Welcome to the September 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

Happy Labor Day to my American readers!

G. Kent, author of the “Granada Hills” vampire trilogy, gave my DARK CHANGELING, vampire horror with romantic elements, a 5-star review on Amazon:

Dark Changeling Review

He says:

“The book is an absolute page-turner, and you don’t have to be a fan of the genre to delight in the hunger and intoxication. Highly recommended!”

Below is an excerpt from “Dusting Pixie,” a humorous fantasy short story in my Kindle collection HARVEST OF MAGIC, which you can find here:

Harvest of Magic

This month, I’m interviewing multi-genre author Nancy Northcott.

*****

Interview with Nancy Northcott:

What inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve always been interested in “What if…?” That led me to writing Legion of Super-Heroes fan fiction, and people who read my stories encouraged me to create my own worlds.

What genres do you work in?

I write paranormal romantic suspense, nonmagical romantic suspense, historical fantasy, and space opera.

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

I guess I’m in between. I outline major turning points, but I give myself permission to change them if I get an idea I really love.

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

I grew up reading comic books, Nancy Drew, historical fiction, and YA romance. If you look at my bookshelf, you can see the influences of those childhood favorites.

Do you maintain “series bibles” for your various series?

This is one of those “should” things. *g* I have one for the Outcast Station space opera series because my co-author, Jeanne Adams, and I could never have collaborated on the world without one. My Light Mages do not have one, alas, and they really need one. So do the other series, but the rest aren’t far enough along to make writing the bible daunting. The Light Mage Wars are, though. I need to block out time and just do that.

Please tell us about Wayfarer, Georgia.

It’s a small town near the Okefenokee Swamp. Wayfarer is different from most small, southern towns in that the whole town loves the paranormal. It’s a very New Age place, with the Serenity’s Rainbow coffee shop, Fairy’s Table bakery, etc. I grew up in a small, southern town, and while it was somewhat annoying have everyone in everyone else’s business, the sense of community made a lot of that okay. So I wanted Wayfarer to have that.

I created the town when I wrote Renegade because I didn’t want Griffin Dare, the hero, to be totally alone. He was a fugitive from mage justice, but I wanted him to have a place he could belong. That was the seed that sprouted into Wayfarer.

What are the basic principles of magic in your Light Mages series?

It’s nature-based magic. Mages draw natural energy from the world around them. There’s only so much one can draw at a time, and the power requires replenishment. The mages’ deadly enemies, the ghouls, have magical power, but it’s dark energy. Any power they absorb goes dark.

Please tell us about some of the resources available under “Extras” on your website.

You may have noticed that I’m still working on that area. What I have posted is kind of a hodge-podge. I have tips on contest entries and conference interactions for control freaks. I also have an essay about my longstanding interest in Richard III and the controversy surrounding him. That interest inspired my Boar King’s Honor trilogy.

The next release in the Light Mage Wars, Nemesis, is set in Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia, more than it is in the Okefenokee. I have a blog post called “On Location: Nemesis” with photos of the places I visited researching that book. I hope to do posts like that for every series, though probably not for every book.

There are also thumbnail summaries of books I’ve found informative about historical periods, mostly medieval England. I’m a history geek, so I love reading about the ways people lived in earlier eras.

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

My next release is Nemesis, the next Light Mage Wars book. It’s about Tasha Murdock and Carter Lockwood, two mages who met a decade ago, when both were serving in the US Navy, but parted on bad terms. It’s set up by a scene in Warrior, the prior book in the series, where the two meet again. Now she’s a general contractor and interior designer and he’s a deputy shire reeve, the mage world’s equivalent of a Deputy US Marshal.

Duty kept them apart before. Now danger reunites them, with Carter determined to protect Tasha from the ghouls targeting her. Of course the old attraction between them blooms, but a secret in her past makes her reluctant to believe what they have can last.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a fantasy project that’s too unformed to discuss yet and on my novella for Christmas on Outcast Station, the followup Jeanne Adams and I are doing to our anthology Welcome to Outcast Station. It’s space opera, and we’ll each have a novella in it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Study the craft. Learn characterization, conflict, and structure. Learn punctuation and grammar because they help writers express ideas clearly.

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

My website is Nancy Northcott, and the blog, where I post very irregularly, is linked to the homepage. On Twitter, I’m @NancyNorthcott, and my Facebook page is Facebook.

Thanks for having me, Margaret!

