Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 4

Welcome to the final part of the A Chimerical World Round Table interview. Hope you had fun. J

And Part 4 includes Cindy Koepp, J. H. Fleming, Alexandra Christian, Ed Ahern, and Christine Morgan.



Well hello! My name is Cindy Koepp. I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources when I’m not whistling with my African Grey, editing for two small presses, doing crafty stuff, or learning how to bend glasses back into shape.

I have one science fiction book, stories in 3 anthologies, and 4 books in queue at various publishers.

You can find more stuff about that at my website:

My name is J. H. Fleming. My work has appeared in publications by Visionary Tongue, Evil Girlfriend Media, and Mocha Memoirs Press. I also have a novel and story collection coming from Pro Se Productions this year.

My name is Alexandra Christian and I wrote “Wormwood” for the anthology.  I’m a writer of paranormal erotic romance, horror and dark fantasy for Ellora’s Cave, Purple Sword Publications, Mocha Memoirs Press and now, Seventh Star.  To date, I’ve published 2 novels and 5 shorter works.  My newest release is my angel/ demon romance from Ellora’s Cave, Hellsong.

Ed Ahern. Forty seven stories published thus far, half fantasy/horror/scifi, balance childrens and adult fairy tales, retold folk tales and “literary” stories.

Christine Morgan is the author of several novels and over 60 published short stories, spanning various genres but leaning more toward the darker end of things. In addition to reading, writing, beta-reading and reviewing, she’s recently begun taking on more editing gigs. Her latest project is “Fossil Lake, an anthology of the aberrant,” which debuted at World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland. (


Tell us a little about your story

Cindy: When I saw the submission details on Seventh Star Press’s site, I thought about the kinds of characteristics usually attributed to Elves and musical ability ranked high in the list. So, I considered how to put a musical Elf into a science fiction scenario and decided that an Elf would use music to help time their movements in a battle or activate the special characteristics of their equipment.

That gave rise to the idea for “The Last Mission.”

J. H.: My story is about a young girl who’s been dealt one blow after another. She’s sent away to live in a home for girls, some of whom have serious issues, others who have been sent there for bad behavior. She comes across a faery and her companion and thinks she’s finally gone mad, but further events make her realize that she may have found a way out of her bad situation.

Alexandra: “Wormwood” was born of boredom, honestly.  They say that the best stories are conceived doing tedious tasks.  It must be true because I completely wrote Freedom and Ady’s story while stuffing envelopes at the day job.  I wanted to shake up the “traditional faerie story” model and I was thinking about how to do that.  I’m a southern writer myself with an almost unhealthy obsession with the southern gothic genre.  I’m also a Shakespeare fanatic, so it only seemed natural to create a southern gothic story that incorporated the fae and Robin Goodfellow.

Ed: I have a swamp gas mind, and ideas ooze up frequently but unpredictably. My web site is appropriately titled This story fits the pattern.

Christine: With “Taggers,” I wanted to take a skewed, updated, more urban look at the sort of “Shoemaker and the Elves” tale. Instead of the kindly craftsman and the helpful fairies, I went with a grouchy old locksmith in a decaying part of the city, and what happens when he catches one of the hooligans who’s been leaving graffiti on his wall … only to find that he’s dealing with no normal kind of hooligan.


What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Cindy: My favorite faerie would have to be Elves: tall, graceful wiseguys … er … wise guys, with a variety of different skills because you can learn a lot in several hundred years.

Ed: For adult fairy tales a noir persona with lots of defects. For children’s stories clean cut but as far away from the usual tropes as I can reach.

J. H.: My favorites are the ones who do whatever they want. Most faeries are really this way, but some lean more toward Seelie or Unseelie. I like the ones that surprise you because you never truly know which way they’ll go.

Alexandra: I’ve always had an affinity for the mischievous faerie.  In my younger days I was on a slow moving train wreck toward being an actress and my first major role was as Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, in a community theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  Ever since, Robin Goodfellow has been a particular favorite of mine.  His benevolent nature and bumbling prowess as a trickster have always fascinated me.  Like Freedom, I think he’d be an amazing friend to have.

