Hi friends! Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the lovely, and very talented author, Selah Janel. It just so happens to be SELAH’S BIRTHDAY today, so make sure you all wish her a very happy and prosperous one!! She’ll be taking over my blog here in a few to talk with you all about writing influences, novel ideas, and her co-author experiment with S.H. Roddey, Lost In The Shadows. But before I let her take the controls, I want to give you all a little taste of that very experiment. Check it out!
Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation. In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways. Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.
Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.
Genre: various speculative genres
Length: 300 pages
Format: Kindle, Paperback (Nook and PDF available from authors)
Publisher: Published by the authors
Now that I’ve got your tastebuds working, or at least your imagination teased, I’m going to let Selah Janel tell you all about how this little gem came about. Make sure to read all the way to the end for excerpts, buy links, and ways to stalk both authors.
Featured Guest Post by Selah Janel
Do you ever have those moments where you find yourself staring at something or someone, and then get caught and have to explain that you were someplace else? That’s how I live most of my life—caught between the present and wherever it suddenly propels me. Ideas are beautiful things and I’m constantly inspired by everything: a painting, the chord sequence or lyric in a song, the cracks in a sidewalk, a photo, someone’s tattoo winding up their arm, the pattern falling leaves make on the grass. Sometimes this can be frustrating, because I’m never at a loss for things I want to flesh out and WRITE RIGHT NOW, but it’s also a blessing. My cup is always full and I’m never allowed to go thirsty; if anything, I need to super-size the cup! I don’t mind letting my mind wander and explore the what-ifs, and I’m not particularly offended if they don’t form into a long-winded epic, a novel-length idea, or even a full story. Sometimes, it’s fun to let the mind wander and wonder.
One of my biggest literary influences is Ray Bradbury. I discovered him while in college when I checked out Something Wicked This Way Comes and fell in love with the intense sequences and sometimes claustrophobic descriptions. It’s a beautiful work of horror. Fast forward a few years later while I was working a summer theatre gig on the Outer Banks, and I happened into one of those disappearing yet amazing independent bookshops. The owners graciously let me hang out for hours in the back room, plopped in an armchair and surrounded by full, chittering bird cages and local artwork on display. On one such visit I took home The October Country and stayed up all night reading it. My mind was cracked open with the possibilities! What I love about Bradbury is that unlike a lot of dark fiction authors, he doesn’t always lay everything out for you. He doesn’t specifically say what happens, but rather conveys it via ending descriptions. Sometimes he takes you right up to the final moment then stops. It takes you a few moments to figure out where he’s leading you, but when you figure it out, it’s almost a visceral (and for me, vocal) reaction. I love that. I love being seen as an intelligent reader, a person who’s capable of making up her own mind, and maybe even wondering what happens to other people in the story. I feel like out of every author I adore, I probably connect the most to Bradbury, because there’s that intelligent trust and emotional outburst of description and characterization.
As an author, I can assure you that not every idea is franchise-worthy, or even novel-worthy. Sometimes a scene is just that: a vignette, a moment in time. And why shouldn’t it be? Why shouldn’t someone write about something that fascinates them in that moment, whether it leads to a full story or not? And why shouldn’t those things be read? Why does everything have to fit exactly into little boxes of word counts or even genre definitions? Surely, surely, if there’s enough breadcrumbs, there are people curious enough to follow, people who don’t mind letting their minds wonder and wander, even if they reach conclusions different than my own.
My friend S.H Roddey and I have similar feelings on the matter, so we decided to experiment. We realized that we each had piles of stories on our hard drives: vignettes and moments in times, reactions to concepts, full stories that were an elusive blur of genres, flash fiction that took you right to the edge of the cliff and let the reader decide whether they would leap off or back away. There were literary speculative pieces that were close to weird tale but not quite, horror pieces that obliterated any and all attempts at limits and shackles, sci-fi pieces full of more heart and emotion than hard technology, and fairy tales that got a second wind in unusual ways. What to do with them?
We decided to take a leap of faith and see if readers today shared the love that got us both into reading and writing in the first place: a love affair with words, an intimate passion for ideas. We wanted to put our efforts together and see what happened. The result is an unusual collection of stories, to be sure, but it’s one that we hope gets people thinking, wondering, dreaming, and feeling.
After all, isn’t that what reading is all about?
Beltane in the Modern World
It was a dark and stormy night and the fairies took over the stripper pole. It was the only recourse when Beltane fell on a moonless, rainy eve and the last Maypole in town had been bulldozed decades ago to make way for a rest stop. It wasn’t the best solution, to be sure, but tradition had to be kept and the local strip was closer to the Faerie mound than the nearest field. Quietly, they emerged from what unsuspecting mortals took to be an over-sized speed bump misplaced in a back alley. Through the years they had adapted to life in the city, so pixies and elves, brownies and sylphs, redcaps and trolls emerged from their underworld home, all dressed for a night in the seedier part of town.
