Aithne is a warrior kidnapped from her homeland during a Viking invasion and forced to marry her captor. Shortly before the raid that claims his life, she becomes pregnant with a child whom she believes cursed. Spurred by the dark sorcery she learns from relics her late husband’s mother left behind—including a magic mirror—Aithne descends into a madness that threatens not only her child’s life but also the lives of everyone around her.
Exiled by her mother, Brenna is taken in by a clan of dwarves who treat her like their own. They soon learn that no one is immune to Aithne’s lunacy—not even the prince to whom Brenna was once betrothed. Brenna must face and conquer death itself if she is to save the land that rightfully belongs to her, and to break her mother’s terrible spell on the man she loves.
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Mitzi Weinhaus is the talentless daughter of two Munich Kabarett stars. One night, in an underground club that has so far escaped Nazi detection, she meets the enigmatic singer Giselle, who offers her the chance to be a hero. All Mitzi has to do is infiltrate the notorious Dachau death camp, but she won’t have to do it alone.
Teamed up with the mysterious Wolfrik, for whom she develops an alarming attraction, Mitzi soon finds herself ensnared in a world of secret societies, super-soldiers, monsters, and gods. Double-crossed on all sides, it is up to her to save her parents from certain death–and to save her heart from one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
This week I’m celebrating the sale of my novelette Beautiful Things to Fox & Raven Publishing. I figured it was the perfect time to post about the sub-genre in which Beautiful Things exists, that of dieselpunk. An offshoot of cyberpunk, dieselpunk lives in the shadow of its more famous cousin, steampunk. Wikipedia notes that “Dieselpunk is an art style based on the aesthetics popular between World War I and the end of World War II. The style combines the artistic and genre influences of the period (including pulp magazines, serial films, film noir, art deco, and wartime pin-ups) with postmodern technology and sensibilities.” My story, set several years before World War II, features art deco, jazz, secret societies, Nazis, werewolves, and diesel-based technology. I have to admit, it was absurdly fun to write. Here are a few images that inspired objects appearing in the story, just to give you an idea of the aesthetics:
Why dieselpunk? Well, every now and then I get the crazy idea to experiment in another genre. The original story started out as horror, but I wasn’t happy with it. I loved the imagery of dieselpunk, and it fit my story’s time period. I envisioned an alternate, art-deco Munich; werewolves on motorcycles; Nazi experiments with super-soldiers; and diesel-fueled airships sweeping over the cities and death camps. Despite all that, it somehow manages to be arguably the funniest thing I’ve ever written. I had originally intended to submit Beautiful Things to a dieselpunk anthology a couple years ago but didn’t finish it in time. Gradually it grew into a novelette, and the good news is that eventually I plan to write further adventures for my intrepid heroine and her favorite werewolf.
For all you ever wanted to know about dieselpunk, visit Dieselpunks.
So my plan was to talk to Jonathan Maberry at the Writers Coffeehouse in Philly this past Sunday, but as luck (of the bad kind) would have it, he’s been battling the flu for several weeks and could not attend. This post is therefore not going to be quite as interesting as I had intended. I sincerely hope that Jonathan feels better soon!
I saw The Wolfman, the remake of the classic 1941 Lon Chaney movie, once early last year and promptly forgot most of it. The novelization is, as I expected, much more engaging. Jonathan uses some lovely turns of phrase, and I also enjoyed the way in which he tied the ancient myths of the Goddess of the Hunt to the Wolfman’s transformation. As far as archetypal monsters go, I truly feel that the werewolf has not been done justice; read the book The Beast Within by Adam Douglas, and you’ll see what I mean. Most stories that involve werewolves (there is a sorry lack of good fiction specifically about this creature) have followed a pattern similar to The Wolfman; they focus on the physical transformation rather than the mythic and psychological aspects that make it such a fascinating monster. Two recent treatments that I found fairly compelling have occurred not in film or fiction but–you guessed it–in video games. Both Dragon Age: Origins and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim feature werewolf quests that speak to this mythic nature, with echoes of a past in which the line between human and beast was not so clearly drawn.
Though, being an editor, I found myself editing in my head whenever a word was repeated, a sensory barrier used, or a sentence written as passive when it could have been active, Maberry wrote a perfectly acceptable novelization given the source material. I found both Gwen and Lawrence to be rather unlikeable given how soon after Ben’s death they’re pawing at each other (as it were), but again, that’s the fault of the source. The character that held my attention the most was Sir John; he is an experienced hunter who has seen countless animals roaming their natural habitat. After years of having Singh lock him up during the full moon, he realizes that the urges of the werewolf are no less natural than those animals he has hunted. He is a predator hunting his prey, no more and no less. That the prey is human, and that not being at the top of the food chain is unacceptable to most humans, is always the werewolf’s downfall.
Maberry was obviously limited in what he could do with this particular story, since it had to follow the movie script. The novel served its purpose in that sense, but I’d be much more interested in reading his own take on the werewolf legend.