Bayne -- Artwork by Danica Parrish

All. The. Things.

When I looked at the list of things I wanted to signal boost this week I actually felt a little dizzy. “How the hell am I going to fit Twitter, Facebook and blog posts for all those things in without sounding like a social media spam-bot?” I wondered.

Then I got smart and decided to just put all the things into one big blog post. Yay!

Firstly, check out this character portrait:

Bayne -- Artwork by Danica Parrish

This is Bayne.

He’s a half-incubus swordsman who figures prominently in many of the stories I’ve written set in Aphanasia (Sister Margaret, Lost and Found and the forthcoming Shadows — which is subject to re-naming LoL).

Bayne is also the character I will be playing with at the Character Death Matches at Pure Spec next month and he’s also the only character from those stories who hasn’t been on a book cover… so didn’t have a portrait.

My daughter, Danica, felt bad for me as she watched me struggle to find a stock image I could crop, Photoshop or otherwise fake to fit my character and she drew this portrait for me 🙂 He looks a little younger in this than he is in the stories I’ve written about him thus far… but I’m taking this as a sign that perhaps I ought to write some stories about a younger Bayne… someday.

Anyway, I’m super lucky to have such a talented kid who is willing to draw character portraits for me. Thank you, Danica! He’s awesome and I love it 🙂Aphanasian Stories by Rhonda Parrish

As I mentioned, Bayne features strongly in Aphanasian Stories. If you haven’t read Aphanasian Stories and you like straight-up fantasy, have I got good news for you.

This week I’m participating in #CreepyFreebies. As part of that I am giving away copies of the most recent issue of Niteblade and I’m running a raffle to win a copy of Aphanasian Stories.

However… there’s this t-shirt I wanted (Roots of Remedy) but my Paypal account was a bit short, so I spontaneously decided to put Aphanasian Stories on a super big sale — 70% off (Coupon code: VG96R at Smashwords — click here) to try to top it up a bit*.

That made me feel bad for having Aphanasian Stories as the raffled off item, so I’ll also be throwing in a copy of White Noise for whoever wins. And if you win and you already own a copy of Aphanasian Stories, I’ll give you something else instead. Because.

I’m not just doing CreepyFreebies though. I’m also taking part in #CoffinHop2014 🙂 This is a super fun little system where rather than interviewing one zombie author a day, Julianne instead asks several of us one question each day. The posts are pretty short too, which in today’s world full of constant distractions, seems like a good thing. So far the posts have included:

But wait! There’s more!

White Noise -- Art and cover design by Jonathan ParrishI was interviewed by Virginia from StarkLight Press recently to celebrate the launch of White Noise. It’s not a very long interview, only about six questions worth, but I really think it gives a lot of insight into what’s going on in my skull. If you’re even a little intrigued, it’s a quick read that ought to satisfy some of your curiosity. You can check it out here:

An Interview with Rhonda Parrish | Starklight Press

Annnnnnd there’s only a few days left to get your submissions in for Scarecrow and Corvidae. Our deadline is Halloween, which is my 10 year anniversary so you can bet I won’t be sitting at my computer watching midnight come around so I can officially cut off submissions, BUT if your work isn’t in my inbox by the time I get up on Saturday I won’t be able to consider it.

Related to anthologies, at the World Weaver Press hosted #SFFLunch last week we announced the subject matter for my next WWP anthology:

Sirens

When submissions open (in 2015) I’ll be looking for siren stories to fill its pages 🙂

Lastly, I think. I will be attending World Fantasy Convention next month, as will several of the authors from Fae and A is for Apocalypse. I’ll post another reminder nearly the time, but just as a head’s up, C.S. MacCath will be having a reading where she’ll be reading from her A is for Apocalypse story, N is for… on Thursday afternoon (plus I’ll be reading part of it with her, so be sure to come by to watch me shake in my boots) AND Adria Laycraft will have a reading Saturday evening which will feature her story from Fae, Water Sense.

Whoot!

Unrelated to this post at all, but I have noticed that my website is running slowly these days. I’m in the process of moving domains over to a new host as they come up for renewal so please bear with me until that process is done at which time things should speed up significantly.

