The Non-YA Fae – or Fae versus Fairy

I’m really excited to have Nicolette Reed guest posting today here on the site!  I met Nicolette on Twitter and we’ve had many fun conversations about writing, publishing, and most importantly, fae!  Make sure to check out Nicolette’s debut novel Fae Hunter.




The non-YA Fae – or Fae versus Fairy

When you say the word “fairy” a picture generally pops into someone’s mind. Usually you think of a small magical creature with wings that can be found in gardens. Children think of Tinker Bell or that mystical pixie that sneaks into your room in the middle of the night to retrieve teeth in exchange for coins. Or if you are my son, paper money, a quarter isn’t what it used to be.

I was at a toy store one day and found a bag of “fairy trinkets” which were supposed to inspire story ideas. I quickly snatched it up and this is what was inside:

These “think-its” as they were called definitely reminded me of what most people think of when they think of “fairies.”

But what about the fae?

When I first started to tell people the name of my novel I would get funny looks. When I replaced the word fae with fairy to help them understand I got polite nods. In my own mind I thought perhaps it was because a fairy hunter conjured up images that were drastically different from my story. I wasn’t talking about cute little things that flitted about and some burly man stuffing them into his shirt pocket. I was talking about creatures the same size as you and I.

I know what a fae means to me. Even before I began writing my story I researched as best I could what general information was out there as to fae mythology. I wasn’t trying to necessarily match it, but when you write about paranormal creatures there are generally certain expectations that fans of those creatures have. You can go against those expectations (sparkly vampires anyone?) and some will love it, others will not. What I found was that there seemed to be no one definition of what made a fae a fae. I went ahead and created my own race of fae based on those I had read in the past and what I wanted my fae to be like.

Recently I picked up several stories which contained fae in them specifically to see if I could pinpoint some general commonalities between them all. Here is what I found:

Fey Marked by Lisa Kumar.  [Print length: 25 pages]. Despite its length it had a rich description of the back-story of the fae. This story used the terms fey, fae, and sidhe interchangeably. The Sidhe are mythological creatures comparable to fairies or elves and said to live underground in fairy mounds or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans (Source: Wikipedia). In Fey Marked the fae do both. They live in the “Hollow Hills” and seem to appear and disappear at will in the human world. Their appearance is described as: gleaming skin, pointed teeth, a touch that burns but can also bring peace, and slightly almond shaped eyes. They use a type of magic described as divination stones and charms and they live long lives.

Moonlight & Magic by Mina Carter. [Print length: 59 pages] and had very little in description as to the fae world.  This may have been because its focus was actually on the fact that it was a ménage story, something I failed to see when I purchased it. Whoops. But it still bears mentioning. The fae in this story was a half-fae. She seemed somewhat psychic and could see through glamour charms. Glamours are a way of hiding ones true appearance from mortal eyes. There was a brief mention of “Queen Mab” as the supernatural creatures in this story were revealed to human-kind. Queen Mab is often used in stories dealing with the fae. The word sidhe was also used in this story interchangeably with fae. The rest of the story was a whole lot of hot ménage. I think being paranormal in general gives you license to have hotter sex, but that’s another article.

Motor City Fae by Cindy Spencer Pape.  [Print length: 221 pages]  The fae in this story also lived long loves, used glamours, and had a tingling touch. The Seelie and Unseelie courts were mentioned and my favorite, a portal! The fae had to cross through a portal into their realm. The only thing I found different was that the terms fae and elf were used interchangeably.  This seems to harken back to the original description of the sidhe, but wasn’t what I was familiar with. The Motor City Fae use magic and are especially fond of “porting” items at will. Need a cup of coffee? No problem. I would love to have that power. True to what I would imagine an elf to look like, they had pointed ears and slightly almond shaped eyes. The fae royal court described by the author was in one word “opulent.”

In my opinion a fae is a human-sized creature which comes from another realm, uses magic (most often glamours), and has a long lifespan.  They also often have a female monarch who is in charge.  Other than that there seems to be a wide range of what is defined as a fae.  In general I see the word “fae” or “faerie” used more often when the characters are being described as “dark” or being used in a story not for children.

As long as story sets up the world, introduces the characters and their powers, I am happy to read about any kind of fae out there. Fae seems to be a general catch-all term for the supernatural when you can’t define it as a vampire, werewolf, shifter, or any of the other creatures of the night we have come to know and love.

What do you think of when you hear the word “fae”?


Nicolette Reed is the author of Fae Hunter. Her fae have wings, use magic & glamours, travel through portals, and also have the hotty paranormal relations. You can find out more information about Ms. Reed and her fantasy romance novel Fae Hunter at




4 thoughts on “The Non-YA Fae – or Fae versus Fairy

  1. I write about the fae in my YA series, The Dark Fae, being the first of the books. To me, when I think of fairy, I think of Tinker Bell, and that says it all! 🙂 So mine are fae! 🙂

  2. Nicolette, thanks for guest posting today! I went with “fae” in my YA series because “fairy” does often make us think of small, flying creatures and pixie dust. My fae aren’t necessarily “dark” (though some of them are not so very nice), but they are human sized, magical, and live very long lives. There are portals too, but not until the second book, so I can’t say too much!

    Also, I LOVE your cover 😉

    1. Thanks Jessica, my pleasure. I have a weakness for portals into magical realms! There are so many great fae stories out there now and I think the term gives the author plenty of creative license while still giving the reader a good idea of what they are going to get when they pick up your book — fantasy. 🙂

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