Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Cover Story

Cover artist Zalantina Zareva 

We all know we aren't meant to judge a book by its cover.  I mean, really. The saying's used as a reminder not to base our opinions on outward appearances. But...

It happens all the time.

For example, check out these fun facts listed by Aaron Gouveia:

Tall people are paid more.

Overweight people less.

Blonds, gym addicts, women wearing makeup, 'attractive' people' all get more, unless you are female and VERY attractive. Then you can forget about being hired for the position traditionally held by men.

Bottom line; we humans judge books, and other things, by their covers and like it or not, we might as well use that trait to our advantage.

Cover art by Alexander Jannson
Which is what the marketing department in a publishing house is for. They decide what's trending in which genre and do everything they can to apply that to your book, without outright stealing the design.

Though apparently there is stealing at times.





Meanwhile, when it comes to Fantasy, unicorns on the cover are down, dragons up. Crowns and thrones going like hotcakes, stilettos not so much. 

Note: crown and castle double whammy!

In YA Romance, the girl in the dress is still a classic, though being replaced by crowns and thrones and castles/citadels.


The designs shift but the facts remain, the cover is the first thing that draws a reader to the book.

It also tells a story of its own, hopefully, one that correlates to the pages of the book!

And now, in the digital age, it has to look awesome when the size of a postage stamp as well.

For me, I'm all about the artistry of the cover, but that is so individual, it's near impossible for a marketing team to predict.

How about you? What draws you to pick, or click a cover?

Thoughts?

* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. (Writing under A.K. Wilder)
Also, check her urban fantasy  - 
The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the AKWilder.com site.

Contact at kimfalconer.com or akwilder.com

Sunday, November 3, 2019

High Fives with Amanda: Things for NanoWrimo

High Fives with Amanda: Top 5 things you need for NaNoWriMo

The time is upon us. The one month of the year where writers buckle down and try to write 50k words in one month. Its approximately 1600 words a day. Which for some writers is not a lot and for others is the biggest ask ever.

I've been participating or cheering on people for NaNoWriMo since the beginning. I remember doing it in college. My first book, Diaries of an Urban Panther, was a product of NaNoWriMo.

If you have never heard of it, you can check out more about it here.

 So being a veteran of the event, here are my top fives things you need for NaNoWriMo.

1). New notebook and pen. Not all of us are office supply nuts, but there is a certain magic evoked when you crack the spine on a new notebook and pop off the cap of a fresh pen. You'll need this new energy as you start writing and think of things in chapter 12 when you are only one chapter 3.

2). Tea. I KNOW! I'm such an avid coffee drinker, but I'm also an avid believer in ritual and not overdosing on caffeine. I need a hot cup of something to write and when you are squeezing in an extra hour of brain time at 1130 at night (like I usually do), a cup of coffee is not the best thing for your sleep cycle. So I recommend finding a fancy tea (decaf, obvs) to make special for yourself as you sit down to write.



3). A comfy chair. A coffee shop. A spot where you feel safe and
focused. I usually pick the big green chair in my library and that is where I will write and write only. No reading, no watching TV. Writing only in this chair. It always helps my brain get back to what it was doing last time I was in this chair. Also, its comfy and feels like a hug when I need it.

4). Inspiration that is not the entirety of the internet. And you know me, I'm a Pinterest girl. But during NaNoWriMo it becomes important not to get lost in research and the unknown depths of the web. Pinterest allows for a surface understanding of most things and that is all you really need for drafting a book. Weeks of research on medieval poisons can wait until December as long as you get a dead body on the page in November.

5). Community! Friends! Compadres! I've spoken about the power of supportive writing buddies a
million times, but this is the time that you will need a few to commiserate with about why you do this instead of pottery or macrame. You can also connect with friends on the NaNoWriMo site or through Twitter #NaNoWriMo2019.

There you go. The five things you'll need to get through November!

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Amanda Arista
Author, The Lanard Files (Coming January 2020) 
& Diaries of an Urban Panther (re-release 2020)



Friday, November 1, 2019

Romance in Fantasy Fiction: True Triangles in Patricia Briggs' "Moon Called" (Mercy Thompson #1)

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Intro: #RIFF #YOR

I don't feel I can have a Year of Romance (#YOR) and Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF) post series, certainly not here on Supernatural Underground without checking out a for-real paranormal urban fantasy. Plus there just has to be a triangle at some stage — and today's the day! 

