Ask Luna #65

From: Tyler H

Luna,
I have noticed that some mages have two names, their mage name and their parent given name.
My question is how did alex get his? I there a particular story to his name or did he just think “verus” sounded good?

Oh, there’s a story to it. Apparently his old master sent him and the rest of his apprentices on some weird vision quest thing in Elsewhere. Alex got his mage name there, and I’m guessing that was where Rachel got ‘Deleo’, too.

From: Faragorn

So, is part of the madness that comes from Harvesting the incorporation of another personality into the harvesting mage’s own?

It would explain Deleo’s schizo behavior. And, if Onyx is a harvester, if he did another force mage it would probably enhance his own tendencies.

That’s definitely part of the reason they act so crazy. Alex and I have two theories on Onyx. One theory is that he’s a Harvester, and that’s why he’s so sociopathic. The other possibility is that he was already so sociopathic that Harvesting couldn’t actually make him all that much worse than he was to begin with.

With Deleo, there’s something else going on. I mean, having Shireen inside of her head is definitely part of why she’s so crazy, but from the one look I got, she’s got something else in there as well, and I definitely mean ‘something’ and not ‘someone’. I don’t know what it is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good news.

From: Demetrius pettway

Alex seems to be in dire straights in general and especially most recently. While there may be no low hanging fruit for additional magical power, are there any promising avenues ?
Secondly, thanks for being so helpful with question answering !

Some. There have been some developments that look hopeful, but I can’t say too much about it just yet.

From: Josh G

Hey Luna, I read somewhere that the one who watches over your realm likes to play Fire Emblem. I was wondering if you might know what game said watcher enjoyed the most, and a favorite character? Keep up the good work Luna, and I can’t wait to see how you develop with Mr. Versus’ mentoring and tutelage!

I used to like Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, back when I had a lot of empty hours to fill. Not sure who my favourite character might have been . . . maybe Mia, though levelling her up was a pain in the neck. I probably would have really liked Lucina in that new game in the series, but by the time it came out I wasn’t spending so much time on computer games anymore.

From: DrizztMajere

Hi Luna I loved this last book. The part where Anne had to go along with Alex to Richard’s was mind blowing. I just have two questions for you today. First, when Alex saw the intricacies of the human body kind of how presumably Anne does did he explain why that happened? Lastly, you got bombs put up around you. Any thoughts on how you would deactivate them without dying next time if needed?

No idea what you’re referring to with the first question, but I had time to do a lot of thinking about the second, and I’m not going to play the deactivating game at all. Instead I’m going to make really damn sure that from now on, I only sleep in places that people either can’t reach or don’t know about, preferably both.

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Ask Luna #64

From: Elaine Felicity

Hi Luna,

been taking a trip down your memory lane – one question:

How did you get Alex out of hospital after he got stabbed?

I need details!

🙂

Uh, I’m not sure the statute of limitations has run out on that one yet.

We did try talking to them. But once Anne had a look at Alex, she told us that he was going to be dead inside of an hour, and then that hospital guy wouldn’t listen when we tried to explain. If he’d just let us take Alex away, everything would have gone smoothly. And it wasn’t as though anyone got hurt.

From: Ryan

Congratulations on becoming a Journeyman Mage! Have you been approached by other mages for anything yet? And have you chosen your mage name? If so, would you be willing to share your choice?
Thank you

A couple of mages have approached me, but not with anything I really want to do. To be honest, they haven’t really been treating me like a mage at all – it’s more like they think I’m one in name only. It’s kind of annoying. Haven’t figured out what to do about it yet.

I’ve been turning over ideas for names. Most mages go for some kind of name tied in to what they can do, or what they want other people to think they can do. Others go for some historical mage they want to emulate or something. Problem is, neither really appeals to me all that much. I never cared much about mage history, and given how mages treat me, I’m not sure if I really want to emulate them anyway. And naming myself after what my curse does would just be depressing – is that really what I want to go by for the rest of my life?

Maybe I ought just to stick with Luna. But that feels kind of unsatisfying as well. I dunno.