*****

Some Books I’ve Read Lately:

DEEP ROOTS, by Ruthanna Emrys. A sequel to WINTER TIDE, the first book in the Innsmouth Legacy series, in which we met Aphra Marsh, her brother, Caleb, and their foster-sister, Neko (whose family, during World War II, had been confined to the same internment camp where the survivors of the raid on Innsmouth had been imprisoned). In WINTER TIDE, Aphra and the other characters developed relationships with, among others, Professor Trumbull of Miskatonic University, whose mind had spent years on a distant planet while her body hosted a member of the alien race called Outer Ones, and FBI agent Ron Spector, who sympathizes with the Innsmouth remnant and has become almost a friend. In DEEP ROOTS, Aphra and Caleb are trying to track down other survivors or people with at least some Deep One blood in order to rebuild Innsmouth. They find a young man named Freddy, part Deep One, who’s involved with the Outer Ones. In the process of negotiating the tricky interactions that result, they also run into the Mi-Go, an even more enigmatic and potentially dangerous alien species. On top of the preternatural threats, Aphra and her friends have to adjust to the unfamiliar milieu of New York. I always enjoy a good revisionist Lovecraftian tale, and this series definitely qualifies. Through Aphra’s first-person narrative, we see her people as, rather than hideous hybrid abominations, simply another race with their own customs, gods, and history of persecution. Other characters’ viewpoints also appear, and the author helpfully provides date headers to help the reader keep track of the chronological shifts. The two species of aliens, the Innsmouth folk, and agents of the federal government interact in tense but not necessarily hostile confrontations. In the story thus far, Aphra doesn’t attain her goal as she originally envisions it, but she does reach a tentative compromise she can live with.

SILVER ON THE ROAD, by Laura Anne Gilman. This 2015 novel, first in the Devil’s West series, takes place in an alternate nineteenth-century North America divided into the United States in the east, the Spanish Protectorate in the southwest (a larger area than in our history), “unclaimed lands” in the northwest, and, between the Spanish and American possessions, the Territory. A man known as the devil rules the Territory from his headquarters at the saloon/casino in the small frontier town of Flood. It gradually becomes clear that he isn’t literally Satan, the fallen angel, but he’s definitely some kind of supernatural being who drives hard but fair bargains. Sixteen-year-old Isobel has grown up in the saloon as the devil’s ward, indentured to him by her parents when she was only two. She’s comfortable in her life there, hard-working though it is, and thinks of the devil as simply “the boss.” On her sixteenth birthday, however, her indenture expires, and she must choose the direction of her future. She wants to stay in Flood, working directly for the boss, and he agrees to enter a contract with her. She becomes the Devil’s Left Hand, destined to represent him to the people of the Territory. To her dismay, the first thing she has to do is leave her home and travel around the land, learning its ways and her own abilities. The boss makes a bargain with a stranger in town, Gabriel, to act as her guide and mentor, teaching her how to survive on the road. She already knows a lot about such vital matters as using silver for protection, being careful at crossroads, and avoiding magicians, but she has much more to learn. Gabriel, born in the Territory, trained as a lawyer in the urban American east, and now returned “home,” has his own secrets. On their journey, he teaches her both mundane wilderness survival skills and supernatural lore she hasn’t previously encountered. He’s quite human, though, while Isobel’s bargain with the devil grants her preternatural gifts she must explore and learn to control. Along the way, they meet a magician, an often annoying trickster character who latches onto them as a traveling companion and sort-of ally. A strong relationship develops between Isobel and Gabriel, although with no tinge of romance, given their age difference (so far, anyway). Demons as well as other dangers prowl the Territory. Eventually Isobel and Gabriel discover a dark force rampaging and killing across the land, worse than any demon. The world-building, vividly described and often menacing settings, and strong characters make this novel well worth the attention of dark fantasy fans.

SEA WITCH, by Sarah Henning. This revisionist novel based on “The Little Mermaid” tells the tale of a girl who ultimately becomes the Sea Witch of the fairy tale. It’s set in a version of nineteenth-century Denmark where magic is real. (I assume that to be the period because, although sailing ships predominate, steam technology has been introduced.) Even though no witches have been burned in a very long time, witchcraft is known to exist and is feared and loathed. Evie, an ordinary girl aside from her hidden magical power, narrates her story in first-person present tense. (I hope this fad for present-tense narration fades away soon.) Periodic flashbacks in third-person past tense fill in the backstory. Thus we learn of the incident in Evie’s childhood when she and her best friend, Anna, almost drowned. Their mutual friend, Nik, crown prince of their small country, and his cousin, Prince Iker, succeeded in rescuing Evie, but Anna died. Although Evie is only the daughter of the royal fisherman, she is allowed to visit the castle at will and remain friends with Nik. For this reason, and because many people blame her for Anna’s death, she’s treated with suspicion and resentment. She lives with her aunt, a witch, and secretly practices whatever scraps of witchcraft she manages to learn on her own. One day a strange girl appears out of nowhere. Named Annemette, she looks to Evie exactly like a grown-up version of Anna. Annemette, however, emphatically denies being Evie’s dead friend somehow resurrected. She does have a secret, though. She soon reveals to Evie that she is a mermaid in human form, fated to die if she doesn’t win Nik’s love within four days. Evie introduces her into the prince’s circle under the guise of a baron’s daughter. While Annemette tries to exert her wiles on Nik, Evie and Iker begin to fall in love. Has the alleged mermaid told the full truth about her past and her agenda? The answers unfold with surprising and potentially tragic plot twists, changing Evie’s life in a profound way. My only minor objection (aside from the present-tense narrative) is that until late in the book the flashbacks don’t name the characters, labeling them only “the boy,” the blonde girl, and the dark-haired girl; this device strikes me as an unnecessarily confusing affectation. Otherwise, I highly recommend the novel.

