Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Post: Author Olivia Boler


I’m so happy to be guest blogging on Hanging With Bells. Thank you to Bells for making the time to feature my new novel The Flower Bowl Spell, which introduces readers to one of the best heroines to come out of fiction recently, if I do say so myself, Memphis Zhang. Memphis is a 23-year-old woman who makes her living in ordinary, modern-day San Francisco, California as a dog-walker and part-time journalist. She was raised in a new-agey wiccan coven, and as a child discovered she had “real” powers—she can see things ordinary people can’t, like fairies and animals acting like people. Shealso has psychic powers and can create spells on the fly that make the supernatural happen, from communicating with ghosts to manipulating someone’s thoughts. In The Flower Bowl Spell, Memphis finds herself in danger, naturally, as she tries to abandon her super powers for what she considers a normal life. At the same time, there’s a bit of a love triangle brewing—she lives with her much older boyfriend (he’s all of 39!) yet finds herself attracted to Ty Belmonte, a rising rock star who might not have the best intentions for Memphis or her magick. In honor of Memphis and her awesomeness, I’ve decided to list out my top five favorite fictional heroines of all time. They might just surprise you, but I’ve been reading since I was 6 year old (that’s almost 35 years), and I’ve encountered many a cool female protagonist. So here they are in order of when I first met them:

1. Laura Ingalls from The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Okay, I admit that before I read the books, I watched the TV show, Little House on the Prairie. My two older sisters would rope me into reenacted our favorite episodes, and I was always the little sister, Carrie. Little House in the Big Woods was the first chapter book my dad got me, and I gobbled up Laura’s recollections of her pioneer girlhood. I wanted to wear a bonnet and become a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse at age 15. What a life!

2. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Who doesn’t love Lizzie? She’s the mother of all sassy heroines—intelligent, witty, warm, with those big brown eyes that capture the heart of the tallest, most handsome, and richest guy in town. Sure, she’s not perfect, but Mr. Darcy loves her unconditionally, and so do we.

3. Peggy from Virgins by Caryl Rivers. Readers are like, who from what book by whom? Please: if you like stories that are funny, sexy, and have heart, run out to your nearest used bookstore or library and find this book, published in 1986. I read and reread it as a teenager. I don’t know how it holds up 25 years later, but my memories of it are very fond. Peggy, a Catholic teen growing up in the 1950s, and her best friend, who’s had a calling to become a priest, work their way through the ups and downs of friendship, venal sins, and the true meaning of love.

4. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I love these books. Absolutely love them. The tight plotting, the excellent writing, and especially Katniss, a heroine I’d follow anywhere—into battle, on the hunt—heck, I’d even read about her doing laundry. She’s that cool.

5. Kimberly Chang from Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Kimberly and her mother are recent immigrants to New York from Hong Kong. Speaking little English, the pair must make their way in a world that’s often hostile. By using her brains and working hard, Kim rises above it all, even in what seems like impossible situations working for greedy relatives in a sweat shop or dealing with language barriers and snobbery in her new schools. Kim’s confidence and heroism are truly inspiring.

What about you, dear readers? Who are your favorite fictional heroines? I’m always looking for recommendations for excellent books. Thank you in advance.

Journalist Memphis Zhang isn’t ashamed of her Wiccan upbringing—in fact, she’s proud to be one of a few Chinese American witches in San Francisco, and maybe the world. Unlike the well-meaning but basically powerless Wiccans in her disbanded coven, Memphis can see fairies, read auras, and cast spells that actually work—even though she concocts them with ingredients like Nutella and antiperspirant. Yet after a friend she tries to protect is brutally killed, Memphis, full of guilt, abandons magick to lead a “normal” life. The appearance, however, of her dead friend’s sexy rock star brother—as well as a fairy in a subway tunnel—suggest that magick is not done with her. Reluctantly, Memphis finds herself dragged back into the world of urban magick, trying to stop a power-hungry witch from using the dangerous Flower Bowl Spell and killing the people Memphis loves—and maybe even Memphis herself.
About the author:
Olivia Boler is the author of two novels, YEAR OF THE SMOKE GIRL and THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL. Poet Gary Snyder described SMOKE GIRL as a "dense weave in the cross-cultural multi-racial world of complex, educated hip contemporary coast-to-coast America...It is a fine first novel, rich in paradox and detail." A freelance writer who received her master's degree in creative writing from UC Davis, Boler has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and The Lyon Review, among others. She lives in her native San Francisco.

Find Olivia on the web:

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