2018 October Curiositales Magazine with Destiny Soria and Demetra Brodsky

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CONTENTS THE HIGHLIGHTS

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@bookisglee

HOLDING ON TO

FICTION FOOD FEATURE

FAMILY SECRETS

Interview with Destiny Soria of Beneath the Citadel

Recipes from Iron Cast, Beneath the Citadel, and Dive Smack

Interview with Demetra Brodsky of Dive Smack

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HOPE

DIVING INTO

6 ROAD TRIP NOVELS

BOOKSTAGRAM CREATORS

MEET THE CHARACTERS

Take a journey with Marit Weisenberg, author of Select Few.

Check out these 6 amazing Bookstagram creators.

Beautifully rendered images of the characters from Beneath the Citadel.

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CONTENTS 09 Editor’s Letter 11 12 14 22 26 28 34

A note from the editor. Contributors Learn more about this month’s writers, photographers, and crafters. Giving Back Learn more about this month’s charity. Holding on to Hope Destiny Soria of Beneath the Citadel Destiny Soria | Share Your Shelf Destiny shares her favorite goodies. Seeking Contributors Like what you’re reading? Join our team! Fiction Food Recipes inspired by Beneath the Citadel, Iron Cast, and Dive Smack. Diving in to Family Secrets Demetra Brodsky of Dive Smack.

42 Demetra Brodsky | Share Your Shelf Demetra’s tour of bookish items. 46 6 Must Read Road Trip Novels by Marit Weisenberg

50 Bookstagram Creators

Check out these awesome readers. 90 Freefall Short story by Elana A. Mugdan.

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@theguywiththebook

Art featuring the characters of Beneath the Citadel.

106 The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana Chapter One preview.

116 October New Releases 118 Around the World

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FROM THE EDITOR

Letter From The Editor

October is one of my favorite times of year, and yes, spoiler alert, it is because of Halloween. The time when we can dress up like anyone we like... like say, maybe a character from our favorite book? This month I talked to Destiny Soria and Demetra Brodsky of Beneath the Citadel and Dive Smack. Take a read and you’ll definitely add a new favorite character to your surely ever-growing roster. As you get ready for your own holiday preparations, take some creative inspiration from one of this month’s featured bookstagrammers who have, once again, blown me away with their innovative ideas. Gillian St. Clair Editor-In-Chief CURIOSITALES

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CURIOSITALES New York, New York; USA

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gillian St. Clair CONTRIBUTORS Kelsey Bjork, Elle Jauffret, Claire Luana, Elana A. Mugdan, Marit Weisenberg

MARKETING & ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Vipul Kuchhal

ONLINE Curiositales is a digital monthly magazine. We also engage readers with a free newsletter. For your regular dose of all things bookish, subscribe at www.curiositales.com

COPYRIGHT Copyright 2018 by Curiositales Magazine. All rights reserved. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in review.

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Marit Weisenberg has a master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies. Her newest book, SELECT FEW, came out on October 9th. DESTINY SORIA She spent her childhood in the woods and exploring such distinguished careers as Forest Bandit, Wayward Orphan, and Fairy Queen. ELLE JAUFFRET Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. ELANA A. MUGDAN A published author based in New York City. She is described by her friends and family as “the weirdest person I know”. CLAIRE LUANA Claire Luana grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could.

CONTRIBUTORS

MARIT WEISENBERG

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GIVING BACK Every month you read, you're giving back. Curiositales donates 10% of every purchase to a nonprofit. Check out this month's organization.

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The one thing that’s always universal is the characters.

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HOLDING ONTO HOPE Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

ccording to Destiny Soria’s bio on GoodReads, she is trying to come up with a new bio that will make herself sound “kind of cool.” But after talking to her, it’s clear that she’s much cooler than she realizes. An Alabama native, Soria has traveled not only in real life to New Zealand, but to other amazing worlds in her own books. In her debut novel, Iron Cast, Soria took readers to Boston in 1919 where those with a blood condition have the ability to create illusions with art. And in her new book, Beneath the Citadel, the magic continues. The story is set in Eldra, a city that is ruled by ancient prophecies. Readers of Soria’s first novel, a historical fantasy, may wonder: is this new world anything like our own? When this came up, Soria paused for a CURIOSITALES

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moment. “Not a whole lot,” she replied with a laugh. “But I feel like the one thing that’s always universal is the characters. No matter what world you’re writing characters in, people are people.” Just as characters are universal, so are people from around the world. Even those from different cultures have more similarities than differences, and the differences that exist should be appreciated, not looked down on. “I’m used to being in the south where we have a lot of problems, but one thing that’s very driven into you from a young age is southern hospitality. There are people that make that their religion - that’s

