Friday, June 16, 2017

Mapping the Worlds

Hi everyone!

I've just finished a more polished version of the world Map of Amassia, the series I am currently writing. It's out in 2018 with Entangled Teen. I'm thrilled to be writing Young Adult Fantasy for this publisher.

About the Map

Amassia is a time so far in the future that the continents have reformed into a single landmass. (It's predicted to happen in another 250 million years.) Here's a glimpse at my original drawing, before I learned the open source image editor, Gimp.

My worn sketch and noted for the world of Amassia

Why Maps?

We humans have been making maps for thousands of years. From cave paintings to ancient Babylon, Greece, and Asia, to the 21st century, maps are used as tools to help us understand, and explain, the known world.

My Father's Dragon
It's no wonder that many fantasy authors choose to do the same, even though their worlds will only exist in their reader's imaginations.

It all started with Tolkien. The Hobbit, and the LOTR came with a map, and it's an unspoken expectation that authors of this genre will follow suit.

But for me, the longing to look at maps of imagined worlds began before LOTR was ever published, in a little book by Ruth Stiles Gannett called, My Father's Dragon. I loved hearing the story, and tracing the journey of on the little map.

Another classic map on the heels of Tolkein, Brooks, Goodkind (who apparently didn't like the idea of mapping at all), Eddings (who thought it was essential), Hobbs, Le Guin, Martin and countless other fantasy authors is the world of Harry Potter.

More recently is the Shadow Hunters, a TV version of The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare. With this app, Mundanes can download and view an overlay of the Shadow World right on their phones.

Mundanes' Guide to the Shadow World

One of my favourite maps artistically is from our very own Helen Lowe's Wall of Night Series. I love this fantasy world!
Wall of Night's world of Haarth

And finally, here's the map from one of the more ingenious and mind bending story worlds from China Meiville - The City and the City. When you think about it, it't not that far from the Shadow Hunter world, where one city is superimposed over another.

The City and the City Map by Simon Rowe
What are your view on maps in books? Do you read them? Are they spoilers, or part of the adventure? Have a favourite?

All of us Sup authors would love to hear your thoughts.


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, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  Or on where she teaches law of attraction and astrology.

Kim 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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Love is messy, love is kind.....wait- that's not how it goes.

The Things I Carry- Love is messy.

So, I know that this is supposed to be an all things fiction blog, but I find myself ruminating on Romance recently. Maybe its because I'm plotting out two romance series right now, but I have a feeling its primarily because I'm celebrating my twelfth wedding anniversary today. Twelve years of marriage to the same man. Seeing the same face every morning for 4,380 mornings.

That's a lot of mornings.

As much as I want to say that its been easy, it hasn't. In fact, I'm coming to terms with the fact that sometimes what I read in books (and sometimes what I write in books) is only the shiny, brand new love, and rarely the dingy because its been washed for 12 years kind of love.

So I love it when I find something that hits on that note, that Love is Messy idea, because love in real life is messy, and complicated, and gets rusty if you don't use it, and that's okay. Its actually better that way.

There are a few things that I carry with me to help me remind me of this notion. And Yes, some of them come from Rom Coms.

In Someone Like You, which is based on the book Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman (HILARIOUS, btw), there is a scene at the end in which Jane (Ashely Judd) realizes that when you are at your worst, love is at its best. And even though the movie ends with a sweeping kiss a swelling music, I still carry with me the notion that when I'm a total wreck, a very hot Hugh Jackman will dry my tears.

In Edward Norton's directorial debut, Keeping the Faith, the three main
characters find out that love is complicated but possibly the only thing that everyone can believe in. In this movie, Rabbi Jake Schram falls in love with his childhood friend Anna Riley, but so does his best friend, Fr. Brian Finn. Yep, you read that right, a rabbi and a priest are best friends and a girl gets between them. From this movie, I carry the notion that love doesn't plan on ruining everything, it just sort of happens, and those who think that can efficiently plant it in their lives are going to have a rude awakening.

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I re-read Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things recently. This book is perfection. Beautiful, and intriguing, and just perfection. In there, one of the main characters gives a piece of wisdom that really resonated with me. That perfect beings, like angels, can not love the way that flawed humans can. They can not feel the depth and breadth of it because they are perfect. Only the flawed can find love. I think that line sunk into me in conjunction with the line from Leonard Cohen "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." We have to be flawed so love can find its place within us.

So without being too mushy, remember that love, like a great plate of spaghetti or an amazing cheesy enchilada, is messy. And that's okay- the best things usually are.

Until next month, carry on.


Amanda Arista

Thursday, June 1, 2017

#WhyIRead — Join in HarperCollins' 200th Anniversary Fun

Hey, did you know it's HarperCollins 200th birthday this year? Well, it sure is, and you can follow the celebratory goodness on #hc200.

The other space to checkout is #WhyIRead — started by HarperCollins "to highlight the importance of literacy and the transformative effects of reading, we are launching a social media campaign that encourages book lovers everywhere to share what reading means to them using #WhyIRead."

You probably know that the Supernatural Underground was founded by HarperCollins authors, and although we're no longer all with HC, I felt it would be great to both highlight #hc200 and #WhyIRead here today.

Most importantly I would love you to join in the conversation and share why you read: through the comments and/or using #WhyIRead.

To kick off, I thought I'd share why I read, as posted earlier on my own blog:
"Why I Read 

From earliest childhood, reading has been one of my favourite pastimes, if not the favourite. I was fortunate to be read to by my parents and to have the opportunity to listen to storytelling via the radio, but quickly progressed to reading and selecting stories for myself. Choosing the first book I ever bought—which although now coverless and decidedly tattered, is still in my possession—remains a vivid memory. And although I played games and sport as a kid and teen, I was also one of those kids that hung out in the library, both at school and in town.

Loving books is reason enough to read, but the question implicit in the hashtag is why I love them so much. My initial response was that I simply love stories: the non-fiction stories that are “real” and the fictional stories that help us to understand them. With a teaspoonful of luck and a dash of hope, they may also assist us to better comprehend ourselves as individuals, societies, and a species.

I also love reading because it’s essentially an active and interactive process. The primary act of creativity may be that of the author, but the imagination of the reader is essential to interpretation of the writer’s creation—and every reader’s vision of the characters and their stories will almost certainly be (at least slightly) different. If anything may be said to be perfect, the wonderful AS Byatt quote from Possession perfectly captures this alchemy of creative interaction:

Think of this – that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other.”
Books also encompass voyages in space-time. Even if I never step beyond my front gate onto Tolkien’s “road that goes ever on”, every book opens a portal into a new world: worlds in which the voyager may encounter landscapes, cultures, history, secrets and revelations, questions and answers—and walk in many different shoes.

Through books, I am always—in the words of John Donne’s famous Meditation XVII—“involved in Mankind.” When reading, I never have to send “to know for whom the bell tolls.” I already know that it tolls, but also rings out, for me."  

So that's it, that's me. How about you?


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