Sunday, January 31, 2021

An Interview With T Frohock – Talking Magic in "A Song With Teeth" & The LOS NEFILIM Series


This year, I’m focusing on magic systems in Fantasy – and wherever possible, I hope to do so by talking with a fellow author about the magic systems in their work.

Today I'm really pleased to welcome TeresaFrohock to discuss the magic systems in the world of her LOS NEFILIM series. In particular, we'll be talking A Song With Teeth, the final book in her current series, which is due out on February 9.

At which point I really must pause to vigorously deploy my fan, breathless with excitement.
J By which you may deduce that I am a keen LOS NEFILIM reader, aka a fan!


By way of background for those who may not be as familiar with the storyline as I am, it is set in 1930s Spain, and Europe, during and after the Spanish Civil War. The preceding novel, Carved From Stone and Dream, is set on the cusp of World War 2 (WW2), and A Song With Teeth, the third and final novel takes place during the latter war.
Overlapping the human story of these tumultuous times is a paranormal conflict in which angels and demons war on the human plane. The nephilim (in Spanish, Los Nefilim) are the foot soldiers and frontline troops in their war. Inevitably, the conflict spills over into human politics and concerns, and also reflects them, with nefilim (I shall use the story’s Spanish spelling from this point) on opposing sides in Spain’s civil war and WW2.

Welcoming T Frohock: In Conversation On Magic Systems In A Song With Teeth (LOS NEFILIM #3)

HL:  Congratulations, Teresa, on the imminent release of A Song With Teeth. I imagine it feels like a considerable achievement to see the culmination of a storyline encompassing both this LOS NEFILIM series and the earlier novella trilogy?

TF:  Thank you! It really did. This is actually the first trilogy [tetralogy, if you count the Los Nefilim omnibus] that I’ve had the opportunity to complete for a publisher, so it’s a milestone for me. I enjoyed the ability to follow Diago’s character arc to completion, and I was very satisfied with where the story ended in both terms of plot and characterization.

HL:  How do you feel the magic within LOS NEFILIM influences and shapes the world and the story?

TF: For those who haven’t read the series, the nefilim work their magic through music, light, and movement by creating sigils. They experience sound accompanied by color—a form of chromesthesia—that enables them to use the vibrations of color to shape their sigils, which manifest their willpower into reality.

For example: if a nefil wants to influence the weather, they design a sigil—a magical symbol—that will cause rain. Then they compose the necessary tonal sounds that reflect the strength of the storm they want, and then, as the song unfolds, they use their hands to shape the colors of those sounds into the sigil. The final step is to push the sigil into the clouds.

The world the nefilim inhabit is the very real world of the early twentieth century, so their magic is quite often dependent on the science and music of the period. As they learn new things, they incorporate this knowledge into spells. A good example is Carme’s fascination with the Devil’s Fingers [Clathrus archeri], a type of fungus that she mimics with a very nasty spell that she inflicts on her enemies.

Since the nefilim spend a lot of time together, they also perform together with informal arrangements that deepen their camaraderie. Music isn’t just their way of working magic; it’s also how they relax and form bonds with one another.

When they first meet, often they play for one another. This is a way in which they can see the other nefil’s song, or their soul. They judge one another by the tonal quality of their voices and the complexity of their compositions, including their ability to play instruments.

Although their music plays an important part within their magic, they rely more on their cunning and their ability to manipulate mortals than they do magic. They navigate a treacherous world that can turn on them in a heartbeat, and they know that as the twentieth century moves forward, scientists would love to study the nefilim’s near immortality in addition to their ability to influence events.

Because they distrust mortals, the nefilim spend more time trying to stay hidden from a sense of self-preservation. They move in plain sight, but they keep their magic quiet unless threatened

HL: “Music” is the key word I associate with the LOS NEFILIM magic system, but given the intricacy of the magic system you’ve just described, are there deeper layers that go beyond music alone?

