Archives for posts with tag: Lisa Mason Fantasy and Science Fiction Author on Facebook

No, urban development in Los Angeles moved on after the war years. The Garden of A—a fell into disrepair and was leveled in the 1960s. A strip mall and parking lot were built over the grave of the beautiful historic Mediterranean apartment complex.

Joni Mitchell’s delightful ditty, Big Yellow Taxi, is about the demise of the Garden. The song goes, “Don’t it always seem to go; you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved Paradise, put up a parking lot.”

I never knew that, did you? I read about the connection recently in an article in The Hollywood Reporter. I’ve received that trade journal for free ever since I sold my Omni story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” to Universal Studios. I don’t know who comp’ed me! It’s pretty funny. Every year I receive an email from THR begging me to renew my free subscription!

The Garden of Abracadabra was built in Berkeley in 1850 during the California Gold Rush. This beautiful Mediterranean building won’t be demolished any time soon!

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Yes, partially, and also on an historic apartment complex in Hollywood in the 1940s.

What on earth was that? It went by what was considered a whimsical name, The Garden of A—. It was a Mediterranean apartment complex with bungalows and a pool. Sheilah Graham wrote a memoir with the same name about the place, which was inhabited by many famous actors of the 1940s, like Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, and Greta Garbo, usually before they attained their fame, and also by the New Yorker crowd of writers, like Dorothy Parker, John O’Hara, and Robert Benchley, who came to Hollywood to write screenplays. Sheilah and her lover, F. Scott Fitzgerald, also spent a great deal of time there.

I loved the idea of an apartment building inhabited not by famous actors and writers, but by all sorts of supernatural people and entities!

As you would expect with a crowd of professional exhibitionists living in close quarters, the denizens of the Hollywood Garden were infamous for their shenanigans. Several scenes from Marx brothers’ movies were based on incidents that took place there: people hiding in closets, people charging through doors into someone’s bedroom. Various scenes in “A Day At the Races” or “Horse Feathers” were inspired by life at the wild and crazy Garden.

So, too, the Garden of Abracadabra is “the biggest, coolest party place in Berkeley.” I take the reader to several of the parties that supernatural entities throw!

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

11.22.15.LISA.MASON.FANDSFNOV.DEC.2015

– Tell us a bit about “Tomorrow is a Lovely Day.”
Imagine a person from five hundred years ago observing how we live today. Indoor plumbing and air conditioning. Electricity and light bulbs. Radio and television. Cars and jets. Antibiotics and advanced surgery. Computers and home printers. Smart phones! The Internet!
I’m perhaps still best known for my two time travel novels, Summer of Love, a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist, and The Gilded Age, a New York Times Notable Book. In those books, I was determined to prove that in the far future, five hundred years from now, time travel and faster-than-light technology will be as feasible as the Internet.
The science of faster-than-light communication is speculative, true, but science nonetheless. For my two novels, I researched time travel and faster-than-light; a bit of that research has carried over into “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day.” I consulted Paul J. Nahin’s highly regarded Time Machines published by the American Institute of Physics, John W. Macvey’s Time Travel published by Scarborough House, and Martin Gardner’s Time Travel published by W. H. Freeman.
One of the many paradoxes of FTL communication is that a faster-than-light answer sent to the past from the future about the future arrives before the questioner in the past poses the question. L.S. Schulman published technical papers about this theoretical phenomenon—“Correlating Arrows of Time” and “Tachyon Paradoxes”—in the American Journal of Physics in the 1970s, which are reprised in Nahin’s book.
I thought there was enough dramatic potential in that one paradox alone for an intriguing story.

– What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?
Not faster-than-light physics at all, at least not at first.
One night I heard a pundit on a radio talk show discussing the medieval metaphysician Nostradamus and how, by gazing into a mirror or (by some accounts) in a bowl of water, he received communications from the future. He then composed a book of quatrains that purported to be predictions.
Predictions about the far future, not the price of eggs five hundred years ago. The pundit claimed that Nostradamus predicted, among other things, World War I, the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany, World War II, the atomic bomb, and more. The quatrains he (the pundit) read on the radio sounded like implausible long shots to me but I wanted to read them for myself.
My husband, Tom Robinson, is a serious book collector going way back and has a supernatural ability to lay his hands on a specific book among the many thousands in our library. This must be what living with a water douser is like. I don’t even try to find the book. I just say, “Nostradamus,” and within moments Tom is pulling out The Predictions of Nostradamus from some stack.
I spent time with the book and had to conclude that the quatrains are, frankly, gibberish. I didn’t see how any of them accurately described anything in history, at least events that I could recognize.
Then ah-ha! There was the second theme of “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day.”
What are we to make of any kind of prediction? When you listen, you hear predictions about everything under the sun on a daily basis. What the weather will be—well, they’ve got sophisticated satellite pictures and all kinds of scientific analysis, but they still don’t always get reality right. What will the economy do, how will the election turn out. “Authorities” are constantly predicting what the future will be and reality, when it arrives in the Now, can be tricky.

