If you could somehow see me typing away at my laptop right now, you’d definitely notice a palpable excitement on my face and perhaps the hint of a smile. This is my first guest post, dear readers! It’s a big deal for me because it’s one of those things you see on really cool, successful blogs. While mine may not be cool or successful by a long shot, I’m delighted to host a published, experienced author on Pages That Rustle today.
Hello readers! My name is H.M. Jones. I’m an author of magical realism, fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction of all sorts and also an avid blogger and poet. I wear many hats. Some of my hats have paper mâché skulls on them. I will not apologize for this. I’ve been invited to this wonderful, bookish blog to share a little of my own writing and to talk about the books I love, the authors that inspire me and keep me writing and reading. I am thrilled to do so.
First things first, as I said above, I write in a multitude of genres. I also read a lot of different genres, but one of my favorite genres to both read and write in is magical realism. My first novel, Monochrome (soon to be re-released as a 3rd edition, yay!), was my first go with magical realism, and I truly can’t get enough of writing in this genre. It’s somewhat fantastical, somewhat realistic, so it appeals to a broader set of reader tastes. In an online interview about my most recent short story for the Magic Unveiled anthology, “Gypsum Jane’s Inkscapes,” I was asked what I think magical realism is. Here’s how I explained it:
“Magical realism must, above all, take part (for some of the time) in a realistic setting with realistic folks. Magical realism begs readers to feel safe, connected, familiar, then it throws them off that familiarity. It asks them: what if life was like this life you know, only there were hints of magic, ghosts, other worlds.
What if this world, underneath, housed those qualities that we think of as magical? It creates an alternate way to view the world we know; adds dimensions and whimsy.”
The publisher for Magic Unveiled, Creative Alchemy, asked me to work with them again (I also wrote for their Masters of Time Sci-fi athology) because they knew, after reading Monochrome, that magical realism was my first love. So I wrote a little story of loss, of real, tangible heart-breaking grief in the real tangible city of Portland. My main character, Justin, lost his mother and is feeling a crisis that so many of us deal with—the crisis of not knowing what lies beyond. In “Gypsum Jane’s Inkscapes” I give one of many possible answers as to what beyond could be. I try to be emotionally appealing, real and uplifting in my writing.
I encourage readers who have not delved into magical realism, to do a little reading. I have a few favorites I’d humbly ask you to consider when picking up your next read. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is set in realistic towns and a realistic time period (historical in nature). The people who occupy her world are mostly just people, excepting a few who have accessed magic. What unfolds is a circus of dreams, a place the reader wishes was real, wants to touch and celebrate. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is very fantastical and folky in nature, but is set in such a believable historic time period alongside hard-working immigrant families. It is whimsical, magical and it is emotionally human. It’s a brilliant book that combines our emotional woes as humans with ideas that are a little out of our world. Hawthorne’s short stories are also a recommended must read. Hawthorne wrote before genres were “important” to retailers, but his shorts are a little horror, a little magical and very realistic. They are set in realistic New England settings, with believable human characters but there are these eerie undercurrents of something other. I believe even the hint of spirits and magic to be magical realism. I also suggest Chocolat by Joanne Harris, for readers who want a little magic, historical realism and, yes, romance. Some might not agree that this book is magical realism, but I think that this is an example like Hawthorne of a book that hints at the magic underneath the everyday. And it’s a sweet one in many ways. Isabel Allende is the master of magical realism. Read anything she wrote. You will thank me.
Of course, you may also want to read Monochrome, my novel, next month when it is re-released. As a person suffering from depression, I wanted to write a book that was a realistic example of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and addiction, but I also wanted to show the magic of memories—how they can heal or break a person, depending on what we choose to remember. Anyone suffering from depression knows that the bad memories take precedence. I asked the question: what if you were allowed to see the good memories you were letting go? I think the resulting book is a very thrilling, heart-rending journey. I also encourage you to check out Magic Unveiled if you are more patient with short stories. You’ll get a taste of how different the genre can be, since several different authors are contributing their stories. Having read the other stories, it was amazing to me how different our interpretations of the genre are, and how we all make them work. I think that goes to show that genre is not black and white. The definitions are loose, and, really, that’s a good thing. It allows for all sorts of tastes and styles to take part.
In the comments, I’d love to hear about what magical realism means to you, and what your favorite magical realism book is. I’m always looking for further inspiration. Happy reading, all.
H.M. Jones is the author of NIEA Finalist and B.R.A.G Medallion honor book Monochrome. She also has a penchant for shorts and is published in Magic Unveiled, Masters of Time, and three other short story anthologies being release in 2016 to 2017. In her spare time, she weaves, drinks tea, bookstore hops and spends time with her family, her chickens and her silly mutt. Visit her at www.hmjones.net.
My ‘Read’ shelf did not have a single book on magical realism until I read this post. I recently finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and was thoroughly enchanted. I will definitely be checking out Monochrome and Magic Unveiled when they come out. What about you?
Special thanks to H. M. Jones for the post, for introducing me to a wonderful genre of books and talking about her literary journey here. I’d like to wish her all the very best in her writing endeavours. 🙂