NEW

The Santa Myth…

...And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies? by John Mayer Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the...

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. See, that’s where the Christianity has it all wrong. All good Vikings knew the real story of how it all really began. The same way it will all end. With giants. Ginnungagap was the great emptiness before there...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com SANTA VS ZOMBIES, ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER  Adventurous world full of Christmas cheer and gore to launch April 9, 2019   TOPEKA, KANSAS (April 11, 2019)—A new...

NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com NEW COMIC, ORC GIRL & GOBBO, RELEASES FROM OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT  New Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Comic Releases on March 29, 2019 TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 29, 2019)—Orc Girl & Gobbo, a...

Planet Comicon 2019 Booth #1925

Hello folks! As we do every year, we'll be out at our hometown show, Planet Comicon. We'll have a variety of books, games, comics, and artwork on the table for you to check out! We'll be at booth #1925. This year, special guest Chris Yarbrough will be joining us for...

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix gwen@outlandentertainment.com NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER The first of a four-issue graphic novel brings Norse history to life this March TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 22, 2019)— The...

Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women...
The Santa Myth…

The Santa Myth…

…And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies?
by John Mayer

Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the everyday lives of people and when it pits horror against cultural homeostasis. This conflict creates tension in a story and of course anyone who has taken a college creative writing course 101 has been taught that conflict moves a storyline. Frankenstein befriends a little girl, he admires a gentle flower; Dracula enters the peaceful and safe bedroom of sleeping damsels, and Satan started out as an angel and the favorite of God. And, every Stephen King piece starts with some idyllic setting, beautifully detailed before all hell breaks loose.

So, as long as we have had horror stories they have frightened us with evil entering into everyday life. Current horror fads, such as the slasher movies, echo this age-old formula. The happy, good-looking, care-free teenage culture is preyed upon by an evil maniac. Popular horror films of the last two years such as Get Out and Us, by Jordan Peele are set in pleasant everyday life, then the horror comes. The winning formula for fundamental scariness. Peele builds the atmosphere of ‘living the good life’ in both films then, BAM! It all goes horrifically bad. Many theologians posit that this is the most frightening horror of all, when the evil doer has no clear reason why they are choosing these people are their victims.

Recently, the Zombie genre has taken up subjects such as gentile setting of Pride and Prejudice (The film: Pride and Prejudice vs The Zombies) and the iconic Abraham Lincoln (vs Zombies), daring to pit zombies against cultural icons. Santa vs Zombies takes these recent treatments even further into our cultural ethos and challenges us to consider Santa at war with Zombies. Think about it, in our story we have Santa Claus, possibly the one purely joyful (jolly) tradition that is untouchably good and never associated with evil. Even God has enemies, has vengeance, inflicts his wrath on sinners, but Santa is pure joy and giving and kindness. In our story our Santa is all that, but he starts out tired because of the conditions in the world and the disbelief in him that is widespread. Like a Jordan Peele set-up, Santa innocently prepares for ‘one last ride’ on this Christmas night to spread joy and good cheer as always. But, when he arrives at his first stop he plops right into an apocalypse!

With only a limited time left, join the cheerful fray and support Santa Vs. Zombies on Kickstarter here!

***

ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”.

See, that’s where the Christianity has it all wrong. All good Vikings knew the real story of how it all really began. The same way it will all end.

With giants.

Ginnungagap was the great emptiness before there was the world, flanked by two inhospitable realms. There was Muspelheim, crossed by endless rivers of boiling poison and vast lakes of fire; and Niflheim, where icy volcanoes spewed forth frozen mists and arctic waters. Sparks and smoke met layers of rime and frost in the yawning void and from them came the first being.

A Jötunn, Ymir, appeared in the melting ice. From his sweat, the first Jötnar were born. Ymir fed on the milk of the primeval cow Auðumbla, also born of the meltwater. She licked the blocks of salty ice, releasing Búri, who was large, powerful, and beautiful to behold.

In time, Búri’s son Borr had three sons: the gods Óðinn, Vili, and Vé. The three sons of Borr had no use for Ymir and his growing family of cruel and brutish giants, so they attacked and killed him. So much blood flowed from the body that it drowned all the other giants except for two—Bergelmir and his wife escaped. They stole away in a hollowed-out tree trunk, a makeshift boat floating on the sea of gore to safety, to a land they named Jötunheim, home of the giants.

