The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #85: The Serpent Slayer

Episode #85: Storytime Reading of the Serpent Slayer

In honor of International Women’s Day (3/8/17), this is our second fairy tale reading from the book, The Serpent Slayer And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.  This week, we’re reading an Chinese tale about a teenage girl named Li Chi who slays a serpent that has been terrorizing a small community for years.  It’s a very traditional story in structure, getting at themes of greed, ignorance, blind obedience in the face of power and corruption, and the boldness (sometimes foolhardiness) of adolescence that has driven the beating heart of many a rebel, despite being outweighed and under-armed.  The main difference, however, is the protagonist is female – although the story is a human one, not just applicable to one gender.

2017-03-05 11.24.22

2017-03-05 11.24.48

2017-03-05 11.24.38

As patriarchal a society as China was, ancient Chinese mythology does have its share of heroines, and this is a representative tale.  You can find it told and depicted elsewhere on the web, even on youtube in this video game (just the first few minutes of the video is the story).

In other news, next week, we’re going to have an audio transcript of a talk a number of other authors and I did on:

“World Building in Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Essentials

With the Association of Rhode Island Authors

The Science Fiction/Fantasy genre transports readers to new worlds, from the wondrous to the weird. Fans of the genre know that solid world building is essential to the story. When it’s done well, we become immersed in the tale.  When it’s done poorly, we notice. Join us for a discussion with local speculative fiction writer’s to learn their secrets. How do they construct believable worlds in unbelievable settings? What are some of the problems and pitfalls they’ve encountered? Where do they find inspiration? When imagination and writing craft successfully intersect, the results can be out of this world! If you are an aspiring speculative fiction writer or fan, this presentation is for you.” (from the Big Apple Con website)

As always, thanks for listening!


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at:  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #84: Sun Girl and Dragon Prince

Episode #84: Storytime Reading of Sun Girl and Dragon Prince

In honor of International Women’s Day (3/8/17), over the next few week’s we’ll be reading stories about heroines from a book called The Serpent Slayer And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman.

This week, we’re reading an Armenian tale called Sun Girl and Dragon Prince.  It has many of the traditional fairy tale archetypes you see again and again in Grimm-styles tales.  I found the end kind of odd, but maybe because it didn’t wrap up as neatly as some fairy tales do.  It also has that classic, but sometimes annoying theme of downtrodden-yet-beautiful-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold who tames wild beasts into civilized men.  There’s a reason that story is classic … but it’s probably inspired plenty of young maidens to go kissing more than their share of frogs, hoping they’d turn into princes of their own.

There are parallels to those themes in The Thirteenth Hour prequel, A Shadow in the Moonlight, so what can I say?  Fairy tale characters don’t always make great role models for real life 🙂  Interestingly enough, although I’d never read this tale before, there’s a hunter in it who has a lot of parallels to the cursed hunter in A Shadow in the Moonlight as well.  (You can read that tale free and find out for yourself.)

2017-03-05 11.24.22

2017-03-05 11.24.31

2017-03-05 11.25.18.jpg

As always, thanks for listening!


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at:  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon 

Episode #52: Storytime Reading of St. George and the Dragon

This week, we’re reading an illustrated adaptation of the first part of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queen – the tale of St. George and the Dragon.  The one we’re reading from was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (check out a tribute and bio on this blog) and penned by Margaret Hodges.  You can find a copy online at retailers like Amazon or you local library.  There are a few pictures and excerpts includes below.  I’d recommend any of the books written and illustrated by this duo if you enjoy fairy tales and/or fantasy art.

The tale is an abridged version for children of the original, which was a lengthy poem.  You can find a summary of the original Faerie Queen tale and a commentary here.  It’s more adult oriented than this version and has more overt allegorical/religious/moral overtones as opposed to this one, which reads more like a traditional fairy tale and mirrors the end of the original poem, a summary of which you can find here.

Personally, I have always wondered why everyone had it in for the dragon, who also fought a good fight, and I kind of felt bad for him.  Here he was minding his own business and … well, I guess that kind of flips the story on its head, doesn’t it.  Maybe someone one day can rewrite the tale from the dragon’s point of view.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Anyhow, I posted a few pictures from the book on Instagram before from the book, which you can find here:

Here are some others:

It’s also in these pages that we learn that the name George means “Plow the Earth” and “Fight the Good Fight.”  Georges of the world, take note and take heart.  You have a fine lineage.

As always, thanks for listening!


The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #42: Dragons’ Eyes

Episode #42: Dragons’ Eyes: a Poem and Folk Song from The Thirteenth Hour

Today’s episode is about a song that I originally started started writing as a part of a chapter in The Thirteenth Hour.  Finally got around to finishing it.  It’s a bit of a folk song.  Here’s the passage that talks about it:

Then she looked up at me, through reddened eyes, and I struggled to say, “I thought I would never see you again … I’m so glad I found you.”

She nodded, and I wiped her tear–streaked ashen face with my sleeve, trying to maneuver around the burns and scabs. After a time, her eyelids began to fall, and then right when I thought she might be drifting off to sleep, she laughed a little.

“Do you know, Logan, that since you’ve left I haven’t sang or hummed any of the songs I used to like? I just thought of one now.”

Do you remember when I said Aurora could sing? I suppose anyone who can talk can sing, but not everyone likes to. Aurora did. She had a quiet, mid–range, soothing voice that she liked to use when she was at her work, in the garden at the orphanage, or to quiet some of the younger kids there. I was never sure where she learned her songs – I think she made most of them up – and was never sure how she remembered all the lyrics. She did write some down – I think I remember her saying that was her main motivation for learning how to read – but really, it seemed like she had them all in her head. I learned the melodies, just by being around her and hearing her hum them, but kept getting the lyrics mixed up.

“Which one, Aurora?”

She coughed, and said, “Do you remember ‘Dragons’ Eyes’?”

I did – it was, at one time, a ballad often sung to young children to lull them to sleep. Then people forgot about it for a long time until a rather dodgy traveling bard used the melody in a love song that became very popular. His version was the standard tripe about star–crossed lovers who meet, fall in love, fall out of love, make up, break up, etc. So, of course, people loved it. And that’s how they rediscovered the more somber original version.
It told of a magic place hidden from view where anything you wished for could come true. The second verse mentioned a land of gold, and even though that was only one of the possible things one could wish for, it was the one people remembered. But to get there, you needed dragons’ eyes. Once you had them, east would become west, west would become east, and there it would be (to be honest, I never really understood that verse). Anyway, men never found it, the song said, because they killed off almost all the dragons trying to get their eyes, but it was a pair of living eyes you needed.

The last verse, the one the bard used as the basis for his song about human lovers, was actually about two young dragons, a male and his female mate, who’d been wounded and spotted by their human hunters. The dragons managed to crawl into a cave, which the men surrounded. After waiting for a long time, the dragons knew they had to either fight their way out or die in the cave from hunger and blood loss. But they had had enough of fighting and felt too weak to have much of a chance. Finally, they decided that instead of simply giving up and dying where they lay, they would go to the mouth of the cave, but not attack the men. Then the dragon gods would know they were not afraid, and perhaps their deaths would be quick.

And that’s where the song ended. It didn’t say what happened to the two dragons, but I remember hoping that the hunters would be touched by their courage and let them go. They must have, I reasoned, because if they had killed them, the last of their kind, there wouldn’t have been any more dragons today, and of course there were. All in all, a rather strange subject for a lullaby, but it had always been Aurora’s favorite song.

“I remember how it goes, Aurora.”

“Could you … sing it to me? It’s been so long … I can’t seem to remember how it starts now,” she said, looking both sad and puzzled.

My heart sank a little further as I realized the toll the past year must have taken on Aurora if she no longer remembered her favorite song. It meant the girl I knew from yesterday was gone, and a different woman had taken her place. But whoever she’d become, that’s the way it was. I thought of how the tables had turned – Aurora had always sung to me, and now, I would sing to her. (Just be glad you weren’t there).

“Um, sure, Aurora.” I cleared my throat.

A long, long time ago,
From legends dead,
There comes a tale
From which it’s said:

There is a place –
It’s hard to see.
East of here,
And West of there.
Where all the eye can see
Is made of gold.

And so it goes,
The story rolls.
Twisted ’round by man
In ambitions cold …

“Oh, I remember, now,” sighed Aurora. “You know, of all the things that have changed, it’s nice to know your singing’s still the same.”

“Yeah, thanks a lot.”

She laughed. “I always liked your voice, though. Would you mind singing the rest?”

I bumbled on the best I could, though I didn’t remember all the words. But Aurora filled in for me, except for once near the end, when I looked down and found Aurora asleep. I leaned my head on the wall and kept my arms around her as I sang the remaining verses softly to myself, just so I could refresh my memory. One day, under better circumstances, we would sing it again together. Long after I had finished, I heard the melody, which was usually played on a mandolin if an accompaniment was being used. The chords resonated through the night, and something about them seemed to grow in timbre and encircle us in a protective sphere.


A pixelart dragon from the vaporware Thirteenth Hour game

You can hear an acoustic guitar version on this week’s podcast.  The song will eventually become part of the soundtrack, which you can find here.

Speaking of which, previews and discussion of music and movies that inspired the soundtrack is on Instagram under @the13thhr.ost.  Since Instagram recently changed their videos to allow 60 seconds of footage, I’m considering making 1 min 80s-synth style versions of some of those favorite influential 80s songs.  It’s hard to distill the essence of a great song down to just 1 minute … but it might be a fun exercise and different that the usual tribute.  Look for those soon!

Lastly, check Twitter for weekly and bi-weekly Amazon giveaways (look for #AmazonGiveaway on social media)- free to enter; you can enter each week until you win if you want.


More on the creative process next week with author Missy Sheldrake.  Preview links below!



FB: and



Illustration for Call of Sunteri available on and

Click on the picture to view a trailer for Call of Kythshire, the first book in the series.

As always, thanks for listening!


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and @the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

Influences Behind the Thirteenth Hour Part 1: Books

There are no new ideas, really.  But we do take things in our experience and make them our own by changing or tweaking a little here or there.

In the process of editing The Thirteenth Hour, I tried to reverse engineer where the various ideas making up the book came from (or contributed in some way, served as inspiration, or broadened my horizons).  This first in a series of several posts will look at what I came up with so far.  I’ve included links to goodreads and other sites where appropriate:


I read a lot as a kid, and while I always wanted to like fantasy books became they had cool covers, I always had trouble getting into them – the obscure name with a zillion consonants, the fact they they often just plopped you in the middle with little to no explanation of the backstory, the fact that it was usually impossible to find the first book in the series, leading you to have to to figure it out on your own, etc).  Some of those gripes are a thing of the past given you can find pretty much anything on the internet, but at the time, it was frustrating.  So I found myself gravitating to the ones that weren’t necessarily pure fantasy, were a little more user-friendly, and ideally, didn’t necessarily take themselves too seriously.  I’ve also listed some picture books, non-fantasy novels, and comics that I grew up reading that influenced the art and writing style in The Thirteenth Hour.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende – probably the first fantasy style novel that I was able to successfully read.  The hardcover edition I read was printed in red and green text depending on which character’s story it was, which influenced me to do something similar with the text of The Thirteenth Hour.  I was about nine when I read it, and remember feeling very proud after finishing it – not only was it over 400 pages long, it was housed in the adult part of the library.  But it was also a book for grown ups that had pictures (the beginning of each chapter was adorned with a montage-style picture of the chapter’s contents), which blew my mind at the time, and has forever biased me to novels that also have illustrations.  It was also one of the many stories of the time that used the guise of a young protagonist getting sucked into the world of a story to advance the plot).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – my mother started reading this story to my brother and I when I was about twelve or so.  I ended up finishing the rest of the series on my own and always enjoyed the irreverent, dry humor of the book, which probably influenced the narrative of The Thirteenth Hour in some underlying ways).

