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Reader's Give-aways 6: Spellsmith & Carver: Magicians' Rivalry

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Review: Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Rivalry by H.L. Burke

In Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians' Rivalry , author H.L Burke mixes magic with steampunk, witty banter, and romance.

After five years at the Magician’s Academy, Auric Spellsmith comes back home, ready to rebuild the strained relationship he has with his father. Father and son can’t communicate since the mysterious disappearance of Auric’s mother. But Auric is set to make a fresh start.

Once at home, he finds out that magician Jericho (Jerry) Carver has taken his place in Spellsmith Manor and in his father’s heart. Master Spellsmith and Jericho have become the friends Auric and his father can’t be. On top of that, Jericho is wooing Rill, Auric’s sister. The conflict between Jericho and Auric is inevitable. The two magicians begin bantering from the first time they meet in an exchange that is funny and engaging.

Their arguments end when Auric’s father vanishes in the Fey Land. Auric and Jericho must put aside their disagreements and work together to find Master Spellsmith.

The book has a lovely cast of characters and two strong male protagonists that remind me of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by S. Clarke. The original magic system has similarities with computer languages. (Those who read Nyssa Glass’s series know that H.L. Burke loves computers. She murders them, but yeah, she loves them). I love how magic and technology mingle, since in Spellsmith & Carver’s world people need magical energy to fuel machines and factories and to warm houses. And of course, what is a fantasy novel without a dragon, an angry unicorn, and a clockwork fox?

Auric and Jericho’s story continues in Spellsmith & Carver: Magicians’ Trial, and Spellsmith & Carver: Magicians’ Reckoning.

Find out more about H.L. Burke’s books here:



Author Interview with H.L. Burke

Barbara: What do you love about Auric and Jericho and what don’t you like about them?

H.L: Auric is a little bit like me, so even when he does things I don't agree with, I still understand him, which makes it hard not to like him. He tends to jump to conclusions, and I wish he wouldn't because it never ends well for him. I like thathe's mostly unafraid to express emotions. Of the two guys, he's the more open. Jericho, on the other hand, is a lot like my husband, a big sturdy rock of a man who will never let you down – but he has a hard time expressing sincere emotions, so he’s the complete opposite of Auric. He tends to cover up what he feels with sarcasm, and sometimes it's hilarious. Other times it's just TELL THE PEOPLE HOW YOU FEEL, GOSHDARNIT!

Barbara: If you choke a Smurf, what colour does it turn? (Since I’ve been asking this question for a while and NO ONE gave me the right answer, I’ll help you. The answer contains the word “colour” but it isn’t a colour.)

H.L.: When all else fails, guess plaid. I like to think the Smurf accelerates to ludicrous speeds and goes to plaid.

Barbara: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

H.L: I'm kind of a hybrid and I like to stay very flexible. I've started to skew more towards plotter as I progress ... I used to just think about my books a lot and then write out a quick "to do list" for my characters that would go something like, "Boyfriend disappears, get betrothed to prince, get kidnapped, escape, get captured again, OMGOSH BOYFRIEND BACK, fire swamp, captured, storm the castle, happily ever after..." and work off that.

Then a lot of times I'd get to a turning point and realize something didn't make sense so I'd sit down and write out scenarios until I figured out what was wrong and what didn't make sense. Beggar Magic was the first book I really did this with because I got to the middle before I realized Brash wasn't working alone (spoilers) and I had to go back and figure out who was helping him and why ... and that changed the ending a lot.

Then I wrote Cora and the Nurse Dragon and changed up my methods. I was not planning to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that year, but two days before it was to begin, I had this idea for a Middle Grade novel spring into my head fully formed. Rather than cheat and start writing in October, I wrote out a chapter by chapter synopsis of the story as it sprang into my head ... and then stuck to that synopsis very closely. I wrote that book in 14 days. Fastest write up ever.

My next book was Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors, so I thought, well, it worked well, let's try it again. Thought about what I wanted to do for a few days, then when I had most of the ideas, sat down, wrote out a chapter by chapter synopsis, mostly stuck to it, BAM ... Book practically wrote itself.

I do allow myself to deviate in large or small ways if I "discover" something along the way, but this hybrid method seems the best mix of flexibility and keeping things moving at a good clip.

Barbara: Ask yourself a question, give yourself an answer.

H.L: Do you have a cat? OH YES! I HAVE A CAT! His name is Bruce Wayne and he's a humongous ginger tabby. I call him my majestic tiger beast. He's so incredibly chill. He chose us. We were living in Florida, and he just showed up on the porch one week, skinny as a rail, but incredibly friendly. He had an abscessed ear which never healed right even after vet visits, so it always sits kind of floppy to one side.

When my daughter was ill, he just sat beside her on the couch and kept watch for three whole days.

He's completely magnificent and I love him so very, very much.

Barbara: The easiest part of writing a book is…?

H.L: Coming up with ideas. In fact, I have too many. I'd like to pass some off to other writers, but I find writers really only want to write their own ideas (unless you pay them a lot.) My greatest achievement lately was when a writer friend said she needed a side project between her series books, and I'm like, “Well, if you want it, you can have THIS idea,” and she actually took it. I never thought that happened.

Barbara: If you were an X-woman, what would your super power be?

H.L.: I'd turn into a cat or cat-like being. I wouldn't do much with this power--mostly nap--but I'd be adorable.

Barbara: An invisible question for you: Your reply is?

H.L: Foxes purr, actually. Which makes them even more awesome.

Barbara: You’re in a locked room with a socially challenged zombie, a bloodthirsty vampire, and an angry unicorn. How do you escape?

Your weapons are:

A bottle of Diet Coke

A cup of strong coffee

A box of baking soda

A bored ginger cat

A very excited mini dragon (we’re talking about a 4-inch dragon. Yes, he can fly. Nope, he can’t spit fire)

H.L: Unicorns are naturally opposed to undead forces (unless they are part of a unicorn invasion or something, but this one appears to be working alone), so I'd have him deal with the zombie and the vampire. The vampire and the zombie, both having been used in young adult romances, are now much less threatening, and the unicorn is even more annoyed with them because he simply wasn't a fan of either Twilight or Warm Bodies. He'll stab them through. The mini dragon and I, by this point, have already consumed the coffee and the soda. I'm a big fan of bored ginger cats (Bruce Wayne being mine), and if this cat is Bruce Wayne, that makes it Batcat. We get out using the utility belt. The baking soda I'll whiten my teeth with because they'll need it after all that coffee.

Barbara: Thank you for joining us!

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