Bookitcon: Chapter Two! Interview with Lee Kelly!
Sunday, August 7th, 2016 – 16 East Main Street Moorestown, NJ 08057
Bookitcon: Chapter Two will include author signings, meet-and-greets, YA panels, and an after party! There also will be a book drive concurrent to the event. The majority of the profits from ticket sales will be used to revitalize a library in a low-income school in Camden County, New Jersey. Books donated at the event may also be distributed throughout the area, wherever books are needed!
Today on my blog I have Lee Kelly, author of A Criminal Magic here to answer some questions about her book and world! Lee is one of the authors who will be at Bookitcon, a charitable book event on August 7th (this Sunday!)! For more info on the event, check scroll to the bottom of this post.
About the Book
A Criminal Magic
by Lee Kelly
Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.
Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.
Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.
A Criminal Magic casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
Interview: Lee Kelly
- I love that A Criminal Magic is set in an alternate 1920’s era with magic! How did you come up with the concept?
Thank you! The book was a ton of fun to write. Coming up with the concept? Not as much (I always refer to my inspiration for A CRIMINAL MAGIC as “stress-induced brainstorming” 😉
I had signed a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster for my first novel, CITY OF SAVAGES, along with an “UNTITLED BOOK TWO.” But when it came time to write my second book under contract, I couldn’t settle on a concept, and started bouncing around from idea to idea. The weeks kept passing, and I was at a loss. So I took a step back, and tried to focus on what I really wanted to read, instead of write. I made this laundry list of everything I loved (as a child and as an adult) – from time periods to historical events, from movies to books and TV shows. I seriously poured over that list until my brain just started making fun and outlandish connections. And the words sorcerers, magic, and Prohibition started to congeal together on the page.
And for all the writers out there, I highly recommend this brainstorming method! I used it to brainstorm my next crossover project too – I really think it helps you focus on your interests and own unique way of looking at the world, and helps you build a book you’re actually going to be excited about enough to continue with until the end.
- How did you work out your magic system and world building in the book?
Oh man, this answer is a bit of a doozy, as I borrowed from alchemy, schools of parapsychology, performance and parlor magic to build the magic in the novel. . . but I guess there was a method to the madness!
Before I started thinking about rules and limitations and everything for my world, I just kept an open mind and completely immersed myself in all forms of what I consider magic. I researched, read and took notes on anything I found interesting or compelling about magic, without worrying or judging prematurely whether it was the sort of stuff I envisioned including in the novel. I read about parlor tricks, telekinesis, teleportation, obeah, shamanism, Wiccan beliefs, ancient alchemical practices – you name it.
Then, after I felt like I had a solid research foundation in magic, I turned to my research for the 1920s. I was researching for society norms, customs and period preferences, obviously, but I was also looking at Prohibition with a specific eye toward practices that naturally leant themselves to magic. Real criminal gangs in the Jazz Age, for example, made a fortune distributing illegal spirits, thanks to the countrywide ban on alcohol. But what if spirits were elixirs instead? What if they were made by sorcerers, and highly addictive? Savvy smugglers in the real 1920s would find ways to avoid the coast guard, drive out to a place called Rum Row (a spot in the Atlantic Ocean right behind U.S. water borders where international boats would park with their goods), and then purchase these goods outside of the law’s reach. So what if there was a Magic Row? And what if sorcerers aided smugglers by distorting coast guard signals and throwing up force fields? That sort of thing.
From there, I made connections “within” the magic, if that makes sense – analyzing the ideas, magic tricks and practices I’d started to focus on, in order to develop patterns and build a cohesive set of principles that would govern the magic and make it feel real. For example, after a lot of thought, I decided that the illusions sorcerers could build in the novel would be real – true manipulations of reality…. but then I realized there would need to be some sort of limitation, or magic’s possibilities would be limitless. Eventually I decided that no matter what a sorcerer created, whether an elixir or a magic manipulation or a protective force field, all of it would disappear after a day. That put a clock on elixirs’ shelf lives, which ended up driving a lot of the plot in the novel.
So it really was a bottom-up process for me, and then stepping back to make connections and create order!
- Do you listen to music while writing or use inspiration boards (like on Pinterest)?
Music – YES. I listened to a TON of jazz during the writing of the first draft, just to set the tone and put me in the right mindset. I listened to all of the hits of the late 1920s, and when they ran out, I’d just put on Pandora’s Big Band station. I also fell in love with the Road to Perdition soundtrack, so much so that I’m still listening to it while drafting one of my current projects.
And I think I might be one of the few writers who doesn’t use Pinterest! I love the concept, but I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use it (which I know sounds ridiculous!) But I do create these massive word documents for every project I work on that I think of as the digital equivalent of a scrap book: any random ideas I’ll come up with while driving or cleaning, quotes that remind me of the book’s feel or plot, links to potentially fruitful resources, thumbnail pictures or images that remind me of the novel or what I’m trying to conjure in a scene – all of that gets copies and pasted into my digital scrap book, which I’ll use and refer to throughout the entire writing and revision process. Is that basically Pinterest ;)?
- Which character was the easiest or most fun to write? Who was the hardest?
I actually think the character I had the most fun writing is this secondary character named Howie Matthews. Howie is main character Alex’s first point of contact and “door” into the Shaw Gang. Howie’s this young kid with a massive chip on his shoulder, who pretends to think very highly of himself, but deep down is extremely insecure. It was a ton of fun to write his scenes with Alex, especially considering how much Alex has riding on the relationship.
And I think the hardest character to write was one of the main characters, Joan. Without too many spoilers, I knew where I wanted her character arc to go, and I always envisioned – from the very beginning – what she was capable of, given the right motivations. And yet I still wanted to make her accessible and sympathetic. It was definitely a balancing act.
- Is A Criminal Magic a standalone or series?
It’s a standalone . . . but one day I’d love to write more in this world.
Bonus: 6: What are you working on next?
I’m working on two projects actually, and I’m pretty excited about both! The first MS is also a spec fiction adult/young adult crossover, like A Criminal Magic, and takes place in college. The other is a middle grade project that’s near and dear to my heart, about a girl who travels to a dark, mythical place to save her father.
(Full list can also be found here: https://ububiz.com/2016-author-list/)
Lisa A. Koosis
Martina A Boone
S Usher Evans
Bookitcon: Chapter Two is a charity book event. We currently have 30 incredible authors in our lineup. The book event will include meet-n-greets with the authors, along with two panels and the opportunity to get all of your books signed by all of the authors!
If you purchase the VIP ticket, you will also be invited to a VIP dinner/after party with the authors, along with getting an extra hour to get your books signed!
2:30- 3:30pm VIP signing! (open to VIP ticket holders only)
3:30- 6:00pm Regular signing! (open to all attendees)
3:30- 4:15pm Surprises in Publishing Panel!
4:30- 5:45pm Facts + Fiction Panel!
6:00- 8:00pm VIP Afterparty! (open to VIP ticket holders only)
Surprises in Publishing
Moderator: S Usher Evans
Panelists: Anna Breslaw
Facts vs Fiction
Moderator: Claire Legrand
Panelists: Beth Fantaskey
16 East Main Street Moorestown, NJ 08057
Sunday, August 7th, 2016
I decided to start UBUbiz because I wanted a way to combine my passions for reading, business, and charity/community service. After wracking my brain for months, the idea of Bookitcon suddenly appeared! This is my second year hosting Bookitcon, and I can’t wait.
Bookitcon: Chapter Two isn’t just your ordinary book event. I’m working with the nonprofit Grace in the Mud and two K-8 schools in Camden, NJ to help them grow their outdated libraries. The proceeds from this event will be benefiting them.
You can find more information on Grace in the Mud by going to their website (http://www.graceinthemud.org/home.html), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/GraceintheMud), or gofundme (https://www.gofundme.com/justforgirls).
Are you dying of jealousy because you’d love to be able to attend and get books signed by the attending authors? Don’t fear, because virtual signings are here! You can purchase books by any of the attending authors and get it shipped to your house, easy peasy!
Are you currently unsure but want to stay up to date with all of the latest news? Make sure to subscribe to the UBUbiz newsletter! http://bit.ly/1O4vM5O
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