Friday, February 26, 2016

The Awesomeness of Manga

It's been a while since I've done an 'Awesomeness of . . .' post. Since I work in a bookstore, I thought I'd write about the blooming popularity of manga. So I consulted a few experts and read the recommended ones.

Manga can be as original and moving as graphic novels. The artwork is stunning and lovely. The characters are usually younger, so they fit in with YA--they aren't all schoolgirls with super powers or boys with weird little creatures that have super powers. Most follow the arc of the Hero's Journey, and others are stories of friendship or about finding love.

I've chosen 13 manga I loved to set you on your way:

ALICHINO (Kouyou Shurei) Fantasy. A beautifully illustrated and dark tale about a young man named Tsugiri who is sought by evil, fairy like creatures called alichino.

GODCHILD (Kaori Yuki) Victorian fantasy. A young earl named Cain and his faithful manservant Riff, like Sherlock and Watson, solve dark crimes in 19th century London.

THE TAROT CAFE (Sang-Sun Park) Contemporary Fantasy. Another gorgeously illustrated tale. This one is about an immortal witch named Pamela who reads fortunes for supernatural creatures and learns their stories.

LET DAI (Sooyeon Won) Contemporary Fantasy. A poignant look at love and friendship, good and evil, set in an urban environment.

DESCENDANTS OF DARKNESS (Yoko Matsushita) Contemporary Fantasy. Tsuzuki and Hisoka are partners in the ministry of Hades, making sure the good souls get to where they're supposed to and policing the bad souls.

MODEL (Lee So-Young) Contemporary Fantasy. A young woman, an artist, named Jai is lured into a dangerous triangle between two elegant vampires.

AFTERSCHOOL NIGHTMARE (Setona Mizushiro) Contemporary Fantasy. A surrealistic gender bender about a boy named Mashiro who attends a very strange high school where people who fail tests disappear.

TOKYO BABYLON (CLAMP) Contemporary Fantasy. A young Japanese spiritualist named Subaru Sumeragi and his twin sister and their mentor, (a handsome vet with a dark side) save souls and exorcise ghosts.

ARCANA (So-Young Lee) Fantasy. A sumptuously illustrated fantasy about an orphan girl named Inez who is chosen to be her world's savior.

VAMPIRE KNIGHT (Matsuri Hino) Contemporary Fantasy. Set in a high school for vampires and non-vampiric students, this is the tale of  a love triangle.

ANGEL SANCTUARY (Kaori Yuki) Contemporary Fantasy. Rebellious teen Setsuna learns he is the reincarnation of a rebel angel--and that a worse angel is hunting him.

CANTARELLA (You Higuri) Historical Fantasy. Set during the Renaissance, with supernatural elements, this is a dark fantasy about Cesare Borgia and the young guardsman who befriends him.

SNOW DROP (Choi Kyung-Ah) Contemporary Romance. Son-Na and Hai-Gi's romance is sweet, funny, and seemingly doomed. They are helped/hindered by various interesting friends and enemies.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What I've Learned About Story: The Shadow

The shadow, otherwise known as the subconscious Big Bad within all of us, can be a valuable villain/antagonist, or it can represent internal conflict. In Jungian psychology, the shadow sometimes manifests in dreams as a person. This concept is beautifully illustrated in Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Shadow,' an eerie short story in which a scholar's shadow takes on a magnificent life of its own and is very charming, its sinister motives hidden until it's too late for the protagonist.

INTERNAL: The inner shadow becomes hostile when ignored or misunderstood. The shadow represents all the flaws, neuroses, bad habits, and dark thoughts characters sometimes refuse to acknowledge. Selfishness. Destructive pride. A tendency to procrastinate. Violence. All can be used to add tension when a protagonist has to make important choices. Having a hero make the wrong decision can sometimes cause far more delightful story havoc than having him or her make the smart one. Faults reveal characters to be human and vulnerable. Inner conflict means a hero isn't just fighting a physical enemy, but an emotional one as well.

EXTERNAL: The shadow in this case is embodied by a person, a monster, an organization, even a force of nature. The antagonist could have some connection to the hero, or be a reflection of the protagonist's dark side or weaknesses. Other versions of the shadow are the anima and the animus. The dark anima for the man is female, cold, poisonous, a femme fatale. For the woman, the destructive animus is a seductive embodiment of death or a demonic bridegroom. These inner forces in a main character can be used to create antagonists who reflect the hero, an opposite, someone the hero fears becoming.

The Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is a dangerous fixture of Red's environment and a savage and sly counter to her naivete. Superheroes fight villains who often mirror their darker side, as in Batman--ever grim and sober--and the Joker. The brilliant Sherlock Holmes has his ominous and intelligent reflection, Professor Moriarty. The carefree, eternal Peter Pan has a mirror-opposite in Hook, a grown man who has turned to the dark side. Katniss, the rebellious Girl on Fire, has the evil and icy President Snow.

Being aware of the main character's flaws and faults can help a writer create a complex and conflicted hero. And an antagonist who feeds on those flaws is a fearsome obstacle indeed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Day Giveaway

To celebrate Valentine's Day, I'm giving away one signed copy of the Nettle King ARC, the conclusion to the Night and Nothing series.

I'm also giving away an exclusive handmade Fata journal (1 of 7), a faery necklace, and a heart pen.

All you have to do is answer a question on this blog, Follow me on Twitter, take a look at my Facebook author page, or tweet about the contest! There will be one winner!

This contest is open to US, Canada, and International residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fantastic Fantasy Finds: Godstalk by P.C. Hodgell

Dark of the Moon
Seeker's Mask
To Ride A Rathorn

by P.C. Hodgell

The hero of this dark fantasy series is Jame Talissen, a mysterious young woman from a race called the Kencyr, who arrives in the labyrinthine city of Tai-Tastigon with motivations unknown even to her. She wears gloves because she has claws. She has emerged from the haunted lands, a place devoured by a mysterious evil called Perimal Darkling. The city of Tai-Tastigon itself is a city of a thousand gods, and it is also haunted, and, here, Jame soon becomes involved with some very shady characters--the
Thieves' Guild--which leads to unsettling confrontations with a charismatic monster named Bane, who, it turns out, has connections to her family.

Jame eventually learns that she has a twin brother and that the Kencyr are a race of warrior magicians feared by many. In the sequels, Jame makes her way of the city and we see more of this incredible world of dark magic. There are horrors and tricky friendships and a nightmarish force that stalks her.

I love this series and can't recommend it enough at a time when kick-ass heroines are the vogue. Its heroine is compelling and likable, similar to one of the mythological Tricksters. The world is lush and dark and disturbing. The characters are fascinating.