Small Gods Interview with M. L. Buchman on “The 3D God”

M. L. Buchman’s “The 3D God” appears in Small Gods, book 6 in the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series.

Excerpt

A dozen people were scattered about the room chatting quietly. The only other sounds were Joan Baez playing over a set of speakers so shot with age that even though I knew the tune by heart—one of Mom’s favorites—I couldn’t understand a word, and the heavy thud of stoneware steins against the wooden tables.

It might have been a wax museum for the sheer variety of the patrons. One belonged in Wall Street watering hole, the next in a Bronx dive. There were hipsters, working men, a mafia guy who really should be in an Italian restaurant, and six foot of voluptuous redhead who was amazingly hard not to stare at.

“Are they all—” I hadn’t actually asked Max if he was a superhero. After all my searching I didn’t want to break the illusion. I’d made it clear what I was looking for and why I’d come to him, without quite, well, saying what I’d been looking for or why I had come to him.

“Yeah kid, the small gods of New York City,” he waved a hand as he shed his slicker and hung it on a peg against the wall.

I’d been looking for the superheroes but after two years, I’d take the small gods.

—from “The 3D God” by M. L. Buchman

The Interview

Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?

“The 3D God” was actually a challenge story. First someone foolishly asked what my own personal superpower was. One of the things I’m very good at is visualizing three-dimensional space. The result of this skill is that I’ve spent an inordinate number of hours helping friends fit too much stuff into too small vans and cars for moving. I eventually went on to apply this skill in traveling theater shows, moving businesses (never as a job, I just kept ending up in places that were going through significant change), house design, and even packing suitcases.

Then came the challenge. Write a story about your superpower. Well…crap! Superhero stories have never been one of my skills, they’ve stumped me in numerous anthology calls. But I do have a Deities Anonymous series (www.mlbuchman.com/deities-anonymous) that is all about the powers of gods from Yahweh and the Devil Incarnate to Buddha, Shiva, and the least angel (It’s an active series, just presently taking a nap, an extended nap, between titles.)

However, I still lacked a good idea for the story. After flailing around for far too long—there was a deadline involved—I sent my character on a chill, rain-soaked quest to discover his superpower. That’s when it all, so to speak, fit together.

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

My primary series at this point is my Miranda Chase political technothrillers (www.miranda-chase.com). She’s an autistic airplane-crash investigator for the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board). Because of her unique mental processes, she is utterly brilliant at solving crash causes yet equally hopeless at understanding people and political pressures.

This is where her team steps in. One is brilliant about people, another is very physical, and another joins later who has a high emotional intelligence. Rather than dividing tasks across a team, it’s more as if I’ve divided Miranda’s brain across a team—except each segment has its own personality. This high-stakes thrillers are being hugely fun to write and a big fan favorite.

So fun, that I turned it into a game. The Great Chase is a spin-off from the books and just released at the end of May after a year of work and then another year surviving Chinese censorship (I had the game printed overseas.)

I’m also hoping to start up a new military war dog romantic suspense series in the fall that will continue to expand my 42-book / 70-story Emily Beale Universe.

You’re a quilter! What’s your latest project?

M. L. Buchman’s latest quilting project
My latest project is a pile of fabric and some messy sketches. And this has been sitting stagnant for well over a year due to my other projects, including the Miranda Chase game. It is based on the principle that life comes in seven-year cycles. The pattern of our lives often shift on roughly that timing, mine certainly has. Fifteen or so years ago, I was talking to a monk about this concept and he told me there was also a twenty-one-year cycle. Having just crossed into my mid-sixties, I’m surprised at how accurate that statement was, my life is undergoing another major shift—all good, but very different emotionally and in how I think.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, what with being a writer, that all of my quilting projects have a deeper story behind them. My most recent completed quilt is called “Core to the Stars” (see the picture below). The unknowable hidden core (of our planet or ourselves), climbs through gray stone, brown earth, green crust, blue water, foliage in four seasons as the year progresses clockwise, to the pale blue sky and finally the stars beyond. Hidden in the four corners, black quilt stitching against the dark sky, are four of my favorite constellations, one for each season (I used to run the college planetarium).

It is both where we live and the internal journey we make. All, except the dreaming stars of limitless possibility, are held within the winding border of the never-ending seasons represented by the leaf colors. The pattern has many names, but the Star of Bethlehem and Amish Star are the two I know best.


Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?

For eight years I have given away a free short story every month (available to anyone to read for one week on my website). They range across five genres, or maybe six or seven. There are numerous series but stand-alones as well. Sign up for my newsletter to never miss one: https://www.mlbuchman.com

About M. L. Buchman

Bestselling author M.L. Buchman started the first of over 70 novels and 100 short stories (along with an ever-growing pile of audiobooks narrated by the author) while flying from South Korea to ride across the Australian Outback. All part of an around-the-world bicycle trip (a mid-life crisis on wheels) that ultimately launched his writing career. His true loves are military romantic suspense and political technothrillers; with contemporary romance, fantasy, and SF all vying for third place.

M. L. has designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of airplanes, and consulted to the Fortune 100. He is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics.

Find M. L. Buchman

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Small Gods Interview with Ken MacGregor on “No Muse is Good Muse”

Ken MacGregor’s “No Muse is Good Muse” appears in Small Gods, book 6 in the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series.

Excerpt

“So, Chris, what do you do? For a living, I mean.” Jim sipped his Stella Artois — it was the perfect blend of flavors and easy on his gut. It was the only beer he drank.

Chris looked him in the eye and deadpanned his response.

“I’m a muse, Jim.”

Jim carefully kept his expression neutral. It was the face he used whenever he had to deal with someone who might be unstable. “Huh.”

“I was Susan Telling’s muse, but she’s tired and doesn’t want to do it anymore. So, she cut me loose. I asked her to find me another writer, and she sent me to you. I’ve read some of your stuff: it’s pretty good.”

“I’m sorry, but you’re a guy. Aren’t the muses supposed to be beautiful girls in diaphanous gowns?”

Chris nodded. “Diaphanous. Good word. Some are definitely that. Some are guys. The pretty girls get all the press. Not surprising, right? Male muses are largely overlooked.”

“You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical.”

“Of course. I’d expect you to be. But, let me ask you something, Jimmy. You had some story ideas at the bar? About me?” Chris leaned across the table and met Jim’s eyes.

“I did.” It was a whisper.

I did that. And I can do that as many times as you need. You can write again, Jimbo. Short stories, novels, whatever you want. That’s my gift. That’s my job.”

—from “No Muse is Good Muse” by Ken MacGregor

The Interview

Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?

