Posts Tagged ‘fantasy fiction’

It’s that time of year, when Best-Of lists, awards, and other retrospectives are released into the world. This made me think about the books I’ve personally enjoyed during calendar year 2021. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 27 books (three short of my reading challenge) but of them all, two really stand out.

The first was The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin, which technically was released in 2020. The initial release was in hardback, and I waited for the trade paperback. The book won a number of awards, which it deserved. I enjoyed how it played with stereotypes enough that I already wrote a whole blog post about it. You can revisit that here, if you wish.

The other was The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik. This is the second book in her series The Scholomance, which is being categorized as contemporary fantasy but really I think is the spiritual successor to Harry Potter. Just think if dear old Hogwarts was an evil entity intent on devouring the students? That’s the Scholomance. Then add in a supremely powerful and snarky POV character, trying to organize her hostile and traumatized fellow students, so that they don’t all fall victim to the Scholomance’s malign tendencies.

Novik is an author who continues to grow and gain mastery with time. She’s also won a number of awards, although not for The Last Graduate. Her early series struck me as fairly ordinary, but she’s really hit her stride with her YA books, Uprooted and Spun in Silver. That’s not to say The Last Graduate is without flaws. El is the sole POV character, and she has a tendency to stop in the middle of the action to explain about things — some of which I already knew. This is one of my own flaws, which is perhaps why it sticks out to me. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the book or thinking about it for days afterward.

So, those are my two most memorable books from 2021. How about you? I’d love to hear your one or two most memorable books from this year.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I mentioned last time how there can be pushback when authors of work that is not in a Romance genre, include romances in their work. One pattern that I often see is romance included as a secondary plot arc. So there’s the traditional plot with a fight against evil (or whatever), while at the same time a romance is going on. It might be two members of the same team falling love, or a romance with someone not connected to the rest of the plot. Sometimes they even fall in love with someone from the opposite side. Oh, the drama!

To be clear, I think all of these are legitimate story arcs. A love affair can be a great way to raise the stakes in a novel. The characters not only have to solve their initial plot problem, but now they also want to impress their beloved. Or, the other side might threaten their beloved, and they have to protect them. Not only that, but a high percentage of readers are very drawn to romantic emotions. Having a romance arc is another way to keep them hooked on the story.

All this has made me look back over my own stories. What approach have I most often taken to the “Romance, Yes/No” question? So let’s go over a my books, in the order I wrote them.

Caution: Spoilers Ahead!

Many of my books have been out for over ten years, but I can still hope some of you may be interested enough to buy them, right? Right???

The Magister’s Mask was about a young woman who used magic to solve crimes and was trying to get established in her career. There was no romance.

Too Many Princes featured two princes on a quest, and had some political intrigue. There was a secondary romance for one of the princes, who ended up happily with his partner at the end. There also was a positive romance for one of the princes’ sisters.

In The Necromancer’s Bones, sequel to The Magister’s Mask, the young woman fell in love with a man who was socially out of reach, and was tormented by it. But he shared her feelings, and in the end they were talking about marriage.

Masters of Air and Fire was a book for middle readers, about a group of young dragons who all were siblings. No romance there!

In The Seven Exalted Orders, a couple of rebellious young wizards hooked up while on the run. They spent the rest of the book deciding whether they had a future together. I’d call that one a troubled romance.

The Grimhold Wolf was about a woman running away from her evil lover, who took their child and turned her into a wolf. The other POV character was a werewolf-hunting priest. No romance.

Their Weight of Their Souls was a swords and sorcery novella with a diverse group battling the darkness. In the end, there was a possible romance between two of the group.

In the world of The Gellboar, men were forbidden to do magic. The main character was a man who disguised himself as a woman to so he could get around that. No romance.

