Tag Archives: reading

Changing the world, one word at a time.

I have been thinking about evolution and change a lot lately. That may have to do slightly with the shapeshifting lizard people I have created for the Comyenti Series. They are on my mind as I’m about to embark writing the sci-fi prequel to the series. It crossed my mind how some creatures here on Earth have, more or less, stayed the same over a hundred million years (as they had no cause to change) and others had to adapt quicker and change drastically to fit in with their new environment.

We are unmistakably still subject to evolution ourselves in appearance and intellect.

Scientists have confirmed humans have not escaped nature’s clutches and put a halt on natural selection. Of course. A halt in evolution simply wouldn’t be possible. As long as people have offspring natural selection continues to happen. For example, over time, Dutch people have grown taller because of a natural preference for tall partners who then have taller children and so on. Our intestines can digest baby food (milk) better than we could four thousand years ago when people first started to make cow’s cheese, although it is still unnatural and hostile to our adult bodies and most people are therefore lactose intolerant (not to mention the fact it’s cruel to those mammals such as cows and goats as the dairy industry is a nightmare on earth). Our teeth and jaws have stopped growing to become more powerful because we started to cook our food so it’s softer and easier to chew. And my personal favourite: our eyes apparently are still changing slowly since we emerged out of the water millions of years ago! Our vision is not as clear as it should be! That explains a lot!

Evolution can in some cases take a long time, in other cases more rapidly.

We, as a species I believe, still have a long way to go. In body and spirit. Imagine if we could do what some other mammals or birds can such as dolphins, elephants, geese or bats for example. Communicate over great distances with no device other than their own bodies, have an inbuilt magnet to always find your way home, have x-ray eyes to spot diseases etc. Instead, we rely heavily on machines for these things. It is clever we have invented devices to do so, but it is only through mimicking what other animals already naturally did. The sad part is that we people tend to rely on these devices ever since. So much so, I believe, it stands true evolution in the way. Computers, GPS, mobile phones have a dark side with the radiation they emit. Oh, but I digress.

Evolution. Change. I sometimes get confronted, as we all do, how some people seem so stuck in their ways and thinking they have stopped using their brain and their own judgement. Evolution does not only happen to bodies over thousands of years, it also happens within. Other than non-human animals who had to change due to their ever evolving environment and have certainly bypassed us in many ways, most humans seem simply unwilling to if given a chance. If given the choice, and they are every day, people rather stick to what they know, what they have been taught, despite the consequences and thus continue to act like it. Even if it means the destruction of our planet for example to name just one light subject . . . Or is it something more than that? Perhaps it’s more due to old habits, pride and tradition than reluctance. Remember, humans only need a push sometimes, especially if others are “doing it” and if something is popular (even if it’s wrong, tests have shown people are followers and feel safer in groups rather than think for themselves). Trends are an example of this and how most people feel they need to have whatever other people have.

By reading fiction one gets exposed to other ways of thinking, of change in a different way, especially speculative fiction. It can be educational and refreshing to read what comes from other minds in the form of fantastic stories. Stories we can relate to, open our eyes, and which protagonist say what we think or want to say, or sometimes we are surprised how a story can change our way of thinking. It can even contribute to our growth. One of my readers even admitted how after reading ‘Quarterling’ had made him think more about his food choices from now on. That is good enough for me. Authors can certainly change people’s way of thinking, how hard it initially may seem. But not unless the reader is already willing and on a certain path.

One other way is through movies or series. Since Netflix came into my life a whole new world has opened up to me. I am pleasantly surprised of what it has to offer. Apart from some great movies there are some brilliant series on there that are worth watching. My tendency goes towards the speculative so series and documentaries such as Black Mirror, 12 Monkeys, Touch, Sense8, Star Trek Discovery, Travelers, Dark, Erased, Innsaei, Cosmos, Saimdang, Secret Healer and Anne with an E just to name a few are among my top 20. I would definitely recommended those series.

To stay with the theme of change especially two series come to mind straight away and what they had to say about change.

