Why Hallowe’en? Because we love to see fear in the mirror

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By Scott Bury

mage courtesy Things Gunjan Draws http://thingsgunjandraws.blogspot.com

Ebola. Totalitarianism. Pandemic. Mass migration. Climate change. Terrorism.

Judging from hyperbole in social media, we are out-and-out terrified of these things. Even to the extent of people getting angry at climate activists for “spreading fear.”

We’re afraid of fear, like Franklin Roosevelt said.

And yet, at this time of year, we choose to scare ourselves by going to movies like the latest iteration of the Joker.

What does that say about the creators of things scary?

The job we have chosen as writers of fantasy and speculative fiction is to reflect our audience’s fears back to them in symbolic way. Perhaps this is a way to help deal with them, but mostly, it’s because through fantasy, we can take some joy from our fears as well as, well, fear. It’s like riding a roller-coaster: it’s fun because it scares us, but we’re really safe.

A long, grisly, nasty yet honourable tradition

This is what fantasy writers have always done: writing stories about mythical, legendary and magical symbols and themes, stories that give us another way to look at what’s really bothering us. It has a long history in a technological era:

  • Godzilla, the monster awakened by atomic radiation and that could breathe out “atomic fire,” reflected our fears of nuclear war and radiation.
  • Zombies, like those in World War Z, Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead reflect our fear of incurable, virulent and especially contagious pandemics, made even more horrifying and destructive by their ability to instantly render their victims as vessels of further transmission.
  • US, Misomar, Saw and other recent horror films and books play on our current fears, sublimating everything from surveillance, to loss of home, and of course, the old standby, the Other—people not of our tribe, and therefore a threat.
  • Dracula, the Un-Dead, the progenitor of nearly all the vampire books since, plays on several fears. First is the fear of contagion—Bram Stoker’s heroes thought Lucy’s affliction was a blood disease, after all – but also the fear of being infected with something that will change your nature (becoming a vampire). There is also the fear of the Other, the foreigner, the intruder who by his very nature is dangerous. But mostly, Dracula was a sublimation of the greatest fear of the Victorian era: sex.

Yes, I am saying that sucking up blood was the only way that a Victorian era writer would portray sexual lust without getting banned or arrested. Don’t believe me? The vampire was ultimately defeated by a woman’s sexual attractiveness. Oh, sure, Dracula said he was only interested in her blood. But he was lured to his doom by a beautiful young woman, who invited the vampire into her bedroom and made him stay all night long. Now tell me Stoker was not writing about sex.

Still holding onto that argument? Watch Francis Ford Coppola’s film based on the book and try to sustain it.

Today, writing about fear of pandemic is just too easy. Vampires or zombies with ebola-like symptoms is obvious.

But what about climate change? What sorts of fantasy tropes symbolize that without being overly literal? Now there’s a challenge for this capable gang to take on.

The biggest fear, though, that I can see is the fear of change. Any new idea still evokes howls from predictable corners. How would fantasy writers deal with that? What about fantasy readers? What suggestions or challenges do you have for your favourite writers?

Leave your suggestions in the Comments.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has several mysteries and thrillers, including Torn RootsPalm Trees & Snowflakes and Wildfire.

Scott’s articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Learn more about Scott on his:

Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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It’s science fiction and fantasy season

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Fantasy season begins for BestSelling Reads

Fantasy, science-fiction and occult horror books are some of readers’ favorite genres. The great news is that BestSelling Reads members have plenty of titles to offer you.

Here are some of the best fantasy, science fiction and horror books you’ll find, available from your favorite bestselling authors.

