Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Judith Starkson #Histfic #Hittites #Meetanauthor

Author Name: Judith Starkston

  1. *Please tell us about your publications.

I’m the author of three books of historical fantasy based on the Bronze Age Hittites—an empire of the ancient Near East nearly buried by the sands of time. My books take “a quarter turn to the fantastic,” to borrow Guy Gavriel Kay’s phrase, and give full expression to the magical religious beliefs of these historical people. My first book, Hand of Fire, is set in the Trojan War and told from a woman’s viewpoint, Briseis, Achilles’ captive. Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy series based on a Hittite queen. The first book in that series Priestess of Ishana is available FREE Oct 2-6. The second book, Sorcery in Alpara, launches Oct 14.

  1. What first prompted you to publish your work?

When I was researching my first book and figuring out the Trojans, I made a startling side discovery—a queen I’d never heard of who ruled for decades over an empire I’d barely heard of, despite my training and degrees as a classicist. It was the Hittite empire, of which, it turns out, Troy was a part. The queen was Puduhepa (whom I call Tesha in my fiction–the Hittite word for “dream” because she had visionary dreams). I’m particularly interested in the theme of women as leaders, so I was hooked. The Hittite empire could be called the forgotten empire, but fortunately, recent archaeology and the decipherment and translation of many thousands of clay tablets have filled in parts of the lost history. We now have many Hittite letters, prayers, judicial decrees, treaties, religious rites and a variety of other documents, but overall our knowledge still has huge gaps in it. I use shifted names in my series, such as Hitolia for the Hittite empire, to cue my readers to how much I have to fill in imaginatively from those fragmentary records. It also gives fair warning to the magic that I give free rein to, the rules of which derive from Hittite practices, but I do let the story go where a good story should and that means a lot of fantasy. It was that juicy primary source material, an extraordinary female ruler, and an intriguing ancient world that prompted me to write Priestess of Ishana and Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I outline my novels in a couple different ways before I start writing, but those outlines are subject to change whenever the story and characters take me into new realms I hadn’t imagined at the start.

I use a couple approaches to outlining and organizing my manuscripts. One is very character/theme/pacing driven, Libbie Hawker’s book Take Your Pants Off. The other, very plot and pacing driven, is a storyboarding technique that means I’ve got each of my books laid out on a three-sided board like we used for our school science projects. It’s explained in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. You’ll notice in both the word “pacing.” I found as I learned the craft that pacing was both the hardest part to get right and the most essential. If readers aren’t compulsively drawn through my story, it doesn’t matter how beautiful my writing is and all the rest (though I work hard to get all that nailed). A good story is hard to put down—that’s something we all intuitively know. The corollary is that if a story is hard to get through, it isn’t very good!

  1. What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

Write at least a little bit every day and give yourself permission to write “bad words.” What do I mean by that? Just write and don’t worry whether it’s crap or not. Later you can go back and edit or trash if need be. I find that it is often the days when I think I’m writing the worst that I discover on later read, I’ve written some of my best. And you can only fix words that are actually on the page.

  1. If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.

I’ve never gotten over my fascination with Achilles in the Iliad. He’s maybe legendary rather than literary, but I’d like to sit down and listen to him (probably admire his physique also…). He’d probably want lamb roasted on spits spiced with garlic and cumin, and I love that also, so I’ll go with that. Some fresh flatbread right off the hot stones to go along with it!

  1. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?

I’m using this technique—offering free my first book in the series, Priestess of Ishana, from Oct 2-6. I’m doing it right before the second book comes out, so I’ll see buy through and get paid that way. I think it’s a viable marketing strategy. I don’t think reaching new readers is demeaning. It’s what you do as an author, and putting books into people’s hands seems like a good thing overall. If I was expected to give away books for free all the time, that would be silly. But accessing a lot of new readers I wouldn’t have any other way? That sounds smart to me. So do download a copy of Priestess of Ishana, and then if you really enjoy it, buy Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

I spread the word when I get a particularly strong review, especially from someone I really respect. When someone writes a bad review, I see no reason to react one way or the other, certainly not comment on it. I let my fiction, my author notes, all the background material on my website speak for itself when someone has a wrongheaded idea in a review. Reality has a way of coming through over time, so I don’t sweat it. If someone points out a perceptive way to improve in a review, I go to work in my next book and make sure I fix that. I’m happy to learn from all sources.

