Title: Night Magic Series: Magic #4
Release Date: September 8, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance
CINDERELLA MISSES THE BALL. Jane Butler has loved Kemble since she was twelve years old. She’s well aware he’s not marrying her for love, but she hopes she can make him comfortable.
HAPPINESS IS RELATIVE. Comfort isn’t on the menu for the Tremaines. Kemble’s sister has been having visions of tragedy. The family finds one of Merlin’s precious artifacts, meant to increase the power of those with magic. Morgan and her Clan want it too. They can’t be far behind. Can Kemble and Jane find destiny in the face of danger and even death?
Also by this author: Do You Believe in Magic?
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*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
As part of her Night Magic blog tour, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Susan Squires.
BTH: How many total books do you have in mind for the Magic series?
Susan: Well, that’s a bit of a trick question. Originally, the series was to be six. However, a few weeks ago, I was down at the beach with my husband when a new character popped into my head. And he’s a very bad boy who wants his own story. I’m so relieved. I don’t want this series to end.
BTH: What made you decide to self-publish the Magic series?
Susan: Well, frankly, I burned out. I was an executive for a Fortune 500 company while I wrote 17 books for New York publishing houses, most recently St. Martin’s Press. It was like working two jobs. Three if you count promoting the books. I thought I could do it forever. I couldn’t. But you never anticipate burning out. Instead you look back as you are about to go crazy and say, “Huh! I think I burned out about four months ago.” I was financially able to quit my dayjob so I did that. But I had lost the joy of writing. So I took some time, thought up the idea for the Magic series. My very wonderful agent was proceeding to sell it. But I didn’t know if I’d be able to produce a book I was proud of on a deadline anymore. I had to prove to myself I wanted to write again before committing to a contract. My dear agent understood. He pulled the series from consideration at two publishers, and I wrote and self-published the first in the series, Do You Believe in Magic? And I LOVED it—both the book, and writing what I wanted without the pressure of deadlines. So I decided to self-publish the rest of the series.
BTH: Having done both, which do you prefer: traditional or self-publishing?
Susan: Hard question. I loved working for the editors I was lucky enough to have at the NY publishers. I made the bestseller list. I went on book tours. Even though it was a lot of pressure—what’s not to like? But I’m also enjoying self-publishing. I get to approve the covers, write the back blurbs, and write the book I want to write. I have more control. Would I have self-published before I was published traditionally? No, probably not. I got a wide audience being distributed by a traditional house, and that generated a big mailing list because many people knew my work. I also needed to learn the publishing business; how to self-edit and how to promote my books. That gave me the basis to be sure that I’m writing up to my standards and the confidence to go it alone. My self-published books have won several awards up against books published by New York, so I feel very good about them. I believe it was only because of my traditional publishing background that I was able to produce those books.
BTH: Do you have any words of wisdom for new authors seeking to self-publish?
Susan: I think you have to have realistic expectations. Everyone can point to an author who broke out and made it big self-publishing without having a previous audience, but it’s not the norm. So a new author who self-publishes has to have a promotion game plan and a lot of determination. Odds are it’s going to be a matter of building an audience over time rather than getting struck by lightning right out of the gate. But if you keep producing books, you can build an audience. I would also advise making sure the book is the best quality possible. That’s a great way to set your books apart from many books that are being self-published. It takes patience to do the multiple drafts, get critiques, enter contests, and then go over it one more time, but it’s worth it.
BTH: What is your favorite line from Night Magic?
Susan: Oh, I am so bad at picking favorite lines. Okay, here are a couple: From page 2. Drew is having visions of the future. The line is: “Who was in that grave?” It creates a sense of urgency that will lie behind the other events occurring in the family’s life. Another favorite line is “Could a woman get through a summer in Paris and still come home a virgin?” Kemble is horrified to find out that he will have to guide Jane in her first sexual experience. Clueless, panicking guy lines are always fun. But Kemble is
panicking because he’s not sure he’ll do right by Jane, which endears him to me.
BTH: What is your writing routine?
Susan: Routine? Hahahahaha. I wrote seventeen books under contract while I had a big day job that required a lot of travel. I learned to write in the middle seat of an airplane, if I had to. I became the queen of scheduling, and I wrote whenever I had a couple of hours. Now that I don’t have the dayjob anymore, I still have the habit of writing whenever I have time. My favorite time is late afternoon, though. That allows me to take care of other obligations in the morning, so they aren’t hanging over my head. I have a laptop, so I can write anywhere, including outside. I have only two rituals. I play 3 (and only 3) games of solitaire before I start. And I say to myself, “Now, where was I?” That’s the cue for the girls in the basement who have all the ideas to come out and play.
BTH: How much research did you have to do before starting the Magic series?
