Tuesday, December 17, 2013
"When I write in the cracks and empty spaces of documented history, I try not to change the things that we know to be true". You can read my guest post, "The Alchemy of Historical Fiction" at Kristene Perron's Warpworld website, where Kristene is running a series of guest posts, "The Truth Inside the Lie", on using real people, places, or events in science fiction and fantasy.
Meanwhile, on Laura Langston's blog, Canadian children's and YA authors talk about their best writing-related Christmas gift ever. (My best gift was the typewriter my parents gave me when I was eleven.)
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 3:31 PM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Sunday, October 13, 2013
My Aurora-winning YA fantasy The Snow Queen (Thistledown Press, 2000) is now available in kindle and kobo e-book format.
In this reworking of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, the magical worlds of Saami shamanism and the Kalevala coexist with the polite Victorian society of nineteenth-century Scandinavia. At a time when traditional faith is challenged by modern science, the old pagan gods still haunt the northern forests.
"Gerda is a sheltered daughter of Victorian-era Denmark's middle class; Ritva is the savage daughter of a Lapp shaman and a Swedish bandit chief. Christian and pagan, city girl and wildwood outlaw, their paths should never have crossed. But Lady Aurore, a mysterious noblewoman, bears away Gerda's beloved, Kai, and Gerda steals away from home to rescue him, though she knows she has little hope of success. Even that slim hope is dashed, it seems, when she is captured by the robber-maiden Ritva. Yet they will find themselves traveling together beyond the Cave of the North Wind, to the end of the earth--and the Snow Queen's perilous palace.
In The Snow Queen, Eileen Kernaghan has respectfully combined elements of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale with Saami shamanic lore and the Finnish epic, the Kalevala, to create a powerful, enchanting, and gracefully written novel with intelligent, well-drawn characters and with unexpected plot turns that will surprise you right up to the end". -- Cynthia Ward
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 4:37 PM
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The Vancouver Public Library is hosting two self-publishing workshops this fall. The first one is called Introduction to Self-Publishing : Publishers Panel and will take place on Saturday November 16th from 1 – 4 pm in the Alice MacKay room at the Central Library. For more information here is the link to the online calendar event page: as well as to their Facebook Event page
The second workshop is called Introduction to Self-Publishing : Author Panel and will take place on Saturday December 7th from 1 – 4 pm again in the Alice MacKay room at our Central Library. For more information here is the link to the online event calendar page: (a Facebook Event page will be coming soon)
Both events will start with a panel presentation on the stage, where each panelist will have five minutes to share their publishing experiences and background with the audience. This will take approximately 45 minutes. To make the event more interactive and to allow for more participation between the audience and the speakers, we have set up the room in small groups of 10-12. This enables the presenters to visit each group and gives each audience member more opportunity to ask their questions and participate in the discussion. Seating is limited and registration is required. To register please call: 604-331-3603.
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 3:38 PM
Monday, September 30, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
Dragon-Rain and Other Stories, a collection of my published SF and fantasy short stories, is now available from amazon sites as a kindle e-book.
Black Bon sorcery in a mythical Himalayan kingdom; a mysterious death at a fashionable London dinner-party; a bleak look at near-future medicine; an apocalyptic North America where the only things left to sell are stones. Here are nine tales of dark fantasy, shamanist rituals, the nineteenth century occult, near-future science and dystopic future worlds.
The title story, "Dragon-Rain", appeared in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, ninth annual edition.
An excerpt from "Dragon-Rain"
The sorceress Jatsang stopped at a bend in the trail to scratch a fleabite. Gazing southward, she grunted in dismay. The valley below – once as lush as a length of emerald silk – was now the colour of yak-dung. Where were the barley fields and pastures she remembered, the lapis lazuli pools and winding silver streams?
By the time she reached level ground her mouth was so parched she could scarcely spit. Nearby were the ruins of a well. In a mood of profound pessimism she peered into its depths. Something skittered along the bottom, rasping its wings in a way that set her teeth on edge. There was no sign of water.
