One of the implements I often have to hand when I’m writing is my fairy swatter. It’s ideal for when one of the cats decides to trot over my keyboard and turn my beautifully crafted prose into something reading ggggggggggggghhhhhhhjjjjjjjj. It was bought for me as a joke Christmas present, and is essentially a star-shaped fly swatter which comes complete with some squashed fairy stickers to attach to your windows, fridge or wherever takes your fancy. Not that I’d actually use it on a real fairy, oh, no. As the stories in Circlet’s anthology of urban fairies, Like Butterflies In Iron, proves, the fae folk can be tricky and malicious creatures, and very likely to swat you back if you tried it.
When I received the call for submissions from Cecilia at Circlet, I couldn’t resist putting something together. The result was A Fairytale Of New Cross, in which Ivar, accustomed to going unnoticed on the streets of South-east London, meets and falls in love with Casey, a feisty barmaid with the second sight. She can not only see fairies, she is more than curious to take part in their revels, on the night when the cellar of her pub becomes a place of feasting, dancing and orgiastic sex.
The other stories in the collection deal with human/fairy interaction in very different ways, depending on the perception each writer has of how fairies behave, both in the old world and the modern one. Some are tricky, anxious to take mortals into their own realm and keep them prisoner there, while others are more benevolent, or just plain horny. In Franees Selkirk’s The Beauty Of Broken Glass, Susan accidentally stumbles into a fairy ring on her way home from a club. She meets by a foxy, feral lover, but will she remember enough fairy lore to evade his wickedest intentions and enable her to return home when their lovemaking is over? C.A. Young’s Equinox is the sweet tale of shy Ryan’s seduction at the hands of faerie Alder, who takes nothing more from his human partner than his much-hated freckles. Elgin, in Beryl Falls’ Fairy In The Garden, has much darker intentions. He introduces Ari to her submissive side with his cruel games of pain and pleasure, but he is the kind of fairy you can’t trust – or offer your heart to. Michael M. Jones’ inventive Doppelganger details the meeting between Holly, who was snatched by faeries at the age of seven, and the changeling who was left as her replacement. Both were expected to perish, but survived through determination and force of will, and now they can offer each other a very loving kind of consolations for the hurts which have been done to them. Loel, in Essemoh Teepee’s Loel’s Choice, is a fairy princess who works as a stripper and prefers mortal men because the sex is better. Her father and (wicked, naturally) stepmother are keen to see her breed with one of her own kind, but she has designs on redhead Conlan, who she is keeping in her thrall with the aid of a magic apple. Meanwhile, Monique Poirier’s A Goblin In Hand sees human mage Elias rescuing goblin Tarn, who has been kept in a blood-bond by a child-trafficking sidhe. Being owned goes from a bad thing for Tarn to a very good one, as Elias has always been kinky for goblins…
All the stories here manage to immerse the reader in a world where it’s perfectly plausible that humans and fairies are living side by side. No matter how far they stray from a human look – Tarn is four foot tall and has a whippy little tail, while lithe, coffee-skinned Loel and the fox-featured fairy in The Beauty Of Broken Glass both have visibly pointed ears peeking up out of their hair – they are all objects of desire, and the lust and love they inspire in humans is visibly described. I think my fairies are the only ones who are mentioned as having wings, but that’s simply how I like them – my ideal male fairy is a big, strapping thing with wings and armour (I suspect I’ve somehow developed a fetish for greaves), and no, I wouldn’t dare swat one of those.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about fairies. One of the stories I’m fondest of is At The Bottom Of My Garden, which is available from Ravenous Romance. In that, down on her luck rock musician Stevie seizes on the chance to get away from a broken relationship by house-sitting her sister’s cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. What she doesn’t realise is that the garden belongs to the fairies, and one, Adril, is her special guardian, there to offer her love and protection from harm.
If things with wings (or tails) appeal to you, or you’re keen to see how fairies really would make their way in the modern world, Like Butterflies In Iron is available from a number of stockists including Smashwords.com and Circlet’s own site once their shopping cart is fixed. Maybe it needs a spot of fairy dust to get it working again!