Samreen Ahsan

  • The Stolen series—historical fantasy
    • Once Upon a Stolen Time
    • Once Upon a Fallen Time
  • The Prayer series—romantic fantasy
    • A Silent Prayer
    • A Prayer Heeded

Frederick Lee Brooke

The Drone Wars dystopian science fiction series

  • Saving Raine
  • Inferno
  • The Drone Wars

Scott Bury

  • The Bones of the Earth—epic historical fantasy
  • Dark Clouds—urban fantasy

David C. Cassidy

  • Never Too Late —horror
  • HauGHnt—horror
  • The Dark—horror
  • Velvet Rain—science fiction
  • Fosgate’s Game—horror

M.L. Doyle

  • The Bonding Blade—urban fantasy
  • The Bonding Spell—urban fantasy

DelSheree Gladden

  • The Ghost Host series—romantic fantasy
  • The Aerling Series—urban fantasy
    • Invisible
    • Intangible
    • Invincible
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes series—urban fantasy
    • Wicked Hunger
    • Wicked Power
    • Wicked Glory
    • Wicked Revenge
  • Life & Being—paranormal romance

Seb Kirby

  • Double Bind—science fiction

Toby Neal

  • Island Fire—dystopian science fiction
  • The Scorch series—dystopian future

Corinne O’Flynn

  • Death Comes Ashore: Witch Island Mysteries Book One—paranormal suspense NEW
  • Midnight Coven Collections—paranormal romance
    • Forever Still
    • Immortal Oath
  • The Expatriates series—fantasy adventure
    • Song of the Sending
    • Promise of the Scholar
  • Ghosts of Witches Past—paranormal suspense
  • The Aumahnee Prophecy series—urban fantasy
    • Marigold’s Tale
    • Watchers of the Veil (with Lisa Manifold)
    • Defenders of the Realm (with Lisa Manifold)

Raine Thomas

  • The Ascendant series: science-fiction Romance 2014
    • Return of the Ascendant
    • Rout of the Dem-Shyr
    • Rise of the Faire-Amanti
  • The Firstborn Trilogy—young adult urban fantasy 2013
    • Defy
    • Shift
    • Elder
  • The Estilorian series
    • Deceive
    • The Prophecy (short story)
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Book launch: Death Comes Ashore

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A new urban fantasy series

By Corinne O’Flynn

The deepest mysteries lie within… 

When Detective Corey Proctor became a cop, she put her ridiculous family history well behind her. Being the only female descendant of the Proctors and Coreys of Salem Witch Trials fame made her a target at an early age. But there’s no magic here, thank you very much… her kidnappers saw to that.

As she begins investigating a murder on New England’s Nahant Island, Corey’s troubled past comes roaring back like the turbulent waves that carried the victim’s body to the shore. Dark memories stirred up by the victim’s likeness threaten Corey’s ability to remain focused on the job. When a friend calls, worried that her daughter is missing, it’s one more thing to add to the ever-growing list. 

Corey’s always managed to keep her past where it belongs… in the past. But as her investigation progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that all she’s worked so hard to contain is threatening to reveal itself, ready or not.

Available now exclusively on Amazon.

Corinne O’Flynn

is a productivity geek, graphic designer, ghostwriter, and the author of an ever-growing list of fantasy and mystery novels and short stories.

Married, raising four kids, she is the founder and executive director of a non-profit organization, and a professional napper. She also serves on the board for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW).

You can check out all of her books on her website or on Amazon.

Anyone interested in staying connected can sign up for her emailsWhether you’re a fan of mystery or fantasy stories, or a fellow busy human looking for ways to build your own productivity systems, Corinne O’Flynn invites you to join her as she shares what she learns on her adventures.

“I believe in doing things with intention, and making sure those intentions are good. :)”

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The Bonding Blade—Out today!

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Thursday teaser

By M.L. Doyle

The follow-up to M.L. Doyle’s acclaimed The Bonding Spell is out today on Amazon. You’ll only need to read this sample, featuring the 21st-century incarnations of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and her demigod lover Gilgamesh, to be convinced to get the whole book.

I checked my cell phone for the time again. Waiting for Fredricks began to grate at my nerves. “How does he manage to make an immortal feel like she’ll die before he finds what he’s looking for?”

Gil flashed his teeth at me before turning his most intimidating glare to the wizard.

“I thought you knew where everything was in this hovel of yours,” Gil said. “What is taking you so long?”

“I apologize, my lord. There are many references to blood contracts and many more that claim to be a way to break the contract, but upon further inspection, the breakage usually involves the death of the person who entered into the agreement.”

“Well, that won’t suit our purposes, will it, wizard?” I said.

“No, my goddess. I understand. I think I’m getting close.” He held a large book open, his hand skimming over the words. “This one is a bit different. I’m just working out the translation now, but roughly it says, ah… blood is the permanent bond for which the promise lives. Ah, it goes on, and this was the part I was unsure of. Oh yes, right here it says, ‘but the trials of Shamash bring the … the …  I just can’t figure out this word. Sword maybe? The dagger?”

“Blade,” Gil said, his voice heavy. He leaned both hands on the table in the center of the room. “The blade of Utu.”

Fredricks and I waited for him to elaborate, but he didn’t.

“Gil?”

He straightened, ran a hand through his hair and took a deep breath. “You won’t like it, my queen.”

I crossed my arms and leaned a hip against the table. “I don’t like what’s happening to my Quinn now, sooooo…”

Gil held his hand out to Fredricks, who hefted the large tome into his hand. Gil held it up as if it weighed nothing. He skimmed the page, running his finger back and forth over the same passage a few times. His face hardened as he read. Finally, his gaze flicked up to me. “You know of Utu?”

I was so happy when that one was crushed into oblivion, Inanna said.

“Nope, but evidently, Inanna does.”

“I would hope she would. Utu is or was the lord of justice in her time. He meted out punishments, adjudicated disputes …”

“And contracts, I assume.”

“Exactly. He is quite well known for having several items which, after his death, could be used to determine the right and the wrong of things as he did while alive. A staff that would bend and twist when someone told a lie. A ring that would glow to identify the righteous party.”

“Handy. Too bad we don’t have doodads like that these days. Are you saying one of these items could be used to break Quinn’s contract?”

“No. Both of the items I spoke of were destroyed.”

“How do you know that? And how could an immortal die in the first place?”

Gil lay the large book on the table and leaned over it, a rigid set to his shoulders. “I know this because I killed him myself, and destroyed his talismans.”

Fredricks shrank back, sucking in air with a hiss, his hand to his throat. The drama queen.

 I waited for Gil to elaborate, but he didn’t. The longer I waited, the more disturbed he looked. Finally, he slammed the book shut and picked it up, holding his hand out to me.

“We’ll be back, wizard. Speak to no one about this.”

The Bonding Blade

Can the embodiment of an ancient goddess live a balanced life in modern times?

Former Army Sergeant Hester Trueblood struggles to find the answer, seven years after fate bonded her to the ancient Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. Whether engaging in battles to the death with demons or entering fight club scraps, Hester’s life is forever subjected to Inanna’s whims and insatiable lust. It hasn’t been easy to juggle the mounting perilous challenges, or to tolerate the demands of her demi-god lover, Gilgamesh.

When her warrior Quincy is stricken with a mysterious illness, Hester thinks a supernatural blade could be the answer to save him. Or it just might destroy the world.

One thing is for sure. Nobody is immune from the painful reality of loss and suffering—not even a goddess.

Read the exciting second instalment of The Desert Goddess series. A blend of fantasy, action adventure, mystery, and romance with a biting sense of humor.

Get it today in paperback or e-book format on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Angus & Robertson (Australia), Playster or 24Symbols.

M.L. Doyle

aimed to prove her brother wrong when she joined the Army on his dare. Almost two decades later, she not only confirmed that she could, contrary to his warning, make it through basic training, her combat boots took her to the butt-end of nowhere and back countless times and she lived to tell about it … or write about it as it turned out.

A native Minnesotan, Mary lives in Baltimore where her evil cats force her to feed and care for them including cleaning up their poo. To escape from her torture, Mary loves to hear from readers. Check her out on Facebook.com, or Twitter @mldoyleauthor, and you can read excerpts of all of her work on her website at www.mldoyleauthor.com.

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