New release: Entangled by Midsummer!

Jamie Ferguson’s contemporary fantasy novel, Entangled by Midsummer, is now available!


 
 
Bound by betrayal, entangled in enchantment.

Mark is living a selkie’s worst nightmare: the enchanted skin that lets him turn into a seal has been stolen by his wily human lover. Now he’s trapped on land, slowly losing his mind as his chances to return to the sea slip away.

His only hope? A faery woman named Merenna.

But Merenna has her own problems. She’s hiding in the mortal world to escape the most dangerous lord of Faerie—a man whose ambitions would make her his bride and his pawn. Now his minions have caught up to her, and Mark finds himself entangled in the deadly power games of faeries.

It will take every bit of skill, cunning, and luck Mark and Merenna possess just to stay ahead of their pursuers. The net of intrigue closes in around them as Midsummer approaches—a time when vast forces align, sinister plans come to fruition, and destiny itself can be rewritten.

Amazon ~ Apple Books [coming soon!] ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ Books2Read ~ BookBub [coming soon!] ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

It must have been years, maybe even decades, since anyone else had been up in the attic of Katy’s house on the Oregon coast—which made it the perfect place for Mark to hide the thing that mattered more to him than anything else in the world—his sealskin.

Mark pulled himself up off the last rung of the rickety ladder that led from the second story of the little Victorian. He was happy to be on the much more reliable attic floor. Dust sparkled in the beam of sunlight that shone through the tiny window in the gable. He wiped his hands on his jeans and tried not to sneeze.

The airy space was filled with a random assortment of things: dried flowers, a large collection of umbrellas, rolled-up rugs, piles of clothes and blankets, a child’s high chair, a wooden trunk. Everything was covered with a layer of dust. The dust was so thick he couldn’t clearly make out his previous footprints on the floor, even though he’d walked across it less than a month before.

Mark had had a fun few weeks with Katy since he’d met her at the end of May, but it was only a few days until Midsummer, and he was ready to move on. He wanted to get up to the aquarium in Seattle by July, and there were a lot of seaside spots to visit along the way.

Besides, sooner or later she’d get too attached, and there was no way he could possibly tell her he was a selkie.

The old pine boards creaked as he walked across the attic. His flip-flops made soft smacking sounds on the wood floor, and dust rose up from his footsteps like little puffs of smoke. A seagull cawed outside, its cry muffled by the thick walls. The faint sound of the waves on the other side of the cliff was familiar and comforting.

He itched to spend a few days in his seal form. He hadn’t worn it since the day he’d met Katy. And it had been far too long since he’d felt the sea’s embrace.

It had all started in Newport at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. He had been in the pinniped enclosure discussing the usual topics with the seals, things like whether or not the water temperature was to their liking, what kinds of fish were they being fed, where they’d hid the toy a kid had dropped in their pen the other day. Mark hated that he couldn’t free them, hated that his cousins had to stay penned up, but he knew if he did help them escape, other seals would only be captured in their stead. So he spent time every year visiting aquariums along the western coast to make sure the seals and sea lions were being treated well.

Then Katy had come up to him. She’d said she was a botanist doing research with the aquarium, and that she liked to look at the seals—but Mark knew women, and he knew why she had really stopped. She had the red curls of a temptress, wore a blue sweater that was tight in just the right places, and her smile promised fun. She’d been easy to charm—as they always were.

He’d spent that night at her house, and hid his sealskin in her attic the next day. He’d only planned to stay a few days, but had found Katy to be quite fun. If it hadn’t been for the itch of the sea, he might have stayed even longer.

Mark reached the pile of blankets and coats and sweaters he’d hidden his skin in. It was about the size of a down comforter, and weighed quite a bit more than any blanket. He smiled as he knelt down and began to rummage through them, the musty scent of old fabric tickling his nose. It was going to feel so good to be back in the water. Swimming in his human form just wasn’t the same.

He pulled the last blanket aside, the plaid wool rough against his skin.

The bare wooden floor stared back at him.

No sealskin.

He must have missed it. He pressed his lips together. He went through the pile again, pulling every piece out one by one and placing it on the floor.

But his sealskin wasn’t there.

Mark sat back on his heels, chills running down his back.

He took a deep breath, stood up, and looked around. There must be another stack of blankets. The attic was filled to the gills with crap. He must have put it somewhere else. He must have.

