From Australia, the land of some of our favorite bad-asses, we feature a post from author Jason Franks, whose work can be found in both Bad-Ass Faeries 2 and 3. Jason gives us a unique glimpse into Australian fae myth, as well as a very original take on fae challenges. One lucky commenter will receive a free ecopy of one of Jason’s stories. (Next Week’s Insight: David Lee Summers)
'Theatre of Conflict' was not my original pitch for Bad-Ass Faeries 3.
I wanted to do a yookai story about the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, tying together Russian and Japanese folklore and exploring the famous sea battle. But there were already too many 'hardcore military' stories in the book, so I had to rethink. Perhaps something set a little closer to home...
I couldn't think of any faerie stories set in Australia, and I started to wonder why that might be. The aboriginal nations believe that the world was sung out of dreams. Australian folklore is populated by a few mythical beasts—Yowies and Hairymen and Drop Bears—but they are few and far between. Perhaps the so-called Dead Heart at the center of this country is somehow inimical to faerie creatures: in the Simpson Desert, only the barest echoes of the dreamtime can be felt. This gave me a setting and part of a premise, and that also gave me my first character: Albrecht Murrumbidgie, a sorcerer from the Yolngu nation who's gone off to London to power up.
I had also been watching the documentary Not Quite Hollywood, about the exploitation films made by the Australian film industry in the 70s and 80s (MAD MAX being the best known of these). That gave me an approach, and some of the trappings—shotguns and motorbikes and wide outback vistas. Quentin Tarantino appears on the documentary. These trash-cinema subgenres are Tarantino's favourite sandbox, and his recent work was another key influence. Faerie folk are supposed to be capricious and whimsical and flamboyant, orchestrating pranks and putting on shows for no reason whatsoever—that sounds rather like Hollywood to me. Or perhaps cut rate version Hollywood, luridly imitated in some distant country on a shoestring budget.
Anyway, why shouldn't the faerie folk have their own Tarantino?
The rest of it comes from Australia's military history. Since the American fleet saved us from the Japanese in the second world war, Australia has been very keen to support the US into war; even reintroducing conscription during the Vietnam conflict. Derek, one of the principal characters in this story, served at that time—although in an entirely different theatre of conflict. What if, in the 60s, the American government waged a secret, parallel war in faerieland? Of course Australia would have sent some troops along for the ride; well-trained enough to make up for their small numbers.
Derek's teenage niece and nephew Janice and Oliver are give the story a generational dimension: war and folklore and media all mutate as they are transmitted from generation to generation, and I wanted to show that. I learned to read with Enid Blyton and this is how I have repaid her: with shooting, explosions and bad language.
Bad-ass faeries, indeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jason Franks' fiction, in comics and prose, has appeared in a variety of places, including Assassin's Canon, Deathlings, Tango and, of course, Bad-Ass Faeries. His graphic novel The Sixsmiths will be in comic stores in November 2010. Franks is also the editor of the Kagemono horror comics. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Find out more about him and his work at www.jasonfranks.com and www.thesixsmiths.com.