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Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World


Please welcome Jacey Bedford to The Qwillery! Silverwolf (Rowankind 2) was published on January 3rd by DAW.



Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World




Building Half a World
By Jacey Bedford

Thanks to Sally for inviting me to write a blog post for The Qwillery. My fourth book, Silverwolf, has just been published (by DAW). It’s a historical fantasy. Because I hop back and forth between writing science fiction and fantasy, I’ve been thinking a lot about worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is nothing new to writers of speculative fiction. We have to do it all the time, make the background to our novels live – and that’s before we start with plot or characterisation. (Though not necessarily ‘before’ in a chronological sense as in my experience they all seem to jumble into my head at the same time.) In a contemporary novel the writer can assume that the reader will take things for granted, especially if the novel is set in a familiar Western culture. We live in a built world with houses, streets, taxicabs, aeroplanes, McDonalds, shops, televisions, the internet, shoes, breakfast cereal. In science fiction and fantasy you don’t necessarily have all that, though you may have some of it. (Will there be McDonalds on the Moon and Mars two centuries hence?)

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Worldbuilding is fun because you can simply make stuff up – although, of course, it has to be logical and believable, or at least have verisimilitude. One of the (many) definitions of science fiction is that it should be believably extrapolated from science and physics as we understand them. But if your story is far enough in the future then there comes a point where all bets are off. In my Psi-Tech space opera books, I can launch a flight of fancy (literally) and as long as I make it seem real and logical, I Crossways.) And I can have my spaceships reach places in super-fast times by using a system of jump gates that make shortcuts through foldspace. The folding space concept isn’t new, of course, I’ve just added a twist to it. A twist that could change everything.
can introduce new concepts, or borrow existing tropes and play with them. I can create new worlds—worlds that have pink grass or are 98% covered in water, worlds that are dangerously exposed to their sun’s rays, or are just coming out of an ice-age. I can invent a space station which houses a million people and is run by a coalition of crimelords. (Hint: it’s called

Worldbuilding for historical fantasy is slightly different. You already have a world, fully formed, which you need to research thoroughly and then you need to add in your own world-bits while still keeping everything believable. My historical fantasies (The Rowankind Trilogy) is set in 1800 - 1802 in a Britain with magic, but the magic is subtle. At first it just looks like
Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
the straightforward historical 1800. Ross (Rossalinde) Tremayne is an unconventional heroine because she dresses as a man and captains her own privateer ship, but that’s not flying in the face of history. There have been female pirates before. Female everything before.

I found this little newspaper snippet about a cross-dressing female whose gender wasn’t discovered for nine years. That’s not bad going in the days before everyone had personal privacy.

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
The first Rowankind book, Winterwood, opens in Plymouth, a town strongly tied to the ocean. I’ve visited there several times, but don’t know it all that well. I was lucky enough to find a series of detailed historical maps on the web (which sadly have disappeared since my original research). They gave me my starting point with street names and an idea of what Sutton Pool looked like at the right point in history. Thanks to Pinterest, I also found a series of Victorian photographs and earlier illustrations showing buildings in Plymouth and especially around the Barbican and Sutton Pool that were old enough to have been there in 1800. (Plymouth took a lot of bomb damage in the Second World War, so Plymouth today doesn’t always map very well on to Plymouth in 1800 except around the water line.)
Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Having established real, historical Plymouth I then introduced magic into the world. Oh, look over there, there are licensed witches who have their places of business near the market and offer small spells for sale as designated by the Mysterium – the government organisation that regulates magic. Then we discover that Ross is an unregistered witch, something she could hang for if they catch her. The magic unfolds from there.

There’s a race of beings, not quite human, though human enough that people have forgotten that skin that looks ash grey and has grain marks like polished wood is not normal. These are the rowankind, gentle, uncomplaining bond-servants inserted into most middle and upper class houses. Their free labour props up households and businesses, and since we’re thirty years into the Industrial Revolution, they also labour in the early manufacturies, and in peripheral jobs. No one remembers where they came from. They’ve always been there—or have they?