I took the myth of the Greek muses and came at it from a slightly unusual
angle. The story imitates life: when I was first starting out (writing fiction at
least—I’ve been making stuff up in one way or another for my entire life), I had
a friend I always bounced ideas off of. He’d give me great feedback, and
occasionally provide new ones that never would have occurred to me. I jokingly
referred to him as my muse, and the character in “No Muse is Good Muse” is
based rather heavily on him. I also loved the idea of exploring the potential
dark side of having a muse. Like…what do they get out it anyway?

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

My main project, currently, is my first solo novel (I co-wrote one with Kerry
Lipp: HEADCASE, that’s already out). It’s a fascinating process, as I’ve mostly
written shorts, and one novella. I have several scenes already written (some of
which were short stories before that all had a similar feel), and am really
enjoying a) finding the narrative thread that fits them together, and b)
discovering where the story leads. I have an idea of how it ends, but characters
have a way of capsizing the ship you thought you were sailing and building a
raft to go somewhere completely different. I’m excited to see where we end up.

You started off writing scripts, then switched to short stories. Was this a hard transition to make, and do you miss performing as an actor?

I actually started off writing sketch comedy! I’ve been involved in theater since I
was in 6 th grade, off and on. I’d done a lot of stage shows, all amateur, but with
some wonderfully talented people. When I was in St. Louis (for three years), I
worked with professional theater companies, got an agent, and did several TV
and radio commercials. I was even on the Discovery Channel! (New
Detectives—I played a murder victim. My friend John was my killer. Fun!)
When I returned to Michigan, I auditioned for a short horror film, and ended up
working with that group of filmmakers for quite a while. One of them said he
wanted to make “the scariest short horror movie ever”, so I started writing
scripts and sending them to him. He said “no” a lot, but one ended up getting
made (“The Quirk and the Dead”. It’s a zombie comedy/romance/horror film
available on YouTube. It’s only 16 minutes long. Check it out.) Finally, he said,
“Ken…I can’t possibly make these. Turn them into short stories, join the Great
Lakes Association of Horror Writers (I did. Still a member, ten years later), and
get them published.” I owe him a debt of gratitude.

I do miss acting! I plan to get back into it at some point.


Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?

Not long ago, I released my third story collection, LIONS & TIGERS & WERES,
and I’m insanely proud of it. It’s all my animal stories, including several that
have never appeared in print. I firmly believe it’s some of my best writing.

Okay. That’s the promotional stuff. Mostly, I’d like to say I very much
appreciate you. Without readers, we’re just vomiting words for personal
catharsis. I mean…we would do it anyway, but you make it worth something.
There is no greater feeling than someone telling me that my work moved them
in some way. You make our dark little hearts happy. Thank you.

About Ken MacGregor

Ken MacGregor writes stuff.

He has three story collections: AN ABERRANT MIND, SEX, GORE & MILLIPEDES, and LIONS & TIGERS & WERES, a young adult novella: DEVIL’S BANE, a co-written (with Kerry Lipp), novel: HEADCASE. His work has also appeared in dozens of other publications. He is an Active Member of the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) and is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW). He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, a smattering of poetry, and a zombie movie. He is the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies for LVP Publications, and he curated two anthologies: BURNT FUR for Blood Bound Books, and STITCHED LIPS for Dragon’s Roost Press.

When not writing, Ken drives the bookmobile for his local library. He lives with his kids, two cats, and the ashes of his wife.

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Small Gods Interview with Richard E. D. Jones on “The Order”

Richard E. D. Jones’ “The Order” appears in Small Gods, book 6 in the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series.

Excerpt

“Oh, Mighty Spirit of the Slice,” Max says. “Great Protector of the Pie. Dominating Deity of the Delivery. Heed our pray— Crap. I forgot the sauce.”

“Max,” Kevhan whines, drawing the word out for a full three seconds and several syllables.

“Come on, man,” Deb says. “You said you were ready.”

Max shrugs off his backpack, his hands digging inside.

“Where. . . Ah! Got it.”

He turns and holds out a plastic quart container filled with a vibrantly red, semi-liquid slush before waggling it at the other three. He opens the lid of the quart container and the aroma of garlic, roasted tomatoes, basil, oregano and other spices too esoteric to be named.

Eight eyes slide closed. Eight nostrils flare wide. Eight lungs inhale deeply. Four mouths drop open and sigh in contentment.

“The sauce,” they chorus.

—from “The Order” by Richard E. D. Jones

The Interview

Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?

I wrote about Trado, the God of Pizza Deliveries. Now, looking at the story, you’d think I made it up. Really, I found on my office desk what looked like a short instructional pamphlet all about how to summon Trado. I read through and was in the middle of rounding up the ingredients for the ritual when I realized I didn’t actually deliver pizza. I went back to the pamphlet and couldn’t find it so shrugged and moved on. Still, the idea stuck in my think place. When the call went out for an anthology about Small Gods, my mind immediately went to Trado. Being the diligent writer that I am, I did some research before writing. For “research,” think more along the lines of me googling a couple things and watching a YouTube video. Turns out, Trado is a Latin verb that means I give or deliver. And, since the first recorded pizza delivery occurred in Italy, it seemed only natural.

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

Right now? I’m writing an interview I was sent about my participation in the Blaze Ward Presents #6 Small Gods anthology. When I’m done, I’ll get back to my Young Adult genre mashup of space opera and super heroes. I’m also polishing up a middle-grade novel called THE MISMATCHED MONSTER, which is an expansion of my story of the same name that actually won an award when it was first published. No, to answer your unvoiced question, I did not present myself with said award. It was real!

How did you get into writing fiction?

I graduated from the University of Florida with the most aptly named degree ever: a B. S. in Journalism. I spent years toiling in the ink-stained trenches of Melbourne and Ocala in Florida before switching over to being a PR flack for the University of Florida’s College of Engineering. All of this was purely fact-based writing and it. . . Well, it chafed. I wanted to get paid to write stuff that I’d made up without getting fired for it. I moved into teaching and thence into being a full-time stay-at-home dad, which ate up all my free time. As the boys grew older and I got a little more time to myself, I decided to start writing down the lies stories I’d been telling my sons at bedtime.


Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?

I recently wrote the foeword (yes, that is the correct spelling) for a book by Michael Wallaby Lucas. The book is called Domesticate Your Badgers, in which Michael Willowy Lucas attempts to teach people how to become better writers. Those who can’t do. . . etm. Also, check out my bio for links to some of my short fiction (as well as my traditionally published how-to guide for first-time fathers looking to rear their kids without breaking anything too important, A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook.) for sale on Amazon. My personal website’s in the bio also. Why am I telling anyone this? Just skip ahead to the bio. Go on. Do it. Now. Please?

About Richard E. D. Jones

Richard E.D. Jones is the author of the ferocious, fast and funny A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook, an Amazon bestseller in child rearing. In addition to helping first-time fathers laugh their way through learning how to care for their children, Richard also is a prolific writer of short fiction. Mostly, he says, he writes what he sees. Though, considering that he’s mostly writing fantasy, urban fantasy and science-fiction, there’s some doubt that he’s being anywhere near honest about what he sees. At least his three sons and partner hope it’s dishonesty.

Richard currently is hard at work on expanding his award-winning short story for middle-grade readers, The Mismatched Monster, into a novel. He frequently writes in the CurseWerks universe, chronicling the trials, tribulations and tintinnabulations of those who fight back against mad science, mad sorcery and vampire wiener dogs. Richard is most renowned for his inability to avoid bad humor and worse puns.

Find Richard E. D. Jones

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Small Gods Interview with Katharina Gerlach on “Raven”

Katharina Gerlach’s “Raven” appears in Small Gods, book 6 in the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series.

Excerpt

Raven tuned out his voice and concentrated fully on the surprisingly young woman sitting with closed eyes on the wilted grass, leaning against the plane tree. She was wearing a coat and trousers of beige leather, and her boots were clearly self made and decorated with colorful beads.

Wait, Raven thought. He only perceived her as a woman in traditional clothing. In truth she was wearing anorak, jeans, and winter boots. She’d lifted her bronze features to the sky as if the sun wasn’t hiding, and hummed. Her long, brown hair was neatly braided and hung to her waist, And the wind carried the familiar scent of reindeer, dogs, warm fires and ice to Raven.

He trembled.

She looked like one of his people. She smelled like one of his people. She hummed a song of his people, and reminded him of an iceberg floating gently on the rolling waves of the Arctic Sea. But what impressed Raven the most were the colorful tendrils of power dancing on the wind. Invisible to all but him, they’d been calling, luring, pulling, dragging him here.

An angakkuq was rare enough these days. One who was so obviously connected to her roots, her ancestors, and traditional beliefs even more so. Modern shamans had taken so many wrong paths that his duties were hardly required any more. He no longer felt compelled to protect his people or to lead their souls to Adlivun so they could be purified for their final journey to the Land of the Moon. Was that changing?

His gaze clung to the soft lips of the humming woman, and his heart beat faster than it had done in centuries. Were his people returning to their religion? Or was she a lonely believer?

Before he gathered the courage to speak to her, she opened large, brown eyes and gazed at him in wide wonder.

“You’ve come! I wasn’t sure if it would work,” she said. “I’m Alasie and we need to talk.”

—from Raven” by Katharina Gerlach

The Interview

Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?

I’ve always been fascinated by the gods of the Native Americans and read
about them extensively. I never expected to write about one of them
though. But one day, a raven insisted I’d have to write its story, and
while writing it, I realized who he was. That’s how my story “Raven” came
to be.

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

I’m currently working on an Urban Fantasy trilogy of connected stand-alones. I think that the setting is cool (Hamburg, Germany) and also, the
magical system I developed (leylines and runes). I’m having fun.

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?

Oh, tons. I’ve written a series of 12 fairy tale retelling novellas (all
books contain the retelling, the original, and a bonus short story) and
barely scratched the surface. There are so many fairy tales I still want
to tackle, but I needed a break from fairy tales for a while. I’ll return
to them when the trilogy mentioned above is done.


Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?

Never give up on your dreams, but do evaluate if the dreams you’ve been
pursuing for 20 years are still what you really want to do. Sometimes your
perception changes as time passes.

About Katharina Gerlach

Katharina was born in Germany in the late sixties and grew up in the
middle of a forest in Northern Germany. After romping through the forest
with imagination as her guide, tomboy-me learned to read and disappeared
into magical adventures, past times or eerie fairytale woods.

During her training as a landscape gardener, she wrote her first novel.
She likes to write Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Historical Novels or a
mix of those.

At present, she’s writing at her next project in a small house near
Hanover, Germany, where she lives with her husband, three children, and
dog.

Find Katharina Gerlach

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Small Gods Interview with April Steenburgh on “Berkano”

April Steenburgh’s “Berkano” appears in Small Gods, book 6 in the Blaze Ward Presents anthology series.

Excerpt

Beth’s mother was beautiful. She shared Beth’s long pale hair and lively green eyes. But where Beth was still growing into her limbs and potential, her mother had blossomed years ago and had time to take raw beauty and refine it into something ethereal and elegant. She moved with the purposeful grace of a doe and her voice when she greeted us was warm and smooth as honeyed tea. “I’m sorry to interrupt.”

“Ms. Bjarken.”

“Momma.”

“Hello Sammy.” She smiled. “It is getting dark. Shouldn’t you be heading back inside?”

It never struck me as odd, having someone else send me home from my own backyard. Ms. Bjarken had a quiet authority about her, not something that rose up enough to be intrusive, but just a quiet edge to her carriage that suggested she was used to being obeyed. I hugged Beth, waved to Ms. Bjarken, and went inside.

—from “Berkano” by April Steenburgh

The Interview

Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?

I wrote about the gods of a small grove of birch trees. Guardian deities of a place that just happened to be the backyard of a young girl.

When we moved to the farm here, a good number of years ago, we found an almost perfect circle of trees in the woods. It has been our favorite spot to just sit quietly and relax and be. It is, honestly, magical. Have you ever stumbled across a perfect group of trees like that before? Or maybe just that one massive tree whose presence you weren’t expecting? Trees can lend such a strong sense of spirit to a place, and I wanted to share that mix of love and awe and wonder.

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

I write short stories, usually a few at a time. Right now I am working on a story about why you shouldn’t break promises with Faery Queens that has involved a surprising amount of research into the impact of global warming on apple farms. The other story actively in the works is about a witch finding their familiar. They had not actually been looking for a familiar, but that sort of thing just happens sometimes, as it needs to. I like having the idea of a story, the bones, and seeing how it will surprise me while it is being written. Both of these stories have done a lot of shifting and changing and have been a lot of fun to write.

Tell us about your farm!

Our farm is a little unique. We share 100 acres of land with three other families on the shore of Lake Ontario. The land itself is set up primarily as a conservation effort. All of the families do some gardening around their homes and in common areas. Our household just also happens to have five alpacas, thirty chickens, and one really friendly turkey. The alpacas protect the chickens from predators (and are really effective), give me fiber to work with every year, and provide a lot of, erm, fertilizer for the gardens. They are also the most silly, inquisitive, opinionated creatures I have ever had the privilege of sharing space with. The turkey pretends to be our farm dog and follows us everywhere. We also have four cats, two that we moved here with, one that was found in a local swamp (I formed a small press with Laura Anne Gilman named after that one, Faery Cat Press), and one that was found, a couple of days old, abandoned inside of a maple tree on the farm.


Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?

I lovingly refer to myself as a bit of a swamp witch, as there is a large marsh on the property here. I think a bit of that ends up seeping into the things I write. It also gets all over the house as I have been making soap and salves and things (TwiglooFarms on Etsy). The farm is normal farm stuff. Like remembering to close the chicken coop at night and making sure the alpaca get their grain before 9am (I think there is danger of rebellion if we should be too late…), but then it is also being excited about a weird mushroom, or coyote song, or an owl in the tree outside the bedroom window, or finding plants I can use to make a new soap recipe. All of that seeps into my writing work. I am really lucky to be where I am.

About April Steenburgh

April Steenburgh lives on a homestead near the shore of Lake Ontario with a cunning little cat they found in a swamp. That cat might be a witch. They also share their homestead with various other cats who heard through the grapevine that it was a good place to be, a small herd of alpaca, a roving horde of chickens, one very friendly turkey, and a husband who crafts dreams and wild schemes into reality. Coyote song and owl shouts are the music they write to most often, sitting inside the perfect circle of maple trees hidden in the woods near the house. All the best stories get whispered there, with every breeze, by the leaves of those old trees. April has published multiple short stories and does not intend on stopping any time soon. When not writing, April can be found working as an English instructor at a number of colleges.

April recently launched Faery Cat Press with fellow author Laura Anne Gilman.

Find April Steenburgh

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And check out Twigloo Farms’ Patreon page!

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Interview: Debbie Mumford on “The Solitary Sorceress”

The Solitary Sorceress” by Debbie Mumford

It’s been ten years since the Firestone turned Kaitlyn into a sorceress to be reckoned with. Since that fateful day, she’s been in seclusion, mastering herself as well as the artifact. But now her mentor and friend, Aelfric, has died and King Lorien has called her to court to take her place as the King’s Magician. Is she ready? Can she maintain control of the Firestone while surrounded by courtiers?

The Solitary Sorceress” is one of the 15 tales in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, which is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

King Lorien had hailed her a hero, but the common folk had the right of it—they named her the Solitary Sorceress.

For that was the price the Firestone had demanded of Kaitlyn, that headstrong fourteen-year-old witchling. She had dared to summon the powerful talisman from its resting place and it had come to her in its quiescent state, a simple gold ring. But when she had claimed its power to defeat Darius, when she had placed the ring upon her finger, it had bonded with her flesh, sending tendrils into her very bones, wrapping her hand and wrist in a golden sheath that had extended to her forearm before the battle ended.

The Firestone made her invincible.

It also made her untouchable. Literally.

For once she was bonded to the talisman, no other human could lay so much as a finger on her, nor she on them.

—from “The Solitary Sorceress” by Debbie Mumford

The Interview

Kaitlyn, the protagonist in “The Solitary Sorceress,” controls the Firestone, a magical talisman she used to defeat an evil wizard and end a war. With this talisman she is invincible…but she can never touch another human being again. How did you come up with the idea for the Firestone, and what did you enjoy about using it in this story?

It’s interesting, the way story ideas appear and then blossom. The Firestone came about because I wanted to play with the idea of an untrained sorcerer’s apprentice discovering the existence of an ancient magical talisman and then deciding to call it forth… without fully understanding the object’s purpose or power and with no consideration of the cost of magic. Kaitlyn is a young teen in the first story, and acts impulsively, as teens so often do, even in our modern world.

I was pleased with Kaitlyn’s first tale, “Witchling,” but wasn’t really finished with the idea. What if the young sorceress was a little older? What if the war wasn’t against a wizard, but dragons? So I started over and wrote “Sorcha’s Heart,” which became the prequel to a series of epic fantasy novels that I call “Sorcha’s Children.”

It’s great fun to see where ideas take me. Kaitlyn’s ‘Firestone’ morphed into Sorcha’s ‘Heart of Fire.’ Both are powerful magical talismans that neither young sorceress was prepared to deal with, but they possessed totally different powers and demanded completely different costs. Fun stuff!

“The Solitary Sorceress” is one of three short stories you’ve written about Kaitlyn and the world she lives in. Do you plan to write more?

I’ve really enjoyed checking back in with Kaitlyn over the years. She and the Firestone were created in “Witchling.” Later, I was curious to see what had become of her as she dealt with the price of the magic she’d used so impulsively, so I wrote “The Solitary Sorceress.” Later still I wondered what kind of tasks she’d be called upon to perform in her new role, and “To Protect a Princess” was born. Each story amplifies Kaitlyn’s relationship with the Firestone and when I have time, I’ll probably write more stories. I’m still curious about what Kaitlyn and the Firestone are becoming!

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?

There are some fascinating legends from the Appalachians, and one line of my family hails from that region so I feel a connection. I don’t have a specific story in mind, but one of these days a character will tap me on the shoulder and demand to have their story told. I can’t wait to meet him or her.

You recently completed a Kickstarter campaign for your Kristi Lundrigan Mysteries, which are quilt-themed cozies with cats! Tell us about this fun series!

I love to read cozy mysteries and have thought about writing one for a long time, but I’m a fantasy writer with the occasional science fiction tale in my list. What did I know about writing mysteries? Not to mention the fact that the entire genre intimidated me. Finally, I took a class on writing mysteries which included a section on cozies, and decided I might as well give it a try. And boy, am I glad I did! Kristi’s first novel, “Delectable Mountain Quilting” is outselling all of my other books combined. Color me amazed.

As to the quilt theme, one of the assignments in that mystery class asked me to identify skills and interests that I might use to ground my character. Quilting was a natural for me. I taught quilting for many years, designed quilt patterns, and even had one of my quilts hung in the Colorado Lt. Governor’s office.

As for cats, well, what’s a cozy mystery without a cat?

Why did you decide to create a Kickstarter campaign, and how did you feel when you realized there were enough pledges to exceed the goal you’d set?

I’ve been curious about Kickstarter for a couple of years. Watching other campaigns and taking the occasional workshop on best practices. The first campaign I attempted failed to fund. I created it during a class and the teachers were very hands on, demanding to have editorial control and insisting that we follow their template to the letter. Of the twelve or so students in that group, only two or three had successful campaigns.

While mine failed, I learned a lot, and the next class I signed up for emphasized best practices rather than forcing its students into a mold. My first campaign under their guidance not only funded, but made it past the 150% mark! Kristi’s campaign also funded well above its goal, and I was delighted.

