Category: Guest Post

Installing the Fantasy Kitchen Sink in Rural Australia to Ward off Cthulhu

Installing the Fantasy Kitchen Sink in Rural Australia to Ward off Cthulhu

by: Ashton K. Rose

When I first started writing Urban/Paranormal Fantasy, I never considered using the world I knew best as a setting. My first fantasy novel that had a distinct urban fantasy setting was a vampire political/crime drama I wrote at nineteen. It was the first time I’d written fantasy entirely set in the “real” world. My teenage writing in the genre sitting firmly in the portal fantasy genre heavily influenced by the Oz Series and Narnia books.

The issue about writing stories set in the city, I’d never lived in one. I’d only been to “the city” a handful of times. The largest place I’d lived in was a small town of 4,000 people. Before that I spent the first fourteen years of my life living on a remote family farm. A lot of my ideas of what the city was like, was guess work based on the books and tv shows I’d seen. Making it easier to start writing Gaslamp fantasy in place of fiction with a modern city setting. It felt easier to write mistakes in a 19th century setting rather than a modern city. It was easier for people to notice the mistakes I’d made about life in modern cities.

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January 2023: Tarot Cards for Creative Inspiration

Happy New Year, HT Peeps! I hope you have lots of creatively spooky fun in the New Year!

Character: Ten of Pentacles. This character was selected at an early age to serve the future Queen. As a child, they were the Queen’s primary playmate; as a young adult, they were not only the Queen’s beloved companion, but served as an assistant as the Queen made the transition from a child to an adult herself. Once the Queen reached the age of maturity, and assumed the mantle of power, this character, by way of their lifelong training, became not only the Queen’s most trusted advisor, but the Queen’s consort as well. While this character enjoys a life of luxury as the top member of the royal court, their life is not without hard work and sacrifice. This character is now responsible for managing the Queen’s entire household; arranging not only the Queen’s meals, wardrobe, and social calendar, but also organizing political meetings with other heads of state, overseeing strategic diplomatic negotiations, and assisting in other key duties where needed. They are the public face of the Queen herself, and, as such, their conduct must always be above reproach.
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The Original Holiday Horror: A Christmas Carol

The Original Holiday Horror: A Christmas Carol 

by: Rachael Tamayo

 ‘Twas the night before Christmas… insert ghosts, monsters, bizarre themes, and chilling imagery here. Thankfully there is no shortage of classic holiday ghost stories; being the horror lovers that we are, we’d have it no other way. But the love of all things dark and spooky is not a new thing. It was a common theme in classic nineteenth-century literature, and Christmas tales were no exception. An article on Big Think goes as far as to say that it was a beloved tradition during the 1800s to gather around the fire and tell ghost stories. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about specters,” wrote Jerome k. Jerome in his 1891 anthology of ghost stories.

 Charles Dickens was no stranger to this, as we all know. In 1843, Charles Dickens penned and published what would become the epitome of past, present, and future Christmas tradition in the instant bestseller that came out December 18th, 1843. 

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Where The Ideas Come From

“Where do you come up with this sh%t?”

That’s the question I’m asked – we’re all asked – more than any other. My brother. Parents. Friends. Readers. Co-workers. Strangely, not my wife (that’s how you know you’re with the right one).

I’ve seen writers get frustrated with it. I think it’s because they’ve been asked it so many times they just want to get onto the next part of the conversation, but it strikes me that for a reader – someone who appreciates the art – this really is the most obvious and perhaps interesting question.

While working as a freelance journalist, I used to get magazine assignments where I had to profile a tech company or CEO about their new-fangled creation. Some of the tech was pretty cool, most of it leading edge. Invariably I asked, where did you get the idea from?

As a business journalist, I interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators, and that question was always part of the interview. Sometimes I already knew the answer and just wanted to hear them say it so I could quote it; other times, I didn’t. Regardless, I asked and then often printed the answer because it was interesting, and I knew my audience wanted to know the answer. I was asking the question for them.

