One Dark Summer Night: The Stories behind the Story

The overarching story from One Dark Summer Night is a fairly typical one for the fae: the fae have been interfering with the mortals again, and have left behind them a changeling—or possibly more than one. The main twist in the tale comes when several human scientists at an isolated university in the Midwest decide to not just try to banish the changelings, but experiment upon them.

In building the world of the novel (which I’m working into a series), I pulled together several different sources of stories. I didn’t really consider what I was doing at the time; I was under deadline and was trying to pull everything together as quickly as possible. But sometimes the muse provides gifts that we only realize later.

What I found, when I went to look back at what I had written, was that my sources split into two groups: traditional tales and some “urban legends” from when I was going to college, rumors that were so unsubstantiated that I can’t even remember if I’m getting them straight.

On the more traditional side, my inspirations are the stories about the fae and changelings, and (to a much lesser extent) about vampires.

The legend of changelings, or mortal babies swapped for ones from the fae, seems to be common across several different cultures, but the ones I know best are from the stories of W.B. Yeats’s Folk and Fairy Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888), which I probably know at about exactly the right level for a writer—well enough to inspire, but not well enough to be obsessively accurate about.

From Yeats’s section on Changelings:

“Sometimes the fairies fancy mortals, and carry them away into their own country, leaving instead some sickly fairy child, or a log of wood so bewitched that it seems to be a mortal pining away, and dying, and being buried. Most commonly they steal children. If you “over look a child,” that is look on it with envy, the fairies have it in their power.”

And, toward the end of that section:

“Those who are carried away are happy, according to some accounts, having plenty of good living and music and mirth. Others say, however, that they are continually longing for their earthly friends. Lady Wilde gives a gloomy tradition that there are two kinds of fairies—one kind merry and gentle, the other evil, and sacrificing every year a life to Satan, for which purpose they steal mortals.”

The idea has caught at me ever since I read that: the fae have someone else they owe a debt to, which causes them to act against mortals.

In addition, it seems that many of the fairy mounds of Ireland were originally burial mounds from pre-Christian to early-Christian Irish pagans (depending on the site, they may instead have been temporary fortifications). The mounds were held as sacred, being under the protection of the Aos Sí who lived there. That is, the same fae who would sometimes snatch up a child or adult, and replace them with someone who wasted and died. Or would abduct someone entirely, returning them to their homes a hundred years later, seemingly untouched by time.

The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like the fae in Ireland served the same purpose as vampires did in Eastern European mythology: to mediate a half-world between the living and the dead.

My fae aren’t vampires; they don’t suck blood. But the idea that the fae weren’t exactly cute little fluttery things from a Disney movie was definitely set in my head, and my fae are perfectly willing to commit violence upon anyone who crosses them—and to replace them with changelings.

On the less traditional side of my inspirations for the story, that is, the “urban legend” side, the inspirations are much harder to track down—in fact, so hard to track down that I’m not going to explicitly name my alma mater, because of the complete lack of accuracy.

Some of the stories (whether accurate, genuine legends, “urban legends,” or wisps of rumor) that I remember include:

  • There were tunnels that ran underneath the entire campus, but that no one used anymore because they were either unsafe or haunted.
  • Grad students in biology had to secretly vivisect dogs in order to pass their classes, as a sort of rite of passage.
  • The Spirit Mound, a Native American site outside my alma mater, was haunted by ghosts, dangerous spirits, or the “little people,” who once wiped out a band of over 350 warriors in a single night.
  • An old highway bridge in the town had been half-destroyed, and the half that still remained was haunted (it was definitely creepy and covered with layers and layers of graffiti).
  • There were Wendigo (dark, cannibalistic spirits from Native tribes nowhere near where I went to college) in the woods near the river.
  • Several gay people had been murdered by frat boys out in those same woods by hanging, and their ghosts would appear on tree branches (as far as I can find out, this one definitely wasn’t true).

Some other elements that got thrown in include sculptures and Shakespeare.