When I started this process, I felt a little squicky about it. I mean, in some respects, it felt like I was begging. But my current mentors encourage their students to look at Kickstarter as simply another market; another place readers can find your work. I’m a lot more comfortable with that concept and I’ve discovered it’s true. Kickstarter provides a lot of data on campaigns, which has allowed me to see that a sizable percentage of my backers in each campaign have been new to me, and in this business discoverability is everything!

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

I currently have several works in process. Novels, serials, short stories. You name it, and I’m writing it *lol*

I’m working on my second Kristi Lundrigan mystery right now. This one takes place during the Garnet County Fair and features a Pickle Dish quilt as well as a contest for the county’s best dill pickles. The working title is “In a Pickle.” Appropriate, don’t you think?

My alter-ego Deb Logan is also working on a few projects. Deb writes middle grade and young adult fantasy and science fiction. As Deb I’m venturing into Amazon’s new serial site, KDP Vella, which is due to launch in the very new future. Deb has two serials that will eventually be published in novel format: “Confessions of a Teenage Tree Sprite” for the young adult set, and “Prentiss Twins: White Buffalo” for middle grade readers. I’m really excited to see how KDP Vella functions once Amazon gets it off the ground!

About Debbie

Debbie Mumford specializes in speculative fiction—fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction. Author of the popular Sorcha’s Children series, Debbie loves the unknown, whether it’s the lure of space or earthbound mythology. Her work has been published in multiple volumes of Fiction River, as well as in Heart’s Kiss Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, and other popular markets. She writes about dragon-shifters, time-traveling lovers, and ghostly detectives for adults as Debbie Mumford, and science fiction and fantasy tales for children and young adults as Deb Logan.

Find Debbie

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic 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.

   
 

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Interview: Leah R. Cutter on “Dreams of Saffron and Lace”

Dreams of Saffron and Lace” by Leah R. Cutter

Regina Victoria Edmondson rules as Queen over the nursery she shares with her twin brother Tobias.

Except when she allows him to direct their play as Raj.

However, on the rambling country estate where they live, neither of them control the gardens, where time moves in an unorderly, disquieting fashion.

Secrets hide there.

Deadly secrets.

Dreams of Saffron and Lace” is one of the 15 tales in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, which is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

Tobias crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest. “I want to play something else.”

“Like what?” Regina asked. As Queen, she could afford to be magnanimous. That was a word she’d only just learned the week before. On the day before the funeral. When the Vicar had been talking about Mum and what a kind, giving person she’d been.

He’d been right. Their mum had been the best. When she’d been around, of course, and not off working on one of her charities or lunching with Someone Important.

“We could pretend we live at Misselthwaite Manor,” Tobias suggested. “Go searching for the secret garden.”

Regina couldn’t hide her shudder. “The gardens have their own secrets,” she whispered, afraid to speak out loud about the strange things she’d seen.

Particularly the back garden. The one far behind the house, at the edge of the estate property.

A fountain that never had any water in it, filled with a green-bronze statue of turtles, sat at the back of that garden. Old fieldstone walls separated it from the other gardens. Sharp white rocks made up the pathways. They gleamed like bones in the dim winter daylight. Nothing grew there, though maybe that was just the season and they’d see green shoots poking above the earth soon.

Time moved there, but not in an orderly fashion. Instead, it flowed against the current, then seemed to turn and overflow the banks, pushing both backwards and forwards.
An icy silence passed between Regina and Tobias.

Tobias liked that garden, giggled at the things he saw.

Regina…didn’t. And knew she never would.

—from “Dreams of Saffron and Lace” by Leah R. Cutter

The Interview

“Dreams of Saffron and Lace” takes place at an estate in England, after World War II. Where did you get the idea to set the story in this time and place?

The inspiration for the garden came from “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which I had re-read bits of the week before I wrote the story. Something about that haunted, hidden place, with the sick boy, spoke to my writer brain. It all got twisted around, though, and I came up with a very different story as a result.

Regina, the protagonist in “Dreams of Saffron and Lace,” is a complicated character. We want to root for her, even though she’s often cruel to her twin brother. What did you enjoy about creating her, and about writing the story from her point of view?

She was inspired by the main character in “The Secret Garden,” Mary Lennox. Mary was a sour and spoiled child at the start of the book. Eventually, the garden and the estate taught her to be a better person.

In this story, Regina doesn’t have a chance to learn. The potential is there. But fate works against her. So she’s left with trying to figure it all out on her own, without her brother. And failing.

Why do you think so many people are drawn to reading stories about magic?

Magic gives you an edge, to help set the world aright. Fantasy stories tend not to be noir. Things get set to right eventually. And magic helps you do that.

In addition, there’s frequently a sense of wonder with the magic. It isn’t mundane or everyday. There are always things to learn about the magic, how it works, what the limits are.

In addition, in the good stories, the magic always has limits. It’s nice to see balance that way.

Tell us about Mystery, Crime, and Mayhem!

Mystery, Crime, and Mayhem (MCM) is a quarterly mystery magazine that I publish. I have a syndicate of writers who submit stories based on the chosen theme for that quarter. It’s a year and a half old, and going splendidly! You can pick up copies at all reputable, and some not so reputable vendors.

Each new project you work on has to pass “the giggle test.” What does this mean, and why is this important to you.

Like many writers, I have *so many* ideas, so many things that I can write about. As I tend to write quickly, I get to chose projects frequently.

However, I don’t let marketing decisions drive the decision about what I get to write next. I am a full time writer. I need to enjoy what I’m writing. If I didn’t, that would be the quickest way to burnout that you can imagine.

So when I’m about to choose a new project, I think about whether or not writing it would delight me. Will writing this story about a serial killer makes giggle while I’m writing it (or even cackle maniacally?) Or instead, do I need to write this story about how a cute cat saves the world? Whichever project is guaranteed to make me giggle while I’m writing is the one that I choose.

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

I just finished a writing marathon, where I wrote a novel in a week. I’m actually taking tomorrow off from writing fiction and writing some non-fiction. Then, I have two “short” stories that I need to write. They are both Rabbit mysteries, that is, mysteries written from the point of view of Rabbit, a law clerk in a small town in China. The stories are set during the Tang Dynasty. I have a collection of these stories (The Rabbit Mysteries) already published, and am working on the stories for the second collection.

The second of the two “short” stories that I’m currently writing is for MCM. The theme is “The Contract.” What better to write about than Rabbit’s wedding contract?

These stories make me giggle so hard. Rabbit is a silly, light character with a tremendous amount of voice.