  1. How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?

I have gone deep into the research, both the book/reading part (years of that) and the travel. I’ve gone to the archaeological sites, landscapes, and museum collections in Turkey that are the source material for my world-building. I contact the dig directors and museum curators so that I can talk with them and learn first-hand from the people who really know. I spent a whole day at the site that we think was Tesha’s hometown that I call Lawaza, but was called Lawazantiya by the Hittites. It’s the archaeological site of Tatarli near the city of Adana in Turkey. The key reason they think it’s her hometown is that the dig mound (with Bronze Age ruins of the right kind) is surrounded by seven springs. The Hittite records from the capital of the empire describe this town as having seven springs. The dig director took me to each of the springs–one of them appears in a key scene in Priestess of Ishana and I could never have gotten the atmospherics of that scene right if I hadn’t been there. One of the wildest subjects I’ve run across is the Hittite magical rite to remove a curse that I use in Priestess of Ishana. It involves chickpeas. Who knew that the way to get the demons out was via garbanzo beans? The Hittites were obsessed with curses and they believed sorcerers caused all kinds of evil with them. If you had to remove a curse from someone, you baked a loaf of bread with chickpea paste in the middle (basically humus) so that when you touched the bread to the cursed body while saying the right spell, the paste would absorb the pollution. I couldn’t make up this stuff in a million years, but the Hittite culture hands it to me. I just have to write it into compelling page-turners.

  1. If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?

I’m having a lot of fun writing griffins into my series, so I’ll choose that mythical creature to be. It turned out, much to my surprise as I wrote, that griffins, or at least the ones in my books, have a very dry sense of humor. And they are wickedly good warriors and can soar into the heavens, and yet they have a big soft spot for their cubs who are allowed to climb all over the grownups, so I suspect hanging out as a griffin for a while could be very entertaining.

  1. What is your writing space like?

I’m very lucky and have a big window in front of my workspace that looks out on my garden. I write on a lovely inlaid wooden writing table with a comfortable armchair. So I’m all set to keep my butt in that seat for a good stretch every day.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

My fictional Tesha, based on the historic Queen Puduhepa, provides a worthy model for leadership—particularly the value of female leaders, which we’ve been thinking about lately, so this seems timely. She certainly wasn’t perfect, and some of her actions are hotly debated among historians as possibly self-serving or politically motivated rather than ethically driven. She gave me nuanced material to work into my hero’s character. But, despite that human complexity, or perhaps because of it, she had brilliant skills as queen in many areas: diplomatic, judicial, religious and familial. Most famously, she corralled Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt into a lasting peace treaty. The surviving letters to Ramses reveal a subtle diplomat with a tough but gracious core that made her able to stand up to the arrogant Pharaoh without giving offense. She also took judicial positions that went against her own citizens when the truth wasn’t on their side. Fair justice wasn’t something she was willing to toss overboard when it was politically inconvenient. Her equal partnership with her husband was a much-admired model even in the patriarchal world of the ancient Near East. I’m enjoying working in these themes from a real woman into my historical fantasy series, one book at a time.

  1. How important is writing to you?

I love the long hours at my desk spent lost in the world that I write and in the company of my characters. I enjoy it every day. It’s my fulltime occupation.

Links

Newsletter sign up (for a free short story and book deals): https://www.judithstarkston.com/sign-up-for-my-author-newsletter-for-books-news-special-offers-and-freebies/

Website  https://www.judithstarkston.com/

Priestess of Ishana  https://amzn.to/2DXpdXt

Sorcery in Alpara  https://amzn.to/319vuIj

Hand of Fire  https://amzn.to/2KOb6a0

 

Bio

Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award.

