The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
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For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath provides a glimpse of the havoc the Devil can wreak when he comes for the End of Days and in search of a young Office Manager. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this novel?
The very first inspiration was a sort of vision, about 10 years ago. I saw a woman standing in a room surrounded by old wood and stones. She was close to a canopy bed and she was carrying a big, heavy, woolen blanket towards a window. I felt her sorrow, she was sad about somebody, she tremendously missed a person. Ten years after I was sitting in my beautiful sunroom in Northern BC, sipping tea and staring at the dark woods outside, the trees turning red, brown and orange, the crab apples filling the air with their sweet smell. I stared for maybe 5 minutes, after which I felt an extreme urge to write. I took my laptop and hastily started recording the events that would lead to “For the Devil Has Come with Great Wrath”. I started writing in September. I had the entire story in my head, but I was busy with my daily activities, so I decided to set up a plan: I had to write at least 3,000 words a day, making up for those days in which I did not have time to write. That year the winter was particularly harsh, I felt I was held captive, and writing was the only escape from the daily -30°C, from the roads covered in ice and snow, from the long hours of darkness. I wrote almost every day, not having to think once about how the story would evolve: the adventures just flew out of me, in a sort of “channeling”. In February my first book was finished, but 6 more were already brewing in my head, including the sequels of this first book. It was only at that point that I decided to walk the next mile, and treat it as a professional work. I contacted the BC Editors Association and was smitten by their reactions to my little story. After contacting the BC Editors Association, I decided to go on a solo trip through British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alberta. Every evening I would check my emails and find those of authorities in the field that loved my work and were looking forward to read the entire story. This incredible experience spurred me to publish the novel.
My upbringing also definitely influenced my story-telling. Both my parents are attached to traditions, religion, legends and magic. My mother made sure that I would not forget about my roots, the Valley, the village “on top of the lake” (Summus Lacus), our religion. My father enhanced everything with magic and mystery.
This book is a genre-crossing novel with elements of fantasy, christian, and supernatural as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The story was absolutely not planned. I just decided to start writing it without even knowing how it would evolve. I did not prepare an outline, I did not fill my walls with sticky notes, I did not have pages and pages of comments. I do have a little notebook, containing information regarding, for example, how old the characters are, if they are allergic to something, when their birthdays are, when they met each other. Nothing about the story itself. It was as if I was writing events that really happened, and the intention was just to make sure those occurrences could be remembered by future generations. My editor, Janet Southcott from Viridian Earth Contract, called my novel a “New Age fantasy”.
Your book has some fantastical creatures, but what I enjoyed was how your characters worked in harmony with one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your characters?
I didn’t necessarily plan to capture any theme related to collaboration and compassion, so it definitely happened naturally. I do like the idea of different beings cooperating and developing these strong emotions and this genuine attachment for one another. In the beginning, the characters happen to come together for a higher cause; they are sort of forced to cooperate. In fact, we sometimes read that Emma doesn’t really appreciate the sternness of Ella, but, like a daughter-mother relationship, she respects the opinions and directions of a more experienced female. If we consider the novel from this point of view, it seems that the characters always approach a new “companion” with reservation, doubts and distrust. Of course, this is also caused by the events happening in the Valley, but don’t we often all react like this during our first meeting with somebody? It’s only after a few shared experiences that we manage to open up to the person in front of us. This is exactly what happens to Emma, Ella, Abela, and all the characters in the book. It is more obvious for Emma, because she is the one recollecting the events, we don’t really know what the other characters think of her, their first impression on her, but we can figure it out by reading about their behaviours and interactions with Emma through her own words. At the same time we can see how the characters evolve within their experiences: their core is the same, but their values change. There are no emotional barriers anymore; there is no time for counterproductive drama. The transition to peasant life also intensifies these values, all of a sudden the reader realizes that without technology and commodities, the characters have to communicate more, they have to cooperate and develop skills they weren’t even aware they had. Also, it is clear that by being the fellowship so diverse, each of the characters bring a different set of assets, which is shared between the members, increasing their knowledge and understanding.
This is book one in a trilogy. Where will book three pick up and when will it be available?
Book #2 and #3 are already in the process of being created, I just need the time to sit down and write them both. Book #2 will start with the main characters leaving the witch’s house and migrating to a more secure place: the gnomes’ kingdom beyond the mountains. The rest of the novel will bring more adventures and many unexpected twists. The common threads will still be the millennial fight between good and evil, love, friendship, occult, strength and hope with the Apocalypse permeating and hanging over everything like Damocles’ sword. Book #3 will incorporate also the final countdown until the last battle between good and evil, the one that will decide on the faith of humanity and Earth.