One of my favourite series is Anne with an E by Emmy-winning writer-producer Moira Walley-Becket. With themes such as search for identity, bullying, prejudice, diversity, being an outsider, to belong and to be accepted, every episode has much to offer a wide audience. The Canadian drama is loosely based on the 1908 novel “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M Montgomery, featuring a young, complex orphan with deep passions for life and people. With her fresh view of the world and eagerness to share it in fanciful language at every opportunity, she affects the hearts and minds of everyone she meets. In the small village of Avonlea, unmarried, aging siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, expected a boy who could help them on their farm, but what they got instead was Anne Shirley. Their lonely lives from then on are forever changed. A world where anything is possible, calamities are most likely, and the biggest adventure is being yourself.

Some quotes from the last episode:

“Change is uncomfortable because the future is unknown. Yet, the future is riding in fast, like a train.”

“Dreamers change the world. Curious minds propel us forward.”

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

“Different isn’t bad. It’s just not the same.”

“There is always another way to look at things.”

“Change is the only way to grow and learn.”

Another great series is Sense8 which is full of diversity and food for thought. It’s an American sci-fi/lgbt drama created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski. Though I skip through the violent parts, I love the dialogues and how these eight people in different parts of the world are mentally and emotionally linked which can lead to intense situations.

Some quotes on change and diversity from the last episode:

“No one thing is one thing only. How people endow what is familiar with new, ever evolving meaning and by doing so, release us from the unexpected, the familiar, into something unforeseeable. It is in this unfamiliar realm, we find new possibilities. It is in the unknown we find hope.”

“For all the differences between us and all the forces that try to divide us they will never exceed the power of love to unite us.”

“I’m afraid of things permanent because nothing is permanent. Things change, people change.”

“We live in a world that distrusts feelings. Over and over we are reminded that feelings are not as important as reason. That feelings are childish, irresponsible, dangerous. We are taught to ignore them, control them, or deny them. We barely understand what they are, where they come from or how they seem to understand us better than we understand ourselves. But I know that feelings matter. Sometimes they’re little and sometimes they’re huge. However, if you’re lucky a feeling comes along that will change everything.”

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See you next time!

Natasja Hellenthal, author of  Lesfic Fantasy novels

 

 

 

 

           

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The Mega September Lesfic Sale is here!

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Hi Everyone!

Xmas is early this year! I’m pleased to announce that The Mega September Lesfic Sale, organized by I Heart Lesfic is here! It runs from September 10th to September 14th. More than 100 lesfic books from 60 authors are either free or heavily discounted in many sub genres, so plenty to choose from including 3 of my own!

‘The Queen’s Curse’ is $1.99 (normally $5.99), ‘SkyWhisperers’ is $1.99 (normally $5.99) and ‘Quarterling’ is only $0.99 (normally $3.99).

And many other good novels by prolific lefic authors such as Caren J. Wellinger, Beth Lyons and Emma Sterner Radley

So, grab your chance and get your one-click finger out https://iheartlesfic.com/mega-lesfic-sale-2/

Happy reading!

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Vegan Fiction Book List

When you are vegan for compassionate reasons like I am and enjoy reading it’s often a question when buying a book whether it is going to be animal friendly, or not.

I more than often start a book, only to be disappointed how non-human animals are being portrayed and treated.

A book description doesn’t always prepare or warn us and I have come across too many, especially fantasy books, whereby violence against other creatures is accepted and tolerated. Even riding on horses, or how they are used for war, can bug me. And don’t get me started on the subject of dragons! When is someone ever going to save a dragon instead of treating them like monsters and slaying the poor mythical creatures in the fantasy genre? I think I might devote an entire article on that, or better yet, write my own dragon story!

Also, the story line may be good enough in many a book, but what if our characters gorge on the flesh of other animals or have hunting and fishing as their hobbies? Can, or should we, see past this? After all, we pick up a book to be entertained, to escape, or to even fight the good cause with the main character, not to be exposed like we already are in real life to the cruelties of human kind.

How then and where can we find vegan friendly fiction books?

When doing a search on Amazon for ‘Vegan Fiction’ you’ll get over a 10.000 results. That’s great you think, right? Wrong. Most of these are vegan cook books. . . That’s not fiction. Don’t get me wrong, it’s positive there are so many vegan cook books at the moment, but those books should really fall under non-fiction to make it easier for the reader to find. Sadly it’s all been thrown in one pile. You can, of course, also find vegan fiction books there. I know, as I have gone through most of the list.

I have also typed in Vegan Fiction in Google and found a vegan publisher: Ashland Creek Press. Their Website has tons of eco-friendly and vegan fiction books (VegLit).

