(Arcane Artisans, #1)
Publication date: March 18th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Adrienne Morales is a hunted woman.
Stalked by Voids—people immune to magic—and pursued by a deadly past, Adrienne wants nothing more than to avoid spells and sorcery. Her powers as an enchantress make that impossible. Every few days she must release the magic gathering around her, or it’ll steal her sanity. The only way to stay alive is to practice her magic in secret, hiding enchantments in works of art she sells in her craft store.
When a firebreathing psychopath controlled by enchantment tries to burn down her store, Adrienne unleashes her powers to stop him. Unfortunately her battle has a witness—Adrienne’s handsome business partner. Turns out he’s a Void, and sworn to a Union that executes rogue magic users. Worse, the firebreather isn’t the only victim to pop up around San Francisco. Someone is using magic to create monsters and destroy minds, and the Void Union wants them dead.
Now Adrienne must capture the rogue enchanter before they ruin more innocent lives—and before the Voids punish her for the rogue’s crimes. But Voids aren’t the worst thing chasing her. Every enchantment she crafts makes it more likely her past will track her down. And if it does, madness will be the kindest fate awaiting her.
Q: What sets this novel apart from other urban fantasies?
A: For one thing, the magic system is unique. The heroine, Adrienne, is an enchantress, which means she can infuse magic into objects to create magical talismans. She can’t just draw in magic and use it with her will alone; she has to craft it into something first. The magic is also tempestuous. If an enchanter doesn’t use up the magic gathering around them, they’ll lose their sanity, but creating an enchantment carries its own risks.
Another distinct feature of the novel is Adrienne herself. She’s small, untrained in combat. She’s an artist, not a fighter. Her magic and her wits are her only weapons, and half the time the magic is working against her. So she has to take on all these enemies and obstacles without any fallback if her main skills fail her.
The final element applies more to the end of the book and the rest of the series, but I think the plot has an unusual spin. I always start writing a book with the villain. What’s their motivation? Why do they do what they do? In real life, nobody sees themselves as the bad guy. Every villain thinks they’re the hero of the story, and they’re doing the best they can. That has a significant impact on the way this book resolves.
Q: You mentioned Adrienne is an artist?
A: Yes, she makes and sells crafts for a living. A little of everything, from sewing to painting. But her true love is using hot glue to make something new out of unrelated bits and pieces.
Q: What inspired that aspect of the book?
A: When I was a kid, I loved building stuff out of random junk. Got a cardboard box? Glue a couple strips of cardboard across the middle, cut some holes, and now it’s a dollhouse. Or in my case, a house for mouse-shaped cat toys and those gelatinous fish bait worms.
I think a lot of people enjoyed the same kind of creative play as kids, and I loved the idea of a character who uses her art as a vehicle for her magic. Since I wanted to write a magic system based around enchantments, the two ideas meshed.
Q: You discuss fight scenes often on your website. How has your background on that topic influenced the book?
A: Adrienne isn’t a physical fighter, but the same concepts apply to magical fights as physical fights. Combat in the book is very active: switching between enchantments, thinking on your feet. I tried to have my characters apply the lessons I’ve learned in my eight years of martial arts training: combine attacks, be unpredictable, etc.
Q: What other research did you do for this book?
A: Lots of research on San Francisco geography. I grew up in the area, but needed refreshers on exactly where everything is in relation to everything else. I also spent a good amount of time researching Adrienne’s heritage and consulting with sensitivity readers. Diversity in fiction is important, and we owe it to our characters to make them as believable as we can.
Every book also has those little, odd details you have to spend some time looking up. Some of the ones for Enchantress included when cherries grow in California, which San Francisco libraries have public computers, and whether Muir Woods was a reasonable place to hide a magical lair. (Protip: It’s not. I ended up setting that scene elsewhere.)
Q: Does the book contain any secrets or inside jokes?
A: People who live in the San Francisco area will enjoy some inside references throughout the series. Also, as a Star Trek fan, I try to hide the number 47 somewhere in each of my books.
Q: Your book includes shapeshifters, most notably Kendall the squirrel shifter. If you were a shifter, what animal would you be?
A: I’m a platypus. Made of a little of this, a little of that. A mix of pieces that don’t all seem to go together. Weird, often out of place, but hopefully entertaining.
Oh, and like a platypus, I have a venomous spur on my ankle.
Just kidding, I don’t. But that would be cool.
Q: If you had enchantress powers like Adrienne, what would you try to make?
A: I would absolutely try to enchant something that would let me fly. Maybe a backpack, or a chair, or a dress. I would also absolutely hurt myself doing this, but I think it’d be worth it.
Q: Anything else you want to share?
A: This book, at its core, is about using your gifts to help others, and encouraging them to do the same. About being who you are, and doing the best with what you have. Sometimes life hands you a bunch of junk. But in the hands of an artist, even junk can take on new life.
Be an artist, friends.
Oh, and please buy my book.
“You’re going to turn that trash into something beautiful. Maybe not tomorrow, or the next day, but at some point you’ll figure it out.” – Adrienne Morales, Enchantress Undercover
This excerpt is from chapter one, and catches the narrator Adrienne in a tight spot, with magic pressing in on her, demanding release. Here’s a taste of how she usually handles a buildup of her power:
* * *
I found Kendall in the knitting section, sorting out balls of yarn that customers had misplaced. “Kendall, I need your wallet,” I said.
My best friend spun toward me, her green eyes alarmed. Her dagger-shaped dangly earrings jingled as she looked me up and down. “You okay?”
“Wallet,” I said, flinching as another wave of magic rolled over me. “Now.”
Wordlessly she drew her duct tape wallet from her back pocket and passed it over. She’d made it herself with black tape and orange trim, and a little beaded zipper pull that read “404 Money Not Found.” I rummaged through the cash pocket until I found a smooth, new twenty. I yanked it out and returned the wallet.
“You gonna give that back?” Kendall called as I rushed away.
At my workspace, I flashed a reassuring smile at Mrs. Jacinta before ducking behind the partition. I slapped the twenty on the metal table beside Mrs. J’s half-finished wind chime, then draped the leather cord across the two objects. I closed my eyes and reached into the fog of magic choking the air.
May riches grace the home where this wind chime rings, I chanted in my mind. May poverty never find shelter there. May this be a talisman of plenty, a harbinger of abundance.
I repeated the words as I felt the magic move, swirling around me, guided by my impromptu enchantment. I sent it into the twenty dollar bill, letting it absorb the money’s nature, the crispness of the paper, the smell of the ink, the financial security it represented. Once the magic had stewed there, I channeled it through the soft leather cord and into the engraved wave on the chime.
When I opened my eyes, the enchantment had taken hold.
Want a free step-by-step crafting guide from the novel’s characters, and a chance to win other awesome swag? Enter the Enchantress Undercover pre-release drawing! All you have to do is pre-order the book for 99 cents, then submit a copy of your e-receipt, plus your name and mailing address to EnchantressSwag@gmail.com. (You need to include an address to be eligible; otherwise you can’t get your prize if you win.) There are three levels of prizes:
- Everyone who pre-orders and submits their pre-order receipt will receive a link to download a digital crafting guide written and annotated by the characters from the novel. The guide teaches you to make five easy and intermediate handcrafts step-by-step, plus contains fun hints about the plot and people of Enchantress Undercover.
- Ten randomly chosen entries will win a mini swag pack that includes a handmade replica of Adrienne’s shield ring from the novel, a handmade leather bookmark, a magnet with a quote from the book, and a temporary enchantment tattoo.
- One randomly chosen entry will receive a crafting gift box including a signed paperback of Enchantress Undercover, a $25 Amazon gift card, exclusive jewelry, a glue gun and glue sticks, and more.
To get your crafting guide and your chance to win the other prizes, pre-order Enchantress Undercover on Kindle, and submit a copy of your e-receipt, your name, and the address where you’d like possible prizes shipped to EnchantressSwag@gmail.com.
A. C. Spahn is the author of the Endurance series and the Arcane Artisans series. Her shorter works have been published by Daily Science Fiction, Star*Line, Outposts of Beyond, Disturbed Digest, and others.
She wanted to be an interstellar starship captain when she grew up. Since nobody was hiring, she became a writer instead. She enjoys training in martial arts, organizing messy rooms, and cooking, sometimes all at once. When not commanding imaginary starships, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and feline overlord.
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