Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “octopus

Light In The Lantern: With The Last Witch Of Pendle

Greetings! Welcome to to Steampunk’d Lancaster! My name is Mrs Albert Baker and… well yes, that’s right I am a witch, how very kind of you to notice! Perhaps it’s my magical aura… or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread that tipped you off? Officially I’m actually The Last Witch Of Pendle but, sadly, there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats. But I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running my little underground soup kitchen for the street urchins.

Strange times have struck here in the Scattered Isles of Ire – Lord Ashton’s Flesh Eating Liver Birds plague the skies above us and hoards of Mancunian Sugar-Zombies roam the cobbled streets spreading their curse like a plague…

So some of us have decided to re-kindle the old beacon in the city watchtower and keep its flame burning each night as a way of giving hope to those running for their lives and being hunted down by terrifying monsters, or evil scarecrow landlords…

Tonight is my shift and never fear, I am well armed to protect myself with a hot cauldron of soup, a fistful of hexes and of course my trusty rolling pin, which has seen off many an Annoying Wizard, Giant Crab or Night Potato, I can tell you!

Over the coming weeks, a marvellous host of writers, artists and creators will each be taking a turn to keep the light in this old lantern burning through the dark and share with you some of their wonderful books, stories, artwork and other fabulous creations.

Now then, since I’m here I thought I would share a little excerpt from some of my own adventures with you. This is taken from The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry when those two miscreant wizards had the cheek to break into my house in Pendle and frighten the wits out of myself and my husband in the middle of the night!

lastwitch

The two wizards scrambled to their feet but, on cursory inspection, Skarry realised they were trapped. This was not magic that they, as mere initiates, would have any hope of disabling.

“Oh! Burglars? Thieves? Oh no!” The woman standing in the doorway, dressed in a long cotton nightdress and curlers, trembled, sending the glaring yellow light from her lantern quivering over the moon-slicked floor, serving no purpose other than to irritate the eyes of every conscious person in the room. “Oh, this can’t be happening! I…I must get Albert, yes, he will know what to do!” and she quickly spun on her heel and disappeared again. They heard her stumble back along some hidden corridor, muttering in frenzied tones as she went: “Oh blessed mother! Oh Green Goddess, why is this happening? Why? Oh this is the end, I know it is! The end of Pendle, the end of everything! Oh Goddess, if it is true, if you have really not abandoned us to the mercy of Wiz, please, please grant me the strength to deal with this! But I cannot, how can I? I am the last! The very last!”

Her ravings slowly faded, swallowed into the belly of the house, and Skarry fired a look of utter bewilderment at his friend and tapped his forehead in silent questioning appraisal of the woman’s sanity. But, to his surprise and further confusion, Mercurio’s own features revealed that he was lost in some deep private reflection which was obviously beginning to amuse him.

Before long, the woman returned, now sporting an ill-fitting black toupee, which she had hastily balanced on top of her net of tightly curled hair, a false moustache and a quilted claret dressing gown. She held the lantern high again, swinging its luminescence into their squinting eyes.

“Now, see here!” she said, failing dismally at affecting a manly baritone. “Just who, may I ask, do you think you are? Bursting into my abode and frightening the wits out of my wife like this? Hmm?”

Skarry blinked. Surely, surely, this strange woman must realise the flagrant flimsiness of her charade. He opened his mouth to speak, but the woman pre-empted him.

“Don’t move! D-d-don’t move or I’ll…I’ll…well, you can’t move, can you? Hmm? If you try to, you won’t be able to so…so just stay there while I… er… go and call the Watchers… and The Good Folk. Yes, that’s it… now just you stay there! And don’t move!”’

Mercurio held up his gloved hands and chuckled with amusement. “My dear… Sir, we have no intention of going anywhere and, as you have pointed out, even if we wished to, we would be unable to penetrate this.” He gestured to the thin blue field of magical energy which now surrounded them, regarding it with the eye of a connoisseur. “But this is quite astounding!” He gave the moustachioed woman a look of respect, mingled with curiosity, which was not lost upon its subject.

She lowered the lantern an inch.

“Surely,” Mercurio continued carefully, “surely a spell like this could only have been set in place by… and please do not take offense, my good man… by a wizard? And an extremely powerful one at that. Perhaps, even, a witch?”

To Skarry’s amazement, the woman sank down into the leather armchair and began to sob, wringing the lantern chain between her fingers.

“My apologies,” Skarry said quickly, “if my friend has upset you, please… er… here, oh damn I can’t do that,” he returned the useless handkerchief to his pocket and glared furiously at Mercurio, who gave him a withering look and then hitched up a mask of sincere compassion and sympathy and turned it towards their host.

“Oh, you’re right!” the woman sobbed. “It’s true, it’s all true!” She pulled off the moustache and toupee and flung them angrily onto the floor. “Oh, this silly charade has been wearing me to pieces! But I have had no choice! There have always been six witches at Pendle, and there always must be at least one witch at Pendle – even Wiz himself says it – otherwise the whole town will crumble to the ground; the manor, the park, the houses, everything!”

“Wiz?” Skarry looked sharply at his friend, but Mercurio hadn’t flinched.

“Yes. It is only by his will that I haven’t been forced into the caves to be hunted, like game, across the marsh, like my poor sisters. He allowed just six of us witches to stay on here at Pendle because of the curse. There have always been six and we’ve always managed to fool the townsfolk into thinking we were ordinary citizens, but I am the last! And what will happen if I am found out? Oh it has worn me so thin you cannot imagine. Of course I cannot marry – who would marry a witch in this day and age? And yet I had to marry Albert or else people would become suspicious; a woman living all alone… people have such suspicious minds… you wouldn’t believe the things they say when my back is turned…” She was beginning to rave, the pitch of her voice crescendoing with the speed of the words. If she went on like this, she would be hysterical within the next 60 seconds and if she hyperventilated and fainted, even worse asphyxiated herself, they would be trapped. Possibly permanently.

“Why don’t you have a glass of brandy?” Mercurio suggested.

The woman shook her head “I don’t drink,” she sniffed. “It’s Albert who’s the drinker.”

“Albert?” Skarry mouthed silently.

Mercurio raised his eyebrows at him. “Well, perhaps Albert would care for a snifter then? Settle his nerves?”

Skarry closed his eyes so that he would not have to witness the woman reassembling her disguise so that she could nod and stumble unsteadily out of the room in search of alcohol.

 

 

 

If you’d like to read more about my adventures with those two Terrible Wizards, Scarlet Skarry and her marvellous Land Pirate crew and of course Eightcups Max and his fabulous octopus Collin, you can find The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry here:

Well thankyou so much for joining me this evening as we keep the light in the lantern burning. I’m afraid that’s my shift over for the night, thank goodness it was a quiet one! Who knows, perhaps the smell of gingerbread was enough to keep wary monsters at bay?
Stay safe good friends, whatever assails you, and when times are dark, look for the light in the lanterns of others and treasure the light in your own….


Frost Fair: Collin’s Memoirs Part ‘The Last’

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, for what I fear must be the last of these little readings from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… the ice here on the river Lune has indeed begun to melt again, the barges will soon be free to move on and our beautiful rainbow sailed sky-ship must be thinking about doing the same… still, I’m sure have the time for one last tea together and for me to recount how that terrible frost fair ended a few years ago…

 

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we hope you are feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is indeed eleven o clock and you find us desperately clinging to a printing press, screaming for help (and cake) in increasingly agitated tones. Here is what happened –
We decided that before the frost fair ended we ought to do one more round of the fuddling tents and then get our names printed on one of those souvenir flyers by one of the many presses which have sprung up across the frozen river.
I think we may have become a little too fuddled however, as by the time we reached the printers Max was no longer content on having our merely our names on the thing but had begun composing a lengthy treatise against tea rationing, sugar tax, dairy alternatives, the monarchy and poets in general… the poor printer was struggling to arrange her wooden blocks as this tirade of caffeine fuelled wrath drew curious punters from all over the river.
The crowd listened in awe for around five minutes until the part about the cats and then, as one, they turned and fled, screaming in terror. It took a few seconds for myself, Max, and the printer to realise that it was not the cats but the breaking ice which had sent them scurrying and, too late, we found ourselves adrift on one of many small ice islands which were rapidly breaking free and speeding off on the mischievous currents of the thawing river.
One, bearing a cargo of serving maids, ploughed into the side of a barge and shattered, sending the girls flailing into the icy water. Sadly I could do nothing to help as my tentacles are still out of action but Max did valiant things with a histrionic napkin – wafting it at them in a most heroic and undoubtedly helpful way – until they all managed to clamber up onto our island and choke themselves puce (don’t worry, we perched on the printing press to avoid any embarrassment involving vomit and shoes) .
And so we were stuck – we tried to punt our way to the other side using a parasol but once we got there, some thugs tried charging us to set foot on the bank. None of us had a bean and our offers of throwing them a sopping serving maid did not go down well at all.
Not with anyone.
The maids turned savage and pitched the printing press – with us upon it – into the water (who’d have credited them with such strength of character?) and so here we are, desperately in need of elevenses, and assistance. If you happen to have either, please do not hesitate to hurl them in our direction.
In the meantime we will wish all a very uneventful morning and attempt to endear ourselves to passersby by busking along to this…

 

 

Good old Smith and Burrows, they have seen us through many a tough scrape over the years. Well you will over the moon entirely to learn that our good friends Jack and Marjory happened to be passing that day and did manage to see off the ruffians and haul us out – although they had the nerve to charge us for their dry cleaning bill afterwards! – Kitty’s Hex Slingers are all a bunch of bloody toffs.

Oh well, time to weight anchor here and set sail for our next adventure, we wish you all the best with yours and until we meet again please remain always

Utterly Yourself.


Frost Fair: Collin’s Memoirs part 5…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…

February 1824…

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s delicately dazzling and glamorously glitzy parlour located within the fantabulously frost spangled city of Lancaster!
True there are those who will say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find us this morning enjoying what may well be the last week of the frost fair as our Oracular Pet has assured us that the ice will begin to melt over the weekend and the Barge Folk will be able to get their craft dislodged soon afterward.
People are beginning to carve things into the ice now – at first it was just the odd name or profane comment – “Victoria was ‘ere” and the like –  but now the whole river resembles the Cameo Libris in the Burlington Arcade and it seems every drunk and lunatic is determined to leave his mark…

“Whereas you J .  FROST have by force and violence
Taken possession of the RIVER
I hereby give you notice to quit Immediately
A . THAW”

“Behold the Power of WIZ! Which locks,
In close Confinement, under pond’rous Rocks
Of dreadful Ice and Snow, our famous RIVER;
Whose matchless Glory doth the world make shiver!”

Even the stall vendors have taken to the sport, ‘pitting their limited wits against the noble tongue’ as Max put it …. here are some of the worst we have read….

To the Print-house go,
Where men the art of Printing soon do know,
Where for a Teaster, you may have your name
Printed, hereafter for to show the same:
And sure, in former Ages, ne’er ‘was found
A Press to print where men so oft were droun’d!

Behold the liquid RIVER now frozen o’er
That lately SHIPS of mighty burden bore.
Here you PRINT your name tho’ cannot write
‘Cause numbe’d with cold: ‘Tis done with great delight.
And lay it by: That AGES yet to come
May see what THINGS upon the ICE were done.

