Is it or Isn’t It Magic Realism and Does it Matter?


Magical realism, unlike the fantastic or the surreal, presumes that the individual requires a bond with the traditions and the faith of the community, that s/he is historically constructed and connected. (P. Gabrielle Foreman. Past on Stories: History and the Magically Real, Morrison and Allende on Call. Magical Realism. Ed. Zamora and Faris, p. 286).

Magical Realism takes the supernatural for granted and spends more of its space exploring the gamut of human reactions (Susan J. Napier. The Magic of Identity: Magic Realism in Modern Japanese Fiction.).

Magic realism (is) a kind of modern fiction in which fabulous and fantastical events are included in a narrative that otherwise maintains the ‘reliable’ tone of objective realistic report. Designating a tendency of the modern novel to reach beyond the confines of realism and draw upon the energies of fable, folk tale, and myth while maintaining a strong contemporary social relevance. The fantastic attributes given to characters in such novels-levitation, flight, telepathy, telekinesis-are among the means that magic realism adopts in order to encompass the often phantasmagoric political realities of the 20th century. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms).

These are but three of hundreds of definitions one can find on Magic Realism, but if we sort through them we find, of course, a basic agreement on the basic tenets: a mixture of the real with (for lack of a better word) the supernatural, “a strong sense of contemporary social relevance,” a sense of indigenous cultures, and the very strong sense of a “taking for granted the supernatural.”

“A bit of history tells us that the term “magical realism was coined around 1924 or 1925 by a German art critic named Franz Roh…” (Alejo Carpentier, The Baroque and the Marvelous Real). Not a surprise that the term should come out of Germany in the 20’s, or that the movement should be rising there, though the literary movement is, of course, associated with Latin America. Latina journalist and social critic Isabel Allende transported the movement further in her feminist writings that protested elitism, racism, and sexism. And what better vehicle than Magic Realism to infuse and uplift her writings of a group mired in social and political powerlessness and suffering domestic brutality?

My question is—how much of the intellectual definition in fact can be transported before the genre is disfigured or transmogrified into something else entirely? Does it matter?

In today’s literary marketplace it seems at times that it is all about the label—though in truth, Magic Realism does not seem to entice anyone to pounce upon the BUY NOW button. Still, a category is a category, or a label is a label, and it would matter to the loyal group of readers.

Is Magic Realism the same as Surreal the same as Metaphysical the same as Paranormal?

Don’t cringe—of course not.

But where exactly does one draw the line?

For example, at last count there were over one million words in the English language—with new ones added and deleted continuously. Language is fluid. Are genres? And if so, how much so? Who decides?

For me, the largest question revolves around taking the supernatural for granted. Currently, I am working on a mystery series, Stone Quest in which the lead character, Luke Stone, is a psychic visionary. He has “fantastic attributes”: he has psychic visions and he has the power of healing; however, not only does he not take these attributes for granted, he fights like hell against them. As the character progresses through the series, he discovers even more “attributes”, which I won’t reveal here (spoiler alert!), and his battle with his “supernatural” self is a decisive part of the plot. I had at one time called the series Magic Realism—but have since stopped. I was for a while referring to it as Paranormal—but in today’s literary parlance paranormal means vampires and witches and things not of this series, so I have removed that moniker as well. I toyed with Metaphysical – but that didn’t seem quite right, so have now settled upon Mystical and so be it. For now.

I believe my choice to no longer designate the Stone Quest series as Magic Realism was the correct one, though, honestly, it saddened me because so many things about Magic Realism and its definition lure me: “Magical realism manages to present a view of life that exudes a sense of energy and vitality in a world that promises not only joy, but a fair share of misery as well. In effect, the reader is rewarded with a perspective on the world that still includes much that has elsewhere been lost. (David K. Danow. The Spirit of Carnival Magical Realism and the Grotesque). And of course, the master, the king, Garcia Marquez said “realism is a kind of premeditated literature that offers too static and exclusive a vision of reality. However good or bad they may be, they are books which finish on the last page. In other words…the magic text is, paradoxically, more realistic than the realistic text.” (Scott Simpkins, Sources of Magic Realism/Supplements to Realism in Contemporary Latin American Literature).

Ultimately, whatever I call it, the readers’ experience is up to me.

Unfortunately, it is also up to me, as an Indie author, to guide my readers to my books. And that is where the labels and where the accuracy of those labels comes into play.

We do owe our audience accuracy—and that means marketing accuracy as well.

Later this summer, I am planning on beginning my very first romance novel, Western Song, a contemporary western romance, adapted from an award-winning screenplay. The story has both Native American and Thai characters, and in the original screenplay, I touched upon both the religion and mythology of both cultures. Lots more room to grow these in the novel form. Lots more room to call upon Magic Realism here without jeopardy of compromising the integrity of the genre, too.


Watch this space…

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop. Twenty blogs are taking part in the hop. Over three days (6th – 8th August) these blogs will be posting about magic realism. Please take the time to click on the link at the top of this post to find out about the other posts and remember that links to the new posts will be added over the three days, so do come back to read more.



Where Do Your Ideas Come From?
Authors are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas from?” It’s a fair question. I have been fascinated with the metaphysical and the unseen universe as far back as I can remember. My favorite authors as a kid were Poe and Asimov, and then, when I got a little older, I started to delve into Jung. I did a lot of research for another book of mine, Ouray’s Peak, which is about the Ute Indians, and their world. Their lives are so connected with the Earth, with nature; they have the ability to hear and see and feel the things that lie beneath, the things for the most part that modern man has lost the proficiency for. I’ve read a good deal of Tom Brown and his Tracker series; he was a great influence. When I moved to California, I worked with Cahuilla Elder, Dr. Katherine Siva Saubel. She told me many things, among them, she told me about whistling for the wind. She lived in a dry desert climate, and when the heat became too much, she knew how to purse her lips together and blow gently to summon a cooling breeze. All of these things came together for me in the creation of the central character in the Stone Quest Series, Luke Stone. Creating Luke was akin to creating an alter ego; like bestowing upon myself those magical powers I could only read about and wish for.
The first book in the series is Desert Chimera. When we first meet Luke, he is only 28 years old, forsaken in the desert in the middle of torrential rains, and assaulted by apocalyptic visions. His mentor of seven years, the Cherokee shaman whom he calls Grandfather has suddenly died, and Luke has been on a desperate cross-country quest that has led him here. We find him praying in agony, but his prayers are answered not by the one he seeks, but by the One he thought he’d escaped seven long years ago, his nemesis, the black magician Armand Jacobi. Now, Luke must face the true horrors of his past. The ensuing battle will either be Luke’s final destruction or his ultimate redemption. During this struggle, Luke will also meet fellow travelers, whose lives will be placed in his hands, one of whom, Consuelo Arroyo, will open his heart.
Desert Chimera actually began as the play Desert Wolf. The play was produced at the Inter Act Theatre Company in North Hollywood. Besides the character of Luke, I had become enamored with the relationship between Luke and his mentor/nemesis Armand Jacobi. Desert Chimera explores this relationship, the relationship, really between good and evil, and between love and hate that dwells at the very center of Luke Stone and Armand Jacobi. The most interesting relationships, the ones we can’t forget or get over, the ones that haunt us for a lifetime, are the ones that are the most complex and not so simply reduced to right or wrong.
In the second book of the series, Gallows Ascending, Luke has left the desert; he has left Armand Jacobi, and has begun a new life at the edge of the sea in New Camen, New Hampshire. His first wife, Consuelo, whom he met in the desert, has died, and Luke meets Dr. Beth Rutledge with whom he falls in love. Accused of the murder of her daughter, stripped of her license to practice medicine, her marriage to prominent politician Adrian Mountzaire in tatters, Beth is haunted nightly by the chilling visions of a woman’s death by hanging, Then, a young boy goes missing, and Adrian Mountzaire turns up dead, lying in the sand right next to his wife. Now, Luke, the tracker, must not only find the missing boy but also the real killer of Mountzaire in order to save his newly beloved wife from the fate that haunts her dreams.
But his own dreams—nightmare hauntings—of Jacobi are never far behind him. Deep into the night, as Beth sleeps restlessly beside him, Luke finds himself allowing his mind to wander, allowing himself to unleash his psychic gifts and to furtively search that parallel universe to see if he can catch a glimpse of the man he served as disciple and almost destroyer.
The third book in the series, Neuri Shape-Shifter, finds Luke and Beth’s marriage reeling as their daughter Bridget Grace at thirteen struggles for autonomy, her psychic abilities as she approaches menses, if anything, to Luke’s chagrin, even greater than his. Adding to the tumult is the case of three missing girls vanished from the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Luke lived as the disciple of Armand Jacobi. Luke’s investigation into the missing girls takes him to the raging Vampire Club scene where ominous signs point irrefutably to Jacobi’s involvement. Then, on the day of Luke’s birthday, BG vanishes, leaving behind only a cryptic note. Gregorian chants hum, Catholic Saints animate, and fairy lanterns glow as Luke Stone is once again drawn into combat against the black magician, chasing his nemesis from New Camen, NH to Alphabet City, NY, to the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan in a battle to save his daughter’s life.
From the power of an idea, to the love of a character, to the force of a relationship, to the appeal of place, it is from these seeds that spring the stories writers tell. But here’s the secret every writer knows: We are but the vessel. Because when we are in tune, when we are in sync, we only transcribe what bubbles up from the stream of unconsciousness; what our characters incessantly whisper to us as we scribble furiously to catch their words before they fade away.
In the end, I’ll never know definitively what power led me ultimately to Luke Stone and through him to Armand Jacobi., and through both of them through the ever-widening creation of the Stone Quest Series. I know it is a place in which I love to dwell. I found myself one late summer’s day, just as golden day was turning to purple twilight, apropos of absolutely nothing, explaining to a friend why I write: “I can create my own world,” I told him. “I can make anything I want happen there. The characters’ lives turn out exactly as I wish them, too.”
Except of course, that was a fallacy: The characters’ lives, if I am in tune—If I am doing it all exactly “write”—turn out exactly the way they dictate they should.