While I was at the school, there were a number of art students who had a propensity for welding all sorts of strange things together, adding found objects, and leaving their sculptures in town—I think they were just leaving the sculptures at their rental houses, but at the time it seemed Strange and Mysterious, and it stuck in my head.

And the theater department was (and is, if I understand correctly) top-notch, and had a specialty of pulling off excellent Shakespeare. The lead Shakespearean when I went was a professor named Dr. Ron Moyer, who unfortunately passed in 2018. While I was there, he passed on a small sliver of his love for the bard to me—especially regarding Midsummer’s.

Because I was in such a hurry, the other elements in the story are pretty much as given: the train-car diner, the winding trail down to the other side of town, the train tracks, the various trailer courts, and the all-night grocery store.

I’ve returned to the college since I graduated several times, and it’s no longer the same town that I remember; it’s no longer magical, and no longer creepy or dangerous. (And the diner, which passed through several iterations, is gone.) A lot of the things that were broken back then have been removed or replaced. It’s a cleaner, shinier, more well-maintained place. People have died, disappeared, moved on: it feels like a different town now. Not quite a changeling of what it once was, but definitely a replacement.

I hadn’t realized, as I was hurriedly writing a story about what was “really” going on underneath the surface of the town, that I was really writing about my nostalgia for those days: the crazy adventures that I had with friends, the lonely, cold nights of walking out in the woods by the river (and thinking: I hope the frat boys don’t get me), the sense that things were decaying more than anyone wanted to admit.

I was also writing about how the headiness of those days had faded. The people I had known were gone, dead, or changed. The town itself had moved on, and only some weird half-twisted memories in my head remained.

I wrote this story because I wanted to capture the feel of the town—and then the feel of everything being wrecked and changed afterward, to write about what it felt like to suddenly find out that it was all gone. In the story, everything is destroyed in a matter of hours rather than decades, but the gradual passage of time does tend to come as a shock, the first time you catch it happening.

Everyone has a first love, I suppose; underneath the words that I wrote is the story of my first real love of a place, and the way it became something I didn’t recognize, and never was the way I thought it was in the first place.

But these things happen. That’s one of the reasons the fae are still around. How would we be able to describe the world without them?

About DeAnna

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

Find DeAnna

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One Dark Summer Night 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…

   
 

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Spotlight: “Faery Prophet” by Leslie Claire Walker

Faery Prophet is the second book in Leslie’s Young Adult series Faery Chronicles. Will the blossoming powers of a faery seer’s apprentice be strong enough to prevent a demon from rising? Or will he lose, and become a demon himself?

The first two books in this series, Faery Novice and Faery Prophet, are available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

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

Excerpt

“Thanks,” she said. “This anger thing? It’s not about him. It’s not even about my mother. It’s like power surges or something. I can’t control when it happens. I can barely keep from punching my fist through the wall. And I know stuff. It just pops into my head. Like what you are. And where to find you—like I could…”

“What?”

She hesitated. “Smell you. From all the way across town.”

“The only people I know who can do that aren’t human. But you are.”

“Not entirely.”

I blinked at her.

She flushed. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“No.”

“Maybe not to you. You’re a freak who hangs out with other freaks.” She sucked in a breath. “No offense.”

I tried not to take any. After all, it was kind of accurate. “So if you’re not one-hundred-percent human, what else are you?”

The words tumbled out fast and low, for my ears only. “Demon, I think. Like you said.”

I couldn’t think of a worse thing. Not one. “How?”

“I found some stuff in my mom’s diary. Stuff about my real dad. I was looking for money, you know? Sometimes she hides bills in there. I mean, she hasn’t written anything in it for years, but she still keeps it. And it says outright that my actual dad wasn’t human. That she had suspicions when she met him, but she didn’t find out for sure until after I was born. She said my eyes were red, Rude. They turned blue, the way other kids’ eyes start out blue when they’re born and then turn brown.”

I studied her face. She didn’t seem to be making up any of this. She spoke the dead-on truth as she understood it. “Whoa.”

“Exactly. What do I do?”

