Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weird Romance in Fiction

Ulysses and the Sirens, by Herbert James Draper, 1909
Hi everyone,

With St. Valentine's Day just past, it's hard not to have a few thoughts about romance, real and/or fictional. Here at the Sup, we often write love interests who are different species, from alternate times, dimensions or universes.

Mortals falling for super heroes, vampires, shape-shifters, zombies, Mar, witches, demons, you name it, we have it. But how did this all begin?

The tendency to represent love interests as supernatural has its roots in ancient literature. Take Homer's Odyssey for example, from the 8th century BC. We have sirens, harpies, nymphs, and of course Circe, a spectacular witch, all captivating Ulysses in one way or another. And then, there are fairy tales, ie Beauty and the Beast by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve published in 1740. Hundreds of years later, we're still enchanted!

But things really picked up for supernatural romance when Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto in 1764. This launched the Gothic genre, which combines elements of both horror and romance.

After Walpole came Ann Radecliff's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Our Speculative Fiction genre owes much to these inspirational novelists.

They led to our modern day versions of dating a monster.  I think we owe a lot to Joss Whedon and his supernaturals in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the acceptance and idealisation of mortal-supernatural couplings.

From there, Sookie Stackhouse, in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Chronicles pretty much plays the field with vamp-vamp-shifter-fairy-shifter relationships, giving us a mortal eye's view on what it's really like, loving a sup.

Then there's Isacc Marion's Warm Bodies. Who wouldn't want to date this adorable dead boy, and save the human race while their at it?
Nowhere more that Paranormal Romance and Fantasy YA do we find the 'other' elevated to the role of the immortal lover, be they angel or demon from the earth, the sea, the heavens or far away dimensions.

Here are a few of my favourites. 

Elena and the Brothers - from L J Smith's Vampire Diaries

A demon and her angel
A ghost buster and a dead girl

A girl and her robot
A half-Mar and her doctor
Pop in the comments if you want to share your fav 'weird' fictional romances.

Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.

You can also learn more about Kim at, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter.  

She posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month and runs Save the Day Writer's Community on Facebook. Check out her daily Astro-LOA Flash horoscopes on Facebook

Friday, February 3, 2017

And now I'm just dating myself

The Things I carry: White Dwarf

This one is a little literal for this year's theme of things that I carry with me. I've been doing a little Winter Purge, throwing out stuff that has hidden in corners and collected dust and just not been very useful.

I was cleaning out my VHS tapes. Yes, I HAVE been carrying around VHS tapes with very specific movies that I taped when I was in high school until I found DVDs of their contents. That's how much these movies were part of who I am and the stories that I tell.

Upon those VHS were three of my favorite movies taped from FOX: Generation X (a miniseries of junior X-men complete with Jubilee), Newsies (which i was able to get on DVD- no one can resist a singing Christian Bale), and White Dwarf.

Ah White Dwarf. How do I describe you? It was sort of like Northern Exposure in space. Now, how was that for dating myself? It was about a fancy city doctor who was sent to a planet at the edge of nothing for his service year before he could go back to the city and live the fancy life. Pretty simple concept.

But there were aliens, and Typhoid Mary, and red oceans. There was a boy who had shifter sickness, and a prison, and creepy twin girls who aged at different rates. It was crazy and I understand why it might not have been the most popular thing on the planet. And I was pretty sure I was the only person in the world who saw it, but then I found this.

I think it was the world building that really captured me. This planet did not rotate on its axis like earth and as it orbited its white dwarf sun, one side was perpetually light and the other perpetually dark. The light was civil and there was a princess and the technology was on that side. The dark side was unknown and the people were seen as savages and there was a constant war between the light and the dark.

And then, it caught you with a right hook when the spirits of the planet, Lady Light and Lady Dark, appeared to the young doctor to help heal the divide of their people.

Bam. Story. Done.

I loved it. I still love it and have maybe watched the pirated version on YouTube. I still think about the planet and its people, and the main characters arc that is so simple but perfect for the world it was placed in. The characters were like nothing I'd seen before and I wanted to be on that planet exploring with that doctor. Sounds like maybe another doctor that I love now who travels in his big blue box.

So I carry it with me that even simple can be elegant, even with terrible production values. You don't need a lot of bells and whistle to resonate with a story teller decades later.

And if you find it on DVD, let me know.

Until Next month...


Amanda Arista,
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In Defence Of Heroes

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts – to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
– Disraeli, 1804 - 1881

Albus Dumbledore
So said Disraeli, yet looking around the Fantasy ’verse these days, one could be forgiven for thinking that sort of notion decidedly out-of-date, if not downright misguided. After all, we’re too savvy for that sort of thinking these days, right? We heart the Age of Grimdark where the wise guide, like Dumbledore in Harry Potter, may turn out to have feet of clay – and anti-heroes, if not outright villains, are preferred protagonists.

John Sheridan
“But ‘realism,’” you may say. “And besides, protagonists from the dark side are so much more interesting.” At which point I reply, “Hold on, is that really true?” Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, Aerin in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, John Sheridan in the TV series Babylon-5, John Aversin in Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane, Pyanfar Chanur in CJ Cherryh's Chanur series – I'm not game to call any of them "uninteresting."

Pyanfar Chanur
All these characters have the opportunity to do what is expedient, but instead choose to pursue a course based on notions of duty, service, and higher good, rather than personal convenience or gain. They keep their eyes on a larger horizon, rather than focusing on the dirt at their feet, or the fact that – being human, or its alien equivalent – they will inevitably have tripped up at some point or other.

It’s this "humanity" that makes characters interesting. But it’s undertaking the difficult or outright terrifying task because it’s (oh, dear!) the right thing to do – whether it's John Aversin fighting a dragon he's unlikely to be able to defeat, or Pyanfar Chanur refusing to trade in sentient beings – that makes the protagonist a hero.

Harriet Tubman
As for realism – is that really the whole truth, either? Despite many examples of venal and self-serving human behaviour throughout history, we also have a Jordan Rice who told rescuers to “save his brother first”, a Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda, a Malala Yousafzai and a Harriet Tubman, a Nicholas Winton and an Elizabeth Fry.

So while there is undoubtedly a place for “all sorts and conditions” of protagonists, there still needs to be a place for the hero. Otherwise, in holding up only the dark, self-serving, and even downright evil in fiction’s mirror, we risk nurturing that picture as the only reality. Food for thought, at least.

 Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer 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) was published this year. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we