This is the cover for the fourth book in my noir fantasy series, The Tony Mandolin Mysteries. Yes, some think Jim Butcher has that genre sew up with the Dresden Files, but there are several writers who came before that, a couple before the immensely talented Butcher was born. Rex Stout entered the market in the 20’s with Nero Wolf. Glen Cook used the Stout characterizations in his very enjoyable Garret Files, and before any of them came Edgar Allen Poe. The trick is to not get hung up on being called a plagiarist because you are writing a tale in a genre someone else has already done, the trick is to make it your own version…face it, no one’s work is completely unique, not even the Discworld books.
In the Tony Mandolin series my protagonist is human whose eyes have been opened against his will to the world of faerie. His friend and partner is Frankie, a nearly 7′ tall 400 pound black drag queen. I put a lot of humor into the stories unlike most of the other noir fantasies and I do so precisely because no one else other than Terry Pratchett seems to like writing funny stuff.
As for using creatures and personages such as pixies, gnomes, ghouls, goblins, trolls, elves, etc… you have a couple of ways you can go. You can make up your own mythology which is mind-numbingly difficult to get right, or you can delve into a history literally a few thousand years deep and use them as you will, again with the proviso of making them your own.
In my books I am combining Celtic, Nordic, Russian, and assorted other mythological creatures and just changing the names a little bit. One asinine critic called One Last Quiche a direct rip off of the Dresden files because had a private eye, a wizard and a faerie queen from the dark side of the Celtic pantheon in the mix. That would be about as accurate as calling Harry Potter a rip off of Dickens because she also uses the British school system in her writings. Some readers seem to think it is their duty to defend their favorite author at all costs. The problem is, in most cases they all to often do it at the cost of their intelligence. You can’t be bothered by that.
What you do need to do is use proof readers along the way if available. A friend willing to browse a chapter or two as you write is extremely valuable. The only caveat is that you also need to be willing to take criticism when offered as help. Doesn’t mean you have to follow it, just be willing to listen.