From Ymir’s body, the brothers made the world of humans: his blood, the seas and lakes, his flesh, the earth, his bones, the mountains and his teeth the rocks. From his skull, they made the dome of the sky, setting a dwarf at each of the four corners to hold it high above the earth. They protected the world from the Jötnar with a wall made from Ymir’s eyebrows. Next, they caused time to exist and placed the orbs of the sun and moon in chariots which were to circle around the sky.

Finally, the three brothers built their own realm. Ásgarð, a mighty stronghold, with green plains and shining palaces high over Miðgarð. They built the rainbow bridge Bifröst to link the realms. The Æsir, the guardians of men, crossed over the bridge and settled in Ásgarð.

There the gods would dwell, ever vigilant, until Ragnarok, the long-heralded last battle, where the monstrous Jötnar set about destroying the entire cosmos. Fenrir, the great wolf, consumes the world so swiftly that even the sun is dragged from its zenith and into the beast’s stomach.

The Jötnar have a pivotal role in Norse mythology. To the men of the North, the Jötnar had the power of oncoming storms, roaring volcanoes, and the clamorous oceans – in some sense, they were the personification of the merciless and indifferent power of Nature. They were the sires of the gods, their spouses and lovers, their constant foes and their inevitable doom.

And while the Jötnar are described as a race of beings distinct from the gods – as well as other creatures such as humans, elves, and dwarves – they are somewhat ambiguously described, both in their physique and their character. Some jötnar, such as Skrymir (who is known also as Útgarða-Loki), are depicted as being of an immense size, thus giving rise to the translation of the word ‘jötunn’ into English as ‘giant’.

Some jötnar, such as Skaði, were said to be extremely beautiful – in the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál, Odin mentions the “ancient courts” of Þrymheimr, noting that the jötunn Þjazi once lived there, and that now his daughter Skaði does. Odin refers to Skaði as “the shining bride of the gods” and in some tales, the pair go on to marry and give birth to nations of kings. Some scholars go so far as to suggest that Scandinavia may be related to the name Skaði (potentially meaning ‘Skaði’s island’).

Other Jötnar were hideous. It is told in Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning that at Baldr’s funeral his wife Nanna died of grief and was placed alongside him on his pyre. Hringhorni, Baldr’s ship, was the largest of all such vessels and was to serve as the god’s funeral ship. No one, however, could seem to launch the boat out to sea. The gods then enlisted the help of Hyrrokkin, who came from Jötunheimr, arriving on a giant wolf with vipers as reins. When she dismounted, Odin summoned four berserks to look after the animal but they were unable to control it without first rendering it unconscious. With her seismic strength, the giantess rolled the boat into the water.

In the Vikingverse, these stories and characters are more than just ancient myth. In the way that the Bible forms the daily bread of many devout Christians, the Jötnar are part of the fabric of society and its belief system.

Let me give you an example:

We were all recently horrified by the fire at Notre Dame. Social media was full of people’s personal memories, their own connection with the great stone cathedral and all and relics. We felt all felt a sense of profound loss.

All of a sudden, the Gargoyles on the roof were suddenly leering out of memory, all across the internet. Not bad for a beast used by the Catholic Church to illustrate evil.

French legend tells of St. Romanus, bishop of Rouen, who delivered the country from a monster called Gargouille. La Gargouille is said to have been the typical dragon with bat-like wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth. Multiple versions of the story are given, either that St. Romanus subdued the creature with a crucifix, or he captured the creature with the help of the only volunteer, a condemned man. In each, the monster is led back to Rouen and burned, but its head and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath. The head was then mounted on the walls of the newly built church to scare off evil spirits and used for protection.

The parallels with the Jötnar are clear. Primeval, indefatigable titans who tread heavily in our nightmares, the bane of Christianity.  Demons to be defeated and cast into the Abyss. Trophies to be mounted on the wall of our proud monuments.

Now imagine a world were Christianity had been put to the Viking sword, where there was no Mother Church left to determine who was a saint and who was a sinner, no Catholic priests to stem the pagan tide and contain the wild, untrammelled beliefs of the Northerners. Forget Armageddon, Hellfire and the Antichrist. The world doesn’t end with a bang, or a whimper. It ends with a horde of unstoppable Jötnar.

If you want a truly terrifying End of Days, embrace your inner Viking and help Kickstart the Jötunn War.

