Throwback Thursdays: “Magic Calls to Magic”

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Back in November of 2010, author A.M. Dellamonica explained the rules of magic in the world she created for her story “Nevada” and novel Indigo Springs. She brings the same skills to the world-building in her latest novel, Child of a Hidden Sea. We hope you enjoy her advice in this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

By Alyx Dellamonica

The above line, from my story “Nevada,” formed one of the first rules I set out for the universe where Indigo Springs takes place. I had decided I was going to write about my grandparents’ home in Yerington, Nevada, an ordinary ranch house centered in a fenced-in patch of desert just outside town. The place has always been special to me. We moved a lot when I was young, but Yerington was always there. Going to Nevada meant being spoiled by my grandmother, of course, but their home also had a lot of physical objects that I was fond of–a cookie tin full of sun-melted crayons, my mother’s old stuffed bunny, Grandma’s polished rocks, and the possibility of finding a painstakingly hand-chipped arrowhead under every tumbleweed. I made all these childhood treasures explicitly magical when I turned them into the chantments that do so much good and harm in Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

Indigo Springs picks up on the groundwork laid in “Nevada” and the chantment stories that followed.  As I wrote these first stories, something that was immediately obvious was that if such objects of power were real, there would be people whose primary desire would be to own or control them. This conclusion led me to create the century-old chantment thief in “Nevada,” the corrupt music teacher in “The Riverboy”. . .  and when it came to writing Indigo Springs, it gave rise to the beautiful, fickle, and manipulative Sahara Knax.

I also had to figure out who was making the mystical objects. Sahara’s opposite number is her best friend, Astrid Lethewood. Astrid not only owns a number of chantments but in time discovers she has the ability to make new ones. She is less interested in having or wielding power–she’s responsible for the magic, and it’s a terrible load. She wants to do the right thing but is afraid of having her life consumed in the process. Having inherited the magic and being overwhelmed by it, she is vulnerable to this charming friend who’s offering to take care of everything. In her weakest moments, Astrid is that little piece of all of us who hopes someone else will combat climate change, speak out against poverty or oppression–who gives in to those moments of weakness when we don’t want to look beyond our day to day concerns and try to own the world a little.

Indigo Springs is a love triangle and the third person in the mix is Jacks Glade, who tries to mediate between Sahara and Astrid. Jacks is an active, take-charge guy–he rescues people from burning buildings, tells people the truth instead of guessing what they want to hear. . .  and he’s madly in love with Astrid. It’s these three people who come to be caretakers of the mystical well.

The thing about magic in Indigo Springs is that it is an immensely powerful force–one capable of creating amazingly beautiful things and doing great good, but only when wielded with good intentions. In a sense, the magic has an agenda of its own.

This article is originally from the November 2010 Tor/Forge Newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox every month!