Monday, January 4, 2021

An Interview with AK Wilder – Talking Magic In Her New-Out "Crown Of Bones" (Amassia #1)


On New Year's Day, I shared my intention to focus 2021 on magic systems in Fantasy – and wherever possible, to do so by talking with a fellow author about the magic systems in their work.

Today, as heralded then, I'm delighted to welcome AK Wilder to discuss the magic systems in Amassia, the world of Crown of Bones, the first in her exciting new Fantasy series that's released today!

Welcoming AK Wilder: In Conversation On Magic Systems In Crown Of Bones (Amassia #1)


HL: Congratulations, Kim, on the publication of Crown Of Bones. After the ups and downs of 2020, releasing a new book and series must feel like the best way of seeing in the new year!

Hi Helen! Thank you! Yes, releasing the first in this series is like starting the New Year on a high note. I feel like we have all had so much to face in the last twelve months and finding positive, creative things to focus on is the antidote. Hopefully, reading Crown of Bones will bring its own delight to the new year as well.
And it's here!
HL: As one of the lucky advance readers for Crown Of Bones, one of the aspects of the book that I really loved was the magic system, especially the twinned concepts of “throwing the bones” and “raising your phantom.” Can you tell readers a little more about what these terms mean and how they’re integral to the magic in the book?

You are right. These two concepts are cornerstones in the story world, really what all else is built on. “Throwing the bones” is a phrase used by all the peoples of Amassia, but only a select few, the black-robe Bone Throwers, learn this art of divination and utilise it. And these bones they throw are no ordinary charms. Every piece is carved into a whistle and etched with one of the 108 steps to An’awntia, the highest state a person can reach along the Path –
the way to their perfected state of being. When played, they make up the song or story in the cast, revealing the message therein.

Bone throwing is based on an ancient art of divination and the ‘magic’ comes from the black-robe's “phantom” – in their case, a translucent, formless part of themselves that moves along the corridors of time, forward and back. These Bone Thrower are oracles with a huge responsibility as they determine the fate of every child on Amassia, deeming them savant (able to raise a phantom), non-savant (unable to raise a phantom), or marred (damaged and sacrificed to the sea).

Classes of Phantom
Credit: Anna Campbell Art

Most of the population is non-savant but those the Bone Throwers mark as having potential are taken into the Sanctuary as eight-year-olds to trial. Their hope is they can raise their phantom and join the ranks of savants who serve the realm as healers, warriors, teachers and scribes. The ‘magic’ in their abilities is woven into their souls, developed over many lifetimes and predicted by the throw of the bones. With the right training, the young savant can touch a knee to the ground, allowing their phantom to drop out of their consciousness and gain form as it passes through the earth and erupts fully formed. Most phantoms take a solid form, and can appear as almost anything – human-like, animal-like, or even combinations of animals and vegetation.
The black-robes, with their formless phantoms, are the only exception.

Crown of Bones
begins with a troubled Marcus, the Heir to the throne of Baiseen, who raises a warrior phantom but cannot hold it to form. If he doesn’t master that step soon, he will be given over to the black-robes to become a Bone Thrower, a fate he’ll do anything to avoid. As a Bone Thrower, he would have to give up the throne and leave his life behind to join the ranks of these mysterious oracles.

HL: What are the aspects of the magic system in your new world of Amassia that are most distinctive? Are there any particular influences from our world that shape the magic?

AKW: The most distinctive aspects would be the phantoms. They are inspired in part by Jungian psychology and the notion that we all have a shadowed side, an unexpressed or unconscious aspect of ourselves. The shadow contains our greatest potential as well as what we loath and repress. The shadow can seem to burst suddenly through the floorboards and take over our voice and actions. In the world of Amassia, that event can be quite literal as phantoms take physical form and act, at times, outside the savant’s control. Another component of phantoms is the way they take form. Like the Tibetan mystical ‘Tulpas’ they are ‘thought forms’ rising from the mind or spirit.