Now coming to the Skaythe novellas. The Tower in the Mist: it was hinted that there could have been a romance, but then one of them died. Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts: the two characters were heading toward a romance at the end. The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh: flirtation heading toward romance, but then one of the lovers betrayed the other one. Ouch! The Renegade of Opshar: a partnership, but no romance. Prisoners of the Wailing Tower (which will be out this fall): a young woman has a huge crush on a man who doesn’t think of her that way, but by the end he is starting to see her merits. So, potential for a romance.

End Spoilers

I’m not a Romance writer as such, but I guess I started out fairly traditional. If there was a romance as a secondary plot, it ended with a happy relationship. As time has gone on, I’m evenly split between no romance, troubled romance, and potential romance.

It isn’t that I’m against romances. As I said above, they can be a useful part of the story. In general, my stories have become more complex thematically. I supposed that I treat romances the same way. People’s emotions are complicated, and there aren’t always happy endings.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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On my vacation this year, I pulled a few old paperbacks off the shelves to take along. It was sort of eye-opening to read stories from 80 years ago and see how they did it in the beginning of modern SF. The two books I’ve finished so far are Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore (1930s) and The Book of Ptath by A. E. VanVogt (1947). What’s the deal with the initials, you might wonder. I know Catherine Moore may have needed to conceal being a woman if she wanted to be taken seriously. Maybe VanVogt just thought the initials looked more classy.

Characters. By current standards, the characters are really sparse. Good or Evil are practically branded on their foreheads. They have just one or two defining traits. Jirel has red hair and incredible pride. Ptath, a reincarnated god, has an overwhelming self-esteem and I couldn’t really tell you what he looked like. Also, everyone is gorgeous.

Landscapes. The authors made a lot more effort at creating fantastic landscapes and creatures. Maybe they were still closer to the age of discovery in the 1920s and the readers valued that.

Magic. There is generally a sense that mages are evil, or at least sketchy. They seek power by meddling with forces beyond their ken. Also, the magic often overlaps what you could think of as mental powers. There’s a lot of astral projection and dimensional travel rather than fireballs and such. In Ptath, they take over people’s bodies a lot.

Endings. As with the characters, the endings are very chopped off. They solve the story problem and two sentences later the story is over. Modern endings seem to have a lot more reflection on how things have changed during the story, or in the case of a series, they think about what problems are left in the series.

Problematic material. There’s a lot of fat shaming in the VanVogt. Interestingly, the evil woman was still gorgeous. It was the merchants and politicians who were grotesquely fat. I also thought it was questionable how they possessed people without asking. In the Moore, there was sexual assault all over the place. No matter how fierce and strong Jirel was, men kept grabbing her and kissing her. I wondered if this was something Moore herself experienced, or if the social mores of the 30s required an independent woman to have some sort of cautionary experience.

Those are a few of my observations. What have you been reading lately?

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Everyone please welcome Astrid Brandon and her character Thurid Sevriens, from the fantasy/mystery series, Mysteries of the Astral. This is an own-voices tale for young adults.

Character Questions

Are you an insider or an outsider in your homeland? I’d say outsider. Being autistic in America, I feel so… unwanted sometimes, y’know? And now that I have these weird powers, great! I’m even more of an outsider.

Who is your closest friend? Before I met Avery, Murtagh was my best friend. Still is. I have multiple besties. Them, Erzulie, and now Avery. Don’t make me choose!

Author Questions

Is there something you wish you had done differently with your craft? I wish I had gone through my manuscript at least one more time before I published it. It’s good, but after months have passed, I wish I had sat down with it one more time.

Why do you write? I write because I look at myself now as a 22-year-old with different neurodivergencies and queer labels and I say, “I wish I had representation growing up.” I didn’t know much about the aro/ace communities, or non-binary communities, or autistic and ADHD communities until I was almost an adult. And there are so many people who feel the same way. I want late middle-schoolers to high-schoolers to read my book and go, “That’s me! I don’t feel that way either.” Or, “I do that thing too!”

