Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Paper Magician Blog Tour

You may have heard that the book chooses the writer. Whether stated whimsically ("no one else can write the book in your heart") or matter-of-factly ("you have unique passion and experience to write the books you write"), there is universal agreement on the general concept.

Today we're going to test that theory.

I have the pleasure of welcoming Charlie N. Holmberg to the blog for today's post. Her recently released debut, The Paper Magician, has been doing very well already. If you haven't read it yet, you're behind the times!

Here's what the book is about:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Now if this book was your idea, how would you set about writing it? Where would you start? What would the book be like?

This is how I might write it:

   It was a dark and stormy night. Ceony Twill raced along rain-slicked cobbled streets, her paper mache machete held close to her chest. If it got soaked, it wouldn't be able to hack through anything. Already the glue was starting to run down her elaborate (but sensible!) bodice.
   Hers wasn't the most glamorous of jobs, but somebody had to keep the Chicago streets free of eldritch mobsters. Wealthy heiress by day, magic-wielding hunter by night, Ceony was no stranger to the darker side of the city. She hadn't chosen this life; it chose her.
   Like most graduates of Tagis Praff, the secret school of magic, she used to think that paper magic was for show and whimsy. Now she knew better; the proof was in her hands. Nothing was as sharp as paper, and already tonight her machete had hunted one dark Excisioner. The blood mage's final words still echoed in her mind...

What do you think, Charlie? Have I completely mangled your opening paragraphs?

Charlie: Whoah... I'm already picturing a cliche leather-clad ginger on the cover of this one. XD And a paper machete? Even without rain that would be useless! XD

While this makes Ceony sound Bad-A, she, unfortunately, isn't. Especially on the first page of the book, she lacks skills, hates paper, and is hardly a "monster hunter," even if monsters existed (short of zombie seagulls, of course.)

Let's add more sunlight with a touch of dark and more whine. We'll keep the sensible bodice:

   For the past five years, Ceony had wanted to be a Smelter.
   However, while most graduates of the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined got to choose what material they dedicated their craft to, Ceony had been assigned. “Not enough Folders,” Magician Aviosky had explained in her office.
   Less than a week had passed since Ceony had heard this, and she still felt the tears that had stung the back of her eyes. “Paper is a wonderful medium,” Mg. Aviosky had continued, “and one that’s lost credit in recent years. With only twelve acting magicians left in that discipline, we have no choice but to direct a portion of our apprentices that way. I’m sorry.”
   So was Ceony. Her heart had broken at those words, and now, standing before the gate of Magician Emery Thane’s lair, she wished it had stopped beating altogether.

Well, there it is. I think we have our proof. I was absolutely not the right writer for that book, but Charlie most definitely was. My version was silly and cliche. Charlie's has heart. (Quite literally, actually. It has quite a lot to do with one heart in particular.) She has created a clever magic system and likable characters, and the book is a pleasure to read.

Thanks for joining us, Charlie, and congratulations on such a strong debut!

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