The world of Amassia

HL: I was intrigued to discover an overlap between the magic of your Ava Sykes world (The Blood In The Beginning) and Crown of Bones in the form of the Mar sea people. How do the Mar and their magic fit into this story?

There is definitely an overlap in the books with the Mar and the characters of Salila and the sea king, Teern. In Amassia, Teern still rules under the waves and Salila hunts anything that moves. They both manipulate and/or terrorise the world of landers.

The mar, Salila.
Credit: Anna Campbell Art

The Mar can also be seen as magical though I like to think of them as a divergent race whose DNA took another track. Descendants of Neptune, if you will… They are people of the sea, without fish tales but having some qualities of sirens and vampires combined. Mar are created from the ancient Ma’atta, a coral that grows out of the bones of the old gods. From this divine power, they are given the ability to live in the sea, a realm the landers cannot enter, at least, not for long. Whereas the only way Mar can walk under the sun is to take the sea with them in the form of a drop of human blood. But on Amassia, as we see by the continental drift, much time has passed…

Actually, when it came to this aspect of the world building, the idea was born literally from continental projections 250 million years in the future. Yes, the world of Amassia is a magical, agrarian hegemony, but as you can see in animations on Youtube –
How The Earth Will Look In 250 Million Years – a single continent is where we are all headed. The seven major landmasses we now inhabit will eventually return to form one again. The process captured my imagination and I started to wonder, in all those millions of years, what else will change… In this way, Amassia is both the world in a very distant future, and a secondary world existing right now, in the pages of Crown of Bones.


HL: Wow, that sounds amazing! And Amassia being "this world", albeit a long time in the future, totally explains the presence of the Mar – and of course worldbuilding and magic systems can never be completely separated in Fantasy. :-) I imagine readers are already intrigued, but just to whet our appetites further, is there any other significant change readers should look for in the world of Amassia and its magic?

AKW: There are quite a few changes, one being the social biases. In this world, there is a natural diversity of peoples that comes from continued mixing of DNA, but in Amassia, instead of those distinctions creating potential classes or value judgments, it is a person’s status as savant, or non-savant that creates social marginalisation. It’s like they have gotten over themselves when it comes to color and gender, but now, how far they are along the Path to self-actualisation can create elitism and abuse of power. The twist here, without giving too much away, is that even though the Bone Throwers predict a child’s potential, “sometimes they get it wrong…”

The black-robed Bone Throwers decide
the fate of every child on Amassia.

HL: It all sounds completely fascinating – and as an advance reader I already know that Crown of Bones is action-packed and imbued with the magic system we’ve discussed today. Thank you so much for doing this interview, Kim, and may your release day be awesome!

AKW: Thank you so much, Helen, for this wonderful opportunity to chat about Crown of Bones. Happy New Year, and great reading, to all!


About AK Wilder:

Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Or pop over to throw the bones or Raise Your Phantom on the site


To find out more about Crown of Bones, visit AK Wilder's site, or Entangled Teen – who point you to where the book is available! 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year -- Ushering In A Year of Friends, Fellow Authors, & Magic Systems

Happy New Year from the summer side of the world :)

Why, hello, 2021. I suspect I'm not the only person who is feeling cautiously pleased to see you, right about now. I'm quite sure I'm not alone in hoping for better times to come although that is probably true of every year, rather than just the past Year of Covid.

Yet much as the virus has dominated our lives, we have all soldiered on. Here on Supernatural Underground, that means we've kept writing books, and sharing and talking about books, and generally spinning our tales. In short, we've kept having some fun. We also hope we've managed to keep the Supernatural Underground a place where you can come and have some fun as well. 

Yep, that's us! ;-)
here at
Supernatural Underground HQ we're pretty sure there's more fun to come for 2021! J

Last year, I focused my 1st of the month slot on Worldbuilding in Fantasy, because as opined in my wrap up post last month, "I believe worldbuilding lies at the heart of what makes the genre distinctive from other styles of literature." 

When it comes to Fantasy lit., worldbuilding's twin sibling has to be magic systems – because if there's one must-have element for any good Fantasy, it has to be magic, right? Right! From magic realism to the highest of high epic fantasy, the magic – and by extension the magic system is the leaven in the mix.