Christine: I’ve always liked the Fair Folk type, eerie and beautiful, looking just human enough to seem familiar but being decidedly INHUMAN in personality and outlook. The fairies from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” messing with people just because they could (dream casting: Benedict Cumberbatch as Oberon, Tilda Swinton as Titania!) … from Arthurian legend and the classic fairy tales … their society, their indifference to mortal morals … just fascinating.


Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when your write?

Alexandra: Music is an essential part of my writing process.  Every story I write has a playlist to go along with it that sets the mood.  As far as the types of music that I listen to when I write, it really depends on what I’m writing.  When writing “Wormwood,” my playlist was a very schizophrenic mix of new age (Enya, Clannad, etc.), spirituals and Civil War songs.  In fact, part of Freedom’s magic that summons Robin in the first place, is her singing “Wade in the Water.”  (Historical fun fact:  “Wade in the Water” is one of the spirituals that is purported to have been a “code song” that would give slaves instructions on how to escape north.)

Cindy: Actually, I prefer quiet when I work. Masika, my African Grey, will sometimes contribute bits of tunes and other silliness when I’m working, and that doesn’t prove too distracting. I save music for when I’m taking a typing break or driving down the rollercoaster roads near my house.

J. H.: I’m almost always listening to music, whether I’m writing or not. When writing, I listen to Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian vocalist, musician, and composer with heavy Celtic and Middle Eastern influences. Her albums always put me in just the right mood, particularly The Visit, The Mask and the Mirror, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, An Ancient Muse, and The Book of Secrets.

Christine: I don’t usually listen to music while I write, but I will sometimes listen to it beforehand during the thinking-and-planning part. My tastes vary, and my choices vary according to the story project in question, but I prefer classical, swing, film soundtracks, and other instrumental works. That, or, when I’m working on a Viking-themed story, I’ll just blast Amon Amarth.

Ed: I drive to classical music, but write in silence. Otherwise can’t hear the gas bubbles pop.


Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Ed: Nah.

Christine: Not specifically, though certain pieces –  “Carmina Burana,” Holst’s “Mars – Bringer of War,” Borodin’s “Prince Igor” – always speak powerfully to me and might some day bring about a story.

Cindy: Yes, it has. In the case of The Last Mission, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was an inspiration for part of the tale. I imagined an Elf timing actions during a fight and staying calm through the use of a slow tune like Moonlight Sonata. I didn’t quite figure out a way to work that into the story as I’d imagined it, but I did get the tune mentioned and used the idea in other parts.

J. H.: More than once. I’ve written three stories based off of songs, and two have been published so far. “The Far Horizon,” published by Evil Girlfriend Media, was inspired by “My Lover’s Gone” by Dido, and “Moonsbreath,” published by Mocha Memoirs Press, was inspired by “Samhain Night” by Loreena McKennitt.


Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Christine: No idea; I played Q-Bert.

Cindy: That would depend entirely on who has the largest number of hearts and whether the Boomerang of Extra Special Spiffiness has been unlocked.

J. H.: Princess Zelda, hands down.

Alexandra: Zelda definitely.  Princess Toadstool never won a fight.  She always hired plumbers to do her dirty work for her.

Ed: Who cares, but I opt for mud wrestling.


57d7e-final_talesoftheseeliecourt_650Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the A Chimerical World Round Table Interview. This time ariund we have Sarah Madsen, Steven S. Long, Kim Smith,  and BC Brown sitting at the table. Enjoy! 🙂



Hi! I’m Sarah Madsen.  “The Body Electric” is my first commercial publication, but I have two poems and a play in The Chestatee Review, my school’s literary magazine. I’m hoping to get my novel, Lysistrata, on shelves sometime in the near future, and it’s been getting really good reception so far. You can follow along with my adventures at or find me on Facebook at

I’m Steven S. Long. I’m best known for my work as a roleplaying game designer and writer (I’ve written or co-written about 200 books in that field), but in recent years I’ve branched out into writing fiction as well.

