A Muddle of Magic
Fledgling Magic #2
What’s a nice Southern girl doing in a place like this?
My So-Called Writing Process
Whisked from humdrum Alabama to the fantastical land of Tandara by a mage who won’t take no for an answer, Raine Stewart finds herself tangled in a muddle of magic. A Dark Wizard is out for her blood, a demonic golem has orders to dispatch her . . . and she stinks at magic. Being a wizard, even a baby wizard, is harder than Raine thought.
Raine and her companions find sanctuary amongst the famed warriors of the snow-capped nation of Finlara, and Raine is reunited with her dear friend, the frost giant Tiny Bartog. In short order, she unearths a magic mirror, a dread curse, and a tragic, ill-fated love affair.
Safety, however, is an illusion. The dreaded Magog’s Eye is still missing, and war looms. It seems an entire world hangs in the balance, waiting to see whether Raine will be able to harness her magic. But with a little help from her friends, she’ll survive . . . she hopes.
A Meddle of Wizards
Fledgling Magic #1Welcome to Tandara, where gods are fickle, nightmares are real, and trolls make excellent bakers . . .
Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard.
Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose.
Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood.
But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own. If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to find out . . .
Alexandra Rushe was born in South Alabama, and grew up climbing trees, searching for sprites and fairies in the nearby woods, and dreaming of other worlds. The daughter of an English teacher and a small-town judge, Rushe developed a love of reading early on, and haunted the school and local libraries, devouring fairy tales, myths, and tales of adventure. In the seventh grade, she stumbled across a worn copy of The Hobbit, and was forever changed. She loves fantasy and paranormal, but only between the pages of a book—the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz give her the creeps, and she eschews horror movies. A psychic friend once proclaimed the linen closet in Rushe’s bedroom a portal to another dimension, and she hasn’t slept well since. Rushe is a world-class chicken.
My name is Alexandra Rushe and I write the Fledgling Magic series, the story of Raine Stewart, a sickly young woman who gets swept through a portal to the world of Tandara. Magic permeates the world of Tandara, but, instead of wands, the wizards in Tandara channel magic through wizard stones. A Meddle of Wizards, the first book in the series, is a fish-out-of-water story. Raine is yanked from her not-so-comfortable existence and thrust into an unfamiliar world where she’s forced to step outside her comfort zone to survive. Unchanneled magic is dangerous and lethal, and Raine, a neophyte wizard, has a series of magical misadventures.
Frankly, she sucks at magic. Fortunately, she has a wizard named Bree to tutor her and a textbook called A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering the Glow: Incantate—Don’t Incinerate. The Beginner’s Guide is part how-to manual, part history, and part cautionary tale warning would-be adepts of the fate awaiting those that lack a healthy respect for magic.
Like Dorfus the Doomed, for example, who accidentally turned himself inside out.
Readers often ask me how I write. That’s a tough question, because the writing process is weird and differs from person to person, but I guess you could say that I’m a plotser, a combination of pantser—those writers who write by the seat of their pants—and a plotter—those who plot first and write after. I’m also a linear writer, meaning that I start at the beginning of the story and bully my way through to the end, with a lot of hair pulling and anxiety in between. What amazes me is how the subconscious mind works. Some tidbit I drop at the start of a story will wind up being significant. Weird, huh? Or, I’ll be writing along, thinking I know where the story is going and wham! A character will appear with no warning, like the frost giant in my story. Tiny Bartog showed up, unannounced and fully formed in the first book, and it was love at first sight.
Species also have a habit of appearing unexpectedly, leaving me scratching my head. In A Muddle of Magic, I write of the aratuk, battle hags that reap the souls of the unworthy, and snow devils, rapacious creatures that live in the mountains and feed on lost sheep and travelers. Neither the aratuk nor snow devils were planned or plotted, and that’s why I keep a bible, an index of characters, places, and terms I make up. When I first started writing, I used to put everything on note cards and kept them in a box. Now, I keep a running index in a separate Word document, though a spread-sheet is another option. Some writers of my acquaintance are fond of sticky notes, Scrivener, and flow charts. Different strokes for different folks.
Humor is another element that pops up unexpectedly in my writing, maybe because my dad was a funny guy. He hated the beach, hated the sand and the sun and the crabs. I can still hear him saying, “If I had a house at the beach and a home in hell, I’d go home.” And, once, while sweltering in a hot car at a funeral, he quipped, “When I die, shove a hambone up my ass and let the dogs drag me off.”
Daddy never got the funeral he wanted—we couldn’t afford it. He was a big guy, see, and three-dog funerals are pricey. We cremated him, instead, and threw ink pens into the hole when we buried his ashes. But, that’s another story . . .
Or maybe humor finds its way into my stories because I’m Southern, and Southerners are funny people. We talk slow and sweet, like caramel, and we have a colorful way of expressing ourselves. We can’t just say somebody’s ugly. We say, “She’s uglier ʼn a mud fence daubed with lizards.” We don’t say someone lacks intelligence. We say, “He’s dumber ʼn a bag of frog turds.” Southerners can’t get right to the point. Language is the point, and ours is rich and colorful, and ever-changing. We don’t talk. We sing in syrupy cadence, our voices caressing each word and drawing it out, taking a one-syllable word and making it into a sonnet. “Damn,” becomes day-yumm. “Lord,” becomes Low-ward-duh, and “hell”, becomes hay-yull. And don’t even get me started on the “S” word. That one goes on for days.
If you asked me how to write funny, I couldn’t tell you. Don’t have a clue. It’s a mystery, humor, like writing. I don’t know where it comes from, but I’m glad it’s there.
It keeps the darkness at bay.
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