The Magicsmith Book 3
by L.R. Braden Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
New world, new rules . . .
Alex is screwed. She’s due at the fae Court of Enchantment in less than twenty-four hours, but she’s not even close to being ready. Her job is hanging by a fraying thread. There’s a new vampire master in town. And several of her werewolf friends have been captured by the Paranatural Task Force.
She’s their best chance for release before the full moon reveals their secret, but the Lord of Enchantment is not someone you keep waiting—even when he happens to be your grandfather. All Alex can do is call in a favor, hope to hell she can survive the plots of the fae court, and hightail it home to salvage her life.
One mistake at court could change everything . . . .
“Original and riveting.”—Book Likes Blog on A Drop of Magic, Book One of The Magicsmith series
“Great plot. Lovable characters. Heart-pounding action.”—Lauren Davis, Netgalley Reviewer on A Drop of Magic
“A great story of murder, mystery . . . and well-developed characters.”—Margie Hager, Netgalley Reviewer on A Drop of Magic
“A Drop of Magic is a damned fun and original read, with sass, action, hot men, and a whole lot of magic.”
—Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of the Diamond City Magic, Magicfall, and Horngate Witches series
Deeper into the shadows. . .
The paranatural community isn’t done with Alex. She’s been summoned to the fae court, and she's got her hands full trying to prepare. But her date with the fae will have to wait. There’s been a death at the gallery, and the man she hoped would be a part of her future is the prime suspect.
Bitter enemies pull her into the middle of a paranatural war for territory that has her dodging police, swords, teeth, and claws—not to mention the truth. The deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers, and the less certain she is about the innocence of the one man she wanted to trust.
She thought she was done with murder and monsters, but she’ll have to enter the belly of the beast if she hopes to save her friend.
The war isn’t over . . .
With the world clinging to a fragile peace forced on the Fae by humanity after the Faerie Wars, metalsmith Alex Blackwood is plunged into the world of the half-fae who traffick in illegal magical artifacts. Her best friend’s murder and his cryptic last message place her in the crosshairs of a scheme to reignite the decade-old war between humans and fae.
Worse, violent attacks against her and the arrival of a fae knight on a mission force Alex to face a devastating revelation of who and what she is. To catch a killer, retrieve a dangerous artifact, and stop a war, Alex will have to accept that she’s an unregistered fae “halfer” with a unique magical talent—a talent that would change everything she believes about her past, her art, and her future.
Her world is crumbling around her, and Alex will have to decide who to trust if she and the world are going to survive.
“A Drop of Magic is a damned fun and original read, with sass, action, hot men, and a whole lot of magic.”
—Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of the Diamond City Magic, Magicfall, and Horngate Witches series
Born and raised in Colorado, L. R. BRADEN makes her home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her wonderful husband, precocious daughter, and psychotic cat. With degrees in both English literature and metalsmithing, she splits her time between writing and art.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
According to most people . . . pretty much everything.
One thing that often catches people off-guard is that I’m a metalsmith. (That’s where I got the idea for Alex.) Metalsmithing was my first major in college, and I spent a lot of long hours in the studio learning how to forge, cast, enamel, solder, polish, and all the other skills necessary to work metal into pretty much any shape and style a person could want. Unlike Alex, I don’t make grand sculptures, but I have sold my work in galleries and consignment shops, and I’ve done a few commissions.
I also make chainmail. That does NOT mean I write unwanted letters to people. It means I spend hours hooking tiny loops of metal together to form intricate patterns. Lots of people say I’m insane for staring at something so small and so complicated for so long, but I find it relaxing. If you want to see some of what I’ve made, you can check it out on my etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WimsiDesign .
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
When I was a kid (about 5 or 6), there was a huge snow storm. My brother and I built a big sled ramp on the stairs of our apartment building. The ramp faced the driveway that led to the garages, but the driveway itself was blocked from view by the corner of the building. (I bet you can guess where this is going).
I laid on my stomach on a sled and my brother pushed me down the ramp. As I came in line with the corner of the building, I saw a car coming up the drive. Since there’s not a lot a kid on a fast-moving sled can do to avoid an oncoming car, I just held on tight. The front wheels of the car passed right in front of my face. Then I was under the car. I remember looking up and thinking, “Huh, so that’s what the underside of a car looks like.”
I watched the back tire approach with dread, but I passed out the far side of the car right in front of it. I slammed into a snowbank on the other side of the driveway, totally untouched. The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than a couple seconds, but it was one of my first experiences with the phenomenon of time slowing down when something exciting or scary is happening.