 

*Great plan except that the Smashwords quarter comes at the end of December LOL Oops. #brainfart

#CreepyFreebies 2014

Creepy Freebies - Banner

Each year Milo James Fowler hosts an event he calls Creepy Freebies where he invites horror writers to join together and give readers a little taste of what we do for free. Last year I joined in, and this year I’m going to as well 🙂

In honor of the season, and Creepy Freebies, please download a free copy of the latest issue of Niteblade, Porcelain Doll:

Cover_Sept2014_noissn

Click here (or on the cover image above) to go to the Smashwords page for Issue #29 of Niteblade and use coupon code GJ48A to download it for free.

This coupon will only work until November 1st, so don’t hesitate.


 

Aphanasian Stories by Rhonda ParrishBut wait! There’s more!

You can also enter to win a copy of my collection of straight-up fantasy stories (set in, as you might guess from the title, Aphanasia), Aphanasian Stories:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If we get lots of entries I’ll give away more than one copy, so please help me spread the word.

Aphanasian Stories isn’t creepy… not really, but it IS a fantastic collection that deserves a bigger audience than it’s had to date and I am offering a copy as a freebie so… there’s that 😉

ETA: Several days after I scheduled this I spontaneously decided to put Aphanasian Stories on sale at Smashwords (75% off using coupon code VG96R – Click here) Soooooo I’ll also give the winner(s) of the Rafflecopter draw a copy of White Noise.

Fae Contributor Interview: Liz Colter

This week for Fae-tastic Friday, I’m stoked to introduce you to Liz Colter. Liz wrote the Fae story, The Last King and was kind enough to consent to an interview:

~*~

Liz Colter’s Interview

 

What was the inspiration for your Fae story?Fae Cover

The primary inspiration for “The Last King” was my fondness for the ancient “Ballad of Tam Lin,” though I had a lot of fun throwing a variety of other characters from fairy into this story as well.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

Not at all. My unpublished novel, “Thiery’s Sons,” is about the uneasy coexistence of elves and mortals. To summarize the novel: Eighteen years ago an Elven woman’s seduction left Tristan with a half-blood son and a ceaseless yearning for her. Her return reveals the rest of her plan, one which traps Tristan and his realm between two deadly armies.

Is this a subject you think you’ll be likely to write about again?

Definitely! I’m currently shopping a short story with True Tom as the main character where Tam Lin makes an appearance again. I find it interesting that some scholars believe Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin were the same character in the earliest versions of the stories.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story? Is that your favourite type of fae?

So far, all my stories about the fae have my favorite kind, the kind found in the oldest stories, where they are arrogant, dangerous, and hedonistic to a fault. I also like to think that, even though I would describe them that way, they’re so utterly different from mortals that human morality doesn’t apply to them. I’ve tried to illustrate that dichotomy in all my fae stories.

Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)

I don’t know that I have a favorite character, but I was very influenced years ago by the book “Faerie Tale” by Raymond Feist, as well as Brian Froud’s artwork and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as well as many other tales and images that inspired a fascination with all things fae.

 

Excerpt from The Last King by Liz Colter (360 words):

He smiled. She wouldn’t have believed he could be more handsome until she saw that smile. She tried to collect herself but her thoughts were becoming less and less coherent. Physical attraction had always been her downfall — the first catalyst in each of her disastrous relationships — but this was more. Much more. She felt like a twig in a strong current.

He crossed the distance between them, coming so close she could feel the heat radiate from his body. His skin had a sweet, clean scent. Her breath quickened. She wanted him to touch her. She could imagine it as clearly as if it was happening; sliding his fingers under her hair, his strong hands cupping her head. His mouth moving to hers. His warm breath on her face just before his tongue slid past her lips.

She blinked. He was watching her with those fathomless blue eyes, he hadn’t moved, hadn’t lifted a hand to her. What was happening? Why couldn’t she think straight?

“Come. Walk with me,” he said.

He extended his elbow and she slipped her arm through his without hesitation. His skin below the short-sleeved jerkin was so warm it felt fevered. Touching his flesh sparked a sensual reaction, like an electric shock that ran from her arm down her body, leaving a residual pulse lingering in her groin.

