NYCC Next Week!

Okay, so I’ve finally got my itinerary for New York Comicon.  I’ll be at the Penguin booth on the Friday, number #2208, signing copies of Fated between 11 AM and 12 AM.

The bad news is that that’ll be the only event I’ll be doing.  Long story short, I had other stuff lined up, but then was told that it had been cancelled.  To make matters worse, this meant that I wasn’t given any entry badge, which I wasn’t told about until long after the ticket sales deadline, meaning that I’ll have to rely on borrowing a badge from the Penguin staff to get in.  The whole thing’s been really awkward to deal with, and honestly, it’s left me wondering if this particular convention is worth it.

Anyway, hope to see some of you there!  Work’s going well on Alex Verus #9, and the copyedits for Bound are under way too.  I’ll try to schedule a couple of posts for the next couple of Fridays while I’m in the USA.

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On the Way

First page of the new book is done!

Which just leaves another 149-ish pages to go.  Well, it’s a start.  Actually it’s a bit more than that – the first page is invariably the hardest, so it should be all downhill from here.

In the meantime I’m working on the copyedits for Alex Verus #8, Bound.  All looks good, and everything should be done in time for the book’s release next spring.

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Ask Luna #73

From: Andy deal

Thanks as always for answering questions about Mage society– and here are mine: 1) Alex has powerful allies– why don’t they go on the offensive and try to pick some enemies off, 2) any thoughts on what avenue Alex is pursuing to ratchet up his personal power , and 3) the most powerful mages seem to have powers beyond their specialties, could you elaborate on how they gain them.

In reverse order:

3) If it were common knowledge how you could get those kinds of powers, everyone would have them. Personal research, deals with magical creatures, and unusual magic types are the usual guesses, but the kinds of mages who get those abilities tend to be very interested in not spreading around the details.

2) He had a conversation with Arachne. Amongst other things, he’s said something about some new kind of item, but it’s not one I know about.

1) That is a really, really stupid idea. Literally the only reason we’re still alive is that our enemies have more things to deal with than just us, and you think it’s a good idea to try and start fights with all of them at once?

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my previous questions. I have some new questions for you today.

These first questions might be more appropriate for Sonder, but I’m guessing that your training as an apprentice must have included some basic history of the Light Council.

So, how old is it? Does its founding date back to Roman Britain? Perhaps the specifics have been lost to time, but were there earlier Light Councils in Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt or Mesopotamia?

My other question is how Mages in the Light Council view ordinary politics. Now I know that Morden’s ascension to Council leadership and Richard Drahk’s reemergence have the Council spooked, but I wonder if under ordinary circumstances most Mages in the Council would even care that there is a new resident at 10 Downing Street? I know there is a faction on the Council that probably does care; the Directors, but I wonder how much influence they actually have or how deep their activities run. Are they secretive about their goals and activities or do they boast of them?

It’s pretty old, and yeah, I think Roman Britain is one of the starting dates given for the British Council. There were some people saying that the real date should be later, because something something continuity, but to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention. The Light Council as a whole is way older, but that gets back into the original mages and the Dark Wars and Alata and stuff like that.

In theory Light mage dealings with British politics are supposed to be secret, but people talk. General impression I get is that they have a lot of influence, but they don’t like to use it unless it relates to mage business, which it usually doesn’t. I don’t think they’d care about a change in the PM, though – I think they mostly get stuff done through the Civil Service, not the parties.

From: Faragorn

You mention in the encyclopaedia that fire mages tend to have weak defenses, particularly against kinetic attacks like bullets. However, Alex muses while under attack that all battle mages anticipate bullets and have a defense against them. How is it they do that? Special purpose items like focuses? Some other method purchased or prepared ahead of time? Vari also mentions that Landis has an oustanding defense, does that include kinetic attacks or just against magic?