The desire for people to understand one another, to communicate, to draw out the secret sauce that spurs creation and generates success is timeless. If you happen to meet a magician, I bet you’ll ask – or want to ask – how the trick works, even if you know the answer will ruin it for you. Same with a bridge engineer, or someone who builds power plants. Heck, even my contractor – I was floored with a solution he came up with for part of our roof replacement, and asked him, how did you come up with that?

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Questionable Minds Blog Tour: The Ongoing Influence Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

When Robert Louis Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886, he struck literary gold. Lots of people who’ve never read it or seen any of the adaptations still know what the story’s about. Mr. Hyde is such a familiar figure he’s battled everyone from Scooby-Doo to Marvel Comics’ Thor.

People who haven’t read the book still know exactly what it means to describe someone’s behavior as Jekyll and Hyde. There’s no higher compliment for a writer than having your creation turn into a metaphor.

Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde play a large part in my steampunk novel Questionable Minds. In an early scene, my protagonist, baronet Simon Taggart, talks about how Hyde blackmailed the respectable Dr. Jekyll over some sins the doctor committed in his younger, wilder days. Terrified of scandal, Jekyll paid up, even changing his will to favor Hyde. Fortunately, Jekyll’s lawyer, Utterson, found evidence enough to send Hyde to jail — the blackguard’s criminal record was long and ugly — and used the threat to make Hyde flee the country.

As so often happens, what “everyone knows” is a lie, cooked up by Jekyll and Utterson to conceal the doctor’s true relationship to Hyde. In the years since, Jekyll has devoted himself to doing good works and rejecting vice. He’s buried his darker impulses so deep that he has no fear of Hyde ever resurfacing. When Jack the Ripper winds up attacking Dr. Jekyll, however, Hyde surges out of the doctor’s subconscious to fight back. Once loose, he has no intention of letting Jekyll shove him back down again.
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The Influence And Relevance Of Anno Dracula After 30 Years

The sympathetic portrayal of Dracula as pining for a lost love, and finding her in the reincarnated form of Mina Murray, is so embedded in our culture that it may come as a surprise that this is an invention of screenwriters and not Bram Stoker.

The culmination of this theme is in Francis Ford Coppola’s remarkably unscary Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).  Despite Dracula (Gary Oldman, who does what he can with the script) appearing in numerous terrifying forms—a werewolf, a wingless bat creature—the horror is undercut by the Count’s Victorian gentlemen persona who chastely courts Winona Ryder’s character, Mina Harker.

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The Noble Art of Scaring People For Their Own Good

The Noble Art of Scaring People For Their Own Good

by Ben Monroe

 

“There is no delight the equal of dread…” – Clive Barker

When I was a teenager in the 80s, the neighborhood video stores and scifi book shop were two of my favorite haunts. While I read a little scifi and fantasy from time to time, by the time I was a teen I was mostly just looking for the horror titles. Of course, back then, that store didn’t segregate based on marketing categories. Everything was just lumped in together, alphabetized by author, and I had to either know exactly what author I wanted to read, or more frequently would just go browsing until I found something that looked interesting, and go with that.

The mainstream bookstores (Waldenbooks and Crown Books) were a little better organized. At least there was a distinction between Horror and Science Fiction. That made it a little easier to find whatever I was looking for.

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The Perfect Setting To Write A Post-PostApocalyptic Gothic Horror Novel

Let us say you’re writing a post-postapocalyptic gothic horror novel set in a frozen barony. It is approximately -40°C outside, and the cold has already killed your car battery. Dawn comes late and dusk early; at high noon, the sun struggles unseen behind the jagged peaks. You have not heard the sound of your own voice for about a week. You are the happiest you have been for a long time.

 

Every day the dog wakes you by sliding out from under the covers and whining like an ungreased hinge. The windows are frosted over, and it’s still dark; you’re not sure how late you’ve slept, and mercifully, you don’t really care. You pull on your long johns and take the dog out to the meadow by the river, where you find yourselves stuck between two halves of an elk herd. They are slow-moving but impossibly huge, lumbering like sinister afterthoughts in the needly underbrush. You slip behind a safe palisade of tree trunks and stop in the clearing where you had once found a large spiral pattern of stones—it is buried under a few feet of snow, but you have no doubt it’s still there. You’re unsure of its origin, but like the elk, you know better than to disturb it. 

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