A rant about A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

I read the YA fantasy novel A Song Below Water by Black author Bethany C. Morrow. It’s a powerful book, but the oppression it portrays might not make it the best escapist read right now.

As part of my recent mission to read a string of books by Black authors, I read A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. Sebastian and Rain had strong opinions about it. I’ll let them explain.

In case you missed it, last week I wrote about A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. I’m thinking of renaming my WIP so it has “song” in the title.

Rain: I get to start this time! This book was such a weird mix. It’s set in the real world, which I don’t approve of, but it had all these mysterious magical elements that I loved so much. There’s only one gargoyle in Portland, and it lives on the roof of the main characters’ house. Sirens are real–they’re always Black women–but they look like people and live like anyone else, and there are magical elokos who also look like people and are universally adored, sprites whose pranks occasionally go too far–

Sebastian: I got it. You liked the magic stuff.

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Not a review of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Sebastian and Rain bicker about what they did and didn’t like in A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, a fantasy novel by a black author that was inspired by West African folklore.

A week ago I shared a list of books by black authors that had jumped to the top of my TBR pile. Ten minutes ago I finished the first, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown.

In a moment I’ll hand over to Sebastian and Rain to chat about it. In case you haven’t met them, Rain is my reader half and Sebastian is my writer half. I should warn you Sebastian is a bit of a prat, but I hope you don’t hold that against him.

The advantage of setting Sebastian and Rain loose rather than trying to write a review is that this way I don’t have to decide what I think about the book.

Genius, right?

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Older women in fantasy novels

I’m planning a sequel to my current fantasy novel, and its going to have a more diverse cast. Older women will definitely feature. Here are some of the things I’m thinking and worrying about.

You might think from the title of this post that I’m about to take you on an intellectual exploration of the roles and representation of older women in the fantasy genre. Or you might know me and expect nothing of the sort.

I don’t study literature, but I read, look, and think, and occasionally I have enough thoughts about a topic that I want to share them.

Or I realise it’s 5:30pm and I’m supposed to write a blog post tonight, and I have no idea what I’m going to write about.

Let’s agree I have no good reason to write about this topic, but that I’m going to do it anyway.

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Dragons from Micah with love**

Micah Chaim Thomas (Writer. Artist. Difficult to explain.) honoured me with some dragon art loosely inspired by my fantasy novel in progress.

** Yes, I added the “love” part, but giving a person a dragon is a form of love, so I don’t apologise.

The talented and enigmatic Micah Chaim Thomas (@micah_chaim on Twitter) recently deemed me worthy of receiving dragons from him. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to deserve this honour (since I don’t have a dog).

The first challenge was to explain the dragons in my book without having to share my first draft prose. (Yes, I know I’m on the tenth draft, but I rewrote so much that most of the scenes aren’t.)

Big, scaly, wings, claws. They’re not evil, but they’re not fond of humans. And they have oppressive minds. You meet a dragon and you want to worship it.

Somewhere in the middle of explaining I got an effusive “yes!”.

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Lessons from my trunk novels

I’ve written trunk novels that should be kept from the world for its own good. Doesn’t mean I can’t read them, laugh, and maybe learn something.

I expect most people who write long enough end up with a collection of novels (or pieces of novels) that will never see the light of day. I have.

I love my trunk novels. I love how cringeworthy the earlier ones are, full of purple prose, plotless plots, nonsensical worlds, and blatant plagiarism from my favourite authors.

I love the progression of goals: save the village, save the kingdom, save the world. Because what else could the goals possibly be?

And there are so many Mary Sues.

Golden Horse Summer

It’s a fantasy novel so there has to be a magic sword. I know! I’ll have them find one lying by the side of the road, because that makes sense. And the sword’s purple. Come to think of it, the main character’s eyes are purple too.

Purple is the best colour.

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