Interview: Alexia Purdy on “The Ruins of Oz”

“The Ruins of Oz” is in the Once Upon a Quest anthology, a collection of fifteen tales of adventure, all brand new fairy tale twists from bestselling and award-winning authors. With inspirations ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Snow White, and everything in between (including trips to Camelot and Oz), these fabulous tales are full of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance.

Meet Alexia!

Alexia writes fantasy stories about faeries, vampires, and magic. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Tovie Bryce.

“The Ruins of Oz”

The Land of Oz was the last place Thea thought she’d find herself after falling through her mother’s enchanted mirror. If the stories she’s been told are real, why is the Emerald City in ruins?

“I—I need to go.” I spotted my boots sitting at the end of the bed and yanked them on. “Is there anyone who could tell me where I might find someone who can return me to Kansas?”

Mally pressed her lips tightly, frowning at my question.

“Well, there is one person, but that old tart doesn’t enjoy visitors and is dangerous. She lives in one of the towers still left standing in the great city. It used to be a watchtower for the Emerald City. In the city… it’s dreadful, and most say it’s haunted. That’s why Minkin don’t ever go there.”

“What’s her name?”

Mally shrugged. “We don’t say her name. She’s just an old hag now.”

“Um, all right. How do I get to the Emerald City?”

“It used to be you could follow the Yellow Brick Road, but it’s been left to ruin for decades since the—”

“End of all things. I get it. Can I still follow it?”

Mally frowned, appearing frightened more than anything. “It’s intact in some places. In others, it’s only stones here and there, under the grasses, bushes, and darkness.”


“It starts near the edge of town by the old wishing well. Right by the old ruins of Dorothy’s house. You know, the one she used to kill the Wicked Witch of the East.”

– from “The Ruins of Oz” by Alexia Purdy

The Interview

“The Ruins of Oz” is based on The Wizard of Oz. What inspired this choice?

Honestly, it was a story I had stuck in the back of my head for a while. I loved the take that the movie Return to Oz took but it wasn’t exactly what I imagined a post apocalyptic Oz to look like, so I guess I tried to convey my own kind of spin to the original story ending in a not so cozy way. What happens if Dorothy was the whole reason Oz existed and what if she never came back?
You’ve been a part of the Once Upon anthology series from the beginning. How did the series begin, and what do you enjoy about participating in it?

I’m so privileged to be pals with Anthea Sharp whom I’ve partnered with in several Faery anthologies before these came about. When she suggested the first of the trio of Once Upon anthologies, I leaped at the chance to work with her on it. She’s a brilliant organizer and I love to participate in anything she does. So much love for the woman.

What are some of the traditional faerie myths you incorporated into your Dark Faerie Tale series, and why did you choose them?

My Dark Faerie series is loosely based on the Unseelie and Seelie courts of Celtic mythology, which I loved to read about and was so immersed into, I had to write something with my own twists and turns. I was fascinated by the idea that faeries could be good and could be evil but you wouldn’t really know until you faced them, and even then, loyalty was something that wasn’t easily given. Magic is always fun to write about, especially when I could spin my own lore and modernize it in ways readers could understand could happen in today’s world. Now eight books into it, I seriously can’t believe there was so much to say about that world but it’s been quite the adventure to meet the characters and flesh them out. They are each unique and fantastical in so many ways.

You’re turning “The Glass Sky,” your short story in Once Upon a Kiss, into a series. Why did you decide to provide early access to the chapters of the first novel on Patreon?

The Glass Sky has been my favorite story to write for the Once Upon Anthologies and I recieved amazing feedback on it from my readers. They wanted more! I’ve held off for several reasons but when I decided to open a Patreon account to deliver stories and exclusive content more easily to my readers without having to deal with the low views that Facebook and Amazon now provide, I researched Patreon after seeing a couple of my favorite authors on there getting up close and personal with their patrons and really getting to connect far easier than the platforms I traditionally shared on. The Glass Sky was the perfect project! I’ve been wanting to expand it into a trilogy and this was the perfect chance to do it while still keeping it exclusive and not out in the full public. I seriously am having fun jumping back into this fairytale retelling world loosely based on the tale of King Thrushbeard. I hope people check it out.
How much of the city in your Vampires of Vegas series is based on your real-life experience living in Las Vegas?