Susan: Much of my research about Merlin and Camelot was done for a previous book: The Mists of Time, which is actually about Merlin as a character. The books are set in contemporary L.A, where I live (as well as other locations). So I picked a place for their house on the cliffs above the Pacific. I researched the Tarot, since it figures prominently in the books. But I find I can be paralyzed trying to research everything, when what I need to do is let the story flow. So I start writing and research as the need arises. For book one, Do You Believe in Magic? I researched mustang rescue facilities in Nevada, what kind of motorcycles Tris would ride, and geographic routes between Nevada and Palos Verdes where the family lives. For book 2, He’s a Magic Man, we went to the Florida Keys and some Caribbean islands for our vacation, since that’s where the book is set. Very fun to research. I used a building in Chicago where my company had an office for that one too. Then for Waiting for Magic, I used the Magic Castle in Hollywood as one location. I had been there several times. I used an actual location in the Hollywood Hills where you have to take an elevator to get to your house. And it’s about surfing. I live at the beach, so I see surfers all the time, and they were nice enough to answer questions. Plus I watched a zillion surfing movies.
BTH: Do you ever work on more than one project at a time?
Susan: Nope. I believe in serial monogamy. Or rather, I don’t believe in it—I’m forced into it. I work best when I immerse myself in a project. As the book is coming to a close, when I’m writing in a rush to the end and I know how it goes, I can start thinking about the next book. So I guess I do at least think about two projects at once.
BTH: What is your next project?
Susan: Right now I’m working on Lanyon’s story, The Magic’s in the Must. I would like to get that one out early next year.
BTH: Do you have any plans to write another romantic suspense novel?
Susan: Not at the moment. After I’ve finished with the Tremaines I have an idea for a dystopian future series of four books, and an erotic romance series. We’ll see where things lead….
Thank you so much to Susan for her candor and thoroughness in answering my questions!
Review of Night Magic
Kemble has given up on finding true love and getting a power. He and his father agree he needs to move forward in his life. Impulsively, he decides to help out his sister’s best friend Jane, who has a bad family situation, by asking her to marry him. He sees her as a respectable, sensible choice. He doesn’t know that Jane has been in love with him since childhood. She agrees to marry him, mainly because she wants the security he is offering. Part of her, though, hopes he will love her in time.
Meanwhile, the family races Morgan to find the remaining Talismans. They cannot let her get her hands on the powerful artifacts. Drew has disturbing visions she can’t make sense of, yet. She fears someone will die. She doesn’t know who.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story. I’ll just say that Kemble and Jane get more than they ever expected.
Having read Do You Believe in Magic?, I was familiar with the characters in Night Magic with the exception of Michael, who must have been introduced in another book. Even if you haven’t read any of the books before Night Magic, it is easy to jump in and get to know the characters.
It is so easy to love the Tremaine family. Each character is well-developed, unique, and interesting.
In Do You Believe in Magic?, Kemble was one of the least likable characters. In Night Magic, the reader gets to see a side of Kemble that evokes new feelings of sympathy and respect.
It was also nice to see a different side of Jane. I felt so sorry for her and I really wanted her to be happy, which made me keep turning the pages.
The romance between Kemble and Jane progresses naturally. It does not feel forced or rushed. The sex scenes were hot, but not distasteful.
Setting, Research, & World-Building
Everywhere the characters went, I felt like I was going along with them. I could see each setting clearly.
The magic of each family member is believable because Susan Squires has effectively created a world where it is possible. I never had the thought that something didn’t fit in this world.
Pacing & Plot
The main plot is about the romance between Kemble and Jane. It develops in a fairly predictable fashion.
The subplot about the family’s search for the Talismans helps move the story along. Just when things might get boring between Jane and Kemble, the reader is pulled to the story of the other family members, especially Drew, who is struggling with visions she can’t decipher.
In a few places, I thought the story got bogged down by extraneous details I really didn’t need to know. As a whole, though, it moves along nicely.
The story is cohesive, logical, and well planned. All the details fit and none were forgotten.
Style & Rhetoric
Night Magic was well-written. The dialogue was believable. Her writing style is descriptive, but not flowery.
Some people might not like how much the author changes point-of-view. Personally, I didn’t mind. I liked getting the perspectives of different family members.
However, I felt some of the scenes written from Morgan’s perspective were unnecessary. They didn’t contribute to the story, in my opinion. I would have preferred more mystery regarding Morgan and her lackeys, rather than learning things from her before the family knew.
The ending was great. It leaves some things hanging, but not enough to make me feel cheated. Brian’s health, Morgan’s quest for the Talismans, Brina’s loss of magic…those are all problems that will probably be answered in the next book.
The book as a whole was wonderful. If I had to pick one thing that stands out as the best aspect of the book, I would say it is the writer’s ability to evoke emotion, whether it be fear, sympathy, sadness, or joy.
I would definitely recommend Night Magic to anyone who likes characters with unique and unusual abilities in a naturally developing romance.