Contest Results: The sorting hat has now duly sorted and the results are:
The Heir of Night ARE (US/Canada Posters Only):
Thornspell (Signed Copies) (International)
Stella (Ex Libris)
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address so I can get the books to you.
Thank you again to everyone, for participating.
Contest Closed: It's officially July 2 everywhere in the USA/Canada now (yup, even Anchorage) so time to close the contest. I'll post the winners of the 2 x The Heir of Night AREs (US/Canada only) and the 2 x signed copies of Thornspell here sometime tomorrow when the "sorting hat" gives me its result. (You can't rush the sorting hat, not if you don't want everyone to be in Slytherin!:-))
But remember, there's still another 4 hours before the companion contest on my own Anything, Really blog, for 2 x further signed editions of Thornspell closes off, so you can still comment there and be in with a chance to win.
But thank you so much everyone for participating—it's been great fun, and I've loved meeting you and finding out why you share my love of Fantasy. I'm really looking forward to spending time with you again on 1 August. meanwhile, don't be a stranger, come visit me at Helen Lowe on Anything, Really any time you like.
When Pamela Palmer approached me to blog right here on the Supernatural Underground, my first reaction was what a tremendous privilege—to be given the opportunity to work collaboratively with so many great writers. And secondly, to have the opportunity to share my writing with such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience—both reactions that have only been underlined by reading the posts and comments over the past month.
So I’m very excited to be making my debut on the Underground today, exactly 1 month on from the Grand Welcome to “Books That Go Bump In the Night.” :-)
So—down to business! Who am I, anyway? And what stripe of speculative fiction do I write?
Making My Bow
Well, (waves, smiles) my name is Helen Lowe, I hail from Middle Earth—I mean, New Zealand—and I write Fantasy.
My first novel, Thornspell (Knopf 2008), has just come out in paperback and is a fairytale retelling: in this case of Sleeping Beauty, but from the perspective of the prince destined to break the spell—with a dark little backstory around the motivation of the wicked faery who has not at all given up her vile plots and machinations. Described variously as “darkly imaginative” (Canvas), and a “full blooded tale of ambition and romance” (Booklist) Thornspell was my first foray into the kind of Fantasy I love to both read and tell: swashbuckling, adventurous, and romantic, with overlapping layers of mystery and magic.
On 1 October, Eos will be releasing my second novel, The Heir of Night, which is a darker and more epic tale aimed at older and “crossover” readers—and the first of the 4-book, WALL OF NIGHT series. Heir is a story of darkness and peril, mystery, friendship and love, which unfolds in a broken world of shadow and conflict where nothing is precisely as it seems …
OK, Why I Love Fantasy:
Introductions complete, I thought maybe the best starting place for my very first Supernatural Underground blog is why I love Fantasy—reading it, writing it, and when you have something like The Lord of the Rings on offer, watching it at the movies as well. There are so many places to start: from loving fairytales, myths and legends as a young child, and graduating from there to Lewis and Tolkien, McKillip and McKinley and Cherryh, Gaiman and Hobb—to name just a few. But that’s “what”, not “why.”
Why is definitely tougher and leads more into why I love writing Fantasy as well. So many words spring to mind: color and imagination for starters, but I think the key word for me is possibility. Fantasy offers the possibility of something “other” to be explored, whether it is an historical world that is almost—but just not quite—our own, as in Thornspell, or a completely alternate world like the WALL OF NIGHT. Or worlds, as with Urban Fantasy, that are definitely ours but with the possibility of the “other” overlapped or entwined with them.
Together with possibility comes wonder—what if a world could be like this, or this, or this? Why would a boy growing up in a castle beside a great forest care about some story of a sleeping chick and a 100-year old spell, let alone “get involved?” Why would a people fight an eons-old war? What would keep them going? What effect would it have on them? How would that play out on a world where their very arrival had brought cataclysm and ruin? (This is Heir, btw.)
So a big part of the fascination and also the fun of Fantasy for me has always been the excitement of new ways of looking at the world, and the flexibility to play with those possibilities. As a reader, I enjoy exploring other writers’ visions; as a writer, I love asking those why and what if questions and having the freedom to answer them without being bound by what we know has happened in history, or constrained too much by the laws of physics.
How about you? What draws you to Fantastic fiction? What kind of speculative fiction spins your wheels, and why?
Another thing I love about Fantasy is the whole experience of world building—to look through another writer’s eyes into a world that has texture, color and history; that is real and believable when you walk its streets. As an author, writing Fantasy allows you to unfold new worlds to share with readers . . . I use the word “unfold” advisedly, because sometimes it does feel as though the world is already there and my role is simply to reveal it through the characters’ eyes; a mystery, perhaps—but also one of the great fascinations of writing Fantastic fiction.
I could never exhaustively list all the Fantasy worlds that I have fallen in love with, but here’s just a few of my favorites: CS Lewis’s wardrobe opening onto the lantern burning in a snowy wood; Tolkien’s Middle Earth, from Bilbo Baggins’ round hobbit hole to the golden woods of Lothlorien, and the older, darker secrets of Fangorn; Patricia McKillip’s rich, fantastical, and mysterious world of the Riddle-Master series, and Robin Hobb’s Rain Wilds; Terry Pratchett’s Discworld (definitely flat, circular, and on the back of four elephants standing on a giant turtle . . .) and China Mieville’s darkly realized city of Bas-Lag.
So what are your favorite Fantastic worlds? Which writer’s world building has stayed in your imagination?
And Yes: there’s give-aways! My editor, the lovely Kate Nintzel of Eos, has put up two AREs of The Heir of Night to go to readers resident in the USA or Canada, and I’m also adding in two signed copies of Thornspell for readers anyway in the world.
You can earn points by:
+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website
Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment (and say whether you’re from the USA/Canada for the Heir AREs.) Your name will be entered in the draw again for every point you earn. Eligibility will close at midnight today, July 1.
And if you visit me on my blog: Helen Lowe on Anything, Really you can also go in the draw to win one of two further copies of Thornspell, once again for anywhere in the world. I look forward to meeting you, both here on the Supernatural Underground, & at home on Anything, Really.