Pankea is a world decades in the making, and parts of it still evolve and expand to this day. The world began back when I was thirteen. Back then it was just Quaz City plus a few surrounding cities and towns in a nation called the Land of Quaz, and the cast of characters began, like most such worlds, with the usual archetypes. But in time the world expanded and began to take on a life and personality all its own: its own history, its own cultures, its own unique monsters (such as the vintervolgs, gorlaks, and the Bloodstone Skeletons). And even the “stock” races evolved over time. The magic system had to get retconned once I introduced the Barrier, the Mystic Field, and the possibility of spells going awry or “backlashing.”
At around the age of 15, I had this bright idea that maybe, just maybe, I could write short stories and novels set within that world, and perhaps actually sell them. By 25 I gave up on that notion and started creating other worlds to write in, often developing such worlds at the spur of the moment. While I like all my stories, the worlds that were not Pankea never felt as familiar, as intimate, as my first fantasy world. For one, none of those worlds had a poster-sized map of themselves hanging on my wall (which a cat, who shall remain nameless, later tore down and pissed on, so I had to throw it away). Ironically, my first published short story, “Treecutter,” was set in Pankea at a time before the Great Catastophe forced the Archaians, Hamadans, Vangaardians, and the other non-natives to migrate to the continent-sized island. Later published stories were all set in the current Pankea timeline (around the 1014th year since the birth of Arcus Dragonslayer, or “A.D.”).
When the idea for the Gifts of the Magi anthology was brought to my attention, I was excited. An anthology themed around series? WOOT! And a charity anthology at that? Double WOOT! But the majority of the writers were writing stories based on their novel series, and I’ve yet to have a novel published. Would the editors be okay with a story set in the same world as my other separate but related short stories?
The answer was yes.
So now all I had to do was come up with a Christmas-themed story in a world with no Christmas. But Pankea does have a Winter Solstice celebration. Indeed, Pankea has a lot of holidays, especially in Quaz.
I woke up one morning with the idea of an evil, demon-possessed snowman rampaging through the streets. But the streets of what city? And who would the protagonists be? Eventually I decided the location would be in Raka, the “capital” (and only dwelling) in Wizardreach—a semi-autonomous outpost under the protection of the Land of Quaz, much like Necro and Elvawood Manor. In this way I could provide cameo appearances of three characters who often get mentioned but have never yet appeared in my short stories and trilogy-in-progress: Chancellor Rakeem, Archwizard and Lord of Wizardreach; High Enchantress Larana, Lady of Wizardreach; and General Thalas son of Thorus, Descendent of Arcus (whose great grandfather was the protagonist in my story “Shilak’s Gift”).
Naturally, the protags would be Arnelda Verina and Roland Fornebank, who have an established history with the above characters back when they all adventured together. Also, any story with those two in it is guaranteed to end up with hilarious hijinks and general fun-filled chaos. And I wanted this story to be fun.
That is how “Freezy the Snow Demon” developed for the anthology, Gifts of the Magi, to benefit Indy Reads, making this the first story I’ve written for a charity benefit to a worthy cause. I hope you enjoy my story and all the other awesome stories in it.
Welcome to the final part of the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview with the authors of the anthology. Sitting at the table tonight are Ian Hunter, Sheila Deeth, Douglas J. Ogurek, and Steven Donahue. Enjoy! J
This is Ian Hunter from Scotland who wrote the story “Scarhead in the Glisting”. I’m the author of three children’s novels, a humourous guide to Glasgow called “Fantastic Glasgow”. More recently my stories and poems have appeared in “Space and Time”, “The Tenth Black Book of Horror” (and the story in there appears in the very first “Best British Horror 2014”) and “The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2”.I’m poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society, book reviewer for “Interzone” and a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle. I write a very infrequent blog at www.ian-hunter.co.uk
Name: Sheila Deeth
Douglas J. Ogurek
Fiction published in The Literary Review, the British Fantasy Society Journal, Morpheus Tales, Gone Lawn, and several anthologies
Horror, fantasy, sci-fi blogger/film reviewer at Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/)
Written over one hundred articles about architectural planning and design
Steven Donahue was a copywriter for TV Guide magazine for 14 years. His first novel, Amanda Rio, was published in 2004. He released three novels in 2013: The Manila Strangler (Rainstorm Press), Amy the Astronaut and the Flight for Freedom (Hydra Publications), and Comet and Cupid’s Christmas Adventure (Createspace). His short story Grit was also included in the anthology Hero’s Best Friend by Seventh Star Press in 2014.
Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.
Ian Hunter: I’ve written contemporary Highland Seer stories, almost with the seer as a psychic detective fighting evil, but because I had to have an animal companion, I’ve set this story in the past in the time of the Highland Clearances and have my seer encounter a Scottish Wildcat, which sadly nowadays is almost extinct – the true purebloods, that is, due to loss of habitat and breeding with feral cats, although there is seemingly a family up the road from where I live in Cartland Crags where William Wallace hid from the English after killing the Sheriff of Lanark. It is pretty wild and some of it is hard to get to, so maybe a family of purebloods still survive there, hope so.
Sheila Deeth: “Passage” is a prequel to a series of middle-grade fantasies, centered on an Irish-American teen who lives in fairly ordinary town called Hemlock Edge, near a slightly less ordinary forest. The teens of Hemlock Edge discover they can change reality in dreams, but I’d often wondered where their skills came from. The convenient juxtaposition of a call for submissions to Hero’s Best Friend, with a (human best) friend loaning me a book about her ancestors traveling from Ireland, offered me a happy chance to explore Siobhan’s ancestry through the eyes of a slightly magical Irish cat.
Douglas J. Ogurek: When their squigglybounce (public transportation vehicle) breaks down, a female dink (double income no kids) and her pet gilpan (a kind of bird) Yourkidsabrat get stuck with a drug addict and the status-obsessed Mommy Wifey. The dink discovers the addict is former children’s entertainment icon Wedge Medge, disgraced for his brutal treatment of gilpans, one of which was Yourkidsabrat (before she adopted him).
The dink protagonist, encumbered by a society that relegates dinks to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, tries to convince Mommy Wifey to grant her access to Wedge Medge’s chamber so that Yourkidsabrat can use his deadly orbs to exact revenge on his tormentor.
The story was inspired by my love for animals and my ongoing struggle to find the humanity in those who abuse animals for profit.
Steven Donahue: Grit tells the story of a dog with telekinetic powers who aids a brave prince on a dangerous quest. The prince seeks exotic ingredients from faraway lands to create a mythical cure for his poisoned wife. Grit uses his powers and courage to help the prince on the perilous quest, where the duo face challenges from man, beast and nature.
What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?
Ian Hunter: Polar bears. I’ve adopted one through the WWF and he writes to me regularly saying he’s hoping to come and visit and eat – sorry, meet – the dog.
Sheila Deeth: I’m writing a story about dogs at the moment, but they do have a friend who is a cat. Truth is, I just like animals; but my favorite fictional ones are those that combine a hint of wildness with the gift of companionship.
Douglas J. Ogurek:Jaws – Though I’d rather see Peter Benchley’s iconic great white attacking those who exploit sharks for shark fin soup.
Marley – Journalist John Grogan’s troublesome yet lovable Labrador Retriever. The conclusion of Marley & Me offers a moving description of the impact a dog can have on humans and the lessons that dogs teach us.
Aslan – C.S. Lewis’s anthropomorphic Christ
Speaker-to-Animals/Chmeee – A giant upright alien cat who resists his species’ penchant for violence in Larry Niven’s Ringworld.
Bori – The initially burdensome bird that a musician grows to love in Ha Jin’s “A Composer and His Parakeets.” One of the best short stories I’ve read in recent years. The ending is reminiscent of short story master Raymond Carver at his best.
Steven Donahue: I always admired the loyalty of Boxer from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He lived to selflessly serve those around him, and he had the heart of a hero.
Have you ever used music to help you write?
Ian Hunter: Yes, mainly jazz, or possibly instrumental proggy stuff.
