the two. I’m not really interested in telling stories that only explore the bright or the dark. And all of my stories, no matter how edgy, always contain a spark of hope.

You play the lever (Celtic) harp! Has this wandered its way into your fiction?

It has, but not directly. One of the other characters from The Faery Chronicles series, the Singer whose true name is Simone, has a voice that can touch the deepest dreams and desires of anyone who hears her song. I feel that way about the harp as a modern instrument, and there are several stories from folklore about that sort of thing. My favorite song to play on my harp is Turlough O Carolan’s “The Fairy Queen.” I couldn’t yet read music when I learned that song, so it took months to be able to play it properly. It’s a big part of the soundtrack for the series.

The sixth and final book in your Soul Forge series is coming out soon. This series is interwoven with The Faery Chronicles series. How are the two series connected?

The Soul Forge books are set in the same world as The Faery Chronicles. I didn’t start out intending to interweave the stories, but a handful of the characters in each are destined to play a part in averting the end of the world. Those destinies began to come together in the third book of the Soul Forge, Angel Falls. From that point forward, the characters in each series have played crucial roles in each others’ lives, both in the novels and in the associated short fiction.

A number of your urban fantasy novels (and short stories) are set in Portland, and the city itself has a presence that makes it almost like a character. How much of this is based off of the real Portland, and what’s it like to write stories set in a city you know so well?

It’s all based off the real Portland, although the names of the businesses don’t reflect any real establishments. I try to capture the feel of the city as a whole rather than specific places within it.

I think setting is crucial to any story. No city is interchangeable with another. Each has its own flavor that suffuses everything and everyone within its borders. I love that I can include Portland’s unique flavor in my tales.

Tell us about your cats!

There are two—Kaywinnitlee, named after the Firefly character Kaylee, and Addams, named after the Addams Family. Kaylee (or, as she prefers, Miss Wee) is a brown tabby with one blue eye and one green. She’s thirteen, and I adopted her as a two-month-old kitten in Houston, Texas. At the time, we also had a dog, and she learned all of her manners from him. Addams is six, adopted from a shelter near Portland. He’s an enormous black cat with a tail as long as his body, and he adores belly rubs. They both like to be sung to—Miss Wee prefers something to melody of “You Are My Sunshine,” while Addams loves the tune of “Rubber Duckie.”

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m putting the finishing touches on the last book in the Soul Forge series, Angel Burns. I’m at the place in the book where all the important threads from all six books finally come together, including some that surprise me. I love those kinds of surprises.

I’m also plotting the book that follows, a supernatural action-adventure romance about a retired spy. Everything about this book is fun, from the situations to the dialogue between characters, to the creative ways they find to stay alive while falling in love.

About Leslie

Since the age of seven, Leslie Claire Walker has wanted to be Princess Leia—wise and brave and never afraid of a fight, no matter the odds.

Leslie hails from the concrete and steel canyons and lush bayous of southeast Texas—a long way from Alderaan. Now, she lives in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest with a cast of spectacular characters, including cats, harps, fantastic pieces of art that may or may not be doorways to other realms, and too many fantasy novels to count.

She is the author of the Awakened Magic Saga, a collected series of urban fantasy novels, novellas, and stories filled with magical assassins, fallen angels, faeries, demons, and complex, heroic humans. The primary series in the saga are the Soul Forge, set in Portland, Oregon, and the Faery Chronicles, set in Houston Texas. She has also authored stories for The Uncollected Anthology on a mission to redefine the boundaries of contemporary and urban fantasy.

Leslie takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, strong coffee, whisky, and music ranging from Celtic harp to jazz to heavy metal. Rock on!

Find Leslie

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Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 1

Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, brings you nineteen tales of magic, beauty, wonder…and sometimes danger, as the Fae can be unpredictable, and follow their own rules.

Midwinter Fae is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

The Interview

Part 1 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • DeAnna Knippling, author of “By Winter’s Forbidden Rite”
  • Eric Kent Edstrom, author of “Winternight”
  • Deb Logan, author of “Faery Unpredictable”

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

DeAnna Knippling
I really like finding new ways to include old patterns. In a different story, “The Rusalka,” I included a traditional Slavic spirit that might have started out as a pagan god, or might have started out as the legend of a woman who either committed suicide because of a lover, or been murdered by him (the former seems more probable). Rusalkas drown young men by seducing them, then dragging them to the bottom of lakes. The young men are often portrayed as being blameless, but hey, aren’t they all?

In my story, the modern rusalka homes in on a man’s lover who is using him as a drug mule and about to get him killed. The man lives in the same apartment building as the rusalka, that’s all, but her job is killing bastards, and bastards she must kill. Is it justice?

