A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Would you rather live in a world where the Harry Potter stories exist, or a world where magic is real?
This was the (paraphrased) question posed by Miss Print — librarian, writer, blogger, reviewer, and generally wonderful human — in an Instagram poll last week. The results came as a real shock to me: 90% of voters wanted a world where magic is real, and only 10% stood with Harry. I mean, I voted for magic myself, but I thought the serious HP fans would squash the notion of a Potter-less world in a nanosecond. But maybe with all the scandal and injustice and political dumbassery we’re bombarded with every day in real life, the prospect of a world with magic isn’t so surprising a winner.
One of the things I like most about being a writer is that I get to invent new worlds. I get to make them as true-to-life or as weird as I want; I decide the rules, the setting, who lives and who dies. It’s about as godlike as a person can be while sitting at a computer, wearing fluffy slippers and covered in cats.
My first novel, Blackfin Sky, was set in a pretty weird and magical place. The town of Blackfin has a haunted weathervane, an abandoned circus in the woods, and a wishing well that’ll steal the money right out of your pocket if you pass too close to it. I remember when I was revising an early draft of the manuscript I had a note to flesh out the world even more than it was already (and it was pretty fleshy), and that prospect filled me with glee. Make it more weird? More magical? CAN DO.
Blackfin is still probably my favourite of the settings I’ve created in my books, which may be why I decided to revisit it by writing a novella set there. The Twins of Blackfin will be released this October from Firefly Press (as part of the Three Strikes anthology), and I am sooooo excited to see what readers will think of this new slice of weird-pie. And now that I’m almost done editing it, I find myself reaching for other magical worlds, other fantasy story ideas — somewhere bloody marvellous that will expand and evolve on the page like some kind of magical sourdough (and actually, sourdough is already pretty magical when you think about it…) So yes, I am working on a story filled with magic right now. And I am LOVING it.
Even if writing magical worlds isn’t your thing, getting lost in a world created by someone else can be just as fun. These are 3 books I’ve read recently which all have amazing, fantastical worlds as their settings. Check ’em out if you haven’t already read ’em.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F C Yee
Description from Goodreads:
She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys.
Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.
But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.
Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Description from Goodreads:
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Description from Goodreads:
A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.
WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.
A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.
LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.
ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.
RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?
WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.
And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.
Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….
Or there’s always Harry Potter, of course 😉
Kat Ellis is a YA author from North Wales, where she grew up immersed in ancient myths about dragons and giants, and spent her childhood getting into trouble while exploring the local cemetery. Her books include Blackfin Sky (YA fantasy thriller), Breaker (YA suspense), and Purge (YA sci-fi thriller). The Twins of Blackfin, a prequel novella to Blackfin Sky, will be published in October 2018.