Investigation in Nottingham

Autistic Thurid Sevriens has trouble comprehending her grandmother’s aversion to her fascination with Avery Norcova, a deceased actor whose kindness and talent while alive made him loved by millions, to point of his spirit living on long past his physical death. After Thurid gets in another fight with her grandmother, Avery’s spirit has had enough.

Taking Thurid under his wing in the astral plane, Avery takes her to medieval Nottingham, England, a place they could avoid the stresses of day to day life, far from the abuses of reality. But after the town sheriff’s mother is found dead, Thurid realizes that there might be more dangers than originally thought.

As if the dangers of the Astral Plane weren’t enough, the waking world holds its own perils. Far more dangerous than a non-supportive grandmother that hounds Thurid daily life, are magical powers and those who want to abuse them. With magical powers of her own beginning to emerge and danger around every corner, doubt begins to grow in her mind of who she truly, is both in body and in soul.

To purchase

Astrid R. Brandon was born in southeastern Virginia (1999–present). They grew up in Chesapeake and are currently working on getting a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese. Currently they live with their parents and their two cats. They hope to one day be a translator for the government and to help rescue cats and kittens. As a writer and someone who is actually autistic, they hope to be able to share their experiences and enlighten the world about what autism actually is.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Please join me in welcoming novelist Alma Alexander. Her featured character is Aris the Gleeman, from her anthology, Fractured Fairy Tales.

Aris stood just inside the door of the great hall, clutching his harp against his ribs, half concealed by the gleeman’s motley cloak. He watched a woman glittering with diamonds sink into a deep curtsey as she was presented; then what was obviously a family, a proud father cuffing the youngest son into a proper bow when the moment came. They, and others, came away from their presentations, and Aris could see the glow on their faces. They belonged here. They clearly did. Aris himself? It was the old story. He ran from magic, and magic always chased him back, and caught him. He had no idea how the invitation to this ball had come to him — but it was the sort of invitation one did not refuse, especially not a travelling gleeman who was in no way noble, titled, aristocratic at all. He was just the bringer of news, the singer of songs, he was only…

He caught someone’s eye; there was a definite beckoning motion. Aris gripped the the harp tighter, took a deep breath, and then stepped forward into the summons, starting down to where the Queen waited.

He was Aris. Aris the gleeman. That would have to be enough.

Character Questions

Are you an insider or an outsider in your homeland? I am Aris the Gleeman. In my world, a gleeman is actually both — they are a permanent outsider in the sense that they spend their lives travelling and they are always in some different place — but they are also the quintessential insider because they find their place in every hamlet, village, town they visit, and people welcome them for the news and tales they bring. To put it briefly, a gleeman is an outsider’s insider. They find ways to belong where they find themselves. In one sense, they are the center — you might ask whether all the rest of the world is an outsider or insider in the gleeman’s sphere, not the other way around…

In your homeland, is magic feared or respected? It EXISTS. It’s there to be found. I distrust it and am always wary of it — but it treats me like a cat treats someone who dislikes cats — it’s always near me, weaving between my feet and tripping me up, being a nuisance, no matter how hard I try to fend it off. I’d say fear and respect go hand in hand, two sides of the same coin; whether magic is feared or respected depends on whether the person wielding it is. And then, of course, it’s MAGIC. And it’s just obnoxious sometimes.

Author Questions

Fantasy has many genres. How did you choose yours? I have seldom “chosen” anything in my writing — I listen to the calls, and that is what I write. I am not “commercial” at all. As for different fantasy subgenres — well — first of all, as I am fond of saying, ALL fiction is fantasy by default (because it’s all untrue and made up which is the definition of fantasy, no?) so everyone’s writing it, whether they want to or not. I’ve written in plenty of subgenres — historical fantasy, epic/high fantasy, humor, YA, contemporary fantasy, paranormal…. there are always stories. And the STORIES choose which subgenre they will end up “marrying”.

