The Rebirth of Elegant Horror

by K.L. Nappier

Does “elegant horror” seem like an oxymoron to you? It shouldn’t. There was a time when horror shared the same literary and theatrical heights as classical romances or tragedies. Then somewhere on the timeline of entertainment history, mainstream horror veered. It went not so much the way of erotica as porn, if you will.

Now, for me, particularly cinematically speaking, one of the great harbingers of elegant horror’s return was actually billed as a sci-fi flick. Bet you know which one I mean: Ridley Scott’s Alien. Some may argue that The Exorcist holds the honor of beginning the rebirth, but I see that classic as being a hallowed outlier, a rebel in a rising age of schlocky living deads, shocky chainsaw massacres and scream-queening slasher nightmares that still, of course, rule a considerable kingdom of gruesome.

Is it weird, then, that I -an author often billed as a horror writer- never learned to love the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween or Saw? Well, not really, when you consider that my early influences were Edgar Allan Poe and Rod Serling. It’s true that the morés of Poe’s and Serling’s times repressed the grotesque. But I believe, even if that were not the case, Poe and Serling would have still insisted that the gore serve the story. Not the other way around.

Which brings me back to our modern times and why I feel we are enjoying a new age of elegant horror. Literarily speaking, it’s been coming for a while now. Consider Guillermo del Toro (whether in books or movies, dude kicks elegant horror ass), Thomas Harris, Anne Rice and Peter Straub. Now, don’t be snippy because I didn’t include Stephen King. I am a great admirer of Stephen King. He is legendary. But I don’t believe his work can be defined as elegant horror, even though some very elegant horror movies have been made based on his novels.

Cinematically speaking, today’s return to elegant horror occurs more often on the small screen (if you can call today’s t.v. screens small) than the great, silver one: The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, my personal favorite Hannibal and even the Netflix yawner Hemlock Grove fits the mold. Were you a fan of Dexter? I can see that.

And it should come to no one’s surprise that many of the above mentioned are riffs off elegant horror tomes. The film industry has mined the best and brightest from literature for decades, and we have all benefited.

So. What’s my point? My point is that there is, and always has been, a large audience enthralled with the kind of horror that cuts deeper than a meat clever or a chainsaw; that probes softer, more vulnerable parts of our humanity than mere muscle tissue and organs. The old masters understood how to do that. So do the contemporary masters. And I am in absolute, chilled-to-the-bone heaven to see the literary and cinematic worlds return to their senses and re-embrace them.

* * * *

Think you might be a closet elegant horror fan? Here’s some of my favorites to cut your teeth on…or deeply into your soul:

Movies: The Exorcist, Alien, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, Pumpkin Head (much ignored and underrated), Let the Right One In (the original Swedish flick), Let Me In (the British/American version of Let the Right One In), The Silence of the Lambs, The Sixth Sense, The Others

TV series: Hannibal, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful

Authors: Thomas Harris, Anne Rice (her earlier works), Peter Straub

* * * *

K.L. Nappier is the author of “The Full Wolf Moon Trilogy”, “Voyagers”, “Strange Eight” and other supernatural thrillers and dark fiction. For more information, go to www.KLNappier.com

 

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Launch Day for Iron & Blood!

Larry and I so excited to see Iron & Blood in stores and online! It’s our new Steampunk novel set in an alternative history Pittsburgh in 1898. Airships, clockwork zombies, Gatling guns, mad scientists, inventors, carriage chases and much, much more. You can read an excerpt here

GZM_Iron_and_Blood_205x330It’s still the Hawthorn Moon blog tour, and we’ve had guest blogs in a lot of places. In case you missed them, here’s where to find the scoop (and there will be more to come!):