When the Devil puts his price tag on your head, you know you have to call upon some very special friends to help you stay alive. Welcome to the world of Emma. Thrown from relative obscurity into a time of being hunted, our young protagonist must transition from modern day to peasant life with difficult choices and a need to adapt. Life on the run takes trust and belief in the power of others, on a vastly changing stage. Emma Plant’s first novel throws the reader into a place where reality is no longer three dimensional. Descriptions of fairies, witches, gnomes and demons paint a picture for anyone who may wish a glimpse beyond the veil. Her characters live in the reader’s imagination beyond the final page, with the promise of a sequel, and potential trilogy in the offing. This new-age fantasy story will appeal to young adults through to senior years and is a page-turner from start to finish.
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One of the joys of childhood is sitting with someone and reading a favorite story over and over again. The kind of story that sticks with you, and works it’s way into your heart. The Grumpface is that kind of story. It is about a grumpy old man that is cursed and lives in the forest of Ho. He captures unsuspecting travelers that get lost in the forest and they must complete a challenge to earn their freedom. If they cannot complete any of the three challenges they are trapped in the forest forever. In this story an inventor named Daffy Dan is looking for a rose to win the love of a girl named Bella. Bella sells flowers in the village but longs for a rose that she cannot grow. Dan thinks that if he can bring Bella a rose, he will have the courage to finally speak to her and win her heart. As he searches the forest of Ho, he gets caught by Grumpface and must find a way to escape or he will never have the chance to see Bella and tell her how he feels.
The first thing that grabbed me about this book, was the amazing illustrations. Grumpface at his worst is still funny enough to not frighten my four-year-old daughter. She fell in love with this book the first time she saw me reading it and saw the bright pink bird in the first challenge. The images throughout are all done with detail and colors that draw you into the story more. They complement the text in an artistic way as well as helping convey the emotions. The rhythm of the rhyming makes the story entertaining and flow smoothly. It is perfect for young readers, but not too silly that it will make parents want to hide the book after a week. One of the great morals of the story is to find the humor in life even when things don’t go your way. Daffy Dan is clumsy and riddled with bad luck it seems, it makes him relatable to young readers that are often clumsy themselves. Dan’s creative inventions all sound like great ideas and spark the imagination of readers as well. Grumpface is like the teacher or parent that just stares in disbelief at the crazy things Dan does. Together the pair make a memorable story that will leave you laughing.
B.C.R. Fegan and D. Frongia have created a beautiful and enchanting tale with The Grumpface. They manage to convey the fear and concern of Dan throughout the story, the disappointment he feels as things don’t go his way, and the joy he feels as he thinks he finally got it. The story touches the hearts of adults and keeps children entertained. It the teaches morals of persistence, compassion, and friendship. This is a book you will want to keep on hand to read for years to come.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B06XFFK7VZ
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Allie Frost’s debut book I’m With You, is a passionate and gripping novel that draws the reader into her world with dynamic characters and an engaging story line. Ciarán and Remiel are siblings that have lost their mother. Their father has lost his mind due to her death and blames Remiel for the death of his wife. Remiel was born with an unusual gift, the ability to see a person’s death before it occurs. Five years after their mother’s death, their father has put out a hit job on his daughter, saying that she must die for the world to be right again, claiming that Remiel is a demon that kills. Ciarán loves his sister and when he learns of the plot to kill her he takes matters into his own hands and sets out to save her. With the help of an unlikely bunch of strangers, Ciarán and Remiel set out to escape the assassins that have been sent after Remiel.
The novel starts out in Kevlar a city in the realm of Empirya. This is a typical industrial city, similar to the early industrial periods of America. After learning of the plot to kill Remiel, Ciarán literally runs into to vagabonds, Ramus and Valkyrie. Fate brought them together and they help the two siblings escape Kevlar. Once away they are quickly found by the assassins hired to kill Remiel and they add a young prostitute names Camilla to their group. As they travel barely staying one step ahead of their enemy’s they add to their growing company Kaz the circus fire juggler, and Mitzi the librarian. Together they encounter danger and learn surprising things about one another. They bond together in the common goal of keeping Remiel alive and getting her and Ciarán home again.
Allie Frost tells the story from the view of Ciarán. His perspective is insightful for a young 15-year-old boy. While he seems more mature at times, there are defiantly times where his young age is apparent and the other characters’ step in to guide him. Ramus takes on the fatherly role for Ciarán and Remiel while Valkyrie is more the depressing voice of reason that battles internally between keeping to himself and away from trouble, vs doing the right thing and protecting the kids from the dangers after them. Camilla starts off as a very shallow character and through the novel builds into a deep meaningful part of the story line. The same is for Kaz and Mitzi, they evolve from the time they are introduced all the way to the epilogue. The bond that is formed from this unintended group becomes a family. Circumstances of the story give each character a chance to grow and evolve. Frost does an amazing job showing the transformation and growth while keeping the perspective in Ciarán’s eyes.
