For whatever reason out of the 17 stories included in Fae, only two were written by men. One of those dudes was Sidney Blaylock Jr. and it just so happens that for Fae-tastic Friday this week we’re going to hear from him 🙂
Sidney Blaylock Jr.’s Interview
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
Surprisingly enough, Faerie Knight started with an idea of gaining mystical powers from the names of full moons and using that power for the greater good. There are names for each of the full moons that vary depending on the source, but there were two constants: Hunter’s Moon and Harvest Moon. I wanted a character that received his power during the Hunter’s Moon and then lost it once the Hunter’s Moon was over. Tide played a huge role in the magical system, but I dialed that back in later drafters.
There was always a faerie element to the story—the original antagonist was a Redcap (a malevolent fae who dye their caps in their victim’s blood) along with two trolls. They had stolen a changeling for the Queen of the Fae. That story evolved after I rediscovered Spencer’s The Faerie Queene (which I had read excerpts from in a college class). Using Spencer’s work as inspiration, the story started to fall into place and it morphed into the story that is in Fae the moment I reimagined the Faerie Queen as a force for good in the world.
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories?
No, I’ve written other things dealing with fairies. I’ve written another short-story about an elven gunslinger called Knight of the Wylde West (tentatively coming out in November of this year). I’ve also written the script for the first issue of a (projected) four issue comic book series entitled, Faerie Fire, which I liken to The Lord of the Rings meets Roger Zelanzny’s Amber series featuring warring factions of Elves for the throne of the Faerielands. I’m hoping to find an artist for this project in the sometime soon, so I safely say that I don’t think the Fae are done with me yet.
I like the element of magic and it is the mystical nature of faeriekind that appeals to me. I’ve always been interested in the fantastical and this has translated into a love of science fiction and fantasy. Writing about the faerie allows me to create characters, plots, and settings that are far from ordinary, or like in Faerie Knight, have the mystical and fantastical hidden in our mundane world. It’s that potential that makes faerie stories (or speculative fiction, for that matter) so appealing for me to write.
Can you tell us a bit about the specific type of fairy creature in your story?
So, my story is a little different in that my protagonist is essentially a “changeling.” He was abandoned by his birth parents due to his disability and taken in to the Seelie Court by the Queen. The antagonist (which I call a Samhain) is not technically a faerie either, but the idea of Halloween. I’ve made it a faerie and not a very pleasant one at that. His description (a pumpkin-head and a scythe) recalls the idea of the Halloween which was a harvest festival. However, I tried very hard to ground my characters in a setting using traditional faerie tropes: the Seelie Court, trolls, a magical system based on Glamour (illusion vs reality), and elements of the good/bad elements of being a “changeling..”
My favorite type of fae would be elves. I was lucky enough to find Dungeons and Dragons early in its life-cycle (when TSR still published the system). I loved the way that they portrayed elves: lithe, quick, preternaturally gifted and able to master whatever they set their mind to do. Slight in build, but strong in heart and character, the elves in the D&D universe (which I later discovered was an evolution of Tolkien’s elves from his works) were the model to which I aspired.
Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? (ie: Tinkerbell, Puck, etc.)
If I may be allowed to expand my definition of fairy characters, I really like the way Legolas was presented in The Lord of the Rings movies—Orlando Bloom’s interpretation of the character is pretty much exactly how I envisioned elves when I was a child in the eighties. Not only was the fighting style of Legolas and the other elves impressive (able to switch from bow to blade and back to bow seamlessly and effortlessly), but the etherealness and otherworldliness shown in the movies makes me wish that I was twelve years old again. The barrel scene in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug exemplifies the deadly grace of the elves while maintaining their aloofness and dashes of wry humor that makes them seem so alien.
Do you believe in fairies?
Not as creatures who are real. As a child, I loved mythology. I checked out any books on myths and legends that I could from my local library. It didn’t make any difference to me whether the myths were Greek/Roman, Norse, or even Egyptian—I pretty much read it all. However, I never believed those myths; my mind automatically categorized myths and legends as stories. When I read about faeries and the fae, my mind filed them into to the myths and legends category. So, to me, the Fae became stories that I can now draw upon as inspiration when I’m writing speculative fiction.
Excerpt from Faerie Knight by Sidney Blaylock Jr. (326 Words):
On any other day, he would not have dared draw Silverthorne in public, but this being Halloween. Thomas felt confident that the blade would simply seem like part of his costume. He was dressed in a flowing black coat that reached down to his ankles and wore a dark tri-cornered hat which gave him a decidedly seedy look. The long black cloth mask that covered his nose and mouth completed the costume and made him look thoroughly disreputable and menacing, as was his intent–his costume was that of a highwayman.
He stalked two trolls as they swaggered through the streets of suburbia. They had thick grayish skin and large unblinking eyes, like sharks. Their faces were thick and stone-like. They were not mortals in costumes, but fae, members of the Unseelie Court. Kids in costumes and their adult supervisors passed the trolls completely unaware.
Thomas followed the pair. He knew that his disguise and the fact it was Halloween would keep them from noticing him. He did have to be careful, however, as his fairy sight touched off a sense of unease in Fae. The last thing he wanted to do was spook these two. Thomas needed their leader.
“Hey, man, that’s a nice sword! Where’d you buy it?”
Thomas turned. A tall Chewbacca, escorting Princess Jasmine, pointed to Silverthorne.
He saluted Chewie with Silverthorne. “I made it myself. It’s one-of-a-kind.”
Chewbacca nodded. “I’ve got to get me one of those.”
Thomas turned back to the two trolls, but though his attention had only been diverted for a moment, they were nowhere in sight. He scanned the street, but he saw no Fae, only trick-or-treaters.
His heart sped. Too old and too slow, he berated himself. Lives depended on him and he just lost the trolls. They were his only lead to the fae that would probably try to abduct a child tonight and replace them with a changeling. He could not let that happen.