Except he knew he hadn’t. It was part of him. He always knew exactly where he’d hidden it. He’d put it right here, in the northwest corner of the attic, in the pile with the green argyle sweater on top.

Mark stood as still as if he were frozen, all the old tales coming back to him about female selkies having their skins stolen, and then being forced to marry human men and never return to the sea.

That couldn’t be him.

That wouldn’t be him.

He must have moved it. Or perhaps he’d put it behind a box, or under the umbrellas, and had merely forgotten.

He searched the next pile, then the next, throwing winter coats, faded dresses made of taffeta and lace, and multi-colored afghans aside. Clouds of dust filled the air and tickled the back of his throat. He ripped open box after box, threw the umbrellas across the room, shook out every blanket. He tossed the contents of the old trunk onto the floor. He scoured the room, moving faster and faster, leaving a trail of clutter in his wake. He smacked his head on the low beams, but barely noticed. He pulled down the dried flowers and herbs that hung from the rafters, unrolled the old rugs, flung aside shirts, dresses, shoes, went through every bag and box and stack and pile.

Where was it? It was his!

It was him.

And without it, he could never return to the sea.

Finally, he fell to his hands and knees on the pine floor, his face wet with tears. His breath came in huge gasps, and his T-shirt clung to his sweat-drenched body.

He knelt there, his head hanging down, until his breathing slowed. Empty cardboard boxes, rumpled newspapers, and old clothing littered the room. He pushed himself to his feet, wiped his face on his shirt, and walked back across the room to the attic hatch. Dried leaves crunched under his flip-flops. He climbed down the ladder, lifted the folding steps back up toward the ceiling, and pressed the door shut. A few stray pieces of paper had fallen through the hole, so he picked them up and put them in the recycling bin in the kitchen. He grabbed his packed duffle bag up from next to the front door, put his things back in the bedroom closet, and waited for Katy to come home.

That evening over dinner, he said, “I’ve lost something in the house. A kind of coat.”

Katy smiled, and said, “I know.”

Find Jamie

Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Find Entangled by Midsummer

Amazon ~ Apple Books [coming soon!] ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~ Books2Read ~ BookBub [coming soon!] ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Jamie Ferguson on “Entangled by Midsummer”

Entangled by Midsummer combines faeries, magic, and ambition in a world where bargains are enforced by magic, love—or the semblance thereof—can be created by a spell, and the consequence of failure is deadly.

Entangled by Midsummer 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…

Excerpt

Merenna stared out at the ocean and watched the waves roll toward the shore, their never-ending rumble constant and soothing. Giant logs of driftwood lay scattered on the beach, brought inland by the winter storms, and here and there black chunks of basalt jutted out of the sand. Even in mid-June the Oregon coast was fierce and beautiful and wild, and was an unlikely place to find a faery.


Or at least that’s what Merenna hoped, since she very much wanted to not be found. She rested a finger on the sapphire pendant she always wore, a gift from her grandmother many years ago.


It was around three in the afternoon and the restaurant didn’t open until five, so she and Cù had the patio to themselves. A few tiny clouds dotted the summer sky, and a pair of seagulls flew overhead, cawing to one another. The lemon geraniums in the big clay pots scattered around the tables filled the afternoon with their sweet fragrance, and a steady stream of bees buzzed to and fro as they harvested pollen from the flowers.


Merenna tucked a stray lock of hair back under her straw sun hat, leaned back in her chair, and squinted at the horizon. The other day she’d walked barefoot along the beach, and the water had been so icy it had taken her breath away.


She shifted her weight and accidentally kicked the leg of the cedar table. The umbrella wobbled but stayed upright, which was a relief. It had taken her forever to figure out how to open it. There were so many, many things to learn here in the Land of Men. She’d been here for almost two months, and was finally beginning to feel comfortable among humankind, but there was always something new to learn.


Cù glanced up at her from his spot in the shade underneath the table. His face looked as if someone had run a wide, white paintbrush across his black fur, starting on his left ear and continuing across his muzzle. The skin around the eye on the white side of his face was black as night, as if someone had outlined his eye with kohl. Five years ago he’d shown up at her door one morning, a happy little puppy with a coat of black-and-white fuzz. She didn’t know where he’d come from, nor why, but since the moment she saw him look up at her, his white-tipped tail wagging, they’d been inseparable.


Merenna reached down and rubbed the top of Cù’s head, his fur soft against her skin. His tail thumped briefly, the long hairs on the tip moving as gently as feathers ruffled by a soft breeze.