— from Faery Prophet by Leslie Claire Walker

About Leslie

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

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

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

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

Find Leslie

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Spotlight: “Windmaster’s Bane” by Tom Deitz

In Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, tales are told of strange lights, of mysterious roads…of wondrous folk from enchanted realms. All these are hidden from mortal men, and those who have the gift to look on them are both blessed and doomed…

Young David Sullivan never dreamed that the myths of marvels and magic he loved were real. But in his blood was the gift of Second Sight. And near his family’s rural farm lay an invisible track between worlds…where he would soon become a pawn in the power game of the Windmaster, an evil usurper among those the Celts called the Sidhe. David’s only protection would be a riddle’s answer and an enchanted ring…as he began his odyssey of danger into things unknowing and unknown…

Windmaster’s Bane 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

A sound.

A sound of Power.

A low-pitched thrum like an immense golden harp string plucked once and left to stand echoing in an empty place.

And then, ten breaths later, another.

But it was the golden Straight Tracks between the Worlds that rang along their sparkling lengths, as they sometimes did for no reason the Sidhe could discover—and they had been trying for a very long time. Success eluded them, though, for the half-seen ribbons of shimmering golden light that webbed the ancient woods and treacherous seas of Tir-Nan-Og—and which here and there rose through the skies themselves like the trunks of immense fiery trees—were not of Sidhe crafting at all, and only partly of their World.

In some Worlds they were seen differently, and in some—like the Lands of Men—they were not seen. This much the Sidhe knew and scarcely more, except something of how to travel upon them—and that was a thing best done only at certain times.

Yet the Tracks were there, in all Worlds. And they had Power—in all Worlds. For Power was the thing of which they were chiefly made.

— from Windmaster’s Bane by Tom Deitz

About Tom

Tom Deitz grew up in Young Harris, Georgia, a small town not far from the fictitious Enotah County of Windmaster’s Bane, and earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Georgia. His major in medieval English literature led Mr. Deitz to the Society for Creative Anachronism, which in turn generated a particular interest in heraldry, historic costuming, castle architecture, British folk music, and all things Celtic. In Windmaster’s Bane, his first published novel, Tom Deitz began the story of David Sullivan and his friends, a tale continued in Fireshaper’s Doom and more books in the series. He won a Georgia Author of the Year award for his work and a Lifetime Phoenix Award from Southern fans. In addition to his writing, in private life a self-confessed car nut, Tom was also a popular professor of English at Gainesville State College (today the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia), where he was awarded the Faculty Member of the Year award for 2008. On the day after his birthday in 2009, he suffered a massive heart attack and in April of that year he passed away at the age of 57. Though he was never able to realize his dream of owning a small castle in Ireland, Tom had visited that country, which he loved, and at the time when he was stricken with the heart attack he was in the planning stages for a Study Abroad trip to Ireland that he would have led. The trip took place, and some of Tom’s teaching colleagues scattered his ashes in a faery circle.

You can learn more about Tom and his work at Wikipedia.

   
 

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Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 2

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 2 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Diana Benedict, author of “Summerland’s Paladin”
  • Rebecca M. Senese, author of “Holly vs. Oak”
  • Stefon Mears, author of “A Last Meal for the Holly King”

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

Diana Benedict
Mythology and ancient stories give me this wondrous feeling inside my deepest self. I never got this from the religion I was raised in. The feeling is sacred and I wish I could hold on to it for more than the brief times I feel it. Working with these elements allows me to immerse myself in the wonder I find in them, so I often find myself working with these kinds of stories.

Rebecca M. Senese
I love the clash of different influences coming together to see where they will take me. I wouldn’t just take a myth or legend on its own, I’ll mix it up, either with another myth or twist the interpretation of it. I enjoy following where these surprising twists will take me in my stories.

Stefon Mears
I get to use my degree! Okay, I’m only half-joking there. I do have a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies with a double-emphasis in Ritual and Mythology. But honestly, I got that degree because they were already major fields of interest for me, and I reveled in the excuse to study them formally.

When I was a kid, I did have a few regular children’s books on my bookshelves, but I had even more children’s versions of Greek and Norse myths. And those were my favorites. I must’ve read the story of Thesus a hundred times. Even at school, I found the folklore section of my grade school library (pretty small, but still), and read the whole thing (coincidentally leading to my interest in vampires and werewolves).