To the survivors, the women in the old Russian folktales who outlive their drowned lovers, and in the story, the main character, who outlives his bastard boyfriend, maybe it is.

I both like and hate that life hasn’t changed that much, since the forests were thick and the lakes were deep.

Eric Kent Edstrom
Mythology and legends give depth to stories because they immerse the reader in the culture in which the action is happening. Midwinter is a particularly atmospheric moment because by definition it’s the darkest of days. The very idea of it provides loads of atmosphere in which a story can happen. And I love, love, love atmosphery stories.

Deb Logan
I’ve been reading fairy tales since I was a child. I love their sense of wonder and magic, as well as the cautionary lessons they teach. With all of that so deeply ingrained in my psyche, I’m never surprised when it surfaces in my writing.

Science does a great job of explaining the world, even the universe, but there are still niches where science doesn’t have the answers, and magic plays in those crevices! I’ve always appreciated Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Fairy tales are filled with magic. Does that mean that fairies are simply more technologically advanced than we are? That thought certainly gives me lots of ideas to play with!

Mythology and fairy tales often incorporate aspects from the locale in which they originated. For example, selkies appear in folktales from the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Is there an area of the world that you particularly enjoy including in your writing, whether from a mythological aspect, a geographical one, or both?

DeAnna Knippling
America. I like trying to find out what America is, mythologically speaking. But I grew up on Grimm’s fairy tales and British children’s stories, so I kind of have to sneak in around the sides of things, mythologically speaking.

Strangely, the closest I think Americans consistently get to a national mythology these days is Stephen King. The Shining is Colorado. “The Children of the Corn” is Iowa and big swaths of the Great Plains states. The Stand is all the places it travels through, including Las Vegas. I haven’t been to Maine, so I’m going to have to assume that King is reasonably accurate as far as the feel of Maine goes. King’s stories often feel like fairy tales to me, boiling down the feel of a place and putting a name to it.

I feel like instead of trying to include mythological elements that are traditionally from the places I write about, I often try to find mythological elements that fit the feel of the places I see. I try to put a name to the things about a place that are true, but not defined. For me, writing stories about the barriers between universes being thin feels perfect for where I grew up in the Great Plains. Look out at the perfectly flat horizon for an hour and try to convince yourself that it’s all solid and real. It’s impossible. Why doesn’t all that flat land feel real? Because there’s another universe out there, just on the other side of the hill, and we’re only pretending there isn’t.

Eric Kent Edstrom
Much of the mythology in my world is inherited from a now-vanished race of people called the elnisians. Imagine them as Tolkien-like elves: elegant, long-lived, and wise. These people are gone now and now humans occupy the world. They’ve moved into elnisian cities and have adopted the elnisian mythology.

What I enjoy about that is the world is steeped in a sense of loss. There are magnificent ruins everywhere that humans have no way of duplicating. So people live with this constant reminder: there was an age of grace and this isn’t it.

Deb Logan
I’m most familiar with the European fairy tales I read as a child, especially those from the British Isles, but I’ve also had a lot of fun exploring Native American legends as well as Asian mythology. Some of those threads of magic and mystery appear in my Prentiss Twins adventures, Thunderbird and Coyote.

I really enjoyed taking my Montana-raised characters to Hong Kong…and introducing them to Monkey King! Blending different strains of folklore always leads to fascinating twists.

Question for DeAnna Knippling:
In “By Winter’s Forbidden Rite,” you’ve incorporated a number of elements from myths and legends—for example, the Queen of the Fairies has horns. You’ve also added a twist—the Queen is a scientist. What did you most enjoy about pulling all of this together, both in this story and in your series A Fairy’s Tale, which this story is a part of?

The fairies in A Fairy’s Tale are from another dimension: aliens, if you will. I started thinking about the way fairies are portrayed in what I’ve read, both traditional sources and more recent ones. If the fae are aliens, what should that mean? Why would they come here? What did they hope to achieve when they first came? Is that the same now?

Fairies either don’t belong on our Earth, or we’ve changed their Earth so much that they can’t stand it here anymore. These days, the fae are aliens, or refugees.

In a lot of recent tales about the fae, there’s a sense that either the fae were cut off from our universe at some point in the past (often at the same point that magic stops working), and are only returning briefly—or else that the barriers between our world and fairy have eroded or disappeared, and now we all have to learn to cope with each other. I particularly love Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, a story about the fae at a modern college, and a human woman who has to win her lover back. The fae are so appealing in that book, and so terrifying, too.

