Kyle Wadsworth has mastered sex magic, dreamwalking, and even poetry in his years at Veritas. But in this conclusion to the Magic University series of new adult paranormal fantasy romance, Kyle begins his senior year full of doubt. Will the dire ancient prophecy he has been studying come true if Kyle cannot find true love? The signs of the Burning Days seem to be everywhere——odd storms, earthquakes, and people losing their magic——and though Kyle has many loving friends and eager acquaintances, he has no true love in sight. The only person in Kyle’s heart is Frost, and the last time they laid eyes on each other, it didn’t end well. Frost has a troubled past and deep secrets. Kyle begins to hope, though, when it appears he and Frost will be in a class together. A poetry class. Maybe Frost will start to thaw after all, though Kyle has a long way to go from nemesis to lover. If the prophecy speaks true, our hero will need love to keep the world, his friends, and himself from losing magic forever.
Please tell us about your novel.
The new book is The Poet and the Prophecy and it’s the big climax of the Magic University series. This is the book where it all comes together, where our hero Kyle has to put together everything he has learned about magic and sex and love (and poetry) to save the world. It’s new adult romance with a fantasy twist in a Harry Potter sort of vein. Except instead of on a quest to defeat evil, Kyle’s really on a quest for true love. I categorize it as LGBT new adult because Kyle’s love interest, the only person he’s really truly head over heels for, is Frost, and Frost’s been enchanted to be female at night and male during the day. Kyle has decided he doesn’t actually care what biological sex Frost is at any given moment, but Frost has much deeper issues with it.
This is when we usually ask how you researched your novel, but is that applicable here?
Well, I couldn’t exactly research magic, although I did a little! Since the Magic University, Veritas, is hidden inside Harvard the idea is that magical folk have been hidden alongside us in society all along. So there are pieces of magical lore that mundane folk know, and there are pieces they get completely wrong, too. I did have fun scouting locations at Harvard and in Harvard Square. The chocolate shop and the cafe where a lot of scenes take place are real places. And I also read a number of trans memoirs and life accounts when I was deciding how Frost would handle–or fail to handle–being enchanted to gender shift. There is no one “trans experience,” everyone is different, of course. But it was important to me that I do some reading and talking to people.
Where can readers find you online?
Everywhere! No seriously, CeciliaTan.com is my main hub and blog, but I’m on every social media platform there is. I’m most active on Twitter (@ceciliatan). I’ll put the full list below.
When you are stuck on something, what is your go to cure?
When I’m stuck it’s usually one of two things: either the story wants to go a direction I don’t want to go, or I’m having a moment of failed confidence where I’m convinced the story is terrible. If it’s the latter, the story always wins and I just have to give in and do what it wants. When it’s failed confidence, I just tell myself, look, every other book has worked out, what are the chances this is the one that is broken? Just sit down and do it. I’ll park myself in a coffee shop with no wifi and a pot of tea and force myself to hammer away at it until the tea is gone. That’s usually enough to get me through!
Do you have a real life hero? If so, can you tell us who and why?
I have so many heroes. I have people who mentored me and gave me advice when I was a young, aspiring writer, like sf/fantasy writer Joan Vinge who went out of her way to encourage me, and queer erotica writer Patrick Califia, and then I have role models, people I aspire to be like, whether as writers like J.K. Rowling not only for writing fantastic books but for handling her fame and success with such grace and generosity, or just people trying to do good in the world, like Chris Kluwe.
Who is your favorite literary hero and heroine?
My favorite literary hero is Hal from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Heroine is tougher because there are a lot of candidates! My favorite when I was growing up was Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. My most recent fave has to be Lisbeth Salander of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, the only bisexual genius hacker woman I know outside of my own books.
Are you character or plot driven? Why?
Character-driven, definitely. I usually have only a foggy notion of where the plot is going until the characters tell me! I figure if you have compelling characters in a compelling situation, the plot will grow organically from there.
How do you feel about social media? Is it a help or hindrance to you?
I love social media. My Twitter feed is full of other writers working alone. When I check in to Twitter it’s like hanging out at the water cooler at the office. Except we’re each in our own office!
What are the first five titles on your kindle?
I had to go look. Here’s what comes up:
Natural Law 2 by Joey W. Hill
Offerings: Lands of Sex and Magic by Skyler White
How to Open Locks With Improvised Tools by Hans Conkel
Even the Wingless by M.C.A. Hogarth
Lovers and Beloveds by MeiLin Miranda
Where do you see yourself and your writing in the next five years?
With any luck writing more erotic fantasy with lots of different kinds of characters. I know everyone says the best way to make money as a romance writer is to pick a narrow genre and stick to it. That would drive me crazy. I like to write gay, I like to write het, I want to write about magic, and baseball, and cyberpunk, and time travel–not all at once. One at a time.
How many books do you own and what does your bookshelf look like?
Thousands. Thousands and thousands. In the living room alone one entier wall is floor to ceiling bookshelves and those are double-stacked. I live in a three-story Victorian house, ten rooms, and every room has multiple bookshelves full to bursting. Even the third floor bathroom.
If you are published traditionally and independently, which do you prefer and why?
They’re both great. That’s like asking which do you prefer, cooking gourmet meals at home or going out to eat? They’re both great. I am a fantastic cook (and excellent self-publisher) and I also have had the privilege of being served by some of the best chefs (and publishers) in the world. Both vastly different experiences, but the food is just as good and I enjoy both equally for the same reasons. It’s very satisfying to do it all yourself. It’s also excellent to enjoy the fruits of other people’s expertise.
What advice do you have for people that are trying indie publishing right out of the gate?
Stay on top of things. The ebook market changes about every 8 months or so, with something happening to change the landscape each time. Don’t lock yourself in to Amazon only. Make sure you’re in all the markets and build up as much direct contact with your readers as you can. If Amazon decides tomorrow they’re going to close the Kindle store (crazier things have happened) you won’t lose access to your best customers if you have been keeping a mailing list and growing it. A mailing list and website that you own, not Facebook, not Twitter, is crucial to your longterm success.
What do you find inspiring?
Everything. Every single thing in life can spark a story. A leaf you can see from your window. A misheard quote. The noise the laundry machine makes. Anything can wake the muse.
Do you have a favorite charity?
Yes, it’s the Animal Rescue League of Boston. One of my former cats came from there and they not only have an animal shelter, they have a rescue team who get cats out of trees, rescue ducks caught on fishing line, squirrels trapped in ceilings, you name it. They have a great Twitter feed (@ARLBoston). Website: http://www.arlboston.org/
Your family is safe and sound. You have 24 hours to live and have been given the ability to do anything in the world, what do you do?
I magically finish writing Daron’s Guitar Chronicles in 24 hours. If I die before that series is finished, I think my readers will never forgive me.
Cecilia Tan writes about her many passions, from fantasy to baseball, from her home in the Boston area. Her latest book is The Poet and the Prophecy, the final volume of the Magic University series. Her other books include the award-winning Slow Surrender, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, and The Prince’s Boy. She has edited over 50 anthologies of erotica for Red Silk Editions, Thunder’s Mouth Press, Blue Moon Books, Masquerade Books, Ravenous Romance, and for the publishing house she founded, Circlet Press. Her short fiction has appeared in Ms. Magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Best American Erotica, and many other places.
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