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
So far, so good. The magic blends in with early nineteenth century life as it really was. The rowankind support the industrial revolution. Nothing much is out of place—yet! As we get deeper into the book we discover more magic lurking in the background of this world. The forests are protected by the Green Man and the Forest Lady. And what’s all this talk about the Fae, surely they are just a legend? Then there’s Corwen, a wolf shapechanger who’s turned his back on his family because he thinks his family has turned its back on him.

It’s like building a wall. The bricks are the reality of history, while the mortar fills up the cracks with whatever you need to build your story. I’ve used real places and real history and built on them. The house where Corwen’s family lives is based on a country house close to where I live. When Corwen and Ross go to London in search of Corwen’s twin brother Freddie, I’ve used real streets and likely houses, plus Ross ship, the Heart of Oak anchors off Wapping Old Stairs on the Thames. These stairs were designed as access to the river in an increasingly built-up London. Wapping Old Stairs are next to a pub called
Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Photographed for E. Arnot Robertson's book
Thames Portrait (Macmillan, 1937).
the Town of Ramsgate, which is still there today. It changed its name a few times, from the Red Cow, to Ramsgate Town and then to the Town of Ramsgate, but the exact dates aren’t recorded. I’ve had to take my chances with guessing what research can’t tell me. With research, you get as close as you can, but sometimes, you still have to guess what the most likely option is.

For instance I needed to know who made the red coats for the British army. I could find out who commissioned them, how much they cost, and even what the rake off for the commissioning officer was, but I couldn’t find out for sure who actually plied the needle and under what conditions. (This is before the army’s factory at Pimlico was opened and before all the information on Victorian East End sweatshops becomes relevant.) In the end I had to make a guess based on what I know of the history of the time and what seems likely. Sweatshop it is, then—only this one is run by goblins
But it’s not just getting the historical facts right.

What you have to remember is that whatever you put into your story is going to make changes to history as we know it. In my world Mad King George is still mad, but that madness has a magical root. Boulton and Watt are still manufacturing steam engines, but how will that change if the factory owners discover that the rowankind can manipulate wind and water? Lighting the cities with gas is only a few years away (London’s first street was lit in 1807), but why would anyone need to invent gas lighting if the streets can be lit by magic? If a ship under full sail can be propelled by a weather witch, why would anyone need to invent the steamship?

All interesting questions which need to be answered.

In Winterwood Ross and Corwen free the rowankind from their bondage. In Silverwolf they have to deal with the ramifications of their actions. And, yes, the third book, Rowankind, is already in my head. In the meantime I’m working on Nimbus, the third Psi-Tech novel, due out in October 2017.

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Cover Art by Larry Rostant

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Cover Art by Stephan Martiniere





About Jacey

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Jacey Bedford is a British writer from Yorkshire with over thirty short stories and four (so far) novels to her credit. She lives behind a desk in an old stone house on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd – that’s a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany. She’s the hon. sec. of Milford SF Writers’ Conference, held annually in North Wales.

Jacey’s books:
Empire of Dust (Psi-Tech series #1)
Crossways (Psi-Tech series #2)
Nimbus (Psi-Tech series #3) Due October 2017
Winterwood (Rowankind #1)
Silverwolf (Rowankind #2)

Follow Jacey:
Web: http://www.jaceybedford.co.uk
Twitter: @jaceybedford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jacey.bedford.writer
Blog: http://jaceybedford.wordpress.com
Milford: http://www.milfordSF.co.uk





Psi-Tech

Empire of Dust
A Psi-Tech Novel 1
DAW, November 4, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Mega corporations, more powerful than any one planetary government, use their agents to race each other for resources across the galaxy. The agents, or psi-techs, are implanted with telepath technology. The psi-techs are bound to the mega-corps — that is, if they want to retain their sanity.

