Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
K. Eason | HOW THE MULTIVERSE GOT ITS REVENGE
Author Guest / October 22, 2020

THE THORNE CHRONICLES started out on a hot strip of the 405 in traffic, where heat-induced frustration made me blurt out, “I want to write a feminist Sleeping Beauty story with a mohawked punk 13th fairy! In a spiked leather jacket! And what if she gives the princess a bullshit detector?” It’s fair to observe that I was already planning to break a few genre conventions. There are punk fairies in a pre-industrial, pseudo-European medieval setting. Also, there is…okay, no, there is a lot of bullshit in that setting, and in fairytales in general, but that made me think about Princess Leia’s no-bullshit attitude in, well, all the films. Which pretty much settled me on the setting. Fiction set in space (space opera, SF, however one decides to parse out the definitions) deals with tech that looks like magic to most people anyway (FTL, wormholes, jump-gates, laser-beams, sentient machines, cybernetics). Also, aliens! Which at their heart, is what fairies are. As my fairies became xenos, and once upon a time started on a distant planet, I soon realized the difficulty would be to preserve the feel of the fairy tale. I needed magic (even if no one says oh, this…

Ausma Zehanat Khan | 20 Questions: THE BLADEBONE
Author Guest / October 1, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?  The Bladebone.   2–What is it about?  The Bladebone is the final installment in my Khorasan Archives fantasy series (which began with The Bloodprint, followed by The Black Khan and The Blue Eye). Two women warriors named Arian and Sinnia are in a race against time to save their world from being destroyed by the One-Eyed Preacher’s holy war. Only the powers of an ancient magic weapon called the Bladebone can help them to defeat him. But Arian and Sinnia are surrounded by enemies, while Arian is cut off from the man she loves–the Silver Mage, her powerful ally. As their world burns down around them, Arian must find the Bladebone and face off against the Preacher in a cataclysmic battle for the future.   3–What word best describes your main character(s)?  Tenacious. But I could also add courageous, vulnerable, literate–important qualities in Arian’s world.   4–What makes your story relatable?  The characters in this story care deeply not only about each other, but also about the common good. The Bladebone is a story about hope, love and the right to human dignity, and I think those themes are always relatable.   5–Who…

Christina Henry | Exclusive Excerpt: THE GHOST TREE
Author Guest / September 3, 2020

The shade of the trees made her feel better almost immediately, although the headache didn’t disappear–just receded a little bit, like a fighter taking two steps back before charging in again with a flurry of punches. Still, she thought she might be able to get to her bike and make it home without fainting, which was the key thing. Lauren had almost reached the ghost tree and her bike when she felt it–a strange sort of shifting, although the shifting wasn’t anything external that she could tell. The trees all stood in their usual places and the wind rustled their branches like always and her feet were firmly planted in the ground and her stomach wasn’t even queasy any longer. But still–there had been something. A feeling that made her skin prickle and her left eye twitch and cold sweat pool at the base of her spine. She shook her head even though it made her headache feel like it was knocking from side to side inside her skull. Those were all things that happened to other people when they walked in the woods that bordered Smiths Hollow. They got spooky feelings and broke out in a sweat and talked…

Jenn Lyons | Exclusive Excerpt: THE MEMORY OF SOULS
Author Guest / August 20, 2020

9: A Murderer’s Hands Kihrin stopped. “Do you think there’s a kettle around here? I’d love some tea.” Thurvishar stared at him.  Kihrin grinned. It’s a bad habit I picked up from Janel. Anyway, it’s not like you don’t know what happened. You were there too.” Thurvishar rolled his eyes and then pointed to the end of the cluttered room. “I believe I saw a kettle on that other workbench–honestly, I have no idea how anything was ever accomplished in this mess. You’d think a wizard of his caliber would at least be organized. I suppose he must have just known where everything was.” Thurvishar started to continue, but then set his papers aside. “We should skip the rest of Serena, Talea, and Xivan’s story for now. “ Kihrin frowned. “You’re not going to finish?” “Oh, I’ll pick up again later, but in between this and when we become involved, it’s more of the same, really.” Thurvishar grimaced at his notes although the paper itself was somehow culpable. “They traveled through at least ten more city-states. Always the same story–arriving in town one step behind Suless. I believe it’s a tale that would probably grow stale with repetition.” “Oh, sure….

Debbie Wiley | Finding Welcome Distraction in Urban Fantasy/Dark Fantasy Recs
Author Guest / June 18, 2020

Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley 2020 has been a difficult year–a global pandemic, economic turmoil, and racial injustice finally being called out. . . Discussions about how to move forward are hard to comprehend, let alone actually have. As a social worker, I am in a position to see and hear about these issues firsthand, and there is much more work to be done. While I find myself scrolling through news posts and continuing to work through the things I want to improve on, I turn to my favorite way to find solace during difficult times–books. Urban fantasy and dark fantasy may not be the genres for everyone during all of this, but for me, escaping to a different world is a welcome distraction for a little while. Thankfully, there are a plethora of phenomenal books out there to keep me entertained! DEVOLUTION by Max Brooks is one heck of a scary thriller, particularly when read during this quarantine, and I can guarantee you’ll think twice about all those modern conveniences we take for granted (looking at you, Amazon one-click shopping, lol). Mt. Rainier has erupted, and the tiny ecological experimental town, Greenloop, is now cut off from the rest of…