Interview with I Smell Sheep blog
We spill secrets to RisingShadow
A look at the Pittsburgh of Iron & Blood for Daily Steampunk
The Victorians That Weren’t on GeekNative 
Why Mary Sue Must Die! For SciFiChick
Zebra Eclipse chats us up on the future of publishing
Darin Kennedy got us talking about The Charleston of Deadly Curiosities
Why are there so few older characters in fantasy?
Larry and I talk co-authoring on SitWriteBleed
WeGeekGirls wanted to know about Kickstarter publishing
FantasyBookCritic asked about literary collaboration
Magical Words found out 5 things to Remember for your Blog Tour
SFSignal asked what it’s like co-writing with your spouse

In case you missed it with the holiday, Season 2 of Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories kicked off with Shadow Garden! Haunted gardens and old family curses make for an uber-creepy good time! Order hereShadow Garden

Grab your copy of Iron & Blood at the Congregate launch party this weekend! Here’s our schedule—please make sure you come by and say hi!

Here’s our Congregate schedule:

Dead is Dead 1pm Friday
Weird Wild West (m) 4pm Friday
Defining Rogues 5pm Friday
Kickstarting Things 6pm Friday
Privilege: The Prince and the Pauper (m) 8pm Friday
Reading 9pm Friday
Dr. Who through a Woman’s Eyes 10pm Friday
Signing 10am Saturday
Live Action Slush Pile 2pm Saturday
Book Launch 4:30pm Saturday
Broad Universe Reading 8pm Saturday
Signing 10am Sunday
Absinthe and Airships 11am Sunday
Beyond Spandex Studs (m) 1pm Sunday

And it’s not just Iron & Blood’s launch week! You can grab hot new books from John Hartness, Lou Anders, Chris Kennedy, Clay and Susan Griffith and more! The Congregate launch party will have new books from John, Chris, Larry and me, Darin Kennedy, and Matthew Saunders! No excuse for not grabbing a fist-full of beach/vacation reading!

MonstersI’m involved in a couple of Kickstarters that are all active. Monsters! from Silence in the Library is all about monster stories (imagine that!) and the campaign is in its last hours. If we hit the $10K stretch goal, I get to write a story for it. Here’s the link to become a backer.

The Side of Good/The Side of Evil is a flipbook of heroes and villains. I’m writing a villain story, so please take a look! Good-Evil

Can you imagine a superhero nursing home for crime-fighters who are past their prime? Elysian Springs: Adventures from the Superhero Nursing Home can! I’ll have a story in it, so check it out here.Elysian

Next up after Congregate is Confluence in Pittsburgh, with another Iron & Blood book launch party and a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Cranberry, PA. Come by and say hello!

 

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Demons, Werewolves, and Zombies, Oh My

by Kelly Swails

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I took on the challenge of editing the Monsters! anthology. I knew I’d get some solid stories by talented authors, but the depth and breadth of those stories impressed me. The stories that play with familiar tropes like zombies and demons do so in unique ways. Several stories touch on the idea that the real monsters in the world reside within us. Some make you laugh, some make you think, and they’re all worth your time. It was an honor to edit these stories, and it makes me happy to see it out in the world. Be sure to back the kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/monsters-the-anthology) so you can be one of the first to discover how this group of authors tackle the monster theme.

 

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Annual Hawthorn Moon Blog Tour is Bigger and Better Than Ever!

I&B final coverIt’s time for the annual Hawthorn Moon blog tour to celebrate our two new books (and one more coming up!) plus share some guest posts, do some fun giveaways and online parties and connect!

What’s all the fuss about? Well, two new books and more! War of Shadows, Book #3 in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, came out in April. If you liked Ice Forged and Reign of Ash, you won’t want to miss it! And on July 7, Iron and Blood, the new steampunk book co-authored with my husband, Larry N. Martin, comes out from Solaris Books–and it’s set in an alternative history Pittsburgh! I guarantee you, it’s chock-full of explosions and gunfire.

Do you need more? I’ve got new upcoming conventions and signings, new short stories and novellas, new giveaways and cool stuff! It’s a week-long party, and my readers get all the goodies!