There are standard-issue focuses that project a disc-shaped or hemisphere-shaped kinetic shield – the Keepers can requisition them, or you can get one from a crafter. They’re kind of limiting, since it’s hard to do anything else while you’re keeping the shield up, but they beat getting shot. Or you can just wear body armour, though most mages seem to think that’s for plebs.

Landis is a different story. His magic’s powerful enough that he can flat-out vapourise projectiles as they come in. You’d think that would be dump enough heat to set everything around him on fire, but it doesn’t. Variam says that he has his shield modified into some sort of field that pulses in response to an attack, but I don’t know the details. I’m pretty sure most fire mages don’t have that kind of skill, though.

From: Nick stephenson

Is there a way to take away someone’s magic. Not harvest it but to destroy it, like if u want to remove a phycopaths magic

Well, your magic’s a part of who you are, so to take away someone’s magic you have to change that. Which, if you’re doing it against their will, is generally going to have serious enough consequences that there’s not much difference between that and killing them.

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Gearing Up

Well, it’s that time again. I’m at the stage where I’m getting started on Alex Verus #9.

For me, the start of a new first draft is the hardest part by a long way; the first chapter is always the most difficult one. On the plus side, once I do get that first chapter written, it’s all downhill from there, but getting to that point is not easy, mostly because to have done it, I need to have worked out an awful lot of the story already. In the past I used to draw out diagrams to keep track of the story lines, but nowadays I don’t. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve gotten better and don’t need them anymore, or because the major story’s so complicated now that diagrams wouldn’t actually be all that much help.

It’s looking like I’ll be at NYCC for Friday, October 7th.  More info when I have it.

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Ask Luna #72

From: trillian

Hi Luna and huge congratulations on passing your journeyman tests! How do you see this affecting your relationship with Chalice? Also, how to do you find Chalice and learning from a dark mage that doesn’t seem anything like the other dark mages Alex has encountered (Drakh, Morden etc..)? She comes across as a really interesting character btw and i’d love to know your views on her background, history and the path she may taking with regard to the ongoing dark and light political shenanigans?
Many thanks for taking time to read this and I wish you and Alex all the best in what must be difficult times – stay strong.

So far my new status hasn’t affected it very much and I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, since Chalice (like most Dark mages) really doesn’t care very much what label the Council gives to someone. She’s got her own judgements.

Chalice is . . . well, like you say, interesting. She’s a good teacher, but kind of dispassionate, if that makes sense. She’ll tell you what you need to know, but you’re never quite sure when she’s telling you everything and when she’s just waiting for you to figure things out yourself – she’s a big believer in the ‘burned hand teaches best’ school. As for the path she’ll be taking, I THINK she might be on a similar side to Alex . . . maybe. She’s not on Richard or Morden’s side, and she’s definitely not on Levistus or the Council’s side, so that’s positive. From some of the talks we’ve had I get the feeling there’s a story behind her leaving India and coming here, but she always seems to steer the conversation away whenever I get too close.

Oh, and thanks. I’ve got some ideas for the future, but things are going to be difficult before they get better.

From: Jupiter Flytrap

1. In the earlier books, Morden tells Alex that whatever happens between him and Onyx is their own business and he wasn’t going to stop Onyx from trying to kill him. But when Alex nearly kills Onyx with the fateweaver, Morden never mentions it ever. Does that mean the same applies to his own Chosen? And if so, how does that factor in with the whole “picking a fight with Onyx is like picking a fight with Morden because he’s his Chosen”?

2. Why was Barrayer and Levistus trying to take Alex alive at the end of Burned? Especially after they went through so much trouble to make it legal to kill him

1. Not sure what you’re getting at with the first question, since Onyx is Morden’s Chosen. On one level that means they’re on the same team, and getting into trouble with one is like getting into trouble with the other. But at the same time, Morden isn’t going to step in to help Onyx except in pretty specific circumstances. I dunno, I can sort of understand it, but it’s hard to explain. It’s like, if a Chosen can handle something, then a Dark mage won’t interfere, because he doesn’t need to. But if a Chosen can’t handle something, then a Dark mage wants them to be able to, so there’s a good chance they’ll just leave them to sink or swim. Of course, Dark mages aren’t all the same, but Morden’s whole ‘sort out your own disagreements, guys’ attitude is one I’ve seen more than once.