From: Vancefreed

Alex is obviously very afraid of Richard. But he is not omniscient and has to have flaws — can’t Richard using his skills and magecraft hold his own.
And the leading light mages seem hardly any different in practice that the dark. Is Richard preparing to take the gloves off and find ways to be feared and more powerful himself because he is getting ever more boxed in.

I’m assuming you’re getting Alex and Richard’s names mixed up there.

I think the problem Alex has with ‘taking the gloves off’ is that the whole reason he split away from Richard was because he DOESN’T want to be as ruthless as Richard is. I mean, if he was willing to knife someone for a profit, he wouldn’t have left in the first place. That said, trying to be ethical doesn’t do you much good if it just gets you squashed like a bug.

I dunno. I’m kind of glad he’s the one who has to figure this out and not me, to be honest, because I don’t have any great answers. I mean, Alex could have improved his situation a ton plenty of times before now. All he’d have had to do would be say ‘yes’ to Levistus or to Richard, and do what they told him. But then, that’s the problem, isn’t it?

From: David

Give what we learn about Crystal at the end of Taken, why at the beginning of the book is she trying hard to enlist Alex’s help?

Heh. If you’d spent as much time around Light mages as I have, you already know the answer.

Think about it. Crystal is (was) a Light mage. So what she knew about Alex at the time is what all the other Light mages ‘knew’ about Alex. First, he was the (willing) ex-apprentice of Richard, second, he didn’t want to join the Council, and third, he’d been involved in the suspicious disappearances of not one but two Light mages, Griff and Belthas. Put that together, and what do you get? You get something between “shady mercenary type” and “assassin”. That was who Crystal thought she was hiring.

These sorts of reputations don’t go away fast. It’s been years, and I still get Light apprentices who are freaking terrified to go near me. Between being Alex’s apprentice, and Anne’s friend, they all assume I’m some sort of black-widow-in-training. We laugh about it, but it does get annoying at times.

Posted in Ask Luna | 2 Comments

More Burned Reviews

There have been a whole lot of reviews of Burned coming in, so here’s a selection from the past month or so:

The Irresponsible Reader
SFRevu
Audiobook Reviewer
The Steel Bookshelf
Morbier & Metal
Elizabeth Dickinson

On the topic of reviews:  if you put up a review of my books and you’d like me to link to you, go ahead and send me an email and I probably will.  I do try to link the reviews I find online (especially the ones that have obviously had a lot of effort put into them) but I’m pretty sure I miss quite a few, so feel free to remind me if you want to make sure it’s noticed!

Posted in Reviews | 4 Comments

Back!

And I’m back in the UK!  Now that I’ve had time to get over the jet lag, I’m enjoying being home again.  I’ve been doing very little for the past few weeks except holidaying and resting – usually after going this long without getting any writing done I’d be feeling restless, but in this case I’m still very much enjoying not having a deadline anymore.  I must have really needed the break.

I’ve been starting to lay out some plans for Alex Verus #9, but it’s pretty sketchy.  I know roughly what I want to happen in books #9 and #10, but the details aren’t set.  There’s no hurry though – I can’t really start making concrete plans for #9 until #8 is finalised, and I’m still waiting to hear back from my editors on book #8.  Once I do, then the work on the next book will be properly underway.  Until then, it’s still holiday season!

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Ask Luna #63

From: Riley

Luna, you seem to argue with Vari a lot. Do you think he likes you or are you two just too much alike?

Yes.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hello Luna,
I have a few questions for you. Some are about you; I hope you don’t find any of them too personal. A couple of these questions are not directly about you and you may not know the answer to them, but as they directly relate to you, you may want to do some research for your own possible benefit.

Alex has told us that to his mage’s sight your curse looks like a silver mist that hovers about you. However, not all mages can detect the presence of your curse. He has also said that there is no sensation caused when being touched by your curse. We know these last two statements are true because when Delio and Kazhad were tracking you around Camden Market and followed you and Alex into the car park area, Alex witnessed your curse reach out and disrupt whatever focus item Kazhad was using to track you with. Had either of them seen a trace of silver mist they could have simply followed it back to you. Also during the Fate Weaver incident that creep Griff Blackstone would never have laid hands on you if he had seen or felt your curse in action.

