From Drunken Faeries to Lost Ancients: An Exclusive Chat with Marie Andreas

Exclusive insights from fantasy author Marie Andreas. Dive into her creative process, inspirations, and journey through the realms of elves and faeries

In the realm of fantasy, few voices resonate as distinctly as that of Marie Andreas.

With elven artifacts, whimsical drunken faeries, and worlds that captivate the imagination, Andreas has etched a significant mark on the genre.

Today, we peel back the layers of the fantastical, diving deep into the mind of the multi-award-winning SFF author.

What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

There were stories I wanted to read but weren’t written yet!  I’ve always loved fantasy :).

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

I’m very much a pantser in my writing and that goes for world building. It’s done as I go along (I have a general idea of the world in question, but the rest is SURPRISE!)

Can you walk us through your writing process?

I’m not normal-LOL. Just wanted to get that out first. Something sparks an idea and a character–maybe two. Then I just start writing. Yup- I’m one of those evil pantser’s your teachers warned you about ;).

 I’m a full-time author, so have a set schedule (5 days a week- 4k words daily target) also, I will usually have more than one project at a time. Right now, I’m working on the next book in my second Lost Ancient’s fantasy series as my primary WIP.  However, I’ve also started my third steampunk. So I switch if I get stuck, or just as a brain cleanser.

I re-read what I wrote the prior day before I start that day’s writing. It gets me in the mindspace for that world and catches a few typos.

I go through the book a few times when done, have my group of reader/editors go at it, then a final proof. BOOM! It’s a BOOK!

Would you survive in your own fantasy world?

Probably not–although, I would LOVE being in a world with my drunken faeries–so it would be worth it.

What themes do you explore in your work?

Friendship is probably the biggest. I’m not writing to be deep, I write to escape :).

What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?

Every single fantasy book or movie that I’ve loved.

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

That they had a great escape from the world, and a sense of my characters being like old friends.  I love it when a reader tells me they re-read the books on a regular basis.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?

Can’t I have both?  I have both living happily on my desk…dunno why I can’t have both.  Okay, do NOT tell my Scottish battle-corn, but a dragon. They fly. I really want that.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Taryn.  She’s kinda cool and if she were there, the drunken faeries would show up too ;).

What would you name your pet dragon?


The Glass Gargoyle (The Lost Ancients book 1)

Archeologist Taryn St. Giles has spent her life mining the ruins of the elves who vanished from the Four Kingdoms a thousand years ago. But when her patrons begin disappearing too—and then turning up dead—she finds herself unemployed, restless, and desperate. So she goes looking for other missing things: as a bounty hunter.

Tracking her first fugitive—the distractingly handsome and strangely charming Alric—she unearths a dangerous underworld of warring crime lords, demonic squirrels, and a long-lost elven artifact capable of unleashing a hell on earth.

Chased, robbed, kidnapped, and distressingly low on rent money, Taryn just wants one quiet beer and to catch her fugitive. But there’s more to Alric than his wicked grin—is he a wanted man or the city’s only hope? With menacing mages in pursuit and her three alcoholic faery sidekicks always in her hair, Taryn’s curiosity might finally solve the mystery of the elves… or be the death of her and destroy her world.

About the Author

Marie is a multi-award-winning fantasy and science fiction author with a serious reading addiction. If she wasn’t writing about all the people in her head, she’d be lurking about coffee shops annoying total strangers with her stories. So really, writing is a way of saving the masses. She lives in Southern California and is owned by two very faery-minded cats. She is also a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association).

When not saving the masses from coffee shop shenanigans, Marie likes to visit the UK and keeps hoping someone will give her a nice summer home in the Forest of Dean or Conwy, Wales.

Find Marie online:



Jon’s Author Diary – July 28, 2023 – Guild of Assassins, Horus Heresy

Explore Jon Cronshaw’s writing journey with Guild of Assassins, his current read – The Primarchs, and upcoming blog posts during his week off.

Welcome back to my Author Diary!

 In this week’s episode, I share my progress on writing my book, Guild of Assassins, with three chapters completed and a first draft for a fourth one.

You can catch these chapters as they go live on my Substack in the upcoming weeks:

I also delve into my current read – the 20th book of the Horus Heresy series, The Primarchs.

Please note, next week’s Author Diary will be a bit delayed as I’m taking a week off to recharge.

In the meantime, you won’t be missing out as daily blog posts will still be going live on my website as well as updates on my Substack.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

Remember to hit the subscribe button and stay tuned for more insights into my writing journey.

So, until next time, cheerio!

Interview with G J Kemp: Writing Fantasy that Explores Disability, Friendship, and Trust

Explore the creative process of renowned fantasy author G J Kemp. Dive into his world-building approach, thematic arcs, writing journey, and much more in this exclusive author interview.

Immerse yourself into a realm of magic as we delve into the fantastical mind of epic fantasy author G J Kemp.

From his early beginnings, Kemp’s love for the fantasy genre blossomed in the face of adversity.

In this exclusive interview, Kemp invites us into his unique approach to world-building, his meticulous plotting process, and the thematic cores woven into his spellbinding narratives.

The twists and turns of his creative process are as intriguing as his novels, providing valuable insights for aspiring writers and readers alike.

So, grab yourself a cuppa and let’s embark on this fascinating expedition into the depths of Kemp’s creative world.

.What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

When I was young, I had a number of operations to try combat me being born with Cerebral Palsy. This meant, that I was immobile for large periods of my life. Bear in mind that this was in the 1970’s. To combat the boredom, my mother bought me every Enid Blyton book available. I devoured them followed by Lord of the Rings and The Magician. From there, my love for the fantasy genre was born.

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

Through dialogue coupled with action. I hardly ever describe a scene. My characters describe the scene for my by moving through the world they are in. Sometimes, a character will talk about a piece of the world, but only if this is really necessary.

Can you walk us through your writing process?

I am a major, major, plotter. Here it is high level. I start with working out the story structure. This usually comes in the form of a template. I am a firm believer that all good stories follow a structure. From there, I write a general outline for each Act, Block and Chapter. Once the outline has been done, I then re-outline against each scene. Once that is done, I re-outline in detail. Only then do I start working on the manuscript. Juno and the Lady is 111k words long. My plotting outline is nearly 100k words long.

Would you survive in your own fantasy world?

Absolutely. Since I am the writer I would give myself new powers every time I needed them! 🙂

What themes do you explore in your work?

I work on a three-theme structure. Each book I write, needs to have three themed arcs. Take Miles and the Soldier for instance. Theme 1 – Disability, Theme 2 – Friendship, Theme 3 – Loyalty and Trust.

What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?

Enid Blyton, Raymond E. Feist, Stephen King, J. R. R. Tolkien.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?

I think the strangest thing is for my upcoming series, Abbie Vera. She has an angel and demon sitting on each shoulder who consistently whisper stuff into her ears. Researching the interaction between these entities is a bit of a minefield!

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

A sense of joy and hopefully something to think about. Most of my stories look at the worlds problems from different angles. If my stories give my readers another perspective, I am a happy author.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?

I would combine the two and have a Pegasus, thank you very much. A fire breathing, flying horse! Dragons and unicorns wouldn’t stand a chance!

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

I would have the ability to ward off death. I would like to live as long as I choose and only when I am done with exploring life, can the depths of darkness take me.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

I think Genevie. A vampire princess. Although I think I would just end up being her food!

What would you name your pet dragon?


Where is the best place to start reading your work?

Juno and the Lady (An Acre Story Book 1), available on Amazon.


Author bio

A nomad at heart, GJ has lived in nine countries across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His career has included working as a Divemaster in The Red Sea, a zookeeper in Israel, and a proofreader in Sweden.