Cara Carlinni is an impossible thing – a runaway psi-tech. She knows Alphacorp can find its implant-augmented telepaths, anywhere, anytime, mind-to-mind. So even though it’s driving her half-crazy, she’s powered down and has been surviving on tranqs and willpower. So far, so good. It’s been almost a year, and her mind is still her own.

She’s on the run from Ari van Blaiden, a powerful executive, after discovering massive corruption in Alphacorp. Cara barely escapes his forces, yet again, on a backwater planet, and gets out just in time due to the help of straight-laced Ben Benjamin, a psi-tech Navigator for Alphacorp’s biggest company rival.

Cara and Ben struggle to survive a star-spanning manhunt, black-ops raids, and fleets of resource-hungry raiders. Betrayal follows betrayal, and friends become enemies. Suddenly the most important skill is knowing whom to trust.



Crossways
A Psi-Tech Novel 2
DAW, August 4, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught.

So they better not get caught.

These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is.

They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state-of-the-art jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that, Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.

Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. In fact, this might be the excuse they’ve been looking for….




Rowankind

Winterwood
Rowankind 1
DAW, February 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered.

Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can.

Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?

Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and desastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?



Silverwolf
Rowankind 2
DAW, January 3, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a World
A swashbuckling adventure following privateer Ross Tremayne introduces Jacey Bedford’s magical alternate history series, Rowankind

Britain, 1801. King George’s episodic sanity is almost as damaging as his madness. First Consul Napoleon is gathering his forces in France. The disease of democracy is spreading. The world is poised on the brink of the modern era, but the rowankind, long a source of free labor, have shaken off their bonds.

Some have returned to laru to find freedom with the Fae; others are trying to find a place in the world, looking for fair treatment under the law. The course of the industrial revolution may change forever.

Wild magic is on the rise. Creatures of legend are returning to the world: kelpies, pixies, trolls, hobs, and goblins. Ross and Corwen, she a summoner witch and he a wolf shapechanger, have freed the rowankind from bondage, but now they are caught in the midst of the conflict, while trying their best to avoid the attention of the Mysterium, the government organization which would see them hanged for their magic.

When an urgent letter calls Corwen back to Yorkshire, he and Ross become embroiled in dark magic, family secrets, and industrial treachery. London beckons. There they discover a missing twin, an unexpected friend, and an old enemy—called Walsingham.

Interview with Jacey Bedford


Please welcome Jacey Bedford to The Qwillery. Winterwood, the first novel in the Rowankind series, was published on February 2nd by DAW.



Interview with Jacey Bedford




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter, pantser or hybrid?

Jacey:  The most challenging thing is nor the actual writing, but making time for it. I used to be a full-time folk singer with the trio Artisan, an a cappella vocal trio touring internationally, which is how I come to have contacts in the USA even though I'm British and live in Britain. I still sing with Artisan for the occasional reunion tour, but currently, in my other day job, I'm a music booking agent for folk musicians touring in the UK. I work from home, so I have to balance both sides of my life.

Re plotting or pantsing: I'm a hybrid. If I'm starting from scratch on a new concept (i.e. not a sequel) I tend to get an idea - it may be a scene or a character or a person in a particular situation - and I write it to see what happens, and then I continue to see what happens next. I usually have an idea of how I want the whole thing to end up, but I don't always commit that to writing straight away. Sometimes I can get to 10, 20 or even 30,000 words before I stand back, take a long look and draft out a proper plan. Even then I may not stick to it. It may evolve. Sometimes the characters surprise me by doing something I didn't expect them to do. Usually that's because of something I've already built into them and my subconscious is saying: Hey, if that just happened then this is what she's going to do next. If it's a sequel or the middle book in a trilogy I usually have a beginning and end point, but my plan may also have a large chunk in the middle which on the outline just says 'stuff happens'.

