At last, with the ink dry on the contract, I can now say that my story, Blood Fire, will see publication in a new sword and sorcery anthology, Assassins, coming in late 2011 from Rogue Blades Entertainment.
The list of authors and the stories is:
* Erin M. Hartshorn ~ “Snake in the Grass”
* Ramon Rozas III ~ “Three Rules to Live By”
* Dayle A. Dermatis ~ “The Sultan’s Sons”
* Seth Skorkowsky ~ “The Blossom of Eternity”
* C. L. Werner ~ “A Blade for the Dead”
* Steve Goble ~ “Otrossius and the 13 Assassins”
* Carl Walmsley ~ “Homecoming”
* Robert E. Waters ~ “The People’s Avenger”
* Josh Brown ~ “Goldenbee’s Savior”
* Jonathan Moeller ~ “Artists”
* John R. Fultz ~ “A Fool in the Court of the Idiot-King”
* Bill Ward ~ “Shadow of the Demonspawn Emperor”
* Phil Emery ~ “Endgame Assassins”
* Alter S. Reiss ~ “Difficulties of the Eight Quarters”
* Bruce Durham ~ “Dark Assassin”
* Wil Dan Collins ~ “Citadel of Screaming Spires”
* Robert Mammone ~ “Blood Fire”
* Christine Lucas ~ “The Last Dues Owed”
* Craig Comer ~ “The Blood of Khalid Al’Tahir”
* J.M. Martin ~ “Blind Ambition”
* Christopher Heath ~ “Azieran: A Penance, of Sorts”
While this blog has been mostly about my exploits writing short horror fiction, my first true reading love has been fantasy. One of the first books I bought, outside of a school reading club, was Champions of the Sidhe by Kenneth C Flint. This was way back in 1984, my first year of high school and we were on a family holiday down on the Victorian coast (Lakes Entrance for those who live in Australia). I bought the book (I missed the fact it was the second in the trilogy until I started reading it) and was immediately captivated not only by the setting, but also the brisk and confident story telling. After that, it was all downhill (in a good way).
High school became a procession of Conan books (originals and pastiches), Tolkien (of course!), Brooks (hmm…), Donaldson (dense and brilliant) and David Gemmell in the late 1980s (seriously, I reckon you can only really ‘get’ Gemmell if you encounter him as a teenager) and dozens of other authors plundered from the school library and the very few bookshops in my home town.
True, I read some science fiction and a great deal of horror (it was the height of the horror boom and Shaun Huston couldn’t help but release a book a year) but fantasy was always where my heart lay.
So while I’ve been enjoying writing horror, when the chance came along to send a submission into RBE I grabbed at it. Assassins is an anthology of…well, I let the owner and editor of the site Jason Waltz, say it:
Covert operatives, righteous zealots; paid killers, fateful avengers; government agents, mercenary hitmen. Death dealers. Silent stalkers of the dark, the empty, the lonely spaces. Bold aggressors of the lit, the populated, the noisome places. Patient experts at blade, garrote, poison, dart…mishap.
Jason originally wanted the first 500 words sent in, to get an early start and see if the stories submitted were what he was after. Fortunately, he liked what I had written, and gave me the go ahead to send the rest in. The story is essentially a straight forward adventure tale, in a non-Earth fantasy setting, with just a dash of weird horror thrown in as a nod to the works of Robert E. Howard.
I’ll have more to say about the story, and the anthology it forms part of, when it is released as a paperback later in 2011, but until then, a short excerpt to whet the appetite…
Nom felt a fierce surge of joy. Dealing death from the shadows brought him only coin, never satisfaction. Testing his skills against an equal was rare. Blade to blade, killer against killer, he relished the challenge. He beckoned with his free hand. Eyes widening, the killer twitched his arms and a blade slipped into each hand. Saluting, he surged forward and Nom raced to meet him.
Blades flew together and apart in a web of steel as they feinted and attacked. Nom dipped to one side and aimed a cut at the killer’s knee, only to see him somersault forward and turn the motion into a backhanded slash. The blade raked Nom’s side in a line of fire.
Staggering aside, Nom batted away one of the blades, trapped the other with his foot, then hammered his knuckleduster wrapped fist into the killer’s stomach. Nom rushed in, hammering blow after blow against his struggling foe, who backpedaled desperately until he crashed against a wall.
Panting, Nom swayed, feeling blood trickling into his boot. Time stretched before him in a strange paralysis. His opponent seemed stunned. ‘Finish it,’ hissed a voice in his head. Straightening, Nom closed for the killing blow.
And there we shall leave them.