And if you’re patient enough I’ll give you even more books! The list is at the bottom of the article.

First, let’s try to break vegan fiction down into two types: the entertainment side and the educational side. Vegan fiction can cover both types of fiction, but that is easily enough to determine from the book blurb.

  1. Entertainment and escapism. To not be confronted with the habits of the meat-eating and animal abusing world. To simply relax and enjoy a good story. To be entertained, and to forget. These books in any genre have a normal plotline with main characters that just happen to be vegan.
  2. Education and activism. The author has a clear vegan or eco-message wrapped up in the story with vegan or non-human characters. The author’s intention is to speak up for the animals, for the planet, and ultimately, for us all. For the reader to find a connection with the characters whom we as a vegan can easier relate to. To be faced with the current problems, future ones, or possible struggles. To help us think about our own situation, and what we could, or would do, to solve them. These novels can be dark, but they can also give us hope. They are often speculative and written to challenge us, vegan or not, to make us think hard about our values and questions our unquestioned morals. These books can even be life-changers for those who are not vegan yet.veganfantasy1

 

So, I have created a list of vegan fiction books that are currently available for all ages and covers most genres (although I do favour fantasy and lesfic for obvious reasons). It is not a complete list of course and I haven’t read all of them, but it gives a good idea of what is out there. I have also created a Top10 list of my favourite vegan books with short reviews which will be published on The Vegan Society’s website soon. I’ll post the link once it’s life.

On Amazon you can also read the blurbs of every book and samples by clicking on the “Look Inside” feature.

Also, if you have read a vegan fiction book that is not yet included in the list below, let me know: CONTACT ME as my aim is to compile a complete list to share with the vegan and literary communities world-wide!

Vegan Fiction (A-Z) with vegan characters or an animal rights’ plot:

 

A Report to the Academy – Franz Kafka (literary)

Amanda the Teen Activist – Feathers & Freedom (children’s fiction)

Among Animals 1 & 2 (a collection of stories) – several authors

Among Animals (Tiergeschichten) –  Manfred Kyber

Animals: A Novel – Don LePan (sci-fi)

Animal Lex talionis – Sunny Augustine

Balance of Fragile Things – Olivia Chadha

Beasts – Ana Levley (dystopian, lesfic)

Beef – Mat Blackwell (dystopian, humor)

Best Vegan Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2016

Best Vegan Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2017

Bestiary: Three Weird Tales – Nicholas P. Oakley

Chained Freedom – Natasja Hellenthal (fantasy, lesfic)

Diary of a Dieting Madhouse – Paige Singleton

Don’t Bang the Barista! – Leigh Matthews

Escape (Diamond Song Book 1) – E.D.E Bell (fantasy)

Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee

Falling into Green: An Eco-Mystery – Cher Fisher

Fire Bringer – David Clement Davies (fantasy)

Float – JoeAnn Hart eco/romance

Forgetting English – Midge Raymond

Hackenfeller’s Ape – Brigid Brophy

Holy Cow – Ruth Hawe

Kings of the Jungle – Daniel S. Fletcher

Love & Ordinary Creatures – Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Lithia Trilogy: Out of Breath (1), The Ghost Runner (2), The Last Mile (3) – Blair Richmond (YA)

Memoirs of a Fighting Dog – Kaida Ashia

Mort (e) (War with No Name #1) – Robert Repino

Mother Nature’s Secret – Marian Hailey-Moss (children’s fiction)

My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki

My Last Continent – Midge Raymond

Minny’s Dream – Clare Druce

Outside Inside – Anne Grange

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood (sci-fi)

Off the Reservation – Glen Merzer

Persimmon Takes on Humanity (The Enlightment Adventures: Book 1) – Christopher Locke (YA)

Popco – Scarlett Thomas (contemporary, adventure, science)

Quarterling – Natasja Hellenthal (YA lesfic fantasy)

Salazar – Seth Lynch (noir mystery)

Something in the Water – Ben Starling

Spireseeker – E.D.E Bell (fantasy)

Survival Skills – Jean Ryan

Strays – Jennifer Caloyeras (contemporary, YA)

Skinny Bitch in Love – Kim Barnouin

SkyWhisperers – Natasja Hellenthal (YA lesfic fantasy)

The Soul Thief – Beth Lyons (lesfic fantasy)

The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero – Marla Rose (children’s fiction)