Kind master, drink you beer, or ale or brandy?
Walk in, kind sir, this booth is the chief,
We’ll entertain you with a slice of beef,
And what you please to eat or drink, ‘tis here,
No booth, like mine, affords such dainty cheer;
Another crys, Here master, they but scoff ye,
Here is a dish of famous new made coffee.
And some do say a giddy senseless ass
May on the LUNE be furnished with a lass.

I was sincerely hoping that Max would join me in setting our sights a little higher and agree to stop and watch the Parlour Poets in their ‘Sparring Salon’ but he suddenly became uncharacteristically Quiet, mumbled something about dogs, and has now skulked back to the parlour claiming a sudden urge for a cup of tea.

As I am still wheelchair-bound I had absolutely no say in the matter and so here we are, feeling a little perplexed and out of breath (it is no fun being rattled along the cobbled streets at speed in a bone shaker like that I can tell you), but with an excellent tea on the brew.

 

Yes indeed those amateur ice graffiti ‘artists’ left a lot to be desired – and along with the roasted Ox and the rampaging elephant I feel they were at least partly responsible for what happened next… but I will leave that until the next time you visit and instead leave you with this marvellous video of someone doing something FAR more worthy and impressive with the medium of ice…


Frost Fair: Collin’s Memoirs part 4…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…
February 1824…
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome once again to Max and Collin’s splendidly Siberian – themed parlour located within the spectacularly frosted-over city of Lancaster.
True, some have called it a frigid flophouse belonging to chilling individuals whom you would not wish to meet down a dark alley, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find me this afternoon feeling a little foolish, a little sorry for myself and a little disappointed that ice skating isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Certainly ice skating with tentacles is not a thing I shall ever be attempting again. I’m afraid I got a little over excited at the Street Pageant … the Masala Chai punch…you know…
So here I lie, my tentacles in splints, attempting to suck chips of frozen tea through a straw while Max reads to me and the cats do their best to irritate me to distraction. Mrs B has kindly made up some foul smelling brown goo to rub into my wounds but it does nothing for my pride, I’m afraid; I am a fallen creature indeed….oh do shut up Max I am in no fit state to suffer your dubious wit.
Fortunately our soothing tea this morning is a beautiful and gentle blend of Sencha with sea buckthorn, spearmint and lemon verbena which reminds me of my ocean home and a lesson learned that not all forms of water provide an octopus with his element!
Still we did manage to take something of a stroll around the fair this morning.
I say stroll, which implies a leisurely pace, but my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend was doing an embarrassing amount of huffing and puffing and gasping for breath which was quite off putting I can tell you and leads me, once again, to question exactly what constitutes ‘Very Quiet’ in the realm above the waves.
I say stroll, but perhaps that is a misnomer for the exercise as in fact my tentacles were, as I said, all in splints from the ice skating affair and so Mrs B kindly rustled up an old wheelchair from somewhere and we strapped a couple of floor board planks to the wheels so that Max could push me through the snowy cobbled streets and over the icy river with ease.
Oh the joy! I cannot tell you how immeasurably more enjoyable it is to experience a winter’s walk from the cozy comfort of an armchair…there were fire eaters and jugglers, oh my goodness they even had an elephant! I’m amazed the ice does not crack! Mind you, they were roasting spit an ox with impunity over near the centre and I am certain it is going to lead to disaster.
There were so many things for sale, most of which are double the price one would expect to pay for them because they have the word ‘souvenir’ and a date scratched onto them. Luckily Max is a bit of a Finger Smith and we managed to procure some excellent spiced buns and treacle toffee before slipping away into one of the ‘fuddling tents’. These are made of the barge sails propped up haphazardly with poles and inside you will find some of the most lethal chai-cocktails to be mixed this side of a Tiffin Den.
We sampled ‘Purl’ (a steaming black brew made with lapsang and wormwood) which the vendor told us would have a man gibbering for days, and ‘The Spiky Mother’ (A pungent Assam with chilli and dark chocolate) which had apparently already hospitalised a crowd of eight, but we must be candid and say that, even after four or five cups of each, Max still had the wherewithal to hot foot it out of the tent and away before the angry vendor could catch up with us an extract his payment.  (no mean feat pushing an octopus in a make-shift sled)
He almost cornered us but luckily Max employed a pocket full of escapological marbles (if you are naive to the uses of escapological marbles to thwart a pursuer just ask the nearest five year old) and we left him cursing in the gutter.
So here we are again, back in the parlour, and eager to tuck in to our sticky treats – once Max has got his breath back.

Ah yes, I still suffer a little with rheumatism in my tentacles after that terrible episode – nevermore! Is now my mantra when it comes to the ice skating, but I do so love watching you humans go about the business, all the same. So I’ll leave you with this lovely lady doing a far better job of it than I did and until we meet again, tread with care and remain always,
Utterly Yourself


Frost Fair: With Nimue Brown

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Goblin market, come buy, come buy!

Good Morning! Welcome to the Annual Lancastrian Frost Fair on the frozen River Lune! I’m Nimue Brown and I have shivered my way through many a real world stall and event, usually for the purposes of promoting Hopeless, Maine. For this Fair I find myself wearing all of my bloomers and knickerbockers under all of the woolly things I could tie round myself, so you may be forgiven for mistaking me for some kind of sofa.

The Goblin Market goes out to events around Stroud (where I live) and tempts people with illicit and dangerous fruit – namely art and poetry, and other books. Sometimes you’ll find me at Steampunk events, huddled under a Hopeless Maine banner with other reprobates – Tom Brown who is responsible for the art side of things, sometimes Keith Healing who wrote the Hopeless Maine Role Play Game and on occasion, Keith Errington who wrote Hopeless Maine novella, The Oddatsea.

As Hopeless Maine is a cold, foggy and imaginary island off the coast of Maine, dressing for a wintery apocalypse is always authentic. Sometimes, in chilly desperation, I have gone so far as to wear an octopus on my head. A woolly one, I hasten to add. I would not expose a live octopus in so dreadful a way!

If you’d like to buy our lovely things, develop an addiction and never quite get over it (we are a Goblin market after all) you can do so without getting frostbite in your fingers, either via Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MothFestival

Or by starting over here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/buy-the-books-and-things/

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Frost Fair: Collin’s Memoirs part 3…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…

February 1824

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen! You find us some what in haste this tea time as we are getting ourselves all dressed to impress and not just for larks or some nefarious landord’s scheme to make money, no, this time we actually do have somewhere swish to go!
Courtly Masques have been a traditional part of New Year celebrations here in The New World for centuries and the public version The Street Pageant is something that accompanies the Frost Fair here in Lancaster every year.

Some of the most outstanding lunatics, parlour-poets, tea fiends and self proclaimed ‘artists’, in the full intensity of their creative insanity, have devoted themselves to producing these Pageants (despite the earnest efforts of various New World Puritans to abolish them) and the infamous Garish Theatre producer Joyce Jameson recently proclaimed it to be “the highest art form in The Scattered Isles.”

To give the balance however we should  also quote journalist Pomona Squash of the Tiffindependent Newspaper whose scathing review of last years’ revels read:

“The entertainment went forward, and most of the presenters went backward, or fell down, wine did so occupy their upper chambers. The actress playing the Queen tripped over the steps of the throne, sending her gifts flying; Hope and Faith were too drunk to speak a word, while Peace, annoyed at finding her way to the throne blocked, made good use of her symbolic olive branches to slap anyone who was in her way” (click here to tut at our rampant quote theft)

So that is where we abscond to this evening, to paint the town of Lancaster (revolutionary) red and utterly get away with it because we shall be masked up and totally unrecognisable… we hope…
We wish you all an equally jubilant evening and we will let you know how we got on on Monday so, until then, please throw on a mask be whoever the Hull you wish (for one night at least!)

 

Hm, yes I remember those pageant nights getting somewhat out of hand… in fact (voices hushed please) perhaps this extract wasn’t such a good one to have been reading out loud at all – Max once spent some time in Lancaster Castle prison, rather beaten up and waiting to be hanged (whether or not they managed to hang him in the end I really couldn’t say, he has an annoying knack of defeating death which really makes me wonder if he isn’t some sort of demon afterall…)

Ah but I digress; the point is he had some sort of delirious vision while he was there about a Cheese Ball… or a Cheese Masque… or some such nonsense, (I believe some nefarious conspirator from the island of Hopeless, Mainementioning no names – slipped him a hairy coffee at visiting hour) and it would be well not to set him off on a blasted recital of the Mostly Awful Poem he wrote about the…

Sunken Hull Max! Are you trying to frighten the life out of us sneaking around like that? …. no nobody mentioned cheese, or Masques, or indeed anything of the kind and we certainly have not got time for… will you get down off the table… oh dear, it seems there is no dissuading the wretch, cover your ears or run good people – preserve your sanity!

 

HISTORY IS MADE AS MAX SPEAKS TO THE ROOM AT LARGE RATHER THAN JUST COLLIN FOR THE SECOND TIME IN PARLOUR HISTORY…

 

Friends, Tea Fiends, Revolutionaries, Poets, Painters, Hex Slingers, Technomancers, Goddess Worshippers, and Octopussies, I humbly (sort of  I mean, one can’t be too humble with a face like this -wink- ) present to you all …

“En Route To The Fromagian Ball”
(A Political Poem Of The Mor Irate Revolution By Eightcups Max)

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree
To spread its limbs and welcome me
To its embrace eternally
I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee
(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way
He wore a masque of silver grey
Very smooth he looked, yet grim
And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise
For, despite his mournful sighs,
And as I feasted with my eyes
Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,
All speckled with viridian,
A gown so tattered, holed and frayed
I wondered not he looked dismayed

“Can you sir, really, thus arrayed,
Be going to the masquerade
To dance at Caerphilly?”

And the little cats, who round his feet
Did lip and lap and even eat
The scroobius crumbs which from him fell
And each grew fat and fine and well

Clothed with Her Majesty’s revenues bright
Glittering gold through the grim twilight
Mild Camembert, smiling, sauntered by
And by her side, strode Manouri

And my heart sank to see the sly
Reflections in each gleaming eye
Of all the host that by me strayed
Towards the marvellous masquerade
To dance at Caerphilly.

A mighty troupe of cheeses round
And as they rolled they shook the ground
Waving each a blunt hooked knife
And in their wake came grief and strife

And yet with glorious triumph they
Rode through The Scattered Isles so gay
Drunk as with intoxication
Upon the wine of unfair taxation

Through Crumbia, past The Once Was Sea
Caroused the pageant, fat and free
Pounding flat and crushing down
Each village, hamlett, temple, town
Until they came to Caerphilly

And each guest of that monstrous ball
Did gasp and gape and stand in thrall
As tearing down their revelry
The fromagian host advanced with glee

And, to my horror, out there came
To meet the host and so to claim
Their glory, friends and family
All singing odes to Sbrinz and Brie

“Oh we have waited, hungering
For the mighty curd-coming”
And on their knees each one bent down
And for each cheese, proffered a crown

Then each took fork and knife and spoon
And there below the blood red moon
They rat-like, cat-like all did feast
And, eating so, became the beast

And wild, rapacious was the eye
Of every one who passed me by
Behind each masque that greeted me
As I came to Caerphilly
But as I felt myself besieged
By comrades now themselves in league
With lovers lost and rampant cheese
As gazing, lost, at all my foes
A vapour from my teacup rose

Faint and fragile as the dew
All silver grey the image grew
This Maiden, mailed, before me stood
With spork blade bright and shimmering hood

My Lady, Silverneedle, stands
Her teapot held in mighty hands
And above the roar of cheese
Her voice rings o’re the land and seas:

“Sions of Ire, scions of glory
Heroes of unwritten story
Suplings of one mighty pot
Rise and slice the Gordion knot”

“Rise like Silver Needle’s steam
Swift and to fulfil the dream
In the heart of every slave
The late of birth, the late in grave.
The dream of every treacle miner
No notion simpler or sublimer”

“Rise as one to take with might
The final bag of flour, white,
For you are many, they are few
And all they gorged was meant for you!”

