I’ve been a full-time author since 2017. I’ve zig-zagged between high fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and gamelit. I’m trying hard to stay focused on writing fantasy stories, but that doesn’t stop the Muse teasing me with ideas for space opera tales.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)
My main fantasy series is called The Ravenglass Chronciles, this is a 21-novella series where each book is inspired by the tarot. My latest novel, Dawn of Assassins is set a few hundred years after The Ravenglass Chronicles and tells the story of a pair of thieves who are recruited by a master assassin. But they’re thieves, not killers.
When did you start your writing adventure? What was the inspiration for it?
I’ve worked as a professional writer for most of my adult life, mostly in journalism. I’ve written stories, comedy scripts, and lyrics since I can remember, so I’ve always had that drive to tell stories. When I saw I could bypass corporate publishers and produce books on my own terms, that’s when I decided to follow this as a career path.
What writing plans do you have for the future?
To keep writing stories in my Ravenglass Universe. As I establish the universe, I want to branch out into other media and work with other writers. There’s potential for video games, movies, and comics. It’s very exciting. It’s also meant that when I get an idea for a story, I ask myself whether it will fit in the Ravenglass Universe. If it doesn’t, I thank the Muse and move on.
What do you like to read?
Books! And lots of them! I read in most genres. My favourite stories tend to be fantasy. Give me banter and swashbuckling and you’re onto a winner.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you’d started your writing adventure?
Just because someone’s got a system that works for them, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
There is no magic bullet.
Author bio and book synopsis
Jon Cronshaw is a full-time fantasy and speculative fiction author based in Morecambe, England.
Born in Wolverhampton, he has a PhD in the history of art and has written for local and national newspapers across the UK.
He’s an avid reader, podcaster, and history geek.
Dawn of Assassins:
Two friends. A master assassin. One deadly choice.
Fedor and Lev are thieves…not killers.
They lead a desperate life in the tunnels of Nordturm, conning and stealing to buy their next meal.
But when an assassin recruits them against their will, they are forced into a life they do not want and cannot escape.
If they leave, they will die. But if they stay, they must kill.
Can they survive the master’s relentless evaluation?
Is loyalty stronger than the will to live?
Will their friendship last the ordeal?
From the best-selling author of The Ravenglass Chronicles, comes a new thrilling adventure featuring a new cast of unforgettable characters.
You’ll love this high fantasy series, because these unlikely heroes have a story you won’t be able to put down.
In a world full of elves, woodwose, gargoyles, and brownies among others, humans can’t help crossing paths with all of the magical species. Well, everyone except Avril. She manages to avoid all elves. Then one day, her master orders her to steal a dagger from the very elf she wishes to evade most, the elven spymaster of Eldarlan. Bound by her indenture, she has no choice but to obey. She plans a swift sneak and grab mission, but things go awry.
Illeron knows more than any elf should. The gathering, analyzing, and disseminating of information consumes his life to the point his brother suggests he needs a distraction. So, when a human woman breaks into his study to steal his dagger, he seizes the opportunity and offers her a bargain she can’t refuse. And a fate he never imagined.
The Elven Spymaster’s Thief is a light, fantasy romance novella full of banter, flirting, and fun romantic moments. It features an opposites-attract romance between a human girl and a smoldering elf lord with a bit of a culture clash thrown in for fun.
A reader of fairytales and folklore, Elisa Rae loves a happy ending. Noblebright characters, dastardly villains, and chemistry between characters delight her. When she isn’t writing, she loves to watch superhero movies and literary dramas.
Excerpt – The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III (C) A. L. Butcher
“So, you are the Heart of the Mountain. What can you show me, I wonder?” Kherak muttered, pulling her thoughts back to the task in hand. She settled back in her armchair with the crimson embroidered and beaded Shamanic Shawl across her shoulders. The item was old, far older than the Shaman herself, and imbued with magic, for it had passed down from Shaman to Shaman, and each woman had added to it. To all appearances it was simply the shawl of an old woman, but there was nothing simple about the garment. It was a symbol of status, an heirloom with much Power and, of course, it kept her warm.