###

ABOUT VIKINGVERSE

The Vikingverse is the alternate universe that results when Odin escapes his doom at Ragnarok; a parallel timeline where Vikings rule seas and stars and the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Hang on tightly, ’cause the Free World just got thrown to the wolves and the meek shan’t inherit this Earth.

ABOUT IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

SANTA VS ZOMBIES, ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

 Adventurous world full of Christmas cheer and gore to launch April 9, 2019

 

TOPEKA, KANSAS (April 11, 2019)—A new graphic novel from Koji Steven Sakai and John Mayer called Santa VS Zombies launched on Kickstarter on April 9, 2019. This sixty-page graphic novel follows a burned-out Santa Claus who reluctantly embarks on his last chimney crawl only to find his world turned upside down by a zombie apocalypse. With the help of a crew of children and a single mother, Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit while saving the world.

“Santa VS Zombies combines two of my favorite things…Santa and zombies,” explained co-creator Koji Steven Sakai. “If every day was a zombie Christmas I’d be happy.” Sakai’s love for zombies is evident in his prose fiction, including his debut novel Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies. Sakai is a comics veteran, and his graphic novel, 442, which follows an entirely Japanese-American regiment during World War II, was released in 2017.

“I was always the rebel as a kid, so I never pictured Santa as all cuddly, warm, and fuzzy,” said co-creator John Mayer, who has previously written novels and nonfiction. “I knew there was a guy under there who could kick some ass—I mean, he lived all those centuries—that had to take some BAD…This is my Santa!”

The Kickstarter will support printing of the graphic novel. Other stretch goals, when met, will increase the quality of the book from cover gloss finish to French fold covers and as well as hardcover editions. The Kickstarter can be supported at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/327474418/santa-vs-zombies

###

ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

 

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

The first of a four-issue graphic novel brings Norse history to life this March

TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 22, 2019)— The Jötunn War, a brand-new addition to the Vikingverse universe created by Ian Stuart Sharpe, launches on Kickstarter on March 22, 2019. The first of a four-issue graphic novel series and a follow up of Sharpe’s debut novel The All Father Paradox, The Jötunn War is an alternate universe where the Norse rule the stars with restless fleets and an iron will. When the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos, causing a war that will rage across the Nine Homeworlds. Will the thrall rebellion change the Norse way of life? Or will the Empire crush them with flame and fury?

“When we first acquired The All Father Paradox, I knew the Vikingverse setting had so much potential for trans-media storytelling,” said Outland Entertainment’s Editor-in-Chief, Alana Joli Abbott. “To see the first comic coming into fruition is truly exciting—and while it stands alone, readers of the novel will get extra insight into some mysterious characters…”

“It’s been a real delight to see the stories we started telling in The All Father Paradox take on a visceral urgency in comic form,” explained Vikingverse creator Ian Stuart Sharpe. “Norse mythology is a fascinating lens through which to take a view of the world. History is full of titanic battles, from David vs. Goliath to the Axis vs. Allies, but The Jötunn War is literally as big as it gets.”

The Kickstarter will support the printing and distribution of the graphic novel’s completed first issue. Other stretch goals include upgrades of printing specs, such as a glossier cover and higher quality paper, and finally the ability to fund the printing and distribution of the second graphic novel set in the Vikingverse.

###

ABOUT VIKINGVERSE

The Vikingverse is the alternate universe that results when Odin escapes his doom at Ragnarok; a parallel timeline where Vikings rule seas and stars and the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Hang on tightly, ’cause the Free World just got thrown to the wolves and the meek shan’t inherit this Earth.

ABOUT IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.

 

This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are champions, not damsels in distress. Whether they are strong, bold warriors, the silent but powerful type, or the timid who muster their courage to face down terrible evil, the women of Hath No Fury will make indelible marks upon readers and leave them breathless for more. This anthology is now available wherever books are sold for both paperback and ebook!

