New Deadmarsh Fey Excerpt @ The Fantasy Hive

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Hi Everyone,

I’m so happy to be back at The Fantasy Hive this week, but instead of an interview, one of my most favorite excerpts from Deadmarsh Fey is being featured! Thanks once again go to Laura and the great people at this fantastic site for allowing me to showcase my work.

I hope this excerpt will intrigue and unsettle you, and make you insatiably curious to find out what happens to Roger next!

Best wishes,

Melika

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

When wandering through a forest, one expects to see many things. Trees, squirrels, maybe even a bear…

A feast laid out solely for you in the middle of a clearing…

That last one shouldn’t have made the list, you say? Try telling that to Roger Knightley, then, for it is exactly what he stumbled upon while sojourning in the woods behind Deadmarsh.

Here, on this whimsical table, were found treats stuffed to bursting with enough luscious flavors to satisfy the cravings of a boy possessed of a sweet tooth the size of the North York Moors. How could he resist such a temptation?  I feel safe in saying most anyone would find it difficult to do so…assuming you could actually seewhat had been set out to entice you. Forgot to mention that small detail. The feast is invisible, unless you look at it through a glass darkly, which, for Roger, means peering through the two halves of a cracked, milky blue moonstone known as The Eye of Arianrhod. Without this, there’d be no hope of piercing the glamour that hangs over such a fey place. But is it a glamour of enchantment?

Or of evil?

I invite you to read on and discover for yourself…

The Feast in the Forest, excerpted from Deadmarsh Fey

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Featured Interview at The Fantasy Hive!

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Hi Everyone!

I am beyond thrilled to share with you today my featured interview for the Fantasy Hive! It’s a fun and wonderful site, and I enjoyed answering these questions so much. Many, many thanks to the fabulous (and sharktastic!) Laura M. Hughes for giving me this opportunity. I hope you will all enjoy reading about, as Laura phrased it, “sharks, the power of music, sharks, itinerant writing, sharks, and the possibility of Melika secretly turning out to be a Dúnedain ranger.”

Best wishes!

~Melika

Thanks for joining us today, Melika! Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently.

Pan by Knut Hamsun. This is the second of his novels that I’ve read over the last few months (Victoria was the first—devastatingly brilliant!), and I can now say that I am hooked! Pan is a short book, but that only makes the experience even more intense. There is much casual and outright cruelty in it, regarding how human beings use and treat each other as if they are disposable, but you just cannot look away, or at least I could not—and you absolutely cannot stop reading, washed along on this dark tide of roiling emotions as you are. The characters did things that made me want to strangle them, and yet I pitied them and could relate to them almost simultaneously. I even laughed aloud at several points, only to be chilled into silence a few paragraphs later, especially after reading one shattering line that had to do with Aesop the dog. I find Hamsun’s works fascinating and am, quite frankly, amazed by his ability to sketch these vivid and penetrating psychological portraits with such economy, whereas it would take a lesser author hundreds of pages to do the same.

Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?

I had to do some research for this question, because I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons and know nothing about it. Yet as soon as I saw what the character classes were, I had no doubt as to which one I’d belong to. Ranger. Not only because Aragorn, after Gandalf, is my favourite character in The Lord of the Rings, but I think I actually might have Dúnedain blood, since I was mistaken for a 15 year old a couple of summers back, even though I’m…quite a few years older than that. As for my weapon of choice, it would have to be a sword, one that is slightly smaller than Anduril (I’m darn near hobbit size, how do you expect me to lift something so huge?!), but no less lethal and majestic.

Great answer! When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?

I find that when I’m seized by a story, my thoughts begin firing incredibly quickly, and since I’m a fast typist (thanks to my mother, the typing teacher, who taught me this skill when I was five years old), this allows me to put my ideas into a cohesive narrative much more easily than if I took the time to handwrite them into a notebook. It also must be said that my handwriting is not the most elegant thing in the world. To give you an example of just how illegible it can get, I’ve had to discard notes in the past because I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I’d written! I still jot down notes on whatever scrap of paper is nearest to hand, of course, and try not to be so hasty when scrawling out a thought, but typing has been and will, I hope, always be the best writing method for me.