That's how Winterwood started. The deathbed scene between Ross and her estranged mother just came into my mind and I had to write it. At that time I thought Ross was a pirate, but she turned out to be a privateer. I didn't know about Will's ghost until he popped up later and it seemed as though Ross wasn't fazed by him. Will's ghost is jealous and occasionally mean, unlike Will was in life, and they snark at each other sometimes, but I figure he's clinging to what he can and it's changed him. Still, Ross is glad he hasn't left her altogether. Her need enables him.



TQDescribe Winterwood in 140 characters or less.

Jacey:  1800. Sea, magic, pirates, love. Cross dressing Ross tackles a difficult task with the ghost of her late husband & a sexy wolf shapechanger.



TQTell us something about Winterwood that is not found in the book description.

Jacey:  Ross is very fond of her crew aboard the Heart of Oak, Particularly Hookey Garrity, a one-handed, barely-reformed pirate who has given her his complete loyalty. Also Daniel Rafiq, a very cultured African ex-slave, now the ship's quartermaster. They supported her in the dark days after Will's death and they are like big brothers.



TQWhat inspired you to write Winterwood? What appeals to you about writing Historical Fantasy/Alternate History?

Jacey:  I've always been fascinated by history; social and local rather than political, though the political is often needed to put the rest into context. Being able to thread a story into real history is a fascinating exercise, but really it's the story and characters that count. The history informs all that, however, and sometimes gives you unexpected gifts when your research delivers something you can use in the story.

I particularly wanted to set a story in 1800. Everything is converging. The Americans have taken their independence, the French are living with the aftermath of the revolution, Napoleon is rampaging through Europe, and at the same time the industrial revolution is developing quickly. Also King George III is completely mad. There's a possibility he had porphyria (though opinion is still divided), but what if he was unhinged because he had magic?



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Winterwood?

Jacey:  I did an enormous amount of reading on the Georgians and the Regency period, from lightweight popular histories to specific topics like sex in Georgian England and the prostitutes of Covent Garden. I'm a landlubber, so I had to do an enormous amount of work on sailing ships from sail plans to the best timber for a hull (and kudos to the contributors to Wikipedia on these particular topics.) I had to constantly check language, too, trying to avoid anachronisms and using some genuine vocabulary and slang of the time without getting too mired in archaic words and trying to emulate the rhythms of Georgian speech. If you want a laugh go to Project Gutenberg and download Captain Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811. It's a hoot! There are terms there for things you didn't know you needed a term for.

Historical maps also played a big part. I found a great online resource for Plymouth, which is where my story begins. That resource sadly disappeared from the web, but it was a great starting point. Also there's a fabulous map of London by Horwood which is only a few years adrift from my time period and is street-by-street accurate. Street names change over time, bridges get built (and it's important to know when) and areas of the city are developed extremely quickly, so getting something of the right period is vital.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Jacey:  Ross came to me pretty much fully formed: a young widow, estranged from her mother and brother, who has taken on the persona of her dead husband and now owns and captains the Heart of Oak, a privateer tops'l schooner preying on French shipping. She's washing away her grief in saltwater and blood, cleaving to her crew as her family. It's been three years since Will died, but his ghost is still with her, whether she wants him or not (and largely she does). Neither of them have moved on. She's also an unregistered witch at a time when that's a hanging offence (if the Mysterium catches her). Her particular skills are with wind and water, and she's also a summoner, though at the beginning of the book she doesn't understand the significance of that.

Corwen was the most difficult. He's a bit of an enigma and I'm still discovering more about him as I'm writing the second book, Silverwolf. I had to make him sexy and capable, yet mysterious and a little bit dangerous, without giving away too much. We meet him early on (though may not recognise him) and then he reappears about a third of the way through. Needless to say, Will's ghost isn't too thrilled about this and there's a stand-off scene between them which I loved writing, but I can't tell you any more without spoilers.