My first question is whether you know if all mages who can perceive your curse see it in the same way that Alex does? For example, I was wondering if a sound mage might perceive your curse as a deep vibration which gets louder and more dissonant the closer she got to you. Have you ever asked any of your friends about this subject? More important to you, do you know why some mages can perceive your curse and others cannot? Do you think it just depends on whether a mage has really good mage sight or is it possible that certain types of mages are less likely to have that ability in the first place? Delio is a water mage, Kazhad a death mage and Griff was an earth mage. If you knew or could find out that certain types of mages are less likely to be able to recognize your curse and its potential to harm them, it might be something that could be used to your advantage.

Now to the really personal questions; Luna, the people who get touched by your curse don’t feel anything, but what about you? Do you feel your curse touching someone when you are not in direct physical contact with them yourself? Also, do you see a silver mist as Alex describes or do you see something completely different? Do you perceive your curse moving about you in anyway besides your sight? Finally, I would like to know if there are certain times or situations when you can perceive your curse being more active, even if you aren’t looking at it.

(If I’ve misspelled anyone’s name, it’s because I only have the audiobooks.)

First, the easy one: whether people can see my curse is just a matter of how good their magesight is. Though there’s also an element of knowing how to do it: if you know what to look for then that’s one thing, but if you don’t know that you’re supposed to be looking for it in the first place then even mages with pretty high-level magesight might not notice. Familiarity with chance magic seems to have a lot to do with it, too.

How people see it: like you guessed, it varies. Most mages perceive it visually, but I think that’s because that’s how mages get trained. I see it as a silver mist, though not as clearly as Alex does. But here’s the thing – I only started ‘seeing’ it after Alex had been training me for a while. So the really interesting question is: did I learn to see it that way because that’s just how it is, or because that’s how he sees it? I don’t know, but I’ve got a feeling it might be the second.

As for how it feels for me, I can feel my curse without looking at it, or even if my eyes are closed. I couldn’t when I started, but nowadays it’s more like toes or fingers. You know how if you’ve been lying in one place for a while your arm might go slightly numb and you can’t quite feel where it is, but as soon as you move it you know instantly? It’s like that. And yes, I can feel it when it touches someone else, but that’s very very hard to describe . . . I’m not sure if there are any words. Draining without losing anything, maybe. Funnily enough, the one that took me the longest was figuring out when my curse was more active, just because the more active it is, the less I’m likely to be aware of it, if you know what I mean. I’ve been working on it, but it’s hard.

From: Nim

Luna,
I understand you are busy and so I appreciate any answer you can jot down.

The encyclopaedia section on Space Magic says “While space magic can be adapted to be used as a weapon, it’s not really what it’s designed for”

Have you ever seen space magic used as a weapon or has Alex ever spoken of it? Are we talking about actual destructive effects based on the warping of space? It seems tremendously powerful. Thank you for reading my question.

I’ve seen a lot of space magic tricks that involve moving things around one way or other, but I’ve only once seen it used directly as a weapon. It was this crazy space mage locked off in a shadow realm, and he had some spell that sort of crumpled up space, like it was a piece of paper. Anything that was inside the radius, the same thing happened to it that would happen if they were drawings on the paper. You really did not want it to hit you.

The good news is that I’ve never seen any other space mages do it, and the times I’ve asked teachers, they told me that it wasn’t possible. So I think there was something special about the situation. Either it was a property of the shadow realm, or it was some special spell that he developed on his own with some seriously powerful fuel. Whichever it was, it doesn’t seem to be standard issue, thankfully.

Posted in Ask Luna | 1 Comment

Ask Luna #62

From: JAke

Luna, what’s everyone’s 3 sizes?

Everyone in the world? Go Google it.

From: Jeff

What are the odds that you and Alex will take a holiday in Chicago and cross paths with Harry Dresden?

(*THAT* would be an AWESOME cross-over!)

Everyone seems really fascinated with the idea of Alex bumping into this Harry Dresden guy. I have no idea why.

