This year the Mensa World Gathering is being held in Florida at BillyBeaver(TM)’s Fantasyland and several Faerie citizens have been invited. The Gap between the Mundane and Faerie dimensions hasn’t been open long and with rumors of an upcoming war amongst the High Elves Bishop Aiden wants Vern and Sister Grace to keep an eye on things. Or as Vern would say… he and Sister Grace are babysitting and the pay is too low.
Karina Fabian’s Magic, Mensa and Mayhem began as a serialized story that was reformatted into a novel. Fabian pulls all of the subplots together towards the end. Even some of the characters that seemed minor play a larger role in this caper than they thought.
Very little escapes Fabian’s wit. She pokes fun at theme park tourists, environmentalists, reporters and pop culture. Checking the Faerie guests into the hotel reads like the classic Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First?” routine. Another highlight is the reputed showdown between Sister Grace and the Greek muse, Euterpe. Fabian, Vern and Sister Grace are bound to have a following of fans after reading this adventure.
Learn more about the cases Vern and Sister Grace solve at Dragon Eye, P.I.
Last week you were introduced to today’s guest, Karina Fabian. I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with her via email about her writing interests and the characters in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem.
Amber: I feel like I’ve known Vern forever because I’ve heard about him for quite some time. I’m surprised Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is the first book featuring Vern and Sister Grace. How long has Vern been in your life?
Karina: The first Vern story (as my kids call them) appeared in Firestorm of Dragons in 2008, but he’s pretty much taken over a huge hunk of my imagination. I have 12 stories in, shall we say, various stages of being published, plus one more book coming out in late 2009 from Swimming Kangaroo–Live and Let Fly, a super-spy spoof. I also have another dozen stories and books that are just waiting to come out. The DragonEye, PI world is a playground of amusement-park proportions!
Amber: In Magic, Mensa and Mayhem the reader comes across many types of Faerie. It mentions that Vern is a rare sight. Has Vern met other North African Faerie Wyverns?
Karina: There are only a set number of dragons in the Faerie world. They are immortal, but do not reproduce. Each has its own territory. Vern is the only North African. I have a story coming about Grssla (called Gisselle in English), who is a Western European dragon. I hope to write that one to get it out for Valentine’s Day.
Amber: Does Vern have a working visa to live on the Mundane side of the Gap?
Karina: No. Vern is not considered a “person” under US Law–it’s a long story that has to do with bureaucracy in general and an overworked bitter bureaucrat in particular. That’s one reason he was working as a PI instead of doing something more academic. He can’t get a legit job. Before Grace, he was solving crimes and getting his pay under the table or in trade.
He wasn’t able to return to Faerie, however, because the Duke decided it’d be fun to tell the US, “You know that “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled souls longing to be free? Here ya go. Keep him–or face an Interdimensional Incident.” The Duke still laughs in his beer when he thinks about that one.
Amber: Do you think St. George may make an appearance during one of their cases?
Karina: Oh, no! St. George is long dead, and neither Vern nor Grace are likely to have apparitions (visitations of the saints). Vern did reminisce about him in the latest newsletter, “A Dragon’s Eye View.” If anyone’s interested, they can register on the website and get a copy: www.dragoneyepi.net.
Amber: I think it’s great the way Vern and Sister Grace balance each other. Vern is so straight forward with his thoughts while Sister Grace is more tactful. How did you get the idea to put them together as a team?
Karina: Actually, it wasn’t my idea. I wanted a mage for Vern’s partner, and Grace took the job. I guess he needed some Grace in his life.
Amber: You’re multitalented. You’ve written short stories, novels and edited anthologies. Each format requires different skills. Is there one that comes more naturally than the others?
Karina: Not really. It depends on the needs of the story. However, I have greatly enjoyed writing Vern. He has an easy voice for me to write. Maybe he’s the personality I wish I could have sometimes. 🙂
Amber: You’ve been a presenter at the Catholic Writers Conference Online and The Muse Online Writers Conference. It’s a lot of work to prepare for conferences and clear the time into your schedule for a week or two. What do you find rewarding about being a presenter?
Karina: I love presenting and taking the workshops. I meet great people, share some fantastic ideas, learn as much as I teach, and usually develop some friendships in the deal. I highly recommend online conferences, especially for those who cannot travel easily.
Amber: There is already another novel featuring Vern and Sister Grace planned for publication by Swimming Kangaroo Books. Do you have a writing schedule?
