Story spotlight: “Ke’s Symphony” by Lesley L. Smith

In Lesley L. Smith’s “Ke’s Symphony,” a family of aliens, refugees who escaped a disaster on their own world, is welcomed with both friendship and fear on the planet that took them in.

~ ~ ~

“Ke’s Symphony” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

The natives were protesting when we entered the spaceport. The buzz of their voices increased to a roar as we approached. They held thin flimsy screens with words on them and yelled. A lot.

My small translator machine told me the messages said, “Go home, aliens!” “We don’t want your kind here!” “The gods only made two genders!” “The only good alien is a dead alien!” and worse. I did not understand how anyone could be so unnurturing.

We were with a group of about a hundred refugees from our planet, Kenziri. Our planet was dying. It broke my heart. It broke the hearts of all our people. But there was nothing we could do to save it. If our species was going to survive, we had to disperse to other planets like airborne seeds dancing on the wind. We had to hope we could take root somewhere new.

—from “Ke’s Symphony” in The Golden Door by Lesley L. Smith

About Lesley

Lesley L. Smith has published nine science fiction novels including The Quantum Cop, A Jack By Any Other Name, and Conservation of Luck. Her short fiction has been published in various venues including “Analog Science Fiction and Fact,” “Daily Science Fiction,” and “Fiction River.“ She has a Ph.D. in Physics and an MFA in Creative Writing.

She’s an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction ezine Electric Spec.

Find Lesley

Website ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “Transient Pains” by Bob Sojka

An American temporarily loses his sight in an accident in Beirut in Bob Sojka’s “Transient Pains.” While recovering, he tells his nurse stories about growing up in an immigrant family in Chicago in the 1950s, where stereotyped animosities arose among people of different origins.

~ ~ ~

“Transient Pains” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

Busia Karcz couldn’t understand the English her children or grandchildren spoke to her. Out of the necessity she created, we sputtered out pidgin Polish sentences, which became the linguistic bars that defined the prison cell of our relationships with her.

She was an Old World peasant. She had no schooling. She “knew what she knew” as a result of an unschooled upbringing that informed her vision of the world as much as it blinded her to the contradictions in her own beliefs. She hated Gypsies, but had memorized and lived by their fables, aphorisms and home remedies. She “treated” her grandchildren to kiszka (blood sausage) and zimne nóżki (jellied pig’s feet with vinegar)—prized offerings that we wrinkled our noses over and refused, much to her disappointment and bruised pride, as well as our parents’ anger. Her meals were often accompanied by lectures to her daughters-in-law about frugality in the kitchen, in the closet, in household furnishings, and in personal grooming. Her arrow-straight hair remained jet black to the day she died and reached her ankles, albeit she barely stood five feet tall. She wore no makeup.

I was shocked one day at the age of four to find her picture in a Disney children’s book, offering an apple to a skeptical Snow White. “Why is Busia’s hair white in this picture?” I asked my mother. I don’t remember the answer, but I remember the shocked look on her face.

—from “Transient Pains” in The Golden Door by Bob Sojka

About Bob

Bob Sojka is a retired environmental scientist and author of hundreds of research papers, book chapters and policy documents. He’s dabbled in fiction since the third grade. In recent years he’s published 16 stories at on-line zines like NewMyths.com and Perihelion, as well as in print anthologies. The most recent include “Blood Storm” in Fiction River’s collection Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, “Don’t Forget”in New Myths’ “Best of” Anthology entitled “Passages,” and “A Fare Cut” in the the Bundle Rabbit anthology entitled “Stars in the Darkness”.

His novelette “Feolito’s Gift“ is available for Kindle on Amazon. Bob also writes the weekly column “Inside Politics“ for the Times News, his Idaho home-town newspaper. Bob’s stories explore the boundaries and meaning of human spirit, character and consciousness across a spectrum of story genres and styles.

Find Bob

Website ~ Goodreads

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “A Used Pair of Shoes” by Bonnie Elizabeth

A little girl leaves her war-torn home with her parents, and learns that life is built on small kindnesses in Bonnie Elizabeth’s “A Used Pair of Shoes.”

~ ~ ~

“A Used Pair of Shoes” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

Seasons began to change in ways I had never seen. Lina did not smile, not even her night smile. Her eyes faded and she watched. Some children played a bit, but not my Lina. She had seen too much.

Young boys, boys her age, that might have been suitors in another place, talked about the bodies they had seen. They talked about the bombs that had gone off and the severed arms and legs. One claimed to have seen his brother’s head.