So much of it is based on my experiences of places in Las Vegas. I practically wrote all the sites from memory of being in each place. I’ve been here in Vegas for 28 years now and I used to work in a Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It never ceases to amaze me how many hidden corridors, doorways, nooks and crannies are kept from the public view and the thought occurred to me that it was the perfect scenario to get lost in when the world really died off and a new species of people emerged.

In addition to writing fantasy, you write contemporary romance under the name Tovie Bryce. What do you have planned for this pen name?

I honestly am trying to build a contemporary romance readership, and I’ve been trying to do so for years, but under my own name. After much failure on that part, I decided separating the genre from my best selling stuff in YA Fantasy/Paranormal would be the best way to get a more focused audience. My readers don’t cross over. Yes, it’s been like starting over but I have another book in my City of Lights series planned plus a contemporary sweet romance based on some of my experiences coming of age. You can see why I wouldn’t want my name associated with it as much but I am not keeping the pen name a secret, just in case I do have some readers following along the romance branch.
What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m currently working on my Accursed Archangels series. It’s basically taken over almost every working hour lately and I literally attempted to write it in a month. The outline for it came to me in just a couple hours, literally this story possessed me. I got book 1 done in six weeks, so a bit over the timeline I wanted but it’s been an amazing time honing down my organizational skills in writing. The first book is titled The Unbreakable Curse and is due out March 27th. Book 2 is titled The Cursed Labyrinth due out in late May 2018, and book 3 is called The Irredeemable Soul due out July 2018.

Alexia currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada–Sin City! She loves to spend every free moment writing or playing with her four rambunctious kids. Writing has always been her dream and she has been writing ever since she can remember. She loves writing paranormal fantasy and poetry and devours books daily. Alexia also enjoys watching movies, dancing, singing loudly in the car, and Italian food.

Find Alexia

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Interview: Alethea Kontis on “The Goblin and the Treasure”

“The Goblin and the Treasure” is in the Once Upon a Quest anthology, a collection of fifteen tales of adventure, all brand new fairy tale twists from bestselling and award-winning authors. With inspirations ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Snow White, and everything in between (including trips to Camelot and Oz), these fabulous tales are full of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance.

Meet Alethea!

Alethea weaves fairy tale fantasy in the realm of Arilland, and dabbles in other fantasy worlds as well. She’s been a guest speaker about fairy tales at the Library of Congress, and gave a keynote address at the Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference in New York City, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“The Goblin and the Treasure”

Out-of-work soldier Kira Kobold is handpicked by the High Wizard Zelwynn to go on a quest. Her companions? A growly ogress, a surly dwarf, a dimwitted troll, and an overly optimistic goblin. This wasn’t exactly the quest she was looking for…

Kira fumed. It was supposed to be her up there. According to the dreams, it should have been her.

“Company,” announced the High Wizard, “I present your champions!”

There was a smattering of applause at the declaration, but far more groans and grumbles.

Kira tried to contain her anger…and failed. “They don’t even know what they’re looking for!”

Zelwynn’s bushy brows furrowed. “Didn’t I say?”

“No!” Kira yelled. A few others echoed her answer.

“Goodness, that’s very unlike me,” Zelwynn muttered. “Thank you for setting me straight, clever young woman. Tell me, would you like to join this questing party as well?”

“What is the quest for?” Kira asked pointedly.

Zelwynn spread his arms wide and proudly announced: “The Lost Treasure of Zelwynn!”

Laughs were hidden under coughs, along with a few expressions of confusion. What on earth had the High Wizard misplaced in the mountains that he couldn’t just go find himself?

Kira narrowed her eyes. “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”

“It is an instrument of both perfect peace and ultimate destruction,” Zelwynn answered. “Its value is beyond price.”

Trench and Forge exchanged knowing glances. The troll and the goblin didn’t stand half a chance against those two. But with Kira’s help they might. She loosened the grip on the hilt of her sword. “Fine. Count me in.”

“Kira Kobold, everyone!” Zelwynn announced as she approached the dais, and the crowd of soldiers actually cheered. Kira hadn’t expected that. Nor had she expected the High Wizard to know her by name, but she supposed wizards had their ways. At the top of the steps, she faced Zelwynn. Unafraid, she stared deep into those beady little eyes.

