Series Edited by Howard Andrew Jones
Howard Andrew Jones lurks in a tower beside the Sea of Monsters with a wicked and beautiful sorceress. When not spending time with her or their talented children he can be found hunched over his laptop, mumbling about flashing swords and doom-haunted towers. He has role-played regularly since junior high, long years ago, and game mastered so many adventures that he lost his mind and decided to become a writer. His publications include short stories, Pathfinder novels, the historical fantasies of Dabir and Asim, and his latest series The Ring-Sworn Trilogy. You can find his musings on writing and gaming at www.howardandrewjones.com, on FB at https://www.facebook.com/howard.andrew.jones.1, or occasionally on Twitter @Howardandrewjon.
In addition to editing Tales From the Magician’s Skull — Howard also contributes the occasional story to the magazine — Click here for all stories by Howard Andrew Jones
Adrian Cole is a Dumnonian Celt with Irish antecedents living in Solomon Kane country in Devon, UK. He divides his time between writing, plunging into the local Celtic Sea and riding a bike thru the wilds of the surrounding forests. He has recently become a grandfather, which gives him even more opportunities to indulge in a second childhood. He has had over 2 dozen books published, ranging through fantasy, sf, S and S, horror, mythos, and general pulp. His latest book is a reprint of the British Fantasy Award-winning Nick Nightmare Investigates (Pulp Hero Press, US) and he has two forthcoming collections: Dark Ships Passing, S&S from Pulp Hero and Elak, King of Atlantis.
Scott J. Couturier
Scott J. Couturier is a poet and prose writer of the Weird, grotesque, and darkly fantastic. A lover of high fantasy since childhood, one night he followed a friendly ghoul down a tomb’s dank passage, discovering the hidden world and wonder of horror. His work has appeared in numerous venues, including The Audient Void, Spectral Realms, The Dark Corner Zine, Space & Time Magazine, and Weirdbook; a 2008 graduate of Knox College (BA in Creative Writing & English Lit), he was a co-founder of Knox Quiver, a genre magazine that has since become a campus institution. Currently he works as a copy and content editor for Mission Point Press, living an obscure reverie in the wilds of northern Michigan with his partner/live-in editor & two cats.
Sean works as a Special Education teacher in a correctional facility in Oregon where he also instructs Language Arts and Social Studies to young men working on a second chance at life. He has two books out on the market: Valhalla Steel and Godless Lands, with another release on the way. He is the father of three beautiful children and husband to a woman who, for whatever reason, puts up with his crazy ideas and sleepless nights. When he’s not hammering away at his craft, he can be found wandering the mountain trails of his home, thinking of new stories to tell. You can learn more about Sean and his projects at www.lordofcrows.com.
Milton Davis toils away during the day in his secret identity as a technical directer and research chemist. But at night he becomes The Griot, his fingers flashing across the keyboard as he spins tales of heroic deeds and sprawling empires based on African/African Diaspora cultures. Protecting his true identity are his wife and two grown children (an oxymoron?), who also aid him during conventions and presentations. You find his stories and novels at MVmedia, LLC (www.mvmediaatl.com) or follow him on Instagram at @obadoro.
Tom Doyle writes his uncanny tales in the upper floor of a stone turret in Washington, DC. His thinly veiled true account of the world’s secret magician-soldiers and psychic spies appears in his American Craftsmen trilogy from Tor Books. Tom’s other chronicles of science and magic can be found at www.tomdoyleauthor.com
James Enge lives in northwest Ohio with his wife and two crime-fighting, emotionally fragile dogs. He teaches Latin, classics, and mythology at a medium-sized public university. His stories have appeared in Black Gate, in the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards (Ragnarok Press, 2015), in Apocalyptic (ZNB, 2020), and elsewhere. His first novel, Blood of Ambrose, was nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and the French translation was nominated for the Prix Imaginales. You can reach him through Facebook (as james.enge) or on Twitter (@jamesenge) or, if all else fails, via his website, jamesenge.com.
In the vast and distant north, Dave Gross lies dreaming. Or he dreams lies. The sorcerers have never been able to agree on this point. Nonetheless, his visions found their way into ten or eleven novels and assorted shorter works, many featuring Radovan and the Count. On cloudless nights, the reckless may trace the patterns of his hallucinations against the Twitter moon @frabjousdave.
