Monday, January 20, 2014

Mythical Monday (33)

It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.

This week we have:
Fantasy author Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Talking of Road Gremlins.

The shadows are populated by the creatures of myth. They writhe and seethe and bubble with a myriad of fae lurking there, waiting for the unwary, the uninformed, the incautious… We mortals often think we spy them, out of the corner of our eyes, but it takes a special vision to truly see. Most only imagine they do in the suggestive twilight populated by their fears, for folklore and legend are filled with tales of faerie folk. Some benign, most not.

We’ve many of us forgotten that in this modern day. We make the error of thinking of faeries and other such creatures as cute and kind and of the venue to entertain children. Yet the truth of those tales echoes in our collective hearts, even when our minds insist they are only stories.

The folly! Tales of the fae were whispered in days of old, cautionary tales to warn children to be good and kind and stay safely clear of the domain of the fae.

Out of this fading of caution has come a need.

A need to re-educate mankind in the true nature of the fae. I have risen to that need, along with my compatriots: L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee C. Hillman, and Jeffrey Lyman.

Who am I? Danielle Ackley-McPhail… And who are we? The chroniclers of the Bad-Ass Faeries.

In the course of our efforts to remind humanity of the prudence of caution regarding the fae I have become familiar with a peculiar little beastie by the name of Smear. No…this is not a new type of fae. Smear is a road gremlin, an adaptation of a species long cautioned against in ages of yore, and more modern times as well. In World War II they were known only as gremlins, creatures with a penchant for sabotaging airplanes, machines, anything with gears and moving parts, constructed by man. Anything. Airmen and mechanics alike knew they fought on two fronts, against the enemy and the gremlins.

Little did the airmen coming home know that there nemeses would follow. As the returning soldiers left their aircraft behind some of them found new ways to feel like they were flying: motorcycles. With wind in their hair and maneuverability and speed at their control, they once more dressed in their leathers and this time took to the roads. And so did their gremlins.

See, the fae are adaptive, they blend in to avoid the notice of the mortal realm, and so seldom remain true to form. Gremlins became road gremlins and motorcycles or cars became the targets of opportunity.

In The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale I chronicle a rare look at a road gremlin, reflecting its environment to better work its mischief. Within that tale, Lance Cosain, the Halfling leader of the Wild Hunt Motor Club, shares his first-hand knowledge of this belligerent little creature:

“Skin as grey as asphalt, with an oily, rainbow shimmer. Hair long and thick and spiny, like a porcupine mated with a box of nails. A thick white line ran down the center of their faces, like war paint, and along their arms were thick, black squiggles. Like tats or tribal markings, only with the dull gleam of tar snakes. Each finger was like a spike, reminiscent of those found at toll booths and security gates, only jointed.”

Lance mastered the road in that encounter, but just barely, and not without sacrificing both his ride and a bit of skin and flesh. He walked away with a limp and respect for an adversary he could only stand up to, but not triumph. After all, the road remains long after the biker’s moved on.

As with any tale of the fae, that respect is the key. That and a judicious use of caution.

The fae are often reflections of their environment and jealous of their territory. Prudent mortals have taken precautions. Bikers, mostly, knowing the weakness of the fae, have taken to attaching small metal bells to their bikes, the ringing painful to the gremlins’ ears. The magic of said bells works in two ways:

  1. Should a bike already be infested with gremlins the ringing bell will catch them up, trapping them within until the sound drives them mad and they fall away.
  2. If the bike is clean, the ringing warns the road gremlins away, preventing them from boarding and working their mischief.

And if the bell is given out of love by one person to another the magic is doubly strong as love has ever been protection against fae of any nature.

So consider, before you bestow on someone that old Irish Blessing “May the road rise up to meet your feet…,” if that truly is a good thing or not…Better, perhaps, to remind your friend or loved one to respect the road, and gift them with a gremlin bell all their own.

To learn more about The Halfling’s Court please visit

You can read an excerpt at

Author Bio:
Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the solo science fiction collection, A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats.

In her down time she concocts her own cookie recipes (Spirited Delights), gets crafty, and makes costume horns. All the spaces in between are filled with reading…lots of reading!

If you want to know more about what fun I had with Irish myth I invite you to check out the Eternal Cycle trilogy or The Bad-Ass Faerie Tale series. Free excerpts of each book can be found on my website:
Yesterday's Dreams
Tomorrow's Memories
Today's Promise’sPromise-EX.pdf
The Halfling's Court
The Redcaps' Queen

Find Danielle Ackley-McPhail:
Amazon author page

Pick Up Danielle's Books At:
On Amazon:


  1. oh I love books about faeries, it's always so interesting to learn how the author had imagined them. So many different way.

