Today I am so pleased to welcome Langley Hyde to Joyfully Jay. Langley has come to talk to us about her latest release, the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
In the black of night, his freckles shadowed, the young farm boy leaves home, determined to fulfill the quest a dying man pressed into his hands. His journey will take him to castles with strewn straw floors. He’ll probably meet a princess. She’ll be pretty. He’ll discover that he’s the son of a king. He’ll overturn the disgusting usurper and ascend to his rightful place.
You may have read this book, or one like it, before.
When I started reading, late ’80s fantasy had crested, its wave had broken, and the detritus had washed up in the musty used bookstores I frequented. I devoured stories like these, with zero interest in screechy princesses, my fascination fixed on the kid who’s special and doesn’t know it.
After I outgrew the inevitable disappointment that I was not a late-blooming lady knight/wizard/veterinarian, I began to understand, as an adult, the role that people like me played in society. In most of history, we’re the NPCs, the grunts, the girl behind the counter who never even gets a name.
That’s why I chose to write a story set in a world analogous to the Wild West, my “magical stone rush” twinning the gold rush that drew white settlers across the continent.
While the ramifications of white exploitation still ripple through society today, from the mass re-landscaping and extinctions to the genocide of indigenous peoples, it was also a time of unprecedented social mobility for some. Wealth moved from the aristocracy to a new entrepreneur class. It wasn’t egalitarian by any means, but it represented a turning point in modern Western history, where merit—or, cutthroat behavior—overcame hereditary structures.
Arguably, this slice of history mimics the thrashing and reformation our current society is undergoing, in which traditional ideas of success no longer fit.
The magical “stone rush” in this story comes from my fascination with geology, a fascination that’s grounded in the knowledge I’ll never truly understand it. So often stone is thought of as immutable, as stable; but almost all stones are classified about how they change, where they come from and how they came to be, with the understanding that time will transmute them into something else.
I thought it would be really cool to write about a work where stones held all that energy, where they could store and execute spells locked inside themselves.
The mid-nineteenth century was also a time of invention. At the beginning of the 1800s, many people in London and the European countryside still used techniques and technologies that would’ve been if not inherited from medieval tradition, then at least comprehensible to the medieval eye. By early the 1900s, we had synthetic dyes, mass production, electricity, plumbing, automobiles, and the theory of plate tectonics.
Magic, in other words.
But what’s important to me, personally, is how these changes overcoming society impact ordinary people, who in turn may go on to shape history themselves.
I don’t want to tell the story of farm boy turned king. I want to tell the stories of ordinary people who overcome odd stacked against them by family, by society, to forge themselves into something extraordinary. I don’t want to tell stories that fear change, but rather stories that glory in it.
This time, this era, is one of change, and I hope we take time to value the small stones and to wonder at new inventions, to look around us at a recently graduated school boy, blue jacket open, and a rough blond cowboy, golden stubble glinting, on a rowdy street lit, improbably, by bright stone light.
Contributing short: From Ancient Grudge to New Mutiny
In the small town of Wilson Creek, two handsome lovers, destined for death at each other’s hands, attempt to end their families’ Shakespearean feud over precious magical minerals.
When James Caplin, inventor of a new magic-detecting device, returns home after graduating from Hinton’s Academy for Boys, he’s looking to have one last hurrah with a handsome cowboy. But he discovers not only that his handsome cowboy is Frank Montgomery, the son of the Caplins’ hated enemies, but also that the Montgomerys are accused of stealing the Caplins’ precious illudine, a rare magical stone. When the argument between the Montgomerys and Caplins becomes heated, James and Frank are expected to settle the matter with a duel. If James doesn’t want to put a bullet in Frank, he’ll have to recover the illudine, reveal the thief, and end a centuries-old rivalry… and he needs Frank’s help.
12/6 – Gay Book Reviews – Jana Denardo
12/7 – The Novel Approach – Kim Fielding
12/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words – Venona Keyes
12/9 – Diverse Reader – Tali Spencer
Sinfully Gay MM Book Reviews – Jamie Fessenden
12/12 – Love Bytes – Lex Chase
12/13 – Boy Meets Boy – Astrid Amara
12/14 – Prism Book Alliance – Ginn Hale
12/15 – Alpha Book Club – C.S. Poe
12/16 – Joyfully Jay – Langley Hyde
12/19 – Divine Magazine – Nicole Kimberling
12/20 – My Fiction Nook – Shira Anthony
Open Skye – Andrew Q. Gordon
Once Upon a Time in the Weird West is available at:
This isn’t the same old Wild West. The usual suspects are all present: cowboys, outlaws, and sheriffs. There’s plenty of dust, tumbleweeds, horses, and cattle on the range, but there are also magical gems, automatons, elementals, airships… even dinosaurs and genetically modified insects. Roaming among the buffalo and coyotes, you’ll encounter skinwalkers, mad engineers, mythical beings cloaked in darkness, and lovers who stay true to their oaths… even beyond the grave. On this frontier are those at the mercy of their own elaborate devices as well as men whose control of time and space provides a present-day vision of the West. There might even be a dragon hidden amongst the ghost towns and wagon trains.
If you like your Westerns with a splash of magic, a touch of steampunk, and plenty of passionate romance between men, these genre-bending tales will exceed expectations.
Hold on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls. The West is about to get weird, and you’re in for a hell of a ride.
Langley Hyde’s debut steampunk novel, Highfell Grimoires, was named a Best Book of 2014 in SF/Fantasy/Horror by Publishers Weekly. She has lived in Britain, Germany, Canada, and around the U.S.A. but currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, seventeen-month-old son, and persnickety old cat. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and eating cake. Luckily for her, her husband has taken up baking, so she has many tarts to accompany her tea.
Langley has brought a copy of Highfell Grimoires to give away to one lucky reader. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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