Born with cerebral palsy, GJ has spent a lifetime trying to tie his shoelaces while standing up in the hope of not falling over. It is a constant challenge, but sometimes he occasionally succeeds.

Finding the love for writing later in life, GJ spends most of his free time going for walks and dreaming of story ideas. He hopes to one day have a small place on the oceanfront where he can walk his dogs on the beach.

The Influence of Mythology and Folklore on Modern High Fantasy

Uncover the enchanting influence of mythology and folklore on the high fantasy genre. Join us on a journey through epic quests, magical realms, and prophetic tales of dragons and wizards.

Today, we shall embark on an heroic journey through the realms of mythology and folklore, delving into their influence on the high fantasy genre.

So, grab a cup of tea, settle into your favourite armchair, and prepare to be regaled with tales of dragons, wizards, and all manner of mythical beasts.

A Brief History Lesson

Before we dive headfirst into the fantastical world of high fantasy, let us take a brief detour through the mists of time to explore the origins of mythology and folklore.

From the Epic of Gilgamesh to the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, we humans have always had a penchant for spinning yarns about mythical beings and grand adventures.

It’s no wonder, then, that these stories have left an indelible mark on the genre of high fantasy, providing a veritable treasure trove of inspiration for authors, both old and new.

Now, let us examine some of the most well-known mythological and folkloric elements that have found their way into high fantasy literature.


Magic is as old as storytelling itself.

In the ancient myths of Greece, we see the witch Circe using her magic to transform Odysseus’s crew into pigs.

Meanwhile, in Norse tales, we have the Allfather Odin, who’s not shy about using a bit of the old magical arts, even if it involves plucking out an eye for wisdom.

Now, let’s swap our ancient scrolls for the glossy covers of modern high fantasy, where the mystical mumbo jumbo continues to enthral.

In Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, magic is a complex system of checks and balances, involving ingesting and ‘burning’ metals.

It’s not quite “eye of newt, and toe of frog,” but it sure keeps the plot turning faster than a witch’s cauldron.

In Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle, magic, or Sympathy as it’s known, is a bit like a university degree—demanding, dangerous, and very likely to leave you in masses of debt.

Whether it’s transforming spells of yore or the arcane arts in our beloved high fantasy sagas, magic continues to captivate us, sparking our imagination and making us check twice in wardrobes for secret worlds.

Epic Quests

Ever since our cave-dwelling ancestors first etched a hunter’s journey onto a rock wall, humanity has been captivated by tales of epic quests.

After all, who doesn’t love a good yarn about some plucky hero venturing out into the unknown to slay monsters, find treasure, or pop to the shops for a pint of milk?

When it comes to ancient literature, the quest narrative is as ubiquitous as a rainy Manchester afternoon.

These quests are typically bold undertakings filled with wondrous adventures, strange creatures, and a spot of character development for our heroic protagonists.

Most importantly, they’ve served as inspiration for the modern high fantasy tales we love so dearly today.

One of the oldest examples of the epic quest narrative comes from Mesopotamia in The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Here, our eponymous hero Gilgamesh and his beefy buddy Enkidu venture into the Cedar Forest to square up against the beastly Humbaba.

It’s all for the sake of fame and glory, and it sets the stage for all subsequent epic quests.

After all, what’s a bit of casual monster-slaying between friends, eh?

Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks were not ones to be outdone in the epic quest department.

The Odyssey, one of the West’s oldest and most beloved epics, recounts Odysseus’s ten-year struggle to return home after the Trojan War. Along the way, he encounters cyclopes (who are not very fond of wine, it turns out), enchantresses, and cantankerous gods—a full roster of fantastical beings that wouldn’t feel out of place in a modern fantasy epic.

Now, fast forward a few millennia and we can see how these ancient quests inspire our beloved high fantasy narratives.

We can see these tropes in modern high fantasy tales, too.

Think of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, where numerous characters venture on epic quests, from Jon Snow’s journey beyond the Wall to Daenerys Targaryen’s path to reclaim her throne.

Not to mention her penchant for raising fire-breathing pets, which beats goldfish any day.

The point is, the epic quest, while thousands of years old, is a narrative we never grow tired of.

Perhaps it’s the sense of adventure, the battle against the odds, or just the joy of watching a character grow from zero to hero (or in some cases, zero to slightly-better-zero).

But no matter the reason, it’s clear that the epic quests of ancient literature continue to echo in our modern tales, providing a rich tapestry of inspiration for authors and a bounty of exciting tales for readers.


If there’s one thing that gets our literary pulses racing, it’s a good old prophecy.

Whether it’s foretelling the rise of a hero, the fall of a villain, or the precise moment your kettle will boil (usually when you’ve nipped to the loo), prophecies are a storytelling staple that never seems to lose its flavour.

From the mysterious riddles of the ancient world to the plot-twisting predicaments of modern high fantasy, prophecies are the Worcestershire sauce of narrative condiments.

They add a bit of zest, a dash of mystery, and a generous helping of ‘what on earth is going to happen next?’

When it comes to the classics, the Greeks really knew how to spin a prophetic yarn.

The Oracle of Delphi was a one-stop shop for all your prophetic needs. However, like the small print in a dodgy phone contract, her prophecies were often quite vague and open to interpretation.

A classic example can be found in Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus Rex. The prophecy stated that Oedipus would end up doing in his dad and marrying his mum.

 Attempting to avoid this awkward family reunion, Oedipus legs it to a different city, bumps off a stranger (who, surprise surprise, turns out to be his dad), and marries the local widow (you can guess where this is going).

The lesson? When it comes to prophecy, you can run but you can’t hide.

Fast-forward a few millennia, and the tradition of cryptic prophecies is alive and well in the realm of high fantasy. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is a smorgasbord of prophecies, dreams, and visions.

The ‘prince who was promised’ prophecy, for instance, has kept readers and characters alike guessing.

Is it Jon Snow? Daenerys? Or Hot Pie? We’re still waiting for that one to bake.

J.K. Rowling also serves up a fresh prophecy in her Harry Potter series. Professor Trelawney’s prediction that a boy born at the end of July would be the one to vanquish Lord Voldemort sets the stage for the entire series.

Spoiler alert: it’s not Neville. Though let’s be honest, Neville had his moments…

These prophecies, like their ancient predecessors, work because they create suspense and drive the narrative.

They offer a tantalising glimpse of what might come to pass, without giving the game away.

In a nutshell, prophecies are like that friend who hints at a surprise birthday party but refuses to give any details.

It’s maddening, exciting, and keeps us on our toes.

They’ve been a part of storytelling for thousands of years, adding spice to our myths, folklore, and high fantasy tales.

Other Realms

Otherworldly realms have mystified mankind since time immemorial.

 From gloomy underworlds to luminous fairylands, these magical domains have played pivotal roles in mythology and folklore, and continue to captivate us in the realms of modern fantasy.

First on our itinerary is the underworld, a staple in many mythologies.

Arguably the most famous is the Greek underworld, ruled by the god Hades. Yes, that’s right, even in the afterlife there’s still bureaucracy.

But, bear in mind, if you’re planning a visit, be sure to avoid the local cuisine—Persephone can attest to the unfortunate side effects of indulging in a seemingly innocent pomegranate seed snack.

In Nordic mythology, we have Valhalla, the eternal feasting hall where Viking heroes spend their afterlives in a continuous cycle of fighting and feasting.

It’s sort of like a never-ending stag do, but with more axes and less curry.

Then there’s Fairyland, a realm full of magic and mischief, traditionally accessed via portals in the natural world, like rings of mushrooms or ancient hawthorn trees.

