The Proper #Setting for a #MagicalRealism #Book

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.

Is the #setting for #magicalrealism more difficult 2 #write than building a new world? @alanasiegel thinks so (Click to tweet)

Author @alanasiegel thinks #MagicalRealism #writing needs serious fact-checking. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

Vote author @alanasiegel for #TheLightOfSupremazia #KindleScout campaign here #amwriting (Click to tweet) #YALit


Harry Potter at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony

Either my brain is hardwired to relate everything in life to Harry Potter, or the world of magic is real. I vote for the latter.


Maybe wizards will reveal themselves to the global population like vampires in the True Blood series. A girl can dream.

…or maybe that’s a terrific idea for a new book series.


Anyway, did you pick out these similarities?  Looks like Spain’s Olympians thought the first event was quidditch.

Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony


Or how about the Hogwarts Express?  I bet it was headed for Platform nine and three quarters.



Did you catch the thestrals?  Maybe you didn’t see them because you didn’t witness death.

3 horses


One of these days, you’ll be picking out creatures and costumes from (after)life lessons.  My new book series, coming soon!

Think it’s difficult to get into Harvard? Try Vita Post Mortem Academy, where John F. Kennedy teaches social studies and Albert Einstein gives physics lectures. Of course, there’s no hope getting in if you can’t see ghosts. …not a problem for Juliandra Winklevoss. 

More Than

Our love is more dangerous than Bonnie and Clyde’s.

Our love is more more romantic than Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s.

Our love will last longer than Bella and Edward’s.

Our love is more magical than Remus and Tonks’s.

Our love is more powerful than Lois and Clark’s.

Our love is more passionate than Rhett and Scarlett’s.

clark gable & vivien leigh - gone with the wind 1939

Our love.


Monsters or Heroes?

As Halloween approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about monsters. Ghosts, mummies, and zombies will haunt the streets in a few weeks, scaring children and tricking homeowners for treats, but just like a 9-year old boy in a werewolf costume, is there a little sugar sweet kindness beneath all that blood and gore?

Today’s popular fantasy fiction tells us that sometimes the monsters are the heroes. Perhaps they are actually selfless, innocent victims, fighting their instincts to protect the ones they love. Here’s a few examples.


Lena Duchannes, from the book and movie, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is a Caster (in layman’s terms, a witch). Due to a family curse, she will find out if she is a light or dark Caster on her sixteenth birthday, and there is nothing she can do about it. Of course, before all this happens, she falls in love with a non-Caster.  Serious trouble.

daemon black

Witches are bad, but how about aliens? Daemon Black from the book Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, is the hot, arrogant alien who lives next door. An entire galaxy of enemies want to kill him, and Katy can’t keep her hands off him.


Lastly, I can’t write a blog post about monsters fighting their instincts without including my main squeeze, Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. Vampires were made to love and kill. Very dramatic.

As I write my next book series about a girl who goes to school in a haunted mansion, I struggle with the definition of monster.  Who is the bad guy? Who saves the day? It might be the same person! (Or ghost!) Stayed tuned for more on my Bone-Chilling series.