You can find out more about me and what I’m up to at

Hi, my name is Kim Smith, and I am the author of the short story “Treehouse”, in A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court. I am the hostess of the wildly popular podcast, Writer Groupie, soon to be hosted on my blog at

BC Brown, author of two urban fantasy/contemporary science fiction novels – A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness; contributor to multi-author anthologies – A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories, and Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. And one out of print fantasy novel – Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows.


Tell us a little about your story

BC: “Extra-Ordinary” is a tale about seemingly benign people and events. Those ordinary people often turn out to be portals to extraordinary things.

Sara: “The Body Electric”isn’t your typical fairy story. In fact, the only fae-like elements you’ll find in it are magic and an elf protagonist.  It’s a cyberpunk/urban fantasy story, set in near-future Atlanta. Two runners, Alyssa and Logan, are hired to steal some plans and a prototype from a former Americorp employee’s home office, and get way more than they bargained for in the process. It was inspired by old Ray Bradbury short stories and a YouTube short, Quantic Dream’s Kara, and I was trying for a good mix of classic sci-fi and modern urban fantasy.

Kim: I’ve been writing as long as I could hold a pen, and have always been a lover of fantasy. I remember as a youth hanging out around a gas station/convenience store that carried JRR Tolkien’s books. I visited it weekly waiting on the next book. It took years to finish the whole trilogy. They should have put me on the payroll.

“Treehouse” was the brainchild of wondering what would happen if a child could see faeries but no one would believe her. What if she was telling the truth? I hope I did a good job with expanding that idea.

Steven: I was fortunate enough to place two stories in A Chimerical World — one each in the Seelie and Unseelie volumes. Each of them belongs to a series of stories I’ve written that take place in Tuala Morn, a setting I’ve described in the book of the same name and now use as for fiction. It’s a Fantasy world inspired by Irish/Celtic myth and legend, with a dollop of some other Fantasy tropes thrown in.

Most of the Tuala Morn stories I’ve written so far take place in or around Killdraigan, an enchanted forest that’s often dangerous for mortals due to the faeries, trolls, and monsters that live there — not to mention other perils.

The Seelie story is “The Harpist’s Hand.” It tells how Thomasin Blythe, one of the greatest Tualan bards, has to seek the help of the faeries of Killdraigan when two contentious kings both seek her hand in marriage.

The Unseelie story, “The Rose and the Dragon,” focuses on a different character:  Sir Rhorec of Umbr, the Knight of Five Roses. When he was born, three faeries appeared and pronounced a strange prophecy. Now grown to manhood and armed with the magic sword they left him, he ventures into the deadly confines of Killdraigan Forest to seek the meaning of the prophecy — and slay a fearsome dragon.



What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Kim: All kinds, I am not discriminatory.

Sara: As in Seelie or Unseelie?  That’s a really hard choice. My gut says Seelie, simply because I love pretty masks and the pretense of civility. However, there’s something refreshing about the Unseelie…they’re at least honest about what they are.

Steven: It’s hard to pick any one type. I’ve researched faerie lore extensively for years and really enjoy it, so getting stories into the Chimerical World anthology was a real treat. I hope someday to have the chance to write a non-fiction book on the subject.

BC: I’ve always been enamored of the more mischievous fey. Basically good-natured, these shining folk embody a spirit of restlessness I can connect with.


Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when you write?

Sara: I can’t write without music. It helps me stay centered. I tend to create soundtracks for my projects, so what I’m listening to wont’ always be the same.  If I get really stuck, I find some good instrumental music (like the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy or Deus Ex: Human Revolution for my current project) keeps me from getting too distracted by lyrics.

Steven: It is, in that I listen to music pretty much all the time that I’m awake but not watching TV or talking with someone. But I don’t really consider it a part of my “process” per se, nor do I tailor what I’m listening to what I’m writing.

