6 Christmas Reads to Get You in the Mood

With Christmas right around the corner, I turned to the Cupán Fae Facebook group to ask for recommendations of books to read to get in the mood for the upcoming holiday. With a couple to throw in myself, here are six Christmas reads!

1. Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett

IT’S THE NIGHT BEFORE HOGSWATCH AND IT’S TOO QUIET.

Where is the big jolly fat man? Why is Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho? The darkest night of the year is getting a lot darker…

Susan the gothic governess has got to sort it out by morning, otherwise there won’t be a morning. Ever again…

The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too).

As they say: You’d better watch out…

Recommended by Roisín Tuohy.

 

2. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

A whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist!

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” 16-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on her favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. Dash, in a bad mood during the holidays, happens to be the first guy to pick up the notebook and rise to its challenges. What follows is a whirlwind romance as Dash and Lily trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City. But can their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions, or will their scavenger hunt end in a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? Co-written by Rachel Cohn (GINGERBREAD) and David Levithan, co-author of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON with John Green (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), DASH & LILY’S BOOK OF DARES is a love story that will have readers scouring bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Recommended by Ellen Brickley.

3. The Night of Wishes: Or, the Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion, by Michael Ende

Told partly in rhyme, this account of the adventures of sorcerer Beelzebub Preposteror introduces a host of unusual and compelling characters. By the author of The Neverending Story.

Recommended by Lelya Telli. 

 

 

 

 

4. I am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas, by Adam Roberts

Marley was dead. Again.

The legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns!

Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town?

Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde?

Was Tiny Tim’s illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?

It’s the Dickensian Zombie Apocalypse – God Bless us, one and all!

Recommended by Paul Carroll. See also: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

5. Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Recommended by Paul Carroll.

6. Dreamspinner Press’s Advent Calendar

Dreamspinner’s annual advent calendar is a chance for readers of gay romance fiction to explore different genres published by the company, all relating to Christmas, one published every day. Chosen for this post, Hero for the Holidays, a Spandex and Superheroes story.

Recommended by Jenn Quinn.

5 Questions with Paul Carroll

Our debut anthology Dublin’s Fierce City launches at Octocon tomorrow! Today, we’re interviewing Paul Carroll, who will be part of the launch team.

Paul Carroll

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

Broadly speaking, fantasy and a bit of light sci-fi, but that’s never set in stone. My books lean towards the supernatural or mythical, while two of the comics I write are adventure stories – one with a superhero, the other a homicidal cat. I don’t believe in unnecessary constraints.

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

As a child, I would have leaned towards Darren Shan a lot for this. The more I reflect on it, Garth Nix ended up having an early influence on me. More recently, authors like Andrew Kaufman, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman have been a sort of encouragement to let myself write more of what I enjoy, whereas Donny Cates (a comic writer) helped me realise that sometimes stories are allowed to be a little bit insane, so long as they work.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

Definitely a planner. I can’t sit down and just start writing without an outline of some description. This comes down to never knowing when I’d have to stop, and fearing I’ll forget that one big moment of inspiration by the time I get to it in a book.

Planning, especially with the amount of detail I sometimes throw in, let’s me focus more on how I tell a story once I sit down to write. It also helps me remember to include everything in a scene, like a pile of magazines that I need to remember to write into a room so I can light them on fire later. (A very specific example, I know.)

Ultimately, it’s a safety net, and it let’s me pick up a book to write without having to worry about where I was.

4. What are you working on now?

While I continue my NaNo Prep on two books for November – sequels to A Death in the Family and Second Sight for Sore Eyes – I’m working on a couple of comic scripts. One is a sort of mystic-adventure tale, and the other is an all-ages superhero story set in Dublin (The Wren.)

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

Worry about your “writing career” after you’ve figured out how to write a book (play/comic/short story/etc.)

Telling good stories is more important in the beginning than whether they’re (a) publishable or (b) what you want to build your career on the back of. I haven’t touched most of the books I wrote while figuring out what I like to write and what I think does well for me, and I probably would wait to publish anything if I was given the chance to start over again, at least until I had more work done

When you’re ready, then you can begin to look at the best way to publish something, and whether something is worth publishing. That’s when you focus on marketing and your career and the idea of making money from your writing.