Be wary of their hospitality, though, or you might find yourself stuck there for a few centuries.

Now, let’s step through the wardrobe (mind the coats) into the world of modern fantasy.

First off, there’s the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, which takes the concept of other realms to a whole new level with the idea of parallel universes.

Here we see everything from our own recognisable world to the eerily beautiful realm of Cittàgazze, a city haunted by soul-eating spectres.

It’s like Venice, but with fewer gondolas and more terror.

And let’s not forget the mystical lands in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.

Through a humble wardrobe, we’re transported to a land where animals talk, witches have a worrisome obsession with Turkish Delight, and wardrobes are definitely larger on the inside.

And no exploration of other realms in fantasy would be complete without mentioning the realm of Faerie in Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince series.

In these books, we encounter a realm both breathtakingly beautiful and chillingly brutal, reminding us that other realms, like people, have their dark and light sides.

Other realms serve as reminders of the infinite possibilities of the human imagination.

They give us space to explore complex ideas, confront our deepest fears, and maybe even encounter a unicorn or two.

Just remember, if you do decide to venture into another realm, be sure to read the small print, respect the local customs, and whatever you do, don’t eat the food.

Gods and Demigods

Gods and demigods are powerful beings whose exploits have coloured our narratives from the earliest myths to the most recent fantasy yarns.

First off, we have the gods, our divine heavyweights.

From the chiselled Olympians of ancient Greece, to the Norse pantheon chilling in Valhalla, these celestial beings wield power that can shape the earth, command the elements, and, apparently, complicate the lives of mortals.

Next up, the demigods—the result of divine dalliances with mortals.

These half-god, half-human hybrids often find themselves in the middle of epic quests, world-saving, and a lot of identity crisis.

From Hercules to Perseus, these guys are proof that having a god for a parent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Gods, in their majestic might, have found a cosy home in stories like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, where they tackle the peculiar nuances of modern life. I

Demigods, meanwhile, have stamped their heroic mark in series like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.

Whether it’s the awe-inspiring power of gods, or the relatable struggles of demigods, these divine figures from ancient lore continue to cast their influence on our modern high fantasy tales.


What’s the first image that pops into your head when I say “witch?”

A cackling crone with a pointy hat, a warty nose, and an affection for cats and broomsticks?

Perhaps an eye of newt and toe of frog recipe?

Or, if you’re more aligned with modern high fantasy, a powerful and complex figure with a deep understanding of the arcane arts?

 Regardless of your witchy vision, there’s no denying that these spellbinding ladies have left an indelible mark on literature and folklore, from the ancient world to Terry Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series.

Our earliest witchy wanderings take us back to ancient Greece, where the witch-goddess Circe made a name for herself in Homer’s Odyssey.

 Circe had a penchant for turning men into pigs.

However, she wasn’t all about the porcine transformation; she also helped our hero Odysseus on his epic journey home, showing us that witches can be just as helpful as they are harmful.

Skipping ahead a few centuries, we meet the witches of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Weird Sisters.

With their eerie chants of “Double, double toil and trouble,” they whip up a storm of trouble for our ambitious antihero.

They’re a classic example of the trope of witches as foretellers of doom and spreaders of chaos. And let’s face it, they’ve got a cracking recipe for disaster soup.

Now, hold onto your hats, folks, because we’re hopping on our broomsticks and soaring into the modern realm of high fantasy.

One needn’t look further than the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series for some of the most iconic and subversive witches in fantasy literature.

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick (later replaced by the adorably feisty Tiffany Aching) are the witches of the ramshackle kingdom of Lancre.

They don’t fit the stereotypical mould of cackling, evil hags. Instead, they use their headology (a sort of folk-psychology-meets-common-sense approach), their knowledge of herbs and the human heart, and their innate grit to solve problems.

Granny Weatherwax, with her iron will and no-nonsense attitude, is the antithesis of the evil witch trope.

Nanny Ogg is the bawdy, jovial matriarch we all wish we had, while Magrat and Tiffany represent the idealistic, modern young witch trying to find her place in the world.

Pratchett’s witches are fully-realised characters, complete with strengths, weaknesses, and wonderfully quirky habits (we’re looking at you, Nanny Ogg and your naughty songs).

Over the year, witches have evolved from malicious spell-weavers and fortune-tellers into complex, multi-faceted characters.

They’ve gone from the sidelines of myth and folklore to the forefront of modern high fantasy, casting a spell that continues to enchant readers of all ages.


Whether you picture a bearded old man in a pointy hat or a bespectacled boy with a lightning bolt scar, there’s no doubt that wizards have cast a spell over our literary imaginations.

From their beginnings in ancient folklore to their lofty status in modern high fantasy, these magical maestros have had quite the journey.

Our first stop is in ancient Egypt, where we meet the high priest Djedi, who was said to be able to bring a decapitated animal back to life.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but I’d say resurrecting a goose definitely earns you a spot in the wizarding hall of fame.

Returning to ancient Greece, we encounter Medea. his enchantress, who appears in the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece, certainly knew her way around a spell or two.

She could mix potions, control the elements, and generally bewitch anyone who got in her way. Although technically a witch, Medea’s powers and influence over the narrative can be seen as a precursor to our modern understanding of a wizard.

Moving on to the Medieval era, the figure of Merlin emerges in Arthurian legends.

Now, here’s a bloke who truly embodies the classic image of a wizard.

With his long beard, mysterious origins, and propensity for prophecies, Merlin set the standard for wizard-kind for centuries to come.

The mighty Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a wizard par excellence.

He’s old, wise, and can put on a fireworks display to put New Year’s Eve in London to shame.

Plus, he’s got that killer line, “You shall not pass!” which is handy not only when facing demon Balrogs but also when dealing with queue jumpers at the local chippy.

On the flip-side of a Merlin or Gandalf, we have Terry Pratchett’s wizard Rincewind from the Discworld series.

Now, Rincewind’s not your typical wizard—in fact, he’s rather rubbish at magic.

His true talent lies in running away and surviving against all odds, demonstrating that sometimes, it’s not the strength of the magic that matters, but the strength of the character.

And who could forget the wizarding world’s most famous teenager, Harry Potter?

This bespectacled boy wizard has undoubtedly left his mark (much like that pesky lightning bolt scar of his) on the world of fantasy literature, bringing magic and wizardry to a new generation of readers.


From elves to pixies, and gnomes to dwarves, these small humanoids may be lacking in height but are positively brimming with character.

Our first stop is ancient Ireland, where we encounter the mischievous leprechaun.

This little green chappie, with his propensity for shoe-mending and rainbow-hoarding, is a cornerstone of Irish mythology.

But be warned, if you’re planning on nabbing his pot of gold, remember this: leprechauns are not to be trifled with.

Journeying northwards, we find ourselves amid the Viking sagas and their hardy dwarves.

These stout fellows were renowned for their craftsmanship, forging legendary items such as Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir.

Then, there’s the realm of the fairy folk, sprinkled throughout European folklore.

Ranging from the delicate, fluttery-winged beings of English lore to the more elusive and sometimes sinister entities found in Scottish and Irish tales.

Fast forward to the modern era of high fantasy, and we find J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits of The Lord of the Rings.

These pint-sized heroes, with their love for second breakfasts and their big, hairy feet, have won the hearts of millions.

Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin remind us that even the smallest person can change the course of the future. Just don’t ask them to share their elevenses.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series also boasts a delightful array of smaller humanoids.

The Nac Mac Feegle (also known as the Wee Free Men) are a rowdy, boisterous group of blue-skinned, red-haired pictsies who enjoy fighting, stealing, and drinking.