TF: It’s a complex process that relies on physical gestures, as well. Music enables the nefilim to transpose sound into emotion, which is a big component of their magic, but they also have to form the sigils that manifest their will, so it’s as much akin to dance as it is to music.

In A Song with Teeth, Diago notes a young nefil’s magic, which is inadequate because even through the nefil
“understood both technique and style—the accents landed in all the right places, the chords were precise—but the cellist’s execution seemed to lack spirit and emotion, which left the interpretation flat.” In spite of his knowledge of structure and technique, the young nefil can’t convey the necessary emotive chords necessary to work his magic.

This is why older nefilim are much more dangerous than younger ones. Older nefilim have had centuries to design a full repertoire of sigils and sounds and have perfected their techniques. They have a wealth of personal experiences to draw from, and their movements are lightning fast, while younger nefilim, especially those in their firstborn lives, are still having to think their way through their spells.

Magic is never easy. If it was, anyone could do it.

HL: The main character, Diago, and his magic, are unique among the nefilim. Why is that? Is it important to the resolution in A SONG WITH TEETH?

TF:  One aspect to the nefilim’s magic that I haven’t discussed is their distinctive vocal ranges. The angels in the Los Nefilim series have three sets of vocal cords, which allows them to manipulate sound in unique ways. As the children of angels, the nefilim are also able to produce exceptional range with their voices (think of someone like Freddie Mercury or Annie Lennox).

The angel-born nefilim (those born of an angelic parent and a nefil with angelic lineage) have exceptional range in the tonal expressions. The daimon-born, on the other hand, are better skilled at the interpretation of pieces.

Diago is unique in that his mother was an angel and his father was a daimon-born nefil. It was a rare coupling that had never been replicated until an angel manipulates Diago into the sexual relationship that produces Rafael.

Whereas Rafael is one-quarter daimon, Diago is half, which makes him the best of both worlds. His unique tonal range, along with his ability to interpret a piece of music with deadly precision, enable him to compose and work with music far beyond the range of any nefil who is merely angelic or daimonic.

He is able to drift between two distinct cultures and bring what is best to both in the nature of his personal song. His son, Rafael, accidentally discovers the secret to his father’s magic in
A Song With Teeth, and that revelation gives him a deeper understanding of both his own song and that of his father.

HL: Family, both born and found, is central to the main characters and the LOS NEFILIM story. Does this shape the magic system in any way?

TF:  In many ways, yes. The angels want to breed the perfect soldiers, and in doing so, they create nefilim with unique songs. Likewise, so do the daimons. Whoever wins their war wins control of the mortal realm.

The thing to remember is that to be chosen to parent a nefil born of their respective gods (be it angel or a daimon) is considered to be a great honor among the nefilim. Diago’s case is different, because his son’s angelic mother chose to deceive Diago and used her enchantments to rape him. She never intended to give Rafael to either the daimons or to Diago. It was only when she lost complete control of the situation that she was able to hide Rafael and get word to Diago of their son’s whereabouts.

Rather than reject his son, Diago chose to keep Rafael from his abusive daimonic family by acknowledging him and making a place for him in his home and heart. Diago’s husband, Miquel, fully supported this decision. In order to secure his son’s future, Diago joins Los Nefilim. Here, he finally finds the love and esteem that had eluded him with his daimonic kin. He is a part of a unit that respects his individuality and skills. They accept him as a person, something his daimonic family never gave him.

At the same time, the small family of Guillermo, the leader of Los Nefilim, is tight. His daughter, Ysabel, benefits greatly by the presence of her angelic mother, Juanita, who chose to remain on the mortal plane with both Guillermo and Ysabel (not all angelic parents remain in the mortal realm with their off-spring). Together, they nurture Ysabel, enabling her to grow into a strong, confident young woman.

I didn’t want the stories to indicate that either blood relations or found families were superior. The important thing is the respect and encouragement they give to one another. That is where they draw their strength.