We’ve been to America before and we’ll likely go again, but the USA’s a big place. It doesn’t seem that likely we’d run into him unless we specifically went out of the way to go to Chicago and look him up.

From: Milly

Luna! Going at odds to know what you did to learn away from the mind that ready the chance to get out and be done. What point to see what was going around to look was due in part ahead? Also, hi!

I’ve read this one three times and I still can’t figure out what the hell you’re talking about. Either you wrote your question via Google Translate or the spam bots are achieving sentience and starting to invade my inbox (at least, more than they already do).

From: master of your fate

If merlin was real what kind of mage was he
also is excalibur real
and if it is would it be an imbued item

At least this one’s in English.

Christ knows what kind of mage Merlin would be. A diviner, maybe? From what I remember of those stories, he mostly just handed out advice and predicted the future. Don’t think he did much shapeshifting or throwing fire around, unless we’re talking the Disney version.

Yes, Excalibur’s real. Kind of. As in, there are several items out there all claimed to be Excalibur. Which one is the real one (and whether any of them are the real one) is another question.

From: BlackMass

even though vampires are extinct could you tell us what abilities they had that were real what were fictional, do u know the names of any prominent vamps, also do you know how vampires as a race were created

Enhanced strength and speed, extended lifespan, low-level mind manipulation, hematophage dependency. That was the basic package, but they got more powerful as they got older. The elders could do much more unpredictable stuff.

Vampires got made by other vampires, out of humans. There was some ritual that turned one into the other. A better question is how the first vampire got made. (I asked a teacher that once. Never got an answer. Alex didn’t know either, but he said that if he had to guess he didn’t think they were natives.)

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Ask Luna #61

From: TrueNorth

Hey Luna what do you know about the magical side of Canada, like any different discipline there also are the Cryptids of Canada Real like Bigfoot or ogopogo

PS has Alex ever been to Canada I would Hazard to guess he may have but that’s just a guest.

Hope to hear your reponse an forgive me if my questions violate your rules or piss you off.

Well, Canada has mages like anywhere else, if that’s what you mean. I don’t think they’ve got access to any different magic types from everyone else, but then you wouldn’t really expect them to.

Canada’s supposed to have a much higher proportion of magical creatures than the norm, just because it’s got a lot more space and a lot less humans than most other countries, which is supposed to be where the Bigfoot stories come from (Bigfoot-types aren’t the biggest or the most important magical creatures from North America, they’re just the ones everyone’s heard of). Though I have to admit I’ve never heard of an ogopogo.

And yes, Alex has been to Canada, though I don’t know exactly when.

From: vance freed

Harvesting has awful mental health effects on the practitioner as we’ve seen, but are there other techniques that have some of the same benefits, adding to magical power, without the deleterious effects. Or could a life practitioner reshape Alex’s body to make him more durable or fast. I have real concerns with Alex’s survivability!

Kind of. The trouble with anything that boosts your magical power is that the demand’s way higher than the supply. Every mage wants to be more powerful than they are already, so the low-hanging fruit gets picked fast.

As for life magic, that can work . . . kind of. This is actually something I’ve spoken to Anne about. The main problem with it, from the way she explains it, is that you don’t get something for nothing. If you want to be stronger or faster then a life mage can help you get that way a lot quicker than you otherwise could, but you’ll have to change your lifestyle to match, or else it won’t stick. And if you really want to mess around with a body then that has side effects of its own. There’s a reason Anne doesn’t like it.

From: John D

Hi Luna,

I’m not sure if this has been asked yet, and I apologize if I’m covering old ground, but with regards to Harvesting, could it be used by a sensitive or Adept to… well, for lack of a better term, increase their power to the next tier (i.e. an Adept Harvests a mage and becomes a mage themselves, or a Sensitive has someone use a Harvesting ritual to give them actual magical power)? For that matter, can someone set up a Harvesting ritual for another person and force the benefits upon them without their permission (i.e. Harvesting one enemy to drive another mad, or as an experiment), or does the beneficiary have to cast the ritual?