The Awareness – Gene Stone

The Banished Craft – E.D.E Bell (fantasy)

The Bees – Laline Paull

The BFG – Roald Dahl (children’s fiction)

The Boy from Tomorrow – Camille DeAngelis historical/timetravel/paranormal/children’s fiction

The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way – Frances Metzman

The Trap and the Chain (The Kinship Series) – Robin Lamont

The Comyenti Series (Call Off The Search (1), Children of The Sun (2) – Natasja Hellenthal (Supernatural Fantasy)

The Crows of Beara – Julie Christine Johnson

The Dragon Keeper – Mindy Mejia (thriller)

The Earthling Rebellions – Andi Hayes

The Echo of Others – S.D. Rowell

The Exile of Elindel – Carol Browne (fantasy)

The Fettered Flame – E.D.E Bell (fantasy)

The Green and the Red – Armand Chauvel (romance, eco)

The Gift that Time forgot – T.M. Dewfall (children’s fiction)

The Humans – Matt Haig (sci-fi, eco)

The Plague Dogs – Richard Adams (YA)

The Promised Land – Manfred Kyber

The Stone Gods – Jeanette Winterson – (sci-fi lesfic)

The Three Candles of Little Veronika – Manfred Kyber

The Tourist Trail – John Yunker

The Names of Things – John Colman Wood

The Lives of Animals – J.M. Coetzee

The Longing – Bridget Essex (lesfic)

The Ugly Princess: The Legend of the Winnowwood – Henderson Smith

The World of Wickham Mossrite – J.L. Morse

The Year of the Flood, (MaddAddam #2), MaddAddam (#3) – Margaret Atwood

Thornfruit – Felicia Davin (lesfic fantasy)

Vincent and the Dissidents (The Enlightment Adventures Book 2) – Christopher Locke (YA)

Watership Down – Richard Adams (YA)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves -Karen Joy Fowler (contemporary)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cover reveal and book launch ‘Quarterling’ count down!

Hey all!

I have been super busy writing my latest novel ‘Quarterling’ which is now in the final stages of editing!

The cover reveal is attached and I am thinking to release it within 2 weeks’ time, so stay tuned for the exact date!

Ready? Drumroll!!! Here comes:

QUARTERLINGCOVERfinal

So, what do you think of the cover and oh, the blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Fay Comyenti has it all: lots of freedom, great parents, a budding romance, and super animal abilities most teenagers can only dream of. Only, those powers have to be kept a secret in order for her kind to stay safe. After being rejected by her love interest, Elodyn, Fay leaves her village to do some good with her skills in the world despite the concerns of her comyenti mother and human father. Even so, she is determined to use her powers to help animals in need, but that’s not always easy without anyone seeing you . . .

Zemandu, the last of the tracar people has been following Fay from a distance for a good reason. The demoness is dying. Attracted by the girl’s altruistic mission, her abilities and her benevolent energy she sees Fay as her last hope.

When Fay and Zemandu — two powerful women of a very different nature, yet both the last of their kind — cross paths, they’ll forever change the course of humanity, but at what cost?

Will Fay risk losing her heart and her innate empathy to the demoness — the very characteristics what makes her a comyenti in the first place —without jeopardising her vital mission?

Follow Fay and Zemandu in this animal-loving, suspenseful dramatic YA novel which is a full stand alone spin-off novel from the popular Comyenti Series.

 

 

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Symbolism and thoughts on short story ‘Chained Freedom’ by Natasja Hellenthal

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“This is not a fairytale, but a true story,” storyteller Tana Woodwolf tells the audience at the start of ‘Chained Freedom’.

This is some more information, symbolism and random thoughts about ‘Chained Freedom’, a thought-provoking fantasy. I’ve written the story some years ago whilst being stuck in a rather, suffocating relationship. I always had the choice to step out sooner than I did, but I didn’t feel ‘free’ enough, or ‘ready’ enough, or even ‘strong’ enough to do so but moreover full of guilt.
Instead, I wrote this story, as all my stories are based on my own life and experiences to some degree. I’m not Tana, mind you, but I feel like I know her really well!
But it’s not just relationships, of any kind, we can relate this story to, and apply it to our lives; it’s any kind of loss of freedom really. Freedom; everyone’s birthright, but so very fragile and easily swept away from us, whether we let it happen consciously, or more than often not. It could also be through religion, our upbringing, conditioning and social dogma’s that we get trapped without giving it a second thought.
When are we really free?