“It’s about time,” the High Wizard said. And then he winked at her.

– from “The Goblin and the Treasure” by Alethea Kontis

The Interview

“The Goblin and the Treasure” is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Goblin and the Grocer.” What is it about the original fairy tale that inspired you to use it as the inspiration for your story?

The message at the heart of “The Goblin and the Grocer” is about the magic of books, and how vital they are to an optimistic life. Plus, I also love the whole crazy “cut out the Grocer’s wife’s tongue and put it on a whole bunch of inanimate objects so they can have their say” plot device. I’ve always been a big fan of personifying inanimate objects. Comes from being a young girl with a big imagination, I guess…

Why are fairy tales so important to you?

I began reading at three years old. By five I was eating up poetry and novels like there was no tomorrow, but the fairy stories were always my favorite. So on my eighth birthday, my French grandmother gave me a HUGE volume of collected tales by Grimm and Andersen. They were the unexpurgated tales, full of magic and monsters and darkness and blood and hope. These were the adventures of my childhood, and the well from which all my other stories since have sprung.

How do fairy tales manifest in your Trix Adventures series? Can you give us a sneak peek at what will be in book three, Trix and the Fire Witch?

Fairy tales leave most sensible people with a lot of questions. I like answering those questions with other fairy tales. Trix’s character comes from the Grimms’ tale “The Foundling.” Right before I decided to spin his adventures off into a series of novellas, I had just re-read Andrew Lang’s Crimson Fairy Book. Trixter is very much an homage to that book. Trix is the “Beggar Boy” who knows “The Language of Beasts” and “How to find out a True Friend.” Lizinia and Papa Gatto’s characters are straight out of “The Colony of Cats.”

I always wondered what would realistically happen to that girl dipped in gold, and her sister with the donkey’s tail on her forehead. Why was the Colony of Cats formed, and what would happen to all those cats after they died? Writing Papa Gatto as both The Godfather and the Cheshire Cat was just so easy…it made far too much sense!

Those who know “The Colony of Cats,” and have read “Hero Worship” from Tales of Arilland, will have a very good idea who’s going to appear in Book Three…including the identity of the Fire Witch!

Do your novels and stories connect with each other? If so, how? And why?

That, my friend, is an answer that will take more time than we have here. Arilland has become my Middle Earth. A Thousand Years of Faerie live in my head at all times now. I have begun including essays at the end of my novels (where I can) that discuss the origin of certain elements in that novel, and how they connect to the other stories. For instance, beta readers of “The Goblin and the Treasure” recognized my goblin mythology from When Tinker Met Bell, but they completely missed the MASSIVE reference to Hero until I mentioned it in the essay!

One day, there will be a map. But that is not this day.

You’ve been a part of the Once Upon anthology series from the beginning. How did the series begin, and what do you enjoy about participating in it?

“The Unicorn Hunter” in Once Upon a Curse might be my favorite story of all time. And then I started my tale for Once Upon a Kiss: “Once upon a time, long after the Wizard War, in the Third Age of Faerie the kingdom of Upper Reaches was separated from the rest of the world by a glass mountain.” At that moment, a Thousand Years of Faerie sprang into my head fully formed. I suddenly saw how everything I’d ever written and everything I’m ever going to write all fit together, and my life changed forever.

The thing I love best about my stories in the three Once anthologies is that right now they relate to each other more than they relate to any other storyline I have out in the world. I’m so excited for all my future projects from here on out!

What’s the status of Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants?

I made 55 episodes of the original Fairy Tale Rants. They are still available to binge watch on YouTube.

I miss making them SO MUCH! But as fun as they were to do, the filming, editing and promotion of each took a solid day out of my week and brought zero income, so I had to stop. I made a few more bonus episodes at the behest of my Fairy Goddaughters, and we debut a new Fairy Tale Rant Theatre production every Dragon Con at Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow. But Fairy Tale Rants will not be created on a regular basis again unless I can hit those milestone goals on my Patreon.

You incorporate aspects from a number of different fairy tales in your Woodcutter Sisters series, which is about seven sisters who are named after the days of the week. Three books in this series are out so far – what’s the plan for the other four?

