One of the most intriguing books for me this year has to be Modern Magic by R.S. Holt. The book was published by The Book Publishing Guild, which is a well-established independent book publishing company from Brighton. It has been publishing books for over 30 years. This particular book is aimed at an adult audience with good-old fashioned magic at the heart of the story. I wanted to find out more about the book before I purchased it, so I decided to ask the author some questions. Please find below the responses. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did.
Modern Magic is an adult fiction that follows a group of friends who live normal lives as shopkeepers by the New Forest and in Bloomsbury. The reader discovers that they also share secret lives of magic. Their charming, amusing and intellectually rich narratives take the reader through magical experiment exploration and daring adventure - raising some surprising emotional conclusions. The Stories of the Overbury Shops are three separate successive stories within one novel, following Pip, Geoffrey and Eleanor - each with their own narrator.
What element are you most proud of in this book?
When writing Modern Magic I wanted to set out explanations for problems generally disregarded in fantasy writing; for example: we usually meet only male goblins; transformation into animals has a string of practical difficulties; curses must have a science of their own, which my characters deal with by modern methods; they rationally investigate bases of group magic such as whether nakedness is significant. I also wanted to demonstrate to myself that intelligent and mostly good characters can be interesting and sympathetic.
How do you sum up Modern Magic: Stories of the Overbury Shops?
I’d describe Modern Magic as contemporary realist plus fantasy. The founder of this work is Edith Nesbit as acknowledged by C.S. Lewis and others.
Did you get any of your ideas for this book working as a museum curator?
There are scenes in the book in the British Museum at night, but I just walked in the Museum to imagine these. My work as a museum curator was the basis for the ice skating in the book because I wrote an exhibition called Farewell Ice Rink when Richmond Ice Rink closed. Our exhibits included Torvill and Dean’s original Bolero costume, made in Richmond, and Robin Cousins’ Olympic costume worn for competition at Richmond.
Tell us a little bit about yourself perhaps something not many people know?
One of my favourite pastimes is putting selected sea sand under a microscope and listing the shells I find, some babies of big species, and some that never get bigger, even living as parasites on bigger sea snails. I also find first stages or fragments of other sea creatures such as starfish, sea urchins, fish and crabs. The lists aid conservation mapping by the Conchological Society. But I do it because it’s beautiful, even just the sand grains in water under strong light. It’s entering another world. In my novel, Eleanor’s seaside holiday draws on this interest.
Have you written any other books that have not been published?
I’ve written a story of about a dozen short chapters which is narrated by Millie now aged thirteen (eleven/twelve in Modern Magic). I shall put it on a free author’s website when it’s been seen by my usual checking readers. I have many other stories planned, but unfortunately, I have other demanding projects for the next year or two.