We’d like to welcome Sonya Clark to All Things Urban Fantasy today. She is here answering a few of our questions regarding her Magic Born series, specifically the latest book, FIREWALL (Magic Born #3), which was published on December 1, 2014 by Carina Press. To win a copy, enter via the widget below!
Interview with Sonya Clark
What do you think would happen if people with magical talents were discovered in our world today? Would the result look anything like the society you’ve created in the Magic Born books?
The world I created in these books portrays the most extreme reaction society could have. You might say it’s me at my most pessimistic. Sometimes watching the news can certainly make me feel pessimistic about the future, but most of the time I’m way more of an optimist than the Magic Born world might suggest. Since having my daughter, I get angrier at some of the things I see happening in the world today, because this is the world she’s going to have to live in and frankly, it’s just not good enough for her. I’m sure every parent feels that way at times. When I feel that way, I channel the anger into some of my fiction. There’s a pretty deep undercurrent of rage in these books, but I think a great deal of optimism too. Nate and Hayes are the characters that best exemplify the optimism, because they are people who don’t have to take a stand, but choose to do so because it’s the right thing to do. And Lizzie, who had the most to lose, and Tuyet, who could have walked away at any time. Vadim and Calla risk what little freedom they have in the zone to work for the underground. The world is full of people who stand up for what’s right. It just seems sometimes like there’s never enough of them.
I think if magic were discovered to be a real, observable thing in our world today, most people would be accepting, even if it took a while. Even if they weren’t totally accepting, they’d be willing to live and let live. I could see it taking on a kind of cachet. First the trendy crowd would all want a witchy best friend. Soon after that, the monetization of magic would follow. A reality show like The Real Housewitches of New Orleans would be a big hit. But I do think there are people that would be utterly terrified, and they would let that fear drive them to push their communities to be as unwelcome to magic as possible. There would be places where it wouldn’t be safe for a witch to live.
Now I kind of want to write a world where The Real Housewitches of New Orleans is a hit show.
Magic and technology aren’t merged much in paranormal romance or urban fantasy. Where did you get the idea for trancehacking?
I wanted to do something a little different and I thought that fit the bill. Plus the idea really intrigued me. I love writing about the more traditional ways of practicing magic, but I started to think about giving that a more modern flavor. In an early book I had a hoodoo practicing witch send a hex message through a cell phone. I was also drawing ideas from non-fiction I was reading about magical practice, and about living as an urban witch. Only the stuff I was reading was about growing herbs in your window sill and other ways of bringing nature into the city. I thought, well, what about the innate magical energy of a city? And I was also thinking about the internet. I live in a small town, but because of the internet I can tweet with people on the other side of the world, I can read local news from all over the US and other countries, I can buy gourmet coffee and have it shipped to my town where we don’t have a Starbucks (and what I drink is better than Starbucks, LOL). It can’t replace the experience of travel, but the internet can open up the world to you no matter where you are.
So when I started to first put together the pieces of this futuristic, dystopianish world, while I was also figuring out how city magic might work, I knew that cyberspace would be important. The Magic Born aren’t allowed to move from place to place, aren’t allowed to travel at all. Their lives are confined to the zones where they live, and what parts of their local city that they’re allowed to be in. It made sense that anyone whose magic had evolved to work with steel and concrete instead of earth, neon and streetlights instead of fire, music and the emotions of a packed crowd of people instead of water – that they would be able to work with cyberspace instead of air. Then I hit on the idea of using astral projection to enter cyberspace, and there it was – trancehacking.
Plus I really liked the idea of blending magic and cyberpunk. 🙂
Another technology question – would you consider yourself a techie person? Do you have experience hacking or computer programming that influenced your writing about the trancehackers?
I don’t consider myself a techie person, though I am definitely more comfortable with technology than a lot of people I know. I don’t have any experience with hacking or programming. I do think I’m pretty internet-savvy. It was mostly my interest in how the internet has the potential to change things that led to trancehacking being the biggest example of urban magic in these books. I read about the deep web, which I call the darknet in the books, and how it’s used for both criminal purposes and as a way for political dissidents and journalists to communicate. I’ve seen in realtime how Twitter is frequently taking the place of mainstream media – think of the Arab Spring uprisings, and Ferguson. We can now get huge amounts of information without a filter, which is both fantastic and messy. So more than the tech itself, I wanted to play around with ideas about how it’s used, how it affects us, how it both harms and helps us. Part of the backstory of the Magic Born world is that they were forced out of the broom closet, so to speak, by hacktivists who discovered that the US and other governments knew about magic. That started the chain of events that led to the Magic Laws, which stripped witches of the rights of citizenship and forced anyone with magical ability into urban zones. So that messy, unfiltered flow of information had dire unintended consequences in that case. But then in Firewall, we see things come full circle for the Magic Born. And that’s all I can really say without spoiling the ending.
Of the three couples in the Magic Born series, do you have a favorite? Was there a story that was easiest to write?
There are things I love about each couple. Nate and Calla in Trancehack are just so unabashedly in love with each other. Their story was probably the easiest to write. Vadim and Lizzie in Witchlight are like broken puzzle pieces that somehow fit, even though it seems like they shouldn’t. Their story was the most satisfying to write, and I think that Witchlight probably has more of a focus on the romance than the other books. Tuyet and Hayes are so evenly matched – Firewall is a reunion romance but I think if I’d written their story from the very beginning, they would have loved each other right from the start. Theirs was the hardest to write because it was difficult to keep it from being overwhelmed by the events overtaking the Magic Born world.
I guess if I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that Vadim and Lizzie are my favorite couple in the series. Vadim is one of my all-time favorite characters that I’ve written. Writing Lizzie was a difficult tightrope to walk, but she and Vadim bring out the best in each other.
One thing I made sure to do in Firewall is show how the first two couples are doing, especially at the very end. I wanted that for myself as much as for readers. I cried the whole time I worked on that final chapter.
Do you have any favorite paranormal romances? Any recent reads that have stood out to you?
Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series is a favorite of mine. I mean, Judd Lauren, amirite? I love him so much, LOL. Barbara J. Hancock writes some really wonderful Gothic romance – her writing is so lush and dreamy, reading it is like falling under a spell. Amy Lee Burgess has a great shapeshifter series called The Wolf Within, and her vampire series The Circle is really challenging and never fails to fascinate me. I always start those books feeling one way about the characters and by the time I reach the end, Amy has changed my mind so thoroughly that I’m embarrassed for any moments of doubt I might have had.
Thank you so much for having me at All Things Urban Fantasy!
Sonya Clark grew up an Army brat, living all across the United States as well as Japan and Germany by the time she graduated high school. Books were one of the few constants in her life. Always an eclectic reader, she has a special love for the paranormal and is a lifelong fangirl of all things that go bump in the night. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and their spoiled Yorkie.
One copy of FIREWALL
Available on December 1, 2014 from Carina Press
She was the only Magic Born to ever escape the Rangers. Now there’s a ten-million-dollar bounty for her return.
Trancehacker Tuyet Caron could have left New Corinth for good, but instead uses her magic and risks her life on a daily basis to help the Magic Born. She’s been careful to avoid capture, but a careless glance at a video camera brings her face to face with the Ranger who let her go.
Captain Dale Hayes let Tuyet walk away once, but he won’t make that mistake again. When faced with the ultimate choice, however, he chooses her with barely a thought. But that also means siding with the Magic Born and becoming a fugitive in the eyes of the law.
Tuyet and Dale plan to flee, but are caught in a deadly riot that kills innocent people. Outraged, the pair vows to bring an end to the Magic Laws, regardless of what that means for their own safety.
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