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!

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 3

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

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

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

The Interview

Part 3 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

  • Leah Cutter, author of “The Ice Skating Fairy”
  • Leslie Claire Walker, author of “Treasure”
  • Ron Collins, author of “First Rays of New Sun”

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

Leah Cutter
What I most enjoy is taking a well-known story or trope and turning it on its head. I’ve always thought that a lot of those myths and legends were about society looking into a mirror and seeing either the best (or the worst) it could be. I like to make it more of a funhouse mirror. The reflection comes through dark and twisted.

Ron Collins
I’ve written several stories that touch specifically on mythology around the fae, and to be honest I think the reason it’s fun is that it’s difficult to do it well. At least it is for me. I mean, I went through a period when I read a lot of the field that was being p—and in the end, I find that fun.

Part of this is probably that in working at it, I learn a lot—and that, especially as I’ve gotten along as a writer, I’ve taken to push myself into blending genres a bit more often, and that’s both tricky and fun. I like to think that bringing myself into the things I play with means I end up taking fresh looks at things that no one else would, and that’s always fulfilling.

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

Leah Cutter
I am such a seeker of the light. So I really enjoy the midwinter stories that go from darkness into light. Sure, it may start off in a very dark place, but eventually we get through that tunnel, past the hero’s journey, and back into the warmth and growth of spring.

Leslie Claire Walker
Midwinter is my favorite time of year. I love all things Yule, including folklore about Yule and its twin, Summer Solstice—specifically, the story of the Oak King and the Holly King. I love the idea of our consciousness traveling inward a bit, taking a break from so much outward activity to allow feelings, thoughts, and information to rise from deep within and shape the coming year.

Ron Collins
The Midwinter solstice is a pivotal time, right? I love the idea of the cycle of life that it represents. It’s the time for endings and fresh beginnings—which is a really powerful idea in the end. I like that writers can play so directly with life and death in this setting. That was Something that was firm on my mind when I sat down to write “First Rays of New Sun.”

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

Leah Cutter
I take my myths from all over. I do try to borrow from mythology that not everyone is familiar with. For example, I’ve retold Hungarian myths, as well as Chinese and Siberian. I also love making up my own mythology for my fantasy worlds. Those are also very much based on the location of the people there. I strongly believe the creation myths of a people influence everything about them. I generally start with the creation myths and go from there. However, the creation myths are also always influenced by the area.

Leslie Claire Walker
I love Ireland. I’m fortunate enough to have traveled there several times, and to spend a good part of my days there exploring old sacred sites, from the Hill of Tara to Newgrange to Owenygat (the Cave of the Cats). Most of my understanding of myth and folklore was born of the adventures I had while there.

Ron Collins
Well, going back to your earlier question, the local aspect of mythology is something that makes using it so interesting. Settings change everything. The fae I wrote about in a story set in the modern-day deep south (which I used in an Uncollected Anthology a few years back), and those I wrote about in this story are quite different—as are the godlike paranormals I used in your earlier project, Beneath the Waves bundle.

I don’t really set down to write about mythology of a specific location, so much as once I figure out where I’m writing from, I want to spend time learning about what makes the place magical, and then go from there. I recently published “The Robin Club,” for example, that was set in an alternate-world version of Brooklyn and focused on baseball and sports fandom. I envisioned the magic of that environment as coarse and gritty rather than sleek and sexy—a mythology that comes more from friction than anything else. So, to me it was only natural that the most powerful and supernatural elements of that story were just that.

So, yeah, I’d say my locations drive me to think about the nature of the tale than any particular need of my own to venture into a specific zone.

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

Leah Cutter
Some year, I’m going to write a Cinderella story, mixed and twisted with the myth of the phoenix and rising from the ashes.

Ron Collins
I’m sure there is, but my brain hasn’t let me in on the secret, yet!

Question for Leah Cutter:
Cindy is sidelined with a fractured tibia in “The Ice Skating Fairy,” unable to perform in the midwinter jubilee she’d been looking forward to. The fairy she befriends is dealing with a loss of her own. What did you most enjoy about writing the interaction between these two characters?

I really enjoyed being able to make them a little immature and more teenaged than most of my characters. They don’t know everything though they feel pressured to act as if they do. Being younger characters they tend to say exactly what’s on their mind. They don’t lie yet, not like adults.

Question for Leslie Claire Walker:
Addie pays quick cash for cursed objects in “Treasure.” She does this to keep them safe from their owners, and their owners safe from them. What inspired you to write this story, and do you plan to write any other stories in this very interesting world?

I wrote this story as a kind of exorcism. That’s a heavy answer, right? Sometimes, it’s like that. Every bloodline has secrets, and everyone has regrets, and some people give far more than they receive—or spend their lives trying to redeem past mistakes. So, sometimes I write stories as a way to give the souls of my ancestors some peace, and to let them know they are still loved.