Plus, I grew up in a household where both sides told stories. My mom and her mother told the old Irish tales, including some versions that vary a bit from the mainstream interpretations. My father was an ex-navy man, and told some of the old folklore of the sea.

Honestly, I could go on and on about this. But key here is that myths, legends and folklore have always been a part of my life. Elements of them work their way into pretty much everything I write, one way or another. And to have an excuse to explicitly write about mythic, legendary or folkloric figures just makes me smile and gets my fingers moving.

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

Diana Benedict
There is something really primal about struggling to survive the winter, relying on your crops and animals, that, hopefully, are enough to carry you through to spring, hunkering down as the world shuts down, freezes over, and becomes tinged with desperation.

I was afraid of winter as a child. My father worked construction and was often laid off in the winter. As a voracious reader, I worried that, like the characters I read about, our family would run out of money for heat and food, and we would be reduced to huddling in front of the stove, with empty bellies. It never happened, thank heavens, but I will not eat ham and bean soup to this day.

I also worried about the animals and the tiny birds that were out there in the world, exposed to nature’s cruelest time.

When I found that Christmas was really a winter solstice celebration, and that people went whole hog in celebrating their survival and their hopes that they would manage to make it until the world woke up, I was heartened.

The image of Victorian people wearing heavy clothing carolled, their sweet, clear voices mingling with their cloudy breath as the sound rose into the snowy night is a powerful one for me, evoking a mixed shudder of cold and a triumphant joy in my heart.

Stefon Mears
I think it’s the rebirth element. In the Celtic tradition — which is what I drew on for “A Last Meal for the Holly King” — Midwinter and Midsummer are two of the four solar poles of the year (the others being the equinoxes). And at each of the two, one figure dies and the other ascends into prominence.

I’ve heard people try to compare this to the idea of the new year as portrayed in American popular culture, in which the old year — represented by an old man with a long beard — dies at midnight on New Year’s Eve and the new year — represented by a baby — is born.

But that’s not the way it works in the Celtic tradition. In the Celtic tradition, two great kings — the Holly King and the Oak King — do battle on the solstices. At Midsummer, the Holly King kills the Oak King. The days grow shorter, leading into fall and winter. At Midwinter, the Oak King kills the Holly King, and the days grow longer, leading into spring and summer.

These are not quite battles of equals. In each case, a young king defeats an old king in ritual combat. This is as it must be. The Wheel of the Year must turn.

Implicit in this, though rarely discussed openly, is the rebirth element. In fact, in modern American Pagan ritual depictions of the solstices, often the old king is defeated, but not slain.

I think that misses part of the point. The rebirth element. One king is slain, but reborn immediately. He will grow until he is ready to do battle at the next solstice. Winter arising during summer, and summer within winter. Cycles within cycles.

I think it’s that rebirth element that compelled me to write “A Last Meal for the Holly King”.

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?

Diana Benedict
The Middle East, especially Greece and Crete. I read my first Greek myth at seven and was entranced. I devoured everything the librarians could find. I read them over and over.

I will go. I will.

Stefon Mears
Part of the reason I enjoy writing contemporary and urban fantasy is that I like to see the wondrous in the world around me. Heck, the first urban fantasy novel I wrote — Caught Between Monsters — begins with a struggle with a ghoul in an alley behind an abandoned shopping center. Very much the kind of wasteland or forgotten graveyard that lurks in every city and suburb.

I have to admit, though, that after moving back to Oregon back in 2011, I’ve really fallen in love with writing about the Pacific Northwest. There’s a sense of wildness and magic to the whole region. I really hope I do it justice in my stories.

I set “A Last Meal for the Holly King” in Oregon partially because the Oregon forests feel ancient and mythic to me. An appropriate setting for such a tale.

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?

Diana Benedict
A centaur. I love the idea of centaurs. When I found out they were likely the first images of horsemen, it made sense, but the centaur mythos was already firmly planted in my imagination. I always see Charon first in my mind before I see the warrior men riding horses as they descend upon a hapless city.