2. So they could interrogate him, then kill him. They were going to do the second anyway, the first was just a bonus.

From: Jim

Hey Luna,

Has Alex talked to you about the plan he was going to execute when he was “giving himself” to the Light Council after your Journeyman Tests?

He noted that he was going to be able to “cut loose”, but we did not get a chance to see that happened. I was wondering if he gave you any clue what that meant.

I think he was just going to take as many of them down with him as he could. Alex has collected a lot of items over the years, and some of them are the kind you don’t want to use because of the long-term consequences. If he ever decided he didn’t care about long-term consequences, he could do a hell of a lot of damage.

I still need to talk with him about that. Knowing that all that happened because of me is not a good feeling.

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Moving On

Done at last. The edits for Bound are finished and with my publishers.

I’m getting the feeling that my books are taking longer to write these days. I used to try and average no more than 9 months per book, but the last few seem to be averaging more like 10-11. But then, the last two books have been around 15-20% longer than the earlier ones, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

Oh well. Time to start Book #9.

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Bound edits are done!

Well, it’s taken a while, but the first-round edits for Alex Verus #8, Bound, are basically done. I’ve got just a few more changes to make over the weekend, then I’ll be sending them off, and once I do, that’ll be that – there’ll be copy-edits afterwards, but the manuscript I send to my publishers on Monday will be 99% the same as the one you guys will get in your hands come the book’s publication in April.

This set of edits has run longer than I’d expected. I’d planned to get them done by some time in July, but it’s ended up taking a good month longer than that. While the changes were necessary, they’ve put me behind schedule from where I’d wanted to be –I’d been hoping to start Book #9 by the end of August, but now I probably won’t get properly into it until September. On the plus side, the changes have definitely made Bound a better book, and I think I’d rather have a better book than one that goes to the printers faster.

In other news, I’m still planning to go to New York Comicon, but I still haven’t heard anything back from the organisers about what events I’ll be doing. Will update you guys when I know more!

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Ask Luna #71

From: Sotiris

Hey Luna! It is me again. I would like to ask you about religion/faith this time. Are mages any different in their approach to religion than normals? Do mages tend to be more skeptic of a higher power due to their own “higher” powers? Finally is “faith” magic a thing? You know a cleric blessed with the power of God or the enlightment of Buddah or that kind of thing?

Thanks for your time!

Mages have pretty much the same approach to religion as normals do – you get ones of every background – but religious types do seem rarer among mages than everyone else. Either they’re more sceptical than average, or they just don’t like the idea of looking up to anything greater than them. Pick whichever explanation you like.

There are some magical traditions that do centre around faith magic, but it’s hard to find out much about them in Britain. The Light Council here look down on that stuff and when they do talk about it, they’re pretty dismissive.

From: Guilty

Dear Luna,

I have a few questions.
First, how has life as a Mage been so far, with the sudden disappearance of Alex and Anne, and the natural tumult of your life?
Second, how’re things with Vari? (Wink wink nudge nudge)
Thirdly, what’s your favorite fictional book to read?

Best of Luck,

Guilty

P. S.: Pun intended.

It’s been okay if hectic. The period where Anne and Alex were gone and I was on my own was not fun. The couple of weeks afterward weren’t fun either. Since then things have gotten better.

Things with Vari are fine, thank you very much.

Favourite books used to be the Alanna series, but I think I’d pick something different now.

From: Ravenfall

Hello Luna! Big fan here.
I have a question that’s been bothering me for awhile now, and I was wondering if you completely erased someone’s memories, then harvested them, would you still go insane? I mean all they really would be is power stuck in a body with no personality to add to your head right? Thank you for your time and all the best luck to you! Haha

You’d better not be asking this for the reason I think you are.

