Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews

I recently picked up a copy of the anthology Must Love Hellhounds. It’s a good collection, but I bought it for “Magic Mourns” and that’s the story I read first and like best.

Although set in the Kate Daniels’ universe, it is told by Andrea. This lets us see Kate through someone else’s eyes, but Kate is on the periphery here. The focus is Andrea, her past and her future, particularly her relationship with Raphael. She is vulnerable and she is a survivor–much like Kate–and with a very similar voice, only we’re allowed to see more of her vulnerability and backstory than we are with Kate.

The novella does a good job of deepening our sense of Kate’s world without actually imparting secrets you need to read to understand the next Kate novel, Magic Bleeds, coming in May 2010. But if you’re addicted to this dark world of magic and tech, where compassion has a price, you’ll want to read “Magic Mourns”.

One final point occurred to me as I thought about this review. The Kate universe is violent. If I saw this stuff in a movie I’d be closing my eyes and whimpering, but I read it eagerly. Maybe my imagination is not as vivid as I think it is?

Taos wildflowers

One of my characters in the novel lives in a house surrounded by a wildflower garden. This site made picking the flowers for the garden easy. Lovely flowers, and to me, exotic. Over here in Perth, my wildflowers are things like kangaroo paws, eggs and bacon orchids and sundews.

Pictures on the web are a fantastic resource when trying to visualise foreign settings. Real estate sites are useful for getting a sense of the suburbs in a city. Travel guides usually skip lightly over such details 🙂

Interior Design

One of the fun parts of writing fiction is the inexpensiveness of its interior design. I fit out rooms, houses, whole landscapes with no more expense than imagination, pen and ink.

Of course, the design should reveal an aspect of the character, world or atmosphere of a given scene, but it still leaves me lots of room to play.

Initially I had the London portal opening into a pantry. But really that was pretty inhospitable of the Jekyll family. Now, the portal opens into a large ground floor room with windows overlooking an English garden, window seats built in and comfortable club room furniture scattered around. There is a flagstone floor because I love the word flagstone as well as the sense of permanence such a floor conveys. The fireplace is fitted with a fake gas log and a mirror hangs above the mantel.

McCubbin Exhibition

Writing of art exhibitions in the previous post reminded me. An exhibition of Frederick McCubbin’s work is opening at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. He was like an Australian Impressionist and his work is pleasant, engaging viewing.

If I knew the rules of copyright, I’d copy a painting here to show you. But since I’m unsure, instead here is the link to the exhibition.

I’ll definitely brave the summer heat to see this.

The Economist

I read fast. Spending a lot of money ($10–the price of a cheap paperback book) for a magazine finished in an hour riles me. In the Economist I’ve found my perfect magazine. I can dip into it for days. Read cover to cover (ads included) it gives me a sense of connection to world issues. Even when I don’t agree with its analysis, I feel I can trust its facts (mostly, there have been a couple of stumbles recently–like the impression of US military high-ups meeting an Iranian counterpart). It also gives just enough science news for a non-scientist like me to marvel and go “wow” at what’s around the corner. The book reviews are good, and occasionally I amuse myself reading the reviews of exhibitions and thinking how far away they are for a non-travelling, poor person based in Western Australia.