On nights such as this, evil deeds are done. And good deeds, of course. But mostly evil, on the whole.

On nights such as this, witches are abroad.

~ Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters

Release the Kraken!

The wonderful Catherynne M. Valente on embracing her true identity as a fantasy writer:

· Excerpt ·

When I wrote my first novel, The Labyrinth, it honestly never occurred to me that I wasn’t a realist, a mainstream, salt-of-the-earth, if slightly cracked earth, writer.

If you’ve read The Labyrinth, you might find this slightly difficult to believe. It involves talking animals, doors that eat people, a sentient maze, and queer angels. But for someone like me, steeped in classics to the point of leaking golden apples and bull-sex machines out of my very pores, all of this seems quite normal to me, the stuff of Literature. Of course, contemporary ideas tend more towards the Theban (the urban angst of sleeping with just the wrong person) as opposed to the Olympian (the celestial angst of having slept with just the right person in the form of a cow or a shower of gold coins, and then she gave birth to a Minotaur and/or a banker and you know, both are very inconvenient houseguests.)

But what did I care for Thebes, when there were nymphs and satyrs in that nice wood over yonder?

And then a publisher picked it up. And my editor started saying things like “dark fantasy.” This turned my head completely around. Sure, I was a little surreal, funky, even, but I felt “fantasy” was taking it a bit too far. My husband very gently poured me a cup of tea, sat me down and told me that, strictly speaking, animals don’t talk, mazes are cute little things made out of cardboard they put up for Halloween carnivals, and angels are supposed to be androgynous and sexless, so they can’t really be queer. Oh, and there’s no such thing as angels, anyway.

You are not a realist, he said. Realism doesn’t have alligators preaching the gospel.

Then realism is stupid, I said, and it was a crocodile.

· End of Excerpt ·

This is just a taste of Valente’s full essay, which we encourage you to read in its entirety at her website. Or take a look at the summary of Valente’s latest novella, Six-Gun Snow White:

  • In the novella Six-Gun Snow White, Valente transports the title’s heroine to a masterfully evoked Old West where Coyote is just as likely to be found as the seven dwarves.

    A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother’s death in childbirth, so begins a heroine’s tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new.
  • Enjoy an excerpt of Six-Gun Snow White when you Look Inside on Amazon.
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Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and enormous cat.

The Green Fairy of Steampunk

There are many reasons why you would expect depictions of the green fairy to be popular among the steampunk crowd. For one, the Victorian era, from which steampunk takes a lot of inspiration, was the golden age of absinthe. The enigma, the lore, and the array of ornate and finely-crafted accoutrements fit in perfectly with steampunk’s sense of craft and style. And steampunk has already (some say inexplicably) taken to fairies.

La Fee Verte (pictured here), by Brigid Ashwood, effortlessly combines the aesthetic of steampunk, the whimsy and prettiness of fairies, and the magic and mystery of absinthe. And it is the first image we’ve seen to incorporate all three genres.

Read FairyRoom’s feature interview with Brigid Ashwood here.

Bad Fairy Case File #310: The Imp

OFFENSES: Tricks, pranks, foolishness

DESCRIPTION: Small, ugly, sometimes be-winged and horned 

ALIAS: None

PROVENANCE: German folklore

An imp is a small and feeble creature found in German folklore, whose temperament falls somewhere between fairy and demon. They are often portrayed as dark, ugly creatures, sometimes with horns and wings and sometimes resembling ugly old men.

They are generally considered harmless and unimportant, and this fact is infuriating to imps, and is sometimes a driving force behind an imp’s tricks and pranks, desperate to prove himself important.

Imps in many stories are generally benevolent, but their tricks can sometimes get them into trouble, or may cause unexpected harm on those they are pranking. They are described as wild and mischievous, but what is often overlooked by storytellers is the imp’s desire to be loved by humans. Their endless pranks and tricks, merely a means to get the attention of people, usually backfire, angering the humans or scaring them away.

Because the term ‘imp’ is is somewhat general, and sometimes synonymous with ‘fairy’ or ‘demon,’ imps appear in different tales with strikingly different behaviors and abilities.

In some tales, imps are assistants to witches, warlocks, and wizards. In other tales, they have the power to grant wishes, like a genie. In some they are trapped inside of objects such as swords or crystals, and require special human maneuvering to free them.

Images of imps can be found in art and architecture around the world, usually apparent only to the most observant eyes. The stone image at right is carved into the pillars and ceiling of the Medieval Cathedral of Lincoln England, where it was said to be turned to stone by an angel after terrorizing the church.