In the Jewish tradition in which I was raised, when someone passes away, we say, “May their memory be for a blessing.” In a reciprocal vein, I feel it’s my joyful obligation to bless their memory as well.

To be clear, there are no characters in Treasure that correspond directly to any of my people—just a sincere wish on my part to shine a little healing light into shadowed corners.

The world I created in Treasure certainly provides a lot of rich territory to explore, so it’s likely that I’ll revisit it in the future—as soon as another tale rises to the surface and demands to be told.

Question for Ron Collins:
“First Rays of New Sun” combines faery mythology with an interesting twist—for the fae wield power over more than just humans. Which of the elements in this story that are based on folklore and mythology are your favorites, and why?

The whole idea of how fae magic works is interesting in itself, isn’t it? What, exactly, is that power? Where does that power come from? It’s religious in its own sense, but carries an paganistic essence of nature rather than the more hierarchical elements of our more modern day views, I suppose.

Like I said earlier, I loved the feeling of endings and beginnings associated with the theme, but I also wanted to play with genre a bit. Once I played with the theme a little, as you note, I began to think about the idea of the allure the fae have on us as human beings–both those inside the story as well as us as readers. The fae are attractive, right? Meaning the concept of multiple worlds alongside our own—which we often think of as science fiction these days, but is obviously as old as the first faeland tales—is interesting, and the existence of immortal creatures of both savage beauty as well as sometimes savage disregard for anyone but themselves is always going to draw interest.

I mean, who doesn’t fall for the beautiful bad boy, right?

So, yeah, there are mechanical elements in “First Rays of New Sun” that I like. The idea of consuming food is a lever used to trap a human, for example, and the basic structure of what a midwinter celebration would look like. They’re all fun. But what I enjoyed most here was leveraging them into a narrator who I found to be fun to inhabit, and who in retrospect I hope readers will be able to relate to in ways that might surprise them.

Find the authors!

Leah Cutter

Website ~ Facebook ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Leslie Claire Walker

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub

Ron Collins

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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

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

Interview: Midwinter Fae authors – Part 2

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

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

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

The Interview

Part 2 of the Midwinter Fae author interview includes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will go. I will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the authors!

Diana Benedict

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Rebecca M. Senese

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Stefon Mears

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ BookBub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

Find The Realm of Faerie bundle!

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

Spotlight: “Midwinter Fae” edited by Jamie Ferguson

Dance with the Fae on the shortest day of the year!

On the day of the shortened sun
A battle between two kings has begun.
The old year dies, and the Oak King rules
We celebrate with logs of Yule!
But the Holly King is defeated, not dead
To Caer Arianrhod he heads.
Until Midsummer, when they battle again
And the Holly King will once again reign…

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 Faerie Folk come when the veil between the worlds is thin, spinning their sticky-sweet glamour and stealing children away in “The Madness of Survival,” by Dayle A. Dermatis. The only thing standing in their way: a motorcycle gang made up of broken, lost people who managed to escape from the Faerie Realm after their own abductions.

Part human, part fox, Todd is the grandson of Renart, the king of foxes in Diana Benedict’s “Summerland’s Paladin.” He escapes the deadly wrath of his step-brothers, only to find himself in Faerie on the eve of Midwinter. The queen offers him two choices: find a way to keep winter from tightening its grip on the faerie kingdom, or return to the land he came from and face death at the hands of his brothers. But winter is not the only enemy Todd faces in Summerland.

In Leah Cutter’s “The Ice Skating Fairy,” Cindy is stuck on the sidelines with a broken leg, instead of figure skating in the mid-winter jubilee put on by the best teen figure skaters in the state of Washington. Then a fairy appears next to her…and invites Cindy to her own ice skating practice later that evening.

Addie pays quick cash for cursed objects in Leslie Claire Walker’s “Treasure.” That’s how she makes the innocent safeand how she atones every single day for the terrible bargain she made as a young, abused girl on the street. She never speaks of the vile price she paid for freedom or the crime she committeduntil the victim strolls through the door of her shop carrying the worst curse of all.

In “Winternight,” by Eric Kent Edstrom, Two Starside thieves set out to steal coin for their Winternight feast. But when one is framed for murder, they find themselves in deep trouble with the city’s most feared crime boss.

Fairy magic is rich, beautiful, and filled with the threat of danger in Ron Collins’ “First Rays of New Sun.” Unable to return to the mortal world herself, Katazarra is commanded by her fae lord to entice a human man so that he, too, will be trapped in the land of Fairy and stay beyond the Winterfest celebration. But the man knows something that Katazarra doesn’t…or perhaps it’s something she knows, but doesn’t want to remember.

The biggest festival in Stratford, North Carolina approaches in Rei Rosenquist’s “At the Heart of Trickery”: a Midwinter celebration of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the midst of the excitement, the magical powers around town swell. And Chandraa transwoman witch in hidingonce again finds it impossible to hide. And then a friendly stranger appears at Chandra’s window, reaches out…and offers the ability to travel to a whole new world.