And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?

Can’t they be prawns like Pepe, okay? No? In that case, I like to have music playing low in the background when I write, preferably epic film soundtracks, while at other times, I require classical music. It depends on what I’m writing. If the scene calls for me to muster my inner Rohirrim, then epic it is, but if I’m writing something intensely emotional, I need music that will resound in my soul and heart and be my Virgil, guiding me through the darkness and into the light beyond. This was the case with one particular scene in Deadmarsh Fey, and if I hadn’t had classical music to bear me up when I was plumbing some very traumatic and emotional depths, I do not know how I would have made it through.

Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!

The only unusual thing about my writing routine is that I rove from room to room when I feel the need for a change of scene. Staring at a blank wall all day gets old after a while, so I often take my laptop outside and sit amid the greenery. It’s soul-restoring, and inspiring, and always makes me feel as if I’ve been given a chance to see the story afresh, with new eyes. I’m very grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do this, because I see how it has helped in the past, most especially with Deadmarsh Fey. There were some particularly thorny spots toward the beginning of that book that only finally became untangled in my mind thanks to my being able to write outside in the freeing air.

What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?

There is only one, but it was a paradigm shift and changed the course of my life: Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, specifically The Fellowship of the Ring. And here is the reason why…

For most of my early life, I wanted to be a marine biologist, even though I had been writing little stories on and off since I was around eight years old, and began work on my first novel at the age of fourteen. To me, writing was (and still is) like a key that unlocks secret doorways into other worlds, and I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that I was being called to dedicate my life to exploring these universes—and making them my own. Yet it wasn’t until the winter of 2001, as I sat in a darkened theatre, awestruck and enraptured by my first glimpse of Middle-Earth, that the path I was meant to take unfolded before me. This I owe to Gandalf and the words of wisdom he spoke to Frodo in the caverns of Moria, when hope was threatening to fade and disappear entirely:

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

In my heart, I knew what my decision had to be. And so I made it…and have never looked back.

What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?

 Air Jaws: Back From the Dead. I’ve been watching Shark Week since it premiered, and these flying shark specials have been my favorite parts of the celebration for many years. The sight of such huge, magnificent animals—some weighing two to three tons—launching themselves out of the water never ceases to amaze me, and has resulted in my being inspired to incorporate sharks into not only my writings (current project included), but in song, as well.  Here’s a little one I composed ten years ago during the 20th anniversary as an homage to Shark Week—the most wonderful time of the year:

Jingle Sharks

 (As performed by Irv, a Great White Shark from Sydney, Australia, and all around fantastic lad,
with select interjections by the Australian Shark Chorus)

Swimming through the sea, with bloodshed on my mind,
I spy a little seal, then bite off his behind!
But he is just a snack, I need a bigger munch,
So when I spot a surfer dude, I shout, “Yippee! There’s lunch!”

Ohhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, chumming’s not for us!
Sharkin’s been looked down on since Old Quint, he bit the dust!
(And we’ve got Bruce to thank for that!)
Ohhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, we like our bait live!
Why don’t all you people on the beach come take a dive?!
(We won’t bite, we promise! Sharks’ honor!)

*brief tom-tom interlude: Da da da da da DA, dum dum!*

The surf is choppy now, and swimmers cannot see,
That lurking right offshore, is little three ton me!
I play it nice and cool, I bide my time so good,
And when nobody’s looking, I latch on to someone’s foot!

Ohh-ohhh-ohhhhhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, Shark Week is sublime!
We’ve ruled cable TV for three decades in primetime! Ohhh-oh-ohhhhhh!
Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, everybody’s hooked!
Thanks to conservation, now, our goose ain’t gonna be cooked!

*raucous shouts of “Sharkland, forever!” erupt from the Australian Shark Chorus*

End Song

Copyright © 2008, 2018 by Melika Dannese Lux

*APPLAUSE* Beautiful, Melika! Simply beautiful.

Back to the questions (sadly): the world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?

Wandering the fields of the Shire (ours is not in New Zealand, btw) with the one I love. That would be heaven, and my idea of true bliss—the absolute perfect day.

If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?

The semicolon. It’s so indecisive. Am I a comma? Am I a period? Make up your mind, you cannot be both!