Sheila Deeth: I get too caught up in the music if I try to listen to something while I write. Sometimes my characters sing in the back of my head though—a noisy and very confusing place.
Douglas J. Ogurek:Always. Death metal with Christian themes. Also known as white metal (as opposed to the notorious black metal). Variations within the white metal subgenre include Christian technical/ progressive/ melodic death metal (e.g., Becoming the Archetype, Renascent), Christian doom metal (e.g., Paramecium), Christian symphonic metal (e.g., Sympathy, Virgin Black), or, in its most extreme form, unblack metal (e.g., Frost Like Ashes, Horde).
I like power. I like talent. I like nonconformity. I like a positive message. White metal combines all of that.
Steven Donahue: I prefer a quiet environment to write in, which is a challenge in the small apartment that I share with my wife, our chubby cat, and our three energetic dogs.
Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?
Ian Hunter: I wrote a horror story called “Fearwheeling” set at the North Sea Jazz festival which was published in “Fear” magazine. When I feel the need to write a poem, but don’t know what to right about I sometimes flick through the pages of “Kerrang” magazine and pick on a song title, or album title or maybe lyric and use that as inspiration, but since I’m totally in love with PJ Harvey, I have a whole load of poems inspired by her album covers, song titles, album titles and lyrics, some of which, I’m pleased to say have been published in the UK, USA and Canada, and will probably be used as evidence against me.
Steven Donahue: I use music to inspire me before I start a writing session. Music from the Rocky movies are my favorite, but I’m not sure if they’ve ever influenced something I’ve written.
Douglas J. Ogurek:Yes. Christian death metal influences every one of my stories. I admire this subgenre’s ability to package themes of compassion and empathy in what sounds like the opposite. This music epitomizes the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Like white metal, my stories offer positive messages shrouded in a disturbing, juvenile, or even vile container. For instance, in “Stuck on the Squigglybounce,” the Mommy Wifey character projects images of her husband’s income, her children’s accomplishments, and her possessions on the breast and butt screens embedded in her clothing. I want her juxtaposition with the dink protagonist to throw into question the values and roles that society imposes on the contemporary woman.
Additionally, some have praised or derided my stories as trippy, enigmatic, or even inaccessible. Again, that’s a lot like the music from which I find inspiration.
Sheila Deeth: Would the howling of dogs count?
Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?
Ian Hunter: Benji, on points.
Sheila Deeth: Benji’s gaze would remind Cujo of his true nature, leaving him open to the killing blow that allows him to choose death over causing more injury to those he loves.
Steven Donahue: I would root for Benji, but I think Cujo would have him for lunch.
Douglas J. Ogurek:Neither. I would first bring to justice the individuals responsible for instigating the dogfight. Then I would force those individuals to donate time and/or money to help abused or abandoned dogs.
I’d also try to show the instigators the kindness that was probably absent during their lives.
After several days of being down, the Critters website is back up, and the P&E Readers Poll has been extended until the 26th. So get your votes in!
Oh, um, *cough cough*:
“The God King” is up for Best Short Story – Science Fiction & Fantasy
And for Best Anthology, a few Pill Hill Press anthologies are up for a vote including Dark Things II and Dark Things V, each of which features a story of, well, mine. 😉
*pssst!* Vote for Kat Heckenbach’s “Firewall” for Best Horror Short Story.*pssst!*
Silver Moon, Bloody Bullets is a collection of twenty-five claw-biting short stories that explore the myth of the werewolf and the lure of the full moon. From gladiator fights and cursed blood lines to secret societies and anonymous meetings, the following talented authors have turned the mysteries of the werewolf inside out: Matthew S. Dent, Jay Raven, Kelly Metz, Christopher Jacobsmeyer, Mark Souza, Dale Carothers, David Bernstein, Scott M. Sandridge, Marianne Halbert, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, J. Leigh Bailey, Dylan J. Morgan, Edward McKeown, F.J.R. Titchenell, Patricia Puckett, Jessy Marie Roberts, Ben Langhinrichs, Kiki Howell, D. Nathan Hilliard, Frank Summers, Christopher Heath, Rob Rosen, Carl Hose, Stephanie L. Morrell, and Lawrence R. Dagstine.
So, get it now! 😀
Coming in June from Pill Hill Press
Silver Moon, Bloody Bullets: An Anthology of Werewolf Tails
Edited by Jessica A. Weiss
Silver Moon, Bloody Bullets is a collection of twenty-five claw-biting short stories that explore the myth of the werewolf and the lure of the full moon.
From gladiator fights and cursed blood lines to secret societies and anonymous meetings, the following talented authors have turned the mysteries of the werewolf inside out: Matthew Dent, Jay Raven, Kelly Metz, Christopher Jacobsmeyer, Mark Souza, Dale Carothers, David Bernstein, Scott M. Sandridge, Marianne Halbert, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, J. Leigh Bailey, Dylan J. Morgan, Edward Mckeown, Fiona Titchenell, Patricia Puckett, Jessy Marie Roberts, Ben Langhinrichs, Kiki Howell, D. Nathan Hilliard, Frank Summers, Christopher Heath, Rob Rosen, Carl Hose, Stephanie Morrell, and Lawrence R. Dagstine.
And while you’re there, don’t forget to also snag a copy of
The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death
Edited by Jessy Marie Roberts
Release Date: April 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0984261031 (SOFTCOVER)
ISBN-13: 978-0984261048 (HARDCOVER)
…He that sat on him was called Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, and that they should kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth… —Revelation 6:8
A thrilling anthology of twenty-five short stories inspired by the themes of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death.
Authors in this volume include: Camille Alexa, Jason Toupence, Scott M. Sandridge, Megan R. Engelhardt, Alethea Kontis, Matthew Dent, Carla Joinson, Jessy Marie Roberts, Jonathan Shipley, Will Morton, Bill Ward, Christopher Heath, Alva J. Roberts, Jamie Eyberg, Laura Eno, Kat Heckenbach, Kelli A. Wilkins, AR Norris, John H. Dromey, Scott Taylor, Jacob Henry Orloff, Marie Croke, Marshall Payne, L.E. Erickson & Nye Joell Hardy.
Yep, the P&E Readers Poll is open again, so it’s time to nominate and vote for your favorite artists, writers, and stories. I have two stories that are nominatable for the year if you choose to do so (hint, hint): “Transhuman” which appeared in Chimeraworld #6 (New World Disorder) and “A Nighttime Business Arrangement” which appeared in Issue 4 of Silver Blade. Both are Science Fiction/Fantasy (psst… here’s the linky-link for that category: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/shortstorysf.shtml). 😉
Speaking of Chimeraworld #6, guess what’s already been nominated for the anthology category.
Oh, and don’t forget Fear & Trembling.
You all know what to do troopers! Huzzah!
Chimeraworld #6 (new world disorder) available now from Chimericana Books
In the near future, the world awakens to the corporate threat of the New World Order: a leaderless resistance defeats the global elite.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 13, 2009 – Chimeraworld #6 (new world disorder)
It’s becoming more and more obvious that Corporate Profit and the monetary system that drives it allows mankind to commit the most unholy crimes ever fostered upon humanity. Corporate Profit is control. Corporate Profit is secrecy. Corporate Profit is ruthless.
But without ‘money’, there’s no method for generating a momentum to continue to push technology as far as it will go under a military-industrial agenda. Who says so? And also, there’s the ‘Sword of Damocles’ threat of Eugenics associated with the corporate agenda. I personally find the Eugenics pill the most difficult to swallow but history is telling us that’s where we’re headed so that the Banking Elite can enjoy their planet.
And that’s what they truly believe, that it’s their planet, that they have the right to it. Not anyone else.
So, cancel Money (most of it’s fiat money anyway, based on debt and tending to hyper-inflation), cancel Profit, cancel Private Ownership and Patents, cancel Countries, cancel National Insurance numbers because all these invented concepts increase the likelihood of our demise as a planetary species – our mass murder.
But how can such a liberated civilisation contribute to the proper use of the planet’s resources. What is the aim of a planet of willing intelligent people helping the world be a better place? Where’s the fun in that?
We need to seriously consider the possibility that Progress can exist without Corporate Profit, that we as a people can cooperate on Free or Open Source projects that help mankind to live in creative harmony. Take away the incentive, release the guilt; destroy the agenda, secrecy and horror of controlled corporate contemporary life.
Oxford, UK-based artist/writer Mike Philbin has been at the helm of the Chimeraworld series from Chimericana Books from its inception five years ago. It was intended as an antidote to the dull, grey horror-genre franchise that has stained our retail shelves in lieu of good horrific escapism. The ‘genreclectic’ themes have been:
#1 twenty three bizarro tales
#2 twenty three tales of total madness
#3 twenty three tales of spiritual decay
#4 twenty three tales of traffic mayhem
#5 twenty three misfit tales.
Yes, there are twenty-three writers from all over the planet in each issue of Chimeraworld. A unique feature of Chimeraworld #6 (twenty three tales of leaderless resistance) is that You The People are an active part, this year, and space is given for YOU to note down how you helped affect a real change on this planet.
Military industrial complex, detention camps for dissidents, rfid chip global tyranny, false flag terrorism, biochemical attack, martial law on our streets, total surveillance state, the suppression of knowledge is power . . . following a mass awakening, the global elite are annihilated.
Chimeraworld #6, contains stories depicting the world after the coming revolution, as mankind returns to a life stripped of Capitalism and Mass Media Propaganda. A world without the Google-fuelled glare of the bankers dictating every move you make. A world of travel, a journey through real freedom. An uncensored world of chaos, uncertainty and anarchy. A world of social and spiritual enlightenment; no money, no banks and no business loans.
This is the story of how yourself and your family get by once everything you know about Modern Society has been eradicated, when the Global Elite’s power grab has been exposed and has failed in spectacular fashion. What was your part in the revolution and how did you contribute to new world disorder?
Chimeraworld #6 is a testament to the awakening of mankind, stories about immersion in the galactic melting pot – hardcore experimentation, dimensional travel, body-swapping with alien races, DNA bartering, galactic superheroes, real cultural exchange. New morality, new belief systems, new family, new social life, no more wars, creativity is king, liberation from the daily grind. Stories from Alex Severin, Tina Starr, Paul Pinn, Andrew Hook, Danny O’Connor, James A. Stewart, Arley Sorg, Robert Guffey, Sheri Fresonke Harper, Justin Oldham, Thomas Henry Dylan, Mitchell Warren, C. C. Parker, Jeff Drake, Tim Lieder, Aaron Polson, Scott M. Sandridge, John Walters, Peter Diseth, Kevin James Miller, Richard Marsden, J.W. Ocker and You The People.
Chimeraworld #6 comes out from under that stomping corporate jackboot and shows the six billion free people of this planet how they won!
Chimeraworld #6 (new world disorder) is available now in American trade paperback format 6″ by 9″ trade paperback from Chimericana Books.
Cover art: Ben Newman
# # #
Chimericana Books was started in 2004 by Oxford, UK-based artist and writer of genreclectic stories/novels Mike Philbin.
From Nancy Fulda:
To celebrate our graduation from beta testing, AnthologyBuilder invites authors of all skill levels to choose their favorite cover art from our database and write a story to match it. Contest Entries must be unpublished, between 1,000 and 50,000 words in length, and submitted on or before September 20, 2009.
Because our site hosts a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy artwork, we expect that most submissions will fall into those genres. Nevertheless, submissions in all genres are welcome
The complete rules are at http://www.anthologybuilder.com/match-that-artwork.php
Nancy’s blog: http://nancyfulda.livejournal.com
Build your own anthology! http://www.anthologybuilder.com
Issue #4 of Silver Blade is now up, with my flash fiction tale, “A Nighttime Business Arrangement.” Remember the “deal” with the nobles that Yavar talked about arranging in Episode 10 of The Silverblade Prophecy? Now you’ll get to know how she arranged it. 😉