Blogger header image - Legacy of Androva

The Legacy of Androva Series

Today's blog post is another update on my next book, part of the newly named Light Mage Series, which is turning out to be a lot of fun to write . It's for a slightly older audience than the Legacy of Androva, but there are some common elementsmagic (obviously!), a bit of romance (this time it's m/m), and plenty of life-threatening obstacles. The magic works very differently though, and its backstory is more complicated. I've been world-building in my head whenever I get the chance, which is great because it makes the long commute to my day job seem shorter! This is the second chapter. The first chapter is in the bog post directly before this one.

Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you're having a great summer so far! In the UK, our weather continues to be surprisingly hot and sunny, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts 😎.

2 A Name 
There was a girl with them. I avoided her gaze, but I could feel it appraising me like I was back in the market at the Forum or something.
“What were you doing in there?” said Gabe suspiciously. I decided to brazen it out. They couldn’t exactly report me for standing in an empty classroom.
“Just looking around. Wouldn’t you, if you were me? Tomorrow, everyone will be staring at me because I’m the new guy. I’d rather not be lost as well.”
Devin’s expression was sympathetic, but Gabe wrinkled his nose, pulling his lips into a sneer. “Whatever,” he said. “If you want to waste the last day of summer break snooping around the school, that’s up to you. Dev, Mina, let’s go.”
“Hold on a second,” said the girl. “He’s the one, isn’t he? The one you were arguing about before.”
She took a step closer. Her self-confidence was so potent it was almost like she had a force field around her. I glanced at her quickly. She was wearing a lot of face paint and those surely weren’t her own eyelashes, but she was still very pretty.
I recognized her from when I’d been standing on the corner, watching everyone arrive. She hadn’t been short of company, but I’d been more interested in the reactions her little group had provoked in others. Although some students had stared, as if they wanted to belong, others had been wary. This girl might be admired, but she wasn’t universally liked.
“What’s your name?” she asked. “Come on, don’t be shy.”
I smiled faintly. She was so sure I would answer, so certain of her place in the social hierarchy of this school. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by making connections all over the place, but perhaps I should use her. It could help me to be friends with someone like Mina.
“Come with me to registration and you’ll be the first to find out,” I said with a shrug.
Her expression flickered while she considered this. I deliberately made eye contact and held it for a couple of seconds. “Volo te mecum venire,” I whispered.
“Well, I’m leaving, even if you’re not,” said Gabe. “Mina, I can’t believe you’re giving airtime to this. It’s pathetic.”
She glared at him. “Did you just call me pathetic?”
He swallowed. “No. Him, I said. He’s pathetic.”
“I’ll go with you,” she said, brushing my arm with her fingertips. Thank the gods for sleeves. Her nails were intricately decorated. Everything about this girl was so contrived, but I found it oddly familiar. She was no different from a Roman socialite.
“Me too,” said Devin. He grinned. “It’d better be worth it, though. If your name’s John or James or something, after all this…”
“He doesn’t look like a James,” said Mina. “Too straight.”
“Straight?” Devin sounded… disappointed?
“No,” said Mina. “The name. Not him.” She considered. “He’s hard to read. He could be… anything.”
Gabe stared at me with open dislike. Things seemed to be getting very complicated all of a sudden. There were undercurrents of emotion swirling between the three of them like colored ribbons. Surprisingly, Devin’s were the darkest, not what I’d expected from his easy-going demeanor.
My training kicked in, like an involuntary reaction to the challenge, and I had to walk away before I did something stupid like grab one of the ribbons to untangle it.
I could guess what my name was going to be. I was pretty sure it would be the name I’d used when I’d last had this face. Perhaps it hadn’t been his choice after all. The nature of my crossing was rather unorthodox. This might be like a default spell or something.