In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!

Here there be sharks, and demons of the deep. And a creature whose memory is as fathomless as its desire for revenge.

At this point, we’d be surprised if there *weren’t* sharks in your WIP.

Melika, if you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?

Can I hop in a time machine and travel back several decades to Oxford? Because the author I would love to co-write or co-create a series with is J. R. R. Tolkien. He and his legendarium and their glorious film adaptations have impacted my life in so many ways, and if the space time continuum or whatever it is could be bent to allow me to meet and work with him, I’d do so in a heartbeat. Just being able to talk to him and discuss not only Middle-Earth, but his love of Anglo-Saxon and Norse myths and legends, the meaning of words and names, his deep Catholic faith and how it imbued his worldview…that would be amazing to me! And then there is the added bonus of ending up at the Eagle and Child after a hard day’s work and meeting up with all the other Inklings, especially C. S. Lewis, for a round of likeminded conversation and story reading from each of our latest projects…and some pretty harsh but constructive criticism! I know this is a total fantasy, but I don’t care. Let me have my little dream.

What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

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

If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?

There are two, both in the present day. England first, then off to Middle-Earth, I mean, New  Zealand, to tour Hobbiton and The Lord of the Rings filming locations, catch a glimpse of the big boys (Great White sharks, from a boat, not within the cage, because, as a rather crackbrained yet perspicacious old salt once remarked, “You go in the water. Cage goes in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark. Farwell and adieu…”), and other places that have special meaning to me.

Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?

It wasn’t writer’s block, because I never stopped writing during it, but back in 2013, I suffered through an intense, year-long ordeal of working on what would become the last book in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light  (the four novel series that Deadmarsh Fey is part of). At the time, I thought this book had to come first, but every day I sat down at the laptop to write was a struggle and made me feel as though I was trying to shove round pegs into square holes. It took me a long while to realize that the story wasn’t working because I was attempting to tell the end of the saga without knowing its beginning. But I plowed through, and that is what I encourage every writer to do. It was the only way I was able to overcome this type of obstacle, since giving up was never an option. Yet even though this experience was incredibly frustrating, I do not regret it, because what was written in that novel laid the foundation for nearly every scrap of myth and legend, and even inspired a number of significant events, in Deadmarsh Fey, that I would have known nothing about if I hadn’t written that fourth book first.

Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany. It’s been ages since I read that book, but I still remember the characters (Ziroonderel the Witch, Alveric the prince and his Elvish love, Lirazel, Orion the hunter of unicorns…), the almost heart-breaking lyricism of the prose and plot, and the ethereal nostalgia for that time in my life which merely thinking about this book makes me feel. The novel is very dreamlike, infused with a sense of otherness and melancholy, and yet there is hope and romance (in its truest sense) in every word. It was one of the very first fantasy novels I read after I’d made the decision to become a writer, and it will always be precious to me.

Finally – and I feel like this question was designed solely for you, and has been waiting for you to answer it in all the months we’ve been doing these interviews – would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.) Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have a fundamental longing for “home”, and by that I don’t mean a building, but a deep ache within the heart to find the place where we truly belong. For me, at least when it comes to my writing, “home” has always been in these other worlds I have created—perilous realms infected by a darkness that seems unstoppable…yet also realms of searing beauty and light, peopled by characters who heed the call to lay all on the line for a chance (sometimes less than a chance) to defeat the evil that is threatening to devour everything they love because they have realized that their world, though fallen—and uncannily similar to our own—is worth fighting for. When reading my books, especially Deadmarsh Fey, my wish and hope is that you lose yourself in these worlds, that you let go and journey along with the characters, grow attached to them, become them, even, and see in them a reflection of yourself…and if by doing so you discover what your “home” is, then that is reward enough, for it will mean that I have made the best use of the time that was given to me.

Brilliant, Melika. Thanks so much for joining us today, and best of luck with the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off!

Melika Dannese Lux is the author of Deadmarsh Fey and Corcitura. Find her on social media using the links below.