With step as soft as wind she passed
O’re my head so swift and fast
And though I sought to find her there
Still all I saw was empty air.

But lingering in the morning grey
Some muse stirred in my memory
The scent of bergamots’ faint leaves
Which soothed my soul to thoughts of thee

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree
To spread its limbs and welcome me
To its embrace eternally
Still in my dream I danced with thee
(We danced The Masque at Caerphilly)


Frost Fair: Collin’s memoirs part 2…

Thankyou, friends, for joining me this morning on board the Harlequin Ladybird, do pull up a cat.. er, sorry, I mean a cushion… and make yourselves comfortable as I, Collin The Octopus, read to you all from my marvellous journal of extremely exciting adventures… a-hem…

February, 1823…

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously sparkling and frostabulously frozen parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True, some have called it a frigid place of cold hearts and frosty welcomes but we consider that uch people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning, warming our tentacles beside an imaginary fire after an enterprising and entertaining morning at the fabulous frost fair which is being held on our beloved river Lune.

Our psychotic scarecrow landlord, Montmorency, woke us before dawn with the business end of his walking cane and demanded that we head out into the frozen darkness and not return until we had enough money to pay for this month’s rent. The fact that we only just paid for the last month seems to have escaped the rogue and so I perched upon Max’s shoulder and we set off towards the river.

There were already traders setting up stalls on the ice but none of them took favourably to our offers  of  assistance (it seems that Queen Vic’s recent  amendments to equality in employment law do not extend to an Octopus and a Tea Fiend) So we settled ourselves on the bank instead and watched the sun rise over the frosted spires of the sail barges which had collapsed crazily into the ice sheets and lay mired liked the skeletons of stranded beasts from some fantastical caffeine-fuelled nightmare.

Things picked up once the punters arrived. After some initial competition from a woman hawking root beer (For a Very Quite Gentleman, Max can be terribly clumsy when glass bottles are around) we managed to sell twenty bottles of lemonade (and drink many more) without being lynched by the barge folk for selling without paying the trading fees.

We decided that that was quite enough hard shirking for one morning and spent the rest of the time mooching around the stalls, watching the jugglers and fire eaters and, most impressively to me, the ice skaters. Having lived under the sea all my life, I never imagined this curious form entertainment and I am determined, soon, to beg, borrow or steal enough pairs of ice skates to attempt the thing myself.

Now here we are back in the parlour, our landlord briefly appeased, our cats greedily devouring the last of the skimmed milk ration, and all desperately in need of a reviving spot of elevenses and some soothing music to tap our tentacles to. Unfortunately our absconding butler has not seen fit to deliver the goods this morning (perhaps she thinks it’s a holiday? ‘Though what a werewolf would find to do at a frost fair we have no idea…) but not to worry because we managed to run into our lovely Mrs Baker on the way back and she has set us up with a packet of genuine Frost Fair Souvenir Gingerbread which, knowing Mrs B, will be crammed full of illegal sugar…mmm…

And, by happy chance, Max’s constant pocket companion ‘The Whole Duty Of A Woman (or an infalliable guide to the fair sex) – 1737’ (A birthday gift from a devoted family member I think) has an excellent recipe for … OWCH! …Well, really! You know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max, you  can be excessively violent devoid of a sense of humour… do learn to take a joke, please!

I was going to say, before I was so rudely interrupted by a flying teapot, that this is a recipe for ginger bread biscuits, rather than the cake which we are enjoying now but it is nonetheless share-worthy, I think…

“To Make Gingerbread…

Take a pound and a half of London Treacle, two eggs beaten, half a pound of sugar, one ounce of ginger, beaten and sifted, of cloves, mace and nutmeg, all together, half an ounce beaten very fine, coriander seeds and caraway seeds of each half an ounce, Two punds of butter melted; mix all these together, with as much flour a will knead it into a pretty stiff paste, then roll it out and cut it into what Form you please; bake it in a Quick Oven on Tin-plates; A little time will bake it.”

 

 

Oh I do miss our dear Mrs Baker very much indeed! And yes, I’m sorry to say that Max is no less violent and humourless when it comes to ‘taking a joke’ these days as he was then… fortunately he has decided not to join us for these little readings, although I can’t think why he would deny himself such a pleasure, hedonism notoriously being his chief virtue…

If you are out on the ice today, do tread with care won’t you? Unless you have ice skates in which case throw yourself gracelessly with wild abandon! And until we meet again please, remain always

Utterly Yourself


Welcome To The Annual Lancastrian Frost Fair!

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously space-tastic parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed skyship The Harlequin Ladybird!

Those of you who’ve been with us for the long haul will know how hard we have fought against exploitative scarecrow landlords, vicious flesh eating Liver Birds, machinating girlfriends and obsessive beat-nik poets to reach this point of well-deserved bliss, living the life of sky-pirate luxury and finally able to be Utterly Ourselves without someone trying to kill us or steal all our tea.

But upon this cloudless, blue sky morning as we drift lazily through the last departing tendrils of dawnish haze and Lancaster’s frozen River Lune lies below us like a glittering white ribbon and I see the stall holders of the annual Frost Fair setting up their gaily coloured tents and carts I must confess to being overcome with nostalgia… well, perhaps not overcome, I wouldn’t go back to that miserable life for all the tea in Ire…

But nostalgic enough that I thought I might hunt out my journals and perhaps spend the next few weeks reading over some of our memories from Frost Fairs past… (Max don’t be rude, of course our guests are eager to hear me read at length from my memoirs, look at them, they are on the edge of their seats already! … No it is not because the cats are taking up every other available space, it is because they are excited to hear me pontificate about my all-over-interesting life… no they do not want to hear any more about YOUR life Max, you’ve already had more than your fair share of lives, no wonder you like cats so much, perhaps you in fact part cat after all.

Anyway, now that my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend has finally shut up, I can invite you all to join us over the next four weeks as we weigh anchor in Lancaster, stroll the current Frost Fair and look at all the delights on offer from some wonderful Steampunk and LGBTQIA+ authours and look back at some fun and frolics from Frost Fairs of the past.

In the meantime I shall kick my tentacles up on the table here and ring the bell for tea. Hopefully you will join us again soon and until then, please remain always,

Utterly Yourself.

(Gorgeous picture of me, Collin The Octopus, by Nimue Brown of Hopeless, Maine )

Colin (1)

 

 

 


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday! I hope you’ve enjoyed whatever festivities this season brings you! I’m writing this post on Friday and out the window is a lush blue sky and crisp cold morning with the Rowan next door giving us a last late burst of flame! Tomorrow we are supposed to have snow, I’m not sure how I feel about that! lol! The RA has kicked in and I’m sky high on painkillers right now so things that are going to make mobility even more difficult are a bit daunting! LOL. Here’s wishing that when snow does hit we can all enjoy it (even if it’s just admiring it from a window seat!) 😀

Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

As it’s still the spooky season I thought I’d do a few snips from a WIP which is the very last book (probably) in my Steampunk series Ashton’s Kingdom.

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry) a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

If you missed the first part you can catch up here: #RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

rendered

 

“Sorry,” Douglas ventured, shuffling sideways along what he hoped was the back row of folding chairs. There was an almighty crash as something large and metallic clattered to the flagstone floor. “Sorry! So sorry,  Francis, er, I mean Your Grace…”

“Douglas!” 

“Sorry!”

“Late again Douglas, and I see the rest of your red-robe order are a no-show as usual, we have already begun the casting!”

 

 

Poor Douglas, can he appease Arch Cleric Francis and their fellow Necromancers for disturbing their casting? I’ll let you know next week 😉 Meanwhile have a fabulous weekend folks 😀 and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction


Elevenses: With Stephen Palmer

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are honoured to have Stephen Palmer joining us for elevenses this morning.

Do please have a seat,  (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? ( We are all out of Oolong Max so don’t even think about making that joke again)

 

Definitely Darjeeling. Nothing else will do! But I’ll just cross my legs and place this pocket abacus on my lap so that Max is stymied…

 

That is very kind and unnecessarily accommodating of you Stephen, here is your tea. Now then, do tell us more about yourself and your latest books.

 

Well… it’s a long story. Many years ago I was taken off the slush pile by Orbit Books, which started my time as a published author. Since then my career has scaled some heights and descended into some depths, though recently it’s been on a bit of a high. At the end of 2016, my steampunk/alternate history trilogy Factory Girl (The Girl With Two Souls / The Girl With One Friend / The Girl With No Soul) was published, to a very positive reception. Earlier this year we decided to relaunch it with covers designed by famed steampunk illustrator Tom Brown (he of Hopeless, Maine), with a fourth, supplementary novel – not published with the original trilogy – also set for publication. This latter novel is set in 1914-15 and is called The Conscientious Objector.

 

Oh that does sound like an intriguing series! We very much admire Tom Brown’s artwork too and did you hear that Max? That last book sounds like just your cup of tea! ( Many people find Max objectionable, I’m sure you can see why.)  What inspired you to write the series?

 

The entire plot, characters and structure of Factory Girl came to me one evening during a two hour blitz of ideas. That this happened means it was waiting in my subconscious ready to appear. The overarching theme is whether or not souls exist, an area explored via Victorian-style automata, though also through the life stories of the main characters. Of these, the main ones are: Kora Blackmore, an illegitimate mulatto (used here for historical accuracy) girl imprisoned in Bedlam Mental Hospital; Erasmus Darwin, grandson of Charles; Dr Spellman, an entirely mysterious benefactor; other members of the Darwin family; an enigmatic automaton who can speak and understand; and Sir Tantalus Blackmore, Kora’s father, the greatest industrialist of his age and owner of the Factory in Sheffield, where all the Empire’s automata are manufactured. The story takes place over all three novels during 1910-11.

 

I see, it sounds most enticing… er, no Max we do not need to hear about your experiences in Bedlam thankyou… nor why there is a young lady there who swears you have tentacles… I’m so sorry Stephen I’m afraid he has been at the sugar again this morning. Moving swiftly on, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 

I’m known in the genre world for rarely reading fiction. Most of my influences are non-fiction. For instance, I recently read: Mama’s Last Hug (the emotions of animals), Novacene (James Lovelock’s new one, celebrating his 100th birthday), and The Hare With The Amber Eyes (an extraordinary memoir about netsuke).

 

How interesting! But if not any fiction then are there any authors who have particularly inspired you?

 

In my earlier days I was influenced by authors such as Jack Vance, Gwyneth Jones and Gene Wolfe. These days there aren’t many authors of fiction who inspire me, but in the steampunk world I much enjoyed the YA novel Cogheart.

 

Hm. Excellent. (No he does not want to hear your poetry Max, that is not in least bit inspiring, stop interrupting)  Battenburg?