When we arrived at the cafeteria, Gabe reluctantly following a few paces behind us, it was almost deserted. There was just one man sitting at the bank of desks, trying to sip from a mug and scroll through his phone at the same time. He was scruffy and earnest looking.
The man lifted his head and set down the mug, spilling some dark-brown liquid onto the desk. He looked straight at me.
“A-ha!” he exclaimed. “You must be our mysterious new student. I was about to pack up for the day. No one in the team will admit to entering your unusual name into the system, and we were starting to think you were a glitch.”
“Go on then, Mr. Mason,” said Devin, folding his arms expectantly. “What is his name?”
“Avitus Sequani,” I said.
There was a short silence. “Avi is fine, though,” I added.
“Well,” said Mr. Mason, “Avi. Welcome to Sherbourne High School.” He bent over the keyboard in front of him and typed something quickly. “We don’t have a photo in your file. Is it OK if I take one now so I can print your ID card?”
“Er… sure,” I replied. I glanced at the others. Mina and Gabe were whispering to each other, but Devin was watching me, his arms still folded and a puzzled look on his face.
“I hope you don’t  mind that I described your name as unusual,” said Mr. Mason, directing me to stand against the cream-colored wall. “I meant no offense.”
“None taken,” I told him. He held up a camera that was connected to his computer by a black cable. Was I supposed to smile?
“It’s just that I studied the classics in college and the Sequani were part of Gaul in the first century BC. Until Julius Caes—”
“I know,” I interrupted. I didn’t need to be reminded of the history, passed down by those who had emerged victorious from the long years of Gallic-Roman conflict. You have no idea. You weren’t there.
“Oh?” he said, not looking at me as he fiddled with the camera settings. “I suppose I’m not the first person to have mentioned it—fascinating example of just how brilliant Roman strategy could be. Do you know any Latin? Do you…?” His voice and enthusiasm faded to nothing as he looked into the lens and saw my face.
I was furious, and, judging by his expression, failing to hide it. The cords in his neck tightened as he swallowed. “Er… that’s it. Keep still.” He pressed a button on the camera and immediately went back to the computer.
Do I know any Latin? Yeah. I grew up learning the language of the people who slaughtered my ancestors. I grew up learning the language of my owners. How about you, Mr. Mason? You probably studied it for fun, right?
Shit. What was wrong with me? I shouldn’t be getting so emotional over ancient history, even if it was my own.
Mr. Mason’s taps on the keyboard had become slightly agitated, in that way the earthbound have of hoping their technology will somehow perform differently if they press harder. “I’m sorry, er… Avi,” he said. “There seems to be a problem with the photo. I might need to take another one.” His expression showed that this was the last thing he wanted to do.
I walked around to look, followed by the others.
“I can help, Mr. Mason. I did a photography project in Art when I was a junior,” offered Mina. “I… What the hell is that?”
We all stared at the screen. Damnit. I did not look remotely earthbound in that photo. “Dispareo,” I whispered, and the image on the screen faded to black.
“Looks like you’ll have to take another one,” I said. “Maybe you used a special effects setting or something.”
“I’ll take it,” said Mina, grabbing the camera from the table. I returned to my former position in front of the wall while she double-checked the settings.
“OK, Avi, give me your best pose,” she said, raising her perfectly drawn eyebrows. At least while the camera lens was between us, I wouldn’t be making direct eye contact with her. It was far too soon to do it again. “Cotidianus,” I muttered as she pressed the button.
The whole eye contact thing was becoming more of a problem than I’d anticipated. I’d forgotten how face-to-face communication depended on it. Although I had a physical covering, my eyes were like a pathway to the light and the magic inside of me. Even if they weren’t permitted to remember what that light was, the earthbound were still inexorably drawn to it.
The card was duly printed and I put it in the back pocket of my jeans. I frowned when I realized there was a phone in the pocket as well, taking it out to have a closer look.
Why do I have a phone?
It immediately chimed with a text. The first few words flashed up on the screen inside a gray box. I fumbled to touch it before it disappeared, my fingers a little clumsy in their new earthbound covering.