He took them deeper into the woods. One part of Anna craved his physical touch so much she felt she would do anything for it but a deeper, quieter part of her was terrified. Images of the two of them together, naked bodies twined, kept flitting through her mind. The little pocket of fear suppressed deeper with every step.

Anna had always been pretty enough to interest men, but she felt plain and dull next to him. He moved so gracefully that she felt clumsy. She should have worried about where he was taking her, but instead she worried that he might not be as attracted to her as she was to him.

“Let me show you a favorite place of mine,” he said.

~*~

FAE quote - allen 2

 

Available direct from the publisher:

Paperback $11.95
Ebook $6.99

Or find it online:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Kobo
Books-a-Million

Sale: Coming Storm

Shroud

My short story, Coming Storm, has been accepted for publication in a future issue of Shroud. I am *so* stoked.

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of things with a ‘magi vs mundane’ theme, but this is the first one I’ve sold. I began Coming Storm with the intention of submitting it to a speculative anthology about the American Civil War, but I didn’t get it done in time. And I’m okay with that, because Shroud!

The very first time I ever submitting to Shroud it was my short story, Spoiled Picnic. Editor/Publisher/Boss Dude, Tim Deal, accepted the story, not for his magazine, but for the anthology he was putting together:

Abominations

Abominations.

My inclusion in Abominations was one of those pivotal points in my…is it too cheesy to use the word path here? Too bad :-p. My inclusion in Abominations was a pivotal point in my path, my career, the road that took me to here. It was a sign I was doing something right, encouragement to keep going when I needed it most. All sales are awesome and vindicating, but this is one of those ones that really, really mattered.

I’m much more confident now than I was then, but even so, sometimes I need those jolts, those ego boosts, those signs that yes, this is what you’re meant to be doing. And the acceptance of Coming Storm came at just one of those moments. The sine wave that is my confidence was taking a dip and I was having a really bad day, but my to-do list said ‘Submit Coming Storm somewhere’ so I did some research and sent it off to Tim at Shroud.

And he accepted it (very quickly).

And my day was made a whole lot better.

Circles… ya know?

So, what I’m trying to say is, Coming Storm will be coming soon to a Shroud magazine near you. I’ll let you know the details as I learn them 🙂

Mythic Delirium Anthology

If you follow me on social media you have definitely seen me bragging about this LoL

This is the cover for the very first, Mythic Delirium print anthology:

Mythic_Delirium_paperback_cover-1024x760

How freaking gorgeous is that?

And did you look at the back cover? Halfway down the second column of names? THAT’S ME!

*squee*

I am freaking blown away that I’m sharing a table of contents with all those amazing people. Oh. My. Gawd.

Also? I’ll say a special oh my gawd just for Jane Yolen because, c’mon! It’s Jane-freaking-Yolen. Oh my gawd!

*deep breaths*

Okay… so… yes. My short story, Seedpaper, is included in this amazing anthology. And for the record? It’s not just me who thinks it’s amazing, this anthology received a starred review by Publishers Weekly.

Look at this table of contents and you’ll get an idea of why that might be LoL:

“Myths and Delusions: An Introduction” by Mike Allen
“This Talk of Poems” by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Wives of Paris” by Marie Brennan
“Cuneiform Toast” by Sonya Taaffe
“Hexagon” by Alexandra Seidel
“Unmasking” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Ahalya: Deliverance” by Karthika Naïr
“Katabasis” by Liz Bourke
“The Art of Flying” by Georgina Bruce
“Dreams of Bone” by Christina Sng
“India Pale Angel” by Robert Davies
“a recipe” by Lynette Mejía
“Anna They Have Killed” by Jennifer Crow
“The Two Annies of Windale Road” by Patty Templeton
“Zora Neale Hurston Meets Felicia Felix-Mentor on the Road” by J.C. Runolfson
“Princess: A Life” by Jane Yolen
“Present” by Nicole Kornher-Stace
“Old Bone” by Sandi Leibowitz
“Backbone of the Home” by Lisa M. Bradley
“Flap” by David Sklar
“Rhythm of Hoof and Cry” by S. Brackett Robertson
“The Silver Comb” by Mari Ness
“Milkweed” by Cedar Sanderson
“Never Told” by Jane Yolen
“Foxfeast” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Seeds” by Beth Cato
“Seedpaper” by Rhonda Parrish
“The Onion Prince” by David Sklar
“The Girl Who Learned to Live with Bees in Her Hair” by Brigitte N. McCray
“The Giant’s Tree” by Yukimi Ogawa
“Two Ways of Lifting” by Virginia M. Mohlere
“Levels of Observation” by Kenneth Schneyer
“Cat’s Canticle” by David Sklar
“Nisei” by Beth Cato
“Echoes in the Dark” by Ken Liu
“Voyage to a Distant Star” by C.S.E. Cooney
“WereMoonMother” by Brittany Warman

