Back To St. John’s

A nice piece from the website of my old Cambridge college: Magic and mystery awaits in Johnian fantasy author’s new novel.  (In case you’re wondering, yes, anyone who graduated from St. John’s College is a “Johnian”.)

Long time since I’ve been back to my university.  Brings back memories!

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Early Prep

While the countdown to Hidden ticks away (only a week and a half now) I’m spending nearly all my time thinking about Alex Verus #7.  For this book, I’m intending to go back to the model I used for Chosen – planning things out from the beginning (at least the first third or so).  For Alex Verus #6, I just made the whole thing up as I went along.  While it was kind of fun to do – it was pretty much the same way I wrote Fated and Cursed, which made it feel like a bit of a blast from the past – it was also really stressful.  I’d like to have a slightly more relaxed time of it this turn around.

Structurally, I think AV #7 will end up being most like Chosen, in that it’ll be a shake-up book that changes things.  Hidden and #6 have been a bit quieter in terms of major developments – while there’s been a lot going on, it hasn’t changed the landscape of the series in any obvious way.  I think I’ve done enough long-term preparation now that I can start messing with things.  Which should be fun!

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More Bits and Pieces

Some odds and ends for today:

  • Nine Worlds was fun!  Did a panel, signed quite a few books, had some entertaining conversations with readers, saw a couple of really cool cosplays, and got to practice my fencing.
  • Hidden’s release date is drawing closer – only two and a half weeks to go now until it comes out on 2nd September in the UK and US.  The author copies were delivered this week and now my room’s filled with UK (green) and US (red) Alex Verus books.
  • On Wednesday, Orbit (my UK publisher) held their 40th birthday party, which I was invited along to.  It coincided with Worldcon, meaning that loads of authors were in town who might otherwise not have been.  These conventions and parties are pretty much the only time I ever meet other people in my business – it’s nice to get to talk shop!
  • And finally, I’ve started at last to get some solid ideas for what I’m going to be doing for Alex Verus #7.  It’s still a long way off being started, but it’s a lot closer than it was a week ago and I’m looking forward to getting going on it.

Meanwhile there are the Alex Verus #6 edits, Hidden publicity thingies . . . business as usual, really.  Holiday month’s over, time to get back to work!

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Off at Nine Worlds

I’m off conventioneering; no post today.

In the absence of any other content, here’s the UK cover of Hidden.  I just like looking at it.  (And it’s even better in paper format.)

HiddenUKCover300

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Nine Worlds Friday 8th

I’m going to be at Nine Worlds next Friday, 8th August.

My schedule so far:

10:00 AM – 11.15 AM:  Urban Fantasy panel with Ed Cox, Laure Eve, and Paul Cornell.

11.15 AM – 12:00 ish?:  Signing at Forbidden Planet.  Not sure how long this one will last, but probably until noon or so.  Ed Cox will be there too.

After that I’ll probably be wandering around the convention poking at stuff.  Haven’t figured out where yet!

In the meantime, I’ve mostly been enjoying the hot weather.  July’s been my break month this year – now that August’s coming around, I’ve got the plans for Alex Verus #7 and the edits for #6 to do.  (I should probably think up a title for that one while I’m at it.)

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Hidden Chapter 1 Online

The first chapter of Hidden is posted!  You can read it here.  Full book will be published in the UK and US on September 2nd.

In other news:  I’m waiting on the edits for Alex Verus #6, planning my schedule for Nine Worlds, and starting to make the first tentative plans for Alex Verus #7.  Busy summer!

Edit: Link was broken; fixed now.

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Ask Luna #32

From: Bekah

So, most of the mages we’ve seen so far have matched up pretty neatly to the conventional personalities of their magic types. How accurate really is the perception that ice mages are coldhearted, fire mages are passionate, etc.? (So far it’s looking very accurate.) Do you think the tendency for mages to follow this pattern is the result of socialization (fire mages think they are supposed to be impulsive and respond by making no effort to curb impulsivity) or an actual genetic proclivity? Are there any striking examples of mages who straight-up flip the bird to these expectations?