First restriction: now you’ve entered the school, you can’t leave it. I am only able to keep their attention turned away from you if you don’t stray far. Welcome to your new home. Have fun, won’t you, Luca?
Him. That’s why I have a phone. I tightened my grip and the phone dug into my palm. I was growing more used to the physical sensations. My connection with this body was obviously increasing. Briefly, I wondered if that were a good thing or a bad thing.
“Guys, I need to pack up now. Unless you’re going to stay and help, you should get going,” said Mr. Mason.
“Oh, I’d love to help, it’s just that I’m expected somewhere else,” replied Mina sweetly. “Sorry, Mr. Mason.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Gabe. He nudged Devin with his elbow, but Devin remained silent. The puzzled look from earlier hadn’t quite disappeared from his face.
“I’ll stay. I’m not expected anywhere,” I added. Well, I’m not expected anywhere in this dimension. Besides, I was stuck in the school, and access to its student records was exactly what I needed.
Mr. Mason fiddled with the cuff of his shirt. “I was, er… kidding, er… Avi,” he said. “The janitor will be back later. You go on now.”
“I could stay a while,” said Devin. “My mom’s not expecting me until this afternoon.”
It was faint, but I didn’t miss Mr. Mason’s sigh of relief. I scared him. I should fix that.
“What?” said Gabe.
Mina pulled on his arm. “Come on, Gabe, let’s go join the others in the park. You owe me ice cream, remember?”
She walked up to Devin to say goodbye and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She put her mouth to his ear and looked straight at me as she spoke her whispered words.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
He gave an embarrassed cough. “Mina,” he said in a low voice.
“You can’t stay here. He’s dangerous,” said Gabe, taking a step forward. I could sense Mr. Mason’s horror as, for a few seconds, he thought Gabe might be talking about him.
“Ga-a-be,” said Mina slowly. “It’s the school cafeteria in the middle of the day, and the most boring teacher in the school is in charge. Nothing’s going to happen.”
She turned and held her hand to her mouth in pretend remorse. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Mr. Mason. I meant the most responsible teacher in the school is in charge.”
He pressed his lips together. I got the impression this wasn’t the first time she’d been openly rude to him. “Thank you, Mina. Are you leaving now, or did you just say that to get my hopes up?”
“We’re leaving.” She dragged Gabe after her. I felt sorry for him. He was only protecting his friend, and what he’d seen had been unpleasant. I would have made him forget it, but the opportunity to take him to one side had simply not presented itself.
And, there was still the niggling problem of his name. It was probably a coincidence, but… Gabe. Gabriel. One of the original seven. The skin on my neck prickled.
No. I won’t spend time worrying about something I can’t control.
Mr. Mason soon had us sweeping the floor, arranging the tables stacked at the side of the room into rows, and putting out the chairs, six to a table. On Monday, they’d be occupied by chattering students eating their lunches, and I might even have found the person I was here for.
It looked like I was going to have to be patient if I wanted the chance to use the computer on my own. My mouth twisted. Patient, I can do. I’ve had a lot of practice.
I glanced up from placing the last chair to see Devin looking at me. “What is it?” I asked. I put my hands on my hips and lowered my chin, pretending to be out of breath so I wouldn’t have to look into his eyes. I wasn’t out of breath. Lifting a few pieces of man-made furniture hardly compared to gladiatorial training.
“This is going to sound crazy, but your name is really familiar,” he said.
“No, it isn’t,” I replied automatically.
“I wasn’t asking you,” he said.
I frowned. “Why would a two-thousand-year-old Latin name be familiar to you?”
“I didn’t say it made sense,” he responded. “I just… I just…” He grimaced before continuing. “This is going to sound even worse, but in my head I can see you wearing, like, a tunic or something…”
 Appearing horrified at his own words, he put his hands over his face. “Oh, shit, just forget I spoke,” he added, his voice slightly muffled.
I gaped at him. This is the fastest connection I've ever made. How can he see so much already?

