Author Archive

Selkies, and the Authors Who Love Them

Tempest's Fury, the fifth book in Nicole Peeler's sexy, sassy and sizzlingly funny urban fantasy series, the Jane True novels
UK & ANZ cover

Nicole Peeler‘s Tempest Fury (UK | US | ANZ) is out now. It’s book five in her Jane True series (which starts with Tempest RisingUK | US | ANZ) and to celebrate, here’s a guest post from Nicole on the inspiration for the series . . .

For me, it was a no brainer to make my protagonist, Jane, a selkie. Although it’s a relatively obscure mythology to some, and I only learned of it as a teenager, it’s the perfect inspiration for fiction.

For those of you who don’t know the selkie mythos, I blogged about it ages ago, with the help of a story from the Heritage of Orkney site. Basically, all the stories of selkie maidens are similar: man finds (or steals) a random seal skin left on the beach, woman shows up that night and they marry, many babies are born. Years pass, until the day one of the children finds the skin, and gives it to mom. Despite her love for her human family, the lure of the sea and her sea husband are stronger, and off she goes.

The US cover for Tempest's Fury, the fifth book in Nicole Peeler's sexy, sassy and sizzlingly funny urban fantasy series, the Jane True novels
US cover

Sometimes she takes her children with her, and sometimes she doesn’t.

As a teenager, so many aspects of this myth affected me: the idea of a woman who could be trapped so easily; the idea of a person torn between two worlds; the idea of having something so important that other loves are swept aside for that one thing. But it was the children that really struck my fancy. What about the ones taken to sea? Did they miss their human life? Even more intriguing, however, were the ones left behind. What happened to them, cut off as they were from the magic that was half their heritage?

The resonance of the selkie mythology stuck with me. So when it came to write my own story, and my first thought was to write an anti-heroine, my next thought was almost instantaneous – “and she can be half-selkie.” It was like my intellectual curiosity had come full circle – I’d always wondered what happened to those children, and now I got to explore the possibilities in my own writing. And that opportunity for exploration is what I try to bring to my fiction – I’m curious about the world I’ve created, and I try to convey that curiosity to my readers.

So if you’re an aspiring writer, try to do something similar. Write what you love, what you’re interested in, what’s always made you think. You’ll find so much passion for your subject, at the same time you get to scratch an intellectual itch. And everyone enjoys a good scratch.

Taking it Home…

Today sees the release (in the US and Canada) of my new digital short, “Something Wikkid This Way Comes,”   I’m excited about this story for a number of reasons. There’s the fact I get to write about Moo, Shar, and Capitola, the girls of Triptych that you met in book three. They’re so much fun, and I really had a great time getting to know them better. I also got to experiment with form, having written this story in present tense in an attempt to give it a more immediate, noir feel.

But a big reason this story was so much fun is that it’s set in Borealis, Illinois.

Now, that probably means nothing to you, and if you’ve made the mistake of Googling it, you’ll discover Borealis does not exist. But Aurora, Illinois, does, and savvy readers may know that Aurora is where I grew up.

They’ll also notice that Borealis very, very closely resembles Aurora.

So why did I not call it Aurora? For me it was important to get a little psychic distance, both as a writer and as an urban fantasist. As a writer, I’m not recreating Aurora. If anything, I’m using Aurora as a vehicle for fantasy, which, as an urban fantasist, has to come first.

That said, rooting Borealis in Aurora gave me a firm grip on reality. After all, I know Aurora so well, and it was a very unique place to grow up. Racially, Aurora’s very diverse, and economically, it ranges from solidly working to middle class.

All of this made Borealis a perfect place to set the kind of fiction I wanted to write after Jane. First off, I wanted to show people that were like the people I grew up with, which means characters that aren’t all white. So I wanted to show more diversity in my fiction. And yet, at the same time, I grew up with just such a diverse group of friends, for whom race or class was not a primary issue, at least not as a group dynamic. At the same time, however, issues of gender, race, and class permeate all stratums of culture, simply because that’s what such issues do.

My goal, if I get to write more about these ladies, is to subtly explore some of these issues, under the guise of telling a rousing good story. As a PhD in literature and a professor, I talk and write a lot about these ideas, but my message doesn’t go very far. Meanwhile, “going far” is the real power of popular fiction. We have to tell good stories, but we also have an opportunity to inject those stories with a little bit of what we want to talk about, in terms of social issues. And yeah, those injections might need to be subtle, or slight, but that’s the beauty of pop culture. It’s popular.

Which means a little goes a very long way.

At the end of the day, I’d like to give my readers a little glimpse of the way I grew up–with a diverse group of friends who came together because we shared interests, and humor, and a certain bizarre sensibility. Our relationships, however, weren’t some made for TV movie, with a rousing message of racial and social equality. We were just people who liked each other, and didn’t let anything detract from that fact.

I think there’s power in that idea, and it’s a vision I’d love to share, pop fiction-style.

An Apology for Jane True

Poor Jane True! Her latest book, Tempest’s Legacy, came out last month but because her editor AND her author were traveling, she didn’t get a blog post!

Jane is very cross with us, and we feel terrible for the oversight. So we’re offering a gift in consolation.

The gift of DANCE!

Rat-a-tat-tat!

Another big award has come and gone, and I’d like to congratulate all the Orbit authors who won or were nominated. It’s great for them because, while being an author is a fabulous line of work, it can also be discouraging. Unless one is in the awards sphere, or one manages to claw his or her way onto one of the increasingly elusive lists, it’s hard to know if you’re really reaching anyone.