Kim: I used to listen to my favorite bands, usually classic rock, but now I find that trying to sing to the songs and write conflicts each other so now it’s more nature music, strings, and crickets.

BC: I avoid music while writing. Music influences my mood and, typically, I like a clean slate, so to speak, when writing. It allows the ideas and words to flow unhindered and unbiased.


Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Sara: Oh, definitely. I recently wrote a ten minute play called Tea and Temptation that was inspired by World/Inferno Friendship Society’s “The Evil Dance of Nosliw Pilf.”

Steven: Definitely. Among others I have an idea for what I think will be a great story inspired by the Leonard Cohen song, “First We Take Manhattan.”

Kim: Yes! I love celtic songs and Connie Dover sang “A Ruin a Siuil” (I think I spelled it right!) and it just jazzed me into writing this whole historical romance between a Fenian rebel and a Scarlett O’Hara-esque character who tries to charm the Irish out of the man.

BC: A song has inspired a title for a book. However the story itself came well before I’d ever heard the song. Once I did hear it, I felt that the title and lyrics of the song embodied the same message as my story.


Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Sara: Psh. Zelda, for sure.

Kim: Zelda. Totally.

Steven: I have absolutely no idea — I never played any of those games. What’s the spread? 😉

BC: The princess. Hands down.


Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  32892-final_talesoftheunseeliecourt_650
Print Version
Kindle Version  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the A Chimerical World Round Table Interview. Sitting with me today are Doug Blakeslee, Michael M. Jones, Nick Bryan, Saera Corvin, and S. D. Grimm.


My name is Doug Blakeslee and I’ve sold almost a dozen short stories in the past two years. My current project is an urban fantasy novella that I’m in the process of revising while kicking out short stories.

I’m Michael M. Jones. Not only am I a writer, I’m also a book reviewer and the editor of Scheherazade’s Façade and the forthcoming Schoolbooks & Sorcery. My stories have appeared in a number of places, including Clockwork Phoenix 4 and Jack-o-‘Spec. You can learn more at

Hi, I’m Nick Bryan, London-based darkly comic genre writer, author of the weekly (and very British) crime comedy-drama webserial Hobson & Choi. Think Sherlock, but scrappier and more embedded in our reality. Details on

I write under the pen name S. D. Grimm. My first novelette Breathless was published last year. Since then I’ve had flash fiction pieces published in Splickety Magazine and a short story published in the anthology Pure Science Fiction and Fantasy. But I’m really excited because I recently signed a contract for my YA fantasy novel! You can check out more about that and my writing in general by visiting


Tell us a little about your story

Doug: This one [“Tamer of Beasts”] sprang to life when a friend of mine made an off-hand comment about Beauty and the Beast. He wanted to know about the flower’s POV. That dovetailed into a “what if the flower captured both of them” scenario. The Flowering Princess of Dreams is a collector of pretty things and quite harsh on her “guests” if they disappoint her. Tamer is one of her favorites and is put in charge of her latest acquisition, Beast.

Michael: “Keys” started life as a trickster piece, in which I took the idea of Saint Peter as the trickster to Jesus’ straight man (as seen in some South American storytelling traditions) and reinvented him as a Jerry Springer-esque figure, a talk show host who gets up to all sorts of wacky hijinks. Then I threw in the teens who encounter him after his latest escapade goes awry, an enigmatic musician, and a host of very furious fancies. Honestly, while it sounds complicated at first, there are layers to this story. The Fae play an unusual role, and it all ties together in unexpected ways.

Nick: My story “The Fool And His Money” stems from an idea I had a while back. I saw loads of news stories about the financial crash, explaining it in terms of bankers spending money that didn’t really exist.

And then, being a fantasy writer, I started thinking about where this imaginary cash really came from, how it would work and what the consequences might be. Faeries were the logical answer.

Saera Corvin: This story [“Gnome Games”] is something like a tribute to all those socks and underwear that get sucked into the black hole between the washing machine and the laundry basket.

