SPFBO Author Interview for The Thousand Scar Blog

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Hi Everyone!

It is with great excitement that I share with you today the interview I did for the Thousand Scar blog. Many thanks to author and fellow SPFBO entrant, Michael Baker, for giving me the opportunity to answer these great questions. And also to author Mark Lawrence, for creating this fantastic contest in the first place!

And now for the interview! I hope you enjoy it.

  1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?

I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write novels that incorporate a variety of different genres, including historical fiction, suspense, thrillers with a supernatural twist, and dark fantasy. With my most recent release (and SPFBO 4 entrant), Deadmarsh Fey, I have transitioned into storyweaving fantasy full-time, but before this book, I had written an historical romance/family saga, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, and an historical Gothic suspense/thriller, Corcitura. The vampires in that one are definitely in the Classical tradition and would feel right at home sharing a pint or two of Sangue de Vita with Dracula or Varney or Count Orlok. In other words, they’d sooner rip out your throat than be caught undead sparkling.

  1. How do you develop your plots and characters?

Plots have always seemed to come into being after I already have a character, or set of characters, in mind. Certain paintings and other forms of art have inspired character (and story) ideas in the past, as well, specifically the works of the Pre-Raphaelites—Sir Frank Dicksee and John William Waterhouse being my favorite artists in the Brotherhood. Additionally, I have always found the work of Henry Fuseli morbidly entrancing, so much so that one version of his Nightmare ended up playing a pivotal role in Corcitura during an early scene set in the Louvre. The painting, and its ominous presence in that scene, still chill my blood to this day.

The meanings and stories behind names have always fascinated me, too. One chief reason characters tend to appear first in my imagination before plots do is because I research names and their origins ahead of anything else. Then, if inspiration starts tugging and insisting and refusing to leave me in peace unless I do something with what I’ve gathered, I give in and start storyweaving from there. This is what happened with the name Deadmarsh. I’d heard it in passing in 2002, and immediately thought, “Wow! What a creepy and portentous name to build a legend around!” I never expected it would take twelve years to finally invent a story to go with this name, but waiting for the right tale to make itself known was worth it.

There are many characters in Deadmarsh Fey who have Welsh names, and that was by design. If you dig a little deeper into what these names mean, you will see that I instilled traits into the characters that hearken back to what they were christened. With some of them, you would have also probably been able to hazard a fair guess as to their true identities and motivations…if I hadn’t made use of double blinds and false clues to throw readers off the scent. Being tricksy like this in my writing is one of my favorite things to do, because to have names be the sole source of a character’s reason for being, what makes him or her tick, would be to destroy the character’s autonomy—and would also be very lazy writing. Not to mention an unrewarding experience for the reader, and also myself, as the author. I have to stay engaged and be kept on my toes when crafting a novel, which is why I don’t outline, but prefer to figure things out along with my characters. It keeps things fresh and exciting, as does palming the ace as often as I can.

  1. Tell us about your current project.

My current project is the sequel to Deadmarsh Fey—set seven years later—and the second novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. Several times in Deadmarsh Fey, I mentioned the Vickers family, particularly Isobel, the youngest daughter, who is Roger’s contemporary and good friend. Near the end of the novel, Isobel’s and her family’s link to the Deadmarshes, and the beings hunting them, is hinted at, and, to a certain extent, revealed to Roger in a shocking way. What he discovers leads directly into book two, Isobel’s story, which takes place on a desolate rock called Cutwater Island. Here there be sharks, and demons of the deep. And a creature whose memory is as fathomless as its desire for revenge.

  1. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

Each novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light has a different protagonist through whose eyes we see the story. In Deadmarsh Fey, this is Roger Knightley, ten years old and cousin to Havelock (Lockie), the Deadmarsh heir. Roger is a bit of a firecracker, and though he is just a child, he’s a well-read one, which has resulted in his having quite a vivid imagination. Sometimes, this exacerbates situations, yet it also means that Roger is unencumbered by the inability to accept wonder and the inexplicable at face value. Because of this, he’s able to understand and recognize the dangers the creatures rampaging out of the Otherworld and into our own pose to himself and his family sooner than the adults and certain other characters around him. He also has a wry bent to his personality, and a stubborn streak, that help and hinder him in various ways as the book progresses. And he’s obsessed with dragons. You’ll have to read the novel to find out if that’s a fatal character flaw or not.

Story wise, the events in Deadmarsh Fey, though cloaked in the garb of fantasy, are about fighting for the ones you love. That is the main driving force behind Roger’s actions and those of his friends and allies. It’s not just about survival, or stopping the Dark Wreaker—a nebulous entity that has bedeviled the Deadmarshes for seven hundred years—and his servants from  being unleashed upon this earth, but about saving the very souls of those who are most important to you, those you’d sacrifice everything for. And that is something that has always appealed to me, not only in storyweaving, but in life.

  1. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Absolutely do NOT write what you know. That is the worst and most stultifying piece of advice I have ever been given. If I’d followed it, Deadmarsh Fey would not exist. Don’t write what you know. Write what you dream, and make sure to instill your entire being into what your heart and soul are calling you to breathe into life.

  1. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?

The setting of Deadmarsh Fey is rural England in the late 19th century. Both of my previous novels have taken place in this time period, so I was already very familiar with the mores and history and other elements of this era. For the crafting of Everl’aria (the Otherworld that is seeking to join itself to our own throughout the novel), I wasn’t inspired so much by real-life examples as I was by the mythology of Norway and Wales, which I tapped into to create my own legendarium for Deadmarsh Fey and the successive novels in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light.

I was also incredibly inspired by the works of Arthur Machen, an author I’d first encountered in 2007 after reading his disturbing yet fascinating short novel The Great God Pan. Once read, it is impossible to forget, but I never delved into any more of Arthur’s stories till many years later, quite accidentally, but at exactly the time I needed to most. As I discovered, he seemed to view the fey (faeries) as dangerous and lethal beings you should never trust or turn your back upon if you wanted to live. That was how I’d always imagined they truly were, so I felt I’d found a kindred spirit in Arthur, and validation for my own theories about the fey, when I read The White People and Other Weird Stories in the spring of 2013. I see this moment as the catalyst for my ideas about Deadmarsh Fey starting to coalesce—and my excitement level for the book shooting up into the stratosphere. It would be less than a year after reading this collection that I began writing the novel.

Incidentally, as an homage to Arthur, I named Havelock (Lockie) after a minor character in A Fragment of Life.

  1. What inspires you to write?

The desire to weave stories and lose myself in other worlds. J. R. R. Tolkien, who has been a defining force and inspiration not only on my writing, but also in my life, once said that fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. I never took this to mean that writing fantasy was a way of denying reality, or hiding yourself in invented worlds because you couldn’t face daily life in our fallen one. Quite the reverse. The concept of crafting myths and legends around very human characters who inhabited worlds that reflected the glories and evils of our own, that mirrored them in some unique yet hauntingly familiar way, fired my imagination like nothing else ever had. This is the reason I don’t write contemporary fiction. Not because I can’t, but because swathing a story in the trappings of fantasy makes the experience so much richer for me as a writer, and also, hopefully, for the reader, than it would a tale stripped of its glory set in modern times. And just because something is classified as “fantasy,” doesn’t mean it can’t be realistic. If anything, it should be more so. I have always endeavored to create characters that are human, with all our foibles and weaknesses, hopes and dreams—and longings for “home.” By home, I don’t mean a building, but a deep ache within the heart to find the place where we belong. And home, for me, at least when it comes to writing, has always been in these other worlds, where I can best use the time that has been given to me to shine a blinding light onto the darkness.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

From a logistical standpoint, the hardest part was realizing that Deadmarsh Fey had to come first in the series. Until that realization finally sank in during the spring of 2014, I’d spent the previous year working on what would become the fourth book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. Writing this book first meant that I was trying to tell the end of the saga without knowing its beginning, which made for an incredibly frustrating experience. And yet I do not regret it, because what I wrote in that novel laid the foundation for all the legends and myths and conflict in this one. So, looking back, I see that it was necessary to go through this, since without that fourth book, Deadmarsh Fey could never have been written.

On an emotional level, the ending of Deadmarsh Fey was extremely hard for me to write. Over a three year period, I’d spent every day with Roger and company, and had grown incredibly attached to all of them…but not so attached that I would force them to act out of character just to please me. In the back of my mind, I’d always known how Deadmarsh Fey had to end, but the way it unfolded was not at all what I had been expecting and made everything that came before it so much deeper and more meaningful. This change of direction was due to a character showing me that his way was the only way things could be. And he was right.

  1. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

There are four chapters that stand out in my memory as favorites. Now Face-to-Fey, Warnings and Visitations, Iron Reveals, and one I cannot mention the name of because it will spoil a story arc for not only Deadmarsh Fey, but book three in the series as well.

Now Face-to-Fey put my plotting to the test because it offered definitive proof that things were truly rotten at Deadmarsh. Up until this moment, deniability was still plausible for some characters (one in particular), but several plot points that had been simmering away for many chapters finally exploded in this one—and could no longer be discounted.

Warnings and Visitations sets up the conflict for book two, the story of Isobel Vickers and her family that I mentioned above. It was a complete joy to write this chapter, since I had been looking forward to doing so for over a year by the time I finally got to it.

Iron Reveals has a HUGE, well, reveal about the creatures bedeviling Roger and his family. In my imagination, this chapter had a different tone and feel entirely, but once I let the characters take over and do with it what they wanted, it turned out even more cohesive and startling than I could have hoped for. I also indulged in some serious schadenfreude  while writing this, since it was truly the first instance in the novel of the shoe being on the other foot, meaning that certain unsavory characters finally got a taste of what it felt like to be on the defensive.

And then there is the chapter that must remain nameless for now. This final favorite will always be special to me because everything in it came together in a seamless and unsettling way. And quickly, too, which is always a plus! That it takes place in a library, and is bookcentric, was yet another reason I enjoyed writing it as much as I did.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Deadmarsh Fey truly taught me how to let go and give the characters free reign. This probably sounds a little odd, but I’ve found that if you get the ball rolling for them, they tend to take over and make your job a lot easier. Not a cakewalk, mind you, because I still had to juggle several story arcs that needed to be resolved to make everything not only in Deadmarsh Fey, but the other novels in the series, come full circle. Yet it was exciting to get to work each day because I knew the direction the book had taken was the one that was meant to be.

The book definitely made me grow as a writer, as well, and showed me that it was important not to get too attached to scenes or any other pieces of writing (dialogue especially) to the detriment of the story. What didn’t work was cut, and the novel ended up being much better because I had gotten out of my own way and hadn’t tried to force things.

