Monday, January 16, 2023

Loving Stories within Stories

Claire the Librarian by Blackbird Art in AJ Hackworth's Library of the Unwritten.

After an unplanned visit to the Cardiac Care Unit, I'm under strict orders not to stress and/or work, for now.... but of course, I can muse, and an idea that grabbed me is that of intertextuality. I've written about it before, so this is basically a repost. See? I am NOT stressing or working, but I did want to share. After all, it's my day to post at the @supernaturalunderground, you know, where books make the heart beat faster? (Haha!)

But seriously, Intertextuality is when a fictional character becomes engaged in a story within the fictional book. A simple example is Sookie Stackhouse who always picks up a romance novel when she's not deep in a vampire/were/fae drama. Roald Dahl's Matilda reads widely and continuously, as do all the main characters in The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

In a more complex example, we meet Claire the Librarian in AJ Hackworth's Hell's Library Series where she becomes more than just a little engaged with some of the unwritten books in her charge. I highly recommend this series!

Roald Dahl's Matilda and her love of literature.

In many cases of intertextuality, the reader is better understood or defined by their books. For example, Tyrion Lannister sets himself apart by being an avid reader in a world of swords and betrayals, dragons and oncoming winter.

“The mind needs books like the sword needs a whetstone.” (Tyrion Lannister) in A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

And let's not forget Lisa Simpson. She has surprisingly eclectic tastes for a cartoon character. I've seen her reading A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and the entire Harry Potter Series to name a few.

In this way, a character's literary choices can show us something about who they are, what they love and maybe even what they desire.

Look at the fictional character Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel, Northanger Abbey. What does her obsession with Gothic novels, and The Mysteries of Udolpho, a real-world novel by Ann Radcliffe, add to the plot and world-building?

The Mysteries of Udolho by Ann Radcliffe first published in 1794.

One of my favourite speculative fiction novels of all times, Angel of Ruin (also known as Fallen Angel) by Kim Wilkins, tells of a contemporary journalist with not enough luck and a bit too much curiosity. As stories unfold within stories, the origins of one of the most famous poems ever written, John Milton's Paradise Lost, is re-visioned. In this case, the intertextuality becomes so intricate that there is no plot without it.

"Milton's Paradise Lost" by John Milton and illustrated by Gustave Dore Henry Altemus, Philadelphia - ca 1885, first thus edition (first Altemus Dore edition)

From cartoons to literary fiction, intertextuality has a role. Of course, when we read, we don't think of it that way, being too lost in the other worlds. At least, that's the goal.

Do you have a favorite fictional character who reads? A favorite story within a story? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.



Kim Falconer, currently writing as A K Wilder, has released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows out December 2022.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Throw the bones, read your horoscopes or Raise Your Phantom on the site 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2023: Year of Re-Imagining

 Hello Faithful Readers, 

Yes, I was hiding under a rock. Yes, I was completely just trying to survive in my little bubble of the world I created that somehow I managed to pop. Yes, it sucked. 

I'm not saying I was at rock bottom, but there were some toe-touch moments where it definitely felt one step away from doom.

After those toe-touch moments, I always found a lesson, a little nugget of gold, to carry with me. And each time, I'd say to myself, "That was an Ordeal, and the lesson is a Reward." It all harkens back to the Heroic Journey of our Main Characters. For me, that process of going from zero to hero always helps me figure out where I am going, where I have been, and how much I still have to learn. 

For reference, here is a pretty and fairly accurate representation of the process I'm talking about. The real one is Christopher Vogler's interpretation of the Joseph Campbell Monomyth that delineates the 12 phases of a hero's journey.

I talked about this in 2014, My Year of Living Heroically, and yet, here I am, circling back around to it. Cycling back around to it, because growth is never ending. Learning is never-ending. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks- they just have to have the right motivation. 

But this time around, I'm wiser, I've written more, lived more, read more, watched more. I'm not that same naive writer from back then. I'd like to say that I'm a little more enlightened, but really, I think my imagination has just gotten bigger. 

So for 2023, I present to you The Year of Reimagining. Reimagining story structure. Reimagining the Hero's Quest. Reimagining your life as a cycle to help you get through your rough spots. 

And of course there will be lots of movies, books, TV, and cute boys to help me with my new vision of an old story. 

Thank you and may your imagination be your guide. 

(If you've forgotten who I am, Here's ALL the contact info)

Twitter: @pantherista
Website links:

Diaries of an Urban Panther:
Nine Lives of an Urban Panther:

Truth about Shadows:

Vampires gone Wild (short story in anthology):

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear Supernatural Undergrounders, whether near or far. (A decision that all depends on where we are in relation to each other, of course! :D )

Forest, ocean, sky...
Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, on this first day of 2023, I hope you're doing okay and that you have things you're looking forward to in the year ahead.

Mamaku tree fern
By way of celebration, I thought I'd share a few photos from "inside Middle Earth" (aka Aotearoa-New Zealand), which is where I hang out most of the time.

Why, hello... (Kaka parrot)

Fear not, I do have plans around a blog/post theme for 2023, consistent with the past few years, but its currently still "in development." ;-)

Harakeke, NZ flax
So for today, let's just relax, chillax, and enjoy the vistas!

"It may not be forever -- but I can see it from here!"


Helen Lowe:

Helen Lowe is an award-winning novelist, poet, and lover of story. With four books published to date, she is currently completing the final instalment in The Wall Of Night series.

Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog, monthly on the Supernatural Underground, and tweets @helenl0we.