A Place of Magic
by Merrie Destefano
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Ruby Slipper Press
Date of Publication: October 12, 2021
Number of pages:320
Word Count: 73,000
Cover Artist: Elona Bezooshko,
Psycat Digital Ink and Motion
He nodded, head lowered. Then he lifted his gaze until he was staring into her eyes. One hand rested on her shoulder. “I won’t tell anyone your secret, Elspeth. You’re safe with me.”
Then he leaned closer, his scent overwhelming, his thoughts like the wind through the leaves, a wild rushing, his skin like the embrace of the forest. His lips touched hers and she could hear his heart beating. She slid her arms around his waist, leaning into the kiss, suddenly wanting more. She wanted to cast an enchantment, to lead him into sleep, to harvest his dreams. Wanted to walk into a dream with him, to see the hidden world on the other side of his eyelids. Wanted to know everything about him.
The kiss had only just begun and already she wanted another.
His arms were around her then, and the winter chill disappeared. In its place, fire crackled through her limbs, from her fingertips to her feet.
She could see it then, the world inside him. Tender and gentle as a spring morning, the shadows of night lingering at the edge of the wood, a handful of stars scattered across a pale sky.
She never knew that humans could be filled with so much magic.
It was her first Hunt and she had chosen her prey wisely.
1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
This book began because I had a long bout with insomnia. It was as if I had forgotten how to fall asleep. When I couldn’t sleep, I began to imagine what sort of creatures might prey on people when they were sleeping. That was when I came up with the idea for the Darkling fae, magical creatures that draw their powers from human dreams.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
That every book is hard to write. They’re just all different. I rewrote this story so many different times. It took a long time for me to get the setting and characters in place. The first time, it was set in Pasadena, California. But it made more sense to have fae creatures in the wilderness of the San Gabriel Mountains. So, I moved the story to a mountain town based on Big Bear.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
The ending. I usually know how my stories will end, but not with this one. Although I was surprised by what happened, I love it! I tend to be a Discovery Writer, so I don’t outline as much as some authors. I enjoy the journey and finding new things along the way.
4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
It means that this place is where the Darklings are allowed to be magical. They have to hide who and what they are most of the time. Also, it relates to Maddie, the writer, too, since this is where she came to try and restore her ability to write magical stories.
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Yes, although it was unintentional. Maddie is very much like me and her sister, Kate, is very much like my sister Kathy. Sadly, I don’t think I ever told my sister about it—I may have only realized it during the rewrite. My sister passed away a few years ago. I loved my sister very much and, for that reason, I often have stories with strong sister or strong sibling relationships. Some of those books include Fathom, Fairytale Magic, Valiant, and Lost Girls.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
Yes! Our dreams are what motivate us and give us hope. We should never allow someone else to steal them. In the book, if a Darkling fae harvests too many dreams, it will kill the human. Without dreams, we will die. It’s a paraphrase of Proverbs 29:18.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
Any scene with Samwise! This book has been published twice. Once under the title Feast: Harvest Of Dreams by HarperCollins. Then now by me, with the title A Place Of Magic. When I decided to rewrite the book, one choice I made was to include deleted scenes where the dog had his own POV.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Definitely Ash. He’s complex and can come across unfeeling at times, since he’s fae. But that’s not true. He’s conflicted. He sees the good and the bad in almost any situation. It was hard to get him to a point where he didn’t seem heartless, since that’s far from the truth. He’s actually deeply wounded and broken and trying his best not be bitter over what he has lost.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
I’m still deciding if I want to finish my half-written fae book or my half-written vampire book. I love both of them!
About the Author:
Multiple-award-winning author Merrie Destefano writes lyrical tales of magic, mystery, and hope. Her traditional books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, and Walter Foster, while her indie imprint is Ruby Slippers Press. Her novels have won awards in both the science fiction and fantasy categories.
She worked for Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, Engaged Media, and PJS Publications, and her magazine experience includes editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, Haunted: Mysteries And Legends magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Vintage Gardens magazine and founding editor of Cottages and Bungalows magazine. Her co-authored art books include How To Draw Vampires, How To Draw Zombies, and How to Draw Grimm’s Dark Fairy Tales. Her edited books include The Man God Uses by Chuck Smith, Oil Pastel Step-By-Step by Nathan Rohlander, and The Art of Drawing Fantasy Characters by Jacob Glaser.
Born in the Midwest, Merrie now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats. And although she dearly loves science fiction, in her heart of hearts, she still doesn’t believe airplanes should be able to fly.
Mary, Will I Die?
by Shawn Sarles
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Bestselling author Shawn Sarles’ most terrifying YA horror yet…
It starts innocently enough. Four kids – three girls, one boy – are at one of their houses, playing games. One of them has read about “Bloody Mary” and the idea that if you look into a mirror and say her name thirteen times, she will show you the future. Some legends say she’ll show you your one true love or a skull to mark your death within five years. Others say that conjuring Bloody Mary will bring her into your world.
Both sets of legends are true. The kids go through with the act, saying her name thirteen times. One girl looks in the mirror and sees her longtime crush. One girl looks in the mirror and sees the boy in the group. But she pretends to see something else. One girl looks in the mirror and sees a girl she’s never seen before but can’t get out of her mind. And the boy . . . he sees a skull. But he pretends to see something else. They try to laugh it off. And mostly they forget about it. Or at least they don’t talk about it. Yes, over the next few years, whenever they look into a mirror, it’s like there’s always another figure standing in the background, getting closer.
Just short of five years later, the four of them are no longer friends, having gone on separate paths. The girl whose house it was has always tried to avoid the mirror they used – because she always sensed someone in the background. One morning as she’s passing by, she sees much more than her own reflection – it’s a scary figure taunting her. She startles and breaks the mirror. When the pieces are put back together (barely), the figure is gone.
That day in school, a new girl arrives. Her name is Mary…
Shawn Sarles is the Indie Bestselling Author of CAMPFIRE and the forthcoming novel MARY, WILL I DIE? (out 09/07/21). Born in western Kentucky, he went to college at Wake Forest University and then moved to New York City after graduating. He has worked in the publishing industry for the last decade and now lives in Jersey City with a French Bulldog and two chatty parrots.