War of Shadows

War of Shadows

The blog tour got its name from a holiday in The Summoner, my first Chronicles of the Necromancer book, which took place on the summer solstice. And the name stuck. So–celebrate the solstice with some new books, new insights, and plenty of goings-on!

On June 25, I’m hosing an all-day live Facebook Launch Party with a few dozen of my author friends. We’ll be having a grand time–and you’re invited! In fact, bring all your friends! The more the merrier. My author guests will be sharing contests and giveaways plus excerpts and freebies. It’s going to be FUN!

10:30 – 11 Me
11 – 11:30 Jeanne Adams
11:30 – Noon Joshua Palmatier
Noon – 12:30 Keith DeCandido
12:30 – 1 Anthology round-up
1-1:30 Janine Spendlove
1:30 – 2 Alex Matsuo
2-2:30 Stuart Jaffe
2:30 – 3 Me
3 – 3:30 John Hartness
3:30 – 4 Michael Sullivan
4-4:30 ZNB
4:30 – 5 MB Weston
5-5:30 TBD
5:30 – 6 JeanMarie Ward
5:50—Me—giveaway announcement
6-6:30 Michael Ventrella
6:30 – 7 Clay and Susan Griffith
7-7:30 Misty Massey
7:30 – 8 Broad Universe
8-8:30 Alexandra Christian
8:30 – 9 Kelly Harmon
9-9:30 Pete Prellwitz
9:30 – 10 Danielle Ackley McPhail
10-10:30 Tee Morris
10:30-11 Me

I’ll also be posting a giveaway on Reddit/Fantasy with some copies of Iron and Blood and War of Shadows. Stay tuned to this blog or my Twitter and Facebook pages to find out when and where.

What’s a blog tour without blog posts? I’ll be a guest on a bunch of blogs throughout North America and Europe over the next week or so–here are some of the sites that are hosting my posts! Check back here and on Twitter, because I’ll add links to the posts as they go live.

RisingShadow.net
GeekNative
ZebraEclipse
SciFiChick
I Smell Sheep
Daily Steampunk
Orbit Books
Solaris Books
No More Grumpy Bookseller
Geekerati
SFF World
Fantasy Faction
The Qwillery
Fantasy Book Critic
SF Signal
Sit Write Bleed
Disquieting Visions
Magical Words
Ghost InTheMachine Podcast
With more to be added!

That’s what’s coming up–you won’t want to miss a thing! And if you want to catch up with me live and in-person at a convention or signings, check out my schedule on the events page.

See you at the online party!

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War of Shadows Is Now In Stores!

Blaine McFadden is back, and the bad guys are badder than ever! Broken magic. Power-hungry vampires. Evil mages. Battling warlords. War of Shadows is now in stores and online in trade paper and ebook—my darkest and grittiest adventure ever!

War of Shadows

War of Shadows

War of Shadows is Book 3 in Blaine McFadden’s Ascendant Kingdom’s Saga. Here’s the recap: Blaine “Mick” McFaden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath. While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent. McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long- awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king. Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out …

And since a picture says a thousand words, this is the book video

There are a few days left on the Goodreads giveaway

You can find an excerpt plus links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Chapter/Indigo, Waterstones and Kobo here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/books/the-ascendant-kingdoms-saga/war-of-shadows/

What Reviewers are saying about War of Shadows

If you are an epic fantasy lover, then this is a series you should try!—Exploding Spaceship Reviews

Packed with action, politics, magic, and monsters, this is epic fantasy writ large—Barnes & Noble

“War of Shadows is a rousing adventure full of action, intrigue, danger, and suspense. It’s epic fantasy at its best, filled with vivid magic but grounded by real human emotion.”
—Aaron Rosenberg, author of the bestselling Adventures of DuckBob Spinowitz series