Holy crap, amirite?

I get a free copy of this book because I’m a contributor, but I’m totally considering buying several more just to give out at Christmas LoL If you, too, are considering picking up a copy it’s currently available at a lot of places:

AMAZON: trade paperbackKindle
AMAZON UK: trade paperbackKindle
BARNES & NOBLE: trade paperbackNook
iTUNES: ebook
KOBO: ebook

…and if you’re coming to World Fantasy this year, bring it along. I think a lot of contributors (including the editors and myself) will be there and happy to sign it 🙂

 

Fae Contributor Interview: L.S. Johnson

Each uisge by Liza PhoenixIt’s Fae-tastic Friday again! This week I’m pleased to offer an interview I conducted with the amazing L.S. Johnson. Her story, “The Queen of Lakes” was one of my favourite stories in Fae (and I’ll have a little excerpt of it for you below!).

~*~

L.S. Johnson’s Interview

What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

I must confess that my story began not with the each-uisge, but with the lake, and Rose’s walk past it. When I was in junior high, a group of high school boys used to hang out in the playground across from my apartment building. They would catcall, and wolf whistle, and sometimes follow me for a block or two. For several months I had to prepare for that every day. Even just going to the corner store was fraught. It became normal for me to carry a little butterfly knife—indeed, it suddenly seemed a perfectly normal thing to go into a shop with the intent of buying a butterfly knife. I think about that time a lot; I write about it a lot, in one form or another. All the different ways women run the gauntlet.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

I often turn to fairy stories or mythology when I write. It’s a bit like taking a recipe and making it your own: it gives you a structure you can build upon. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is constructing a story, and working with these old tales creates a different approach than with a fully invented narrative—you are at once working with particular conventions and, at the same time, you have all sorts of fascinating interstices to explore. It’s a process that often carries me very far from my original intent, with the best possible results.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

The each-uisge is a Scottish fairy, a rather uncommon one; what little I know of it comes from the Briggs encyclopedia. It is a water horse, but can also take the form of a handsome man, and should you touch or mount him within sight of water his skin becomes adhesive and he will instantly plunge to the depths with his hapless victim glued to him. I will admit I took some liberties with Rose’s admirer, but I like to think that, in this instance, he finds his human form far more practical than that of a horse.

Do you believe in fairies?

I believe in nothing, which is another way of saying I am open to anything.

 

Excerpt From The Queen of Lakes by L.S. Johnson (236 words):

The moment the path starts to dip, the world goes silent. The very wind ceases to blow; not a leaf stirs, not an animal can be seen, not even an insect. There is only the rasp of my breath, the blood thudding in my ears.

It is forty-two steps from the silence to the far end of the curve. Forty-two steps where the only sound in the world is myself.

Myself and the each-uisge, I mean.

“Where did you go?” I ask. For he is beside me, though I did not hear him approach. I never hear him.

“Here and there,” he gurgles. His voice is low and wet, as if his mouth were full of jelly. “Across great lakes and little rivers, so many lovely sights. Though not a one as lovely as you, Rose.”

He teases my braid, making it sticky and knotted, and I slap his hand away. Thanks to his fondling I’ve been scolded by Mrs. Duggan more than once now, for looking slovenly. He strokes the bare strip of my throat instead, smearing my skin as he hooks a gluey finger beneath my scarf, trying to tug it away from my neck.

