I am excited to welcome author Anton Strout, who is celebrating the release of his second Spellmason Chronicle novel, Stonecast.
NO STONE UNTURNED…
Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.
With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.
But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.
Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together: You’ve Got Your Nerds in My Urban Fantasy!
At the outset of creating The Spellmason Chronicles, there were many challenges in creating a gargoyle tale set in the modern world. Sure, there was always the worry that I was writing glorified Disney’s Gargoyles fan fiction, but more importantly, I needed to figure out the tone I wanted to set for my readers. I searched deep in my soul and released my inner Joss Whedon, deciding to go with my own personal strengths. I needed to let my nerd flag fly within my urban fantasy, which I think is what makes Alchemystic and the just released Stonecast all the richer a tale.
Now, some readers like their urban fantasy with a heavy lean toward the more Paranormal Romance side of things. Others prefer more classical traditional tones, almost like modern epic fantasy.
But me? I’m prefer some deep nerdiness in the urban fantasy I write. Character is both king and queen in any book, but in The Spellmason Chronicles, Alchemystic and the just released Stonecast, there are a bunch of hidden gems from the nerd world to be found. We’ll take a look at two of our supporting cast in a second as confirmation of this, but first…
How does one set the nerd tone in an urban fantasy series? For one, I made the conscious decision that despite the idea of magic in the world being a hidden thing, my characters would still be very self aware of the existence of genres like fantasy and science fiction. After all, our main heroine Alexandra Belarus and her friends are modern day Manhattanites. They’ve grown up on Harry Potter, and as the hidden world of gargoyles, alchemy and arcana become known to them, these are the filters they use to process what would otherwise seem unbelievable to a reader or perhaps pull them out of the story. It was important to me that my main characters, particularly Alexandra’s best friends, were the processing filter for the audience, or what I like to think of as the facilitators in helping the readers digest imposing fantastical ideas into the real world they contend with every day.
And I do so love the level of nerdery I’ve imbued my sidekick characters with…
Aurora ‘Rory’ Torres might be named after Rory Williams from Doctor Who, but that’s just me letting my inner geek show through in picking names. That’s pretty much where her similarity to Mr. Williams ends. Despite being a feisty modern dance major, my Rory has always been a part of the nerd herd since she and Alexandra were young. Thick blackrimmed glasses, hair that was always Manic Panicked bleach blonde, green or blue… prone to talking way too much about the correct pronunciation of spells from Harry Potter. The girl has always been a bit on the fringe and never quite fit in. Luckily, she’s always been on the scrappy side and got little grief for her eccentricities. Now in her twenties she’s letting her eccentricities fly, more so as the confrontational, fantastical world rises up all around her. My favorite bit of geekery that I had of her—one that appeals to the dance major she is—was discovering a pole arm called the glaive guisarme while beating a hasty retreat out of a museum. Not really the best weapon for concealment around New York City, but the poetry of movement she feels when swinging the pole arm has her obsessed with it, to the point she carries a collapsible one around in an artist’s tube across her back.
The other most obvious of nerdy nods comes from the creation of my beloved nerd extrordinaire Marshall Blackmoore. If anyone best represents my personal voice in the series it is him. As the world of gargoyles, alchemy and arcana are revealed, it is as if all his boyhood endeavors are finally paying off. Years of playing Dungeons & Dragons have sharpened his mind to approach the fantastical with a bit of caution and planning. My favorite scene in Alchemystic is when Rory berates him for bringing fifty feet of rope into the subway tunnels because Sam from Lord of the Rings had mentioned it. Yet she shuts up pretty quickly when it comes in handy in battle with stone golems in one of the old hidden New York treasures of an unused subway station. He’s a strategist about nerdy things, sort of my version of a game store owning modern Vizzini from The Princess Bride.
I love the flavor of nerdery I’ve brought to my new ongoing series. If you have a love of any of those things I’ve mentioned here, then The Spellmason Chronicles may well be right up your dark, gargoyle filled alley. Do give it a try, won’t you?
Meet Anton Strout!
When not plotting against his mortal enemy Patrick Rothfuss, Anton Strout is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and The Spellmason Chronicles. He is also the host and curator of content for The Once & Future Podcast, a weekly show that focuses on discussions with other working writers.
His other writing has appeared in a variety of anthologies—some of which include Simon Canderous tie-in stories—including: .
He currently lives outside New York City in the haunted corn maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you). In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the world’s most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He also works in the exciting world of publishing, and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.
The Dimension Next Door
A Girl’s Guide to Guns & Monsters
Spells of the City
Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies
After Hours: Tales from the Ur-Bar
Human For A Day
The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity