Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Image a Day Keep the Doctor Away

Michael Cheval  -  The Twelfth Caprice of Casanova
I made an amazing discovery while researching my current novel. I wasn't looking for a scientific paper on the benefits of viewing art. Not at all. I was looking for inspiration for a character response.

Dragon Sun by Stephani Pui-Mun Law
My hero, faced with multiple threats from every side, needed to keep her cool, her elegance, her composure. I wanted to 'see' the confidence in preparation to write it (because personally, if it were me in those shoes, I'd pick up my skirts and run).

Night Circus by Oleg Tchoubakov
So, as I searched through some of my favourite art pages, Pinterest,  Behance500pxInspiration Grid, I expanded out and found the Michael Cheval and Nina Y, both perfect for my character who doesn't face trouble so much as she feeds off it.

Digital Art by Nina Y
But, I also found this study, the gist being, that viewing art has a positive impact on our health.  It doesn't just lower anxiety and depression,  improving our immunity, it actually boosts critical thinking skills and inspires creativity.

Gabriel Pacheco
Talk about filling your tanks - a tip from Josh Whedon I learned years ago. He said, "My vacation from Buffy was two weeks every year, and in that time I read at least 10 books. My wife and I saw like nine plays, and that’s all we did. We just filled the tanks."

Angel Affair by Michael Parkes
I love that! On top of it all, viewing artwork that we find beautiful causes us to experience joys similar to those associated with falling in love. Do we need any other excuses?

Inspiration, anti-depressant, anxiety relief, immune strengthener, brain booster, and the ecstasy of falling love. So much for Pinterest being a guilty pleasure.

What about you? Fav art site? Museum? Gallery? Style? I'd love to hear about it.

See you in the comments.

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

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, September 1, 2018

Fantastic Creatures & Animal Companions — Don't Ya Love 'Em!

Recently I posted here on Here Be Dragons. And also on Re-Discovering Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. Meanwhile, over on my own blog, I've been Having Fun With Epic Fantasy Tropes. Between these three distinct trains of blogging thought, I got to thinking about the importance of companion creatures in myth and folklore, an importance which has flowed through into Fantasy fiction.

Returning to dragons, for example, Kim Falconer recently mentioned Menolly, from Anne MacCaffrey's, Dragonsong, in her post on Music As Character.  In addition to Menolly's music, however, I was always entranced by her companion fire-lizards — essentially miniature dragons. How cool is that? And, of course, the adult dragons, such as Ramoth and Mnementh, with their telepathic bond to their human riders, are both fantastic creatures and the ultimate in cool companions.

More recent dragon companions include Temeraire in Naomi Novak's series of the same name and Saphira in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series. Yet the Pern novels are not the first where I discovered miniature dragons. Yarrow, in Ursula K Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, carried a tiny dragon on her arm...

Ged, the main character in A Wizard of Earthsea, also has an animal companion for a time. The otak is a wild creature but it comes to Ged of its own volition and remains with him until its death.

While in the Harry Potter series, animal companions are important for wizards and witches in training, the most significant of these being Hedwig, Harry's snow-white owl.
Harry & Hedwig

Some other very significant animal companions include FitzChivalry's wolf comrade, Nighteyes, in Robin Hobb's' Farseer series, and Todd's dog Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting-Go by Patrick Ness. (I know, I know, technically it's Science Fiction, but I'm mentioning it anywyaz!)

No mention of animal companions can overlook horses: from Shadowfax in The Lord of The Rings, to Aerin's Talat in The Hero and the Crown, or The Horse in Kristen Britain's The Green Rider. And Madder, in my own The Wall Of Night series may be worthy of  a mention...

As for fantastic creatures, I don't think any discussion would be complete without mentioning the daemons and the panzerbjorn in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Or the giant eagles, companions to the reeves, in Kate Elliott's Crossroads series. Or, or, or —

Really, there are so many! But feel free to leave a comment and share your favorite. :-)


Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, 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 Helen's 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