Medieval illustration of the four elements, seasons, solstices, zodiac signs and ages of man. Image from Wikimedia
This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from urban fantasy author Ken Hughes, who’s taking a closer look at the four elements and the use of elemental magic systems. Ken is the author of the Whisperers Series and the Spellkeeper Flight Series, and has recently released his latest book, Freefall:
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air.” Those are the first words in Avatar: The Last Airbender, but we’ve seen the same four-elements structure of magic and worldbuilding in so many other fantasy stories that the dreaded word “cliché” is never far away.
Still, the difference between a cliché and a classic might just be how long it’s been since we’ve seen that idea handled well (which Avatar does, yes). And fantasy does love its classics. Continue reading
A short break in the decades series this week, but for a good reason – to bring you a guest post from Brian D. Anderson! Brian is the author of over 20 fantasy novels and has recently signed a book deal with Tor. He’s here to share his experiences in making the transition from indie to traditional publishing and the challenges he faced in moving between these worlds:
So you’ve written a few books, had them edited, paid for a cool cover, learned how to market, and as a result, had a great deal of success selling them online. You’ve even quit your day job. Maybe bought a house or a car…or both. Life’s coming up roses. You’ve achieved something special. Something spectacular. You are a professional novelist! Moreover, you’re an experienced indie, well qualified to pass on your wisdom to the never-ending river of up-and-comers dreaming of emulating your accomplishments.
That’s more or less how I felt a few months ago. For seven years, I have enjoyed a degree of professional success in indie fantasy. Not to say I was at the top of the heap. But I sure wasn’t at the bottom. I had an agent, had made a few significant audiobook deals, and been nominated for an award or two. But that’s where it stopped. I’d reached the limit of where I could go on my own. If I wanted to continue up the ladder, I had to find a way to break into traditional publishing.
This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from steampunk writer Katherine McIntyre. Kathryn recently released the third book in her adventure-filled Take to the Skies series, and is stopping by to give a glimpse into the world of steampunk and its historical roots:
When checking out a novel, movie, or some form of art termed ‘steampunk,’ certain elements have surfaced enough times to have become hallmarks of the genre. Even folks who aren’t savvy with the trend have come to recognize the assortment of gears, the Victorian style gowns, and the many pairs of goggles as steampunk.
Where did these elements come from? Continue reading
Book Cover: Dreams of Ice and Shadow by Kathryn Troy
This week I’m pleased to welcome Kathryn Troy back to the blog – last year Kathryn shared her thoughts on what it means to be Lovecraftian. Now she’s launching the second book in her gothic fantasy series and stopping by to take a look at the enduring appeal of vampires and how she uses them in her work:
Bram Stoker was certainly not the first person to craft a vampire story. Serialized tales like Varney the Vampire and Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla were written decades before Stoker published his novel in 1897. Polidori’s The Vampyre was published in 1819, almost a century before. As serials and penny-dreadfuls, vampire stories had gained a modicum of popularity, which created a climate that was ready to accept Dracula. But it was Stoker who propelled and solidified the genre into the veritable beast it has become. Continue reading
This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from writer, English teacher and Marvel fan Josiah DeGraaf, who blends the fantasy and superhero genres in his writing. He takes a look at what fantasy authors might learn from the successes of genre-mixing in superhero fiction:
If you aren’t much of a superhero movie fan (or even if you are), the upcoming slate of movies Marvel alone is trying to push out may seem rather exhausting. 10 more films in the next three years with plans through 2027? It’s no wonder you have people like Spielberg predicting superhero films will go the way of the Western and burn out in the near future.
Yet, despite all the films churned out by Marvel and DC, moviegoers keep purchasing tickets without any signs of stopping. Superhero stories are a (relatively) narrow genre—and yet many viewers (such as myself) regularly see two to four superhero films a year, despite the criticisms Marvel’s received for weak villains and paint-by-number three-act stories.
How has Marvel been able to keep selling tickets without running into genre fatigue? There are multiple reasons, but there’s one I’d like to focus on: Marvel keeps the genre feeling fresh by mixing it with other genres. This is a skill that not only budding novelists can be taking advantage of—but a skill some of the best fantasy authors today are using to craft unique and brilliant stories. Continue reading
What does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? This week I’m delighted to host a guest post by historian-turned-novelist Kathryn Troy, who has just released her dark romantic fantasy novel A Vision in Crimson. Her historical expertise in the supernatural and the Gothic informs her fiction at every turn, and she’s stopping by on her blog tour to take a look at the influence of Lovecraft on speculative fiction:
Howard Phillips Lovecraft is one of the most influential authors in American literature. His craft, his universe, his subject matter and underlying themes are so pervasive in speculative fiction—fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and everything in between—that his impact is seen and heard the world over, even when it isn’t recognized as such.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a speculative fiction author today who doesn’t know who Lovecraft is, or doesn’t attribute him with having at least a modicum of influence over their own writing. But what does it really mean to be Lovecraftian? Continue reading
Wee Folk and Wise: A Faerie Anthology
This guest post is brought to you by Deby Fredericks, whose blog Wyrmflight has taught me many an interesting dragon-related fact and myth. She recently edited an anthology of fairy and folk tale-inspired stories called Wee Folk and Wise, and has shared some reflections from Matthew Timmins, one of the collection’s contributors, on the age-old appeal of fairy tales: Continue reading