 

Do you have any parkin? I understand they make it in Leeds.

 

We certainly do have some Parkin – left over from a tea party with the Brown’s in fact! – although this was made in Lancaster. You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

 

It was an extraordinary stroke of luck. I had been sending sample chapters and the like to various London publishers, but without much by way of reply. Then, mere days before I moved house (never to return for reasons best not mentioned), I received a letter from Orbit asking me to send the full MS of a novel I’d sent them over a year before. I was surprised! So I sent it off, but then, because of various life-events getting in the way for me and for them, I didn’t hear anything for a while, during which time I wrote a third version. This version was eventually accepted, to be published in 1996 as my debut Memory Seed.

 

I see, what marvellous good fortune! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

 

When I do writing events or author appearances I usually mention writer’s volcano – the opposite of writer’s block. So, yes, I have lots of projects on the go! This winter I’ll be writing the final volume of a steampunk trilogy set in an alternate Shrewsbury (my home town) and in London. Set in 1899 and 1900, it follows the fortunes of a couple of orphans.

 

Ah, we are well acquainted with a small army of orphans so can easily see how that subject could provide ample plot-fodder – in fact Max often wishes he was an orphan. So, where can we get our tentacles on your work?

 

My novels are available in all the usual places online, both as paperback or ebooks. Infinity Plus have most of the ebooks of my back catalogue.

 

Splendid. And can we find you online?

 

My blog: https://stephenpalmersf.wordpress.com/

On amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stephen-Palmer/e/B0062Z5R78?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1569234616&sr=1-1

On amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Palmer/e/B0062Z5R78?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1569234674&sr=1-1

At Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625764.Stephen_Palmer?from_search=true

 

Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

 

It’s no problem! I’m wearing Dr Avebury’s Secret Trouser Improver, from which liquids dissipate.

 

What a marvellous invention, perhaps we should invest in some ourselves. But Are you sure you’re alright? Can I perhaps tempt you with another cup of the hot stuff?

 

If it’s my usual poison, yes indeed… but I must away. A Nigerian automaton has just leaped from my blazer pocket and told me the time. Farewell!

 

Oh dear, Max I do believe your menacing threats of mostly awful poetry and ill-concealed amorous advances have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful  rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself


#RainbowSnippets: Necromancers

Happy Saturday!  And Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Saints and Souls / Candy Fest whatever you celebrate at this time of year 😀

Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here.

As it’s the spooky season I thought I’d do a few snips from a WIP which is the very last book (probably) in my Steampunk series Ashton’s Kingdom. This one is only 5 sentences but they’re long ones!

About 500 plus years after the events in the first book (The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry)  a forgotten cult are still obliviously serving their long-dead leader, Wiz, and trying to find the secret of immortality. Sort of. Actually daily temple life revolves more around knitting circles, bridge nights and summer fetes… until two novices stumble upon the secret of undeath themselves and unleash a couple of very unlikely ‘gods’ (and one disgruntled octopus) upon the unprepared and erstwhile peaceful community.

rendered.jpg

 

 

Thunder, Lightening, rain, hail, ominous fog and all the other things that accompany the beginning of an iconic horror movie or damn fine novel about Tea, Cake and lashings of Untimely Death, were occurring all over the little island known colloquially (and everywhere else) as The Skull.
Douglas skidded and stumbled over the vindictively slick cobblestones, cursing the length of his disgustingly sodden red robes, the ineffectual protection offered by his floppy wet cowl, the stupid little purse that dangled at his waist and was constantly expelling all his valuables into the muck, the fact that his favourite pocket watch had broken – again – and any and everything else that passed through his mind as he finally staggered, panting and wheezing to the top of the hill.
Sheet lightening flared for a second, silhouetting the crumbling chapel as Douglas clasped the cold iron ring in the studded wooden door and, with a cautious shoulder, silently eased it open.
The eerie luminescence of a hundred flickering candles, vanished in an ebbing wave to be replaced by darkness and smoke and a smattering of accusatory choking noises.
Thunder shook the walls and lightening flashed again, gleaming on several stiletto thin blades, poised in mid air.

 

 

Is Douglas in trouble? I’ll let you know next week 😉 Meanwhile have a spectacularly spooky weekend folks 😀 and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction


Elevenses: David Lee Summers talks #Mythpunk with Collin…

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

 

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are honoured to have our good friend Mr David Lee Summers joining us for elevenses this morning, authour of the Clockwork Legion series which we very much adore.

Do please have a seat, David, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on a cat, cats are not cushions Max how many times must I remind you?)

I do apologise, David. Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? (We are all out of oolong Max so don’t even think about making that joke again.)

 

I do believe a nice robust Assam would be just what I need to get this day off to a splendid start. Thank you.

 

There you go.

Now then, we are deeply concerned about our puppet mistress, Penny; there are rumours that she has a secret laboratory where she takes stories (and I’m talking about ancient, respected myths, legends and Moral Tales here, David, the backbone of what you humans call ‘Sophisticated Society’ I believe?) and does unspeakable things to them so that when they emerge they are… forgive me an affected shudder… changed! Warped! Twisted – almost out of recognition…but not quite, which I think is even more disturbing. Certainly I, as an octopus, am disturbed. We are certain that it is some sort of illness and we wondered if you might have heard of it?

 

I have indeed heard of this condition though fear not, I don’t believe your mistress is more ill than most writers. Though she might suffer from an excess of making connections in stories the original writers did not see or intend, or connecting them to new and different time periods. The condition is not especially dangerous as long as your mistress is allowed to explore her thoughts in writing.

 

But tell me that this is not normal human behaviour, I mean, do you know anyone else who behaves so disrespectfully towards the written word?

 

I know a few such authors who have looked at legends and fairy tales through new lenses and seen new meanings. Such people as Jody Lynn Nye, Jeff Young, and Danielle Ackley-McPhail have all explored these ideas. A grand example is the anthology Gaslight and Grimm which Danielle edited.

 

Of course, Catherynne M. Valente coined the term “Mythpunk” to explain such behaviour and has engaged in it a few times herself. Neil Gaiman and Theodora Goss are a couple of other authors who have done this.

 

Hm, I’m becoming a little suspicious here, David, please tell me you are not one of these fiendish writers yourself who thinks that ancient, sacred tales are merely cadavers that you can dissect and use to create new life?

 

Oh dear, it seems you have found me out. Though I will say that I do not see these ancient and grand tales as cadavers at all. Rather it’s because they live and breathe that they are so adaptable to new kinds of characters and different situations.

 

Oh. I see. Um, oh how remiss of me I haven’t offered you any cake! (Max, I’ll keep him talking while you run and find some sedative to slip into his tea, it seems these writers are all as mad as each other)

 

No need for the sedative. Yes, I heard you, Collin, but I will take a little cake, thank you very much.

 

Hm, but what is the point of it? What do you all hope to achieve? I mean, aren’t the old stories perfectly fine just the way they are? And even if they aren’t, can’t you just write something entirely new?

 

Of course, the original stories are timeless and beautiful. However, they are, sometimes, rooted very firmly in the times and places they were written. Not everyone can read one of these stories and see themselves reflected in the story, so it doesn’t seem relevant to them. Rewriting them with new characters can help a more diverse audience find the stories. Sometimes those stories are rooted in prejudices of the time they were written or collected. Rewriting them from a different point of view allows one to see the story through a new lens and perhaps bring out different or new meanings on top of the lessons one might see on the surface.

 

Ah, I think I’m starting to understand… (No not now, Max, just hold off with that laudanum-laced-sugar bowl for a moment..) So it can actually be a good thing to re-tell or re-imagine stories from the past?

 

Indeed, I have taken classic stories and turned them around so the “villain” becomes a hero, which allows you to see the story in a new light such as I did in “The Griffin’s Tail,” which appears in Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, Human Tales. In “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife,” which appeared in Cemetery Dance magazine, I substituted a vampire husband for elves in the story of the “Elves and the Shoemaker,” which made it a story about relationships. When I wrote “The Slayers,” I wanted to get past the madness of Ahab, which dominates the novel Moby-Dick, and look at what the story says about hunting beautiful, intelligent creatures we don’t always understand. By setting this story on an airship and using dragons instead of whales, it freed me from the expectations one might have when reading Melville’s novel. So, yes, I think retelling stories allows an author to examine aspects of a story that might be overlooked by a casual reader.

 

Hm, I think you’re starting to win me over, but I do have one last concern – I mean, we Octopuses have a great store of oral tales but very few of us are up here on the land to share them with you humans – this Mythpunk makes me almost afraid to share them in case they end up being ‘re-imagined’ by some mad-mythpunker and what then eh? How would people know the original version from the new? Or what if – Devon forbid – I should perish in some act of great daring heroism (stop giggling Max it is very rude) and the stories die with me… I suppose what I am asking is, do you think writers have some sense of responsibility to the cultures whose tales they chose to play with, or is it one big free-for-all?

 

I agree, authors do have a responsibility to respect the original tales and the cultures from which they come. I own a collection of the original Grimm Fairy Tales in German, complete with notes about the stories by the Grimm Brothers. All of my Grimm Fairy Tale retellings have involved me translating the stories myself and reading those notes to understand where they came from. I don’t think one always needs to go that extent, but I do think one needs to understand the stories and the cultures where they came from.

 

It’s common advice that a writer should “write what they know.” If a story goes beyond the life experience of an author, the author has a responsibility to conduct research to become familiar with the culture and time period they’re writing about. This is true whether you’re writing mythpunk, steampunk, fantasy, or science fiction.

 

I see. Well, I think I have been quite hasty in my initial judgement of this mythpunk phenomenon, I would very much like to find out more. Can you point us at some worthy works of marvellous mythpunk (including your own of course)?

 

My works of mythpunk have appeared in two anthologies, which present works by many authors whose work is worth seeking out. These include:

Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine https://www.amazon.com/Gaslight-Grimm-Steampunk-Faerie-Tales/dp/1942990316/

and Human Tales edited by Jennifer Brozek is available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00563YEBW/

 

My story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife” is in Cemetery Dance, issue 66, available at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BBJVJVI/

My story “The Slayers” is available as a standalone short story at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A9H1BSO/

I also highly recommend the novel Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohammed. As we’re speaking, the book is in the last days of the Kickstarter campaign to fund a beautiful new edition. I’ll share the link as it will no doubt tell people when the new edition is available for purchase. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/e-specbooks/discover-the-magic-of-baba-ali-and-the-clockwork-djinn/description

I have some new works coming out in the not too distant future including a story called “Horse Feathers” where witches under the tutelage of Russia’s Baba Yaga have an encounter with marvels from the Arabian Nights. Watch my blog at http://davidleesummers.wordpress.com for news of new stories and the anthologies they’re in!

 

Thank you, that should keep our tentacles occupied for a while! Ah, the kettle is boiling again, more tea?

 

Yes, please. This is a delightful Assam.

 

Sugar?

Did I hear someone say there was laudanum in the sugar? Hmmm… perhaps just one lump.

 

Oh dash it all Max, I told you to lay off with that sugar bowl; and now we have yet another authour out cold on the parlour floor. Oh well, just add him to the pile over there and we will drop them all at the next port, which I believe is The Night Market in Bohemia? I’m sure they can find their way home from there…


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Marc Vun Kannon

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously
raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful
rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.
Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because
joining us for elevenses this morning we are taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog
tour/ internet blitz and we are honoured to have Marc Vun Kannon.
Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let them sit down … hm? … no floor cushions are not ‘all the rage’ Max, and that is not a floor cushion it is a cat, just move aside.)