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SPFBO graphic1

Hi Everyone,

To coincide with the start of this year’s SPFBO, over 120 other authors in the contest and I are slashing the prices of our books to 99c/99p! This is a great opportunity for you to sample some fantastic fantasy fiction without going broke! To see the plethora of books on sale, just head over to author Andrea Domanski’s site by clicking on the link below:

http://www.andreadomanski.com/spfbo

And don’t forget to show a little love for Roger and the fey while you’re there by snagging a copy of my latest release, too!

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Thank you so much, and please, once you’ve read and enjoyed our books, it would be wonderful if you could leave us reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and whatever other social media sites you are members of. This helps us out tremendously!

Best wishes, and happy reading!

~Melika

Warnings from Cutwater Island…

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Excerpted from Deadmarsh Fey, Chapter 20, Warnings and Visitations

 

Oh, wait, I tell a lie! There was something in there. It was…

“Was what?!” Roger demanded of the paper. But the writing had stopped. He grabbed the next page and noticed that Iso had inked yet another date into the top of it. The twenty-second of May. She was catching up.

Here I am, finally coming back to this letter. I had started to tell you what was in that chest when I was called away. We finally made the move, Rog. I’ll give you the details later, but let me first finish up what I was going to say. In that chest was a curiosity that Evie immediately claimed for her own. I’m sure you’re dying to hear what it is, and since you are not around to say, “Get on with it, Iso! Spill!” I’ll take your silence as a yes and tell you. It’s the most astounding thing—the bust of a lady with a veil covering her face, but it’s all made of marble! Even the sheer-looking veil! Extraordinary, right? I’ve no idea how the carver managed it. The first time I saw this thing, I wanted to throw the veil back to see what color the lady’s eyes were. I really thought I could do it, too, but, of course, when I tried, it stayed firmly in place, and that’s when I realized what a ninny I was to have thought I could do so, even…

“Drat it, Iso!” Roger cried. “Why can’t you sit still long enough to finish a letter?!” His rage fizzled out when he saw what he’d been too angry to notice before. The sentence had been broken off with a wild streak of Iso’s pen. She’d pressed down so hard, the nib had almost pierced through the paper. What had happened to startle her so badly? Or had she been more than startled?

What if she’d been attacked?

Roger’s eyes flitted to the next section of the letter and he read a few lines, unnerved by the change in Iso’s tone. In the space of a few sentences, she’d gone from bubbly to sounding darn near paranoid.

I hate that statue. Evie somehow managed to smuggle it here without any of us knowing. If Father had discovered it up in Skye, he would have chucked it into the sea, which is what I’ve half a mind to do. I’ll never walk by that statue at night. I can’t even stand to go near it during the day. I swear that woman is looking at me through her veil. I don’t know how to explain it, but I can feel her eyes following me. And I’m not the only one who thinks something’s off with that statue. Jon said he’s felt the same way, but not Evie. Oh, no, never Evie. She dotes on the creepy thing. I even caught her talking to it once. Have you ever heard of anything so daft? 

Roger paused to consider everything that had happened to him within the last day, then nodded. He had done more than hear of anything so daft. He had seen it with his own eyes. He went on reading.

I’ve carried this letter halfway around the world with me, Rog. It’s high time I send it off to you, but I’ve just not had the will to finish it. It’s rather hard to muster up excitement for anything when you’re stuck in the house with nothing but books for company.          

Roger sat bolt upright. Was she sick? Was she in trouble? Why should she have to stay inside the house? He felt uneasy, but what worried him most was that he was running out of pages—out of space for Iso to tell him what was really going on.

I’ve learned something rather disturbing from Father. It seems that Mother had a near-fatal accident when she was pregnant with Evie. For some reason, Father blames the Deadmarshes for Mother almost dying. I’m not really sure why. He was rather vague on that point. But I tell you, Rog, it’s a good thing he didn’t hold a grudge against the children of that family, otherwise I never would have known Travers. And you’d have probably been deemed tarnished by the accident of sharing the same blood. How dreadful would that have been? After my brother and sister, you’re the closest friend I’ve got. True friends don’t keep secrets from each other, which is why I’m telling you this one, even if it makes you think Father’s gone off his nut. Here goes… He said the sins of the Deadmarshes had brought doom upon us all, that they are the real reason we find ourselves stuck on this rock in the middle of a demon-haunted sea. I still don’t understand why he blames your family, but he does. Nothing can make him change his mind about that. And he’s blaming them not only for our current circs., but for Mother almost drowning in Wales, too.

Roger upended the wastebasket next to his chair as he shot up from his seat. Wales?! Why Wales?! What had Iso’s mother been doing there?!

Ignoring the mess he’d made on the floor, he sank down on the chair and managed to calm himself enough to resume reading.

I would have preferred to live in Wales, you know. Anywhere would’ve been better than Cutwater Island. Ever heard of it? No? Neither had I. It’s an awful place. All jagged rocks and scrubland. And the people…we might as well be lepers. Not one of them has come to welcome us, and they avoid us whenever we show our faces in what passes for a village in this place. And at church, well… Come Sunday, we kids are the only ones in the pews. I don’t think we’ll be leaving this godforsaken rock any time soon, though. At least not till the thing circling the island leaves. He’s like a reaper, Roger. Three in the last week alone have been taken before they could even cry out. They were dragged under by the beast with the tail shaped like a scythe and skin that shines like an oil slick on the water’s surface. And yet he’s known as White Death. It must be because of the underbelly. Either that or the teeth. Rog…what do you know of sharks?

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Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Melika Dannese Lux

 

Deadmarsh Fey Goodreads Giveaway

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Hi Everyone,

From now until August 15th, 2018, 100 Kindle copies of Deadmarsh Fey are up for grabs! For a chance to win my novel, all you have to do is enter the Goodreads giveaway, which you can do by clicking on the link in the widget below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Deadmarsh Fey by Melika Dannese Lux

Deadmarsh Fey

by Melika Dannese Lux

Giveaway ends August 15, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

If you are one of the winners, after reading the book, it would be great if you could leave a review of Deadmarsh Fey on Goodreads and Amazon or any other social media sites you belong to. It’s wonderful hearing feedback from readers!

Thank you so much, and best of luck!

~Melika

Author Interview at The Horror Herald

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Hi Everyone,

I’m happy to share a new interview with all of you today. This time, I was featured at The Horror Herald. I had fun answering these questions, and I hope reading this interview will give you deeper insights into Deadmarsh Fey, Corcitura, my writing process and inspirations, and several other topics!

Best wishes,

~Melika

Though not a traditional horror author per se, Melika Dannese Lux has written what I could consider a rather horrifying fantasy tale set in 19th century England. I was fortunate enough to be given a copy of this book, Deadmarsh Fey, in exchange for an honest review. Featuring a young protagonist, an ominous house, ancient evils, and more than a few blood-soaked scenes, Deadmarsh Fey is sort of a mash up of Victorian horror and dark fantasy, but it’s a hybrid that totally works. On top of providing a review copy of the book, Ms. Lux was kind enough to set aside some time for an interview (the first for this site!). 

  1. Now that I’ve finished it, I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything quite like Deadmarsh Fey Where did the inspiration for this tale come from?

Deadmarsh Fey is a prequel to a fantasy trilogy (originally 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.

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 precisely 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. Though Deadmarsh Fey could theoretically be a self-contained novel, the groundwork has been set for more adventures with Roger & co. How many more books are planned in the Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light series?

It was important to me to ensure that the story contained within Deadmarsh Fey had closure and was a complete novel, while also spooling out threads for the successive tales to come. There are three more books in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. All the novels already have titles, but these are rather sensitive, so I’m holding them in reserve till I announce the publication of each book.. What I can tell you is that Roger will not appear in these others, if he appears at all, in the same way. My current project is the sequel to Deadmarsh Fey—set seven years later. Throughout 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. Speaking of children, Deadmarsh Fey pulls no punches when it comes to describing some pretty horrific things that happen with youthful characters. Was this deliberate on your part, to give the story an added sense of peril due to the young ages? Or did it just come about naturally? Or, maybe more ominously…do you just dislike children?

Yes, it was deliberate. The chief aim of the Jagged Ones is to corrupt everything the Envoys, Guardians, and Children of Light do, so it seemed only natural that the most abominable way for them to achieve their ends was through Hosting and the full horror such a process entails. And I love children, by the way, which made writing those sections in the novel very hard, but necessary, to show how truly soulless and depraved the Jagged Ones and their Master are.   