TQWhich question about Winterwood do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

JaceyWhy is the series called The Rowankind? And where do the Fae, the Green Man and the Lady of the Forests fit in?

The Fae are a very powerful old race who live in Iaru (sometimes known as Orbisalius - the Other World), but they don't really want to interact with the world of humans. Humans are mostly beneath their notice, except when they do something the Fae disapprove of. The Fae's servants, the rowankind, have been enslaved by humans and the Fae reckon it's about time to free them. (That's where Ross comes in.) The Lady of the Forests and the Green Man are elemental spirits of this world, living deep in the green spaces of England, hidden by magic. They know the Fae and sometimes interact, but largely keep separate, taking care of earthly, natural magics.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Winterwood.

Jacey:  I like the opening when Ross returns to the family home and her estranged (dying) mother:
       The stuffy bedroom stank of sickness with an underlying taint of old lady, stale urine and unwashed clothes, poorly disguised with attar of roses. I'd never thought to return to Plymouth, to the house I'd once called home; a house with memories so bitter that I'd tried to scour them from my mind with salt water and blood.

Later, when Ross has found a half-brother she didn't know she had, she's trying to educate him in the ways of the world:
       "Is it true what they say about a sailor having a girl in every port?" David sounded hopeful.
       "If it is it's because the girls have a sailor on every ship."

And when Ross tries to get out of doing the Fae's bidding:
       Soon after true dawn a shout from David woke me and brought me running. He was kneeling in the sand. In front of him, nestling in a small pile of flotsam left by the retreating tide, was the winterwood box.
       David looked up at me. "You can't say it's not your quest now. It's followed you."
       "Leave it where it is. That's how the Navy's witch found us before."
       "I don't care. It's important. Remember what the Lady of the Forest said. It can right a great wrong. It's the key to a new future. If you don't take it, I will." His eyes narrowed and his mouth set in a thin line.
       Damme, he would, too. I bent over and snatched the box, feeling the familiar tingle of magic as I touched it. "Happy now?" I asked him.



TQYou are also the author of the Psi-Tech SF/Space Opera series: Empire of Dust and Crossways. Do the Psi-Tech novels and Winterwood share anything thematically?

Jacey:  Other than the fact that they both have a strong female central character and a relationship at their heart, they probably don't share too much. Empire is about identity and trust, and doing the right thing no matter the cost. Winterwood is about the meaning of family, loyalty, responsibility, and--yeah, OK--doing the right thing no matter the cost. (Though in Winterwood, identifying the right thing is one of the problems.) Maybe there is an overall theme that runs through both, though the 'right thing' is very different in each case.



TQWhat's next?

Jacey:  I'm currently writing the sequel to Winterwood, Silverwolf, which explores the social and political ramifications of what Ross does at the end of Winterwood. Wild magic has been released. Things have happened which could change the course of the industrial revolution and Corwen's respectable family is caught up in the backlash. We're back in Georgian England, in 1801, just a few months after Winterwood concludes. There will be a third Rowankind book to follow Silverwolf, but not until after the third Psi-Tech book, Nimbus, which completes the space opera trilogy.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Jacey:  You're welcome. Thanks for inviting me.





Winterwood
Rowankind 1
DAW, February 2, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Jacey Bedford
It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered.

Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can.

Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?

Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and desastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?





About Jacey

Interview with Jacey Bedford
Jacey Bedford is an English writer with short stories published on both sides of the Atlantic. She is the co-organizer of the UK Milford Writers’ Conference, a peer-to-peer workshopping week for published SF writers. Visit her online at www.jaceybedford.co.uk.










Twitter @jaceybedford ~ Facebook ~ Blog


Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015


Please welcome JG Faherty to The Qwillery. I had the pleasure of meeting JG at BEA in May. I'm thrilled that he's sharing his thoughts on what is horror with us today.