Why do you write? Because I have to. Because I can. Because that’s who I am. Because there is nothing else in the world that I have ever really wanted to do.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Welcome to the land where tales are told. There is a path unfolding in front of you, paved with words, leading into secret places — the dangerous, the remembered, the familiar, the unknown. Here you will find witches and princesses, monsters and familiars, coins made of silver and swords made of shadow, lost girls and travelling troubadours, promises made and broken, loss and laughter. The book you are holding is a key to the gate of that realm. Open the door. Go through.

“I have a wonderful occupation;

I dream for a living.”

Alma Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with two obligatory writer’s cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma and her books on her website, at her Amazon author page, on Twitter, her Facebook page, or at her Patreon page.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Author C. S. Boyack joins us today with the current installment in his fun and adventurous urban fantasy series, The Hat. The main character is a musician, Lizzie St. Laurent, with her partner, a magical hat.

“Would you look at that? All those lightning bugs, flowers, and crap.” The hat took the shape of a women’s straw sun hat with an ivory ribbon that dangled down the back. His partner, Lizzie St. Laurent, wore a knee-length white dress with a pair of modest heels.

“We were both invited here. They know about you, so stop talking directly to my mind. I’m thinking one drink and we’re out of here.”

“Cool. Maybe we can pick up something, then go out to the country. I have a hunch where some graveyard ghouls could be hanging out. You’re packing, aren’t you?”

“I have a pistol in my purse. The other one is in the car.”

Character Questions

Who is your closest friend? (Lizzie) “I have a lot of friends. I mean, I guess I’m closer to Tanith than anyone else. She’s my drummer in our band. She goes by Sweet-T when we’re on stage.” (Hat) “I’m a hat. I can’t really talk to anyone without freaking them out. It’s basically me and Lizzie against the forces of darkness.”

In your homeland, is magic feared or respected? (Lizzie) “It’s completely unknown. It exists, but it’s better if people remain unaware. The hat and I even know a witch, but she’s pretty reclusive.” (Hat) “Are you kidding me? It scares the hell out of people. Back in the day they used to burn magical folks at the stake. I ought to know. I was there.”

Author Questions

Fantasy has many genres. How did you choose yours? I cover a lot of speculative fields. For The Hat Series, I wanted an urban fantasy or magical realism. People can relate to our world, then I peppered it with the fantastic elements. It’s also dark humor. It’s helpful to have the modern world to poke fun at.

Is there somewhere you go to search for inspiration? The short answer is no. I get inspiration from everything. It could be something out my window, online, or the nightly news. I actively browse Pinterest every night before bed and get a lot of ideas from it.

Lunar Boogie

Lizzie and the hat are back in action, only this time they’re up against the most tragic monster of all, a werewolf. This adventure is more like hunting an animal, and the werewolf is unlikely to come to any of their musical performances. This puts Lizzie out in the dark corners and wooded areas of the city. It may be more beneficial to get the monster to hunt Lizzie than to stalk him on his own turf. All she has to do is be quicker on the trigger than the wolf is on his feet. At the same time, the police think they’re after a serial killer. Lizzie tries to keep them alive while also keeping them out of her way. As the body count rises, so do the pressures. It doesn’t help that people are blaming Lizzie and the hat for the killings. This involves an urban myth about them that the locals call Hellpox. Pull on your boogie shoes and join the hunt. Designed as an afternoon read, this one is tons of supernatural fun.

Purchase now or find out more about the series!

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As I’ve been setting up the posts for Queen Titania’s Court, I discovered a new sub-genre. At least, it’s one that’s new to me. That is Contemporary Witchy Fiction.

At first glance, Witchy Fiction appears to be an offshoot of Urban Fantasy. Typically that isn’t my thing; however, I am always interested to see what the witches are getting up to. In fact, when I first set up this blog, back in 2012, it was even odds whether I would choose dragons or witches as my theme. At the time, I was promoting a podcast where I read one of my books, which was about dragons. Thus, the scaly ones came out on top.

