Friday, March 29, 2013

New girl in the class!

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Greetings, Here Be Magic readers! I'm a new author on this blog, doing my first post in anticipation of the release of Valor of the Healer, my forthcoming Carina Press fantasy novel! Since I'm new, I'm going to keep this relaxed and groovy, talk about my work and myself a little, and hopefully get a chance to exchange comments with some of you! So let's do a bit of Q&A, shall we?

Who are you then?

I'm a girl of a few different names, actually. Angela Highland is the name under which I commercially publish, and it's the name you'll see on my work with Carina. Angela Korra'ti--which is also my actual real-life name--is the name under which I self-pub.

And to complicate matters, I commonly go by the nickname of Anna the Piper, the name I use in a lot of fandom contexts online. I'm Anna to all my friends. Please feel free to call me that, too! 

What do you write?

Valor of the Healer is high fantasy. This is a term that may mean 'sword and sorcery' to many, though I like to think of what I'm doing with Valor more as 'muskets and magic'. This is because the world in which Valor is set, technologically and culturally speaking, is more akin to the late 1700's or early 1800's in real life.

For the benefit of more romance-inclined readers, you could also call Valor 'fantasy with romantic elements'. Which is to say, my emphasis is on the fantasy, but there is a prominent love story as well.

My self-pubbed work is urban fantasy, though again, with romantic elements. If you like your urban fantasy lighter-hearted, with a healthy dose of music, magic, and computer geekery, you might want to check that out too. Three words: "Unseelie Elvis impersonator".

Who are your influences?

I've been told there are echoes of Esther Friesner and Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters in my work. (The latter of course has never been a fantasy novelist, but she was a formative influence on me, when I was growing up!) To this, I'll add that if you like Tanya Huff's work, or if you've perhaps read Doranna Durgin's fantasy novels or Julie Czerneda's SF, you might like my stuff too.

There's Tolkien, of course. I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a girl, and I've happily kept coming back to them even aside from the mighty encouragement of the movies. (I'm re-reading The Hobbit right now!)

Gael Baudino, and in particular her novel Strands of Starlight, impressed me with the full raging force that could be unleashed by healing magic.

But most of all I've got to cite Elfquest, the comic book saga by Wendy and Richard Pini. Elfquest is a critical factor in how I came to write elves in both of my series, and how I went about setting up how magic works in both. 

How about major themes in your work? Are there any?

If there are any major themes to my work, they'd be equality and balance:
  • Of gender. By which I mean, any book of mine is likely to have more than one woman in a position of power, and any book of mine should also pass the Bechdel Test. There will be more than one woman in the cast. And they will talk to each other, and they will talk to each other about more things than just the men. This is not to say though that I won't have men in positions of power, though, because I will. Two of the three viewpoint characters in Valor are male, and several more are in positions of power, on both sides of the conflict that drives the plot. Ditto over in the Free Court of Seattle books. Faerie Blood is exclusively from the POV of my heroine Kendis, but its forthcoming sequel, Bone Walker, gives POV time to several of the men in the plot as well.
  • Of color. Y'all may notice that my heroine Faanshi in Valor is not white. The same can be said of my heroine Kendis in Faerie Blood. There are other characters of color in Valor of the Healer, and as the Free Court of Seattle universe develops, characters of color will be showing up there too.
  • Of body type. I haven't touched on this yet in either Valor or Faerie Blood, but I have a forthcoming novella in which the heroine will be fat. Not plump, not curvy, outright fat. Because I want there to be more stories where a fat girl can prove herself to be an effective fantasy heroine, too.
  • Of religion. I have characters of multiple religious affiliations in both Valor and Faerie Blood. Religious conflict is front and center in the plot of Valor--and one of the challenging goals I'm aiming to accomplish there is to avoid saying that one religion is Right and another is Wrong, even when the adherents of a given religion are doing something Very Clearly Wrong. How to call out the religion doing the Very Wrong Thing, while avoiding portraying the religion itself as inherently Wrong, is going to be a huge challenge faced by Valor's characters.
Long story short, I believe that the world can be a rich and varied place. And while I'm coming at it from the perspective of an American white woman, I'm trying to expand my personal horizons and write about people who aren't automatically Just Like Me.

What else can you share about yourself?

I'm a huge raving fangirl for the folk music of Newfoundland and of Quebec! Anybody who knows I'm a Great Big Sea fangirl will recognize exactly why the male lead in Faerie Blood is a bouzouki player from Newfoundland. ;)

I love languages, and am currently studying French and German--the French in no small part because of my current mad love for Quebecois traditional music. That re-read of The Hobbit I mentioned up above? I'm doing it in three languages at once, just to try to teach myself more French and German!

And I'm a hobbyist musician and newbie session player. I'm learning Quebec tunes on the flute and attend a monthly session in the Seattle area.

While I did once work for a major metropolitan newspaper, and am generally mild-mannered, rumors that I am a superhero are greatly exaggerated. Even if I did once pull the door off a refrigerator.

I am, however, married to a supervillain! And we live with our housemate, two cats, and a helluva lot of computers and musical instruments. We are a mighty house of nerddom.

As we say in Great Big Sea fandom, grab a chair and raise a jar--and come visit me at, if you'd like to see me fangirl in depth about the music I love, about books I'm reading, and about Doctor Who and Castle.

Thank you all for reading! And if there are things that you geek out about, tell me about them in the comments!


  1. Welcome to Here Be Magic, Anna! Looking forward to reading your books. You had me at "Unseelie Elvis impersonator" and sealed the deal because I know you're a Doctor Who and Castle fan too. ;)

    1. @Angela: Hee! Thanks! And hey, if you care to meet Elessir and you wind up liking him in Faerie Blood, Book 2 is on the way--and Bone Walker is WAY more about him. ;D

      (Erk, character fail in Blogger rendering my last name on these comments! Hi welcome to one of the reasons I'm writing as Angela Highland for Carina!)

  2. Beautiful cover. It's so nice to see an elf who isn't white.

    I recently read Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch, whose main character (a British wizard)is black and was annoyed by the cover which seemed to purposefully try to obscure this fact.

    1. @Nicole: Thank you! Once the Carina cover team gave me the final cover, that thing started growing on me a lot. Doesn't quite match up with my original vision of Faanshi--but only in a few nitpicky details. They have several aspects of her nailed, though, and I'm really proud of that!

      I've heard of Aaronovitch's work! Midnight Riot came across my radar a while back, though I have yet to get to it. And yeah, I remember him being an example of failure of cover to adequately reflect characters of color.

      I was really happy with what artist Kiri Moth did with the cover art for Faerie Blood as well. Kendis' appearance is directly inspired by the Sun Folk of Elfquest, the first example of dark-skinned elves I ever came across. I love them to this day.

  3. Hi Angela! It's so interesting to me how purposefully you approach theme. Have you read Bujold's Curse of Chalion? I really liked her use of religion in that book.

    1. Thank you!

      Bujold keeps getting recommended to me and I do in fact have a few of her books on the queue to read. Not that one though, not yet!


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