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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Author Guest Blog & Contest with Nancy Holzner

Author Nancy Holzner came onto the scene last year with her debut book Deadtown. Now a year later it is time for the next part in the Deadtown series. Hellforged is due out this week and I already pre-ordered it to arrive on my Kindle.

One of the reasons I loved Deadtown was the links it had to Wales, the place where I was born and grew up. Fittingly I am spending Christmas in Wales this year! So I am looking forward to Hellforged even more as I intend to read most of it on Welsh land!

I hope you all enjoy Nancy's guest blog and make sure you enter the contest! You may win a copy of Hellforged!

Also feel free to read the interview with Nancy that I posted earlier on this year.


"The shore of Llyn Tegid, where Ceridwen's shapeshifting contest began. Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence."

I began my career as a medievalist, and one of my favorite courses to teach was “Legends of King Arthur.” I had two different versions of the course: one that stuck with literature of the Middle Ages and one that started with medieval texts and moved through time, ending with twentieth-century versions of the tales. During the time I was developing and teaching these courses, I fell in love with the tales of the Mabinogion.

If you’re not familiar with the Mabinogion, it’s a collection of early medieval Welsh legends that were gathered and translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest in the 19th century. The stories draw upon pre-Christian Celtic mythology and early medieval oral traditions, including tales of Arthur and his court.

When I started writing Deadtown back in 2006, I wanted my protagonist to be a shapeshifter, yet different from the weres that populate much of urban fantasy. I remembered a story from the Mabinogion about the witch Ceridwen and Gwion Bach, a local boy. The story involves a shapeshifting contest in which Gwion, fleeing the angry Ceridwen, changes his shape several times, while she transforms herself to erase any advantage he might gain: he becomes a hare, she chases him as a greyhound; he becomes a fish, she chases him as an otter; and so on. (If you’ve ever seen the duel between Merlin and Madame Mim in the old Disney film The Sword in the Stone, you get the idea.) This legend seemed full of potential for my novel; I liked how the shapeshifters could change into any creature they wanted, and could do it at will. And so I started thinking about how I might use the story as background for my own race of shapeshifters—and Vicky’s line of demi-humans, the Cerddorion (sons of Ceridwen) was born. Cerddorion females can change into any sentient creature (or sometimes strong emotion will force a shift), up to three times per lunar cycle. They gain shapeshifting ability with puberty and lose it if they give birth.

Hellforged, the second novel in my Deadtown series, delves deeper into the history of Vicky’s race—and also of the demons the Cerddorion oppose. In Hellforged, Vicky travels to Wales for further training with her aunt, a formidable demon fighter. While there, Vicky must unlock hidden meanings in a book that tells the story of Ceridwen from the demons’ point of view. If she fails, she could be helping a demi-demon throw open the doors of Hell. Vicky’s adventures in Wales take her through the hills and mountains of north Wales, across fields and into haunted pubs, deep into an abandoned slate mine, and to the shore of the lake where Ceridwen’s shapeshifting contest began.

As I continue the series into books three and four, I keep returning to the Mabinogion for source material. Its legends, rich with myths, themes, and motifs, provide the perfect landscape and history for my own unfolding story.


Contest Time

Nancy is giving away a signed copy of Hellforged, and she is willing to ship internationally.

How To Enter

Nancy came up with a good question!

What mythology do you think makes a good background for contemporary fantasy?

No answer = No Entry

Earn more entries for each link you place about this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your entries in one post.

Advertise Amberkatze's Book Blog on your site and get an extra entry for this and every other contest!

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You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com links/Banners below and around the site!

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The contest will stay open until Sunday 2nd of January 2011 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.


Deborah Blake said...

You don't need to enter me in the contest, since I already have my copy (and I'll make Nancy sign it the next time she passes through town!).
But I wanted to say that I am really enjoying the Welsh background in the book!

Van Pham said...

i looove greek mythology and think that would make a great background for contemporary fantasy.


Bethany C. said...

I think just about any mythology could work, as long as the author is creative, and also has a healthy respect for the culture who's mythology they are using for inspiration. I've always loved greek mythology, but I've seen others, off the top of my head native american, celtic and sumerian, work really well.


Anonymous said...

@Deborah: I'll be passing through the middle of next month (after Arisia in Boston and a reading/signing in Albany). Let's try to get together then!

@Van: I just finished reading Sins and Shadows by Lyn Benedict (from 2009--I'm behind on my reading), which has an interesting take on Greek mythology.

@Bethany: That's a really good point. It's important to combine creativity with respect for the original mythos, pushing the boundaries without obliterating the foundation myth. That's the tricky part!

Bea said...

I have to agree with Bethany C; any mythos will work. You may need to tweak it but they all have great potential. Both Ilona Andrews and Mercedes Lackey (esp. in her Diana Tregarde series) have done a wonderful job of using characters and creatures from mythologies around the world.

Vickie said...

Native American mythology would be fab, though I am sure it's been done and I've just not found the books or authors.

Anonymous said...

@Bea: Those are both great examples. I especially love the way Ilona Andrews blends different mythologies into Kate Daniels's world with so much imagination and credibility.

@Vickie: You might want to check out Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series to see what she does with the Cherokee skinwalker myth.

Karen W. said...

Hi, Nancy,

I LOVED Deadtown and have anxiously been awaiting Hellforged!

I enjoy all the different mythologies but especially Native American mythology and Greek mythology.

JenM said...

I always enjoy reading books that are based on mythology, the problem is that if it is an obscure mythology, I and probably most other readers will tend to miss all of the little nuances unless the author does a really good job of explaining (yet not bogging down the story). I think that's why many readers like Greek mythology as we all tend to be somewhat familiar with it. However, I'm always up for something new.
Jen at delux dot com

Anonymous said...

@Karen: Thanks so much! I'm really pleased to hear you liked Deadtown (especially because I get nervous around release day). I hope you'll enjoy Hellforged as much. :)

@Jen: I agree. If the mythology is obscure and the author has researched it extensively, the author has to be careful not to leave readers confused.

These comments are making me think I should dust off my idea for a contemporary fantasy set in the Catskills that draws upon both Dutch and Native American legends from the region...

SiNn said...

honestly I like all the mythologies for me tho Ithink i like the egyptian mythology as much a steh greek and roman but i also like the Indian Mythology as well im not prone to chose one over the other
tho i do have to say I LOVE Irish lore in books


Ina said...

I always loved Greek mythology, but I'm open to everything and like to try new plots...

Nancy, thanks so much for being here - I really enjoyed your post and can't wait to read your books. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to read them yet...
wish you all the best, Ina

inale87 at gmx dot at

Daelith said...

I've always loved all mythology so it's hard to pick just one. Viking mythology has always fascinated me. Native American and Egyptian always draw me in too. That's the wonderful thing about mythology though...it can be manipulated to fit all fantasy story lines which makes it all the more fun. I recently read a book which incorporated Indian mythology which was a first for me. Looking forward to the next book in that series.

I'm also looking forward to Hellforged. Thank you for the article and the contest.

cheleooc at yahoo dot com

Dovile said...

I'm a fan of ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies, but I think Roman would be the most suitable for a contemporary fantasy.

Andra Lyn said...

Though Roman/Greek Mythology is interesting in itself, I feel that it has almost been overused in contemporary lit. I loved the Mabinogion when I read it and agree that it is a great example to use today. I also like Celtic/Norse Mythology. An author that does a really good job blending almost all of the Mythos into a good contemporary series is Laurell K Hamilton's Merry Gentry series. You get a lot of the myths turned into everyday characters and I found that Fascinating. I LOVED Deadtown and can't wait to get ahold of Hellforged :)

Anonymous said...

I love Greek Mythology but I think an author could do any type of mythology for a book and make it very interesting. I also like the idea of native american mythology. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

Aurian said...

Wow, there is Dutch mythology? Never heard about that, or you must mean Sinterklaas.
I would love some Norse mythology in a new series. Odin and Wodan and Thor. Ofcourse Sherrilyn Kenyon has used lots and lots already, from all over the world.

BrigidsBlest said...

Egyptian, Greek, Irish, Norse, and Roman have all been done quite a bit. I think some of the less-used mythologies are due for a go: Welsh is certainly one of those, and also Aztec (used, so far as I know, only in Mercedes Lackey's "Burning Water") as well as Mayan, Incan, Babylonian/Sumerian, and any of the mythological cycles from countries in Africa (Charles Saunders used it to great effect in his novel "Imaro", as well as many short stories). But I think the one I'd most like to see would be the mythology of the Aborigines of Australia, dealing with the Dreamtime, the Rainbow snake, and suchlike.

BrigidsBlest @ yahoo dot com

Barbara E. said...

I think Norse (Viking) and Native American mythology make great backgrounds for contemporary fantasy. I'm interested to see what you've done with the Welse mythology, sounds interesting.

Barbara E. said...

Sorry about the typo, I meant "Welsh" mythology. :o)

justpeachy36 said...

I think Greek or Roman mythology is a great background for a contemporary Urban Fantasy novel. Gods and Goddesses would make it very interesting.

Please enter me in the giveaway.


Llehn said...

I love the idea of the Fox Spirit lore from Japan.

Julie S said...

I think Greek mythology is really interesting and would make a great background for a paranormal story.


Audra said...

I like the Welsh mythology but i would like to see more Egyptian Myths- Urban Fantasy Rocks!!!!

Vickie said...

Nancy: how's this for serendipity? I finished three books today and was on the hunt for my next print one to read. I found Faith Hunter's first book in the Jane Yellowrock series on Mt Git'r'Read and put it on the nightstand to start tonight. Then logged in here and found your recommendation. Very cool!!

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying reading these comments and seeing the mythologies people enjoy. And it makes me realize what an endless wealth of mythology there is to draw from. (I'm also a fan of Viking/Norse mythology, for those who mentioned that culture.) I think one of the fun things about a mythological basis for urban fantasy is the clash between old and new ways of seeing the world.

@Aurian: You're right, of course. I meant Dutch stories/legends, especially the ones that worked their way into the lore of the Hudson valley.