Anyway! When I saw that some of Queen Titania’s guests were from Witchy Fiction books, I was intrigued. After asking a few questions and doing some searches, this is what I found out.

Witchy Fiction actually is quite new as a category. It got its start just last year. In the midst of the pandemic, a group of independent authors in New Zealand decided to combat the stress by creating their own fantasy genre. The first Witchy Fiction was published in October of 2020.

Witchy Fiction stories are Urban Fantasies that are short, sweet and light, with a hopeful outlook. There are a couple of specific requirements. 1) The setting must be in New Zealand. 2) At least one main characters has to be a witch. The witch is not necessarily female. 3) There should be some romantic elements. 4) The story has a happy ending. Optional extras include LGTBQ romance and the witches being followers of Wicca or similar religions. So in some ways Witchy Fiction is also an own-voices genre.

I have to say, I admire their approach, and now I’m tempted to gather a few friends and found my own genre, too.

Looking at the main Witchy Fiction web site, I can’t tell if there is an actual publisher committed to this genre, but all the books certainly share a similar “look.” I don’t think even Amazon has caught up to developments, since the Witchy Fiction listed there is not tagged as such, but the phrase “witchy fiction” is prominent in the subtitles and descriptions. This allows potential readers to search it out.

So, if you are hungry for a witch’s brew of light, fun story telling, and would enjoy a glimpse of New Zealand through a magical lens, you might want to look into Contemporary Witchy Fiction.

Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Unsure what to expect inside the ball, Dedra pulls up the hood of the pink robe denoting her as an adherent of the Ahweian Order of Spirit. She takes a deep breath and slips inside, where she takes in the scene. She’s certain she’ll be asked to play something on the violin–she always is–but she wants to get her bearings before anyone sees her and makes a request. As she sizes up the revelers and their mood, she thinks of what piece of music would suit them best and pictures how the colorful tones would interact with the costumes and decor. After a few minutes of lurking around the edges, she feels comfortable enough to lower her hood, straighten her spine, and move forward to greet her hostess.

Character Questions

Are there any fantastic beasts where you live?

Yes, there’s one that shows up periodically in the dimension I visit (and where I hope to live out the rest of my life). It’s a bird called a chirikin. It looks kind of like a sparrow, but multi-colored like a tropical bird. In that dimension, which is called Ahwey, music is visible. It’s used for healing and all kinds of things. For everyone except chirikin, the visible aspect of music is like smoke, but the chirikin can perch on it as if it’s solid. They’ll even slide down it sometimes. It’s really amazing to see.
They’re not really from Ahwey–they just visit–but no one knows for sure where they come from. It’s super rare and special to see one. They seem to be attracted to people who can travel, so I get to see them a lot more than most people. My friends and I have even named three of them who tend to hang around me.

Tell us about the main religion or spirituality of your society

The spirituality in Ahwey is all about universal music. That’s the music that heals the body and soul, nourishes flowers and crops, and connects Ahweians to the fabric of the universe itself. All music in Ahwey is visible, but you can tell universal music from regular music by the depth of its colors and the strength of its vibration. Every evening, all the citizens play sunset music as a tribute to the universe. Each home has a room called a locus that’s open to the sky, so you can see the musical tones streaming out across the city, filling the sky. It’s spectacular.

On festival days, sacred songs and chants are performed at the Oolosian temple. The most talented musicians play, and for some traditional chants, everyone joins in and it creates the most magnificent whirling mass of color and sound you can imagine. The Order of Spirit stays in tune with universal music through almost constant song. Those at the higher levels, the Virtuosi, can interpret universal music. The highest of all, the Prima Virtuosa, holds a seat on the governing council so she can offer spiritual guidance to the leaders. Many of the Virtuosi and the Order’s lower adherents are trained in healing song and work closely with the Order of Healing to restore the patterns of those who are sick or injured. The Orders of Spirit and Healing are the highest regarded because of their ties to universal music.

Author Questions

How much do you plan ahead of time, vs. following the story where it leads?