That answer is best explained here:

What’s important to you about the patchwork skirts that Friday Woodcutter, the protagonist in Dearest, makes for herself?

“Friday’s child is loving and giving.” Since Friday’s nameday gift was a magic needle and sewing is her forte, it made sense to me that she would fashion skirts from leftover bits after she made clothes for the orphans. I did not realize how much this would become a metaphor for Friday’s heart in Dearest, and in my own life. A fan made me a patchwork skirt that I wear with pride. I look forward to making another one from scraps other fans have donated!

Tell us about Charlie!

Charlemagne Montesquieu, the Marquis of Albec, is my teddy bear. We have been together for almost 30 years now. He’s witnessed me at my best and stuck with me through the worst, with a steadfast determination that no other person in my life has ever had. (I refer you back to Question One, about the girl with the big imagination and her passion for inanimate objects. Did I mention that my first best friend was a tree?)

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I just finished an essay for Clarkesworld’s “Another Word” feature, about how I’ve developed as a podcast narrator over the last seven years. I loved delving into how exactly I use my experiences as a child actress to breathe life into other author’s characters. There’s a magic there—real world magic, and it’s a beautiful thing!

Click here to listen to some of the stories I’ve narrated.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a voice actress, a force of nature, and a mess. She is responsible for creating the epic fairytale fantasy realm of Arilland, and dabbling in a myriad of other worlds beyond. Her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups across all genres. Host of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” and Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con, Alethea also narrates for ACX, IGMS, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders.

Alethea’s YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won both the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award and Garden State Teen Book Award. Enchanted was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013 and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both Enchanted and its sequel, Hero, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Tales of Arilland, a short story collection set in the same fairy tale world, won a second Gelett Burgess Award in 2015. The second book in The Trix Adventures, Trix and the Faerie Queen, was a finalist for the Dragon Award in 2016.

Princess Alethea was given the honor of speaking about fairy tales at the Library of Congress in 2013. In 2015, she gave a keynote address at the Lewis Carroll Society’s Alice150 Conference in New York City, celebrating the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She also enjoys speaking at schools and festivals all over the US. (If forced to choose between all these things, she says middle schools are her favorite!)

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives on the Space Coast of Florida. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.

Find Alethea at:

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Interview: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson on “Bane and Balm”

“Bane and Balm” is in the Once Upon a Quest anthology, a collection of fifteen tales of adventure, all brand new fairy tale twists from bestselling and award-winning authors. With inspirations ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Snow White, and everything in between (including trips to Camelot and Oz), these fabulous tales are full of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance.

Meet Jenna!

Jenna writes fantasy and young adult paranormal romance. She’s a talented visual artist as well as a writer, and creates the images and maps she uses for her various worlds.

“Bane and Balm”

When the stream providing healing water to Claire’s sick aunt dries up, she must venture into the dreaded Dorcha Forest, where she discovers a stranger willing to risk his freedom in order to help her on her quest.

Claire snapped out of her daze and blinked down at her dark rescuer once again. He had removed one of his gloves to reveal a pale hand, which he now held palm out toward the tree. The pull of magic, the stranger using his glamour, tugged gently at Claire’s senses and the fire eating away at the beech slowly died.

The eagle stretched its wings and clicked its beak, tilting its head upwards.

“In the tree?” the man murmured, his low voice growing quieter.

But Claire had heard the words anyway, panic gripping her heart. The stranger tilted his head and gazed into the branches above. She held absolutely still, not daring to move.

Perhaps he won’t see me, Claire thought hopefully.

The man’s hood fell back, and his eyes met hers. Claire sucked in another breath. This man looked nothing like the young farmers in her valley. His pale skin was smooth and unblemished, his eyes a severe, golden brown, so bright they reminded her of a wolf’s. Hair black as coal hung in unkempt strands around a haunted face of masculine beauty, and his mouth was drawn in a hard line. A mouth that probably never smiled.

– from “Bane and Balm” by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

The Interview

“Bane and Balm” is loosely based on “Red Riding Hood.” What inspired you to use aspects of this particular fairy tale?