“This book kept me reading long past my bed time. As always, Gail Z. Martin delivers Epic Fantasy as it was meant to be read: gripping, action packed, and larger than life. A delight for any fan of the genre!”—Rachel Aaron, author of The Spirit Thief

“A vivid, engrossing tapestry woven from epic heroism, post apocalypse struggles, perilous magic and darkest fantasy. A distinct and distinctive achievement”.
–Juliet McKenna, author of The Tales of Einarinn

“Which of these things are on your epic fantasy checklist: Intense action in the first few pages which then carries right through to the last? Vivid battle scenes? Characters that combine the best of classic archetypes with fresh new twists? Snappy dialogue? Exciting world building? If you’ve checked even half of these items, then you owe it to yourself to check out Gail Z. Martin’s War of Shadows. It’s heroic adventure at it’s rollicking finest.”
–Charles E. Gannon, author of Fire With Fire

“With a large cast of satisfying characters, Gail Z. Martin masterfully presents an epic struggle between the forces of life and the forces of death in a world of broken magic.”
—James Maxey, author of Greatshadow on War of Shadows

“High mage magic, thrilling battles and heart-thudding adventure – yet another superb fantasy tale from Gail Z. Martin!”
– Andy Remic, author of The Iron Wolves on War of Shadows

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Q&A with Megan O’Russell – Part Three

1. What is the title of your newest book or short story? What’s it about? Where can readers find it?

The Siren’s Realm. It’s book two in The Tethering Series. The Siren’s Realm in a Young Adult Urban Fantasy about magic, danger, and the consequences of love.

Jacob loves Emilia Gray, but things aren’t always that simple in the world of Magickind…

The war has begun.

The Dragons are gaining power, and the Gray Clan stands alone. Desperate to find a way to stop the Pendragon, Emilia is forced to seek answers from someone who hasn’t been seen in seventeen years . . . Her mother. Embarking on a magical journey filled with witches, wizards, centaurs and a dangerous and powerful Siren, Jacob and Emilia must take a leap of faith to a land neither could have ever imagined . . . and hope they can then find their way home.

2. What’s your favorite part of writing a new book or story? What do you like the least?

The Siren’s Realm is my first sequel. My favorite part was getting to see my characters again. It was like visiting old friends. Delving deeper into their stories was amazing. I especially loved pushing the relationship between Jacob and Emilia even further.

My least favorite part was trying to find ways to reintroduce information from book one that is necessary for book two. I’m not a fan of info dumps, so trying to find creative ways to slip in the rules of the magical world was a challenge. In the end, it was fun. But it took a lot of tea to get there.

3. How do you research your stories?

For The Siren’s Realm I spent a lot of time researching different locations. What mountain something happens on. How to access it. How long a particular road is. I really wanted to make sure that, even though The Siren’s Realm is a fantasy novel, the bits that are based in the real world are believable. I put quite a bit of time into researching old legends and myths. I like to know what the purest form of a centaur is before I decide how I want to build mine. I also spent a lot of time on the spell language with the help of my lovely husband and chief linguist Christopher Russell.

4. Where can readers find you on social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library T hing, Redd It, etc.)

Add The Tethering to your Goodreads list at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21480311-the-tethering?from_search=true
Add The Siren’s Realm to your Goodreads list at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23445448-the-siren-s-realm
Follow Megan O’Russell on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor
Twitter @MeganORussell
Or TSU https://www.tsu.co/MeganORussell
Visit the Silence in the Library website: http://www.silenceinthelibrarypublishing.com/
Megan’s blog and website can be found at MeganORussell.com

5. What do you read for fun?

Just about anything. Right now I’m reading a beach themed book to try and remind myself that summer will come again. I’m also on a big geography and cartography binge. One of my new projects involves cartography, and it’s become a bit of an obsession. If it’s about making maps, I want to read it.

Click here to listen to a reading of The Siren’s Realm on our sister site.

