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The Unexpected Fantastic: An Interview with Harry Bolles

The MagiciansMy favorite line in The Magicians by Lev Grossman is: "Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed." This is followed, a few paragraphs later, by: "It was a very small trick, a basic one-handed sleight with a nickel. He did it in his coat pocket where nobody could see. He did it again, then he did it backward." It is such an utterly perfect and beautiful introduction to a character, and one that predisposed me to liking him because, if there's one thing that I have always loved, it's watching magic tricks.

A bit less than a year ago, I went out to dinner to celebrate the birthday of a very dear friend. It was an excellent dinner, in one of those dimly lit, but extravagantly delicious San Francisco restaurants, and while we sat at our large, basement table, one of our mutual friends reached into his pockets and produced some playing cards and a tiny pouch of coins. He did some magic tricks, beautifully astonishing things with coins and cards. With competence and speed, Harry made the coins vanish and the cards switch places, and it was a quietly perfect extravagance in the midst of cocktail detritus and rumpled napkins.

When I asked Harry whether he would answer a few questions about magic for Fantasy Matters, he kindly sent these wonderful answers.

Writing The Magician King

The Magician KingI’m going to try to explain how I wrote The Magician King. This is harder than it sounds, because writing a novel is an extremely chaotic and abstract process. Or at least it is when I do it.

If you were watching me do it in time-lapse photography, like on a nature special, it would just look like me staring at my computer and occasionally typing and once in a while appearing to whack my head on my desk, which would actually just be me putting my head down and then waking up again, but in fast motion.

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Fantastically Fun Fridays: August 5, 2011

The Magician KingFirst of all, we'd like to congratulate the winners of our Hugo poll--N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Ian McDonald's The Dervish House!  We like that there was a tie--this means that we are twice as likely to correctly predict the winner of the actual Hugo (unless, of course, you're a goblin in the Harry Potter series).  Thanks to everyone who voted!

Next week, we are celebrating the release of Lev Grossman's latest novel and the sequel to The Magicians--The Magician King, which will be released Tuesday, August 9th.  We've gotten things started early today by looking back at how the awesome-ness of The Magicians extends past the borders of the book itself, and we'll be featuring Magicians/Magician King themed content all next week.

While we definitely suggest you spend the weekend reading The Magicians if you haven't already, here are a few more fun things to keep you occupied until Monday:

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The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: The Artwork of Phil McDarby

I first came across the work of Phil McDarby a few years ago through Pat Rothfuss' Worldbuilders fundraiser.  Phil had created a wonderful visual representation of a scene from The Name of the Wind entitled "Luring the Draccus."  I noticed he had a website, so I headed over to check it out--and I was captivated by what I saw.

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Midweek Fiction: Nnedi Okorafor, "The Book of Phoenix: Excerpted From the Great Book"

Nnedi Okorafor was among the featured authors at the Fantasy Matters conference in 2007. Her fiction has won a number of major awards, including the Wole Soyinka Prize, the CBS Parallax Award, and the Macmillan Prize for Africa. Reading Okorafor's work always make me feel as if my imagination has been expanded.

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