On an unrelated note, sound magic sounds (hah) pretty fun. The encyclopedia article says sound mages tend to be verbal performers, and I was wondering how broad a description that was? Does verbal mean exclusively performing arts (acting, singing, politicking, etc.), or written language as well (literature, poetry, and so on)? How might a mage navigate the relationship between skill with spoken and unspoken words?

Thank you and sorry for the length!

*For the sake of being an ass, I would also like to mention that the sound mage article has a grammatical error in the second paragraph of the second subheading (a mixup of then with than).

The stereotypes are never 100%. There are lots of mages who rely on them all the time and make loud generalisations about how mages of X and X types are all the same, and honestly they just end up sounding stupid, as well as being wrong a lot. That said, the whole point about magic types is that your type is determined by your personality, not vice versa, so if you didn’t have SOMETHING that matched you to that type, you wouldn’t be able to use it in the first place (even if it’s not always obvious exactly what the something is).

Think of it this way – it’s not so much ‘ice mages are coldhearted’, it’s more like ‘being taller means you’re heavier’. Yeah, you can try to disprove it by starving yourself into anorexia, but is it really worth it?

As for sound mages, they have a tendency towards singing, but there’s a definite minority that go in for oratory and storytelling and stuff like that (as well as a few that just go for music and cut out the verbal part completely).

From: Andrew London

Do any mages have dual magical abilities. It seems like each character specializes in one field and has no abilities in any of the others…. It would be cool to have a couple weaker hybrid mages, or ones that can combine powers in different ways.

Yeah, there are plenty. They don’t really think of themselves as hybrids, though – they think the types of magic they combine just go naturally together, and they think that mages who can only use one or the other are weird.

From: drizztmajere

hey Luna,
Do you know if Alex thinks Garrick is a norm, sensitive, or adept?

Norm or sensitive, I think. Haven’t seen the guy for a while, which is fine by me.

From: drizztmajere

Hey Again Luna,
Couple questions, do you know what goes into the making of a construct? and if you do can you explain the process? My next question is have you guys checked to see if Onyx made it out alive and are preparing for him?

No idea how the things are made, sorry. I know that the more powerful ones use a bound elemental to power them, and the weaker ones run off an energy battery, but that’s about it. It’s a pretty specialised field.

As for Onyx . . . made it out of where? You mean the fight at the Tiger’s Palace? The guy’s a frigging cockroach, I seriously doubt we’re going to get rid of him that easily.

From: drizztmajere

Hey luna,
sorry once again I am rereading the whole think and questions just keep popping into my head. If it helps you to know I am not asking alot of questions lol…Right now i have two, do you know if anyone has ever made a life drain focus and if they have why hasn’t Alex gotten one to help him with those pesky elemenatal mages and when are you going to ask out Vari?

1. Yeah, they make life drain focuses. They’re banned under the Concord, but not like that stops the guys on the Dark side of the fence. They’re not a patch on what a life mage can do, though.

2. Mind your own business.

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Hidden RT review

Another nice review for Hidden, this one from Bridget Keown at Romantic Times.

“Jacka’s latest is a fast-paced, high-stakes adventure that pits the charming diviner and his companions against a long-hidden enemy who has the power to threaten their entire future.  The real-world and magical settings of these books are crafted with care and fascinating detail, and the range of characters and magic populating these worlds will keep readers spellbound.  But the real power of Jacka’s series comes from the very human journeys and revelations to be found for each character in the course of this story.”

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Ask Luna #31

From: Josh

Hey Luna,
In the last lot of questions you mentioned fate magic, and how it’s a sort of opposite to divination. Could we get more info on that? An Encyclopedia entry, maybe?
Thanks.

The basic idea of fate magic is that it can set future events that can’t be avoided. At least, that’s what I was told.

The thing is, though – and I don’t know why – you don’t get human fate mages any more. There are legends that they used to exist, but nowadays they’re either incredibly rare or all gone. So there isn’t much information floating around on how it works, because there’s no-one who actually knows the answers. (Well, okay, there’s the fateweaver, but for obvious reasons no-one really wants to try that.)

From: Elaine Felicity Green

Hi Luna,

Am I imagining the chemistry between Alex and Anne?

