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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Fantasy’

Elaine Isaac Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak). E. C. Ambrose wrote adventure-based historical fantasy series The Dark Apostle, about medieval surgery, from DAW Books, which began with Elisha Barber, and concluded with volume 5, Elisha Daemon in 2018. Her most recent release was international thriller novel, Bone Guard One: The Mongol’s Coffin. As Elaine Isaak, she also wrote The Singer’s Crown Series. In the process of researching her books, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, and pull traction on a broken limb. The author is a graduate of and an instructor for the Odyssey Writing Workshop. In addition to writing, Elaine works as a guide, teaching rock climbing and leading outdoor adventure camps.

E. C. Ambrose’s latest book, Elisha Daemon is a novel history and dark fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—1348: Europe has become a bottomless well of terror and death, from which the necromancers drink deep as the citizens sink into despair. If there is to be any chance of survival, Elisha must root out the truth of the pestilence at its unexpected source: the great medical school at Salerno.

But as he does, his former mentor, the beautiful witch Brigit, lays her own plans. For there may be one thing upon the face of the planet more deadly than the plague: the unfiltered power of Death within Elisha himself. Europe’s darkest hour awaits Elisha Daemon!

A starred review in Library Journal described the first book in the series, Elisha Barber (now available in paperback) as “Painfully elegant, beautifully told,” while D. B. Jackson, author of The Thieftaker Series, said, “Elisha Barber is at once dark, powerful, redemptive, and ultimately deeply satisfying. Highly recommended!”

Elisha Daemon front cover_elaine i Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Elisha Daemon?

This is the final volume in The Dark Apostle Series, about medieval surgery. I got inspired to write the books while I was researching the history of medicine for another novel. I dove deep into the rabbit hole for that one—and when I emerged again, I had the concept for the books: a barber-surgeon discovers he has an unnatural affinity with Death.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Elisha, the protagonist, is the only narrator for the series. He begins as arrogant about his skill, only to find that the world is much larger and more dangerous than even he knew. Compassion is his tragic flaw—he just can’t stop himself from investing in others, even when it hurts.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

The series is from DAW (an affiliate of Penguin Random House), so traditional. I loved working with the team at DAW, from the editor who helped me make the books so much better, to the artist who created the fantastic covers, to the publicists who helped me arrange bookstore visits and other promotional opportunities. I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to wear all of those hats! The main disadvantage is that everything happens on their schedule: waiting for edits, then having to hurry to make changes, books being delayed even though I turned them in. That part is frustrating, but sharing the responsibilities of the process with experts made the trade-off worth it for me.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

These books transformed me from a gardener to an architect—does that make me a landscape designer? The editors loved the concept, but thought my original series arc was too small. I developed many of my current techniques for brainstorming and outlining while expanding the concept into the series I eventually wrote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber. This wonderful fairytale works within the tropes of fantasy to express some rich and beautiful things. As the Golux (the only Golux in the world, and not a Mere Device) says in the book, “I can feel a thing I cannot touch, and touch a thing I cannot feel. The first is sad and sorry, and the second is, your heart.” And that, after all, is what a writer longs for: to touch the hearts of others.

What writing project are you currently working on?

At any given time, I have several projects cooking. I am currently revising a young adult science fiction novel, A Wreck of Dragons, about teens partnered with giant robots to find a new home for mankind among the stars. I’ve begun drafting the sequel to an international thriller novel, book two in The Bone Guard Series, and I have the ghost of a mythic fantasy novel haunting the back of my mind…

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel,” Mrs. Tribe, seventh grade English teacher. If you have something to say, something wonderful and amazing you want to share, put it out there. Be fearless in expressing your heart.

Want to learn more about E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) and Elisha Daemon? Check out her: Facebook pageTwitterE.C. Ambrose Amazon Authors PageElaine Isaak Amazon Authors Page – and for sample chapters, historical research, and some nifty extras, visit her website.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Elisha Daemon.

Thanks to author E. C. Ambrose (Elaine Isaak) for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Denise Timpko on February 26, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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51q9gur7vpl Just in time for Halloween and Day of the Dead, my Day of the Dead story (actually Night of the Dead in the tale), Gifts in the Dark, has been published as an eBook by Digital Fiction Publishing Corp as part of their Digital Science Fiction line.

And Gifts in the Dark is science fiction, since the story is set in the far future on a distant planet that humans have settled on after a long voyage in deep sleep. But even in this far-future setting, people remain people, sisters remain sisters, and the Day of the Dead traditions still ring true. Yes, there are fantastical supernatural elements and superstitions, but as in all stories, there are people at the center of the tale.

For in the end, the story, no matter its genre, is about its characters – their lives, loves, fears, and struggles.

Ready for a little Day of the Dead reading?  Gifts in the Dark is only 99 cents – so why not give it a look!

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catseye_final-72dpiI had the privilege to edit a wonderful new anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing, In a Cat’s Eye, with writing friend, Kelly A. Harmon. By the way, the title comes from an English proverb: “In a cat’s eye, all things belong to cats.”

