“Rhonda Parrish has assembled a stellar collection that runs the gamut of Urban Fantasy to Weird Fiction. Easily the most consistently satisfying anthology I’ve read in years.”
— K.L. Young, Executive Editor, Strange Aeons Magazine
Hay-men, mommets, tattie bogles, kakashi, tao-tao—whether formed of straw or other materials, the tradition of scarecrows is pervasive in farming cultures around the world. The scarecrow serves as decoy, proxy, and effigy—human but not human. We create them in our image and ask them to protect our crops and by extension our very survival, but we refrain from giving them the things a creation might crave—souls, brains, free-will, love. In Scarecrow, fifteen authors of speculative fiction explore what such creatures might do to gain the things they need or, more dangerously, think they want.
Within these pages, ancient enemies join together to destroy a mad mommet, a scarecrow who is a crow protects solar fields and stores long-lost family secrets, a woman falls in love with a scarecrow, and another becomes one. Encounter scarecrows made of straw, imagination, memory, and robotics while being spirited to Oz, mythological Japan, other planets, and a neighbor’s back garden. After experiencing this book, you’ll never look at a hay-man the same.
Featuring all new work by Jane Yolen, Andrew Bud Adams, Laura Blackwood, Amanda Block, Scott Burtness, Amanda C. Davis, Megan Fennell, Kim Goldberg, Katherine Marzinsky, Craig Pay, Sara Puls, Holly Schofield, Virginia Carraway Stark, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.
“With fifteen talented writers and a subject that is both evocative and memorable, Rhonda Parrish’s new anthology, Scarecrow, is no straw man. Like any good scarecrow, this anthology is truly outstanding in its field. Don’t be scared to pick this up and give it a read.”
— Steve Vernon, author of Tatterdemon
Scarecrow Hangs by Jane Yolen Kakashi and Crow by Megan Fennell Only the Land Remembers by Amanda Block Skin Map by Kim Goldberg Waking from His Master’s Dream by Katherine Marzinsky A Fist Full of Straw by Kristina Wojtaszek Judge and Jury by Laura VanArendonk Baugh The Straw Samurai by Andrew Bud Adams Black Birds by Laura Blackwood Edith and I by Virginia Carraway Stark Scarecrow Progressions (Rubber Duck Remix) by Sara Puls Truth About Crows by Craig Pay The Roofnight by Amanda C. Davis Two Steps Forward by Holly Schofield If I Only Had an Autogenic Cognitive Decision Matrix by Scott Burtness
I love this lineup and I cannot wait to share it with the world 🙂
(Titles and such are subject to change right up until publication, of course)
It’s Friday, and you know what that means! Fae-tastic Fridays continue. This week I’m stoked to share contributor Amanda Block’s interview and an excerpt from her story, Antlers.
Amanda Block’s Interview
What was the inspiration for your Fae story?
For some time, I had been mulling over three separate ideas: an original tale influenced by English folklore (I had ‘featuring stag?’ written in my notes), a story about someone being imprisoned in a garden, and an environmental fairy tale. When I realised they would fit together very neatly, the rest of Antlers quickly followed.
Was this your first foray into writing fairy stories? If no, why do you write fairy stories? What is it about them that appeals to you?
I would actually say that most of my writing is influenced by fairy tales. There are many, many reasons I like using them, at least as a starting point, but perhaps the principle one is this: I believe fairy tales are stories stripped down their purest and most basic form. Generally, there is no room for psychology or backstory, lengthy descriptions or character development – only plot. Philip Pullman, who recently reworked some of the world’s most famous stories in Grimm Tales for Young and Old, has said that a fairy tale is ‘made out of events’.*
As such, I find them a very useful writing tool. There are so many directions in which to take them: Snow White, for example, could be told from the mirror’s perspective, could be set in space, could evolve into an entirely different yarn about poison… But even if the fairy tale is turned upside down, or forgotten entirely in the development of the new fiction, I think at least beginning with a story structure that has been passed down hundreds of years, and that has survived countless retellings, can only serve to enhance and strengthen an original piece of writing.
Outside of your own writing, who is your favourite fairy character? What is it about them that makes them special?
I have always been fascinated by the eponymous hero of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. First of all, and most obviously, he’s completely impossible: ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up.’ But even aside from that, he’s a complex riddle of a character, who veers from heroic and carefree (‘I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird broken out of the egg!’) to tragic and morbid (‘to die would be an awfully big adventure’). I’m always surprised that Barrie’s play is only just over a century old – there is such a mythical quality to the idea of a boy blessed (and doomed?) with eternal youth.
Excerpt from Antlers by Amanda Block (445 Words):
The garden is a crypt. Vines grasp at the walls, pulling themselves upwards, right towards the throats of the tallest trees, which bow forward to meet one another, branches clasping branches.