"May you be happy."
Jatsang swung round to see who was behind her. An elderly monk was watching her with mournful, red-rimmed eyes. "May you be peaceful," he added. "May you be free from care."
"I'd be a good deal happier," observed Jatsang, "if I had something to drink." She waved a vague arm towards the arid fields. "What has happened here? The place has gone to wrack and ruin."
"Serpents," said the monk.
"Serpent-dragons, to be precise. A nest of nagas. At the bottom of our well."
"The very same. First they drank up all the water in the well, then they crawled out into the fields, and emptied the ponds and streams. And as you see, we've had no rain at all this year. You'll find the begging poor, my lady. Since the drought came, we have had no food for our children, let alone anything to spare for pilgrims."
Jatsang reached into her travel-pack and pulled out her five-pointed sorcerer's hat. She put it on her head.
"I beg your pardon," said the monk. He looked confused. "You are a sorcerer, a ngagspa? Of what persuasion?"
"Bon-po," said Jatsang. "Black Bon," she added ominously.
"I saw a Black Bon sorcerer once," said the monk. "He wore a black cloak, a skull on his head, and an apron made of human bones. He was riding on a great black horse." He glanced dubiously at Jatsang's drooping white skirt and grubby waistcoat, the jagged rip in the sleeve of her shirt, the greasy black rope of hair that hung to her heels.
Jatsang asked impatiently, "Do you think we tramp around the mountains in our ceremonial dress?"
"Then Reverend Lady, if you are indeed a sorceress, you are the answer to our prayers."
"This drought has been caused by magic. We need a powerful magician to lift it."
Jatsang drew herself up to her full height. "I don't do magic for hire," she said. "Where's your village shaman?"
“Eaten,” said the monk.
Dolefully, the monk explained. "He summoned a powerful demon to drive the nagas out of the well. But he got the last part of the spell wrong, and the demon ate him instead."
"How unfortunate," remarked Jatsang, without much sympathy. She had no patience with fools. "And what has this to do with me?"
"Reverend Lady, will you help us? Out of compassion. Think of the children. Many of them have fallen sick. Some have already perished...."
Jatsang felt herself wavering. In the back of her mind, like lines of elegant black script, rose the words of the Precious Guru: Mahayana, Secret Mantra, means to benefit others. It is essential for all tantric practitioners to cultivate great compassion in their being.
As though sensing her indecision, the monk leaned closer. His breath stank of hunger. "Reverend Lady, at least will you come with me to the monastery? Will you speak to our abbot?"
"Will you give me some water?"
"If need be, our last drop."
Jatsang shrugged, and followed him to a cluster of whitewashed buildings clinging haphazardly to the mountainside. Like all else in this stricken land, the monastery's aspect was ruinous. The monks looked tired and undernourished; the bottoms of their robes and their bare feet were grey with dust. The hum of prayer was dispirited, subdued; even the prayer wheels seemed to spin lethargically.
The abbot came out in person to greet Jatsang. When they had exchanged white scarves and he had settled her in a comfortable chair in his private sanctum, with a large jug of water close to hand, he said," I'm told you are an adept of the Short Path, and a ngagspa of considerable attainment."
"It is not my habit," said Jatsang, "to speak publicly of such matters. Even within these walls, demons may be listening. Let me say this, merely: that as mistress of tumo, I've crouched naked on a mountain peak in the middle of a blizzard, warming my flesh with my own internal fires. As a lung-gom-pa, I have crossed three valleys and three mountains in a single day. Moreover, I have created fire-demons – no less than thirty at a time – not to mention tulpa knights and various other phantoms of the mind....
"And how," interrupted the abbot, "does one so skilled in the mystic arts, set about expelling demons?"
"One performs chod," replied Jatsang. She spoke without enthusiasm. She had performed chod only last month, because she felt the need to keep in practice. It had not been a happy experience. "Again, it would be a mistake to divulge too much. Suffice to say, when one celebrates chod, one tends to stir up any malign forces that may be present in the vicinity."
