Monday, October 30, 2017

Something borrowed, Something blue, Something scary, Something new...




[Original Post]
Okay, that sounds like a twisted wedding ceremony, but it's kind of my theme today. I have something SCARY AND NEW to tell you about. Plus something BORROWED (look at the other Halloween themed-books below) and something BLUE—okay, kind of stretching it but maybe some covers are blue? Haha, sorry, I laugh at my own silly jokes all the time.

(Be sure you read all the way to end of this post!)


Oh, my yikes, I love this cover and the story--whoa. Faeries, fighting, shape shifters, betrayal, true love and did I mention faery vampires? And yes, Christmas. This is a tale about the REAL Fair Folk and their exile from Ireland, told by none other than Eire, the Queen of the Faeries herself. The ebook is on pre-order, the print book is available now and ... wait for it ... the Audible version will be ready soon too. The narrator is incredible and has a wonderful, natural Irish accent.


"This story is filled with magic and love which are the hallmarks of the holiday season. The writing reads like a dream."--Kimberly, Amazon review

"Such a great story with a Celtic legends background. Love, action, adventure and magic. I devoured this book..."--Maria, Amazon review

"I absolutely loved this story!"--Shyra, Amazon review



FATHOM is now available on Kindle Unlimited, so that means it's a free read for KU members! LINK HERE.

AND I have 2 new short stories, perfect to read on HALLOWEEN. Each one is only .99. You can purchase them HERE.


One person will win all 5 books. To enter, post a comment below about your favorite Halloween candy (treat) or your favorite Halloween prank (trick.) Also, you must share this blog online, either on Twitter or FB or Instagram. The winner will be chosen on November 6 and will be posted at the top of this blog post. Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom of the post!!

Monday, October 23, 2017

In Conversation with Zena Shapter

Hi Everyone,

Today we have a special treat - an interview with Zena Shapter, author of Towards White.

Scientists in Iceland think they’ve figured out one of our greatest mysteries – where the electrical energy in the brain goes after we die. . . but when ex-lawyer Becky Dales travels to Iceland to track down her missing brother, the government blocks her at every turn. Becky must piece together the answers fast… before she becomes a victim herself.

Zena is an award winning Australian Speculative Fiction writer, editor, tutor and self proclaimed, 'all round story nerd.'

The Supernatural Underground is happy to share some of her insights and reflection here.



SU I’m so looking forward to seeing Towards White in bookstores. Can you tell us when it will be out, to start, and what genre we can find it in? 

ZS It came out 29th September 2017 and you should be able to find it in your favourite bookstore under: science fiction, thriller or crime/mystery (it’s a cross-genre book). It’s also written in a very realistic style, so will appeal to a variety of readers. One of the first editors to read it was a fan of literary fiction only. Towards White converted her and now she reads science fiction all the time!

SU Becky is an intriguing character. Can you tell us how much of yourself went into her creation?

ZS  I try to put a little of myself into every story, not only because it helps make characters more authentic, but because I read to connect with others, their stories and challenges, and assume others do too. So when I’m writing, I like to offer readers the opportunity to spend time in another person’s shoes, and to do that I have to search through my own closet of shoes and find the right pair to offer up (BTW I don’t actually have a closet for shoes, my shoes are bundled up on wardrobe shelves!). Once I’ve found an experience I might be able to share, I imagine what it would be like to intensify that experience and go through it in extreme conditions, and once I know what those conditions might be, I build my character. During character development, I also think of friends and family who resemble my character in some way, and borrow bits of them to add into the mix. So there’s a bit of me in Becky Dales, there are bits from a few lawyer friends I know, but Becky’s also herself because none of us have ever been in her situation in Towards White – I’m sure we wouldn’t want to be either! We all fall apart sometimes, face the darkest of dark hours, question the essence of our being, then seek a way back to ‘normal’ life. Unfortunately for Becky, she faces having to do this during a crisis. Sometimes when it rains, it pours!

SU I love the world building in Towards White. It is almost like and alien world. You must have lived in Iceland, am I right?