The girls were quiet, even those who talked. The boys either bragged or were more silent that even Lina.

Their eyes did not have the spark that normal children’s eyes did. Their pain was as clear as the dirt on their feet, for few of them had shoes, and those that did had worn shoes with holes where toes peeked out like tiny mice.

—from “A Used Pair of Shoes” in The Golden Door by Bonnie Elizabeth

About Bonnie

Bonnie Elizabeth started writing fiction when she was eight years old. Fortunately that manuscript has long since been lost.


In between a variety of odd jobs, including working as an acupuncturist, Bonnie wrote articles about acupuncture and the business of being an acupuncturist for a variety of acupuncture journals. She also blogged as her cat while transitioning to her real love of fiction writing.


She writes the Whisper series, which begins with Whisper Bound, and has a number of other fantasy, urban fantasy and mystery projects in the works.

Find Bonnie

Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “The Path” by David Stier

A young woman, who moved from Afghanistan to California with her brother, has to make an important decision in David Stier’s “The Path.” Her choice will change both of their lives, forever.

~ ~ ~

“The Path” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

Sahar always dressed as an infidel would dress, and secretly Aisha wished she could wear American clothes and look straight ahead like the American women she saw on the street. But her brother had forbidden this, saying that Americans were not only decadent infidels but also the murderers of their family, and that as Afghans, while they would have to endure life in this sinful country, that did not mean that they had to adopt its ways.

When she had asked him why he agreed to come to America if he hated this land and their people so much, his answer had been to strike her face with the back of his hand.

“It is of no concern of yours. You will not ask me this again.”

She rubbed the spot on her face where he had struck her, as she did often whenever she thought of Ebrahim.

—from “The Path” in The Golden Door by David Stier

About David

David Stier is a US Army veteran who served in Germany during the Cold War as a tank driver. In his informed opinion, the Soviet Union was our enemy then, as is the Russian Federation now. More importantly, he believes the United States faces a far more insidious threat directly related to the current Administration. As Abraham Lincoln once stated: “All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”


Some of Dave’s short stories have appeared in, Fiction River #18 (Visions of the Apocalypse) Fiction River #24 (Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline) Fiction River #25 (Feel the Fear) Fiction River #30 (Hard Choices), Fiction River #31 (Feel the Love), Fiction River Special Edition #3 (Spies) and Pulp House Issue #4. Dave was also a runner up in the University of North Georgia’s 2019 Military Science Fiction Symposium for “Prisoners of War.” “Rogue Entanglement” originally appeared in Spectra Magazine, Issue #3. His self-published short story collection, Final Solutions, Stories of the Holocaust is available on Amazon.

Find Dave

Website ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Story spotlight: “Like a Snake” by Adrianne Aron

In Adrianne Aron’s “Like a Snake,” an American is surprised to learn that the man she meets in a poor rural village that doesn’t even have electricity has two sons going to Mission High School in San Francisco. But is it really a surprise?

~ ~ ~

“Like a Snake” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Excerpt

Everybody stops to listen: Broken glass rattling in tin barrels? An explosion of ice cubes?

Hail battering cars in the parking lot?

A huge commotion on the outskirts of San Salvador at nightfall. A pupusa vendor stops turning her masa from one palm to the other. She dabs her fingers in water, wipes them on her oversized tee-shirt, and shakes her head: “Loros!”

Loros? Parrots?

She’s right. It’s the angry screeching of a thousand homeless parrots scolding two rolling bulldozers that are paving the way for Westinghouse and Wendy’s. The corporations are having a party where the parrots used to have a forest.

A shopping mall? In this poor country where more than half the population lives in poverty?

I shake my head, too.

—from “Like a Snake” in The Golden Door by Adrianne Aron

About Adrianne

Adrianne Aron writes both fiction and non-fiction, with social justice as a persistent theme. Her writings have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and have been awarded prizes by Able MuseNew Millennium WritingsWomen on Writing, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Association. Human Rights and Wrongs: Reluctant Heroes Fight Tyranny, her essay collection about refugee asylum seekers, won the Sunshot Nonfiction Award and was published by Sunshot in 2018. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of essays by Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press) and of Mario Benedetti’s play, titled in English Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is at work on a novel, but continues to spend a little time with her “day job” as a liberation psychologist. She possesses a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Find Adrianne

Website ~ Goodreads

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

The Golden Door: 14 Stories of Wisdom, Justice, and Love

The Golden Door is a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.

All proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders and the ACLU.

Find The Golden Door

Universal Book Link ~ Amazon ~ Apple Books ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

The Stories

In Adrianne Aron’s “The Envelope Trick,” an immigrant learns the very system that’s helping him in his new country is also hurting him.

A woman and her young daughter escape death in their home country, only to find themselves separated at the U.S. border in Steve Carr’s “Needle in a Haystack.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a young boy who dreams of emigrating to the U.S. to study at MIT comes across a pair of Soviet officers, and learns there’s more at stake than he’d ever dreamed in Tonya D. Price’s “Spy in the Sky.”

In Lesley L. Smith’s “Ke’s Symphony,” a family of aliens, refugees who escaped a disaster on their own world, is welcomed with both friendship and fear on the planet that took them in.

The president of the United States wishes for peace in “The Un-American President,” by Jason Dias. Sometimes integrity is doing the right thing because everyone is watching.

A little girl leaves her war-torn home with her parents, and learns that life is built on small kindnesses in Bonnie Elizabeth’s “A Used Pair of Shoes.”

Hedi Framm Anton’s “La Despedida” shows two sides of a story of farewell. A young girl lives with her grandmother in Honduras; they wait for a check from her mother, who works in San Francisco, so they can pay the fee the gang members demand every month.

Below the pristine mountains of Portugal’s countryside, a war rages on in Rei Rosenquist’s “Friends.” Thrown together in a dismal war camp, imported refugees share nothing but their suffering. No common culture. No common tongue. But friendship can spring up even in the toughest of times.

An American temporarily loses his sight in an accident in Beirut in Bob Sojka’s “Transient Pains.” While recovering, he tells his nurse stories about growing up in an immigrant family in Chicago in the 1950s, where stereotyped animosities arose among people of different origins.

In Adrianne Aron’s “Like a Snake,” an American is surprised to learn that the man she meets in a poor rural village that doesn’t even have electricity has two sons going to Mission High School in San Francisco. But is it really a surprise?

Jamie Ferguson’s “Something in Common” takes place in a small town in western Pennsylvania in 1910 where a young woman discovers she and a recent immigrant from Austria-Hungary have more in common than she’d realized.

A wealthy actress in Hollywood in the 1920s takes on a pair of immigrant faeries as indentured servants in DeAnna Knippling’s “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch,” but she didn’t realize just how high the cost would be to keep them safe.

In Rob Vagle’s “Dispatch from the Other Side,” a young man who was separated from his family while trying to claim asylum in America follows the instructions on a postcard sent by his long-lost mother, and discovers things about his family he’d never expected to find.

A young woman, who moved from Afghanistan to California with her brother, has to make an important decision in David Stier’s “The Path.” Her choice will change both of their lives, forever.

Inspiration for the title “The Golden Door”

The title for this collection comes from the sonnet “The New Colossus,” which was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


—“The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

New release: Entangled by Midsummer!

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


 
 
Bound by betrayal, entangled in enchantment.

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

His only hope? A faery woman named Merenna.

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bare wooden floor stared back at him.

No sealskin.

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

But his sealskin wasn’t there.

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

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

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

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

That couldn’t be him.

That wouldn’t be him.

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

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

Where was it? It was his!

It was him.

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

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

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

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

Katy smiled, and said, “I know.”

Find Jamie

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

Find Entangled by Midsummer

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Jamie Ferguson on “Entangled by Midsummer”

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

Entangled by Midsummer is available for a limited time in The Realm of Faerie bundle.

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

Excerpt

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


She could always go back, of course.


If she chose to.


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

—from Entangled by Midsummer by Jamie Ferguson

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Jamie

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

Find Jamie

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

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 4

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

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

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

The Interview

Part 4 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question for Marcelle Dubé:

I already have another story in this world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the authors!

Jamie Ferguson

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

Marcelle Dubé

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads

Dayle A. Dermatis

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!

Interview: DeAnna Knippling on “One Dark Summer Night”

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

“Your name?”

“Yes, ma’am. And you are?”

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

“I’m Della Rae Painter.”

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

Della Rae had hoped she had forgotten.

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

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

“Where was that?” she asked.

Merc said, “The bridge to fairy.”

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

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

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

—from One Dark Summer Night by DeAnna Knippling

The Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So maybe monsters is just how I dealt with that.

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

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

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

Who knows, though?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About DeAnna

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

Find DeAnna

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

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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

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

   
 

Sign up for the Blackbird Publishing newsletter!