As Pratchett so astutely puts it, they are “the most feared of all the fairy races, even before you get to the point of mentioning that they’re all six inches tall.”

From the early folklore of leprechauns and dwarves to the modern imaginings of hobbits and house-elves, small humanoids have always been a big part of our storytelling tradition.

They remind us of the power of the underdog (or undergnome, or underpixie), the potential for magic in unexpected places, and the truth of the old saying: good things come in small packages.

Magical Creatures

A time comes in every man’s life where you have to sit down and say, “let’s talk unicorns.”

These majestic beasts, with their singular spiralling horns and penchant for purity, have trotted through tales from ancient India to Medieval Europe.

Many a noble knight was said to have wasted his days chasing these elusive creatures, presumably because they had an aversion to practical pursuits like jousting or crocheting.

This majestic creature, boasting the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, has been a mainstay in mythology since the ancient Greeks first said, “you know what our stories need? More flying lions.” And frankly, who are we to disagree?

Next on our list is the ever-rising phoenix.

Hailing from ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology, this fiery bird had the rather handy trick of bursting into flames and being reborn from its own ashes.

Next up, we have Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology.

Born from the blood of the slain Medusa, this high-flying steed had quite the dramatic entrance into the world.

He later served the hero Bellerophon, until a fall from grace—or rather, a tumble from the horse—sent Bellerophon back to the ground.

Then, we come to the centaur: half-human, half-horse, and all-around fascinating.

They trotted their way from ancient Greek lore to the fantastical world of Narnia and beyond, forever raising questions about where exactly they buy their trousers.

Moving from ancient lore to the realm of modern fantasy, we continue to see these magical creatures and their kin popping up all over the place.

Our beloved unicorn has evolved from the unattainable symbol of purity into magical creatures found in the pages of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.

They still carry the ethereal quality of yore, but with added layers of depth and pathos that leave us reaching for the tissues.

Then there’s the griffin.

Pegasus, the flying horse, inspired J.K. Rowling’s winged beasts in the Harry Potter series, from Buckbeak the Hippogriff to Fawkes the Phoenix.

Our magical tour continues to reveal the rich tapestry of mythical beasts that have galloped, flown, and trotted their way from ancient mythology to the heart of modern fantasy.

They add a pinch of the extraordinary to our stories and continue to ignite our sense of wonder. And who knows, next time you spot an unusually large bird in the sky or hear a rustle in the forest, you might just start to wonder…


Let’s begin with the not-so-gentle giants. They’ve stomped their way through folklore from Jack’s beanstalk to the tales of David and Goliath.

Always towering over us mere mortals, they have a knack for making us feel like Lilliputians on a bad day.

Next on our parade of peculiarities are the goblins.

These mischievous miscreants of the night have their roots in European folklore.

Not exactly known for their good looks, they’re usually trotted out to serve as a warning to children who misbehave.

I imagine it’s like saying, “eat your peas, or the goblins will get you.”

And let’s not forget the brutish ogres.

This lot have been the stuff of nightmares since their first mention in the epic French poem “La Chanson de Roland”.

Traditionally depicted as large, ugly and fond of human snacks, these creatures would make terrible dinner guests.

Next on our monster menu are the harpies. These winged women of Greek mythology, known for their screeching cries and unsavoury habits, were once considered the personifications of wind.

Of course, over time they’ve become less wind goddess and more flying fury.

Next up, we have the infamous Minotaur.

This half-man, half-bull chap was known for his residence in a labyrinth on Crete and his penchant for the occasional human snack. If ever there was a case for carrying a ball of string and avoiding suspicious mazes, it’s this fellow.

Lastly, we have the trolls of Norse folklore. These behemoths, known for their strength, slow wits, and aversion to sunlight, were not the sort of creature you’d want to stumble upon on a late-night hike.

Switching on the lantern of modern fantasy, we can see the shadows of these monsters stretching out into some of our favourite tales.

The giants have been reinvented by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. Here, they range from the sympathetic and slightly dense Hagrid to the less appealing and significantly more violent Golgomath.

Goblins, with their green skin and industrious nature, find a home in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

They may be miners and metalsmiths, but their union rights leave much to be desired, and their customer service skills are truly something to wince at.

And then, there’s Shrek, our favourite ogre from William Steig’s book and the beloved DreamWorks film series.

He might have a face only a mother (or Fiona) could love, but he shows us that even ogres can have layers, just like onions.

The harpies, with their shrill cries and chaotic nature, can be found in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.

In these stories, they’ve been repurposed as punishment for those who overstay their welcome in the underworld.

It’s like being told to move along by a terrifying, shrieking bird-woman.

Our bull-headed friend, the Minotaur, also makes an appearance in the Percy Jackson series, where he’s quite miffed about being beaten by a young lad with a piece of string all those years ago.

And finally, trolls. They’ve found a new home under J.R.R. Tolkien’s bridges and within J.K. Rowling’s magical world.

Sea Monsters

Now it’s time to dive into into the ocean’s depths, exploring the mysteries and myths of sea monsters. From the mighty Kraken to the enchanting merfolk and deadly sirens, we’ll traverse the tumultuous tides of ancient legends to the calmer seas of modern fantasy.

First on our maritime itinerary is the colossal Kraken.

This legendary sea monster, hailing from Norse sagas, was reputedly large enough to envelop entire ships with its giant tentacles.

Next, we have the merfolk.

These aquatic creatures with the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish are prevalent in folklore from all over the world.

They might seem inviting, but their whimsical nature hides a propensity for causing shipwrecks.

Lastly, we’ll listen for the captivating call of the sirens.

These Greek mythological creatures, often confused with mermaids, were said to lure sailors to their doom with their irresistible songs.

Now, let’s surface into the realm of modern fantasy, where these sea monsters continue to make waves.

The terrifying Kraken appears in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, proving that even demigods should be wary of what lurks beneath the ocean’s surface.

Merfolk, in all their alluring mystique, have swam into the hearts of modern readers in stories like Sarah Henning’s Sea Witch. These aren’t your Disney princesses, mind you. They’ve got more bite than you’d expect from fishfolk.

And who can forget the sirens? Their enchanting melodies have echoed through the pages of countless fantasy novels, including the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking.

The Undead

Next, we’re lifting the lid on the coffin of undead mythology, from the spectral ghosts to bloodthirsty vampires and shambling zombies.

These timeless terrors have been chilling our spines from ancient legends to modern fantasy, so grab a garlic necklace, and let’s dig into the details!

First up, we have our friendly neighbourhood apparitions, the ghosts.

From Ancient Egypt to Shakespearean England, these ethereal beings have been haunting our narratives, often sticking around due to some unfinished business.

Next, let’s sink our teeth into vampires.

These undead aristocrats, originating from Eastern European folklore, are famed for their penchant for a liquid diet—type O, please, hold the garlic.

Lastly, we’ve got the ever-persistent zombies.

With roots in Haitian folklore, these undead folk don’t let a little thing like mortality get in the way of a good walk.

Ghosts float through many of our favourite stories.

From the mournful spirits in Susan Dennard’s Witchlands series to the helpful ghosts of Hogwarts in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, they’re as much a part of the scenery as the cobwebs in an old house.

Vampires, with their impressive canines and nocturnal habits, have swooped into the likes of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.

For some unfathomable reason, there’s something tantalising about a brooding, eternally young fellow who only comes out at night.

And let’s not forget the zombies, those steady if somewhat slow, pursuers of the living.

In novels like World War Z by Max Brooks, they serve as a stark reminder that the slow and steady can indeed win the race, especially if the race is to devour brains.