What I wanted to find in A Fairy’s Tale was a place where the traditional elements of the fairies (which have become somewhat infantilized by our treatment of traditional fairy tales, as only stories for children) could be re-seen as terrible and wonderful and strange again. For me—your mileage may vary—that place was finding the “alien” elements of the fae. The horns are traditional–but they’re part of a physical distortion that was at least somewhat based on the Xenomorphs from Alien. The changelings are traditional—but which side will they grow up on? Will they be controlled by the fae, or will they still think of themselves as human? Will they have to make compromises?

And, as you pointed out, of course the Queen is a scientist. The fae traditionally have the use of cantrips, glamors, and other magic. And, if as Arthur C. Clarke says, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” then clearly the Queen is going to be mistress of that science.

I feel like, in pulling this series together, that I was pulling together my thoughts on what it meant to have a normal life broken by something beyond that person’s control. There are elements of intrusion (which often we could have handled better, more respectfully, more mercifully), and elements in which things were never the way they seemed, and that we pretended were fine all along. Humanity could have worked with the fae, but didn’t, and instead chose to see them as intruders, to be tricked, used, manipulated, and killed. And yet, on the other hand, when the fae go underground and hide their changelings among humanity, humanity is disgusted, outraged, and terrified. What did we expect? That our lives would never be anything other than ordinary? That we could erase everything that didn’t fit our vision, and suffer no consequences?

A lot of this is subconscious stuff that came out while I was writing, or that I’ve only realized later. “Huh, that was smart,” I’ll think. “Too bad I had no idea why I was doing it at the time.”

Question for Eric Kent Edstrom:
“Winternight” is set in your Starside world, about two years before the Starside Saga begins. What key parts of this story are based on mythology, and what’s your favorite of the magical elements you’ve created of your own?

Because Starside Saga happens in a secondary world, I wanted to invent my own legends, fairy-type-beings, and myths. It’s usual in epic fantasy for there to be a whole new pantheon of gods, demi-gods, and spirit creatures. So this was a fun chance for me to invent my own mythology.

The central arc of the series is about Kila Sigh, a human thief with a bit of godsblood in her veins. Unfortunately for her—and for her world—hers is the blood of the god of death, pestilence, greed, and suffering. Must she succumb to that influence? Or does she have enough will to bend her power into the service good? So yeah, the whole thing is based on mythology.

But it’s true even for smaller aspects of the world. For example, the fey in the series are called “vergents” and they sort of phase in and out of reality in pursuit of their own unknowable aims. Most don’t believe they exist at all. (hint: They do exist, sort of. Reality is bendy where vergents are concerned.)

One of my favorite magical elements in the world is the idea of the “vergent pass.” These archway portals allow people to travel great distances in a few steps. Unfortunately, they’ll only take you in one direction. That can make for a long walk home if you step through the wrong one.

Question for Deb Logan:
In “Faery Unpredictable,” Claire’s boyfriend, the Prince of Winter, is accused of stealing the Wyrd Stone. If the stone isn’t returned by midnight of the Festival of Alban Arthan, Winter will be eternal, and there will never be another Summer. This story incorporates a number of mythological elements. Which were your favorite to include, and how does this story tie in with your Faery Chronicles series?

In the first book in the series (Faery Unexpected), Claire discovers that she’s not a normal teenage girl … she’s the long lost Princess of Faery. So in Faery Unpredictable, we have a teenage girl who is the princess of the realm, but doesn’t really know much about her faery heritage. That’s one of the things I enjoyed about writing this story… laire was learning the mythology right along with the reader.

I also had a lot of fun playing with the intersection of mythology and science for this tale. The inhabitants of Faery believe that the Wyrd Stone controls the seasons. Specifically, the length of days. Claire, having been raised in 21st century America, believes that the earth’s orbit around the sun controls the seasons. Roddy’s explanation of the relationship between the Wyrd Stone and the orbit was great fun to imagine.

I’m very fond of the Faery Chronicles world. My very first published short story, “Deirdre’s Dragon,” was a children’s story about a little girl who inherited a dragon from her grandmother. It was only about 800 words, but the idea stuck with me and I knew there was a lot more story to tell. Eventually, Faery Unexpected was born.

Find the authors!

DeAnna Knippling

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Eric Kent Edstrom

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Deb Logan

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Interview: Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Books 1-3 of The Fey

The Sacrifice, The Changeling, and The Rival are the first three books in Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s series The Fey.

The Fey, a beautiful, complex people, have conquered have of the world, and are determined to control it all. Kris weaves elements from mythology together into a world rich with battle, intrigue, mystery, and love.

All three books are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


They were almost to the window. For a moment, he had forgotten his mother. He remembered her now. He wanted her to float with him. He rolled over, making the little people curse. The net swung precariously. He cried out, a long plaintive wail.

“Shush!” the little man nearest him said.

