I'd like to introduce a new anthology of short fiction: The Dark Beyond the Door. This book was the inspiration of J.R. Karlsson (editor and story contributor) who wanted to shine a spotlight on some great self-published authors he had recently discovered.
J.R. originally approached me to write a foreword to the book, speaking a bit about self-publishing and how many authors are (a) finding success and (b) choosing self-publishing as a viable way of reaching audiences instead of what it was in the past (the last resort for people who couldn't be published themselves. I was pleased to help. Anything that can showcase the talent that is coming out of the self-publishing world is something I strongly support. J.R. also invited me to contribute a story, the only requirement was "a door" had to be featured prominently in the story.
I didn't have time to write a new short, but luckily I had something that fit the bill nicely, The Jester, which was originally written for the Unfettered Anthology had recently reverted to me and it's a little Royce and Hadrian adventure where the duo are hired by a rich candle maker following a map to a renowned treasure. During the course of the story the party is locked in a room with a terrible creature trying to break down a flimsy door. The group has a choice to make between the only three things in the room: another (more sturdy door), a lever, and a chest. Each one represents something, and you'll have to read the story to find out what, but I was happy to add The Jester to the anthology.
So who are these talented authors that J.R. was so impressed with? Well here is the way J.R. introduced the group during a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit's Fantasy forum:
- Michael J. Sullivan, the best-selling author of the The Riyria Revelations and /r/fantasy regular. He's no stranger to AMAs, having participated in many and earning the respect and admiration of many users through his continual feedback and participation within the community.
- J.S. Morin, our fourth reddit regular and author of the Twinborn Trilogy and more recently the Mad Tinker Chronicles. You can find him wherever there is good discussion on this subreddit.
- Gregory S. Close, a reddit regular responsible for the huge tome In Siege of Daylight. He discovered /r/fantasy through the Worldcon in San Antonio and hasn't left since.
- Christopher Kellen, /r/fantasy 's answer to Karl Edward Wagner and author of the popular Elements of Sorcery and Arbiter Codex series of Sword and Sorcery books.
- S.M. White, the author of The Paarus Histories and The Witch's Price. People seeking dark fantasy need look no further.
- Ken Lim, reddit regular and author of The Starfall Knight, Exigent and The Steelbound Sun.
- Tristan Gregory, reddit regular and the author of The Wandering Tale and the excellent Twixt Heaven and Hell.
- S.G. Night, an American writer hailing from the D.C. Metro area. In 2013 he self-published 'Attrition: the First Act of Penance' at the age of 18.
- Jason Varrone, the author of The Legacy Series, a stirring fantasy saga whose prequel is currently free on Amazon.
- J.R. Karslon, didn't add himself in the run down, so I will. He is the author of Escana, the eponymous first volume in an ever-evolving epic fantasy series. He also writes a sword and sorcery compendium known as El-Vador's Travels set in the same universe and a science fiction comedy series called The Extraordinary Adventures of Phil Jones. He's also the founder of Fiction Garden, a website he plans to use to introduce more stores from "indie" authors.
So that's who contributed but what about the stories? Well I'm glad you asked. Here is a bit about each one:
- The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan is a classic piece of short fiction set in the best-selling Riyria Revelations world, featuring the inimitable duo of Hadrian and Royce mid-quest, as they attempt to make a choice that will either save them or damn them.
- Jaludin's Road by M. Todd Gallowglas is evocative Sword & Sorcery set in his Tears of Rage world. After returning home from five years of growing up in the deserts, Jaludin discovers that his home town is under a nefarious curse. He must discover why before the entire town dies of thirst.
- Three Demon Gambit by J.S. Morin is a warning to all not to mess in the affairs of demons. As one wizard pits himself against creatures that thirst for his very soul.
- Ehly by Gregory S. Close tells the story of a young girl fighting for survival after her father's brutal murder.
- The Oath by Christopher Kellen is a prequel to his Arbiter Codex, featuring a younger D'arden Tal prior to his transformation into an Arbiter.
- The One Who Runs by S.M. White tells the tale of The Blood Prince, Adon, and the witch he had become bound to, as he searches for his love, Calla.
- Chaff by Ken Lim is set in the same universe as The Starfall Knight, as a hunter known as Hania encounters a child called Viveka from another aerock and does her utmost to protect her.
- The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth by Tristan Gregory is the first of his Wandering Tale fantasy short story series, featuring the consequences of a returning soldier, Coary, told through the eyes of the young village boy William.
- Bloodtaker by S.G. Night is the first Inspector Vego mystery. A chilling tale of a necromancer willing to do anything with blood in order to get that which he desires most and the inspector who must hunt him down before he strikes again.
- Knight's Oath by Jason Varrone is a story of loyalty, passion and tough choices in the midst of a potential battlefield. It questions the morality of a commander's choices, and his ties to the King he is sworn to obey.
- One Shot by J.R. Karlsson is an urban fantasy based in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. When Sarah's house is set on fire with her trapped inside, and a sniper prevents her immediate escape, she turns to her only friend, Martin. Together they must unravel the mystery of how she survived the blaze, why someone is targeting her and how they can stay alive long enough to find out.