ZS He he, no, I’ve never lived in Iceland, but I’ve been there. I love travelling. I love exploring new places, seeking out unusual stories and uncommon sights, then taking copious notes on them. I have a heap of travel notebooks, and they allow me to travel back in time to when I was last in a place, then write scenes that really show readers what it was like to be there. I visited Iceland in 2001, and when I re-read my notes it’s like being there again. Hopefully when readers read Towards White, they’ll travel there with me too.

SU You know I’m very curious about the science and the philosophy woven into Towards White. Are these questions you’ve wrestled with for years, or did it come to you in a flash?

ZS Both! I grew up around elderly people, for whom death was never far away, and loved studying science at school, so knew all about the energy and nitrogen life cycles. As a teenager, I also enjoyed philosophical contemplations – wherever I could get them! So when I was about eighteen – home from University where I was reading English – I was up late one night philosophising with friends about life after death and I found myself layering our discussion with my scientific background... The conservation of energy theory states that one form of energy must always become another form of energy, energy cannot simply disappear. Our brains are powered by electricity, so I simply made the leap to wondering what happened to it after death. Our bodies go to the worms, what about our electricity? It can’t simply disappear, and it’s far too efficient an energy to simply dissipate, or entropy, as heat. I dwelled on the idea, pondered it, and extended it as far as I could. What if…what if that was the answer to one of man’s greatest mysteries: life after death.

Over the years I played with the idea but it wasn’t until I went to Iceland in 2001 that the story that would become Towards White started to take shape. I fell in love with the country’s austere beauty and inspiration simply poured into my brain from there. There were some delays along the way – moving to Australia, marriage, two children, a new career and finding the right publisher – but the story evolved so much it demanded to be told, and finally it’s here!

SU How much research went into the story? Can we hear a bit about your process?

ZS Well, once I knew I wanted to write a story based on my scientific ideas set in Iceland, I started thoroughly researching those ideas. For the scientific side of things, I went to libraries in the UK and over here in Sydney, read online and asked scientist friends, putting together a folder of research and ideas about energy. I researched all kinds of other relevant things too like gravity and electromagnetism, how colour works, magnetic field therapy, Reiki, astronomy, genes, artic phenomena, the auroras, the constitution and history of Iceland, and of course the brain and nervous system, including brain death and methods of execution. I also bought an Icelandic dictionary and got to know the language as best as I could, including famous cultural quotes and swearing. Many of these ideas have been ingrained in the story from the very first draft back in 2002, but I cut out a lot of the language as my writing technique developed because it didn’t bring anything to the story but ambiguity. Some of the research I cut too because it was too lengthy – but I still have it all somewhere!

SU Becky’s relationships with men are complicated. Did you know she would have such an intense history/backstory from the start, or did that evolve as you wrote her?

ZS It evolved. In earlier drafts of the novel, Becky was a self-assured confident young legal editor who had simply had enough of men. But beta readers found her too assertive, so her confidence had to take a knock. At one point she was lactose intolerant! At another point she was called Kate. But as the drafts went by (there were about ten!), she became more and more complicated, she internalised more, and the more I based her on real friends and family, the more I came to understand her. Hopefully by the end of the novel, readers will understand her too.

SU  What is a typical writing day like for you?

ZS My typical writing day has changed so much over the past few months. It used to look like: admin and emails while the kids get ready for school, exercise until about 9.30am, sit down to write until the kids arrive home around 3pm, ensure I’ve written a minimum of 10,000 words a week, then the rest of the afternoon on client work and free stuff for other authors.

But my creative support business has taken off dramatically this year, and it’s become a struggle to get to any writing at all! I still exercise three days a week, but then have about five hours of client work each day, an hour of face-to-face mentoring other authors, and an hour of teaching (as an average across the week). It’s no wonder I’ve only written a few short stories this year. I have a plan though, to instigate some better balance into my writing life – wish me luck! I will write more again, I will write more again!

SU  Finally, what’s next for you?

ZS Once I’m writing again, I’d like to re-edit a fantasy novel I’ve been working on for a few years, following on from a Writing Inclusive Fiction course I studied earlier this year. It’s so important to write with sensitivity and respect, I want to ensure I’m doing what I can to address imbalances in society, as well as in my own life. I’m also working with agents in the US and England to get more of my writing to readers. Watch this space! Or rather this space over here: ;)

Thanks, Zena!

