WRITER CITY: Dellamonica puts the magic in magical realism

A.M. Dellamonica – an Edmonton-bred fantasy writer whose first novel Indigo Springs won the “Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature for the Fantastic” – has a fresh sequel on the shelves called Blue Magic that may be even more fantastic.

Now living in Vancouver with more than 30 short stories to her credit, she tells the story behind her particular brand of “magic” in a recent interview:

Q: OK, you’re in an elevator alone with a big name movie producer for 30 seconds. Give us your pitch.

A: In Indigo Springs, Astrid Letherwood and her two closest friends discover a secret wellspring of magic … and by the time they figure things out, they’ve released it into the wilds of Oregon. In Blue Magic, the secret is out and the whole world has an opinion on what Astrid should do next: use the magic, contain it, or destroy it.

Q: You beat some big name authors like Cory Doctorow and Robert Charles Wilson to win the Sunburst Award; how did that feel?

A: When I saw the other names on the Sunburst Ballot, I thought, “Wow! I’ll have to enjoy it until they pick the winner.” Because, I thought I wasn’t going to win with all those heavy hitters. I was so sure that when the e-mail came, saying I’d won, I had said “It was nice while it lasted” before it sunk in. I was floored.

Q: Your books fall under the genre called “Urban Fantasy” – could you explain it?

A: Urban fantasy generally means anything set in the here and now – the so-called real world – but with magical situations and characters. My first two books are sometimes called eco-fantasy, because the magic in them has been altered from its original state into something more like an ecological contaminant. The concerns are less about staking vampires and more about what happens if the water supply gets tainted with magic.

Q: You explore political and social themes, too – like how the government first says magic is evil but then starts using it for their own purpose.

A: I absolutely believe that if magic did bust out into our world tomorrow, corporations and governments would absolutely get into a big scramble to monopolize it, and if ordinary voters got in the way, there’d be no end of the machinations to disenfranchise us. People like power. Power, by its nature, isn’t power if everyone has the same amount. Having the US government tell people “magic is bad” on the one hand while using it freely on the other just doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.

Q: Another thing that makes Blue Magic (and Indigo Springs) stand out from the average fantasy novel is that you have a number of LGBT characters.

A: Yes, there are lots of bent and especially transgendered characters. Actually, one of the nicest bits of feedback I’ve gotten on Blue Magic so far was a tweet from someone saying “There’s all these queer characters and it’s no big deal!” The people in my novels are meant to be something of a reflection of the world I’m fortunate enough to live in – because of the community I’ve chosen and the circles in which I travel, there are lots of LGBT people all mixed in with the straighter folk. There are also aging hippies and soldiers, lawyers, old army medics, radio broadcasters, coal miners, judges, activists and cafeteria cooks. I want to live in a world where this is no big deal. The way you make that happen, as an artist, is to create it so people can visit and, hopefully, come away enjoying it.