But centaurs have a lot of inherent biological or physiological problems. My concrete nature wars with my fantasy-loving heart, and I can’t put them in a story until I can figure out a way they would work realistically. Or reasonably realistically.

Rebecca M. Senese
There are so many myths and legends that I would like to use at some point in my writing, either in my Crossroad City Tales series or my other series. I’m currently using a Siren in another series. At some point, I would like to write about Changelings. That’s just one of many myths I’d love to write about.

Stefon Mears
Before I could answer this one, I had to walk away from my computer for a few minutes so I could stop laughing.

Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, so much yes. I’m not even sure I know where to start listing them. From Baba Yaga and Koschei the Deathless (Russian) to Fintan and the Fir Bolg (Celtic) to more than I can list here. I mean, I’ve barely touched some of the ones I’ve already used (rakshasas and the fomhóraigh to name only two), and I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the Norse and Greek and…

I need to stop. I have a book to write.

Question for Diana Benedict:
“Summerland’s Paladin” begins with Todd running for his life from his half-brothers. As his brothers close in, a talking raven speaks to him. Todd follows the bird through a tunnel of branches and finds himself in Faerie. Did you incorporate any mythology in creating the talking raven, and what did you enjoy about writing the raven’s character?

Well, there are ravens in all kinds of cultures and that gave me lots of options to play with. Plus, they are super smart. The people of the age knew they were smart.

Odin had ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (desire). They flew out every morning and did reconnaissance, sharing what they learned with Odin, so he learned new things.

Native Americans have ravens, referring to them as world creators or tricksters.

I have always been impressed with how smart they are. They are wonderful problem solvers in research studies; they can recognize faces and will share information about dangerous people with the fellow flock members; they are generous and reciprocal in nature, often gifting presents to people who share food with them.

When I was camping at the Grand Canyon, they told us to not leave our sewer hoses out for longer than it took to drain the tanks because the ravens would poke holes in them. They would also steal food given the chance.

I also love talking animals so it was no surprise that should love Ri Fiach, the Raven King. He is wise, he is old, and he has a good grip on the best way to problem solve given his wisdom and understanding of the situation. He knew Todd was the answer to Summerland’s problem.

I would love to use him in a story again some time. I probably will. Yeah. I am going now to make notes about what kind of a story that might be.

Question for Stefon Mears:
In “A Last Meal for the Holly King,” your protagonist runs into the Holly King the day before the winter solstice. You pulled a number of elements from mythology and folklore into this story. Which ones are your favorites, and why?

Well, some of this I addressed above about Midwinter, and some I want to hold back for fear of spoiling the story. But I’ll confess to this one, because it always makes me smile.

If you meet an old man or woman on the road—especially if that person is in distress—help them. Because if you happen to be in a folktale, there’s a better than even chance that this person is magical in some way, and will repay your kindness.

Careful though. This isn’t transactional. If you offer help anticipating that you’ll get something, you won’t. It has to be a sincere offer of assistance out of kindness, or the goodness of one’s heart.

In “A Last Meal for the Holly King”, the situation is a little more complicated than the third child going out to seek his/her fortune. But for me, that just makes the encounter more interesting.

Question for Rebecca M. Senese:
You’ve written several stories about Maeve Hemlock. Maeve is a detective with the Spells and Misdemeanours Bureau in Crossroad City, where magic and the normal world collide after the Great Tear opened a rift between the dimensions of the normal world and the Nether Realm. What do you enjoy about writing stories set in Crossroad City, and what’s your favorite part about this story in particular?

As I mentioned in my response about weaving elements of myth and legend, I love using the backdrop of a city caught near a magical rift and playing with where that could lead, especially adding in a mystery element. I have great fun riffing on the hard-boiled detective idea but she’s also a faerie, which brings in a whole other side and area that can be complicated.

In “Holly vs Oak,” I enjoyed having a chance to dive a little deeper into Maeve’s home life back in the North Court before she became a detective in the city. I also liked taking the idea of the change from midsummer to midwinter and turning it into an exhibition fight, as a twist on the legend and giving it a modern feel.

