Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weird Romance in Fiction


Ulysses and the Sirens, by Herbert James Draper, 1909
Hi everyone,

With St. Valentine's Day just past, it's hard not to have a few thoughts about romance, real and/or fictional. Here at the Sup, we often write love interests who are different species, from alternate times, dimensions or universes.

Mortals falling for super heroes, vampires, shape-shifters, zombies, Mar, witches, demons, you name it, we have it. But how did this all begin?

The tendency to represent love interests as supernatural has its roots in ancient literature. Take Homer's Odyssey for example, from the 8th century BC. We have sirens, harpies, nymphs, and of course Circe, a spectacular witch, all captivating Ulysses in one way or another. And then, there are fairy tales, ie Beauty and the Beast by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve published in 1740. Hundreds of years later, we're still enchanted!


But things really picked up for supernatural romance when Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto in 1764. This launched the Gothic genre, which combines elements of both horror and romance.


After Walpole came Ann Radecliff's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Our Speculative Fiction genre owes much to these inspirational novelists.

They led to our modern day versions of dating a monster.  I think we owe a lot to Joss Whedon and his supernaturals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the acceptance and idealisation of mortal-supernatural couplings.

From there, Sookie Stackhouse, in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Chronicles pretty much plays the field with vamp-vamp-shifter-fairy-shifter relationships, giving us a mortal eye's view on what it's really like, loving a sup.


Then there's Isacc Marion's Warm Bodies. Who wouldn't want to date this adorable dead boy, and save the human race while their at it?
Nowhere more that Paranormal Romance and Fantasy YA do we find the 'other' elevated to the role of the immortal lover, be they angel or demon from the earth, the sea, the heavens or far away dimensions.

Here are a few of my favourites. 

Elena and the Brothers - from L J Smith's Vampire Diaries


A demon and her angel
A ghost buster and a dead girl

A girl and her robot
A half-Mar and her doctor
Pop in the comments if you want to share your fav 'weird' fictional romances.
xxxKim


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Friday, February 3, 2017

And now I'm just dating myself

The Things I carry: White Dwarf

This one is a little literal for this year's theme of things that I carry with me. I've been doing a little Winter Purge, throwing out stuff that has hidden in corners and collected dust and just not been very useful.

I was cleaning out my VHS tapes. Yes, I HAVE been carrying around VHS tapes with very specific movies that I taped when I was in high school until I found DVDs of their contents. That's how much these movies were part of who I am and the stories that I tell.

Upon those VHS were three of my favorite movies taped from FOX: Generation X (a miniseries of junior X-men complete with Jubilee), Newsies (which i was able to get on DVD- no one can resist a singing Christian Bale), and White Dwarf.

Ah White Dwarf. How do I describe you? It was sort of like Northern Exposure in space. Now, how was that for dating myself? It was about a fancy city doctor who was sent to a planet at the edge of nothing for his service year before he could go back to the city and live the fancy life. Pretty simple concept.

But there were aliens, and Typhoid Mary, and red oceans. There was a boy who had shifter sickness, and a prison, and creepy twin girls who aged at different rates. It was crazy and I understand why it might not have been the most popular thing on the planet. And I was pretty sure I was the only person in the world who saw it, but then I found this.

I think it was the world building that really captured me. This planet did not rotate on its axis like earth and as it orbited its white dwarf sun, one side was perpetually light and the other perpetually dark. The light was civil and there was a princess and the technology was on that side. The dark side was unknown and the people were seen as savages and there was a constant war between the light and the dark.

And then, it caught you with a right hook when the spirits of the planet, Lady Light and Lady Dark, appeared to the young doctor to help heal the divide of their people.

Bam. Story. Done.

I loved it. I still love it and have maybe watched the pirated version on YouTube. I still think about the planet and its people, and the main characters arc that is so simple but perfect for the world it was placed in. The characters were like nothing I'd seen before and I wanted to be on that planet exploring with that doctor. Sounds like maybe another doctor that I love now who travels in his big blue box.