His fingers are so very cold.

The first time he touched me I was so frightened I nearly stopped walking, but I did not stop, I have never stopped.

I do not know what will happen if I stop.

~*~

Fae Cover

Available direct from the publisher:

Paperback $14.95
Ebook $6.99

Or find it online:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Kobo
Books-a-Million

MicroWriMo

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

I am pretty freaking busy this November. Off the top of my head I will be:

  • Attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC
  • Attending Pure Spec in Edmonton
  • Editing the bulk of the stories for B is for Broken
  • Prepping the December issue of Niteblade
  • Doing the November Poem-a-Day challenge
  • Making final decisions for Scarecrow and Corvidae
  • Beginning edits on the stories in Scarecrow and Corvidae
  • Finishing revisions on Hollow and drafting a query letter for it (for agents)

annnnnd there’s probably about a million things I’ve forgotten.

That sort of looks (and rather feels like) a lame attempt at a humble brag “Look at all the stuff I’m doing!” but that’s actually not my intention.

The thing is, aside from the poem-a-day challenge, there’s not actually any writing on that list. As much as I love editing and going to conventions (and I really, really do) I have been so busy with that and revising various things that I haven’t written a word of new fiction in a couple months. That, to me, is completely unacceptable.

Especially in November, aka NaNoWriMo month.

However I’m not willing to commit to doing a full 50k words for NaNoWriMo either.

So I’ve decided to do MicroWriMo.

In November I’m going to write at least 10k words of fresh fiction. If somehow a miracle occurs and I end up with five times that much, well yay, but that’s not my goal. 10,000 new words. That’s my goal.

Wanna join me?

(I’ll be tracking my progress on the NaNoWriMo website, because why re-invent the wheel. My username over there is Midnyte.)

Battle for Middle Earth wight icon

Before They Were Zombies

When I agreed to participate in zOctober I announced that I’d like to have a few other zombie-themed posts on my blog for the month. Not so many as in the Month of Zombies, you understand, but a sprinkling. Christine Morgan, who I met through Fae, agreed to write a zombie-themed guest post for me. This one is all about zombies… before they were zombies. Enjoy!

Before They Were Zombies

Christine Morgan

Zombies, zombies, zombies. These days, everyone knows all about zombies. The zombie apocalypse has become to this generation what the nuclear aftermath was a generation or so earlier. We all have our contingency plans. Even the CDC got on board with some useful disaster tips in the guise of zombie outbreak preparedness.

Seriously. Ask anybody. Ask a little kid. Ask what’s a zombie, you’ll likely get the moaning slackmouthed shuffle with outstretched arms. Maybe with a “braaaaains” thrown in. Everyone knows if you get bitten, you’re doomed, unless you’re amazingly lucky in the timing of lopping off the bitten part. Everyone knows the only way to stop a zombie is with a head shot.

We have them in movies, in books, in video games, in graphic novels, on TV. We have zombie-themed marathons and flash mob events. Arguments about “fast zombies or slow zombies” fill many a convention panel, along with debates about the difference between infected crazies versus actual walking corpses.Night of the Living Dead

They are THE modern monster of this day and age. Allegorical in oh so many ways, hitting a perfect storm of hot-button phobias, something that resonates on both deeper and more widespread levels than any other monster.

Although there are plenty of “puttin’ the feel in necrophilia” pieces of zombie erotica, they’re basically just, let’s face it, not as sexy as their best-known counterparts. Vampires have style, werewolves have passion, zombies have jokes about “you can keep the tip.”

Our current understanding of the zombie can pretty much be credited to Romero. He created an entire genre within his own lifetime, sparked the zombie revolution, changed a whole worldwide perception. That has got to be pretty damn cool by anybody’s reckoning.

But, did he invent the zombie? Oh, heck no. Zombie lore can be found in almost every culture in various forms, going back to the dawn of time. The moment humanity reached a point of sentience where we could fear death, you better believe the fears of undeath were not far behind.

