Welcome to Kay Berrisford

Today I’m handing over my various blogs to Kay, whose debut novel Bound for the Forest came out yesterday, and is all lovely fresh and new :)   She’s talking about something dear to my heart, which is the link between Fantasy and Historical fiction, and how sometimes it can be difficult to tell which is which.  Over to you, Kay:

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Fantasizing about History: Bring on the Dragons!

I am a relative novice to fantasy fiction, although it is a genre I’ve loved all my life. I feel more at home in the world of historicals, having gobbled up everything from Umberto Eco to Sarah Waters and, of course, our own Alex Beecroft’s brilliant Age of Sail novels. But fantasy? Help! I’ve read the usual suspects, including Tolkien and Pratchett, and some great m/m fantasies and paranormals, but still feel I’ve hardly scratched the surface.

I always believed that if I ever got a book published it would be an historical. Yet when I finally sat down to write my first m/m romance, I could not keep fantasy at bay. I started off with a captain returning from the wars against Napoleon to reclaim his lost fortune. I ended up in the old English greenwood, a realm of fairies, green men, magic oaks and all kinds of rituals and sexual shenanigans that one would not have got away with in St James’s Park in 1817 (at least, not in daylight hours.)

After briefly pondering, I blamed history itself for my unlikely detour. English history, like all histories, is rich with tales of folklore and fantasy, with mythical and quasi-mythical heroes like Robin Hood and King Arthur. I’m far from the first to have utilized mythology to inspire my fantasies. Most famously, J.R.R. Tolkien drew upon his studies of Anglo-Saxon and Norse texts to inspire Middle Earth. And the reverse is also true. Quasi-fantastic stories passed on through oral or written culture have informed the writing of history itself. Think of Romulus and Remus, descended from gods and Homeric heroes, raised by a she-wolf and then proceeding to found Rome. The Arthurian legends, as we understand them today, were largely formulated by Malory (fifteenth century) and nineteenth-century romantics, but provide a powerful vision of early medieval England that influences many fictive romps. England was never like Camelot, but the fantasy has a history too and, maybe more significantly, it’s a fun place to be.

Of course, we cannot eschew research and simply make up everything we write about the past. But while we strive to avoid anachronisms, particularly those that throw a reader out of the story, the fantastical nature of so many historical sources presents us writers, like historians, with a far more exciting task than merely looking up “how life would have been.” As for bringing fantastical elements into historicals, one of the challenges is to consider how people in a specific time or place would react to extraordinary happenings. Would the Ancient Greeks have been any more shocked by a dragon soaring over the Acropolis than the scholars of eighteen-century Oxford would have been by a fire-breathing monster sweeping betwixt their dreaming spires? It’s a fun question to ponder.

So thinking upon the closeness of fantasy and history has made me realize that writing buccaneers besieged by mermen or steampunk Victoriana is neither wrong nor new. We’re just continuing a tradition that has its origins in the mists of time: fantasizing about the past.

My debut novel, Bound for the Forest, a historically-set fantasy, is out now, published by Loose Id.

Bound for the Forest.

Genres:  LGBT, nontraditional sexuality, historical, fantasy, paranormal, BDSM. Novel, 68000 words.
Blurb: Regency England. Ex-soldier Brien returns home to encounter Scarlet, a dashing young thief who steals more than he bargained for. In order to retrieve his family’s riches, Brien forces Scarlet to lead him deep into the Greenwood, a realm of magic, sex, bondage and blood where they must discover their true feelings for each other before the forest spirits enslave them both.

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Extract

Scarlet slammed his fist onto the counter, knuckles clenched white. The jars clinked out a warning, and the captain closed in at his side. Brien touched Scarlet’s shoulder; despite himself, Scarlet felt his anger wane a little. He screwed his eyes tight. Brien’s heavy breath rustled the hair on his brow.

“Listen, Scarlet. I’ll tell you what you are. I’ve known it for some time now.”

He shuddered only slightly as Brien’s thumb traced the line of his cheekbone. “When…when you first saw me, you told me I was a pixie. But you meant that…as something dirty.”

“Maybe I did back then, but I don’t think so anymore. You’re a beautiful man, and you’re strong too.”

Brien’s hand slipped down to cup his face, and Scarlet’s eyes flew wide. He closed his fingers on top of Brien’s, but he could not bring himself to push him away. It had to be that natural draw between them that Arya had told him about, and damn it, Brien’s touch sent a flash of fire through his veins. “I’m not strong,” he stuttered. “I’m not like you.”

“I never said you were like me,” whispered Brien. “But you are strong. You fight hard, you’re as stubborn as steel, and it’s not magic that makes you so damned irresistible.”

“Irresistible? But…but I thought you wanted Urhelda?”

“No. You know as well as I that there is nothing between me and that girl that can ever compare to this.”

With that, if nothing else, Scarlet could not bring himself to argue. Brien’s breath scorched against his lips, his large frame cocooning tighter about Scarlet’s by the heartbeat. He could feel his body surrendering — and, so much worse, his mind. He wanted this so much.

“The spirits…are real.” Scarlet’s voice sounded strained. “How can you even question it? It is everything in this forest — and this thing between us. It’s…it’s the reason it’s so hard for me to fight this.”

“This is called attraction, Scarlet. This is about the pleasure of another person’s company, and about simply wanting to be together. This…is what’s real.”

Brien grasped him by the shoulders and shook him gently. Scarlet’s lips were already parted in a silent gasp when Brien plunged forward to claim them. The touch of his mouth was even more exhilarating than Scarlet recalled, his overpowering flavor spiced by the gin. Scarlet felt his senses lurch as he raised himself onto his toes, parting his lips wider and inviting Brien to intensify the kiss. Coarse stubble scraped his chin, and he dug his fingers into those broad, flexing shoulders. Yes, this is what they came here for.

Buy it now link: http://www.loose-id.com/Bound-for-the-Forest.aspx

For more info visit http://kayberrisford.com

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