Featured Author: Christopher Courtley

Featured Author:     Christopher Courtley

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  1.  Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’ve been telling stories, writing poetry and prose, and drawing (or more like doodling) for as long as I can remember. I’m not happy unless I’m creating. A consequence of this, perhaps, is that I’ve also been a bit of a misfit for as long as I can remember. As a child I had what one might call a fey nature. I was a very solitary, private person for much of my life, mostly nocturnal and attracted to dark and lonely places, old forests and brooding wastelands, ruins, graveyards; a lover of mist and moonlight, fascinated by the creatures of the night, and by death, the paranormal, and the occult. This disposition has served to shape both my life and my work.

2.  What made you decide to write (the genre of your book), were there any influencing factors, or were any of the stories based on true events.   

I’ve always loved fantasy, especially dark fantasy, and Gothic horror, and found that these elements often come together in fairy tales of the type collected by the Grimms in addition to those included in the Arabian Nights and not a few written by Hans Christian Andersen as well, so naturally some of my earliest writings have been in that vein. I’m also a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, so his work has had a major influence on my own, especially pertaining to the realms of Faerie and my poetic experience of them.

3.  How do you promote your book, and do you find that difficult or just par for the course.

I use social networking almost exclusively to promote my books. Right now the most important promotional tools for me besides my blog are Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google +, and the Virtual Ebook Fair.

4.   Do you remember your first review and how it made you feel?  (If it was a bad one, also tell about your good one too).

Yes, I remember it well. I almost don’t need to copy-paste it because I remember it almost word-for-word, but I will do so anyway for the sake of accuracy: “if you like the dark side of things this book is for you.i love the short stories and the poems if you like that odd creepy feeling when your reading.this book will surely do it for you”. This review made me feel really good because this is exactly the sort of reaction I was going for.

5.  Tell us about your book and if it’s a series and how the public is reacting to this book.

My book, TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS, is a collection of original dark fairy tales and fairy-related poetry. While it isn’t exactly a series, it’s a small taste of things to come. So far the reaction to this very first book of mine has been overwhelmingly positive, so I am excited about releasing my next, even larger collection of dark fairy tales, which I hope will be finished well before the end of this month, since it’s perfect for Halloween, tending more toward the Gothic, with some elements of weird fiction thrown in as well.

6.   Can you share any and all links that are important to you as a person and the book?  (You can relate more to a book if you know more about the author).

Well, my official website is www.christophercourtley.com and my blog is located at www.courtleymanor.com.

You can get the paperback edition of TROLL STEW here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Fairy-Adults/dp/148492746X/ and the Kindle edition here: http://www.amazon.com/Troll-Stew-Strange-Adults-ebook/dp/B0091K7HJC/

I also have a sword and sorcery series in the works called The Valruna Saga, which is currently only available from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/8341

For more information on this developing series, you can also visit the official page at http://www.christophercourtley.com/valrunasaga.html

Some additional links you might be interested in are:

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/courtleymanor

My Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/courtleymanor

My Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/christophercourtley

7.   I’ll wrap it up with this question since “7” is a lucky numberJ.   Can you share an excerpt from your book, and I’d like to thank you so much for taking time to share your book with me. Please share as much as you’d like.

An Excerpt from “The Palace At Winter’s End”, one of the stories included in TROLL STEW: A STRANGE BREW OF DARK FAIRY TALES & POEMS FOR ADULTS:

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That night, for the first time since she had come to the palace, Autumn had a dream.

She was riding through the forest. It was a sunny afternoon, and the leader of the wolf pack was running alongside her and Amani. They were hunting the unicorn.

“We’re close,” said the wolf. “I can smell him.”

Then suddenly their prey darted out from behind a tall thicket. With unnatural speed, Autumn drew her bow and shot an arrow into the unicorn’s neck. The beast stumbled and then fell to the ground, twitching in the agony of its death throes, its blood bright scarlet on the snow.