Our burial rituals may have their practical reasons – you don’t just want to leave a rotting corpse lying around; it’s stinky, it’s messy, it might lure scavengers, there’s disease, there’s the psychological effects of witnessing it, there’s all sorts of dangers and concerns for the surviving rest of the tribe.

As we developed culture and civilzation, however, we needed something more. We needed the spiritual and supernatural aspects of death and burial rituals. We needed to believe we were doing right by our deceased, respecting our ancestors, helping their souls move on to the afterlife.

And, because we’re a kind of punishment-based contrary breed, we needed to drive it home with some big scary threats of OR ELSE.

OR ELSE their ghosts might come back to haunt you. OR ELSE a wizard/spirit might take over the dead flesh and use it to do evil. OR ELSE the body might get up of its own accord and go looking for revenge against whoever gave it offense.

R.I.P. = Rest in Peace. A nice way of well-wishing, but also a plea … please don’t return and hurt us. God Grant He/She Lie Still = same thing.

The word ‘zombie’ comes, of course and as most of us know, from Haitian voudon practices. Which, ironically enough, were less about animating corpses and more about casting spells or doing rituals to ensnare the minds and enslave the bodies of the still-living.

Why that one became THE chosen universal name is harder to winnow out. Maybe it’s just because ‘zombie’ is both memorable and kinda fun to say.

Before that, we had ghouls, sure, but ghouls were more vaguely defined … a ghoul might be a risen corpse gnawing on the bones of its graveyard neighbors, it might be a living person with a taste for dead meat, it might be a different species of being altogether. Mostly, though, ghouls ate the DEAD. They were desecrators, tomb-robbers. They didn’t bother the still-breathing.

Then there’s the idea of the revenant, but the revenant is an animated corpse in more than just terms of mindless hunger and movement. Revenants are more often described as intelligent, as foreign or even demonic spirits inhabiting the corpses and using them as puppets. Decaying meat-puppets, but hey, sometimes a spirit can’t be choosy.

Various cultures have their own particular takes on the lore, as well. Since I write a lot of historical horror and dark fantasy, these old legends are something I find particularly fascinating.

There are Biblical zombies … it’s not unknown for sacriligous smartasses to refer to Easter as Zombie Jesus Day … but if you go that route, Jesus was hardly the first zombie … let’s not forget good old Lazarus, who fits the classic criteria pretty well. The sisters of Lazarus were worried about the stench, since he’d been in the tomb four days.

What I always found interesting to ponder about that was, well, what happened with Lazarus after? He emerges, they unwrap him from the grave clothes and let him go … and that’s that. Poor guy. Assuming the best and that he came back fully revived and intact, that’s still quite a reputation to be dragging around. And assuming less-than-best, those were the days when stoning lepers to death was no big deal.

The Norse have the draugr, a specific type of corpse because it usually refers to men who died at sea, who fell off their ships and drowned, and were thus unable to be given the proper burial rites. No body, no barrow-mound or fiery Viking-ship funeral. Insult to injury, since drowning also meant not dying in combat and hence no glorious mead-party in Valhalla.

Another term for the draugr, perhaps reserved for those who didn’t drown per se and thus didn’t qualify, was aptrgangr … literally, after-goer … a wonderful term but not much in common use, probably because of all those consonants. I love the Germanic languages but you’ve got to admit, aptrganger sounds like someone with a wad of half-chewed PB&J stuck mid-gullet.

Battle for Middle Earth wight iconRelated to and drawn from those stories, it’s a natural progression to the wight, or the barrow-wight, as seen in Tolkien’s work. The handy thing about wights is that they tend to stay localized; they don’t go roaming around and only attack whoever intrudes on their barrows.

Which brings us to the mummy, a very niche market of corpse. When it came to death rituals and funerary preparations, shut the front door because the Egyptians had it hands-down. The process of mummification even for your average slave or citizen, let alone the elaborate affairs of buring a pharaoh, blow everyone else out of the water.

Chinese folklore has the jiangshi, a name which refers to the peculiar stiff-limbed, rigor mortis ‘hopping’ quality of its gait. (somehow, I suspect “The Hopping Dead” might not have made for AS successful a show, even with Daryl Dixon). They don’t so much feast on living flesh but kill to obtain the released life force of their victims.