The only problem is that they really aren’t short. A short story tends to be less than 10,000 words. Rabbit stories tend to be between 15-18,000 words. So they’re long stories. And I need to finish both of them before the end of the month. Ack! Good thing I like writing.

About Leah

Leah Cutter writes page-turning fiction in exotic locations, such as a magical New Orleans, the ancient Orient, Hungary, the Oregon coast, rural Kentucky, Seattle, Minneapolis, and many others.

She writes literary, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror fiction. Her short fiction has been published in magazines like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Talebones, anthologies like Fiction River, and on the web. Her long fiction has been published both by New York publishers as well as small presses.

Find Leah

Website ~ Facebook ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic 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.

   
 

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Interview: Dayle A. Dermatis on “Telling the Bees”

Telling the Bees” by Dayle A. Dermatis

Some kind of weird Sleeping Beauty curse has hit a Portland, Oregon, suburb—the entire town has fallen asleep. Hedgewitch sisters Holly and Willow, and Holly’s fae familiar, Cam, head out to help. But “weird” doesn’t begin to describe what’s really happening…

Telling the Bees” is one of the 15 tales in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, which is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

I pulled into the parking lot of the Market of Choice, an Oregon-based grocery chain that wasn’t quite as hoity-toity as New Seasons or Whole Foods, but significantly above Safeway and the like.

I’d been here once before, seeking out Jayden. It had been in the middle of an unusually heavy snow season, but even then, there had been shoppers around. The market was behind a row of businesses, from a backyard bird shop to a Vietnamese pho place to a martial arts dojo. A Starbucks, of course. Can’t have a business area without a Starbucks. The local library and Post Office were nearby, too. The whole area was surrounded by tall trees, making it feel less strip-mall-y.

There were a few cars in the parking lot and along the street, but no pedestrians.

On a beautiful spring day like this, the area should have been teeming with soccer moms in yoga pants.

We opened our car doors, and as one, froze.

The sound…was wrong.

No cars, obviously, except the faint ones on the freeway bridge crossing the river, less than a mile away. No voices.

Only…humming.

Like a thousand—no, a million voices humming together, a wordless tune. Barely a tune, because each note lasted so long, and eased into the next without a pause or break.

—from “Telling the Bees” by Dayle A. Dermatis

The Interview

What aspects of folklore and mythology did you incorporate in “Telling the Bees,” and why?

The concept of telling the bees is a real thing. In Europe, beekeepers’ bees would be informed of important events in their keepers’ lives, such as marriages, births, and of course deaths. To not tell the bees about their keeper’s death, to not let them mourn and, perhaps, bridge the gap between life and death, could cause misfortune. The bees might leave, stop producing honey, or die. I find the idea that bees and their keepers have such a close bond fascinating.

You’ve written a couple of stories about Holly and Willow, the hedgewitches in “Telling the Bees.” What do you most enjoy about these characters, and do you plan to write more stories about them?

Holly and Willow, sister hedgewitches, started when I came up with the idea that witches’ familiars are actually the fae folk. The fae can shapeshift, which explains why familiars have been described in multiple forms (black cats, goats, whatever). My premise is that the fae are pure magic, which allow witches to channel/use magic. It’s kind of a symbiotic relationship.

The sisters have very different personalities. Holly is prickly (she fits her name). Willow is more floaty and gentle. They accept each other and get along well, but Willow generally is the face of their magic store, given her patience with customers.

Of course, Holly always manages to be behind the counter when a problem customer comes in…

I do want to write more stories, and hopefully novels, about them. Willow’s fae familiar has gone missing. I want to find out why (as I’m sure she does, too)!

Why do you think so many people are drawn to reading stories about magic?

I believe there is magic in the world, and fiction is one of ways people find it. When you get sucked into a book or movie or whatever, and you look up and hours have passed, and you feel like you were in a different world, isn’t that magical?

There’s magic in the glint of sunlight on flowing water, autumn leaves crunching beneath your feet, the scent of freshly mown grass. The curious carvings high up on city buildings and the mysterious alleys between those buildings. Laughter, and that deep bonding between friends.

And most of all, when you do something kind for someone. They feel good, and you feel good.

Readers seek magic in stories, and I hope that inspires them to experience the magic in their own lives.

Researching History for Fantasy Writers is a non-fiction book you wrote on how writers can make their fantasy worlds rich and compelling. Why did you write this book, and what did you yourself learn from the experience?

I loved loved loved high fantasy when I was younger. Then in my twenties, I joined the Society of Creative Anachronism, an international nonprofit group devoted to re-creating the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Unlike Renaissance Faires, we do it for fun and to learn the martial aspect as well as the arts and crafts.

And I found I couldn’t read high fantasy anymore, because it was so…detail-less.

A woman would be described as wearing a blue gown, but I had no idea what that gown looked like. The Middle Ages spanned a thousand years, and styles changed dramatically. So that finally compelled me to rant about it in a constructive way, which because Researching History for Fantasy Writers.

I asked friends for resources and information, and learned a lot from their research and knowledge. The book is part “think about this” and “this is almost always wrong” along with resources and how to use them (books, movies, websites, etc.).

You’re a founding member of the Uncollected Anthology, a group of writers who publish three urban and contemporary fantasy anthologies each year. What do you most enjoy about being a part of this collective?

I’m called the mastermind behind UA, because it was all my fault. I wanted to read more urban fantasy stories from my favorite author-friends. At the time, there was no way to “bundle” stories, and I didn’t want to be an accountant, so we agreed to publish our stories individually with a clear series cover and cross-promote each other.

I love the challenge of writing to a theme, but most of all I love reading the other authors’ stories.

You’ve written one novel and a number of short stories about Nikki Ashburne, a former party girl who accidentally overdoses, briefly dies, then wakes up able to see ghosts. Ghosted is Book 1…can you give us a sneak peek at what’s in store in book 2?

I set book 2, Shaded, aside during the pandemic because I just couldn’t access Nikki’s snarky voice. She’s back in my head now, I’m more than halfway through the book, and I’m going to be finishing it soon.

In Ghosted, Nikki had to strip herself down and learn to be alone—to be comfortable and solid with being alone. In Shaded, she makes tentative steps towards connecting with people she hopes she can trust, after the multiple betrayals she faced in Ghosted.

Shaded also brings more threats to the ghosts she calls friends. Power-hungry Wiccan wannabees—ugh! They’re the worst.

I’ll be following up that book with Spectered to round out the trilogy. I already know the shit I’m going to be throwing at Nikki, but not how she solves things and survives.

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

Right now I’m finishing up a commissioned nonfiction book about being a groupie, because the publisher knows my devotion to the group Styx. I prefer to call myself an über-fan. I’ve seen them about 150 times, they know who I am…but more importantly, I’ve made incredible friendships along the way: dear friends whom I spend time with even when there are no concerts to attend.

I “interviewed” those friends during 2020, and it was a delight to connect with them when the world was otherwise a dumpster fire.

When I was asked to write the book, I couldn’t stop giggling. How can this not be fun?

About Dayle

Dayle A. Dermatis is the author or coauthor of many novels (including snarky urban fantasies GhostedShaded, and Spectered) and more than a hundred short stories in multiple genres, appearing in such venues as Fiction River, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and DAW Books.

Called the mastermind behind the Uncollected Anthology project, she also guest edits anthologies for Fiction River, and her own short fiction has been lauded in many year’s best anthologies in erotica, mystery, and horror. 

She lives in a book- and cat-filled historic English-style cottage in the wild greenscapes of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time she follows Styx around the country and travels the world, which inspires her writing.

Find Dayle

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic 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.

   
 

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Interview: Leslie Claire Walker on “Angel Hunts”

When a cold-blooded magical assassin finds her heart, she’ll battle the forces of Heaven and Hell to protect her found family.

Night Sanchez braces for a fight when the Order of Assassins she betrayed finally tracks her down. But she could never expect a threat more dangerous than the Order to strike…

Until the Angel of Death threatens all she holds dear. To have any hope of defeating him, she must own her blood-drenched past and face the memory hidden deep within her mind. Can she unlock the secrets of her magic in time?

Angel Hunts is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

The air felt thick—almost too thick to breathe.

The woman who’d walked through the door stopped ten feet from me, a signal she intended to talk rather than attack. Really, it was unnecessary. If she’d meant to harm me, I’d never have seen or heard her coming.

She pushed back the hood of her black rain slicker. Her blond curls had grown all the way to her shoulders since the last time I’d run my fingers through them. The only makeup she wore on her porcelain face was a pale pink flush of lipstick; her dark blue eyes were sharp on me.

Sunday Sloan. Once upon a time, my salvation.

The halo around her body held a tint of rose red, life force flavored with a strong, blinding passion that she harnessed in everything she did, including her kills.

One look in the eyes of her victims, and she could literally blind them if she chose. She had a touch of the traditional psychic as well, not enough to actually see the future, but enough to guess what might happen that would affect her most and allow her to act accordingly.

The same magical gifts infiltrated her personal relationships. Her faults became hard to see. And once she made up her mind about a cause or a person, she gave them her unconditional, undying—blind—loyalty. I’d been on the receiving end of that loyalty. I’d thrown it away when I’d left the Order without saying goodbye.

Sunday Sloan was the Order’s MVP. Or MVO—most valuable operative.

If she was here, I was in deep trouble.

—from Angel Burns by Leslie Claire Walker

The Interview

Night Sanchez, the protagonist in Angel Hunts, left her blood-drenched past as part of the Order of Assassins, and adopted the young girl she’d been sent to kill. Night is complex and fascinating. How did you come up with her character?

Night was created during a workshop assignment on the Oregon Coast and honed during a year-long role playing game set in the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After I finished writing the third book in the Soul Forge’s sister series, the Faery Chronicles, I realized I wanted to write Night’s books. And so the workshop/RPG character became a richer, more well-rounded, more complicated human being through her adventures on the page.

Angel Hunts is the first book in your Soul Forge series, which includes assassins, angels, and elder gods. What was your favorite part about writing this series?

More than anything, I love bringing together characters who need each other into a single family of choice. Found family is an important theme in all my books and stories. While the representations of found family in TV, movies, books, and stories I’ve read have had an indelible influence on me, I’ve personally been in situations where bonding with family of choice has kept me housed, safe, and loved—and where I’ve been able to do the same for other people.

Night needs a family, and she needs to be family for others. Her love for her family of choice empowers her to embrace her humanity and reach for redemption while grounded in community.

The Soul Forge series is set in the same world as The Faery Chronicles. How do the two intertwine?

The first of the Faery Chronicles characters to appear in the Soul Forge show up in Book 3, Angel Falls—the witch, Stacy, and her friend Beth, apprentice to the Garden of Eden’s serpent. They surprised and delighted me when they insisted on a place in the story!

But it made sense. The events that take place in the Soul Forge series are world-altering for all beings. So naturally Night and crew draw the attention of the Faery King, Who happens in this universe to be a very important character in the Faery Chronicles.

All of the Soul Forge books from Angel Falls onward contain characters from the Faery Chronicles. The Faery Chronicles characters become an integral part of the team. And, eventually, family.

Why do you think so many people are drawn to reading stories about magic?

Anything that can’t be sufficiently explained by science is magic—I know I’m paraphrasing, but isn’t that how the saying goes?

There’s so much in this world that we can’t understand through science or even experience, so many things that happen that seem to be woven from serendipity, dreams, wishes, and mystery. Stories about magic allow us to inhabit worlds where those things are not only possible, but necessary to the fabric of life.

The magic in those stories becomes a part of us, and we bring some of that feeling back with us into our everyday lives. And that’s a gift.

“Fight or Flight,” which appears in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, is set in the same world as Angel Hunts. Each time Charlie, the protagonist in this story, hovers between life and death, he not only sees the future, he enters it. Have you written more stories about Charlie? If not, do you plan to?

I haven’t yet written other stories about Charlie, but he appears in Book 4 of the Soul Forge, Angel Strikes. It was fun to reunite Charlie with his mysterious friend Sunday Sloan.

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?

I’d love to explore the folkloric Crossroads in my writing. When I imagine it, I can see it out there—like catching a glance at something shiny from the corner of my eye. (The one thing I’m not interested in doing with it is exploring the Crossroads in terms of its use in living spiritual traditions. Those are not my tales to tell.)

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

I’m currently working on the first book of a paranormal romance series that I can best describe as James Bond meets Outlander meets Supernatural.

The hero is a former fae assassin pulled back into the fold for one last job, and the heroine is a human writer who desperately wishes for magic to be real. Both of them get far more than what they bargain for.

The most fun thing about this series so far is the freedom to go as bonkers as my muse wants. The first book is lighter in tone than the Soul Forge books, but with just as much magic and action, plus more romance!

About Leslie

Since the age of seven, Leslie Claire Walker has wanted to be Princess Leia — wise, brave, and filled with heart, even in the face of impossible odds. She is the author of the Awakened Magic Saga, which includes two complete series of interconnected urban fantasy novels and stories filled with magical assassins, fallen angels, faeries, and found family. Leslie currently lives in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest with a cast of spectacular characters, including cats, harps, and too many fantasy and romance novels to count.

