History and SFF Storytelling: A New Monthly Column

On October 15, 2019, Tor.com published the following post, announcing the launch of  the column I will be writing for them. I am really excited about this column. Not only because it’s about history and the historian’s craft, but because I have been wanting to work with Tor.com for a long time.

Enjoy!

History and SFF Storytelling: A New Monthly Column.

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Welcome to Tor.com’s new column on History and SFF!

My name is Erika Harlitz-Kern, and I will be your guide during the coming months in discussing the ways that history is used in fantasy and science fiction. But don’t worry—I won’t be dissecting your favorite story digging for historical inaccuracies and judging its entertainment value based on what I find… The purpose of this column is to take a look at how authors of SFF novels and novellas—with a focus on more recent works, published after the year 2000—use the tools of the trade of historians to tell their stories.

When any scholar does research, they use a set of discipline-specific tools to make…

Click here to read the post in its entirety.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

I’m on Goodreads

Last year I took the plunge and joined Goodreads. I’ve been searching for a way to keep track of my readings as well as writing short reviews, since I’ve noticed that doing both of these things helps me retain what I read to a higher degree. I’ve tried keeping book journals, writing about books here on The Boomerang, tweeting about books I’ve read, but nothing seemed to work out in the long run.

I joined Goodreads in July last year, and so far, it seems to be working out well. If you’d like to follow me on Goodreads, you can find me there under my full name.

Here’s a sample of the books I’ve read and reviewed on Goodreads. Hopefully it will help you find some new books and authors to read. Either way, I hope you enjoy the reviews.

Nnedi Okorafor, Binti: Home.

Eric Idle, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. A Sortabiography.

Brian McClellan, Promise of Blood.

Aeschylus, Oresteia.

J.Y. Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven.

Eve MacDonald, Hannibal. A Hellenistic Life.

Myke Cole, The Queen of Crows.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

When Your Favorite Fantasy Book Series Comes to an End

On January 18, I published the following post on Book Riot.

When Your Favorite Fantasy Book Series Comes to an End

“When the music’s over
Turn out the light.”
–The Doors

Two of my favorite fantasy book series have come to an end—N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth Trilogy and Myke Cole’s The Reawakening Trilogy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a little bit ironic that that both of these series ended at the same time, because I found Jemisin and Cole at the same time. A year and a half ago, I had reached a point where I felt unchallenged by what I’d been reading lately, so I went searching for new writers to discover. Through a combination of the serendipity that is the daily life of a Book Riot contributor and the chaos that is twitter, two names caught my attention.

N.K. Jemisin and Myke Cole.

A couple of sure-why-not-induced mouse clicks later, and their books were on the way to me in the mail.

The first book—or should I say books—by N.K. Jemisin I ever read was…

If you would like to read the article in its entirety, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Interview for Geek Dad/Geek Mom on Racism and Diversity in Speculative Fiction

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St. Maurice

On April 11, 2017, I was interviewed by the blog Geek Dad/Geek Mom. We talked about racism and diversity in speculative fiction, about the state of the art in historical research, and how to locate trustworthy sources when you do your own historical research when writing speculative fiction.

And of course, I recommended some books. And referenced Stargate SG-1.

You can check out the interview here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

On February 6, 2017, I published the following post on Book Riot.

People of Color in the Middle Ages: A Primer to Promote Diversity in Fantasy

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St. Maurice

A recurring topic of debate within the SFF community is the issue of historical accuracy in medieval fantasy fiction. Claims are repeatedly made that there were no people of color in medieval Europe. Therefore, the argument goes, medieval fantasy fiction with all white, Christian characters is historically accurate. Any inclusion of people of color or other religions is a distortion of history in the name of political correctness.

In actual fact, medieval Europe was a complex society where several different cultures, religions, and linguistic groups coexisted under the umbrella of the omnipresent Catholic Church.

As Jonathan Hsy shows in his book…

If you’d like to read the post in its entirety, please click here.

Quirky History: Fantastical Beasts in Medieval Bestiaries

On November 18, 2016, I published the following post at Quirk Books.

Quirky History: Fantastical Beasts in Medieval Bestiaries

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The fictional universe of J.K. Rowling is filled with fantastical creatures, and no other movie takes better advantage of this than Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them, which opens in theaters today.

When creating her magical world, Rowling is tapping into a literary tradition that goes all the way back to the Middle Ages and the literary genre of the bestiary.

Bestiaries are books of animals, both real and fantastical, accompanied by a description and a Christian parable. Even though bestiaries peaked in popularity in the 13th century, they continue to influence us today. Especially when it comes to fantasy fiction.

If you’d like to read the entire post, please click here.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Writing the Second Draft

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First Draft

On June 7, 2016, I wrote a post here on The Boomerang where I announced that I had finished the first draft of the third version of an adult fantasy novel that I started writing in 2001.

Now I can make a second announcement:

I have finished the second draft of the third version of the adult fantasy novel that I started writing in 2001.

I started revising on June 14.

I worked on the novel six days a week. Some days for only a couple of hours. Other days the whole eight hours. It all depended on the amount of changes that needed to be made as well as my own state of mind on that particular day.

I write in long-hand in a lined Barnes & Noble refill journal, using a Ballograf mechanical pencil and 0.5 HB leads.

I type my long-hand manuscript in a Word document using Courier 12 points double-spaced. This way, my digital copy also becomes yet another opportunity for revisions.

I backup all my files on a physical external hard drive .

The first draft was approximately 131,000 words long.

The second draft is approximately 98,000 words long.

I made no adjustments to the narrative. I only cut out scenes that didn’t drive the story forward.

I added a new beginning to the novel’s second part.

It took me approximately six weeks to finish the second draft. I clicked on Save for the final time on July 29.

So what am I doing right now?

I have started the querying process and I’m trying to master the art of the synopsis.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.