Chained Freedom’ is a short story featuring Fay Comyenti, first daughter of Sula and Felix from the first book in a Fantasy drama series, ‘Call Off The Search’ (Comyenti Series), and how she helps a woman break free from a magical entrapment.
Fay is not the main character, but an important side-character, who reminds the main character of Chained Freedom, Tana Woodwold, of her own inner strength.

Short synopsis:

Tana Woodwolf wakes to find herself trapped within a strange land. She learns quickly from the faces of the others that this is no paradise she has been transported to; it is a prison.
Unable to escape, Tana soon discovers that a dark and malignant force is dragging them, one-by-one, to unreachable higher rooms of the tower from which they never return.
If she is to ever escape from there then she will need to use all the guile and strength she has within her. Does one of the others hold the key? Or is it something else within the prison that she needs to study?
As the darkness comes nearer, a strange voice whispers, ‘Look and be free… You have to let go of what you know.’
Should she trust the voice? Should she trust the others? Does she even have a choice?
As despair and terror closes in around them all, only one person can discover the truth and save them…

Symbolism of Chained Freedom (spoiler alert!)

Tana, once free, is determined to also help free the other slaves. She won’t rest until she has found a way to do so. She cannot be completely free, until then she is still chained. Little does she know that the Wizard is the very embodiment of Evil and can never be defeated. It’s the balance of life, of light and dark, of right and wrong. It is more than that: as long as men continue to do evil, hurt other people, the Wizard will live. Only people with dark thoughts are being transported! That’s the first rule.
As for the other slaves, they are people like Tana, who cannot be broken free from the outside, but themselves will have to try to find a way from the inside.
Some people aren’t ready yet and live with a curtain (the magic wall), closed over their eyes. Others, like Tana, with a little help, can see an opening and find a way to lift the veil to let the light in again; a way to see the world in its true light and find goodness. Hope is the key that can open the heart which is the way. Compassion and love are the door(s).

Tower: Patriarchal dominance and world-leader ship. The prisoners end up there (close to the evil wizard) as a first warning and to actually been given a second choice. Not the real criminals are being put here, as they get a harder punishment, but people, like Tana, with minor crimes.
Prisoners: that’s what we all are unless we break through. Also a reference to ‘free range’ animals, or caged domesticated animals, who can’t escape at all. The prisoners know, like farmed animals, that they will end up dead and live in fear (both have been proven).
Wizard: Pure evil. But really it’s not about him, he is just a symbol. That’s why he has no face, no name, no voice and no real role in the story, because it’s about the slaves and their own inner wizard, their own evil inside of themselves. You can choose to do either good or bad. But you cannot be good to others if you’re not good to yourself first.
Disbelieve of their fate: What have they done wrong to deserve this? That’s a real life question of many people in ‘chained’ or difficult situations.
The Magic wall: the curtain or veil that is drawn over our eyes, making us forget our innocence and to be in touch with the real world around us.
Fay: the helper, someone who believes in Tana, for we all need someone to have faith in us; to do what seems the impossible.
Chains: invisible, but they’re still there. Also our responsibility to help others. We can never be truly free unless the whole world is. Until then we are still half-chained or with
one hand.

The message that Tana is trying to give to other people is: Be good, do good, be kind to one another. If you don’t, you’ll end up in the tower. Because she had found kindness and a love in her own heart, hope and a lightness in her being, maybe by doing good, helping others, she found a way out and the wizard ‘let’ her escape, because she was changed and no longer evil.
I believe that with the right mind-set and help people indeed can change.
This story to me is the ultimate story of good and evil, right and wrong and how we can all fight our own evil in ourselves and help others. Surely by helping others you reduce the evil in your heart. The opening in the wall in the end was bigger and felt easier for Tana to find.

Quotes:

“If you cannot change a situation why not improve the quality of life around you?”

“You see, you’re only chained if you allow yourself to be chained. Your soul, the real you, cannot be put in shackles and will always be free.”

“You can’t possibly make holes in the wall for everyone. I don’t think it works that way,’ Fay said. ‘You’ve seen it with your own eyes. They have to, like you did, create their own doorway.’
‘So, I’ll show them how. I can teach them how to escape, I’m sure I can.’
I had a feeling she didn’t agree with me.
‘I’m not saying you can’t, but how does the old saying go; prevention is better than a cure?”