So I carry it with me that even simple can be elegant, even with terrible production values. You don't need a lot of bells and whistle to resonate with a story teller decades later.

And if you find it on DVD, let me know.



Until Next month...
Amanda

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Amanda Arista,
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther
www.amandaarista.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In Defence Of Heroes


“Nurture your mind with great thoughts – to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
– Disraeli, 1804 - 1881

Albus Dumbledore
So said Disraeli, yet looking around the Fantasy ’verse these days, one could be forgiven for thinking that sort of notion decidedly out-of-date, if not downright misguided. After all, we’re too savvy for that sort of thinking these days, right? We heart the Age of Grimdark where the wise guide, like Dumbledore in Harry Potter, may turn out to have feet of clay – and anti-heroes, if not outright villains, are preferred protagonists.

John Sheridan
“But ‘realism,’” you may say. “And besides, protagonists from the dark side are so much more interesting.” At which point I reply, “Hold on, is that really true?” Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, Aerin in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, John Sheridan in the TV series Babylon-5, John Aversin in Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane, Pyanfar Chanur in CJ Cherryh's Chanur series – I'm not game to call any of them "uninteresting."

Pyanfar Chanur
All these characters have the opportunity to do what is expedient, but instead choose to pursue a course based on notions of duty, service, and higher good, rather than personal convenience or gain. They keep their eyes on a larger horizon, rather than focusing on the dirt at their feet, or the fact that – being human, or its alien equivalent – they will inevitably have tripped up at some point or other.

It’s this "humanity" that makes characters interesting. But it’s undertaking the difficult or outright terrifying task because it’s (oh, dear!) the right thing to do – whether it's John Aversin fighting a dragon he's unlikely to be able to defeat, or Pyanfar Chanur refusing to trade in sentient beings – that makes the protagonist a hero.

Harriet Tubman
As for realism – is that really the whole truth, either? Despite many examples of venal and self-serving human behaviour throughout history, we also have a Jordan Rice who told rescuers to “save his brother first”, a Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda, a Malala Yousafzai and a Harriet Tubman, a Nicholas Winton and an Elizabeth Fry.

So while there is undoubtedly a place for “all sorts and conditions” of protagonists, there still needs to be a place for the hero. Otherwise, in holding up only the dark, self-serving, and even downright evil in fiction’s mirror, we risk nurturing that picture as the only reality. Food for thought, at least.

---
 Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mood Board Magic

New Moon by Pat Erickson
Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to turn on all you writers - aspiring or fully accomplished -  to the notion of Mood Boards.

If you have a visual sense, and most of us who can see do, creating mood boards can be one of the most inspiring practices you can do, that isn't actual reading or writing. Fabulous for tackling the 'blank page', starting a story 'in medias res' and giving your characters, animals, conflicts and geology the personality needed to come to life.

Want to create a mood board for your current project or seed of an idea?

Let's get started.

What is a Mood Board?

noun
  1. an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

    "We put together a mood board with key images and words that best convey the essence of the story, book cover, event our brand."
The Mood Board can be digital or physical. I used mostly digital mood boards for writing projects, and keep them, or just images on Pinterest, but more of that in a moment. Let's explore the uses next.


Uses for a Mood Board

  • To design a process, either abstract. as in writing, or tangible as in building in the physical world (books to covers to new kitchen designs).
  • The mood board is all about the vision. What you can't say in words.
  • Mood boards are essential when communicating visual ideas to others, as in commissioning a book cover, collaborating artistically or pitching ideas, including book to film projects.
  • A mood board is a springboard. Instead of facing a blank page, you can collect images as ideas for character, climate, topography, conflict and stakes in storytelling, or inspiration for a brand, or a brand new bathroom or garden.


How to Create a Mood Board

It's simple:

1. collect images

2. arrange the images in meaningful ways

This is all up to you and your individual style. The idea is to explore. Play around, and discover what lights you up the most.


Example Mood Boards

As I mentioned, mosts my book mood boards are on Pinterest for the world to see. It's a fun way to share images, get inspired and get to know your story world. Here is an example from a new series - just sold -  and soon to be announced. Working title - Amassia books 1-3.


