Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Welcome to the February 2019 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

Here’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
Amazon

My annual vampire fiction bibliography update is now available. If you’d like to receive a copy of the file, you can request it by e-mail: MLCVamp@aol.com

Below is another short excerpt from my new paranormal romance novella “Yokai Magic,” which you can find here:

Yokai Magic

The current scene occurs immediately after Val’s cat, Toby, chases a barely-glimpsed, unidentified creature out of the living room.

This month I’m interviewing Australian thriller writer Stephen B. King.

*****

Interview with Stephen B. King:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve written all my life, starting with poems and short stories in my youth, then I left school and got involved with the music business as a guitarist and had a ball writing songs. But then real life popped its head up, so along came marriage and children, and working for a living – a guy can’t have fun all his life, can he?

I spoke about writing a book for so long, it drove my wife nuts. Then out of the blue I heard a song, “Nevermind,” by Leonard Cohen (theme song for True Detective 2) and suddenly inspiration hit me like a lightning bolt. My wife, to shut me up, bought me a laptop, and told me no more excuses write the damn book. Now as I approach book number 10, I think maybe she regrets that.

Inspiration for stories comes in many ways. Coming up with ideas isn’t my problem, It’s finding the time to write them, then re-write them five times (my minimum) then the editing rounds……..

What genres do you work in?

Call me morbid, by all means, but the world of serial killers has always fascinated me. It must run in my family because my daughter is in her last year of university studying criminal psychology. A good friend is also a psychologist, and his wife is a renowned sport psychologist, and they have all been a good source of research.
When I write a story about a killer, I like to ‘get inside’ their head and show the reader how and why they became that way. Let’s face it, it doesn’t just happen that a ‘normal’ person wakes up one day and decides to kill people. While I don’t like to glamorize it, I do like to show the human side, and get the reader to invest in the character. If I can do that – watch out, we’re going on a roller coaster ride.
I’ve also written Thirty-Three Days, a romantic thriller using time travel. When inspiration hits, I will write anything. I’m also working up some ideas for a series of comedy stories involving a large car dealership (I work in one myself) An author, I believe, should be able to write anything, rather than get stuck in one genre – says he as he begins yet another thriller……..

Do you outline, “wing it,” or something in between?

Mostly my stories come from a spark of an idea, and for me to explore that I write it. I then write chronologically from that point on and see where it leads. Once I start I do not plan the ending, I work my way towards it, and I find that often I’m surprised myself at what I write. I also think it makes it fresher if I don’t know what’s coming.
For me, writing is all about bringing to life characters, getting the reader to invest in them, and even care for them. And, if I achieve that, then I can put those ordinary characters into extraordinary situations. My new release Glimpse Series, at its core is about desire. The effect that sexual desire can have on the marriages of the protagonists, it’s also about Pat’s desire to use her abilities on the front line of a major police investigation to catch a murderer. Also, of course it’s about the skewed desire that a serial killer has, to murder his victims.

What have been the major influences on your writing (favorite authors, life experiences, or whatever)?

Authors, there are a few: my famous namesake is right up there for putting characters you love in harm’s way. Of recent times I’ve fallen in literary love with Scandinavian writers and two are the finest authors I’ve ever read; both now deceased, unfortunately. Stieg Larsen and Henning Mankell. The former penned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and the latter the brilliant Wallander series. Two TV shows made me sit up and take notice and realize how good TV can be, a British one called Wire in the Blood, and the second was American: True Detective. A really good thriller/police procedural I think is the best there is, so I try to emulate what I like to read and see.

Your website includes an essay on why people are fascinated with murder. Could you give us a brief summary of your answer to that question?

As I alluded to in that article, I think it’s because we yearn to know why. Why would someone do hideous things to other human beings yet appear outwardly normal? In my latest trilogy, I explored that extensively with three different killers, with three different motivations and each are radically different to the other. Of course in my case, it’s fiction, but I try to get the psychology aspect as close as I can to factual because I think its important to try to show the answer to that question: Why?

What kind of research have you done for your fiction about serial killers?

I’ve read extensively, and talked to people in the field of mental health, in my attempts to try to portray sufferers in the right light. We must remember that often they don’t think they have a problem; it’s us ‘normal’ people who do. Some ailments are born from physical causes; electrical impulses short circuiting from a blow on the head as a child etc. Other problems are often caused by a series of events and the psyche has created personas to protect the sufferer – these are the most tragic of all. I read an article that said we only use 10% of our brain consciously, which begs the question: What’s the other 90% for? The human brain is capable of great good – think Einstein, Stephen Hawkins, but also great evil- Jack the Ripper, Son of Sam. Most of us thankfully live in the middle ground.

Please tell us a bit about your experience in having your work adapted to audiobook format.

So far only 1, called Thirty-Three Days. But Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer is in production now. I can only say it is an incredible experience and one I would recommend to any author if you get the chance. To hear my words performed by an actor was one of the highlights of my life, which still gives me goosebumps when I think of it now. When it was finished and released, I bought a copy, and listened to it without trying to edit or find fault, and it was amazing.

What are you working on now?

There is an urban myth that the ACDC song called Highway to Hell, was written by Bon Scott (RIP) about the highway which runs between Perth (where I live) and our port city of Fremantle (where we defended the America’s cup from the first time it left America). It’s a, to use an Aussie slang term, a mongrel of a road at any time, but in rush hour, it’s dreadful. So, I’m working on a thriller called Breakdown on the Highway to Hell, about three women who go missing after breaking down in rush hour traffic…….

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I have two pieces of advice: 1….. Never give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it – you can. Rejections will come by the bucket full, but treat each one as a stepping stone to success. 2…. Write from your heart, and edit with your head.

What’s the URL of your website? Your blog? Where else can we find you on the web?

All my books are available via Amazon, Goodreads, itunes etc And I always respond to comments and reviews – email me, tell me what you think of any of my books.