I do apologise, Marc, would you like some tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max you have definitely exhausted that comedic avenue)
Earl Grey, please. I love the smell of bergamot in the morning. Well, anytime,
actually.
Marvellous, there you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology which are excited to be able to supply the pre-order links for here:

Mine is the story of Sarah Mack, who may turn out to be a fatal femme, but is most
definitely a dangerous damsel. Taken as a baby from her parents shortly after the
Night of Echoes, when magic returned to the world, her parent, mentor, and boss –
known only as Mr. Tom – has trained her in the gentle arts of magic and thievery,
usually in combination. One of the few who possess psychic talents as well as
magical ones, she is sent to Glastonbury Tor in search of a certain, special
something, but what seems a graduation exercise of sorts is really the first step on
a slippery slope of love, revenge, and redemption. I’m just not sure for whom, yet.
Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

This story is set in the world of my novel Ghostkiller. This story will be the first
chapter of the sequel, when I get around to writing it. The Night of Echoes changed
the world in just so many ways.

I see, how marvellous. And what would you say most influences your writing in general?
No one thing, in particular. While I am willing to take inspiration from any source, I
prefer to blaze my own trail when it comes to the actual telling of the story. My only
rule of writing is, I’ve seen it done once, don’t do it again. I have a huge stash
of material from books, films, TV, and even music in the back of my head, but when
the story brings it forward, I take that as a sign to do something a little different.
Splendid idea! Any authors who have particularly inspired you?
A few, negatively. I’ll do them a favor and not mention them by name. On the
positive side I suppose I could mention L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson,
creators of the Oz books. I grew up with those.
Hm. Excellent. (No he does not want to hear your poetry Max, we had quite enough of that yesterday) Battenburg?
Certainly. Never tried that before.
Well, it doesn’t usually have as many hairs in it as this slice but the galley cats are incorrigible gluttons. You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?
Unplanned. It started with some dreams. I don’t normally remember those. When I
mentioned them to my wife she said, that sounds like it make a good book. A few days later I had a sentence in my head. I wrote it down and said now what? With no
writing classes or experience to speak of, I developed my whole technique based on
the books I’d read, and what I did and did not like about them. Basically, the story
came up to me and said ‘you will write me!’ Ever since, it’s been one story after
another.

Excellent! It sounds like fate! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?
Oo, well, ‘plans’ is a hard word. I’m a total pantser, I have no plans for anything, not
even the book I’m in the middle of writing. Inspiration can come from anywhere,
though, all you have to do is pay attention to your life. My stories are always growing, too. ‘Sleeping Dragon’ is an example of that.
So, where can we find your work?
All of my work is available on Amazon. I’ve recently taken to self-publishing, and I’ve also had my stories appear in a number of magazines lately as well. I’ve got a link around here somewhere…
https://www.amazon.com/Vun-Kannon-Marc/e/B0076OUKWQ
Oh thankyou… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?
Not at all, not all. (brush, wipe) What’s a little octopus slime between friends?
Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t
tempt you with another cup?
Sorry, but there’s octopus slime in my bergamot. Maybe another time…
Oh dear, Max I do believe the rumours of your awful poetry and your clumsy antics at the tea table  have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself In Company.
Thank you, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship,The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again,

please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses

Nimue Brown causes havoc with her tentacles


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nimue Brown

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured (and not even slightly alarmed) to have our very dear friend the infamous lunatic and cheese fiend Nimue Brown joining us for elevenses this morning.

Do please put down that lethal looking collection of cutlery, My Dear, and have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let her sit down before she takes off a tentacle with that spoon… hm? … no she can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max that joke is wearing decidedly thin now)

Earl Grey is my tea of preference, very strong and with no milk in it. Thank you!

I have never understood this human penchant for putting dairy products into hot beverages, there you go my dear, one Naked Earl. (Max get up off the floor I don’t know what you are finding so amusing)

Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology which we are now happily able to provide the pre-order links for here…

 

Well, it is a Hopeless Maine tale, in essence the aftermath of a tragic love story between a giant tentacled sky beast and a hot air balloon. We probably don’t have enough stories about the sort of mopping up other people have to do when love gets out of hand.

Ah, alas, those of us with tentacles have perhaps the most tragic tales to tell… was this story semi-autobiographical?

I was colouring on the Hopeless Maine graphic novel series, and a conversation between Sal and Owen popped into my head in which she was complaining bitterly about his wet hair slapping her in the face, and as I pulled back from this scene, I could see what they were dealing with and it was large, and messy and there were tentacles and bits of rope everywhere….

Max don’t be so rude it does NOT sound like my bedroom on a Sunday morning! Let us just ignore his idiotic remarks – what would you say most influences your writing in general?

Coffee. Tom Brown. Not being able to afford therapy. Being allowed to kill people with absolutely no consequences… I should probably stop there.

I see… Nimue I’m so sorry, I have just noticed that these cake knives seem to be tarnished, I will just put them away out of reach… er, I mean, sight… a-hem… Any authours who have particularly inspired you? (Max put your battered old notebook away, you are not an authour.)

A the moment I am particularly in love with the work of Penny Blake, Carol Lovekin, Alan Garner, Meredith Debonnaire, Margaret Attwood, Robin Treefellow Collins, Adam Horovitz, Nils Nis Visser, Mark Lawrence, Ursula Le Guinn, I could go on listing for pages, I read widely and a lot and am fairly omnivorous…

Hm. Excellent. (No she does not want to hear your dreadful poetry, Max, even if it is about cheese, stop interrupting) Battenburg?

Splendid! Would it be a terrible time to mention how much I like poetry? And also very bad poetry. The worse the better, in fact.

Oh gods above and below, woman, what have you done?

[HISTORIC MOMENT AS MAX SPEAKS OUT LOUD FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER TO ANYONE BUT COLLIN, LEAPS ON THE TABLE, KICKS OVER A TEAPOT AND BEGINS TO READ A TERRIBLE POEM ABOUT CHEESE]

En Route To The Fromagian Ball”

(A Political Poem Of The Mor Irate Revolution by Eightcups Max)

As I waited for the Tyburn Tree

To spread its limbs and welcome me

To its embrace eternally

I dreamed I journeyed long, to thee

(To dance The Masque at Caerphilly)

I met Morbier on the way

He wore a masque of silver grey

Very smooth he looked, yet grim

And seven rats did follow him

Fat they were, and no surprise

For, despite his mournful sighs,

And as I feasted with my eyes

Yet they with sharp teeth took their prize.

Next came Roqufort and he had on,

All speckled with viridian,

A gown so tattered, holed and frayed

I wondered not he looked dismayed….

MAX THAT IS ENOUGH!! STOP, DESIST, HALT, MY DELICATE SENSIBILITIES CANNOT TAKE ANOTHER CHEESY SYLLABLE!

Good grief, I had forgotten what a terrible influence you are on him, I am certain the world needs no more dirges on the evils of cheese and more sonnets to folk with slime and tentacles, it quite makes me think of taking up the quill myself. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I started out with some notions about being a serious novelist – I was young, and foolish back in those days. By the age of 23 I had been rejected by every major publishnig house in the UK. Then I discovered both the internet, and smut – they both got moving at the same time in an entirely connected way… and I wrote weird, gothic filth for a while, and weird fantasy ebooks, and then I met Tom online and he persuaded me that a weird, gothic graphic novel series was something I should write. Since then I’ve ambled into steampunk, and non-fiction. In essence, I will do almost anything for money, and absolutely anything that strikes me as amusing at the time!

Yeeeees, I shall never quite recover from that street corner encounter a year or so back… and do you have any plans for new projects in the near future? Writng-wise I mean and not in anyway involving cheese or street corners…

There’s more Hopeless Maine graphic novels on the ways and an illustrated prose book in the setting – New England Gothic. I want to get into light novels and I want to write about darkness in a way that deconstructs that racist light/white/good stuff.  I’m working on content for the Hopeless Maine role play game, I want to write a murder mystery evening event script, and I’m working on poetry that explores the wildness and naturalness of human bodies… 

Well, if you’re looking for something wild and natural to do a project on, I would be happy to offer my services as a subject for study… no? Oh well, no pleasing some folk I suppose. So, where can we get our tentacles on your own work?

Much of it can be bought from anywhere selling books – I work well in search engines, you can find me with relatively little pain!

 

And can we find you online?

www.druidlife.wordpress.com

www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/Nimue_B

https://www.facebook.com/nimue.brown

https://www.instagram.com/nimuebrown/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2iAnLZ1JJzOfltGrnS0P8Q

And again, for the dedicated stalker, there’s always a search engine…
Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Being a filthy urchin, it would be hard to tell fresh slime from anything else that has happened to my clothing at this stage. 

Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup?

Well, I have an… assignation with a …. poet…. it’s a full diary here most of the time and I have to spread myself about rather carefully. Which probably sounds at least as bad as it actually is…

Well the best of luck with your Poet Assassination, goodbye! Oh dear, next time she comes I shall lock the cheese in the pantry… and perhaps Max too…

Thank you, friends for bravely enduring the madness this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses

#Twitterinterview with the authours

Guy Donovan joins us for elevenses


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Guy Donovan

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as you already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

Not only that, but joining us for elevenses this morning we are honoured to have Guy Donovan, contributor and cover artist for the anthology!  Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … well I’m sorry but the Damsel Of Your Dreams will have to move aside as well, we have a real guest this morning who must take precedence over figments of your unhealthy imagination)
I’m so sorry Guy, would you like some tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be so rude)

Hmm…you wouldn’t happen to have any Chamomile, would you? If not, perhaps a
horn of mead, thanks.

We are not OVERLY fond of herbal concoctions but we do have a little chamomile we use for sedating…ah, that is for soothing  some of our more excitable guests – we have had several try to throw themselves from the deck for some reason.

Now then, do tell us more about your contribution to the Dreamtime Damsels anthology, which we have pre-ordered and simply cannot wait to get our tentacles into!

My story is “Better the Thorn,” and its main character is named Lash. Lash is a
female goblin who was born to the ruling class of fae in her dimension, but was
kidnapped by goblins as a child and eventually accepted a goblin life, even taking
on their form through her own inherent ability to wield magic. The story basically involves her quest to seek revenge against the fae, who she blames for never
having tried to rescue her.

Unfortunately for her, the goblins are a barbaric collective of tribes that war with each other as much as they do the fae, who dominate the world of Faerie as benevolent (though equally fierce when necessary) overlords. Being an adept (a term both fae and goblins use for wizards), Lash has the ability to travel interdimensionally. She uses that ability to travel to Earth, where it is currently the mid 1980-s. There, she infiltrates military bases all around the world to steal human weaponry she can take back to Faerie and use against the more powerful fae.