Magic comes from your personality, so if you wipe out someone’s memories and personality, you’d get rid of their magic too. I have no idea what would happen if you tried to Harvest them afterwards. Please don’t take that as an invitation to find out.

From: Hrok

Hi Luna, thanks for answering my questions.
• Firstly, I was wondering if shape shifters are able to “de-age” themselves by shifting back to a younger age.
Secondly what exactly are the limits of Wish or desire magic? Has there ever been a mage with this ability or is it only in the hands of items such as the Monkeys Paw?

Shifter mages do have some kind of rejuvenation/reincarnation trick that they can do, but it’s a closely kept secret. I do know that there are limits to it, though, as well as an unspecified (but probably high) price tag.

As for wish magic, it’s unlimited. In theory. I mean, it still has limits on magnitude, you can’t wish the world off its axis or something, but as far as magic types go it’s pretty much the ultimate multi-tool. As long as you’ve got enough power, you can do whatever the hell you want. As far as I know, it’s only available via certain magical creatures and items like that one, which might be for the best given how hard mages tend to fight over stuff like that.

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Ask Luna #70

From: Turnip

hi Luna!

1. what color are Onyx’s eyes? (important)

2. how did he and Morden meet?

3. what are Onyx’s hobbies?

4. is Onyx single?

5. what color is your toothbrush? (VERY important)

1. Brown.

2. Good question. I have no idea. He doesn’t exactly talk about his past history. Or talk about anything else. Or spend time with us at all.

3. Beating people up and killing them afterwards, as far as I can tell. Wtf.

4. Double wtf.

5. Green.

That was weird.

From: Fred

Hey Luna, just got a couple of questions.
1. Who generates more mystery/fear is both Light and Dark circles out of Richard and Morden? It seems that Morden has a much greater reputation as a powerful mage than Richard, but also easier to understand his goals.
2. Are life mages able to cure or successfully treat debilitating diseases like cancer or AIDS? Thanks for answering

1. If it was a matter of fame, it’d be Morden, but if you’re going for mystery/fear, it’d be Richard. Morden is probably more hated, but that’s because he’s better-known because he’s on the Council. Richard stays in the shadows. From what we’ve found, though, Richard’s probably the more dangerous.
2. Cancer is difficult because life magic healing mostly revolves around boosting the body’s natural regeneration by supplying it with energy to grow. Given that cancer involves the body growing the wrong way, using basic healing on it is kind of like trying to put out a fire by dousing it with petrol. I think healing works on AIDS as long as you catch it early.

From: Faragorn

So when you mention that Alex’s power will begin ramping up, does that mean he will branch out into Dionysian techniques? Everything he’s have done to date seems Appollonian

Possibly? He doesn’t have any plans in that direction as far as I can tell.

From: Dave

Do mages enjoy the more mundane parts of the ‘normal’ world such as sport, theater, music etc? Alex mentioned Arsenal in the PremierLeague at some point, and I was wondering if mages had any interest in that kind of stuff. If so, what are all your teams?

Oh, they definitely do. Being a mage doesn’t mean you suddenly stop caring about all the things you used to like or anything like that, so they go out to restaurants and to the theatre and everything else. When it comes to sport, though, they’re more likely to keep it quiet – mundane sports are considered kind of lower-class by Light mages.

As for teams, I’ve never really been into football and neither’s Anne, but I know Vari’s an Arsenal fan. I think he’s even been to a few games.

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NYCC Update

Further to my previous post, some good news: it looks as though I’ll be going to New York Comicon after all! We managed to sort out tickets for Friday and Saturday (that’s the 7th and 8th of October). Still have no idea what events I’ll be taking part in, but there should be at least a panel and a signing or two. Will put up more information once I have it.

Edits still going on Alex Verus #8, Bound, and they’re still slow. Looking towards the start of book #9 now.

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