The shadow lifted off the nurse’s face. She snorted, sighed, and sank deeper in sleep. The shadow crawled over the fireplace toward the window.

He cried out again. The nurse stirred and ran a hand over her face. His feet were outside. It was raining, but the drops didn’t touch him. They veered away from his feet as if he wore a protective cover. 

The nurse’s eyes flickered open. “What a dream I had, baby,” she said. “What a dream.”
He howled. The little people hurried him outside even faster. She went to the crib and looked down. His gaze followed hers. In his bed, another baby lay. His eyes were open, but empty. The nurse brushed her hand on his cheek.

“You’re cold, lambkins,” she said.

The little woman huddled in the curtain around the crib. She moved her fingers and the baby cooed. The nurse smiled.

He was staring at the baby that had replaced him. It looked like him, but it was not him. It had been a stone a moment before.

“Changeling,” he thought, marking not just his first word, but the arrival of his conscious being, born a full adult, thanks to the Fey’s magick touch.

He screamed. The little people pulled him outside, over the courtyard and into the street. The nurse looked up, and went to the window, a frown marring her soft features. He cried again, but he was already as high as the clouds, and well down the street. The nurse shook her head, grabbed the tapestry, and pulled it closed.

“Hush, child,” the little man floating above him said. “You’re going home.”

—from The Changeling: The Second Book of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Interview

What inspired you to create the world of The Fey?

My editor at the time told me he wanted a trilogy from me. It was time, he said. We’ll promote it a lot, he said. So I came up with this, and by the time I had written the proposal, he had left the company (unwillingly. This was the 90s. They chased him out because he was gay). So my agent at the time took the trilogy wide, sold it to Bantam Books, and that editor was very enthusiastic. She was let go the day the book landed on her desk. (Something she still apologizes for.) So I got a new editor, who was enthusiastic…

Well, you know the drill. It continued. The behind-the-scenes traditional publishing saga is almost as long as the books.

The Fey incorporates a number of elements from mythology and folklore. What have you enjoyed about pulling these components into the world you’ve built?

I read a lot and my subconscious takes things from what I know like a little magpie.

You studied history in college. Has that influenced The Fey, and if so, how?

I am fascinated by the intersection of history, politics, and belief. I also find war appalling, and yet it is something humans continually do. So I studied history to understand all of this, and continue to read for that reason. And so yes, the history helped a lot. It helped with world-building, it helped with the development of the cultures, and the interplay of history, religion and myth.

Some of your books are light-hearted, like the sweet romances you write under the pen name Kristine Grayson. Others, like The Fey and a number of your mysteries, are darker and more serious. Are there common threads or themes that pop up in your work, regardless of the genre, pen name, or mood?

A dear friend of mine tells me I write about people who are uncomfortable in their own skin. That’s probably true. I don’t look at the unifying elements. I write what I write. I don’t analyze.

You write in multiple series and worlds: The Fey, The Retrieval Artist, The Fates Universe (as Kristine Grayson), and more. How do you keep track of all the details?

Notes. Many notes. And a glossary of names. Those help.

There are currently seven books in The Fey. Do you plan to write more? If so, can you give us a hint about what might be coming?

Yes. I will write more. I keep trying to clear the deck, and I’m getting closer. I need to deal with that Third Place of Power. I know where it is, I know what to do, I just need to find the time.

You publish a free short story on your website every Monday. Why did you decide to do this?

A hundred thousand years ago, when I got my website (which was in the 1990s!), I tried a bunch of ways to make it work. I finally decided to run it like a magazine with a free story on Monday and an article on Thursday, and other stuff on other days of the week. The free story stuck, as did that “article” which became my business blog. The rest fell by the wayside. People really seem to love that free short story—and they buy a copy if they like it enough to keep it.

Tell us about your cats!

At the moment, I have 2: Gavin who is an 18.8 pound baby, and Cheeps, who is a feral indoor kitty. Cheeps was raised in a hoarding situation and we’ve spent the last few years trying to tame him. It’s starting to work. He’s asking for our attention. He’s very afraid of black shoes, though, so if we wear any, he won’t come near us. That makes me sad, because that means someone who wore black shoes kicked him a lot.

Gavin is a big love and a jealous kitty. And when he sits on you, you know it.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I just finished a Kristine Grayson novel for Christmas. It’s in the Santa Series, and is called Tidings of Comfort and Joy. I’ve got a few other things in the works, but I’m not ready to discuss them yet!

About Kris

New York Times bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes in almost every genre. Generally, she uses her real name (Rusch) for most of her writing. Under that name, she publishes bestselling science fiction and fantasy, award-winning mysteries, acclaimed mainstream fiction, controversial nonfiction, and the occasional romance. Her novels have made bestseller lists around the world and her short fiction has appeared in eighteen best of the year collections. She has won more than twenty-five awards for her fiction, including the Hugo, Le Prix Imaginales, the Asimov’s Readers Choice award, and the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice Award. 