Today's post is a chapter sample from my work-in-progress, to be released later in 2018 😊 📓.
Thank you very much for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the beginning of this new series as much as I enjoyed writing it!

“If I make it possible for you to attend this school, the restrictions will be significant. Do you understand?”
I nodded. Whatever. Whatever it takes. He could do what he liked. He could do his worst. He always did. But he was the only one who could make this happen for me.
“Aren’t you even interested in knowing what the restrictions will be? I could leave you with nothing, Luca.”
For a moment, I hesitated. “Nothing?”
“I see you haven’t completely lost the sense you came here with.” He laughed. “I could leave you with nothing, but I won’t. Where’s the fun in that? I will do my best to strike a balance. Just enough to give you hope you can succeed, but not quite enough to actually do so. How does that sound?”
I pushed away my irritation. “It sounds… typical.”
He loved nothing more than a new contract. My reputation, my magic, and my life, in exchange for this one chance. I knew I would probably fail, but I had to try. I had to. The alternative was unthinkable.
“Excellent. I do like to live down to expectations. Off you go, then. Classes enroll today. You have until the end of the semester.”
It wasn’t long enough. He knew it as well as I did, but I refused to give him the satisfaction of protesting.
“Oh, and Luca? Good luck. You’ll need it.”

1 A Face 
I approached the school slowly. The sidewalk was solid and unforgiving beneath my feet. If I tripped and fell down, everyone would see me do it, and if I used magic to prevent myself from falling, I would only make myself conspicuous for a different reason.
The more I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, the more complicated it seemed to become. The late summer sunshine reflected off every metal surface, as if it were actively trying to disorient me.
It had been a long time. Could everyone tell? I wished I had checked my appearance. I’d been so keen to get away from him that it hadn’t seemed important. I should probably have checked a lot of things.
Perhaps if I wait on this corner for a minute or two…
“Hey,” came a voice. It was close enough to make me jump. I’d been watching the comings and goings through the school gate, fascinated by the groups of students and their differences and similarities. I turned apprehensively.
“Hey,” I repeated, playing it safe.
The boy grinned. His teeth were white and straight. “You’re new.”
You have no idea. “I guess I am,” I said. “Is that a problem?”
I concentrated on keeping my expression as neutral as possible. It was way too soon to reveal anything about myself. I felt my heart speeding up and my shoulders stiffening as if it were happening to someone else. It was the oddest sensation.
“You tell me, dude. I’m just saying hey.”
“It’s not a problem for me,” I replied, thinking, Liar.
“Are you a senior?”
Was I? I couldn’t be sure. I looked down at my shoes for inspiration. One of the laces was coming undone.
“I… er… I’ll be eighteen soon,” I managed. I would never be eighteen, of course. I remained frozen at the point when I’d
“Me too,” said the boy, interrupting my train of thought. “When’s your birthday?”
“Oh. It’s…” I used to hate my birthday. “It’s on Samhain?” My voice rose, turning it into a question. I had a feeling I might have used the wrong word. “Um… the last day of October?”
He blinked. “You mean Halloween?”
“Do I?”
We looked at each other for a second, then he laughed. The sound came easily, as if he made it often. “Is this like one of those games where we have to keep trading questions?”
The game is a little more complicated than that. I tried for a smile. “Why are you even talking to me?”
I hadn’t gone out of my way to attract his attention. And we didn’t know each other. There was nothing about his energy signature that was familiar to me.
The boy tilted his head. His brown eyes tracked my body down to my feet and back up again. “I don’t know. I guess you look interesting. What’s your name?”
“L-l-l…” My voice trailed off. Damn him. I’m not going to be able to use my name, am I? One of the “restrictions,” no doubt.
The boy waited, settling his weight on one hip. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth, unable to get past the sound of the L. I was about to choose a name at random, then realized I couldn’t. I didn’t know what name he had chosen. I would have to enroll to find out.
The boy obviously decided to take pity on me.
“I’m Devin. You can come with me to register if you want.”
“I… Why are you being so friendly?”
That laugh again. “You’re hard work, aren’t you? If you’d rather go solo, that’s cool.”
He turned to leave, shifting his backpack into a more comfortable position while he checked the street for traffic. Disappointment made my chest contract for a second, taking me by surprise.
“Stop,” I said. “I’d like to go with you.”
He looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised. “You going to tell me your name, then?”
I shrugged. The smile took less effort this time. “Wait until we register. I’d rather stay interesting for a bit longer.”
“There’s a fine line between interesting and weird, you know.”
“I’ve heard. I guess it’s a bit like the line between friendly and weird. As long as you stay on the right side of it…”
He frowned, and I bit my lip. Had I gone too far? Fortunately, his frown was soon replaced by a grin. “I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be trouble, newbie.”
I am. But hopefully not for you.
“Define trouble,” I said, following him across the road. He was about to answer when another boy called to him from just inside the school gate.
“Dev! Where’ve you been? All the best lockers are gone, you lazy…” He stopped speaking when he saw me. “Who’s this?”
The second boy was nothing like Devin. He was pale, with sharp features, and his expression was wary.
“This”—Devin reached to put an arm across my shoulders—“is the new guy. He doesn’t have a name yet, but he assures me he’ll get one at registration.”
