The Price of Magic

I’ve just come back from my usual seaside holiday for the festive season, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately I fell into a lagoon and ruined my cherished MP3 player, but that was the only mishap, and I’m pleased to report that I did accomplish something other than opening presents and going for unexpected swims while fully clothed.

I don’t take breaks from writing while I’m on holiday, and since I was leaving my laptop behind I took along a novel I’d decided to write by hand, which I started last year during my trip to the US. Well, during this holiday I finished it.

I may have mentioned it here earlier, but since it’s now finished it would seem appropriate to reveal a few things about it. So here goes.


Not many people know that The Dark Griffin wasn’t actually my first novel. The first thing I ever published was a humourous book for kids, called The Land of Bad Fantasy. I wrote it while still in highschool, and it was a pretty silly little story that parodied fantasy as I saw it at the time (If you want to know more about it, the cover and some other details are on the Books page).

This new story is slightly similar to LoBF, in that it’s a humourous story for kids. But where as LoBF never got serious, this one does, and it deals with some bigger issues which I thought were interesting. It came when I was thinking about artists, and how the really good ones always seem to be troubled people. Van Gough died in a mental institution. Samuel Johnson was nearly blind and suffered chronic lung problems. Edgar Allen Poe may well have committed suicide. Jackson Pollack was an alchoholic. The list goes on.

I wondered why that seemed to be so common, and whether art comes first and makes artists suffer, or if it’s the other way around (I eventually decided that art follows suffering. Why? Because being miserable drives you away from other people and into your own mind, which is where art comes from).

In any case, thinking along those lines gave me the idea for a new book.

“What if”, I thought – “what if there was a world where you could be born with magical powers… but if you had powers you also had some sort of problem? A disease, or a disability of some kind – and the more powerful you are, the more crippling your problem. And what if… what if in this world there was a really powerful person who could save the world – but who also suffered from suicidal depression? How can you save the world if you can’t even get out of bed in the morning?”

I’m usually pretty bad at coming up with titles (only two of my published works didn’t have their titles changed at some point), but this one was easy. I called it The Price of Magic.

And I pretty quickly decided not to tell it from the point of view of the depressed character, and also that I would make the story at least semi-humorous, because otherwise I would run the risk of making it too downbeat for anyone to want to read. I’m not sure why I decided to make it for kids; it just felt right. And since I was due to go to America around that time, I decided to write it by hand the way I did in highschool, so I could take it on the road with me.

After that I just had to write it – albeit in fits and starts, usually while away from home. I set off on this year’s summer holiday determined to finish it at last, and I did. I’m very pleased with the result. I read at least half of it aloud to some kids I looked after, and they got into it right away – asking questions and even making requests (they all asked if the depressed character could get better and not be depressed at the end of the book).

It’s all very promising, and hopefully a good sign of things to come. Now all I have to do is type it up and show it to my agent. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck! And happy holidays!

~KJT, feeling jolly

Neato text ornament here