Simple acts of kindness can mean the world to someone.

way of life. Even if they hate you more than anything they’re going to smile to your face and offer you some sweet tea,” she said. Soria first experienced life without southern hospitality when she visited England and Scotland while in college. “They’re super nice there,” she said, “but it’s definitely more like the way I would imagine New York or the bigger cities would be.” This experience made her wonder if her six-month visit to New Zealand would be the same way. But it turns out, one thing Alabama and New Zealand have in common is a welcoming environment. “They’re even nicer than southern people. There are so many people that opened up their homes to us and gave us free food. They loved to sit around and tell stories all night,” Soria said. “I loved how friendly everyone is because I’m a shy, introverted person, so it was great having people who wanted to sit down and get to know you and ask you questions. Wherever you went there was always somebody who wanted to be nice to you.” Soria’s experiences help show how sim-

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ple acts of kindness can mean the world to someone and leave a lasting impact on them, even if the act seems insignificant. Authors and books can have this impact on their readers. Soria herself has had her life changed for the better thanks to a book she read when she was a teenager. The book was Prophecy of the Stone by French author Flavia Bujor; she was only sixteen when it got published. “My mom had bought it for me because she knew I really liked writing. I read it all in one day, and I just loved it so much.” Seeing an author get published at such a young age gave Soria hope that she could do it too. “I was like, you know what? I’m going to get published. I thought I would get published by sixteen but obviously that was not going to happen,” Soria laughed. “It took me a lot longer than that, but that was kind of the moment when I was like, more than anything, I want to see a book that I wrote sitting on somebody’s shelf.” Inspiration for novels can come from anywhere, making this topic a fascinating one. From an overheard conversation, to a song, and even to a passing thought, there really is no limit to what can spark an idea. Although Bujor’s book is no longer her favorite, it’s interesting to compare it to Beneath the Citadel and to see the possible influences Prophecy of the Stone had on Soria. In Bujor’s book, three teens (Jade, Opal, and Amber) must fulfill an ancient prophecy which will in turn save the world that they have been transported to. In Beneath

the Citadel, where prophecies rule the land, Cassa and some allies must fight back against those in charge in order to uncover the mysteries of the last infallible prophecy and save everyone. It would be awhile before Soria would write Beneath the Citadel, but even when writing was on the back burner because of school or traveling, Bujor’s book and what she accomplished always stuck with Soria. That being said, by the time Soria was in college, she began to doubt what she was capable of. “My thinking had shifted over to thinking [getting published] was something I wasn’t going to be able to do until I was older. In my head I was like, ‘Well, if I graduate and practice for another, you know, ten years, then maybe when I’m thirty or forty I’ll be able to succeed.’ I was like, there’s no way I’m anywhere close to that skill level, you know? It’s going to take me another twenty years,” Soria said. But she regained hope once again when a friend in college, Kathryn Ormsbee, got her agent during her senior year. This helped Soria realize “you don’t have to be a forty-year-old intellectual sitting in your study to write a novel. You can be a college senior with a bunch of other stuff going on and just have a passion for writing and get it done.” Now that Soria has published two books, something she has learned is that the writing process is different with each book. “It was definitely harder,” Soria said about Beneath the Citadel. “I probably had six or seven false starts where I would write several chapters and be like, ‘Yes, this is the CURIOSITALES

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book I want to write!’ And then two days later be like, ‘No, I hate all of this, and I don’t want to write this book.’” Finally sticking with an idea was a relief, but she still faced challenges. Fortunately, though, she found help from a source many are familiar with: pressure. “Being on an actual deadline helped a lot because my personal deadlines–I can’t ever meet them. But if somebody else gives me a deadline, then it works really well for me. I was the person who always waited till the night before to write my papers for class and stuff like that.” Soria’s journey also gave her a lesson in perseverance.

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One of the highs for Soria is creating magic systems for her worlds. “It’s one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I’ll write an entire novel just based off the idea that I had for a magic system as opposed to like, characters or plot or anything,” she said.

“I think the most important thing I learned, and I think it’s something I keep relearning every time I write something new, is that the words aren’t always going to flow. You’re not always going to feel inspired. You’re not even going to always like writing, but if you want to treat it as a profession and not a hobby, then you just have to sit down–butt in chair, hands on keyboard is just kind of my motto,” Soria said passionately. “You just have to keep going.” K CURIOSITALES

“When you start deciding to persue writing professionally, you do have to make the decision at some point that this will always be my passion, but if I turn it into a profession as well, then there are going to be points when it is genuinely hard and makes my life worse than it was before. But it’ll be worth it because I love writing,” Soria said fervently. “Because there will also be times when it’s really great and when it makes my life better as opposed to back when it was more of a hobby. I think it’s just a decision of, okay, if I want to do it professionally, then I am going to have to just accept that it’s going to come with highs and lows.”

