Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Bookshop of Halloween Horrors

Halloween, born of the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, is nigh and we might all be looking for a good read to suit the occasion. I know I am!

If it's a book that goes bump in the night, there is a multitude to choose from, but there aren't all that many that weave Halloween into the pages.

Here are a few that spark my interest.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked is a classic from the archives of Ray Bradbury. If you haven't read it yet just imagine: two thirteen-year-olds, a traveling carnival and more jump-scares than the heart can handle. Oh yes, and spooky Halloween!

Another classic is Norman Partridge's Dark Harvest

Dark Harvest is set in the 60s, like Stranger Things, and packed with plenty of suspense. Why not when the town's teenagers comb the streets on Halloween, intent on killing the October Boy. The winner (aka murderer) gets the prize and leaves town, never to be seen again. Or so we think...

This one will set the stage for those trick or treat bangs on the door!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The first book in the All Souls Trilogy, be ready with book two if you don't want to dangle over the edge of the cliff. The story of an academic witch in denial, this is historical fantasy at its finest, with a splash of Halloween at the (cliffhanger) ending.

Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts

This is also the start of a trilogy - Three Sisters Island. Set on said island, the series has it all: a strong female character with a terrible past, a curse, a love true-blue and a loudly ticking clock. And yes, Halloween!

A Path Begins - by J. A. White
Book #1 in the Thickety series, this story is set in colonial times. Think a dark forest. Vicious beasts. Deadly plants. Spellbooks. Secrets. Mysteries. Witches, and a girl everyone hates...

Yes, it's marketed as a middle-grade book but some might feel the content is too disturbing for that age range. Are there Halloween themes? You bet, colonial-style!

I'd love to know what your fav Halloween books are and if you plan to curl up with one at the end of the month.

Let us know in the comments!

Trick or treat,


* * *

Kim Falconer's New YA Fantasy Series is out March 2020 - The Crown of Bones. (Writing under A.K. Wilder)

Also, check her urban fantasy  - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel and the SFF Quantum Enchantment Series

You can find Kim on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Or pop over and throw the bones on the site.

Contact at

Thursday, October 3, 2019

High Fives with Amanda: When art imitates life

High Fives from Amanda

Recently, as I crawl through the muck and mire that is revising a series (hopefully I can share some news soon 😊), I started thinking about how strange it was to be a writer. The strange things that we do to ourselves, the way is warps reality around us, the way it fundamental changes the way we look at the world, the caffeine dependency that comes along with it.

And how wrong the movies get it. Which is strange because screenwriters are writers, and yet I've never seen a writer like myself represented on film. But there are some close glimpses of the truth. An essence of what life is like as a person who lives in their head while they are living in the world.

So in no particular order, here are five movies that do get something right about being a writer.

1). Stranger than Fiction - The agony the writer feels about what she might be doing to the main character is totally on par with what I feel about the horrible things that I'm writing about with my MC. I really do feel bad some times, or grossed out that I am actually going to talk about zombie eyeballs, but in the end it really does make for a better story. 

2) Almost Famous - What we wish it was like. I wish writing was all about the glamour of research and parties and drinking and not the actuality of sitting in a cold dark room and just hammering out your thoughts. 
3) The Shining- This one probably gets right what our families think will happen to us after so many hours in front of a computer with people talking in your head. Not sure I really need to elaborate o this one. 

4). Midnight in Paris- This one is probably the closest  to what it is actually like for me when I am writing. Its disappearing into another world with all your imaginary friends and falling in love and wishing that you could just stay there instead of in the real world, where there is laundry and dirty dishes and responsibility. 

5). Young Adult- We are not that damaged, but stealing dialogue from the aisles of Target is SPOT ON as well as the constant narration of our novels in our heads. I'm always listening and thanks to my smart phone, always have something handy to write down little snippets of dialogue or weird things that people. 

Honorable mentions: In the Mouth of Madness. Misery. Writer's Retreat. All three are great for this Halloween season as well.  