A pearlescent glow rose in the Opal, which hovered above the Circle adorning the table. Colours shifted and, as she placed the Heart of the Mountain over the large stone, the red and black pattern began to move, swirling like a whirlpool. “I am Kherak Var, Shaman, as my kin have been before me. Show me your secrets; guide me in seeking my kin.”
This was strong and wild magic, flowing in a torrent which was close to sweeping the ailing woman away with its force. Suddenly a voice rumbled around, timbre low like thunder, drawing her in and making the old Shaman tingle in ways she had not experienced for many years. The language was strange, ancient and arcane, the very language of the earth. Such words Kherak had seldom heard; the sound held Power, the very essence of magic and rose like a song. She had not expected this, even with all her foretelling. Peering into the depths of the Opal, the images swirled like mist on the mountain and the shifting vision would not yield further. “You will reveal, my eyesight fades but my Sight is clear. You will reveal to me, as is my right and my Power.”
The humming Opal whined with a painful shrill, and tired Kherak fought the errant vision to do her bidding. The Shaman’s Focus shifted— partly in the Realm of Dreams and partly remaining in the mundane world. In Astral Sight the Opal loomed large and bright, a globe of dancing images woven in mist; before her rose a peak of reddish stone, run through with black veins arising from a lake of greenish water, and high in the peak an arch looked out across the lake, weathered but dark and foreboding. As she watched, the lake filled with blood, and screams echoed in her head. As quickly as it had appeared Kherak saw the half-dream flicker away to be replaced by a high-roofed chamber of rock, lit with crystal, and in the centre a red and black stone statue, circled by molten rock, runes glowing like fire about it. The strange words roared as the rolling of waves against stone, echoing in the Realm of Dreams as it did in her parlour, rattling the shelves from which items tumbled. Then the vision was gone.
The Stolen Tower – the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III
What stalks the land cannot be but is.
Where magic is outlawed a troll Shaman calls from her deathbed to her heiress, Mirandra Var, daughter of the storm. Mirandra vows to find her missing kin, sort friend from foe, and claim the dangerous secrets guarded by unthinkable creatures. If she succeeds she will become the leader of her tribe. If she fails, there will be no tribe to lead.
Welcome to a little excerpt from The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I
Excerpt 1 – Dii
Dii walked through the day, stopping only to refill her water-skin from a spring. The day had turned out to be overcast and the air was heavy with the tension of a storm hanging over the land. Heavyset big-horned sheep populated the surrounding countryside; hardy and excellent providers of meat, cheese and wool that was surprisingly soft to have come from such tough, belligerent beasts. Trees covered the land to the east, not quite fertile enough for grain or barley but ideal for the orchards and forests that provided for these lands. As she walked, the hills began to roll steeper. The horizon boded storm clouds and any canny folk, Witch or not, could foresee the storm approaching. Every mile she walked was further from her Keeper’s land.
As evening approached, the road forked, and the rain began to fall in huge, cold drops that chilled the blood and saturated a person to the skin. She was aware some mages could control the weather, calling and dismissing storms and remaining dry in the rain. Dii, however, was young and inexperienced, and did not know such useful spells. She hesitated, unsure; she could try to camp, although she had little food remaining in her bag and knew her tent would not protect her from a storm or high winds. She had passed a farmhouse some way back and contemplated returning to shelter in the barn, yet she did not wish to be caught stealing apples or eggs and, not knowing the sympathies of the farm folk, she was reluctant to beg for food. The other choice was the elf could risk the village she could see on the horizon, which would provide her at least with a hot meal, a warm fire and a bed more comfortable than a hayloft or bedroll. Being a healer, Dii knew the risks of such weather, and of prolonged exposure to cold and damp. She knew also the danger of one such as her seeking accommodation, but at this moment, she was too cold and wet to care; weather such as this could kill. It was worth the risk for a night or two. Hopefully, if she was cautious, the village should be safe enough.