Edited by Melanie R. Meadors, Hath No Fury includes the following:

FOREWORD – Robin Hobb
INTRODUCTION – Margaret Weis
RIDING EVER SOUTHWARD, IN THE COMPANY OF BEES – Seanan McGuire
SHE TORE – Nisi Shawl
THE SCION – S.R. Cambridge
HARRIET TUBMAN – Melanie R. Meadors
CASTING ON – Philippa Ballantine
FOR THE LOVE OF ETTA CANDY: ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FEMALE FRIEND – Shanna Germain
SOME ENCHANTED EVENING – Anton Strout
BURNING – Elaine Cunningham
IT AIN’T BAD TO GET MAD: THE ANGRY
HEROINES OF SF/F – Sarah Kuhn
A DANCE WITH DEATH – Marc Turner
ADA LOVELACE – Melanie R. Meadors
PAX EGYPTICA – Dana Cameron
A WASTELAND OF MY GOD’S OWN MAKING – Bradley P. Beaulieu
ECHOES OF STONE – Elizabeth Vaughan
ANGER IS A FRiEND TO LOVE – Diana M. Pho
THE MARK OF A MOUNTAIN POPPY — Erin M. Evans
SNAKESKIN: A MUTANT FILES STORY – William C. Dietz
A SEED PLANTED – Carina Bissett
THE BOOK OF ROWE – Carol Berg
CHING SHIH – Melanie R. Meadors
SHE KEEPS CRAWLING BACK – Delilah S. Dawson
A HERO OF GRÜNJORD – Lucy A. Snyder
THE UNLIKELY TURNCOAT: A GENRENAUTS SHORT STORY – Michael R. Underwood
CRAFT – Lian Hearn
RECONCILING MEMORY – Gail Z. Martin
THIS iS NOT ANOTHER “WHY REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT” ESSAY – Monica Valentinelli
TRENCH WITCH – M.L. Brennan
LAST OF THE RED RIDERS – Django Wexler
CHRISTINE JORGENSEN – Melanie R. Meadors
RISE OF THE BONECRUSHERS – Eloise J. Knapp

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered, from angles on escapism vs. exploration, to writing some kind of how-to. Then the search engine offered me a Pinterest collection, women in dark fantasy.

All the boxes on my requirement list could be check off with that topic. Excited, I clicked it, expecting Ellen Ripley (Alien), Sarah Connor (Terminator), Aeowyn (LotR), Sarah Williams (Labyrinth), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) Buttercup (The Princess Bride).

The images that came up were all art of scantily clad, large-breasted and small-waisted women.

I called myself naïve and a mental conversation began.

On one hand, I totally understand why the sexualized images persist and who they are for.

On the other, I cried, “Will we ever get past this?” But honestly, even my naïve side doesn’t think we will. Those characters have a place and there will always be readers who want stories that contain them.

In the midst of this frustration, my next thought was, “I’m straddling that line myself.”

It’s true. The cover of Jovienne (my seventh novel, the first of the Immanence Series, was released last year; it is currently unavailable unless you buy it either used or directly from me – but that’s another story) featured a young winged woman standing atop a building and wearing lingerie. It’s a striking cover and I’ve heard many admiring remarks about it. I loved it when I first saw it, and I love it equally now. As book covers go, it’s a great one. But maybe I’m biased because I know that inside those pages, when Jovienne is given ‘sexy’ armor, she rejects it. It’s a plot point.

Fantasy and Science Fiction are well known as genres where perceptions and social constructs are often reexamined, where the best- and worst-case scenarios are explored, respectively, as aspirations and warnings. They are also the genres filled with damsels in distress who are rescued by virile, womanizing heroes.

As a teen, I devoured as much Sci-Fi and Fantasy as possible. I was ravenous for it. Some of my favorites were Laurana and Goldmoon and even Kitiara of Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance. They were strong and capable and given respect. And there’s Del, from the Sword Dancer series by Jennifer Roberson. But when those stories ran out, and over and over the books I picked up featured a hero and not a heroine, I began to write my own.

Always, my stories have seemed to step away from what was typical.

In my first series, Persephone Alcmedi is definitely not the average UF heroine. She’s demure and unassuming, and she wears a tee shirt, hoodie, jeans, and hikers. She’s a heroine who doesn’t have sex in every book, and one whose power – and the overarching plot – is linked to her pagan spiritual journey. An additional difference is that most UF novels were set in a closed world or an open world, but I split the difference and gave them a recently opened world – meaning people had mixed reactions to vampires and werewolves being real, and the government was struggling to figure out things like legislation and special law enforcement.

As for my upcoming work, my short story that will appear in the second Blackguards anthology, Knaves features an older knight who happens to be a woman, and she is facing something that, while not unique to modern life, is something which I have not seen addressed in fantasy.