“The other prisoners and I had one thing in common: our enslavement, chains or not, and there surely would be more people after my leaving, perhaps I had been replaced already.
Am I free?
Even though I could have easily walked away and forgotten all about the mysterious evil wizard and his slaves, I just couldn’t. Until then, my freedom was still in chains.”

End Note:

After nearly ten years of being thrown backwards and forwards, of living in doubt and insecurities, of a life half lived in freedom, half in chains, I managed to free myself from my own forged shackles. But, complete freedom is of course a big word. I will always have my responsibilities as we do, some I created, but since then I’m much stronger and aware and am no longer shackled. The chains I wear these days or made of invisible soft silver cords.
I’m even more conscious of the meaning of freedom and what we are all doing with it once we have it, or what we do to get it back when we don’t.
Every day in freedom is a gift. Many don’t have it and are still fighting that struggle, some have lost their lives.
We are all bound to each other through invisible, silver lines as I call them. They are not just those attached to our family and friends, but to everyone. I believe we owe it to others who are less fortunate and need our help, even if we don’t know them.
We cannot help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

‘Chained Freedom’ is available here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IK4OWXE

Listen to the book here:http://www.booktrack.com/read/d9408688c713442e8476cf3a46693f5a

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Books that inspired me as a writer and as a person Part 2, Tanith Lee

 

Tanith Lee

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Tanith Lee (born 19 September 1947) is a British writer of science fictionhorror and fantasy. She is the author of over 90 novels and 300 short stories, a children’s picture book (Animal Castle) and many poems. She also wrote two episodes of BBC science fiction series Blake’s 7.

She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award best novel award (also known as the August Derleth Award), for her book Death’s Master (1980).

She also writes under the pseudonym Esther Garber.

Her books are to be compared with those of C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, or Andre Norton. Marion Zimmer Bradley and Jack Vance.

Tanith Lee for me was an important early influence.

When I was about sixteen or so and desperately looking for good intelligent novels to read I was more than pleased I came across The Winterplayers in the local library.

This is a Young Adult Fantasy so it is safe to say this is the first real Fantasy I’ve ever read, even before I heard of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. I’ve always loved fairytales, especially by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, but felt they lacked something. Adult content? That’s where Miss Lee comes in. Even though this is suppose to be a young adult story it has the feeling and ‘complexity’ (which I think is a good thing) of an adult story.

The heroine in The Winterplayers is a priestess who protects three precious Relics. No one knows of them until one day a grey- haired young man comes, a steely- eyed stranger clad in a great wolf’s skin. He wants one of the Relics and stops at nothing to get it. When they are stolen, she has to follow the thief to try to retrieve them.

This story is breathtaking and the ending so cleverly done it leaves you in awe. I remember it’s the style I just loved in this book, the descriptions, the realistic characters but most of all the plot and ending as it involves time travel!

I was hooked from then on and started reading more of her books, but struggled to find them in my native language, Dutch. I’ve moved on to Cyrion, which is an anthology of short stories around one character which I enjoyed.

Another book which for me stands out and I enjoy re-reading every so often for it’s beauty and symbolism is The Birthgrave. This is a book of self discovery and inner strength and beauty of one person against the rest of the world.

I just love the opening line: “To wake, and not to know where, or who you are, not even to know what you are-whether a thing with legs and arms, or a beast, or a brain in the hull of a great fish-that is a strange awakening.”

The place: the heart of a rumbling volcano.
The person: a woman awakening from a deathlike sleep.
The time: unknown, far from today.
The problem: her identity. Who is she? What are her powers? Who or what is he? What is to be her relation to the world in which she finds herself … slave girl, goddess, nomad, or warrior?
Author Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote a special introduction, says, “It’s filled with adventure and beauty, rich alien names, half-sketched barbarian societies, ruined cities, decadence and wonder”; As I read this I thought most often of “The Dying Earth” stories of Jack Vance. THE BIRTHGRAVE has something of the same color and wonder… You can get involved, learn to know the people, get fully submerged in the colorful and fascinating world Tanith Lee presents. And I predict that when you, satisfied but regretful, turn over the last page, you too will wish there were more.”