I probably had six or seven false starts.

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But choosing to turn a passion into a career is not always easy. There’s a saying that goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but Soria couldn’t disagree more.

Although Beneath the Citadel was created from the characters (Cassa, Alys, Evander, and Newt), the magic in this world is without a doubt an integral part of the story. The system includes two branches. “One half is prophecies, and the other half is memories. There’s seers who can see into the far future and then there’re diviners who can see the near future by using runes; Alys uses coins to read the near future.


On the other side of the branch, with the memories, there are sentients who can read your past. As long as they’re looking at your face, they can pick out things about your past. And then there’re the rooks who can actually take people’s memories from them and make them their own.” Getting more in depth about the different kinds of prophecies, Soria said the ones with a smaller impact are not as reliable. “They can come true, but sometimes they don’t because they depend on individual people, and people can change their minds. So it’s pretty accurate but not necessarily 100 percent.” There are also fifty infallible prophecies. They are much more reliable to predict and more dangerous. “The seer sees them so clearly and so perfectly, and the event happens exactly the way that they saw it. It’s normally big natural disasters or big things like that.” Soria also talked about those who are on the high council; they are the keepers of the prophecy. “They host and protect the seers, so they’re kind of the administrators of the prophecies. When the seers dream the prophecies, the council takes it and figures out how it applies,” she said. “But overtime the seer bloodline has weakened, so there hasn’t been another infallible prophecy since the fiftieth one. So the whole premise of the book is they come across a fifty-first infallible prophecy that hasn’t happened yet. One of the big themes in the plot is fate vs. self-determination.”

As the interview drew to a close, it was time for Soria to leave readers with one last message. “Ooh, that feels like a lot of pressure. I feel like I should just be like, ‘Get eight hours of sleep and drink lots of water!’” she said in motherly tone. “I say as I drink a soda.” She thought for a moment before adding, “[Beneath the Citadel] came out of a place of a lot of anger and fear and of the turmoil that the world is in and all the changes that were going on at the time that I wrote it - just politically. So when I wrote it, it was in part for me as a way of getting out my fears and trying to find some hope to hold on to. But for the most part, I wrote it as a love letter to the teenagers of the world right now who are kind of thrust into this big mess that they didn’t have anything to do with; but then they’re the ones who are going to be expected to fix it. So that’s one of the big points of the book, and that’s definitely what I wrote it for more than anything was just to tell those teenagers that you’ve got this!” she exclaimed confidently. “I believe in you. I know it sucks, and it’s not fair, but you’re going to do a great job.” To learn more about Soria, you can check out her website! Here, you can also find links to purchase her books, including Beneath the Citadel, which was released on October 9! TWITTER: @TheDestinySoria WEB www.destinysoria.com INSTAGRAM: @ TheDestinySoria

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Share Your Shelf with Destiny Soria 1. NOVELLY YOURS CANDLES: These book-themed candles light up my life (bad pun absolutely intended). In particular, the Villainous scent is to die for. 2. GILDED BOOKS MATCHBOX SET: I was gifted this adorable matchbox set recently at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show, and now I can’t light my bookish candles any other way. 3. METAL ARROW BOOKENDS: These beauties are courtesy of Target. I love the antique aesthetic and always use them with my Fanciest books. 4. LEUCHTTURM1917 DOTTED JOURNAL: This is what I use for my bullet-journaling. I use it to keep track of my TBR list, my writing goals and ideas, and the books I read every month. 5.TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD: This novelty book by Tim Federle is full of fun literary-inspired cocktail recipes. It lives in my liquor cabinet so that I’m always ready to impress guests with my epic bartending skills. 22

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6. SHAKESPEARE ROCKS GLASS: Speaking of cocktails, literature-inspired glasses like this one featuring a scene from Hamlet are the perfect way to enjoy a cool beverage—adult or otherwise. 7. MARRYING MR. DARCY: This board game is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon with friends, preferably with a playlist of Jane Austen film soundtracks playing in the background. True confessions: I prefer to play Caroline Bingley and aim to be a rich, happy spinster. Now THAT’S the life.