It felt strange to spend so much time away from her people, and it would feel especially strange to not be among them to celebrate the summer solstice, which was only a few days away. Merenna could feel its presence, almost as though the solstice were a living entity prowling about just out of sight. This year she’d celebrate Midsummer on her own. All the years of parties and feasts and dancing, courtship and gossip, festivals and rituals, were now locked securely in the past.


She could always go back, of course.


If she chose to.


Merenna settled herself firmly into her chair and adjusted her straw hat.

—from Entangled by Midsummer by Jamie Ferguson

The Interview

You’re writing about the fae. What is it about the fae that draws you in to tell stories about them?

The faeries I write about are from a land that’s mystical, magical, and very, very old. I love creating tales about people and worlds that are similar to ours in many ways, but which also contain magic, wonders—and dangers—different from anything we face in our world, and which are often mysterious and sometimes (to us humans, at least) inexplicable. I like creating worlds and characters that feel vivid, magical, and real. I love thinking about what it would be like to be one of the fae, growing up and living in a world so similar to ours, and yet so different.

What would it be like to live in a world where unicorns, kelpies, and mermaids were real? Where you knew if you walked through a forest you might come across a satyr, or a dryad, or some other magical creature that you had never heard of before? What if naiads lived in every pond, lake, and river? Imagine being able to traverse great distances—or even walk between worlds—by following a pathway (a straight track)!

Writing about this type of world is really fun because there’s always something new, exciting, magical—and often unexpected!—around every corner.

In general, you seem drawn to mythology in a very practical way. Your characters, even the ones who don’t know anything about magic, seem to take magic—or whatever other strange rules occur in your settings—in stride. Why is that?

I’m generally a pragmatist. When something odd happens in my life I might have a moment of shock, panic, or whatever, and then think: okay…now what? So I write characters who, when faced with unexpected magical events, deal with them in this way.

This is usually a good approach in my real life, but it’s entirely possible that if I myself were faced with a strange and magical situation like those I put my characters into, I might not be quite as calm and practical. 🙂

What do you feel like the heart of your book is? Romance? Adventure? Mystery?

The story has elements of romance, adventure, and mystery, but at least to me it doesn’t feel like any of those are the “heart.” I feel like the heart of the book is about doing what matters—which is obviously not a genre 🙂 but that’s what feels like the right answer here.

Who’s your most favoritest character in Entangled by Midsummer? Who’s your least? Is anyone based on a real person (that you’re willing to reveal!)?

My favoritest character is Cù, the faery dog, of course! 🙂 I wrote the first part of this novel at a writing workshop on the Oregon coast in 2012. (The assignment was to write a short story, but as often happens to me in these workshops, I wrote the first chapter of a novel. Oops.) Initially Cù was a little different, more like the black dogs of folklore from the British Isles. Less than a year later we adopted our border collie Jasper, and mysteriously Cù’s appearance changed until he looked an awful lot like Jasper…fluffy, cute, black and white, and interested in chasing squirrels Cù is the only character based on someone real.

My other favorite character is Laran. Up until I wrote his first scene, I’d struggled with creating villains who were “bad” but also felt genuine and real. Laran’s character was so easy and fun to write that he made me think about my villains differently. My “bad guys” usually end up as mostly bad, not truly evil. Writing Laran made me realize that instead of trying to force them to fit into a mold, I should embrace their complexity.

I don’t seem to have a least favorite character. Each one of them feels like they’re important and play an important part in the story, so it’s hard to think of a least favorite. It’s more that some play smaller or larger parts.

What are your plans for other stories set in this world? Will they be about the same characters?

I have grand plans for this world! Although I should actually say “this universe,” as in Entangled by Midsummer there are multiple worlds that are accessible by the straight tracks (paths) that run between them. My immediate goal is to continue to write short stories in this universe, partly to work out some of the background, and partly because I’ve really enjoyed the short stories I’ve written in this universe so far. I have a series of 4-5 books planned, and am about a third of the way through the first book. There’s also another story about the Lady of Winter, who Laran mentions at one point, that I think will be a standalone novella.

The only one of my short stories (so far) that includes any of the same characters is “The Faery’s Choice,” which is in the anthology The Faerie Summer. A much younger version of Táinar, one of Laran’s liegemen in Entangled by Midsummer, appears in this story. Some of the characters in the planned 4-5 book series have already appeared in a few short stories. Including the same characters in multiple stories is a great way to tie all the stories together, plus it’s fun to explore some of the characters in more detail.