S. D.: “Mark of Ruins” is about a teenage girl who lives with a secret: she has huge, pointed ears. It makes fitting in extra hard. But she’s headed to a new school and determined to hide her secret and just be normal—for once. Until she meets a secretive guy who might know more about her than he’s letting on. In order to get answers from him, she might just have to reveal the truth about herself, and hope it won’t scare him off.


What’s your favorite type of faerie?

S. D.: Naiads and water sprites.

Nick: Fairy cake. Or, in stories, the evil manipulative ones, as they’re just the most fun.

Saera: Norwegian Trolls. I always loved how the stories would talk about the little ones causing the most damage when they’d come down from the mountains and invade some poor farmer’s house.

Doug: Those that look fair of face but will mess up your day for a giggle or on a whim. It’s the troupe of pretty things aren’t dangerous. Many of the faeries that I write about fall into the Unseelie Court side of the equation.

Michael: I’ve always been particular to the pooka, however you want to spell it. Shapechanging tricksters? Sign me up. Little-known fact: the spelling “phouka” is apparently considered offensive by the Virginia DMV. That nixed my plan to get it as a license plate years ago. If you’ve ever read Emma Bull’s excellent War for the Oaks, you’ll understand why the pooka (phouka) is such a compelling concept.


Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when you write?

Saera: Sometimes it is. The kinds of music I like to have on varies depending on what hits my mood at the time. Mostly, I like hard rock, blues, and the golden oldies.

Doug: I use Pandora and tune into seeds that contain the likes of Lindsey Sterling, Kodo, the Yoshida Brothers, and other instrumental only artists. These are good for setting the mood and not distracting me from writing.

Michael: Oh, music is essential for me to get into the groove. I make playlists all the time. My tastes are eclectic: pop, rock, showtunes, classical—all that matters is that it has the right sort of energy and beat to engage my subconscious and drown out the outside world. Oddly enough, iTunes says that the track I’ve listened to the most is “Breakout” by OPM from the New Guy soundtrack, followed by “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria. Judge as you will.

Nick: I listen to music constantly – often ambient stuff like the excellent Spektrmodule podcast from Warren Ellis – – or the Gorillaz album The Fall – surprisingly good atmosphere music. I also listen to folk and indie rock, but only albums I really know back to front or it distracts me.

S. D.: It depends on the mood of what I’m writing. For “Mark of Ruins” I listened to Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson and Broken by Lifehouse—pretty much on repeat.


Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Saera: “Ramble on Rose” by the Dead

Doug: “This is War” by 30 Seconds to Mars. I used it for a superhero themed story about a young hero fighting against a tyrant. Never sold it, but I think it has some promise.

Michael: Many times, but most of those stories remain on the back burner. I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to unleash tales inspired by “Jessie’s Girl” and “Safety Dance,” the latter of which sounds like a very Fae tune. Oh, you can definitely dance if you want to…

Nick: Not sure a song has ever inspired a whole story, but I do have a habit of naming my work after them. Then changing my mind later because the content has nothing to do with the song.

S. D.: Yes! I know it’s a little country, but Why You Wanna by Jana Kramer sparked inspiration for a story about a young girl whose boyfriend comes back from a tour of duty as a changed man—genetically changed (in a super-soldier-gone-bad kind of way).


Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Doug: Zelda. She’d totally kick her mushroom highness’ butt.

Nick: I haven’t played a Zelda game since Ocarina of Time, but doesn’t Zelda turn into a ninja? Although it probably doesn’t matter if she’s still a ninja or not, I’m not sure Toadstool could take anyone in a fight. Not even Toad the tiny mushroom.

Michael: I’d rather see them team up and fight evil together. They’ve spent long enough being damsels in distress!

Saera: Neither: Toadstool and Zelda always call Mario and Link in to do their dirty work.

S. D: I’ve never played video games *gasp* so I’m going to have to go with a wild-card princess: She-Ra.


57d7e-final_talesoftheseeliecourt_650Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 1 Comment