10/24/13
Fenn

Guest Post: Award-winning 47North Author, J. Lincoln Fenn

 

 

 

 

 

J. Lincoln Fenn is a talented writer with street cred; she won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for her thriller/horror/mystery novel, POE. She’s a genre-bending author that’s been compared to Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon. How can you not have a look at her work? She has been kind enough to grace my blog with a post on category-defying books throughout history (and their wonderful effect on literature).

MARY SHELLEY, GENRE-BENDER

It’s the summer of 1816, Switzerland, although it doesn’t feel like it­—the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora has cast the world into a long volcanic winter. What’s a bored girl to do?

Merry Mary Shelley

If you’re 19-year old Mary Shelley, you decide you’re going to win a bet about who can come up with the scariest tale, this although you’re up against Percy Shelley (you’re not married to him yet) and Lord Bryon.

And a classic novel that bent, blended, and invented genres, is born.

Although Frankenstein most obviously checks the horror genre box, it carries romantic and gothic elements and is considered by many to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction too.  That genre mix was popular with readers, not so much with critics. The Quarterly Review called Frankenstein, “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”.

Apparently they hadn’t read the Monsanto prospectus.

As if mixing horror, gothic, romance, and sci-fi wasn’t enough of a feat, Frankenstein also sprinkles in some Greek mythology. Five second quiz for all you horror aficionados this Halloween—what was Frankenstein’s alternate title?

 A)    Not so Warm Bodies

B)    Dawn of the Newly Re-Assembled Dead

C)     The Modern Prometheus

You’re right, it’s C (can’t fool you none).

*This* Prometheus relied on special effects instead of deep, emotional writing.

Prometheus was more than a bad prequel to Aliens. In the Western psyche, Prometheus serves as the epitome of bad things that happen when you pursue science without understanding its dangerous consequences, interesting because at the time Shelley wrote Frankenstein, experiments were being performed on dead flesh. These experiments included the electro-stimulation of executed prisoner George Forster’s limbs at Newgate in London. “On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.”

Don’t even ask me about the frogs.

So now we have horror, gothic, romance, sci-fi, Greek mythology and the moral implications of contemporary issues.

Let’s add some personal experience, shall we?

Shelley did what any good writer of her, or any time, would do, which was to mix bits of her own life, her experienced horror, into the story. Frankenstein, (the scientist, not the monster who had no name), loses his mother to scarlet fever, then his brother and wife are murdered by the creature. Shelley’s own mother died eleven days after giving birth to her, leaving an epic void in her life. She lost one of her children shortly after giving birth, and lived through the suicide of her stepmother and stepsister. Not exactly a stranger to death’s sting.  And it’s quite probable that the emotional impact of her personal experience is what gives Frankenstein its longevity and contemporary relevance.

Do audiences still want that kind of genre blend?

Unclassifiable?

When I first started to shop my novel POE, everyone loved the writing but no one knew where to sell it. And they told me that if, miraculously, they did find a publisher, where the heck would the bookstores shelve it?  All would be better if POE colored inside some genre lines.  It couldn’t be horror and new adult and dark urban fantasy and literary. It couldn’t span Russian occult practices in the early 20th century, the séance craze during America’s gilded age, a contemporary and economically depressed New England town, magic squares, ghosts, angels/demons, my own horrific hospital experience plus my parents’ deaths, and, for god’s sake, be irreverent too.

I tried, but I just couldn’t write it any other way. It wouldn’t let me.

Through sheer, dumb luck, I finally entered POE into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest where it placed first in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror category. Then, through an even bigger stroke of dumb luck, Amazon’s 47North was publishing the winner because they were looking for genre-bending work.

I’d finally found the island of misfit toys where I belonged, in a cadre of other authors who don’t fit into boxes neatly either (you can see them here – buy all their books, please). Maybe Shelley should be our patron saint.

Because if Frankenstein is any example, one should be careful about underestimating the market for books that defy easy categorization.

Here’s to new latitudes, odd genre blends, and virtual shelves you can call whatever the hell you want.

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As of Oct. 22, 2013, POE is now available for your virtual (or physical) shelf: http://www.amazon.com/Poe-ebook/dp/B00CQC9O5M.

J. Lincoln Fenn began her horror career in the 7th grade when she entertained her friends at a sleepover by telling them the mysterious clanking noise (created by the baseboard heater) was in fact the ghost of a woman who had once lived in the farmhouse, forced to cannibalize her ten children during a particularly bad winter. Strangely, it was the last slumber party she was allowed to have. The author graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in English, and lives on an island (not deserted) with her family.

You can find out more about her on her website, jlincolnfenn.com

10/22/13
Book2_Cover

Just Released: The Beast of Maug Maurai, Book II

I know it’s been a long time in coming, and I apologize for the delay, but I’ve just released ‘ Feeding the Gods.’ The epic-fantasy novel continues the adventures of Grae Barragns, brig in the Laraytian Standards, and of Black Murrogar, hero of Laryatia and the former Champion of Nuldryn. Like the first book, Feeding the Gods alternates between Grae’s squad of soldiers and Murrogar’s mob of lords and ladies. I’ve included a teaser excerpt below to get you in the mood. Enjoy!