In short: stories first, business later.

When you do start your career, then, try not let the business side of things spoil the creative side.

About Paul

Paul Carroll is a writer and comic creator from Dublin, one third of Limit Break Comics and a founding member of Cupán Fae. He writes books supernatural fiction and stories inspired by Irish folklore, which earned him a place on Geek Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ list. As part of Limit Break Comics, Paul launched his first collection of short stories, ‘Life & Death’, building on his experience on ‘Meouch’ with Gareth Luby, and ‘The Wren’ with Buttonpress Publications. He is the owner and editor of Comix Ireland, and runs social media and vendor bookings for the Geek Mart.

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

5 Questions with Kat Dodd

We’re getting close to the launch of Dublin’s Fierce City at Octocon. This interview is with one of the authors who will be helping launch the book: Kat Dodd!

Kat Dodd

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

I tend to hang out mostly in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. In both, it tends more towards “like real life but a little bit different. Part of it is that there’s no proof that fantasy elements aren’t real so therefore it doesn’t actually break the world rules to include them, but people tend to look at you funny when you write a story about someone falling in love with their ghostly roommate and say that it could happen in real life. I like to play around with things that are familiar but different. That being said, almost all my stories have a thread of romance going through them, and most of my characters wind up with their Happily Ever Afters or their Happily Ever (For Now)s. Well. Those that don’t die. Because some of them die. It can happen. -shifty eyes-

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

Oh golly, this is so hard for me to answer because the truth is that a lot of them did. In some ways, authors like Rachel Caine (she wrote the Morganville Vampires) because way back when I was a wee baby Kat, Baby Kat and Rachel Caine both wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic. I knew her through that before I found her books on the shelf at Hastings and proceeded to freak the freak out. So she inspired me because we got started in similar ways (fanfiction), and showed me that it was possible to break into traditional publishing (which I haven’t done because I actually prefer Indie).

Along the same lines – those lines being “authors that I know in some way or another” – I actually have a story about being told that I Was A Writer. I was about eleven or twelve, and had moved to a small town in Arkansas earlier that year, and my brother and I would go hang out at one of his friends’ houses a lot because our moms had become good friends, we all went to the same tiny church, and I got along pretty well with the younger sister despite a pretty hefty age gap. My mom asked Ms Charlaine (“Miz” if you’re from the South) if she’d mind taking a look at some of the things I’d written and giving basic feedback, and Ms Charlaine told me that my mom had told her that I liked to write and would I mind showing her something? So I started digging through all my notebooks because my notebook hoarding started early, finding little scraps of things that I’d written all through out during school, but I was desperate to find something good enough to show Miz Charlaine. Ms Charlaine stopped me and said (paraphrased because I’m horrible at remembering verbatem) “I can tell you something right now: you’re already a writer. It remains to be seen if you’re a good writer, but you can learn that. You are a writer, and that can’t be taught.” That stuck with me for years, and flash forward to seventeen year old Kat reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book, and reading the About the Author section in the back and realizing Miz Charlaine was Charlaine Harris. I called my mom, freaking out that the author I’d been reading for literal years was Miz Charlaine and she’d told me that I was a writer.

Whenever I get down on myself, I remember that.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

I plan and then I decide to do something else.

In seriousness, I do a little bit of both. I do a bastardized version of the Snowflake Method, and have a loose “map” of what I want to write, goals to hit, etc, and I write at least 100 words for each thing, and then if I get bogged down but I’ve hit word count, I mark it and move on to the next. I come back later, possibly during editing but equally possibly during writer’s block, and finish it, polish it up, smooth over any clunky transitions. It helps me keep moving forwards, and because I know what things I want to hit on, I know to not do something in a spur of the moment that will ruin something I have planned for later. But there’s still plenty of spontaneity, too.