  1. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

I try to place myself in my characters’ shoes as much as is conceivably possible, attempting to see the world of the story through their eyes, and understand why they’d react the way they would in any given situation. Of course, you can’t remove yourself entirely from the equation, but I strive not to influence their actions too much. Carver, Kip, and Incendiu, just to name a few, all went their own way, and while I do have a strong attachment to them, the greatest tie I felt when writing the book was to Roger. This was because of the range of emotions I experienced with him. As I said earlier, the entire book is told from his viewpoint (third person), and because of that, I felt like I became Roger in this story. I experienced things along with him, which meant that everything he endured, everything he felt—pain, fear, excitement, terror, disillusionment, panic, elation—I felt  deeply, too. It was simultaneously exhausting and rewarding. And made it very difficult to put him through the ordeals I had him undergo. Very difficult, yet not impossible, and I felt wretched afterward, but it was what the story called for.

  1. What are your future project(s)?

After I finish the sequel to Deadmarsh Fey, I will be working on the next two novels in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. All the books already have titles, but these are rather sensitive, so I’m holding them in reserve till I announce the publication of each novel.

  1. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

I used to want to be a marine biologist, and would have pursued this path, if a certain wizard with a long grey beard and big pointy hat had kept his words of wisdom to himself. I blame my decision to become a writer on Gandalf the Grey (as portrayed by Ian McKellen in The Fellowship of the Ring), who got to me as an impressionable sixteen year old in the winter of 2001 as I sat, awestruck and enraptured, in a darkened theater and heard him speak this iconic line to Frodo:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Right at that moment, I made my decision, and have never looked back.

  1. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Readers can contact me through my Web Site. And also Twitter and Goodreads

Additionally, Deadmarsh Fey is available across all Amazon sites in paperback and Kindle editions.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Best wishes,

~Melika

 

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The Darkness Within–Excerpt

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Taken from Deadmarsh Fey, Chapter 2

 

“What happened?” Lockie whispered, as shakily as if he didn’t trust his own voice.

“You tell me,” said Roger. He kept his arms wrapped around himself, afraid he’d fall apart if he broke his hold.

“What did I say?”

It wasn’t so much what you said as what you did, Roger thought, but didn’t have the courage to speak this aloud to Lockie. “I haven’t the foggiest,” he said instead. Let’s get that ironed out first, and then we can talk about the other person inside of you. “It was gibberish. Something about hearts and bone and someone called Blood Wood. Where’d you get all that, Lockie? What have you been filling your head with?”

“Must have been a nightmare.”

“When you’re awake?”

“It’s happened before.”

That was troubling. And it made Roger’s mind up for him. This was life and death now. He knew what had to be done, and he didn’t give a fig if Coffyn had an aneurism when he found out. “That’s it. I don’t care what your parents say, or anyone else, for that matter. That place is poison, and I’m getting you out of it. You’re being ruined in more ways than one, and if those nightmares began back there…”

“This didn’t start at Nethermarrow.”

Roger’s arms uncrossed and fell to his sides. “Then where did it start? Not…here?”

“I knew you wouldn’t understand. You’re too in love with this place to see its flaws.”

“Flaws? Deadmarsh? Rubbish.”

“Not flaws,” Lockie said, his brows furrowing so dramatically that they almost formed a solid, pale line across his forehead. “That’s the wrong word.” He was silent for a moment, eyes narrowing to slits. “Malevolence.”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to trot out the old ‘this house was built on an ancient burial ground’ sham again, are you? Which evil is it this time? Celts? Druids? Take your Pict.” Roger’s lips ticked up slightly at the edges. He’d used that dreadful pun before, but it was folly to expect his cousin to laugh at it now.

Lockie turned on him a look that froze Roger’s blood. “I’ve seen its other side. I know what lives here, what’s been slumbering for so long.”

A hollow pit opened up where Roger’s heart was supposed to be. “How would you know that?”

“I woke it up.”

cover

 

 

(C) 2017, 2018 Melika Dannese Lux

Deadmarsh Fey is Free This Weekend!

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Hi Everyone,

Yes, you read that right! The Kindle edition of my newly released dark fantasy novel, Deadmarsh Fey, is free from now until Sunday night at 11:59 PDT.  During this promotion, you can download the novel across all Amazon sites by clicking on the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

Best wishes,

~Melika

New Author Interview for A Book Addict’s Bookshelves!

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Hi Everyone!

I was recently interviewed for author Jess Watkins’s blog, A Book Addict’s Bookshelves, and am very excited to share this with you today! The questions were in-depth and a joy to answer. And so, without further ado, here it is:

When did you start writing?

My love for writing grew out of an early love for reading.  I think what led me to this point was that my mother started reading to me when I was in the womb, and my father told me wild, not-exactly-verifiable tall tales while I was still in the cradle. I can remember writing little stories and vignettes when I was a very young child and even staging my first play when I was eight years old. The budget for this theatrical extravaganza was nonexistent, which was why my family got coerced into playing about six parts each. I also remember being a bit of a tyrannical director, and shouting CUT quite a lot, but that was definitely the moment the writing bug first bit me.

When I was around eleven or twelve, I wrote an incredibly short story inspired by Jurassic Park. The plot consisted of a brother and sister being chased to the edge of a cliff by a T-Rex. The kids gave the Rex the old “one-two-JUMP!” fake out, and the poor dinosaur fell for this ruse and went tumbling over the cliff. End of story—happily ever after for everyone except the Rex. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, this story was fun! I’d actually finished something I’d set out to write! I thought it was epic, even though it was only six pages long! You have to start somewhere, right?

At the age of fourteen, I started writing my first novel, but abandoned it for school and other projects. I did revisit this book a few years ago and wrote a prologue and two further chapters, plus a bit of an outline, but I’m still not ready to dip back into it yet. One day, I most definitely shall, but, to quote Aragorn, “It is not this day!”

Even though I loved writing, and had dabbled in it for practically my entire life by this point, I’d never considered turning it into a career until I read Crime and Punishment as a senior in high school. There was something masterful about that book and the way Dostoevsky was able to paint deep psychological portraits of his characters with just a few well-chosen and brilliant words that inspired me and made me seriously think about becoming a storyweaver.

But I lay the blame for my decision to become a writer squarely on the shoulders of Gandalf the Grey (as portrayed by Ian McKellen in The Fellowship of the Ring), who got to me as an impressionable sixteen year old in the winter of 2001 as I sat, awestruck and enraptured, in a darkened theater and heard him speak this iconic line to Frodo:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Well, I decided, right at that moment, and I’ve never looked back.
What makes you want to write?

The desire to weave stories and lose myself in other worlds. J. R. R. Tolkien, who has been a defining force and inspiration not only on my writing, but also in my life, once said that fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. I never took this to mean that writing fantasy was a way of denying reality, or hiding yourself in invented worlds because you couldn’t face daily life in our fallen one. Quite the reverse. The concept of crafting myths and legends around very human characters who inhabited worlds that reflected the glories and evils of our own, that mirrored them in some unique yet hauntingly familiar way, fired my imagination like nothing else ever had. This is the reason I don’t write contemporary fiction. Not because I can’t, but because swathing a story in the trappings of fantasy makes the experience so much richer for me as a writer, and also, hopefully, for the reader, than it would a tale stripped of its glory set in modern times. And just because something is classified as “fantasy,” doesn’t mean it can’t be realistic. If anything, it should be more so. I have always endeavored to create characters that are human, with all our foibles and weaknesses, hopes and dreams—and longings for “home.” By home, I don’t mean a building, but a deep ache within the heart to find the place where we belong.  And home, for me, at least when it comes to writing, has always been in these other worlds, where I can best use the time that has been given to me to shine a blinding light onto the darkness.


Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do to get over it?

It’s strange, but my worst case of writer’s block didn’t stop me from writing. It honestly felt more like writer’s “monumental confusion,” because before I began writing Deadmarsh Fey back in 2014, I had spent a year working on what would become the fourth book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. The problem was, I was forcing that book to come first, which was why it felt so out of place and so wrong. I do have to say that even though this experience was very frustrating, writing that book laid a lot of groundwork for the backstory of the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse that Walks the Earth—three beings featured in Deadmarsh Fey—and also for the world of Everl’aria, the land in which that fourth book is set. Incidentally, I included a teaser for this fourth book toward the end of Deadmarsh Fey and had an absolute blast doing so. It made this long and trying process feel as though it had finally come full circle.


Do you have a special way of going about writing?

Until Deadmarsh Fey, I used to write my novels out of sequence. If I thought up a plot twist for chapter 10, I’d write that whole chapter, then piece the book together. This process probably made writing harder, yet that was how I’d always done it. But with Deadmarsh Fey…that book seized me and never let go, to the point where I had no choice but to begin at the beginning (what a novel concept!) and write straight through till the end.

In regards to how I craft my stories or come up with plots, I usually start off with ideas for characters, then build a tale around them. I’m fascinated by the meanings of names, and sometimes have a bit too much fun instilling character traits that fulfill them. I don’t always do this, but there are usually aspects of a character’s personality that hearken back to what he or she has been christened. This is especially true of Trahaearn Coffyn. And that’s all I’ll say about him!

Do you have any works in progress?

Yes, I do! The book does have a title, but I’m keeping that secret and safe for now. What I can tell you is that it is the second novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light—and a sequel to Deadmarsh Fey, set seven years after the events in that story. Throughout Deadmarsh Fey, I made mention of a little girl named Isobel Vickers, and also her family, who are great friends of Roger’s. Toward the end of the novel, Isobel’s and her family’s connection to the Deadmarshes, and the creatures hunting them, is revealed in a rather dramatic way to Roger. And this turn of events leads directly into book two, which is set on a desolate rock called Cutwater Island. Here there be sharks. That I’ve included them in this story isn’t surprising, given that I once wanted to be a marine biologist, and would have done, if that darn wizard with the long grey beard and big pointy hat had just kept his wisdom to himself.

What are your hobbies?

When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, reading, and watching films. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist, although I do not perform as much as I used to when I was younger. Still, it’s nice to be able to lose myself in music whenever the need takes hold.
Who is your favourite character in Deadmarsh Fey? 

It’s a tie between Roger and Kip. This might sound a little odd, but I felt like I became Roger when I wrote Deadmarsh Fey, since the story is told through his eyes, and experienced everything along with him. It was a very surreal and rewarding and exhausting experience. But I still feel quite close to that little dynamo, especially because I put him through many terrible ordeals and nearly gave him (and myself) heart failure on several occasions.

And then there is Kip, who is not only one of my very favorite characters in Deadmarsh Fey, but most likely my favorite character of all time that I’ve ever written. I feel as if Kip just presented himself, with all his history and gravitas and personality, and dictated his role in the story to me, mind to mind. I was always excited to craft scenes in which he featured, because I knew he’d take over. It seems uncanny, I know, but with Kip, all I had to do was give him the floor, because he essentially wrote himself.

I also have a soft spot for Incendiu, but I can’t say much about him without spoiling his role in the story. His presence, however, hangs over the novel almost from the beginning, and getting inside his mind to discover what made him tick—and why he and a certain other character had been at loggerheads for more years than I care to mention—was one of my favorite story arcs to develop when crafting the book.

What was your favourite part of writing Deadmarsh Fey?