On a separate note, does shapeshifting magic cast upon others affect their mental state? In a number of works of fantasy and fantasy games, being in a different shape has a number of risks for the person’s consciousness, and it’s recommended, if not against the magical law, that you don’t cast a spell on someone else that changes their shape drastically. I’m guessing that changing a face doesn’t have the same consequences (though I could be wrong about that), but if you had the magic to turn someone into a frog, would it fuck with their head as well?

Thank you for your time!

What is this, Harvesting day?

For the first question, yes, you can do that, and yes, it works exactly like you’re saying. There’s a reason the Council comes down so hard on anyone they catch doing that. As for doing it to someone else . . . I mean, I guess it’s possible, but if you’re willing to go that far, what would you get for doing it to someone else?

And yes, shapeshifting magic can REALLY mess with someone’s head. Actual shifter mages can work around it by doing some on-the-fly brain modification, but even so it’s risky, and apparently a lot of shapeshift mages end their careers by shapeshifting a bit too well and forgetting that they’re supposed to be a human. Doing it to someone else . . . yeah, I think that’s basically a slower, more reversible way of killing them. Unless they get help then they’re going to go insane or lose their identity pretty fast.

From: Gabriel

Hi Luna,

Long time reader. It’s nice to finally write in.

I know that mages and some magical creatures can make imbued items and that those items possess a form of consciousness and will.

Mages can also make constructs, but those are guided by simple programming.

Would it be possible to combine the two disciplines? Could a dedicated enough individual create an imbued construct with a consciousness and will of its own?

Frankenstein’s ice cat, if you will?

It is possible, but it’s supposed to be difficult. I don’t know enough about item creation to explain it in detail, but the rituals for creating an imbued item and the ones for creating a construct are supposed to work in really different ways, so it’s not just a matter of making an imbued item and then adding arms and legs. Light mages don’t do it because it’s too expensive, but there are rumours that some master mages go in for that kind of stuff (though they usually keep the results a secret).

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AMA/On Holiday

My Reddit Ask Me Anything is done!  You can view it here.  Lots of good questions – I enjoyed myself!

And that’s it for me for a while.  I’m off on holiday, leaving today.  I’ve left a few Ask Luna posts ready to go, so the blog should keep on updating every Friday while I’m gone.  See you when I get back!

Posted in Interviews, News | 1 Comment

Reddit AMA Is Live

My Reddit Ask Me Anything is live as of right now!  I’ll be answering questions over the next 24 hours or so, so if there’s anything you want to know, head over there and post!

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Done

Aaaaaand finished.  Alex Verus #8 is written, has had its first brief edit, and is in the hands of my publishers as of two days ago.  This one has been really tough to get through – I started around October 1st of last year, meaning that I’ve been working on it for six and a half months straight.  I don’t generally take breaks when I’m working on a new book, at least not for more than a day or two, and so the first thing I’m going to be doing as of next week is going on holiday.  I’ll queue up some posts for the website, and I’ll try to clear my now-far-too-big email backlog before I go.

The bad news (for those who’ve just finished Burned and want to know what’ll happen next) is that just because I’ve finished the second draft, that doesn’t mean it’ll be published anytime soon.  I did a blog post on the writing process and wait times, but the short version is that my books take at least 10 months to go from first draft to publication, and that’s the low end.  The average is more like a year.  So I wouldn’t expect Alex Verus #8 to be out in shops and on the Kindle store until around Spring 2017.  Yes, I know it’s a long time to wait.  Sorry.

But in the meantime, if there’s anything you REALLY want to know, you can ask me at my Reddit AMA on r/fantasy this coming Tuesday, on April 26th.  For those who don’t know, a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) is pretty much what it sounds like – a general Q&A aimed at fans and other interested parties.  I’ll be starting it at 12pm GMT on April 26th, and finishing at 12pm GMT on April 27th;  in between those times I’ll check in regularly and answer anything I can.  I’ll post a direct link on Twitter and here one the AMA goes live.

And that’s about it!  See some of you (hopefully) on Tuesday and I’ll have more to tell you then!

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