My 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.