@Vickie: Serendipity indeed! Cool. I guess you're destined to read that series. :)

Thanks, also, to everyone who's said they enjoyed Deadtown and/or is eager to read Hellforged!

And many, many thanks to Amber for inviting me to stop by her blog. I envy her trip to Wales. (I've told her before that my dream is to have a month in a cottage on the Welsh coast to write. Some day, maybe...)

Stephanie said...

I like Greek, Celtic, and Native American mythology, but I'd enjoy reading about other types of mythology, as well.


Amy said...

Greek and Irish (faery) mythology definitely provide good backgrounds for fantasy books!


Darlyn said...

i love egyption myth..but any myth actually works for me as either of the myths have their strong settings and history =)

darlyn225 at gmail dot com


Unknown said...

I'd have to say celtic mythology because it's something close to my heart especially when it comes to druids and the scottish picts. Their stories are so wrapped in mystery that they can be the basis of so many stories. I think that's why Deadtown appealed to me because of the welsh connection. I wonder if Arthur legends will turn up lol!
I'll try do the link thing but I'm useless at it :)

Unknown said...


I linked it here but my facebook is completely locked so only friends can see it so you probably won't see it. Told you I was rubbish at link things.

Unknown said...

I love Greek and Norse mythology and they make a good background for a fantasy.

Edge said...

Japanese mythology is full of interesting characters and tragic stories which could make a great background for a fantasy series. Hmmm, I've been looking for a new idea...

heatwave16 said...

I would have to go with Greek mythology. It has always been my favorite since I first saw Clash of the Titans...the original.

tweeted - http://twitter.com/Heatwave316/status/19931823597424640


Anonymous said...

@Manicnancy, About Arthurian legends: I was just working on a scene tonight involving a certain character named Myrddin (and boy, has he changed since the sixth century...) :)

Sharon S. said...

I like to read about mythologies I don't know a lot about. Those obscure ones . The Asian religions have lots of vengful gods and goddesses .

throuthehaze said...

Celtic, Greek, and Norse make great backgrounds for contemporary fantasy. I think most mythology would work well actually.
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

LSUReader said...

I have an affinity for Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies, so they would top my list. But I believe a good author can make so many things work that I'm really open to reading different things. I loved Deadtown and look forward to reading Hellforged. {Email in profile.)

shaunesay said...

Thanks for visiting us Nancy!

I think Greek and Roman are probably the easiest mythologies to do because they are already pretty filled out and well known. Native American mythologies are interesting too, and I think some Egyptian would be nice. I've also read one that dealt with Norse, and some that combined several different mythologies.

Thank you for the contest!

Cynthya said...

Books that I've read that use mythology usually use the Greek/Roman or the Celtic mythology. I recently read one that used the Norse mythology which was really interesting so I'd like to see that used more often.

Kimberly B. said...

Hi there! Just finished Deadtown and am really looking forward to reading Hellforged! I love Greek mythology, but I'd like to see authors delve into something less familiar for their supernatural creatures, like Sumerian mythology or maybe Japanese (love the kitsune!).
Thanks for the great giveaway!

Holz Smolz said...

Honestly i think that any mythology would work; which ever you chose to include in your novel would make for a exciting read. However i am going to be biased and say Greek mythology would be the best (i am studying this for my A Level atm). It is well known that Homers epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey have major influence over contemporary novels so i think that they would be especially great inspiration for fantasy novels because of the different culture and fantasy elements in them.

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/Marsh_92/status/21263971071819777


Deirdre said...

Twittered here: http://twitter.com/#!/wyvernfriend/status/21312980503240704

I love greek and roman mythology and would love to see more!

darlanpaulsmamma said...

i have always been interested in the roman and greek mythology and think it would make for great background for contemporary fantasy
melissa.barnes76 at yahoo dot com

donnas said...

I love mythology and think Ancient Greek works great.

tweet - http://twitter.com/#!/DonnaS1/statuses/21421118883631104

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Cindy McCune said...

Mythology covers a very large area...not just the Greeks and Romans. I think I LOVE the possibilities surrounding Atlantis. This is THE lost continent & the story possibilities are never ending :)

Gail said...

These stories sounds interesting and right up my urban fantasy alley. I haven't had the pleasure of reading ‘Deadtown’ yet, but it is on my TBR pile:-)
Mythology: I think Native American would be a nice change,; I’ve read a couple of books that relate to NA mythology, but not as many as Greek mythology influenced books.

Becky said...

I love greek, irish,and native american mythology, but I think any of the mythologies will work for a contemporary fantasy background. I think cult mythology or prestige mythology would work too. Mystic creatures or objects would work for a contemporary fantasy if done right.

Deadtown and Hellforged both sound like really good stories, which I have had the pleasure to read yet.


JoAnna said...

I like any mythology, really. If lesser known mythologies are used some additional background may be needed to bring the reader up to speed.


Meredith said...

Vampire myths certainly work, don't they? hahaha. I'd like to see more Roman mythology--I think that would work nicely.

meredithfl at gmail dot com