By no means have I read all of her work and I personally am not too keen on her horror stories and stir away from those. For me her ‘Birthgrave Trilogy’ and ‘Tales Of Flat Earth’ series still stands out, but I’m still trying to catch up!

Bio

Tanith Lee was born on September 19, 1947 in London, England to professional dancers Bernard and Hylda Lee. Despite a persistent rumor, she is not the daughter of Bernard Lee (the actor who played “M” in the James Bond series films between 1962 and 1979). According to Lee, although her childhood was happy, she was the “traditional kid that got bullied,” and had to move around frequently due to her parents’ work. Although her family was poor, they maintained a large paperback collection, and Lee actively read weird fiction, including “Silken Swift” by Theodore Sturgeon and “Gabriel Ernest” by Saki, and discussed such literature as Hamlet and Dracula with her parents. Lee attended many different schools in childhood. She was incapable of reading due to a mild form of dyslexia which was diagnosed later in life, but when she was aged 8, her father taught her to read in about a month, and she began to write at the age of 9.

Education

Because Lee’s parents had to move for jobs, Lee attended numerous primary schools including CatfordGrammar School. Three subjects inspired Lee: English, history, and religion. After high school, Lee attended Croydon Art College for a year. Realizing that was not what she wanted to do, she dropped out and held a number of occupations: she has been a file clerk, waitress, shop assistant, and a librarian.

Career

Her first professional sale came from Eustace, a ninety-word vignette at the age of 21 in 1968. She worked various jobs such as file clerk and assistant librarian due to rejection of her works for almost a decade. 

Her first novel (for children) was The Dragon Hoard, published in 1971 by the publisher Macmillan. Many British publishers rejected The Birthgrave thus she wrote to DAW Books. Her career really took off with the acceptance in 1975 by Daw Books USA of her adult fantasy epic The Birthgrave – a mass-market paperback. Lee has since maintained a prolific output in popular genre writing. The Birthgrave allowed Lee to be a full-time writer and stop doing “stupid and soul-killing jobs.”

Major publishing companies are less accepting of Lee’s works today. The companies which Lee has worked with for numerous years are even refusing to look at her proposals. Smaller publishing companies are just doing a few of Lee’s works. The refusals do not stop her from writing and she has numerous novels and short stories which are just sitting in her cupboard. Mail from fans even asked if she was dead because no new Lee works had been released. Lee even tried changing her genre, but to no success.

Works

Lee’s prolific output spans a host of different genres, including adult fantasy, children’s fantasy, science fiction, horrorGothic horror, Gothic romance, and the historical novel. Her series of interconnected tales called The Flat-Earth Cycle, beginning with Night’s Master and Death’s Master, is similar in scope and breadth to Jack Vance‘s The Dying Earth. Night’s Master contains allegorical tales involving Azhrarn, a demonic prince who kidnaps and raises a beautiful boy and separates him from the sorrow of the real world. Eventually, the boy wants to know more about the earth, and asks to be returned, setting off a series of encounters between Azhrarn and the Earth’s people, some horrific, some positive. Later tales are loosely based on Babylonian mythology.

In the science fiction Four-BEE series, Lee explores youth culture and identity in a society which grants eternally young teenagers complete freedom. They are even killed and receive new bodies, gender and/or identity over and over again.

Lee has also dabbled in the historical novel with The Gods are Thirsty, set during the French Revolution.

A large part of her output is children’s fantasy, which has spanned her entire career from The Dragon Hoard in 1971 to the more recent The Claidi Journals containing Wolf TowerWolf StarWolf Queen and Wolf Wing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Lee has been published in various imprints, particularly depending on whether she is offering adult fiction or children’s fantasy. Her earlier children’s fantasy novels were published in hardcover by MacMillan UK and subsequently printed as paperbacks in the US often by DAW, with occasional hardcovers by St. Martin’s Press. Some of her work was only printed in paperback, mainly in the US by DAW in the 1970s to the early 1980s. She has received some small press treatment, such as the Arkham House edition of short stories Dreams of Dark and Light: The Great Short Fiction of Tanith Lee in 1986, and in the first “Night Visions” instalment published by Dark Harvest. Some of her work has been released exclusively in the UK with US publications often pending.