HL: Are there any significant new developments readers should look for in the magic of A Song With Teeth?.

TF:  I believe A Song with Teeth probably has more magic in it than all the other books combined. We get to see the daimonic courts in action and experience some of their magic. More important, we get a glimpse of Ysabel and Rafael as young adults, which is something I had a great deal of fun writing.

The best part, for me, was that I was able to resolve all the tiny little threads that spun from the novellas through the novels. I left them all in a good place, and that was important to me, too. You never know what will happen next. I’ve got a few shorts planned for this upcoming year, and we may eventually see them all again one day … until then, watch for them.

HL: Teresa, I definitely shall! By the way, may I say how much I love that catchphrase “Watch for me”? It’s so evocative in itself, but also of the ongoing story. Thank you so much, too, for doing the interview today. I thought I knew the magic system of LOS NEFILIM pretty well but you’ve definitely added more depth – and no question, I shall be eagerly watching for
A Song With Teeth on February 9.


To find out more about A Song With Teeth and LOS NEFILIM, please visit Teresa's website or her publisher's site:
HarperVoyager –
A Song With Teeth 
They'll point you to where the book is available!



About T Frohock

T. Frohock has turned a love of history and dark fantasy into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. A real-life cyborg, T. has a cochlear ear implant meaning she can switch you on or off with the flick of a switch. Make of that what you will. She currently lives in North Carolina where she has long been accused of telling stories, a southern colloquialism for lying.

You can find T. on her website,
here and on Twitter: @T_Frohock

Rocking 2021 with “Magic Systems in Fantasy” on Supernatural Underground: Previous Posts

January 1:
Happy New Year – Ushering In A Year of Friends, Fellow Authors, & Magic Systems

January 2:
An Interview with AK Wilder – Talking Magic In Her New-Out Crown Of Bones (AMASSIA#1)


About The Interviewer:

Helen Lowe's 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 tweets @helenl0we

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Reading Fantasy Rocks


Reading About Dragons is a piece of digital artwork by Daniel Eskridge

Hello Sup readers! It's 2021, and my plan for you this year is to post, every month, something to lift the spirits. Let's make this a wondrous New Year, every way we can!

With that in mind, today I want to highlight the benefits of reading Fantasy Fiction and share a few titles on my TBR list.

If you read regularly, you already know some of the perks: quiet time with yourself and your own thoughts. The joys and sorrows of imagined worlds. The feeling of accomplishment, of being part of a larger community...

And there is more! Check out these amazing benefits:

1) Reading Makes you Smarter - Research shows that reading enhances fluid intelligence. That means it helps build new neuro-pathways in your brain, neurons that are available for smart decision making in the future. There is also an increase in emotional intelligence and empathy toward others. You make more creative decisions about yourself and those around you.

2) Reading Makes Life Better -  Readers are less stressed and less depressed. They sleep better and have lower blood pressure, steadier heart rhythms. Higher levels of self-esteem are reported by readers and, compared with non-readers, they also report feeling close to friends and their community, with more awareness of social issues and cultural diversity.

3) Readers Age Better - Reading keeps your mind active and engaged while improving memory as you grow older. One study showed that those who read more than 3 1/2 hours every week were 23% more likely to live longer than non-readers. 

4) Joy - All studies aside, reading brings us joy as we escape into the metaphorical spaces of the mind, and engage in the ancient and time-honoured experience of storytelling. 

* * * 

In the spirit of more reading for everyone, here are some books on my TBR list I'd like to recommend. Please feel free to jump into the comments and offer up some of your own!

And Sup Authors, here is your chance to let us know about your next, upcoming release!

The Once and Future Witches image by @littlebookelf92
Image by @littlebookelf92

The Once And Future Witches by Alex E. Harrow, is set in In 1893, a time when there's no such thing as witches. 

There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

When the Eastwood sisters--James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna--join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women's movement into the witch's movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There's no such thing as witches. But there will be.