Stephen B King
Stephen B. King
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

Thank you for hosting me, and letting me ramble on

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

IN AN ABSENT DREAM, by Seanan McGuire. The fourth book in the “Wayward Children” series, which began with EVERY HEART A DOORWAY. That novel takes place in a boarding school for children and teenagers who have returned to our reality after time spent in another world accessed through a magic portal. Each of the following books deals with the individual experiences of various characters. IN AN ABSENT DREAM stands perfectly well on its own. In fact, it’s almost better not to have read the original novel first, because that one reveals the ultimate fate of this newest story’s protagonist. Katherine Lundy is “ordinary enough to have become remarkable entirely without noticing it.” A quiet child who follows the rules and keeps her thoughts to herself, she prefers to spend most of her time reading. In 1964, at the age of eight, she stumbles upon a door in a tree. On the door are the words “Be sure.” When she enters, the door vanishes, leaving her in a long, curved hallway. Signs on the walls proclaim five rules: Ask for nothing. Names have power. Always give fair value. Take what is offered and be grateful. Remember the curfew. At last she emerges into the Goblin Market, a combination of a carnival, a farmer’s market, and a craft fair, thronged by people many of whom don’t look human. Lundy (as she decides to call herself to avoid giving away the power of her first name) quickly finds a friend in Moon, an owl-eyed girl with feathers in her hair. Moon introduces her to a woman called the Archivist, a mentor figure who impresses on Lundy the importance of giving fair value and not accumulating debts. Feathers like Moon’s symbolize what happens to people who fall too deeply into debt; if they don’t balance accounts, they eventually lose their humanity altogether. Unlike most worlds where magic portals lead, the Goblin Market allows multiple visits. Lundy goes back and forth, torn between the faerie realm she considers her true home and mundane life with her family. She loves her parents and sister but can’t imagine being content with this life. Her father, having visited the Goblin Market in his own childhood, sympathizes but of course wants her to stay in the “real” world. The “curfew” looms, her eighteenth birthday, by which she must choose to live permanently in one world or the other. This anguished dilemma remains in the foreground. Dramatic events such as her heroic battle against the Wasp Queen and the death of a friend happen offstage. IN AN ABSENT DREAM is a story of inexorable choice, with no unambiguously “happy ending” possible.

THE WICKED KING, by Holly Black. Sequel to THE CRUEL PRINCE. The prince of the first book (who wasn’t quite so cruel as he appeared) has become the king of the present novel. Whether he’s truly “wicked” remains an open question. Jude, the mortal girl brought up in Elfhame as a foster daughter by the elven warrior who murdered her parents, again narrates the story (in present tense, annoyingly). The new king, Cardan, has bound himself to obey her commands for a year and a day. He resents this obligation, of course, and she tries to exercise her power only when absolutely unavoidable. She also carefully prevents anyone else from knowing she holds this control over the king. She has enemies, one of whom tries to poison her. Meanwhile, her secret role as a spy complicates her life. Court intrigue makes every choice open to her hazardous. When the Queen of Undersea demands that the King of Elfhame marry her daughter, Jude strives to save Cardan and his realm despite her ambivalent relationship with him. Like the previous novel, THE WICKED KING highlights the perilous existence of a mortal in the elven world. The unexpected conclusion could be the end of Jude’s story, but I suspect there’s more to come.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS, by Laura E. Weymouth. This portal fantasy, like EVERY HEART A DOORWAY but with a very different approach, explores how the protagonists cope with the aftermath of returning to our world from a sojourn in a magical realm. Incidents from their life in the other world and the six years between their return and the story’s present are framed as flashbacks. (The first-person accounts, both now and then, are narrated in present tense, and, still more annoyingly, all the flashbacks appear in italics.) During a bombing raid in World-War-II London, siblings James, Philippa, and Evelyn disappear from their backyard shelter and appear in a place called the Woodlands. The lordly stag Corvus, Guardian of the Woodlands, in response to Evelyn’s desperate plea to be “anywhere but here,” has transported them between universes. Evelyn longs to stay, but Philippa wants to go home and agrees to remain for a while only when Corvus promises that no time will pass back in London. Their parents will be safe and never know the children were gone. James, eager to play a significant role in this world that he can’t in Earth’s war, gladly accepts Corvus’s invitation. Beautiful and peaceful though this country is, it’s threatened by invasion from the Empire, whose ruler demands submission and tribute from the Woodlanders, including freedom to cut down sentient trees for the Empire’s war resources. Corvus, although magical, doesn’t have the godlike power of Aslan in Narnia. The war wreaks devastation on the Woodlands before victory is finally achieved. Even so, Evelyn is happy there. When Corvus keeps his promise to send the three children (now young adults) home, James and Philippa welcome the return, while Evelyn is essentially dragged along against her will. In one important factor glossed over by Lewis in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, Evelyn suffers wrenching dislocation at suddenly being thirteen again after having grown into a young woman in the Woodlands. She has to live through the ages between thirteen and eighteen twice. (That DOES sound to me like a fate almost worse than death.) As the novel begins in the story’s present day, she’s at a boarding school as the British equivalent of an American high school senior. James attends Oxford, and Philippa has gone away to Harvard. Although Evelyn tries to fit in as her family and schoolmates expect her to, she yearns for “home” and continues to feel disconnected from her mundane life. Philippa, on the other hand, embracing normality, armors herself in “powder and pumps,” the conventional persona of a bright, attractive young woman. In Narnian terms, Evelyn corresponds to Lucy and Philippa to Susan, except that Philippa never denies the reality of the Woodlands. After almost six years back in the “real” world, Evelyn becomes close to a boy her own age and begins to feel almost at home in this universe. This change, however, feels to her like a betrayal of her true home, the Woodlands. The second half of the book, narrated by Philippa, begins with Evelyn’s disappearance. Philippa goes back to England, struggling with guilt over having, as she sees it, abandoned her sister. Her anguish over not knowing what has happened to Evelyn is vividly rendered. Is Evelyn dead, possibly by suicide, as generally assumed, or has she found her way back to the Woodlands? The story comes to a satisfying conclusion, but it’s bittersweet, not an unequivocally “happy” ending.

*****

Excerpt from “Yokai Magic”:

“Way to go,” she said to the cat. “You flushed out some kind of creepy-crawly and then lost it. Now I have to spend all night worrying if it’s loose in the house.” He sat down and licked his front paws, each in turn, with his ears twitching as if he acknowledged her scolding but couldn’t bother with a response. “Best case, it was just a big, white moth. I could live with that.”

