Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Laurie: The Rebel Mages is a combination of two prequel novels – Wandfasted & Light Mage (prequels to The Black Witch Chronicles). When I got a contract for The Black Witch series, it included writing two “novellas” (which seemed quite intimidating at the time!). My inspiration for Wandfasted came from my imprint wanting a story that included an action scene with the original “Black Witch” (so the reader could experience her immense power during a battle). So, I started the story on the front lines of the Realm War with the Black Witch and her army riding in on dragons. I also wanted this book to be a romance (kind of like Lord of the Rings meets Pride & Prejudice), and that proved to be great fun. My male love interest was inspired by both Mr. Darcy and Loki (both of whom are quite edgy and witty). Light Mage was inspired by a creative challenge to explore Sagellyn Gaffney’s story (the young woman with the “demon baby” who gives Elloren the Wand of Power in The Black Witch). The story explores how a compliant girl from a very strict, religious family eventually becomes a complete rebel (running off with a man from another culture, getting pregnant, dodging an entire magical military to escape capture). These books have turned out to be my favorite in the series so far.
What character do you most relate to and why?
I feel a kinship with Vale Gardner (from Wandfasted) – who is pretty cynical about the potential for the misuse of power, and who’s a bit of a rebel against what he perceives as unjust. He’s flawed, but with a strong moral compass. I’d like to be as brave and daring as he is.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now?
There’s a lot of passion in YA and these are passionate times (politically, culturally, environmentally, etc.). There’s something very exciting and hopeful about following a young protagonist as they set out to navigate their world for the first time. They’re learning about their world alongside the reader. An older protagonist who has a lifetime of experience might already be set in their ideas to the point of rigidity, unable to look at things with fresh (sometimes naïve) eyes. Also, I love writing romance and first love is just a lot of fun to write.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Wandfasted opens on the front lines of the devastating Realm War, military dragons screeching in overhead. Our protagonist, Tessla Harrow, is driven from her home by the fighting and hunted down because she is one of the reviled Mages. Tessla fights back, gets hold of a wand and discovers a depth of power she never knew she had…as well an irresistible draw toward rebellious, magically powerful Vale Gardner, the son of the most powerful Mage her people have ever known—the Black Witch. Light Mage tells the story of how a mythical Wand of Power finds its way to Mage Sagellyn Gaffney. Sage has an affinity for light magery, a rare skill amongst Mages, that makes her the perfect protector for this one magical tool that can combat the shadows spreading across Erthia. To keep the Wand safe from the dark forces hunting for it, Sage must break with the Gardnerian Mages and forge a new path for herself, both abandoning the lies she’s been told by her fascist society and escaping from the cruel young man she’s bound to…a dangerous course that could lead to either her triumph or utter ruin.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I’m currently working on Book 3.0 of The Black Witch Chronicles – The Shadow Wand (Book 1.0 is The Black Witch, Book 2.0 is The Iron Flower – both are out). The Shadow Wand is a dark story – there’s a pretty intense, complicated love triangle, lots of magic and action and monstrous shadow creatures. We’re hoping to publish it in 2020.
What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?
I live in the wilderness of northern Vermont and I find a lot of inspiration from being in the middle of the forest. I’m most inspired when I sit down with my story in the pre-dawn darkness with a strong cup of black tea, the flames of the woodstove blazing beside me and the sense of the trees outside leaning in to listen.