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Deborah Blake and I have been internet author friends for a while now, though we haven’t yet met in person. (Note to self: Meet Deborah Blake in person one of these days.) A year and a half ago, I read, enjoyed, and reviewed her first Baba Yaga book, Wickedly Dangerous. From the look of things, the paranormal romance series has been doing quite well, and yesterday marked the release of book three: Wickedly Powerful.

Jim, reading Wickedly PowerfulTo celebrate, we’re doing a blog swap today. I’m over at her place talking about…okay, I forget what I wrote my guest post about. And Deborah’s here discussing fairy tale retellings and how she developed the Baba Yaga books.

She’s also giving away an autographed copy of the new book. Just leave a comment, and we’ll pick a winner at random. It will look just like the book I’m reading here, but this one is mine. You’ll have to just win your own.

Or if that fails, you can pick up a copy at Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, and the usual suspects. You can find Deborah on Twitter, Facebook, and at her website.

#

Jim and I are book twins this week. His book REVISIONARY (the fourth and final installment in his fabulous Magic Ex Libris series) came out on the same day as my WICKEDLY POWERFUL, the third book in my Baba Yaga series. Since we are huge fans of each other’s work, we decided to swap blogs and talk about how wonderful the other one is. Er, and chat a bit about our own books, too.

Wickedly Powerful coverJim was, in fact, part of the inspiration for the Baba Yaga series, although I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that particular fact to him (you know, in case he wanted a cut of the royalties). I’ve always loved updated fairy tales, and Jim is one of the authors I read who did a terrific job taking an old classic tale and making it into something completely original and not a little kick-ass.

When I decided to do something along those lines, though, some people had already used up most of the better known fairy tale characters, like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and the rest. I decided to find a story that was a bit more obscure. And featured witches, because that’s kinda my thang. So my books are based on the Russian fairy tale witch, Baba Yaga.

Yeah, I know. A bunch of you just said, “WHO?” Hey—if everyone knew about her, I wouldn’t have been the first one to write new stories featuring her as the protagonist, now, would I?

The traditional Baba Yaga might seem to be an unlikely heroine (unless you asked her, I suspect). Although she had roots as an elemental goddess, by the time she became a tale to scare children into finishing their borscht, she had iron teeth and a long nose, lived in a wooden hut that ran around on giant chicken legs, flew through the forest in a mortar steered by a pestle, and kept such dubious company as a dragon named Chudo-Yudo, and three mysterious men called the White Rider, the Red Rider, and the Black Rider.

Seriously—what writer could resist playing with that kind of material? The stories even talked about the Baba Yaga’s sisters (also called Baba Yaga), which gave me the perfect opportunity to write a trilogy about three different characters, all with the same basic job—guard the door between our world and the magical Otherworld, keep the balance of nature, and occasionally (if it was absolutely unavoidable) come to the aid of a worthy seeker.

Of course, things like movable huts, flying kitchen implements, and dragons would probably stand out these days, so I had to update my Baba Yagas a bit. So instead of huts on chicken legs they have cool traveling houses. Barbara, the first Baba you meet (in WICKEDLY DANGEROUS) lives in an Airstream trailer. Beka (from WICKEDLY WONDERFUL) is more of a California hippy type, so she has a funky refurbished school bus. Whereas Bella, who is the protagonist of WICKEDLY POWERFUL, has a cool modern traveling caravan.

The dragons are disguised too, of course. Barbara’s Chudo-Yudo is a gigantic white pit bull, Beka’s is an oversized black Newfoundland, and this time around (at the insistence of my five cats), Bella’s companion is a huge Norwegian Forest Cat. Mind you, no matter what form they take, you’re going to want to have some good fire insurance…

One of the things that drew me to Baba Yaga as a character was that even in the traditional stories, she wasn’t a “bad” witch or a “good” witch, as scary as she might have appeared. It all depended on how you approached her. If you are pure of heart and strong of will, she will almost certainly help you with your task. If you’re not, well, can you say ribbit?

Mind you, it’s not easy being a Baba Yaga. Poor Bella has this tiny problem with setting things on fire when she gets upset. Probably not the best issue to have when you are dealing with a mysterious arsonist and a flame-shy former Hotshots firefighter in the midst of a Wyoming national forest. Still, it’s all in a day’s work if you are a mystical, magical witch out of Russian fairy tales.

I loved reading fairy tales as a kid, and I’ve really enjoyed reading updated tales by authors such as Robin McKinley, Pamela Dean, Patricia McKillip, and oh, some guy named Jim Something or other. (Editor’s Note: That’s Jim C. Something or other, thank you very much!) I wanted to write my own books that would add something different to the genre, and maybe bring a little bit of magic to those who read them. You’ll have to let me know if I succeeded.

Thanks to Jim for letting me share release day with him. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new book called REVISIONARY to go read. If you’re curious to learn more about me or the Baba Yaga series, you can check me out at www.deborahblakeauthor.com or find me on Facebook or Twitter, usually talking about books, cats, or (on a good day) dragons.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
deborahblakehps
Feb. 3rd, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for having me here, Jim! I love the picture of you reading the book :-)
mtlawson
Feb. 4th, 2016 12:21 pm (UTC)
You know, for some reason Jim's pic isn't showing for me, just a broken link.

But anyway, Happy Book Day to both of you!
fiberaddict
Feb. 3rd, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
This sounds right up my alley! I need to go try and find me a copy! Thanks for the synopsis!
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it!
fatcook
Feb. 3rd, 2016 08:56 pm (UTC)
As always, dedicated lurker here, I learn something new. I need to find these books. New stories about Grandmother? So there!
starcat_jewel
Feb. 3rd, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC)
I had a really odd reaction to the first book; I liked the writing and the characters, but I didn't much like the story itself.

And then I realized that this was story/reader mismatch; I was looking for urban fantasy but reading paranormal romance, and they are not the same thing! I kept thinking, "But... what about the fracking? The missing kids? What's up with that creepy secretary? Who are the Three Riders? I want more worldbuilding, dammit!"

When I stepped back and looked at it as a paranormal romance, it was a very good example of the genre, and one I would not hesitate to recommend to someone who was wanting paranormal romance.

And if Ms. Blake ever decides to write something about these characters that's less of a romance and more of an adventure story or mystery crossover and go into a little more detail about the contemporary Baba Yaga's background and how she got to where she is, I'd be all over that. She's a good writer. It wasn't her fault that she didn't write the story I had wanted to read.

deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
I'll try to do better :-)
bookblather
Feb. 4th, 2016 12:24 am (UTC)
I bought Wickedly Dangerous off Jim's recommendation and I've never regretted it. What a good book, and a great idea! I always loved Baba Yaga as a child, and I love her even more updated.
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:34 pm (UTC)
*smooches* So glad you like it!
attilathepbnun
Feb. 4th, 2016 02:30 am (UTC)
Ahhh, plainly not the traditional 'Devil's Grabdmother' Baba Yaga, then!
And none of the tales I heard mentioned dragons! These sound int-eresting .... *makes note*
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:35 pm (UTC)
When I did my research, the Chudo-Yudo dragon showed up in a few places. Also, he kind of insisted on being in the books. Do you want to argue with a dragon?
attilathepbnun
Feb. 14th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
Goodness, no!
I probably knew better than that before I could read!
northernwalker
Feb. 4th, 2016 05:15 am (UTC)
I think I'm going bookshopping this weekend...

BTW, Deborah, I bought Everyday Witchcraft as my Yule present this year and it's on my list of Books To Take In My Suitcase When I Move Next Month Because Shipping Takes Too Long And I Will Want To Reread It!

My lists have eccentric titles sometimes.

Edited at 2016-02-04 05:18 am (UTC)
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:35 pm (UTC)
Yay! I hope you liked it!
bigbumble
Feb. 4th, 2016 10:58 pm (UTC)
Baba Yaga, but of course!
I first became aware of Baba Yaga from a story in "Jack and Jill" magazine (for 6-12 year old readers) in the 1960's. (Yes, I'm that old!) Just for fun, I checked to see if "Jack and Jill" still exists. Sure enough they do, with a Baba Yaga story in the Jan/Feb 2016 to boot! I may just have to read these stories.
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Baba Yaga, but of course!
No way! How cool is that? I'll have to find a copy somewhere.
filkferengi
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:22 am (UTC)
One of my favorite things is when authors are fans of each other's works. Happy twin bookdays! I'm looking forward to reading both the new books.
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
OMG, so much fan. In fact, I just finished reading Carol Berg's Ash and Silver and Jim's book jumped the MANY other books in my TBR queue so I can read it next.
filkferengi
Feb. 8th, 2016 04:15 pm (UTC)
Is it a queue, a shelf, a bookcase, or a wall? Precise measurement is important in these matters.

;)
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 04:31 pm (UTC)
It is actually multiple bookcases. Three, if you insist on precision :-)
filkferengi
Feb. 8th, 2016 06:54 pm (UTC)
I'd call that a wall, especially if they're double-rowed up & down [as my tbr-wall currently is].
deborahblakehps
Feb. 8th, 2016 10:30 pm (UTC)
Not a wall. Three different shelves in three different places...
filkferengi
Feb. 8th, 2016 11:32 pm (UTC)
Reminders in every room, then.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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