Hello! Welcome and thank you for joining us on another Genre Talk on The Novel Approach. Today we’re joined by DSP Publications author TJ Nichols who is here to talk about DSP Publication’s new release Warlock in Training. Let’s give TJ a warm welcome and learn a bit about Warlock in Training.
Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.
His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.
Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.
Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.
Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.
Elizabeth: I love this blurb and the premise of warlocks and demons! The cover is pretty awesome, too. TJ would you tell us a bit about your chosen genre?
TJ: Urban fantasy is a wonderful what if there was magic in our world? I grew up reading fantasy novels that took me to the author imagined worlds (after reading about Narnia what child didn’t go looking for doorway to other places?), but I have always loved the idea that there could be magic here. Urban fantasy is a sibling of paranormal romance in that they share that idea of paranormal or magic existing in the here and now. What separates them is urban fantasy has less of a focus on the romance and more on the plot (I read both, love them both) and in a romance the happily ever after happens at the end of every book. There are relationships in Warlock in Training, and the book ends hopefully, but Saka and Angus have a long way to go. I love that urban fantasy offers that bigger story over several books.
Elizabeth: Tell us about Warlock in Training.
TJ: In Warlock in Training I really wanted to go back a step from the magic in the here and now. I wanted to offer a glimpse at how the world could be different if humans had been using magic and demon based magic for centuries. The countries would have different borders and names. Some areas of the world would have banned all magic. Some would have banned only demon magic but allowed natural magic. Some countries would be trying to start a magical cold war or claim all the magic for themselves…
So the world as we know it would be different…and yet I think that some things would’ve still been invented like cars and the internet. So it’s our world, through a window warped by magic.
Elizabeth: Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
TJ: I see diversity including all kinds of people in fiction, reflecting the real world in other words.
In Warlock in Training Angus (the human hero) is gay. In his world that isn’t an issue (because I like to read books where it isn’t an issue simply because in so many places around the world it is still an issue). His ex is bisexual. That Angus works a little too closely with his demon (that could be an interspecies relationship?) is viewed as a bad thing, but only because the Warlock College is afraid that Angus will learn the truth. At its heart the book is about working together (because we are more similar than different) instead of tearing each other apart.
Elizabeth: Warlock in Training is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in Warlock in Trainingand why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
TJ: Angus and Saka’s relationship is not conventional at all. There is a power imbalance at the start, and the need for Angus to keep what is going on a secret. The ending, while resolving one problem, is still open even though they are together. Warlock in Training is the first book in a series about Angus and Saka so they will get their happily ever after eventually, but that delay means that it doesn’t fall neatly into the romance genre (it wasn’t written as a romance, it was written as an urban fantasy along the lines of the Dresden Files and the Iron Druid…but with more sex and a gay hero).
Elizabeth: Lightening Round!
~Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Warlock in Training?
It started out as a piece of flash fiction a couple of years ago and I was having so much fun with the characters and concept that I just kept going.
~If you were writing your book today is there something you’d change or do differently?
I would have plotted the series out at the start. I completely winged book one which meant that I had to sit down and nut out the next couple of books before I started writing. The laws of magic are set and I can only go forward.
~And because everyone likes to talk about what they’re doing the old standby: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
I have a novel coming out in the Order of the Black Knights multi author series around September-ish. Olivier is a dark romantic suspense with curses and part life repercussions in the present day—so lots of fun to write, even if it wasn’t fun for my poor characters to go through.
Elizabeth: Thank you so much TJ for taking the time to ‘talk’ to us today. A huge thanks to all our readers, we love you guys! There are social media and purchase links a little further down. Now enjoy an excerpt from Warlock in Training.
Angus has been taken to Demonside and is getting a glimpse at the town, while wishing it was all some kind of nightmare…
He closed his eyes, wanting to wake up and find himself in bed. This was just a nightmare brought on by his fear of summoning a demon in a class, which would happen later today.
But the air was hot in his lungs. Outside the tent demons were talking and singing as though there was nothing strange about having a human around. He opened his eyes. He was still in the tent with the demons. His stomach sank, nausea clawed up his throat. This was so not good.
He needed to find a way to get home, tonight. If he could get a few minutes alone, so Saka couldn’t break his circle, then he could escape back across the void.
Uncertainty and confusion had given way to fear and tension. His gut clenched, and sweat rolled down his back. It was hot in the tent, but at least it was shady. Now he was going to have to leave the lovely shade.
He followed Saka outside. The brightness of the sun hurt his eyes and struck his skin. He was already burning; suddenly the cold of home didn’t seem so bad. Saka’s skin shimmered like metal as though he reflected the sun’s rays. He seemed unbothered by the heat. Even the sand beneath Angus’s sneakers was hot and sucked at his shoes, finding a way through his socks to rub against his skin.
Few of the demons wore shoes. Those who did were wearing sandal-like things. Adults watched him either openly or subtly. There were even little demons, children. He hadn’t thought about how demons were made. Or how they lived. He’d thought, he’d been told, they were little more than animals. Angus slowed so he could take in more of the market. It seemed to be laid out in a cross. At the center was the tent they had just been in. This was the work of a civilized people. While he’d seen pictures of the different demons, there had been no mentions of thriving towns.
Not all the demons he’d seen pictures of were here. Maybe some were animals. Again he cursed his luck at getting one that talked, a mage and a demon with obvious standing in his town.
Saka led them down a leg of the cross, away from the market.
“Where are we going?” Angus asked.
Saka pulled open the flap to a tent. “My home.”
TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the everyday.
With two cats acting as supervisors TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.