Lost in Place by Mark Salzman – a memoir, actually, of author Mark Salzman’s childhood.  Probably one of my favorite books of all time because of the irreverent, honest writing style.  I read it as a teenager and particularly delighted at his descriptions of his martial arts training and his youthful obsessions to be an astronaut and kung fu monk, all of which I could relate to.  The writing style probably influenced me giving Logan from The Thirteenth Hour a similar voice).

The Teddy Bear Habit by James Lincoln Collier – I think I had to read this book in the sixth? grade.  I remember it being hilarious, and although it’s a product of the times (written in the 60s with lots of period slang throughout), that didn’t really seem to matter.  It’s a funny story, and the part I recall most fondly is the narrator, who’s a twelve year old but has the perspective of an adult.  Like the proceeding books on this list, the style influenced the first-person narrated sections of The Thirteenth Hour.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien – I think this was another one we had to read for school, but like The Teddy Bear Habit, it was a good choice.  This book also used the premise of a parallel world operating right under our noses (in this case, one of animals), which was (apparently) a common theme of a lot of stuff I liked then.  Like all those works, that idea probably influenced the creation of the world of dreams in The Thirteenth Hour.

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – a wonderfully illustrated and written version of the St. George tale.  We had a bunch of books illustrated by Ms. Hyman (see below for another example) when I was growing up, and the artwork probably influenced how I drew some of the scenes in The Thirteenth Hour.

Swan Lake by Margot Fonteyn/Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman – see above.

Bone comics by Jeff Smith – my brother had a few magazines when he was a kid (I think they were called Disney Adventures) that had a serialized version of the first few parts of this comic.  I later checked out a few volumes from the local library but never actually got around to finishing the rest of the story (it’s on my to do list).  But I really enjoyed the inked black and white art, probably one of the influencing factors behind the stylized, semi-cartoony look I gave the characters in The Thirteenth Hour.  Plus, this was the probably first time I’d seem a fantasy comic done in a graphic novel form.  I flirted with the idea of making The Thirteenth Hour into a comic, and even had some comic-esque scenes that I drew, but in the end shelved those for another day.  I think the only one that made it into the book was a frame where Logan is telling Aurora to run (and you can see the word bubble).

Logan with beardWM

Archie comics – my brother also had a ton of Archie comics which I’d occasionally read.  I don’t recall the stories being terribly engaging (except for one where Archie meets the Punisher – see the link!), but I did like the stylized way the characters were drawn.  I even tried tracing, then copying, a few to get the hang of drawing cartoons.  (I remember having a lot of trouble with eyes and noses and found it easier to make them look acceptable the way they were drawn in these comics rather than in a more photo-realistic way).  So, like Bone above, it influenced the art in The Thirteenth Hour.

Logan pushupsWM

Speaking of art, it took years, but I finally figured out that although fantasy novels were always a kind of plus minus experience for me, with a few key exceptions, what I really liked were the covers.  In other words – fantasy art.  There, it was all spelled out, so to speak – the entire story in one picture.  If you, too, enjoy pictures of surreal landscapes, dragons, and the like, check out the great fantasy art on deviantart.  The Thirteenth Hour has its own page there.

In the next post, I’ll transition entirely to visual media with movies and television programs that influenced The Thirteenth Hour.





-Book Trailer:

-Free itunes podcast of the book:

-Read free excerpts at and the book’s amazon site.