JG's most recent novel is The Cure and most recent novella is Winterwood both published on May 5, 2015 by Samhain Publishing.



Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015




A Discussion of Horror?
Guest post by JG Faherty

I write horror. At least, that's what I tell most people, and that's how I tend to get categorized. Of course, like most writers, I do more than that. I write science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and pieces that fall into various sub-categories such as paranormal romance, paranormal erotica, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, weird fiction... the list, like the possibilities for stories, is probably endless.

Being labeled a horror writer – or any other kind of writer, comes with built-in advantageous and disadvantages. Genres have ready-made target audiences, but the various terms can also push away potential readers with a pre-cast prejudice. "Horror? Oh, that's all blood and guts. I don't like that." "Paranormal romance? Oh, that's for girls." "Science fiction? No, I like stuff with more adventure."

Which leads me to the idea of definitions, and back to the title of this blog. What is horror? Perhaps if more people understood the term they'd be more apt to browse some titles and see that there's plenty under that umbrella to pique their interest.

For me, horror encompasses anything that is "dark fiction." Pieces of writing that exist to create a sense of fear, unease, terror, or just plain chills in the reader. Horror isn't just entrails flopping on the ground, nor is ghosts wafting across a darkened moors or a possessed child spouting bad language and last night's dinner with equal ease. Horror is a feeling, or perhaps a set of feelings, and they are not beholden to any one category of fiction. Which is why my go-to term, dark fiction, is more accurate. You can think of it as books meant to be read in the dark, or books that have a dark tone, or books that involve dark acts and creatures of the dark.

Dark fiction also allows for the inclusion of other genres, which is appropriate. Just because something is sci-fi or fantasy or gothic doesn't mean it can't be dark. And by dark I am referring to things worse than criminal activities. I discuss this with parents, librarians, and teachers all the time, especially when I hear "I don't read horror." Or "I don't want my kids to read horror." The truth is, you do. And they do. Don't believe me? Look at these examples:

Frankenstein: Technically, it's as much science fiction as it is horror.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Either science fiction or early steampunk, your choice. But the horror aspects – giant squid, murder, mysterious dangers – are all there as well.
Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Time Machine – both a mix of sci-fi and horror. Same goes for the Invisible Man and old Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.
Dracula: A classic gothic romance with a vampire tossed in to change things around.
A Christmas Carol – ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts. Maybe the first urban fantasy?
The Grimm fairy tales – you must be kidding. Cannibalism, torture, monsters... horror at its very best.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Many of what we today call 'classics' are in some part – if not all – horror. Yet we don't classify them that way. They are 'fiction.' They are 'gothic.' They are 'children's tales.' It demonstrates how there once was a time when we didn't need so many labels. It was all just fiction, and you called it for what it was: scary fiction, romantic fiction, adventure, etc. But descriptions turned into labels, and then labels into categories in book stores, and categories begat sub-categories... and now we're stuck with so many sub-genres that it can be overwhelming when searching Amazon for a book, or discussing your favorite kind of story with someone.

Lots of readers like the idea of specific labels, because they have a certain type of fiction they prefer to read, any searching online for those types of books is a lot easier when you can turn to ready-made, corporate-approved labeling. You like Twilight? Young adult paranormal romance is for you. The Harry Dresden books? Check out all our urban fantasy titles. Soldiers hunting werewolves? Military paranormal horror is your safe place. And so on.

Yes, it makes things easier when you want to buy a book. But it also hinders the joy of finding new things to read, of expanding your horizons. Remember when you would go into the local bookstore and the only labels they had were Science Fiction and Horror? You never knew what you'd find, and you often had to search both categories because sometimes things got classified oddly. (I'll never understand why my local Barnes & Noble back in the 1990s always put the Saberhagen Dracula books in the sci fi section.) You would look at all the titles, examine the covers of anything that looked interesting, and maybe walk out with something new to try. A ghost story instead of vampires. An unknown writer instead of King or Straub. Some stores even dropped the horror category altogether and just placed them in Fiction. Part marketing strategy as horror bottomed out, but also weirdly accurate. Because it's all just fiction.