As the story begins, she has just returned with her latest cache of stolen weapons
when a fae patrol attacks her. She has no choice but to run for the safety of her
fortress in a mountain pass, magically constructed by her over the years using
massive thorn vines and bits of Earth military hardware, including the rusted
superstructure of the battleship Arizona sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Lash leads the fae on a merry and murderous chase through a variety of booby-
traps laid throughout the forest. In the process, she and the fae both discover
something that seems too fantastic to believe, but might very well bring their years-
long conflict to a head in a way neither of them ever expected.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

I love writing stories that have a grounding in different periods of actual history.
This one originally started out set in the late 1960’s. It was supposed to be about a
little girl running away from her mother on the day they are supposed to go to her
father’s funeral, who died in Vietnam. In her mind, she imagined herself as a vicious and magical goblin being pursued by her fae persecutors. As she tries to evade her mother chasing after her in a wood behind their house, she pretends to lay waste to her enemies using the tools of her dead father’s trade.
Ultimately, I was having a hard time figuring out a way to finish that story without it devolving into a syrupy mess. With the submission deadline approaching, I decided to ditch the little girl concept and write it as a straight fantasy/adventure tale set in the mid-80s, during which time I served in the U.S. Marine Corps myself. I’m happy with it.

I see, so it sounds as though the anthology was the strainer of the ointment, as they say! And what would you say most influences your writing in general?

I’m a military brat, so the many places I’ve lived have a big impact on my work. The
music I’m listening to (almost entirely instrumental) also has a tendency to color my current scene. Otherwise, I take a lot of inspiration from what I see around me while I’m writing. A field full of tiny white butterflies flitting about in pairs, a flock of grouse trying to reach the lowest leaves of a tree in the wintertime (and failing
comically)…these are the sort of incidental things that lend themselves to being
included in what I’m writing as I write it. I also love taking outrageous bits of
dialogue I catch in real life and work it into a story.

Ah yes, we are military coves ourselves (albeit in the republican tea army) and travel extensively as a result, it really is wonderful to have such varied experiences to work into your fiction! And are there any authours who have particularly inspired you?

Lots! Notably, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Victor Hugo, the list
goes on. On the indie side, authors like W.C. Quick and my co-conspirators in
Dream Time Damsels and Fatal Femmes continue to inspire me, not only to keep
going against the odds, but also to keep trying new things and acquiring new skills.

Ah! An excellent selection! (No he doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, that doesn’t inspire anyone to do anything except throw themselves from the deck, will you stop interrupting)
Battenburg?

Didn’t he die on a boat? Oh, no…that was Mountbatten. You mean the cake, right?
No thanks, I’m trying to cut back.

That is, as the poet says, “An unfortunate political decision reflecting these times” as we fight for the freedom of every man, woman and child to have their cake and eat it, every man woman and child seems to be on some sort of health fad.

Ah well, back to the subject of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author.

Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I’ve always been creative, both art and writing, so as a kid in the late 70s, I started
writing (really bad) Star Wars fan fiction. Of course that was pre-Internet, so luckily none of it saw the light of day.

Many years later, I worked in Hollywood as an animator and designer for most of the big studios (Yes, including Disney, but mostly Warner Brothers). Then, right around 9/11, the bottom had fallen out of the animation industry, with most work being sent overseas in order to maximize studio profits. That left a lot of talented artists out of work. Rather than try to make a living as a freelance greeting card designer or decorating cakes for a local baker, I went into a more (mind-numbingly uncreative) direction in order to get a little job and financial security for me and my family.

After a few years of that, having no creative outlet was driving me absolutely
bonkers. Enter my wife, who had been a film editor in Hollywood but had become a
struggling screenwriter after we both left the business. She had recently written a
spec script for a direct-to-video Barbie movie she called “Barbie and the Dragon’s
Treasure.” It hadn’t sold, and she was in the dumps too, looking to maybe get into
indie publishing. I suggested to her that she take her Dragon’s Treasure concept,
mature it up a good bit, and turn that into a novel. It took her all of ten seconds to
say, “Naah. Why don’t you do it though?”
I thought about it for a few days and eventually decided to give it a try. Ten years
later, I’ve just finished the fourth and final of my own series I call “The Dragon’s
Treasure.”
Sales are…elusive, but I feel much better!

Goodness, it sounds like quite a roller coaster ride! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

Oh yes. Having basically immersed myself in 5 th century Wales and Scotland for the last ten years, I’m thinking of doing something drastically different. I’ve got an idea for a Southwest border (USA) werewolf story, and a semi-hard sci-fi story about a 21 st century space truck driver hauling an illegal cargo of…something…to Jupiter. I’ve also got a head full of short story ideas all screaming to get out.

Oh marvellous, we LOVE werewolves, having had one as a butler for a couple of terrifying years!  But perhaps you’d better keep your voice down about the illegal cargo… being as we are on board a pirate ship!

Tell me, where can we find your fiction?

My Amazon author page is at: https://www.amazon.com/Guy-
Donovan/e/B00EO3VRD8?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1565292793&sr=1-1

 

And I’m also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Dragons-Treasure-
Series-172879129537712/

Oh marvellous, we will certainly check those out… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap. I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Not at all. And I must say that it must be fun being basically a living Slip ‘n’ Slide.

What’s that? You say it’s time you were going? I was going to offer you another cup, but if you insist on leaving, I won’t stop you.

Well, actually I wouldn’t mind another…

Oh really? Max be a dear and pass the chamomile would you (shhh, perhaps add a hefty dose of Valerian to it this time as well!) 

Thank you, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Paul Michael

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

 

 

 

Not only that, but we are over the moon to have our good friend Paul Michael joining us for elevenses this morning!

Do please have a seat, Paul,  (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he has not brought Miss Henderson with him, and even if he had, Miss Henderson is not a chair, just move aside.)

I’m so sorry about that, would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

If you have Lady Grey that would be marvellous. I find Earl Grey a bit overstimulating at this time and indeed at this altitude.

Of course, I completely understand, it has taken me, as an octopus, quite a while to get used to the heights myself! There you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology– the aether is alive with the gossip!

It’s a strange and terrible story about an innocent young lady who becomes a maid at the strange house of the mysterious Count Vlasko, recently arrived from afar and with an unusual condition that makes him afeared of daylight.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. (Hm? Yes your quite right, he does sound a little like our old landlord) What inspired you to write it, Paul?

I wanted to create a short story where the character – a Miss Felicity Henderson – would be in the spotlight. The young maid in question is a recurring character in my Jennings and Jennings story cycle, which is my Magnum Opus.

Indeed! As one magnificent octopus to another, we are very well acquainted with your marvellous mystery series, and with the good lady Miss Henderson (Max will you stop making ridiculously opprobrious remarks) Let us just ignore him, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 I would say I am driven by the obsessive need to write ridiculous and comical stories in a Gothic style. I have seen several alienists on this topic and they are unable to help, although I did get some punctuation tips from one.

Oh, marvellous! Any authours who have particularly inspired you?

The gravitas of Saki, the feather light touch of Lovecraft, the humour of Poe… all of these have affected me deeply.

Ah yes, you certainly have some of my favourites in that list too… (Hm? Max the only comparison that can be made between your poetry and the writings of such masters of gothic horror is that they all fill One with dread! Now do please stop interrupting). Battenburg?

I haven’t been myself but I hear the statuary is quite something.

Probably very wise, last time I checked it was full of cat hair. But back to the lark of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

It was many years ago, as the rain lashed the windows and I stared morosely into the middle distance that I first entertained the idea of writing fiction. Suddenly my mind was filled with feverish visions of a man and a woman determined to fight ancient evil and terrible creatures from beyond. I fell onto the task of writing at once, my hand scratching out words as fast as the thoughts were conjured. As daylight broke, I slumped exhausted onto my writing desk, a thousand page epic created and ready to publish. Alas! In my exhausted state I knocked over the inkwell, turning all the pages black and completely unreadable.

After that I bought a computer and started again at a rather more sedate pace.

My goodness! Well, if it makes you feel any better I too have had many catastrophes caused by uncontrollable outbursts of ink; I’m sure I shall never live down Lady Harrington’s charity ball! And where can we find your published work?

I have absolutely no idea. No wait (rummages in pockets)… it is available from this place in South America… 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennings-Paranormal-Investigators-Casebook-One-ebook/dp/B071V9PP6F/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1566288338&sr=8-3

 

And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

I am currently writing and serially publishing a novel length story called the Paris Awakening. That is to say, it is a story that is approximately the length of a novel, rather than an usual length. It is part of the aforementioned story cycle, of which the first four novellettes are already collected and published. My collected writings are available at this academic journal of which I am the lead and indeed only writer.

https://thebenthictimes.com/

Oh yes, marvellous, we are avid readers of that marvellous publication and… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

In my line of work it is an occupational hazard. I maintain a supply of these eight sided “octochiefs” for exactly these kind of situations.

What a marvellous invention, perhaps we should keep a little store of them here on board for these situations! Now, can I tempt you with another cup of Lady Grey?

Delicious though it was I fear another cup will lead to a dangerous imbalance in my delicate constitution, leading to an outbreak of bilious convunction or possibly a bout of floxy.

But I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to your vessel. It has been a great pleasure with only occasional moments of terror.

Oh dear, Max I do believe your threats of imminent and horrific poetry have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology kindle cover reveal and pre-order links!

dreamtime damsels anthology.jpg

Ahoy there sky-ship mates! You must forgive the general hubub, chaos and rampant swooning here on board our beautiful skyship this morning ; we have at last managed to beg, borrow, steal, sway and wrangle our wicked way into procuring a picture of the kindle cover for the new Dreamtime Fantasy Tales anthology which we have all been hearing so much about!

Not only that, but, having promised you last week that we would be docking soon in the treacherous waters of the Amazon and would return with directions to the fabled location of this much sought after tome, we can now proudly furnish you with this as well…

 

Neil Gaiman once said: “I like stories where women save themselves.”

Asked to work with this as guideline, sixteen authors from Canada, the UK, the USA, Ireland, and The Netherlands contributed sixteen stories about strong women, dangerous women, witty women, resourceful women, and most of all realistic women. The stories range from general fantasy to high fantasy to sci-fi to steampunk to horror.

No swooning, no male saviors, and only one token chain mail bikini (and that one is a riot!). Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud of our final result and sincerely hope you’ll enjoy each and every page.

All proceeds of this anthology have been pledged to an animal rescue shelter which we chose knowing that each and every penny raised will benefit the animals, and not a highly-paid CEO.

Contributors:
Content Editors: Hilary Anderson, Jaq D. Hawkins, Morgan Smith, Guy Donovan, Nils Visser
Cover Art: Guy Donovan
Marketing & PR: Leslie Conzatti, Mary R. Woldering, Penny Blake
Authors: A.M. Young, Guy Donovan, Nimue Brown, Penny Blake, Jaq D. Hawkins, Paul Michael, Leslie Conzatti, Mary R. Woldering, Thomas Woldering, Benjamin Towe, Nils Visser, Greg Alldredge, Johan Klein Haneveld, Marc vun Kannon, Morgan Smith, and Nav Logan.

 

So, there you have it! But the fun is by no means over! We will still be terrorising more of the contributors on board our flying pirate ship for the next two weeks and Mrs Baker will be soothing their souls with the ‘song of the hearth’ (which is soup, by the way, if you are not a fan of Louis Pullig De Gouy)

Thankyou, friends, for joining us this morning on board our beautiful  rainbow sailed sky ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

 


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Benjamin Towe

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed sky ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured to have another of its contributors, Benjamin Towe,  joining us for elevenses this morning!