We received hundreds of stories, and had to turn down some good cat tales. But the 16 stories which share the final table of contents provide a fun and satisfying read for cat lovers and fans of speculative fiction. And I can honestly say, there are a couple of stories in In a Cat’s Eye, I wish I’d written! (Which is the highest compliment I can offer).

To read a bit more about some of the stories and their authors, here’s a link to a fascinating post on the blog of one of the contributors, Gregory L. Norris. You can find out more about the thoughts behind the cat stories of Gail Z. Martin, Oliver Smith, Steven R. Southard, KI Borrowman, Christine Lucas, Doug C. Souza, AL Sirois, AL Kaplan, and, of course, Gregory L. Norris.

If you, a friend, or family member loves cat stories or science fiction and fantasy, In a Cat’s Eye just might be the book for you. Here’s a buy link, just in case.

 

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As Halloween approaches, I think about what monsters frightened me as a child.

I always suspected there were monstrous creatures under my bed, and never let my hands or feet hang over the edge so “they” wouldn’t grab me and drag me under the bed. Likewise, I avoided shadowy places, just in case the shadow-monsters were lurking there, ready to pull me into their shadow world.

With evil clowns capturing recent headlines, I hesitate to mention my dislike of clowns (and mimes – their silent partners in frightening children). My friends thought Bozo and others of his kind were laugh-out-loud funny. But not me. I didn’t want to watch their antics at circuses and fairs, and certainly didn’t want to interact with them at parties.

As for Frankenstein’s monster, I always felt compassion for the fellow. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Dracula? Even as a kid, it seemed fairly easy to me to avoid his fangs – wear a cross around your neck and line your windows with garlic. The whole wooden stake in the heart thing seemed unnecessary if you were careful.

Werewolves were more problematic. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting anyone or anything with a regular bullet, much less a silver one. And as a kid, I had no access to guns – unless you count water pistols and cap guns. And when I thought about zombies, I thought I could out-run their slow shambling gait.

I suppose all those childhood monsters and more have appeared (or are destined to appear) in my dark fantasy and horror stories. One of the benefits of being a writer – I can destroy monsters or make them “nicer” by just typing a few words!

Here’s a link to a wonderful post on Victorian Monsters from my writing friend, Andrew McDowell.

Now, it’s your turn. What monsters frighten you?

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For those of you who like dark faeries and convoluted legends, here’s the link to Cast of Wonders, Episode 202, my story Henkie’s Fiddle. It’s brilliantly read by Andrew Reid (in a lovely Scottish accent). This Faerie justice tale features two lesser known dark faeries: a trow and a buggane – and a young gravedigger, an unmarked grave, a flock of crows…

Henkie’s Fiddle originally appeared in print in Alban Lake Publishing’s Potter’s Field 4. You can also read it in my story collection, Owl Light.

But for today, enjoy a wonderful reading of Henkie’s Fiddle.

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794 Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley was one of the scariest poems read to me as a child. Perhaps its dire warnings and promises of goblins lurking near helped me behave when I was young. Or perhaps they influenced me to write dark stories when grew older.

I remember decades ago, at the annual Halloween poetry reading held for years at Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, Maryland, members of the Harford Poetry Society and others would turn the lights down low, light a candle, and read in unison Little Orphant Annie. One year while reading the poem, with no windows open and no living person nearby, the candle’s flame wavered and went out when we reached “A-listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about…”

Here for your reading pleasure, in anticipation of Halloween, is today’s quote, Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley.

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A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

A Night Sky with Moon and Trees

Broad Universe, an organization which supports and encourages women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, is sponsoring the Full Moon Blog Tour from October 25th until November 7th. As a member of Broad Universe, I’m delighted to participate, and encourage you to visit the other posts. There are prizes to be had, stories to be read, and new writers to meet.

And now, to my post, Owl Moon:

The moon holds a special place in myth and legend. Wolves, coyotes, and dogs howl at the mirror in the sky. Werewolves and other shape-changers are influenced by the moon and its mystical light. Gazing up at the moon, humans see Swiss cheese, a man, an old woman (Grandmother Moon), a rabbit, a dragon, and other images in the darker gray areas caused by craters. Beings of Faerie dance in moonlight (and lure the unwary to dance with them until they are either spirited away to Faerie or drop from exhaustion). And legend holds if you stare into a moonshadow, you can see the past.

So it’s little wonder that the moon and its magical light play a part in my collection of speculative stories, Owl Light. In fact, “owl light” is that period of a day from dusk to dawn when owls and their nighttime companions live their secret lives.

Maybe6 owl light cover Owls populate every story in Owl Light. “The Clockwork Owl” is a time-travel, steampunk story with a automaton owl who is made to save a life in the past and the future. Owls hoot from the trees in some of the stories like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Gabeta,” and “The Burryman.” Owls huddle in the corners of burial caves in ” Pawprints of the Margay” and serve as the companion of the daughter of winter in “On a Midwinter’s Eve.” In “Feathers,” not only do owls serve as mounts for fairies, but they’re able to talk and they attack an executioner ready to kill a condemned woman.

