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Charlie N. Holmberg | Exclusive Excerpt: STAR MOTHER
Author Guest / October 27, 2021

Night swallowed the wood whole and completely. As I chewed my bread, I lay back on the blanket, looking for my star. I watched the sky for nearly an hour before she popped up over the tops of the trees. I smiled. The blanket shifted as the dog-sized horse stepped onto it. I glanced over, shocked to see a very solid animal beside me. His coat glimmered like the sky above, shimmering violet where the firelight touched fur. “You’re solid,” I murmured. I had an impulse to touch him, to test my words, but decided better of it. Ristriel seemed a mellow-minded being, but I didn’t want to test his temper. He smiled ever so faintly—at least, as much as a horse could. “Not for long. Not if we stay in this glade.” I sat up. “Why? Is it . . . enchanted?” The horse gave me a wry look. “No. Only open to the sky.” He tilted his muzzle upward. I tried to see what he saw, but there was nothing special in the heavens tonight except for my star, who twinkled merrily among her siblings. I wondered if she’d seen my tapestry. The first-quarter moon peeked over the tops of…

J.J.A. Harwood | 20 Questions: THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS
Author Guest / May 6, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? My latest release is called THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS. It’s my debut novel and I’m very excited! 2–What is it about? It’s a dark retelling of Cinderella which I’ve set in Victorian London. If you like your fairy tales dark and you’ve always been a bit suspicious of all those fairy godmothers who go around handing out magic for free, then this is the book for you! 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  Victorian London is full of contrasts and contradictions all crammed into one city – you’d find fabulous wealth right next to abject poverty. And of course, it’s full of gothic potential. All those flickering lights and spooky old houses are such fun to write about! 4–How did your main character(s) surprise you?  Eleanor is one of those characters who’s very good at twisting things around so that it doesn’t seem like anything that happens is her fault. Even when I was writing her, I was surprised just how far she ended up going! 5–Why will readers relate to your characters?  One of Eleanor’s biggest goals in the novel is to make a better life…

Jeff Wheeler | Q&A: KNIGHT’S RANSOM
Author Guest / January 25, 2021

What are you currently reading? What TV shows and movies are you watching? Any great podcasts to recommend? I’ve been reading Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmberg (a friend of mine and fellow board member of Deep Magic e-zine) which has been rocking the bestseller charts, and The Return by Nicholas Sparks. I’m a fan of Sparks’ book A Walk to Remember (and the movie) and wanted to give something else of his a try. My kids have me hooked on Avatar the Last Airbender, which we watch as a family, but I’m a huge Star Wars fan so The Mandalorian has been my go-to series. While we all wait for Season 3, I’m eager to continue season 2 of The Chosen. I’ve not been listening to podcasts this year—my writing schedule has been pretty intense. But Covid did introduce me to an amazing father-daughter musical duo Mat and Savanna Shaw who now have two albums they launched this year. Something really good has come out of quarantine, and that is the musical talents of these two, which started off as a duet of The Prayer and went viral. How are you spending your day in quarantine? Cooking, exercising, reading/writing? When Covid…

Amanda Hocking | Exclusive Interview: THE EVER AFTER
Author Guest / January 7, 2021

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Amanda! Congrats on the release of THE EVER AFTER! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?    I love all kinds of mythologies and stories, and I spend most of my free time reading fantasy and horror. I live in Minnesota, with my family and a bunch of pets, and I love writing books.   For our readers who aren’t caught up with the entire Omte Origins series, can you give us an overview of it and how it fits in with your Trylle trilogy?  The Omte Origins is set in a universe where trolls exist, living hidden among humans, but they aren’t exactly the typical depictions. They have incredible powers, but live in a very structured fantasy world.   The first trilogy Trylle follows Wendy, who discovers she was switched at birth and returns to take her place as the heir to a kingdom. The second trilogy the Kanin Chronicles builds on that, with Bryn – an aspiring guard – who uncovers a plot to overthrow kingdom and does all she can to save it.   The Omte origins is the final trilogy, and it’s led by abandoned orphan Ulla searching for her birth parents and her place in the vast troll world.   Your main…

Debbie Wiley | Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, and Steampunk Book Recs
Author Guest / December 10, 2020

Debbie Wiley is a senior reviewer at Fresh Fiction.  The last days and weeks of 2020 are thankfully drawing to a close, leaving folks with a lot of emotional turmoil. Yes, 2020 has been challenging at best, and heartbreaking if you are one of the many directly impacted by Covid-19. In the midst of the pain and distress, we’ve seen heroes rise to the occasion. First and foremost, our health care workers, but also the many grocery store workers, teachers, food bank volunteers, and so many others who have quietly provided essential services to people in the midst of a global pandemic. It makes me reflect about the heroes and heroines of the urban fantasy, fantasy, and steampunk books I read, and I’d like to share a few of those heroes and heroines with you today. THE AWAKENING by Nora Roberts, features Breen Kelly, a young lady who has lived her life feeling “less than”. Her mother constantly berates or belittles her, she works a job she hates, she has a mountain of student debt, and she even hides her flaming red hair under dark hair dye to keep from being noticed. All of that is about to change, however,…

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…