I know where the genre has been, and it has come far, but there is yet a long way to go. I am excited to be a part of the genre, to have produced work that reflects those changes, and I am eager to see where we go next.

About Linda Robertson

Linda will be appearing at International Horror Hotel and Film Festival June 2 and 3 in Richfield, Ohio, at DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend and World Fantasy Convention Nov. 1-4 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Working as Linda Reinhardt she composed, created, and produced an original musical score for Jovienne, which is available on Spotify and iTunes.

Website:         www.authorlindarobertson.com

Facebook: 

Interact:       authorlindarobertson

Fan page:     lindarobertsonbooks

Twitter:           @authorlinda 

Goodreads:    /LindaRobertson

 

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer’s headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers ASAP!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July, everyone!

The Secret Origin of “Daughter of Sorrow” by Maurice Broaddus

The Secret Origin of “Daughter of Sorrow” by Maurice Broaddus

“Mr. Broaddus, you need to start a Creative Writing Club.” Thus began a four week campaign in which different members of my eighth grade class wore me down and I agreed to run an after school program. We ended up with nearly a dozen intrepid souls in our merry band, including two sixth graders. Each one with a story (or novel or series of novels) in progress.

Maurice BroaddusThe timing of the call to write for the Knaves anthology couldn’t have been more perfect.

It gave me an opportunity to write alongside my students, which is always one of my favorite ways to teach creative writing because it demystifies the process in very practical ways (minus the profanity when I got stuck…though my kind-hearted middle school students offered to fill that in for me, but for the sake of me wanting to keep my job, I declined their helpful offer).

So that out time together wouldn’t degenerate into “goofing off with Mr. Broaddus” (I’m not admitting that on rare occasion my time with my eighth graders may have slid into this), I outlines a series of topics for us to discuss: brainstorming, world-building, plotting, beginnings, scenes, middles, dialogue, endings, and revision. The thing about eighth graders, especially ones who believe that after school they are “off the clock,” is that they “listen” in different ways. To the casual observer, it may have looked a lot like them insulting one another, throwing paper wads, attempting to listen to music, and cruising the latest Fortnite skins. However, when it came time to write, they were all business.

With this in mind, I wrote “Daughter of Sorrow.” This story features a heroine named Rianna (I’m not admitting that I had a student named Rianna who declared herself my favorite student. I will say that if you notice in any of my work produced between the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 the phrase “Rianna is Queen,” know that she was prone to “editing” my drafts). She’s facing the prospect of going to high school. And as many people have rightly assumed, high school is a place full of assassins. So it’s handy that her father happens to be one who has been training her and allowed her to tag along (remotely) on some of his missions.

Writing is often a very solitary art form, which has always frustrated me a little because I hate the idea of extended periods of isolating myself to create. So whenever possible, I have tried to find ways to make my art/process as communal as possible. Surrounding myself with eighth graders to brainstorm and plot is a lot like attempting to write in the Thunderdome. On the flip side, they poured that same energy and passion into their own work, too. In our final meeting, we did readings of our work. And it was obvious they really paid attention. In fact, in a moment I still think back on with pride, it was one of our sixth graders who wrote a piece so profound it ripped out our hearts and sent us spiraling into our feels.

So “Daughter of Sorrow” is dedicated to my Creative Writing Club who are eagerly awaiting to see it in print (and whom I have promised to buy copies for). They were my critique partners, they were my editors, and they were my inspiration (I won’t lie: I bawled like a baby at their promotion ceremony). However, right after their graduation, my sixth graders came up to me and said “Mr. Broaddus, you need to start a Creative Writing Club.”

***

About Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus is an exotic dancer, trained in several forms of martial arts–often referred to as “the ghetto ninja”–and was voted the Indianapolis Dalai Lama. He’s an award winning haberdasher and coined the word “acerbic”. He graduated college at age 14 and high school at age 16. Not only is he credited with inventing the question mark, he unsuccessfully tried to launch a new number between seven and eight.

When not editing or writing, he is a champion curler and often impersonates Jack Bauer, but only in a French accent. He raises free range jackalopes with his wife and two sons … when they are not solving murder mysteries.

He really likes to make up stories. A lot. Especially about himself.

Knaves Has Funded, and Then Some!

Knaves Has Funded, and Then Some!

Thanks to our awesome backers and readers, the Kickstarter for our anthology, Knaves, has been a success!