If you could take a research trip anywhere in the world (no, you can’t go to Faerie) for this series, where would you go next?

Ireland and Scotland. I don’t have anywhere specific in mind, but I’m sure there are many places in both countries that would be wonderful places to do research. I’d like to visit henges, forts, and temples, and see whatever is left of the buildings people built thousands of years ago. I’d like to stand on the land next to the sea, smell the salt air, and imagine what it would have felt like to live in a time when people believed in the Tuatha Dé Danann, or the Aos Sí.

What’s the best piece of research you did for this book that you didn’t have a chance to use?

I learned a lot about the black dogs of folklore from the British Isles. Most of what I learned turned out to not be a good fit for Cù’s character, but I’m using some of this research for a dog in one of the novels in the 4-5 book series. We’ll see what this ends up being in the final draft, but the current version incorporates the idea that these dogs are associated with crossroads and ancient pathways.

What books did you read as a young adult or adult that you feel you drew most on for Entangled by Midsummer?

I’ve actually been thinking about this recently, trying to remember what my main influences were so that I can go back and reread them. The list I’ve come up with so far includes Tom Deitz’ David Sullivan series and Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile. I was also influenced by a number of books about King Arthur and Merlin that had magical/mystical elements, like The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy. I’m sure there are a lot of other books I’m forgetting. I’m putting together a list of books that I know and/or suspect influenced me, and am adding them to a shelf on Goodreads.

What else do you have coming out recently, or soon?

My short story “Goblin Road Trip” just came out in the second issue of Amazing Monster Tales. I co-edit this series, but I still need to get my stories past my co-editor (DeAnna Knippling, who is also my interviewer!). 🙂 Another story of mine, “A Different Turn,” came out recently in Crossroads Hotel, the 20th issue of the Uncollected Anthology.

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

I’m currently focusing on two projects. The first is a historical fantasy which starts in Pompeii in—surprise!—A.D. 79…right before Vesuvius erupted. I don’t yet know if this is a novel or a series…but I do know that it is really, really fun to write! This is one of those stories that practically writes itself. I’ve got the whole thing worked out in my head, and now just need time to type it up. My plan is to finish the first draft over the next few weeks, then let it sit for a while so I can do some historical research, and make sure I’ve got the facts as accurate as I can make them.

The other project is a cozy witch series set in Colorado. Like Entangled by Midsummer, this idea came out of a short story assignment at a writing workshop…and again, what I wrote turned out to be the first chapter in a novel. I’m not doing any more writing on this project until I finish the first draft of the historical fantasy, but I am allowing myself to make notes. I now have a lot of notes! 🙂 This project is fun in part because it’s set in Boulder, the town I live in, and I’m really enjoying incorporating elements of places I know.

About Jamie

Jamie focuses on getting into the minds and hearts of her characters, whether she’s writing about a saloon girl in the American West, a man who discovers the barista he’s in love with is a naiad, or a ghost who haunts the house she was killed in—even though that house no longer exists. Jamie lives in Colorado, and spends her free time in a futile quest to wear out her two border collies since she hasn’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep.

Find Jamie

Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 4

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 4 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Jamie Ferguson, author of “The Kiss of the Horned God”
  • Marcelle Dubé, author of “Midwinter Run”
  • Dayle A. Dermatis, author of “The Madness of Survival”

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

Jamie Ferguson
I love reading stories that incorporate elements from mythology, legends, and folklore…so I enjoy writing the kinds of stories I want to read. 🙂 It’s really fun to take something from mythology, or a traditional fairy tale, and put my own twist on it.

Marcelle Dubé
I like incorporating stories from myth, legend or folklore into my own French-Canadian traditions, just to see what will happen. I especially like exploring how “modern” humans would react if they encountered these creatures from myth. I love hearing the echoes of these stories rolling down the centuries.

Dayle A. Dermatis
Mythology, legends, and folklore are based on fundamental truths, stories, and energy from time immemorial. We each interpret them in different ways, but the fact that the same stories appear in wildly different cultures at roughly the same time, when those people had no known contact with one another, has to give you pause and make you think.

As a writer, I walk the line between telling lies/making stuff up and searching for the universal truths and connections between people. Exploring myths and legends allows me to do both.

