Saturday, August 26, 2017

We're Looking Forward To — A Guest Post By Genre Enthusiast, Paul Weimer!

SU guest blogger: Paul Weimer
The SU team is thrilled to be announcing a guest post by genre enthusiast, Paul Weimer, coming up on September 1.

The title of Paul's guest post is:

“In Appreciation: Building on the Past — Helen Lowe’s Wall of Night.”

Helen Lowe:
SU author of The Wall Of Night series
Yes, that's right -- Paul's post is featuring our very own SU author, Helen Lowe, and her award-winning The Wall Of Night series, which is why we're doubly pleased to be hosting him here on Supernatural Underground!

Paul tells us the focus of the post will be looking at the series in the context of contemporary, "fourth era" epic fantasy -- and all of us here at Team Supernatural Underground HQ are certainly keen to read on and find out moar!

In case you're not familiar with Paul, he was a regular contributor to the much-missed SF Signal 'zine and is also part of the  Skiffy and Fanty Show team. Paul's pieces have also appeared on and the B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog. He describes himself as “a writer, gamer, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and ubiquitous genre enthusiast.”

This guest post will be a great indepth look at once of our SU authors and her work, as well as shining a spotlight on genre more generally — so do check back in on 1 September (US, EST) for:

“In Appreciation: Building on the Past — Helen Lowe’s Wall of Night” 

We'll be using #TheWallOfNight whenever we talk about it, so please feel free to do the same. :-)

We're sure looking forward to Paul Weimer's guest piece and seeing y'all on the 1st!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Importance of Workplace

The Inventionland Design Factory - my fantasy work space
The workplace, defined here as the space where you work and/or play, may be a reflection of your mind. 

Think about it. If our external life is a mirror of our inner world, then wouldn't the actual workspace tell us something about our mental processes? How we think, structure and organise? How we create?

For example, this is where I write and though it's not on par with my dream space of Inventionland Design Factory, it has a lot of plusses.

Click to enlarge

My work space compares and contrasts with these creative spaces, and creative minds!
Neil Gaiman's writing space

"You need a room with a door," says Stephen King

Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer, and producer's writing space

Where Charlaine Harris writes.
For me, the importances of the creative workplace boils down to feeling good. I have to like where I am to immerse in the story and allow it to unfold. Think 'stimulating, atmospheric and most importantly, isolated'. 

I have to work in solitude, where I unplug the phone and close down the social media and simply be with the words.

What about you? What's your idea workplace?

We'd love to hear.

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.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Family isn't about blood

Things I carry: The Nature of Different Friendships

I was sort of wondering what to write about this month and Helen solved my problem! Which I thought was sort of perfect, because isn't that was friends are supposed to do? Find you when you are lost, comfort you when you are struggling and help you kickass when the time arises. 

I'm sure I have mentioned this a few times, but I'm adopted. The entire notion of family is different for me than it is say for my husband who has two biological brothers that look exactly like him. Its crazy- confusion has ensued. I think that not having people that I look like forced me to look deeper, listen harder to people to make sure that they were on my side. I looked for actions and words to mean family, not just a similar nose shape. 

So here are some on-screen and on-page relationships that really resonate with me, either as something I have found or as something that I've always wanted in my chosen friends. These friendships have defined friendship for me, the best and worst parts. 

Nostalgic friends: Stand by Me. Now most people a little older than me will say it was all about The Goonies, but for me, it was all about these four boys. Now as I watch the movie, I think it was the framing of the story that made it resonate.  Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern taught me there is power in allowing people to be what you need them to be when you need them to be that. These boys were the outcasts, but they were the outcasts together, and that's what they needed. We can look back on these types friendships with a golden nostalgia and a thankfulness that these people were in our lives, even if it was just for a summer, or to find a dead body. 

School Friends: AKA, the people who become who they are while you are figuring out who you are AKA College. I went old school for this one. Horatio to be has always been the model of the classic college friend. Him and Hamlet bonded at the University of Wittenberg and Horatio came with Hamlet to bury his father, to be a good friend in this tumultuous time in Hamlet's life. But the true nature of Horatio taught me that friends should know who you are going to be, see the potential within you, and will sing your praises even when you are not there. 
And I bet there were some crazy times at Wittenberg!

The Power Friends- The Craft. You know, sometimes it just takes a posse to really get the mojo going. Now, I have never actually been part of a coven, though my mom thinks I was in high school, but there is a synergy that happens when girls get together for a common cause. These power groups let each member feel wanted and strong and independent. But they can also get toxic and start to be exclusive of other people. 
And I always really did want to be a witch. 

The Life Friends- Elizabeth Bennett and Charlotte Lucas. Even though these two characters have drastically different viewpoints on love and marriage, they remain friends. Even though Elizabeth couldn't have made the choices the Charlotte did, she didn't just stop being friends. Elizabeth took the time to talk and understand Charlotte's choices and they remained companions through a  transitioning time in everyone's life. This taught me that the good ones stick around, the good ones listen. And they support the decisions that make you happy. 