4. What are you working on now?

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. At any given time, I’m working to some extent or another on anywhere from three to eight projects because I don’t know how to focus on one thing at a time. At the moment, I think I’m actually at four, with two of them taking up more of my brain than others. One project is a novel in the Fairy Lights world, Fairy Lights being my contribution to the Dublin’s Fierce City anthology. One is actually getting wrapped up an I’m just figuring out the best way to do things, and that’s a Sci-Fi with humans fighting off an alien invasion over the course of decades. One is a biker romance (not Sci-Fi? not Fantasy? what’s going on, Kat? are you feeling okay?) that has a woman trying to figure out what’s more important to her, keeping her promises and staying in an abusive marriage, or her own emotional health. The fourth project… I’m going to keep that a secret, actually. But it’s churning over in my head. For NaNoWriMo in November, I plan on tackling the three I’ve already talked about, and a story that I’ve been calling “Campy Space Disaster” in my head, because it was honestly inspired by me watching a music video and going “this video looks like it’s the theme song of a campy space disaster movie and I would watch the hell out of that movie and now I’m actively mad that no such movie exists I guess I’m going to write that story”.

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

Don’t give up. Just keep writing. If you write ten words a day, that’s ten more than you had yesterday. Write every day, even if it’s only a sentence. Don’t let anyone talk you out of writing. Keep a notebook with you at all times – seriously, I do so much of my writing in the bathroom, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, just write. A first draft doesn’t have to be good, it just has to exist.

It’s okay if the basic story has already been told. Your version of it hasn’t been told yet. Nobody’s told the story in the way that you’re going to, with the characters that you have. (There are some plot archetypes that I will read every single time that I come across them, and they’re all different because the characters are different.) On that note: characters are more important than plot. It can be the best plot in the world, and if I’m not engaged in the characters, I’m not going to care about how the plot affects them.

This is a lot more than one piece of advice, I’m so sorry. So if there’s only one thing that I could give, it would be this: Believe in yourself and just keep writing. It’s okay to get discouraged, just keep writing. No matter what, just keep writing. There’s a story in you, I know it. And if it’s a little zany, a little weird, so what? As the Cheshire Cat said, we’re all mad here. So you’re in good company.

About Kat

Kat Dodd is an American transplant that escaped from a small town in Arkansas right between Toad Suck, Pickles Gap, and Wooster. The first story she ever wrote was in a purple crayon in her journal, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her typical genres are a conglomeration of fantasy/sci-fi, LGBTQI+, and YA, with a thread of romance going through them. She lives with her Spouse-Type-Creature, though she frequently forgets to feed him.

thekatdodd.wordpress.com

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

5 Questions with Axel J Sparrow

The launch of Dublin’s Fierce City is getting closer. We’re back with another interview, this time with Axel J Sparrow!

Axel J Sparrow

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

Fantasy, usually concerning worlds other than our own. I do dabble in sci-fi from time to time, but high fantasy is where my heart is.

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

As a child, authors like Philip Pullman, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Erin Hunter… I read a lot as a child. I always had a great love for Roald Dahl’s ability to make magic out of the mundane. And His Dark Materials remains one of my most profound inspirations to this day.

My teenage years were peppered with Neil Gaiman. As are my adult years. I wonder what my writing would have been like if I’d read Neverwhere sooner.

My adult inspiration comes from authors like V. E. Schwab, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. LeGuin, Scott Lynch, Sarah Maria Griffin, and Dave Rudden. There’s a little bit of Terry Pratchett in there too, thanks to my partner.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

I used to be a pantser but I’m now pretty firmly in the planner camp. It feels really good to have a folder full of worldbuilding notes and scene lists. I’m able to hammer out a first draft quite quickly when I have dots to connect. But my pantsing roots often start to show in between those dots!

4. What are you working on now?

I’m about two thirds of the way through the first draft of a novel about an alchemist who has a year to buy his mother’s alchemy parlour from her. That sounds kinda boring, but there’s dragons and the fantasy mafia and quite a bit of gender-bending involved. I started it a couple of years ago and got about 40k words in, then left it in a drawer to ferment for a while. Now I think it’s ready to be finished.

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

Don’t strive for perfection with your first draft. Just get it written. Even the greatest of books had shite first drafts.