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Q&A with Megan O’Russell – Part Two

Megan Orlowski Headshot Reduced Size

1. What’s your favorite part of writing a new book or story? What do you like the least?

My favorite part of writing a new book is learning the rules of the world. Figuring out what the rules of society or, in the case of The Tethering, the rules of magic are is fascinating to me. I love finding a problem and creating a whole new way to solve it while getting to know my characters better.

My least favorite part is teaching my fingers to type a new protagonist’s name. I’m not the best typist, and teaching my fingers to type Margret quickly was terrible.

For The Tethering I did a lot of research on old fables of magic. I also climbed a mountain to make sure it would work for the story and did a lot of research on Latin roots of words with my husband, who is chief spell linguist for The Tethering.

2. Who are your favorite fictional characters—your own, and from other books, TV shows and movies?

My favorite fictional character of my own would have to be Jacob Evans of The Tethering Series. He is the heart of the story. However, Claire is another favorite just for her snarky sense of humor. She is from The Tethering and featured in my short story At the Corner of the Garden Wall in Athena’s Daughters 2.

As for favorites in others works, I love Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia. I adore Septimus and Niko in the Septimus Heap series. And I really love Balthazar Blake in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Hiccup and Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon.

3. What do you read for fun?

I usually read fantasy and mystery, but I really love a good sci-fi or romance as well. It’s really just whatever catches my interest at the moment. Right now, I’m reading a novel from the Star Trek Universe.

4. Was there a book you read in your childhood or teen years that changed your world? Tell us which book and how it made a difference for you.

I would have to say The Chronicles of Narnia. I read them every few years and gain something new from them every time. Seeing how much a book can affect someone made me want to write, and I find new wonder in the series every time I go back to it. Further up and further in. Let the world grow with each step forward.

Click here to listen to a reading of The Tethering on our sister site.

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Q&A with Megan O’Russell

Megan Orlowski Headshot Reduced SizeWhat is the title of your newest book or short story? What’s it about? Where can readers find it?

My newest short story is At the Corner of the Garden Wall, which is a part of the Athena’s Daughters 2 anthology, currently up for preorder on Kickstarter.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-volume-2/description

How did you choose to become a writer?

I really didn’t. I’m an actor by trade, so I spend all my time living in imaginary worlds. During a not so artistically-fulfilling production, I began to write a story. It was about a boy who was all alone, waiting for a girl to come back. Finding out who that boy was and helping him became The Tethering. The same sort of thing has happened with all my projects. I write because I want to tell a story.

What inspired your new book or story?

When I found out about the open submissions for Athena’s Daughters 2, I knew I wanted to write something from the world of The Tethering. Figuring out who to write about was a challenge. I was afraid of creating spoilers in the series, and that left me with very few choices. My favorite character in the series is Claire, a twelve-year-old witch who is sarcastic, funny, and loves all things pink. I was afraid that she wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the characters in Athena’s Daughters 2, but a good friend encouraged me to write about her anyway. I did, and At the Corner of the Garden Wall was born. All about Claire, and a pink cat.

Where can readers find you on social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Thing, Redd It, etc.)

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor

On Twitter https://twitter.com/MeganORussell

My website and blog MeganORussell.com

On TSU https://www.tsu.co/MeganORussell

And on goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8061709.Megan_O_Russell

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Sit down and write. Don’t worry about commas or where in the room the couch is. Just tell your story. Get it all out. Then either you’ll feel finished (getting a whole story out is a huge accomplishment), or you’ll want your characters to go out into the world. If you want your story read, then you begin revisions and edits. But that’s a problem for another day. First, just write.

Click here to listen to a reading from Megan on our sister site.

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Q&A with Tish E. Pahl

crow_smWhat is the title of your short story?  What’s it about?  Where can readers find it?

