I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, A Hundred Years of Solitude on the couch of the maison de passage in Bakel, Senegal a very long time ago. It was my first foray into magical realism and had always defined that genre for me. Magical realism was a story where something trippy and unexplainable was central to the plot. It didn’t have to be magic, just weird. So I didn’t understand why magical realism was often compared to urban fantasy.
When I started writing the Knight Nurses of St. John, I didn’t think of it as magical realism. I thought I was writing urban fantasy. Then I read a piece by Pritha Biswas on why the Harry Potter series fit the magical realism genre definition. He says that magical realism has five elements:
· an element of magic is there
· there is a fantasy world
· the reader may be confused between 2 opposite events
· there are multiple worlds
· there is disruption of space, time, and identity
Jeffrey Weschler, in his book Magical Realism: Defining the Indefinite Art put it even more succinctly: magical realism occupies the space between the real word and the surreal.
As Paul, the narrator in the K-Nurse books would say, “well, shit.”
I thought I was writing an urban fantasy series because one of my inspirations was The Dresden Files. The other influence on K-Nurse is Iona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series. K-Nurse uses Jim Butcher’s idea that magic is happening all the time, but the civilians are unaware. The Kate Daniels books mostly take place in the suburbs or in the country, but the action is rooted in Atlanta. Turns out urban fantasy is supposed to take place in a city.
The K-Nurse series has all the elements on Biswas’s list, and it is “squarely in the space between realism and surrealism” (this is where A Hundred Years of Solitude led me astray –its surrealism), so ipso facto (as Aurora St. Paul would say) it’s magical realism, not urban fantasy.
Any of you who have done any indie publishing or even digital marketing, you will understand what a cataclysm this was. Everything had to be revamped. Thus a new version of my website was born.
The good news is that I won’t be competing with The Dresden Files and Kate Daniels.
The bad news, uh, Harry Potter?