Let's take my most recent novel The Cure as an example. In the 1980s or 1990s, it would have sat on a shelf mixed in with all the other horror novels, right between Dennis Etchison and John Farris (not a bad place to be, am I right?). The story of a woman who has the power to both cure people or kill them just by touching them. But she can't control it. Now her life is in ruins and she's on the run from the government and two criminal organizations. And all the while, this power is growing. Changing.

Now, however, I can't just market it as horror. Because there are whole subsets of readers who wouldn't bother to look at the back cover and see what the book is about. So I also market it as a paranormal thriller and as a story about a woman's retribution against the people who've abused and wronged her.

And what about my other books? They run the gamut of subcategories:
Carnival of Fear: classic monster horror
The Burning Time: Southern Gothic
Cemetery Club: Zombies
Cult of the Black Jaguar: Supernatural Pulp Fiction
Legacy: Lovecraftian quiet terror
Fatal Consequences: Ghost story
Thief of Souls: Suspense/Revenge, with a twist of supernatural
Castle by the Sea: Gothic tragedy
Winterwood: Fairy Tale

And my short stories – science fiction, sword and sorcery, mysteries, thrillers, weird fiction.

All of it with a dark twist, to be sure (although I've done some humorous horror as well), but nevertheless not traditional 'horror' as most people think of it. Just plain old fiction.

That's why my business card doesn't say Horror Author. It reads: JG Faherty, author of Dark Fiction, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. Cover all the bases, that's my motto.

So now let's get ready for comments.

What does horror mean to you? And how should it be labeled?

*My thanks to Sally and The Qwillery for having me on!)





The Cure
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 264 pages

Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015
She was born with the power to cure. Now she’s developed the power to kill.

Leah DeGarmo has the power to cure with just a touch. But with her gift comes a dark side: Whatever she takes in she has to pass on, or suffer it herself. Now a sadistic criminal has discovered what she can do and he’ll stop at nothing to control her. He makes a mistake, though, when he kills the man she loves, triggering a rage inside her that releases a new power she didn’t know she had: the ability to kill. Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and embarks on a mission to destroy her enemies. The only question is, does she control her power or does it control her?




Winterwood
Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
eNovella

Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015

You’d better watch out!

No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, a place where Krampus and his Wild Hunt rule a frozen land and where bad children don’t get coal for Christmas, they get baked into pies or forced into slavery. But now the Yule Lads have kidnapped Anders’s grandsons, and he has to rescue them before they’re lost forever. Anders and his daughter must cross the divide between worlds and enter Winterwood, where evil holds sway and even the reindeer have a taste for human flesh. By the time the sun rises, they’ll learn the awful truth about Winterwood: there is no escape without sacrifice.





About JG Faherty

Guest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015

JG Faherty is the Bram Stoker Award®- and Thriller Award-nominated author of five novels, including his most recent, The Cure, seven novellas, and more than 50 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror/sci-fi/fantasy, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness. You can follow him at twitter.com/jgfaherty, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, and http://jgfaherty-blog.blogspot.com/

Childhood Fears - 2nd Horror Anthology from Samhain Publishing


I took a bit of time yesterday to start preparing the May 2015 genre list and noticed these 4 eNovellas from Samhain Publishing. The 4 eNovellas will be published in digital format on May 5th, with a print version collecting the 4 novellas out this fall. Don't look if you are coulrophobic (afraid of clowns) or creepy pandas scare you.


Scarecrows
Author: Christine Hayton
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
eNovella

They do more than frighten birds. Much more.

Early one morning in the fall of 1964, Robert searched for his missing six-year-old daughter, Cathy. He found her asleep in a nearby cornfield, covered in blood and holding a small axe. A few feet away lay the mutilated body of her classmate Emily.