Yeah . . .

The short answer is no, you’re probably not, and that worries me a bit. I love Anne, and she’s my best friend, but . . . she’s got some pretty major stuff going on under the surface. It doesn’t come up when she’s doing mage things – she’s an amazing healer, and she works really hard with her patients. And most of the time it doesn’t come up when she gets hit on, either, because the guys who do it are usually looking for something really superficial. If anything happened with Alex, though . . . well, that probably wouldn’t be superficial. And I’m not sure what’d happen after.

I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see.

From: Kravix

Hi Luna,

I was just wondering about the difference in training between light and dark mages.

Alex was going crazy trying to find somebody to take in both Ann & Variam for training that matched their specific magic.

While Richard had four different apprentices with different types of magic. How could he possibly taught each of them more then the basics.

Thanks,
Kravix

Basically the question is: what are apprentices really supposed to be learning?

For Light mages, it’s all focused on magic and academic stuff. So they take one apprentice, and they spend ages training them on their own. And so this makes them really picky, because they’re only expecting to take one apprentice every ten years or so, maybe only one apprentice ever. They’ll usually only take apprentices of the same type, too, because they want to do all the training themselves.

Dark mages do it differently. They take a bunch of apprentices and have them compete. And they don’t really care what your magic type is – they’re more interested in what you can do. The thing is, you don’t actually have to take an apprentice of the same magic type as yours. As long as you’re the same family you can teach them the basics, and if you’re really good then you don’t even need that. Sure, you’ll eventually need to get them a teacher of the right type, but that doesn’t mean they need to be standing right next to them every minute of the day.

It’s different attitudes. Light mages want to take the perfect apprentice and build them up over years and years into the perfect mage. Dark mages just chuck all their apprentices in the deep end and let them sink or swim. One’s a lot easier to get into than the other.

From: John D.

Hey Luna!

Thanks for answering my last set of questions. I just came up with another few, and I hope you don’t mind answering them.

What does it take to be able to make a one-use item? Does Alex have to go to a force mage to get those force disk things of his, or an ice mage to get a freezing item? And what about imbued items? I assume they’re not easy to make, but do you have to be a particular type of mage, or get help from a magical creature, or is some other factor necessary?

Also, are magical creatures capable of wielding multiple “types” of magic? It seems that Arachne is using a pretty flexible power set when she makes things, and I was wondering if it’s because it all fits a theme (i.e. magical items she weaves can have a variety of effects) or
if she (and others) are capable of more than one flavor of magical ability?

Finally, what kind of powers do rakshasas wield? I’m sure that Jagadev doesn’t go advertising what type of magic he wields, but is there anything you know about their capabilities as a species?

Easiest way to make an item is to be able to cast the spell the item duplicates. So if you’re a force mage who can cast force walls, then as long as you understand item crafting, it’s not hard to make a forcewall one-shot that anyone else can use. Mages sell or trade the items they make, usually to item specialists who make a business out of selling or trading the things on in turn. Alex does a little of that himself, but he mostly gets his stuff from another mage called Lensman.

Arachne is . . . different. Basically, magical creatures don’t play by the same rules as humans. Things that are hard for us are easy for them, and stuff that’s hard for them is easy for us. For Arachne, she just seems to be really good at creation in general. I’m not sure if she could make something like a forcewall, but she seems to be able to put together nearly anything you can think of as long as it’s subtle. Arachne’s pretty high on the power scale, though – I don’t think there are many other creatures still around that can do what she can, and there definitely aren’t any humans who could put together an imbued item that easily.

As for rakshasas, they’re supposed to be warriors and illusionists. The stories are that they can take the shape of any other creature they like, and they’re very powerful in one-on-one combat, too.

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PW review for Hidden

We’re coming into the run-up for the September 2nd release of Hidden, and as is now traditional, the first review’ll be the Publishers Weekly one.  (Note: the review contains lots of spoilers, so I won’t post it here.  You can read it at the link, but consider yourself warned!)

I’ll post up the first chapter for Hidden some time this month, probably in a couple of weeks or so.  More reviews, news, etc as I get it!

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