Story spotlight: “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” by DeAnna Knippling

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.

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“Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” 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

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Excerpt

My husband and I were always just on the edge of setting the house-fae free. But there was always something, you know? It was after the Great War, when so many of the fae came over the ocean. Immigrants, only not human ones. Mythological immigrants.

Our house-fae, Ala and Elias, weren’t the pretty ones that you see in woodcuts in fairy-tale books, tall and elegant with long, wispy hair. I don’t know if those kind actually exist. I never seen any, anyhow. The house-fae we had were small, and gray, and wrinkled, and kinda ugly. But cute. I hadta stop myself from pinching their cheeks, when they first arrived. It woulda been rude.

I got them for a literal song, a sweet lullaby that I used to sing to our son, before he was killed in a car accident with Timothy’s parents. I don’t remember the song anymore. It was just the most ridiculous song, I remember that. Did you know you can buy house-fae for a song? But that if you do, you lose the song forever? Two house-fae, one song, and now I can’t remember the song. It’s just gone. I was joking around at the time. Timothy and I were slumming in Little Tokyo, going to clubs, when we stumbled across the two of them begging for work. They looked so sad and lonely that I just started singing to them. It was an impulse. I hadn’t exactly meant to pick up a pair of house-fae, and Timothy and I had words over the incident. But they moved in, and here we are.

— from “Myrna and the Thirteen-Year Witch” in The Golden Door by DeAnna Knippling

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 ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub ~ Patreon

Find The Golden Door

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

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

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!

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

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


 

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…

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 1

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

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

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

The Interview

Part 1 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DeAnna Knippling

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Eric Kent Edstrom

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Deb Logan

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Spotlight: “One Dark Summer Night” by DeAnna Knippling

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.

Della Rae is only in this podunk Midwestern university town for the full-ride biology scholarship she’s getting. In a year or two, she’s going to Oxford as an exchange student, she knows it. Her eventual goal: to cure cancer. 

Only life doesn’t go like that. The way you planned.

 Something’s going on in the basement of the science building, something that’s tied up every single professor and sends the summer work-study students running. Rumors are going around that the professors are performing a vivisection. And nobody wants to see that.

 But it’s probably not going to be performed on the lab rats. Because this town has always had something weird going on.

 Something that involves Della Rae’s best friend, Merc, and a few other kids in town, all who have the same face…

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

Back in the days when Ireland was the home of the fairies, well, one of their homes, they hid their bridges between our world and theirs in secret places out in the middle of nowhere. That’s how it is here—this is about as close to the middle of nowhere that you’re going to get in modern America, right? Right. Kinda right. I mean, there are other places. Arizona. You know. But you see what I mean. Too far out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s too obvious to the locals when you cross over.

But a college town? Who even pays attention?

I guess you could call them aliens, kind of. They come from another dimension. I’m not sure how the science works, it’s just too far from anything that I understand. Maybe there’s a scientific way to describe it, but I don’t know what it is. Mom might know—but I am not going to ask her. She gets touchy about things like that. It doesn’t matter. It works, another dimension, blah blah blah, and then you get fairies.

Most of the time they look like us. But it’s a trick. A glamour? If they traveled to another world where the natives looked different (of course they would, wouldn’t they?), then they would put on their glamour to look just like these other natives. They try hard to fit in.

Why are they here?

That’s a good question. I think they just like to get up and shake it. But I don’t know.

— from One Dark Summer Night by DeAnna Knippling

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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