You can find out more about Zena on her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Towards White can be purchased on in Kindle or Print.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Five Reasons Why YA

Mermaid's Secret by Michael Parkes
Show of hands, how many of you adult readers enjoy YA (Young Adult) books?


It surprised me to learn that over 55% of YA readers are over eighteen. Of that 55%, most are actually over thirty. There are good reasons for this, which I'll get to in a moment, but to start, you might like to watch a brief history of how the YA genre got started.

Epic Reads - A Brief History of Young Adult Books

Why Adults Love YA

#1 Rapid Pace

YA books are page turners. The genre is know for high readability, the unputdownable quality that keeps readers engaged, pages flying.

#2 Quality Control

YA books tend to have rigorous editing. Most published are immersive stories with powerful characters and plots. The personal, and global stakes are high, themes deep and complex.

#3 Addressing  Issues

No matter if the YA is contemporary, fiction, Dystopia, SF, Fantasy or Romance, you can bet the author won't shy away from issues of life, death, sex, drugs, gender, bullying, self-worth, suicide, rape, physical and mental health. For the most part, these topics are handled honestly, without judgment or ulterior motives (preaching).

#4 Emotions switched on

Most YA have some elements of romance, or awareness of feelings. The language tends to be visceral, allowing readers to feel what the characters are experiencing. Less "He felt scared," and more, "His heart pounded ..." Frequently, YA is written in the first person making the connection to the main character more intimate.

#5 Pushing the Edge

YA books can bend the rules of genre, formatting and POV (point of view). We see them embracing genre-crossovers like contemporary fantasy, SF thrillers, SF Fantasy, LGBT Historical, you name it. There are also YA books coming out in verse, diaries, social media instant messaging. I'm reading a YA series right now with multiple point of view characters. The main protagonist is in the first person: "I woke up with a knife to my throat." All other POVs are in the third person: "He waited for the right moment to speak."

There are other perks to YA, including the price. Most YA books are priced below their Adult fiction cousins.

How about you? Are you reading YA for any of the above reasons, or perhaps ones outside the box.

Is it something you feel a little awkward about in public, or is that stigma finally dead? With the number of adults reading YA, I certainly hope so!


Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel.

Learn more about Kim on Facebook and chat with her on Twitter. Check out her pen name, @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visit AKWilder on FB and website.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

And We Have A Winner — for Julie E Czerneda's #AgainstTheDark Giveaway (#1)

Today is the day we announce the winner of the Supernatural Underground giveaway for Julie E Czerneda's blog tour — whom we've just loved having as our guest here on the SU!

And thank you all for joining in the fun with a comment. :-)

To remind you, the giveaway (#1) is:

(i)  a hardcover copy of Julie's new-out To Guard Against The Dark and
(ii) a mass-market paperback of This Gulf of Time and Stars.

And now, as promised, we have the draw result — and the winner is [pauses to blow vuvuzela]:


Congratulations Jueles!

We’ll be emailing you directly, too, but at need you can also get in contact via Helen Lowe on her webmail: contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info


For the tour-wide giveaway for all nine “Clan Chronicles” novels(!), click on the following link to check for a result:

Thanks again for participating!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cover Reveal ~ FIRE & BONE

There's nothing quite as exciting (and nerve-wracking) for an author, once your book is in the hands of a publisher, than waiting to see the shiny artwork going on your baby book. I'm not quite sure I'll ever get used to the feeling!

Today, I get to show the world the face of my next adventure...

In just a sec...that's not it.

This new series I've been embarking on is full of magic and mayhem of the Celtic variety. It takes place in the past and the present, and has a strong theme of forbidden faerie tale romance with an urban setting. I wasn't sure how this book was going to turn out—let alone the cover.

Here's the basics from the back cover...

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.
As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing's for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

You can even read the first two chapters if that sounds interesting! ;)




And at last . . .

The full pretty-pretty...

There's a giveaway to win a $20 Amazon GC and a paperback ARC or FIRE & BONE. You can throw your hat in the ring for that here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


And for an extra exciting treat, just in time for Halloween, I MUST share these new releases from Merrie Destefano, a fellow SU author (And can I just say, they are soooooo yummy!):



And for a little more fun...