After one more scan of the kitchen and a survey of the dining room, just in case, she succumbed to second thoughts and checked the den and laundry room as well. Nothing. In the den, she did notice that the high-backed, rattan papasan chair, another souvenir her grandfather had picked up in Japan, sat in the middle of the floor instead of where it belonged. She’d taken photos of it the evening before to compare with online images of furniture of similar origin and age, in case it might be valuable enough to bother selling. Probably she’d repositioned it for better lighting and absentmindedly neglected to move it back. She shrugged at her own flakiness and tugged the chair into its usual corner.

After pouring herself a glass of Riesling, she settled on the living-room couch to watch a nature program she’d recorded earlier in the week. Toby curled up next to her with his plumed tail over his nose. She stroked him to calm herself.

Halfway through the life cycle of dolphins, she glimpsed movement from the corner of her eye. Is it back? She glanced up and located the disturbance above the fireplace. The two ivory figurines on the mantel, which her grandfather had bought in Japan, the ones she’d been seeking documentation for, twitched their limbs. The dragon spread its lacy batwings and glided to the edge of the hearth. The octopus stretched its tentacles and crept down the fire-guard screen. Toby uncurled his long, fluffy body, flexed his claws, and hissed.

Val slowly pulled herself to her feet, clutching the wing-backed end of the couch. “You see that?” she whispered. Maybe that’s what happened to the cat statuette. It got up and walked away, too.

The dragon and octopus scrabbled onto the carpet, their respective legs and tentacles clicking like a handful of dice. The cat lashed his tail and hissed again. Her breath caught in her throat. This is not happening. She flapped both hands at the animated figurines. They halted, the dragon’s wings vibrating and four of the octopus’s limbs suspended off the floor. Toby sprang at them. They both skittered up the screen to their places on the mantel.

Val collapsed onto the couch, trembling, with her face in her hands.

When her pulse slowed, she peeked between her fingers. The dragon and octopus sat in the positions they’d occupied ever since her family had bought the house. Toby jumped onto the cushion beside her and licked his tail. “That didn’t happen, right?” she asked him. He blinked at her. “I dozed off and had a really weird dream.” After her hands stopped shaking, she gulped the rest of her wine, turned off the TV, and went up to bed.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter

Welcome to the January 2019 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

Here’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
Amazon

Happy New Year!

My light paranormal romance novella “Yokai Magic,” inspired by Japanese folklore, will be published by the Wild Rose Press on January 7. Here’s the blurb:

When Val unearths a Japanese scroll and a cat figurine inherited from her grandfather, magic invades her world. The statuette, actually a cat spirit named Yuki—a yokai—enchanted into that form for her own protection, comes to life. Over a century ago, an evil magician cast a curse on her, and a wolf-like demon conjured by the curse still hunts her. Because Val is the one who broke the protective spell, that dark magic endangers her, too. She must turn for help to the last person she wants to get involved with, her former high-school boyfriend, now an officer in the Navy. Together they search for a way to vanquish the threat from the spirit realm, while facing the attraction they thought they’d long since put behind them.

The story will be on sale here:

https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6412-yokai-magic.html

In the excerpt below, Val investigates mysterious noises in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

To begin the year, I’m interviewing self-published SF and fantasy author Peter Sartucci.

*****

Interview with Peter Sartucci:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I toyed with it from an early age, with creative writing classes in school and so forth. What actually got me started trying to do it for real was breaking my foot in four places in 1982. It was two days before the summer program at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, CO, where I was going to do a Master’s Degree. I was brand new in town, had arrived the previous evening and moved into a four-bedroom apartment in Palmer House, the grad student housing on campus. Next morning I went to the gym to get registered, and while asking directions of a student worker rolling a volleyball-pole base down the hall, he accidently dropped that massive hunk of metal on my foot. Instead of taking classes, I spent two months of the summer in bed with my foot propped on a pillow, barely able to hobble to the bathroom and back. If my new roommates hadn’t taken pity on me and fed me, I’d have starved. Instead I propped myself up in bed, put my little Silver-Reed manual typewriter on my lap, and began banging out a story. Of course it was wretched, but I still have it, just to remind me of how far I’ve come. 😊

What genres do you work in?

Speculative fiction and fantasy, with occasional dashes of romance and/or horror. Sometimes I combine all four. Madame Ymera (a secondary character in my Kirin & Terrell stories) is a no-doubt-about-it vampire who has found a tolerated niche in their world; a beta reader described her as “one of the most horrifying yet sympathetic figures I’ve ever read in fantasy”. In contrast, Will Tynford is an undeniable engineer in the Heinleinesque vein of hard-science SF.

Do you outline, “Wing it”, or somewhere in between?

I normally write toward a climactic scene or event in the story, because that’s the germ of the tale that usually appears in my brain first. When I wrote “Fire”, my Emberverse fanfiction, I had in mind the swordfight between Sam and Catron on Highway 36 at the top of the Meadowdale Ranch before the long steep descent into the Estes Valley. It took me most of three books to get to that point, but I did it. Other times I just have an idea for something, jot it down, and it sits on my hard drive for years before I realize where I should put it. Very rarely I try to outline a whole story in advance, but I usually change the tale so much along the way that outlining seems pointless. Your Mileage May Vary.

What have been the major influences on your writing (favorite authors, life experiences, or whatever)?

Many and varied. I was raised in an ordinary middle-class Italian-Irish Catholic family in New England, where the ghosts of the Yankee Puritans rest unquiet and haunt society and politics to this day. We lived inland when I was young – forest and creeks and fields and muddy places for a kid to run around it. Then we moved to the coast south of Boston where I discovered the ocean and fell madly in love with sailing ships (this shows in my forthcoming trilogy, “Shadow Divided” where about half the story takes place aboard various ships). Then I moved to Colorado to go to college and stayed – the mountain trail in “Shadow, Lion, Dragon” came from some real places I have hiked, only slightly exaggerated. People shaped me too, of course – I got a Jesuit education at Boston College High School and Regis College, it is not an accident that one of the viewpoint characters in “Fire” is a priest. As far as authors go, Poul Anderson and then Robert Heinlein were probably the strongest, but John Christopher’s “Tripods” trilogy figured in there too, and many many others. In college I met Robert Asprin’s Thieves World series and for the first time seriously tried to write some stories. I got sidetracked by D&D in Grad School and then by IFGS for several years, eventually serving as President and then later Treasurer of the national organization. I finally stopped writing LARP games and started writing stories seriously again, just in time to be introduced to Ed Bryant at Denver’s Mile High Con. He recruited me into his Northern Colorado Writers Workshop (NCWW), where I am still involved to this day. About the same time I read “Dies the Fire,” the first of Steve Stirling’s Emberverse stories, and discovered his fan web page. Kier Salmon, who ran his fanfiction site, encouraged me to write, and I was off!