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

Jamie Ferguson
We lived in West Germany and the Netherlands when I was a kid, and would go to Christmas markets (Christkindlmärkte) every year. It felt like a magical time, walking around in the cold, with lights sparkling, decorations hanging, and enjoying festive food and drink while admiring all of the fun and beautiful things for sale. Our family also incorporated some of the traditions of where we lived, like that of leaving out our shoes the evening of December 5th for Saint Nicholas (aka our parents) to put little gifts in.

Midwinter feels like a magical time to me, which I think is mostly because of the festive, sparkling, exciting feeling I always had at this time of year when I was growing up. It’s probably also because in northern Europe, our days were short. My sisters and I would wait for the school bus in the dark and come home in the dark, so the increase in the amount of daylight was a very tangible thing for us.

Midwinter is a turning point, where the days begin to lengthen. Imagine what it must have been like for the ancients to celebrate the arrival of the winter solstice at one of the henges or monuments which were built to align with the solar cycle. That yearly reminder that winter would (eventually) end, and that you wouldn’t run out of food or fuel, must have been exciting—and comforting.

To me, the most interesting parts of the mythology around Midwinter deal with the risk that winter might not end after all—the battle between the Holly and Oak kings, the robin and the wren, the Horned God dying and then being reborn at Midwinter. We now know that winter will always end, but imagine how mystical and magical this must have seemed to people thousands of years ago?

Marcelle Dubé
The idea of a time of year where the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead thins is fascinating. I really like the idea of the two worlds crossing over. Of the various stories that come to us from folklore and mythology, I really like the one about the Wild Hunt, in which a spectral leader rides at the head of a host of faerie, or spirits, or men mounted on wild horses, accompanied by black hounds with red, rolling eyes, to the sound of howling, pounding hooves and fierce winds.

It’s thrilling. Terrifying. But wouldn’t you want to see it for yourself?

Nobody’s sure what they’re chasing—is it a beast? A man? The spirits of the dead? Does it matter? All we know is to hide when we hear them coming—hide and hope they don’t come after us.

So, knowing all this, what kind of woman would deliberately taunt the Wild Hunt into helping her? A desperate one.

Dayle A. Dermatis
Turning of the Wheel, from dark to light. We’ve lost the focus on seasons, and are expected to work the same jobs no matter what. But autumn will always be harvest, and winter will always be about family, hearth, and home, and the time to work on indoor projects.

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?

Jamie Ferguson
There are two main areas that I really enjoy incorporating in my writing: Celtic mythology and folklore, and what I’ll loosely refer to as Mediterranean geography and mythology.

I’ve loved Celtic mythology since I was a kid, and still love reading stories that include elements of it, so it’s not surprising that I also enjoy incorporating this in my own writing. The more research I’ve done on Celtic mythology and folklore for my own stories, the more I realize how many interesting variants there are that I either don’t know much about, or never heard of before. For example, Cù, the faery dog in my novel Entangled by Midsummer, is very loosely based off the mythological Cù-sìth, which I vaguely remembered from different stories I’d read over the years. In researching Cù-sìth for my story I came across the folklore of the black dog, and after one look at that Wikipedia entry I realized just how many different tales and legends there are, and how much they can vary from place to place. I now feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, and have lots more to learn about Celtic mythology—and a lot more stories to write!

I also enjoy writing stories set in the ancient Mediterranean. I’ve written one short story set on the Aeolian Islands around 1500 BC, and am currently working on a novel that begins in Pompeii—in A.D. 79, of course, right before Vesuvius erupted. 🙂 The appeal includes the geography, climate, food, etc. of the Mediterranean as well as some of the mythology. I also find some of the cultural aspects and the way civilization progressed and changed over time to be really interesting. I’ve also found it fun to write about people who left little or no written records.

Marcelle Dubé
I love the Scandinavian countries and their myths, in particular, myths about trolls. The harshness of the climate juxtaposed against the beauty of the landscape. The hardiness of the inhabitants. The risk of encountering a troll on a lonely path. I imported trolls from Norway to North America in “Troll Country,” in which our intrepid heroine must face the troll who murdered her father when she was a child.

Norway, Sweden, even Iceland… they are similar to Northern Canada, where I live. I guess it’s not much of a stretch to imagine how creatures from the Old World would fare in the New World.