When Anthea reached out to me about participating in another Once Upon anthology, I had already started work on “Bane and Balm”. It was very much in its infancy, but I felt that “Red Riding Hood” was the closest match with where I had gone so far with my story. Claire, my main character, was already standing out as a bold young woman and I knew the answer to her plight waited in the heart of the haunted wood behind her home. I added in the element of the red cloak and the wolfish stranger to make it more like the original tale, but it’s very much its own Otherworldly fairytale. In a way, I kind of cheated, but I’m very happy with the story that evolved from what started out as the spark of an idea. Making “Bane and Balm” my submission for Once Upon a Quest helped give the tale and its characters direction and depth.

You’ve been a part of the Once Upon anthology series from the beginning. How did the series begin, and what do you enjoy about participating in it?

My involvement in these anthologies actually goes back a little further than Once Upon A Curse, the first Once Upon collection. Anthea first asked me to take part in the Faery Worlds anthology way back in 2013, and I jumped at the chance. Since then, any time I’m invited, I’m happy to take part. It gives me a chance to explore my world more (so far, all my stories have been from my Otherworld universe), and having a deadline for the short stories helps keep me productive. When Once Upon A Curse came along, I was challenged to write something new (all the other anthologies included previously published pieces).

I think what I most enjoy about being a part of the Once Upon anthologies is the challenge of creating more fairytales for my Otherworld universe, and getting to collaborate with so many wonderful, talented authors. Sorry, that was two things!

“Bane and Balm” is set in the land of Eile, which is also the setting for your Otherworld series. What inspired you to create this world?

My Otherworld series, and Eile (what the natives call the Otherworld), emerged from my time spent in my Celtic Studies classes during college. I wanted to bring Celtic mythology to life the way Rick Riordan opened up Greek mythology to his readers in the Percy Jackson books. There are some really cool stories and characters in Celtic lore and I wanted to share my love of these legends with readers, young and old.

Many of the locations in Eile itself are based on Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England. Pretty much the Celtic nations and British Isles. I actually hadn’t been to any of those places before starting my books (hurrah for Pinterest and Google images!), but I was able to make it to Ireland a few summers ago, so now I have my own experience to draw from.

The setting for Faelorehn (the first book in the series) takes place mostly in my hometown of Arroyo Grande, and the wooded swamp area Meghan (my main character) visits is an actual location. There is just something about that place that feels Otherworldly to me, so of course it made its way into my series. I also highlight a few other locations (the old village in town with its swinging bridge, one of our local beaches, a cool little post office and gift shop). It was a lot of fun featuring these places in my Otherworld series because every time I visit them I get to step into the story. And I’ve heard from many of my local readers that they just love reading about paranormal and magical events happening right where they live.
You practice both long sword fighting and target shooting with your longbow. How did you get started with these crafts, and what appeals to you about them?

Ha ha! I don’t get much archery in these days, but I still have my longbow and arrows! I have to give credit to my friend Laura for this. I’ve always liked the old arts of war (I’m a nonviolent person, I swear!), but Laura actually took the steps to make things happen. I got into sword fighting while at my first book fair in town. The author next to me had a daughter who was taking classes, so we got her number and a few years later, met our coach. I’ve stuck with it for several years and go to class when I can. I’m by no means at a competitive level, but I enjoy doing it and it definitely helps whilst writing fighting scenes in my epic fantasy series. Someday, I need to get back out onto the range with my bow.

I can’t say what makes these activities more appealing than others. Maybe it has to do with the fact that you must rely entirely on your own skill and body to perform well while swinging a sword or shooting an arrow into a target. Longswords and longbows are both somewhat primitive, the bow more so than the sword, and maybe it’s the fact that my Viking and Celtic ancestors probably used these weapons that also makes these activities so appealing to me.
What types of mythology do you most enjoy, and why?

Oh my goodness, Celtic mythology by far is my most favorite. I loved it so much I took as many classes on the subject as I could in college. I think it links back to my ancestry (I’ve got some Celtic roots) and there is just something that appeals to me about the Celtic Isles. Maybe it’s the nearly constant gray skies, or the mountains and hills, or the music, or the fact that trees are sacred to the Celts (I love trees). I also love Norse mythology and took a few Norse myth classes alongside my Celtic classes. Of course, in high school I was really into Greek mythology (Xena and Hercules!), but I think on a whole, I’m fascinated by all mythologies of every culture. At their core, ancient myths and legends are a reflection of a culture and the beginning of storytelling. As an author, I am always amazed by the wonderful stories our ancient ancestors wove to explain the world around them. We, as authors, are carrying on that legacy and it’s so important not to forget that storytelling is at the heart of our existence as human beings.
The Legend of Oescienne series is set in a world where dragons exist. Did you base your dragons off of any legends in particular? And what did you most enjoy about writing about dragons?