 

Hell Week 2018 – Orpheus/Janet and Chris Morris #HeroesinHell

Welcome to Orpheus

Who are/were you?

I was the Thracian Argonaut, magician, musician, and prophet. Still am, though here I do hell’s bidding, such as sitting in this dank cell with you as my interrogator.

Who is your ‘lover’ in Hell? Eurydice, the oak nymph, my wife; most beautiful and desired of women, lo these many years lost to me – twice sought and once returned to me from Tartaros

Love in hell, isn’t that a contradiction? How does this work? Love is the province of the soul; death cannot faze it nor passion still its rhyme.

Many of the denizens of His Satanic Majesty’s realm have a curse – what is yours? You jest. Do you not see the puddle by my feet, the wet where I sit on your prison bench? Do you cannot hear the dripping from my flesh? All of us who served on Jason’s Argo drown again and again in salty water, and between drownings our skin drips brine continually.

Who are your friends/allies here? Friends in hell? That’s the contradiction. My friends met in hell are my friends met in life; those met in hell who serve my ends let me serve theirs: such men and women, witches and goddesses, and empowered souls like Shakespeare and Marlowe serve the gods of hell from their day and set us tasks that lead us to more curses and misery: in hell, suffering is the only true coinage, and even that be scarce.

Describe your home/environment in Hell.

Home? Environment? I am a musician, part of the pit orchestra in New Hell, a place where all the worst from every day and age gather together and prey upon one another, eon after eon. Sometimes we serve as sea-going mercenaries in Jason’s crew, but with Medea on our track, these days bring only danger, loss, and separation for an infernity that makes lovers weep and the devil grin.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How do you spend the endless years here? No, not ‘eternity.’ Infernity – thanks for that to John Milton, who like the Bard of Avon and his lover Marlowe create words to suit their trials and tribulations, words that jump from their lips and torture damned souls the more.

Hell covers all eras and technologies, there are many hells within Hell. How have you adjusted to this strange world? Adjusted to digital damnation? To weapons that don’t work well but take their feet and serve like soldiers; to politicians spouting lies from their umbilicals? From avengers, who stalk one another throughout hells ages and devise punishments more foul the deeper in hell you go. Feel that cold, seeping from the brine that drips from me? The closer to hell’s belly you get, the more you suffer its cold – loveless, lonely, and afraid.

Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? I know what I did, writing my Orphic missives: I called upon hell and it answered, sending a viper to kill my Eurydice and sending me on fruitless quests to find her deep in Tartaros.

What are your greatest fears here? That, once I find her, I should lose her again – only so many times can a mortal beseech Hades and Persephone for manumission. Eurydice is the breath of salvation to me; without her, afterlife is an empty threat.

Love is Hell-FB3

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio:

Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. Christopher Crosby Morris is an American author of fiction and non-fiction, as well as a lyricist, musical composer, and singer-songwriter. He is married to author Janet Morris.

Tell us about your story for this edition. For Lovers in Hell, Janet and Chris Morris wrote a novella in three parts which follow lovers as they lose and find one another among hell’s multifarious domains.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? The characters for lovers include those who have served in other volumes of this series, such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sappho, Samael, Orpheus, and some never before met, such as Eurydice,

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? We do a new Hell volume every year or so, or whenever we have enough stories that meet our criteria. In the time between volumes, we discuss with our group of writers story names, themes, and execution. Writing for hell is not easy. At this moment, we have two more volumes plans, so we may never escape hell ourselves . . .

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options? We’ve wanted to do Lovers in hell for years, but we didn’t have the right group of writers for it. This year, all the requirements came together and we called for stories for Lovers in hell. Next will be Mystics in Hell, which suits our current list of characters and invites new ones.

What are you currently working on? An anthology and a new novel by Janet and Chris Morris, as well as some new music.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Aristotle: On Breath, one of the most accessible works of Aristotle in the Loeb edition.

Ghost Stories of Henry James – in which something actually happens during each story, most often in the last two paragraphs. We learn more from James every time we read him, as we do with Waugh.

