Tuesday, June 25, 2024

From the Backlist - Feathers, Fur, Fangs, and Snakes

Shapeshifter fro, Diablo 4 Icy Veins Build
 Hello Sup Readers and Writers!

It's time again to explore our awesome Backlist!

Today we are sharing a post by the author of the bestselling Mortal Path series, Dakota Banks. Her thoughts on shape-shifting from June 28, 2010 are just as relevant in 2024. 

Read along to discover how, and why, this magic works so well!

* * *

Huge Jackman is Wolverine

Hi, I'm Dakota Banks. If I were to die and come back as something, it would be as a Dove extra dark chocolate bar in the hands of the man to the left...

... Now that you've learned everything there is to know about my personality... eyes over here, please...

... Werewolves also have a long history of stories behind them. Ancient Greek gods turned a king with an appetite for human flesh into a werewolf. There is a famous story from the 1600s involving a she-wolf. A French king saw a hunter in his woods and asked him to report on the success of the hunt. The hunter encountered a vicious wolf who was too strong for him to kill, but he managed to cut off the wolf's forepaw. He wrapped it up and took it to the king. When the king heard the story, he unwrapped the bundle and found a woman's hand with a gold ring on her finger. Horrified, he recognized the ring as belonging to his wife. Searching her out, he found her injured, with her hand missing. She admitted being the she-wolf and was burned to death...

... People tend to develop their myths and folklore using animals that are local to where they live. That gives us werehorses from Europe, weredolphins from Brazil's Amazon River basin, wereseals from island communities, werehyenas from Africa, and weremers (okay, mermaids) from countries that sailed the oceans...

... For my writing, I wanted to see what I could do outside the vamp and werewolf norm. I found the myths of ancient Sumeria fascinating, so I built a story around the idea that some of their gods, goddesses, and demons are still around today. Only a few humans know about them, and are aligned for or against. I was lured in by shapeshifting, though, so there are demons who transform into various horrid forms. I have a lot of fun writing the Mortal Path series! The second book is Sacrifice - READ THE WHOLE POST HERE.

Thanks for joining us in exploring the backlist!

See you next time! 

The Sup


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Choose Your Weapon - Ranged


Archery in Anime

Ranged Weapons

In today's issue of Choose Your Weapon, we will consider 'ranged' weapons, a category that includes the bow, crossbow, repeating crossbow, slingshot and blow gun. As you can see, the main focus is on the archer.

Archery has been with us from the start of humankind,  with arrowheads found in South Africa dating back 60,000 years. Think of this weapon as 'archetypal' in that it has been found in all places, all cultures and all times, from neolithic beginnings to contemporary Olympic games. 

It's as pervasive in pictorial form and literature too, from cave paintings in Spain from 20,000 years ago to Homer's account of Prince Paris who slays Achilles. Of course, he also told stories about the huntress, the goddess Artemis and Eros, the god of love whose dart would cause his victims to fall in love.

Writing characters who use archery is often intricate, centering and poetic. There is something about the moments before, during and after the shot that defies time, creating the opportunity for an inner journey that no other weapon can, at least to me.

Whether to feed the tribe, slay the enemy or seduce the lover, archery holds a powerful position in storytelling. 

Subgenres with Archery

Fantasy Books - examples are LOTR by JRR Tolkien, Fire by Kristin Kashor, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Mass and The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black.

Anime - Ashitaka in Princess Momonoke, Tigreurmud Vorn, Lord Marksman and Vanadis.

Superhero Comics - Marvel's Hawkeye and DC Comic's Green Arrow.

Urban Fantasy Books- Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan.

Film and Gaming

- Merida in Brave, Cassandra in Tangled and of course Hercules ... in Hercules.

Adventure - Lara Croft in Tomb Raider!

Ledgen - Robin Hood!

Ancient Myths - Psyche and Eros, Apollo, Artemis, Ullr (Norse god of the hunt).

Gaming - Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Witcher, Path of Exile, Baldur's Gate, Minecraft Dungeons, Chop-Chop, Divinity, Magic the Gathering...

What are your favorite archers in the Fantasy genre? I'd love to hear about them.

See you in the comments.


Choose Your Weapon Series


The Perfect Storm

The Sword




About Kim Falconer

Kim Falconer, currently writing as AK Wilder, has released Crown of Bones, a YA Epic Fantasy with Curse of Shadows as book 2 in the series. Currently, she is working on the third book, out in 2024.

Kim can be found on  AKWilder TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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

Monday, June 10, 2024

From The Backlist: "Unhealthy Obsession?" by Jocelynn Drake

We love our awesome Supernatural Underground backlist -- and this post, where Jocelynn Drake poses the Unhealthy Obsession? question is an excellent example!

Jocelynn Drake
Unhealthy Obsession? 

by Jocelynn Drake

It’s just after midnight and I should be heading to bed, or at the very least settling in with a book to relax.