My new short story, Crow Bait and Switch, is part of the Athena’s Daughters, Volume 2 anthology to be published by Silence in the Library Publishing.  Athena’s Daughters, Volume 2 is a collection of short works of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction written by women, edited by women, illustrated by women, and about women and girls.  The diverse stories, written by very diverse authors, celebrate women and girls of all ages and races, abilities and physical attributes.

Athena’s Daughters, Volume 2 is being funded via Kickstarter.  We are at the end of the campaign and we really hope that you will support this fantastic anthology that gives under-represented characters a voice in exciting stories.  Our Kickstarter page is here.

What inspired Crow Bait and Switch?

My last published fiction was in Star Wars Gamer over ten years ago with my awesome co-author, Chris Cassidy. Though I have written lots (and lots and lots) of derivative work for 20 years, my last original story was for a writers’ workshop with the late Aaron Allston. Aaron was very much on everyone’s mind at Origins 2014 and, while there, I summoned his positive spirit (and my courage) and participated in a writing seminar with Mike Stackpole and Tim Zahn, who had both been so supportive when I was writing and working with them in Star Wars.  Also at Origins, Janine Spendlove, one of the editors of Athena’s Daughters, Volume 2, told me that Silence in the Library Publishing had an open call for short stories for the anthology and encouraged me to submit something.

With this collective encouragement, I began Crow Bait and Switch by dusting off the story I had written for Aaron’s workshop. The USDA Beagle inspector with a nose for maggots and rotten Sicilian cheese became a bossy, genetically engineered Border Collie. In addition to loving dogs and enjoying giving a literal voice to them in my writing, I am also very fond of the family corvidae, to which crows, magpies, and other canny birds belong. I have seen these advanced tool users steal car keys and flashing lights. As such, it was not surprising that, in the tradition of her astonishingly clever forbears, Morgana, the Jurassic Park-quoting, talking crow, flew into Crow Bait and Switch and stole it from everyone else.

Who are your favorite fictional characters—your own, and from other books, TV shows and movies?

Although I have many favorites, across many genres, examples of some of my favorite fictional characters are on display in Crow Bait and Switch.  I love talking sentient animals, like the dragons in Temeraire and Dragonriders of Pern, the Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny, the talking dogs in 101 Dalmatians, and the birds and beasts in the Chronicles of Narnia.  Science fiction also gives us genetically modified, fully sentient animals in stories like the Planet of the Apes, the Island of Dr. Moreau, and Startide Rising.  In Crow Bait and Switch, the animal tricksters of folklore, like Coyote, Reynard, Anansi, and Brer Rabbit,  are as much Morgana’s forbears as the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

With these many favorites and inspirations, what I especially wanted to do in Crow Bait and Switch was to write characters like Morgana, not as a human with feathers, but as a real bird who also happens to be fully sentient.  In the story, the main protagonist, Dr. Jesse Harris, will realize that though Morgana speaks like a human, nothing about her is the least bit human. Morgana is a bird, truly alien, and far closer to dinosaurs than to any humans.  Morgana will prompt a crisis of conscience that will force Jesse to decide whether she stands with the Pan-Laurasian Fleet or with those who don’t have opposable thumbs.

Thank you again and I hope you’ll support the Athena’s Daughters, Volume 2 Kickstarter!

Listen to a special reading of Crow Bait and Switch on our sister site by clicking here.

* * *
Tish E. Pahl is a principal in a law firm.  At her day job, she advises on the federal regulation of drugs, dietary supplements, cosmetics, foods, and medical devices and regularly teaches a crash course in drug law.  With Chris Cassidy, Tish wrote for Star Wars, with stories published in the Tales from the New Republic and Star Wars Gamer magazine.  Tish is also a prolific producer of derivative genre, fantasy, and science fiction content.  She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband, son, and two demanding dogs.

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My Wild, Wild Weird Wild West Secret Connection

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk. So what am I doing in the Weird Wild West Kickstarter anthology?

neon cowboy

 

Well, technically, the Wild West happened during the ‘steampunk’ years—our Civil War era and Westward expansion happened while England was having its Victorian period.