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Murrogar already had a fire going when Lojen sent his gaze through the gaps in the forest canopy. The old hero been up an hour earlier, chasing the fat, waddling birds in the pre-dawn dark and slaughtering four of them. A party that had required five boar and three stags to feed could now feast comfortably on four plump birds.

He had slept fitfully, expecting an attack during the night. An attack that never came. It was the first night without a death. He should have been pleased, but he felt only a vague sense of dread. He ran a whetstone over the duke’s sword.

After the meal, Murrogar got the nobles moving. It was hard work. They were in agony, every one of them with sore muscles and many with gashed, blistered feet. But Maeris was somewhere to the south and Murrogar wanted to get to Maeris more than the travelers wanted to complain.

The duke approached. “I’d like you to speak with the others about decorum.”

Murrogar grinned. “Decorum?”

“Yes. The others are not addressing me as Your Grace anymore. And they are being sloppy when they eat. Wiping their hands on their clothing and such.”

“You’re right, without question.” Murrogar laughed. “They’ll be chewing with their mouth open before long.”

“This is a serious matter, Murrogar. Decorum must be upheld. When we get back to Lae Duerna I plan on giving a speech on this subject.”

“Are you truly speaking to me about manners?” Murrogar asked. “Here in Maug Maurai?”

“Decorum must be upheld,” said the duke. “It is the soul of nobility.” He leaned forward and, with a sideways glance, whispered, “I saw one of the ladies spit. Can you imagine? She spat like a sailor. No. We won’t tolerate this. We cannot. We cannot.”

Murrogar stopped walking and stared at the duke for a long time. The man didn’t meet his gaze, only shook his head and glanced back at the others. “Decorum must be upheld, Murrogar. Without it, we are nothing but savages.”

“Of course, m’lord,” Murrogar spoke slowly.

“You’ll take care of it?”

“I will,” Murrogar replied. “We’ll get those bastards in line.”

The duke nodded and walked off after the duchess. Murrogar watched him go and exchanged a look with Thantos.

“I think this forest has knocked a couple gems from his crown,” Thantos said.

They followed the great stone ridge for fifty yards, the nobles without shoes stepping from stone to stone to save their bleeding feet from the twigs and burs of the forest floor. The ridge curled to the right and when the group turned the corner Murrogar stopped so quickly that Thantos, who was talking to him, spoke into mid-air for two more steps. Everyone fell silent, except for Sir Wyann, who laughed and took off his helmet.

Yawning against the curve of the ridge was a cave. A gaping, ten-foot-high, toothless-mouth of a cave. For Wyann, no blythallow or palace had ever looked so beautiful as that crude, dark cave there in Maug Maurai.

Murrogar looked closely. No vegetation touched the rocks. He scanned the forest. Every other inch of Maug Maurai was covered in green. But the rocks of the cave were untouched by grass or ivy. Not even the carpet moss wanted that cave.

“Safety!” cried Sir Wyann. “We can hold off the Beast in there.” He had taken one of the birch torches they made on the  hilltop two nights earlier, and he drew it out now, struck it alight while Murrogar studied the cave.

Murrogar shook his head. “No. We keep moving.”

The nobles hesitated, their gazes creeping toward the cave. Sir Wyann turned on Murrogar, his face creased so tightly that his eyes were nearly lost beneath the blond brows. “Are you mad?” He pointed to the cave. “That’s shelter! The first decent shelter we’ve seen.”

“Yup,” Murrogar motioned to the nobles with his hands, ordered them to continue walking. He eyed the cave again. There were no tracks outside. No leaves disturbed.

Sir Wyann stepped closer, grabbed Murrogar’s arm. “Why? Why?”

Murrogar grabbed the knight by the top of his breastplate and shook hard. “Because that Beast cuts us off from every hill, ridge or hole that we’ve seen. Because it let us come here. Because that cave don’t look right. Because I don’t like it. And we’re not going in.”

But someone had already gone in.

 

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Thanks, all of you, for your continued support. I look forward to reading your comments about Feeding the Gods. And stay tuned here, on my blog, for more upcoming announcements on future work.

10/18/13
MaugMaurai

New Map for Book 2 of BoMM

Why am I releasing a new map for book II of The Beast of Maug Maurai? There’s only one reason I can think of. Check back here in the next couple of days and you’ll see! Until then, I give you, the forest of Maug Maurai. If anyone sees any mistakes or has suggestions, please let me know before . . . well, before whatever happens in a couple of days happens. There’s limited time for me to make changes. Enjoy!