Instead, I’m surfing the net and obsessing about all the little things that I love. And I’m wondering if it’s unhealthy. I mean, everyone needs a little distraction in life. A little escape. Most of the time, I escape into the worlds of my own creation, but sometimes I need someone else’s world.

Obsession #1: Batman

My long-time love affair with Bruce Wayne started when I was young, watching the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman and Robin show. At that time, I loved Robin, but then I was very young and foolish; not realizing the wonderfulness that is the complexity of Bruce Wayne. My love cooled over the years until the early ‘90s when the Adventures of Batman and Robin cartoon was released. The art was beautiful and the stories were surprisingly rich for a 30-minute afternoon cartoon show. I fell in love all over again. Batman had taken on a gritty, darker feel. He had finally become the tortured soul that most of us have come to equate with Batman.

I love Bruce Wayne/Batman because he doesn’t have any super powers. He’s just a man. Every night he pushes himself to the absolute limit while walking a fine line between good and evil. Handsome, strong, confident, determined, dedicated, brilliant, loyal, and secretly, very compassionate, Bruce Wayne makes my little heart stammer in my chest. The new DC Universe reboot, which will launch in September, has me concerned about what they will do to the Batman canon, but I know they will not change the soul of Batman.

I own a large collection of comics, graphic novels, movies, figures, and cartoons. One dream would be to publish my own Batman story.


To read all about Obsession #2 and the full post, including comments, click here

To find out more about Jocelynn and her writing you can visit her blog.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Year of the Villain #5: When the Hero Is Really A Villain

Well, here we are -- 1 June and half way through the year already, which kinda feels a little villainous! So-o -- clearly! -- it's time for another post on villains in Fantasy literature.

You may recall back in post #3, when I discussed Brandin of Ygrath (in Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana), I referred to him as more "antagonist" than "villain", because he's a sympathetic character despite being Tigana's ultimate "big bad."

In today's post I'm going to flip this by talking about "protagonists" rather than "heroes" -- because when the main character is pretty much a villain, it's a bit of a stretch to refer to them as a "hero", even when they're lead character in the tale.

Han Solo
I also believe there is a difference between an anti-hero protagonist, i.e. such as Han Solo in Star Wars, who is a smuggler and rogue but comes to the heroes' aid, saving the day in the end, and tales where the central character's deeds place them at the "villain" end of the hero-to-villain spectrum. 

Two of the more powerful examples of this are Yarvi, in Joe Abercrombie's Shattered Sea series (Half A King; Half A World; Half a War), and Rin in RF Kuang's The Poppy War trilogy (The Poppy War; The Dragon Republic; The Burning God.)

[Note: There is a spoiler regarding the ending of The Poppy War series toward the end, but there's an alert just before you get there.]

In Half A King Yarvi is dispossessed of his throne, exiled, and enslaved. In both this and Book 2 (Half a A World -- where he is a more background character) his behavior is usually self-interested, to the extent of not serving either his friends (to the extent he is capable of friendship) or the realm. And he's always manipulative. 

In the trilogy's conclusion, Half A War, Yarvi engineers the war that threatens to destroy his own and the other Shattered Sea kingdoms, in pursuit of the power that led to their shattering. (Although it's never stated, the Shattered Sea history points to the action taking place in a post-nuclear holocaust world, but far into the future.)

Rin, the central character in The Poppy War series, is a young woman who already exists in a war-torn world. (If you're familiar with Chinese history you'll recognize analogs of the Opium Wars, Boxer and Kuomintang rebellions, and the Communist revolution that created the contemporary Chinese state.) She is also able to channel the power of a phoenix god, with its ability to generate annihilating fire and inflict widespread destruction.

Rin is a protagonist who starts with considerable promise in terms of magical power and leadership skills. By the end of the first book she has already abused her power and betrayed a great many people, and when the series ends, the betrayal has extended to every friend and ally, and the destruction has completely obliterated one enemy realm. (A comparable analogy would be if the United States had not only bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but unleashed nuclear destruction on the whole of Japan.)

(Spoiler Alert: The next sentence is definitely a spoiler, so maybe skip to the end if you're not already familiar with the story.)

In the end, Rin does check her (or the god's through her) insatiable thirst for destruction by taking her own life, but only after that swathe of knowing and intentional betrayal and obliteration.

In both Yarvi and Rin's cases, it's the "knowing" and "intentional" that sets the seal on their being villains, as well as protagonists -- proof that Fantasy villainy has come a long way from The Lord of the Rings in post #1, with its clear demarcation between good and evil, heroes and big bads.

© Helen Lowe


About the Author

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.


Previous “Year of the Villain” Posts:

January:      Ushering in 2024 -- & the Year of the Villain

February:    The Year of the Villain #1: The Lord of The Rings Pantheon

March: The Year of the Villain #2: Ursula Le Guin & “Earthsea”

April: The Year of the Villain #3: Tigana and Brandin of Ygrath

May: The Year of the Villain #4: Elidor and Formless Evil