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

Do please have a seat, Benjamin (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no the floor does not do wonders for peoples posture, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I brought my own. It’s Enhancing Root tea. The Teacher of the Drelves harvested the tubers in Green Vale during the Dark Period on Parallan, the World of the Three Suns. The circle of Thirttene Friends oversees affairs in the vale, one of the rare green places on Parallan. It’s quite good. Drelves use the tubers in many recipes. The most promising of each generation accompanies the Teacher on the annual quest to harvest the root tubers.

 

My goodness, how exotic! Do let us all try some! Now then , won’t you please tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is buzzing with the hype but we still haven’t managed to cajole any of our associates into slipping us an illicit copy – sigh – what is the point of rubbing tentacles with the likes of smugglers and pirates if we cannot persuade them to part with their contraband fiction?  

 

Lyana Rikmon, warrior of Donothor. Lyana is a character from my first trilogy, the Donothor series. She is sheriff of the hamlet Knottington and a loyal subject of the Kingdom of Donothor. I’ve written 12 novels, but I’m new to the short story. Damsels has been a learning experience for me. Lyana’s story was written in collaboration with Nils Visser. I’m very excited about it! 

 

Oh did you hear that Max? I love the sound of those place names and we’re all big fans of Nils Visser’s books too. What inspired you to write it?

 

In 1982, I was Dungeon Master and created campaigns for a group of friends, who challenged me to put the campaign to prose. The result was my first novel Deathquest to Parallan. It was written as part one of a trilogy in 1982. I published it in 2005, after my children scanned the old manuscript to a data disc and presented me my first laptop. I rewrote the story. In the first version I killed almost everyone off. I beat George RR Martin to the punch. The rewrite was kinder and gentler. I then completed the second novel, the Orb of Chalar, and then the conclusion of the trilogy, Death of Magick. Lyana Rikmon is introduced in Death of Magick. The Chalice of Mystery followed, then a prequel Dawn of Magick. Since then I’ve written “prequels.” My Elfdreams series includes Lost Spellweaver, First Wandmaker, Wandmaker’s Burden, Emerald Islands, and Mender’s Tomb. Thirttene Friends is a prequel to both the Donothor and Elfdreams series. My most recent, Unwonted Spellweavers bridges the series. I’m currently working on a sequel to Orb of Chalar. 

 

Marvellous! We are all avid players of D&D (although Penny did manage to fracture her hand a few weeks ago at the gaming table which has been the cause of much amusement) and we will certainly hunt out your series to add to our library! Now,  what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 

My years as Dungeons and Dragons player and Dungeon Master. I enjoy creating worlds and filling them up with characters. I love all things Magick. 

 

Ah, alas Magick is banned here in our world but we are fighting the revolution to try and win back our right to wield balls of fire in public. Any authours who have particularly inspired you? (Max put your poetry book away, no one wants to hear that drivel) 

 

Certainly JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Piers Anthony,  Damsels has given me the privilege of collaborating with one of my favourite authors, Nils Visser. I’ve become nigh a permanent resident of the Wyrde Woods. I’ve enjoyed Guy Donovan’s masterful Dragon Treasure series and WC Quick’s quirky elves. 

 

Oh you’ve definately listed some of our favourites there as well (No he really doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, stop interrupting)  Battenburg?

 

I prefer “octameter”  to iambic pentameter. 

 

As do I! How nice to find someone who shares an appreciation for all things octical! But moving on from poetry (for sanity’s sake), you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

 

As I mentioned, I wrote my first novel in 1982 and published it in 2005. Writing has been a great escape for me. I encourage young people to read and write… and persist. 

 

Oh well you must meet some of Mrs Baker’s Lancastrian orphans then! Peril does his best to teach them to read and write and they are certainly persistent in many of their other occupations (although I recommend you hold onto your pocket watch if you do venture down there.)  And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

 

I’m currently working on a story that will again bridge my brace of fantasy series. It expands on events in Orb of Chalar and will ultimately be a sequel to Death of Magick. It features a powerful red-haired elf named Ravenna, the daughter of a sorceress and assassin. Her father Tigarn Nocerre commissioned the Arch-Lich Achymm to create the cursed sword, the Death of Magick.

 

Marvellous! So, where and when can we get our tentacles on a copy?

I hope to have it finished by end of year. 

 

And what about your other work, where can we find more of that?

 

My 12 fantasy novels are available at Amazon, Authorhouse, Barnes and Noble, and some at Kobo and Apple Books. I have signed copies available. My Facebook page is Benjamin Towe books. Benjamintowe.com has excedpts from my stories. I’m on Twitter @bftowe

 

Marvellous I…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

 

In Wandmaker’s Burden, the residents of Vydaelia battle a triskaidekapod. 13 tentacles and legs and a nasty disposition. Being hugged by eight arms isn’t so bad. 

 

Well how very kind of you to say so, most people get a little skittish at octopoidal contact, it’s a terrible prejudice and makes for a very lonely life….  Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure, why it feels as though you just got here!

 

My Dreamraiders have the power of Translocation, which enables them to traverse space and time. A bit of Whovian influence I suppose. Escape to an Elfdream… 

 

Oh dear, Max I do believe your threats to commit poetical atrocities and your lack of appreciation for a man’s personal space have scared off yet another of our guests. We are doomed never to get our tentacles on a copy of this Dreamtime Damsels Anthology and it is all your fault. Besides which you have eaten all the french fancies again.

 

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful  rainbow sailed sky ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with A.M. Young

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

image copyright Nadiaforkosh

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Yes that’s right we have escaped our dank cellar and our evil landlord (if you want to know how you will have to read our #RainbowSnippets posts on Saturdays and all will be revealed). So we are now heading the revolution in Ire from the skies – which turns out to be much safer and more fun than heading it from the ground! But never fear, we still have time to stop for elevenses! 
Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and are honoured to have A. M. Young joining us for elevenses today!
Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let her sit down … hm? … no she can’t sit on the cats, cats are not cushions, Max, just move aside.)

Sorry about that, would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I’m really more of a coffee person myself, but anything dark and strong will do.

Coffee? I’m afraid we have had enough fiasco here with that wretched stuff to last a lifetime, I simply will not have it on board anymore! But if it’s something dark and strong you’re after, well, us octopuses are well known for our muscular physiques, as you can see, and my complexion is certainly  on the shadier side of… oh, I see Max has poured you a strong, black cup of tea already… well…  do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is alive with the gossip and although we have tried to coax more information out of several of our captives… er… VISITORS…. we still haven’t managed to get our tentacles on a black market copy…

So, my story is called “What They Do Not Tell You” and it’s a retelling of the Pygmalion myth from the statue’s perspective. Arguably, it’s a bit unconventional as it’s written in a kind of monologue from the main character, recounting her creation and the aftermath of becoming a living woman.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting – we simply adore a bit of mythpunk here on The Harlequin! What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always loved Roman and Greek mythology, and the Pygmalion myth has long been one of my favorites. What author hasn’t wished they could meet one of their characters, right?

Well, of course, or else I suppose I wouldn’t be here talking to you today!

One day a while back I was talking about the myth and I was trying to remember the name of the statue/woman. Resorting to the help of the internet when I failed to recall it, I found that she was known as Galatea. However, that name was actually provided by a scholar centuries after Rome fell; it had no factual basis in the myth at all. And that got me to thinking about how she was represented in the story, how she was so integral and key to Pygmalion’s myth but she never even had a name. The story just spiraled out from there.

Oh my goodness! I feel tears in my eyes! How moving, I can’t wait to read it! And what would you say most influences your writing in general?

I’m still pretty early into my writing career, but one theme that has emerged thus far is that I love examining people making ‘bad’ choices. What I mean by that is the question of “why would someone do that? how could they not see how stupid/pointless/unkind/short-sighted what they’re doing is?” is often key to my stories. I like to examine the emotions and circumstances that drive us to make decisions we often come to regret but also would make again in a heartbeat.

It sounds very interesting, are there any authours who have particularly inspired you?

I think my biggest influences are Stephen King, Tamora Pierce, and Neil Gaiman.

Oh we’re huge Neil Gaiman fans here as well, that is marvellous. Battenburg? Max stop feeding Battenburg to the cats you are getting it all hairy!

No, thank you. Not much of a sweets person.

Suit yourself, ‘all the more for me’ as Professor Elemental would say 😉 You know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road
into fiction writing like?

A bit like a twisting path through a forest. You start down one branch, sure that you know where you’re going (which was writing poetry, in my case), you get lost for a while, decide to just give up and live by the quaint little pond you’ve found, and then one day while climbing a tree you realize you can see a path again just past that copse of spruce trees. When I went back to school to finish my undergrad degree, I decided to commit to fiction writing even though I had very little practice or experience in it because all of my ideas had just gotten far too large and detailed for poetry. I’ve been a storyteller ever since.

It sounds like quite an adventurous life indeed! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

I have a novella draft that’s waiting for the revision process to begin. I also have an idea for a novel in my back pocket, but I’m not quite ready to start that one yet. And I have plenty of little ideas that may or may not unfurl into full-on short stories one day. We’ll just have to see what happens.

So, where can we get our tentacles on a copy of this delightful collection?

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

I believe Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble will be the most familiar to the general
reader. There may be other, better sources that I am unaware of currently.

Ah yes, many is the time we have trekked into the Amazon on a search for treasure filled tomes. Never fear, friends, as soon as this book is published we will don our pith helmets post haste and return swiftly with a map (or perhaps even a link) to its whereabouts! 😉 And in the meantime, what about your own work, where can we find more of that?

I actually don’t post my own writings much. However, I did have a flash fiction story
published last year by Underground Art and Literary Journal of Georgia State University.
You can read that online at their website: undergroundjournal.org

Mavellous, we’ll be sure to have a look at…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

That’s quite all right! I’m sure it will wash out just fine.

Are you sure you’re alright? I’m sure Max can lend you a dress if you want to soak out the stain? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup?

Thank you, but I really must get back to ground. I think I see storm clouds rolling in, and I get terrible motion sickness when there’s turbulence. Thank you so much for the
interview!

Oh dear, Max I do believe your awful tea-making skills and ill-concealed cat obsession has scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed sky ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we meet again,

Please remain always,

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Nav Logan

rainbow keeper, put the fairy rainbow on the sky, magic ship in the dreamland, scene from wonderland,

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird. Yes that’s right we have escaped our dank cellar and our evil landlord (if you want to know how you will have to read our #RainbowSnippets posts on Saturdays and all will be revealed). So we are now heading the revolution in Ire from the skies – which turns out to be much safer and more fun than heading it from the ground! But never fear, we still have time to stop for elevenses! 

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because this morning we are taking part in the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour and we are honoured to have one of the contributors, Nav Logan, as our guest for elevenses!

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Dreamtime Fantasy Tales authors are proud to DREAMTIME present their anthology & FATAL FEMMES With stories by: Greg Alldredge Penny Blake Nimue Brown Leslie Conzatti Guy Donovan Johan Klein Haneveld Jaq D Hawkins Marc vun Kannon Nav Logan Paul Michael Morgan Smith Benjamin Towe Expected Nils Visser Mary R. Woldering SEPTEMBER 2019 Thomas Woldering A.M. Young'

Do please have a seat, Nav, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

I don’t drink tea.

What? I… I’m sorry I please forgive me I just slipped off my chair… I’m so sorry, I must have had sea water in my ears, I thought you said you don’t drink tea? No, I’m sure I must have misheard you, here have a nice soothing cup of Earl Grey with a dash of Absinthe.There you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology we keep hearing about – the aether is alive with the gossip!