Four hundred eighty-nine backers came together and invested $15,342 to make Knaves happen. Not only will this anthology be produced, but the authors will all get their raises, bringing them up to ten cents per word. Not only that, but we can so close to the art stretch goal that we are considering adding Nicolás Giacondino’s wonderful Knave-inspired artwork to the book.

One of the backer rewards for Knaves was for the backers to get the all-new editions of Blackguards, which will be called Scoundrels and Brigands. We’re pleased to announce that these books will have one brand new story in each volume, one by New York Times bestselling author Elaine Cunningham, and the other by Zin E. Rocklyn, who also wrote a story for us for Kaiju Rising 2!

This Kickstarter is set to deliver in November, 2018, and we can’t wait for readers to see it!

You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

I remember watching Phantom Menace in the movie theater wondering what the movie was missing. There was awesome Jedi action (and way better choreography than the original trilogy). The music was fantastic. Tatooine looked pretty much the same, and pod racing was pretty nifty. (It was even more fun as a segment in later Star Wars video games). But there was some core element of Star Wars I felt was just absent.

It didn’t take me more than a few times watching it to realize that what the film didn’t have was Han Solo.

I don’t mean Han Solo literally. What I wanted was a loveable rogue. (You’ll note that I found a TV Tropes link for the character type–that’s how common it is). It’s all well and good to have the earnest hero in the center of things. That’s kinda their job. But there needs to be someone around with a smirk and a wink and a hard edge—a little too cynical to believe in the mythic importance of everything around them (even if they’re later proven wrong). Sometimes it’s their job to undercut the narrative, to give it a little breathing room so the audience can laugh. Pretty typically, their witticisms are the ones people leave the theater quoting. They’re not in this story for the higher mission of the plot. They’re in it for some selfish reason.

But not really. Because when the chips are down, they show up to help save the day.

Or, actually, they don’t.

Even though I grew up with the Han Solo type of scoundrel and grew into the Malcolm Reynolds kind of scoundrel (as a freelancer, “I do the job, and then I get paid” became a mantra for me), I’ve developed a bit of a taste for the varied palate they can offer. Around the time I was loving Firefly, I was also reading Steven Brust’s “Vlad Taltos” series. Which centers on a character who is, effectively, a crime lord in at least a portion of his novels. He’s an assassin. He’s not a nice man. But he’s affable, the kind of narrator you want to follow on whatever mission it is he’s undertaking. And, even when it’s not really the right thing, you want him to win.

I followed Mark Henry’s “Amanda Feral” series, which is narrated by a zombie socialite. Who eats people. Sometimes they’re not even bad people, it’s just that she’s a zombie, and. Well. It happens. And while the whole experience of hanging out with Amanda is kind of like being a spectator to a train wreck, it’s a glorious spectacle.

More recently, there’s Marvel’s Loki, whose Road Movie-like dialogue with Thor was the best thing about Thor: The Dark World. Never quite knowing what side Loki is on is a big part of his appeal—but, even moreso, that he’s ambiguous with charm. If you want to talk about a fan favorite character—I think it’s probably a safe bet that there’s more fan fiction about Loki on the Internet than any of the Marvel heroes. (I’m not going to actually go count them, but I stand by my suspicion).

And while characters like Kate Daniels and Curran Lennart from Ilona Andrews’s “Kate Daniels” series are absolutely the heroes—they’ve got a bit of a edge on them as well. Kate, a former mercenary, private investigator, and also the daughter of one of the universe’s big evils, isn’t always good at playing nice. Curran, who for much of the series is the leader of all the shapeshifters in Atlanta, creates a code for his own people, but doesn’t always play nicely by the rules of non-shapeshifters. They’re a pair for whom the default response is to hit the problem with a sword, and to do so with a gleeful, maniacal smile that makes bystanders scared for their lives.

Fantasy and science fiction thrive on the morally ambiguous characters who can reel you into their stories and make you want them to win, even when they’re the bad guys. While I’m no psychologist, I suspect there’s something cathartic about rooting for the scoundrel. When you’re part of a community (a family, a town, a nation), it’s important to follow the rules—but it’s not always fun. Diplomacy is hard. Sometimes just getting along with other members of your community is hard.

Rooting for the guy who doesn’t have to follow those rules? Sometimes, that’s exactly what we need. In all the varieties possible.

As Han says, “There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.”