I’m not sure what it says about me as a person, but I’ve experienced that sensation quite a lot over the course of my life.
What are some of your pet peeves?
It drives me bonkers when people explain things really slowly, or repeat simple concepts over and over like I might not understand.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I’m Colorado born and raised. Though I’ve moved many times, I’ve always lived along Colorado’s Front Range, close to the mountains.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A reluctant one. The idea of having people rely on me to make life-affecting decisions makes me sick to my stomach.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love to read, play video games and board games, and go for hikes or bike rides. And of course, all those things are better when I get to do them with my family!
How to find time to write as a parent?
When I first started writing, my daughter had just been born. (Wow! Has it really been that long?) I was working at the library, and my husband was working on a variety of tech contracts, so I’d drive my daughter down to her grandparents’ house, go to my shift at the library, pick her up, then write with her in my lap until my brain shut down.
After a while, I reduced my hours at work so I could focus on raising my daughter, then I mostly wrote during her naps. At this point, my daughter is in school, so I write between when I drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. Summers are a little trickier. I usually end up waking up early to get a couple hours of work in before she wakes up.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess I didn’t really take myself seriously until I finished the first draft of my first book. Then, like so many writers just starting out, I assumed I’d written a terrific story and sent it off straight away to my favorite publisher assuming they would also love my book and want to print a million copies of it right away. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Then came a long period of revision and self-doubt. Every time I got a rejection letter, I rewrote the book. I can’t even count how many different versions there have been. Still, somewhere in that mess of rejections and re-writes, I began to identify as a writer. When people asked me what I did, my answer morphed from “I work in a library. Oh, and I write books.” To “I’m an author, and I work in a library.”
Do you have a favorite movie?
My “favorite” anything changes constantly, but I really like the first Lego Movie. I think it’s a great message delivered in such a unique way. Plus, I love Legos, so I was totally geeking out over the awesome constructions throughout the whole thing.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I’m not so sure about a movie, but I think my Magicsmith series would make a really good tv show.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Definitely a fox.
When I was in my last year of college I had a roommate who loved to draw furries. (For those who don’t know, a furry is an anthropomorphized animal character--an animal with human characteristics or human with animal characteristics depending on how you look at it.) Anyway, this roommate loved to create furries to represent all of her friends. One day, she presented me with a beautiful sketch of a fox-woman and explained why she thought a fox matched my personality. Foxes are shy, clever, agile, curious, resourceful, etc. I’d never considered what animal might best represent me before that, but I fell in love with my fox picture that day.
What inspired you to write this book?
I knew from the beginning of my Magicsmith series that I’d be writing multiple books. Faerie Forged is the third, and it represents a pretty big step in the series. Alex finally confronts her fae heritage head on, crossing over into the faerie world. The third book takes off the training wheels and forces Alex to face her new reality, for better or worse.
What can we expect from you in the future?
There will be at least three more books in the Magicsmith series, plus I’m hoping to do a spinoff set in the same world but following different characters. I’m currently having a lot of fun brainstorming that.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
A couple, but I mostly have side stories about the world. I’ve created short stories of the creation myths of various species, and I wrote a story about a pair of sisters set during the time right after the fae came out, before the Faerie Wars. I also plan to write a short story about a demon-beset sorcerer and his paladin during the war. My intention is to eventually have all these stories available to read and/or download from my website.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters inFaerie Forged?
Alex Blackwood is the main character of the entire Magicsmith series, so hopefully if you’re reading the third book you’ve got a good handle on her. For those unfamiliar with the series, Alex is an independent, reclusive artist in her late twenties with trust and abandonment issues. Her father left to fight in the Faerie Wars and never came back. Her mother died shortly after, leaving her an orphaned teenager. By the third book, Alex has had her life turned upside down. She’s made a number of new connections with the people around her, but she’s struggling to maintain her human relationships.
One of the biggest character reveals in Faerie Forged is Alex’s grandfather (many times removed) who also happens to be the fae Lord of Enchantment. It’s been a long time since Alex has had a living blood relative, and she’s both excited and terrified to get to know him.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Alex was easy. She was a shadowy version of me shaped by different life experiences --- someone who shared many of my personality traits so I could make her feel authentic, but forged from different circumstances.
