Forged Release Week!

Well, after a long, long wait, we’re nearly there!  Forged will be out in paper, ebook, and audiobook format in the US and Canada four days from now, on the 24th!

The non-US edition will be released a week later, on December 1st, and I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA two days later, on the 3rd.  

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Empty Backlog

A very unusual event as of last week – the backlog of Ask Luna questions is finally clear!  It had got to the point where I was answering messages that had been in the queue for months, so it’s nice to have an empty mailbox at last.  I can’t even remember the last time that I cleared the backlog – I’ve got the feeling it was years ago.  

It’s good timing, since the release of Forged is very close (November 24th for US & Canada, December 1st for UK and everywhere else).  The next few weeks will all be release announcements.  

And on the subject of Forged, my UK author copies came in!  The UK cover looks more ominous than usual, which may or may not relate to the contents.  

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Ask Luna #173

From: Kevin

So awhile back you mentioned that seeing your curse was hazy because you struggled with mage vision and couldn’t analyze spells like Alex does. Another time you said that you could now activate focus items but that you did it differently from Alex.

My question is do you think Chance magic in general relies less on mage vision and more on “feeling out”/sensing instead of the more visual effects other mages use?

And to clarify you activate focus items and gate stones by using your curse and that is how you do it differently from Alex?

I activate everything using my curse.  My curse is my magic, that’s how I do stuff.  When all you’ve got is a hammer, you get really creative solving problems with a hammer.  As for visual effects, that’s very personal depending on the mage, I think. 

From: Kevin

Hey Luna I just wanted to say sorry if I frustrated you about my questions about Deleo and her jinn and various other things. I have a disability that makes it difficult to understand things that aren’t clearly spelled out to me and it takes me awhile to process it like everyone else seems to.

But I took your advice that you said in a previous question about keeping you mind open, assume you don’t know everything, and learning the big things by picking up the smaller things.

Like with Deleo pulling off things other powerful mages could not do, the most obvious one was her surviving a blast from Anne that took out Sal Sarque presumably one of the toughest Fire mages in the country.

And putting things together from previous events a likely reason why Morden let himself be imprisoned for so long, was because he knew the Light Council would take forever to decide on his fate and by that time Richard would get Anne to bust him out which would cause the Light Council look incompetent and further weakened.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I took you advice to heart and hopefully am on the right track to understanding things so you don’t have to keep going over things again and again. But to put all of this in a question do you think with my two examples I am on the right path? Sorry in advance if I am off the mark but if I am not thank you for your input it really helps not just with you and Alex’s adventures but in real life as well.

P.S. Is there a chance magic skill that only you can do and other chance mages could not? Just wanted to ask something new that I don’t think anyone else hasn’t asked yet.

You’re more on the mark, yeah. 

One of the things that’s been frustrating me this year is the number of people asking me stuff that’s just completely impossible to answer.  “Why did Morden/Richard do X two years ago when I think they should have done Y because Z?”  Now stop and think about it for a second – how am I POSSIBLY supposed to know the answer to that?  They’re asking for someone’s internal thoughts/reasoning (which I don’t know), about something that happened years ago (which would make it even harder to find out), and then comparing it to their idea of how this person is supposed to act (which is probably wrong). 

I suppose what’s going on is that people have their own idea of how things are “supposed” to work, and they get confused when it doesn’t happen, and then they write in to ask me.  But the problem is that a lot of the time their idea about how things are supposed to work assumes stuff that’s not true. 

Like, take Morden.  I’ve lost count of how many questions I’ve had about “why did/didn’t Morden do this?”  And usually the implication is that Morden was supposed to do something else instead because that’d be better for gaining more power and taking over the country.  But here’s the thing – I’m pretty sure at this point that Morden doesn’t WANT to take over the country.  Maybe Richard does, but Morden doesn’t.  He’s not just after power, he’s got his own weird set of principles that might not make sense to most people, but he genuinely believes in them.  So it makes him really hard for most people to predict, because they don’t understand where he’s coming from. 