Magic in the mix...
By magic "system, I mean the internal logic and coherence, from principles to laws, that convey "conviction" and so make the magic in a particular fantasy world and tale "work" for readers, allowing them to suspend disbelief and become immersed in the tale being told however fantastic its elements. No surprises, then, what I plan on featuring in 2021...

This year, though, I've decided to mix things up, just a tad, on 2019 (the Year of Romance) and 2020 (the Year of Worldbuilding.) In 2021, I won't just be talking about the magic systems that have wowed me, spinning my fantasy-reading wheels. Wherever possible, I hope to combine the focus on magic systems with an even more longstanding tradition of having fun with friends and fellow authors, by enjoying a blog conversation on the magic systems in their books. (Otherwise known as a good old Q&A. ;-) )

I'm already pretty excited by the prospect, especially as the very first author I'll be e-chatting with is AK Wilder on 5 January – release day for Crown of Bones, the first book in her brand-new Amassia series! And yes, we shall most definitely be talking of the magic that imbues the Crown of Bones world. Roll on January 5!

Oh, yes, that's right, almost forgot: Happy New Year!


Helen Lowe's first  novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. The second,The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012, and the sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood (Book Three), was published in 2016 and Helen is currently completing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Books, Tea and Magic

Re-posted from A Pilgrim in Narnia  - Brenton Dickieson

According to legend, tea was discovered by Emperor Shen Nong quite by accident. While boiling water in the garden, a leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree drifted into his pot, and the rest is history. Since then, tea has appeared in literature throughout the ages.

It even shows up in genre fiction, a cultural appropriation from Great Britan who borrowed it first from China. Just think of authors like Lewis Carrol and his mad tea party, Jane Austin and the Bronte Sisters, CS Lewis, Tolkien... Kim Wilson writes about it in depth in her book, Tea with Jane Austen:

DC's Harley Quinn takes a cup of tea, no doubt right before kicking arse and taking names! Giffy from The Suicide Squad.

Tea in the Austen novels:

At the center of almost every social situation in (Austen's) novels one finds—tea. In “Emma,” does Miss Bates drink coffee? Of course not: “No coffee, I thank you, for me—never take coffee—a little tea if you please.” In “Sense and Sensibility,” what is everyone drinking when Elinor notices Edward’s mysterious ring set with a lock of hair? Tea, of course. And in “Pride and Prejudice,” what is one of the supreme honors Mr. Collins can envision Lady Catherine bestowing on Elizabeth Bennet and her friends? Why, drinking tea with her, naturally...

From Winnie the Pooh to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings to Queen of the Damned, the ritual of tea, or perhaps it's potentially magical and even lethal qualities, finds its way into the pages. 

And I've done it myself! In the world of Amassia, we meet the young green-robe savant who raises a warrior phantom, a sun leopard to be exact, and also loves Ochee Tea. What's the attraction? Why not find out for yourself?

My cats are a great help when organizing giveaways in the past!

As part of a giveaway swag for pre-orders of Crown of Bones, Entangled Teen and I are giving away packets of Ochee tea and other cool things. This is the real deal, made by Revenscraft Tea and Magic in Australia, to my specifications. Straight from the pages of the book!

     “I have camping and cooking gear.” Belair shrugs.
 “And some food. But most importantly, I brought a full bag of Ochee.”
     I stare at him blankly. “What’s that?”
     “Tangeen spiced tea, of course.” He rubs his chin.  “Don’t say 
you’ve never tasted it.” 
Pre-order Crown of Bones before the release date, Jan 5, 2021, and we'll send you cool swag!

This offer is for the hardback copy only and sent worldwide, for free.

Go here for details on how to pre-order and request your goodies!

Meanwhile, happy solstice, holiday season and New Year! See you on the other side!


* * *

About Kim Falconer, Currently Writing As AK Wilder:

Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, can be found on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Or pop over to throw the bones or Raise Your Phantom on the site.