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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

GUEST POST: MoonLighting In The Dark by Charlotte E. English


What’s the appeal of Halloween? Why do we—in some parts of the world—make a holiday out of the dark and mysterious, the sinister, the creepy? Why is dark magic such a popular concept in fiction of all kinds—and ghosts, and vampires, and the undead?

I can’t answer these questions, nor can I tell you precisely why Halloween has always been my favourite holiday of the year. I can’t even tell you why, a little over a year ago, I turned away from the colourful fairytale novella I had in mind and started writing something infinitely darker and creepier instead. It was a week or two after Halloween when I started writing. A dense fog had come rolling in the night before, the sort of dark, dripping fog through which the world can be seen only in silhouette. It stayed for almost a week. I spent the time writing about a dark, cold city called Ekamet, surrounded by a vast, sinister, fog-drenched forest known colloquially as the Bones.

This wasn’t anywhere near enough creepy, so I created Konrad Savast: an idle gentleman of wealth by day, a murder detective and authorised vigilante by night. In this secret life, he is the Malykant: chief mortal servant of the high spirit of Death (a kind of god). During that foggy week, the Malykant Mysteries was born: a series of dark and creepy mystery novellas which stand quite distinct from any of my other work.


Konrad’s job is somewhat controversial. As the Malykant, his role is not only to identify the perpetrator of the ultimate crime, but also to dispatch that person for judgement by The Malykt—by killing them. It’s a brutal, eye-for-an-eye kind of justice, and bearing sole responsibility for carrying it out naturally creates a range of difficulties for Konrad. It’s a lonely, isolated life, a horrific job—and what if he gets it wrong? Fortunately for him, he has a regular friend and confidante in Irinanda Falenia, a local apothecary. She has a number of secrets of her own, which she flatly refuses to share; but she helps Konrad solve the mysteries, keeps him company, and helps to keep him sane (and humble!) while he does it.

These stories are structured more like a television series than a novel. Each “episode” is relatively short and self-contained, with a new mystery to solve and a new killer to identify in each one. But there are a number of over-arching mysteries surrounding Konrad’s past, and Irinanda’s present, which continue through each title, and I’m gradually revealing more information with each book. Nanda isn’t just an apothecary: who does she really work for? How did Konrad end up as the Malykant anyway? Why did he accept such an appalling job? Where does he really come from? And what happens if, someday, he kills the wrong person?


In terms of genre, they are very dark indeed—not just because of the subject matter, but also because of the setting. They take place in the great city of Ekamet, which is located in the fictional realm of Assevan. The climate and elements of the culture are Russian-inspired (as evidenced by titles such as The Rostikov Legacy and The Ivanov Diamond). The weather is usually cold, frequently bitterly so; the days quickly grow dark, and Konrad does a great deal of his work at night. The surrounding Bone Forest is named for its craggy, pale, bare trees. It is often covered in snow and ice; in better weather it turns wet and marshy. Most of the people of Ekamet avoid it, but Konrad possesses a hut out there—raised on stilts to avoid the wet and the ice—and over the course of the series, the forest is revealed to possess rather more secret presences than even he suspected.

Irinanda comes from a different country, however: the neighbouring realm of Marja, which is loosely based on Finland. It, too, is cold and dark, so Nanda wouldn’t have felt too uncomfortable on relocating to Ekamet. She owns a shop in Konrad’s home city, and she’s settled there; but her family remains in Marja, and we briefly meet her mysterious and mystical mother in one of the early Malykant titles. Nanda rarely returns home, but she and Konrad will be visiting Marja in an upcoming story.


I almost always include some kind of animal companions in my books, and these are no exception—though given the dark atmosphere of these titles, it couldn’t be anything too cute, right? Okay, there’s an element of cute in Irinanda’s golden-furred (and strangely intelligent) monkey companion, Weveroth. But Konrad’s helpmates are snakes—dead ones. Eetapi and Ootapi are ghosts sent by Konrad’s Master to assist him in his work. Being shades, they are stealthy and sneaky—and also sarcastic, at times. Neither one is remotely cuddly.

As of the time of writing, there are three titles finished: The Rostikov Legacy, The Ivanov Diamond and Myrrolen’s Ghost Circus. These first titles are focused mostly on Konrad’s life and past; a fourth title in this sequence is scheduled to appear sometime around the end of the summer, and I’ll be publishing a compendium edition in paperback around that time. After that, it’s Irinanda’s turn for the spotlight. She’ll finally have to share some of those secrets she’s been sitting on (sorry, Nanda).

I envision this to be a long-running series, as there is plenty of room for more stories; and someday, if I run out of things to say about Konrad and Irinanda, I’ll let poor Konrad retire to his chicken-legged hut in the Bone Forest and we’ll have a new Malykant. I still don’t quite know why I write these stories, but one way or another I enjoy them. They feel like holidays in between long novels, which is a little disturbing—why would I choose to take a holiday in such a cold, dark world? The mind is a strange place.


Order The Rostikov Legacy HERE
Order The Ivanov Diamond HERE
Order Myrrolen’s Ghost Circus HERE
Read On Machines And Talking Birds (A guest post by Charlotte E. English)
Read Stepping Off The Map Of The World (A guest post by Charlotte E. English)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born in the historic city of Lincoln, UK, Charlotte now lives in the heart of windmill country in the Netherlands. She has a degree in Heritage, and her interests include books, crafts, cooking and social history. She likes to write whimsical, colourful tales full of character and humour.

NOTE: Author picture and book covers courtesy of the author.  Halloween picture courtesy of Leawo.com

1 comments:

Farida Mestek said...

It is indeed:D Great interview!

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