For a first novel Allie Frost, has created a dynamic world, taking the reader all over, showing a multitude of cultures and communities while keeping all relatable to modern earth. So, while the land is a work of fiction, many of the religious beliefs and cultural references are easy to relate to and understand. I’m With You is a perfect title for the novel as all the characters form a bond and grow together to create a family that Ciarán and Remiel lacked ever since their mother died. This is a captivating novel that will keep the reader engaged from the first page to the last.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B01MAYT60F
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The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is a collection of short stories that follow three ghostly women and a vampire. How did this collection come together for you? Did you write them individually over time, or did you set out to write a compilation?
My short story compilation came together when I was getting my apartment organized one weekend this past summer and found some college ruled notebooks. From notations I had made in side margins, all four of them had been written years ago. Frankly, I had forgotten all about them. They appear in chronological order; “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011 and is the oldest. The last short story, “There’s Always Another One,” was finished in 2014. As readers can see, even with all of them combined, the cumulative word total is less than 8,500 words, but I remembered that while I attended business college I had enjoyed various compilations and Reader’s Digest editions during breaks from classes. An idea of putting four of my own writing projects together grew more and more appealing to me, so I ran with it. Pun intended.
I really like the cover of the book. How did you decide on what cover to choose?
I appreciate what you wrote about the cover for my compilation, many people have had similar comments, for which I’m grateful. But credit doesn’t belong to me. The Chief Executive Officer of my publisher, Captive Quill Press, is also an author friend of mine, Kenya, and that attractive, haunting woman on “The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal” cover was Kenya’s idea. She said market research showed potential consumers react with more interest when a striking female model appears on a book, especially when it is in the paranormal fiction genre. I trust my friend’s savvy, so I approved her suggestion.
I consider this a thrilling paranormal romance collection. Do you read books in that genre? Are there any books in that genre that have influenced you over the years?
Yes, I do read paranormal romances. Perhaps that’s unusual for bachelors, but my reasoning is there’s more opportunity for the creative half of my brain to engage when I read stories with supernatural content, and I can immerse myself with the element of “what if” because it makes for great entertainment, a great escape from my work life which is compartmentalized, ordered. I see enough drab, plain stuff everyday.
I want my imagination to have adventures.
Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” influenced me to write “Intervention” in particular.
I felt that the characters had a lot of depth. What ideas did you have about your characters when you started and how did that change as you were writing?
As I mentioned earlier, “Another Helen’s Haircomb” was written in 2011, so I can’t remember specific ideas about my characters as I wrote at the time, but the reason I thought it was so important to include within The Nefarious, Noble and Nocturnal is our basic human curiosity and awe when it comes to the vastness of eternity. However, what dove tails with that concept is simply no matter how many technological advances are made, we’re still much like my fictional character of Helen from ancient Athens, in that we grieve and love deeply. Furthermore, according to what I’ve read and heard over my life span, thirteen-year-old girls, especially those who have faced traumatic incidents (such as the loss of a parent), seem to be more apt to accept paranormal manifestations they witness. I took some liberty with a father “rolling with the punches” too, granted, but I thought it was reasonable if I demonstrated a dad and his daughter seeking to adapt as best they could together. Where my other three short stories are concerned, the characters remained as originally written, except for Moira in “There’s Always Another One.” When I did a final edit before I sent my file to you, I decided to make her a bit more complex. While I wanted her to keep a degree of seductiveness, it was vital for readers have a more pronounced idea that she’s no bubble-headed nymphomaniac who happens to be a vampire. She has an agenda, and she has every intention of carrying out her objective with a mercenary’s calculating, cold willfulness to succeed.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will that be published?
Currently, I’m in the process of writing a novel, still on its fifth chapter, which is a ghost story entitled “The Stein and the Studebaker: Book 1 of the Norseman Chronicles.” Another of Stephen King’s older works, “Christine,” is influencing me again, but there will be notable differences when my book is done this coming summer or autumn. For starters, King’s supernatural auto, a 1958 Plymouth Fury, is written as a homicidal, vengeful wraith on wheels. By contrast, the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk in my story is motivated by a desire to see justice is brought to bear for a murder investigation that went cold in 1960. My intent is to have the story written sometime between June and October of 2017, but I have no idea how long it will take to get the book published after that. Oh, and it will be the first of a trilogy series.
Readers, prepare yourselves, and embark on a supernatural journey spanning the battlefield of Marathon in ancient Greece to the present day in America’s Pacific Northwest. Three long distance runners will encounter ghosts, one falls in love with a beautiful vampire who has an agenda, and all four will cross very different finish lines, whether they’re ready or not.
Posted in Interviews
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