Saturday, February 16, 2019

Food That Goes Bump in the Night

Image by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
I was talking to my editor about a scene that involved a feast and we got sidetracked on how food can become a character, showing us as much about a culture as their clothes, art, dance and music. How it is grown, harvested, prepared, the seasons and the seasonings, are part of a map to the story's worldbuilding.

And in Fantasy, food can also be magic. I thought it would be fun to play with some examples today.

Margaret Atwood's very first novel had a magical realism feel to me. Her use of food as a mirror of the main character, Marian, created a vivid story of shifting identity, self-awareness and lose of Self. representing Marian's identity.

Both the book and the film, Chocolat, delighted me. The creation of the chocolates seemed like an alchemical process to me and the senses that awake in the process, spellbinding!

And speaking of spellbinding alchemy, The Book of Unholy Mischief turns pages into a journey of the senses. "Luciano is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired as an apprentice in the palace kitchen. It's an initiation into a rich and aromatic world filled with seductive ingredients and secrets..."

The magic in this book is mouthwatering, and the 'gift' the child receives more a curse... or is it. The element of emotional communication and the uncertainty of feeling 'for another' had my attention right from the start.

Holmberg's book is almost a reverse alchemy of Amiee Benders's above. In Magic Bitter, Magie Sweet, Marie doesn't sense the emotions of others through eating but can instil emotions and powers into things she bakes. A whole new look at the Gingerbread Man, that's for sure.

One of the earliest uses of food as magic comes to us via fairy tales where food is not only enchanting but once eaten, ordinary food tastes like dust. 

What I love the most about food as magic, is that it crosses genres, generating a sub-genre of its own that includes fantasy, historical, romance, contemporary, crime, mystery, thriller and of course YA and children's books. ie Snow White anyone? 

What books with food, magical or otherwise, are your favourites? I'd love to hear.

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Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers. Also check her urban fantasy out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment SeriesYou can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Theme For 2019: A Year of Romance in Fantasy Fiction

 Last month, when thinking about the year ahead here on Supernatural Underground, I realized that this July will be my 9th anniversary of posting here on the 1st day of every month – and I think that I’ve only missed one of those dates.

When I started out, our Supernatural Underground theme was “Books That Go Bump In The Night”, which felt quite deliciously magical and maybe just a tad spooky. Now we’re all about “Fiction That Makes The Heart Beat Faster” – which I sure hope yours may have done when reading some if not all of the books featured in our side bar. J
Over the past few years, I’ve been very impressed by Amanda Arista’s fabulous post series that focus on a theme for the year, such as #YOLA, the Year of Living Authentically and last year’s Year Of The New. 
Nine years (the magical “three times three”) seems like an excellent time to mix things up a little, so I’ve decided to try out Amanda’s theme-for-the-year approach.
That decision made, I then had to put on my thinking cap, to find a theme to resonate with “Fiction That Makes The Heart Beat Faster.” (And if I can touch on “Books That Go Bump In The Night” as well, then all the better!) 
As a starting point, I thought I’d best stick with Fantasy, since that’s the fiction I write (and generally adore.) I then reflected that the Supernatural Underground’s origins were strongly grounded in Romance, particularly the Paranormal Urban kind – and when all’s said and done there are few things that make the heart beat quite so fast as romance…
So this year, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, I’m going to focus on Romance In Fantasy, trying to hone in on a distinctive form of fantasy (e.g. epic fantasy) and/or style of romance (e.g. “star-crossed”) with each post. It will not be exhaustive (or, I hope, exhausting!) in any way shape or form, just a fun look at books I’ve found interesting and at how romance figures – or mostly doesn’t figure, The Lord of the Rings I’m looking at you! – in the story.
There's this kiss -- but when it comes to romance in the book, I'm not so sure...
Sadly, I will almost certainly not feature all your favorites. L Quite probably, I will overlook what you believe to be a definitive book. L L This is because, as you have probably realized by now, I am a deeply flawed “ ‘uman bean.” 
Undying love -- but one sided?
But (great big “but” – huge, in fact!) I do aim to have fun with the Year of Romance and I hope you will, too. And, taking a leaf from Amanda’s book, I’m even going to use a hashtag. Yep, you guessed it, it’s #YOR! (Said with a roar [winks.]) But wait there’s moar – I may even have a second hashtag: #RIFF – Romance In Fantasy Fiction. ;-)
See ya next month with #RIFF #1 for #YOR. J

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