Devin’s hand was warm and very close to the skin of my neck where my collar ended. I tried not to move. I don’t know what will happen if he touches me. “And this,” he continued, looking at the other boy, “is Gabe, my bes—”
I flinched when I heard the name, and Devin broke off with a howl of pain mid-sentence. He dragged his hand away from me and cradled it to his chest as if he’d been electrocuted. Perhaps he has been. Kind of.
“Dev, you OK?” asked Gabe. He scowled at me and took a threatening step forwards. “What the hell was that? What did you do?”
I ignored him, stepping in front of Devin and blocking his view. I thought I could count on Gabe to be a little nervous of grabbing me, at least right away.
“Devin,” I said softly. “Look at me.” Responding automatically to the instruction, he lifted his gaze. The second our eyes met, I whispered, “Sano. Dedisco.”
His expression cleared and he blinked a couple of times. His eyelashes were still wet from the tears of pain he hadn’t quite shed. Then he looked down at his hand, as if surprised to find it curled against his body.
“Dev,” said Gabe, stepping around me. “What happened? Did he hurt you?”
“I’m…fine,” he replied slowly. “Wait, what? Did who hurt me?”
Him,” said Gabe, gesturing to me with a quick jerk of his head. He was too mistrusting of me to come any closer. “Name-game guy here.”
Devin let out a disbelieving laugh. “Why would you think that? He would never hurt anyone. He’s…” Our eyes met again before I could prevent it. His eyes widened. Don’t say it. Don’t even think it.
“He’s worried we’re going to be late,” I said abruptly, turning away. “Shouldn’t we get going?” I wanted to find out my name. And I wanted to sever the connection with Devin before it had a chance to take hold.
I walked towards the nearest school building, not stopping even when Devin called after me. I heard him and Gabe having a conversation but their voices were too low. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Devin ran up alongside me, slightly out of breath.
“Why does Gabe think you did something to me?” he asked.
Because I did. “I have no idea,” I replied. “Is it this way?”
“Yeah. Look…”
I saw his hand coming towards my arm just in time and twisted to one side before he could make contact with my skin. This was going to be much more difficult than I’d expected. I could fool his eyes and ears, but his touch would know me for what I was, every time.
He gave me an irritated look. I could see the hurt underneath it.
“I’m sorry,” I said. I didn’t want to hurt him. I liked him. Perhaps I should allow the connection. If I’m careful…
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry,” he replied, before I could say anything else. “You want to be on your own? You got it.”
He walked ahead of me, hunching his shoulders. Gabe followed him, glancing at me on his way past. I avoided his gaze, but there was no missing the satisfied expression on his face. I sighed.
I followed them slowly, keeping the two boys in sight so I would know roughly which direction to walk in. The school layout would have been confusing if it had been my first time, but fortunately I had already committed it to memory on a previous visit. Soon enough I saw a sign saying, “Enrolment ®” and realized the cafeteria had to be where everything was set up.
I slowed my pace even further until Devin and Gabe disappeared from view. The hallways were fairly quiet because classes didn’t begin until next week and most students had registered by now. I attracted a few curious looks, but no one spoke to me.
Finally, I passed an empty classroom. I ducked inside and pulled the blind over the glass pane in the door. There was no key in the lock. I bent down until my gaze was level with the handle. “Sero,” I said. Obediently, the lock turned.
Right. First thing’s first.
I took hold of one of the short sleeves of my shirt. “Amplius.” I didn’t stop pulling until it covered the bones of my wrist, immediately repeating the action with the other arm. It might be warm out, but I needed to cover my skin.
What next? It wouldn’t hurt to know what I look like.
I stared at the pale-green blind covering the door pane. Its edges were frayed and there was a brown stain at the bottom.
The blind shimmered, once, twice, then a pool of silver appeared in its centre. A boy’s face, my face, looked back at me from the newly reflective surface. It really is my face. I hadn’t seen it like this in a long time, but I was in no doubt.
The boy had bronze-colored hair and blue-green eyes. There was a crescent-shaped white scar on his cheekbone and his skin was tanned darker than its natural shade. Just like before, from all the hours I’d spent sparring in the hot Roman sun, preparing for that fateful day in the Colosseum.
I touched my cheek with my forefinger, remembering how I’d come by the scar. My sparring partner had been delighted to “decorate that pretty face with a taste of things to come.”
I curled the fingers of my right hand into a loose fist. I could almost feel the handle of the sword and the heavy, reassuring weight of the blade extending from it.
The person in the mirror didn’t belong here. The modern clothes looked out of place on him, like seeing a laptop next to an ancient wax writing tablet. I turned away from my reflection, muttering, “Rescindo.” The blind returned to its previous state.
I had not expected to look like that boy. It was very unsettling. I could only suppose that was what he wanted.
Everything was going to be more difficult with this face. The ancestry that had created my physical appearance was like a melting pot of the best and worst the Roman Empire had to offer, but it wasn’t only that. The passing of thousands of years had changed earthbound faces. The changes were subtle, but undeniable. I looked different.
I held my hands out in front of me. They were shaking slightly. I swallowed, trying not to think about what I’d done with those hands the last time I was earthbound. Get over it, Luca. You chose to come back.
Resero,” I said, and the door unlocked. I stepped out into the corridor. Right into the path of Devin and Gabe. 