– Was this story personal to you in any way? If so, how?
Oh, I think everyone has their eyes on the future the moment your parents shove you out the door at the age of five to go to school. I know I certainly did. And focusing on the future doesn’t stop once you graduate, oh no. Then you have to get the job, succeed at the job, save up to buy a home, find a suitable mate, maybe have a family, save for retirement. And boom! You’re 70 years old . . . and then you have to think about your future ill health and dying.
There was a movement in the 1960s to Be Here Now. People took up meditation to be mindful of the moment. People dropped out the “rat race” to “live for today.” And they did have a point. Only when you attend to the moment can you perceive what forces are entrapping you, enslaving you. Only then can you take the first steps to free yourself. But first, you have to “wake up.”
Mind you, I realize it’s really important to plan for your future. But it’s also important to savor the moments of life that pass by only too quickly.
But what if a moment, a day, is really crappy? Just about everyone has had a day like that, what seems like the worst day of your life. You get into a fender bender, the boss yells at you, three checks bounce at the bank because you forgot to transfer funds, you burn dinner, and your spouse is in a lousy mood and yells at you, too.
What if that day somehow never ended?
And what if that day included the big, big transitions in life? Being born, giving birth or waiting for a birth, and dying are the most transitional moments of anyone’s life. What if those transitional moments were never consummated?
In “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day,” Benjamin finds himself on that supremely crappy day. He’s understandably focused on his future, on what he hopes to achieve the next day. But he must focus on the moment, even though it’s a crappy moment. He must “wake up.” Only then can he perceive what is trapping him, enslaving him. And only then can he do what he does to free himself and, by the way, free all of space-time.

– Did you have in mind any other examples in the rich tradition of time travel stories while writing “Tomorrow is a Lovely Day,” or did the story come to you organically?
Tomorrow is A Lovely Day” isn’t directly inspired by any other story. It’s definitely “organic,” a product of my own inspiration, the splicing together two different themes, faster-than-light communication and Nostradamus’ medieval predictions.
I like the technique of splicing two disparate themes and finding a common ground. My Omni story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” which sold as the basis for a feature film to Universal Studios, weaves a succinct tale around burn wound healing technology and the purported crash of an alien spaceship at Rosswell, New Mexico.
That said, I’m always up for a good time travel story. A rich tradition, indeed! Or perhaps a broader, if less elegant, term would be “time manipulation” stories.
In the classic tradition of traveling in time in the same geophysical location, there’s of course H.G. Welles’ classic Victorian novel The Time Machine. Of more recent vintage is C. L. Moore’s wonderful novella, “The Vintage Season,” which in 1946 explored time travel as tourism, traveling to a different time and a different geophysical location. Robert Silverberg has often played with time travel tropes and published in 1989 a sequel to Moore’s novella, “In Another Country.” [A peripatetic world traveler, Silverberg often uses tourism or traveling as a trope in his fiction. “Sailing to Byzantium” (not a time manipulation) from 1986 springs to mind.]
Even more intriguing is moving in time within your own life and attempting to alter your own past. That happens in “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day.” My all-time favorite story in this subgenre (and maybe my all-time favorite SF story, period) is Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies—“. The story, so hilarious and fiendishly clever, could have been written yesterday. In fact, Heinlein published it in 1959. Silverberg weighs in with this subgenre, too, with “Needle in a Timestack.”
Finally, another fascinating subgenre within the time manipulation trope is traveling backwards in time within your own life. The classic tale in this subgenre is Fritz Leiber’s “The Man Who Never Grew Young,” published in 1947. F. Scott Fitzgerald tried his hand in “The Strange Case of Benjamin Buttons,” and Martin Amis in Time’s Arrow.
My major problem with these tales is that they’re all told from a man’s point-of-view. I think a woman protagonist would have quite a different take.
I’ve done just that in “Illyria, My Love,” in which a woman and man love each other, the woman a bit jealously so, against a horrific background of constant war on the planet they’ve immigrated to when life on Earth has become untenable. Only as they move backward in time does the reader discover the true nature of their relationship and, at the end, the shocking secret at its core. That story is still looking for a home.

Visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for all my books and stories, interviews and blogs, cute pet pictures, and forthcoming projects. Thank you for your readership!

Looking for something to read over the Thanksgiving holiday? Be intrigued, entertained, provoked, and amused? Try the November-December 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Single copy of the issue: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1511.htm

Abby Teller must learn Real Magic to defend herself against the Horde, gangster-sorcerers who murdered her father when she was a child of eight. It turns out that she’ll use techniques of Real Magic to deal with all of the supernatural people and entities at the Garden of Abracadabra.

She applies to and is accepted by the Berkeley College of Magical Arts and Crafts.

In Volume 1, she learns the First and Second Fundamentals of Real Magic. As research I consulted several volumes in my own library, including Real Magic by R.E.I. Bonewits, Natural Magic by David Carroll, Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall, The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians by Magus Incognito, and The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler among many others.

The First Fundamental of Real Magic is “Knowledge is Power” and, as a corollary, “Know Thyself.” The great philosopher and teacher Pythagoras coined that adage 2,500 years ago, but it still rings true today, especially in this age of media up to your eyeballs.

“Know Thyself.” Think for yourself. Investigate and research issues, then exercise your own judgment and will. Only then may you practice Real Magic in the real world.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Yet how many people allow themselves to be whipsawed by the media? Not to mention by other people?

Abby Teller applies the First Fundamental of Real Magic to come to grips with her feelings about her mother’s wasting illness and recent death. Her grief and guilt seriously compromise her ability to master her power.

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

I had a high-concept setting and a heroine, but I didn’t think that was enough. I didn’t want a fantasy knock-off of an old TV situation comedy, “One Day at a Time,” with witches.

I wanted more plot, more tension, more to the heroine.

I don’t like slacker characters. Abby Teller is a vital, lively, witty woman and she needed an excellent reason for signing on for a mundane job like that.

Well, of course! She’s going back to college to learn Real Magic. She needs a job with flexible hours and a lot of independence. And she must learn to master her power to save her life.

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Yes! Like every author on the verge of a special, big new project, I well remember that transcendent moment of first inspiration for The Garden of Abracadabra.

Often inspiration springs from something quotidian, mundane. You’re in the shower. Or shopping for groceries. Or going out for a jog.

Or, in this instance, searching for a parking place in Berkeley.

Berkeley is a small historic university town across the Bay from San Francisco, and the town is so crowded now, searching for a parking place on the street is something of a quixotic quest.

As Tom and I cruised through unfamiliar neighborhoods looking for that elusive space, we passed by a spectacular 1920s Mediterranean apartment building and were both instantly struck by its beauty. But more than that, the place had a powerful vibe or atmosphere. It was downright spooky!

The idea sprang instantly to my mind: what if you were the superintendent of a building like that and discovered that every one of your tenants was some stripe of supernatural being and every apartment was a portal to a fantasy world? To a fairyland or a hell?

I knew I had my book!

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

This just in! An “excellent” verdict for my story “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day” in the November-December 2015 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction! Check it out at  http://sfbookreview.blogspot.com/2015/11/novdec-2015-fantasy-and-science-fiction.html

Yes, indeed! The book, the first of a trilogy, possibly a series, is squarely within the subgenre of Urban Fantasy. I love this subgenre, which falls within Fantasy and first became recognized about ten years ago.

What is Urban Fantasy? It’s that rich blend of fantasy tropes (magic and magicians, witches, wizards, vampires, shapeshifters, demons) in a contemporary setting, often an urban area (as opposed to the rural, medieval settings of high fantasy), and mystery tropes (detective work, murder and crime, police procedural), spiced up with dicey romance, troublesome relationship issues, and wit and whimsy interspersed with the murder and mayhem.

Books I adored when I first began to read as a child have shaped my love of Urban Fantasy. Supernatural people in a real-world setting and wise articulate animals in all four volumes of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins (such beautiful and humorous writing, a true sense of wonder, and wonderful pen-and-ink illustrations). Myths and Enchantment Tales adapted by Margaret Evans Price and illustrated by Evelyn Urbanowich (illustrated Greek and Roman myths). Then there was the Giant Golden Book of Dogs, Cats, and Horses (61 short illustrated stories, a Newberry Award winner). Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books (my edition has dazzling pastel illustrations). Who could have missed Charlotte’s Web (a rare book dealer in New York is selling the edition I own for $3,000! I wouldn’t part with mine). I took all of these books (lovingly wrapped in plastic) with me to college in Ann Arbor and lugged them all the way to California where they sit on my bookshelf to this day.

Is there one or more talking magical animals in The Garden of Abracadabra? Read the book and find out!

5.19.15.TGOA.CVR.TINY

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

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