As the old saying goes, “Here be dragons!” But what are dragons, really?

Not the scaly blighters who keep nicking the BBQ sausages off your grill.

No, we’re talking about the fire-breathing, gold-hoarding, riddle-spouting creatures that have haunted the nightmares and fantasies of many a culture around the world.

Dragons are fascinating creatures.

They’re the Beyoncés of the mythological world—everyone’s heard of them, and they come with a full range of talents.

Breath of fire? Check.

Flight? Yep.

Shapeshifting, telepathy, riddles? All present and correct.

They’re multi-talented, to say the least, and it’s not difficult to see why they’ve captivated the imaginations of authors and readers alike in the realm of high fantasy.

One of the main reasons we’re so drawn to dragons, I suspect, is because they’re wildly different depending on who you ask.

In much of Western mythology, dragons are usually the baddies.

 They’re the embodiment of chaos and destruction, a menace that needs to be sorted out by our brave knight in shining armour.

St. George and the Dragon, anyone?

Meanwhile, some Eastern mythologies give us a different perspective.

 Here, dragons are often benevolent, symbols of wisdom and power, the kind of being you wouldn’t mind having around for a cuppa and a chat.

 They’re associated with water, agriculture, and the heavens, embodying harmony rather than chaos.

So, one dragon’s fiery chaos is another dragon’s spot of tea.

This diversity offers authors a fantastic toolbox when they’re crafting their high fantasy novels.

Whether a dragon is a fearsome antagonist, a wise ally, or an intriguing mixture of the two, it’s the dragon’s character that adds depth and colour to a tale.

It’s the one creature where the sky isn’t just the limit—it’s a mere starting point.

But these mythological fire-breathers didn’t simply pop up overnight.

Dragons have been slithering around in the imaginations of humans for millennia.

From their ominous roles in ancient religious texts to the great epics of early literature, let’s set our time machine back a bit and explore some of these beastly origin stories.

The Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish, introduces us to the rather marvellous Tiamat, a chaos sea-dragon.

She’s one of the earliest dragon-esque beings in mythology.

With her, we’re in serious trouble. I mean, she’s the embodiment of chaos. Nice lass, I’m sure, but not one for a quiet pint down at the local.

Fast forward to ancient Greece and we encounter a plethora of dragon-like creatures.

There’s the Hydra, a water serpent with nine heads, slain by our friendly neighbourhood demigod, Hercules.

And let’s not forget about Python, a dragon-serpent slain by the god Apollo, which even had a prophecy-telling gig at the Oracle of Delphi.

Over in the Bible, we have the well-known serpent from the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, often interpreted as a dragon in early Christian art and literature.

And don’t get me started on Revelation, where dragons and serpents are all the rage, particularly one “great red dragon” with seven heads.

Even the ancient Chinese had a spot for dragons, who were often considered as deities associated with water and weather.

These dragons were vastly different from their Western counterparts – they were symbols of power and luck, rather than monstrous beasts.

They even had a Dragon King, who was in charge of rain and water. So, if you had a water leak, you knew who to blame.

Whether they were feared or revered, dragons have been an integral part of cultural lore across the world, shaping tales and myths for thousands of years.

Even today, in our high fantasy novels, we see echoes of these ancient dragon tales, reminding us of our enduring fascination with these legendary beasts.

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey, or monomyth, is a common template found in many stories from cultures around the world.

Proposed by Joseph Campbell, it illustrates the cyclical journey undertaken by the protagonist—the hero—in a transformative adventure.

From the trials and tribulations of Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey to the adventures of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon, the hero’s journey is a tried and true formula that continues to capture the imaginations of readers the world over.

After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

The Hero’s Journey in The Lord of the Rings

The Ordinary World: This is the hero’s regular life before the story begins. For Frodo Baggins, the hero of our tale, this is his peaceful existence in the Shire.

Call to Adventure: The hero is presented with a challenge or quest. In Frodo’s case, this comes when he inherits the One Ring from Bilbo and learns of its dark history from Gandalf.

Refusal of the Call: Often, the hero will initially refuse the call due to fear or uncertainty. While Frodo is anxious about the dangerous journey, he understands the necessity and takes up the mission.

Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters someone who provides guidance or training. Gandalf serves as Frodo’s mentor, imparting knowledge about Middle-Earth, the Ring, and the dangerous quest ahead.

Crossing the Threshold: The hero leaves their ordinary world and embarks on their quest. Frodo, accompanied by his friends, leaves the Shire to take the Ring to Rivendell.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The hero faces a series of challenges while making friends and encountering foes. Frodo and his companions – the Fellowship of the Ring – encounter numerous obstacles, from Orcs to the treacherous Gollum.

Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches the goal. For Frodo, this is his arduous journey towards Mount Doom, the only place where the Ring can be destroyed.

The Ordeal: This is a major challenge that the hero must overcome, usually facing death or severe danger. Frodo faces many ordeals, notably the climactic struggle at Mount Doom, where he battles the influence of the Ring and Gollum’s treachery.

Reward (Seizing the Sword): After overcoming the ordeal, the hero receives a reward or accomplishes their goal. Frodo’s reward is the destruction of the Ring, leading to the defeat of Sauron and the liberation of Middle-earth.

The Road Back: The hero must return to their ordinary world. Here, Frodo and his companions return to the Shire.

Resurrection: This is the final test, where the hero must face the consequences of their journey. For Frodo, this is the scouring of the Shire, where he and his companions defend their home one last time.

Return with the Elixir: The hero returns to the ordinary world but is transformed by their journey. Frodo, forever changed by his journey, ultimately decides to leave Middle-earth with the elves, passing on his story (the ‘elixir’) to Sam to continue in the Shire.

Ten High Fantasy Books Inspired by Mythology and Folklore

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Blending elements of American folklore, Norse mythology, and modern-day life, Gaiman’s tale follows ex-convict Shadow Moon as he becomes embroiled in a war between the old gods and the new.

Circe by Madeline Miller

This enchanting novel tells the story of Circe, the daughter of the Titan Helios and the nymph Perse, who is banished to a remote island where she hones her witchcraft and encounters legendary figures from Greek mythology.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Drawing upon European folklore and mythology, Beagle’s novel tells the story of a unicorn who sets out on a journey to discover why she is the last of her kind, encountering a cast of colorful characters along the way. The novel is known for its beautiful prose and poignant exploration of themes such as love, loss, and mortality.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Set in medieval Russia, Arden’s novel draws upon Russian folklore and Slavic mythology to tell the story of a young girl named Vasilisa who must protect her village from dark forces.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

In this epic fantasy tale, Rothfuss draws inspiration from various mythologies and folklores to create a richly detailed world filled with magic, music, and adventure.

The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

In this beautifully crafted series, Jemisin weaves together elements of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern mythology to create a captivating tale of gods, mortals, and the power struggles that bind them.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin’s classic series is set in a world of magic and dragons, drawing inspiration from various folklores and myths, including Norse, Celtic, and Taoist traditions. The story follows the wizard Ged as he journeys through the islands of Earthsea, confronting ancient evils and learning the true meaning of power and wisdom. The series is known for its vivid world-building, complex characters, and exploration of themes such as balance, identity, and the power of language.

The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence

This dark, gritty series follows the rise of a ruthless prince named Jorg Ancrath as he battles demons, both internal and external, in a world shaped by ancient myths and legends.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

A love letter to storytelling, Morgenstern’s novel draws inspiration from a wide array of mythologies and folklores to create a mesmerizing tale of a hidden, magical world beneath the surface of our own.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

In this standalone epic fantasy, Shannon weaves together elements from Eastern and Western mythologies, creating a world filled with dragons, magic, and complex political intrigue.