Please tell us about your two series, the Wrecked World and The World of Shadow and Light.

My forthcoming novel “Shadow and Light” is a descendant of that initial story I wrote with my broken foot propped on a pillow in 1982. Its genesis was in Thieves World, but it rapidly mutated beyond that into something quite different, although if you look very closely you can see the ghost of Hanse Shadowspawn behind my character Kirin DiUmbra.

Nuts and bolts first – the World on which Kirin and his people live pours out magical power from its interior wherever there is volcanic activity. Hot springs there sometimes really do have healing properties! (Or if a malicious mage has been at them, they could be treacherously dangerous too.) A big outflow of magic (known as a ‘node’), such as may typically be found on top of a dead volcano, is a great treasure, and mages and kings will fight to control it. (If Devils Tower were in Silbar rather than Wyoming, it would be the heart of a sprawling castle and would power thousands of spells.) All this magic must go somewhere; when upwelling magic has been used, it sinks back down into the World, often through special places known as Shadows. These are metaphorical sinkholes hungry for spells and magic of all kinds. Nodes are not movable, and neither are Shadows, except that they can manifest as black mist that _reaches_ for nearby magic and drinks it. Shadows subsist mostly on the degraded rags of used magic floating in the air after use by mages elsewhere, but they will also draw on any active spells that come their way, if they can. And living beings have magic in their bodies. So Shadows are dangerous and feared, but readily avoided, most of the time. Powerful realms have many strong nodes of magic, weak ones have few or none and must buy silver or sulfur (the two substances that best catch and hold upwelling magic) from places that export it. The city of Aretzo, capital of the realm of Silbar (about the size of California and Nevada on a continent bigger than Eurasia) has the biggest node in their known world. Silbar also has mines of silver and sulfur, and live volcanos which belch out wild magic too strong for any human to use without being fried, plus vast deserts with no magic at all. Thus, Silbar also has many, many Shadows to drink all that loose magic back down again. It is a vast, sere, achingly beautiful country of soaring mountains, winding rivers, rich farms, storm-wracked deserts, and jungle seacoast, filled with power, mystery, and danger.

My main characters, Kirin DiUmbra and Terrell DuRillin DiGwythlo, are young men from very different backgrounds. Kirin is an orphaned (and presumed bastard) halfbreed abandoned in a slum in Aretzo, adopted by acrobats, and just entering adulthood. Terrell is a Prince of the Royal House that has ruled Silbar for two thousand years, with a good chance of becoming Silbar’s next king. Terrell has an extraordinary birth-feature, an upwelling of magic _inside his chest_ that is as portable as he is. But he’s not a mage, he has no spellcasting ability, so the feature that could have made him hugely powerful is instead a burden. Kirin has the opposite – a Shadow lives inside him, and he can use it to devour spells, drain stored magic, or even kill living things (like bedbugs – or men) by taking their body’s magic – which is so close to what demons are reputed to do that he fears he is one. You would have a hard time finding two young men in their world who are farther apart in status, ability, and experience. Fate throws them together in a nearly impossible situation where they desperately need each other to survive, and they discover that they can help each other cope with their unique abilities. Then they learn something else that may make them mortal enemies, and the _ real _ struggle begins.

The Wrecked World is science fiction, it had its genesis in a debate on Steve Stirling’s fan website, www.stirling.groups-io. What if an alien species, non-oxygen breathing and so immensely powerful that we have little to no basis for a relationship, visited Earth and wanted something we had?

In this series a hydrogen-breathing species of spacefarers in a giant spaceship decides to mine Earth’s surface for the only thing we have that they want – sub-uranic and transuranic substances in our nuke plants, bombs, and waste sites. They do not ask permission, and they cause considerable damage. When desperate humans find a way to strike back, we finally get their attention – and they apply what they clearly consider ‘discipline’ to unruly humanity. After their ship departs we are a long time recovering, for they also left us subject to a net of orbiting satellites that suppress certain technologies, and inflicted robots on us to work mines where rich troves of uranium and such can still be found. The robots are building stockpiles, so their masters must intend to come back. Will we be ready when they do?

“Golden Hoard” is the name of the first book set there. I wrote this one with a lighter touch, partly because the subject matter is a tad depressing – aliens have knocked us down and then kicked us, how do we get up again? My main character, Will Tynford, is a young British engineer assigned to a pioneering salvage operation in one of the badly wrecked cities of the fabled past, the mysterious and ruined New York. What he finds there will upend his world, and either give humanity new hope – or destroy us utterly.

Do you have any tips for people aspiring to write alternate history and/or post-apocalyptic fiction?

Always do your homework, unless you like being embarrassed. A-H fans are among the most knowledgeable people in fandom, and Wikipedia and other sources put the world’s libraries at their fingertips – and yours. If you are using something real, whether it be a place or a fact or whatever, get it right. When you segue from reality to something else, make sure the transition is seamless yet clear – and if you don’t know how to do that, keep reading in the genre until you see how.

Why did you decide to distribute your fiction (the story “Golden Hoard”) through a Patreon page, and how does that work?

It is an experiment, and one that has taught me some humbling things about my limits. I thought I could write a chapter a month of “Golden Hoard” and post them for my fans while also completing the final novel (“Shadow Exalted”) in my fantasy trilogy, “Shadow Divided”. But this proved to be optimistic and I’m going to have to devise some alternatives for my Patreon fans, because the real world has demanded so much time to keep my family afloat financially that I don’t have enough to work on two different books every month. So right now I’m trying to complete the third book of the fantasy before I go back to the science fiction, at which point I’ll probably flood the fans with extra goodies to make up for my delay.

What advice would you give to other creators who’d like to use that process?

Plan ahead and have a comfortable buffer of completed work ready before you ever start the Patreon. That way when illness or finances intervene, you don’t end up shorting your fans and embarrassing yourself, as I have done.