Discovering things along with Roger. And finally being able to put scenes down on the page that had been racketing around in my brain for years. This novel is a prequel to a fantasy trilogy (started out as a duology) I began writing in 2003. That set of books takes place 40 odd years later, and features several characters from Deadmarsh Fey, along with a heavy dose of intrigue and peril as a result of what happened in these prequel books…which I hadn’t even written yet! Wanting to know exactly why things had turned out the way they had, what had led the characters to this point and made them who they were, was too insistent of an idea to ignore, and Deadmarsh Fey is the result of this curiosity finally being satisfied.

There are also a few chapters in Deadmarsh Fey that I might have taken a bit too much (fiendish) glee in plotting and writing (Now Face-to-Fey and Warnings and Visitations spring to mind), but overall, the entire book was an experience for me. It made me grow as a writer, and also taught me to not get too attached to scenes or any other snatches of writing (dialogue in particular) to the detriment of the story. In other words, what didn’t work was scrapped, and the novel ended up being much better because I had gotten out of my own way and hadn’t tried to force things.

As with Kip, after a certain point, the book also began to write itself. Don’t take this to mean that I’d walk into my office to find Carver or Incendiu or Roger or any other character, sitting at my desk, cackling in delight as they pounded away at the keys of my laptop, churning out the story. But once all the elements and legends and backstory had been woven together, everything clicked, and the novel took off. That didn’t mean all was sunshine and roses from that point forward. I was juggling several story arcs that needed to be resolved to make the ending (and successive novels in the series) viable, but I was excited to get to work on it each day because I knew the direction the book had taken was the right one—the one that was meant to be.

Quick-fire questions:

Chocolate or ice cream?

CHOCOLATE! I think the all-caps enthusiasm of that answer speaks for itself!


Paperback or ebook?

I publish in both formats, and do own a Kindle, but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands when reading. So, paperback!


Dogs or cats?

I had a wonderful little dog named Puckie for 17 years, but I also love cats, which is the reason for Kip being in Deadmarsh Fey. I’m partial to both.


Go out or stay in?

Stay in. #HermitLife


Summer or winter?

Where I live, summers are unbearable! I definitely prefer winter, although my favorite season is Fall. I love the crispness in the air, the glorious burnt orange and golden hued leaves, the carte blanche I feel I have to read all the Classic horror books I want and pass them off as “seasonal reading” without making everyone wonder if I’ve been bitten by a vampire and developed rather bloodthirsty tastes in literature. Plus, Fall also means it’s time, once again, to bake these delicious chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies that have become a tradition with me over the last eleven years.

Wishing you the best,

~Melika

Get City of Lights for Free this Weekend!

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Hi Everyone!

Now through Sunday at 11:59 PM PDT, you can download the Kindle edition of City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier for free across all Amazon.com sites! This book will always be very dear to my heart, since it was my first ever completed (at the age of 18) and published novel. You can get your copy by clicking on the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier

 

What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse’s life as “La Petite Coquette” of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose:  will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?

Best wishes,

~Melika

Get Corcitura for Free This Weekend!

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Hi Everyone!

Beginning tonight on Amazon.com at 12 AM PDT and running through Sunday night at 11:59 PDT, you can download the Kindle edition of Corcitura for free! Once the sale commences, just click here to get your copy. 🙂

Corcitura

Corcitura.  Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast.  They are all names for the same thing:  vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr.  Corcitura:  this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species.  He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.

London, 1888:  Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent.  It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions:  Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.

Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst.  Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition.  But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.

Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past.  But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand.  He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.

All the best,

~Melika

Another Cover Contest!

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Hi Everyone!

Deadmarsh Fey has a chance to win another contest, this time, the We Love Indie Books Cover of the Month for June! Again, I’d appreciate your vote! And you can cast it by clicking here.

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Thank you so much for your continued support!

Best wishes,

~Melika

 

Deadmarsh Fey Cover Award Contest!

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Hi Everyone!

My new novel, Deadmarsh Fey, is a contender to win the June 2018 Alternative Read Book Cover Award Contest! It will mean a lot of publicity for the book if it does. I’d really appreciate your vote for my freaky darling, guys! And you can do so by clicking here.

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Thank you so much!!!!

Wishing you the best,

~Melika

New Interview!

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Hi Everyone!

I was recently interviewed over at Layered Pages by the fabulous Stephanie Moore Hopkins. I hope you enjoy getting a peek into my writing process, and learning more about my new dark fantasy novel, Deadmarsh Fey.

All the best,

~Melika

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The story takes place in England at the tail end of the 19th century. I should explain that Deadmarsh is not only the name of a family, but also the manor on the English moors which they call home. The main protagonist of this novel is Roger Knightley, a ten year old boy, who is the cousin of Havelock (Lockie) Deadmarsh, the heir. For nearly every summer of his young life, Roger has gone to Deadmarsh to while away the days with Lockie. He doesn’t expect anything to be different this year, but as soon as he crosses the threshold, he realizes that everyone has changed, especially Kip, the family cat, who has inexplicably grown and altered in other alarming ways. After several terrifying encounters with creatures from a death-haunted world called Everl’aria, Roger begins to understand that something evil has been awakened within the halls of Deadmarsh, something that is not only after Lockie and his older sister, Travers, but Roger, as well. A tapestry of secrets and lies has woven itself around the Deadmarshes, and Roger now finds himself in the position of having to unravel the mystery of why a being called the Dark Wreaker has bedeviled his family for 700 years, just what exactly the Deadmarsh connection to Everl’aria really is…and how his ancestress with the unpronounceable name, whom Roger has always called Bloody Granny B, fits into the grand scheme of things. All this, he must unravel before Lockie’s 11th birthday, two days hence. If he doesn’t, blood will drown the earth. And that’s not an overstatement.

Your book cover is amazing! Who is your cover designer and age group this story geared to?

Thank you so much, Stephanie! The designer is Ravven (ravven.com), and she is brilliant! I had a very specific vision for the cover, and she was able to bring every single element of it to life in ways that still astound me.

Even though the main protagonist is a young boy, Deadmarsh Fey is not a children’s book. It is geared to anyone who enjoys an intense and detailed genre-bending story with a supernatural twist—a tale that entwines elements of dark fantasy, mystery, horror, and the inexplicable. As for an age group, I think those 14 and older would be able to appreciate and enjoy this story the most.

What is the research that went into for the setting and period of your story?

My last two novels were also set in the late 19th century, so I was already very familiar with the mores, history, vernacular, etc., of this era. For Deadmarsh Fey, my main research centered on folklore, specifically that of Wales and Norway, which are the two branches of myth that flavor the events of this and the subsequent books in my Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light series. I love exploring mythology, then coming up with my own legends and histories for my characters. Names and their meanings have also always played a huge role in my novels, but never more so than in Deadmarsh Fey.    Returning to myths…the backstories of Everl’aria and the beings who populate it, especially the Guardians, were my favorite parts of the novel to write.

Please tell me a little about the Deadmarsh name and how you came up with it. 

About 16 years ago, I was watching a sporting event on TV, only half paying attention to what was going on, when I heard the announcer call out the name Deadmarsh. My first thought was, “Wow! What a fantastically creepy and portentous name that is!” And so it stuck in my head all those years until I finally found a story to build around the family which bore that name.

Will you tell me about the Jagged Ones?

Yes, of course! Their identity is rather sensitive, but I can tell you that Carver, the blue menace on the book’s cover, is their leader. There are many reasons why they are called Jagged Ones, and the main one is not revealed till a few chapters from the end of the novel. Basically, these creatures are the servants of the Dark Wreaker, and use their power and mesmeric qualities to trick their victims into doing their bidding, which opens the door for these creatures to have a rather horrifying rite of access to said victims. I really can’t say more without revealing the entire rationale behind the Jagged Ones’ existence!

How did you get into writing Dark Fantasy?

I’ve always been fascinated by writing fantasy. It was my original love, actually, since my first (as yet uncompleted) novel, which I began writing at 14, was a fantasy novel with a decidedly dystopian flair. You won’t be surprised to hear that sharks played a large role in this book. I revisited the novel in 2012, and wrote a prologue and three chapters before realizing it still wasn’t the right time to be working on this project.

About a year later, I began work on what would be the fourth novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. At the time, I thought it would be the first. I’m glad I wrote that novel, though, because the myths that were explored in it helped me tremendously when writing Deadmarsh Fey, which I quickly realized had to be the inaugural book in the series. So, in 2014, I began working on it in earnest. Deadmarsh has actually been with me for a very long while, albeit unknowingly. It turned out to be the prequel to a fantasy trilogy I started writing in 2003, in which Roger was a grandfather! Life and other projects intervened, and I put that story on hold, but the idea of exploring why Roger’s life had turned out the way it had done became too insistent to ignore, and I decided to go back and create an entire foundation for why the events in that trilogy even happened. Needless to say, it’s been a tremendous amount of work, but great fun, as well, because there were story arcs and strands of legend that I’d only scratched the surface of that I got to reveal in Deadmarsh Fey in all their (sometimes hellish) glory.

And that’s where the dark part of dark fantasy came in. The seeds for writing horror were sown in my last novel, Corcitura, which is dark Gothic horror, along classical lines. Think Dracula instead of Twilight. I’m not a person who enjoys writing “sweetness and light” books, although there are always elements of comedy and sarcasm in my novels. Authorial confession: I can’t separate that from my own personality, so it finds its way into my characters! I have to be engaged when writing, and how this happens for me, I’ve noticed, is placing characters into situations, often dire ones, in which life and death are at stake, then having them battle their way out by using their wits, engaging the help of allies, and sometimes, through a confluence of events that saves them from imminent destruction through no doing of their own. They also don’t always find happy ways out of these situations, just to be clear. It depends on where the story tells me to go.

Who is your antagonist and what is a redeeming quality he or she has?

I have several antagonists in the book, but there are five main ones who wreak the most havoc on Roger and his allies. Two I can mention by name, because the identities of the others are revealed gradually. The first is Trahaearn Coffyn, who we meet in the opening chapter. His redeeming quality, though twisted, is his intense loyalty to the evil powers he serves, specifically to a woman he’s been faithful to for, well…for a good long while.

The other is Carver, the blue fiend on the cover. As I mentioned before, he is the leader of the Jagged Ones, and not someone you’d want to run across in real life. And yet, although I despise him…I also like him quite a lot! I think it’s because he’s so comfortable in his own evilness that he oftentimes came out with lines that cracked me up, even though he was being his despicable self! For quite a while, I was mystified by my being able to laugh at them, until I understood that the reason I could was because Carver knew he was irredeemable, and had no qualms about being so. And, yes, you’ve probably noticed that I’m talking about him as if he is a flesh and blood entity. Well, that’s how he, and all the characters in this book, feel to me. I was just the facilitator who was writing down what they wanted me to say. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how it was throughout this entire novel!

On a personal level, how does this story resonate with you?