This is what I was getting at with the “don’t assume you know everything” thing – you’re never going to be able to predict how someone like that will act, because you don’t understand them.  The most you can do is keep watching and keep learning.

From: Celia

Hi, Luna! Thanks for taking over the shop from Alex. He seems like a nice chap. Do you ever worry he might end up like Richard, though? Both diviners, it seems, both like their cool toys, both not that reluctant to kill. Alex may be one monkey’s paw away from being just. like. Richard.

You’re not the first person to ask, but my answer’s always the same.  I’ve known Alex for a long time, and he trusts me, and I trust him.  He’s done a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t, but even at his worst, I always feel like I can understand where he’s coming from.  So no, I don’t think he’ll end up like Richard.  I’ve got faith in him, even if we end up going different ways. 

From: bibliosopher

Hi Luna,

I’ve really enjoyed your answers to these questions over the years. I was wondering if it’s possible for a chance mage to accomplish something like divination by using her power in conjunction with a tool like Tarot cards? She could cause the cards to fall out so that they are lucky/useful for her? thanks,

Bibliosopher

Completely possible, yeah.  Wouldn’t work for me, though.  I’ve spent too long learning to use my magic differently.  Sometimes I wonder if I might have copied some things from Alex subconsciously – he doesn’t like tarot cards/fortune telling, so at some level I don’t think it’s useful either.  He never directly taught me the way Chalice did, but I feel like I picked up a lot of his ways of thinking. 

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Crunch Month

Still busy on Verus #12.  The book’s a bit over 80% done.  

I usually split the first draft of my Alex Verus novels into six sections.  Each section is about three chapters, and each chapter is about 5,000 words.  Six 15,000 word sections equals a 90,000 word book – sometimes there’ll be a chapter more or less, and I’ll often have an ‘epilogue’ chapter at the end that’s a bit shorter than the others, but if you go back and take a look, my previous Alex Verus novels have come in fairly consistently at around 15 chapters each.  I never planned it that way, it’s just the way things worked out.  

At the moment I’m finishing section 5 out of 6 of Alex Verus #12.  Once it’s done I’ll give it an edit, send it off to my beta readers, and then it’ll be time to start the sixth and final section.  My deadline is December 1st, which I suspect I won’t quite make (I’m going to have some other things keeping me busy in November, and the last section will probably have an epilogue that’ll need a bit of extra work) but I doubt I’ll miss it by much.  The book should easily be done by Christmas.  

The crunch month in the title has been this one.  At the beginning of this October I was about 50% of the way through, with three sections completed.  Since then I’ve written nearly two full sections more, almost 30,000 words, which I think might be a personal record.  It would be nice if I could make this kind of progress all the time – unfortunately things aren’t quite that simple, and to go this fast I have to focus on my writing to the exclusion of nearly everything else, as well as put in a lot of groundwork beforehand.  Still, it’s nice when it works out!

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Moving Onwards

One month to go to Forged!

Alex Verus #12 has been coming along very well the past few weeks – going on the assumption that the book will be the standard 90,000 words, it’s now 70% done.  I’ve got the feeling that it might end up running a little longer than 90k, but we’ll have to wait and see (and it probably won’t be much longer, in any case).

No other real news.  I’m just working away and counting down to Forged’s release date.

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Ask Luna #172

From: Kevin

Do you think diviners may have an affinity to bond with imbued items and/or using Elsewhere? The only reason I ask is because I think divination is one of the few magic types that doesn’t directly affect the physical world, and Alex and Richard seem to be the top wielders of imbued items/otherworldy powers. Maybe diviners can access the spirit world better because of their mindset?

Or another possibility is you know how fire magic is terrible at defense yet Landis as far as we know has the best defensive magic in Great Britain? Do you that the best mages are ones who take their magic types weakness, fire’s lack of defense, diviners lack of directly affecting the world and through skill/determination/sacrifice are able to drastically improve their strength?

Sorry if that last part is completely obvious but I guess it’s kinda of like lifting a thousand pounds with your bare hands, simple but almost impossible to do because as far we know no other fire mage comes close to Landis’s defensive skill, and all the other diviners seem to be information gatherers.

But in any event do you think both parts of my question has some truth to them or am I just overreaching?

I don’t think Alex is good with imbued items and in Elsewhere because he’s a diviner, I think he’s good at those things because he’s Alex. As in, it’s because of the person he is, not because of the powers he has. Though he has those powers because of the person he is, so . . . maybe very indirectly? But as far as I understand it, he got those particular skills just by practising a lot and being willing to do some pretty weird and dangerous stuff that most mages wouldn’t touch.

And I don’t actually know if Landis has a special talent for defence. It’s more like he’s just really quick and practised and efficient, so he can block attacks that would get through against anyone else.

So I think it’s more that, if you want to keep on getting better, you eventually have to address the stuff you’re bad at and either focus on that until you’re good at it, or find a way to make it not matter.

From: Michael

Why don’t guys have a stash of IV glucose solutions on hand?

Anna can pretty much heal anything, maybe not cancer the way she described her life magic to work (although if she could manipulate the bahviour of NK white cells even that isn’t off the table), but anything trauma related if she gets to it fast enough you will live.

The only problem being that she needs energy for the healing to take place. For that she usually uses the energy of the body she is healing, and her own. The energy we are talking here about appears to be organic in nature – since people she helped heal are always thirsty and hungry, signs of intense metabolic processes.

A 5% glucose solution is, besides the 0,7% NaCl solution the most common used IV drip you can get and it solves both problems – it safely hydrates the body while providing energy. You can get it without a prescription in any pharmacy, and putting in an IV can be learned in 20 minutes.

It is the easiest solution to the most basic problem they meet when dealing with heavy injuries, especially when they consider Anne. So why not?

Honest answer? I don’t know. I don’t really know anything about glucose solutions or how the body processes energy, so it never occurred to me to ask.

If I had to guess, it might be because there’s something about glucose solutions that doesn’t help very much for some life-mage reason I wouldn’t know about. But it might also be because that’s just not how Anne learned how to do it. It’s actually a really common thing with mages. They learn some specific way to do a spell, and then they stick with it. So maybe when Anne was learning to heal she didn’t have glucose solutions around, so she developed her own ways to recover her energy and the patient’s energy with just regular food, because that was what she had and that was what she had to make work.

Or maybe not. It’s not like I can really ask her these days.

From: jamescagney22

So I am just following off the question asked by Geli in 166, about Richard not keeping Alex close despite putting all that effort into training him. Now Geli has a good point about Alex being a backup/legacy in case Richard fails with his power grab but I think now that we know Richard is a diviner it could be something related to their magic type.

I get the feeling that Richard has a lot of respect for Alex in the sense that he is very capable with his magic/getting results and thus he doesn’t feel the need to micromanage like he seems to with Deleo. So as long as Alex is working towards his ends he does not have to be on his side per se… until events in Burned and Fallen forced Drakh’s hand. Plus as a fellow diviner perhaps he figures that giving Alex a freer hand will get a better result then if he tried to use more forceful measures… which backfired on him in tremendously in Fallen.

So my questions are

A. Are diviners typically loners/work best with their magic when they are left alone? I know this might seem obvious but Alex and to an extent Richard are well rather social/politically active that is is hard to see that.

B. Do you think diviners have a different view of time then everyone else has? By that I mean do you think seeing the future makes the short and long term future more fluid in the mind of a diviner? Hence Richard waiting for Alex a few years to join him would be no different then it would be yesterday? I hope I am phrasing this right.

Yeah, the way Alex explained it was that from Richard’s point of view, he’d won against Alex every time before, so when Alex showed up for what was the twentieth time or whatever, Richard just let things play out because he was confident that he’d win again.

Oh, right, the questions.

For A, yes, definitely. Alex is more of an introvert than pretty much anyone I know. Back when I first knew him, I think I was basically the only person he talked to besides Arachne. Even when he got into politics, he was never that comfortable with the social side of things, and after a work day, he’d want to go off on his own to recharge.

For B, no. I mean, they do see the future differently in their weird diviner way, but Alex gets bored and gets tired of waiting just the same as everyone else. I think Richard being willing to wait so long is because he’s just really patient.

From: Allison

Hey Luna I was watching Avatar the Last Airbender the other day and I was curious if some Elemental Mages had some overlap. Specifically…

1. Have you heard of any Fire Mages who could also use Lightning?

2. Do Water Mages have any healing abilities whether it is only on themselves or if they could also heal other people.

3. Can Earth Mages also manipulate metal or other materials like plastic, rubber etc…

Sorry if these are off base just thought it would be interesting if there was some connection!

Heh. Yeah, I remember when that came out. I think I’d have really liked it as a kid.

1. No, fire mages don’t get to be lightningbenders. You’d think there’d be some overlap, but there isn’t much of one, beyond the usual edge cases. I think it’s because they do such similar things.

2. Water magic can’t heal, but it’s sort of healing-adjacent, if you know what I mean. When you do get elemental-life hybrids, it always seems to be water that’s the element they can use.

3. For metal, sometimes. Metal mages are their own type, but earth and stone and metal mages are all in the same sub-family and they overlap a lot. I’ve never heard of them having any kind of connection with rubber, though.

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After Verus

So with Alex Verus #12 creeping slowly but steadily onwards, I thought I’d talk a bit about something different – the ‘what are you going to write next?’ question.  I’ve been asked it a ton of times by now, but it’s difficult to give a good answer because I’m not sure myself what the answer is.  

I’m definitely going to keep on writing full-time, and the odds are pretty good that I’m going to end up doing another series.  I’ve played around with the idea of doing a standalone novel just for a change, but I don’t know if I will.  I’ve always liked long stories – I like the sense of adventure you get from setting off on a journey where you get to see the characters grow and change along the way.  And writing a story as a series rather than as one giant doorstopper makes it more manageable to write and read.  

On the other hand, starting a new series completely from scratch is a scary prospect.  A book series is a huge investment of time and effort and there’s no guarantee that it’ll pay off.  I’ve got a decent-sized readership these days, but just because they like the Alex Verus books doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll like the next thing I write too.  

The other possibility is to write another series set in the Alex Verus universe, using the same setting and possibly some of the same characters as well.  In a lot of ways it’s the safe option, because I know I’ve got a guaranteed group of readers who’d be interested.  The problem is that it feels a lot like too safe an option – it feels a lot like treading water.  Spin-off series are pretty much never as successful as the original, and I’ve always had the feeling that that’s because they’re inherently less interesting.  

There’s also the fact that doing something new and scary was how I got the Alex Verus series in the first place.  When I wrote the first draft of what would eventually turn into Fated, I’d never written anything like an urban fantasy novel before.  If I hadn’t been willing to take the risk and try something new, I’d probably never have made it.  

That said, assuming I do a new series, I’ve got the feeling I’d like to stay broadly within the urban fantasy genre.  I’ve written books in a lot of genres in the past – children’s, children’s fantasy, science fiction, adventure, and even an epic fantasy novel that holds the dubious honour of being the only book of mine that I’ve ever abandoned a few chapters in.  I like all those genres in their own way, but there’s something about urban fantasy that really appeals to me in a way that others don’t.  It has all the things I like about epic fantasy, while still being tied closely to our world.  

But as to what kind of urban fantasy . . . well, I’m still figuring that out.  I’ll let you know when I do!

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Ask Luna #171

From: Kevin

1. Have you or Alex ever talked to Hermes with the dreamstone? Do you understand him like you would a human or is and have you learned anything different about him?

2. Has Vari adjusted his fighting style/magic since he got his mage name? I heard he changed his sword and he also started using regular fire instead of heat blasts, is he changing his style after learning from Landis or is he just expanding his move-set so to speak.

1. Alex has. He understands him pretty well, though they seem to get on more of an emotional level. I don’t think Hermes really ‘talks’ in the way that we do.

2. Nope. The name’s just a name as far as he’s concerned. He doesn’t treat it as anywhere near as much of a big deal as most Light or Dark mages do. Don’t know whether it’s Alex’s influence or Landis’s.

From: Chuck

Hey, Luna!
I’m sorry if someone asked this already – I wasn’t able to check through all the archives, so if they did, apologies! Have you and Alex ever discussed whether Deleo’s mask could be an imbued object, and if so, what it does? It seems to have some sort of effect on her mind beyond what a simple mask would do. I realize there’s probably no way to be sure… Also, if it is, do you think that Arachne might have made it for her or Richard, and why?

Thanks,
Chuck

Really really unlikely. Imbued items are pretty much the opposite of subtle – they radiate so much power that even sensitives can spot them from the other side of a room (not in an ‘oh, that’s a magic item’ way, more of a ‘what the hell is that?’ way). Mages can spot them through a brick wall. And Alex’s magesight is better than most – there is no way he could look straight at an imbued item for that long and not figure out what it was.

You do get the occasional imbued item that has some capability to hide or shield itself, but they’re not all that common. And it’s hard to imagine Deleo doing that good a job of keeping it secret. So I’m pretty sure that Deleo changing her personality when she puts on a mask has got nothing to do with the mask and everything to do with her.

From: Kevin

Hey Luna I noticed that Alex seems to in terms of magic have a lot of traits in common with time magic since he seemed get along with Sonder and the auxiliary mage Abeyance well enough. And it kinda of seemed like space magic overlaps with time magic in terms of them being analytical/book smart for lack of a better word.

So my question is have you noticed personality traits that diviners, time, and space mages have in common and what traits makes them noticeable different from each other. Not looking for an in depth analysis just obvious stuff.

They tend to be ‘smart guy/girl’ types – intelligent, analytical, read a lot, that kind of thing. The kind who’d be in the chess club rather than the sports team. Beyond that, it probably varies too much to pin down.

From: Nate

You once mentioned that you’d find a Alex/Vari slash fic funny well…
https://archiveofourown.org/works/19283494
What do you think Alex/Vari’s reaction would be upon reading this?

Oh god my eyes.

Okay, I’ve changed my mind about it being funny. It feels REALLY wrong reading this stuff about people you actually know.

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First Chapter of Forged Online

The first chapter of Alex Verus #11, Forged, is online!  You can read it here.  

Advance warning for newer readers:  this is not intended as a standalone novel.  This is the second-to-last instalment in a 12 book series, and Forged builds VERY heavily on what’s gone before.  If you jump into book #11 without haven’t read book #10, Fallen, you are going to be totally confused as to why the hell the characters are in the place they are, and why Alex is following the person he’s following.  

Okay, with that over, go have fun!  Forged comes out in the US almost exactly two months from today, on November 24th, with the UK edition releasing a week later.  

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Updates, Releases, and AMAs

Update time!

First bit of news is that Alex Verus #12, the final Alex Verus novel, is 50% done.  If you’re wondering how I get these estimates, from past experience I go by the rule of thumb that each book will be around 90,000 words.  Sometimes they run a little bit longer – Bound I think holds the record at 110,000 – but usually it’s a fairly safe bet that the full novel will be around 90-95k.  With the most recent chapter I’ve finished of Alex Verus #12, the manuscript’s sitting at 46,000 words, so I’m going to call it halfway there.  I’d been hoping to finish book #12 at about the time of the release of book #11 – at the moment it’s looking like I’m going to miss that deadline, but probably not by very much.  

On the subject of book #11, Forged, here’s an updated release schedule!

• September 25th:  First chapter of Forged will be posted on this website.  
• November 24th:  US & Canada release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)
• December 1st:  UK & rest of world release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)
• December 3rd:  I’ll be holding a Reddit AMA on r/fantasy.  

For those of you who haven’t read a Reddit AMA before, it stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’ and it’s an opportunity for you guys to ask you anything you like about the new book, the older books, the new book, or the series in general.  I’ve been doing one of these a year and I enjoy them quite a bit, so do come along if there’s anything you’d like to ask.  

And finally, in unrelated news, the ebook edition of Fated is on sale in the UK for 99p!

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