I use a mix of planning and flying by the seat of my pants. I start with a really loose “plot outline” that’s so unstructured I hesitate to even call it an outline. Sometimes I’ll have bullet points that I want to hit at key points; sometimes it’s stream-of-consciousness notes that ramble all over the place.
I generally start knowing the beginning, the main plot points, and how I think it’ll end. The plot points usually don’t come about how I expect them to, and the climax tends to take on a life of its own, regardless of my plans.
I used to plan a lot less, but my superhero books (Hero Academy and Plague) are part of a shared world called the Just Cause Universe. Because the main author of that series needs to approve a pitch before a book is started, I had to start fleshing things out more at the beginning. I like having a better idea where things will go, but I do stay in tune with the evolving story and follow it where it wants to go. I think that’s important–no matter how well you think you know a world, a character, a plot before you start working, you get to know it better as you write. Sometimes, an idea you had just doesn’t fit anymore. Other times, the setting or characters themselves may present an opportunity you hadn’t expected. Staying open to that, I believe, helps a story grow more organically, which pulls everything together and makes it a more unified whole.

If you lived in the world of your book, who would you be?

I would be Ahlaya, the Prima Virtuosa of the Order of Spirit. She’s the one person considered equal to the secular ruler, the Grand Maestra, and she uses that power to quietly rebel against what she believes is a misapplication of law and power by the Grand Maestra and the council. She gives help and sanctuary to those who need it and works against injustice. She’s kind and frivolous and often silly, but there’s a method to her madness and a lot of wisdom behind everything she does.

Traveler Hunted

Dedra has a secret. She can escape this world—and her unhappy life—by slipping through the veil between worlds to visit Ahwey, where music is visible and underlays every aspect of life. As a violin prodigy and traveler, she’s accorded a high status; she’s in love (even if he doesn’t know it); she’s happiest there and dreams of staying in that world forever.

But then, she starts a chain reaction that damages the fabric of the universe and puts both worlds in danger. Will her talents and wits be enough to stop the strings of reality from unraveling?

The Author

Adrienne Dellwo has a BA in Journalism & Communications from the University of Oregon and worked as a TV news producer, newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, blogger, and freelance medical writer before pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a fiction author. Her primary genres are superhero, urban fantasy, and horror. She’s also an independent filmmaker, playwright, singer, and actress.

A life-long Northwesterner, Adrienne lives in Washington state with her husband/creative partner, two teenagers who double as film cast and crew, and a really spoiled cat. She’s a self-professed geek, drinks far too much tea, and frequently changes her hair color.

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Fancy suits and big crowds and lots of elites. Not my idea of a good time on any side of that triangle, but it wasn’t exactly the first time I’d found myself somewhere I wanted to be. All in all, I’d take a fancy dress party to infiltrating a nest full of harpies. Still had the scars from that one. I approached the entrance and did my best tough guy act to keep anyone from bothering me as long as possible, and I made a beeline straight for the bar. Anything this fancy? They were paying for the drinks and I was happy to lighten their pockets up for them.

Character Questions

Is there something you are willing to die for?

Well I’m an OPA agent. Office of Preternatural Affairs. Protecting country and populace against the threats that the rest of everyone doesn’t want to have to deal with. When was the last time you went toe-to-toe with a sorcerer ready to bleed you out? How about a dragon? Yeah, I didn’t take this job thinking I might never die in the course of a job.

Would you rather sneak into a dragon’s den or attend a demonic parliament?

Definitely demons. They get a bad rap. The whole claws and horns thing’s a little creepy. I’ll admit my own biases. But I work with a demon every day. Bark is way worse than their bite, in my opinion. Not that dragons are all bad. But I’ve got a Glock and they can eat me. I’m not that stupid.

If you encounter a dragon, what should you do?