The storm began to rumble and roll, the symphony of the gods beginning to boil like a cauldron. Quickening her pace, the young elf hoped no other souls were out in the storm. Looking around she saw the pear, apple and plum orchards to the east of the village. Much of the fruit had gone but a few trees still bore laden branches amongst the brown and red leaves. The storm would bring death for some of them and possibly ruin the last fruiting for the rest. Resisting the temptation to fill her pockets with the fruit, she simply plucked a couple of the juiciest ones to quiet her rumbling belly.
Dii smiled sadly when she remembered her foster mother’s fruit pie. Dii had learned much from Malana, not just some of her magical training, unofficially of course as that was forbidden. Malana was the best cook and best herbalist in the area and although she was the lord’s mistress, she was also a midwife. Often the villagers appealed to her when the other midwives had failed or were unavailable. A few times, Dii had been given permission to attend, escorted of course. The first time she had marvelled at the sight of new life arriving in such a fashion, the joy, the pain, often the blood. She had watched and then assisted, pleased to be able to help with bringing new life into the light. She remembered Joset had not been pleased she had attended, feeling it unsuitable for her, but Malana had somehow persuaded him. Perhaps it had simply been another use of her skills for which she would receive payment to fill the lord’s coffers. The ability to be an excellent cook and a well-trained herbalist, not to mention his favourite bed warmer, were solid reasons why Joset kept her foster mother around. Nasty and manipulative he may be, foolish he was not. Dii knew to her cost that he would not waste a good source of income and entertainment. Malana also believed herself, as a bound concubine and Kept, to be in no position to be elsewhere. In her way, she loved him, although Dii had never understood why. Perhaps he had once been a different man; as a mage, Malana would have been bound in the prison beyond the Enclave, unless she was very clever or very lucky. A mage would be bound with the feared Shackles: cruel, draining of magic and often fatal. Standing at the fork of the road, Dii was afraid and unsure, then a rumble of thunder reminded her of why she must risk her new-found freedom, and perhaps her life.
Adult rated #fantasy (contains violence and sexy scenes). Universal Link – ebook, audiobook, hardback, audiobook, large print.
Welcome to the Infernal Interview Service. Pull up a chair in front of the fire… oh wait that’s every chair.
Today my guests are Black Annis and her writer Andrew Weston
Character Spotlight – Black Annis
Who are/were you?
I am figment of English folklore and your fears made manifest. I am the personification of things that go bump in the night. The wraith seen in the corner of your eye. The tingling sensation on the back of your neck. I am the monster under the bed and the fiend, lurking at the back of the cupboard who snatches children from their cots and the unwary, too brave for their own good. I am Black Annis. Hag, bogeyman, witch, beauteous pagan legend and mystic rolled into one.
What puts you above all the other self-proclaimed ‘mystics’ in Hell?
I am one of only six of His Infernal Majesty’s vassals who serve within his secret inner circle. Only we possess the knowledge and skill to manipulate the Third Way – or as adepts call it, the Tether – an exceedingly potent celestial residue left behind from the Time of Sundering, when Holy Spirit polarized into its two current forms: God’s Grace and the Bãlefire. When you consider that two of my five associates are none other than Satan’s Reaper, Daemon Grim and the polymath, Heinrich von Nettesheim, you begin to appreciate the caliber of our tiny, very select cadre.
Why do YOU think you’re in Hell?
I know why I’m here: because I wanted to be. As mankind, topside, progressed and drew together in greater numbers in towns and cities, the woodlands and caverns in which I prefer to reside grew evermore Spartan. My reputation also grew, and it became harder to remain concealed from the world of man. Satan – curse his black heart – saw my plight and my potency, and made an offer I couldn’t refuse. So here I am, free to hunt my prey and consume all I desire, in return for a purity of debased service few can match. Yes, this is my home now, and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours?