10/10/13
NostrumCover900x600

Nostrum Episode 8 and a Deleted Scene

** Warning: This post contains spoilers for episode 8. Ye be warned ***

And so we come to the end of another book in Edward Dallingridge’s quest to recover the woman he loves. I enjoyed writing Nostrum very much. It was a lighter book, with more outright humor than the first, and I laughed a lot while tapping at the keys. I want to thank all of you, once again, for the tremendous support you have given me while  writing this volume. Your comments and encouragement keep me going, and encourage me to make each episode better than the last.

Book 3, if there is a book  3, will return a bit to the grittier tone that was set in the first book, although Tristan will make sure (as he always does) that the book does not become too dark.

So, what did Edward accomplish in episode 8? Um, just about everything. He drove off a hundred peasants, tried to kill the alchemist, dabbled in alchemy, escaped from Sir Gerald in the foulest of manners (one of the most enjoyable scenes to write *ever*), slays a dragon, takes a fortified monastery with an army of lepers, and, oh yeah, finds the cure to the demon plague of 1385.

So which of those do we want to discuss? None of them. I want to talk about Belisencia. Who is not Belisencia at all, but Elizabeth of Lancaster. For those of you familiar with medieval history, you know the Lancaster family and it’s role in a little bit of English domestic violence involving the York family. Some call it the War of the Roses. I call it rich literary farmland. And Elizabeth was around when the first volley in the war was fired. I won’t get into too many specifics because I hope to touch on some of that in the next book.

Okay, so, when Edward and Tristan escape from St.Benet’s, they sail off on a boat down the River Bure. Because of the length of the episode, I had to cut a scene at that point. It dealt with Sir Gerald’s propensity for getting shot every time the knights met him. I thought it would be fun to include that scene here. It hasn’t been edited for content or copy, so it’s a bit raw.  If you find a mistake, I’ll refund the money you paid for this scene.

“We can’t leave Belisencia,” Tristan says.

“We don’t have a choice,” I say. “We’ll come back for her.”

“Sir Gerald won’t be happy,” he replies. “He’ll get tortureful with her.”

“Not a chance,” I say. “She’s King Richard’s cousin and she’s married to Sir Brian’s brother. Even if Gerald dares to cross Richard, he won’t cross his new ally.” I shrug. “The worst they’ll do is piss on her symbolically.”

“That’s not funny,” he replies.

I laugh. “Did something finally offend Tristan of Rye?”

“Alright,” he says. “It was a little funny.”

I laugh again. It has been many years since I sailed on a ship. The wind whips my robe. I smell the river brine and think about my days serving the earl of Hereford. I sailed with him in a naval campaign against the French, and by God, I loved every moment. Has it truly been fifteen years since that campaign?

Six servants at the oars paddle against the current, pulling the cog forward slowly. Daniel and another servant unfurl the square sail. Figures approach the abbey from the south. Maybe ten of them. Lurching slowly through the swamps. More and more plaguers are being drawn to St. Benet’s.

“So, Gerald will look for us in Norwich while we head to Bure,” Tristan says. “A good misdirection.”

“It’s not a misdirection,” I say. “We’re going to Norwich first.”

Tristan studies me for a long moment. “Gerald knows we’re going there now, Edward. I don’t think you’ve quite mastered the concept of strategy.”

“I’m done running from him,” I say. “It ends today.”

We pass the single tower on the abbey walls just as Sir Gerald, Sir Brian, and six other riders sprint from the gates. They ride as close to the river as they dare. Sir Gerald wears no helmet and even from the river I can see the twisted, pocked skin that covers half his face; A result of the gun explosion. A bald streak high on his forehead marks the spot where a deflected bullet from another canon tore through part of his scalp.

He screams something but with the whipping wind I only catch the word “limbs.” I shrug and wave at him. He stops his horse on the bank ahead of us and glares. Two of his men dismount and wind crossbows, so I step behind the main mast and tell the others to duck low. Tristan does not listen. He draws the single-shot hand cannon from the sack at my shoulder and uses the clay pot to light a firing cord.

“What are you doing?” I say.

“Can you get a little closer?” he asks Daniel.

The ship drifts closer to shore. A bolt buries itself in the side of the hull. The second slams into the mast inches from me. Tristan aims carefully and lights my cannon. The blast makes the stomach-punching sound of a giant block of sandstone dropped to the earth from a castle tower. The servants at the oars duck low as a jet of white smoke billows from the gun. Soldiers on the riverbank scurry, but not before we hear the sound of metal striking metal. A terrible clang that echoes across the river. I look closely. Sir Gerald holds his arm and winces. The gunstone blew the steel bracer off his arm. Tristan cheers.

“What are you screaming about?” I ask. “You didn’t hurt him.”

“I didn’t think I would,” he says. “I just wanted to shoot him. If we lose our traditions, Edward, then we lose our humanity.”

That’s all for now! Thanks very much for your support with the Scourge books. Keep checking back here for news about a possible third book soon. Questions or comments about the episode? Please leave a note for me here and I’ll respond. Cheers!