Dragons again, huh? Well if they’re after you, run like hell and hope that works. If it doesn’t, hope like hell you’ve got someone with magic on the way. Maybe a lesser dragon you could take on hand to hand or with a normal gun, but I wouldn’t want to dance that dance if I didn’t have to. Lucky me, that’s what they give me a paycheck to do is dance that dance. If I don’t have a choice in the matter? Aim for the eyes.

Author Questions

How much do you plan ahead of time, vs. following the story where it leads?

I’m a big-time plotter. I like to have my entire roadmap laid out. But just like when you go on a road trip with me, I sometimes take a little detour, do something, and then swing back onto the track. While I enjoy writing off the cuff, from a sheer work and efficiency standpoint, I have to do a lot less work overall if I plan out before I write the first word.

Is there a fantasy trope that you would like to NEVER see again?

There are some general tropes I’d like to see gotten rid of, but specific to fantasy, if we could possibly never have an “I’m going to stop taking my anxiety/depression/etc meds” plotline in fantasy again, I would be so down for that. It’s super lazy and cliché to have “the drugs are blocking you from the magic.” And it’s also frankly quite harmful and stigmatizing. People use those medications to be able to live their actual lives and function. They don’t rob you of magic. They keep you from offing yourself. Give me a character who finally gets help, and because they’re finally able to breathe for a second, the magic reveals itself. Or just give me a magical world where sometimes people have to take SSRIs because they just need a little hand.

Do you have a personal motto or tag line?

For writing in particular, I have “Nobody else is going to do the work for you.” But in the larger life sense, I’ve always resonated quite strongly with a quote from, of all people, Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I, and most other people, have opinions on her at this point, but that quote, often mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela, was one of those rare things that simply stopped me dead the first time I saw it. I have big issues connected to success. We don’t need to go into my personal psychology, here, but I always found that this quote could speak to me in a deep, halting way that lets me change my thinking and my actions, at least for a while.

Toxic Influence (Office of Preternatural Affairs #1)

Dashiel Rourke was never supposed to join the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He was nothing but a low-rung counterterrorism agent. A cog in the greater FBI machine. But when the poison gas attacks plaguing New York City turn out to be a little more magical than anyone expected…well, desperate times. And once he gets a lungful of that poison, it becomes personal.

Now he’s suited up with a magical sidearm, a seven-foot troll for a partner, and a whole lot of questions with not that many answers to go around. One thing he does know? Whoever or whatever is behind this mess, he’s not going to stop until he can take them down. Even if that means hanging out with elves and hags for a little while.

But Dash and the rest of the OPA don’t know just how deep this goes…or how deadly the endgame is. If you like high-stakes FBI drama and higher-stakes magic, check out Toxic Influence today.

The Author

Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes science fiction and fantasy from inside a single-wide trailer. He is the author of the Evenstad Media Presents series, as well as the Office of Preternatural Affairs series. His short work is available from a variety of publications, including Vox.com, Flame Tree Publishing’s Heroic Fantasy Anthology, and the bestselling Alternative Truths Anthology. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he can be found cooking, belly dancing, singing, and cuddling dogs, though rarely all at the same time. More information can be found at http://vossfoster.blogspot.com

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Lost studies the magnificent palace with crimson eyes as she approaches. The half-elven vampire’s short silver hair is neatly brushed, and she is swathed in an enormous ball gown. The ungainly skirt nearly conceals the fact that she is barefoot and telekinetically hovering at times. A reanimated bunny peers over her shoulder. Lost speaks to it in a painfully polite voice. “We must be on our best behavior, Bunny.”

Character Questions

Are there any fantastic beasts where you live?

Only if you’re not from here. We have vampires, dragons, fairies, elves, orcs, mermaids, griffins, goblins, undead, gods, humans, dwarves, halflings… Mom says I shouldn’t list everything we have in Windemere. To us, these are fairly common beasts, so we only get surprised by them if they’re trying to eat us. For a tourist, I can see how they would be fantastical. I’d be the same way if I visited another world. All in the nose of the beholder.

If you encounter a dragon, what should you do?