Friday, October 6, 2017

"So, When’s the Movie?" A Guest Post from Julie E. Czerneda — Plus Two Giveways!

Photo Credit— Roger Czerneda Photography
Giveaway Result! The draw for giveaway #1 has now been made and the result posted. Click on the following link for all details:

And We Have a Winner — for Julie Czerneda's #AgainstTheDark Giveaway #1

Thank you to everyone who participated.


Today, we're thrilled to welcome award-winning Canadian author, Julie E. Czerneda, to the Supernatural Underground.

Guest Post Goodness:
Julie is currently on a Blog Tour to celebrate publication of To Guard Against The Dark, the ninth and final novel in her very successful the Clan Chronicles series. Naturally we're delighted she's made the SU a stop in what is a very busy schedule.

Two Giveaways of Awesome!
Nine books is quite an achievement—plus promising hours of reading pleasure!—so Julie and her publisher, DAW, are celebrating with not one but TWO awesome giveaways. Details for both are following the post—and there's also more great information on Julie herself, and the series.

Right now, though, let's read-on because if you love insights into the writing life, you'll love this post!

So, When’s the Movie?

Yup. The go-to question from those who sincerely want to know if you’re any good.

Clan Chronicles #1
I think it’s safe to say few other professions face that one. Authors? We hear it regularly. At gatherings of family or friends. The dentist. In the grocery store. I’d go on, but you get my drift. It’s a question posed by those who don’t know the business of writing, but who do know where science fiction and fantasy goes to be successful. On screen.

Which brings up a more—useful—question.

How do we know if we’re any good? Movie deals aside.*

Creative people are like that, you realize. Prone to wondering. Doubt. We can, of course, think we’re pretty good, which, if you’re Canadian too, comes wrapped up in our national twitch of: don’t tell anyone! But then the whisper in the mind starts…are we…really?

Meaning, like anyone else, we look outside ourselves. Fortunately, society does provide one easily understood mark of success: being paid for what you do, so you can do what you do without starving.

Most of the time. Talk to me about the 101 ways to prepare zucchini. Better yet, buy me lunch—not zucchini, however. (Honestly, authors/artists. We do appreciate food. It’s primal.)

Clan Chronicles #6
For those of us who write books, having people buy those books pays for meals, children’s footwear, hockey equipment, a roof (Canadian, that’s my list). It also, incestuously, lets us buy other authors’ books. There are so many GOOD authors out there! We know what’s good when we read it, in others, and willingly admit it. Remember that for later. 

Whether published traditionally or via self-publishing, the number of books sold is the bottom-line. There’s more. Bestseller lists. Is your book in stores and warehouses? Airports? In catalogues. Other languages. Are you pirated online—which is a bizarre compliment until you start doing more math about starving. There’s as many ways to check your numbers as there are stars above, and, to be frank, to obsess over them is as helpful as arguing with our star as winter approaches your hemisphere.

Clan Chronicles #3

Nor, for me, are number of readers a useful measure of “am I any good.” The reasons a book may or may not catch these readers’ eyes and hearts and not those are beyond my control. We—my publisher, booksellers, and I—do our best, including tours like this, to put my books out there. (Though if you buy me a beer with that lunch, I’ll tell you my Walmart story of marketing woe.)

Don’t get me wrong. Sending my manuscript out into the world provided immense validation. I’d finished something, for starters. And finally someone read my stuff! Go ahead and gasp. I didn’t know any better. My first readers were the people, editors, who could decide to buy it or not.

To decide, if for their purposes, it was any good.

The emphasis is important because I’d one advantage. I was an editor myself and knew my story being bought, or not, wasn’t All About Me. (Except for the wee whine inside my head, but I ignored it, most of the time.)

My first book, A Thousand Words for Stranger, spend a few years with a trio of editors who did like it, very much, but their publisher didn’t. It whooshed in a day across the desk of another editor, at another publisher, who quite loved it, but had bought something similar that very day. See? For their purpose. Timing is all.

I was told, repeatedly, DAW was where I belonged.

Now the problem with not knowing if you are any good (at this writing thing) is that self-doubt—even rational-seeming caution—can deflect you into wasting time and effort. DAW published the authors I loved. Why would I try there? I wasn’t yet worthy! (Something I mentioned in an earlier post, so lesson maybe learned?)

