I moved house just before I wrote Stealing Magic, and there is an amazing area of ancient woodland practically on my doorstep. I can see it from my window as I'm typing this. In all other respects I live on an ordinary suburban street. It just happens to have this incredible piece of living history at the end of it!
Ancient woodland is defined as having existed continuously since before the year 1600. Prior to that date, deliberate planting of woodland in the UK was very rare. Most ancient woodland is actually much older - Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood was supposed to live, has been dated back to the Ice Age! Sometimes I distract myself from writer's block by imagining what happened in those woods hundreds of years ago. Here's my top three:
(1) King Henry VIII might have hunted there. He was supposed to have stayed nearby during his summer progress in 1509, and at that time in history most English woodland was under royal ownership. He'd just become king, and was only eighteen years old. He must have felt as if the future were his for the taking. He didn't know he would eventually marry six times and break with the Catholic Church in his desperate quest for male heirs.
(2) It was probably inhabited by wolves. Wolves have been extinct in England for hundreds of years, but once roamed free in the forests.
(3) Poachers could have hidden there, on the run from the law. If they were found to have killed the king's deer, their fate would have been death by hanging - reason enough for the chase to be a desperate one. All thanks to William the Conqueror, who made it illegal in the eleventh century for commoners to hunt in "his" forests. But often the unhappy choice was poaching or death by starvation.
When we first meet Jax and Darius in Stealing Magic, they are magic-takers, according to the terms of a long-ago treaty between their world, Androva, and ours. They open portals in the dead of night to harvest from the endless supplies of living magic in our trees. I am sometimes asked where the idea for living magic came from. I suppose today's blog post is the answer! Thank you for reading!
Which path does my character choose when he doesn't know which one will lead to his death and his conscience won't allow him to stand still?
The sixth book is going to be Galen's story. I've been surprised (in a good way!) by how popular his character has been, considering he's only in one book so far. He lives two thousand years in Jax's and Shannon's past and his life was complicated even before they met him. The current day Androvan Council know him as the Missing Magician, and it's fair to say he chose to disappear for a very good reason.
I'm writing his story, because there is a lot more to Galen's past than I was able to explain in Seeking Magic. But I also felt there were too many unanswered questions about what happened when Jax and Shannon left ancient Pompeii. They told Galen about the terrible history of Androva and Terra. A history that, as far as Galen was concerned, hadn't happened yet.
What does he do with that knowledge? If he tries to change the future, he could end up making things worse. Or he might die in the attempt. His life, and the life of the girl he loves, are not the only ones at risk. Not to mention the impact on Jax and Shannon's future too.
I haven't decided how things will end up yet and I thought sharing where I've got to might help me make my mind up. The problem is that I love all of my characters, and I hate putting them into such horrible situations. But I just don't think Galen would be able to ignore what Jax and Shannon told him. Thank you for reading, and if you have any strong opinions, I'd love to hear them!
Sometimes I will take a chance on a book just because of its cover and title, especially if I already know the author. Most of the time, however, I rely on the blurb. If it grabs my attention, I will probably click the Look Inside and give the first chapter a try.
Actually writing blurbs is something I find difficult. But as a reader, I love coming across a really great blurb when I'm searching for my next book! It needs to introduce me to at least one of the main characters, and make me care about the story without revealing too much. I also like memorable taglines!
Today's post is a list of ten blurb extracts, some old and some new, from Young Adult/Middle Grade stories. Each of them did a brilliant job of making me want to read the book they belong to.
only hope for humanity isn’t human. Partials, by Dan Wells 2.Meet
Skulduggery Pleasant: detective, sorcerer, warrior. Oh yeah. And dead. Skulduggery
Pleasant, by Derek Landy 3.What
if you found yourself recruited to an institute of magic, only to discover you
really couldn't do magic? The Secret of Spellshadow Manor, by Bella
boy. Half God. ALL Hero. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, by
Rick Riordan 5.This
is not the fairytale you remember. But it's one you won't forget. Cinder,
by Marissa Meyer 6.Let
me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may
claim otherwise. The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco 7.When
everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. Open
Minds (Mindjack Series), by Susan Kaye Quinn 8.In
the future, only one rule will matter: Don't. Ever. Peek. Gravity (The Taking), by Melissa
is the story of how I became my sister… Scarlet and Ivy – The Lost Twin, by Sophie
no circumstances are girls EVER to be allowed anywhere near dragons. Shadow
of the Dragon, by Kate O’Hearn
What you do prefer? Do you like blurbs to be short and sweet, or do you like more backstory? Thank you for reading, and I hope I've given you an idea about which book you might want to read next!
Today's post is the second half of my A to Z, with more pictures and info about my characters and the worlds they inhabit.
M is for Manipulation
The fourth of the six disciplines taught at the Seminary. If a spell is used to create something, or to change it, or even to destroy it, then it belongs in Manipulation. Portals, and the spellstations used to generate them, are also included here. The picture shows what Fire and Ice Spells look like.
N is for Night
All magic-taking is supposed to happen at night (are you listening, Jax?). Although, now that I think about it, there is a scene when Jax goes magic-taking at night, but not until Seeking Magic, and his situation at that moment is not a happy one.
O is for Opta
The Opta are in charge on the world of Imbera. They all look a bit like ghosts, because their hair, eyes and skin are a combination of white and silver, with an occasional hint of purple. They're most definitely the bad guys, and the history of how they became so is told in the fifth book, Breaking Magic.
P is for Penny
Shannon's best friend, and Darius's girlfriend, Penny is a Terran who doesn't become a magician until later in the series. She is initially overawed when meeting Jax and Darius, but learns to hold her own later on (and then some!). She loves experimenting with make-up, (or "that Terran face paint" as Jax's father calls it), and has blue eyes and curly brown hair. She is nearly fourteen at the start of the series.
P is also for Physical
The fifth of the six disciplines at the Seminary, and a means of strengthening magical ability and reflexes. The basic Solo Transference spell involves projecting the force field to the very edges of the body, and then using that magical energy to defy gravity. Lessons involve anything from diving off the top of the Seminary building, to complicated obstacle courses.
Q is for Quota
At the start of the Legacy of Androva series, the Harvest Quota is all Androva cares about. Everyone of age knows that if magic-takers do not harvest sufficient quantities of living magic from Terra, the consequences for both worlds could be severe.
R is for Remedies
The last of the six disciplines taught at the Seminary. Remedies administer spells in a way that is both standardised and convenient. They tend to be different colours according to the type of spell used. Portal Remedies are slightly blue, for example.
S is for Shannon
The first Terran magician for nearly two thousand years, Shannon teams up with Jax for more than one life-threatening adventure. Her force field is incredibly powerful, and she also forces Jax to re-evaluate all of his preconceived ideas about the inferiority of Terra! Almost fourteen at the start of the series, she has brown hair and brown eyes.
S is also for Sygnus
See my separate post from October 2016 for more information.
T is for Treaty (and Terra, of course!)
The treaty between Androva and Terra was agreed in order to contain an unspeakably evil magician. Unfortunately, the terms of the treaty were permanently shattered when Jax made a trip to Terra in daylight and allowed Shannon to see him. It's not revealed until Seeking Magic, but there is a particular reason why Jax's rule breaking was so damaging.
U is for Universal
Every underage magician is expected to learn the designated Universal Spells in each discipline, no matter how little or how great their ability might be. Individual Advanced Spells are then assigned by the professors on a case by case basis, to ensure everyone reaches their full potential.
V is for Valentina
Introduced in Controlling Magic, Valentina is seventeen, the same age as Penny's brother Andy. She's from Androva, and helps Penny to pass her year two assessment in Remedies. It's meeting Valentina that gets Andy really interested in Androva and magic, and once he's part of the story, his role becomes vital to Jax and Shannon's survival. Valentina has blue eyes and dark red hair.
W is for Woodland
There is a lot of this on Terra, but hardly any on Androva. It's the source of all the living magic upon which the terms of the treaty are built.
X is for Exta
On the world of Imbera, the Exta serve the Opta. In all ways, until death. When Jax and Shannon are facing the Breaker, the most evil Opta of them all, an Exta named Callax tries to help them, eventually putting his own life at risk to do so. Cal's story is told in Breaking Magic.
Y is for Years of Age
When it comes to Androva's rules of magic, age is pretty important, starting with the activation of the force field (or not, see previous A to Z). Underage magicians attend the Seminary of Magic for five years of training, until they come of age at eighteen.
At the coming of age ceremony, the Finality Spell is applied without exception, fixing the underage magician's ability forever. The Council also allocates a profession and endorses a match with another underage magician, both of which are intended to be for life. Shannon discovers this in Seeking Magic, and she doesn't like it!
Z is for Zero
The number of magicians on Terra at the start of the series, and also the number of scientists on Androva. My characters are gradually starting to change this, but it's going to take a while!
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this week's post!
All books in the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price for the next five days, up to and including Sunday April 30th! You can find the Amazon links on the Published Books page. Stealing Magic, the first book in the series, will be free, and Breaking Magic is now available for pre-order ☺