Assumed guilty of murder, Cathy lived in a hospital for insane children. She always gave the same account of what happened. She talked of murderous scarecrows that roamed the cornfield on moonlit nights. Her doctors considered her delusional. The police, her neighbors and the press thought she was dangerous. And so she remained incarcerated. No one believed her. That was a mistake.




The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave
Author: J.H. Moncrieff
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
eNovella

Sometimes evil looks like a fuzzy teddy bear.

Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn stuffed teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy...and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things begin to happen.

Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth—Edgar will always get even.






Winterwood
Author: JG Faherty
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
eNovella


You’d better watch out!

No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, a place where Krampus and his Wild Hunt rule a frozen land and where bad children don’t get coal for Christmas, they get baked into pies or forced into slavery. But now the Yule Lads have kidnapped Anders’s grandsons, and he has to rescue them before they’re lost forever. Anders and his daughter must cross the divide between worlds and enter Winterwood, where evil holds sway and even the reindeer have a taste for human flesh. By the time the sun rises, they’ll learn the awful truth about Winterwood: there is no escape without sacrifice.




Nightmare in Greasepaint
Authors: L.L. Soares, G. Daniel Gunn
Series: Childhood Fears
Samhain Publishing, May 5, 2015
eNovella

Some family legacies are best left buried.

Will Pallasso has brought his wife and young son, Billy, back to his childhood home to settle his late mother’s affairs…and remove all traces of his haunted past. But now hideous memories are coming back to Will, and Billy has started suffering from night terrors. Returning to this house was a big mistake. Some memories should not be disturbed, and some nightmares will not stay buried forever.
Especially nightmares that wear greasepaint spattered with blood.





The Press Release

Samhain Horror announces accepted authors for upcoming Childhood Fears anthology
Second Samhain Horror anthology to be published in May, 2015

Cincinnati, OH (PRWEB) October 15, 2014

International publisher Samhain Publishing® today announced that executive editor for Samhain Horror Don D’Auria has selected authors for the second Samhain Horror anthology. The anthology, titled Childhood Fears, will be published in two parts. First, the four individual novellas will be published as ebooks in May, 2015. Then, all four novellas will be combined for print and will be published in trade paperback in October, 2015. This is the same model of release used for Samhain Horror’s highly successful Gothic horror anthology collection, What Waits In The Shadows, which was published in 2014.

The anthology call for submissions was once again very popular among horror authors. Out of more than one hundred submitted works, the four selected manuscripts are:

Nightmare in Greasepaint, by L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn
Scarecrows, by Christine Hayton
The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave, by Holli Moncrieff
Winterwood, by J.G. Faherty

“We were excited to receive so many excellent submissions for this second anthology call at Samhain Horror, resulting in four remarkable tales of horror from the depths of childhood memories and fears,” says D’Auria. “In addition to welcoming back author J.G. Faherty, we are proud to introduce authors Christine Hayton, Holli Moncrieff, and L.L. Soares and G. Daniel Gunn as new Samhain authors.”

To learn more about this title and all Samhain Horror books, and to order books at a special discounted rate, visit the publisher online at http://www.samhainhorror.com.

About Samhain Publishing

Samhain Publishing® is an international publisher of ebook and traditional print fiction, whose diverse array of titles include all genres of romance fiction, award-winning horror fiction, and Retro Romance® fiction—a program which enables previously print-only titles to reach a new e-reading audience. An acknowledged expert in digital publishing since its founding in 2005, Samhain is dedicated to ensuring extraordinary stories reach every reader. To learn why at Samhain “It’s all about the story…”, visit Samhain Publishing online at http://www.samhainpublishing.com.

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford - Building Half a WorldInterview with Jacey BedfordGuest Blog by JG Faherty - A Discussion of Horror? - June 25, 2015Childhood Fears - 2nd Horror Anthology from Samhain Publishing

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