  1. Deadmarsh Fey is rife with vernacular, popular culture, and historical events from that period in England’s history (with Varney the Vampire, Sweeney Todd, Spring-heeled Jack being prime pop-culture examples). Is European history something that you have experience with, or is it just something you’ve meticulously researched for the novel?

My last two novels (City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier, and Corcitura) were also set in the late 19th century, so this period in European history was one I was already quite familiar with.

For Deadmarsh Fey, my main research centered on folklore, specifically that of Wales and Norway, which are the two branches of myth that color the events of this and the three remaining books in Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light. I enjoy exploring mythology, then inventing my own legendarium for my characters.

It was also imperative that the character references be authentic, which is why Bellows has a passion for Penny Dreadfuls. Even though they’re only mentioned briefly, I wanted to use those references to give a peek into his likes and dislikes, his way of thinking—and also to allow Travers an opening to get her point across by using his superstitions against him. I enjoyed writing that particular scene very much.

  1. There are many classic English names represented in Deadmarsh Fey, as well as numerous Welsh names of dubious pronounceability. And some of those names have mistranslations that tie directly into the lore. Was this something that you established before fully committing to writing the novel, or were these ideas and names that grew and evolved during the writing process?

Names and their meanings have always played a huge role in my novels, but never more so than in Deadmarsh Fey. The one you referenced as having been mistranslated to tie into the lore was with me from the beginning, and actually ended up turning the story in a completely different direction by shifting the focus off the villain I had been planning to feature onto someone else entirely. The other names were there at the start, as well, specifically Coffyn…and Kip. If you pay close attention to what Coffyn says about Kip in a chapter toward the end (hint: it takes place in a library), you’ll have an inkling as to why I gave the cat that name.

  1. Deadmarsh Fey features such a large cast of characters, with incredibly rich backstories (and multiple names/monikers, depending on which faction/person is discussing said characters), that it is obvious much care was given to the crafting of each one. Even above and beyond the characters are the sheer number of events that took place even prior to the beginning of the book, let alone what actually transpires between the pages! Just how long had you been brainstorming and taking notes for this novel before actually committing it to page?

I’d like to take a moment to address something I’ve heard mentioned by many readers thus far—namely that there are several characters in this novel and I should have included a list of dramatis personae. The reason I didn’t do this is because the majority of these characters have hidden identities that would have been completely exposed, to the ruination of the plot, if I’d set them down in a neat list. I believe that if readers immerse themselves fully in the book, as I did while crafting it, they won’t have a problem keeping the characters straight.

I invented the Jagged Ones in 2003 when I started writing the fantasy trilogy I mentioned above. These creatures had a different name at the time, and were vile even then, but not nearly as twisted as they’d turn out to be. Yet the idea for them was there long before Deadmarsh Fey materialized.

When I finally decided to begin working on Dwellers of Darkness, Children of Light, it took me quite a while to realize that Deadmarsh Fey had to come first in the series. Until that finally happened 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 conflicts 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.

  1. I feel it’s safe to say that Deadmarsh Fey really isn’t a book for casual readers. Given the level of detail in the book, I can only imagine how involved the writing process must be. That said, do you have a rough idea of when the next book in the series will be published?

Hopefully sometime in 2019. I won’t have an exact publication date for a while, since the book is still being written, but by the end of this year, I will definitely have a better idea of when it should be released. 

  1. I was lucky enough to get a digital copy of your previous novel, Corcitura, for free during the Amazon giveaway. What can I expect from this book?

Even though it is set during the same time period as Deadmarsh Fey, Corcitura is an entirely different reading experience. The main protagonists are older, for one thing, the action takes place across Europe  (and briefly in 1890s New York) over a period of months and years, instead of days, and the book is firmly in the historical Gothic thriller genre rather than dark fantasy, though there are vampires in it—as well as a handful of human villains who are, in many ways, even more monstrous. You will also find that the vampires in this novel 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.