Find the authors!

Diana Benedict

Website ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Rebecca M. Senese

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Stefon Mears

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!

   
 

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Mythology of The Faery Chronicles

Faeries. Angels. Gods. Demons.

All of these figure into the mythology of the Faery Chronicles and its sister series, the Soul Forge. This is supposed to be a post about that mythology—and it is. But I have a particular relationship with mythology, so I’m going to come at this topic a little sideways.

Most of the time, an author chooses one kind of supernatural being to inhabit the world of a novel or series. They build—or borrow—the mythology of their world from there, creating elaborate kingdoms, hierarchies, and relationships among supernatural beings, and between the supernatural and the human.

That’s how things began with the first book in the Faery Chronicles, too. Faery Novice started out as a story about what happens when Kevin Landon, our human teenager who wants nothing more than to escape his alcoholic father. He wants a full ride scholarship to a college of his choice. A new life. A normal life. What happens when he discovers he’s anything but? When he realizes he has a magical power that makes him the target of the Faery King?

Unpleasant shenanigans ensue.

Faeries in popular stories in Western culture are often conceived of as tiny, wish-granting beings with wings. These beings bear little resemblance to the real deal.

Yes, I did just call faeries “real.”

Many cultures all over the world have stories about the beings we call faeries. It seems foolish to wave away hundreds (or thousands) of years of tradition as superstition—as if Western peoples don’t have our own stories and myths.

So, who am I talking about when I talk about the fae? While some may be small in stature and may, under certain circumstances, appear to grant wishes, they have their own purposes in these cultural stories. Some like humans, and some don’t. Some are helpful, and some are hostile. Humans have maintained friendly relations with the fae—or appeased them—by observing and following culturally-mandated rules around appropriate behavior and offerings.

Don’t cut down that hawthorn tree. Don’t build your house on top of that ley line or fairy track. Don’t eat blackberries after Samhain. Do offer cream or butter.

In some cultures, the fae are the primordial forces deep within the land. The guardians of forests, lakes, and rivers. The keepers of mountains. The shapers of fate, fertility, and prosperity, among many other things. The fae are not and have never been human. They don’t think like humans or have the same morality, motivations, or goals. We forget this at our peril.

That is who the fae are in Faery Novice. And Kevin Landon, normal human teenager turned instant freak, has no choice but to deal with them as exactly who and what they are.

Faery Prophet
, the second Faery Chronicles book, brings demons and gods into the mix. After all, all three types of beings, or stories about them, are found or told in our world. Why shouldn’t they co-exist in the world of the Faery Chronicles, too?

So, demons: Are they individual beings bent on tempting and damning humans, or are they metaphors for the impulses and psychological complexes that cause us fear and shame?

In Faery Prophet, Rude Davies battles both. As the city’s only magical law enforcement, it’s his job. He’s afraid he’s not enough to take on an apocalypse—and he might be right. But people without the kind of power he wields—without any magic at all—battle their own demons every day. Who is he to give up when the odds stack against him?

Rude must contend not just with demons, but with the local god as well. Malek, the serpent from the Garden of Eden, holds the kind of power that changes the course of entire worlds. What do you do when someone like that gives you an order you don’t want to follow? What if, to do what you know in your heart is right, you have to break a promise to a god like him?

Rude must decide whether and how to stand up to power greater than his own. That’s a lot of trouble wrapped inside a tall order.

The question of angels—what they are and what purposes they serve—rises in the sister series to the Faery Chronicles, the Soul Forge books.

In the Soul Forge, angels are keepers of universal natural law. Some are better than others at following the rules. Some are friends to humans, and others are downright dangerous to life and limb, not to mention souls.

Book One of the Soul Forge, Angel Hunts, introduces heroine Night Sanchez. A former magical assassin on the run, Night faces a perfect storm. The Order she ran from tracks her down, magical law enforcement wants her dead, and the Angel of Death just wants her. Every action she takes to protect the people she loves draws her deeper into the machinations of angels looking to thwart or set off the capital-A Apocalypse.