THE CHANGELING, by Victor LaValle. Apollo Kagwa’s wife, Emma, commits a horrific deed, apparently under the influence of postpartum psychosis, and then vanishes. In desperation, Apollo (after a period of hospitalization to recover from his injuries) perpetrates an irrational crime that gets him sentenced to two months in prison. After being paroled, he begins searching for Emma, led on by cryptic clues that draw him into a surreal world beneath the surface of workaday reality, whose existence he never would have suspected. This much, we learn from the cover blurb. To my surprise, the novel starts with the meeting of Apollo’s parents, a mixed-race couple. His father disappears during Apollo’s childhood, leaving the boy with recurrent dreams in which his father returns for him. Apollo grows up to be a dealer in used and rare books. He marries Emma, a librarian, and they have a much-loved baby son. When the baby, Brian (named after Apollo’s long-lost father), is about six months old, Emma, sinking ever deeper into depression, is heard to mutter, “It’s not a baby.” Then things start to get strange. Apollo’s quest for the truth reveals layers upon layers of deceit and illusion. On top of the fantastic problems and risks he confronts, we aren’t allowed to forget that he and the friend who helps him have to cope constantly with the mundane pitfalls of navigating a white-dominated society as black men. Is he facing an epidemic of postpartum psychosis, a paranoid feminist cult, or a genuine changeling phenomenon? Although the story and characters enthralled me, well past the midpoint of the book I began to wonder whether it would turn out to have any fantasy content at all. Despair not, fans of fairy-tale motifs transplanted into a contemporary setting; it does. This gripping tale features characters who are flawed yet deeply sympathetic and offers a new slant on the changeling motif.

*****

Excerpt from “Dusting Pixie”:

Who would have expected magic to shed so much dust? Ardyth certainly hadn’t visualized it as a major part of her apprenticeship in witchcraft with her Aunt Zenobia. Tearing open yet another crate, Ardyth sneezed at the puff of dust that billowed from the mildewed tomes inside. She still had to unpack three of the seven boxes Zenobia had brought from the estate of an old friend of hers, the recently deceased wizard Zaddok.

Ardyth set a stack of books on the floor and paused to brush her brown curls, frizzed from humidity and stray magical energy, off her forehead. Most of the miscellaneous books and paraphernalia in these boxes would probably prove to be worthless and wind up in the cramped chamber at the far end of the attic where unwanted junk was stowed, never to be seen again. Since Zenobia’s cottage, like most witches’ and wizards’ homes, was bigger inside than out, with more rooms than the inhabitants could keep track of, there was no incentive to throw anything away. Still, Ardyth had to inspect every item one by one, no magical shortcuts, in case anything valuable turned up. Zenobia expected to find the job finished when she returned home the next day. She’d often said Ardyth had a strong mage gift but needed to learn focus, a goal these routine tasks were supposed to promote.

With a longing thought for her own experiments that languished in the workroom downstairs, Ardyth flipped through a tattered bestiary and set it aside. A gleam at the bottom of the crate caught her eye. Something under the books radiated multicolored light.

She pulled out the next layer of volumes and exposed a glowing crystal sphere. Her pulse quickening, she picked up the orb, which rested on an ivory base etched with runes and just big enough to cup in her two hands. A diminutive creature stared at her from inside the sphere. Mouse-sized and vaguely feminine, although draperies of prismatic mist swirled around its twig-thin body and concealed all details, the being had a halo of silver-blue hair that floated as if in an invisible wind.

It, or she, pounded tiny fists against the inside of the crystal and cried, “Help! Get me out!” Her birdlike voice sounded as sweet as wind chimes.

“Calm down. Who are you, and how did you get stuck in there?”

The sprite folded her arms, her silver eyes glowering. “My name is Iridia. An evil wizard imprisoned me in this arcane trap.”

“Why?” Ardyth had already learned enough about sorcery to refrain from assuming all magical beings, no matter how beautiful, were benign.

“I don’t know! Because he was evil,” the sprite retorted in an exasperated tone. “I never did anything but toil faithfully for him. Please work the spell to liberate me, and I shall reward you.”

-end of excerpt-

*****

My Publishers:

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

You can contact me at: MLCVamp@aol.com

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