Dayle A. Dermatis
I’ve been interested (okay, obsessed) with Wales since I was a wee lass. The Taran Wanderer series, the Welsh-based books in The Dark is Rising sequence, and possibly others I’ve forgotten, sparked my desire for more. I studied in Chester, England, in college, and visited north Wales; and then I had the opportunity to live in south Wales for four years.

I find all of the British Isles magical in many ways, so that area ends up in my writing quite a bit!

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?

Jamie Ferguson
Yes—it’s a long, long list. 🙂

One area I’m really interested in researching and using in my writing is Slovakia. All of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side emigrated from eastern Slovakia in the early 1900s, and not much of the history or folklore made it to my generation. I’d like to learn more, and incorporate this in a story or two at some point.

Marcelle Dubé
There’s an old French-Canadian folk tale called La Chasse-galerie, or The Flying Canoe in English. Some say it’s actually a variation on the The Wild Hunt. The French-Canadian version features a few lumberjacks stuck in camp on New Year’s Eve. They know that back home, there is feasting and dancing, and they miss their loved ones.

They decide to make a pact with the devil to get them home for the night. No slouch, the devil agrees. He produces a magical canoe that will fly them the hundred miles home in no time at all. They must give over their crucifixes and crosses and swear not to speak the name of God on the journey or touch any cross on the church steeples they pass, or they will forfeit their souls.

There are so many ways this can go wrong. But it has French-Canadian lumberjacks, the devil and the risk of losing your immortal soul… that’s hard to resist…

Dayle A. Dermatis
I like taking different culture’s tales and comparing them. I have a note in my idea file about African bug gods and “Beauty and the Beast,” although I don’t yet know where it’s going, exactly.

Another is Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” All of his stories are uncomfortably religious for me, but the fact that the Snow Queen has snowflake bees makes this tale a story I want to explore in a deeper level.

Question for Jamie Ferguson:
In your stories, you play around a lot with the idea that there are opposing forces or opposing characters that represent opposing forces at work in ways that drag other people’s lives around with them. Where do you think that idea comes from? Here, the “opponents,” although not necessarily enemies, are pretty clear cut, but you have other stories where the opposition is much more subtle, and the “defeat” of one force by the other is more of a rebalancing. Do tell!

It’s funny how obvious this kind of thing is after a story is written, but it’s not at all obvious during the actual writing. 🙂 Years ago I realized there is a general theme that consistently pops up in my writing: my characters are confronted with a situation where they can choose to do the right thing—or not. But I also add in complications so it’s not simple. For example, if you knew with complete certainty that helping someone was the right thing to do, would you choose to help them if success meant you yourself would be completely and utterly alone for all eternity? My theory is that this type of thing shows up over and over in my stories because I find the concept of choice so intriguing—and so important.

I hadn’t thought about this as opposing forces, but that’s a good way to put it. In “The Kiss of the Horned God” the “opponents” are representations of summer and winter, and “defeat” is a temporary thing as the battle between the two occurs every Midwinter and Midsummer. In other stories I’ve written it’s more clearly about good versus evil, or right versus wrong, to either a lesser or greater degree depending on the tale I’m telling.

I’ve accepted that this type of thing is going to show up in my writing whether or not I plan it. 🙂

Question for Jamie Ferguson:
In this story, you imply that this isn’t the first time the events of the story have played out. Did you have any other characters in mind for the previous times that these two powerful forces met?

“The Kiss of the Horned God” is set at Midwinter, where there’s a conflict between winter and summer, holly and oak, darkness and light. I didn’t think through the specifics of what might have happened in this world in previous Midwinters, but I did set up this story so that something different happens every year. I also implied that something similar happens every Midsummer…so I’ll just have to write another story set in this world to find out more myself!

Question for Marcelle Dubé:

I already have another story in this world.

In “Midwinter Run” Annalise mentions the time her parents went to Montreal to see the opening of the Great Victoria Bridge. The building of the bridge was crucial to the Fey, who had been trapped on the island of Montreal since they were first tricked into coming there. To say much more about how the Fey came to Canada would spoil too much, but I do tell their story in “Skywalkers.”

Question for Dayle A. Dermatis:
In “The Madness of Survival,” Eva was taken by the Fae when she was a child. Now grown, Eva, and others like her who escaped from Faerie, work to keep other human children from being stolen. What inspired you to not only incorporate motorcycles into this story, but to also include hints that perhaps there’s a little more to the motorcycles than it might appear?