Writing Deadmarsh Fey was a very intense experience for me. Corcitura was an incredibly complex novel, yet I think that because Deadmarsh Fey is not only its own complete story, but also lays the groundwork for the other novels in the series—it required me to plumb depths I never had before as a writer. I also became very attached to these characters, even growing fond of the villains in some strange way, which surprised me!

But the main thing for me when writing this novel was the gamut of emotions I experienced, especially in regards to Roger. The entire book is told from his perspective (third person), and because of that, I felt like I became Roger in this story. I discovered things as he did, saw things through his eyes, which meant that everything he endured, everything he felt—pain, fear, excitement, terror, disappointment, panic, elation—I felt  intensely, too. It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time. And made it very hard to put him through the ordeals I had him undergo. Very hard, but not impossible, and I did feel terrible afterward, but what the story called for, the story got.

Story wise, the events in Deadmarsh Fey resonated with me because they are about fighting for the ones you love. That is the main impetus that propels Roger’s actions, and the actions of his allies. It’s not just about survival, or stopping the evil of the Dark Wreaker and his servants from  being unleashed upon this earth, but about saving the very souls of those who are most important to you, those you’d give your life for. And that is something that has always appealed to me, not only in storyweaving, but in reality.

Please share with me your writing process and your favorite spot to write in your home.

After writing Deadmarsh Fey in chronological order from beginning to end without deviating, I have become addicted to this process, so that is how I now work. I cannot see myself going back to writing novels piecemeal after this experience.

I’m a rover when it comes to my favorite spot to write in at home. I do have a designated office/study/library, with a lovely writing desk, but I don’t like to stay in one place for too long. I feel like I become stagnant if I don’t have a change of writing scene every now and then. So, since I work on a laptop, I take it all over the house, and settle where I’m most comfortable.

Where can readers buy your book?

The Kindle edition of Deadmarsh Fey is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com  (HERE). The paperback edition will also be available for purchase (through Amazon) on May 2nd, the book’s official release date.

About the Author:

Melika

I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write novels that incorporate a variety of different genres, including historical fiction, suspense, thrillers with a supernatural twist, and dark fantasy. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

Website: Books In My Belfry

Twitter  @BooksInMyBelfry

Deadmarsh Fey Unleashed!

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After four long years of writing, editing, and everything else necessary to get this book published, Deadmarsh Fey has finally been released!!!!

The book is available in both Kindle and Paperback editions.

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Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

Deadmarsh Fey Cover Reveal

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Hi Everyone!

I’m thrilled to finally get to share the details about my new novel with you. Here it is…Deadmarsh Fey!

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Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

To preorder the novel in Kindle format (the paperback edition will be available on the day of the book’s release, May 2nd, 2018), click here.

Below is a short piece I wrote, giving more detail about the creation of the book’s menacing cover art!

The Anatomy of A Book Cover

by Melika Dannese Lux

The title was there from the beginning. The idea for the cover, as well—a vision of the fog-haunted nightmare Roger Knightley unwittingly walks into the moment he sets foot in Deadmarsh, the manor on the moors which shares its name with his kin.

Four years and nearly 700 pages later, I finally had the book. You’d think that would have marked the end of the heavy-lifting. All the hard work of writing was over; now it was time for the fun to begin. Time to jacket the pages in dazzling attire and send the novel out into the world…

But you’d be wrong. It’s one thing to have a vision in your head for what you want the cover to look like; it’s quite another to find an artist who gets that vision and is able to magic it into life. Several designers told me my concept was much too technical and complex to ever be featured on the cover of a book. Images that matched my vision just did not exist, and Carver, that charming little blue fellow (So adorable, isn’t he? *shudders*) lurking behind Roger Knightley (I’d like to see what kind of look you’d have on your face were you in Roger’s position!), would be impossible to portray, not to mention the writing on the mirror from a source that might be ally…or enemy. Actually, forget the writing. Even the mirror itself was in doubt!

I’m a tenacious person. All right, fine, let’s be honest and stop sugarcoating. I’m as intractable as a shark that’s latched onto a seal it has singled out for its lunch. I refused to believe no one could do this! It seemed, to quote that wise sage, Vizzini, “Inconceivable!” And it was! Because very soon after I had cut ties with yet another designer, I was fortunate enough to meet Ravven.

*insert wild clapping for this amazingly talented artist*

A handful of cover iterations were all it took. Ravven was able to reach into my imagination and extract every element that had been racketing around in there for years. From the beautiful woman hovering outside the window, to the blue fog she brought with her from whence she came, to the cat, the mirror, and its writing…and, most of all, to those two combatants in the foreground, the boy and his otherworldly tormentor with talons black as obsidian and sharper than carving knives—it was uncanny how in synch with my vision Ravven was. Her work astounded me, and I am still in awe of it.

Those you see on the cover of Deadmarsh Fey, friend and foe alike, you shall meet within the pages of the book.

Dare you be led to the rath for your fate to be shown?

If yes, then dive in.

And remember …beware what’s hiding in the moonlight.

Was it Jack the Ripper…or Vampires?

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Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 10, The Ratliff Horror

Millionaire Philanthropists Found Dead

I snatched the paper off the tray and held it before my eyes, foolishly hoping the millionaire philanthropists of the headline were not the same ones I had been acquainted with since the days of my childhood. The headline danced before me, blurring in and out as I read over the words again and again, too scared to look at the report and have all my fears confirmed. Finally, I looked away from the headline and forced myself to read the article below.

London, Monday, 13 August 1888—Late last evening, David and Marishka Ratliff were found brutally murdered in their home in Westminster. Scotland Yard inspectors immediately questioned Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s servants and neighbors, but all were cleared of any involvement in the crime. The inspectors have noted that the modus operandi matches that employed in the murder of a woman, Martha Tabram, who was found stabbed to death in Whitechapel nearly one week ago. Although the authorities had ruled that the Tabram murder was an isolated incident, this new crime has made them reconsider. Do we have a killer in our midst? The authorities seem to think so. As with the former victim, the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were covered in stab wounds, but in this case, the killer has added an additional weapon to his murderous arsenal: slashing throats in a particularly savage fashion with what the Americans call Devil’s Rope. Upon further inspection, it was determined that Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s throats had been savagely ripped open by a piece of barbed wire. Authorities had thought the killer to be from Whitechapel, but in light of this recent crime in Westminster, it is feared that the murderer has taken up residence in this district and will begin to perpetuate more atrocities in this part of the city. They caution against widespread panic, but one cannot help wondering when the next ax, or piece of barbed wire, as we now have it, will fall.

I ignored the last line for the sensationalism it was and turned the page. A photograph of David and Marishka with Stefan as a child took up half the page and underneath it ran the following:

Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were well-known throughout Europe for their care of and generosity toward Romanian orphans, many of whom they brought to London to be educated. They are survived by their son, Stefan, who was not home when the murders were committed and is not a suspect in his parents’ deaths. Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s only son and heir, who was overcome with grief when given the horrible news, has asked that we print the following in memory of his beloved parents:

In Memoriam

As they were loved in life, so they shall be loved in death. They will be sorely missed.

“Sorely missed by everyone but you, that is,” I grunted, my teeth clenched in anger, my heart appalled by such blatant hypocrisy.

©2010, 2018 Melika Dannese Lux and Books In My Belfry®. Unauthorized use or reproduction of this excerpt without the author’s permission is strictly prohibited.

Redaction, & Jagged Ones, & Bears—oh, my!

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Well, it’s that time again! I’m only going to be posting a few more teasers from the new book after this snippet, which happens to be one of my favorites. Chapter 9 is quite eventful, and due to the sensitivity of its title, and the identity of a chief character within it, I had to engage in a bit of spycraft and redact said character’s name. Humor me, guys. If I give away all my secrets, there’ll be no reason for you to read the book!

Third Teaser Tuesday post--8-28-17

I bet you’re now consumed with curiosity about the Bear and what exactly those Jagged Ones are, right?  😉

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek!

All the best,

~Melika

The Darkness Within—Tuesday Teaser

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Hi Guys!

Well, here it is, the second Tuesday Teaser from my new book. This excerpt was taken from Chapter 2, The Darkness Within.

Second Teaser Tuesday Post--8-21-17

Oooo! What did he wake up, I wonder?  😉

Look for another snippet next week. I hope you are enjoying these!

All the best,

~Melika

Teaser Tuesday—The Return

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Hi Everyone!

First, a little update. I finished writing my third novel in May and have spent the last few months editing and taking the necessary steps toward publication, which will FINALLY happen this Fall. But in the meantime, how about a little teaser from the new book? This novel does have a title, I promise. I’m just attempting to draw out the suspense as long as I can.  😉

And now, without further ado, here is a sneak peek taken from Chapter 1, The Return.

(2) First Teaser Tuesday Post--8-14-17

As you can see, things are definitely afoot. Or, rather, apaw.

I’ll be posting another teaser next week. Hope you enjoyed this one!

All the best,

~Melika

SPFBO Author Interview for The Thousand Scar Blog

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Hi Everyone!

It is with great excitement that I share with you today the interview I did for the Thousand Scar blog. Many thanks to author and fellow SPFBO entrant, Michael Baker, for giving me the opportunity to answer these great questions. And also to author Mark Lawrence, for creating this fantastic contest in the first place!

And now for the interview! I hope you enjoy it.

  1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?

I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write novels that incorporate a variety of different genres, including historical fiction, suspense, thrillers with a supernatural twist, and dark fantasy. With my most recent release (and SPFBO 4 entrant), Deadmarsh Fey, I have transitioned into storyweaving fantasy full-time, but before this book, I had written an historical romance/family saga, City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, and an historical Gothic suspense/thriller, Corcitura. The vampires in that one are definitely in the Classical tradition and would feel right at home sharing a pint or two of Sangue de Vita with Dracula or Varney or Count Orlok. In other words, they’d sooner rip out your throat than be caught undead sparkling.

  1. How do you develop your plots and characters?

Plots have always seemed to come into being after I already have a character, or set of characters, in mind. Certain paintings and other forms of art have inspired character (and story) ideas in the past, as well, specifically the works of the Pre-Raphaelites—Sir Frank Dicksee and John William Waterhouse being my favorite artists in the Brotherhood. Additionally, I have always found the work of Henry Fuseli morbidly entrancing, so much so that one version of his Nightmare ended up playing a pivotal role in Corcitura during an early scene set in the Louvre. The painting, and its ominous presence in that scene, still chill my blood to this day.

The meanings and stories behind names have always fascinated me, too. One chief reason characters tend to appear first in my imagination before plots do is because I research names and their origins ahead of anything else. Then, if inspiration starts tugging and insisting and refusing to leave me in peace unless I do something with what I’ve gathered, I give in and start storyweaving from there. This is what happened with the name Deadmarsh. I’d heard it in passing in 2002, and immediately thought, “Wow! What a creepy and portentous name to build a legend around!” I never expected it would take twelve years to finally invent a story to go with this name, but waiting for the right tale to make itself known was worth it.

There are many characters in Deadmarsh Fey who have Welsh names, and that was by design. If you dig a little deeper into what these names mean, you will see that I instilled traits into the characters that hearken back to what they were christened. With some of them, you would have also probably been able to hazard a fair guess as to their true identities and motivations…if I hadn’t made use of double blinds and false clues to throw readers off the scent. Being tricksy like this in my writing is one of my favorite things to do, because to have names be the sole source of a character’s reason for being, what makes him or her tick, would be to destroy the character’s autonomy—and would also be very lazy writing. Not to mention an unrewarding experience for the reader, and also myself, as the author. I have to stay engaged and be kept on my toes when crafting a novel, which is why I don’t outline, but prefer to figure things out along with my characters. It keeps things fresh and exciting, as does palming the ace as often as I can.

  1. Tell us about your current project.

My current project is the sequel to Deadmarsh Fey—set seven years later—and the second novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. Several times in Deadmarsh Fey, I mentioned the Vickers family, particularly Isobel, the youngest daughter, who is Roger’s contemporary and good friend. Near the end of the novel, Isobel’s and her family’s link to the Deadmarshes, and the beings hunting them, is hinted at, and, to a certain extent, revealed to Roger in a shocking way. What he discovers leads directly into book two, Isobel’s story, which takes place on a desolate rock called Cutwater Island. Here there be sharks, and demons of the deep. And a creature whose memory is as fathomless as its desire for revenge.

  1. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

Each novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light has a different protagonist through whose eyes we see the story. In Deadmarsh Fey, this is Roger Knightley, ten years old and cousin to Havelock (Lockie), the Deadmarsh heir. Roger is a bit of a firecracker, and though he is just a child, he’s a well-read one, which has resulted in his having quite a vivid imagination. Sometimes, this exacerbates situations, yet it also means that Roger is unencumbered by the inability to accept wonder and the inexplicable at face value. Because of this, he’s able to understand and recognize the dangers the creatures rampaging out of the Otherworld and into our own pose to himself and his family sooner than the adults and certain other characters around him. He also has a wry bent to his personality, and a stubborn streak, that help and hinder him in various ways as the book progresses. And he’s obsessed with dragons. You’ll have to read the novel to find out if that’s a fatal character flaw or not.

Story wise, the events in Deadmarsh Fey, though cloaked in the garb of fantasy, are about fighting for the ones you love. That is the main driving force behind Roger’s actions and those of his friends and allies. It’s not just about survival, or stopping the Dark Wreaker—a nebulous entity that has bedeviled the Deadmarshes for seven hundred years—and his servants from  being unleashed upon this earth, but about saving the very souls of those who are most important to you, those you’d sacrifice everything for. And that is something that has always appealed to me, not only in storyweaving, but in life.

  1. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Absolutely do NOT write what you know. That is the worst and most stultifying piece of advice I have ever been given. If I’d followed it, Deadmarsh Fey would not exist. Don’t write what you know. Write what you dream, and make sure to instill your entire being into what your heart and soul are calling you to breathe into life.

  1. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?

The setting of Deadmarsh Fey is rural England in the late 19th century. Both of my previous novels have taken place in this time period, so I was already very familiar with the mores and history and other elements of this era. For the crafting of Everl’aria (the Otherworld that is seeking to join itself to our own throughout the novel), I wasn’t inspired so much by real-life examples as I was by the mythology of Norway and Wales, which I tapped into to create my own legendarium for Deadmarsh Fey and the successive novels in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light.

I was also incredibly inspired by the works of Arthur Machen, an author I’d first encountered in 2007 after reading his disturbing yet fascinating short novel The Great God Pan. Once read, it is impossible to forget, but I never delved into any more of Arthur’s stories till many years later, quite accidentally, but at exactly the time I needed to most. As I discovered, he seemed to view the fey (faeries) as dangerous and lethal beings you should never trust or turn your back upon if you wanted to live. That was how I’d always imagined they truly were, so I felt I’d found a kindred spirit in Arthur, and validation for my own theories about the fey, when I read The White People and Other Weird Stories in the spring of 2013. I see this moment as the catalyst for my ideas about Deadmarsh Fey starting to coalesce—and my excitement level for the book shooting up into the stratosphere. It would be less than a year after reading this collection that I began writing the novel.

Incidentally, as an homage to Arthur, I named Havelock (Lockie) after a minor character in A Fragment of Life.

  1. What inspires you to write?

The desire to weave stories and lose myself in other worlds. J. R. R. Tolkien, who has been a defining force and inspiration not only on my writing, but also in my life, once said that fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. I never took this to mean that writing fantasy was a way of denying reality, or hiding yourself in invented worlds because you couldn’t face daily life in our fallen one. Quite the reverse. The concept of crafting myths and legends around very human characters who inhabited worlds that reflected the glories and evils of our own, that mirrored them in some unique yet hauntingly familiar way, fired my imagination like nothing else ever had. This is the reason I don’t write contemporary fiction. Not because I can’t, but because swathing a story in the trappings of fantasy makes the experience so much richer for me as a writer, and also, hopefully, for the reader, than it would a tale stripped of its glory set in modern times. And just because something is classified as “fantasy,” doesn’t mean it can’t be realistic. If anything, it should be more so. I have always endeavored to create characters that are human, with all our foibles and weaknesses, hopes and dreams—and longings for “home.” By home, I don’t mean a building, but a deep ache within the heart to find the place where we belong. And home, for me, at least when it comes to writing, has always been in these other worlds, where I can best use the time that has been given to me to shine a blinding light onto the darkness.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

From a logistical standpoint, the hardest part was realizing that Deadmarsh Fey had to come first in the series. Until that realization finally sank in during the spring of 2014, I’d spent the previous year working on what would become the fourth book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. Writing this book first meant that I was trying to tell the end of the saga without knowing its beginning, which made for an incredibly frustrating experience. And yet I do not regret it, because what I wrote in that novel laid the foundation for all the legends and myths and conflict in this one. So, looking back, I see that it was necessary to go through this, since without that fourth book, Deadmarsh Fey could never have been written.

On an emotional level, the ending of Deadmarsh Fey was extremely hard for me to write. Over a three year period, I’d spent every day with Roger and company, and had grown incredibly attached to all of them…but not so attached that I would force them to act out of character just to please me. In the back of my mind, I’d always known how Deadmarsh Fey had to end, but the way it unfolded was not at all what I had been expecting and made everything that came before it so much deeper and more meaningful. This change of direction was due to a character showing me that his way was the only way things could be. And he was right.

  1. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

There are four chapters that stand out in my memory as favorites. Now Face-to-Fey, Warnings and Visitations, Iron Reveals, and one I cannot mention the name of because it will spoil a story arc for not only Deadmarsh Fey, but book three in the series as well.

Now Face-to-Fey put my plotting to the test because it offered definitive proof that things were truly rotten at Deadmarsh. Up until this moment, deniability was still plausible for some characters (one in particular), but several plot points that had been simmering away for many chapters finally exploded in this one—and could no longer be discounted.

Warnings and Visitations sets up the conflict for book two, the story of Isobel Vickers and her family that I mentioned above. It was a complete joy to write this chapter, since I had been looking forward to doing so for over a year by the time I finally got to it.

Iron Reveals has a HUGE, well, reveal about the creatures bedeviling Roger and his family. In my imagination, this chapter had a different tone and feel entirely, but once I let the characters take over and do with it what they wanted, it turned out even more cohesive and startling than I could have hoped for. I also indulged in some serious schadenfreude  while writing this, since it was truly the first instance in the novel of the shoe being on the other foot, meaning that certain unsavory characters finally got a taste of what it felt like to be on the defensive.

And then there is the chapter that must remain nameless for now. This final favorite will always be special to me because everything in it came together in a seamless and unsettling way. And quickly, too, which is always a plus! That it takes place in a library, and is bookcentric, was yet another reason I enjoyed writing it as much as I did.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Deadmarsh Fey truly taught me how to let go and give the characters free reign. This probably sounds a little odd, but I’ve found that if you get the ball rolling for them, they tend to take over and make your job a lot easier. Not a cakewalk, mind you, because I still had to juggle several story arcs that needed to be resolved to make everything not only in Deadmarsh Fey, but the other novels in the series, come full circle. Yet it was exciting to get to work each day because I knew the direction the book had taken was the one that was meant to be.

The book definitely made me grow as a writer, as well, and showed me that it was important not to get too attached to scenes or any other pieces of writing (dialogue especially) to the detriment of the story. What didn’t work was cut, and the novel ended up being much better because I had gotten out of my own way and hadn’t tried to force things.

  1. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

I try to place myself in my characters’ shoes as much as is conceivably possible, attempting to see the world of the story through their eyes, and understand why they’d react the way they would in any given situation. Of course, you can’t remove yourself entirely from the equation, but I strive not to influence their actions too much. Carver, Kip, and Incendiu, just to name a few, all went their own way, and while I do have a strong attachment to them, the greatest tie I felt when writing the book was to Roger. This was because of the range of emotions I experienced with him. As I said earlier, the entire book is told from his viewpoint (third person), and because of that, I felt like I became Roger in this story. I experienced things along with him, which meant that everything he endured, everything he felt—pain, fear, excitement, terror, disillusionment, panic, elation—I felt  deeply, too. It was simultaneously exhausting and rewarding. And made it very difficult to put him through the ordeals I had him undergo. Very difficult, yet not impossible, and I felt wretched afterward, but it was what the story called for.

  1. What are your future project(s)?

After I finish the sequel to Deadmarsh Fey, I will be working on the next two novels in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. All the books already have titles, but these are rather sensitive, so I’m holding them in reserve till I announce the publication of each novel.

  1. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

I used to want to be a marine biologist, and would have pursued this path, if a certain wizard with a long grey beard and big pointy hat had kept his words of wisdom to himself. I blame my decision to become a writer on Gandalf the Grey (as portrayed by Ian McKellen in The Fellowship of the Ring), who got to me as an impressionable sixteen year old in the winter of 2001 as I sat, awestruck and enraptured, in a darkened theater and heard him speak this iconic line to Frodo:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Right at that moment, I made my decision, and have never looked back.

  1. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

Readers can contact me through my Web Site. And also Twitter and Goodreads

Additionally, Deadmarsh Fey is available across all Amazon sites in paperback and Kindle editions.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Best wishes,

~Melika

 

The Darkness Within–Excerpt

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Taken from Deadmarsh Fey, Chapter 2

 

“What happened?” Lockie whispered, as shakily as if he didn’t trust his own voice.

“You tell me,” said Roger. He kept his arms wrapped around himself, afraid he’d fall apart if he broke his hold.

“What did I say?”

It wasn’t so much what you said as what you did, Roger thought, but didn’t have the courage to speak this aloud to Lockie. “I haven’t the foggiest,” he said instead. Let’s get that ironed out first, and then we can talk about the other person inside of you. “It was gibberish. Something about hearts and bone and someone called Blood Wood. Where’d you get all that, Lockie? What have you been filling your head with?”