And since this post series is all about my personal favorites, today's feature is a paranormal urban fantasy I really heart, i.e. Patricia Briggs' Moon Called, in which we first meet the awesome that is Mercy Thompson: car mechanic, coyote shape-shifter (deriving from her Native American heritage), aka Native American 'skinwalker' (as this is part of Mercy's heritage) *(See *Note below post), and all around feisty urban-fantasy heroine. 

And although a paranormal urban fantasy doesn't have to involve a triangle to be the real deal, triangles are part of the tradition — and I like the way the one in Moon Called rolls.

---

Patricia Briggs' Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) & True Triangles — Mercy, Adam, and Samuel

I may've subtitled this "True Triangles", but Mercy Thompson is also the quintessential gal-next-door — in this case, literally right next door to Adam, leader of the local (Tri-Cities) werewolf pack. Adam is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but he's also definitely an "order" and "chain-of-command" kinda guy, which is probably not that surprising considering he's the alpha-in-chief of all those werewolves. 

Now, coyotes may be tricksters with plenty of smarts, but when it comes to a wolf vs coyote contest of strength, the wolf is definitely apex predator. So Mercy knows a smart coyote shapeshifter will show plenty of respect around the local werewolf leader. Instead, she likes to give her powerful neighbor sass, albeit from the relative safe distance of her own back yard, chiefly by 'taunting' him with a dead car body in full view of his own imposing residence. 

You might think this is setting readers up for a bog-standard "we-love-to-hate-each-other-and-wallow-in-misunderstandings" romantic engagement, but when we first meet Adam properly he's actually pretty civil, given the circumstances, and although he's laying down the law to a certain extent, it's actually to very sound purpose. So despite rusting car bodies and more serious divergences of view on a number of topics, Mercy and Adam's fundamental relationship is one of genuine attraction but also a bedrock of mutual respect. 

In addition to romance, adventure and mystery are integral to the Moon Called story and the action soon kicks in. In the Mercy Thompson, Tri-Cities world, any action is going to involve supernatural forces, with fae and vampires, as well as werewolves, all part of the mix along with mainstream human society. So there's plenty for any lover of paranormal urban fantasy to enjoy.

Yep, it's a graphic novel, too.
In terms of the action, escalating violence sees Adam seriously injured defending his home. Not knowing who to trust, Mercy flees with him to her childhood home, the remote rural stronghold of the Marrok, the leader of all werewolves in North America. Enter Samuel, the Marrok's son, another alpha werewolf and the third corner of Moon Called's romantic triangle. 

Samuel, needless to say, is also drop-dead gorgeous. :-) He's also a lone wolf, as opposed to Adam's pack leader, and Mercy's childhood sweetheart. Uh-oh, you may think, and you're not wrong — but here's the thing I really like about Moon Called and the way the triangle plays out: 

Yes, there's plenty of simmering sexual tension and smoldering alpha werewolf standoffs, but ultimately everyone in this story is an adult. So Mercy actively tries to resolve the standoff rather than adding fuel to the flames, and Adam, despite being wounded and confronted by Samuel's taunting, manages to defuse the sexual and alpha-primacy competition. 

Chiefly, this works by everyone realizing that there are More Important Things at stake in the unfolding story, like many lives and the security of North American werewolf-dom. 

So although Moon Called ends with the Mercy-Adam-Samuel triangle essentially unresolved (there are more books to come, after all ;-) ) the lines that have been established are essentially those based on mutual respect and establishing some adult, albeit alpha, ground rules — all without lessening the romantic tension and payoff in the story.

And yep, that rusting car body ends exactly where it started...

*Note: As two commenters have pointed out, I said in the intro that Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter, which is correct, but then implied that equated with a Native American "skinwalker." Although I believe this is implied by other characters in the book, I also believe the commenters are correct: Mercy herself refutes being a skinwalker. -- HL


List of Year of Romance in Fantasy Posts (so far):

March: JRR Tolkien and The Lord Of The Rings Effect
April: Laini Taylor's Daughter Of Smoke and Bone – "My Enemy, My Love"
May: Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster of Hed – "Constancy Amid Tumult"
June: Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven – "When Your Ship Doesn't Sail"
July: Katharine Kerr's Daggerspell (Deverry series) – "Love At First Meeting"
August: Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys – "Friends and Lovers"
September: Julian May's Saga of the Exiles Katlinel & Sugoll aka "Beauty and the Beast"
October: Teresa Frohock's Where Oblivion Lives (Los Nefilim) – "Endless Love"




Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry;she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her 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 is also on Twitter:@helenl0we.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Bookshop of Halloween Horrors


Halloween, born of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, is nigh and we might all be looking for a good read to suit the occasion. I know I am!