I can only eat necrotic pseudo-flesh. Preferably taken from those recently, or about to be reassigned. And I keep their skins too, the only material from which I am allowed to fashion my extensive wardrobe.
Describe your home environment in Hell.
In my downtime, I am the proprietor of the Come Right Inn, a small establishment situated deep within the Greshwin Weald. Or as it’s better known by those inhabiting New Hell, the Sable Swathe. The Weald is a dark, near impenetrable expanse filled with flora and fauna, and hideous miscreations shunned by weak-willed humans. We like to keep to ourselves, though when anyone is foolish enough to stray into my domain, they are given a most special welcome.
Name and bio.
Andrew P. Weston is a Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. As creator of the critically acclaimed IX Series, along with Hell Bound, Hell Hounds, and Hell Gate, (novels forming part of Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell universe), Andrew has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, and the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. When not working, he also devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Tell us about your story for this edition.
One of my stories in this edition is called, The Come Right Inn, a tongue-in-cheek play on words, detailing what can happen to the most cautious of damned souls when they stray into places they shouldn’t go. Here’s a short blurb to give you a taste of what’s in store: “In The Come Right Inn, we meet one of Satan’s most secretive agents. A charming woman with a finger – and most other body parts – in every pie. It’s a simply delicious, snack-sized tale you’ll enjoy devouring in one sitting.”
What inspired you to use the character you’ve chosen?
Believe it or not, Black Annis was inspired by Daemon Grim himself. Wherever you go, people have heard of the Grim Reaper. He’s the stuff of myth and legend. A character who, since his introduction to the Heroes in Hell universe, has carved out a niche following. As fans of the series will have seen, he’s a potent dark protagonist with strong traits who needs a stimulating cast to keep him on his toes and bring out the best – and worst – of what he has to offer. I’m constantly searching for fresh ideas, and this new character helps me do just that. Though different, Black Annis is just as close to His Infernal Majesty as Daemon is. Even better, she is a more proficient wielder of a power Daemon Grim has only recently discovered: The Tether, or Third Way. We’ve met her before, in passing, in Hell Hounds. But here, in The Come Right Inn, we get a proper introduction to someone who will be a worthy addition to Heroes in Hell, and Daemon Grim’s ever evolving adventures.
For those of you who would like to find out more about the legends surrounding this blue skinned, raven-haired hag, then delve into some of the pseudonyms she goes by: Black Annis; Black Anny; Black Agnes; the Celtic goddess, Anu; and the English hermit, Agnes Scott.
It makes interesting reading, and she provides a wealth of potential to add to an already volatile mix.
Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options?
As I mentioned, I’d already used this character – as an unnamed and extremely secretive associate of Heinrich von Nettesheim – in a previous Heroes in Hell novel, Hell Hounds. What was interesting is the fact that her contribution gained a life of its own, and she ended up continuing to grow in substance the further the overall story arc surrounding Daemon Grim evolved. So I thought I’d better give her a history, and a proper means by which to officially introduce her to the Heroes in Hell fan base. As readers will see, we learn much more about Black Annis in The Come Right Inn, which sets the scene for her later appearance in the Reaper’s own contribution; The Sorcerous Apprentice. And true to form, you’ll meet her again at a later date in a much more ‘up close and personal’ recurring role. (Be patient). . .
What are you currently working on?
I’m completing the preparations for the final novel of a new “Ascension Trials” trilogy. (Which I hope to start writing within the next few weeks). I’ve been developing the series during the time we’ve been on lockdown so that the storyline is polished and tight before I submit the first book for consideration. And I’ve also been tinkering with a fresh story arc for Daemon Grim himself. Being who he is, it’ll never be a good time for him to hang up his scythe, eh?
Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.
The last two books I’ve read are part of the Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson: The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self. In a nutshell, (And so I don’t give anything away), they are part of an epic story line set on the world of Scadrial, a place where gifted individuals can access magical powers through ingestion of certain metals. (The powers manifested being dependent upon what metal is burned and their reaction with that person’s own physiology).