“Must have been a nightmare.”

“When you’re awake?”

“It’s happened before.”

That was troubling. And it made Roger’s mind up for him. This was life and death now. He knew what had to be done, and he didn’t give a fig if Coffyn had an aneurism when he found out. “That’s it. I don’t care what your parents say, or anyone else, for that matter. That place is poison, and I’m getting you out of it. You’re being ruined in more ways than one, and if those nightmares began back there…”

“This didn’t start at Nethermarrow.”

Roger’s arms uncrossed and fell to his sides. “Then where did it start? Not…here?”

“I knew you wouldn’t understand. You’re too in love with this place to see its flaws.”

“Flaws? Deadmarsh? Rubbish.”

“Not flaws,” Lockie said, his brows furrowing so dramatically that they almost formed a solid, pale line across his forehead. “That’s the wrong word.” He was silent for a moment, eyes narrowing to slits. “Malevolence.”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to trot out the old ‘this house was built on an ancient burial ground’ sham again, are you? Which evil is it this time? Celts? Druids? Take your Pict.” Roger’s lips ticked up slightly at the edges. He’d used that dreadful pun before, but it was folly to expect his cousin to laugh at it now.

Lockie turned on him a look that froze Roger’s blood. “I’ve seen its other side. I know what lives here, what’s been slumbering for so long.”

A hollow pit opened up where Roger’s heart was supposed to be. “How would you know that?”

“I woke it up.”

cover

 

 

(C) 2017, 2018 Melika Dannese Lux

Deadmarsh Fey is Free This Weekend!

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Hi Everyone,

Yes, you read that right! The Kindle edition of my newly released dark fantasy novel, Deadmarsh Fey, is free from now until Sunday night at 11:59 PDT.  During this promotion, you can download the novel across all Amazon sites by clicking on the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

Best wishes,

~Melika

New Author Interview for A Book Addict’s Bookshelves!

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Hi Everyone!

I was recently interviewed for author Jess Watkins’s blog, A Book Addict’s Bookshelves, and am very excited to share this with you today! The questions were in-depth and a joy to answer. And so, without further ado, here it is:

When did you start writing?

My love for writing grew out of an early love for reading.  I think what led me to this point was that my mother started reading to me when I was in the womb, and my father told me wild, not-exactly-verifiable tall tales while I was still in the cradle. I can remember writing little stories and vignettes when I was a very young child and even staging my first play when I was eight years old. The budget for this theatrical extravaganza was nonexistent, which was why my family got coerced into playing about six parts each. I also remember being a bit of a tyrannical director, and shouting CUT quite a lot, but that was definitely the moment the writing bug first bit me.

When I was around eleven or twelve, I wrote an incredibly short story inspired by Jurassic Park. The plot consisted of a brother and sister being chased to the edge of a cliff by a T-Rex. The kids gave the Rex the old “one-two-JUMP!” fake out, and the poor dinosaur fell for this ruse and went tumbling over the cliff. End of story—happily ever after for everyone except the Rex. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, this story was fun! I’d actually finished something I’d set out to write! I thought it was epic, even though it was only six pages long! You have to start somewhere, right?

At the age of fourteen, I started writing my first novel, but abandoned it for school and other projects. I did revisit this book a few years ago and wrote a prologue and two further chapters, plus a bit of an outline, but I’m still not ready to dip back into it yet. One day, I most definitely shall, but, to quote Aragorn, “It is not this day!”

Even though I loved writing, and had dabbled in it for practically my entire life by this point, I’d never considered turning it into a career until I read Crime and Punishment as a senior in high school. There was something masterful about that book and the way Dostoevsky was able to paint deep psychological portraits of his characters with just a few well-chosen and brilliant words that inspired me and made me seriously think about becoming a storyweaver.

But I lay the blame for my decision to become a writer squarely on the shoulders of Gandalf the Grey (as portrayed by Ian McKellen in The Fellowship of the Ring), who got to me as an impressionable sixteen year old in the winter of 2001 as I sat, awestruck and enraptured, in a darkened theater and heard him speak this iconic line to Frodo:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Well, I decided, right at that moment, and I’ve never looked back.
What makes you want to write?

The desire to weave stories and lose myself in other worlds. J. R. R. Tolkien, who has been a defining force and inspiration not only on my writing, but also in my life, once said that fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. I never took this to mean that writing fantasy was a way of denying reality, or hiding yourself in invented worlds because you couldn’t face daily life in our fallen one. Quite the reverse. The concept of crafting myths and legends around very human characters who inhabited worlds that reflected the glories and evils of our own, that mirrored them in some unique yet hauntingly familiar way, fired my imagination like nothing else ever had. This is the reason I don’t write contemporary fiction. Not because I can’t, but because swathing a story in the trappings of fantasy makes the experience so much richer for me as a writer, and also, hopefully, for the reader, than it would a tale stripped of its glory set in modern times. And just because something is classified as “fantasy,” doesn’t mean it can’t be realistic. If anything, it should be more so. I have always endeavored to create characters that are human, with all our foibles and weaknesses, hopes and dreams—and longings for “home.” By home, I don’t mean a building, but a deep ache within the heart to find the place where we belong.  And home, for me, at least when it comes to writing, has always been in these other worlds, where I can best use the time that has been given to me to shine a blinding light onto the darkness.


Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do to get over it?

It’s strange, but my worst case of writer’s block didn’t stop me from writing. It honestly felt more like writer’s “monumental confusion,” because before I began writing Deadmarsh Fey back in 2014, I had spent a year working on what would become the fourth book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. The problem was, I was forcing that book to come first, which was why it felt so out of place and so wrong. I do have to say that even though this experience was very frustrating, writing that book laid a lot of groundwork for the backstory of the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse that Walks the Earth—three beings featured in Deadmarsh Fey—and also for the world of Everl’aria, the land in which that fourth book is set. Incidentally, I included a teaser for this fourth book toward the end of Deadmarsh Fey and had an absolute blast doing so. It made this long and trying process feel as though it had finally come full circle.


Do you have a special way of going about writing?

Until Deadmarsh Fey, I used to write my novels out of sequence. If I thought up a plot twist for chapter 10, I’d write that whole chapter, then piece the book together. This process probably made writing harder, yet that was how I’d always done it. But with Deadmarsh Fey…that book seized me and never let go, to the point where I had no choice but to begin at the beginning (what a novel concept!) and write straight through till the end.

In regards to how I craft my stories or come up with plots, I usually start off with ideas for characters, then build a tale around them. I’m fascinated by the meanings of names, and sometimes have a bit too much fun instilling character traits that fulfill them. I don’t always do this, but there are usually aspects of a character’s personality that hearken back to what he or she has been christened. This is especially true of Trahaearn Coffyn. And that’s all I’ll say about him!

Do you have any works in progress?

Yes, I do! The book does have a title, but I’m keeping that secret and safe for now. What I can tell you is that it is the second novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light—and a sequel to Deadmarsh Fey, set seven years after the events in that story. Throughout Deadmarsh Fey, I made mention of a little girl named Isobel Vickers, and also her family, who are great friends of Roger’s. Toward the end of the novel, Isobel’s and her family’s connection to the Deadmarshes, and the creatures hunting them, is revealed in a rather dramatic way to Roger. And this turn of events leads directly into book two, which is set on a desolate rock called Cutwater Island. Here there be sharks. That I’ve included them in this story isn’t surprising, given that I once wanted to be a marine biologist, and would have done, if that darn wizard with the long grey beard and big pointy hat had just kept his wisdom to himself.

What are your hobbies?

When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my loved ones, reading, and watching films. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist, although I do not perform as much as I used to when I was younger. Still, it’s nice to be able to lose myself in music whenever the need takes hold.
Who is your favourite character in Deadmarsh Fey? 

It’s a tie between Roger and Kip. This might sound a little odd, but I felt like I became Roger when I wrote Deadmarsh Fey, since the story is told through his eyes, and experienced everything along with him. It was a very surreal and rewarding and exhausting experience. But I still feel quite close to that little dynamo, especially because I put him through many terrible ordeals and nearly gave him (and myself) heart failure on several occasions.

And then there is Kip, who is not only one of my very favorite characters in Deadmarsh Fey, but most likely my favorite character of all time that I’ve ever written. I feel as if Kip just presented himself, with all his history and gravitas and personality, and dictated his role in the story to me, mind to mind. I was always excited to craft scenes in which he featured, because I knew he’d take over. It seems uncanny, I know, but with Kip, all I had to do was give him the floor, because he essentially wrote himself.

I also have a soft spot for Incendiu, but I can’t say much about him without spoiling his role in the story. His presence, however, hangs over the novel almost from the beginning, and getting inside his mind to discover what made him tick—and why he and a certain other character had been at loggerheads for more years than I care to mention—was one of my favorite story arcs to develop when crafting the book.

What was your favourite part of writing Deadmarsh Fey?

Discovering things along with Roger. And finally being able to put scenes down on the page that had been racketing around in my brain for years. This novel is a prequel to a fantasy trilogy (started out as a duology) I began writing in 2003. That set of books takes place 40 odd years later, and features several characters from Deadmarsh Fey, along with a heavy dose of intrigue and peril as a result of what happened in these prequel books…which I hadn’t even written yet! Wanting to know exactly why things had turned out the way they had, what had led the characters to this point and made them who they were, was too insistent of an idea to ignore, and Deadmarsh Fey is the result of this curiosity finally being satisfied.

There are also a few chapters in Deadmarsh Fey that I might have taken a bit too much (fiendish) glee in plotting and writing (Now Face-to-Fey and Warnings and Visitations spring to mind), but overall, the entire book was an experience for me. It made me grow as a writer, and also taught me to not get too attached to scenes or any other snatches of writing (dialogue in particular) to the detriment of the story. In other words, what didn’t work was scrapped, and the novel ended up being much better because I had gotten out of my own way and hadn’t tried to force things.

As with Kip, after a certain point, the book also began to write itself. Don’t take this to mean that I’d walk into my office to find Carver or Incendiu or Roger or any other character, sitting at my desk, cackling in delight as they pounded away at the keys of my laptop, churning out the story. But once all the elements and legends and backstory had been woven together, everything clicked, and the novel took off. That didn’t mean all was sunshine and roses from that point forward. I was juggling several story arcs that needed to be resolved to make the ending (and successive novels in the series) viable, but I was excited to get to work on it each day because I knew the direction the book had taken was the right one—the one that was meant to be.

Quick-fire questions:

Chocolate or ice cream?

CHOCOLATE! I think the all-caps enthusiasm of that answer speaks for itself!


Paperback or ebook?

I publish in both formats, and do own a Kindle, but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands when reading. So, paperback!


Dogs or cats?

I had a wonderful little dog named Puckie for 17 years, but I also love cats, which is the reason for Kip being in Deadmarsh Fey. I’m partial to both.


Go out or stay in?

Stay in. #HermitLife


Summer or winter?