If it's a book that goes bump in the night, there is a multitude to choose from, but there aren't all that many that weave Halloween into the pages.

Here are a few that spark my interest.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked is a classic from the archives of Ray Bradbury. If you haven't read it yet just imagine: two thirteen-year-olds, a traveling carnival and more jump-scares than the heart can handle. Oh yes, and spooky Halloween!


Another classic is Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest

Dark Harvest is set in the 60s, like Stranger Things, and packed with plenty of suspense. Why not when the town's teenagers comb the streets on Halloween, intent on killing the October Boy. The winner (aka murderer) gets the prize and leaves town, never to be seen again. Or so we think...

This one will set the stage for those trick or treat bangs on the door!


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness



The first book in the All Souls Trilogy, be ready with book two if you don't want to dangle over the edge of the cliff. The story of an academic witch in denial, this is historical fantasy at its finest, with a splash of Halloween at the (cliffhanger) ending.


Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

This is also the start of a trilogy - Three Sisters Island. Set on said island, the series has it all: a strong female character with a terrible past, a curse, a love true-blue and a loudly ticking clock. And yes, Halloween!


A Path Begins - by J. A. White
Book #1 in the Thickety series, this story is set in colonial times. Think a dark forest. Vicious beasts. Deadly plants. Spellbooks. Secrets. Mysteries. Witches, and a girl everyone hates...

Yes, it's marketed as a middle-grade book but some might feel the content is too disturbing for that age range. Are there Halloween themes? You bet, colonial-style!

I'd love to know what your fav Halloween books are and if you plan to curl up with one at the end of the month.

Let us know in the comments!

Trick or treat,

xxKim

* * *



Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. (Writing under A.K. Wilder)

Also, check her urban fantasy  - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the AKWilder.com site.

Contact at kimfalconer.com

Thursday, October 3, 2019

High Fives with Amanda: When art imitates life

High Fives from Amanda

Recently, as I crawl through the muck and mire that is revising a series (hopefully I can share some news soon 😊), I started thinking about how strange it was to be a writer. The strange things that we do to ourselves, the way is warps reality around us, the way it fundamental changes the way we look at the world, the caffeine dependency that comes along with it.

And how wrong the movies get it. Which is strange because screenwriters are writers, and yet I've never seen a writer like myself represented on film. But there are some close glimpses of the truth. An essence of what life is like as a person who lives in their head while they are living in the world.

So in no particular order, here are five movies that do get something right about being a writer.


1). Stranger than Fiction - The agony the writer feels about what she might be doing to the main character is totally on par with what I feel about the horrible things that I'm writing about with my MC. I really do feel bad some times, or grossed out that I am actually going to talk about zombie eyeballs, but in the end it really does make for a better story. 

2) Almost Famous - What we wish it was like. I wish writing was all about the glamour of research and parties and drinking and not the actuality of sitting in a cold dark room and just hammering out your thoughts. 
3) The Shining- This one probably gets right what our families think will happen to us after so many hours in front of a computer with people talking in your head. Not sure I really need to elaborate o this one. 

4). Midnight in Paris- This one is probably the closest  to what it is actually like for me when I am writing. Its disappearing into another world with all your imaginary friends and falling in love and wishing that you could just stay there instead of in the real world, where there is laundry and dirty dishes and responsibility. 

5). Young Adult- We are not that damaged, but stealing dialogue from the aisles of Target is SPOT ON as well as the constant narration of our novels in our heads. I'm always listening and thanks to my smart phone, always have something handy to write down little snippets of dialogue or weird things that people. 

Honorable mentions: In the Mouth of Madness. Misery. Writer's Retreat. All three are great for this Halloween season as well.  

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Amanda Arista
Author (more bits coming soon!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: Endless Love In Teresa Frohock's "Where Oblivion Lives"

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Intro: #RIFF #YOR

Excitement reigns right now because this is the eighth (infinite eight!) instalment of my Year of Romance (#YOR) post series on Supernatural Underground. Specifically, that is, Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF) and most specifically of all, romances that I've enjoyed over many years of reading. #JustSayin' ;-)

This month I'm staying on track with my intention to switch between older and newer works, and featuring Teresa Frohock's Where Oblivion Lives, which is Book One in a new Los Nefilim trilogy.
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Teresa Frohock's Where Oblivion Lives (Los Nefilim Series) — Diago, Miquel, and Endless Love

Firstly, a little about Los Nefilim. Teresa Frohock's series, set in 1930s, pre-Civil War Spain, began with a series of three linked novellas, first published individually and then collected in one volume as Los Nefilim.

(You can read my post on the novellas here.)

I've said before that it's hard to categorize this series: it's historical fantasy, but it's also decidedly supernatural and paranormal in focus. It's also urban fantasy, being primarily set in Barcelona, but also has a distinctly noir-thriller ethos, with horror overtones.

Los Nefilim's central premise is the eternal conflict between angels and demons, in which the nephilim — the hybrid offspring of human pairings with the supernatural beings — serve as foot soldiers in the war between the higher powers. (The 'nefilim' of the series title is simply the Spanish form of 'nephilim.') In Teresa Frohock's story, begun in Los Nefilim and continued in Where Oblivion Lives, the cosmic conflict both mirrors and intersects Spain’s descent into Civil War.

The nefilim are not immortal, but are eternally reborn to serve in the war-without-end between heaven and hell. For this reason, the nefilim's maxim, "Watch for me" is both invocation and prayer, farewell and blessing, but may also be a curse.
The characters at the center of the Los Nefilim series and its incarnation of the eternal war are Diago and Miquel. Diago and Miquel are both nefilim and their love has endured down centuries and across lives. In Where Oblivion Lives they are married, both part of Los Nefilim's Inner Guard,  and raising Rafael, Diago's son from an earlier relationship in his current incarnation.

(How Diago and Miquel find and rescue Rafael from the demons is told in the linked novellas of Los Nefilim.)

One of the things I really like about Diago and Miquel's relationship in Where Oblivion Lives is that it is presented without commentary or explanation — beyond the story of their love and its evolution, that is. What's important about Diago and Miquel in this story is not that they are gay, although very clearly they are. But authorial commentary is unnecessary because their relationship, like every other aspect of this engaging story, speaks for itself.

Having said that, the story does reflect what it means to be gay in  a world that doesn't accept such relationships. The core of the story, though, is who Diago and Miquel are, as individuals and as a couple. Also their part in the larger Los Nefilim picture (which can be murky — this is heaven vs hell and immediately pre-Civil War Spain, after all.) What matters, too, is their commitment to each other—the endless love spanning incarnations—and to their son, Rafael, as well as to their friends and fellow nefilim. In Where Oblivion Lives this is chiefly illustrated through their loyalty to Guillermo, the leader of Los Nefilim—and his to them.

If challenged to come up with a single adjective to describe Diago and Miquel, the word would be "fidelity." They are faithful to each other, to Rafael, and to their values, even where those values cut across some of Los Nefilim's traditional loyalties and behaviors.

So if you like historical fiction and supernatural/paranormal fantasy, noir thrillers, dark fantasy and/or horror, together with lovers whose fidelity and commitment fuel an endless love, then I think you'll find a lot to like in Where Oblivion Lives and Los Nefilim. 

Note: It's not necessary to read Los Nefilim first to "grok" Where Oblivion Lives but it may give you a deeper appreciation of the world and the story.

Teresa Frohock
Disclosure:
By way of disclosure, Teresa is a fellow Supernatural Undergrounder and friend-in-writing. I obtained my reading copy via our publisher-in-common, HarperCollins Voyager and my editor, the awesome Kate Nintzel.

 .
Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her 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 is also on Twitter:@helenl0we.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Crown of Bones Cover Reveal


Heyo everyone,

Ready to Raise. Your. Phantom?

It's here. The Crown of Bones cover reveal. Thanks to all for jumping in on the Instagram puzzle reveal giveaway. That was amazing fun!

Watch for another giveaway here, as the time draws closer.

Title: Crown of Bones
Author:  Kim Falconer writing as A.K. Wilder 
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Add to your Goodreads TBR.
Pre-Order: Amazon  | iBooks |B&N | Kobo

Crown of Bones Synopsis:

In a world on the brink of the next Great Dying, no amount of training can prepare us for what is to come … 
A young heir will raise the most powerful phantom in all of Baiseen. 
A dangerous High Savant will do anything to control the nine realms. 
A mysterious and deadly Mar race will steal children into the sea. 
And a handsome guide with far too many secrets will make me fall in love.
My name is Ash. A lowly scribe meant to observe and record. And yet I think I’m destined to save us all.




* * * 

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. 

Also, check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Contact me also at kimfalconer.com

xxKim

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Puzzle Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Crown of Bones puzzle hunt cover reveal and giveaway.
I'm so excited to point you all in the direction of EntangledTeen's cover reveal of my next book! The cover is spectacular and finding the pieces on the Instagram tour puts you in the running to win a copy, fresh off the press.

The Giveaway

It’s all happening on Instagram. You simply follow and copy a puzzle piece from each of these influencers below, screenshot the puzzle piece from their insta, then post on EntangledTeen to be in it to win.

Details live on the 18th on my Instagram, a.k.wilder, or Entangled's or any of the book Divas below. The influencers participating are:   

What the Cover Won't Be

I can't divulge the Crown of Bones cover until September 25th, but I can tell you what it won't be like. Here are a few of the early drafts from the Entangled Art Department.

These drafts were created with the w/t of The Bone Throwers, now the series title.

I hope you like the official cover as much as I do. Drop back here on the 25th to see it, or take the Instagram tour and be in it to win.

Fun Jigsaw Puzzle Facts

Image III

The origins of jigsaw puzzles go back to the 1760s when European mapmakers pasted maps onto wood and cut them into small pieces with - you guessed it - a jigsaw. But the name 'jigsaw' wouldn't be applied for another 150 years. Before then, the puzzles were called 'dissecting puzzles'.

Not exactly a name that flows off the tongue...

Image III is 'Europe Divided into its Kingdoms,' a1766 puzzle drawn by London cartographer John Spilsbury. It's known as the world’s very first jigsaw puzzle.

More Facts

Jigsaw puzzles are good for the brain, waking up both left and right sides. The left side sorts the pieces logically while the right side visions the finished product and works intuitively. 

And how long does it take to make one? Guinness Book of Records has 15-year-old Deepika Ravichandran as the fastest puzzler on the planet, logging in at 13 minutes and seven seconds to complete the official Guinness puzzle on May 9, 2014. 

* * * 

Stay tuned! I'll be back on the 25th with the full cover reveal just for Sup readers.

Thanks for all your support!

* * * 



Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. 

Also, check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Contact me also at kimfalconer.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

High Fives with Amanda: Five Awesome things about Back to School

Hello there!
I know, its been forever, but enough about me, let's talk School. As you might know, I have a Bean who will be in Kinder this year, so we are full on uniforms and backpacks and carpool lanes. As a new mom to this new clutter, there are a few things that are actually GREAT about Back to School and I thought I would share as they have drastically changed my life and my writing.

Top Five Awesome things about Back to School.

1. Germs. New school, new germs! Well after the past three weeks of stomach flu and head cold, I am ready for whatever Germ-pocolypse those scientists can muster up. I'm convinced I can survive everything with the immunity invested in me by the petrie dish that is Kindergarten.

2. School supplies. For a writer, this is the best time of year. This is when the post-its are all BOGO, in every shape and size, and in all the new fall colors. You can get a hundred pencils for three dollars. You can find compositions notebooks for next to nothing. Erasers shaped like Unicorns- no problem. Its like Christmas for writers. This is when you need to make your list for your families to check twice.

3. New for no reason. Need a pencil for Back to School- sure! But sheets? Pillows? Fridge? Coffee pot? Everything is on sale. Need a new organizer for your spirals- bet that is on sale. Need a mirror locker- bet its on sale! Back to School helped me get new journals AND new pants, just because we are going back to school and you can't go back to school in last years pants. Duh!

4. Forces a schedule. With the new carpool times, the Bean and I are on a pretty tight schedule and I find that I like it. She HAS to go to bed at 8:30, which means I have exactly from 5:30-8:30 to love and squeeze and feed and bathe her in an orderly fashion. There is no stay-up night (except on Saturdays) and there is no movie watching on a Tuesday. Our lives have become nearly predictable, which is great for my post-830 brain when I can sit down and actually get some writing done.

