Wednesday 22 May 2013

The Trouble with Magic! Former Comedy Writer Goes Rogue

I’m a former comedy writer gone rogue, by writing fantasy. My Land’s End series has been called “Game of Thrones Lite” by reviewers, and also, “The Princess Bride with sex.”

ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD, book 2 in the series, has just been released. I’m currently writing book three and have discovered a fascinating thing about fantasy.

Here’s the trouble with magic: if you allow a mage to be all-powerful, what’s to stop him from killing everyone he doesn’t like, grabbing the girl, and getting his way all the time?

Nice for him, but not much of a story for our readers. So…I have learned that the thing about writing books with magic in them is you need to establish limits to that magic. In fact, you need rules.

These rules need to be logical, and they need to be consistent. They can’t be too complex -  readers must be able to understand them.

In ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD, Cedric is the main user of magic. He is also the villain (Author insert here: or is he?) Cedric is learning magic, and becoming more powerful. He has gone over to the dark side to pick up more power. He can create armies of ghostly faceless warriors. But he has a major limit. He can’t do magic from a distance. Therefore, he can’t kill or inflict harm on someone he can’t actually see.

Rowena is also a user of magic. But she is an ‘infant witch,’ untrained. She has a magic bracelet, and no idea how to use it. Then she finds out that with the bracelet, she can channel magic. So if someone is around, happening to use magic, she can misdirect it. But she doesn’t know how to create it herself.

These limits on magic allow me to create a lively and funny plot in ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD. There is misfiring magic all over the place. A Roman Legion gets taken out of time, and time itself is in jeopardy.

We take care of that one in book three.

Short Excerpt:
Men’s voices again, echoing like souls lost in a fog. The mist lifted in one swift movement to disappear into nothingness. In its place, were at least a hundred men.
Bugger. I messed up.
“Houston, we have a problem,” I said out loud. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I must have pronounced one of the spell words wrong.
“Who is Houston?” Lars said.
“Romans!” Gareth hissed. He drew his sword.
“Romans?” I stared at the battle-scarred men before us. They looked exhausted. They also looked bloody, dirty and rather short. Not to mention confused.
How the heck could they be Romans?
Someone yelled “Form Square!” in—yup—that was Latin.
“What the hell?” I stared. The men came to life moving with purpose into a square. Within seconds we were facing a shield wall bristling with spears.
Gareth and Lars already had their swords drawn. They tried to move in front of me but I spread my arms to hold them back.
“Sheath your weapons,” I commanded.
They hesitated, eyeing the wall of men and knives.
“For crissake,” I insisted, “what do you expect to do against that, besides get us all killed?”
With reluctance the swords slid back into their scabbards.
The man on the horse wore a breastplate the sort of armor that you only saw in museums back home. Or movies. I was reminded of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor. Richard Burton playing the part of Marc Antony.
Hoo boy.
The man on horseback stared at me. No stirrups on his saddle. A helmet that was in history books. Definitely Roman. I stared back at him.
Romans? In this time? What the poop had I done?
“It’s a freaking temporal rift!” My laugh was strident. “Where the hell is Spock when you need him?

Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best this year when Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  She has over 200 publications, including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories, and 4 novels. She has won 6 awards for fiction. 

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