Hi everyone! In case you haven't already seen me screaming about it, the Timeless 2 anthology released on Nov. 30! Because I was curious about my fellow anthology contributors, I got together a few of them for an interview session. This is a fantastic chance to learn more about the faces behind the anthology stories. Everyone's social medias will be linked down below!
Q1: Introduce yourself. What genre do you write?
Mindi Briar: Hi, I'm Mindi Briar! I’m a library assistant from Seattle, WA, where I live with my husband and three cats, Comma, Apostrophe, and Nimi. I’m a HUGE nerd for all things science fiction and fantasy, so of course I love writing in the speculative fiction realm. The niche that I’m focusing on right now is futuristic fantasy/romance, with some crossover into solarpunk. I have one previous short story published in Wings of Renewal: A Solarpunk Dragon Anthology.
Elle Hartford: Hi! I'm an avid writer and reader whose daily responsibilities include Tortoise Caretaker, Cat Mom, and Suburban Forest Guardian (okay, technically my day job title is "Education and Outreach Coordinator," but all that coordination is in service of a local watershed and small forest). As Elle Hartford, I write fairytale-inspired cozy mysteries. What are those, you ask? Well, here's a good example . . .
Barend Nieuwstraten III: Hello, I'm Barend Nieuwstraten III. I write, I make music, and I sometimes draw. Despite always wanting to do it, I've been putting off the writing thing for a very long time, but properly embraced it over the last few years. Then circumstance saw me unemployed two years ago, so I decided to stay indoors (avoiding fire and plague) and decided to write for my life. In that time, I've had over 20 stories (shorts/novelettes/novellas) published in anthologies, while working on standalone books in between, hoping to get back to an epic series I'm working on. Mostly keeping within a single Fantasy storyverse, an alternate history future, and occasionally a little steampunk.
Charlotte Langtree: Hi! I’m Charlotte Langtree, an author and poet from the north of England. My main genre is fantasy, but I do enjoy dabbling with other genres if a submission opportunity catches my eye. I’ve had several short stories and poems published in various anthologies and magazines, and was recently voted winner of the Great Clarendon House Writing Challenge 2021. I’m excited to be part of a number of fantastic anthologies due out in 2022. I’m also working on my first novel (the first in a fantasy series), a solo anthology of my own speculative short stories, and a poetry collection. Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My auntie once told me if I looked for magic in this world, I would find it; she was right! It’s right there at the end of my pen!
Q2: Introduce your story in Timeless 2. What drew you to submit?
Elle: Imagine if "Cinderella" was from the fairy godmother's point of view -- and Cinderella herself was about to take matters into her own hands. Set that story in a cozy fairytale town, and you have "The Alchemical Godmother." Instead of a fairy we have Red (yes, like "Little Red Riding Hood," except my Red is more interested in science than in talking to strangers in the woods), who gets herself into more trouble than she'd expected by promising to help a neighbor solve a crime. Red and her friends are part of a continuing series I'm working on. (And for those who are still curious, "cozy mystery" generally means a story with an amateur sleuth, little violence, and a quaint setting.) Actually, this retelling of Cinderella was one of the first mysteries I wrote with Red, and when I stumbled across Dragon Soul Press's call for retold fairy tales I knew I had to polish up the story and send it in.
Mindi: My story is titled “Cat and Mouse: A Puss In Boots Retelling.” It follows Zara Carabas, one of the last surviving humans after shapeshifting "ogres" went cannibal. Her entire hunting party has been eaten, and she's about to be next... until salvation appears in the surprising form of a shapeshifter who prefers the form of a cat. I wrote this story years ago, after having a disturbing dream about human "mice" and cannibal "ogres" that was probably brought on by watching Attack On Titan. I loved the story, but it was so weird and bloody that I wasn’t sure I’d ever find a publication home for it. I’m so excited that I finally did!
Charlotte: I am so thrilled to be included in the Timeless 2 anthology alongside such wonderful writers. My story ‘The Shadow Queen’ is an original retelling of Cinderella where the heroine takes control of her own life, the antagonist has loftier ambitions than marriage, and the fairy godmothers know there’s more to life than balls and pretty dresses. I’ve always loved fairy tales but, even as a child, I was frustrated at the meek role played by the heroines. Why didn’t they fix their own problems? Why did they always need a man to rescue them? Why, oh why, did they put up with so much nonsense? When I saw the call for Timeless 2, I had to write something that spoke to the budding feminist I had been as a little girl (and the proud feminist I grew up to be!).
Barend: Was trying to strictly stick within my three genre-based storyverses, to build upon them, so I didn't imagine I'd get involved in a fairy tale twist. But when I heard about 'Timeless 2', I found myself wondering something about a particular element of Snow White (I can't say too much – you'll understand once you read it). So, I started writing to see if I could remedy my own curiosity and 'Upon Reflection' was born.