Publications from The Chicago Tribune to Booklist have included her Kris Nelscott mystery novels in their top-ten-best mystery novels of the year. The Nelscott books have received nominations for almost every award in the mystery field, including the best novel Edgar Award, and the Shamus Award. 

She writes goofy romance novels as award-winner Kristine Grayson.  

She also edits. Beginning with work at the innovative publishing company, Pulphouse, followed by her award-winning tenure at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, she took fifteen years off before returning to editing with the original anthology series Fiction River, published by WMG Publishing. She acts as series editor with her husband, writer Dean Wesley Smith.

Find Kris

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Interview: Anthea Sharp on “Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales”

Anthea Sharp’s short story collection Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales

Enter the magical Realm of Faerie in these ten enchanting tales, including the award-winning “The Sea King’s Daughter,” plus a brand new tale featuring music, magic, and the dangers of misusing the powers of the fae!


A few steps beyond where the knight guarded the gate, the passageway opened into a misty cave. Archways and columns rose on either side, but Puck continued to lead her forward, finally stopping in front of a massive set of double doors. They rose into the mist, and seemed fashioned of pure gold, carved into sinuous designs: foliage, flowers, the figures of capering fey folk.

Slowly, without either herself or Puck touching them, the doors began to open. Radiance spilled from the widening crack, and Maeve squinted and turned her face away. Would she be entering the heart of a flame? For her nephew’s sake, she would do it, though her heart beat fast and frightened at the thought.

The doors spread open, like shining wings, the too-bright light faded, and Maeve felt her eyes widen at the sights beyond.

“Behold,” Puck said. “The Bright Court.”

He stepped over the threshold and beckoned her to follow. Fear and wonder warring within her, she did.

The Bright Court was, indeed bright as day. Tall trees shone gold and silver in the light, their branches glimmering with emerald leaves and brightly jeweled flowers. Underfoot, lush moss cushioned her footsteps, and the faintest brush of music caught at her ears.

Puck led her through the enchanted forest, the light growing brighter still. Something glowed high overhead. Maeve shaded her eyes with her hand and peered upward. It was not the sun, not here beneath the knowe. Instead, an enormous, luminous pearl hung, suspended on a silver chain. Its white radiance was touched with scarlet, as though ruby coals smoldered in the heart of that brightness. Such a light was never seen in the world above, nor would ever be.

“Yonder lies the true court of the Bright King,” Puck said. “Take care, mortal maid.”

—from “Beneath the Knowe” in Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales by Anthea Sharp

The Interview

Your brand-new short story “Faerie Song” is a retelling of Pied Piper, with a faerie twist. What led you to choose this particular legend as the basis for your story?

I actually had the cover for Faerie Song, without a story for it (yes, those premade cover groups on FaceBook can be trouble!), so the tale really was inspired by that image of a girl playing a violin. I knew I wanted to tie the story into the Realm of Faerie, and as soon as I started thinking about music-related fairy tales, The Pied Piper sprang to mind. (There’s also The Bremen Town musicians, but I felt more inclined toward the spookier feel of The Pied Piper.) As soon as I started diving into the research, I was hooked, too. Did you know that the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin is based on an actual event? There are several different explanations of what might have happened, but I am of the firm belief that it was a musical enchantment, no matter what the historians might say.

Faerie Song is a collection of ten of your short stories—including the new story which inspired the collection’s title. How did you decide which stories to include?

Everything in the collection is deeply grounded in faerie lore and tales—I can’t seem to stray far from my roots as an avid young reader of the Colored Fairy Books collection by Andrew Lang. I picked the most magic-filled and fey of my short stories for inclusion in this special StoryBundle exclusive.

In “Music’s Price,” a young boy who lives in New York calls faeries to him when he plays the cello…but there are dangers associated with his gift. What elements of folklore and mythology did you use in creating this story?

There are many tales and snippets of song (like Thomas the Rhymer) about of gifted musicians being able to access that dusk-lit place where the Realm of Faerie lies. I wanted to bring a modern sensibility to the Bardic lore, as well as explore the ever present dangers of bargaining with the fae.

A computer game is the gateway to Faerie in your USA Today bestselling Feyland series, which was inspired in part by an ancient Scottish ballad in which Tam Lin’s true love rescues him from the Queen of the Faeries. Have you incorporated ideas from other ballads in your work?