Find Leslie

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Find the Wild Magic bundle!

The Wild Magic 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.

   
 

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Interview: Rei Rosenquist on “A Worthwhile Sacrifice”

A Worthwhile Sacrifice” by Rei Rosenquist

Cedar had a simple task: get water from the northern well and bring it back to their town before dark, when all doors are sealed with magical locks to keep everyone safe inside.

Instead of completing the task on time, Cedar got distracted and dawdled.

But the wolves come every night, and tonight is no different.

A Worthwhile Sacrifice” is one of the 15 tales in the Magicks & Enchantments anthology, which is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.

Excerpt

The wolves come every night. Right after dusk. As the sky becomes deep purple-gray and the air fills with the heavy scent of damp grass, we wait with piqued ears for the horn blasts that signal the beasts’ approach. Sealed up in our huts, with our magical locks drawn on every door in time, we watch their ferocity slam useless against meager wooden structures their strong bodies should—by all rights—break. But the magic protects our flesh and blood. A complex set of simple sigils drawn in charcoal on the back of the main door is all it takes to keep the monsters away. But, should any of us fail this one simple task, we are guaranteed a gruesome death.

At the first signs of the sun growing low, the entire town gathers together. Master Lock Maker and five skilled assistants draw the necessary locks on the main doors. The doors click shut just as the sun flashes and disappears. The whole town harbors all together in the sitting rooms of the most central homes. We sit beside the fire, eat and drink, knit or weave, read old scrolls, and talk story. We do everything but delay in our coming to this mandatory nightly gathering.

Today, foolishly, I’ve delayed.

—from “A Worthwhile Sacrifice” by Rei Rosenquist

The Interview

“A Worthwhile Sacrifice” is set in a town where magical locks are drawn anew each evening to keep the inhabitants safe from the wolves who come every night. What inspired you to write this fascinating story?

It all began as a recurring nightmare. The nightmares started out where I was inside a rather antique-style wooden house and someone I cared about was outside. The wolves were coming, and I had to try to get them inside with enough time to “lock” the door. As the dreams progressed, I would be outside while the wolves started coming, and I would have to gather people and try to help get us all to safety. Once I started writing this story, the nightmares slowly stopped coming. But, there were plenty of them! So, this story is actually the first in an upcoming series of short stories which I will later be collecting into a full-length novel.

Love and connection are common themes in your writing, and are key elements in “A Worthwhile Sacrifice.” Why do you so regularly focus on these themes?

The genre of romance is really where I fell in love with reading. I had always been drawn to stories in different forms, but as a child, I struggled with reading. I started learning to read & write in a German public school in the mountains outside of Frankfurt. Then, at age 9, my family returned to the USA, and without any extra tutoring, I was abruptly switched to an all-English education. It wasn’t until I picked up a Harlequin romance book from the local library bookshop that the struggle with words finally melted away. The reason I believe it was the romance genre that drew me in was because connection is another area where I have struggled in life. As a queer, nonbinary individual with undiagnosed neuro-divergency and c-PTSD from childhood trauma, I’ve always found human relationships extremely challenging. Writing about them allows me to explore relationships while at the same time gives me the space to express through my characters how important I truly think they are.

Why do you think so many people are drawn to reading stories about magic?

I think magic reminds us of how big the world is, how there’s so much we don’t know, and also how powerful we are. Magic gives us hope that there are still mysteries out there we haven’t solved, still beauty we haven’t seen, deep truths we haven’t touched. And stories about people discovering magic in themselves and in their world helps us believe that there is something bigger and deeper inside ourselves. It’s a very empowering kind of story, to discover and wrestle with a great powerful force and to overcome by sheer will and determination. Magic reminds us that even when we feel small, we are so much greater than we believe we are. We matter somehow, somewhere, to someone. Even if we feel we can’t answer the how, where, or to whom we matter, magical tales remind us that we each matter in a big way. And that gives us hope to carry on.

You call yourself a semi-nomad. Where haven’t you been yet, but would love to go to—and why?

I have yet to go anywhere on the African continent due to the complicated and negative nature of being a western white tourist there. However, I do hope to be able to travel to several places on the African continent at some point in my life once I am working in wildlife conservation. It would be a privilege to work with the many different cultures there and lend a helping hand to their massive conservation efforts working with elephants and big cats in particular. But, I have a lot of work to do both professionally in the animal field and personally in educating myself more about different African cultures and white privilege before I am prepared to make that journey.

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?

Yes! I have just started retelling several of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, and the more research I do into the origins of these stories, the more I have uncovered lore that I would love to write about. I am drawn to the darker tellings of “children’s stories,” as these were always the narratives I resonated with as a child. There are only a handful of the Grimm stories that have reached pop culture, and I am excited to retell some of the darker, grittier ones that deal with difficult themes such as cannabalism and child abuse.

You rescue birds! How has this impacted your life?

One really interesting impact that rescuing birds has had was that it made me turn an eye inward to my own childhood damage. As I did so, I began examining the kinds of stories I was telling. I read through several unpublished stories I’d written long ago and examined how I expressed relationships in them. What I was surprised to see was how similar the main character’s narrative was to the story of my rescue birds. Terrified of others, turning to aggression out of a need to protect oneself, and this resulting in an isolated, lonely, and powerless existence. To bring this back to your previous question, I think a big part of being able to start telling stories about love and connection instead of isolation and despair has been largely because of my work in learning to rescue birds.

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

One of the projects I’m really excited about right now is a series of short fantasy stories that I will be releasing over the next several months. What’s fun about these stories is that while they’re not connected by main characters or even worlds, they are connected in the theme of coming of age and identity. Each one deals with a nonbinary character who sees their identity in a unique way. Each face a unique struggle and find their identity to be key in their success as individuals in the bigger world. It’s an exploration that I feel very deeply, and it’s great fun to experiment with different ways of being in wildly different worlds from our own!

About Rei

Rei Rosenquist is a queer agender (they/them) speculative fiction and romance writer who depicts a wide variety of identities struggling to find a place in a wide variety of worlds. They are also a barista, baker, musician, and lifelong semi-nomad.

Rei first remembers life as seen out the high window of a hotel balcony. Down below is a courtyard, swarms of brightly dressed tourists, and the beach. The memory is nothing but a blue-green washed image. Warmth and sunlight. Here, they are three years old, and this is the beginning of a storyteller’s life. Over the years, Rei has  traveled to many countries, engaged many peoples, picked up new habits, and learned new languages. Across lands, they find constant inspiration in the stories we tell each other, the food we share with one another, the music we make together, and the world we can build when we allow ourselves to dream.

Find Rei

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

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