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?


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

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.

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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!

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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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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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Reddit AMA April 26th

Just finishing up Book #8, but in the meantime, I’m going to be doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on r/fantasy tomorrow week, on April 26th.  More details (including exact timings) closer to the date!

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Nearly There

Writing the epilogue of Book #8.  (Given how many updates I’ve been giving on this one, I wonder if you guys want this to be over as much as I do.)  Admittedly, given the length, it shouldn’t really be all that surprising that it’s run past the deadline – it’ll be around 115,000 words by the time it’s done, which is pretty long given that the early Alex Verus novels average between 85,000 and 90,000.

The good news is that it’s almost over.  Once that’s over with, I’ve got a long backlog of Ask Luna questions to do, as well as an anniversary post and a whole lot of emails that I’ve let pile up.  (Oh, and the new sales figures have come in, too – will do an update on that as well, but short version, they’re very good.)

Just a little more . . .

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Burned Reviews

Still busy with book #8, but in the meantime a whole bunch of reviews for Burned have been coming in.  Here’s a selection!

Whatchamacallit Reviews
I Smell Sheep
The Genre Minx
Fangtastic Fiction
One Book Two
The Arched Doorway

I’ve also done an interview for PW Radio, which should be going live sometime today.  Will post up the link when it does.

. . . And back to writing.

Edit:  Interview is live!  You can listen to it here.

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