I'm reading this now!

* * * 

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan
Image by @abookwormwriter
Another on my TBR is Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan. I know a few people who loved it! Here's the blurb:

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

* * * 

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison cover image
Image by @obscure.pages
The Angel of the Crows comes highly recommended by a reader and editor I trust. It's on my TBR for sure! Here is the blurb:

This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.

In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.

Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.

* * * 

Black Sun cover image
Image by @tyffany.h
Black Sun by Rebecca Roahhorse is another I am excited to read. Some of my Insta friends are raving about it.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

Now it's your turn. What are you going to read next? 

Let's share our ideas and make for a better year, by reading more books!


* * * 

Crown of Bones by AK Wilder - image by @darjeeling_and_jade

Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, has just released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy.

She can be found on  TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Or pop over to throw the bones or Raise Your Phantom on the site

See you there!

Monday, January 4, 2021

An Interview with AK Wilder – Talking Magic In Her New-Out "Crown Of Bones" (Amassia #1)


On New Year's Day, I shared my intention to focus 2021 on magic systems in Fantasy – and wherever possible, to do so by talking with a fellow author about the magic systems in their work.

Today, as heralded then, I'm delighted to welcome AK Wilder to discuss the magic systems in Amassia, the world of Crown of Bones, the first in her exciting new Fantasy series that's released today!

Welcoming AK Wilder: In Conversation On Magic Systems In Crown Of Bones (Amassia #1)


HL: Congratulations, Kim, on the publication of Crown Of Bones. After the ups and downs of 2020, releasing a new book and series must feel like the best way of seeing in the new year!

Hi Helen! Thank you! Yes, releasing the first in this series is like starting the New Year on a high note. I feel like we have all had so much to face in the last twelve months and finding positive, creative things to focus on is the antidote. Hopefully, reading Crown of Bones will bring its own delight to the new year as well.
And it's here!
HL: As one of the lucky advance readers for Crown Of Bones, one of the aspects of the book that I really loved was the magic system, especially the twinned concepts of “throwing the bones” and “raising your phantom.” Can you tell readers a little more about what these terms mean and how they’re integral to the magic in the book?

You are right. These two concepts are cornerstones in the story world, really what all else is built on. “Throwing the bones” is a phrase used by all the peoples of Amassia, but only a select few, the black-robe Bone Throwers, learn this art of divination and utilise it. And these bones they throw are no ordinary charms. Every piece is carved into a whistle and etched with one of the 108 steps to An’awntia, the highest state a person can reach along the Path –
the way to their perfected state of being. When played, they make up the song or story in the cast, revealing the message therein.

Bone throwing is based on an ancient art of divination and the ‘magic’ comes from the black-robe's “phantom” – in their case, a translucent, formless part of themselves that moves along the corridors of time, forward and back. These Bone Thrower are oracles with a huge responsibility as they determine the fate of every child on Amassia, deeming them savant (able to raise a phantom), non-savant (unable to raise a phantom), or marred (damaged and sacrificed to the sea).

Classes of Phantom
Credit: Anna Campbell Art

Most of the population is non-savant but those the Bone Throwers mark as having potential are taken into the Sanctuary as eight-year-olds to trial. Their hope is they can raise their phantom and join the ranks of savants who serve the realm as healers, warriors, teachers and scribes. The ‘magic’ in their abilities is woven into their souls, developed over many lifetimes and predicted by the throw of the bones. With the right training, the young savant can touch a knee to the ground, allowing their phantom to drop out of their consciousness and gain form as it passes through the earth and erupts fully formed. Most phantoms take a solid form, and can appear as almost anything – human-like, animal-like, or even combinations of animals and vegetation.
The black-robes, with their formless phantoms, are the only exception.

