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Friday, November 11, 2016

Writing Modern Faeries: A Guest Post From Hazel West


Today's guest author is Hazel West. Hazel is the author of many, many novels of historical fantasy and fiction. Her latest books, however, are urban fantasy, with Faeries and fast cars. You might enjoy them if you like the Wicked Lovely novels of Melissa Marr.

Currently, Hazel is doing a blog tour for Book 2 of this series, but before her guest post, why not take a look at the blurbs for both books? 

In an Ireland that mixes high kings, faeries, and modern warriors who drive fast cars, Ciran, a descendant from the famous warrior Fionn Mac Cool, bands together with a company of young warriors to go on a quest to recover their missing family members who were captured on patrol by the Goblins during a shaky peace between the two kingdoms. Ciran and his companions must figure out not only how they are going to rescue the prisoners, but how they are going to complete their mission without killing each other. This first book in the new urban fantasy series by Hazel West is a story of brotherhood and friendship against all odds, that mixes the ancient Irish legends with a modern setting for an action-packed read.

Following up where Blood Ties left off, Ciran and company face not only a possible Faerie rebellion in the works, but getting their High King married off. The adventures of the modern day Fianna continues in this exciting sequel with hints of the legend of Tam Lin.  

Without further ado, here's Hazel to tell you all about An Earthly King!

Since the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series is set in a world that is slightly neo-medieval and has a mixture of modern things and ancient things, I had a lot of decisions to make when crafting the world. One of which was how to portray the Faeries and the Fae courts, which is what the plotline of Book Two An Earthly King is based upon.

I have read a lot of Faerie books and a lot of times I noticed that whether they’re fantasy, urban fantasy, or historical fantasy, they all seem to keep the Fae pretty traditional. I kind of wanted to take a different approach with that. Obviously the Fae are an ancient race, but why can’t they keep up with the times? 

When I introduced the Goblin race in Book One I kept them sort of off the grid, mainly because they are living at the very northern point of Ireland where in this world, they have few resources for electricity and whatnot but yet they still had their preferred transportation method, motorcycles and wear their leathers and biker boots. When I got to thinking about how to portray the Fae courts in Book Two I kind of went the same rout and made them sort of somewhere in between. Yes, when they are in their own realm, there is little to no need of modern conveniences, but that doesn’t mean they can’t drive a car or use a mobile phone. 

Probably my favorite part of writing this series is the fact I get to take what I want from traditional folklore and blend it into a modern setting. In this case, I kept quite a lot of traditional Faerie lore but at the same time, I changed a few things here and there to sort of fit better into a world more like ours. Why can’t Faerie princes wear Armani, after all? That also led to the BPAFF organization (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) who are sort of the human/Fae liaisons. They deal with Faerie related crimes but also help to keep the peace between the humans and the Courts.

One of the main story lines in An Earthly King is that it’s based a little off of the Ballad of Tam Lin, which I even reference in the story, because, of course, Tam Lin would be a historical account to them. That meant a good part of the story focused on the Faerie ride on Samhain’s Eve and the Wild Hunt and how you win someone back from the Fae. It’s one of my favorite stories ever because it has so much traditional lore crammed into it, and it was really fun to sit down and actually deconstruct the story, looking for clues throughout it and figuring out why Janet did what she did. Like meeting the Faeries at a crossroad, or waiting until the strike of midnight and wearing a green cloak. 

Then of course, I also did research into how to ward against Faeries and there is a plethora of knowledge on that from the traditional iron and rowan, to pure silver and running water. I even researched traditional ‘Seeing’ potions and found an actual recipe from the 1600s. 

As a long time fan of Faerie lore I have been having a blast on researching this series, and I can’t wait for you guys to see what happens in the next one!

Thanks for sharing, Hazel! If you think Modern Tales Of Na Fianna might be just right for you, here are the links below. 

(And since she mentions Tam Lin, here's a link to a wonderful Tam Lin web site I discovered some time ago. It has the words to the ballad, the story outline and plenty more  information about it.)


Lexa Cain said...

I enjoyed reading about Hazel's take on modern faeries and Irish ballads. Wishing her much success with her new release!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Lexa, I'm sure Hazel will appreciate that.

Hazel West said...

@Lexa: I'm glad you enjoyed the guest post, thanks!

@Sue: Thanks again for hosting :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks for visiting, Hazel! :)