As you can probably guess by now, the answer is a resounding yes! The Dark Realm is my modern retelling of Tam Lin (with bits of Thomas the Rhymer), and in the second book, The Bright Court, I weave in pieces of Childe Roland. Plus, many of the quests in Feyland are drawn directly from fairy tales: carrying water in a sieve, sorting lentils from beans, and the like.

Your short story “The Faerie Girl” incorporates the traditional Gaelic lullaby Seoithin, seo ho, and other songs appear throughout your work. What do you enjoy about weaving music into your fiction?

I play the fiddle and sing, and I’ve always felt there’s a strong connection between music, magic, and fairy tales. That cross-weaving is everywhere, if you care to look for it, and I love the inspiration to be found in those old ballads and songs. Music is magic, in my opinion, and so are words, so it all intersects in my stories.

“Into the Faerie Hill” is about the night the harper Turlough O’Carolan spends under a faerie hill, which ends with him getting the gift of music. Your fictional harper is based on the real O’Carolan, a blind Celtic harper, composer, and singer who was born in Ireland in 1670. You play—and sing!—Celtic music yourself. Does this include some of O’Carolan’s compositions?

Absolutely! O’Carolan’s tunes are wonderful, and one of my favorite, Si Bheag, Si Mhor, is supposedly the first tune he ever wrote, based on a dream he had when sleeping beneath the faerie hill. So of course I had to turn that into a tale. Hm, these questions are making me think I need to make a Youtube Channel of me playing and singing some of this music…

Star Compass, your soon-to-be-released new novel, is the first book in the world of Victoria Eternal, which mixes steampunk, space opera, and Victorian sensibilities. Can you give us a peek at what’s coming in this series?

I describe it as Oliver Twist meets Firefly – a future set alt-history where the British Empire stretches across the galaxy, ruled by sequential cloned Queen Victorias. This allows me to indulge my love of the manners and mores of the Victorian era with the thrill of space travel and adventure. Star Compass follows a mathematically gifted orphan as she rises from the slums to the stars. And, as with most of my books, there’s a touch of romance along the way. (Sidenote: I also write Victorian-set historical romances under the twice-RITA-nominated pen name Anthea Lawson.)

“The Clockwork Harp,” one of the stories in Faerie Song, is also set in the world of Victoria Eternal! This story is a steampunk retelling of the Cruel Sister ballad. There are a number of variants of this ballad—did you base your story on one variant in particular?

My parents had a Pentangle album with The Cruel Sister on it, which is the one I imprinted on. It’s another creepy tale of music and magic, where the dead sister is turned into a harp and then reveals the fact that she was murdered by her sister. As we know, all is not sweetness and light when it comes to faerie tales!

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on Raine, book three of my Elfhame series (similar to fairyland except populated with Dark Elves.) These books are pure fantasy without any modern-world elements, and feature prophecies, Dark Elf royalty, magical gateways (somehow I can’t seem to escape writing portal fantasies), and a strong romantic core. The Dark Elves are based less on the fae and more on Tolkienesque archetypes, which means I can make my hero a bit more noble than a tricksy and amoral faerie prince would be. But whether I’m writing faeries and computer games, Dark Elves with epic problems, or Victorian pickpockets yearning for space, I’m having tons of fun mixing up genres and creating new worlds for my readers to enjoy!

About Anthea

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide. In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in sunny Southern California, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays Celtic fiddle, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

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Interview: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson on “Faeborne”

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson’s Faeborne takes us to a land where the Morrigan, the goddess of war and strife, aspires to become more powerful through the use of violence and sacrifice. This is a wonderful tale of how even in dark and complicated circumstances, one can find love, trust, and happiness.

Faeborne is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

Enter the Realm of Faerie, a world of beauty, danger, and enchantment. But remember the legends if you want to make it back home again…


Since she was a young girl, she had been able to fix many of the things the world had broken.  The gift had developed in stages, slowly.  First, she had started with plants.  Seren’s tribe happened to live along the edge of one of the many meadows dotting the Weald, and several of the families kept small gardens just outside their dens.  One day, Seren had woken before her mother, on the very brink of dawn, before the sun crested the earth, to find their tiny seedlings trampled.  Seren knew, even at that young age, that someone in their tribe had sabotaged their garden on purpose.  She had stepped out into the deep, loamy earth, her bare feet tingling with Eile’s magic, and knelt in the midst of the destruction.  Hot tears of sorrow fell from her eyes and trailed down her cheeks.  She had knelt in the soil, splaying her hands over the most damaged of the lot.  Then, the pain and hurt in her heart stopped burning, and instead, spread throughout her body like warm sunshine piercing a bank of rainclouds.  Her fingers began to glow a golden green, and the light swirled around the stems of earth, to find their tiny seedlings trampled.  Seren knew, even at that young age, that someone in their tribe had sabotaged their garden on purpose.  She had stepped out into the deep, loamy earth, her bare feet tingling with Eile’s magic, and knelt in the midst of the destruction.  Hot tears of sorrow fell from her eyes and trailed down her cheeks.  She had knelt in the soil, splaying her hands over the most damaged of the lot.  Then, the pain and hurt in her heart stopped burning, and instead, spread throughout her body like warm sunshine piercing a bank of rainclouds.  Her fingers began to glow a golden green, and the light swirled around the stems of the tiny plants, weaving the broken leaves and shoots back together.