"And once you have drawn these demons out of their hiding place?"
"Then I will challenge them to destroy me, and by surviving, I will show them to be illusion. If you cease to believe in the power of demons, they will cease to harm you."
A flicker of disappointment – perhaps even of dismay – marred the perfect serenity of the abbot's face. "Is it not within your powers to destroy them on the spot?"
"You forget," said Jatsang, "that the very essence of chod is love and compassion for all things. Even demons. A Bon sorceress does not destroy malign spirits. Rather, she persuades herself of their non-existence."
"I understand," said the abbot, looking unconvinced. "Before you begin chod, is there anything you require?"
"Several things. A sacred thunderbolt. A bell. A damaru drum. A thighbone trumpet. A moonless night. And silence."
"In two nights the moon is new. The rest is easily supplied."
"Very well, " said Jatsang. "Then I will spend the intervening hours in meditation. To celebrate chod is to court madness and death. One does not embark upon it unprepared."
First she gave some thought to the location. Ideally, chod should be performed in a place where corpses had been chopped to bits and fed to the wolves and vultures. But the important thing was that the site should be wild, and haunted by malignant spirits. The patch of ground beside the naga-infested well, she decided, would adequately serve her purpose.
All that night she prepared herself, praying to the old Bon gods: to Father Khen-pa, Master of the Heavens, riding on the White Dog of the Sky; and to Khon-ma, Mother of the Nine Earths, astride her ram. On the next night, an hour after midnight, under a dark thunderous sky, Jatsang pitched her ritual tent. It was ornamented, in the prescribed manner, with the words "Aum", "A" and "Hum"; and flags in the Five Mystic Colours fluttered from its roof. It was time to begin the ceremony:
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 1:44 PM
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
In celebration of February's Women in Horror Month, Colleen Anderson interviews me at http://colleenanderson.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/women-in-horror-eileen-kernaghan/
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 9:28 AM
Sunday, January 20, 2013
My 2004 historical fantasy Winter on the Plain of Ghosts: a Novel of Mohenjo-daro is now available from all Amazon sites as a kindle e-book.
Winter on the Plain of Ghosts is a story of sorcery, religious conflict, political intrigue and ecological disaster in the lost cities of the Indus Valley.
They are called the Chosen Ones -- children dedicated to the goddess Yamash and raised in pampered luxury. But such privilege comes with a terrible price. When Rujik and Bima learn of the gruesome death that awaits them as sacrifices to the Goddess, they escape across the desert to Meluhha, and the fabled city of Mohenjo-daro. Bima finds fame as a dancer; Rujik survives by turns as thief and alchemist's assistant, magician and merchant-captain. In revolt against the cruel, repressive priesthood that governs Meluhha, Rujik joins forces with the barbarian woman Utarah to lead a rag-tag army of warriors, thieves and street-sorcerers. What they unleash is a series of bloody rebellions in which much of the city is destroyed. The Wheel has come full circle. In a final desperate act of magic Rujik must invoke the totemic animals of Meluhha to save both himself and his beloved Bima from the grisly vengeance of the priests.
(From my Author's Note)
The fall of the Indus valley civilization is one of the great unanswered questions of archaeology. Were the cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa destroyed by climactic change? A shift in the course of the Indus River? Invasion? Few writers of fiction have explored the subject. Years ago in a used bookstore I stumbled across a small monograph which endeavoured to decode the Indus Valley seal inscriptions. I bought the pamphlet, and embarked on some intensive research. Here was a world lost in antiquity, and an unsolved mystery. I had the subject for a novel.
Alternate histories ask "What if?" Those of us whose fantasies play out in real historic time like to explore the "how" and "why" -- always keeping in mind that if you travel far enough back in antiquity, you may find sorcerers, baleful spirits, magical kingdoms, and spells that actually work.
Posted by Eileen Kernaghan at 6:58 PM