The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: Fantasy

2020 Halloween Contest Winner: “Rot” by Sadie Kraus

The teeth were too big for Maggie. The wax gums slipped along her molars and stabbed her flesh until she couldn’t bear it and took them out. 

“Why’d you go and do that?” Brother Daniel asked. “No one’ll know what you’re s’posed to be.” 

“They hurt.” she said, dropping the little rubber fangs into her pillow case candy sack. Her mouth relaxed. She was glad to get the things out. Other than the pain, the foamy spit that stuck inside the rubber fangs moved in and out with each breath and made her feel like the rabid dog that had been on tv last night. But altogether, Dan was right. Without the fangs, her basilisk costume fell into a well of scaly obscurity. Even with the teeth in, she’d had to explain to both Missus Dodson and dim little Craig Elner from next door that she was absolutely not a dragon to go along with her brother’s knight getup. 

“I guess it doesn’t matter anyhow. We ought to head back soon.” Daniel fidgeted with his wrist watch. It had been a present for his birthday earlier that month and he had not stopped setting alarms and timing mundane activities – eating cereal, practicing times tables, using the bathroom. Maggie hated it, for it was a traitor and blared out the exact second their nightly hour of television was over. Mother sometimes forgot her rule about the tv and, on those occasions, Maggie could catch another episode of Dateline. 

Dan’s watch, on the other hand, never forgot the hour tv rule.  Continue reading

2020 Halloween Finalist: “The Law of Indifference” by Daniel Olivieri

Hardly anyone paid much attention to me until my execution. Or, that isn’t entirely true. I had an incredible amount of attention paid to me when I was a baby. But that attention wasn’t any fun at all. I don’t remember it, but I can be pretty sure. It can’t have been much fun to be the damning piece of evidence in my parent’s trial.

 

A little after I was born, people started wondering how I’d come to be. My parents couldn’t claim that they’d adopted me because they didn’t have any paperwork to prove it. They also couldn’t claim to have given birth to me—they were both men. And so how had they come into possession of such an adorable little baby girl? Had they summoned her out of thin air with a cauldron and some magic stones?

 

Yes. Yes they had. That’s exactly what they’d done.

 

For proof, the accusing lawyer showed the court my belly button, or rather my lack of one. I had no belly button, she argued, because I’d never needed an umbilical cord. Or so I’m told. I didn’t have much patience for legal proceedings when I was eight months old. From what I understand I spent most of the trial trying to fit my foot into my mouth. In any case, the jury found the belly button argument convincing enough that my parents were convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death.

 

It’s not easy growing up knowing that you were the piece of evidence that got your parents executed. Especially when your foster parents remind you of this just about every morning. “Strayala,” they would say, “You should scrub the floor harder. You have much to atone for. Don’t you know that you were the reason your parents were executed?” Even before I was old enough to know what “executed” meant, I didn’t like to hear that. When I finally did find out what the word meant, I liked it even less.

 

That said, I hear that my parents held themselves a marvelous execution. They were known for throwing the most fun parties. Their execution was no exception. They began planning it on the very day they were convicted. They hired an up-and-coming executionist, had a jazz band play, a few minor celebrities even attended. It was a huge success. The ticket sales from the execution were enough to cover my college tuition.

 

When it came time to plan my own execution, I tried to make them proud. Nasha and Oliver helped me plan it. They’re less than half my age, Nasha and Oliver, but we still spend all our weekends together. Sometimes the weekdays too. We do witch things together: binding up spells and practicing cantrips and cackling very loud. Though, the cackling has very little to do with us being witches and very much to do with Oliver being hilarious. He can play the trumpet and the accordion at the same time. He bugs his eyes out when he does it and he gets this crazy expression—but I guess you’d have to see it to understand.

Continue reading

Book review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Review by E. Kirshe

The bestselling author of The Night Circus is back with something very different yet also familiar in The Starless Sea.

Erin Morgenstern had readers fall in love with her immersive fantasy world in her debut novel. Those looking to recreate that experience may be disappointed as The Starless Sea is styled very differently, however her knack for creating a fantastical and multidimensional world is all here. 

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find.

On the one side, we have a story about a man named Zachary Ezra Rawlins, who, upon finding a book in which he is part of the story discovers a much bigger world beneath his real one. Zachary and the people he meets are all part of an old story that will change the fate of this hidden world.