About Axel

Axel J. Sparrow was born and raised in Dublin. He owes his love of sci-fi and fantasy to his father, who immersed him in library visits and Star Trek: The Next Generation from a very young age. When he’s not spinning stories and scribbling them down, Axel enjoys going for long walks in his local park, and taking naps with his cat Artemis. Follow him on Twitter @ArcherofAnarchy

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

 

5 Questions with Tommy Arrigan

With the release of Dublin’s Fierce City  edging closer, we’re catching up with another writer from the book. You won’t find him online, but here’s Tommy Arrigan!

Tommy Arrigan

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

Fantasy I suppose, as it’s where I seem to have ended up so far. There’s almost always some element of the impossible (or impossibly improbable!) in the mix.

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

If I had to pick one I’d say Aldous Huxley. Mostly because of his novel Antic Hay, which I found to be a powerfully poignant reflection on what we do with the time that we have in life. It feels like that’s what pushed me to the point of rolling my sleeves up.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

It’s a spectrum! I’m trying to drag myself towards the planner end, but it’s so very far away…

4. What are you working on now?

Planning my next project, as it happens. Last Nanowrimo (also my first!) I wrote quite freely with just an overall story to follow, so I’d like to attempt something more structured to see how it compares.

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

Get started and keep going! It’s very easy to not get around to actually writing, so you really do need to actively set aside time for it. Even small amounts add up surprisingly quickly, provided you keep at it.

About Tommy

Tommy Arrigan is half country lad, half city boy. His youth was happily spent growing up in the sticks, before making his way to the smoke where he’s continued growing up ever since, not feeling quite done yet. This is his first serious stab at writing fiction, which has been much harder work than expected but all the more satisfying for it, and he feels anyone who likes the idea of trying should knuckle down and give it a real go. Among his favourite authors are LeGuin, Atwood, Huxley and Mieville. Musically, meanwhile, David Bowie reigns supreme.

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

5 Questions with Amy Fitzpatrick

The countdown to the launch of Dublin’s Fierce City continues, so here is next in our series interviews with the writers of the book. This time we’re talking to Amy Fitzpatrick!

Amy Fitzpatrick

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

Given the nature of Cupán Fae, I hope it would be obvious! I lean more towards fantasy then sci-fi however and occasionally dip my toes into horror.

I try to keep things humorous as well, we could all use a little more laughter in our lives.

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

As a child, Eoin Colfer and J.K. Rowling, and as I have grown, Terry Pratchett, Hiromu Arakawa, James Joyce and Louise O’Neill.

As cheesy as it sounds, I also draw a lot of inspiration from friends and family. I have been lucky enough to be raised by and make friends with some incredibly talented people. Seeing the stuff they make and how hard they work also pushes me to pursue my goals.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

Ooh, no. I have to have a plan. If I don’t everything falls apart for me, I lose motivation and get lost trying to figure out where the plot is leading.

I try not to go into too great a depth of detail in plans however. I think a lot of ideas come from being in the flow of writing itself. Building basic skeletons for plot and characters is the best way for me to feel like I know what I am doing without restricting myself too much.

4. What are you working on now?

Prepping for this year’s NaNoWriMo! I only started doing Nano last year and… failed at it pretty miserably. But this year, I not only have a better plan going into it but I also have a better idea of what to expect both from the project and from myself. I’m very much looking forward to starting.

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

Discipline is more important than inspiration.

You could have the greatest ideas in the world but they do not mean anything until you actually sit down and put them on paper. Forcing yourself to write when you don’t feel like it is difficult but it is only by putting down one word at a time that you can get it done.

Try to make a habit of it. 100, 200, 300 words a day. It could be a story you are working on or just your stream of consciousness. Whatever it is, get it down. Pluck the thoughts from your head and bind them with ink and keyboard. Take a few minutes every day to make them real.

About Amy

Amy Fitzpatrick is a writer and Dublin native. Her hunger for fantasy and sci-fi was sparked from a young age and has been fed a steady diet of books, comics and video games ever since. When she isn’t writing, Amy spends most of her time browsing the internet and trying to be funny. She can be found doing both on Twitter @alphaaction902

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

5 Questions with Mark Kielty

With the launch of Dublin’s Fierce City imminent, we’re here to present interviews with the writers of the book. First up is Mark Kielty!

