We are pleased to have author Anton Strout stop by today about his thoughts on the urban fantasy genre. His newest novel is Stonecast. It is the second novel in the Spellmason Chronicles urban fantasy series and will be released on September 24, 2013 from Ace/Penguin. Want to know our thoughts on the first book in the Spellmason Chronicles, Alchemystic? Read our review here.
*Anton is matching donations for when people pre-order his book, he’s giving a dollar to Pat Rothfuss’s Worldbuilder’s charity (they give all proceeds to Heifer International). Penguin is matching donations for the first $1500, and Barnes and Noble also is stepping in and donating a dollar as well.*
Fantasy author Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville and currently lives in the haunted corn maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you).
He is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and Alchemystic, book one of the upcoming Spellmason Chronicles for Ace Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA). Anton is also the author of many short tales published in anthologies by DAW Books.
The Once & Future Podcast is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format.
He has been a featured author guest of honor, speaker and workshop leader at San Diego Comic-Con, Gencon, New York Comic-Con, the Brooklyn Book Festival and many other conventions.
Want to read more from Anton Strout?
Heart of Darkness, or I Know Why The Urban Fantasy Hero/Heroine Laughs
by Anton Strout
First of all, thanks to Dark Faerie Tales for letting me take their stage for a moment. Paraphrasing Shakespeare here: all the world is indeed a stage and we are merely players… but we’ll get back to Billy Shakes in a moment.
When my first series featuring paranormal detective Simon Canderous got picked up in 2007, I had written it because, frankly, no one was quite telling the stories I wanted to be hearing, so I took it upon myself to create those types of tales. The results were Dead To Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter and Dead Waters.
Sense a theme there?
Despite how deadly those titles might sound, there was a lot of humor to those books and I had a hell of a fun time writing them. And, yes, I had felt compelled to write them. I had read a lot of kick ass heroes and heroines out there in urban fantasy—and loved them—but they left me wanting more, which is why I started writing. Why?
The urban fantasy I had been reading was full of darkness and gravitas, but lacked a certain lightness that years of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer had instilled in me. (I hadn’t yet discovered Harry Dresden, as well as a host of others… all bow to the majesty that is Jim Butcher!)
But when first setting out to write, I had to first consider what was out there in the world that was going to color my own take on the genre. My tastes in reading were all over the board, but when I closely examined what I truly loved I realized that most of my favorite dark tales have elements of humor to them.
Which brings my back to the bard of Statford on Avon…
I love Hamlet, as well as many of the other Shakespearean tragedies, but let’s go with the doomed Dane since it’s likely that most of you are at least passingly familiar with it. Hamlet is indeed a tragedy. Know how I know? Nearly everyone you meet or care about is pretty much dead by the end. Now, that could be a real downer, and clocking in at over four hours on the stage, you might want to throw yourself into a river like Ophelia… if it weren’t for the fact that while tragic, Hamlet is also friggin’ hysterical.
The feigned madness of Hamlet, the bafoonish Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the clownish gravedigger, the shoddy advice Polonius gives… every where you look, there is humor. Why?
Because humor makes an otherwise bleak downer of a tragedy palatable. It breaks up the tension. It gives you highs and lows because without them Hamlet would be unwatchable.
But it’s not just the classics that do this! I realized it’s why I like Spider-man, too.
While comic books run a bit melodramatic at times, it is still life and death to the heroes and heroines within. Peter Parker quips his way through situations behind the mask because it makes it a bearable burden to be Spider-man. And it gives us the readers a chance to breathe easy from time to time. It’s why I love him. It’s why my heroes and heroines are the way they are. Because if you’re going to unleash gothic Lovecraftian horrors on the modern world, you’re going to have to laugh your way through it or else go mad.
And that’s what I discovered in writing my first series—I like my urban fantasy with some humor to it. And with Alchemystic, the start of The Spellmason Chronicles, I think I’ve achieved an even more nuanced balance of the two.
For example: one of the two narrative perspectives is that of a centuries old gargoyle with little understanding of modern language or idioms. The other is that of a modern day twentysomething sculptor works along side her Dungeons & Dragons playing male nerd as well as her oldest friend who has decided the glaive guisarme pole arm is the best weapon to use on the streets of Manhattan because it appeals to the dancer in her.
Both the Simon Canderous books and The Spellmason Chronicles were born out of love, but I really had to write them because I simply wasn’t reading the type of dark and humorous tales I craved. So I gave them life, and in doing so, discovered that the heart of darkness is also full of laughter.
The release of Stonecast, book two of the Spellmason Chronicles, continues that love I have for the mix, and I hope you check it out and find something new to love yourself.
Come for the sorrow. Stay for the laughter.
The rest is silence.
Thanks again for reading.
Exeunt stage left.
Available September 24, 2013 from Ace/Penguin
About this Book:
The adventures of a girl and her gargoyle continue in the second installment of this “thrilling, funny and eerie” fantasy series. —Romantic Times on Alchemystic
Alexandra Belarus, the last practicing Spellmason, doesn’t know what has become of Stanis—her gargoyle protector. Hidden forces are watching her and threatening her, and, now, she’s worried for her stone-hearted friend—who may no longer be so friendly…
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