What are your views on authors offering free books? We disapprove of this generally, and only once in a great while offer books for free, if we’re introducing a new author or reissuing a series.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t comment on reviews if you can possibly avoid it.

Which books/movies/plays have influenced your life? The Black Stallion. Justin Morgan Had A Horse, The Iliad. Hamlet. Henry V. Brideshead Revisited. Lion in Winter. Atlas Shrugged.

In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? I hope so. The books we write aren’t for beginning readers, in any case, and if the casual reader or the various Hater sects are attracted to digital games and other diversions which provide no deeper value or commentary on the human condition, then that’s fine with me: it keeps them off the streets.

What do you think are the top three inventions/discoveries in human history and why? Fire, which allowed the earliest development of humanity. The Wheel, which allowed humans the key to engineering. Early writing (such as pre-cuneiform and hieroglyphs), which created the tools for written history. The Rosetta stone, which showed people the possibilities of comparative linguistics.

 

Course Review – The Ancient Greeks – Coursera #History #Learning

The Ancient Greeks 

This is another interesting free course run via Coursera, created by The Wesleyan University and presented by Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. It’s a good starting point with which to learn about some of the battles, significant persons, and events of Ancient Greece.

Over 7 weeks the course covers:

Prehistory to Homer

The Archaic Age (ca. 800-500 BCE)

Two City-States: Sparta and Athens

Democracy. The Persian Wars

“The Great 50 Years” (ca. 480-431 BCE)

The Peloponnesian War I

The End of the War, the End of the Century

We learn about Homer, Socrates, Thucydides, Critias, Herotodus, and the major players in the array of battles, laws, political systems and arrangements and shenanigans which went on during this important period in European history.   There is one video on women in Greek society but other than fairly brief mentions women and the lower classes aren’t discussed in detail (to be fair this IS a short course and there is not a lot of info remaining about the common man and woman in Greek society).

The course comprises of informative videos and reading. I have to confess I didn’t do much of the reading (partly as I’ve done some in the past and partly because I didn’t have a lot of time) and I would have got more out of this had I done so – my bad.

I’d recommend doing at least some of the readings, and watching all the videos. There are quizzes to be completed at the end of each section – and these count as the grading for the course so MUST be completed.

The tutor was very engaging, easy to listen to and obviously is very well informed on this historical era.  There were a couple of issues with sound quality – but I have found this an issue with Coursera before (but to be fair the course is free).

Coursera is a good way to pick up cheap or free ‘taster’ courses (One can pay for the course and gain a certificate – otherwise you can an acknowledgement of completion but no actual certificate. The cost of this is not much.)

Overall I enjoyed this and would certainly look out for more courses from this university and tutor.

4 stars.

 

 

 

Doctors in Hell – Review

5 Stars

Everyone knows Hell is a pretty awful place to spend eternity. It just got worse. Not only are the auditors in, which is bad enough, but now a terrifying new plague stalks Old and New Dead alike. Rumours abound on its source, be that Erra and his mighty weapons personified, Old Nick himself or something else. Whatever the answer might be cures are sought, bought, sold and bold. Hell being Hell, of course it does not go entirely smoothly….

Dr Frankenstein, Polydory, Dr Neill Cream, Shakespeare, Kit Marlow, Calamity Jane, Napoleon, Wellington, nurses and physicians from civilisation’s birth, gangsters, poets and even artificial life in the form of Galatea, and Adam Frankenstein, battle against a foe they don’t understand, have no clue how to beat and yet, as Heroes in Hell, fight they must and endure the twisted half-life in Satan’s domain. Truly mythic, where myths get turned on their heads and characters you thought you knew live (or unlive) again.

Filled with diabolical machinations, intrigue, courage, dark humour, and even searching questions about the nature of the soul – particularly from Joe Bonadonna in Hell on a Technicality this collection of Hell themed tales from a mix of talented writers from science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction. Janet Morris, has yet again, produced an anthology which flows from one scenario to another, despite the varying styles and stories. There were stories I didn’t want to end, and some which made me chuckle (Napoleon and Wellington always crack me up), some which were tragic, some vengeful (Grim) and some which were extremely clever.