I’ve found it a rather innovative series, as the magical system is unique, the narrative down-to-earth and engaging, and the sweep grandiose indeed. (You get to cover thousands of years of history at an easy pace). Even better, Sanderson’s world isn’t stagnant. It moves with the passage of time, developing technology and industry as it goes along, allowing its characters to evolve along with it.
If that sounds like something you might enjoy, be sure to start with the original trilogy: The Final Empire; The Well of Ascension; The Hero of Ages. It’s great stuff, and you won’t regret it.
Margaret, Lady Ravenwood, is trapped in a loveless marriage and firmly entrenched in the medieval world. Along comes Griffin Nightshade, a historian from the future whose soul resonates with hers. He persuades her to return with him to the 1950s, but heeding her heart means courting danger from a curse that could spell her doom.
Haunted by his parents’ sudden deaths, Griffin knows all too well the pain born of love lost. He guards his emotions, but Margaret delves deep and goes straight to the soul. She’s hard to resist…and harder to set free.
The heart’s desire and history’s demands don’t always agree. Yet true love is eternal.
Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.
Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
One night while waiting for her father to get home, ten year old Emi wanders around her home when she accidentally drops her teddy bear into a mysterious chest. Anxiously going in after it, Emi falls into the chest and is teleported to a strange new world. Not long after waking up in this new world she is saved by her teddy bear who has come to life and grown several times her size. During her journey to find a way back home Emi meets several new friends including a royal guard, a scientist, and many others. Her focus changes from looking for a way home once she begins uncovering clues that her father may actually be in the strange land also! With the help of her new friends Emi embarks on a journey that will change her life forever.
Ian Primeaux is a new independent author from a small town in Louisiana. His first book “Emi” is the beginning of a new fantasy series reminiscent of adventures like “Alice in Wonderland” or “Wizard of Oz” with a few components inspired by classic role playing games. Apart from working a full-time management job, Ian spends most of his free time writing and crafting extensions of the world created in “Emi” to ensure that there will always be a new story ready to be told.
She will avenge her husband’s death, even if she must kill every knight in Caerleon to learn who betrayed him.
Anwyn thought she would finally enjoy comfort and happiness when she married a traveling psychic–that is, until Uthyr Pendragon unleashed a war on all magic-users and had her new husband burned alive.
She’s determined to wreak her revenge, until a Druid boy’s prophecy convinces her to put aside her personal vendetta and learn to hunt the ones who want her dead–harder to do when she’s captured and taken to Caerleon to be tried as a sorceress.
Now, if she can escape with the help of Caradoc, a man whose secrets rival Anwyn’s, she will have to fulfill her vow of revenge while on the run and attempting to find the one leader who can unite three broken kingdoms under a single banner.
Assuming, of course, she can protect herself from burning at the stake, safeguard her heart from the enigmatic Caradoc, and complete her training as the Cyan Huntress.
Fans of Jeffe Kennedy, Grace Draven, and Laura Thalassa will love the blend of Arthurian legend and exciting action in this romantic paranormal fantasy adventure!
USA Today Bestselling author Krystal Pena resides with her four children near Boston, MA. She writes PNR/UF and fantasy, and enjoys writing stories about strong women who overcome the greatest obstacles to achieve their dreams or goals. Many of her characters reflect her and the adversities she has overcome, which she wants to relay in her writing to empower the young women of generations to come. Many of her stories have roots in ancient ideals and folklore, and she loves hiding alternate meanings or symbolism in her writing.
Aside from writing, Krystal enjoys photography, archery, horseback riding and MMA. She loves history and art, and frequents historical sites and art galleries in her spare time. Above all else, she loves being at home, baking and cooking with her children, visiting her family and reading bedtime stories.
She works as a personal assistant to other authors by day and writes late into the night, a strong cup of coffee always within reach.
Krystal is also one-half of the pen name KM McKenna, which she shares with NYT bestselling author Margo Bond Collins in writing YA/NA fantasy. She enjoys working alongside Margo as both co-author and PA.