Debbie Wiley | Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night…
Author Guest / May 21, 2020

by senior reviewer Debbie Wiley Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing- wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?  I have a love/hate relationship with birds that started with Mother Goose and the Song of Sixpence nursery rhyme. Sure, there are birds I dearly love, like the graceful Sandhill cranes and the majestic owls, but it is the mystery of those blackbirds that has left me with a healthy dose of fear for birds. I know I’m not alone as look at Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (shudders). Several authors recently have challenged me to rethink how I feel about some of these maligned birds and I’d like to share their wonderful books with you. Heather Webber tackles the Song of Sixpence directly with a bit of magical realism in MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE. Anna Kate Callow has arrived in Wicklow, Alabama, to bury her beloved Granny Zee. Unbeknownst to her, she inherits her grandmother’s entire estate, including the Midnight Cafe under one condition- she has to remain in Wicklow and run the cafe for a specific amount of time. Anna Kate has preconceptions about Wicklow….

Kari Arthur | Exclusive Interview: BLACKBIRD RISING
Author Guest / May 21, 2020

by Fresh Fiction Reviewers Debbie Wiley and Annetta Sweetko Hi Keri! Annetta and I (Debbie) are thrilled you’re joining us today at Fresh Fiction as we’re long-time fans of your work. Thanks for inviting me here! Can you tell us a little about your newest book, BLACKBIRD RISING, and what inspired it? I’d been thinking about writing an Arthurian inspired novel for a while, but in all honesty, it was just bubbling away in the background with no real substance. Then one of my favorite cover designers–J Caleb Design–put the Blackbird pre-made up for sale and boom, the whole story was right there. Needless to say, I grabbed that cover as soon as I could (his pre-made go really fast, so it was definitely meant to be). And so, The Witch King’s Crown series was born. You’ve written a variety of paranormal books, including other shifters. What made you decide on a blackbird shifter? The cover! I honestly had no intention of adding shifters into an Arthurian-based story, although I was always going to have witches and demons. In all of your various book series’ you have come up with very strong women ( for example – Tiger in the…

Debbie Wiley | Urban Fantasy and Fantasy Escapist Reads
Author Guest / April 9, 2020

Times are stressful right now. Parents and teachers are learning how to implement distance learning, going to the grocery store feels like a live version of Pac-Man, and we’re all desperately hunting for toilet paper. Nerves are frayed as everyone fears that even the slightest cough could mean a dangerous virus has entered their home. Quarantines are the norm. Who would have thought this is what 2020 had in store for us? Now, more than ever, is time to stop, take deep breaths, and read some good books that take us all away to other places right now. Urban fantasy and fantasy are two of my favorite genres and fortunately, there are some phenomenal new books out there right now to dive into. Here are a few of my recent favorites: The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is one of my go-to series when things seem depressing as Mercy Thompson Hauptman is one of the best kick-butt, loyal, and compassionate characters out there. SMOKE BITTEN is the latest in the series and things are definitely in a chaotic state in the Tri-Counties. Mercy’s mate and Alpha wolf, Adam Hauptman, has been emotionally distant, a rarity for a werewolf. There’s…

Nghi Vo | Exclusive Interview: THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE
Author Guest / March 26, 2020

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Nghi! Please tell us about yourself and your debut novella, THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE. So I spent a good many years thinking I couldn’t write novels, and that I would always love writing short stories best. Then the Tor call came for novellas, and it suddenly struck me, hey, 20,000 to 40,000 words, I know what that looks like! I can do that!  With respectable parameters and a deadline, I wrote The Empress of Salt and Fortune in about a month. I feel like this says something about me, and I’m still not sure if it’s good or bad. The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a story about memory and love. There’s a lot of fear and fury in it, a lot of terrible things that happen to the people who least deserve them, and there is a victory at the end, but yeah, mostly it’s about the people we remember, how we love them while they’re here, and how we love them after they’re gone. It’s also got talking birds, fried morel mushrooms, war mammoths, and a ton of fortunetelling, as well! The Empress In-yo has gone through great lengths to keep…

Kathleen O’Neal Gear | 20 Questions: CRIES FROM THE LOST ISLAND
Author Guest / March 12, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?    CRIES FROM THE LOST ISLAND  2–What is it about?   It’s about a brokenhearted teenage boy who has just lost the love of his life, a young woman who believed she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra. The story is set against the magnificent ruins of ancient Egypt and brings to life the greatest love story of all time.   The leading character is Hal Stevens. He’s sixteen and a budding historical scholar from a small town in Colorado. Hal has only two friends, Roberto the Biker Witch and Cleopatra Mallawi. Cleo believes she’s being stalked by an ancient Egyptian demon, Ammut, the Devourer of the Dead. When Hal gets a desperate call from Cleo saying the demon has found her, he and Roberto rush to her house, but find her dying. Cleo’s last request sends Hal and Roberto on the journey of a lifetime with famed archaeologist Dr. James Moriarity. To save Cleo’s soul, they must find the lost grave of Cleopatra. . . and then discover a way to open the path to the legendary Island of the Two Flames.   But they are not alone in their search. They are being watched by others–and…