That problem requires serious out-of-the-box thinking to solve, and a willingness to risk everything. As is often said, freedom isn’t free. What kind of price is Night willing to pay for hers? What price would you pay?

Can humans and angels—and faeries and gods and demons—come together to defeat a common enemy, solve life-and-death problems, and come to value each other for the unique gifts each brings to the table?

These are the kinds of questions I’m interested in asking.

There are so many ways to answer, and the characters in the Faery Chronicles and the Soul Forge try over and over again to do that in the novels, and in the many novelettes and short stories set in the same universe.

So, what about the mythology in these books and stories, and my particular relationship with mythology in general? How does all of this tie together?

I see the world as steeped in myth. For me, a shift in vision or a step sideways, a change in light or a heartfelt understanding can bring about a deep feeling of connection with the natural world and with others. Sometimes, I read myths as helpful instructions of what to do—or what not to do. Sometimes, I read them as allegories or metaphors. And, sometimes, I read them as if they are absolutely true.

I believe humans are at our best when we recognize all of our qualities, not just the ones we might feel proud of, but the ones we want to hide. I believe each one of us is enough.

I believe that humans are at our best when we’re in a state of connection with ourselves, each other, the natural world around us, those that have gone before us, and those who will come after. I believe we’re all interconnected, and the sooner we see our own reflection in a stranger’s eyes, the sooner we’ll realize there’s no such thing as a stranger.

We’re all here to help each other. Kindness goes a long way. Hope is everything.

So, faeries, demons, gods, and angels aside, that is the mythology in the Faery Chronicles and the Soul Forge. Except it’s not mythology at all. It’s the characters’ truth. And it’s mine.
 

About Leslie

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

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

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

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

Find Leslie

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Faerie Novice and Faery Prophet are 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…

   
 

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Spotlight: Books 1-3 of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

Arianna peered into the wavy silvered glass, and jutted out her chin. The birthmark was the size of her thumbprint, darker than the rest of her already dark skin, and as obvious as the pimples the new hearth boy had.

She pulled her dressing gown tighter, then glanced behind her. Still no maid. Good. Her bedroom was empty. Sunlight poured in the open window, and the birds in the garden chirruped. The bed was made, and she had thrown her new gown on the coverlet. The dress had a low-cut bodice, which her father wouldn’t approve of, and a cinched waist that tapered into a flared skirt. The dressmaker had begged her not to use that pattern, but Arianna had stared the woman down.

The last I knew, Arianna had said in her best haughty voice, I was the Princess. Has someone given my title to you?

The dressmaker had had the grace to blush. She had done what Arianna wanted, knowing that if she didn’t the palace wouldn’t hire her again.

The palace might not hire her again anyway. Arianna had heard the woman curse when she thought Arianna wasn’t in the room.

Demon spawn.

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

About Kris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Charlotte

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

Find Charlotte

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Spotlight: “Daughter of Winter” by Amber Argyle

In Amber Argyle’s Daughter of Winter Elice, the Winter Queen’s daughter, lives a life of isolation in the land of ice and snow, unaware that she is a key part of a bargain that was made long, long ago.

When a whaling ship crashes just offshore, Elice doesn’t hesitate to rescue the lone survivor, Adar, who quickly becomes her friend. But the closer Elice and Adar become, the more desperate she is to keep him hidden from her mother at all costs.

For if the Winter Queen discovers Adar trespassing, she’ll kill him.

When her mother reveals just how dark her soul has become, Elice realizes she is as much a prisoner as Adar. Worse, she begins to see hints of something more nefarious. The darkness that has taken hold of her mother is spreading, staining the world with its influence.

Daughter of Winter 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

Her grandfather rested a hand on her shoulder. “She’s your mother and she loves you. She just doesn’t see the world the same way.” Elice folded her arms over her chest and looked out across the sea without actually seeing anything. Her grandfather sighed and pulled her around to face him. “Where Ilyenna sees facts, you see possibilities. Someday she will understand that your way of seeing the world is a gift and not a burden.”