Do you have any plans for more conventional publishing in the future?

Yes, when I complete or am close to completing “Shadow Exalted”, the third book of the “Shadow Divided” trilogy. (The first two books, “Shadow Devoted” and “Shadow Confounded”, are already written.) I will be submitting the three to regular publishers for a while to see if that route works for me.

I am also going to self-publish “Shadow and Light”, the first book about my characters Kirin and Terrell, on Amazon, any day now. I have a cover and am getting all the details done, slowly. I hope to have that out around Christmas.

What are you working on now?

The final book of the “Shadow Divided” trilogy, mentioned above. Also a short story about an adventure that Kirin has with a vampire – that one’s a bit of a horror story, or maybe just a horrific story. And a short story about a young Healer in Silbar who has to solve a knotty problem that has nothing to do with either Kirin or Terrell, but a lot to do with consequences that they previously set in motion. I’m considering a short story about a secondary character in Kirin & Terrell’s story, the vampire mistress of the Red Street, Madame Ymera, and her early years, but it’ll be kind of horrific – vampires don’t have happy early years, not when they are trying to find a balance with their power. I am also considering revising a stalled novel into another Wrecked World story, tentatively titled “The Year the Aliens Came” – that’s about the kicked-down stage of the visit, with a light at the end of the tunnel (because I refuse to write something hopeless). I have been asked by a couple fans to write a fanfiction set in Steve Stirling’s Emberverse, tentatively called “Twenty-Four Tragedies and a Triumph”, but it is awfully dark, and besides, I don’t make any money from fanfiction. So I will probably do something else with that story.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write. Write as often as you can but at least every week, write until it’s finished and don’t stop before that, then send it out and start writing something new. Don’t stop writing. Write!

What’s the URL of your website? Where else can we find you on the web?

Peter Sartucci, Author, and I’m on Facebook and Patreon too as Peter Sartucci. I’m moderately active on SM Stirling’s fan listserve, www.sm stirling.com, and I answer my own email, psartucci@aol.com.

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

CROSSROADS OF DARKOVER, edited by Deborah J. Ross. This, alas, will be the next-to-last Darkover anthology, followed by the final one, CITADELS OF DARKOVER, in May, since the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust has decided to stop producing both this series and SWORD AND SORCERESS. (Worse, all editions of older anthologies in both series will ceased to be published, a severe disappointment; one vital advantage of e-books is that they can remain available forever at no additional cost to the publisher.) Several familiar names from past volumes appear in the contents, including Rosemary Edghill, Diana Paxson, Leslie Fish, and Ross herself. Stories range widely over the long history of Darkover, from the Ages of Chaos to the post-Terran-contact era. A few that especially impressed me: “The Short, Inglorious War,” by Rebecca Fox, features a Terran expedition to find out whether the temple at Hali really hides weapons of vast power that should be impossible for the technology of such a “barbaric” planet. “A Plague of Aunts,” by Jane M. H. Bigelow, reminds me a bit of P. G. Wodehouse, with its funny portrayal of family conflict over an engagement between a Darkovan woman and a Terran man. In “Quevrailleth’s Sister,” Leslie Fish explores the telepathic and emotional bond forged between a Terran girl rescued from the repressive environment of her immigrant starship and the chieri whose mind touches hers across light years of space. The young heroine of “A Game of Kings,” by Shariann Lewitt, rebuts accusations of cheating at cards—with laran she doesn’t have—by proving that she achieves her wins through her preternatural-seeming mathematical talent. “Night of Masks,” by Diana Paxson, deals with the delicate quandary of a transgender Free Amazon. In “The Cobbler to His Last,” by Rosemary and India Edghill, a female Terran anthropologist travels with a group of skeptical Free Amazon guides to study the cultures of Darkover, including the rigidly patriarchal Dry Towns. Like all the anthologies, this volume would provide an accessible introduction to the world of Darkover for a new reader while also offering many delights for long-time fans.

THE LATE GREAT WIZARD, by Sara Hanover. The narrator, Tessa, a college student, lives with her mother in an old house belonging to the aunt of Tessa’s missing father. After gambling away most of the family’s assets, he vanished a couple of years earlier in suspicious circumstances. As “payment” in lieu of rent, Tessa delivers meals to the elderly and infirm. When she gets a cryptic call for help from one of her clients, reclusive old Professor Brandard, she rushes to his house. Immediately after it catches fire and burns almost completely, Tessa runs into a nude man, about her age or a little younger, who appears dazed and disoriented. She takes him home with her and soon learns that he’s allegedly Professor Brandard rejuvenated. The professor was a phoenix wizard, who had his youth restored by being incinerated. Although dubious about this claim, Tessa and her mother shelter the young man, whom Tessa names Brian and passes off as the professor’s visiting nephew. He remembers little of his previous lifetime, and his personality alternates between his new self and the old professor. In order to stabilize himself, he must perform a ritual before it’s too late. He and Tessa have help from his long-time friend, an Iron Dwarf, plus Steptoe and Remy, a man and woman with supernatural powers, allies of questionable reliability. They fight demons and other dangerous forces while discovering what actually happened to Tessa’s father. At first I expected a romance between her and Brian, but her potential love interest turns out to be a police detective only a few years older than she, who knows more about magic than she could have suspected. As far as the protagonist’s reaction to the magical events is concerned, Hanover deftly handles the balance between gullibility and bullheaded skepticism. Tessa provisionally accepts that the supernatural has invaded her life without swallowing it whole at first glance. The story reaches a satisfactory conclusion for the moment but leaves a clear sequel hook.

*****

Excerpt from “Yokai Magic”:

A screech burst from her. She stumbled backward and collapsed on the bath mat, with a jarring thump to her rear end. “What the holy hell is that?”

A hunchbacked creature about two feet tall huddled in the tub. Brick-red, naked except for a ragged loincloth of the same color, it had a mop of stringy, black hair and elongated fingers and toes with nails like claws. It was licking the tile walls with a long, sinuous tongue like a frog’s. Its saucer-like, black eyes stared at her. With a stifled “eep!” it blinked out of existence.

Trembling, Val clutched the edge of the sink and hoisted herself upright. She scurried into the bedroom and dove under the covers like a child fleeing the boogeyman.