That really depends on what species. A Weapon Dragon is always mean, so best to run, fight, or shake your finger at it until it leaves in shame. I assure you that the third option is bound to work one day. The natural dragons are friendlier as long as you aren’t a threat and they’re not jerks. I met a Kelynmire Dragon who was really nice even though he smelled like sour gas, but one day I got in a fight with a Sirynian Dragon. She didn’t like how I chipped a little off her icy wings to cool my drink. What was the question again?

What is your magical weapon of choice?

I’m glad you asked because being able to protect yourself is very important. Danger lurks around every window. The shadows watch your every move and not only because my friend Mab has that power. As a Dawn Fang vampire, I’m very strong and I have powers that make weapons fairly unnecessary. Still, you never known, so I have my bunny. His name is Bunny for obvious reasons. He can eat anything and flies almost as fast as a griffin. My little pet has the sharpest of teeth and can blast through objects if he builds up enough speed. Bunny has saved my life many times and I pay him in tomatoes.

Author Questions

Who would be your ideal reader?

I know many authors try to narrow down an age range for ideal readers, but I’ve had trouble doing that. My books are definitely difficult reads for kids under 12 unless they are advanced and mature readers. So, I focus my aim more on what a person is looking for when they pick up a book. My goal is to give people a sense of escape from reality and help them relax. If you haven’t read a fantasy book before and want to give it a try then I think my books would be a nice fit. They have a lot of magic and action, but they are very character driven, which can appeal to those who have never tried the genre before. I guess my rambling boils down to writing for the casual, escapist reader.

How much do you plan ahead of time?

I create character biographies to get a general idea of what my main heroes and villains look like and how they act. It focuses on appearance, relations to other characters, weaponry, history, and where I want them to go in the story. Personality is one line that is fairly vague. I make outlines that are broken into chapter sections, which have the basic purpose and goal. Key items, spells, locations, and events are fleshed out to before I start writing. Sometimes, I treat all of this as my real first draft because I edit it all at least once like a real book. Then, I settle in for writing and see what sticks and what gets tossed away. Outlines tend to be adjusted as I go and I always have to rewrite the one for the next book since I set up the whole series early on. This is fine because I see my planning as a skeleton and the writing is me adding the organs to my creation.

Are your books self-published or traditionally published? Why?

I am entirely self-published through Amazon. The reason is because I spent 10 years trying to get published traditionally. It was disheartening to get ignored, form letter rejections, or told that I needed to get a fan following before I could get published. That last one was the confusing response that had me consider self-publishing. I was becoming a stay-at-home parent to help my special needs son, so I thought it was a great time to try for the dream on my own terms. These days, it’s much harder to get any attention for my books without spending a lot of money, but I still think it was the right choice. I prefer to have all this control even though I’m much more of an author than a businessman. As one friend put it, I’m great at creating stories, but I mentally turn off when I need to sell myself.

War of Nytefall: Lost

As the Vampire Civil War of Windemere rages on in the shadows, a mysterious girl appears to deliver mayhem to both sides.

Rumors of old-world vampires disappearing and mortals being attacked by an army of humanoid monsters have reached Clyde’s ears. Still learning how to rule the city of Nytefall as a strong, but fair leader instead of a vicious warlord, the former thief assumes he has rogue agents on his hands. Instead, his people stumble upon Lost, a teenage Dawn Fang looking for her father and aided by a decrepit bunny that might be an animated corpse. Bounding from one side of the Vampire Civil War to another, this carefree girl will turn out to be more trouble than she looks as all of the demons of her past emerge to get what they have been promised. Yet, her chaotic actions are nothing compared to the secret of her creation, which will change the very fabric of the Dawn Fangs’ world.

It is time for the womb-born to be revealed.

The Author

Author Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After spending many years fiddling with his thoughts and notebooks, he decided that it was time to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house with only pizza and seltzer to sustain him, Charles brings you tales from the world of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and drawing you into a world of magic.

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