We're so delighted to have author Kat Howard with us today—she's the author of our June FYA Book Club pick, Roses and Rot, and her next book, An Unkindness of Magicians, comes out 9/19. She described Unkindness as "Gossip Girl meets Swordspoint with magicians," which sounds extremely relevant to many of our interests. (Also, holy crap, that cover.)
Read on for Kat's thoughts about magic and magicians, then head to the comments to enter the giveaway!
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
The last time Forever YA was kind enough to let me stop by, we played a game of MASH. True to the nature of the game, my future spouse was none of the names I had sent in, but rather the one chosen for me – the illusionist David Copperfield. Grown-up Kat smiled and nodded. Younger Kat though, she would have been delighted. In fact, Younger Kat might well have put David Copperfield on her own list of future spouses while playing MASH– I can’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I loved David Copperfield when I was a kid. After all, David Copperfield was magic.
I’ve always loved magic, and I’ve always wanted it to be real. Even when I was a kid, I understood, of course, that it probably wasn’t. I knew that the illusions and sleight of hand I saw performed were the result of practice and training. Well, I knew that most of them were, the card tricks and the transformations of doves into scarves and balls and flowers and the escapes from locked cabinets. But come on, David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. That had to be real, actual magic, right? And if real, actual magicians existed, it made sense to me that they might pretend to be mere illusionists, fooling us twice as we watched them make actual magic look like illusion.
I have come to appreciate that skill can look like a kind of magic. That the hours and years of work that it takes to make the difficult look easy, to make the impossible look like something that can be achieved with a gesture and maybe a magic word or two is still a marvel, even if it is not technically a spell. Still, I am the sort of person who wants to believe. I mean, I don’t expect that I will see a ghost, but I think it would be pretty cool if I did. I want the world to be bigger and stranger than I think it is. I don’t ever what to know everything – I want there to always be more mysteries.
There are mysteries at the heart of An Unkindness of Magicians. Magic is real in the world of this book, but it is hidden. Exclusive. And possibly disappearing. The reasons for that disappearance are connected to the origin of magic itself, an origin hidden behind an illusion, one powerful enough that the magicians in this world have done terrible things in order to maintain it. The illusion is that things are easy, that things like magic should be easy, or at least they should be easy for certain people. It’s an illusion that hides a great ugliness at the core of this world, and when that illusion is stripped away, the people that live in it are forced to consider what they would do to keep their magic.
I no longer suspect that David Copperfield might actually be able to do real magic, though I would, quite honestly, be delighted to learn that he can. And an illusionist is a very different sort of thing from a magician, at least from my magicians. But I still look for the possibility of magic. I’ll always want it to be real.
Kat Howard is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror who lives and writes in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, performed on NPR, and anthologized in year’s best and best of volumes. In the past, she’s been a competitive fencer and a college professor. Her debut novel, Roses and Rot was released from Saga Press in May of 2016, and will be followed by another novel in summer 2017 and a short fiction collection, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, in 2018, both also from Saga. You can find her on twitter, and on tumblr.
Kat is giving away one signed hardcover of An Unkindness of Magicians.
To enter, comment below with your favorite depiction of magic in books, movies, or TV (and why!). Giveaway ends 9/20 at 11:59pm PST. US addresses only (sorry, international folks!). Giveaway is now closed!