Crown of Bones
begins with a troubled Marcus, the Heir to the throne of Baiseen, who raises a warrior phantom but cannot hold it to form. If he doesn’t master that step soon, he will be given over to the black-robes to become a Bone Thrower, a fate he’ll do anything to avoid. As a Bone Thrower, he would have to give up the throne and leave his life behind to join the ranks of these mysterious oracles.

HL: What are the aspects of the magic system in your new world of Amassia that are most distinctive? Are there any particular influences from our world that shape the magic?

AKW: The most distinctive aspects would be the phantoms. They are inspired in part by Jungian psychology and the notion that we all have a shadowed side, an unexpressed or unconscious aspect of ourselves. The shadow contains our greatest potential as well as what we loath and repress. The shadow can seem to burst suddenly through the floorboards and take over our voice and actions. In the world of Amassia, that event can be quite literal as phantoms take physical form and act, at times, outside the savant’s control. Another component of phantoms is the way they take form. Like the Tibetan mystical ‘Tulpas’ they are ‘thought forms’ rising from the mind or spirit.

The world of Amassia

HL: I was intrigued to discover an overlap between the magic of your Ava Sykes world (The Blood In The Beginning) and Crown of Bones in the form of the Mar sea people. How do the Mar and their magic fit into this story?

There is definitely an overlap in the books with the Mar and the characters of Salila and the sea king, Teern. In Amassia, Teern still rules under the waves and Salila hunts anything that moves. They both manipulate and/or terrorise the world of landers.

The mar, Salila.
Credit: Anna Campbell Art

The Mar can also be seen as magical though I like to think of them as a divergent race whose DNA took another track. Descendants of Neptune, if you will… They are people of the sea, without fish tales but having some qualities of sirens and vampires combined. Mar are created from the ancient Ma’atta, a coral that grows out of the bones of the old gods. From this divine power, they are given the ability to live in the sea, a realm the landers cannot enter, at least, not for long. Whereas the only way Mar can walk under the sun is to take the sea with them in the form of a drop of human blood. But on Amassia, as we see by the continental drift, much time has passed…

Actually, when it came to this aspect of the world building, the idea was born literally from continental projections 250 million years in the future. Yes, the world of Amassia is a magical, agrarian hegemony, but as you can see in animations on Youtube –
How The Earth Will Look In 250 Million Years – a single continent is where we are all headed. The seven major landmasses we now inhabit will eventually return to form one again. The process captured my imagination and I started to wonder, in all those millions of years, what else will change… In this way, Amassia is both the world in a very distant future, and a secondary world existing right now, in the pages of Crown of Bones.


HL: Wow, that sounds amazing! And Amassia being "this world", albeit a long time in the future, totally explains the presence of the Mar – and of course worldbuilding and magic systems can never be completely separated in Fantasy. :-) I imagine readers are already intrigued, but just to whet our appetites further, is there any other significant change readers should look for in the world of Amassia and its magic?

AKW: There are quite a few changes, one being the social biases. In this world, there is a natural diversity of peoples that comes from continued mixing of DNA, but in Amassia, instead of those distinctions creating potential classes or value judgments, it is a person’s status as savant, or non-savant that creates social marginalisation. It’s like they have gotten over themselves when it comes to color and gender, but now, how far they are along the Path to self-actualisation can create elitism and abuse of power. The twist here, without giving too much away, is that even though the Bone Throwers predict a child’s potential, “sometimes they get it wrong…”

The black-robed Bone Throwers decide
the fate of every child on Amassia.

HL: It all sounds completely fascinating – and as an advance reader I already know that Crown of Bones is action-packed and imbued with the magic system we’ve discussed today. Thank you so much for doing this interview, Kim, and may your release day be awesome!

AKW: Thank you so much, Helen, for this wonderful opportunity to chat about Crown of Bones. Happy New Year, and great reading, to all!


About AK Wilder:

Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Or pop over to throw the bones or Raise Your Phantom on the site


To find out more about Crown of Bones, visit AK Wilder's site, or Entangled Teen – who point you to where the book is available!