This is a world of darkness, but it is a shared world across time, across history, across the good and great and the weak and pitiful and the characters reflect that. There is something for die-hard fans of the series and new authors to discover, and an exquisitely crafted greater whole for those new to the series.

The eighteenth Heroes in Hell is, perhaps, darker and bloodier than its predecessors. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but then again – this is Hell, what do you expect?

#Fantasy #mythic #historical #Heroes in Hell.

Giveaway! Heroika: Dragon Eaters – win a free copy

We are delighted to announce a chance to win a copy of Perseid Press new release Heroika: Dragon Eaters.  The competition runs until 21st JUly 2015.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dragon Eaters by Janet E. Morris

Dragon Eaters

by Janet E. Morris

Giveaway ends July 21, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The art of dragon killing: Dragons have been eating humans for centuries. Now heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe. Learn how to hunt, kill, and eat the wild dragon. Never before has revenge tasted so good. A literary feast for the bloody-minded. In Janet Morris’ anthology on the art of dragon killing, seventeen writers bring you so close to dragons you can smell their fetid breath. Tales for the bold among you. HEROIKA 1 — DRAGON EATERS, an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris, features original stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S.E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, JP Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, A.L. Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth W. Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn.

Review – Theogony – Hesiod

Theogony – Hesiod.

3.5 stars.

3.5 stars.
(4 for value – ancient text and useful insight)
(3 for readability)
(3.5 for interest)
(3 for technicalities – formatting)

I’m not totally sure how to rate this – as an ancient work (8th Century BCE) it’s importance is supreme. It’s a great insight into the pantheon of the Ancient Greeks and their religion but it must be said it is NOT an easy read. This is partly as it is so old – these deities are alien to most of us, with unfamiliar names, roles and lives, if that is the right word, which are also rather fantastic. Mostly it reads as a list – so and so begat so and so. There’s a lot of that – sex is everywhere, as is violence, intrigue, deception, family squabbles and much more. From the modern view all the incest, patricide, misogyny and so forth is hard to deal with – although pretty standard for ancient religious text. The stories of Prometheus, of Earth and Sky and Earth’s revenge, plus the birth of Athena are the most outstanding accounts. In many ways it reads like a modern soap opera.

I’d say it is a great book for background information to the gods and supernatural beings of the period, but as a straight through read, or an adventure such as the Odyssey it is not nearly as exciting. The misogyny of the text is obvious – although to some extent reflects the ideas of the time.

The formatting on this version was a bit suspect – with large gaps, words running into one another and repeated phrases, which MAY have been intentional but maybe not. After a while it became fairly hard to read because of this.  Some more notes to this particular version would be very useful.

Overall – I’d say a useful reference for study if one wants background into the deities of the Odyssey or Iliad, but not an especially interesting one – at least in this particular translation.

A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Cas Peace

Welcome to Cas Peace and her character, another of the Dragon Eaters.

*Who are you? My name is Jorj and I am a veteran of the Crusades. I am a simple knight who followed his lord to the Holy Land to help liberate the City of God. We were told that this was our holy duty, that we would be venerated in heaven should we die in God’s service. But the evil I saw done there in God’s name repulsed me, tarnishing my faith and staining my soul. In shame I returned across the sea, my “holy duty” left undone. Now I am but a simple knight again, albeit with unquiet soul.

Why are you embarking on this quest? I was approached by a representative of the southern peoples of Britain, a people oppressed by the druids who once protected them. I heard disquieting facts that led me to believe the druids had harnessed a fell beast — a wyrm — and were using the demon’s power to increase their hold over the southern countryside. The king refused to help his people, who were growing desperate. I prayed, and my god sent me a sign. I hope to redeem my worth, and  my soul, by banishing the wyrm back to the netherworld.