She lay there with her lids squeezed shut until her pulse slowed to normal. I did not see that, I did not. She opened her eyes and gazed into the darkness, softened only by the night light from the open bathroom door. “What is with these crazy dreams all of a sudden?”

“You are not dreaming.” The feminine voice sounded as if it came from somewhere in the middle of the room.

Val sat up with the sheet pulled to her neck. “Who’s there?” She switched on the bedside light.

A slender, white cat leaped onto the end of the bed. The animal had emerald-green eyes and wore a red scarf around her neck. “Greetings and profound thanks for your hospitality. I assure you this is not a dream.”

Val bent her knees to keep her feet out of the phantom feline’s reach. “Is too. I must be still asleep. If not, how did you get in the house?”

Demurely seated at the foot of the bed, the cat curled her tail around her paws. “I have always been here. I was bound to the magic of the scroll, and your blood released that magic.”

“You were in the scroll?”

“I was the statue. The scroll’s enchantment locked me in that shape.”

So the figurine did walk away by itself. Perfect dream logic. “Why?”

“I was enchanted for my own protection.”

“Protection from what?” It couldn’t hurt to have a polite chat with this figment of her imagination, even if her brain had concocted the whole scene. Her mouth movements look like meows, but she speaks English. More dream logic, I guess.

For a couple of seconds, the cat’s shape wavered and became translucent. “I cannot remember.”

“Not that it matters, because you aren’t here. I’m dreaming.” The cat vanished. Val said with a shaky laugh, “See, I told you so.”

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter

Welcome to the December 2018 issue of my newsletter, “News from the Crypt,” and please visit Carter’s Crypt, devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled “Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe.” For my recommendations of “must read” classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Realm of the Vampires

Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romances Blog

The long-time distributor of THE VAMPIRE’S CRYPT has closed its website. If you would like to read any issue of this fanzine, which contains fiction, interviews, and a detailed book review column, e-mail me to request the desired issue, and I’ll send you a free PDF of it. My e-mail address is at the end of this newsletter. Find information about the contents of each issue on this page of my website:

Vampire’s Crypt

A complete list of my available works, arranged roughly by genre, with purchase links (gradually being updated as the Amber Quill and Ellora’s Cave works are being republished):

Complete Works

This is my Facebook author page. Please visit!
Facebook

Here’s my page in Barnes and Noble’s Nook store. These items include some of the short stories that used to be on Fictionwise:
Barnes and Noble

Go here and scroll down to “Available Short Fiction” for a list of those stories with their Amazon links:
Kindle Works

Here’s the list of my Kindle books on Amazon. (The final page, however, includes some Ellora’s Cave anthologies in which I don’t have stories):
Carter Kindle Books

Here’s a shortcut URL to my author page on Amazon:
Amazon

I’ve uploaded two Darkover fanfic stories by my husband (Leslie Roy Carter) and me on the “Other Goodies” page of my website:
Other Goodies

My light paranormal romance novella “Yokai Magic” will be released on January 7 by the Wild Rose Press. Heroine Val accidentally activates the magic in a Japanese scroll her late grandfather acquired during his service in the Korean War. As a result, her house becomes haunted by spirits both benign and threatening. An excerpt appears below.

This month’s guest is science fiction writer S. B. K. Burns.

*****

Interview with S. B. K. Burns:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve been writing plays and poems from junior high school age. Lots of that was motivated by reading the works of Shakespeare and the centerfold Broadway plays/scripts in my parents’ Theatre Arts magazines. My parents acted in little theater, and so I got to read lots of scripts that fueled my bare bones panstering dialogue.

Later, very recently, I joined a read and critique group at La Mesa Senior Center and in one year (about five pages per week), I had my first romance novel, FORBIDDEN PLAYGROUND, first book in my LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS series, published by Soul Mate.

What genres do you work in?

I have a separate website called THE UNION OF OPPOSITES. Before I retired from engineering to writing, a professional scientific journal published my research—funded by the National Science Foundation. The experiment I ran helped me to organize both my scientific and spiritual worlds in thought experiments about human consciousness. So, it’s no wonder I like to apply some of my ideas to the psychic realm, but a realm that may be based in science. All of my novels have at least elements of science, even if contemporary (OPEN SEASON: a tennis contemporary soon to be self-published this year and JUST ONE LITTLE DROP OF BLACK: last year’s NANOWRIMO that examines prejudice (both featuring modern forensics).

Do you outline, “wing it,” or something in between?

I started out as a pantser, and now I’d consider myself a hybrid. Plots weren’t as much fun to write, because I had to force my characters into stifling roles. I more enjoy being surprised. For example: this year’s NANOWRIMO is BAZOOKA TIME MACHINE where I let my android and human females decide their relationship as the story proceeds. I’ll organize and rewrite after it’s written.

What have been the major influences on your writing (favorite authors, life experiences, or whatever)?

Okay, I’m coming out, right here, right now. I’m Bi. But I’m happily married to a wonderful husband. He knows.
To me, committing to someone means forever, so the idea of being bisexual (especially as a writer who must get into many roles) isn’t a big thing. However, I did grow up with the greats of science fiction, especially Hugo Award winners like Clifford Simak who focused on positive ideals and deep character development. Written by a San Diego State English prof, ACROSS THE WOUNDED GALAXIES introduced me to Octavia Butler, her SFRs and other science fictions.
My first space opera SFR, A SPACE FOR US, was very much based on my aerospace forensics work at Carswell AFB.

How has your work in oceanography and other scientific fields affected your fiction?

As you might have guessed, my first story, a novella, was about oceanic genetic engineering gone bad in GETTING THEM UP, published by Whiskey Creek. It was my first try at showing bisexual friendship, but the publisher needed me to make it more hetero. I plan to soon take back the novella from the publisher and rewrite it with my original intent.

I’ve already mentioned my UNION OF OPPOSITES website (http://www.TheUnionOfOpposites.com) where I explore thought experiments and a new language to bridge the gap between science and spiritualism.

Please tell us about your two series.

Thanks for asking. I’ve written two series. The first, LEGENDS OF THE GOLDENS (four books), is about generations of psychic alien vampires (the good guys) that attempt to save Earth humans from generations of the bad vampires. Goldens look somewhat like Tanzanian albinos. They can telepath, teleport, shape shift, and create worlds. They also have a population of slaves, the Everett Androids, who eventually revolt in the last book. A free novella in this series, A FAR FAR BETTER THING, is a romance between a powerful psychic female golden and a male wetware Everett Android who is supposed to be protecting her, not falling for her.