Similarly, the Tibetan ro-langs is so stiff that it cannot bend at all, so, it can be kept out simply by having low doorways. That may seem less than scary, the mental image of a literal stiff bonking sternum-height against the door jamb again and again, but they make up for it by being able to wag or flap their tongues at their prey. A ro-langs ( “ro” = “corpse” and “langs” = “to rise up”) differs from the jiangshi because the ro-langs is more RISEN up, as in, raised from the dead by magic or spirit possession.

The list, of course, goes on and on. And on and on and on, once you get into the lore of various roleplaying or video games, or more literature like Tolkien above. There are dozens of “types” of undead in your typical D&D game, each with their various powers and abilities. A lich is/does THIS, a skeleton THAT (animated skeletons are, of course, never cooler than when done a la Harryhausen, but I digress), a necromancer can create/control THESE, a cleric can turn/dispel THOSE, and so on.

Zombies, zombies, zombies. Usually human, too, you’ll find. Zombie animals are much more rare. Maybe people think they’re not as frightening or appalling somehow (read Pet Semetary), or maybe animals are already considered dangerous or weird enough while alive. Or maybe it’s just not the same degree of pathos.

Whatever your stance, though, I hope we can all agree that zombies are a big deal. The subject of “is the zombie genre played out” comes up even more often than the “fast vs. slow” debates, and I don’t see how it CAN be played out.

Some of the tropes may have been overdone, sure. I know I’ve read a few more standard outbreak/apocalypse novels and seen a few more movies along those lines. When they’ve become formulaic and aren’t bringing anything new to the party, that’s when they can seem overdone. It’s finding those new things to bring, those new ways to look at and play with the tropes, that’s where the fun is.

Played for laughs, for instance. Horror and comedy go well together; zombies can be funny in their bumbling, pieces-dropping way. In the midst of humor, though, there can also be poignancy. Movies like Fido, and Shaun of the Dead, hit all the right notes.

I’ve attempted it myself in stories like “Dawn of the Living-Impaired,” where political correctness rears its head … or “Seven Brains, Ten Minutes,” which was inspired by watching competitive eating shows. My story “Family Life” has a sit-com feel with a zombified fairy tale in the middle (Zombiella loses her foot at the ball!)

wwzStories done in other places or times than contemporary America, too … we need more of those. World War Z (the book) did a decent job looking at some of the ways it might happen or be handled in other countries.

Zombies in the past, why not? Zombies and pirates. Zombies in the Wild West. I have a story called “A Tower to the Sky” which sets the outbreak in ancient Mesopotamia, I have “The Barrow-Maid” with all the Viking blood and thunder. Given the range of my interests, I’ll probably go back further and attempt caveman zombies, or hey, how about as the real reason the dinosaurs went extinct?

Or the future. My story “Cured Meat” looks at what kind of societies might evolve among the undead once they’ve won and there are no more living people … not merely mimicking our current daily lives but pondering what would be important to them, what would be vital? I realized partway in that I’d stuck myself with a more daunting challenge than I’d anticipated; if sex and gender don’t matter to zombies, then no using those he/she pronouns. That was a toughie, but I enjoyed it.

Or crossovers. Steampunk zombies. Lovecraftian zombies. Just about anything you can dream up can be dreamt up with zombies (though let’s drop the whole just-add-zombies to existing works of literature, come on, it was a novelty the first time but like with the potato salad kickstarter, the glut of samey-same follow-ups aren’t as good; if we’re going to do it, let’s at least throw in some twists and be creative).

Right now, we are in the middle of a “When They Were Zombies” phase. But there was a “Before” and there will be an “After,” and I for one am eager to see where the lore will go next.

They’ve been with us for thousands of years, by various names and in various forms. They’ll be with us for thousands more. As long as we’ve feared and will fear death, we’ve feared and will still fear undeath.

Which means … MORE ZOMBIES!!!