David Gullen was born in Africa and baptised by King Neptune on the ship that took him to England. In a previous century he was a European GENCON AD&D Team Champion, and later on, an avid LARPer. He now lives a quieter life in South London, in a snug house concealed by several tree ferns, with his partner, the fantasy writer Gaie Sebold, and the nicest cat you ever did see. You can find out more about his short stories and other scribblings at davidgullen.com.
Philip Brian Hall
Philip Brian Hall inhabits the dismal fastnesses of Sliabh Mannan, six hundred feet above sea level in Central Scotland. Buzzards ride the thermals overhead and shriek at him whenever he stops writing. Quite how many years he has been immured in this desolation, nobody now remembers, but he is (probably) still alive, since every now and again he manages to emerge long enough to send another story to one of his various publishers in The UK, USA or Canada. Over thirty of these stories have now reached a resolutely unresponsive public, along with his two novels The Prophets of Baal and The Family Demon. Gluttons for punishment may find his blog at sliabhmannan.blogspot.co.uk.
Ryan Harvey is a professional marketing writer who dwells in the sun-drenched decadence of Southern California with his black cat familiar. He won the Writers of the Future Contest in 2011 and has written numerous essays for www.blackgate.com on his wide-ranging fascinations: Godzilla, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and any movie starring Peter Cushing. When he isn’t writing he is—for some unfathomable reason—an improvisational comedy performer with a local theater. Find if he has anything interesting to say at www.RyanHarveyAuthor.com.
John C. Hocking
John C. Hocking is a nigh obsessed reader and writer of lurid pulp fiction, the author of Conan and the Emerald Lotus and its time-lost companion, Conan and the Living Plague, and an obedient thrall of the Magician’s Skull.
Alexander James lives in a humble cottage with his wife, children, and several thousand bees. While the bees are a tough audience, his children seem to enjoy his tales of lost treasures, secret passageways, and lurking ghouls. He has been playing roleplaying games for over thirty years and so far it hasn’t had any ill effects that he’ll admit to.
After a long inglorious career as a world-wandering scribe, William King came to rest in the fabled city of Prague, where he dwells with his beautiful wife and two lovely sons surrounded by hoary tomes about swordsmen and sorcerers and tottering piles of roleplaying games. A former developer at Games Workshop, he is the creator of Gotrek and Felix and the author of many books set in the universe of Warhammer 40K. His short fiction has appeared in Best of Interzone and Year’s Best SF. He has been an enthusiastic player of RPGs since 1977. Kormak stars in 12 novels, and the first is available for free at Amazon, iTunes and most other online retailers. King’s online citadel is williamking.me.
Locked in a basement in a city of fog of grime, W. J. Lewis sits surrounded by quills and vellum. On full moons he is allowed out, and sometimes passersby throw him coins for stories. If you look closely, and are not too loud, you can find him on Twitter @WjlewisA.
S.E. Lindberg manages an alchemy laboratory in Southwest Ohio, but he has a long way to mature until he can animate skeletons. His rank of Fourth Order Dread Chymist merely means he knows how to use a microscope, perhaps even make a soap bar from reacting lye with fat. He aims to achieve full Necromancer status by interviewing other artists regarding “Beauty & Art in Weird Fantasy” and by crafting Dyscrasia Fiction. Check out selindberg.com and BlackGate.com to study his grimoires. You can find him lurking in the Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Group, which he moderates. He has successfully survived interning for The Skull for almost a year (prior to his escape! – The Skull).
In his thirty years as a Hollywood screenwriter, Nathan made a living at everything except screenwriting. He was a taxi driver, limo driver, delivery driver, and comic store and video store clerk. This isn’t to say he never sold any screen plays or made any movies. There were a few. He just never made any money out of it. It wasn’t until he started doing the thing his twelve-year-old self loved best that he began making a living. Yep, he’s at a computer game company now, writing thrilling adventures for role players. He should have thought of this years ago.
