I first got the idea for my YA Fantasy/Dystopian novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC, which is forthcoming from NineStar Press—with a tentatively release date of June 11, 2018—around this time last year. I didn’t like what was going on in the United States, and I needed a project to channel my energy into. But I didn’t want to write a preachy book. That isn’t to stay social justice issues can’t be discussed in literature, they can be. I just wanted to organically approach it. And that’s how I created the idea of people born without magic being discriminated against in Magnifico—which is the fiction country where the novel takes place. I wanted a country where someone’s sexual orientation, race, religion, or gender wasn’t the basis for discrimination.
The issue of plot versus characterization was another thing I grappled with when writing IN THE NAME OF MAGIC. I don’t like the idea of writers having to pick one over the other. Plot and characterization should work together, not compete with one and another. And that’s how the idea of the main character Maximillian hiding his best friend Katherine—who was born without—came about.
Maximillian offers shelter to Katherine because I wanted to ground the novel’s world and not start with a large rebellious war right away. Katherine is a way for readers to see how non-magical people are being terrorized in my novel. The Katherine issue is also important because it shows Maximillian makes his choice. He chooses to do something despite risking his family’s life. Hiding a non-magical person is punishable by jail and death in my novel.
I also wanted to layer in the oppressive monarchy, meaning it resembles a snowball rolling down a hill. Maximillian witnesses more and more violent and oppressive things as the novel progresses, and suddenly, it’s like: What happened to my country?
Giving a human side to someone who got caught up in believing in the new ruler (Queen Vivian) was also important when writing my novel. Not because I wanted to shove a morally gray character in people’s faces, but because I wanted conflict for Maximillian. And that’s why his best friend, (and Katherine’s boyfriend) Taylor, supports Queen Vivian. His mom lost her job, and he’s angry about the country’s recession. Maximillian even keeps hiding Katherine a secret from Taylor, thus choosing his friendship with Katherine over his friendship with Taylor.
I also can’t forget about the novel’s main romance. Maximillian develops a relationship and falls in love with Queen Vivian’s estranged brother, Prince Stefan (who is Maximillian’s age). Although Maximillian and Stefan’s romance is eventually complicated by Queen Vivian reaching out to Stefan. However, I up the stakes further. Maximillian encourages a faux-reconciliation. Being in Queen Vivian’s orbit is a way to keep an eye on Magnifico politics, especially since he’s still hiding Katherine at that point in the novel.
IN THE NAME OF MAGIC is my most favorite thing I’ve ever written. Art is never 100 percent perfect, but I really thought about my writing craft with this book. Like with scenes that show characterization, incorporating sensory details, delivering worldbuilding in manageable chunks in addition to carefree scenes that balance out the life and death moments. Anyway, thanks for reading a little bit about my book!!!
Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on Thought Catalog, short stories on Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Short-Story.me, Chicago Literati, Pidgeonholes Magazine, The Vignette Review, Abbreviate Journal, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, creative nonfiction on Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, Entropy Magazine, and The Drunken Odyssey, and poetry on Quail Bell Magazine. He also graduated with a BA in Creative Writing Fairleigh Dickinson University in May of 2016. Furthermore, his debut YA Fantasy novel IN THE NAME OF MAGIC about 17-year-old Maximillian who hides his oppressed best friend while falling in love with the Evil Queen's estranged brother in a tyrannical contemporary Earth like fantasy setting is forthcoming from NineStar Press, and has a tentative release date of June 11, 2018. Follow him on Twitter!