Gossip is the Devil’s telephone they say, but having spent my fair share of time kneeling in front of the loo, groaning “Oh God!” I guess it’s only fair to confirm that the compilation is near completion and almost ready for print, and yes, I did my small part in the whole thing by supporting the rights of women to wear chainmail bikinis, should they so wish, or not, as the case may be. We live in a diverse universe, and I say live and let live, or to paraphrase Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Oh we octopuses always think everyone should get along and … (Hm? Oh don’t be ridiculous Max I do NOT own a chainmail bikini and I’m CERTAIN my tentacles would get pinched in the links.) Although I have to say, Nav, it does does sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

Nils Visser gave me a challenge to write this particular story. I had contributed another one too, but only this one made it through the rigorous editing process… And then only after I bribed and coerced some of the judges… but we won’t go into that.

Ah yes, bribery, coercion, cake laced with epic doses of the Green Fairy… we are certainly on the same page. We believe that is the only reason Penny’s story was included too. More cake? I see you haven’t touched your tea… (Max be quiet, everyone loves tea)

Now then, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

Heavy doses of M&Ms and a heady cocktail of Chinese food and Red Bulls, although I’m currently in rehab and detoxing … I’m sixteen days clean now!

Ah yes, Max went cold turkey once from caffeine and sugar. It wasn’t pretty. You have our deepest sympathies. Cherry Bakewell? No? Oh yes, sorry, you’re detoxing… um… and are there any authors who have particularly inspired you? (No he doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, stop interrupting)

Thomas Jefferson. Man, that dude could write. That whole Independence thing… wow… mind blowing!

Oh yes we are all about independence – we are heading the revolution from the skies in fact (it being far safer than leading a revolution from the ground, we have discovered) but back to writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

Some would say poetry was my road to fiction… Others would refer to my previous illicit horticultural endeavours and the particular strain of plant I developed… That was some pretty mind-expanding stuff, right there. I put some in the tea to give it a kick. Hope you don’t mind.

I see, oh dear, is that why the room has turned purple and your head has exploded in a burst of golden stars? You must leave some behind with us when you go. And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

World domination, but I’ll start with becoming the King of Ramsbottom.

World domination… er…. you’re not a wizard are you? So, where can we get our tentacles on a copy of this delightful Dreamtime Damsels collection? I mean, I know it’s not OFFICIALLY on sale yet but we thought, you know, as we’ve been so kind and plied you with cake and suspicious hot beverages….

The Black Market… The Deep web… I’m not authorised to reveal that. It’s beyond your security clearance to even think about it, let alone utter such a request out loud.

Damn. Our hearts are broken! Oh well, it was worth a try I suppose. And what about your own work, where can we find more of that?

There are ears everywhere… Mum’s a word… <wink>

Oh! Oh I see… um…. Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped… or perhaps that was the effect of this blasted tea… I am so very sorry I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

I’m good thanks.

Are you sure you’re alright? Hm, what’s that? Time you were going? Are you sure I can’t tempt you with another cup of tea? Yo haven’t even touched your first!

I can’t feel my toes! Is that normal?

Would you like some help crawling to the door?

Oh dear, Max I do believe your awful poetry and ill-concealed amorous advances have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’ What do you mean it was my fault for pushing tea on him? Everybody loves tea!

Thankyou, long-suffering friends, for joining us this morning on board our beautiful new rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan


Welcome To The Frost Fair!

snowflakes-1171054

Hello and welcome to our annual Lancastrian Frost Fair on the frozen River Lune! Throughout January and February a fabulous array of Steampunk, Sci Fi and LGBTQ+ authors will be taking to the ice with stalls and sideshows to display their fabulous books for your perusal and enjoyment!

Frost Fairs were once a traditional (if rare) feature of Londonian winter time and you can read more about their history here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Thames_frost_fairs

But before we begin the festivities, I’d like to let you know about a few changes that will be taking place here on Blake and Wight during 2019.

I’ve been struggling the past year to find a balance between work, family life and supporting the creators whose work I really love and 2019 is going to be a very demanding year.

Also, behind the scenes of Steampunk’d Lancaster, big changes are taking place for our characters  – Max and Collin  are moving onwards and upwards to bigger and better things (they hope!) and you can follow their latest adventures in our new #rainbowsnippets posts on Saturdays. 

This storyline will also have a big impact on the futures of Mrs Baker, our lovely kitchen witch, Peril, our grumpy ghost, and the loathsome landlord Montmorency so I really want this blog space to reflect those changes too.

Lastly, while I’ve really enjoyed writing and reviewing as an octopus for the past few years, Collin’s scope for accurately reviewing and expressing my own personal views of the books I’m sent to read is sometimes limited.

So, taking all these things into account, the plan for 2019 is as follows –

I will take over the review posts from Collin and there will be approximately one review post per month to make things more manageable. I’m hoping this will enable me to write more useful, detailed and personal reviews and also post them on a wider range of sites.

Interviews will also change to approximately one per month but creators will be able to choose to be interviewed either by Mrs Baker, or (if they’re feeling brave) by Max and Collin.

The seasonal author promos seemed to work out really well for everyone last year and so I will continue to run those again this year, starting with the Frost Fair, then Aether Eggs, Summer Postcards and ending with Lovely Library in the autumn.

So that’s the way 2019 will look here on Blake and Wight. Of course I’ve a whole stack of high hopes and pipe dreams that may flesh things out but we’ll see what time and resources allow for.

I wish you all an amazing 2019 where all your hard work pays off and life and work find a rewarding balance 🙂

 

 


#RainbowSnippets: Jack and Marjory

rainbow-flower-1394714-640x480

Happy Saturday! And happy new year! Here’s hoping 2019 brings us all everything we need and enough of what we want to keep us all smiling 🙂

Still posting  from the novella I’m working on. It’s called Jack and Marjory and it gives space for two of my  bigender characters to tell something of their own side-adventure (which played a massive part in the history of Ire in a behind the scenes sort of way.) If you want some world background, check out the Introduction page above 🙂

To see all the other fabulous rainbow snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction for this week check out the rainbow snippets facebook page 

The previous snippets from Jack and Marjory were posted here:

Snippet 1

Snippet 2 

Snippet 3

Snippet 4

Snippet 5,

Snippet 6

Snippet 7

And here’s snippet 8 (slightly over 6 sentences so that the next snippet can cleanly move into a new setting) – Jack and Marjory are debating whether to help the leader of the revolution smuggle a dodgy teaset into Lancaster  in exchange for a small fortune in illegal gunpowder tea…

 

“Marvelous. Then meet me back here Sunday evening and I’ll give you the other half of the tea.” He stood up, scooping the octopus onto his shoulder as he turned to go.

“What if we say no?”

He stopped but didn’t turn to face us again, “then I find someone else ; You’re my first choice, Jack, not my only option.”

We tried again, “It’s not that. We’ll do it. But that’s no common amount of tea… we’d like to know what’s at stake, if you understand?”

He turned this time, and took off his bowler hat, made a mess of his hair and jammed it back on again. “Two lives, one city and an unimaginable amount of lemonade,” he said at last, “will you do it?”

We nodded. Of course we would.

 

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

 

being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.

 

rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com

book cover image by Renphoto 

 

Wishing you all a marvelous start to the new year! Next week we’ll be hosting our annual frost fair here on the blog with guest posts from some fantastic steampunk, sci fi and LGBTQ+ authors as we all open our stalls and take our wares onto the frozen river Lune! The frost fair will run through to the end of February and if you have books you’d like to promote and would like a guest slot, do get in touch via email or facebook and let me know and I will send you a template and information.

Blessings on your brew 😉 x


#RainbowSnippets: Jack and Marjory

rainbow-flower-1394714-640x480

 

Happy Saturday! And Happy solstice / christmas / yule / wizmas / or whatever you happen to prefer celebrating at this time of year 🙂

Still posting  from the novella I’m working on. It’s called Jack and Marjory and it gives space for two of my  bigender characters to tell something of their own side-adventure (which played a massive part in the history of Ire in a behind the scenes sort of way.) If you want some world background, check out the Introduction page above 🙂

To see all the other fabulous rainbow snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction for this week check out the rainbow snippets facebook page 

The previous snippets from Jack and Marjory were posted here:

Snippet 1

Snippet 2 

Snippet 3

Snippet 4

Snippet 5,

Snippet 6

And here’s snippet 7 – Jack and Marjory are about to find out what Max wants them to do in exchange for a small fortune in illegal gunpowder tea…

 

A tentacle began to coil and flex against the back of our hand and we lurched back to reality with a jolt, “What needs doing?”

Max leaned forward conspiratorially and checked all round the room in an unnecessarily dramatic fashion. There was still nobody there but Kitty. “In a certain room, in a certain inn, near Cottingham,” he whispered, “is a certain chest. In that chest is a certain teaset – it would be far better for you if you didn’t ask which.”

We nodded and he smiled and continued, “the Inn is The Haworth Arms and the room has been booked for Friday and Saturday night under a name which, for the purposes of this little venture, will become your name,”

We nodded again, feeling he was making a simple thing ridiculously complex with his prattling. “Arrive late on the Saturday and someone will bump into you at the door and give you the key to the room, go straight up and straight to bed, then leave early in the morning, taking the chest with you. If no one sees or speaks to you, so much the better, understand?”

“Perfectly.”

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.

 

rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com

book cover image by Renphoto 

 

Hope you all have a fantastic festive period and please come back and join us all here in the new year for our Annual Lancastrian Frost Fair and of course more rainbow snippets! 🙂 Blessings on your mince pies 🙂

 


#Rainbowsnippets: Jack and Marjory

Happy Saturday! Hope the storms haven’t blown you all away! We’re wrestling with the Beast From The East in a far less dramatic and exciting way than Tolkien envisaged (ie: hiding under the duvet watching endless episodes of Once Upon A Time!)

Still posting  from the novella I’m working on. It’s called Jack and Marjory and it gives space for two of my  bigender characters to tell something of their own side-adventure (which played a massive part in the history of Ire in a behind the scenes sort of way.) If you want some world background, check out the Introduction page above 🙂

To see all the other fabulous rainbow snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction for this week check out the rainbow snippets facebook page 

The previous snippets from Jack and Marjory were posted here:

Snippet 1

Snippet 2 

Snippet 3

Snippet 4

Snippet 5,

And here’s snippet 6 – Jack and Marjory are down on their luck when Eightups Max, the octopus-wielding leader of the revolution, tells them he needs someone to do a big favour for him…

 

he paused and looked at us earnestly, “…someone who can be discreet…I spoke to Kitty and she suggested you…two…” he grinned and petted his octopus.

“How much?”

He laughed and leaned back in his chair, “You don’t want to know what it is first?”

We shook our head. Max boarded in the old fish factory – that was Montmorency’s gaff and you’d only doss at his place if you was skint and had no other choice. So, whatever this ‘big favour’ is, we doubt our gentleman friend can meet the bill for it.

“Alright then, it’s this,” he pushed a leather satchel across the table.

We took it casually and opened the flap, just enough with two fingers to cop a deek inside,“Blimey!” We swallowed hard and opened the satchel a little wider, it was imprudent, sure, but you have to understand, there must’ve been 8lb of gunpowder tea in there in neat black resin bars.

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

 

being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.

 

rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com

book cover image by Renphoto