What begins as the adventure of a lifetime—with Eric and Stefan setting out on a Grand Tour of the Continent before becoming, as Eric phrases it, “inmates at Oxford”—soon morphs into a nightmare of duplicity and danger and death in which characters must wage a desperate fight for survival against creatures that shouldn’t even exist. And yet, as with all my novels that have supernatural beings and fantastical elements in them, at its heart, Corcitura is also a very human story. More than anything, it tells of the corruption of a soul, and how this affects all who come in contact with him. In Romanian, corcitura means “hybrid,” but as I got deeper into crafting the novel—most especially the second half of it—the word took on a greater meaning to me, no longer being just the name for a dual natured creature, but a metaphor for the duality of our own natures, of the constant battle between base motives and our higher selves. Many times throughout the book, characters, especially the ones who no longer have a pulse, are faced with a choice. Will they uphold the status quo and prove everyone who ever judged them and their kind right? Or will they go against the call of the blood and turn their backs on their very nature by deciding they will be the ones to put an end to the cycle of destruction? Some made the choices I hoped they would, while others went their own way—often to their annihilation.

As the novel progresses, a coalition of unlikely allies forms. Each of these characters, in his or her own unique way, must overcome centuries-old obstacles if there is to be any hope of defeating the darkness, though some members of this alliance are not so different than the creatures they have vowed to destroy—two half-vampire, half-wolf women who had the “gift” of immortality thrust upon them when death would have been a blissful alternative; the last of the Corcitura’s siblings, a woman who might be the key to finally lifting the five-hundred-year-old curse laid on her family; a scarred, hunted, determined man, who for thirty years thought the most important person in his life had been murdered…because he’d witnessed it; a young bride who was forced to become fearless in a heartbeat to save the man she loves from a fate worse than death…

And then there is the Born Vampire, the child who cries blood—the boy who just might be the salvation of them all.

  1. In any form of media, villains are incredibly difficult to properly develop. So much so that it seems more difficult to write a good villain as opposed to a good hero. And it seems like your books are rather chock-full of interesting and unique villains, so you obviously have a feel for what makes a good one. What villain/antagonist from the horror/thriller genre, regardless of media, do you relate with the most, and why?

I’ve never felt a kinship to a villain across any form of media, but I have always considered the Erlkönig of Goethe’s poem, and Schubert’s magnificent composition, one of the most pernicious beings ever to be encountered. Is he a true threat? Or nothing more than a hallucination, a will-o-the-wisp to be explained away—mist sighing through the trees, as the feverish boy’s father tries to convince his panicking son? This exploitation of ambiguity that results in the denial of danger is, I believe, emblematic of how evil often operates in not only the realms of fantasy and the imagination, but in our world as well. It tries to convince you that it is merely the absence of good and not a malevolent force of its own. It wants you to disbelieve the threat you see with your own eyes and become blinded to the dangers surrounding you. Once this has been achieved, if you are weak-minded enough to let it happen, “knowing thine enemy” in order to defeat it becomes impossible, for how can you when you don’t even believe evil exists? And to me, being manipulated into becoming willfully ignorant in the face of all evidence to the contrary is more terrifying than any villain of myth or legend could ever hope to be. 

  1. Given that this is a horror-themed site, I have to ask at least one pure horror-themed question! What is your favorite piece of horror fiction (regardless of whether it’s a poem, short-story, or full-fledged novel)?

Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, and Uncle Silas are great favorites of mine. Although it’s more psychological/suspense than horror, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman In White is another fantastic read. For something more modern, I’d pick Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. I reread it every few years, and it still unsettles me. 

  1. Outside of writing, you are also a classically trained soprano, and have some examples of your stunning voice on your website booksinmybelfry.com. When did you first start singing, and what is your favorite classical vocal piece to sing today?

I have been singing since the age of three, and began my classical training when I was fourteen. I’m very partial to German lieder (one vocal coach said my voice was made for singing it), with some of my favorites being Ständchen (Schubert’s) and Gretchen am Spinnrade, along with Mahler’s cycle, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. There is also an Italian aria I am quite fond of:  Una voce poco fa. It’s a showpiece, unquestionably, peppy and thrilling, with a great range and lots of embellishments—and you have to truly become Rosina, feisty and defiant attitude and all, to sell the part. It’s great fun.