The Self-promoting Friends- As you can see, I have marinated in friendships so of course, I wrote them into my own book. Jessa Feychild is a spoiled little brat but she is Violet's spoiled little brat. They were friends before they were prophesies and they remain steadfast through breakups and apocalypses. Jessa and Violet will always be together. And I think that is the most powerfully displayed when Jessa nearly rips the world in half trying to rescue Violet from the other side of the Veil in the last in the series. 

So these examples of friendships are the ones that have stuck with me through my life, that have defined friendships for me. 

Until next time, carry on. 

Amanda Arista

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sisterhood is Powerful in SFF

I'm declaring August the month of celebrating sisterhood in SFF! Last month, I posted on five of my favorite romances in Fantasy fiction, sparked by my view that "romance and love are one of the drivers that make human beings tick and the world go around." (And Fantasy fiction, too, for that matter.) In addition to my five picks, commenters also joined in with some reccommendations of their own, so together we ended up with a great selection. :-)

Hermione & Harry: just good friends
Another very important driver—as Kim Falconer discussed under "Relationship" in her post, Read Your Way To Happiness—is friendship. The "bromance" has been a feature in recent television, with shows like Sherlock and Merlin, but although there are also some great male-female friendships, like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, and Uhtred and Hild in The Last Kingdom, friendships between women did not spring to mind as readily.

Willow & Buffy: besties from the get-go
We know women' friendships are a really important component of real life, but the question became whether they figured as strongly in genre fiction. For starters, although "womance" may be the verbal gender equivalent to "bromance" in terms of a strong, vibrant and charismatic, but platonic, relationship between women, it's not as entrenched in popular culture. (I mean, I had to search for it! O-o)

Korra & Asami: from "womance" to romance?
However, a quick mental review of my genre reading convinced me that these fictional relationships do exist. (Phew!) In terms of my criterion that the friendship should be central to the story, rather than "token", here are a few important female friendships that came to mind (in alphabetical order by book title—lest preference should be inferred):

Breq and Lieutenant Awn in Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice (SF). You may argue that the ubiquity of the feminine personal pronoun in Ann Leckie's "Imperial Radch" trilogy means that you can't be sure these characters are female, but the contextual use of that pronoun in a non-gendered society gives you a sense of "sisterhood" so I'm going to stick my neck out and and include them—especially since Breq's liking, and in fact devotion, to the Lieutenant is a major driver for the story. (And there are a few hints that suggest the "sisterhood" tag is appropriate, although you have to delve pretty deep to find them.)

The relationship of Katsa and Bitterblue in Graceling (YA/F) by Kristen Cashore is very much that of older sister / younger sister, although they are in fact unrelated. It is also central to the second half of the book and evolves into friendship despite the disparity in ages and strength, a friendship that continues in the novel Bitterblue, although in the latter book their friendship is more incidental to the story.
Patricia McKillip's Heir of Sea and Fire (F) is the second novel in her famous "Riddlemaster" trilogy and fouses on the heroine, Raederle (rather than the hero, Morgon, as in Books 1 and 3.) The "heart" of the book is Raederle's friendship with Lyra of Herun (a "warrior-princess" long before we encountered Xena) and Morgon's sister Tristan. In fact, together with Lyra's all-female company of guards, I believe they were the very first "band of sisters" I encountered in SFF.

One of the many relationships I love in William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive (Cyberpunk SF) is that between the hardened "razor girl" (think "street samurai" / mercenary), Sally (whom readers of the classic Neuromancer will recognize as Molly) and thirteen-year-old Kumiko, the bereaved daughter of a Yakuza warlord. In one way, Sally is a mentor figure, but never maternal or even sisterly, but Kumiko's intelligence and composure also result in a sense of equality between the two. Certainly, they are allies, and as such a powerful combination...

No discussion of the "band of sisters" in SFF would be complete without the crew of the spaceship, The Pride of Chanur, in CJ Cherryh's novel of the same name. The Pride's crew are all females of their leonine species and all related, comprising an aunt, Pyanfar, and her niece, Hilfy, and two pairs of sisters, Haral and Tirun, Cher and Geran—with all five adults being cousins to some degree. And as a reviewer put it, "These swaggering, vain, tough-talking Hani heroines make Chewbacca look like a pussycat."
While I was writing this, a friend—looking over my shoulder—demanded to know about my own books. The latest, Daughter of Blood, does have a special friendship between two of the women characters, Myr (the Daughter of Blood of the title) and her bodyguard, Taly, which has elements of the womance and is sufficiently important that near the end of the book another character observes: "Yet more than anyone else...Taly...truly loved Lady Myr."

So it looks like sisterhood is powerful in SFF, after all, which is more than A-OK by me. But do tell me your standout female friendships, dear Supernatural Undergrounders: I'm always keen to hear about more great friendships and great reads. 

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) is her most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we