I may not have won Kindle Scout, but I learned a heck of a lot about blogging and marketing. This blog post is recapping my 30 day campaign:
What is magical realism?
Magical realism takes place in a world like the one we know, but there is one thing that makes it unreal. Perhaps there are lurking vampires, or the main character is cursed, or you can buy magic spells from the store on the corner. The trick with magical realism is the reader has to believe the world really does exist. The master of magical realism herself, JK Rowling, made us all have hope that our letter for Hogwarts would one day come in the mail. We believed wizards existed in our world. (believed in the past tense? Some of us still believe).
A World for Your Book Within the Existing World
Writing magical realism might sound easy since most of the decisions about the world are already decided, but I think its the opposite. Similar to using real people in a fictional story (as I wrote about in my last post), there is a ton of fact-checking that needs to be completed in order to convince your readers the world within our world is real.
Question #1: Where do you build your world?
The proper setting is tough. How many times did you read about Harry taking the Hogwarts Express and wonder where the final location really was? Or read about Percy Jackson heading out to Montauk toward Camp Halfblood and try to picture it in your head?
Vita Post Mortem Academy
When writing my magical realism novel, The Light of Supremazia, my editor and I went back and forth on the school’s location. The world around Vita Post Mortem Academy was exactly like the one we know today, except there needed to be a remote section of the woods, North of San Francisco, where a creepy institution run by spirits was located. We had a discussion about whether redwood trees grew in the area and if it was anywhere near Bodie, a real life ghost town. In the end, we realized that if you couldn’t see spirits, you wouldn’t notice much more than a massive institution surrounded by an endless necropolis.
Can you picture this edifice as your high school?
Vita Post Mortem Academy:
To see more pictures of The Light of Supremazia’s setting, check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page.
Throwback Thursday to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency! More on him a little later.
There is a fine line between real people as fictional characters adding an intriguing aspect to a novel versus causing it to crash and burn. Artistic license needs to be applied with caution so readers do not expect a biography, but instead a fact-checked, interesting twist on the person.
My latest book is about a girl who can see spirits, and the school she attends has a faculty of famous dead people. On the one hand, the spirit version of the celebrity may be totally different than the living version of the person. I could make Abraham Lincoln an outgoing, busybody, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I attempted to write each character in the voice everyone knows, but I then add an exaggeration here and there. [insert coy devil smiley]
John F. Kennedy as a Teacher in Spirit Form
John F. Kennedy is one of the teachers at Vita Post Mortem Academy. In real life, he was quoted on many topics, but I particularly like the way his quotes show his open-mindedness. Whether this is true or not, the Kennedy that teaches American Ghost Stories (a version of social studies) at Vita Post Mortem Academy acts as an insightful role model.
The first time Jules Winklevoss (the main character) meets JFK, he quotes himself, “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”
Later in the novel, he begins class with the following written on the board, “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school. –John F. Kennedy” It’s artistic license, but in the vein of the living person.
The John F. Kennedy in spirit form is charming, well-spoken, gives advice freely, smug, and a bit of a prankster. Close enough? I think so.
I may have put words in his mouth he never would have said, but the details around his death and family were fact-checked down to the weather in Texas on the day he died.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
Art, in all its forms, is an important ingredient to our lives. Since I spend my day buried in finance facts and figures, I use novel writing as an outlet to be creative. It clears my mind of trivial annoyances.
Check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page to see more quotes by John F. Kennedy.
Kindle Scout Campaign Update
Day 1 of the campaign to win a publishing contract at Amazon has been a success. My book, The Light of Supremazia, #1 in the (after)life lessons series, was trending as “hot.”