It is my great pleasure to introduce a fellow local author, S. Evan Townsend, who is on tour with us today to talk about mixing magic and the real world, as well as his book, Book of Death, Please give him a warm welcome!
Mixing magic and the real world
The first thing I ever wrote in what has become the "Adepts Universe" (where some people, called "adepts" can manipulate people and nature through spells) started out as a science fiction story. Sometimes when I'm bored I just start writing a story not with any idea of it going someplace. So I was writing this story set in the near future about a man on the run from. . . something (I hadn't determined that yet). I was setting up the scene (a motel room just south of the "Seattle-Portland megalopolis") when for some reason I typed: "I put alarm spells on the door and window and put the gun on the nightstand." I have no idea why. The scene continued:
It could have been a few minutes or it could have been hours later when the door alarm woke me. In my mind I saw the door fly open and two armed men rushed in. Warriors, I thought, that's not very imaginative. A bright light, part of the spell, slapped them in the face letting me clearly see their weapons, sawed-off shotguns, and as an added benefit prevented them from seeing me.
(I originally called the "warriors" by the term "orcs" but decided I didn't want the reader to think they were not human.) Suddenly I had magic in the (almost) real world. I had to develop a vocabulary such as "adepts" for the people with magical powers, "lessers" for those without such powers (I wanted to avoid clichés such as "mundanes"). I established a few rules (don't let another adept learn your name, for instance) and some history.
So one day I was out on my daily constitutional, and I got thinking about war (The U.S. had recently invaded Afghanistan). And I decided the last war pretty much everyone could agree on as a "Good War" (in Studs Terkel's phrase) was World War II so maybe I should write a story about World War II to show how war is sometimes painfully necessary to maintain our freedoms. And, maybe I'm lazy, but I decided instead of inventing a whole new universe, I'd use the Adepts universe I'd developed in that short story. From this came the first novel in the Adepts Series called Hammer of Thor (which sort of took on a life of its own and grew from the Great Depression to the Korean War).
This choice forced some challenges on me. I wanted to make the novel historically accurate (except where I twist history a bit to say "this is not our universe"). My adepts don't drive, are disdainful of weapons unless they are magical, and generally have a bad attitude toward lessers. As my hero says to a Navy Admiral, "Why would the guilds get involved in lesser matters, especially this war of yours?"
How did I handle this? I simple treated magic as technology that some people knew how to use but most didn't. I decided that what separates adepts from lessers is what separates chemical engineers from mere mortals (I took chemical engineering classes in college and never worked so hard for "C"s in my life). I put limits on this technology. If an adept uses a lot of spells, they grow tired. The more powerful the spell, the more tired they get. They use talismans to increase their power. Without their talisman they are not able to spell as much or as well and get tired more quickly. Talismans vary in their power. And my adepts still have to worry about the laws of physics (I even mention the inverse square law as limiting the range of their spells).
This brings their spells into the real world. You could look at my adepts as superheroes (except some of them are supervillains) and even Superman had kryptonite.
I found mixing magic and the real world fun, challenging, and I think it resulted in a unique series of novels, including Book of Death.
Author: S. Evan Townsend
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Length: 266 pages
Sub-Genres: Vampires, Paranormal Entities
They live among us. We know they are there. No government can control them; no authority can stop them. Some are evil. Some are good. All are powerful. They inhabit our myths and fairy tales. But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers? What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit? And what if some of them discovered a power that other adepts could not match.
During the turbulent 1960s, when American adept Peter Branton agrees to go to Transylvania for the CIA, he suspects it's not about ball bearings as he was told. What he finds is a plot that could kill millions of people and plunge the world into eternal tyranny and bloodshed. Branton doesn't know it, but he's about to face the adept guilds' worst nightmare: practicing necromancers with a taste for human blood.
I'd never seen this type of meta before. At least I assumed that's what it was, as the wooden man inexorably walked toward me with a creak of moving wood, like tree branches in a heavy wind. It was raising its arms for another blow so I stepped back and shot an airbolt at it. I heard wood crack, but that didn't stop it. It swung again and its wooden fist pounded into my face, knocking me down and back on the sidewalk. Somewhere I heard screams and yells. A guy sitting on the sidewalk, his back to a storefront, muttered, "Wow, bad trip, man."
The Indian was bending over, its face expressionless except for the painted-on peace sign as it seemed to prepare for another attack. I shot fire at it, assuming old dry wood would ignite easily, and it did: the hippie dress went up in flames, and now the monster was a burning mass, still attacking me. It smacked me again with a flaming arm and I suffered from both the impact and the burns. Nearly screaming, I scrambled away on hands and knees. I don't think I'd ever been that scared. Still it came, oblivious to the fact it was on fire.
A motorcycle cop I hadn't noticed jumped off his bike, pulled his service revolver, and shot it into the Indian with six cracks of bullets being fired. It had no effect other than sending burning splinters of wood flying. The cop suddenly looked frightened, and was gripping his billy club but taking no further action.
People were screaming loudly now. I looked around, looking for an escape. If I could teleport away I might escape, but I could see no clear place to teleport to. Briefly I wondered what happened to Ernestine and if she were safe. I didn't sense the presence of another adept, but I didn't really have the ability to be quiet enough to do so. I just hoped she was okay.
The burning Indian smacked me again, hard, in the chest and I felt as if my feet left the ground as I was knocked into a car's side. I heard and felt sheet metal crumple and knew I'd hit the car hard. My vision was going gray. But I realized my shirt was on fire and that kept me from passing out; if I passed out I was probably dead. I pulled water from the air to douse the fire, but this took time and the Indian was on me again, even though it was moving very slowly.
I wondered if I'd survive until the wooden Indian had been consumed by the flames. It hit me again, knocking me to the sidewalk. There was an unpleasant smell and I realized my hair was burning. I used my bare hand to pat out the flames. This gave the Indian time to hit me again, hard. It almost felt as if I flew through the air and was slapped painfully to the sidewalk, the Indian still lumbering toward me.
In desperation I shot another airbolt at it. It must have been on the verge of falling apart because that hit blew it into flaming pieces that scattered over the street and also hit me, burning my skin or singeing my clothes. But it was no longer attacking.
Buy Links: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Death-S-Evan-Townsend/dp/1938961269/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346773559&sr=1-6&keywords=S.+Evan+Townsend (paperback/Kindle)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
S. Evan Townsend has been called 'America's Unique Speculative Fiction Voice.' Evan is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Yx9cFijsA8Q
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/Yx9cFijsA8Q
Series Trailer: http://youtu.be/KDynSa08pe8 (if anyone is interested).