Karina: Yes and no. I have a schedule, but it tends to get tossed aside as outside demands or that idea I can’t shake intrude. However, I’m very good at meeting outside deadlines, and when inspired, I can write a novel in a month.
Amber: Where do you write?
Karina: At my computer in the study. I used to be able to write in bed, but now my back won’t take that.
Amber: Any memorable moments while on book tours?
Karina: My first book tour was for Infinite Space, Infinite God, a sci-fi with Catholic themes. I had some incredible, intellectual people interview me. I found I had to do research to answer some of their questions. I loved the experience! www.isigsf.com
While touring Leaps of Faith last year, I had my first experience with what I considered a damaging review. (The person claimed to love the book, then said it alienated about half the audience.) I was able to find ways to turn that review to my advantage, and even wrote a few blogs about the experience. www.leapsoffaithsf.com
This time, I’ve just been amazed at the number of people who love Vern! I did a chat on The Writers Chat room and the number of attendees flowed off the page. We get some big names at that chat, too, so I was flattered.
Amber: Anything else you’d like to share?
Karina: DragonEye, PI, as you observed, is more than just a book or series of books. There are stories, a website, a newsletter, and a forum. I invite folks to come play in my world at www.dragoneyepi.net.
Also for those who get the book, I’m having a trivia contest. I’ll post the questions around April 15 and keep them up through May 15. Whoever answers them correctly gets into a drawing to win a free copy of Live and Let Fly.
Finally, in case you have authors who read this: if you are looking for some help in marketing, please go to www.fabianspace.com and check out the Marketing Mentor menu. I have some free e-books and offer classes and programs as well.
Finally, thanks for hosting me!
Creating a Magic System
By Karina L. Fabian
Amber asked me to write a little about how magic works in the Faerie world and how I came up with its rules and philosophies. I’ll be frank–a lot of it is working itself out in the stories, so with each story or book where magic is involved, some new aspect comes to light. That’s how I think–seat of the pants–and it makes it exciting for me. However, here are some basics.
Three “Qualities of Magic”: Because I have a very firm Good Vs. Evil undercurrent in all the stories and an adapted for of Christianity, but wanted to have everyday magic as well, I adopted a three-way system. Natural magic is a force, something like mental electricity, that certain people can manipulate; holy magic comes from God, sometimes through the intercession of the Saints; evil magic from consort with Satan.
Natural Magic: Magic as a natural force is limited to a talented few who also put in a lot of time and study (and, it just occurred to me, a lot of athletic training). The better trained and healthier you are, the more complex a spell you can weave. There are some everyday spells and potions, limited in use and scope. Magic, thus, isn’t a cure-all. Some creatures can handle magic more adeptly than others. Pixies, for example, shape shift as easily as thought; for a dragon can’t do it on its own. Natural magic is also necessary for the survival of many of the Faerie creatures; too long or too far away from the Gap between Faerie and the Mundane, and a Magical will get sick, like a plant that’s too long out of the sun.
Holy Magic: Only those who have dedicated their lives to God can properly wield this magic: nuns, priests, monks, and the like. They often have an affinity for natural magics, too, but Holy magic is stronger, and often less under their control. As Vern said, “God is not a vending machine to spit out answers to your prayers. He will consider every one, of course, but in His ineffable wisdom, he’ll take into account everything from the lives at stake to the butterfly effect, not just at the moment of the prayer, but from all time before and after.” When you think about it, the fact that they can do so much is a miracle in itself. Sister Grace, Vern’s partner, is a mage and nun of the Order of Our Lady of the Miracles
Evil Magic: This is your pretty typical Satanism stuff: blood sacrifices, rituals, giving up of souls. Usually those who wield natural magics do not go for evil magic. We’ll be learning more about it in future books, as the Dark One brings the war against Good to the Mundane.
Magical items: Magic energy can be stored in a trinket, usually with a particular purpose. Holy magics tend to be stored in religious items, like saint medallions, with the saint directing the particular spell. So a St. Michael the Archangel charm would hold protective energy. Potions tend to be more in the realm of natural magics. Sometimes, a particular item will absorb magic, but these items are dangerous unless in the hands of an expert mage.Vern’s first case involved a magical fruit which was grated and put into fertilizer. It made the plants come alive in a spooky and murderous way.
Magic and the Mundane: No creature of the Mundane dimension can handle magic. They simply are not genetically suited, as the mage Bill Gates (pronounced Gae-tez) would say. He advised those who wish to work magic major in computer programming, which is as close as you can get, in his opinion.
Every writer has their own vision of what magic would be like. Some create a, pardon the pun, magical world where powers can be used with ease for everything from creating a glass of cold water to giving a school bully warts. Others have a complex system of rules and magical mathematics. In the end, it’s the needs of the world and the needs of the story that define the kind of magic. If you are building your own magical system, consider your world first. Let it tell you what it needs and what it can carry. Let it define your magical “space.” Then let your imagination soar within that space.
I wanted to take a moment of your time to introduce you to Vern and Sister Grace, the stars of Magic, Mensa and Mayhem.
Vern is your average North African Faerie Wyvern with a not-so average lifestyle.
Immortal and androgynous, he and his kind are no more evil than any other natural phenomenon. In fact, they’re rather preferable to many natural phenomena; as Vern would tell you, he never wantonly destroyed anyone’s property or took anyone’s life–unless he was hungry, or had been provoked, or (just on occasion) if it would be funny. Most of the time, as long as the locals treated him with respect, tossed him a cow when he came calling, and left his treasure alone, he was a benevolent neighbor. Can you expect similar treatment from a hurricane?
Around 870 years ago, the Faerie St. George trapped Vern in a holy spell. By the time the saintly mage knight was done, Vern was little larger than a gila monster, with no fire, no flight and just enough of his former knowledge to speak Latin and understand most aspects of human life. St. George the told him he could earn back all his former abilities and regain his dragon glory by serving God and Man through the Faerie Catholic Church. He started as the Pope’s pet, became his bodyguard and advisor, been a scribe, a convent watch-dragon, served as a warrior for the Church, and pulled a plow for a monastery farm. When the Gap opened between Mundane and Faerie, he felt a calling to come to our dimension. Now he’s living in an old warehouse on the seedy side of Los Logos which also holds to office of Dragon Eye, PI. He’s a professional problem-solver, no job too big or two little, wisdom of eternity, knowledge of the ages, virginity verified…you know the drill. Flights extra. Saving the multiverse, lots extra.
Sister Grace is a High Church Mage with Faerie Our Lady of the Miracles (FOLM). She stands not much higher than five feet, has eyes the metallic blue of the calm Mediterranean and hair of a silvery red color that few have ever seen and (since she keeps it tucked under her wimple) few ever will. She entered the FOLM as a child, both because of her sincere desire to follow the Lord and because of her unusually strong natural magical talent., which is channeled through her beautiful but not-quite-human voice. Her first years at the convent were spent in seclusion and strict training until her abilities were well harnessed to God’s will. She has taught others and served in several magical capacities, including proelium ecclesiae, or “Defender of the Church.” This is an assignment she does not talk much about, but it was after this last duty that she took a sabbatical to move across the Gap and study Mundane religious music. She attends Little Flower Catholic Church, and Father Rich coaxed her into serving as cantor. After working with Vern to defeat a beast summoned by an inchanted song, she became a partner in Dragon Eye Private Detective Agency. She lives in the warehouse with Vern, where she has her own “workshop” and has gotten her private investigators’ license. Together, they’ve saved our world and Faerie several times. As Vern would say, “It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
April 7th is Karina Fabian Day! You’ll be able to read my review of her newest book, see what Karina had to say in her interview and get her thoughts on Creating a Magic System. Until then… enjoy the book trailer for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem!
Magic, Mensa and Mayhem
Next week Karina Fabian will be stopping by for a visit. If you don’t already know Karina here is some information to introduce you to her.
After being a straight-A student, Karina now cultivates Fs: Family, Faith, Fiction and Fun. Winner of an EPPIE award for best sci-fi (Infinite Space, Infinite God) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), Karina’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her–and her fans–amused. From an order of nuns working in space to a down-and-out faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, she juggles the stories from at least three different universes. Mrs. Fabian is President of the Catholic Writer’s Guild and also teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Visit her website at http://www.fabianspace.com.
Things have been quiet here as I get ready for some visitors to stop by the blog over the next few weeks.
This Wednesday is Carrie Vaughn Day! I’ll have my reviews of her two most recently published Kitty Norville books available for you and a little something extra. 🙂
On April 7th Karina Fabian will be stopping by with a guest post. I’ll have an interview conducted via email with her and a review of Magic, Mensa and Mayhem!
Then on April 23rd Connie Arnold will stop by for an interview and share some excerpts of her work.