Once Upon a Time… with Rowan Speedwell

March 10, 2016


Hi, I’m Rowan Speedwell, and I’m delighted to announce that my novella Night and Day is being re-released by Dreamspinner. I hope that y’all are as happy as me, because I love yez and want you to be happy! So sit back and I’ll tell you a little story….


Once upon a time, there was a little girl who looooved fairy tales, and started studying history so she could find out where and when those beautiful castles were… only to find out that the only fairy castles in the world were built by a crazy man named Ludwig of Bavaria barely more than two hundred years ago. But that was okay, because by then the little girl had discovered that the stories history told were much more interesting than fairy tales.

In her pursuit – she was literally the only person who received a Master’s degree in the Department of Humanities, Division of History from the University of Chicago in 1981 (everyone else was in the Social Studies department, blech) – she learned about culture and art and science and philosophy and music and literature and all the good stuff, not just dates and places and names. And she learned about mythology, and how the true stories of mythology – particularly Greek mythology – told you more about the people and places and times as any dull ol’ Social Studies book (blech).

Particularly when she graduated from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology to Bulfinch’s Mythology, and then stuff got really good. The things those gods got up to!

Night and Day plays with the gods, although the names have been changed to protect the innocent – assuming we can find any. It’s based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. I don’t know if you know that story, but basically it’s this: Orpheus was a brilliant musician, who Apollo and Dionysus, both gods of music, fought over because each wanted him to be their worshipper. Apollo won out, but Dionysus (or Bacchus, if you know that one better) wasn’t going to let the insult go. Ain’t that just like a god? Sheesh. Anyway, the only thing Orpheus loved more than music was his wife Eurydice. Sadly, she died, and was taken away to Hades. Orpheus went after her, because you apparently can do that sort of thing in mythology, and was brought before Hades himself and his own wife Persephone. He played for them and the music was so beautiful the two promised him anything he wanted, so of course he asked for Eurydice back.

But there was a catch. (Usually is with these god guys.) He had to lead her out of Hades (Hades being both the place and the god, as anyone who’s seen Disney’s Hercules would know) but couldn’t look at her. So he did, and just as he stepped out of the tunnel from Hades, she stumbled and cried out, and he looked at her instinctively – but she was still in the tunnel, still in Hades, and so she faded back into the darkness.

Poor Orpheus went mad with grief, wandering the wild places. And Dionysus’s groupies, a bunch of crazy women called Maenads, who ran around drunk on Dionysus’s grapes (he was also the god of wine) wearing animal skins and eating raw bunnies, came upon him and tore him apart. There may have been cannibalism involved. So Dionysus got his revenge.

Of course Nate Pederowski is a tougher character. He’s survived the First World War and the loss of his lover, and the loss of his career and family and pretty much all illusions he might have still had. But unlike Orpheus, the music keeps him going. And just because there’s some strange stuff going on in the Starlight Lounge, it doesn’t mean he’s going to give up. Even if his new lover has a tendency to catch fire in sunlight, and a local gangster is trying to lure him away, and the clubfooted chef has a volcanic temper, and people around Nate are just a little bit weird. But he gets by and even starts to see a future…

Until he meets the Maenads…

(Insert evil laugh here.)

And maybe, maybe, we might find ourselves at the Starlight again someday. Because I love me some myths and magic.

What’s your favorite myth? And why?

Email: rowan.speedwell@gmail.com
Twitter: @rowanspeedwell
Facebook: Rowan Speedwell
Website: www.rowanspeedwell.com

Check out Night and Day here!



Nate Pederowski is about as far down as he can go when he’s tipped to a job as a singer in a speakeasy. Dishonorably discharged for being queer, broke and homeless during the Great Depression, Nate is embittered and lonely. The club’s handsome owner, Rick Bellevue, and his sister Corinna are wowed by Nate’s voice and offer him the job.

But the Starlight Lounge is much more than an ordinary supper club, and Rick and his sister much more than just the owners. It’s not ’til Nate gets caught up in a gangster’s plot that he discovers just what secrets they’re hiding. Nate’s life is going to change in ways he can scarcely imagine, let alone believe.


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