Q3: What’s your favorite fairytale retelling?
Barend: I was always fond of Rik Mayall presenting the show 'Grim Tales' when I was a kid. I think they're all up on Youtube. It was a weekday afternoon staple. The animations mixed with the telling were a perfect combination. Creepy and often gross, everything I could have hoped for at the time.
Charlotte: There are so many to choose from! I think I’ll have to go with Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. It’s so original. I’ve never read anything else like it. The story blends the tale of Sleeping Beauty with the horrors of WW2 and the holocaust. The writing is beautiful and utterly heartbreaking. I highly recommend it.
Mindi: I am OBSESSED with the movie "Ever After" starring Drew Barrymore. It has everything you could ask for in a Cinderella story: a smart heroine who takes her fate into her own hands, a swoony prince with more than fluff between his ears, a stepmother who’s wonderfully hateable, and the crowning jewel…Leonardo Da Vinci as the fairy godmother.
Elle: Ack, what a hard question! I grew up devouring novels from the "Once Upon a Time" series, especially ones written by Cameron Dokey (Beauty Sleep was one of my favorites). On the mystery side of things, I also have to shout out Maia Chance's "Fairy Tale Fatal" series, which puts themes of mystery and myth in a Victorian setting.
Q4: Tell us something interesting about your writing process.
Charlotte: I tend to start a new story with a clear idea of who my main character is. They come to me almost fully formed, with strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, quirks and flaws ready to trip them up on their journey. My stories develop from the character. What would happen if they were in a certain situation? What would have to occur to make them behave in a certain way? My writing focuses a lot on the universality of emotion, whether positive or negative, and on what makes us human, so it makes sense that my stories are character-driven. It makes for an interesting ride; sometimes they surprise me!
Barend: I'm a discovery/gardener/pantser writer. I typically start stories with a blank page, drop a couple of people into a place and then see where the journey takes me. Obviously, I know the genre before I start and have some vague idea of where or what it's going to be about, but often I couldn't even begin to imagine writing a premise or outline until I'm finished the first draft. I think there's a door open between my subconscious and conscious mind. I know the information is in there somewhere, as if the story already exists, but I need to unpack and translate it into words onto the page to know the specifics. Rest assured, that on almost every occasion I'm as surprised as the readers will be at any twist or turn. I often harvest my own dreams, when the narrative is sufficiently coherent (and I remember enough of it).
Elle: Long-time blog readers will know that I pull information (and inspiration!) for my writing from many different places, including an ever-growing personal library on everything from botany to mermaids and history of science to uses of myth. But I also love mining https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html for different versions of fairy tales. In fact, I'll probably do a blog post about all the different varieties of Cinderella next week.
Mindi: I’m a pantser at heart. I start with a main idea, usually a situation or a dynamic between characters, and just run with it to see where it goes. My debut novel (out next May) was supposed to be a short story, until I just…kept…going… Lately, I’ve had to learn how to plot for the sake of not getting stuck in a corner, but I ALWAYS go off-script and rewrite my outlines multiple times over the course of writing a story.
Q5: What’s next for you? If your story is part of a wider universe, what’s next for your characters?
Elle: Well, for folks who first encounter Red and her friends in "The Alchemical Godmother," there's a whole world ahead of you! My series of short stories, The Carousel Capers -- which is currently coming out one story at a time in my newsletter -- takes place after the "Godmother" story, and sees Red becoming more familiar with her new home. And after that, there's a series of mystery novels waiting in the wings. And that answers what's next for me as well as for Red! My first novel set in her world, tentatively titled Beauty and the Alchemist, is almost ready to be released. I'm already hard at work on its sequels, and on writing more short stories. So stay tuned for more news soon. :)
Mindi: “Cat and Mouse” is a bit of a departure from the storyverse I’ve been working in. Most of my writing takes place in what I’ve dubbed The Halcyon Universe, a futuristic fantasy world full of dragons, pirates, and romance. The first in the series, Adrift in Starlight, is set to release next May from City Owl Press. It’s a fun romantic adventure about a courtesan who gets paid to seduce an asexual lady, and all the planet-hopping hijinks that ensue.
Barend: Well, this story serves as a prequel to Snow White, so what happens in the original story is what happens next. I think is a standalone tale, otherwise. So, 'Timesless 2' will probably be the only place it's ever available. As for me, I'll punch on building my three worlds in bits and pieces, from drabbles to series. I'm currently working on a fantasy novel (one of several, I have brewing) and hope to get back to my 7 book series at some point, once I have a few novels out.
Charlotte: I am currently editing my first novel. It’s book one of a fantasy trilogy exploring magic, prejudice, and motherhood. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to share it with the world!
Q6: Where can we follow you and/or buy your books?
And of course, if you haven't already, make sure to check out all of the above-mentioned stories in Timeless 2, available for purchase now!