My second series, AGES OF INVENTION, answers the question, what if history were different than we think it is, especially scientifically. In the first book, ENTANGLED, a Stephen Hawking-type character, a physics professor, invents a time machine. There are two societies in his world—those who are allowed to attend college and those who are not. Of course our lovers are from the two different groups. The hero, an Olympic weight lifter, can dream himself to historical places. The heroine, a psychologist, going undercover for her PhD, uses past life regression. The fun happens when each character goes back in time with different agendas and using the different methods.

What do you consider the main differences between writing “New Adult” fiction and (for want of a better term) “regular” adult fiction?

I’ve been saying it like a pirate—YARWA—for years, but as a NA writer. My novels are adult in that they contain sexual situations, but the characters are under thirty, and they have parent or origin issues. Before they belong to their parents or their community, they’re trying to find themselves. At the end of the story, the hero and heroine do find themselves in belonging to one another (The HEA is kind of like a Whither-Thou-Goest… Biblical moment).

What is your latest or next-forthcoming book (or both)?

I work an editing assembly line—I have a completed NA tennis contemporary that has been picked over by the NY publishing crowd, including a rewrite. Instead of having it sit there, I’ll self-publish it before the end of the year. I also have a humorous erotic romance completed that was picked over by publishers, but—you know—it wasn’t for them. So I guess within the next couple of months, I’ll be self-publishing those.

I also put my first YA on the backburner because the plot was quite technically heavy. My hubby and I developed the science for the YA novella, OTHER, at The Singularity Symposium in San Francisco (Leaders in emerging technical fields are invited to present to members and attend workshops). I will probably finish running it through my groups next year.

Right now, I’m in the polishing stages of my space opera SFR, A SPACE FOR US, in which a captive psychic alien, more human than alien—is raised by the first lady until someone removes the woman’s consciousness. At that point, the crazy president pits the heroine alien, Jade, against his top aerospace plane test pilot, Major Shepard Monroe. But as they get to know one another, a kill command seems superfluous.

What are you working on now?

Last year for NANOWRIMO 2017, I wrote JUST ONE LITTLE DROP OF BLACK, an NA contemporary about prejudice. I have two groups in which I present pages of my work for editing (a weekly read and critique group and a monthly critique partner group). When done with editing, I polish and send my work to my editor who does an extremely thorough beta read. She’s within the NA group I’m aiming at.

In this year’s NANOWRIMO (2018) I’m trying to get my 50,000 words (BAZOOKA TIME MACHINE) in by the end of November. Then I’ll run the story by my groups and edit away before sending it to my editor.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I know this sounds weird, but—WRITE CRAP. If nothing is there, nothing can be done with it. I write like I sculpt (put a little clay/words on and take a little clay/words off until you have a unique creation). Let it be about something you know and feelings you’ve experienced. If you don’t want to have writers block then only create when you’re at your computer. Leave your creative mind free during the day to actually live and experience life. I know not everyone manages their writing that way, but in the last ten years, I’ve never had a blockage using that method.

Author Page: Susan Burns Author
Facebook Page: Facebook
Philosophy Page: Union of Opposites

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

ELEVATION, by Stephen King. Like GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX, this short novel takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, which was destroyed at the end of NEEDFUL THINGS. While GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX appears to be set in the past, before the town’s obliteration, this latest book clearly occurs in the present, because the 2016 election is mentioned. Maybe it’s set in an alternate universe? Anyway, ELEVATION offers an odd twist on the premise of the “Richard Bachman” novel THINNER. Middle-aged, divorced web designer Scott Carey (who works from home, fortunately for his financial solvency in the long run) starts losing weight. Not mass or size, just weight. There’s no attempt to explain why Scott suffers this strange affliction; it’s simply a given, like a spell in a fairy tale. The narrative plunges straight into the midst of the quandary, as Scott reveals his inexplicable condition to a retired doctor friend. At first, the weird phenomenon seems more beneficial than not. Scott has boundless energy and eats lavishly without gaining in girth or affecting the rate of weight loss. In fact, the loss of poundage steadily accelerates. Meanwhile, he tries to repair his conflict with Deirdre McComb and Missy Donaldson, a lesbian couple on his street. New in town, they own a vegetarian Mexican restaurant, which isn’t prospering in accordance with the quality of its food because many people in the conservative-leaning town resent the presence of an openly married same-sex pair. Their two dogs frequently make messes on Scott’s lawn, while Deirdre brushes off his complaints with open hostility. When other attempts at reconciliation fail, Scott signs up for the annual Turkey Trot, a race for charity, and makes a bet with Deirdre that he can beat her. If he wins, she’ll have to accept his overture of friendship or at least détente. Ordinarily, he would have no chance, since she’s an experienced runner of near-Olympic level. His abnormal lack of gravity, however, gives him a secret advantage. The relationship between Scott and the two women evolves, and meanwhile, he resist his doctor friend’s urgings to present himself for medical study. Eventually, the loss of weight changes from a delightful novelty into a disability. What will happen when the number on the scale reaches zero? ELEVATION is a kinder, gentler story than most of King’s novels. (It’s even light on the “four-letter” words that often infest his prose to an extent that distracts and irritates me.) A tightly focused work with a bittersweet ending.