Mark Kielty

Mark Kielty

1. What genre do you like to write in most?

I like writing YA Urban Fantasy and YA Urban Sci-fi.

2. Which author or authors inspired you to write?

I would say Brandon Sanderson for a number of reasons. Firstly, people usually know him for books such as the Mistborn and Elantris series, but I actually read Steelheart first. I remember thinking I’d love to be able to write like that. Then I read The Rithmatist and Snapshot. One was steam punk and the other was a mix between Sci-fi and crime. It goes to show how versatile he is and I’d like to write different genres the way he does. If I became an eighth of the writer he is then I’d count myself lucky.

Secondly, Brandon Sanderson is a writing teacher and I watched all his tutorials online. He’s great at explaining things and I admire that he’s willing to pass on his knowledge.

I should also mention JK Rowling. If you’ve read the Magical Bounty Hunters, you’ll see that I’ve definitely been influenced by Harry Potter. I try to do the magic thing a little differently though, but I think if you like Harry Potter, you might enjoy the Magical Bounty Hunters.

3. Are you a planner or a pantser, and how does that work out for you?

Pantser, or what it’s sometimes known as a Discovery Writer. I write for the same reason I read. To discover the story as I go. I remember trying to write a novel for the first time and I enjoyed writing every chapter. I got lost in a world and the characters would surprise me at times.

I’m not sure if it’s the best way to write a book or story but for me it’s the most fun way and that’s all that really matters to me right now – that I enjoy writing.

4. What are you working on now?

I wrote the Magical Bounty Hunters for the Dublin’s Fierce City anthology and I want to write more on that. I’d like to do a series of stories, about 10,000 words each. Not many people are writing stories with this word count (that I’ve heard of) and I’m exploring its possibilities. There are positives and negatives and I’m learning a lot by doing it.

That being said I’ve written draft books with ideas I want to revisit. I’m going to try out some planning this time and see what the fuss is about but I imagine I’ll be a pantser for most of it.

5. What’s your one piece of advice for new writers?

The common advice is to read a lot and write a lot. But I would add learn a lot. Learn to write. Brandon Sanderson recorded his lectures for BYU on YouTube. I’d watch those. You can also go onto Groupon and do some of the online writing courses for as little as twenty euros which could be helpful. Learning to write means you can avoid making a lot of first time writer mistakes. If you’re beginning to write, I’d learn about points of view – you’ll save so much time and heartache. Once you learn the basics, writing becomes more meaningful.

About Mark

Mark Kielty, from Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, has a bachelor’s degree in Religious Education and English along with a Master’s in Education. Though he has been writing fiction for the last number of years this is his first publication and he is hoping to develop this story into a series. He has a keen interest in hurling and basketball and volunteers as a coach with the Special Olympics.

About Dublin’s Fierce City

In Dublin’s Fierce City, nine writers from the group present seventeen tales of magic and wonder.

Explore a city of fairies and ghosts, where one is as bad as the other. Avoid the curses of witches, and escape the wrath of angels and demons. Survive alien invasions and all out war, and come out the other side seeing the whole world differently.

Buy it now on Amazon.

Dublin’s Fierce City at Octocon

Cupán Fae is heading to Octocon for its first convention, on October 20th and 21st to laun,ch our debut anthology Dublin’s Fierce City.  As well as appearing on a couple of panels, Paul Carroll and Kat Dodd will be tabling in the Trade Hall, with the anthology and the full range of their books and comics, and Helen Carroll attending to help launch the book.

Octocon is Ireland’s oldest sci-fi and fantasy convention, established in 1990 to celebrate stories from books, comics, film, TV and games.

We’re proud to be bringing our first collaborative project to Octocon, to celebrate for a full weekend of books with like-minded individuals. We will be flying the NaNoWriMo flag while we’re at it, with NaNo being the joining force that brought Cupán Fae together.

Join us this month for our launch, and keep an eye out here for other events we’ll be tabling at in the future.