My Favorite Bit: Michael R. Underwood talks about Celebromancy
Michael R. Underwood’s new book, Celebromancy, is ridiculous fun. For full disclosure, I narrated the audio book so I’m biased but, I have to tell you that this was the most fun I’ve had recording a book in a while. I got to make light saber noises. Seriously, y’all. Go buy this book in either ebook or audio.
What’s it about? Here’s the publisher’s description.
Fame has a magic all its own in the no-gossip-barred follow-up to Geekomancy. Ree Reyes gets her big screenwriting break, only to discover just how broken Hollywood actually is.
Things are looking up for urban fantasista Ree Reyes. She’s using her love of pop culture to fight monsters and protect her hometown as a Geekomancer, and now a real-live production company is shooting her television pilot script.
But nothing is easy in show business. When an invisible figure attacks the leading lady of the show, former-child star-turned-current-hot-mess Jane Konrad, Ree begins a school-of-hard-knocks education in the power of Celebromancy.
Attempting to help Jane Geekomancy-style with Jedi mind tricks and X-Men infiltration techniques, Ree learns more about movie magic than she ever intended. She also learns that real life has the craziest plots: not only must she lift a Hollywood-strength curse, but she needs to save her pilot, negotiate a bizarre love rhombus, and fight monsters straight out of the silver screen. All this without anyone getting killed or, worse, banished to the D-List.
So what’s Michael’s Favorite Bit?
MICHAEL R. UNDERWOOD
For the Geekomancy My Favorite Bit, I focused on Drake Winters, steampunk inventor and kind-hearted man out of time.
In Celebromancy, set six months after the end of book one, Hollywood has come to town. Ree has sold a pilot to a production company, and the executive producer is none other than Jane Konrad, a former child actress who has become a major celebrity – partially for her impressive performances, but more recently for her personal implosion.
When I started to design the second novel in the Ree Reyes series, I wanted to explore a whole new style of magic – Celebromancy. Whereas Geekomancy is the magic of fandom, of the personal relationship to a text or character, Celebromancy is the magic of fame – of being adored, despised, of being known. Writing about Celebromancy meant writing about celebrity, about how contemporary culture (especially in the USA) focuses on creating celebrities and fostering incredibly asymmetrical relationships with people you’ve never met.
Social Media has allowed celebrities to create more direct relationship with fans, but the need for immediacy, for all-access coverage to fill blogs and 24 hour news networks has created such an incredible demand for celebrity coverage – it’s almost ritualistic. I don’t follow celebrity gossip, but it’s impossible to not be exposed to it, as it’s become so ubiquitous. We’re always been shown celebrities, reminded of how beautiful or talented they are, or on the flip side, how fickle, traitorous, or scheming they are.
Celebrities are, in some ways, the contemporaries of Greek Gods – lager than life figures who live very distant lives which sometimes impact our own. We collectively devote a huge amount of time and attention to them without ever knowing them as people.
For me, that was more than enough to be the source of a magic system. Celebromancy is about taking that exposure, that attention, and manipulating it. A Celebromancer can turn fan attention into a feedback loop, where some attention becomes more attention, or a passing interest becomes a sustaining passion. Many Celebromancers use their power to turn in better and better performances, which increase their popularity, fortune, and magical power all at once. It’s a feedback loop, in the same way I see modern celebrity as a feedback loop itself.
Jane Konrad, the guest star of the book, is an example of both the power and the danger of Celebromancy.
Michael R. Underwood grew up devouring stories in all forms: movies, comics, TV, video games, and novels. He holds a B.A. in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. in Folklore Studies from the University of Oregon, which have been great preparation for writing speculative fiction. Michael went straight from his M.A. to the Clarion West Writers Workshop and then landed in Bloomington, Indiana, where he remains. When not writing or selling books across the Midwest as an independent book representative, Michael dances Argentine Tango and studies renaissance martial arts. Celebromancy is his second novel from Pocket Star for all eBook platforms.