Monday, June 25, 2012


As we are getting on toward the end of June, I thought it high time that I remind you all of the Tales of Goldstone Wood Fan Fiction Contest! The deadline for your submissions is July 31st. The prize is TWO autographed Goldstone Wood novels, both Starflower and the novel of your choice!

Details for the contest may be found HERE.

So far I have received several wonderful pieces, both poetry and prose . . . and I am eager to see more glimpses of your imaginations! So let the creativity take wing, and make certain it wings my way by the 31st of July.

Happy writing!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book 5

All right, my dears, the title for Book 5 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood has been approved! Would you like to know what it is? Then you've come to the right place! Summer of next year, I will have the pleasure of presenting to you:

Cover art and summary to follow in the next few months!

But those of you who have been following my series from the beginning might have an idea what this book will be about . . .

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your Weekly Fairy

Old Shuck

Must a fairy always resemble a human?

Certainly not! Nor must a fairy take on human characteristics. We are speaking of immortals here, and immortals are not bound to think, exist, or behave as mortals do. So why not assume the aspect of an animal? And why not an enormous Black Dog?

Old Shuck, Black Shuck, Old Shock, Snarleyow, the Dog Fiend . . . whatever his name, this fellow is a very famous fairy-beast of Old English lore. Throughout history, across the British Isles, stories have been told a malevolent black dog with flaming eyes (or, sometimes, green eyes) that stalks the coastline or countryside, often lingering near graveyards, dark forests, or sights of murder.

Most often, he is an omen of doom. Sometimes, however, he has served as a protector. Either way, he is a popular Anglican figure, so popular, in fact, and so often cited throughout the centuries, that he is listed as a cryptid: a creature whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus . . . and, truth be told, often regarded as highly unlikely.

Unlikely or otherwise, Old Shuck has a vital life in the world of lore and literature, and is this life any less vital than the reality in which we exist?

See this chilling account from back in 1577:

This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed.

A Straunge and Terrible Wunder by the Reverend Abraham Fleming

Possibly the most famous reimagining of this terrible beast was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brilliant, Hound of the Baskervilles. The titular hound, oppressor of the Baskerville family, haunting presence on the wild moors, is the very likeness of Old Shuck . . . at least, as far as meets the eye!

Sherlock Holmes will come upon a different answer, given time.

I was pleased to recently rediscover this dreadful fairy in the children's book, The Beast of Noor, written most chillingly by Janet Lee Carey. Ms. Carey takes the myth in her own, interesting direction, but the core of the legend, the sense of strange, otherworldly reality, remains intact.

My own world features a pair of Black Dogs, sibling monsters that haunt the Paths of the Netherworld save when sent on various errands by the Death-in-Life himself. Once they are sent after their prey, the never stop until they run him down!

And have I mentioned that I live with my very own daily omen of doom?

Oh no! The Black Dog is pursuing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Your Weekly Fairy

The Gentleman with Thistledown Hair

One of the most terrifying fairies I have ever encountered in all my literary pursuits. And, more impressive still, this gentleman, though a recent comer to the World of Literature, has already made an unforgettable mark. As sprung from the imagination of the inimitable Susanna Clarke, I give to you the King of Lost-Hope .

We meet this fairy in the 2004 novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. If you have not read  it. . . oh, my! Oh, my, oh, my! You really must. Never have the worlds of Englishness and Fairy been so masterfully combined in a rather tremendous volume.

But the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair is the focus of this article, so let me focus on him for a moment.

He is, as above stated, the King of Lost-Hope, a fairy kingdom full of madness and wickedness, though its ruler would certainly never think of himself as wicked. He is his own absolute source of mortality . . . indeed, I'm not entirely certain the word "morality" ever comes into any thought or consideration beneath that amazing poof of hair on his head!

In the above picture, we see him as we meet him for the first time in Ms. Clarke's amazing novel. He bends there over the form of the dying Emma Wintertowne. Her fiancé, Sir Walter Pole, desperate for the young woman's life, called upon the services of Mr. Norrell, England's only "practicing magician." Norrell, in turn, uses his power to summon the above fey gentleman, bargaining with him to save the young woman's life.

Callous Norrell, after all, sees no problem with the bargain: Half Emma Wintertowne's life will be spent in the real world . . . the other half in Fairy.

But her life is saved, so who's to care? And who's to listen to poor young Emma--shortly thereafter married and called Lady Pole--when she tries to tell them about the dreadful second life she leads, when every night, she is summoned to the castle of the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair to dance with the fairy folk.

She is not the only one caught in this fey gentleman's lure. Sir Walter's footman, the handsome and dignified Stephen Black catches the fairy's eye. The Gentleman with Thistledown hair is so taken with Stephen, in fact, that he determines to make him a king!

At whatever cost to England, to mortals, or to Stephen himself . . .

But I cannot possibly give away any more of this amazing story. You must yourselves pick up the adventures of England's last two practicing magicians, the charming, fashionable Jonathan Strange, and the shy, fussy Mr. Norrell.

Theirs is not a story to be missed. And will soon, I am given to understand, be translated onto the big screen. Dare we hope (or dread) to see the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair portrayed on the silver screen? We may wonder . . .

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pretty Picture

I saw this picture, and it made me think of this peculiar little poem, tucked away amid the pages of Veiled Rose. Do you remember it? The song the sylph slave of Duke Shippening sings, thereby angering the duke?

There's a story that goes with this poem . . . a whole novel even, which has been hinted at in the three novels already published! I hope I'll get to share it with you one day.

Though, I will note here and now, that this particular character never wears her blouse like this . . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Your Weekly Fairy

Perie Banou

This beauty is perhaps not so well known in Western culture as some of our other fairies, but she is a famous fairy in her own right. She steps from the pages of the Arabian Nights with grace and magic and a certain amount of ethereal cunning.

To tell her story, however, we must first learn some of the history of the man who will be her husband: Prince Ahmed.

Ahmed is the youngest of three brothers (of course). To the inconvenience of everyone, all three fall in love with the same woman, their cousin, the stunningly beautiful Princess Nouronnihar. Each brother, individually, went to his father, the sultan, and requested leave to marry the princess, leaving the sultan with no small dilemma.

To solve this problem, the sultan sent his three sons on a mission: Each must journey to a different far country and bring back the most rare and singular object they may find. Whoever retrieves the most extraordinary rarity will have the hand of the princess!

So the three brothers set off, each with good wishes to the other, for they were a loving family. Prince Houssain, the eldest, traveled to a fabulous kingdom where he discovered a magic carpet, six feet square, that could fly! What more rare object could possibly be found than this? But Prince Ali, the second brother, journeyed to Persia, and there he discovered an amazing ivory "tube," or spy glass, that could allow the viewer to see whatever object he might wish to behold.

And Prince Ahmed, the youngest, took the road of Samarcand and discovered an artificial apple, a humble object, but with magical properties. Even the smell of this apple cures all sick persons of the most mortal diseases! There could not be a more magical rarity in all the kingdoms.

So the three brothers reconnoitered and showed each other their wonderful finds. And all congratulated all, and none could guess which would please the sultan most. Prince Ali, to demonstrate the power of his prize, allowed the brothers to look through his spy glass and see Princess Nouronnihar.

But they discovered her dying!

Losing no time, the three brothers boarded the magic carpet and flew to her side, hoping at least to say good bye to their love. But all was not lost . . . for Prince Ahmed had the magic apple!

The princess was restored! But who to marry her? For without any one of these marvelous objects, how could she have survived?

So the sultan set upon a new test. He had each brother shoot an arrow. Whoever shot their arrow the farthest would be the winner of the fair princess. Prince Houssain shot far, but Prince  Ali shot farther still. Prince Ahmed shot last of all, and his went so far that none could see where the arrow fell . . . but since they also could not prove beyond doubt that he had won the contest, the sultan declared the second brother, Ali, the winner.

Heartbroken, neither Houssain nor Ahmed could bear to remain in the land to watch their brother marry Nouronnihar. Ahmed decided to take up the search of his missing arrow. And what did he discover?

His arrow had been caught by the beautiful fairy, Perie Banou, and carried far beyond all of the others!

In his pursuit of that arrow, Ahmed came to the fairy's hidden palace, a magnificent place. And the fairy herself approached him.

"As soon as Ahmed perceived the lady, he hastened to pay his respects; and the lady, seeing him, said, 'Come near, Prince Ahmed; you are welcome.'"

She even knew his name! It turns out, she had been helping him all along, him and his brothers. It was she who provided them with all three of their marvelous gifts and saw to it that they arrived in time to save the princess. She tells Ahmed: "You seemed to me worthy of a happier fate than that of possessing the Princess Nouronnihar. . . Will you pledge your faith to me, as I do mine to you?"

So Prince Ahmed married the beautiful fairy, and they enjoyed a sumptuous marriage feast.

"While they ate there was music; and after dessert a large number of fairies and genies appeared and danced before them."

And Prince Ahmed fell more and more in love with his fairy bride.

But in the meanwhile, his father the sultan became worried for his son, and he summoned wizards and sorceresses to use their magical powers to find him. And Prince Ahmed himself began to miss his father and asked leave to visit him. Perie Banou agreed, so long as his absence would be short.

So the prince returned to his father and brother and told of the amazing things that had happened to him. Sadly, however, his father became jealous. He determined to make Ahmed prove his words and began demanding magical signs. First, he wanted water from the "Fountain of Lions." This, Perie Banou provided, through grave danger and cleverness. But it did not satisfy the sultan.

Next he demanded that his son bring to him: "A man not above a foot and half high, whose beard is thirty feet long, who carries upon his shoulders a bar of iron of five hundredweight, which he uses as a quarterstaff, and who can speak."

Perie Banou laughed when Ahmed told her of this request. "That man is my brother!" she told him. "But he is very dangerous!"

The sultan insisted, however, so Perie Banou summoned her brother, Schaibar, who looked exactly as the sultan had described.

This being a tale of the Arabian Nights and, therefore, not a little violent, things ended rather badly for the sultan during his encounter with this sharp-tempered little man! But we'll leave it there and end on a happy note, in which all three brothers are happily married to beautiful women, Prince Ahmed happiest of all with his fairy bride!

My first encounter with this story was from a collection of Greg Hildebrandt's favorite fairy tales, which he illustrated beautifully. Here is Perie Banou:

The story was called The Magic Carpet, the Tube, and the Apple, and I do highly recommend it!

Back in 1926, this story was made into a German animated film called The Adventures of Prince Achmed (link), done in an amazing silhouette animation style.

You can see a clip from it here, the scene where Prince Achmed first spies Perie Banou . . . though you can see already that the story is rather different!

I hope you have enjoyed learning about this little-known but amazing fairy, and that you will find an opportunity to read her story for yourself!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Can You Imagine?

Due to the enthusiastic reaction to my query of yesterday morning, allow me to present to you the first ever Tales of Goldstone Wood Fan Fiction Contest!

Fan fiction, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is fiction written by fans of an original work, using characters, themes, or settings from that original work to tell their own stories.


The winner of this contest will receive an autographed copy of Starflower, plus two other autographed Goldstone Wood novels of his/her choice. That's three novels, my friends! The winner's story will be featured on this blog.

The runner up will receive an autographed copy of Starflower.

There will be three judges for this contest, including a professional author and a magazine editor (and one more, yet to be determined!). They will include comments and helpful critiques for each submission that may encourage you in your own creative endeavors!


1) Any type of fiction is acceptable: Poetry, short stories, comics, dialogues, flash fiction, plays, etc.

2) The work must be set in the world of Goldstone Wood . . . which includes all of the Wood Between and the Far World of Faerie. So if you want to invent your own fairy tale world and link it to Goldstone, that is perfectly acceptable! Characters, scenes, and events from the original books may be used at will.

3) All submissions must be CLEAN. Anything inappropriate (dirty, suggestive, or inordinately gruesome) will be automatically disqualified.

4) The works may be no longer than 3,500 words long . . . so approximately 5 pages, single spaced. They may be as short as you like, but no longer than 3,500 words!

5) Each writer is permitted to submit more than one project.

6) All submissions must be in for judging no later than July 31st. The winner will be announced on September 1st. So that's two months for you to write, write, write, and one month for the judges to deliberate.


For those of you writers out there, this should be a fun and exciting exercise! Here are some thoughts to possibly inspire you.

1 - Pick a favorite character and write a new scene about that character, either from before or after one of the original novels took place.

2 - Pick a scene from one of the original novels and rewrite it from a new character's point of view. For instance, the scene when the Dragon arrives at Oriana Palace . . . a terrifying moment for everyone involved. Could a character of yours have been in the crowd and had an adventure of his/her own that night?

3 - Write a completely new story with new characters, but set in a Goldstone Wood location, such as Parumvir, or Beauclair, or Southlands. Or even invent a new Faerie demesne and people!

4 - Take a character from one of your own novels-in-progress and have them meet a character from Goldstone Wood. How would they get  along? What sorts of adventures might they have?

Really, the sky is the limit!

Use this as an opportunity to stretch your imagination (and perhaps to escape from writer's block with a low-key project) this summer. I look forward to seeing what wonders you produce!