And the two Department of Supernatural Investigation agents you may have met in my stories in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk Vs. Aliens and Dreams of Steel 5, who also play a big role in Iron and Blood (our new steampunk novel coming in July) would have been out West during part of the Cowboy Era.

But here’s the real connection—my parents were Sioux. No, really—I know I don’t look it, but it’s true. And here’s the story about how a city kid from Reading, PA fulfilled a life-long dream to witness a vanishing history, meet survivors from the Battle of Little Big Horn and get adopted into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

My parents on their adoption day

My parents on their adoption day

My dad, Dr. Luther R. Zehner, was born in 1923, and he fell in love with Native American lore when he was growing up in a row house in the textile mill town of Reading.  Wild West stories like the Lone Ranger and books by authors like Will James and Frank Linderman sparked his imagination.  He was inspired by tales of adventurers and explorers who left the cities of the East and learned the ways and language of Native Americans, and that inspiration changed the course of his life.

Dad graduated from Juniata College and earned his medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia.  He finished his residency in Surgery at Harrisburg Hospital, Dr. Zehner married his college sweetheart, Frances—my mom–in August of 1949.  Together, they headed for Standing Rock Reservation near Fort Yates, ND, where Dad had received a staff appointment as a physician in the reservation hospital, and Mom had been hired to teach in the reservation school. (This was 13 years before I was born, so I missed it!)

Mom and Dad fully embraced the culture of the Lakota (Sioux) with whom they worked.  Dad learned to speak the Sioux language, and forged deep friendships with tribal elders Alex Sage, Patrick Rattling Hail and Judge Francis B. Zahn.  It was at Standing Rock where they also met and became close personal friends with photographer Frank Bennett Fiske and he and his wife, Angela.Collector

Dad sought out the oldest members of the tribe, and recorded their oral histories, encouraging them to recount legends and stories and to talk about life before the reservation. He recorded their songs and drumming on audio tape and with a film camera, and interviewed the survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn, who were by then in their 90s. One of the most thrilling moments of his life was going out to the Custer battlefield with an elderly Native American battle survivor who gave him a first-hand account of what it was like on that day long ago.

Members of the tribe noted the passion and respect Dad and Mom had for their culture.  Dad was also deeply aware that the legacy of the elders seemed to be slipping away in the busy post-war period.  He began to purchase artifacts, documenting the history of the pieces in his journals and with his camera.  He was particularly interested in pieces from the late 1900s and the early part of the Twentieth Century, and in items made according to the old ways by contemporary craftspeople.

In July of 1950, my parents were adopted into the Sioux tribe in a formal ceremony.  Frank Fiske took photos of them dressed in full authentic ceremonial clothing. Custer battle survivor Spotted Bear “gave” Dad his tribal name so that Luther became “Spotted Bear.”  Mom’s new name translated as “Morning Star.”

Mom passed away in 2009 at age 89, and Dad died at age 90 in 2013. He passed away just three weeks after a Native American delegation came to the nursing home where he resided to honor his birthday with drumming and dancing.

You can see the photo of Dad and Mom on their tribal adoption day , along with some fun graphics about the Weird Wild West anthology. And here’s the interview I did with the Weird Wild West publisher about my inspiration: https://especbooks.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/author-spotlight-gail-z-martin-the-weird-wild-west/

WildWildWest

By the way—there’s still time to fund the anthology and get 12 extra rewards, including a sneak peek chapter from our new Iron and Blood novel, my Deadly Curiosities Adventures story Collector and The Final Death, as well as a 400 pg. steampunk & zombie book!  There’s still time to jump on the covered wagon and pony up a couple of greenbacks!

Here’s the Weird Wild West Kickstarter link to learn more, see the rewards and become a backer: http://kck.st/1udizgM

http://kck.st/1udizgM

Steampunk & Cowboys!

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