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
Author (more bits coming soon!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Romance In Fantasy Fiction: Endless Love In Teresa Frohock's "Where Oblivion Lives"


Intro: #RIFF #YOR

Excitement reigns right now because this is the eighth (infinite eight!) instalment of my Year of Romance (#YOR) post series on Supernatural Underground. Specifically, that is, Romance in Fantasy Fiction (#RIFF) and most specifically of all, romances that I've enjoyed over many years of reading. #JustSayin' ;-)

This month I'm staying on track with my intention to switch between older and newer works, and featuring Teresa Frohock's Where Oblivion Lives, which is Book One in a new Los Nefilim trilogy.

Teresa Frohock's Where Oblivion Lives (Los Nefilim Series) — Diago, Miquel, and Endless Love

Firstly, a little about Los Nefilim. Teresa Frohock's series, set in 1930s, pre-Civil War Spain, began with a series of three linked novellas, first published individually and then collected in one volume as Los Nefilim.

(You can read my post on the novellas here.)

I've said before that it's hard to categorize this series: it's historical fantasy, but it's also decidedly supernatural and paranormal in focus. It's also urban fantasy, being primarily set in Barcelona, but also has a distinctly noir-thriller ethos, with horror overtones.

Los Nefilim's central premise is the eternal conflict between angels and demons, in which the nephilim — the hybrid offspring of human pairings with the supernatural beings — serve as foot soldiers in the war between the higher powers. (The 'nefilim' of the series title is simply the Spanish form of 'nephilim.') In Teresa Frohock's story, begun in Los Nefilim and continued in Where Oblivion Lives, the cosmic conflict both mirrors and intersects Spain’s descent into Civil War.

The nefilim are not immortal, but are eternally reborn to serve in the war-without-end between heaven and hell. For this reason, the nefilim's maxim, "Watch for me" is both invocation and prayer, farewell and blessing, but may also be a curse.
The characters at the center of the Los Nefilim series and its incarnation of the eternal war are Diago and Miquel. Diago and Miquel are both nefilim and their love has endured down centuries and across lives. In Where Oblivion Lives they are married, both part of Los Nefilim's Inner Guard,  and raising Rafael, Diago's son from an earlier relationship in his current incarnation.

(How Diago and Miquel find and rescue Rafael from the demons is told in the linked novellas of Los Nefilim.)

One of the things I really like about Diago and Miquel's relationship in Where Oblivion Lives is that it is presented without commentary or explanation — beyond the story of their love and its evolution, that is. What's important about Diago and Miquel in this story is not that they are gay, although very clearly they are. But authorial commentary is unnecessary because their relationship, like every other aspect of this engaging story, speaks for itself.

Having said that, the story does reflect what it means to be gay in  a world that doesn't accept such relationships. The core of the story, though, is who Diago and Miquel are, as individuals and as a couple. Also their part in the larger Los Nefilim picture (which can be murky — this is heaven vs hell and immediately pre-Civil War Spain, after all.) What matters, too, is their commitment to each other—the endless love spanning incarnations—and to their son, Rafael, as well as to their friends and fellow nefilim. In Where Oblivion Lives this is chiefly illustrated through their loyalty to Guillermo, the leader of Los Nefilim—and his to them.

If challenged to come up with a single adjective to describe Diago and Miquel, the word would be "fidelity." They are faithful to each other, to Rafael, and to their values, even where those values cut across some of Los Nefilim's traditional loyalties and behaviors.

So if you like historical fiction and supernatural/paranormal fantasy, noir thrillers, dark fantasy and/or horror, together with lovers whose fidelity and commitment fuel an endless love, then I think you'll find a lot to like in Where Oblivion Lives and Los Nefilim. 

Note: It's not necessary to read Los Nefilim first to "grok" Where Oblivion Lives but it may give you a deeper appreciation of the world and the story.

Teresa Frohock
By way of disclosure, Teresa is a fellow Supernatural Undergrounder and friend-in-writing. I obtained my reading copy via our publisher-in-common, HarperCollins Voyager and my editor, the awesome Kate Nintzel.

Helen Lowe is a teller of tales and purveyor of story, chiefly by way of novels and poetry; she also blogs and occasionally interviews fellow writers. Her first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. The second,The Heir of Night(The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012, and the sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013.Daughter Of Blood (Book Three), was published in 2016 and Helen is currently completing the final novel in the series. She posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and is also on Twitter:@helenl0we.