My Legend of Oescienne series was my very first leap into the writing pool. I have always loved dragons, even as a kid, and have always believed that, just like people, dragons can be benevolent or malevolent. My dragons are mostly benevolent, but there are a few mixed in who are troublemakers. One of the main characters in the series, the dragon Hroombramantu, is based very much on Draco from Dragonheart. I loved that movie and Draco’s bravery, wisdom, and kindness always stuck with me. I wanted Hroombra (Jahrra’s mentor in the first two books) to be wise and kind as well.

I think the best part about writing dragons is that my dragons are able to speak and reason just like humans. It’s especially fun to work with them because they react and behave as humans do sometimes, but they are so much more powerful, not to mention they can fly and breathe fire.

You’re a fan of honeybees! Are you a beekeeper with hives of your own?

I absolutely LOVE honeybees!!! They are actually sacred to the Celts (considered little cows with wings because they produce a valuable commodity). I had a hive some years back, but unfortunately, my bees disappeared. I miss having them, but if I ever find the time to get back into the hobby, I need to take classes and become more of an expert first. I’d honestly be happy if a wild swarm made a hive somewhere in my backyard (there’s a lot of space back there) just so I could have them around. For now, I have to get my honey from the local farms and farmers’ markets (I only get the good stuff – local, raw honey) so I have a constant supply for my tea. I especially love the fact that there is an old wisteria vine growing on my back patio and every spring/summer I can stand beneath it and just listen to all the bees visiting the flowers.
What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Now that “Bane and Balm” is out in the world in the Once Upon A Quest anthology, I am focusing entirely on finishing the fifth and final book in my Oescienne series first. It’s been a long journey getting to this point, and my Oescienne readers have been waiting a long time for this one. Once I’ve finished the first draft and send it off to my beta readers and editor, I’m going to jump into either my Draghans of Firiehn series (will eventually be a collection of novellas set in my Otherworld universe but mostly outside of Eile) and a continuance of my Otherworld series (Cade, my main male character, needs his trilogy and there are a few more characters awaiting their own books, too). I’ve also been working on and off on a brand new trilogy I’m hoping to get traditionally published. Basically, I’m going to be busy this year!

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson is a best-selling, multi-award winning author of Fantasy and Young Adult Paranormal Romance. Jenna grew up and still resides on the Central Coast of California, a place she finds as magical and enchanting as the worlds she creates.

Jenna received a BA in Art Practice with a minor in Celtic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. It was during her time in college that she decided to begin her first novel, The Legend of Oescienne – The Finding. Reading such works as Beowulf, The Mabinogi and The Second Battle of Maige Tuired in her Scandinavian and Celtic Studies courses finally inspired her to start writing down her own tales of adventure and fantasy.

Besides writing and drawing, Jenna is often found reading, gardening, camping, hiking, bird watching, and practicing long sword fighting and archery with a traditional longbow.

Find Jenna at:

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Interview: Anthea Sharp on “Once Upon a Quest”

Meet Anthea!

Anthea Sharp writes fairy tale retellings, Victorian steampunk, fantasy romance, and has combined the Realm of Faerie with immersive gaming in her Feyland series. Once Upon a Quest is the third volume in the Once Upon anthology series.

Once Upon a Quest

Once Upon a Quest is a collection of fifteen tales of adventure, all brand new fairytale twists from bestselling and award-winning authors. With inspirations ranging from The Ugly Duckling to Snow White, and everything in between (including trips to Camelot and Oz), these fabulous tales are full of adventure, magic, and a touch of romance.

Elly took me out and set me gently on the floor. The stone was cold beneath my paws. I walked forward until I was a short leap from the throne. The fetid smell of ogre sweat pinched my nose, and I could hear the breath rasping in and out of his throat. One of his hands was big enough to crush me, should he so choose.