Which in hindsight cost a decade of my time, since DAW, in the person of Hugo award-winning editor Sheila E. Gilbert, indeed thought I was good and why hadn’t I come to them first? Surely I’d noticed they liked what I liked.

It never ends, by the way. In moments of personal doubt I’ll email Sheila to ask is she SURE my latest book is good? and she provides a virtual pat on my head—or thump—because why wouldn’t it be? That’s our relationship.

While vastly reassuring before a book launch, this isn’t, however, how I answer the real question: am I any good?

No, this isn’t how my yard
looks at present. Still fall

Awards? Are very nice, believe me. (THE PRECIOUS!) As marks of achievement, they’re damned fine proof a story worked for a sufficient number of wonderfully motivated-to-vote individuals to be noticed. Thanks!

The problem with awards as a measure is they come after the work. After the hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes years of work—work you do alone. You bake muffins, you know in under 30 minutes if they’re edible. See what I mean? Writers and other artists face an inescapable period of time during which only they can judge if they’re getting it right, or not, while they start “baking” the next long before they do.

What comes very close to a useful measure of “am I any good” are those readers who contact me, privately and while I’m mid-book, to tell me how much my writing has meant to them. Thank you. That’s—that’s remarkable and a treasure and yes, that’s almost all I need.


As in not quite. To accomplish a steady word count, to stay deeply focused on the plot as I must be, to keep doing this? I can’t pause to seek external reassurance. There’s no time. No head space. And, to be frank, no point. I must have confidence in my abilities. In what I do.

Clan Chronicles #8
So here’s the thing. What lets me jump into the next project, and plan for the next, and keep the buzz of excited hope I’ll be doing this for years to come—right, Sheila? It’s what I’ve done from the start. From the very start. From the first time I put words to paper at ten years of age, right through to now and tomorrow.

It’s an intimate, hard to share, even harder to admit to you feeling. (Remember, Canadian.)

A feeling. That’s all.

At some unpredictable moment I’ll be writing and it happens.

I’ll read over what I just wrote, sometimes through tears.

Because it’s good enough, for me.

~ Julie E. Czerneda


*The movie? As of now, I’ve no idea if or when any of my works will appear on screen, but I’d love to see it too. Thanks for asking.


About Julie E. Czerneda

For twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners, the latest being SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, lands in stores October 2017. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018). Visit for more.

Cover art by Matthew Stawicki

About the "Clan Chronicles" Series

The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, himself a talented telepath, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification concludes the series, answering these question at last. Who are the Clan?

And what will be the fate of all?


Be In To Win with Two x #AgainstTheDark Giveaways!

Giveaway #1: (US & Canada Readers Only)

Win Julie's latest book, To Guard Against the Dark, in hardcover,  plus a mass market of This Gulf of Time and Stars. 

i) How to Enter: Leave a comment with your details below. Entries will close at midnight on Friday 13 October (EST.)

ii) Notification: The draw will be made and the result posted here on Saturday 14 October.  if the prize is not claimed by midnight Tuesday 17
October,  it will be redrawn and renotified on Wednesday 18 October.

Note: All times are US EST.

iii) Terms:  The books will be supplied by DAW.

Giveaway #2

This is a fabulous tour-wide opportunity to win all nine “Clan Chronicles” novels!

To enter, click on the following link and follow the entry instructions there:


Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

EDC- Every Day Carry: Writerly Addition

Every Day Carry- The Writers addition

The Things I Carry.

So I went to New Orleans recently and visited The National WWII Museum. You have to go. I have never been to a museum that was so geared toward storytelling and it gave me goosebumps. Go visit. You'll thank me later.

As standard museums do, there was a lot of mention of daily carry: usual mess kits, guns, ammunition, cribbage sets, and papers for letters to sweethearts (seriously- those guys knew how to say I love it and it was swoon-worthy).

My Hubby joked that my writer tote probably weight as much as their ruck sacks. So we weight it. And it wasn't quite there, but it was enough to get me thinking- If I mentally carry books and ideas and friends, what do I physically carry with me.

So here is my Every Day Carry as a Writer:

1). Computer- I schlep my Macbook with me everywhere. I might actually die without it, so I'm never going to take that risk. Not pictured here as I am currently writing on it.

2). Notebooks- Even though I take the computer everywhere like a second child
, there are always things that need to be drawn or diagramed. I am very aware that I process different information in different ways through different mediums. Today, its only one notebook. Sometimes, if I'm really getting into it, its three. And a plotting book. And poster board.

3). Post-its- I got this little case from a conference and have never left home without it. Funny thing, the post-its go on my computer and my notebook. And my everyday post-it carry varies from the regular to the 4x3 size in bright pink.

4). Pens- At any given time, I have enough pens to sink a ship. And in varying thickness and styles. You never know when you might need to draw a rainbow or what kind of surface you will need to draw it on.

5). Small first aid kit- I'm super klutzy and always prone to allergy attacks, bug bites and blisters. This is why I don't go outside often.

6). Current book- Right now I'm on a Dresden kick. Next, I'm rereading some Alice Hoffman. I can do e-books, but I still like a paperback to carry around with me.

7). Boring stuff- wallet, keys, TONS of hair ties, my work badge (Doctor Who, of course).

8) Coffee- Probably more vital than the keys. I always have a coffee cup with a few instant coffee bags with me. Sometimes, I even have a creamer and sugar packet just in case I end up someplace shady without coffee accessories. Current favorite- Einstein Bros Bagels. Feel free to send me a few dozen of these!

9). Phone- This I couldn't live without, but it does live in my purse. You never know when you'll need to look up something, or need to take a picture of a cute guy, or need to listen to just the right song to get a scene going again.

So there you have it, the list of my EDC. Yes, I will probably have back problems when I get older, but each piece helps me process my life of being a writer and prepares me, because you really never know when your muse is going to strike!

Until next time, carry on.

Amanda Arista

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Eat, Drink, Magic: Fun With Food in Fantasy Fiction

From Persephone's consumption the fatal pomegranate, which meant she had to spend six months of every year in the Underworld, to Snow White and the poisoned apple, or Hansel and Gretel and the Gingerbread House, food plays a vital part in myth, folklore, and fairytales – just as it does in real life.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, food also has its part of play in the Fantasy novel, covering the whole gamut from temptation, celebration, and simple sustenance.

The White Witch tempts Edmund with Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. And the Elvish waybread (lembas) in The Lord of the Rings is essential for sustenance on the great quest-journey to destroy the ring. The return of students to Hogwarts in Harry Potter is always marked by a feast, while the Honeydukes sweet shop in Hogsmeade is an essential destination for the aspiring students of wizardry...

Food can also play an important part in Fantasy worldbuilding. For example, the unwholesomeness of the Turkish Delight, which makes Edmund feel sick even as he longs for more, is contrasted with the hearty fare of the beavers' house – fresh-caught trout with potatoes and butter, followed by a "great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll." Hungry yet?

In my own The Gathering of The Lost (The Wall of Night #2), seasonality is an important part of the worldbuilding and food one of the contributing elements, from the "spice bread and sweet pastries" made for Summer's Eve, through to the fresh cherries associated with the Midsummer Festival.
Food can ground the action, too, like the pie a ravenous character (Carick) eats after having been on the run for days on end:

"The pastry was stale, but he devoured it in ravenous mouthfuls and wondered if he would ever again, in the life that had been returned to him, eat anything that tasted even half as good."

Sometimes, though, food is not just a supporting element for worldbuilding or to ground the story: sometimes it takes center stage, as in Robin McKinley's Sunshine.
The main character, Rae (aka Sunshine), is a baker and her baker's routine, including the early hours, and the food she cooks are essential to the story. Muffins definitely star! Similarly, in Joanne Harris's magic-realism novel, Chocolat, the chocolate and its magic are the heart of the tale.

And everyone who deals with the fairies and the fay knows one must not eat or drink anything offered in a fairy hill, lest one suffers the fate of Persephone or Tam Lin. 
This prohibition comes up in Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels when Mercy is required to enter Fairyland; similarly in Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May when Gwalchmai (Gawain) enters the realm of the Fey.  And it's definitely a theme of Raymond E Feist's classic Faerie Tale.
These are just a few examples that spring to my mind – but how about you? Got any favorite foodie reads in your Fantasy lineup?

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