The big strength of The Starless Sea and the thing that had me eager to read all 500 pages was the way Morgenstern tells stories via any sense and medium- built, sculpted, written, carved, heard, tasted, etc. It’s this writing that had readers love The Night Circus and what makes this book worth reading.   Continue reading

Book Review: Monstress vol. 1 Awakening Written by Marjorie Liu art by Sana Takeda

By E. Kirshe

 

Monstress Vol. 1 compiles a compelling story into a physically beautiful book. This volume is a collection of the first six issues of the Monstress series.

 

The surface plot is engaging fantasy fare- we have a young woman with a mysterious past driving her current path which includes danger and dark magic. She holds a dark power- in this case a literal demon living inside her- and is caught in the middle of an old war. Liu is a fantastic storyteller. She tackles a lot of different themes in this fairly short volume and does so almost seamlessly.

Continue reading

Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Review by Tess Tabak

 

This debut novel by Julie Dao is the first book in the Rise of the Empress series. The series explores the imagined youth of Snow White’s Evil Queen in an East Asian-inspired fantasy setting. Xifeng, the protagonist, is a strong, complex young woman struggling to choose between a path of light and dark. She knows the right thing to do, but a voice inside of her urges her on towards evil.

There’s a lot to praise about this novel: Xifeng, our heroine, is strong and powerful, but at the same time she is not immune to the culture and mores of her time. She has to be careful to seem humble and ladylike as she forges her way towards becoming the next Empress of Feng Lu. At the same time, she is more spirited than the women in classic fairy tales. She propels herself by her own choices, not quietly accepting what the world throws at her. Another divergence from the norms: following her destiny for greatness means leaving behind Wei, Xifeng’s handsome boyfriend who longs to marry her and live a quiet life together. We are told that Wei is meant to play some role in Xifeng’s fate, but it’s clear that Xifeng’s journey will be more about realizing her destiny than finding her one true love. Continue reading

Q&A with author Rori Shay

Rori Shay, author of the Elected series, has a new short story in the upcoming anthology Athena’s Daughter’s 2, an all-female sci-fi and fantasy anthology from Silence in the Library Publishing. Athena’s Daughter’s 2 is now available for pre-order.

We talked to Rori Shay about her writing process, her influences, and her upcoming work.

 

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming story “The Pendant” in Athena’s Daughter’s 2?

A: Sure!  It’s a prequel to the ELECTED trilogy.  It’s about a mom who’s asked to give up her most valuable possession to aid in her son’s quest.  The thing is, she doesn’t agree with what her son’s about to do, and his quest leaves the country without a leader.  It’s a story about duty versus desire and a mother’s love.
Q: Your short story “The Pendant” is based on a longer work of yours, “ELECTED.” How do you approach a short story differently than a novel?

A: It is a totally different process.  For the longer novels, of which there are three in the Elected Series, I wrote a detailed outline for each one.  For the short story I just had an idea of what would happen and got right into writing.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for authors who are struggling to write their first novel?

My advice for first time authors is to create an outline.  It doesn’t have to be much, just the bare bones of the story.  Then keep adding to it, and make breaks for chapters after anything major happens.

 

Q: Do you remember the first piece of sci-fi you ever wrote? What was it about and when did you write it?

A: Yep, it was ELECTED.  Before that book, I’d only ever written children’s picture books and a women’s fiction novel.  I got really into the dystopian books for YA and decided to create my own in which I delved into the science.  I got tired of reading about dystopias where you had to guess how the earth was ruined.  I wanted to tell readers exactly how it happened and weave in climate change as an important topic.

 

Q: What are some of the books that you read growing up? How do you think they influenced your later writing, if they did?

A: Roald Dahl.  I’ve read almost everything he’s written, and his style and creativity definitely influenced my writing.

 

Q: What do you suggest we do to increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy?

A: Read them!  Support them!  Let them know that men aren’t the only techy sciencey people who can write sci-fi and fantasy!  Women can write it too!  Girl Power!

 

Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat.  In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy,The Elected Series.  She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel!  Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

You can follow Rori on Twitter at @RoriShayWrites or email her directly at rorishay(@)gmail (dot)com.