If you are on Pinterest, I'd love to connect. And, shout out if you have an example of your mood board on line, or are just starting one. I'd love to see it. 
xxxk
Kim

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Things I choose to carry


Welcome 2017!

Thanks to your predecessor, I am going to kick your ass.

Sorry if that offends, but this is war. As the great Billy Joel said, "We didn't start the fire," but this year, we are going to make it our submissive little puppy.

So now becomes the time to choose your weapons, right? Take with you what you need and leave behind all the stuff that is just weighed down. As a female, I do this about once a month with my purse. This year, I'm doing it with my life.

In order to do that, I have to figure out exactly what I'm carrying. I have recently become familiar with the notion of Family of Origin. Boiled down, it means that you are the sum of everything that you have witnessed, done, absorbed, consciously and unconsciously. Its the unconscious stuff that really kicks you in the butt. Family of origin, when known, can be a powerful tool to help figuring out why you hold truths sacred, or how you define the universe.

While sorting through my truths, I discovered that what I watch and what I read has a LOT to do with how I think and what I think about the world. Wow. Knowing that some day some little girl might read Diaries of an Urban Panther and take something with her for the rest of her life. Geez. What a responsibility. I LOVE it.


So one of the things that I will take with me is Grandmother Willow from Disney's Pocahontas. I think that the essence of the tree spirit has sort of infiltrated how I see our connection with everything. Even trees. Everything I do, say, sing, write- it ripples.

Ripples start out small but echo out for miles. They are a change to the status quo, and someone has to start them. Someone else will see what I do, say, sing, write and perhaps they will take that with them.

Now, I'm pretty sure that I'll never actually talk to a tree. I will never have a raccoon or a hummingbird follow me around. I will never have such perfectly straight and untangled hair.

But I will listen. I will watch and be still and wait to make sure that what I an doing is the best for everyone, not just myself. Because it ripples.

And what I have found, is that when everyone is happy, fed, healthy, and feels secure, I am happy, fed, healthy and feel secure. Funny how it works that way.

So we are going to call this year "The things I carry" as an homage to Tim O'Brien's powerful masterpiece about his experiences in the Vietnam War. Its the movies & books whose messages have taught me how to live and that I still carry with me.

Maybe they can help teach you something that you might need to completely own 2017.

Until Next month...
Amanda

----------------------------------------------------------

Amanda Arista,
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther
www.amandaarista.com

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, Supernatural Undergrounders

Pohutakawa, the NZ 'Christmas tree'
.
A major trope of epic fantasy (which is what I'm currently writing with the Wall of Night series) is the "road trip": aka "a farm boy (or gal) goes on a journey" during the course of which they will likely encounter lovable animal (or robot, or supernatural) companions and acquire sidekicks (the "band of brothers" -- or sisters!)

The road trip is also a major feature of the Christmas - New Year period in real life -- and part of the Fantastic Road Trip is that one should visit previously unknown terrain and climes.

So I thought I'd marry the real and the fantastic traditions for you today with some a few photos from my Christmas-New Year road trip -- which I suspect will be new terrain for many, even those who have seen the Lord of the Rings films.

The clime is certainly different, since Christmas / New Year falls in summer here, although if the terrain is sufficiently elevated, snow may still be seen.

Now for those pictures:

The magical Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park

The awesome power of the Huka Falls, near Lake Taupo:



















A vista toward Lake Taupo, the source of the Huka Falls:
Not my car, alas!

Here be snow, still: Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park:


I think if there is one message I take from these photos it's that nature generally and national parks in particular rock -- something to be both celebrated and cherished in 2017 and beyond.

---



Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) was published this year.
Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holiday Season

Christmas Night by Juli Snowwhite

From All of us at Supernatrual Underground, wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season.

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells--- Silver Bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle,tinkle,tinkle, In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,Bells, bells, bells,---
From the jingling and tinkling of the bells.

- Edgar Allan Poe -

Have a wonderful weekend!
xxx