Violette Malan is the author of the Dhulyn and Parno sword-and-sorcery series and The Mirror Lands series of primary world fantasies. As VM Escalada, she’s the author of the Faraman Prophecy, including Halls of Law, and Gift of Griffins. She’s on Facebook, she’s on Twitter (@Violette Malan) and website-wise check either www.violettemalan.com or www.vmescalada.com. Not that it’s up-to-date, because it isn’t. She strongly urges you to remember that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Joseph A. McCullough
Joseph A. McCullough makes his home on a ridge, high above the English Channel, from where he can walk to Roman ruins, several medieval castles, Napoleonic fortifications, and a crypt full of skulls. While Joe has written numerous books and fantasy short stories, he is best-known these days as the creator of the multi-award-winning miniatures game Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City as well as its numerous supplements and spin-offs. Because of his habit of drifting through all of the different creative aspects of geekdom, he regularly posts on his blog, therenaissancetroll.blogspot.com
Trapped in the disturbing quietude of suburban Chicago, Gregory D. Mele has built himself an underground refuge, where, surrounded by stack of moldering books and gleaming blades, he masters ancient weapon arts that lost all relevance four hundred years ago. Well prepared to defend fane and family against ravening hordes of steppe riders, Viking raiders and the undead, he is perplexed they have not yet appeared and so writes about them instead.
Nathan Meyer has been an infantryman in the US Army, worked on Alaskan fishing boats, fought wildland fires on a helicopter-rappel crew, and been both security and EMT on the Las Vegas Strip. During that time he was never able to tell his co-workers that his single greatest achievement was being the only member of his AD&D party to make it out of the original Tomb of Horrors. This is because Lawful Evil half-Orc assassins are survivors.
Jeremy Pak Nelson
Jeremy Pak Nelson haunts the canals of Manchester charting ley lines that connect the city to his birthplace, Hong Kong. He is preoccupied with outdated methods of putting words on paper, and when not sifting through his hoard of stationery enjoys folk fiddle, accordion, and the game of go. He can be reached on Twitter @jpaknelson, and online at www.jeremypaknelson.com.
Sarah Newton dwells in a tumbledown cottage in the wilderness of what was once Dla-Mogor, today called Normandy, France. Surrounded by sheep, cats, and songbirds, she can be found hunched over scrolls, scribing maps and half-remembered incantations and giving in to the voices in her head which whisper prophecies of past and future. She has been roleplaying almost as long as roleplaying games have existed, and is a passionate game master and crafter of worlds and adventures. An award-winning writer, her process of taking dictation from the cosmos has somehow led to the creation of roleplaying games, short stories, and novels, including works such as Mindjammer, Monsters & Magic, Legends of Anglerre, Achtung! Cthulhu, and The Chronicles of Future Earth. You can find her attempting to upload her brain at sarahnewtonwriter.com, www.mindjammerpress.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShairaSu.
Daniel J. Ouellette
Daniel J. Ouellette makes his lair in western Massachusetts and shares it with two fiendish felines and a gorgeous warrior woman. He spends his days tending flowers, which leaves him with copious time to ruminate on ideas for strange stories and thrilling tabletop adventures. In his free time he tries his best to bring these ideas screeching and squawking to life between frantic bouts of consuming cartoons, books, films and games. He would love nothing more than for his stories to either disgust you, frighten you, or make you cry with joy. Daniel can be found on twitter (@DanButtercup), where he is known to rant enthusiastically about his wonderful D&D group, how much he dislikes beans (a lot), or how Voltron VHS tapes shaped him into the man he is today.
Robert Rhodes tends a sacred grove in Upstate South Carolina, where he multi-classes as an attorney, soccer coach, and writer. (Or is he simply a hexblade warlock?) He’s been a finalist in The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and a reviewer for FantasyLiterature.com. His stories have appeared in Black Gate and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and are collected in his book Shadow, Light, & Steel (available on amazon.com). He’s online at www.facebook.com/rrhodeswriter, and @rrhodeswriter.
Mark Rigney’s novels and stories are mostly either out of print or undiscovered, which is why he hikes deep into deserts without water, collects (hoards, really) very old beer cans, and cultivates a riotous native prairie in what would otherwise be a perfectly ordinary suburban back yard. The neighbors are rightly suspicious, but his family, thankfully, remains adoring. On his days off, he writes plays. When the moon is blue, these plays get produced. His website is www.markrigney.net
Long ago D.M. Ritzlin worked as an intern/henchman for Kenzer & Co. while they were creating their HackMaster RPG. The experience would serve him well in the future, as he became an author of sword- and-sorcery tales which place the emphasis on sorcery and mix in a touch of gallows humor. A collection of his stories, Necromancy in Nilztiria, was released in October 2020. For more information on his projects, visit dmrbooks.com.
Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. He is a notorious dinosaur nerd, a rare polearms expert, a baseball connoisseur, and he has mastered the art of fighting with sword-shaped objects (but not actual swords). He occasionally offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and rejection (mostly rejection) on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.