Once a warrior of the Seelie Court, Rose now exists as a changeling in a twisted human body devoid of magic in Karen L. Abrahamson’s “A Squalor of Chickens.” Only on midwinter day can she taste magic again, in the form of a single spell that allows her to reconnect the ice-cold Earth with the sun’s life-giving warmth. Her one power is the single most important oneushering in Spring. But then she’s offered the chance to have a real life of her own…

In DeAnna Knippling’s “By Winter’s Forbidden Rite,” a desperate mother summons the spirits as her infant son’s last hope…but what if she’s wrong? A group of women hold a seance on a dark and snowy winter’s night, hoping to summon forth wisdom from beyond the grave in order to save a sickly child. But what is the real nature of the spirit that answers the summons? And will they have to call forth something even worse to save them from what their seance brings?

Brea is the daughter of a fisherman and a sea-wild woman who carried magic in her blood in Anthea Sharp’s “Passage.” Brea’s father is dead, her village banished her, and she barely managed to escape the brigands who robbed her. Now she lives alone in the Realm of Faerie, until the winter day when she follows the taste of the rowan berry and finds herself being chased by the Wild Hunt. But fate has more in store for Brea than a simple existence as one of the fey folk, and when she runs afoul of the Dark Queen, she must embark on an adventure that will change her future…forever.

In the deep cold of a midwinter night, Annalise races through a frozen wilderness to bring her injured father to help in Marcelle Dubé’s “Midwinter Run.” But when she stumbles across a pixie on the frozen river, she will have to face a band of angry Fey who blame her for the pixie’s death. If she leaves, she risks the wrath of the Fey—but if she stays to explain, she risks her father’s life.

In Deb Logan’s “Faery Unpredictable,” Claire Murray, a real live faery princess, is spending her first midwinter holiday with her many-times-removed grandfather, the King of Faery. When her boyfriend Roddy, the Prince of Winter, is accused of stealing the Wyrd Stone, a magical artifact that governs the turning of the seasons, Claire must discover the real culprit before the all important celebration of the Festival of Alban Arthan. Can she clear Roddy’s name before he’s banished from Faery forever?

Samuel Lee spent the past few years creeped out by the strange man who lived next door in T. Thorn Coyle’s “The Stars of Neverwhere.” His mother didn’t understand, but she hadn’t seen the man slide through the shimmering air, his skin as white as moonlight on birch bark, and his chin and cheekbones sharp as knives. And then all the neighborhood cats disappeared. 

After finding out she didn’t get her dream job at the arboretum, Holly takes her normal path home through the city park in Jamie Ferguson’s “The Kiss of the Horned God.” Holly is so upset she doesn’t pay attention to where she’s going, and is startled when she notices the pathand the lights of the cityhave vanished.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Destiny” follows the Shapeshifter Solanda. The Black King wants her to use her special abilities on a job that will change the Fey forever. But Solanda wants to change the life of one child. Can she do both? Or should she do nothing at all?

The Holly vs Oak exhibition fight looks to be the event of the winter, until someone attempts to poison the Holly King in Rebecca M. Senese’s “Holly vs Oak.” Who is trying to kill him and threaten the peace between the normal world and the Nether Realm?

In Stefon Mears’ “A Last Meal for the Holly King,” after Steve’s wife dies he heads for their cabin in the Oregon wilderness, not intending to come back. There’s no point in going on without Jess. He comes across an old man with scraggly, snow-white hair and a sprig of holly tucked in just above his right ear. Steve offers the old man a meal, but what he receives in return surprises him.

What’s a girl to do when her duties as bridesmaid suddenly require her to wear a wedding dress, too? In Brigid Collins’ “Bride Thief,” the bride’s odd family tradition is meant to confuse evil spirits who seek to steal brides away on their special day. Chelsea might think it cute if she weren’t still nursing her wounded pride after her own disaster of an attempted wedding. But Jennifer’s been there for her as she put the pieces back together, so the least Chelsea can do is put on a stupid dress. Besides, it’s not like a real evil spirit is going to steal her away. Right?

On the Boar Islands in the cold North, Eithni awaits Winter Solstice with equal parts pride and fear in “The Giving Year,” by Alexandra Brandt. Eithni, chosen to enter the chamber of the gods, prepares to leave her human community forever. On the other side of the Stone Door, Sable stands guard in anticipation of a successful solstice, when the veil between worlds will lift…and when Sable’s liege, a lightlord of the fae, will claim the human woman who willingly steps across into the Summer realm. But everything changes when Eithni breaks the 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…

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.

Find the authors!

DeAnna Knippling

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

Eric Kent Edstrom

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads

Deb Logan

Website ~ Facebook ~ 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!