Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran joins me for this month’s Learn With Me, sharing an academic discussion of folklore, fiction, responsibility in using story, the universality of motif, and conspiracy theories!
The iconic red gates mark the entrance to a shrine, defining a sacred space, but to many outside Japan they are most associated with Fushimi Inari Taisha, the famous shrine at Kyoto. While there are many fascinating aspects to explore here, the seemingly-endless red torii are a captivating visual and immediately recognizable all over the world.
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) was founded in 711, on Inariyama (Mt. Inari) outside Kyoto. The main structure today dates to 1499 (but is regularly reconstructed, per tradition). Inari Ōkami is the Shinto spirit of rice and its related themes of sake and prosperity. For this reason, you will see donated sake near the shrines.
Throughout Shinto’s long history, Inari has been variously depicted as both male and female. While Susan Spann graciously guided me on my first visit to Fushimi Inari Taisha, we were amused by our distinct references in conversation—I kept referring to Inari as she, and Susan kept saying he, but really that makes sense when you remember that we write in different historical periods.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Japan lately. Just over a year ago I was on a dream trip through the country, visiting historic sites both famous and less touristy, and I am anxiously waiting for 2020 to play through to see if I can make my scheduled trip this fall, where I plan to hike the Kumano Kodō (熊野古道), a network of millennium-old pilgrimage trails through the south.
But while I wait, I’ve been reminiscing.
Author and Tōkyō resident Susan Spann was my guide to the best of Hakone, from the hotel where we were personally greeted to the little Italian restaurant where the owner brought in a wood-burning pizza oven. (Fair warning: I’m going to be talking up her books, both her historical mysteries about the murder-solving ninja/Catholic priest duo and her upcoming memoir about climbing 100 Japanese peaks in a year to change her inner and outer life.)
Today I am pleased to announce a new anthology full of rich, creamy, dieselpunk goodness.
Two young women defy the devil with the power of friendship. The pilot of a talking plane discovers a woman who transforms into a swan every night and is pulled into a much more personal conflict than the war he’s already fighting. A pair of twins with special powers find themselves in Eva Braun’s custody and wrapped up in a nefarious plan. A team of female special agents must destroy a secret weapon–the spindle–before it can be deployed, but when they discover one of their number has betrayed them, things get messy. The daughter of a gangster is being held hostage on the top floor of a hotel and, now unbeknownst to her, the secret that had been keeping her safe has been revealed and her time is running out. These and over a dozen other dieselpunk and decopunk fairy tales can be found in this anthology.
Retellings of The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Monkey King, Swan Lake, Pinoccio and more are all showcased alongside some original fairy tale-like stories. Featuring stories by Alicia K. Anderson, Jack Bates, Patrick Bollivar, Sara Cleto, Amanda C. Davis, Jennifer R. Donohue, Juliet Harper, Blake Jessop, A.A. Medina, Lizz Donnelly, Nellie K. Neves, Wendy Nikel, Brian Trent, Alena Van Arendonk, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Sarah Van Goethem, Robert E. Vardeman and Zannier Alejandra
Do you guys remember back when I talked about an urban fantasy featuring Japanese youkai in the American northwest? K. Bird Lincoln’s Dream Eater was a fun ride featuring one of the less popularized youkai and Native American entities as well, in the fun setting of Portland. (Fun fact: I read my copy en route to Portland.)
Then I read (again on a business trip to Portland, though pure dumb luck) the sequel, Black Pearl Dreaming, which was even better. (Yes, there’s probably some personal bias in that, because I’m always gonna be a sucker for supernatural power plays and I admit it — but it was still a good read.) This time we got to visit Japan and meet a wider circle of youkai, including some more familiar to western audiences, and pick up additional historical-political implications.
And I just learned that there’s now a side novelette to accompany the soon-to-be-trilogy, all about Kennosuke the kitsune. And you can get Bringer-of-Death for free or 99c, your choice, here at K. Bird Lincoln’s blog.
(I’m posting this from extremely limited internet and cannot successfully upload a cover pic. Just click through to look at the cute fox.)
Note: I have only just acquired my copy as I write this and haven’t read it yet, but it appears that Bringer-of-Death may have some spoilers for Black Pearl Dreaming. Bear that in mind if you’re a spoiler-averse type like myself.
Need an autumn read (or a spring read, for my southern hemisphere friends)? Today a writer friend’s book is free, so I’m helping to spread the word.
From the tragedy of The Little Mermaid, and the mystery of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, comes the truth that ties them both together: the story of the love that saved a life and started a war, of the quest that became an obsession…of the seaman who, for love of a mermaid, became a legend.
“An absorbing twist on the classic tale that will fill your head with nautical fantasies and make you wish for a very different film version of The Little Mermaid.”
Evangeline Denmark, author of Curio
“A wonderfully creative blend of fairy tale and steampunk sci-fi. Mary Schlegel has written a charming, yet poignant story that manages to rework and blend two seemingly disparate myths. I really enjoyed this. Five starfish rating!”
Mike Duran, author of the Reagan Moon novels and The Telling
Fans of Verne or mermaids will want to grab this while it’s free. Enjoy!
A week ago, I posted this short personal tale to my Facebook page:
As I got into my car to drive home last night at 2 am, my proximity sensor warned me something was close behind my car. I checked my mirrors, checked the rear camera, but nothing. I started to back out, and the proximity warning screamed. I checked again. Nothing. Backed up veeery slowly, the warning shrieking the entire time.
I drove home. I pulled up to my gate, set well back from the road, under large trees between empty fields, in the total dark of a feeble moon. Proximity warning goes off. I check the mirrors and camera. Proximity sensor indicates something big and very close behind.
This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background
I just found this post in draft form, never published, and I thought since The Songweaver’s Vow is the March 2018 read for the Fellowship of Fantasy online book club (join us!), now would be a good time to add some more background. (Check out the rest of the posts in the series.) Plus, everyone likes to talk about Loki.
Today’s guest post is from K F Baugh — why yes, we are related, by marriage — on her new book Valley of the Broken. As I also write from traditional folklore and various cultures, I really like her take on traditional folkloric representations of the humanity we still are now, and what that means for us.
Who can say what will spark the idea for new book?
Okay, lemme be honest: I have never liked phone charms. I don’t like dangling things which catch and snag and serve no useful purpose (I rarely wear bracelets) and frankly most charms just aren’t that, well, charming.
So you know that these charms have to be adorable, because I kind of want one. Or two. Or a set.
There are five of these available now, and I’m thrilled to see some variation on the usual youkai offerings. Not that I don’t love kitsune and kappa, because I do (especially the older, scarier versions), but because there are more youkai than just the kitsune and kappa, okay?