  1. There seems to be a musical renaissance taking place lately, both on stage (Hamilton and The Book of Mormon being prime examples) and on screen (such as La La Land and The Greatest Showman). What recent musical experience has impacted you the most? And why has it done so?

It wasn’t recent, but one of the most profound and instructive musical experiences of my life happened in London in the Spring of 2004, at a performance of Les Misérables. I don’t even remember the actor’s name, but he was playing Jean Valjean, and the pathos he instilled into that character was stunning to behold. Even after all these years, I can still remember the anguish on his face at one point when he sang, barely above a whisper, “24601.” And why I said that this was not only a profound but also instructive experience was because, speaking from a singer’s perspective, it was like attending a masterclass. I picked up so many techniques just through observation, specifically the ability to hollow your tones so as to riddle them with emotion, even when singing quietly. This is something I put into practice immediately and still do to this day.

  1. You obviously have an appreciation for the dark side of things, whether it’s the more shifty/dubious side of human nature or the gloomy and dangerous fairy tales of old. Have you always had an affinity for the darkness, or is this something that you discovered as you grew older?

I’ve always had an affinity for these types of stories, but not because I was attracted to the dark side. I find myself drawn to them because, given such overwhelming darkness, there is also the potential for great light and heroism when battling to defeat it—especially in the face of what seems like certain annihilation. This is one of the many reasons I find The Lord of the Rings such a glorious saga and constant source of inspiration. The darkness infesting that world is as evil as it comes. Sauron was the original Dark Lord, after all. And yet, while the end goal was to destroy him, what drove the characters was the desire to protect that which would be lost if his darkness were allowed to consume the world. There’s a wonderful Chesterton quote that encapsulates this ideal. “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

That is something I kept in mind when writing both Corcitura and Deadmarsh Fey, because for all their dread grandeur, in the end, it’s not really about vampires or faeries or demons or whatever other dwellers of darkness are trying to rend the earth asunder. It’s about the heroes who become a part of you, the characters you miss when the final page is turned…the people who lay everything on the line to answer the call because they believe, as a certain hobbit once said, that there’s some good left in this world—and it’s worth fighting for.

And that’s that! I appreciate you taking the time to answer these thirteen (a very calculated number, thank you very much!) questions, and I look forward to reading more of your works. I wish you all the best!

Jingle Sharks—In Honor of #SharkWeek

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Hi Everyone,

Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. I’ve been watching this annual epic of jawesomeness since the beginning, and, given that Christmas In July is also being celebrated here in the States at the moment, I thought it was past time to dust off a little something I composed ten years ago and share it with all of you.

Here it is…Jingle Sharks—so named because Shark Week is the most wonderful time of the year.

Best,

~Melika

Jingle Sharks

 (As performed by Irv, a Great White Shark from Sydney, Australia, and all around fantastic lad,

with select interjections by the Australian Shark Chorus)

Swimming through the sea, with bloodshed on my mind,

I spy a little seal, then bite off his behind!

But he is just a snack, I need a bigger munch,

So when I spot a surfer dude, I shout, “Yippee! There’s lunch!”

 

Ohhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, chumming’s not for us!

Sharkin’s been looked down on since Old Quint, he bit the dust!

(And we’ve got Bruce to thank for that!)

Ohhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, we like our bait live!

Why don’t all you people on the beach come take a dive?!

(We won’t bite, we promise! Sharks’ honor!)

*brief tom-tom interlude: Da da da da da DA, dum dum!*

The surf is choppy now, and swimmers cannot see,

That lurking right offshore, is little three ton me!

I play it nice and cool, I bide my time so good,

And when nobody’s looking, I latch on to someone’s foot!

 

Ohh-ohhh-ohhhhhh! Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, Shark Week is sublime!

We’ve ruled cable TV for three decades in prime time! Ohhh-oh-ohhhhhh!

Jingle Sharks, Jingle Sharks, everybody’s hooked!

Thanks to conservation, now, our goose ain’t gonna be cooked!

*raucous shouts of “Sharkland, forever!” erupt from the Australian Shark Chorus*

 

End Song

Copyright © 2008, 2018 by Melika Dannese Lux

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.”

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(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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