PLEASE NOTE: The contest portion of the Laura Resneck event is now closed. The winners will be chosen at a later date and contacted via email.
Overdressed zombies, vicious gargoyles, a severed hand… and the night is still young!
Welcome to another day (or night) in the life of Esther Diamond, the struggling actress who is the heroine of Unsympathetic Magic (which is Esther’s third adventure). While pursuing her acting career and also trying to pay her bills (no mean feat in New York City!), Esther often teams up to fight Evil (yes, Evil) with her friend Max, a 350 year old mage, and Nelli, who is Max’s inconveniently large canine familiar. They are sometimes helped and sometimes thwarted in their efforts by Detective Connor Lopez, an NYPD cop who would be Esther’s boyfriend if he weren’t so convinced that she’s dangerously deranged.
The Esther Diamond series combines my early professional experience in the romance genre (I wrote fourteen romance novels under the pseudonym Laura Leone) and my subsequent experience in writing traditional fantasy (such as my epic fantasy trilogy, In Legend Born, The White Dragon, and The Destroyer Goddess). Above all, the Esther Diamond books indulge my love of comedy—a form of fiction which too often gets short shrift in modern society, where angst is perceived as Deeply Important and laughter is typically dismissed as “fluff.”
The ancient Greeks held comedy in high esteem, perceiving it as a greater form of art than tragedy. And I believe it is indeed the highest form of art when a writer shows me the truth of human nature and makes me laugh about it, rather than weep. Feeling too dire to go on is a common problem; while laughter is what makes going on not only possible, but a pleasure. Although I can name many books I found brilliant, moving, and unputdownable, when I think of the books that I regularly re-read, as well as the movies I watch over and over, they’re always the ones that make me laugh.
So, realistically, there wasn’t much chance of me not finding the funny in zombies, spirit possession, and evil curses when Esther Diamond encounters voodoo, sympathetic magic, and a dark sorcerer terrorizing Harlem in Unsympathetic Magic.
At the same time, however, fantasy is about the confrontation between Good and Evil, which is actually pretty serious stuff. Moreover, things like murder, body snatching, and violent assault, all of which occur in Unsympathetic Magic, are dangerous and menacing in any context. Which is fine, because comedy only works (in my opinion) when the stakes are every bit as real, heartfelt, and urgent as they are in drama or tragedy. The tone of the Esther Diamond novels is a happy embrace rather than a despairing sob or angry shove, but Esther nonetheless faces real danger, is genuinely terrified by it, and confronts her fears precisely because so much is at stake—such as the safety of people she cares about and, indeed, the survival of her city.
Fantasy is a great metaphor for the most towering, terrifying, and meaningful things in life; but it’s also really tricky to bring off convincingly, since—unlike, say, serial killers, armed robbers, and war in the Middle East—it’s realistically outside our life experience and always will be. While you’re reading an urban fantasy novel, the author has to make you believe wholeheartedly in magic, zombies, vampires, dark spirits, or demons menacing our contemporary world… even though, when you set aside the book, you (I blithely assume) don’t line your windows with garlic to keep vampires out, or wear an embarrassingly odorous gris-gris pouch around your neck (as Esther is obliged to do in Unsympathetic Magic) to protect yourself from evil sorcery.
So the goal in a fantasy novel is to make you believe with heart-pounding urgency and compelling absorption in the dangers and rewards of things you probably don’t ever expect to encounter in real life (such as a zombie attack on East 121st Street in Manhattan); and the simultaneous goal of an Esther Diamond novel is to explore, while conveying the pain of thwarted love and the terror of confronting Evil, what’s truly funny about our daily (and nightly) attempts to deal with the bizarre challenges of being alive in a crazy world.
I mentioned that this is Esther’s third adventure. The previous one, Doppelgangster, was released in January and is readily available. Due to various events too complicated to go into here (see this page of my website for details: http://sff.net/people/laresnick/About%20Writing/Crazy%20Ideas.htm), I switched publishers after Esther’s first book, Disappearing Nightly, and that book is currently out-of-print and unavailable. There will be an electronic edition of the novel released later this year; and a new print edition will eventually be published—I just don’t have a date for that yet. (Meanwhile, the book is also available second-hand and, to be clear, I have absolutely no objection whatsoever to readers buying my work second-hand when a book is not otherwise available.)
However, precisely because of that publishing glitch, I wrote Doppelgangster with the assumption that it would be many readers’ first introduction to this series. Moreover, since I always just want to enjoy whichever book I pick up in a series, without “having to” hunt down the first volume and read the books in rigidly chronological order, the Esther Diamond novels are all structured (and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be structured) so that a new reader can enjoy and understand what’s going on in any of the books, regardless of which one she picks up first. So even if you’re unfamiliar with this series, go ahead and try Unsympathetic Magic as your first installment; after all, I wrote this book, too, with the expectation that it might indeed be your first exposure to Esther Diamond, her friends, and her nemeses.
Questions for the readers: Are you a fan of comedy, or do you feel it does indeed merit the description “fluff?” What do you think makes comedy good or worth reading? Rather than being a series about one particular kind of magical element, Esther Diamond encounters a different fantasy trope in almost every novel (ex. doppelgängers, supernatural disappearances, vampires, zombies and a voodoo sorcerer, etc.); what are some of your favorite fantasy tropes? What attracts you, in particular, to urban fantasy (or paranormal) novels?
Prize: In keeping with the voodoo theme of Unsympathetic Magic, the contest prize is a pair of “vévé” coffee mugs. A vévé is the symbol of a voodoo spirit or deity. The green mug portrays the vévé of Ogoun, god of fire, war, and masculinity, who makes a cameo appearance in Unsympathetic Magic; the red mug features the vévé of Papa Legba, who guards the crossroads where the physical world intersects with the spirit world.
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Read reviews of her work here.
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Prizes: 2 lucky entrants will each get one Voodoo vévé Mug!
The Contest Entry rules have changed so read them carefully
1. LEAVE YOUR FIRST NAME AND THE INITIAL OF YOUR LAST NAME AND YOUR COUNTRY in your comment/post so we can give you the proper credit for your entries. Mandatory, if you don’t leave this, none of your entries will count. It is NOT mandatory to make a purchase to be entered into the contest.
2. Answer Laura’s questions and ask her some questions please make sure they aren’t duplicates. Good for 10 + entries per question. (Max 3 good towards entries)
3. Order copies of Laura’s new book Unsympathetic Magic by using the links below.
Good for 150 + entries per book you purchase by using the links above. Email your receipt to the prize Goddess here bittenbybooks.contests @ gmail.com (no spaces). Not valid on past purchases.
OR you can use the Barnes & Noble link HERE to make your purchase of ANY kind of merchandise during the contest. You can also use the Amazon link HERE to shop as well. Good for 100 + entries to the contest for EACH item you purchase. Not valid on past purchases.
4. Make an actual blog POST on your BLOG and invite your readers about this event and use this live link to link back to this event: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=30852 and this cover of the book. Come back and tell us where you shared. This REALLY Helps the author spread the word about their new book, so give a hand and help them out by talking about it on your blog!!! + 125 entries
5. Twitter this phrase exactly: PzRT: Laura Resnick Guest Blog/Chat/Contest LIVE NOW: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=30852 #BBBUnsympatheticMagic #books #Voodoo
10+ Entries per tweet (max 5)
6. Attend and participate in M.K. Hobbs’s event here today: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=30847 + 25
7. Other fun stuff to do while you are here today! +5 entries for each of these you do.
Check out the The 21st Day of September and Blog Mania Kindle Winner post and participate in Rachel’s fun event here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=30844
Check out the awesome new Vampire Academy Jewelry Line and pick up your DISCOUNT CODE here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=30605
Attend and comment at the Weekly Book Chat
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8. Tally Your own points total 1 + Entries
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RULES AND LEGAL DISCLAIMERS
The contest ends on 9/23/10 at 11:59 pm Central and the winner will be contacted via email. You will receive your prize directly from the author. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR FIRST AND THE INITIAL OF YOUR LAST NAME AND COUNTRY as well as a valid email where we can contact you. REMEMBER the more things you do, the more entries, the greater the chances of winning. PLEASE ALLOW THIRTY DAYS to receive your prize BEFORE EMAILING US.
1. Please note, the prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be absolutely no substitutions or changes the prize is non-transferable. If you don’t want the prize being offered, please don’t enter the contest. If you ever win an electronic copy of a book, please note that it is ILLEGAL to forward, give away or copy it in anyway once you receive it. Doing so violates copyright. If we find out that it has been done, you will no longer be eligible to win any of our contests.
2. You have FIVE days from the day the we contact you to claim your prize by sending your name/mailing address to me. Failure to contact me will forfeit your prize. BBB can at that time, choose either to re-award the prize to another entrant or not.
3. The prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be no substitutions, trades or changes. No exceptions. Please do not ask. If for some reason you do not wish to claim your prize, please let me know as soon as possible. Bitten by Books has the option to re-award it or not.
4. Contest is open to readers in the USA except where noted above. The prizes are shipped directly from the publisher unless otherwise noted.
5. Bitten by Books is in NO way responsible for the prizes being offered in any of the contests. If for some reason a contributor does not honor their prize, there is nothing we can or will do about it. We are not worried that this will happen, but we want to be very clear that WE are not offering these prizes, the contributor is and it is their responsibility to fulfill their prize obligations.
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7. Contest is void where prohibited.
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