One of the stories in Owl Light where owls, the moon, folklore, and magic are pivotal is “Gifts in the Dark.” For those who’d like take a peek, here’s the Wattpad link so you can read the full story.

When it came time to paint a cover for Owl Light (yes, I am an illustrator, too), I found myself returning again and again to the image of a barn owl before an orange full moon.

Many cultures name full moons: The Harvest Moon appears in fall at the time of the harvest. Cold Moon appears, of course, in the depths of winter – as does Hunger Moon. Strawberry Moon is the full moon which appears in June when strawberries are ripe for the picking. One of my favorites, Worm Moon, is in the spring when the earth thaws and the worms become active again.

owl light cover 300 Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I named the cover painting, “Owl Moon.” What better creature to name a full moon after?

So as Selene (the moon goddess) rises into the night sky in a few days, go outside and listen to the nocturnal sounds. Perhaps there will be neighborhood dogs barking or crickets chirping, unless heavy frosts have silenced their songs. Or perhaps (if you’re lucky) you’ll hear the haunting call of an owl. Then you, too, can witness an Owl Moon.

Thanks for stopping by, Whimsical Words, and a shout out to Greta van der Rol for organizing the Full Moon Blog Tour.

Now, here’s the fun part – I’ll be sending a PDF of one of my books to one of the people who comments on this blog post.

untitled But wait, there are other prizes to be had – including books and gift cards via the Rafflecopter, and other goodies offered at other Full Moon Tour sites.

And here’s the link to visit the Rafflecopter for this tour.

Keep reading, visit my Broad Universe friends (see chart below), listen for owls beneath this autumn’s full moon, and maybe even purchase your copy of Owl Light. – Vonnie

Welcome to Broad Universe’s Full Moon blog tour, offering you a selection of the very best speculative fiction. Whether your taste is paranormal, space opera, high fantasy, gothic horror or something else altogether, please visit the participant’s sites for a taste of moonlit magic – and a chance to win some great prizes.

1. Jennifer Allis Provost 16. Once in a Blue Muse
2. The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor 17. Words from Thin Air
3. With What I Most Enjoy 18. Balancing Act
4. Life Happens. A Lot.  19. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
5. Pippa Jay 20. Shauna Roberts’ blog
6. I Bleed Ink 21. Ripped from the Headlines
7. Clay and Susan Griffith 22. Ann Gimpel’s Blog
8. TW Fendley 23. Disquieting Visions 
9. Because quirky characters fall in love, too… 24. Bits of This & That
10. Carole Ann Moleti 25. Alma Alexander
11. From the Shadows 26. Darksome Thirst
12. The Far Edge of Normal 27. Kate’s blog
13. The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose 28. Alexandra Christian: The Southern Belle from Hell
14. Melisse Aires ~ Romance with Infinite Possibilities 29. Whimsical Words
15. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Epic (R)evolutions 30. Musings From the Underworld

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IMG_2395 Only 2 weeks until Halloween and 6 days until HallowRead. So I decided to share with you one of my favorite readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, The Raven. Actor Christopher Lee is the reader.

A bit of background: Christopher Lee began his film career in 1947 in the Gothic romance, Corridor of Mirrors. Lee co-stared in classic Hollywood horror films with Peter Cushing, Boris Karloff, and other well-known horror actors. He also played Sherlock Holmes in several movies. Star Wars fans will recognize him as the villainous Count Dooku.  Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies will remember him as the wizard, Saruman, Interestingly, he was the only member of the casts to have actually met JRR Tolkien. Other recent films he appeared in include: Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.

The Raven is a long poem, so be prepared to lean back, relax (if you dare), and listen to a marvelous Raven recitation by British actor, Christopher Lee.

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IMG_1833 Halloween, the day when ghostly and ghastly thoughts swirl about like an autumn wind, is 17 days away.  A week ago, October 7th, was the 166th anniversary of Poe’s death in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. So naturally, I chose an Edgar Allen Poe quote for today.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins.” – Edgar Allan Poe in The Premature Burial.

What a perfect quote for this pre-Day of the Dead time. In the era of The Walking Dead, Ghost Hunters, Twilight, and other undead delights. For fans of the undead, two of my zombie-ghost tales are currently available in new books. “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson” can be found in the beautifully-bound Gothic fantasy collection, Chilling Ghost Short Stories from United Kingdom’s Flame Tree Publishing. And from the USA’s Alban Lake Publishing, Potter’s Field 5 – Tales from Unmarked Graves, contains my story “Snowbroth.” (Also available on Kindle).

For Poe fans, here are some other EA Poe quotes: 30 Thoughtful Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe.

And don’t forget, I’ll be at HallowRead October 23 presenting a workshop on Anthologies at 1 PM, and on October 24 I’ll be participating on various spooky, dark panels.  Plus, I’ll be happy to sell and/or sign my books and talk to fans of dark fantasy and horror.

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