A few people have asked me how Jax managed to convince Darius to make that first forbidden trip to Terra in daylight, right at the beginning of the first book. I thought it would be fun to write a new scene as a way of explaining and today's blog post is the result 😊.  It was strange to revisit Jax's character as it was thena little too over-confident and more interested in his own agenda than anyone else's.

I'm glad he ended up taking full responsibility for what happened, protecting Darius from any repercussions (at least on this occasion!). The last line of the scene is the first line of Chapter One in Stealing Magic. Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoy the extra content!

“Come on, Darius. Just one trip. What if I’m right? Imagine the opportunity. We’d be heroes for discovering it.” Jax stepped in front of his friend, preventing Darius from reaching the portal room door. He’d been waiting all weekend to catch Darius alone and was determined to make the most of his chance.
“No,” said Darius. He shook his head, frowning. “Is this why you wanted to walk me to the portal room? I thought it was a bit weird. Look,” he added, “I’m saving you from yourself, you idiot. They could remove our magic if we’re caught.”
“They won’t,” said Jax. “They can’t afford to. We’re the best magic-takers Androva has. Reaching the quota each month takes careful planning, which is why this could change everything. If my theory’s right…” He trailed off and raised his eyebrows expectantly. “Anyway, we won’t get caught. What do you take me for? I’ve been breaking the rules and getting away with it all my life.”
“You don’t always get away with it,” argued Darius. “And this isn’t like cutting class at the Seminary. We might end up breaking half the Code.”
Jax looked down at his feet. His black hair, too long as usual, fell onto his forehead. “I know the living magic is stronger in daylight. I know it. I just want my father to look at me with something other than disappointment.”
Darius sighed and Jax, keeping his gaze lowered, tried not to feel too guilty at the lie. He knew he’d get a flat No if he told Darius the real reason he wanted to make a harvesting trip to Terra in daylight. Although his theory about magic-taking was real, it would not have been enough on its own to spur Jax on to such an extent. Nor would a desire for his father’s approval.
“I don’t know, Jax,” said Darius. “Wouldn’t the Council already have tested the daylight thing?”
Jax raised his head. “Maybe. Maybe not. We’re underage magicians—always the last to know.”
“There must be a good explanation for that,” said Darius reasonably. “Otherwise someone would have told tales by now. Why don’t you just explain your theory to Revus? I bet he’d still be impressed.”
“You have a much more optimistic view about my father than I do,” muttered Jax. “Probably because you have two parents and they’re both OK. I mean… OK for parents.” He moved out of Darius’s way, and made to walk back up the winding staircase to the surface, shoulders hunched.
“Wait…” said Darius. “Just… give me a minute.”
Jax paused, biting his lower lip to keep from smiling. Darius was wavering and Jax knew it. There was a short silence.
“When would you want to do this?” asked Darius.
“Now,” said Jax. He turned to face Darius, keeping his expression calm by sheer force of will. Only his green eyes, glittering with excitement and a little magic, gave away his true feelings.
“You mean literally now? This minute?” Darius looked from Jax to the door and back again.
“Yes, right now, Darius, before you get second thoughts. I know the coordinates. It’s a small piece of woodland. I’ve been to it before. We can be there and back in a few minutes.” Jax leaned to push the heavy door open with one hand and grabbed Darius’s upper arm with the other. He pulled Darius inside the portal room and immediately began to activate the symbols on the walls.
Darius watched with wide eyes. “We’re really doing this,” he said in a low voice. “Are we… really… doing this?”
 “Yeah.” Jax grinned. “Come on, get over here. If I could open the portal on my own I wouldn’t have pleaded for your help, would I?”
Darius smiled back. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Come on,” said Jax.
Once Darius had activated the second set of symbols, the portal rose up from the spellstation. Its tell-tale shimmer brightened the darkness of the underground room and Jax gave Darius a triumphant look. He’d been half scared the portal might not open during the daytime after all.
Both boys stepped through together and had to cover their eyes at first. It was so much brighter than either of them had expected. Jax, squinting, looked left and right to get his bearings. He froze. She’s here, he thought.
Darius blinked. The grass under his feet was thicker and greener than he’d thought it would be. There wasn’t usually this much grass in Terran woodland and the colour was always faded at night. Keeping his eyes shaded, he turned to look for the trees and let out a gasp of horror.
“For the love of Androva, Jax! There’s a house! Where are we?” His voice was a fierce whisper. Jax didn’t answer and Darius was forced to look away from the house for a second to locate his friend. Jax was staring at a tree at the edge of the grass and lying underneath the tree was a Terran girl. Darius recoiled.
“OK, that’s it. We have to go back. Right now.” Jax didn’t respond. Darius dragged him none too gently by the arm until Jax was close enough for Darius to speak into his ear. “You must have made a mistake with the coordinates.”
Jax remained silent, giving Darius a guilty look.
“You are kidding me,” said Darius slowly. “I might have known there was more to it. A girl. A Terran girl. What if the portal closes? What if she hears us?”
“She can’t hear us. Look, she sleeps,” said Jax.