Where I live, summers are unbearable! I definitely prefer winter, although my favorite season is Fall. I love the crispness in the air, the glorious burnt orange and golden hued leaves, the carte blanche I feel I have to read all the Classic horror books I want and pass them off as “seasonal reading” without making everyone wonder if I’ve been bitten by a vampire and developed rather bloodthirsty tastes in literature. Plus, Fall also means it’s time, once again, to bake these delicious chocolate chip pumpkin spice cookies that have become a tradition with me over the last eleven years.

Wishing you the best,

~Melika

Get City of Lights for Free this Weekend!

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Hi Everyone!

Now through Sunday at 11:59 PM PDT, you can download the Kindle edition of City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier for free across all Amazon.com sites! This book will always be very dear to my heart, since it was my first ever completed (at the age of 18) and published novel. You can get your copy by clicking on the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier

 

What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse’s life as “La Petite Coquette” of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose:  will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?

Best wishes,

~Melika

Get Corcitura for Free This Weekend!

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Hi Everyone!

Beginning tonight on Amazon.com at 12 AM PDT and running through Sunday night at 11:59 PDT, you can download the Kindle edition of Corcitura for free! Once the sale commences, just click here to get your copy. 🙂

Corcitura

Corcitura.  Some call it hybrid, others half-blood, mongrel, beast.  They are all names for the same thing:  vampire—the created progeny of the half-wolf, half-vampire, barb-tongued Grecian Vrykolakas, and the suave but equally vicious Russian Upyr.  Corcitura:  this is what happens when a man is attacked by two vampires of differing species.  He becomes an entirely new breed—ruthless, deadly, unstoppable…almost.

London, 1888:  Eric Bradburry and Stefan Ratliff, best friends since childhood, have finally succeeded in convincing their parents to send them on a Grand Tour of the Continent.  It will be the adventure of a lifetime for the two eighteen-year-old Englishmen, but almost from the moment they set foot on French soil, Eric senses a change in Stefan, a change that is intensified when they cross paths with the enigmatic Vladec Salei and his traveling companions:  Leonora Bianchetti, a woman who fascinates Eric for reasons he does not understand, and the bewitching Augustin and Sorina Boroi—siblings, opera impresarios, and wielders of an alarming power that nearly drives Eric mad.

Unable to resist the pull of their new friends, Eric and Stefan walk into a trap that has been waiting to be sprung for more than five hundred years—and Stefan is the catalyst.  Terrified by the transformation his friend is undergoing, Eric knows he must get Stefan away from Vladec Salei and Constantinos, the rabid, blood-crazed Vrykolakas, before Stefan is changed beyond recognition.  But after witnessing a horrific scene in a shadowed courtyard in Eastern Europe, Eric’s worst fears are confirmed.

Six years removed from the terror he experienced at the hands of Salei and Constantinos, Eric finally believes he has escaped his past.  But once marked, forever marked, as he painfully begins to understand.  He has kept company with vampires, and now they have returned to claim him for their own.

All the best,

~Melika

Another Cover Contest!

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Hi Everyone!

Deadmarsh Fey has a chance to win another contest, this time, the We Love Indie Books Cover of the Month for June! Again, I’d appreciate your vote! And you can cast it by clicking here.

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Thank you so much for your continued support!

Best wishes,

~Melika

 

Deadmarsh Fey Cover Award Contest!

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Hi Everyone!

My new novel, Deadmarsh Fey, is a contender to win the June 2018 Alternative Read Book Cover Award Contest! It will mean a lot of publicity for the book if it does. I’d really appreciate your vote for my freaky darling, guys! And you can do so by clicking here.

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Thank you so much!!!!

Wishing you the best,

~Melika

New Interview!

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Hi Everyone!

I was recently interviewed over at Layered Pages by the fabulous Stephanie Moore Hopkins. I hope you enjoy getting a peek into my writing process, and learning more about my new dark fantasy novel, Deadmarsh Fey.

All the best,

~Melika

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The story takes place in England at the tail end of the 19th century. I should explain that Deadmarsh is not only the name of a family, but also the manor on the English moors which they call home. The main protagonist of this novel is Roger Knightley, a ten year old boy, who is the cousin of Havelock (Lockie) Deadmarsh, the heir. For nearly every summer of his young life, Roger has gone to Deadmarsh to while away the days with Lockie. He doesn’t expect anything to be different this year, but as soon as he crosses the threshold, he realizes that everyone has changed, especially Kip, the family cat, who has inexplicably grown and altered in other alarming ways. After several terrifying encounters with creatures from a death-haunted world called Everl’aria, Roger begins to understand that something evil has been awakened within the halls of Deadmarsh, something that is not only after Lockie and his older sister, Travers, but Roger, as well. A tapestry of secrets and lies has woven itself around the Deadmarshes, and Roger now finds himself in the position of having to unravel the mystery of why a being called the Dark Wreaker has bedeviled his family for 700 years, just what exactly the Deadmarsh connection to Everl’aria really is…and how his ancestress with the unpronounceable name, whom Roger has always called Bloody Granny B, fits into the grand scheme of things. All this, he must unravel before Lockie’s 11th birthday, two days hence. If he doesn’t, blood will drown the earth. And that’s not an overstatement.

Your book cover is amazing! Who is your cover designer and age group this story geared to?

Thank you so much, Stephanie! The designer is Ravven (ravven.com), and she is brilliant! I had a very specific vision for the cover, and she was able to bring every single element of it to life in ways that still astound me.

Even though the main protagonist is a young boy, Deadmarsh Fey is not a children’s book. It is geared to anyone who enjoys an intense and detailed genre-bending story with a supernatural twist—a tale that entwines elements of dark fantasy, mystery, horror, and the inexplicable. As for an age group, I think those 14 and older would be able to appreciate and enjoy this story the most.

What is the research that went into for the setting and period of your story?

My last two novels were also set in the late 19th century, so I was already very familiar with the mores, history, vernacular, etc., of this era. For Deadmarsh Fey, my main research centered on folklore, specifically that of Wales and Norway, which are the two branches of myth that flavor the events of this and the subsequent books in my Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light series. I love exploring mythology, then coming up with my own legends and histories for my characters. Names and their meanings have also always played a huge role in my novels, but never more so than in Deadmarsh Fey.    Returning to myths…the backstories of Everl’aria and the beings who populate it, especially the Guardians, were my favorite parts of the novel to write.

Please tell me a little about the Deadmarsh name and how you came up with it. 

About 16 years ago, I was watching a sporting event on TV, only half paying attention to what was going on, when I heard the announcer call out the name Deadmarsh. My first thought was, “Wow! What a fantastically creepy and portentous name that is!” And so it stuck in my head all those years until I finally found a story to build around the family which bore that name.

Will you tell me about the Jagged Ones?

Yes, of course! Their identity is rather sensitive, but I can tell you that Carver, the blue menace on the book’s cover, is their leader. There are many reasons why they are called Jagged Ones, and the main one is not revealed till a few chapters from the end of the novel. Basically, these creatures are the servants of the Dark Wreaker, and use their power and mesmeric qualities to trick their victims into doing their bidding, which opens the door for these creatures to have a rather horrifying rite of access to said victims. I really can’t say more without revealing the entire rationale behind the Jagged Ones’ existence!

How did you get into writing Dark Fantasy?

I’ve always been fascinated by writing fantasy. It was my original love, actually, since my first (as yet uncompleted) novel, which I began writing at 14, was a fantasy novel with a decidedly dystopian flair. You won’t be surprised to hear that sharks played a large role in this book. I revisited the novel in 2012, and wrote a prologue and three chapters before realizing it still wasn’t the right time to be working on this project.

About a year later, I began work on what would be the fourth novel in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. At the time, I thought it would be the first. I’m glad I wrote that novel, though, because the myths that were explored in it helped me tremendously when writing Deadmarsh Fey, which I quickly realized had to be the inaugural book in the series. So, in 2014, I began working on it in earnest. Deadmarsh has actually been with me for a very long while, albeit unknowingly. It turned out to be the prequel to a fantasy trilogy I started writing in 2003, in which Roger was a grandfather! Life and other projects intervened, and I put that story on hold, but the idea of exploring why Roger’s life had turned out the way it had done became too insistent to ignore, and I decided to go back and create an entire foundation for why the events in that trilogy even happened. Needless to say, it’s been a tremendous amount of work, but great fun, as well, because there were story arcs and strands of legend that I’d only scratched the surface of that I got to reveal in Deadmarsh Fey in all their (sometimes hellish) glory.

And that’s where the dark part of dark fantasy came in. The seeds for writing horror were sown in my last novel, Corcitura, which is dark Gothic horror, along classical lines. Think Dracula instead of Twilight. I’m not a person who enjoys writing “sweetness and light” books, although there are always elements of comedy and sarcasm in my novels. Authorial confession: I can’t separate that from my own personality, so it finds its way into my characters! I have to be engaged when writing, and how this happens for me, I’ve noticed, is placing characters into situations, often dire ones, in which life and death are at stake, then having them battle their way out by using their wits, engaging the help of allies, and sometimes, through a confluence of events that saves them from imminent destruction through no doing of their own. They also don’t always find happy ways out of these situations, just to be clear. It depends on where the story tells me to go.

Who is your antagonist and what is a redeeming quality he or she has?

I have several antagonists in the book, but there are five main ones who wreak the most havoc on Roger and his allies. Two I can mention by name, because the identities of the others are revealed gradually. The first is Trahaearn Coffyn, who we meet in the opening chapter. His redeeming quality, though twisted, is his intense loyalty to the evil powers he serves, specifically to a woman he’s been faithful to for, well…for a good long while.

The other is Carver, the blue fiend on the cover. As I mentioned before, he is the leader of the Jagged Ones, and not someone you’d want to run across in real life. And yet, although I despise him…I also like him quite a lot! I think it’s because he’s so comfortable in his own evilness that he oftentimes came out with lines that cracked me up, even though he was being his despicable self! For quite a while, I was mystified by my being able to laugh at them, until I understood that the reason I could was because Carver knew he was irredeemable, and had no qualms about being so. And, yes, you’ve probably noticed that I’m talking about him as if he is a flesh and blood entity. Well, that’s how he, and all the characters in this book, feel to me. I was just the facilitator who was writing down what they wanted me to say. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s how it was throughout this entire novel!

On a personal level, how does this story resonate with you?

Writing Deadmarsh Fey was a very intense experience for me. Corcitura was an incredibly complex novel, yet I think that because Deadmarsh Fey is not only its own complete story, but also lays the groundwork for the other novels in the series—it required me to plumb depths I never had before as a writer. I also became very attached to these characters, even growing fond of the villains in some strange way, which surprised me!

But the main thing for me when writing this novel was the gamut of emotions I experienced, especially in regards to Roger. The entire book is told from his perspective (third person), and because of that, I felt like I became Roger in this story. I discovered things as he did, saw things through his eyes, which meant that everything he endured, everything he felt—pain, fear, excitement, terror, disappointment, panic, elation—I felt  intensely, too. It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time. And made it very hard to put him through the ordeals I had him undergo. Very hard, but not impossible, and I did feel terrible afterward, but what the story called for, the story got.