The first niggle of an idea came from the fact that there are Hell’s Angels groups that accompany abused children to their hearings and make a presence in the courtroom. The child is afraid of her abuser, but can look at these burly, confident men to protect them from their abusers and give her the strength to confront them. I love the idea of the “bad” Hell’s Angels doing such kind work.

I think the idea of these broken people who’ve been kidnapped into Faerie and then booted out, and nobody believes them, and they band together, is really compelling. They were screwed up, and yet they can rise above that enough to save other children from the same fate.

My husband and I have traveled a good chunk of the world on a motorcycle. Mercedes Lackey played with the idea of bespelled motorcycles in two of her series, an idea I’ve always loved. That’s where I got the Magical Motorcycle theme for Uncollected Anthology, where this story first appeared.

As for the motorcycles in my story, could they be bespelled fae creatures that accompanied the human survivors when they came home? Maybe…

Find the authors!

Jamie Ferguson

Website ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Marcelle Dubé

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Dayle A. Dermatis

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

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…

Excerpt

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

Website ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

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

Website ~ Facebook ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Leslie Claire Walker

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Ron Collins

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

“Summerland’s Paladin” Mythos

Summerland’s Paladin,” by Diana Benedict, appears in Midwinter Fae, the second volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.

Hunted by his half-brothers, who despise his alter fox persona, Todd escapes into the forest during a snowstorm. A talking raven speaks to him just as Todd’s brothers close in. With nothing to lose, Todd follows the bird into a tunnel of branches. When he comes out, he is in Summerland, and the King of Ravens presents him to the Queen of Faerie as Summerland’s savior.

The queen offers him two choices. Find a way to keep winter from tightening its grip on the faerie kingdom, the truth about his parents, and win a wife and a place to call his own. Or he can return to face his death at the hands of his half-brothers.

But winter is not the only enemy facing Summerland, and Todd must discover the real enemy and the path to victory.

Mythos

Reynard

Wikipedia notes that Reynard, a clever fox, arose in France in the 12th Century in stories born of folklore. They made fun of the aristocracy, with Reynard outwitting the other animals.

Through the years, Reynard has come to be recognized as a trickster, a kind Coyote, the Native Americans’ trickster, or a Brer Rabbit in fox fur. I had read of Reynard’s exploits in several 20th Century novels and loved each version, including:

  • Reynard, a genetically modified part-fox, is a major character in John Crowley’s novel Beasts.
  • Reynard, in a variety of lives and names often containing “Guy,” “Fox,” “Fawkes,” and “Reynard,” is one of the leading characters in the Book of All Hours Duology by Hal Duncan, and is stated to be every incarnation of the trickster throughout the multiverse.
  • A human version of the character appears in David R. Witanowski’s novel Reynard the Fox.
  • The Fantasy detective Peter Grant crosses paths with Reynard in the novel The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch.

It doesn’t hurt that I love foxes, the way they look, the clever way they hunt mice, their furry tails.

I was pleased to see a YouTube video of a fox some time ago that was caught in a trap and played dead until the hunter put him in the box he was using for his kills. As soon as the hunter turned away, the fox was up and running, presumably to live another day, and now knowing to avoid the traps.

So incorporating the idea of a cunning fox in my story was a natural.

My main character’s name is Todd, which is the Middle English name for “fox”, and has also been used in the Disney animated animal version of Robin Hood. “Dog” has been historically used to denote a male fox, which could be confusing, so the thought is the Middle English folks started using Todd as a way to denote a male fox to differentiate between the fox and a domesticated dog. As a matter of interest, a female fox is called a vixen, and their babies are called kits.

My character, Todd, is the son of the granddaughter of Reynard, the King of Foxes, and Todd’s own father was a pixie, a notorious trickster. It will take all of the clever cunning of his parentage he can rally to solve the conundrum the Fae queen has tasked him with.

The Wren and Robin Solstice Battles

The Holly King of winter is the wren, and the Oak King of summer is the robin. They fight each solstice, signaling the end of one season and the beginning of another. But the loser does not die, according to Janet and Stewart Farrar in their book The Witches’ God, a non-fiction book exploring a selection of male deities and how they relate to the practice of witchcraft. The loser of that season’s battle only goes to Cair Arienhrod, the castle of the ever-turning silver wheel, a reference to the wheel of the Earth as delineated by the changing sky and seasons. There the defeated brother rests and regains his strength for the battle at the next solstice.