Inside, there is no breeze, and the air is thick with the musk of pollen and damp, dark earth. The birds that remain stand still in the shrubs, their songs low and mournful.
At the centre, lies the Lady. Under the netting of shadows, her skin seems to shine and shift, like moonlight upon water. The only colour is at her breast, opening up like a red flower thrust forward through time, blossoming around the arrow that has pierced her heart.
She was pulled from the dying Queen, strong and squalling, and they quickly shushed and rocked and coddled her. Her mother, quiet at last, gazed only once upon her girl, before her eyes rolled back in her head.
There was no time to be respectful, to even check, before they cut into the Queen’s belly and dug around for the other child. It was a small, sinewy creature slipping like entrails through their fingers; the wrong colour, too quiet. They stood back while the midwife snipped at the cord and then, at the sound of the rasping, rattling breaths, surged forward once more. The healthy girl child was snatched from the wet nurse and replaced by her brother. Her screams filled the chamber, but no one heard her.
The twins were both pale, raven-haired, he and she versions of the same doll, though everyone could tell them apart. The girl was her mother’s daughter, tumbling outside at dawn and only returning at dusk, covered in grass stains and chattering about the lark’s nest above the gatehouse or the frogspawn in the moat. The boy was weaker, more wary, preferring to play his own games with his own rules. Sometimes he watched his sister through the arrowslits in the castle walls. He knew of the moments that had passed between the beginning of her life and his, when she had tried to steal his birthright by pushing herself first from their mother’s womb. It angered him, as it angered him to see the servants slip her cake, or their father gift her with the private garden within the castle grounds, which had once belonged to their mother.
As the old King faded, his daughter bloomed, and his son wavered somewhere in between. The Prince hated that the people loved her, the rosy almost-queen, and by the time his father died, and the crown sat heavy upon his brow, there was nothing in the kingdom he loathed more than his own sister.
World Weaver Press and I are going to host an official cover reveal for Fae on May 21st. In addition to showing off our fantastic cover, we’ll also be hosting a giveaway of several copies (through Goodreads).
Meet Robin Goodfellow as you’ve never seen him before, watch damsels in distress rescue themselves, get swept away with the selkies and enjoy tales of hobs, green men, pixies and phookas. One thing is for certain, these are not your grandmother’s fairy tales.
Fairies have been both mischievous and malignant creatures throughout history. They’ve dwelt in forests, collected teeth or crafted shoes. Fae is full of stories that honor that rich history while exploring new and interesting takes on the fair folk from castles to computer technologies and modern midwifing, the Old World to Indianapolis.
Fae covers a vast swath of the fairy story spectrum, making the old new and exploring lush settings with beautiful prose and complex characters. Enjoy the familiar feeling of a good old-fashioned fairy tale alongside urban fantasy and horror with a fae twist.
With an introduction by Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman, and all new stories from Sidney Blaylock Jr., Amanda Block, Kari Castor, Beth Cato, Liz Colter, Rhonda Eikamp, Lor Graham, Alexis A. Hunter, L.S. Johnson, Jon Arthur Kitson, Adria Laycraft, Lauren Liebowitz, Christine Morgan, Shannon Phillips, Sara Puls, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.
If you’d like to participate in the official reveal, please leave a comment to this blog post before May 17th (short notice, I know) and I’ll send you all the information you need by the 19th. Otherwise, just be sure and check back here on the 21st for the official unveiling of the cover and information about how you can enter to win a copy for yourself!
ETA:A friend asked me to explain a bit about what ‘hosting the reveal’ meant, for those people who aren’t familiar with the jargon. Basically, right before the day of the official reveal I will send out a copy of the cover image, a description of the book, links for the Goodreads giveaway, excerpts and all that sort of fun stuff to everyone who signs up to host the reveal. Then, on the day of the reveal all the hosts will post a blog entry with the cover image and whatever other bits of the book information they want to share.
People who don’t have a blog don’t need to sign up, but they can absolutely help still by spreading the word on social media, voting for the book in polls and entering to win the giveaway.
It’s been quite a journey since World Weaver Press and I first announced that I’d be editing an anthology of fairy stories. Fae has grown from a vague idea to a solid manuscript over the past few months and become even more amazing than I’d hoped. We have seventeen fantastic stories that are going to blow you away.
Allow me to share the table of contents from my forthcoming anthology, Fae:
These stories run the gamut from high-tech to old-fashioned and will sweep you away to settings as varied as modern day Indianapolis, the American civil war and mystical medieval kingdoms. They have, as I requested in my call for submissions, lush settings, beautiful prose and complex characters, and come this summer, if you’re a fan of fairies and folklore, you are going to fall in love with this book.