Each of these stories offers a unique perspective on the timeless themes and archetypal characters that have captivated readers for centuries. Happy reading!

If you love high fantasy as much as I do, claim your free Ravenglass Universe starter library when you join my newsletter.

Discover the Enchanting Fantasy World of Helen Garraway: An Author Interview

Discover the captivating world of fantasy author Helen Garraway as she shares her inspirations, writing process, and the magic behind her acclaimed novels. Dive into a literary journey filled with adventure and imagination.

Step into the world of fantasy with author Helen Garraway as she shares her inspirations, writing process, and the themes she explores in her captivating novels.

In this interview, Helen discusses her love for fantasy and how she crafts intricate worlds and characters that resonate with readers. Join us on this literary journey that delves into the essence of fantasy storytelling.

 Get ready to discover a new author and be transported to realms filled with adventure, magic, and unforgettable tales.

So grab yourself a cuppa and embark on an enchanting adventure with this talented fantasy author.

What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

I wrote what I love to read. My favourite genre is fantasy and I love world building. I came up with the idea behind the Sentinals series while walking through local woods. I wondered what tales the trees could tell since they had stood there for up to hundred years, if not more. And then I thought what if they could talk, and that led to what if there were people in the trees, and so was born the Sentinals series.

I was at a crossroads in my life, big changes, and I suddenly had time on my hands, and so I began writing, a creative dam was released and out poured seven books! I have gradually been working my way through them, editing, polishing and self publishing them.

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

With the Sentinals series it grew as I wrote each book. Each book is set in a different land, and the terrain and environment contributes to the plot and atmosphere. With the importance of woods and trees, the first country was like the leafy shires I live in the UK. Plenty of water, rain or rivers and plenty of greenery. I didn’t want to explain or describe technology, so my world was a no-to-low technology world and then that led to what was possible. Out of that grew the history of the world, the political and religious structure, and then the conflicts.

For the SoulMist series my starting point was light and dark, the land of angels was sunny and bright,  the land of the soulless was dim and grim. The environment and atmosphere were driven by that starting point, but as the first line says ‘Not all that was good was in the light; there was good in the dark too, if you bothered to look.’ And then I wanted to play with the idea of prejudice and assumptions. Why should the shadowy world be bad just because they were in the shadows? And off you go!

Can you walk us through your writing process?

Well, I could try. I am a bit spontaneous! Though the more I write, the more I have become a planner. I know where I’m starting and where I want to end, the middle can end up a surprise! I tend to write scenes in isolation. As I think of them, I have to capture the idea before I forget it, and then slot them into the timeline after. The most frustrating part is when a scene pops into your head for a different book when you’re trying to finish off another. Distractions happen all the time for writers, sometimes I think it is amazing we actually finish a book!

Would you survive in your own fantasy world?

Yes, I think so. I would love to sun myself on the beaches of Birtoli, though not so sure about the fish diet!

What themes do you explore in your work?

At the heart of my Sentinals story is the chosen one, a person who would never have believed he was the one to save the world, and the fact that he doesn’t have to everything on his own. It is not wrong to ask for expect others to help. He has a supporting cast of wonderful characters which varies from book to book, but reinforce the found family supporting each other no matter the task. There is also a theme of protection, of protecting those who can’t protect themselves, the Sentinals are the guardians, of the people and the land.

What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?

I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on, but my love of fantasy comes from reading David Eddings ‘Belgarion’ and ‘Mallorean’ series. They would be my main influence, followed by Lois Bujold McMasters and her fantasy books. The Curse of Chalion being my favourite, but I also love Space opera, thrillers, historical books, and more, all of which contribute to your writing as you don’t just write a ‘fantasy’ it has romance, action, betrayal, the world has a history, everything feeds into the final story.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?

I needed to find natural substances that explode when combined. I didn’t have gunpowder so I was looking for which natural products I could substitute and describe, with it being possible in my world!   Fertilizers can be quite interesting!!

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

I hope readers manage to escape into a new world and forget their real life. A moment of pure entertainment and escapism. I don’t claim to have any moral high ground, but I hope there is an element of good prevailing over bad, and that we should look after each other and work together for a better life.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?

I would love a pet dragon, they are just so beautiful and varied, and I would love to fly!

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

To be able to Heal would be amazing, preferably me as well!

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Birlerion. I love him and he is so resourceful. He’d find a way to get us off the island. I would also have the chance to understand him further, as there is much still hidden and yet to be written about!.

What would you name your pet dragon?

Hmmm! This might change a few times till I get the right name. The one that’s feels just right! I suppose it depends on what he looks like. Keair, maybe… or Keaire (just added an ‘e”) I would play with the letters and sounds and evolve the them into one that feels just right. For example my Arifels, started out as Alfie, the name of my cat as he was the inspiration, and evolved from there.

Where is the best place to start reading your work? first book in the epic fantasy Sentinals Series is Sentinals Awaken, though there is a prequel novella Sentinals Stirring where the main characters first meet, it’s a free download, if you sign up to my newsletter, (link on my website or you can purchase it via Amazon. The Sentinal series currently comprises of five books and three novellas.

The first book in the Romantic Fantasy SoulMist series is SoulBreather. I’ve just finished writing the second book, so on to editing.

All my books are on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. Paperback/Hardcover can be found at the bookstore of your choice, and the first two books of the Sentinals series are available in Audible, with the third currently being narrated.

About the Author:

Helen Garraway is the USA Today Bestselling author of the award-winning epic fantasy Sentinal series which was first published in 2020, followed by the first book of the fantasy romance SoulMist series, SoulBreather, released in 2022 as part of the Realm of Darkness boxset.

An avid reader of many different fiction genres, a love she inherited from her mother, Helen writes fantasy novels and also enjoys paper crafting and scrapbooking as an escape from the pressure of the day job.

Having graduated from the University of Southampton with a Degree in Politics and International Relations, she remains an active member of their alumni.

Find Helen online:


Everything else:

Jon’s Author Diary – July 7, 2023

This week, Jon balanced writing, web migration, and tax work. A new chapter of “Guild of Assassins” is ready for Substack. His website shifted back to WordPress. Amid tasks, he read “The Outcast Dead” and began “Deliverance Lost.” He plans to return to “Ravenglass Legends” next week.

Welcome back to Jon’s Author Diary for the week ending July 9, 2023.

This week has been filled with a fair mix of creation, organization, and some obligatory tax paperwork.

I’m delighted to announce the completion of another riveting chapter from my ongoing project, Guild of Assassins, which is scheduled to go live on Substack this coming Saturday. You won’t want to miss it!

Much of my time this week was consumed with a digital migration of sorts, moving my website back to WordPress – a task that required plenty of patience and attention to detail. In between the lines of coding and content organization, I tackled my taxes, something I’m sure we can all agree is a thrilling way to spend a week.

Amid all the work, I managed to find some treasured reading time, completing ‘The Outcast Dead’ in the epic Horus Heresy series. With no pause, I’ve already dived into the next book, ‘Deliverance Lost.’ I can’t wait to share my thoughts on these in an upcoming review.

Looking ahead, I’m eager to return to the heart of my craft – writing. Next week, I will be immersing myself back into the world of Ravenglass Legends with the second book, along with the continued work on Guild of Assassins.

Make sure to tune in next week to follow along on my author journey. Like, share, and subscribe if you haven’t already, and let’s continue this writing adventure together.

So, until next time, cheerio.

