Monday, 8 September 2014

Introducing you to ... Katie M John

Little Bird is pleased to introduce you to Katie M John, contributor and editor to the Dark Heart & Night Shade project. As a fierce believer in the indie print movement, and advocate of the indie author community, Katie was our natural choice to head up the Dark Heart & Night Shade project; one which promotes the idea of collaboration and community in order to bring new readers and authors together. 

Katie is a UK best selling independent author of 'The Knight Trilogy' and is about to undertake her fifth novel publication this autumn. 

Her contribution to Dark Heart Volume 2 is an extract from her novel, 'Beautiful Freaks', a stand alone novel which she describes as a Gothic Detective Fairytale. The novel is comprised of integrated vignette fairytales woven into a larger tale of grisly, and sometimes quite beautiful, Paranormal Murders that rip through London in the year 1901. The dark fairy tale chosen to feature in Dark Heart Volume 2 is 'Seraphina', a feminist tale of revenge and retribution, blending mythology from China and Western Christian symbolism. It is a tale of empowerment and strength, but it also questions the moral cost of such values. 

Katie has long been fascinated by the idea of fairy tales and how they have been used to explore the darker nature of mankind - acting as both warning and inspiration throughout the ages. 

Katie started writing seriously when she was on maternity leave with her first daughter, Rossetti, six years ago. She has written six novels during this time and had several of her short story works published in publications in both the UK and the USA. She began her published career by writing the YA Paranormal series, The Knight Trilogy, a modern reworking of Arthurian legend set in  a contemporary Cornish college. The series was critically well received and became a number one best selling fairy tale series on Amazon in both the UK and USA. 

She then went on to write more contemporary YA works and a series of adult horror stories. Horror is where her true heart lies. 

After giving up her thirteen year profession as a secondary school level English Teacher this summer, Katie is dedicating more time to writing, and is looking forward to writing much darker works in the future, as well as completing all seven books of the Meadowsweet Chronicles, Book one of which comes out this autumn. 

You can find out more about Katie and her works at her website and you can catch up with her on Twitter on the handle @KnightTrilogy

Her Amazon page can be found by CLICKING HERE

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Introducing you to... Rachel Anding

So now that summer holidays are over and we have your full attention again, it is our great pleasure to introduce you to our talented 'Dark Heart Volume 2' author, Rachel Anding. We know that you are going to fall in love with her work as much as we did.

Her story contribution is 'The Queen of The Gillyflowers', a goose-bump inducing modern fairytale in which college student Kate discovers that falling in love is truly a magical experience.

Official Author Bio: 

Rachel Anding grew up in England and the Northern Marianas which prompted her to become equal parts bibliophile and mermaid. She now resides (somewhat unwisely) in the frigid North with a varied collection of books, oddities, tea cups, and a small menagerie. She is a freelance illustrator and writer of dark fantasy and horror with a B.A. in Medieval History and a penchant for all things melancholy and macabre.

Tell us a little about yourself, Rachel.

            I grew up traveling with my mother and lived everwhere from England to Hawaii to the Mid-West United States to the Northern Marianas. I've always had an active imagination and read voraciously from a young age. I fell in love with Victorian and Gothic literature as well as the Classics, and earned my B.A. in Medieval history a few years ago. I've worked as a tutor in inner-city Minneapolis, a waitress in a tea-shop, manager of a traveling Renaissance Festival gypsy cart, face-painter, and exotic animal handler. I have a modest menagerie, diverse library, and collection of odd artifacts and teas from around the world. I enjoy dabbling in dark fantasy, steampunk, occult horror and neo-Victorian genres.

When did you start writing ‘seriously’?

            Some of my earliest memories involve dictating stories to my mother or grandmother, before I learned how to write them down myself. We traveled a great deal and I would always have a notebook and markers with me so I could chronicle whatever was happening in my imagination. In high school I started writing my first book, doing serial chapters for my best friend to read and eventually working with an author for my senior internship. However, it is only within the last year that I put aside my larger personal projects and tried my hand at short stories for publication. I submitted my first short piece in October 2013 as part of a Flash Fiction contest and was thrilled when it was accepted as a winner. Since then I have been focusing on short stories for various websites and anthologies.

What is the favourite thing you have ever written? Tell us a little about it.

            That's a difficult question because whether I'm working on a short piece or a novel-length piece, I get very wrapped up in the worlds and characters and possibilities and enjoy every minute of writing. The most memorable is probably one of the first stories I ever finished. I was in ballet at the time and I wrote a story for my mother's birthday present that involved a twist on the Nutcracker (her favourite ballet) where the Rat King is actually the protagonist and falls in love and everybody goes down in the sewer and has a dance party. I still have the illustration of the giant black rat with his thorn crown dancing with a Sugar Plum Fairy.

Tell us a little about your book / series?

            Right now I am exploring alternate tellings of Fairytales mixed with dark, urban fantasy.

Who is your inspiration?

            There are so many authors and artists that I find inspiring! I've always been fond of Poe, M. R. James and Nathaniel Hawthorne. I love elegant prose and ghost stories. In recent years I have been heavily influenced by the works of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Catherynne Valente, Tanith Lee and Guillermo del Toro. I am also very inspired by the visual arts and many different types of music.

What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?