“Your eminence.” I made the ogre a bow. “My name is Mistress Bootsi, and I have come to look upon your might.”

“A talking cat?” He laughed, a harsh, nasty sound. “If you thought I’d be impressed, I’m not. I have no use for you.”

The ogre stood and, in a wink, transformed to a huge lion. He roared, and I shivered in fear. My instincts clamored for me to run, run! It took all my courage to stand my ground, and I hoped that Elly had the sense to do the same. Being breakfast for a lion was not part of my plan.

– from “Mistress Bootsi” by Anthea Sharp

The Interview

How did the ‘Once Upon’ anthology series get started?

A group of author friends and I started kicking around the idea of dark fairytale retellings. Everyone got excited to do the project, and I offered to manage the details, since I have experience running multi-author projects and anthologies. The fabulous Christine Pope offered her graphics skills, and Once Upon A Curse was born! It sold very well, and we decided to make this a yearly project. Quest is the third collection, after Curse (2016) and Kiss (2017).

How did you come up with the ‘quest’ theme?

We needed something to match the other titles. Curse (dark tales), Kiss (romantic tales)… and then Quest, featuring adventurous tales. We’re thinking about getting a little wild next year, and doing SF-set stories with Once Upon A Quark

After that, who knows? 🙂

What do you find compelling about fairy tales?

The archetypal plots and characters of fairy tales still resonate today, though all the authors are having fun putting modern twists on the stories!

Your own story in the collection, “Mistress Bootsi,” was inspired by the the fairytale “Puss in Boots” (also known as “The Master Cat”). Why did you pick this particular fairytale as the basis for your story?

When thinking of quests and adventure, “Puss in Boots” just stood out to me as a classic tale full of magic and adventure. Plus, we have a new kitty in the house, so felines are on my mind these days!

Your Feyland series is also based in part on fairy tales. What aspects of fairy folklore have you used in that series, and what inspired you to combine that with gaming?

I grew up on collections of fairy tales and also singing some of the classic old fairy ballads. I’ve always loved the story of “Tam Lin”, where the maiden saves her knight (in fact, we have a “Tam Lin” retelling in Once Upon a Quest).

I’ve also played computer games since, well, Zork, and then more recently lots of MMOs. I got to thinking one day (in 2010) about the parallels between being in-game and the descriptions of humans sucked into the Realm of Faerie: time moves strangely, everything feels intense, you emerge dazed and feeling like you’ve been somewhere magical and not-of-this-world…

And Feyland was the result – a series where a computer game is the gateway to Faerie. It’s not a new idea, and portal fantasy has a long, wonderful tradition (I suppose there’s a bit of my love for Narnia in the books as well) but I think my gaming experience put a new, different twist on the theme. I’m delighted to say that the Feyland books have found a wide audience, and I still have two more books planned in the series! The prequel is free, and the first book, The Dark Realm, is just .99 cents at all ebook retailers, for those who are interested in diving in.

You play the Irish fiddle! Tell us about the kind of music you play – and about your band, Fiddlehead.

I’m classically trained, but discovered Irish music in college, and never looked back. I love playing the fiddle, and my band, Fiddlehead, has three CDs out (find them on I also love putting music into my stories, and have released a short story anthology called Tales of Music & Magic that combines my love of magic, music, and short tales.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m currently working on another fairytale retelling series, complete with a dark, enchanted forest, elves, and two sisters who must fight on opposite sides of an epic battle. Hoping to get those books out in 2019!

Growing up on fairy tales and computer games, Anthea Sharp has melded the two in her award-winning, bestselling Feyland series, which has sold over 150k copies worldwide.

In addition to the fae fantasy/cyberpunk mashup of Feyland, she also writes Victorian Spacepunk, and fantasy romance. Her books have won awards and topped bestseller lists, and garnered over a million reads at Wattpad. She’s frequently found hanging out on Amazon’s Top 100 Fantasy/SF author list. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction River, DAW anthologies, The Future Chronicles, and Beyond The Stars: At Galaxy’s edge, as well as many other publications.

Anthea lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she writes, hangs out in virtual worlds, plays the fiddle with her Celtic band Fiddlehead, and spends time with her small-but-good family.

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