THE ODDLING PRINCE, by Nancy Springer. A fantasy novel with fairy-tale overtones, set in the imaginary medieval Scottish kingdom of Calidon. The king’s son and heir, Aric, narrates the story in a smoothly flowing, yet slightly archaic and formal (but not at all “forsoothly”) style. As the tale begins, the king lies dying of a mysterious ailment, apparently caused by a glowing ring that inexplicably appeared on his hand one day when he and the rest of the court went hawking. A strange young man on a fey horse rides into the castle grounds and offers to heal the king. After removing the baleful ring, the stranger reveals his identity. He claims to be the king’s younger son by the Faerie Queen. In a split second during that pleasure ride in the forest, the king was spirited away to the Faerie realm, where he spent years as the Queen’s unwilling lover. Having fallen in love with him, she desires his happiness and finally returns him to his own world, but with no memory of his time in hers. Therefore, he doesn’t remember Albaric, the half-human son who loves him. Aric, immediately drawn to Albaric, soon forms an intense fraternal bond with him. The king, on the other hand, suspects the “oddling” of being an imposter with ulterior motives. As Aric and Albaric grow closer, the king becomes increasingly more paranoid and unlike himself. Aric and Albaric leave the court to visit neighboring noble houses, on the pretext of seeking a bride for Aric, while Albaric plays the role of the prince’s harpist. Courtship, intrigue, battle, and a daring rescue lead at last to a surprising yet satisfying conclusion and ultimate reconciliation.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON HEART, by Stephanie Burgis. Sequel to THE DRAGON WITH A CHOCOLATE HEART, the story of shapechanging dragon girl Aventurine, who became an apprentice in a chocolate shop in Drachenburg, a city in a vaguely Germanic invented country. In this new book, Silke, Aventurine’s human friend, part-time waitress in the shop, narrates her story in first person. A born storyteller, Silke aspires to become something more than a waitress in order to achieve her dream of a home of her own that she can never lose. When Silke and her older brother were traveling through the woods with a band of refugees several years earlier, their parents disappeared during an attack by the fairies who haunt the forest. Now the two of them live in a tent among the homeless poor of the city’s riverbank district, supporting themselves by running a market stall. Their relationship has deteriorated, with Silke’s brother disliking the amount of time she spends at the chocolate shop and behaving as if he’s always disappointed in her. Her life changes when the Crown Princess hires her to pose as a lady-in-waiting to the younger princess, Sofia, in order to spy on the fairy king and queen and their courtiers, making their first diplomatic visit to the kingdom. What do the fairies really want? The situation is complicated by the alliance made between the human kingdom and the dragons at the end of the previous book. The fairies loathe and fear dragons, while dragons think fairies are good only to eat. Silke gets off on the wrong foot with Sofia and, in her usual bold, impulsive manner, does the very opposite of staying unobtrusive like a proper spy. Her well-meant actions make things worse, until the fairies reveal their true agenda in a series of disastrous developments. It’s delightful to watch Silke’s cleverness retrieve success from the jaws of catastrophe through her genius at storytelling and learn what really happened to her parents. She realizes she can depend on others to care for and support her rather than insisting defiantly on her independence. At last, she begins to reconcile with her brother and attains the true home she has always yearned for.

HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE, by Jane Yolen. This volume reprints almost thirty of Yolen’s stories (most of which were new to me) that retell or re-vision legends and fairy tales. The second part of the book contains the author’s comments on the stories, with an original poem for each. The tales range from humorous to very dark. Some examples: “Snow in Summer,” Snow White in Appalachia, which eventually grew into a novel. “Granny Rumple,” placing Rumpelstiltskin in a medieval ghetto. “Sleeping Ugly,” the text of one of Yolen’s children’s books. A story of a Jewish girl swept into the past by Elijah, anticipating Yolen’s Holocaust time-travel novel, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC. Tales of a Japanese kitsune (fox shapeshifter) and a Native American maiden who marries a bear. An Appalachian vampire story, “Mama Gone.” A modernized reiteration of the Pied Piper legend, this time with a plague of frogs. The “Three Billy Goats Gruff” as told by the troll’s bridge. Three residents of the Old Wolves’ Home tell their sides of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Three Little Pigs,” and “Peter and the Wolf” to Nurse Lamb. A grim, incestuous retelling of “Donkeyskin” with echoes of “Cinderella.” On the funny side, “Cinder Elephant.” And those are only a few of the collection’s delights. Highly recommended.

*****

Excerpt from “Yokai Magic”:

Just as Val switched off the computer, a yowl from downstairs made her jump with alarm. She scurried to the living room. Toby crouched in the middle of the carpet, his ears flattened and tail lashing. He glared at the corner where the television sat in its niche, flanked by shelves of DVDs. His cry segued into a drawn-out growl she’d never heard from him. She tiptoed closer, reaching out but afraid to touch the fur that bristled along his back. Following the direction of his stare, she asked, “What’s wrong with you? Something behind the TV?”

He paid no attention to her. She sidled around him and peered into the corner. With only a single end-table lamp lit on the other side of the room, she couldn’t get a good look. I hope it’s not a mouse. Or, dear God, a snake. Behind her, Toby’s growl modulated into a hiss. She thought she glimpsed movement behind the TV case. Did something rustle? With the cat making so much noise, she couldn’t be sure. There, the electric cords moved as if something had disturbed them. She straightened up and glanced at Toby.

He leaped at something that darted from behind the TV. All she saw was a flash of white, gone so quickly it could have been an optical illusion. The cat sprinted through the dining room into the kitchen. Val ran after him. When she got there, she found him in the middle of the linoleum floor, the tip of his tail flicking from side to side and his fur still standing up in a ridge along his spine. She saw no sign of his quarry, though. Naturally, the door leading into the garage was closed. If the fleeing creature, whatever it was, had veered off to the dining room or the den, Toby would have chased it there. With a flashlight, she checked under the stove and behind the refrigerator. Nothing but dust.

“Way to go,” she said to the cat. “You flushed out some kind of creepy-crawly and then lost it. Now I have to spend all night worrying if it’s loose in the house.” He sat down and licked his front paws, each in turn, with his ears twitching as if he acknowledged her scolding but couldn’t bother with a response. “Best case, it was just a big, white moth. I could live with that.”

After one more scan of the kitchen and a survey of the dining room, just in case, she succumbed to second thoughts and checked the den and laundry room as well. Nothing. In the den, she did notice that the high-backed, rattan papasan chair, another souvenir her grandfather had picked up in Japan, sat in the middle of the floor instead of where it belonged. She’d taken photos of it the evening before to compare with online images of furniture of similar origin and age, in case it might be valuable enough to bother selling. Probably she’d repositioned it for better lighting and absentmindedly neglected to move it back. She shrugged at her own flakiness and tugged the chair into its usual corner.

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

Writers Exchange E-Publishing: Writers Exchange
Harlequin: Harlequin
Hard Shell Word Factory: Hard Shell
Whiskey Creek: Whiskey Creek
Wild Rose Press: Wild Rose Press

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

“Beast” wishes until next time—
Margaret L. Carter