Women’s History Month Remembrance of Ruth Blay

March is Women’s History Month, and this month I would like to remember a very special young woman, someone who perhaps very few people might remember or have even heard of outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a young woman who was brutally and coldly hanged on the 30th of December in 1768 for the crime purportedly of murdering her child, but truthfully was so publicly punished, humiliated, and executed for the unspeakable crime of having sex out-of-wedlock. As per usual in that day, as per usual to this day in so-called “modern” Middle Eastern societies, the man who engaged with Ruth Blay, the father of the child, the other half of this equation, was never even publicly identified; to this day, he remains unknown.

I first discovered the story of Ruth Blay while I was in Portsmouth with my husband actor/director Dave Florek (Prince of Belle Aire, Grace Under Fire, Ghost Busters ll, Audi Ahab Spot, and most recently Grey’s Anatomy among countless other credits) who was  playing Happy in a revival of Death of a Salesman starring Dan Frazier (Kojak) over 25 years ago. I was dumbfounded by what I read and knew it was something I would have to write about. Consequently, I wrote the play Act of Grace which was a contemporary metaphysical/mystery/suspense interwoven with the historical story of Ruth Blay. Act of Grace ,because of its inclusion of two elder characters the Shirley sisters Amalthea and Druscylla, was chosen to participate in the Professional Older Women’s Theatre festival at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre in New York City.

Subsequently, I adapted Act of Grace to a screenplay. Interesting note: the play was an all-female cast; I wrote the screenplay accordingly. Pitching the screenplay, I was told an all-female screenplay, Thelma and Louise not-with-standing, would never sell. I needed to write in a “love interest” for my lead Beth Rutledge. I adapted. The screenplay went on to win several awards including the Women in Film and Video Screenwriting Competition.

Was it a better vehicle now that it contained a “love interest” for Beth Rutledge? It was different. Did I like it as much as the all-female version? Short answer– yes. Would I have liked to have written the modern American film version of the House of Bernarda Alba? Do you really need to ask that? Here is my question– Why is it that we can have X to the nth degree of all-male movies, perhaps with the one you-know-what female, yet we still cannot promote, encourage, make a film with an all-female cast?

Act of Grace had a huge fan in Cynde Harmon of Really Real films in Vancouver, but Canadian Development is tricky, and they couldn’t get the development money. The film was never made.

Recently, I adapted Act of Grace to the novel Gallows Ascending.

Applying some of the critique from the Women in Film and Video Award, I expanded the role of the love interest. I also changed his name and his identity from the rather flat character I had written in the film ( the source of the critique I had received) reviving it to the rounder, much more interesting lead character Luke Stone. Thus, I was able to incorporate GALLOWS ASCENDING into the Stone Quest series, incorporating as well the story of Ruth Blay.

Gallows Ascending will be offered as a Kindle free book this Sunday March 24th and Monday, March 25th. I hope the offer will attract many readers to download the book. Amazon prime members can download the Kindle book for free any time. After the free giveaway, the price for Gallows Ascending is only $2.99.

On December 30, 1768 an innocent young woman dressed in white was dragged through the streets of Portsmouth in a horse-drawn cart. Her shrieks filled the air. Some say a rude wooden coffin sat beside her. She was taken to the Old South Cemetery where on a rise facing the sea a gallows had been constructed. She was scheduled to be hanged at noon, but the Sheriff, Sheriff Thomas Packer, was cold and he was hungry, and so he gave the order, and Ruth Blay was marched up the gallows stairs two hours before her time. And even as the noose was placed around her neck, a messenger from Governor Wentworth’s office was riding to the cemetery with a reprieve. But the messenger could not make it through the throngs that had gathered to watch the public spectacle. And so Ruth Blay flew screaming to her fate.

In memory of Ruth Blay– rest in peace, my sister.

You can find out more about Leigh and her work @ and @ her Amazon Authors Central page:; or follow her @ twitter/leighpod52 and on FB @ FB/leighpod


My Kindle Select Novel Desert Chimera introduces psychic tracker and visionary Luke Stone; the book also explores the same relationship as the Oscar nominated film The Master.

The book will be offered throughout the day for three consecutive days beginning Sunday, February 17th, and continuing on Monday, February 18th, and all day on Tuesday, February 19th.

Desert Chimera was first envisioned as the play Desert Wolf, and presented at the Interact Theatre Company, directed by Dave Florek, and starring Dave Florek in the role of Luke Stone with Greg White as Armand Jacobi, Tina Carlisi as Mack Starr, Ivonne Coll as Consuelo Arroyo (later replaced by Denise Blasor due to Ivonne’s demanding schedule), Bette Rae as Eppie Falco, and Jeris Pondexter as Leo.

After a very successful performance at the Interact, I decided to adapt the play to a novel to delve more deeply into the tantalizing relationship between Luke and his nemesis the black magician Armand Jacobi, the man who picked him up off the streets of New York City as an urchin run-a-way, healed him, and tutored him in the occult arts.

Desert Chimera explores the master/student relationship as does the Oscar nominated film The Master that stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the teacher and Joaquin Phoenix as his student.

When I first began developing the material, ironically, I read biographies of Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard who many say the Hoffman character is based upon. I also read biographies of Church of Satan leader Anton LeVay. Both of these larger-than-life figures inform the character of Armand Jacobi.

As the student develops, though, especially a student of strong will and talent, the only type of student worthy of devoting so much time and energy, the relationship between master/student warps and bends. Who has dominion? Eventually, who possesses ultimate control?

Desert Chimera also delves into Luke’s paranormal universe, his psychic visions, and his power of healing, as well as his budding romance with one of the fellow travelers he finds at Eppie Falco’s Desert Inn and Cafe: the beautiful Consuelo Arroyo. To exert his will and power over Luke, Armand holds the travelers hostage in the Desert Inn.

Throughout the book, throughout his journey both in the physical and on the metaphysical plane, Luke struggles with the concept of good versus evil, and perhaps with the even larger question: why should he choose good?

Not unlike the question ordinary people face every day, but on a rather magnificent scale. Luke struggles in the heart of Death Valley as torrential rain strikes, and as Armand Jacobi holds the fate of fellow travelers and his newly beloved in his twisted hands. As the battle builds between the rivals, Luke is confronted with the full horrors of his past, horrors he’d thought he’d escaped from seven long years before.

But, Luke learns. no one can run from his past.

No matter how far or how fast you run, your past will always be there– whether it be just around the corner up ahead, at the tip of the next rocky mountain peak, or in a cafe in the heart of Death Valley– to meet yOU.

Please visit my web site for more information: ;

And be sure to isit my Amazon page:

You can read the entire press release @: