It’s been an awfully long time since I last did any of the urban fantasy for Tor. I won’t elaborate too much on what is now ancient history, except to say that when I was writing the Diana Tregarde books (Diana first appeared in Burning Water), there were some folks whose reality checks bounced, and we had good reason to think they were potentially dangerous. So…we put things on hold.
Well it was about time for the hold to come off, but now I was in the position of not just trying to jump-start the battery, but perform an entire necromantic ritual. Because the last time I’d left Diana (in Jinx High) it was almost 20 years ago. It was, very definitely, an different era.
On the other hand, the book that had been tentatively planned was something of her “origin story,” which went even further back. When I looked at that outline, I realized it was…thin. Now, I could have stretched it out. But I have learned a bit since then. Some stories benefit by expansion, but some are better lean and mean, and “Arcanum 101” was one of the latter.
So I had speech of my editor, and said, quoth, “What about three novellas instead?” and the editor bestowed her blessing, and all was good.
Only problem of course was that I still needed to come up with something for the other two novellas.
Well, there was another lady that had been abandoned, and that was Jenny Talldeer (who first appeared in Sacred Ground), and there was definitely a story in how she adapts to being part of a couple instead of a solo act.
Now I had a theme of sorts…I had a magician operating back in the late 60s, another in the 80s…so for the third one, how about a very modern magician? I’d been toying with the idea that, if magic actually existed, it would have to operate on a very, very, “micro” level. Bit-switching, in other words. And modern magicians would operate best inside computers. Now I’ve got myself a bit of an addiction, an MMORPG called “City of Heroes.” I know a lot of the devs now (in fact we have an entire “Guest Author” arc within their Mission Architect system that I wrote that has Diana Tregarde, older and much more jaded, as your contact. There is also a special “easter egg” one of them put in for me in the University Library in Croatoa). It occurred to me that a fantasy game was just the place for something rooted in the magic of the ancient past to find a new home. And that I had a terrific source of critique on the daily life of a dev with two of them–“Dark Watcher” and “War Witch.”
So there was my theme, “magic through the modern decades.” And to be quite frank, to someone who was born after 1995, the world that Di and Jenny lived in was just as fantastic as the world of the fictional game “Many Worlds Online.” I had me a book!
Hopefully you folks will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
From the Tor/Forge November newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from our November newsletter:
- “Magic calls to magic” by Alyx Dellamonica
- The Genesis of The Flock by James Robert Smith
- The Rope Roads by Karl Schroeder