Monday, April 27, 2015

Marella Sands on "Stonefell Gift" in GIFTS OF DARKOVER

On a wondrous planet of telepaths and swordsmen, nonhumans and ancient mysteries, a technologically advanced, star-faring civilization comes into inevitable conflict with one that has pursued psychic gifts and turned away from weapons of mass destruction. Darkover offers many gifts, asked for and unexpected. Those who come here, ignorant of what they will find, discover gifts outside themselves and within themselves. The door to magic swings both ways, however, and many a visitor leaves the people he encounters equally transformed.

Gifts of Darkover will be released May 5, 2015, and is now available for pre-order.

Here is Marella Sands on her story, "Stonefell Gift."

What was your introduction to Darkover?

I believe it was the novel Hawkmistress.  I was fascinated with the world and with the magic and started reading all the Darkover novels I could find.  While I liked them, the later time periods didn’t quite capture my imagination as much as the earlier Hundred Kingdoms era. But what I really wanted to read about was even earlier, during the Ages of Chaos. What were the breeding programs? What disasters led them to be abandoned? What were clingfire and bonedust? Who founded the Towers? Stormqueen! assuaged my curiosity a bit, but I wanted more. So when the invitation came to write a story for Gifts of Darkover, I knew instantly what time period I wanted to write about, and what the subject would be.

“Stonefell Gift” takes place as the Comyn are starting to exert control and eliminate the breeding programs. Three of them come to Stonefell and discover how tragic the consequences of lethal genes can be.

If I have the opportunity to write again in the world of Darkover, I am sure I will revisit the Ages of Chaos. There must be untold numbers of stories of that time that would lay bare the reasons the Compact was deemed necessary for the survival of everyone on Darkover.

What have you written recently?

I have tried my hand at different things, such as a fiction novel called Snows of Kansas. It’s about a young man who returns home to take care of his dying mother after many years away, only to discover that the truths he always believed about his small town upbringing aren’t very true after all.

And I am shopping around a horror story called Night Shift, With Music, which is set in one of the Munich Leichenhauser (waiting mortuaries), where the citizens of the city left their dead for several days before burying them. They did this because people feared being buried alive and wanted to ensure no one would suffer that fate. Living people could tour a Leichenhaus for a small fee; Mark Twain was one of the more famous people to do so. My story tells of an attendant who falls in love with a visitor to the Leichenhaus, and the consequences to both of them when the object of his love catches the plague.

What else are you doing with your writing?

I am part of a local writers group called the Alternate Historians. Our group was founded in 1988; I joined in 1991. Overall, though we’ve each achieved at least some success through traditional publishers, we’ve decided to see what we can do to take advantage of the changes in the industry. To that end, we’ve formed our own book imprint, Word Posse. We published three books in 2014 and are planning to release six more in 2015. We are still pursuing more traditional publishing venues, but these days, it seems important to develop our careers in as many directions as we can.  Our website can be found at

My book Pandora’s Mirror was one of the 2014 Word Posse releases. It’s a paranormal fantasy set in modern day St. Louis, and follows a professor of parapsychology who discovers a woman who is more haunted than the house she lives in.

In May 2015, my fantasy novel Fortune’s Daughter was published by Word Posse. In it, a woman who is sold to the king to pay her father’s debts discovers that the world is changing and she is prophesied to play a large part in the upheaval, whether she wants to or not.

In November 2015, Word Posse will be publishing a collection of my dark fantasy and horror stories, tentatively (very tentatively) titled Crowning Darkness.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

One of my favorite things to do is to travel. I’ve been to many wonderful places, like the glow worm caves in New Zealand, the Rock of Gibraltar, the pyramids of Giza, Volcanoes National Park, Maes Howe, Newgrange, the sites of the First and Second Defenstrations of Prague, Qumran, Chichen Itza, Hadrian’s Wall, Meteor Crater, Hell (the version on Grand Cayman), and so much more. London is my favorite place in the entire world.

After being raised in St. Louis by a family of African pygmy hedgehogs, Marella Sands went off to school to study anthropology and earned two degrees in the subject, even though neither institution she attended makes accommodations for insectivore-Americans. She sold two books to Tor that were set in 4th century Mesoamerica, and most recently has published a paranormal fantasy/romance, Pandora's Mirror, from Word Posse. When she is not writing or doing volunteer work such as sitting on the Board of Directors of a cemetery, Marella teaches at Webster University, where her classes have discussed issues such as cannibalism, the origins of vampires, and the bloodthirsty creatures like the Kinderfresser who have, over time, morphed into today's jolly Santa Claus. Marella has encouraged her classes to eat her—assuming she is already dead—should she and the students ever find themselves in dire straits.

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