Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hoover Library SF & Fantasy Festival

August 1, 2015

I'll be appearing at the Hoover Library's SF & Fantasy Festival, being interviewed by fellow Harper Voyager author Ingrid Seymour (Ignite the Shadows). Award-winning authors Van Allen Plexico (The Sentinels series) and Bobby Nash (Ghost Gal) will also be making an appearance on a panel discussing their books. There will be games, panels, a costume contest, and all things SF and Fantasy!

Afterwards, there'll be book signings!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fantastic Fantasy Finds: Lycanthia and Heart-Beast by Tanith Lee


In Lycanthia (1981), a young man named Christian arrives in turn-of-the-century Europe to claim his inheritance; a chateau. He's warned by his servants about the de Lagenays, a strange family who live nearby. An atmosphere of foreboding is established. And there are wolves in the woods...
Then Christian meets the mysterious woman and young man--Gabrielle and Luc--who are the de Lagenays and, possibly, werewolves. Lonely Christian befriends them despite the village's hostility towards them. But when Christian betrays his two friends, it doesn't end well. The sense of dread and desperate loneliness matches the winter setting, creating a very dark fairy tale indeed.

The protagonist in Heart-Beast (1992)--also set at the turn-of-the-century and beginning in the exotic Middle East--is Daniel Vehmund, a young man who soon succumbs to a horrifying curse after coming into contact with a diamond with a bad reputation. Daniel leaves a trail of bodies as he travels. When he reaches Europe, he meets Laura, an enigmatic young woman married to a sweet young man she doesn't love. A love triangle results as Laura becomes fascinated by the dangerous and beautiful Daniel. This is a love story with teeth and claws, and it, too, steers the reader towards an inevitable conclusion. It also definitely leaned more toward horror in the dark fantasy category.

Both novels are about werewolves, with strange and elegant characters whose humanity remains despite bizarre circumstances. Both novels have a Gothic beauty that haunts long after they've ended.

Find the rest of my favorite books on GoodReads:  Katherine Harbour (Author of Thorn Jack)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fairy Creatures: The Kelpie

The kelpie haunts the rivers of Scotland, the lonely places. Although it might take the form of a beautiful horse, it can also shapeshift into an attractive young man and lure the unwary to a watery grave. Unfortunately, the kelpie also has the dietary habits of a crocodile. Sometimes, it appears as a tall woman dressed in green. One telling sign of a kelpie in human form is water weeds in the hair.

The Each Uisge, another water horse, inhabits lochs, and tempts potential victims by appearing as a friendly horse, then running into the water and drowning whoever decides to get on its back. November is the month when the Each Uisge is seen and it sometimes takes the form of a water serpent. (Think Lochness Monster.)

The inspiration for my monstrous kelpie in Thorn Jack came from Brian Froud's book Faeries, where it's depicted as a water demon. The kelpie in Nettle King is more the menacing shapeshifter, pretending to be a young man, emerging from a swimming pool.

Any of these water horses can be exorcised with a halter and bridle stamped with the cross, or a piece of iron. (Although these aren't objects one normally keeps on hand.) Just keep away from lonely water places!

More about the kelpie:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Awesomeness of Tilda Swinton

So I'm editing, and stressed, and I watch a lot of movies to unwind at night, and to relieve my eyes, and it occurred to me I've been watching a lot of movies starring Tilda Swinton. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where she plays the White Witch as motherly and cruel. A crazy and frightening angel in Constantine. The gender-switching hero in Orlando. A geriatric cougar in Hotel Budapest. The coolly heartbroken mom of a psychopath in We Need to Talk About Kevin. A trollish and hilarious dictator in Snowpiercer. A bohemian vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive. She imbues every role, even the villains, with an elegant, wounded dignity, an eccentricity grounded in humor or vulnerability. One can almost imagine Tilda as one of Shakespeare's original players (if any had been female) having perfected her craft in the modern world. She never seems to be Tilda in her roles, and, although she seems born to play rocks stars and mythological figures, she will always make them human enough to be fascinating, and that's the awesomeness of Tilda Swinton.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fantastic Fantasy Finds (In Which I Pick a Fantasy Book You Might not Know About but Should)

The Time of the Dark (1982)
The Walls of Air
The Armies of Daylight
by Barbara Hambly

   In California, one night, Gil, a young graduate student in Medieval history and a young biker named Rudy encounter a wizard who tells them that the infant he has with him is the heir to a kingdom in another world. They think he's crazy.
   Then the Dark, the horrifying creatures the wizard, Ingold, is fleeing, find him. As he escapes between the worlds, Gil and Rudy are swept into a brutal, Medieval realm of warring nations, kings and queens, and the Dark, swarms of sentient, slithering creatures that drain their victims of blood and only stir at night.
   Darwath isn't a generic otherworld; it's a fully realized planet, vividly detailed. The various nations are uneasy with each other, and when the Dark becomes a serious threat and the kingdom must retreat into a massive, windowless block of stone called the Keep of Dare, tensions between the religious leaders and the wizards come to a head.
   Trapped in this other realm, Gil has discovered she has a capacity for bloodshed and joins the Guard and begins wielding a sword. Rudy finds that he has a wizard's powers and has to learn how to control them. (Shapeshifting into a bug native to Earth to hide from vicious White Raiders, the enemy spots the unusual insect right away and capture him. Ingold wryly asks if Rudy has ever seen such a bug while in Darwath.) The rapport between the characters is cinema-worthy and one can only hope the ones you come to care about don't meet a gruesome end.
   In a world as scary and wondrous and chaotic as Westeros, Rudy and Gil fight against insane odds to survive. Setting contemporary characters in such a world creates a page-turning tension. I mean, really, how would you deal with being plunged into another universe? I'd be curled up in a state of catatonic shock.
   If you're looking for something to sate your Game of Thrones appetite, this series will more than satisfy it.

Find the rest of my favorite books & reviews on Goodreads: