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The Legacy of Androva Series

Even though I'm making great progress on the first book in a new series, I couldn't help writing a little bit more content for the Legacy of Androva in today's blog post 😊. This is a letter of sorts, discovered by Cal a few months after the end of Breaking Magic. It was tucked behind a box on the far wall of a certain underground chamber.

Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoy this small piece of extra character development!

Once upon a time, we were friends. He trusted me. I’m not ashamed to say I exploited it whenever I could. I knew that, for him, the friendship was real. For me, it was only ever a means to an end. He thought the best of me. There were days I even believed him—that such a version of me existed. He made me want to be that person, someone capable of being content, even happy. Someone who could forget the inequality of birth that separated us and count my blessings instead of my resentments. I hated him for exposing my weakness. But most days I pitied him. It made me feel strong. No matter the privilege granted to him, the magical power, and the easy popularity… he was oblivious to the enemy at his side.

I might have lived my whole life that way. I dare say I would have made the best of it. Even a hidden enemy can achieve a great deal and I’d had years to refine my skills. Until one day a greater threat came to our world, and with it the opportunity of a lifetime. Many lifetimes. My life, and his life, bound together by something other than friendship.

Almost a year passed before I recognised the chance for what it was. At first, I saw only the threat and I was as desperate as everyone else. We worked together, and we tried to find a solution. It was my good fortune our paths had separated by the time I found a way. Without time on my own to refine my plan he might still have prevailed.

But no. My luck held. And the moment has come. I only have to perform the last part of the spell and this world will become mine forever. There will be no magician left with the strength to stop me once he is… gone. I cannot explain why I am finding it so difficult. His conscious mind has already capitulated. Those ridiculous eyes no longer blaze with a determination to do the right thing, even in the face of death. There is no way back. And I don’t care. I don’t. I hate him. Yet I hesitate. Once I do this, no one will ever think the best of me again.

Varun The Breaker

When I wrote Surviving Magic, the sixth book in the Legacy of Androva series, I did a lot of research in an attempt to make Galen's experience of Ancient Rome as accurate as possible. I mean "accurate" in a broad sense because any available information has been subjected to some kind of interpretation bias, to a lesser or greater degree!

It left me with a few unanswered questions, which I am still wondering about. Although I haven't been able to find any definitive answers, I thought it would be interesting to blog about two of them.

Boudicca's Fate
Boudicca was the Queen of a Celtic tribe in England called the Iceni. She led a rebellion against the invading Roman army, which happened around 60AD. Her problems all began when her husband died. He'd ruled more or less independently of Rome, but on his death, his will was ignored, and his kingdom was seized. Boudicca and her daughters were supposed to have been treated pretty badly (I won't go into the nasty details).

Her uprising was almost successful. Emperor Nero seriously considered removing Roman forces from Britain entirely. Boudicca commanded an army 100,000-strong and she destroyed three major cities: Camulodunum, Londinium and Verulamium, killing 80,000 Romans and Britons in the process. She was supposed to have left no one alive, burning the cities to make sure of it. Archaeologists found a layer of black ash beneath the modern-day Verulamium which validates this report. However, despite being massively outnumbered (perhaps by as many as twenty to one), the Romans won the final battle, due to a combination of superior strategy, weapons, and discipline.

This is the point at which accounts differ. We are reliant on Roman historians for our knowledge of the entire uprising and, of course, victors are not necessarily the most reliable narrators! The two main sources disagree. Boudicca was said to have either killed herself in shame, or died of an illness and been given a lavish burial. Those two outcomes are pretty different, don't you think? I was curious enough about the whole thing to invent a fictional account of Boudicca for book six, with a magical slant to the story.

Art: Ancient Rome versus Medieval
Although I didn't spend too much time describing the surroundings of Pompeii and Rome, I did refer to the colours and frescoes (wall paintings) in both Seeking Magic and Surviving Magic. I looked at examples of what had been excavated from Pompeii's ruins and other art from the same time period and I thought it was pretty impressive.

On the left is a Roman painting and on the right is a Medieval one. As far as I can tell from my research, there are approximately 1,000 years separating the two. From century to century, in more recent times, art has tended to become more sophisticated. Not in this case, however. And, in my uneducated opinion, the earlier Roman painting is the one that would look better on my wall.

I haven't been able to find out why art changed so much after the fall of the Roman Empire. Was it suppressed? Were the skills simply lost? Some sources say that art stopped being aspirational, because the Romans used their art to show an idealised and beautiful version of the world. Instead, in the so-called Dark Ages, art became quite controlled with strong links to religion.

Have you ever researched a particular time in our history, either for school, writing, or just general interest? Have you been left with any unanswered questions? Thank you for visiting my blog 😊

Today is a public holiday (in the UK) and the sun is actually shining! It feels like a good time for a blog post with some light-hearted writing quotes. Writing isn't always easy. Well... I could replace "always" with "ever," and it might be a truer statement 😉. But it's also a lot of fun. I love my characters and I love figuring out the trouble they'll get themselves into.

Here are seven quotes about writing that make me smile and remind me to enjoy being a writer, even on days when the words are more of a struggle.

"There's that lovely thing for the first month or two of writing a new book: OK, I don't know what that character's going to do, but we'll find out later. After about three or four months you come to that bit where you've got to put some plot in before it's too late, and you have to go back and start inserting plot, and, ooh, I've left out the literature, OK, lets put some in."
-- Terry Pratchett

"It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book."
-- Douglas Adams

"When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1,500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."
-- Neil Gaiman

"Distinguish between mystery and confusion. It is good to keep the reader guessing. It is bad to keep the reader confused."
-- Rick Riordan

"To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head..."
-- Lili St. Crow

"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."
-- Doug Larson

"The funny thing about writing is that whether you're doing well or doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That's actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing."
-- John Green

Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoyed the quotes!

From today and for the next five days, up to and including Sunday 6th May, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Stealing Magic will be FREE and the rest of the books will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find Stealing Magic here:

Amazon UK Stealing Magic

Amazon US Stealing Magic

And the series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

Here's the prologue and first chapter of Connecting Magic 😊. If you've read any of the other books in the series, you know how it goesthe prologue is a short scene from later in the story to hint at the upcoming problem and the first chapter includes catch-up and backstory, just to set the scene. In this book, Darius has the prologue all to himself, which is a first. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the extract!

Darius stood his ground even though fear was stealing the breath from his chest.
I don’t know if I can do this, he thought. But there’s no time to warn the others, and if I don’t try to stop her…
The girl turned to face him, and she smiled slowly.
“I knew you’d come back,” she said.
“Did you?”
“Of course. How could you not, once I’d selected you?”
Darius wished he were someone else. Someone less predictable, who had not put himself exactly where she expected him to be.
I could still try to escape, he thought. Unless she’s expecting that too.
Indecision flickered in his eyes, and the girl laughed.
“I love how you care so much, Darius. Such exquisite self-doubt. It makes you so suggestible, don’t you see?”
She drifted towards him, and the silver mist surrounding her became less translucent. Darius projected his force field in readiness to defend himself. Against what, he wasn’t sure.
“Look at me, Darius.”
His skin prickled. Somehow he knew that looking at her would be a mistake. And yet, he also wanted to do it. Her voice had become irresistible.
“Look. At. Me.”
He looked. Time seemed to slow down, and his breathing relaxed.
“That’s better. Now, I have a job for you.”
“A job?”
“Yes. I want something from your girlfriend. Something I can only take when she’s dead. You’re going to make her death a reality.”
“My girlfriend’s going to die? Because of me?”
Something about that didn’t sound quite right to Darius, but he nodded anyway. The beautiful girl in front of him was the only one who mattered.
“Good,” she said. “You want to make me happy, don’t you?”
He nodded again, this time with enthusiasm.
“I do. Anything you want. Anything.”
Her eyes gleamed.
 1 Jax In Trouble  
“What on Androva did you think you were doing?”
Revus was so angry he could hardly speak. The four underage magicians in front of him wished they could disappear under an Invisibility Spell.
Even Jax was quaking slightly. He was out of practice at this. Pretending indifference to his father’s disapproval was something he hadn’t had to do for a long time.
“Well? Have you nothing to say for yourselves?”
“Um… sorry?” said Penny nervously.
“Was that a question?” asked Revus, looming over her. He had black-and-grey hair, which was combed off his forehead, revealing a scowl of epic proportions. Penny stepped backwards, almost treading on Darius, who put his hand on her arm. She leaned into him, grateful for the implied support.
“If you are unclear about whether an apology is even necessary, I fear your punishment is going to come as something of a shock, young lady.”
“You can’t punish them for my spell,” said Jax, squaring his shoulders. His green eyes narrowed. “And it was my spell.”
“I don’t doubt it. But you were all there. And don’t tell me they didn’t know that spell existed before you projected it. All new spells are to be evaluated by the Council prior to their approval for general use,” he added, quoting the Code.
Jax rolled his eyes, and Revus lost his temper.
“How dare you?” he shouted. “The allowances I make for you—”
“We are sorry,” Shannon interrupted, keeping her voice soft. “It really was an accident. Please let us explain.”
It was unfortunate that a professor had got in the way of Jax’s spell, but hardly life threatening. Shannon didn’t know why Revus was quite so upset. However, she was certain their chances of finding out would improve if she did the talking.
Her large brown eyes were sincere, and Revus tried to calm down. He pushed his force field back, having been half-way to teaching his son some manners with a Containment Spell.
“Very well,” he said, folding his arms. “Explain.”
They were standing in one of the smaller training rooms in the Seminary of Magic on Androva. The blue Protection Spell clinging to the walls glowed brightly because of the summer sun shining through the windows.
Shannon looked at Penny, who shook her head slightly, having no desire to do any of the talking herself. Although Penny was usually the more outgoing of the two girls, she had less experience when it came to Androva and magic.
“We were trying to settle a bet,” Shannon began.
“Gambling is not permitted on Androva,” said Revus, frowning.
“Could have bet he’d say that,” muttered Jax, and Shannon elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
“I mean, we were trying to settle a disagreement,” said Shannon, “about which emotion is the best motivator. Penny wants to improve her performance against Jax in Combat, you see.”
She glanced at her friend again. Though they both attended the Seminary on Androva, the girls were actually from Terra, a different world entirely. Shannon and Penny were Terra’s first magicians in nearly two millennia after the recent dissolution of an ancient treaty. Revus was their nominated guardian on Androva.
Combat was one of the six disciplines taught at the Seminary, the others being Living Magic, Remedies, Physical, History, and Manipulation. Combat did not lend itself very well to Penny’s more creative style of magic, and she was fed up with Jax always being able to beat her.
“I’m determined to prove that finesse is more versatile than force,” said Penny, smiling sweetly at Jax.
“I can use finesse,” he protested truthfully.
“Not in Combat,” she replied, equally truthfully.
“Because it’s a waste of time. Be artistic in Manipulation all you want, but painting pretty colours on a containment band, or anything else for that matter, does not give it strength.”
He gave her a pointed look. “Otherwise you’d be the most powerful underage magician at the Seminary.”
Penny glared back. She loved experimenting with different make-up and hairstyles. Today, the plaits in her naturally curly brown hair were threaded with purple and silver ribbons, and her blue eyes were made up to match.
Jax, like most Androvans, dressed entirely in black. As his hair was black too, it was only his green eyes that provided any colour. The dark clothing ensured visibility of the Sygnus, a silver symbol representing the magician’s bloodline. Magically appearing on every shirt or jacket he or she ever wore, it also acted as a key to unlock more advanced spells.
“At least I’m not afraid to express myself,” Penny said.
“You’ll never beat me. Never.”
“Never is a long time,” said Shannon calmly, pushing her long brown hair back behind her shoulders. “And please shut up.”
“Yes, shut up,” Darius repeated. His blue eyes darkened. “Penny doesn’t need me to stand up for her, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it all the same.”
Revus sighed, and Shannon gave him an apologetic look. Her magical strength was by far the strongest in the group, even stronger than Revus’s. In single Combat, she could beat anyone, including him. Although he trusted her now, there used to be a time when Revus thought her very dangerous.
The longstanding treaty requiring Terra to give up its magicians had been shattered rather spectacularly by Jax the previous spring. Fifteen months later, there were still only three Terrans who had acquired force fields: Shannon, Penny, and Penny’s older brother, Andy. But Shannon had been the first, and her partnership with Jax had changed more than just Revus’s opinion about Terran magic.
The treaty between Androva and Terra had come about to contain an evil Terran magician, Angelus, who was responsible for countless deaths on both worlds. The outcome had been life changing on both sides.
When the terms were originally written, Androva’s strength had lain in the skill of its magicians and in the absolute authority of its Council. Terra’s advantage had been the limitless supply of living magic in its forests.
In order to maximise these strengths and safeguard the future, sacrifices had to be made. The treaty had required underage magicians from Androva, like Jax and Darius, to travel to Terra in secret. They harvested its living magic to replenish the magical cage in which Angelus was imprisoned.
Older Androvan magicians had their force fields restricted at the coming of age ceremony, making them unable to harvest magic and preventing any single magician from ever becoming as powerful and dangerous as Angelus had become.
The years passed. Androva gradually became a world dominated by rules and fear, while Terra, as intended, forgot all about magic and that it had ever had any magicians of its own.
Jax, too young at fourteen to know about the treaty (and too stubborn to acknowledge there might be a serious purpose behind the rules he hated so much), opened a portal from his world to Terra in daylight. He deliberately allowed Shannon to see him.
In actual fact, he didn’t allow her to see him. It was more that he lit up her garden with so much living magic it was impossible for her not to notice.
Jax’s wrongdoing should have been a minor problem for the Androvan Council, easily corrected by the usual Distraction Spells. But thanks to a hidden spell even older than the treaty itself, Shannon became a magician when she touched the living magic Jax was harvesting.
By the time the Council found out about her, it was too late to repair the treaty. Ten days later, Shannon and Jax found themselves facing Angelus and his infamous Death Spell. It had taken all of their combined magical skill to defeat him.
The intervening year had been rather more eventful than anyone could have predicted. Jax and Shannon had almost been killed by a Terran kidnapper. Then they got stuck in Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius was about to erupt. In between times, Penny and Andy had become magicians as well, and the small group of Terrans who knew about Androva now included Penny’s and Shannon’s parents, and a detective inspector called David Marshall.
Most recently, weeks before, an irresistible and deadly spell had lured Jax and Shannon to the world of Imbera. They had been rescued at the last desperate moment by a combination of Androvan magic, Terran science, and a well-aimed karate kick from Penny’s brother.
After so many adventures together, Jax, Shannon, Darius, and Penny were inseparable. The girls could not imagine their lives without magic, or Jax and Darius. The boys, equally besotted with their Terran girlfriends, were almost as amazed by technology as the girls were by spell projection.
Imbera was now causing problems again, albeit in a less dangerous way than before. Jax had learned some Influencing Spells from an Imberan magician named Callax, and that afternoon Professor Alver had unfortunately got in the way of one of them.
Imberan Influencing Spells generate an emotional response in the recipient that is absolute and, without knowing the Defensive Spells, impossible to resist. Androvan magic, insofar as it relates to emotions, lacks the same degree of precision.
Revus considered what Shannon had said about emotion being a motivator. He gave her a dubious look. “Explain to me why you thought an emotion would improve anything, let alone Penny’s Combat ability.”
Shannon sensed Jax was struggling to keep quiet. He could be quite scathing about his father’s ability to ignore his emotions, a skill Revus had cultivated out of self-preservation when Jax’s mother died.
Although the past year had changed Revus dramatically on this score, Jax still remembered his father being impossibly distant when he was growing up. On the rare occasions they had a disagreement, the old resentments inevitably surfaced.
“Well,” said Shannon, “it has been scientifically proven that enhanced emotions can improve physical performance. Why not magical performance too?”
Revus pressed his lips together at the mention of science. He considered it unnatural. Like Jax and Darius, he owned a Terran mobile phone, but unlike them, he used it reluctantly. He could not trust a device which appeared to perform spells without using magic.
“I find that hard to believe,” he said. “Having to overcome an emotion will usually increase the difficulty of a spell.”
“Are you being deliberately stup… Er… I mean, that’s obviously not what she’s saying…”
Jax trailed off at the incredulous look on his father’s face.
“You’ve chosen this particular moment to accuse me of being stupid? That, in itself, is officially the most stupid thing you’ve done today.”
Darius’s blond head dipped for a second while he suppressed a nervous laugh.
“Sorry,” said Jax hastily. “But we’re not talking about overcoming an emotion. We’re talking about using it.”
“Yes,” continued Shannon, “exactly. For example, would Penny’s attack be stronger if she were feeling hatred for Jax?”
Revus blinked. His mouth twitched.
Penny, encouraged by this, spoke up.
“Maybe something less obvious,” she said, raising her eyebrows at Jax, who grinned. “What if I were finding him hilariously funny? Difficult to imagine, I know, but let’s try.”
Jax’s grin got wider.
“Or,” said Shannon, “it could be emotion for someone else. If Jax were fighting someone Penny loved, would her counter-attack be more powerful then?”
“We all agreed that love would be the best motivator,” added Darius. “But it would be hard to use in practice. I mean, you can’t go around falling in love with random people just so you can win at Combat.”
“Which is when Jax suggested the Influencing Spells,” said Shannon. “They are Imberan,” she went on. “Jax learned them from Cal when he and I last visited.”
“I… er…. I had intended to report them to the Council, obviously,” said Jax. His cheeks turned slightly pink. “I was just waiting for the right time.”
I am on the Council,” said Revus. “We live in the same house. We speak several times a day. What exactly were you waiting for?” His voice took on a sarcastic tone. “The stars to line up in the shape of our Sygnus?”
Jax avoided his father’s gaze.
“And the disagreement?” Revus went on. “How did that arise?”
No one wanted to speak at first.
“Jax… er…. well, he bet Penny that he could make her love him,” said Shannon eventually.
Revus let out a short, incredulous laugh, which broke the tension.
“That’s what led to the spell,” Shannon concluded. “We were in the corridor walking to our next lesson and the argument was getting a bit loud. Professor Alver intervened, and Jax’s force field touched him instead of Penny.”
“I still don’t understand why it’s such a big deal,” added Jax. “I said sorry to him at the time, and I’ll happily say sorry again.”
He shrugged.
“But it was only a Love Spell. It wears off almost as soon as I stop projecting it, and he’s not hurt. I’ve done worse against Professor Livia in a Combat lesson, for Androva’s sake!”
Revus sighed. He remained furious about Jax’s use of unauthorised magic, but it was clear the four underage magicians were telling the truth. Their actions had not been malicious.
“Do you know where Professor Alver went afterwards?” Revus asked.
Jax shook his head.
“To Professor Lenora. To kneel at her feet in front of her entire first-year class and beg her to marry him.”
There was a stunned silence.
Revus sighed again.
“Then he came to see me and he quit his job. Professor Alver is possibly the best professor the Seminary has ever had. But now he says he wants to move to Terra and never see anyone from Androva again.” 

I'm so happy to be able to share the cover for Connecting Magic, the final book in the Legacy of Androva series 😊. It is once again the work of the brilliant Kerry Hynds, who already did such an amazing job on the other books in the series.

Much as I love the characters of Cal and Galen, it was great to return to Jax, Shannon, Darius, and Penny for this final adventure. Can you see the glowing circle between Jax's and Shannon's silhouettes? If you look closely, you'll be able to see the same thing on the first three book covers as well. Connecting Magic explains the reason behind it. There's also a brand-new villain, a lot more character development for Darius, and at least one surprise cameo appearance.

The book description as revealed a few weeks ago is shown again below, along with all the series covers together. I also have a confirmed release date: Monday 7th May. Thank you very much for visiting my blog and I hope you like the new cover!

Ancient magic and a new enemy. Death is coming. 
Shannon, Jax, Darius, and Penny are underage magicians from different worlds. They have defeated the worst of villains and forged a bond that will last for the rest of their lives. But there’s no happy ever after yet. In fact, death might be waiting right around the corner, and they have no idea just how fast the clock is ticking.
Problem one: A magical contract, created when Jax and Shannon first met, has recently been triggered, and its life-threatening consequences appear to be unavoidable.
Problem two: Magic obeys the magician. It has no conscience. No filter for good or evil. And Darius is about to demonstrate that a good magician is more than capable of using evil magic.
With Jax and Shannon distracted by the first problem, Penny may not survive the second. Whatever happens, one of the four will face certain death before the end...

If you're a fan of the Harry Potter books and/or films (both, in my case!) then you've probably heard of the associated studio tour near London. I got some tickets for Christmas last year and this week the big day finally arrived 😊.
Today's blog post contains a few of my favourite photos alongside some trivia about the films.

One of the first things you see, while queueing for the great hall, is the cupboard under the stairsHarry's room for the first eleven years of his life. It's tiny. And the props inside it are convincing in their general unpleasantness. The contrast between Privet Drive and Hogwarts is shocking. Exchanging a suburban cupboard for a Scottish castle would be incredible enough, but of course that same castle is full of magic too!


The great hall was set up with the Goblet of Fire when we visited, complete with Fred's and George's failed attempts to add their names to it by way of an ageing spell 👴. That Gryffindor costume in the bottom left photo was actually worn by Daniel Radcliffe when he was eleven years old. It was just as small as it looks! Walking past the long tables and imagining the scenes they'd been used for was pretty amazing.

The interior sets beyond the great hall were equally fascinating. It was hard not to feel a little sentimental when seeing the dormitory and common room where the main characters spent so much time living, studying, planning, and laughing. The beds were originally made for the first film, which meant that by the later films they were way too small. Shots had to be carefully staged so as not to draw attention to it!

There was so much detail in the professors' rooms. The books in Dumbledore's office were actually British phone books (remember when phone books were a thing?) given distressed-looking covers so they would resemble old magical textbooks. More than eight hundred vials were hand-made for the memory cabinet. And apparently, Professor Umbridge's costumes became progressively pinker the more power she gained.

It was all there: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good included the Weasleys' home (deliberately made with no right angles!), Quidditch, and Diagon Alley. I'd count Umbridge's interminable notices among the bad, along with the Chamber of Secrets, and Malfoy Manor. Finally, for ugly, I'd choose the Black family tapestry, (don't get me wrong, it was beautifully made, the "ugly" is what it represents), the Riddle family gravestone, and Ron's Yule Ball costume (sorry, Ron!).

It wouldn't be Harry Potter without all of the magical creatures who appeared in the films alongside the human characters. On the tour we got to see how each of them was created, from concept art to final animatronic creations. Isn't the painting of Fawkes beautiful? Of course, there were also a lot of real animals in the films. These included four snowy owls to play Hedwig, four Red Persian cats for Crookshanks (made to look messy with clipped on matted hair!), nine Neapolitan Mastiffs for Fang (how many?!), and more than a dozen rats for the part of Scabbers.

I'll finish with a quick trip to platform nine and three quarters, the Hogwarts bridge, (just to prove I was there 😊), and the model of the castle itself. It's on a scale of 1:24, which is bigger than I expected, and was all hand-made for the first film, by no less than eighty-six artists and crewmembers. As for the train, I found out that the iconic Hogwarts Express was in the first shot ever captured for the films and also the last. From 1937 to 1963, it was also a real train, taking passengers up and down Britain until its retirement. I guess if you're going to come out of retirement you might as well do it in style!

I would highly recommend the tour to anyone who wants to know more about how the Harry Potter films were made. There was so much more than I could cover in one blog post and I know I didn't have time to see everything on the day. One of the Warner Brothers team told us the record time spent in one single visit is fourteen hours!

Next week, I'm hoping to reveal the cover for Connecting Magic. Only a month to go until it's released! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today and, if you like Harry Potter, I hope you enjoyed the photos.

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