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When I launched Neon Druid back in 2018, never in my wildest dreams had I imagined a hardcover version of the anthology would be possible.
Yes, I have some pretty wild dreams. But really, what self-respecting writer (or reader, for that matter) doesn’t dream of holding a weighty, dignified-looking tome in their hands? A book with heft, and robustness, and, above all, class.
That was my mission when designing the new cover art for the hardcover collector’s edition of Neon Druid. I wanted to create something that harkened back to a more classical era of book cover design.
The result of my dreaming and researching and toiling is now available for scrutiny. And purchase. I mean, ideally, you’ll buy it first then scrutinize it but, alas, I always leave the comments section open on IrishMyths.com, rebel that I am.
What’s Inside the Hardcover Collector’s Edition of Neon Druid?
Stories! Sixteen stories of urban Celtic fantasy written by sixteen incredible authors… and one that I wrote and stuck at the end because hey, this was my project, dammit. Also, at least one reviewer (Alexander Pyles) has said my story—“Druids of Montréal”— was “a pleasure to read” and that it “gives the full spectrum of urban fantasy and Celtic mythology. We have our pub scene, our mysterious meeting under gnarled trees, and finally a mystical dreamlike world that our hero, Finn, stumbles into.”
But enough about me! (Look, see? I’m blushing.) Here’s the full list of stories you’ll find inside Neon Druid, regardless of the format you choose—hardcover, paperback, or ebook. Where applicable, I’ve also included notes from the authors.
1) Dreams of Gold • Madison McSweeney (2,400 words)
2) The Faoladh • Patrick Winters (3,200 words)
I was perusing Facebook months ago, and I just happened to see a post with a brief article about the Faoladh. “Irish werewolves” caught my attention, and when I read the article, I was really surprised by the concept of werewolves acting as nobler—even heroic—guardian figures, as compared to the more modern view of them being mindless monsters, like we see in a fair bit of today’s media. I kept the concept in the back of my mind, and once I saw the call for Neon Druid, I knew it was time to make a story out of it.-Patrick Winters
3) The Flat Above the Wynd • Alexandra Brandt (6,700 words)
My whole family has been pretty obsessed with all things Celtic since I can remember. My obsession turned into its own special brand of nerdery when I went on an archaeological tour of Scotland in 2015…wait, there is nothing archaeological in this story. What DID inspire me was the time we spent in Edinburgh, exploring Old Town and discovering all the little alleyways (wynds and closes) and side courts along the Royal Mile. (We were absolutely the idiot tourists trying to climb the stairs of a private residence.) That’s where “The Flat Above the Wynd” came from.-Alexandra Brandt
4) Mari Lwyd • Jennifer Lee Rossman (2,000 words)
I’ll confess, I had originally written this story with a different anthology in mind, a Christmas horror anthology. So I wasn’t trying to write about Celtic mythology specifically, but the Welsh tradition of the Mari Lwyd caught my attention.-Jennifer Lee Rossman
5) Under Construction • Matthew Stevens (4,000 words)
6) Jace and the Daoine Shi • Tom Howard (2,500 words)
7) The Burning of the Blueberries • Hailey Piper (6,300 words)
8) Banshee • Serena Jayne (100 words)
9) Fragarach • R. J. Howell (7,600 words)
I’d been browsing fantasy images on Pinterest, looking for future inspiration, and I’d come across an image of a guy holding a glowing sword in one hand and a cell phone in the other. Somehow in my brain, this connected with the Clay story and premise of being challenged to find random objects by an ankou (seriously, it’s the most episodically designed story and world I’ve ever written so far and it came about by total accident). I Googled mythical swords in Irish mythology (not quite sure why I chose Irish, but I did) and—well, boom. I started writing and it just kept flowing.-R. J. Howell
10) The Lady of the Lake • P. J. Richards (1,600 words)
I found the submissions call on Twitter, and really liked the theme but (as is always my instinct) wanted to drag it from the streets and back into nature – Central Park with its beauty and dangers sprang to mind, and when I found The Lake, everything fell into place.-P. J. Richards
11) Faith, Begorrah, and Oy Gevalte! • Art Lasky (650 words)
My story starts with a little boy falling down a coal chute. Shortly before my second birthday, it was traumatic enough to remember. When a workshop prompt called for a story about a trip I had taken, well…-Art Lasky
12) Cave Canem • Ed Ahern (3,100 words)
I wanted a supernatural figure with provenance who wasn’t already a beaten-to-death trope.-Ed Ahern
13) The Ache of Water • E.K. Reisinger (980 words)
I’m a romance fan, both in writing and reading, so love stories creep in no matter what I write. More broadly, I’m drawn to the emotional connections – the how/why/who/whats – of relationships, whether platonic or romantic. The raw grief flooding Anders’ in “The Ache of Water” became the entry point to start writing the piece.-E.K. Reisinger
14) Glandomirum • Jarret Keene (2,500 words)
15) Salted Earth • Willow Croft (1,900 words)
I’ve worked in animal rescue and wildlife rescue for years, both as a volunteer and as a paid employee… Lately, I’ve been thinking about what would happen to all the pets left behind in houses and in apartments and other livespaces in the time of an apocalypse. And that’s where the kelpies came into my story, as aided by the Cailleach, and old-world magic.-Willow Croft
16) Lady of the Crows • Laila Amado (400 words)
17) Druids of Montreal • I. E. Kneverday (7,800 words)
A collection of 17 short stories, NEON DRUID mixes urban fantasy and Celtic mythology, creating a universe where lecherous leprechauns and debaucherous druids inhabit the local pubs, and where shapeshifting water spirits from Scotland and sword-wielding warriors from Ireland lurk in the alleyways. Stories range from tales of supernatural horror, to street-level fantasy adventures, to farcical, whiskey-drenched fairytales. Learn more…
P.S. If you’re interested in reviewing Neon Druid I’d be happy to send you a copy for free. Just email me here and be sure to link to your website/blog!