Gasping in surprise, Seren had stood up, trembling not from the cold of the early morning, but from the exhilaration and shock of what had just happened.  When her fingers stopped tingling, she bent down and tried to repeat the action with another row of plants, this time reining in her fear.  For once in her life, she felt a boldness welling up inside of her.  No longer was she the smallest and the weakest of her tribe.  No, in this she was strong.  Not because she thought so, but because she felt it.  Sweet pride, tinged with a bone-deep certainty, flowed free with this new and strange magic.

—from Faeborne by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

The Interview

Faeborne is a standalone novel in your Otherworld series. What keeps pulling you back to write more in this intriguing world you’ve created?

When I started writing in the Otherworld universe, I didn’t have a complete grasp on the world itself quite yet. By the third book in the series, my characters are living in the Otherworld, but I still had only scratched the surface. With each foray into Eile (the formal name for the Celtic Otherworld in my series) and the characters’ lives, I get new glimpses of this wondrous place and the magical beings and things that exist there. It’s this continual unveiling that keeps me coming back for more.

The Morrigan, a queen associated with war and fate in Irish mythology, appears in Faeborne. What parts of her traditional mythology did you pull into your story?

One of my goals with the Otherworld series was to keep as true to the legend of the established gods and goddesses as I could, but also to portray them in the way I had interpreted them during my studies. For the Morrigan, I wanted to keep her title – the goddess of war and strife – establish that her feast day is Samhain (Sow-when), and include the animal most associated with her, the raven. Her spirit guide (in the Otherworld universe, a spirit guide is an animal that bonds with its familiar and shares their mortality) is a white raven.

In the myths and legends of Ireland, the Morrigan can take on three aspects – mother, maiden, crone—but in the Otherworld series, her main focus is to stir up trouble and gain power through violence and sacrifice. She aims to steal the glamour, or magic, from others in order to become more powerful and wreak more havoc. I always got the impression from my Celtic studies classes that the Morrigan was her own woman, not one to be trifled with, so I took these traits and embellished them a little.

The nice thing about Celtic mythology (at least for those of us who like to take creative license with the old tales) is that it was passed on through oral tradition, and much of what we know has been learned through conjecture. This gives authors reworking the myths and legends more wiggle room and freedom to be more creative. Still, I hope I’ve managed to capture the essence of this great Celtic goddess in the Otherworld books, even if this rendition is heavily painted with my own whimsy.

The main characters in Faeborne have experienced loss and adversity, and have to deal with their burdens of the past as they learn and grow in this book. What do you enjoy about adding this type of darker element to your fiction?

Many of my favorite characters in books I’ve read have been those with troubled pasts, and perhaps this is why I like to write characters like this. Knowing that a character has faced many challenges and much adversity, I think, makes characters more relatable and gives the reader a deeper connection to them. Plus, it just makes them so interesting and so often I find myself taking their side and really feeling empathy for them.

Secondly, more complicated, damaged characters require more healing throughout the story and I love picking up on and working out those little moments where that healing process gradually unfolds through the love and patience of those they have come to rely upon. Damaged characters—and those fighting for them—have to work harder to reach the end goal of becoming better people, and there is just something so very real and endearing about that.

Finally, I think reading about and working with the deeply damaged characters gives all of us a ray of hope. If characters with great flaws and so many issues can find redemption and someone to love—and someone to forgive them—then we, too, can discover the same in our own lives.

In addition to incorporating Celtic mythology into your writing, you’ve also written an entire series set in a world where dragons, elves, and other mythological beings exist. What inspired your Legend of Oescienne series?

The Legend of Oescienne series was born in my sketch book from my college art classes. It started out as character and map sketches, then blossomed into a bigger story idea. In all honesty, though, I’m pretty sure it had been brewing in my head for years before I realized what it was. The geography of the world—at least the area where my main character grows up – is entirely based off my hometown, and Jahrra (my heroine) is a reflection of me (but she’s so much braver than I ever was or probably ever will be). If you’re paying attention, though, you won’t miss the Celtic influences sprinkled throughout this series as well. It’s just in my blood and soul, I guess.