With Alex’s grandfather, I wanted to pack as much of the scary power of the fae into as unassuming a wrapper as I could. He’s a being who’s lived for centuries, decimated whole worlds, and controls the largest force in the fae realms, yet I needed him to be someone Alex could connect with on some level. They do that through their art. They are both tinkerers, creators. That passion is the bridge between them as well as the channel for their most potent magic.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Faerie Forged is Alex’s first trip to one of the fae realms. I loved getting to make up the details of what those other worlds are like. I especially liked writing the descriptions of the night market. Unfortunately, not all the details I came up with got to stay in the book. My editor told me I was taking Alex on a tour of the realm instead of moving the story along, and she was right. I was having too much fun creating new kinds of plants and creatures and architecture. But hopefully some of those details will make their way into future books to enrich the stories and help readers see the realms as they appear in my imagination.
How did you come up with the titlefor this book?
Honestly, this title gave me some trouble. There are two distinct threads in this book, and I had a hard time coming up with a title that would mean something to both Alex’s struggles in the mortal realm and her time at the fae court. I finally settled on Faerie Forged because she is both shaped by the events that happen when she is in the fae realm (also known to mortals as the land of faerie) and because she eventually creates something purely from her own magic.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m always thinking of things after the fact that could have been added, or changed, or tweaked. That said, I go through a lot of iterations of each book I write and at some point I have to be willing to let it go. Now that Faerie Forged is out of my hands, I’ve come up with a different title that I think might have worked better, but I’m going to keep it to myself in case it works for a future book. ;)
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Emma Stone. I think she could pull off the right combination of sass and serious for Alex.
Anything you want to tell your readers?
I write for the same reason I read: for fun. I’m not trying to teach, or preach, or convince. I just want to share a story that entertained me when it played out in my head. Hopefully it will entertain you too.
Are your characters basedonreal people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I avoid basing characters on real people as much as possible, mostly because I don’t want to get in trouble if someone I know reads the book and recognizes themself.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
For the most part I’ve got a pretty good handle on my stories. Sometimes scenes move around, and sometimes they take me in unexpected directions, but I always find my way back to somewhere near where I thought I’d be. The one place where my characters get free reign is in dialogue. Sometimes while I’m writing, I’ll find my characters have started chatting, or arguing, or they’ve gone off on some tangent, and I have trouble figuring out how to get them back on track.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Maybe it’s because I don’t like being told what to do, but I don’t think any book is a must read. I think of books as get to read and supposed to read. A “get to” read book is one that I pick up because it looks fun or intriguing, and I keep turning the pages because it holds my interest. But not all people will be pulled in by the same books. Some people hate reading drama. Some people hate reading fantasy. Some people hate reading historical romance. So to say a book must be read feels like pushing it into the “supposed to” read category. What I can say is that if you like fun, fast, fantasy stories, I think you will want to keep turning pages in my books.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yep. I’ve written a total of six books to date. Four are in the Magicsmith series. The other two are young adult stories, one of which is done and waiting for me to pay attention to it, and the other of which is still a draft that needs work.
What did you edit out of this book?
I took out nearly an entire chapter of Alex exploring the fae Realm of Enchantment when she first arrived. I originally had her walk through the city and the huge garden maze that surrounds Bael’s keep, complete with unique, exhotic plants and an earlier introduction of the fae she meets at court.
Is there a writerwhosebrain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Bradon Sanderson. I love the unique worlds and magic systems he creates, and I’d love to get a look at his brainstorming process.
Behind the Scenes:
My cat really likes to keep me company while I work. No matter where in the house I sit down with my laptop, she’s there. Her favorite place to be is laying across my arms so I can’t move them. A lot of my work has been typed in this awkwardly restricted position because I just don’t have the heart to chase the little fuzzball off. Her other favorite positions are draped over the back of my office chair, laying on top of my feet, and curled in a ball tucked between my shoulder and cheek (she’s not a very big cat).
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Off the top of my head…
What book do you think everyone should read?
People are too different. A book that strikes a chord with one person and really makes them think might seem trite and uninspired to another. Don’t believe me? Just look at all the reviews of your favorite book. I guarantee someone hated it.
How long have you been writing?
I scribbled out stories as a child and teenager, but I never finished any of them. It wasn’t until 2012 that I actually sat down with the intention of writing a complete novel. Since then I’ve taken classes, read books, and submitted to contests to get better. To date, I’ve written six novels and seven short stories, and I have outlines for many many more that are just waiting for me to get around to them. Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I start with a set of essential characters, but new characters are popping up all the time. Sometimes they come completely out of the blue, filling some hole I hadn’t even noticed in my story, and sometimes I create a small character for a single roll, but that character morphs into someone who gets fleshed out and integrated into the larger story.
