Writing short stories, even mini-fiction, can’t always be worked into a writing schedule; so for those authors who may not be able to let their characters play in the sand, I’ve invited them to a nighttime beach bonfire to have a drink, listen to the crashing waves, and answer a few questions of my own.
Joining me in the sand is Nancy Northcott, author of the Light Mage Wars (Sentinel), Boar King’s Honor (The Herald of Day), Outcast Station (Welcome to Outcast Station), and The Lethal Webs (The Deathbrew Affair) series!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, something readers may not have heard before?
People who’ve come across me before probably know I’m a voracious reader, enjoying all genre fiction except horror. They may not know I gravitate to history and biography in nonfiction since science isn’t my strongest point. They also may not know that I held a 3rd Class Radio Operator license, back in the day when the FCC issued those.
Official Bio: Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy and YA romance. A sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the books she writes.
Can you introduce us to the world(s) that you have created?
I’ve created two magical versions of our world. The Light Mage Wars (Sentinel) paranormal romances are set in contemporary southern Georgia, near the Florida line, and are about mages fighting ghouls and demons near the Okefenokee Swamp.
The other magical world, for the Boar King’s Honor (The Herald of Day) historical fantasy trilogy, places magic in England during different time periods. The first book is set in the 17th century, the second during the Regency, and the third during World War II, in the months between the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 and the start of the Blitz that fall. The first book, The Herald of Day, involves alternate history, so I had to research the era to decide on an appropriate change point. I also researched social customs and historical events for all three eras.
The two worlds have different magical systems. The Light Mages use natural energy while their ghoul and demon opponents use internally generated energy that’s a perversion of natural power. The Boar King’s Honor wizards generate their magic internally, though there’s a realm between the worlds of the living and the dead that is suffused with magical power. If the wizards are there, they can draw on that power.
With Jeanne Adams, I write the Outcast Station (Welcome to Outcast Station) space opera series. Those stories involve no magic but do have advanced technology and alien races that we came up with together. We also had to devise systems for government, law enforcement, and scientific research and create a planetary economy. It was challenging but fun!
Finally, I launched a romantic spy adventure series in 2017, The Lethal Webs (The Deathbrew Affair). It’s set in contemporary England but involves a covert international spy organization that’s my own invention. The worldbuilding there involves researching places and customs so I can get them right and building my secret organization.
Will this be your first Coastal Magic or are you a veteran? What was it about Coastal Magic that drew you to it? Why have you continued to return?
I’m a veteran. I love the laid-back atmosphere of the weekend and the chance to talk to readers and other authors about books. That interaction brings me back.
If you’ve been before, what is your favorite CMC memory? If you’ve never been, what are you looking forward to?
I don’t have a single favorite memory. I just enjoy meeting people and talking about books.
What was your inspiration when you created your characters and the worlds they live in?
Growing up, I loved stories involving magic. I also loved superhero comics. So it seemed logical to write mages, who are sort of like superheroes except that their only extraordinary ability is wielding magic.
I’m also a history geek, and I love action-adventure. I also love space opera. So branching out into historical fantasy (wizards and magic!), space opera, and romantic action-adventure spy stories just felt natural.
Is there any part of your series, any of your series, world(s) that you would like to expand on in the future?
The Regency setting for The Steel Rose and the WWII setting of The King’s Champion will layer in information about magic and the community of wizards in those eras. I’m also thinking of a mystery spinoff, but I have other fish to fry first.
In the world of Outcast Station (Welcome to Outcast Station), there are people with psy abilities. We’ll probably expand those and add new alien races, worlds, and political situations.
How do you take our world and build something fantastical from it? How do you turn our reality into fantasy?
Magic! *g* Adding magic into the world, figuring out how the presence of magical people would change things and how those people interact with the world, creates a slightly different world. In The Herald of Day, that interaction is a key plot feature. The villain thinks the mageborn should rule England and alters the timeline to make that happen—with himself in charge, of course. The good guys think keeping their powers secret and letting humans determine their own course is the best choice.
For the Light Mages, I incorporated the witch hunts of the early modern era with imaginary demon incursions and plague to establish a history for the mages. Despite defeating the demons, they were hunted almost to extinction as witches. They protect humanity because it’s the right thing to do, but they’re very strict about who can know of their existence. So that history and the mages’ powers are woven into the story to make our world fantastical.
Which do you find is more central in your writing: the characters or world creation? Why?
World creation is more fun for me, but the characters drive the story. Without the conflicts they face, I wouldn’t feel as engaged with the events in the book, and when the writer isn’t engaged, readers are unlikely to be.
If you could be one urban fantasy creature/person/magical thing, what would you be and why?
A mage or wizard (same thing, really, but I used different terms to set my magic systems apart). Wielding magic would be great. You burned that toast? No problem. Let’s snap our fingers and fix it! ?
Of course the downside would be that where there are good magical creatures, there are malevolent ones, and I don’t think I would enjoy risking my neck in magical combat.
If you could be one of the characters in your book for one day, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t! I give them too much trouble.
Design your own apocalypse – What constitutes an effective apocalypse and what mechanism would work best?
I designed a potential apocalypse in The Deathbrew Affair. The villain is preparing to unleash a flu pandemic on the world. A strain of flu for which there’s no vaccine could take out hundreds of thousands of people. That’s what the heroine and hero are racing to stop.
For me to believe an apocalypse, there have to be widespread deaths, with severe reduction in the population and resulting breakdown of social structures. The worse the problems, the more triumphant the heroes are when they succeed.
Don’t miss your chance to meet over 50 fabulous urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance authors at Coastal Magic next February! This super casual book-lover weekend happens on Daytona Beach, and gives everyone the chance to hang out with fellow readers and amazing storytellers.
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