Autumn dismounted and she and the wolf approached the dying unicorn. As she stooped to examine her fallen prey, Amani came up behind her and neighed loudly.

“What have you done?” the horse said with her own voice.

She turned to Amani, on the point of telling him that she was only doing what her mother had wanted her to, but the words died upon her lips.

For it wasn’t Amani anymore. It was the unicorn, no longer near death, nor even wounded.

Then, with an anguished cry, Autumn realized that the arrow was in her own neck.

She awoke in a cold sweat. It was just before dawn, and she could see through the narrow gap between the drawn drapes the silvery-grey of the twilight.

Turning her face from the window, she tried to go back to sleep, but found that she couldn’t. So she just lay there in the waning darkness, pondering her strange dream. She was still wide awake when her mother brought in her breakfast tray.

“Good morning, daughter,” the queen said cheerily as she placed the tray beside the bed.

“Good morning, Mother.”

“Did you sleep well?”

“Not exactly. I had a terrible dream, and then couldn’t get back to sleep.”

“Would you like to tell me your dream?”

“Perhaps later.”

“Very well. Enjoy your breakfast, my darling.”

The queen drew the drapes aside to let in the light and left the room.

Autumn picked at her breakfast absently, the stark images of the dream still lingering in her mind.

Then, after she had finished eating, she rose and dressed, and headed straight to the library. It was not long before she found what she was looking for; a compendium of legendary creatures she had spied while perusing the books on the night of her arrival at the palace. She turned to the page where there should have been an entry for ‘unicorn’, but to her disappointment, she discovered that it had been torn out. So she closed the book and after carefully returning it to its place on the shelf, went looking for her mother.

She found the queen sitting beside the hearth in the dining room, staring into the fire.

“Mother, tell me about the unicorn.”

“You have seen it for yourself,” the queen replied without taking her eyes from the flames. “What more is there to tell?”

“Why do you hunt it?”

“For sport.”

“No other reason?”

“No. Why?”

“Because I recall having read once, though I can’t remember where, that the unicorn’s horn was once thought to have magical and healing properties.”

“Well, yes. I suppose that it does. But I have no need of such.”

“Well, then, what do you intend to do with the unicorn once you’ve finally killed it?”

“Oh, I will never do that.”

“You mean you don’t wish to kill it?”

“No, I mean that I can not. I will never catch the unicorn.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Then why do you hunt it?”

“I believe I have already answered that question. But come, why all these questions concerning the unicorn?” Now at last she looked at her daughter, and silver flames danced with the shadows in her eyes. “Was it him you dreamt of last night?”

“Yes.”

“Tell me your dream.”

Then Autumn related her dream, to which the queen listened attentively, but without any change in her expression. Then, when the girl was done, she said nothing, but turned back toward the fire.

“Well?” asked Autumn with growing impatience. “What does it mean?”

“What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know. I’m asking you. I wish you would just give me a straight answer for once.”

The queen glanced at her daughter’s face again and smiled softly.

“Only you can know for sure what your dream is trying to tell you, my dear. But I will say this: It does contain a grain of truth. As I said, I can never catch the unicorn. But you can.”

“I can? How?”

“You must go deep into the forest alone, and wait for it there. It will come to you.”

“But I don’t want to catch it!”

“That is precisely why you will.”

“I understand now. You want the unicorn, but you can’t get it for yourself, so you think to use me to lure it into a trap! Well, I won’t do it!”

The queen laughed. “Nor would I not want you to. Where would be the sport in that?”

“I don’t get it,” said Autumn. “What’s the point in hunting something if you know you can’t ever catch it?”

“The joy is in the hunt, my girl. There is only one unicorn; if I ever succeeded in slaying it, there would be no more hunt. Whatever would I do with myself then?”

“Well, why would I want to catch it?”

“That is another one of those questions you must answer for yourself, my darling. But I will say this: if you never catch it, you will never know the answer to that question. Such is the way of things.”

***Christopher Courtley is an accomplished author and colleague of mine.  I strongly recommend his book and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!! 🙂

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