POV has been on my mind a lot this year. I switched back to third person for the seventh (and final) book in the Legacy of Androva series, after having written books five and six in first person. And now, for my new work-in-progress, I'm back to first person again. I thought I’d write a blog post about my experiences with POV in the hopes it would reassure me that first person is right for this new book.

The first four books in the Legacy of Androva series are written in third person, although I do tend to shadow one character at a time in a chapter or scene and describe their thoughts and perspective in more detail. Whenever the main characters are in a scene together, I have to guard against head-hopping, but the third person POV still gives me a lot of freedom in terms of revealing personality traits, backstory, and plot developments.

Books five and six, Cal’s story and Galen’s story, are written in first person, which was a change and a challenge I really enjoyed. I got to know both characters so well. In both cases, the difficult part wasn’t just how to reveal story elements where my main character was absent, but also the fact that secondary characters can only be seen through that main character’s eyes. (However, it was fun being able to show what Cal and Galen thought about Jax and Shannon!).

Here are a couple of extracts showing the same scene in third person (close on Jax and Shannon in Seeking Magic) and first person (Galen in Surviving Magic). There is a whole lot more to Galen’s story than I was able to show in Seeking Magic, but I thought it still made sense to keep the short crossover. He doesn’t like Jax and Shannon very much in this scene, but he changes his mind later on!

Having looked at the two points of view side by side, I can see there are advantages to both. And I stay so close to the thoughts of my main characters even in third person that perhaps I won’t find the new book as much of a mental shift as I feared. Looks like today’s blog post might have been very helpful 😊

What do you prefer as a writer or as a reader? Is your writing style in terms of POV the same as the books you enjoy reading the most, or is it different? Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Today's blog post is less about words and more about images 📸. I'm writing the first book in a new series and the plot is just starting to come together. I decided now would be a good time to create a collage to sense check the direction I'm headed in!

As ever, I have been unable to outline the story in advance of writing it. However, with each book it's becoming easier to accept that I'll always be a pantser rather than a plotter. There are always moments when I think I'll have to abandon the entire manuscript, but fortunately, so far, I've managed to find a way through.

The result of my efforts is below and I've also included the prologue of the book 😊
Thank you very much for visiting my blog today!

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 😊

Mailing List Subscription

Sign up to receive posts by email and notification of advance reader copies!

* indicates required