Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Novel Inspired Visual Art

Moby Dick or The Great Whale by Lisel Jane.

Last month I looked at the Art of Inspiration, namely, novels inspired by artists like John Waterhouse, Rene Magritte, Leonardo Da Vinci...  This month, I'm turning it around, exploring artistic expression rising directly from novels.

One of my favorite pieces is the above image of the whale, inspired by Herman Melville's Moby dick. The enormity of the creature comes across immediately with the contrast to the tiny human presences in the great sea.

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure..... Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?” - Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

 And then there is the artist I've been in awe of since the 60s - Salvidor Dali. Did you know he did a series of paintings, twelve in total, for an illustrated reprint of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865)?

Salvador DalĂ­, Mad Tea Party (1969). Image courtesy William Bennet Gallery
“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked."Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.""How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice."You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”  ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I love Rene Magritte's  Domain of Arnheim, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's work by the same name (1847)

Rene Magritte, Domain of Arnheim (1962)
“There may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order—our unpicturesqueness picturesque, in a word, the earth-angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death—refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, The Domain of Arnheim

Another artist who has influenced me for decades is John William Waterhouse. Bellow is his 
1888 oil painting, The Lady of Shalott,  based on Tennyson’s 1832 poem by the same title.

The Lady of Shalott by Jon William Waterhouse 1888

“She left the web, she left the loom, 
She made three paces through the room, She saw the water-lily bloom, She saw the helmet and the plume, She look'd down to Camelot. Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack'd from side to side; "The curse is come upon me," cried The Lady of Shalott.”  ― Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott
Finally, for today's journey, Pablo Picasso's depiction of Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha and companion Sancho Panza.

Don Quixote (1955). Pablo Picasso.
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”  ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

It's stunning how these classic novels have morphed into visual art, answering questions as well as asking new ones.

If you have a favourite work of art inspired by a novel, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

* * * 

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 Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

High Fives from Amanda: Resources

High Fives:  Helpful tools and resources I depend on. 

I recently did a little speaking gig to an audience of relatively new writers. And they asked, as most do, what books I used to teach myself about writing. 

Well, I had to be honest. I didn't teach myself about writing. I took course, spoke to writers, went to conferences, and read in my genre until my eyes bled. But they seemed to want actual books titles, so I looked at my shelves and these were the ones that I didn't find there, because they were on the floor by my writing chair, or by my bed, or in my purse. 

So Top Five books I reach for when I'm stuck, when something isn't working and I need to go back to basics:

 1). The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by  Christopher Vogler
This is my go to when I'm having a problem in a certain section in my book. If my Ordeal is not ordealy enough or my Ordinary world is just not working. I'll re-read the section I'm trying to work through to remind myself of what I'm going for. 

2) Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge Honestly, this one is on my shelf because once I learned the golden nougat about finding the authenticity in your characters journey, I was sold. It changed my game entirely. 

Hauge and Vogler also have a duo comedy act where they both share their story structures and how they can work together. 

3). The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Becca Puglisi & Angela Ackerman. This one is just what is sounds like, a thesaurus. This duo has loads of them. And its just different ways to describe everything. I'll usually comb through this when I'm building a characters voice to find neat words that are different from what I would say. 

4) 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald TobiasThis is by no means means that there are only 20 master plots, but when you are dealing with one external plot, an internal arc and potentially 2 subplots, having this guy handy to tell you where your twist should be and make sure that you actually KNOW the story you are telling has become a story saver. Specifically for my subplots!

5). Netflix. I know it isn't a book, but the vast amount of storytelling that I can sample form all over the world now is AMAZING! I can see how they are doing it, see how others are twisting and turning and I'm not limited to what I can get on TV any more. Korean Horror. Swedish Paranormals. Comic books adaptations. Sometimes this is all I need to knock the ideas loose. 

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista. 

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

Amanda Arista

Monday, April 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: My Enemy, My Love & Laini Taylor's "Daughter Of Smoke and Bone"

Laini Taylor
I have dedicated 2019 as my Year of Romance (#YOR), specifically Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF.)

Last month, having started with The Lord of the Rings,  I promised to return with a Fantasy novel "where love is far closer to the core of what makes the story tick."

Which was an easy-peasy choice since Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not only a favorite of mine, but the love between protagonists' Karou-Madrigal and Akiva is absolutely the center of the story.

And as evidenced by the foreword, it also epitomizes the style of romance I term "My enemy, my love":

"Once upon a time an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well."

As well as ticking both the Fantasy and Romance boxes, Daughter of Smoke and Bone includes elements of "time slip", which is popular in historical fiction, and also past lives affecting the present, so there's plenty to give the storytelling interest in that respect.

The basis of the story is this. Karou, a young woman living in Prague, with blue hair and hamsa tattooed on her hands, encounters Akiva, a seraph warrior who is burning black handprints onto secret doorways in the human world. From first meeting, they feel a sense of connection, although Karou's instinctive reaction to Akiva is "enemy, enemy, enemy", while Akiva learns that Karou knows those who dwell behind the secret doors: his enemies, the chimaera or beasts.

Eventually, Karou and Akiva work out that they were once lovers, when Karou was the chimaera, Madrigal -- a love that crossed the bitter divide of the war-to-the-death between seraphim and chimaera and transgressed the codes of both their peoples.

In perhaps the ultimate expression of "my enemy, my love", they first meet on a battlefield where Madrigal is gathering the souls of the chimaera dead and a wounded Akiva is close to dead. She saves his life, and the rest of their story and their love unfolds from there, until the secret lovers are betrayed. It is a long time afterward before Akiva encounters Karou and discovers that she is also Madrigal...

The rest of Karou and Akiva's story you will have to read for yourselves, if you have not done so already. I can promise you, however, that their story is sorrowful and joyful, magical and adventurous -- and above all, intensely romantic:

'His head bent toward her, his mask muzzle brushing her ear. In his nearness, there was an aura of warmth. He said, "I know who you are. I came here for you."... His face was only inches from her own, his head tilted down so that now she could see into his mask.

His eyes blazed like flames.

She whispered,
"You." '

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has a whole raft of great secondary characters, too, such as Zuzana and Brimstone -- there are definitely no "cardboard cutouts" in this book. And I have to mention the lyrical writing, which enhanced the beauty and mystery of the story.

So whether you love Romance or Fantasy best, I think you'll find a lot to like in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which was definitely an easy choice for my #YOR: Year of Romance and #RIFF: Romance in Fantasy Fiction bookshelf.

I'll be back on 1 May with another personal #YOR #RIFF favorite. In the meantime, be careful out there -- and keep reading!


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