 

Thank you for coming by Christine, and sharing this with my readers. Small confession? I’m totally one of those sacrilegious smartasses who has been known to call Easter zombie Jesus day. Try not to hate me for it 🙂

Christine can be found on:

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Fae Contributor Interview: Rhonda Eikamp

It’s Fae-tastic Friday, again! How are you enjoying these Fae-centric breaks from everything else that’s going on? I rather like them. We have a few more interviews to go, but when we run out I think I’ll continue the series with some guest blogs or some such awesomeness. We’ll see… For today, another interview! This one is with Rhonda Eikamp. Her Fae story begins in a submersible! How’s that for a unique setting, eh? 🙂

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Rhonda Eikamp’s Interview


What was the inspiration for your Fae story?

Editor Rhonda Parrish put out a great call for submissions, looking for the most unusual settings for fairy stories authors could come up with. I knew I wanted to go with something underwater and the Civil War submarine idea just came out of nowhere.

Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?

There was no particular folklore type I had in mind, unless it was maybe the winged sprite that is inimical to humans. I wanted to create something earthy, cthonic, more animal than human, which could inhabit the world with us but escape notice most of the time. Its concerns would be so different from ours that there would be almost no communication and the human and fairy characters would each have little understanding of what the other wanted.

Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?

No, there was a story I’d almost forgotten about, from my first iteration as a writer (in the late 90’s to around 2001). And now that I think about it, the fairy queen captured by humans in that story was similar to the one in Possession – savage and animalistic, not quite comprehending what was happening to her. As if one had captured a ferret. So maybe this is an image that appeals to me.

Do you believe in fairies?

I’m an ancient-history and prehistory buff, and I love the idea of real origins for most of the myths and monsters and folktales we know. So I believe these ideas may have come from encounters between various peoples in ancient times, that the fairy idea may be a remnant of that kind of encounter.

Excerpt from Possession by Rhonda Eikamp (329 words):

Corporal Francis McFarlane was about to drown and the woman in his pocket couldn’t save him.

Black water had cascaded in when the submersible’s tip ruptured, the hand-cranked propeller not quick enough to pull them back from the explosive charge they’d rammed into the Union ship, the sea like a steely-cold monster poking its snout in through the twisted hole, and now all eight men were flailing away at the crank up around up around, headed for the shallows of the Chesapeake Bay, but they would never make it. The water was up to McFarlane’s waist. Private Dunsey was screaming beside him. On every face McFarlane saw the knowledge – clear by the light of the single candle clamped to the ceiling – that they would be dead in minutes, clams at the bottom of the bay.

Moments were tripping in his head like lightning bursts: the old farm, sunlight. Cherish, home in Suffolk with the baby, her eyes red from crying when he left for war. There lay a sadness, worse than the panic closing his throat. They would be alone. His life for the Confederacy, yes, but god help him, his wife and child would be alone.

McFarlane felt the flutter in his breast pocket and fumbled open the button. He knew the others believed he carried a live mouse there, a lucky charm, and he’d let them think that. No use for secrets now. The tiny winged woman clambered onto his palm. Perfect and perfectly nude, her skin a white gold glowing brighter than the candle. Eyes too large for the thumbnail bit of smooth beast face, lids sweeping back and up to her temples, etching the same parabola as the impossible violet wings rising from her shoulder blades, huge as elephant-ear leaves as they unfolded, colors of bruises and winter sky. The men had stopped cranking, the water to their chests. The nearest stared, death-hallucinating, McFarlane knew they assumed, seeing an angel come to lead them home.

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Fae Cover

Available direct from the publisher:

Paperback $14.95
Ebook $6.99

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Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal

Sale: Hold This Camel & Memories

Hermeneutic Chaos Literary JournalMy vignette, Memories, and poem Hold This Camel have both been accepted for inclusion in the November issue of Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. Both of these are reprints, but Memories is one of my personal favourites, and Hold This Camel has never been available online before, so I can’t wait to share them with more people.

Hermeneutic Chaos have also offered to share audio recordings of me reading each of these, which I think is pretty cool. I’m not sure I’ll actually manage to record something I don’t hate, but I’ll see what I can do. November isn’t very far away though, so I’m not overly optimistic, but you never know… you never know… *fingers crossed*