            Traveling is one of my biggest passions. I have a map in my room with markings on all the different places I'd like to travel from visiting haunted mansions in New England to hiking beneath the Aurora Borealis in Iceland to visiting the Great Barrier Reef in hopes of volunteering with wildlife conservation projects. I want to keep growing, experiencing different cultures and using whatever resources I have to help the environment while continuing to better myself as a person and a writer. I have several writing projects close to my heart that I've never finished and I intend to put effort and energy into completing them in the following year.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers?

            Daydream. Experience life. Anything from picking up a feather on the sidewalk to hearing a snippet of someone's conversation in a coffee shop can be a story seed. Tend your imagination like a garden. Surround yourself with things that inspire you and you will be surprised and delighted to see what ideas grow in that space. And when they do- write them down! Spend as much time as you can reading authors you enjoy. Figure out what you love about their books: is it the prose? The imagery? The characters? Practice until you begin to hear your own voice. If you can write from your heart and find your own voice you won't have to worry about whether something is 'commercially marketable'. Your ideas will find their own niche and you will feel confident saying you have the best job in the world.


Tell us a secret.

... I'm part gypsy mermaid and speak at least three dialects of Shark.

Follow Rachel Anding at: 

Social Media Links

Other publications:
The Ivory Parlour, published in Bones II - James Ward Kirk Publishing

Blood and Stardust, published in Memento Mori - James Ward Kirk Publishing

Grandma Elspeth's Enchiridion for Domestic Harmony in American Nightmare - Kraken Press

The Merry Green Widows of Waterman's Inn, Shots of Terror: Demon Rum Companion - Angelic Knight Press

(Links helpfully provided) 

Go to Dark Heart Volume 2 at AMAZON.COM
Go to Dark Heart Volume 2 at AMAZON.CO.UK

Monday, 14 July 2014

Introducing you to ... Chris Kammerud

In our fourth post introducing you to the contributors of 'Dark Heart' Volume 2, it is our great pleasure to introduce you to Chris Kammerud, author of the beautifully creepy and ethereal story, 'Jjincha'.

    "Something stepped from the shadows. It was very tall and very thin. Something had arms that were a touch too long and a face that was very much like crumpled up newspaper. It drifted side to side in the wind like a stalk of rice.
     Something said, "Why are you here?"
    "My father told me a story about a monster that lived under a bridge. He said the monster could do things for people."
    "Your father knows true things then," Something said, "but everything has a cost. What is it you want?"

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a quarter Scandinavian. Also a feminist. I never put honey in my tea unless I am sick and then usually I also put a fistful of ginger because ginger is awesome. My sister and I more or less defeated The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past over the course of one rental weekend. I have seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least four times. I love cooking, particularly pancakes, muffins, and curries. If I eat gluten, my stomach frowns. My parents took me to see Return of the Jedi when I was three. I am told that during the credits I cried. I cried a lot as a child. Sometimes people call me pomegranate. I will not tell you why.

When did you start writing ‘seriously

I studied computer engineering for a long time. I even completed a Master’s degree. It never completely clicked with me, though. On the other hand, I’ve always loved stories. My childhood consisted, in large part, of reading and watching everything ever. I cried when Jim Henson died (see above re: crying). In regards to writing my own stories, though, while I remember writing at least one Walter Mitty story as a kid—and, also, there was a period in my late teens where I seriously wrote a lot of Star Wars fanfic at a site called Watto’s Junkyard—I never thought that being a writer was a possibility until I left the engineering track and attended the M.F.A. program at Ole Miss. Being surrounded by peopled dedicated to language and story, it clicked. Life seemed shinier. Everything seemed possible.

At the end of Cheers, the television series, one character says to another, “You always come back to your first love.”

That’s how I think about me and story.

What is the favourite thing you have ever written? Tell us a little about it.

When my father died a few years ago, I wrote his eulogy. I stayed awake all night before the funeral at my home—mostly sitting on the couch where I had watched the last episode of Cheers—writing and remembering until the sun came up. Then, I sat on the porch and listened to the robins, cardinals, and bluebirds. I read what I had written. I felt like my dad was there. That we were talking. I felt like magic was real.

That process of writing about my father, and then reading what I had written to a roomful of people who knew him at various points in his life, helped me understand something basic about stories—whether magical, mundane, fiction, non-fiction, silly, weird, whatever. Every story is an attempt to bring the dead to life.

Tell us a little about your book / series?

At present I’m working on a book set in a near-future Korea wherein there is romance, revolution, history, and K-pop. It centers on two characters, a boy in love with a former pop star who has mysteriously disappeared; and a woman who played a large role in the creation of a virtual idol who may or may not be sentient and possibly  upset about having her life controlled by a corporation.

Who is your inspiration?

Joss Whedon. Kelly Link. Ted Chiang. Douglas Adams. Barry Hannah. You. A large part of what inspires me to write is the thought that other people will read what I write and maybe connect to it in some way.

What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?

I want to write all the words.

What would be your advice to aspiring writers?

To paraphrase Neil Gaiman and shampoo bottles: Read. Write. Finish. Repeat.

Tell us a secret.

Buried somewhere in the backyard of my grandparents’ house, there is a Luke Skywalker action figure. I don’t remember where. I feel guilty about this.

DARK HEART VOLUME 2 is now available from and for Kindle. Paperbacks and other platforms will be available from August 1st.

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