Which is why social media rocks. In my new university’s MFA in popular fiction, I’m teaching a course on building author platforms, and we’re talking a lot about social media. One of the things we’ve brought up peripherally is how rewarding it is to interact with fans of our books.

This weekend, I received some lovely letters and messages on Twitter and Facebook. It’s almost impossible for me to express how much these interactions mean for authors like me. I feel very disconnected, sometimes, from my life as a writer. So to see that people are not only reading my books, but really connecting with the issues they contain and really connecting with my characters means the world to me. (more…)

Trouble with Tempests

I’m thrilled beyond belief that Orbit has asked me to finish Jane True’s story with books four, five, and six. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I call my next three books: four, five, and six. For, while using the word “tempest” seemed like a GREAT idea at the time, I have run out of “tempest” titles. I know something will occur to me or to one of the dozens of people I have working on this problem, but in the meantime I’m having fun playing with the most inappropriate titles possible. Here’s a short list of the top five worst titles I’ve come up with (so far):

5) Tempest Somethingorother

4) The (Significantly Less Shakespearean) Tempest

3) The Urban Fantasy Series Formerly Known As Tempest

2) Tempestuous Liaisons

1) Tempest Bledsoe

Can y’all do even worse?

Houston Hi-jinx!

Tweet-log of  Gabriella Gossip, Houston’s top social columnist-on-the-move. She snarks directly at the source, so you don’t have to! Last Saturday, we sent Gabriella to check out some of the hottest writers in the hottest new genre around . . . Urban Fantasy! It’s . . . um . . . urban! And fantasy!

[@gabgoss Sat 24 April 4:45 via TweetGasm] I’ve been sent to Murder By The Book to attend @GailCarriger, @JayeWells, and @NicolePeeler’s signing. No real celebs in town, obviously.

[@gabgoss Sat 24 April 4:50 via TweetGasm] Yawn. Do people even read books anymore?

[@gabgoss Sat 24 April 4:58 via TweetGasm] I want a drink. Oh wait, the shindig is finally beginning. Thank the lawd.

[@gabgoss Sat 24 April 5:01 via TweetGasm] Wells and Carriger look nice, but I’m not feeling Peeler’s bouffant. Is she channeling Wilma Flintstone? (more…)

Tart Talk (Vol. 2): In Which Jane And Alexia Avoid the Stinky Bag, Commiserate on the Difficulty of Finding Good Help These Days, and Find Common Ground for Later

When last they met, my own character, Jane True, and Gail Carriger’s, Alexia Tarabotti, had a little difficulty communicating. Personally, I think they’ll become fast friends once they learn to decipher each other’s language. Until then, the shenanigans continue…

Alexia: Well, my dear Miss True, how are you?

Jane: Hey lady! Yay! So happy to see you! After the “chafing” incident from last time, you looked a bit horrified, and I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from you again. . . Anyway, I’m great! And, um, I’ve brought you something.

*holds out a gift bag*

Alexia: What’s this? Tea? In little baggies? Remarkable, I have never seen the like. Ingenuous concept. (more…)

Oh, You Noughtie Fans . . .

As a debut author, one of the questions I get asked a lot is, “How do you deal with negative reviews?” That’s an interesting query, on a number of levels. Because one of the things I’ve realized is how much reading, as an activity, has changed with the advent of the internet.

When I was a child, I was a very precocious reader who read “adult” books very early. In middle school (and to this day), one of my favorite series was Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald Mage trilogy. I adored that book, loved Vanyel, wanted more than anything to have a Companion, and absolutely worshipped Mercedes Lackey.

So I did what any twelve-year-old fan worth her Whites did at the time: I joined Misty’s newsletter, became a “Herald” by penning some bad poems and drawing a picture of my Companion, and started writing to other fans. (more…)

The Shreveport Smackdown: The True Story

Shreveport Herald Police Blotter
November 11, 2009

Shreveport police are still sorting through statements after urban fantasists Nicole Peeler and Jaye Wells allegedly attacked one another at their mutual signing, according to witnesses and bookstore staff.

As stated by one bystander, Mary Lois White, also of Shreveport, “It was all going along fine, when suddenly Nicole said something about how vampires are ‘played out,’ and Jaye said, ‘I’ll play you out, you seal-lover,’ and then Nicole told Jaye to ‘Bring it!’ and Jaye grabbed her by the hair.”

hair pulling

“It was brutal,” interrupted White’s husband, Douglas. “She struck like an adder. Nicole didn’t have a chance.”
(more…)

Top Five Reasons Selkies are Hotter than Vampires

Nicole Peeler here. I’m the author of TEMPEST RISING, a book that will introduce you to a whole slew of mythological creatures above and beyond your standard werewolf/vampire/zombie triad. Indeed, I’ve been getting a lot of attention for writing about selkies, which are seal-human shapeshifters. Overall, there’s been lots of positive interest, but every once and a while a skeptic comes along, who asks, “What the hell do selkies DO, anyway? And how can they be hotter than vampires?”

So to fire up the debate, and get all you landlubbers thinking, I’ve outlined the Top Five Reasons that Selkies are Hotter than Vampires:

1. Emo is so ’96 – Join the swim team! Marilyn Manson or Michael Phelps . . . You decide.

2. Never pay market price for seafood again! We catch ’em, you grill ’em.

3. Salt water is easier to get out of sheets than blood! Who pays the laundry bills? Let’s be practical, people.

4. Not everyone is into double penetration! Two big fangs. Such little veins. Owwie Zowwie.

5. Seals give good clap! There’s nothing like a round of applause for a job well done.

Any other reasons you can think of why selkies are hotter than vampires?