5. Time is precious. Please don't read the above as stifling. Its not. It has helped me realize that Time is a precious commodity. Those thirty minutes we get for dinner- you better damn well believe there isn't a screen in sight, because those minutes are now precious and might be the only ones I get to spend with my kid sitting and talking and telling stories. Back to School has brought me a sense of awareness that my kid is growing up and I won't let that slip past me. Knowing that I can focus on her now, because I'll have time to write later, has only purified my attention on those two times of time which are special and deserving of my attention.


So there you have it: the best things about Back to School.


If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Amanda AristaAuthor

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: A "Beauty & the Beast" Riff In Julian May's Saga Of The Exiles

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Intro: #RIFF #YOR

I'm excited to get to to the 7th instalment of my Year of Romance (#YOR) post series on Supernatural Underground. Specifically, that is, Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF) and most specifically of all, romances that I've enjoyed over many years of reading. #JustSayin' ;-)

Today's feature is a series that was pretty big in the 1980s (or so I believe!), just to stay on track with my intention to switch between older and newer works. 

That series, as the title above has completely given away is Julian May's Saga Of The Exiles, or as I think of it, The Many-Colored Land Quartet — The Many-Colored Land being the title of the first book in the series.

Julian May's Saga Of The Exiles — A "Beauty and the Beast" Riff with the Tale of Katlinel & Sugoll

In point of fact, there are many romances in Julian May's Saga of the Exiles, some of them more central to the main story than that of Katlinel and Sugoll  — but I've always liked their particular riff  on the Beauty and the Beast romantic theme. And as I've said from the outset, this post-series is all about my favourites. :-) 

First, though, I think I have to provide a basic outline of the Saga of the Exiles storyline. In the not-too-distant future, humanity has become part of a Galactic Milieu of civilizations with psychic capabilities. Human beings who cannot adjust to this enlightened new world order, are permitted to time-travel back in time to the Pliocene Era, approximately six million years ago, in quest of a simpler life.

There's only one little problem. Unbeknownst to everyone in the 22nd century, there are already two other cultures present on Pliocene Earth: the Tanu and the Firvulag. The Tanu resemble a cross between Celtic sidhe and the Norse gods, while the Firvulag are more closely aligned with races such as dwarves and goblins, ogres and dark elves. Both are highly magical beings and committed to an aeons-old battle for dominance, part of which is expressed through ritualized combats.

At the outset of the story, the Tanu are controlling the arrival of human time-travellers into the Pliocene. Those who have no psychic or magical capabilities are enslaved for labor, military, and reproductive purposes. Those who do possess such abilities, however, are co-opted into the ranks of the Tanu, some of them rising to high positions.

Katlinel, also known as Katlinel the Darkeyed, is the daughter of a Tanu father and human mother, and one of the Tanu elite in terms of power. Sugoll is a Firvulag, but of a subtribe known as Howlers, whose dwelling place and sensitivity to radiation has led to hideous mutations. As the leader of the Howlers, Sugoll is seeking a solution to reverse the mutations. Part of his qualifications as leader are that he is the most powerful but also the most grotesquely mutated Howler...

Although Katlinel and Sugoll are on opposite sides of the Tanu-Firvulag divide, they meet during the truce and Fair that precedes one of the major ritualized combats between the two species. In it, Sugoll uses his magic to manifest as a handsome prince, a magic too strong for Katlinel to completely penetrate, although her own abilities lead her to recognize it as illusion. Regardless, the two fall in love and Katlinel, defying the Tanu-Firvulag divide. goes to live among the Howlers and work to reverse the mutation effect.

One of the significant aspects of the Beauty and the Beast storyline is that as the story, and their relationship evolves, Sugoll ceases to resort to illusion when with Katlinel. Their love is strong enough for him to appear as his true self in every way. An important part of that is because his character and personality resemble his illusion-self and Katlinel sees to the heart of that truth.

Although their relationship is not the most important one in the series, it is nonetheless significant. I've always liked it, too, because Katlinel and Sugoll are the first individuals to step beyond the traditional enmities and bridge the Tanu-Firvulag-human divisions that are core to the book's conflicts. And although there are other relationships in the series, theirs is one of the most truly equal and also based on a positive expression of power, to an end that transcends personal loyalties and ambitions.

In fact, Katlinel and Sugoll are definitely one of the power couples you'd most want to be around in the Pliocene — and maybe in any era. Again, #JustSayin' ;-)


List of Year of Romance in Fantasy Posts (so far):



Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her 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 is also on Twitter:@helenl0we.