The theme of helping others, even at cost to oneself, appears in a number of your stories and provides a very positive message. What’s important to you about incorporating this message in your work?

More and more in this day and age, it seems kindness is being set aside for greed and the Might Makes Right mentality. Perhaps it’s just the result of a world saturated with social media and the ability to access information in the blink of an eye – that we are more aware of it because we have access to what’s going on in the world on a minute-by-minute basis.

Being kind and showing compassion is a huge theme for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I attended twelve years of Catholic school. Most people I have ever talked to claim to have a more negative experience with Catholic school education, but for me—at least the first eight years—my own experience was positive. I had the Irish Sisters of Mercy educating me. I never felt judged by them and we were always aware of the Charism of Mercy. We were taught to treat others with respect and kindness and this was reflected in the actions of those around me. This was also stressed in my household as well. I think that aspect of my childhood blended with my deeper connection to nature helped stoke this need to exude kindness and compassion for not just humans, but all living things as well. Now, I’m not saying I never break this rule. I’m only human and make mistakes, but I strive to be the best person I can be and to spread the message of kindness and acceptance because there always seems to be someone or something out there who really needs a bit of kindness to get through the day or week. I would love to be remembered as someone who helped others through a difficult time in their lives or helped them to feel like a part of something even if they don’t fit in with the crowd.

You visited Ireland a few years ago. How has that experience impacted your writing?

To be entirely honest, I’m not sure if it has added anything to my writing. I would say it did a better job of validating what I’ve been trying to do as opposed to adding to it. When I was in Ireland, I was so ready to absorb all the great Otherworldly vibes (and believe me, I did!), but I can’t say whether or not it affected my writing. I like to think I’ll be able to describe the Otherworld more accurately, and I’m hoping some of those hidden corners of Ireland we stumbled upon will inspire a new setting, but it was more of a soul recharging venture for me. You could say my Otherworldly glamour had drained low and after visiting Ireland, that Celtic magic was strong once again.

Tell us about your chickens!

Oh, boy. How much time do you have? Ha ha, just kidding! For those of you who follow me on social media, you also know I’m a chicken mom. I love my chickens and all chickens in general. Some people may call me crazy, but honestly, who wouldn’t want to have a flock of modern-day velociraptors at their beck and call? Most people might think chickens are stupid and flighty, but if you spend any time with them at all, you’ll realize they are all individuals with their own personalities and outlook on life. And they are just so adorable and there is nothing more enjoyable than raising the little fluff balls from day one until adulthood (and nothing more stressful for those of us who take it a little too seriously).

I’m very hands on with my chickens, from day one, probably more so than most people. And this is why they grow up expecting me to be filled with treats when I visit them in the coop, and why they will still sit on my lap even when they are older (like my 6 year old Barred Rock, Alice).

I can’t say exactly why I love chickens so much, but they are such a joy to have around, despite all the stress and worry about how they can get hurt or sick. If it were up to me, my only occupations would be an author and a stay at home chicken mom.

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’ve been shamefully away from the writing world for too long of late. I planned on writing all throughout the summer, but my chickens were still babies and needed all of my attention. Now that fall is in full swing, I’m working on getting regular writing back into my weekly schedule. I’ve had so many small side projects it’s been hard to find time for one of my greatest passions.

Recently, I finished up a short story for a scary story writing contest, so that is a step in the right direction. I’m working on getting Blaze and Borne (the second novella in my Draghans of Firiehn series) available in print format. After that, I need to get to work on the third book in that series, as well as another trilogy that takes place in the Otherworld series. One more priority is another short story project that will be due soon. Alas! So many writing projects, so little time!

Fortunately, the fun thing about what I’ll be working on is I’ll be writing from Cade’s (the hero in the Otherworld trilogy) point of view for the next three books, and there will also be a revelation about the Morrigan that I hope will leave readers (and some of the Otherworld characters) reconsidering everything they thought about her. For the third installment of the Draghans of Firiehn series, I’ll be tying up Dorran’s and Brienne’s story but opening up windows into the follow-up novellas (which will follow Dorran’s five loyal guards). As for the short story, I can’t really say much about it yet since it’s a group effort. I am looking forward to really digging into it, though. Thank goodness NaNoWriMo is coming up! I’ll need that daily word count challenge to keep me in line.

About Jenna

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson is a bestselling, multi-award winning author of epic and contemporary fantasy.  She has published several novels, novellas, and short stories in her Legend of Oescienne, Otherworld, and Draghans of Firiehn series.

Jenna’s writing is heavily influenced by the Celtic mythology she studied while attending college.  When not working on her books, Jenna can be found at home tending to her chickens, camping and hiking in Yosemite, and practicing German longsword.

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