Q&A With Megan O’Russell

The Furious Gazelle spoke with author Megan O’Russell about her recent novel, The Tethering, and her upcoming short story in Athena’s Daughter’s II, and what makes her furious.

 

Q: The Tethering is your first novel. Where did the inspiration to write it come from, and what was the process of writing it like?

The TetheringThe process for writing The Tethering was a little strange and not something I would necessarily repeat. The idea for The Tethering came from a little boy waiting in a window for a girl to come back. I don’t really remember why that image came to me, but I needed to find out more about the boy. I wrote a scene and then another scene, and after a lot of revisions and changes, The Tethering was born. In projects since The Tethering, I’ve kept much closer track of what I’ve written so I don’t rewrite the same information ten times. I’m still finding the process that works best for me.

 

Q: Your upcoming short story in Athena’s Daughter’s II is based on the world of the Tethering. What were some of the challenges you faced creating a new story in the same world? Do you have plans to return to the Tethering world again?

My story in Athena’s Daughters 2, “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” actually takes place during The Tethering. And if you read both stories, it is easy to see where the two line up. Claire, the girl featured in “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” is a secondary character in The Tethering, but I have been told many times that everyone wants to know more about her. This story is Claire’s chance to have an adventure all her own. The biggest challenge was deciding what parts of the world of The Tethering were really necessary for the short story. If I had tried to explain everything about how magic works in “At the Corner of the Garden Wall,” I wouldn’t have had room for the actual story. I also had to refrain from getting too in depth with the setting. I know who lives where in the house, but the readers don’t need that information. So it all had to be cut.

And as for returning to The Tethering, book two in the four part series, The Siren’s Realm, will be available for preorder in February, so I am very much still in the world of The Tethering.

Q: How do you approach world building? When you started writing The Tethering, how much of the world did you plan out before you started writing?

I knew what I wanted. I wanted wizards to mix with our world. I didn’t want them to be separated from us. I wanted readers to believe that the sewer grate at the end of the street might be exploding because of magic. Figuring out the how and the why of it all was one of my greatest joys in writing the series.

Q: Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? What was it about and when did you write it?

I wrote a middle grade fantasy novel when I was in high school. I’m an actor by trade, and I wrote the story backstage during King Lear. I think writing and acting really go hand in hand. They are both wonderful forms of storytelling. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity to follow both passions.

Q: What are some of the books that you read growing up? How do you think they influenced your later writing, if they did?

I was such an avid reader my parents had to use both of their library cards so I could have enough books to only go to the library once a week. One of my favorite authors was Madeline L’Engle. I think from her writing I not only took away a sense of wonder, but also the desire to let my characters be who they need to be, even if I have to write another story for them to have that opportunity.

Q: What makes you furious about the lack of female science-fiction and fantasy authors published? How do you think we can increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy?

When I was looking for a home for The Tethering, the publisher I worked with briefly before Silence in the Library didn’t understand that the story was about more than romance. All they could see was the boy and the girl. The magic meant nothing to them. I was lucky enough to have a supportive editor who didn’t try to make me cut all the fantasy elements from The Tethering, but it was still rough. Because I am a woman, and there was love in my book, all it was to them was a romance. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean all I can write is teenage angst. And just because a boy loves a girl doesn’t mean there isn’t more to the story.

I am so grateful I found Silence in the Library and a true home for The Tethering. I am also thrilled to be a part of a project that strives to give more women a voice in fantasy and science-fiction. I think the best thing we can do to increase representation of women in sci-fi and fantasy is to support more projects like Athena’s Daughters 2. The only way for women to find their voice is to be given the chance to speak.

 

Megan O’Russell is thrilled to be publishing At the Corner of the Garden Wall with Silence in the Library. At the Corner of the Garden Wall is a part of The Tethering series, book one of which is currently available from SitL. And if you read The Tethering closely, you’ll find the night on which the adventure in the garden happens. Originally from New York, Megan is a professional actress who spends her time traveling the country for different shows. When not on stage or writing, Megan spends time with her beloved ukulele and her wonderful husband. To follow Megan’s writing adventures, you can visit her website at meganorussell.com.

Add The Tethering to your Goodreads list at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21480311-the-tethering

Athena’s Daughters II is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter.

Follow Megan O’Russell on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor or on Twitter @MeganORussell

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