The wren and robin are sacrificial, seasonal heroes, playing out a never-ending tale under an ever turn wheel of the seasons in the world. It is a beautiful, if sad story, that is evergreen and hopeful in the end still capable of stirring the heart and soul of humans who have long thought they moved past the need for such symbols. Silly humans.

About Diana

Diana lives in a small suburban Colorado city a mile away from where she grew up. She loves studying magic and history and will take any opportunity to combine them into a good story. She once tried to work a spell inspired by a tale her great aunt told her and has always felt lucky that it only turned her fingers green for a week

Find Diana

Website ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads
 
 

 

Midwinter Fae, which contains Diana Benedict’s story “Summerland’s Paladin,” is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle. Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of the purchase price to the charities Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

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…

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Spotlight: “Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver” by Charlotte E. English

Mr. Drake and My Lady Silver is a beautiful, engaging tale about curses, predicaments, magic, and love. Pour yourself a glass of ice-wine, grab a cloudy starcake with jelly pearls, and enter the world of Aylfenhame!

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…

Excerpt

Later, when darkness once again shrouded the streets and he had lit all his cheerful candles afresh, he had reason to feel glad that he had declined, and stayed where he was. For the door opened, and in swept a flurry of wind and snow and cold air—and in its midst, the lady of the rose.

She stood framed in the doorway for some time, her eyes eagerly scanning the contents of the room. Those eyes were odd, Phineas noted with dazed interest: hazy silver shaded with grey. Her dress was purple today; some draped velvet confection with a great deal in the way of skirt and sleeve, but not much in the way of warmth. She did not look cold, however, even though snowflakes glittered in the pale mass of her hair. She looked a little flushed, heightened colour blooming in her cheeks. Had she been running again, or was it the eager way in which she surveyed all of Phineas’s decorations that brought the pink glow to her face?

She was beautiful. The word flitted uselessly across Phineas’s thoughts, insufficient to describe the perfect coils of her pale hair; the exquisite features of her pale, perfect face; and those eyes… A glow seemed to hang about her, an air of vibrancy, of energy, of—of—Phineas could not describe it.

He thought, briefly, of the girls he had previously considered comely. Lizzie Batts, and little Jenny Worther… they withered in his imagination, mere weeds to this woman’s glory. Phineas stood with weakened knees, words fleeing from his lips as quickly as he strove to muster them, and said nothing.

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

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

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ Patreon ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Spotlight: “Faerie Song” by Anthea Sharp

Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales contains stories about magic, music, and the fey. Several of her tales incorporate elements from traditional ballads and songs, and Anthea’s love of music (she plays⁠—and sings!⁠—Celtic music) is evident throughout this beautiful 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…

Excerpt

Emer withdrew to the straw-stuffed mattress, but sleep did not come. The clan would go to war in four days. The words echoed in her mind, along with a rising sense of urgency. She must do something. But the chieftain’s daughter did not have the power to command the clan, however much she might wish it.

Wish…

The thought sparked through her, and with it came a rush of hope. She could not change the course the council had decided upon, but she could invoke the old gods. They had the power to avert the coming war.

Some distance beyond the boundaries of her clan’s territory lay a sacred spring. Above the spring a hawthorn tree grew, where for generations people had come to leave their wishes, tied to the branches in the form of cloth strips and long pieces of thread. In all seasons the tree was aflutter with color and movement, the cloth braiding and unbraiding in the wind, the strands dancing in the breeze.

At the wishing tree a girl could perform small magics, beseeching the powers to grant her heart’s desire, whether it be love or vengeance or greed. Or peace.

Above the hawthorn tree rose a hill crowned with a circle of standing stones. It was a place of power, and peril. The old gods slept there, and the Fair Folk were known to dance in the ring. Any mortal who offended them brought trouble down upon her head, and upon her entire clan.

One did not go lightly to the wishing tree.

But go she must, for the specter of war panted at her shoulder like a wolfhound, fierce and insatiable, sharp teeth hungry for her father’s blood.

— from “The Tree of Fate and Wishes” in Faerie Song: Ten Magical Tales by Anthea Sharp

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.

Find Anthea

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

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…

Excerpt

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 StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

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…

Excerpt

“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

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Wattpad ~ YouTube ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

This bundle is available for a limited time at StoryBundle.com/Fantasy.

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!