Fate of Wizardoms: An Interview With Jeffrey L. Kohanek

Discover the enchanting world of fantasy author Jeffrey L. Kohanek and his captivating series, Fate of Wizardoms. Explore his writing process, world-building techniques, and immersive storytelling. Join the adventure today!

Interview with Jeffrey L Kohanek

Jeffrey L. Kohanek has enthralled readers with his fast-paced fantasy series, Fate of Wizardoms.

In this interview, Jeffrey takes us behind the scenes of his writing process, the inspiration for his world-building, and what readers can expect from his work.

So grab a cuppa, put your feet up, and let’s dive into the mind of Jeffrey L. Kohanek.

What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

As a kid, comic books sparked my imagination, inspiring fantasies of heroes with super-powers saving the day. My tastes later evolved to fantasy epics featuring unlikely heroes overcoming impossible odds to save worlds born from the writer’s imagination.

Since middle school, I have exclusively read fantasy fiction, the total titles approaching 1,000 novels. The authors who have come before me helped to form the stories I tell, but what inspired me the most were the magic systems, something which I enjoy greatly and ensure said magic permeates the worlds I create.

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

Worldbuilding includes many aspects: geography, politics, climate, magic, culture, gods, religion, mythos, and more.

I often begin with a map, which helps to ground the story in a sense of reality while defining topography, climate, borders, city locations, and more. Gods, religion, and magic are also early aspects I define and all of those things combine to influence the politics, culture, and the mythos that exists in each nation across my fantasy world.

Can you walk us through your writing process?

I try to write every day and set a weekly goal of 10,000 words minimum and 12,000 as the target.

Drafting takes six to eight weeks depending on the breadth of the story. After completing a first draft, I dive into revisions, which is my favorite part of writing.

Two rounds of revisions with technical edits performed in between leaves me with a novel ready for editing. My editor gives it two passes, I incorporate the necessary edits, and then my books go to my proofing team of four people. They are the typo hunters.

When that is done, I send to my ARC/review team and the book releases a few weeks later. By then, I am nearly finished drafting the next book.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?

I often research odd medieval professions to add depth to my stories.

One of those was a tanner, which is a nasty, dirty job held by the father of the protagonist in my very first novel. Tanners use urine, lime and other odiferous chemicals to treat and clean hides. Hence, they also live on the downwind side and on the outskirts of a city. Who wants to live near a tanner?

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

My books are written for pure entertainment, but my favorite scenes are the ones that cause readers to laugh out loud. I find that fantasy tales are often too serious, dark, and gritty, so the laughter helps to balance the tense moments. That is what I want readers to remember from my books.

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

I love magic that can transform a regular person into something super human, even if just for a short time. It is sort of like a superhero in a fantasy world, which I find to be fun.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

I love many of my characters, but I have a secret crush on a wizardess named Narine. While she was a bit pretentious and spoiled when I first introduced her, she grew up nicely, has a good heart, and is feisty for a former princess. I would happily be trapped on a deserted island with her.

Where is the best place to start reading your work?

This depends on your age and interest. If you are under fifteen or prefer coming-of-age elements with teen protagonists, check out my Runes of Issalia series.

If you are an adult and enjoy more complex stories featuring adult characters who deal with adult topics, start with Fate of Wizardoms.

If you enjoy either series, there are follow-up series set in the same world, leaving the reader plenty to enjoy.

About the author:

I love fantasy, adventure, and magic. More than that, I adore my readers.

My books are written to entertain — fantasy adventures filled with compelling characters, spectacular magic, thrilling action, constant intrigue, and a sense of discovery. I equate them to the “Marvel Movie” version of fiction, intended to be a fun escape.

I would love to have you join me and my quirky characters for one outrageous adventure after another. With 24 novels and more than two million published words to my name, my author journey has just begun.

Find Jeffrey online:





Exploring the Art of Fantasy Writing with Melissa Ragland

Melissa Ragland, the critically acclaimed author of the A Crown of Lilies fantasy series, takes us on a captivating journey in this interview. Discover her inspiration, writing process, and thoughts on fantasy writing. Grab a cuppa and delve into the world of Melissa Ragland’s enchanting stories. Perfect for fans of Scott Lynch, Robin Hobb, and Brent Weeks.

Melissa Ragland author

Melissa Ragland is the critically acclaimed author by the A Crown of Lilies fantasy series.

In this interview, we will delve into her journey as a writer, her inspiration, and her thoughts on fantasy writing.

So grab yourself a cuppa and let’s get started…

What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

I’ve been making up stories since I was a little girl. By the time I began writing them down, the subject matter had begun to trend toward the types of books I loved the most: fantasy. From the dragons of Pern to Anne Bishop’s dark epics, tales of magic and adventure have always resonated deeply with me. I wanted to paint those kinds of worlds, those kinds of characters, with a brush of my own.

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

I’m obsessed with world-building. For my own part, I work out every piece of the universe I want to write in. Politics, culture, traditions, religion, wars, geography, you name it, and it’s probably scribbled in a journal somewhere. I think it’s important that the author understands their world to that extent. I think it’s equally important not to dump all of it on the reader, though.

Giving some context about a nation’s history is one thing, but readers don’t need to know the main export of the neighboring province of the main character’s second cousin. The payoff for your restraint, as a writer, is those little moments where you get to reveal another critical piece of this vast world you’ve built to the reader. You know that they’ll experience a little ‘aha’ moment, and become even more invested in the universe because they understand a bit better how all the pieces work together.

Can you walk us through your writing process?

I started as a pantser, only plotting out the next chapter as I went along. My desk was a mess of notecards and ideas scribbled in journals. When I started the edits for my second book, I realized what a mistake that was and my organizer-brain took over. Now I’m a strict plotter and I use Dabble to keep my outline and notes in order.

As for the process itself, I’m pretty Plain Jane. I know many authors jump around their manuscript to keep writing when they get stuck, but I can’t do it. I have to start at the beginning and work through it. Even though I outline, there’s a lot of nuance that comes out in the actual drafting and by jumping around, I feel like it’s too easy to drop those threads.

Would you survive in your own fantasy world?

I’d like to think so! I’m resourceful and a good problem-solver. Honestly, though, I have absolutely no poker face so I’d be worthless at court. Maybe I’d be okay if I was incarnated as something mundane like a dressmaker’s apprentice or a stable hand.

What themes do you explore in your work?

I like to think that humanity is the primary theme behind all my writing. Fiction has a tendency to portray characters and events in terms of good an evil, but human nature spans such an immense range between the two that those concepts almost lose all meaning. Most of our actions in life fall in the gray space between. That is where I believe the greatest strength of our species lies: in enduring, in making mistakes, in facing our failures and striving to be better.

What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?

Music can get me into the flow when nothing else can. I don’t always listen to music when I’m writing, but I’m gearing up for a session or doing some brainstorming, it’s a must.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?

For book 2 (Lazerin), I spent hours researching how thatched roofs are made. I watched dozens of videos on YouTube, read articles about historic buildings, crawled through blog posts. In the end, it ended up only impacting a few paragraphs, but I learned a lot!

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

Entertainment, of course, but also inspiration. I hope my characters inspire readers to look at themselves and their lives in a more forgiving light. It’s possible to make all the wrong choices, to make costly mistakes, and still be a force for good. Keep getting back up. Keep fighting. It might not always work out, but keep trying to do the right thing.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?

Dragon, of course! But maybe just a small one because I don’t think my grocery budget can support a Game of Thrones level dragon. Meat is expensive, these days!

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

Immortality. I’d spend centuries learning every language, reading every book, writing all the stories in my head, and perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Aubrey! Because if Pirates of the Caribbean taught us anything, it’s that deserted islands always have hidden stashes of rum and Aubrey would be the most fun on a multi-day bender.

What would you name your pet dragon?

Assuming it’s a small library-guardian sort of dragon, I’m gonna go with Frank.

Where is the best place to start reading your work?

All my books are free to read on Kindle Unlimited and I also offer review copies on Story Origin.

Traitor (A Crown of Lilies, Book 1)

About the Author:

A voracious reader from her youth, Melissa Ragland has spent her life absorbing stories. In libraries and bookstores, she devoted three decades to the study of fiction, dissecting the weave and weft of good storytelling.

​Now, after a long stint in the much-beloved heat of Austin, Texas, Ragland has returned to the Midwest woodlands of her youth to pursue her lifelong passion for writing. Her lush and unapologetic debut fantasy series has earned accolades from readers and fellow authors alike, with book one (‘Traitor’) being selected as a Page Turner Awards finalist and earning a Reedsy Discovery five-star review.

Find Melissa online




Announcing: Guild of Assassins – A New Project on Substack!

I am thrilled to announce a new project that I will be sharing exclusively with you on my Substack page: Guild of Assassins.

Hello from sunny Morecambe!

I am thrilled to announce a new project that I will be sharing exclusively with you on my Substack page: Guild of Assassins.

This is your chance to dive into a world of intrigue, danger, and dark epic fantasy as you follow the tale of Soren, a young sculptor’s apprentice on his path to becoming a member of the Assassins’ Guild.

Set in the Ravenglass Universe, Guild of Assassins is both a standalone story and a prequel to my novel, Dawn of Assassins. Whether you’re already a fan of this series or just discovering it, this adventure promises to captivate you from the very beginning.

By subscribing to my Substack, you’ll gain a rare glimpse into my writing process. You’ll be able to read chapters of the novel-in-progress, and I encourage you to share your thoughts, comments, and support as we embark on this journey together.

Please keep in mind that the chapters posted may not appear in the final novel, as I often make cuts and revisions during the final draft. This means you’ll be experiencing an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the raw, unfiltered story as it unfolds.

Be the first to explore the shadowy corners of the Ravenglass Universe and uncover the secrets of the Assassins’ Guild.

Follow Soren’s journey from humble beginnings to his ultimate destiny and immerse yourself in a tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

So, are you ready to join the adventure?

Don’t wait—subscribe to my Substack now and begin your exclusive journey into the world of Guild of Assassins. Together, let’s explore and discover what lies within.

Join me now by subscribing to my Substack page:

See you on the other side!


Unleashing the Magic: An Interview with Fantasy Author Clayton Wood

Discover the captivating fantasy worlds crafted by Clayton Wood, the mastermind behind the Runic, Fate of Legends, and Magic of Havenwood series. Join us as we delve into his writing journey, inspiration, and insights into the realm of fantasy fiction.

Fantasy Author Clayton Wood

Clayton Wood is the mastermind behind several popular fantasy series, including the Runic series, Fate of Legends series, and Magic of Havenwood series.

In this interview, we will delve into Clayton’s journey as a writer, his inspiration, and his thoughts on fantasy writing.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?

Fantasy books were my go-when I was a kid, and I devoured series by Piers Anthony, R.A. Salvatore, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, and many more. Why fantasy appeals to me, I cannot honestly say. All I know is that my muse constantly conjures new ideas for me to work with, and she’ll make my life a living hell if I let her down by not using them!

How do you approach world-building in your stories?

For me, world-building usually grows from the main theme or themes I’m exploring in a series. For example, The Magic Collector was about art and creativity as magical forces, and so I incorporated works of art quite literally into the world. Books about castles made castles, and books about giants made giants. In contrast, Elazar the Magician was in part about dogma and ways of knowing, and thus a scientific and technologically more advanced society clashed with a religious one. Both were slaves to their own dogma, and the truly enlightened were magicians. Magicians who gained their powers through magic mushrooms, which inspired mushroom-shaped symbolism in the world-building process.

Can you walk us through your writing process?

Normally an idea for a new series comes out of the blue for me (see note on my abusive muse above), and I let it grow and mutate in my brain for a year or so. I know it’s ready for writing when it stops changing, solidifying into a world, narrative, and a couple of characters. I have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end, and when I write, I let the characters fill in the rest. Mostly because if I try to get in their way, they’ll stage a mutiny.

As for how I structure my time, I usually order book covers from my cover designer 6 months in advance. 2 for the Spring, 2 for the Fall. Nothing is written yet when I order them, but they gotta be done by the time the covers are due to be made. That way I keep a pace of around 4 books published a year.

Would you survive in your own fantasy world?

My wife says no, ’cause I’m soft. But she’s totally wrong.

What themes do you explore in your work?

For the Runic series, it was the role of various father figures in growth and self-actualization…how negative father figures can create conflict that forces growth through adversity, and how positive father figures can do so with mentoring and nurturing.

For the Fate of Legends series, I explored group identity vs. individual identity, and the magnetic-field-like forces that force those with weaker wills to align with stronger wills. Also, the ways in which failing to identify as part of the greater world can lead to calamity.

For the Magic of Havenwood series, I explored the creative process itself, making art magical. Writers wrote books that created entire lands and monsters, while sculptures came to life. Musicians could manipulate emotions and time itself, while Actors could literally transform into who they played. And Painters could take objects and living creatures they’d painted out of their canvases, bringing them to life. It was a fun way to explore my own creative process, teaching the reader some things that I’d learned. It was also a way to explore secondary themes of the dark and light parts of the human soul, and the somewhat lost idea of redemption.

For Inappropriate Magic, I explored the themes pertinent to the mid-life crisis, where one realizes they’re going to die, the life they’ve lived is one they fell into and no longer want, and that they need to find meaning and purpose in their life.

What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?

Most authors I liked made me want to write a book like theirs. Piers Anthony made me want to be as creative as possible in my writing, instead of just parroting books I’ve read.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?

Coral reef reproduction as it pertains to a character from the battle over Alexandria during the rein of King Ptolemy VIII.

What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

First and foremost that they enjoy themselves. Secondly that each book makes them think a little bit. And third, that someone – even one person – is inspired to write their own book after reading mine. That’s what fantasy authors did for me, and if I can do that for someone else, that would be amazing.

Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?

Dragon. They’re badass. Although I’ve had both in my books. A rude, sarcastic skeletal dragon called Nemesis, and a…gifted unicorn named Peter.

If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?

Healing people. I’m a physician, so I naturally want to make people better!

If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Vi. I feel like her survival skills would keep me alive…if she didn’t kill me for my lame Dad jokes, that is. My wife has considered it, but she’s waiting for my life insurance application to be processed.

What would you name your pet dragon?

Unicorn. Now I get to have both!

Where is the best place to start reading your work?

*It depends on your tastes. If you like classic coming-of-age fantasy, Runic Awakening.

If you prefer to have your heartstrings pulled at, The Magic Collector. If you like gritty medieval fantasy, Hunter of Legends.

If magic mushroom-based magic in a steampunk world is your thing, Elazar the Magician.

And if you enjoy inappropriate humor, Inappropriate Magic!

About the author.

Clayton Wood is the author of the Runic series, the Fate of Legends series, the Magic of Havenwood series, the Magic of Magic series, and the Masks of Eternity series. He’s been a computer programmer, graphics designer, martial-arts instructor, and now works in the medical field. He has a wife and three wonderful children.

Writing was always Clayton’s passion, but it wasn’t until the birth of his first son that he found the inspiration necessary to finish his first book. Five years later, he published Runic Awakening, the first entry in the Runic Series.

Find Clayton online:




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