Adrian Simmons lairs in an undisclosed location in Central Oklahoma. Back in the day, he ran AD&D, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers games. From there the slippery slope to writing was too well lubricated to ever hope to escape. Making the best of it, he edits http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/, and holds forth on many nerdy topics at www.blackgate.com.
James Stoddard lives in a mysterious and unexpected canyon on the plains of Texas. When not writing fantasy novels and short stories, he is an audio engineer, fighting a heroic battle against Too Much Kick Drum. His new novel, The Back of the Beyond, tells the story of a band of heroes who enter a world where everything—cups, swords, fields of grain, trees, and clouds—is sentient, and where every animal has a voice. After writing the book, Stoddard now frequently talks to inanimate objects. www.james-stoddard.com.
Tais Teng is a Dutch writer, illustrator, sculptor, and, of course, a dabbler in the occult. He owns the sole extant copy of the Clavis Infernalis, a grimoire printed on dusty spiderwebs, with dead scorpions and blowflies forming the characters. In his own country Tais Teng is middling famous as a writer of YA dark fantasy and horror. The most satisfying moment came when his nine-year-old son told him his teacher was reading one of Teng’s books aloud in the class. His novel Phaedra: Alastor 824, set in the universe of Jack Vance, has recently been published by Spatterlight press. He has sold about seventy short stories in the English language, most recently to Daily Science Fiction, Unfit, and Stupefying Stories. As a cover artist, he has drawn anything from talking teapots to rather attractive bat-winged ladies, whom only a gibbering fool would trust. Tais has given up keeping cats or gerbils: his familiar too often devours them, leaving only the tails. While his sword-and-sorcery stories often have an Arabian Nights flavor he is quite satisfied with just one wife. Visit him on taisteng.atspace.com for his stories, and deviantart.com/taisteng for his covers and illustration.
DJ Tyrer lurks on the mist-shrouded northern shore of the Thames Estuary in a place counter-intuitively known as Southend-on-Sea where they edit a small press, Atlantean Publishing, create conlangs, and write tales of horror and adventure, some of which have appeared in such places as Tales of the Black Arts (Hazardous Press), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), and issues of Broadswords and Blasters. You can learn more about their writing at www.djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk and read reviews and opinion pieces related to writing and publishing at www. atlanteanpublishing.wordpress.com
Setsu Uzume is a foul-mouthed vagabond who has long abandoned their native New York. They’ve studied martial arts and Daoism at a monastery in rural China, and traveled the length of the Western Americas for training in horseback archery and mounted combat. Contracts for writing and narration might or might not have been signed in blood at Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, StarShipSofa, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Grimdark Magazine. Setsu currently lives aboard the flying castle at PodCastle.org as Assistant Editor. If you are brave, invoke and summon Setsu on Twitter @KatanaPen.
Currently editor for Tales From the Magician’s Skull Online as well as Senior Sanitation Engineer and Chief Mucker for the Skull’s Eastern Octobear Preserve, Bill Ward spends his days praising classic works of sword-and-sorcery and his evenings fleeing from multi-armed calamities and be-winged horrors. Bill’s short fiction can be found in gaming publications, magazines, anthologies, and the occasional federal court transcript; while his essays and reviews can be seen week-in and week-out at the Tales From the Magician’s Skull website.
C L Werner
Exiled to the blazing wastes of Arizona for communing with ghastly Lovecraftian abominations, C L Werner strives to infect others with the grotesque images that infest his mind. He is the author of almost thirty novels and novellas in settings ranging from Warhammer, Age of Sigmar, and Warhammer 40,000 to the Iron Kingdoms and Wild West Exodus. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, among them Rage of the Behemoth, Sharkpunk, Kaiju Rising, A Grimoire of Eldritch Investigations, Edge of Sundown, Shakespeare vs Cthulhu, City of the Gods, and Marching Time.
Sometimes Chris Willrich thinks that sword and sorcery hits us in that primitive part of our brains that, since childhood, has never quite trusted reality, and which suspects that any moment now tentacled horrors will blast through the cupboards, windows, and manhole covers of our settled world and snag the mail carrier and the neighbor’s dog, and that congresses, kings, generals, and priests will be powerless to save us, and that the only things we can trust in that moment are a length of steel and the wild-eyed comrades at our side. Or maybe it’s just that unstable lunatics fighting monsters is really, really cool.