    1. Thanks for reading Melliane,

      I agree. I enjoy riffing on mythology so much and finding unique takes on existing legends. Smear was one of my most favorite ones in terms of getting to play. Of course, I get to explore lots of different possibilities in relation to the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies and the Bad-Ass Faerie Tale novellas.

    2. Hi Melliane! I've read one of these anthologies, Bad-ass Fairies, and really enjoyed the stories in it. A few I am looking forward to reading more. But this little guy was so neat to read! :D I look forward to reading more of him. :)

      Thank you!

  2. A gremlin bell! What a fun mythos. Plus, there are so many things you can do with the mischievous gremlins. Great topic.

    1. Thanks, Melissa,

      When I started writing about Biker Faeries I knew I needed to incorporate this part of the culture, I just didn't realize how very much fun it was going to be. Smear just came alive on the page and ended up being a favorite with many readers.

      I even like to overlap from time to time. In a military science fiction story I wrote I had one of the characters put a gremlin bell on her plane :) It was a fun little in-joke that my readers appreciated.

      We haven't seen the last of Smear, though...there is at least one more Wild Hunt novel coming out and at some point this prickly little guy is going to resurface.

    2. Melissa (B&T) Oh yes, it was really neat. lol. I loved reading this short story and look foward to more with this little trouble maker. :D

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, B.

      Me too. In fact, I'm back in two weeks with another post on Redcaps.

      Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed!

    2. They are neat Blodeuedd, and I like the bad ones too. ;)

  4. LOL - I love this! The Gremlin bell is priceless! Whenever I hear mention of faeries, I think of Terry Pratchett, taking us back to the original myths, in which faeries are not nice AT ALL. I love that you've taken them back to their roots as well - there's a reason humans used to fear and try to appease faeries :-)

    1. Thanks, Terri,

      That is exactly what we were going for. I call it dedisnifying the faerie. It's one of the reasons we go with the French spelling of the word, too, to set off from the expectations everyone has when they see fairy.

      We've had a lot of fun playing with this.

      Thanks for reading.

    2. Thank you Terri Bruce, You know I've only read one of Terry Pratchett's books. I need to get back to reading them. :) Thank you for stopping. And I received your email, will get back to you soon! Live has been busy last few days. :)

  5. Ha very interesting, different. I do love mythology especially in books. Always a variation there.

    1. Thanks for reading, Lily.

      I love playing with mythology in my fiction and when the subject matter actually dovetails with what I'm doing it is even better. This is actually a part of the biker culture and the bell is real. I did get to put my own spin on the gremlin though, as finding descriptions was unsuccessful.

    2. Thank you for stopping Lily B! Yes, I love hearing how mythology has inspired so many amazing reads. :)

  6. What a fascinating post! I've heard of gremlins, but never road gremlins. And I love the idea of a gremlin bell on motorcycles! Looking forward to your Redcaps post!

    1. Hi Alexia,

      Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I have to give the biker community the credit for the road gremlins, though I certainly did have fun playing with them.

      You can find some photos here of my interpretation of one:

    2. Alexia, wonderful! And the Redcaps Post will be up in the next few weeks as well. :) These are neat to read. You, like me, enjoy anthologies so hope you give these a try. :) Thank you!

  7. I haven't read many fairies books, but I've always found them to be fascinating creatures with a strong tendency to the dark side... And that is what perhaps intrigues me the most. The version I read here is very interesting and kudos for the road gremlins!
    Thanks for sharing this great post, reading about any kind of mythology is always a big pleasure! :)

    1. Thanks for reading, Silvia! I enjoyed working with road gremlins not just because of the way they tied so well to my theme, but also because the field was wide open. I've never heard of anyone else utilizing them and it was such a perfect opportunity both in regard to the Bad-Ass Faeries series, where they first appeared, and later when I expanded those stories into the Bad-Ass Faerie Tale novellas.

      Most legends of the fae are mischievous, malevolent, or warriors, when we started the BAF series our goal was to take the faerie back to their roots. It has been a fun ride!

    2. Silvia, glad to share a new book of faeries with you. I like that I get all different views in these books with being an anthology. Hope you get a chance to give them a try. :)


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