Story wise, the events in Deadmarsh Fey resonated with me because they are about fighting for the ones you love. That is the main impetus that propels Roger’s actions, and the actions of his allies. It’s not just about survival, or stopping the evil of the Dark Wreaker and his servants from  being unleashed upon this earth, but about saving the very souls of those who are most important to you, those you’d give your life for. And that is something that has always appealed to me, not only in storyweaving, but in reality.

Please share with me your writing process and your favorite spot to write in your home.

After writing Deadmarsh Fey in chronological order from beginning to end without deviating, I have become addicted to this process, so that is how I now work. I cannot see myself going back to writing novels piecemeal after this experience.

I’m a rover when it comes to my favorite spot to write in at home. I do have a designated office/study/library, with a lovely writing desk, but I don’t like to stay in one place for too long. I feel like I become stagnant if I don’t have a change of writing scene every now and then. So, since I work on a laptop, I take it all over the house, and settle where I’m most comfortable.

Where can readers buy your book?

The Kindle edition of Deadmarsh Fey is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com  (HERE). The paperback edition will also be available for purchase (through Amazon) on May 2nd, the book’s official release date.

About the Author:

Melika

I have been an author since the age of fourteen and write novels that incorporate a variety of different genres, including historical fiction, suspense, thrillers with a supernatural twist, and dark fantasy. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.

If I had not decided to become a writer, I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I am very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.

Website: Books In My Belfry

Twitter  @BooksInMyBelfry

Deadmarsh Fey Unleashed!

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After four long years of writing, editing, and everything else necessary to get this book published, Deadmarsh Fey has finally been released!!!!

The book is available in both Kindle and Paperback editions.

fey_promo

 

Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

Deadmarsh Fey Cover Reveal

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Hi Everyone!

I’m thrilled to finally get to share the details about my new novel with you. Here it is…Deadmarsh Fey!

fey_promo

Flesh and bone and hearts unknown, lead to the rath and your fate will be shown…

Deadmarsh. The name struck terror into the hearts of all who heard it. But to Roger Knightley, neither Deadmarsh the house, nor Deadmarsh the family, had ever been anything to fear. Nearly each summer of his young life had been spent in that manor on the moors, having wild adventures with his cousin, Lockie, the Deadmarsh heir. This year should have been no different, but when Roger arrives, he finds everything, and everyone, changed. The grounds are unkempt, the servants long gone. Kip, the family cat, has inexplicably grown and glares at Roger as if he is trying to read the boy’s mind. Roger’s eldest cousin, Travers, always treated as a servant, now dresses like a duchess and wears round her neck a strange moonstone given to her by someone known as Master Coffyn, who has taken over the teaching of Lockie at a school in Wales called Nethermarrow.

And soon after he crosses the threshold of Deadmarsh, Roger discovers that Coffyn has overtaken Lockie. The boy is deceitful, riddled with fear, and has returned bearing tales of creatures called Jagged Ones that claim to be of the Fey and can somehow conceal themselves while standing in the full light of the moon. What they want with Lockie, Roger cannot fathom, until the horror within his cousin lashes out, and it becomes savagely clear that these Jagged Ones and the Dark Wreaker they serve are not only after Lockie and Travers, but Roger, too.

Joining forces with an ally whose true nature remains hidden, Roger seeks to unravel the tapestry of lies woven round his family’s connection to the death-haunted world of Everl’aria—and the Dark Wreaker who calls it home. The deeper Roger delves into the past, the more he begins to suspect that the tales of dark deeds done in the forest behind Deadmarsh, deeds in which village children made sacrifice to an otherworldly beast and were never seen or heard from again, are true. And if there is truth in these outlandish stories, what of the rumor that it was not an earthquake which rocked the moors surrounding Deadmarsh sixteen years ago, but a winged nightmare attempting to break free of its underground prison? Enlisting the aid of a monster equipped with enough inborn firepower to blast his enemies into oblivion might be as suicidal as Roger’s friends insist, yet the boy knows he needs all the help he can get if there is to be any hope of defeating not only the Dark Wreaker and his servants, but an unholy trinity known as the Bear, the Wolf, and the Curse That Walks The Earth.

And then there is the foe named Blood Wood, who might be the deadliest of them all.

Racing against time, Roger must find a way to end the battle being waged across worlds before the night of Lockie’s eleventh birthday—two days hence. If he fails, blood will drown the earth. And Roger and his entire family will fulfill the prophecy of fey’s older, more lethal meaning…

Fated to die.

To preorder the novel in Kindle format (the paperback edition will be available on the day of the book’s release, May 2nd, 2018), click here.

Below is a short piece I wrote, giving more detail about the creation of the book’s menacing cover art!

The Anatomy of A Book Cover

by Melika Dannese Lux

The title was there from the beginning. The idea for the cover, as well—a vision of the fog-haunted nightmare Roger Knightley unwittingly walks into the moment he sets foot in Deadmarsh, the manor on the moors which shares its name with his kin.

Four years and nearly 700 pages later, I finally had the book. You’d think that would have marked the end of the heavy-lifting. All the hard work of writing was over; now it was time for the fun to begin. Time to jacket the pages in dazzling attire and send the novel out into the world…

But you’d be wrong. It’s one thing to have a vision in your head for what you want the cover to look like; it’s quite another to find an artist who gets that vision and is able to magic it into life. Several designers told me my concept was much too technical and complex to ever be featured on the cover of a book. Images that matched my vision just did not exist, and Carver, that charming little blue fellow (So adorable, isn’t he? *shudders*) lurking behind Roger Knightley (I’d like to see what kind of look you’d have on your face were you in Roger’s position!), would be impossible to portray, not to mention the writing on the mirror from a source that might be ally…or enemy. Actually, forget the writing. Even the mirror itself was in doubt!

I’m a tenacious person. All right, fine, let’s be honest and stop sugarcoating. I’m as intractable as a shark that’s latched onto a seal it has singled out for its lunch. I refused to believe no one could do this! It seemed, to quote that wise sage, Vizzini, “Inconceivable!” And it was! Because very soon after I had cut ties with yet another designer, I was fortunate enough to meet Ravven.

*insert wild clapping for this amazingly talented artist*

A handful of cover iterations were all it took. Ravven was able to reach into my imagination and extract every element that had been racketing around in there for years. From the beautiful woman hovering outside the window, to the blue fog she brought with her from whence she came, to the cat, the mirror, and its writing…and, most of all, to those two combatants in the foreground, the boy and his otherworldly tormentor with talons black as obsidian and sharper than carving knives—it was uncanny how in synch with my vision Ravven was. Her work astounded me, and I am still in awe of it.

Those you see on the cover of Deadmarsh Fey, friend and foe alike, you shall meet within the pages of the book.

Dare you be led to the rath for your fate to be shown?

If yes, then dive in.

And remember …beware what’s hiding in the moonlight.

Was it Jack the Ripper…or Vampires?

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Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 10, The Ratliff Horror

Millionaire Philanthropists Found Dead

I snatched the paper off the tray and held it before my eyes, foolishly hoping the millionaire philanthropists of the headline were not the same ones I had been acquainted with since the days of my childhood. The headline danced before me, blurring in and out as I read over the words again and again, too scared to look at the report and have all my fears confirmed. Finally, I looked away from the headline and forced myself to read the article below.

London, Monday, 13 August 1888—Late last evening, David and Marishka Ratliff were found brutally murdered in their home in Westminster. Scotland Yard inspectors immediately questioned Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s servants and neighbors, but all were cleared of any involvement in the crime. The inspectors have noted that the modus operandi matches that employed in the murder of a woman, Martha Tabram, who was found stabbed to death in Whitechapel nearly one week ago. Although the authorities had ruled that the Tabram murder was an isolated incident, this new crime has made them reconsider. Do we have a killer in our midst? The authorities seem to think so. As with the former victim, the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were covered in stab wounds, but in this case, the killer has added an additional weapon to his murderous arsenal: slashing throats in a particularly savage fashion with what the Americans call Devil’s Rope. Upon further inspection, it was determined that Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s throats had been savagely ripped open by a piece of barbed wire. Authorities had thought the killer to be from Whitechapel, but in light of this recent crime in Westminster, it is feared that the murderer has taken up residence in this district and will begin to perpetuate more atrocities in this part of the city. They caution against widespread panic, but one cannot help wondering when the next ax, or piece of barbed wire, as we now have it, will fall.

I ignored the last line for the sensationalism it was and turned the page. A photograph of David and Marishka with Stefan as a child took up half the page and underneath it ran the following:

Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff were well-known throughout Europe for their care of and generosity toward Romanian orphans, many of whom they brought to London to be educated. They are survived by their son, Stefan, who was not home when the murders were committed and is not a suspect in his parents’ deaths. Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff’s only son and heir, who was overcome with grief when given the horrible news, has asked that we print the following in memory of his beloved parents:

In Memoriam

As they were loved in life, so they shall be loved in death. They will be sorely missed.

“Sorely missed by everyone but you, that is,” I grunted, my teeth clenched in anger, my heart appalled by such blatant hypocrisy.

©2010, 2018 Melika Dannese Lux and Books In My Belfry®. Unauthorized use or reproduction of this excerpt without the author’s permission is strictly prohibited.

Redaction, & Jagged Ones, & Bears—oh, my!

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Well, it’s that time again! I’m only going to be posting a few more teasers from the new book after this snippet, which happens to be one of my favorites. Chapter 9 is quite eventful, and due to the sensitivity of its title, and the identity of a chief character within it, I had to engage in a bit of spycraft and redact said character’s name. Humor me, guys. If I give away all my secrets, there’ll be no reason for you to read the book!

Third Teaser Tuesday post--8-28-17

I bet you’re now consumed with curiosity about the Bear and what exactly those Jagged Ones are, right?  😉

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek!

All the best,

~Melika

The Darkness Within—Tuesday Teaser

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Hi Guys!

Well, here it is, the second Tuesday Teaser from my new book. This excerpt was taken from Chapter 2, The Darkness Within.

Second Teaser Tuesday Post--8-21-17

Oooo! What did he wake up, I wonder?  😉

Look for another snippet next week. I hope you are enjoying these!

All the best,

~Melika

Teaser Tuesday—The Return

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Hi Everyone!

First, a little update. I finished writing my third novel in May and have spent the last few months editing and taking the necessary steps toward publication, which will FINALLY happen this Fall. But in the meantime, how about a little teaser from the new book? This novel does have a title, I promise. I’m just attempting to draw out the suspense as long as I can.  😉

And now, without further ado, here is a sneak peek taken from Chapter 1, The Return.

(2) First Teaser Tuesday Post--8-14-17

As you can see, things are definitely afoot. Or, rather, apaw.

I’ll be posting another teaser next week. Hope you enjoyed this one!

All the best,

~Melika