Do you see writing as a career?
More and more as time goes on. When I first started writing it was just a hobby, and in some regards a test to see if I could do it. I never wrote with the intention of becoming rich and famous (not that I’d complain if that happened). Now that I’ve got contracts, deadlines, and people asking me, “When will the next book be out?” writing feels much more like a job. It’s a job I love, which is awesome, but I have to approach it with a different attitude than I did in the beginning. I can’t just write “when I feel like it.”
Do you read yourself, and if so what is your favorite genre?
Absolutely! I’ve had to slow down now that so much of my time is taken up with reading and revising my own work, but I still manage a few books a month. I mostly read fantasy in all its sub-genres. I also like science fiction and young adult, and I read lots and lots of children’s books with my daughter. I’ll read any book so long as the story or topic holds my interest.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Silence, definitely. I’ve tried writing with music, but I always end up singing along to the lyrics instead of focusing on my story. And trying to write while people are talking is just impossible.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I’ve usually got one book in revision and editing at the same time I’m writing the early drafts of another. I also work on the pre-writing for future stories almost constantly, so even when I’m writing one story I’ll be making notes for several others. I try never to work on more than one first draft at a time.
Pen ortypewriteror computer?
I work on my laptop. I like the ease of moving whole chunks of my story around, and having versioned drafts that I can pull up and look at if I change my mind about major changes. Sometimes I also jot notes or phrases on my phone when they come to me, which I can then easily paste into my story files.
Adviceyouwould give new authors?
Becoming an author is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Pace yourself and remember to take breaks when you need them, otherwise you won’t reach the finish line.
Describe your writing style.
I generally have an idea of what scene or scenes I hope to write when I sit down at my computer. Then I just start typing and see where I end up. Sometimes everything goes smoothly and I hammer out scene after scene and I love them all. Sometimes I agonize over a single scene for hours and never seem to make any progress. Either way, I let the story shift and change as I write because sometimes things don’t come together until I’m mucking about in the details.
What makes a good story?
There are hundreds of books and courses trying to answer this question, but in a nutshell I’d say: Compelling and believable characters faced with interesting challenges, both inside and out.
What areyoucurrently reading?
I just got “Queen of Nothing” by Holly Black for Christmas and I’m very excited to read it.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
Once I come up with the idea for a story, I spend some time rolling it around in my head. If it sticks around, I jot down notes of important factors, characters, plot events, etc. Since I’m usually in the middle of another project, those notes often sit around for a long time before I can get back to them. (For example: I’ve got lots of notes on a story I want to write that I thought up about three years ago.)
When I’m ready to start working on the project, I make an outline of where I think the story will go and major landmarks along the way. Sometimes I mark where I think chapter or section breaks will be, but those often move around after I’ve finished the first draft. Then I flesh out the main characters and figure out how they fit together and interact. I usually make files for each including backstory, physical appearance, personality traits, etc.
By the time I actually start writing, I’ve got many pages of notes. Then I sit down and write the first draft, beginning to end. I can’t say I never go back and edit a previous section, but I try not to. If I find something that needs to be changed, I make a note about it and move on.
After the first draft is done, I go back and address any major overhauls I made note of. Then I set it aside for a bit so I can come at it again with fresh eyes (assuming I don’t have a deadline looming over me). After that it’s all about revision and fine-tuning.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Family time. I will pretty much always choose doing something with my family over sitting alone in my office, so I have to exercise a great deal of self-control when my husband or daughter asks me to join them.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try my best to deliver a story readers will enjoy. If people like a certain kind of story, they will read others like it, and every story will have original aspects just because every writer is different.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Don’t obsess.” But I wouldn’t listen.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
To actually “write” the book? About three months. But then I have to revise the book. And edit the book. And then do it all over again. I will say that from start to finish, my work time is getting shorter because I’m making fewer mistakes in the early drafts. I’d say my current turnaround time for a book is about six months of actual work (which doesn’t include taking breaks to work on other projects or waiting for my editors and beta readers to get back to me.)
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Sometimes I don’t feel like writing, but sometimes I don’t feel like doing anything. That’s just a natural part of being human. If I take a day off to relax, sometimes a couple, I can get back to work once I feel better. I’ve never not been able to come up with things to write.