The bells at the palace pealed again. The Winter’s End ceremony would begin shortly. Elice gritted her teeth as she watched her mother disappear into the open-air throne room without a backward glance, the details of her lost to the distance. “Lowl gives that speech every year. And it’s always the same. Every year, we get closer to winning. But we never really do. I hate it.”

“Elice,” her grandfather softly reprimanded. She dropped her head. He brushed the crook of his gnarled finger down her cheek and then stepped into the net her mother had left behind—only one net, not two. It took a few thousand fairies to carry her grandfather, and they were all waiting, their movements erratic with their impatience. “You best hurry. The ceremony starts soon and your mother hates it when you’re late.”

Elice debated telling him that her gift wasn’t finished yet. When the light hit the tree . . . but she turned away instead. “You go. I’ll be along later.” He hesitated, and she knew he was deliberating whether or not to push the issue. But then he nodded to the fairies, who lifted him up and toward the palace.

Elice simply waited. She’d started this project the year before, marking exactly where the light crossed the pinnacle of the glacier and hit the spot where she stood. Alone, she watched the tree as the sun crept into view, bathing the tree with a rosy light. One by one, each of the thousands of prisms inside the tree lit up in smoky sparks, shooting fractured light all across the newly fallen frost, which she’d laid down last night. It glittered like the dusting of a thousand diamonds.

—from Daughter of Winter by Amber Argyle

About Amber

Bestselling author Amber Argyle writes fantasies where the main characters save the world (with varying degrees of success) and fall in love (with the enemy). Her award-winning books have been translated into numerous languages and praised by such authors as New York Times bestsellers David Farland and Jennifer A. Nielsen.

Amber grew up on a cattle ranch and spent her formative years in the rodeo circuit and on the basketball court. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year-old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less-crazy larger people. She’s fluent in all forms of sarcasm, loves hiking and traveling, and believes spiders should be relegated to horror novels where they belong.

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Spotlight: “Faeborne” by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

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

Stolen from his family at the age of sixteen and forced to use his glamour in the service of Eilé’s most malevolent goddess, Brennon Roarke has little room for warmth in his heart. For seven long years, he endured hardship and pain, only to escape and find his parents and sister murdered, his nephew left blind and broken. With the stain of dark magic on his soul, Brennon perseveres for the sake of his young ward, always worrying that one day the evil infecting his spirit will destroy him for good.

Born to the Fahndí tribe of the Weald, Seren’s glamour allows her to transform into a deer and grants her the power to heal grave wounds, but it also caused her to become an outcast.

Seren and Brennon are brought together in a single, life-altering moment.

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

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

Excerpt

Brenn sighed, running his hands over his face and through his hair as he fell back against the mattress. Well, he couldn’t very well go downstairs and tell the girl to leave now. And in all honesty, he didn’t want to. He was intensely curious about her. Where had she come from? Why was her glamour so powerful? And more importantly, what was she? No common Faelorehn woman, that was certain.

“If her powerful glamour and the fact she had transformed from a deer into a woman before his very eyes hadn’t convinced him she was a stranger in these parts, then her other physical features most definitely did. Her skin tone was the most obvious difference. Darker than his, it reminded him a little of the beautiful red clay he sometimes found by the creek when he was a boy. A golden, pale rust color and smooth as an eggshell. Her eyes were different as well. Larger than his and Rori’s and slanted ever so slightly at the corners. They reminded him of the sly, cunning eyes of the wild things that roamed Dorcha Forest. This girl would definitely stand out in a crowd of people in Dundoire Hollow.

The very thought of Dundoire Hollow and its denizens drew a groan of annoyance from Brenn. He had very few friends living in the settlement closest to his home. Had he decided to turn Seren away and send her into the village, they would as soon stone her to death for her differences as offer her aid. No. He had made the right choice in extending his hospitality. He would keep his honor and keep his word. And protect her from the cruelty and prejudice of those he once called his neighbors and friends.

— from Faeborne by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

About Jenna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

I stared at him.

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

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

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your cats!

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

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

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

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

About Leslie

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

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

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

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

Find Leslie

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

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