Writing style

Lee’s style is frequently remarked upon for its use of rich poetic prose and striking imagery. Critics describe her style as weird, lush, vibrant, exotic, erotic, rich, elegant, perverse, and darkly beautiful. The technique she uses is very descriptive and poetic which works well with the themes she uses in her mythical stories. She has been praised for her ability to balance her weird style with the challenges of writing a faraway world, but some critics counter that her style is not always easy on the reader; she sometimes leaves the reader with unanswered questions that could have easily been answered if she had gone into greater detail.

Themes

Lee’s writing frequently feature nonconformist interpretations of fairy talesvampire storiesmyths, and the fantasy genre; as well as themes of feminism and sexuality. She also writes lesbian fiction under the pseudonym Esther Garber. Other than feminism and sexuality, Lee uses a wide range of other themes in her stories.

From 1975-80, she began writing gothic science fiction; her first gothic novel Sabella or The Bloodstone features themes of loneliness and fear. Lee’s most celebrated story Elle Est Trois, which examines the relationship between self-destruction and creativity “has themes of psychosis and sexuality, the subjugation of women, and the persuasive power of myth interwoven through it”. You will see myth again (along with race) in her stories The Storm Lord, Anackire, and The White Serpent

Three unique Horror series were produced by Lee in the 90’s; the first story, The Book of the Damned, features themes of body thievery and shape-shifting. Themes of Homophobiaracism, and sexism are seen in Lee’s sequence The Blood Opera, and The Venus Cycle features themes of love, loss, and revenge. Her collection “Disturbed By Her Song”, features themes of eroticism, despair, isolation, and the pressure of an unforgiving and unwelcoming society. These themes reoccur in her 1976 novel Don’t Bite the Sun where the characters are involved in a very erotic lifestyle and the protagonist experiences despair. 

Eroticism shows up again in her novel “Death’s Master” which examines the childhood origins of eroticism and the “later conflicts that arise from it”. The sequel to Don’t Bite the SunDrinking Sapphire Wine, is thematically similar to her other works, whereas it features themes of Death and renewal, sexuality, and love. The theme of recognition also appears in Drinking Sapphire Wine, where the characters are forced to recognize others and themselves in a world where physical form is so readily alterable.

 

Tanith Lee Quotes

 

“Are not all loves secretly the same? A hundred flowers sprung from a single root.”

TANITH LEE, Delirium’s Mistress

“People are always the start for me…animals. When I can get into their heads, gods, supernatural beings,immortals, the dead…these are all people to me.”

“For me, everyone I write of is real. I have little true say in what they want, what they do or end up as (or in). Their acts appal, enchant, disgust or astound me. Their ends fill me with retributive glee, or break my heart. I can only take credit (if I can even take credit for that) in reporting the scenario. This is not a disclaimer. Just a fact.”

TANITH LEE, Innsmouth Free Press interview, Nov. 17, 2009

“If you run away from trouble, it always follows.”

TANITH LEE, Wolf Tower

“The bitterness of joy lies in the knowledge that it cannot last. Nor should joy last beyond a certain season, for, after that season, even joy would become merely habit.”

TANITH LEE, Delusion’s Master

“How massively the mountains stand, while low to the ground the sand blows. The sand blows on and on. And then there are no mountains, none at all, the sand has kissed and whispered them away. And still, the sand blows on.”

TANITH LEE, Delirium’s Mistres

 

Bibliography

Works of Tanith Lee arranged by date of publication:

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Cover and blurb for new novel Call Off The Search

It’s finally here; the cover for my new Fantasy novel!

COS kindle

 

The cover design is by Kirsty Fossengen. She did a great job!

Call Off The Search, which is the first book of the Last Of The Comyenti Series, will be released in August/early September at the latest. 

I’ll be doing a blog tour for COTS around the book’s release date, watch this space! And I’ll also be doing some pre-release promotions here on my blog in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for more information.

For now, enjoy the cover and get exited by reading the blurb for Call Off The Search.

Blurb:

Set against the backdrop of Bhan, a barbaric uncivilised world, this is the story of

the Comyenti’s; an ancient species of Mindlinkers, beautiful, sentient and empathetic beings that possess abilities of animals. They are nearly at their end due to hunting.

During the search for more like her, Sula, part Comyenti and part Human, meets an attractive farmer and faces the first of many heart wrenching decisions she must make.

Will Sula be able to keep her promise to Felix and forsake her own heart? Or will she forsake the part of her that makes her so unique?

 

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