*Tell us about dragons in your world. There have been many dragons and wyrms that have oppressed the British peoples. We have had so-called “true” dragons; that is, four-legged, two-winged monsters that could breathe fire. These are the toughest challenges for any dragon-slayer or knight and have been the bane of many a stout heart. Such creatures are much sought-out as their tendency is to hoard gold, ever the tempter of men. Many a reluctant dragon-slayer has been persuaded to the hunt by the lure of dragon gold. Some have even obtained that prize.

Fiercer even than the true dragon is the wyrm — serpentlike and tricksy, they hide in holes and their poisoned breath kills all around them. The blood of these demons can render anything bathed in it impervious to fire; even a man, so the legend goes. Brave — or foolhardy! — and damned, is the soul who captures a wyrm and drinks its blood.

And those in the land of the western Celt tell tales of a beast called a gwiber, a lesser sort of wyrm that drinks milk and can be placated by an offering of milk. A common snake that drinks the milk of a nursing woman may transform into a gwiber.

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero? I do not see myself as a hero, although the peoples of southern Britain would doubtless say I am. To them, who had not the knowledge, nor skill, nor courage to fight the demon, I am a hero who saved them from oppression and death when no one else could. Their vision of a hero would doubtless be the knight on fiery steed who charges into battle with sword aloft, fierce of mien and doughty of hand, careless for the safety of self. To me, a hero is an ordinary person who performs extraordinary deeds for altruistic reasons — either for protection, or maybe to uphold some higher, noble cause. But does that, then, not refute my own assertion that I am not a hero? Yes, I answered the call to aid the defenseless peoples of southern Britain, and yes, I employed my skills as a knight and the might of my arm, and put myself in harm’s way. But I failed my God in the Holy Land, I allowed myself to be tainted by the evil I saw around me, and so forfeited the right to be a servant of my faith. I will begin again, and work my way up toward the Light, toward a state where I might, some time in the future if God is good, be worthy of the title of Hero.

Are there other such monsters in your world? Definitely. Medieval Britain is full of monsters.  There are reports of all kinds of dragons and wyrms, including the Afanc and the Nwyvre, both water dragons. There are beasties such as the kelpie, which inhabits the waters and lochs of Scotland and appears as either a horse or a hoofed human; there is the Demon of Dartmoor, a legendary black beast reported to be either a huge cat or some kind of monstrous dog; Cernunnos, sometimes called Herne the Hunter or the god of the Wild Hunt, a manlike creature with the antlers of a great stag; there is the rather disgusting alp-luachra, a newtlike creature which crawls down sleepers’ throats to eat some of their last meal; Gwyllgi, the terrifying Welsh dog of darkness; Dearg-Due, an Irish vampiress; there are also Hell Hounds, boggarts, ghouls, and fiends of many shapes and sizes. Britain has a history rich in such monsters.

Author questions :

*Who are you? I am Cas Peace, a Brit who loves to write fantasy novels. I live in Hampshire, in southern Britain, with my husband and two rescue dogs, Milly and Milo. I trained as a horse-riding instructor back in the 1970s and ’80s, and owned my own Welsh cob, which I used for carriage driving as well as riding. I used to compete in cross-country carriage trials and carriage-dressage. Now I’m a full-time author, editor and proofreader. I’m also a folk singer/songwriter, and have written unique folk-style songs to accompany each of the nine novels in my triple-trilogy fantasy series, Artesans of Albia. My other hobbies include country walking, growing cacti, working in stained glass, singing in my local church choir, and playing the bodhran.

Why did you choose this world/era to write in? I’ve always been fascinated by dragons, and of course, England’s patron saint, George, was one of the most famous dragon-slayers ever. I grew up seeing pub signs with George and the dragon on them, and became more fascinated since I learned that George wasn’t actually English! He was born in Lydda, Syria Palaestina, and served in the Roman army. He died a Christian martyr, hence his being adopted as England’s saint. Although there is a school of thought that believes it was another George entirely who was the basis for England’s saint. Whatever the truth behind the historical figure, I decided to base my Dragon Eater story on George, and make him a veteran of the Crusades, as it’s said that the legend of him slaying a dragon was brought back by Crusaders. Also, I’m interested in how the druids shaped their world and thought it’d be neat to combine the two into one story.

Have you written for anthologies before? How does it differ from writing a novel? I’ve written short stories before and had a few published, but I’ve never been part of an anthology or tried to write to someone else’s direction. I found it quite liberating in a way, because I didn’t have to come up with the actual premise; I merely had to decide how to interpret it, and that was the fun part. Also, I was well within my comfort zone with the genre of HEROIKA. I really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again.

Writing for an anthology differs from writing a novel in that you (obviously!) have constraints on your final word count. This means that although your story must still have a clear plot and structure, you must condense the action and be sharp and concise. I think that writing a successful short story is a separate art form from writing a novel, and both art forms must be learned and practiced in order to get them right. Often, writers are better at one form than the other — it’s rare to find someone equally skilled at both. They do exist, of course, and I would love to think I could eventually be thought of as a writer who can produce shorts as enjoyable as my novels. Time will tell!

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’m definitely a panster, which is why I’m not sure if I’ll ever make a really good short story writer. I believe that careful planning is much more important in a short story, whereas I really like to get my teeth into an idea and simply let my pen and imagination hold hands and run away with each other. I dislike putting constraints on my characters, my emotions, or my dialogue as I write, and prefer to just scribble down what comes into my head. Then, once I feel comfortable that I have something worth working on, I will edit and hone and cut and edit some more to make my ramblings into some kind of sense. When I first began writing my Artesans of Albia series, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never written a novel before (much less an entire series!) and had no intention of showing it to anyone or trying to get it published. That idea came much later, after I’d summoned the courage to let someone read it and been told I ought to offer it to a publisher. The ideas for the series came thick and fast while I was writing, too fast, sometimes, for me to get them down. Nothing was planned, nothing thought out, and if I got stuck I only had to go dog walking or let my mind wander for the solution to pop into my head. I found it kind of scary —that feeling of being taken over by something I had no control over. Scary and wonderful and exciting all at once. I doubt I’d get those feelings were I to try to plan a novel, so I guess I’ll just have to wait an see if it ever happens again!

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself. I don’t like rainbows. Actually, I’m not too happy about anything odd in the sky. Weird clouds and colors freak me out, especially when we lived in Italy and wind-blown Saharan sand turned the sky and air blood-red for a day. I hardly went outdoors, it was so spooky!

Tidbit:

Recipe: Dragú with wyrmicelli pasta.

Ingredients:

A good quality cooking oil

1lb extremely lean, minced dragon meat

1 red onion

1 garlic clove (the softneck variety ‘silverdragonskin’ is best)

1 carrot (‘drakeheart’ has good color and flavor)

1 celery stick

Handful of mushrooms (black dragonback are best, if you can get them)

Half a pint of meat stock

Tomatoes

One large glass of warm, spiced dragon blood

Large pinch of Artemisia dracunculus

Pinch of salt.

Fresh wyrmicelli pasta

Method:

Heat the oil, add the dragon meat and cook until brown. Add the onion and garlic, fry for 3 minutes. Add the carrot and celery. Add the mushrooms and Artemisia dracunculus, then add the stock. Once mixed, stir in the glass of spiced dragon blood. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cook the wyrmicelli until nicely al dente. Turn onto a plate and top with the dragú mix. Sprinkle with gorgon zola cheese and enjoy!

Author website/blog: http://www.caspeace.com   http://www.peacewrites.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @CasPeace1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cas.peace   https://www.facebook.com/artesansofalbia?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4180597.Cas_Peace

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Cas-Peace/e/B0098KMASI

Heroika: Dragon Eaters – Heroic Fiction/Fantasy/Myth – New Release

heroika revised 1

Image (c) Perseid Press

Heroika: Dragon Eaters is the exciting new shared universe from Perseid Press.

Heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe.
HEROIKA — DRAGON EATERS is an anthology of heroic fiction edited by Janet Morris and featuring original stories by S. E. Lindberg, Jack William Finley, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, Alexandra Butcher, William Hiles, M Harold Page, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Beth Waggoner Patterson, Bruce Durham, Mark Finn:Heroes throughout history stalk their legendary foe: the Father of Alchemy entombs his own magic; dragons must not kill dragons; even a patron saint struggles when confronted by the mighty Wyght Worm; Hunting dragons, getting there is half the battle; mankind’s fate lies in a man, a child, and a dragon; holy warriors write their legend in the blood of dragons; the love of the innocent meets a dragon’s heart; one dragon hunter finds out the truth about feeding on dragon’s blood; one woman and two wolverines seek a dragon’s egg; cross the water and stop a new plague of dragons before it’s too late; bounty hunters pit their dirigible against a dragon and a flying castle; seven enemies unite to kill an ancient legend; In the bayou stews more than storm and alligators; remnants of the human race face their ultimate challenge in the bleak Arctic; when dinosaurs return, a squad of Rangers goes from dragon hunters to hunted.

In this anthology of monsters, magic, courage and heroes who are the bravest of the brave the outcome of each story is far from certain. Who will live to fight again? Whose blood will spill? Whose legend will be heard in song and tale? Who gets to feast on the losers?  A diverse yet shared set of tales, from writers of fantasy, heroic fiction, historical fiction and mythic tales come together to bring you an eclectic medley of mischief.

Due for release on May 25th 2015 Heroika: Dragon Eaters is available for pre-order on Amazon now.
Coming soon exclusively on the Library of Erana – a week with the Dragon Eaters. Learn about the tales, the writers and their creations and maybe even learn how to cook dragon should you be fortunate enough to kill one.  Winners eat the losers!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/HEROIKA-DRAGON-S-E-Lindberg-ebook/dp/B00VFVCQRS/

Paperback UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/HEROIKA-1-Dragon-Eaters/dp/0986414034/ 

Paperback US http://www.amazon.com/HEROIKA-1-Dragon-Eaters/dp/0986414034/

A Good Reads Giveaway is running until July 21st.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dragon Eaters by Janet E. Morris

Dragon Eaters

by Janet E. Morris

Giveaway ends July 21, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Review – Eureka – Everything You Wanted to Know About the Ancient Greeks But Were Afraid to Ask

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510605-eureka-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-ancient-greeks-but

History, Greeks, Ancient History.

5 Stars

A fun read with bite size chunks of Ancient Greek history until the Romans arrived. Ancient Greek culture and language still influence us today – the Greeks birthed democracy (although in a different hue than hours), many of our words stem from Greek terms, then of course there are the Olympic Games.

The author covers many aspects of culture, language, history and myth – in a manner which is easy to follow and gives enough of a taster to get the reader interested in the subject. He’s done his research too – with references to ancient sources and writers/thinkers and archeologists.

Recommended for anyone with an interest in the era/area – easy to read and not overwhelming. Not exactly a deep and meaningful – as with such a broad selection of subjects covered it could not be – but a good insight.

Review – Poets In Hell – Fantasy

Review of Poets in Hell (c) Janet and Chris Morris 2014.

Where could one find Shakespeare, Marlowe, Homer, Diomedes, Frank Nitti, Victor Frankenstein, Emily Dickinson, Mary Shelley and Merlin in one place? The answer is Janet and Chris Morris’s shared world of Hell. Aspiring authors, renowned poets and playwrites vie for attention, fame and recognition, with the odd exception most fail in many diabolic ways.

The stories range from the deeply moving, to the heroic, to the downright amusing as the denizens double and triple cross one another, form uneasy alliances, and try and outwit Satan, not to mention try to win the poetry slam….

Although written by a variety of authors the stories flow well, and the characters complement each other. Dark and delicious, devious and deadly with devilry aplenty in the darkest realm – is a perfect summing up of this instalment of Heroes in Hell. Most certainly fantasy at its darkest and wittiest!

To meet some of the characters please see the Hell Week Character Interviews.