They grouped together in a lump, all staring up at the flashing sign for Tit-tania’s with eyes that were blue, green, yellow, orange, and black. Round and slit pupils widened and contracted at the convenient name. It was all the sign they needed that they were where they needed to be.
The mortals inside never knew what hit them, especially when gold coins pelted the dancers into fleeing the stage. The elfin maidens who took their places may have been dressed in club wear, but they moved with the grace of the ages-old and whirled around the poles with a fire and grace that no mortal could replicate. Pixies swirled about their heads like sparks of light, so fast that their movements burned a trail of an after-image around the dancers’ heads and shapely figures, the brilliant streaks mingling with the long, swishing hair.
The brownies chugged beer since no ale was available, and trolls watched gaping mortal men out of the corner of their eyes. The age of sacrifice and tithe was over, but if one of the humans reached a grubby hand towards a Fae maiden, then they were more than happy to remind the fool why they were unworthy.
Businessmen, young men who were barely out of boyhood, old men with nothing better to do…they all gaped in awe at the display going on around them. After a while, the creatures in the audience joined hands and circled the perimeter of the club in a dance as old as time. A particularly mischievous sprite cut off the blasting music and poised itself at the edge of the stage, pipes in hand. Another soon joined it with a lyre, and another with a lute. A pixie produced a hand drum and joined the makeshift band, providing a joyful, driving rhythm. The sweet music drew the spurned human women back towards the stage to watch, tears streaming down their faces as they viewed the elegance they’d never have. Their human audience stared, unable to reach for wallets. They didn’t need to. Their admiration was something the celebrating Folk hadn’t had for a long, long time.
Into the night they danced and celebrated, invoking envy, nostalgia, and a heartbreak for the old days. Troll and lawyers guzzled liquor together, brownies hit on strippers jokingly, hobgoblins compared notes with the manager, and all celebrated and danced to the ancient music, enjoying the holiday though most mortals in the place didn’t remember that it existed.
Just as fast as the Folk had arrived, they disappeared. Leaves were left where their coins had fallen and none of the club’s patrons could rightly remember what had happened or how much time had passed. They only had a strange memory of joy and an even stranger heartbreak of missing something they could not name.
From the front it appeared no different than any other house on the 200-block of Downing Street – a well-kept two story monument standing as a proud testament to pre-1900’s architecture. Festive decorations adorned the front porch while spooky blow-up caricatures lined the steps like undead marching soldiers. Even a pumpkin graced the front lawn, hiding inside it a peeping Frankenstein. Orange and black lights blinked along the trim of the wide porch day and night without fail. Hidden in the front hedges was a motion sensor that exuded an eerie laugh each time someone passed by. Many people paused to gaze at the spectacle. Some took pictures, but nobody ever stopped. Just because it was six days after Halloween with no change in scenery didn’t mean the still-standing decorations were that unusual.
No, it just meant that the owners of the house were dead.
If the passersby were to look closely they would have noticed that the broken door jamb was real, and that the dark trail marring the bright-white boards of the steps was blood, and it led across the threshold. If they were to push open the ruined door they would notice other things out of place – a broken crystal goblet and an overturned bottle of scotch to start. The trail would continue through the house into the kitchen where a once-beautiful blonde woman lay, face up in a pool of blood that had long-since oozed from the angry gash across her throat. From there bloody footprints would lead upstairs where her husband lay sprawled on the landing, almost completely disemboweled. Intestines would be strung along the banister much like the lights out front. His eyes would still be open, staring sightlessly ahead.
But nobody would witness these gruesome sights, because nobody paid attention. Nobody would stop to see what was wrong. Nobody would care.
At least, not until Christmas.
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. Her e-books The Other Man and Holly and Ivy are published through Mocha Memoirs Press with more to come. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, the anthology The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil from Dark Oak Press, and the upcoming anthology Thunder on the Battlefield from Seventh Star Press. Olde School, the first book in her new series The Kingdom City Chronicles is scheduled to release from Seventh Star Press later this year. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
Catch up with Selah at the Following Places:
Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel
South Carolina native S.H. Roddey has been writing for fun since she was a child and still enjoys building worlds across the speculative fiction spectrum filled with mystery and intrigue. She brings to the literary world a unique blend of humor, emotion, and wild ideas filled with dark themes and strong characters. In addition to writing she is also a voracious reader, wanna-be chef, and video game addict with two full-time jobs: administrative social media professional, and mom to two cats, a teenager, and a precocious toddler with an affinity for computer keyboards.
For more information on Susan, her imagination, and the things she writes:
Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? I want to thank both Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey for letting us in on all this greatness, and especially Selah for taking the time to stop by and give us all the behind-the-scenes info. Thank you both!!!
Before I leave, I have a special gift for Selah…
Damn, that looks good, doesn’t it? Hope you like chocolate, Selah! If not, feel free to hand it on over, I’ll take care of it for you 🙂 Have a fabulous birthday, hon!