8. SHERLOCK WRITING GLOVES: These fingerless writing gloves keep my hands nice and cozy during winter writing sessions. 9. BIBLIOPHILIA POSTCARD SET: These postcards are the gift that keep on giving. I’m obsessed with every single one of these edgy, modern prints. 10. SLYTHERIN BLANKET: I love this blanket turning my home into Slytherin House. CURIOSITALES

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CONTRIBUTE JOIN THE TEAM

Curiositales Magazine is on the lookout for contributors. If you have an idea geared toward the YA readership, send us an email: contribute@curiositales.com. Our readers are creative and talented and we want to feature you. Send us an email to be considered for an upcoming issue. Short Story Criteria: Around 3,000 words Submit a Word Document

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SHORT STORIES COSPLAYERS ARTISTS EDITORIAL PHOTO SPREADS TUTORIALS ARTICLES FLASH FICTION HAVE AN IDEA? LET US KNOW!


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FICTION FOOD

By Elle Jauffret

Beneath the Citadel “On the table they laid out a couple of loaves of bread, cold cuts of salted ham, and two jars of canned apples.” […] “[…] spread of cold meats, cheese, and apple she was laying on the table.” APPLE & HAM SALAD 3 medium red apples 3 medium granny smith apples 6 thin slices of black forest ham Dressing: 2 tablespoons of mustard 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil (or pumpkin oil) 2 tablespoons of apple vinegar salt and pepper Cut the apples and the ham into long, thin strips. Toss in bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette. Salt and pepper according to taste. PASTRAMI & MUNSTER CHEESE SANDWICH Ciabatta bread Pastrami lunch meat Munster cheese mustard (Dijon best) Assemble like you would any sandwich (spread mustard on bread). Place in panini press or oven for 5 minutes. 28

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Iron Cast “Faint aroma of spicy hors d’oeuvres and bittersweet beverage filled the room, mingled with perfume and cigarette smoke.” “[…] sandwiches, fresh tomatoes from the hot house, and cucumber drink that she actually liked.” […] “The crowd was already thick, threaded with waiters in white jackets serving champagne and dainty hors d’oeuvres.”

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NEUFCHÂTEL GREEN SANDWICHES Cream cheese 1 whole Persian cucumber (thinly sliced) 1 cup of fresh cilantro 1 cup of chopped green onions 4 slices of crust-less bread (white bread or any other type) Spread cream cheese on slices. Top with slices of cucumber. Top with green onion and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the slice of bread. Slice sandwiches into small squares. SMOKE SALMON CANAPÉS baguette smoked salmon (the refrigerated kind) 1 tablespoon of butter dill (fresh best, but dry ok) Slice baguette into thin slices. Butter each slice. Add small amount of smoked salmon. Top with dill. ENDIVE & GRUYÈRE BITES 1-2 endives Gruyère cheese (cubed small) 1 cup of walnuts balsamic vinegar salt and pepper

EGG SALAD SANDWICHES 5 eggs (hard boiled and peeled) 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise 4 tablespoons of pesto salt and pepper 4 slices of white bread (with the crust removed) Cut the peeled hardboiled eggs in 4 and place them in food processor with the mayonnaise. Pulse until it forms a paste. (without food processor, mash eggs with a fork and add mayonnaise. Mix until you obtain a purée). Set aside. Spread pesto on one slice of bread. Spread egg mixture evenly. Top with second slice of bread. Slice in small squares.

Wash and peel endives. Fill with cheese cubes and walnuts. Sprinkle with Balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper acSARDINES IN RED BOATS cording to taste. 1-2 red endives sardines in olive oil. TOMATO-OLIVE-FETA SKEWER 10 cherry tomatoes Wash and separate endives into individual 10 Kalamata olives (pitted) leaves. Cut sardines in half (length-wise). Feta cheese (cut in small squares) Place ½ sardine in each leaf. Salt and pep10 toothpicks. per to taste. 30

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CHIP’S MOM’S LASAGNA Dive Smack 15 oz ricotta cheese 1 egg “Lasagna is always good ¼ tsp salt on… well, on unfortunate 1 tsp dry oregano days like this.” ½ tsp paprika 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (separated in 2) 6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese 50 oz of tomato sauce (best to use Marinara tomato sauce or any other tomato sauce that is already seasoned with herbs and onions) 2 packs of oven-ready lasagna noodles Mix the ricotta, egg, salt, oregano, paprika, ½ cup of parmesan together. Set aside. Spread 2/3 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x12-inch pan. Cover sauce with lasagna sheets (trim if necessary to fit the pan). Cover with half of the ricotta mixture. Place another layer of lasagna sheets, then the other half of ricotta mixture. Cover with another layer of pasta, then with 2/3 cup tomato sauce. Repeat last step once. Then, sprinke the mozarella and the remaining ½ cup of parmesan on top. Bake at 350 degrees until top is golden brown (about 1 hour). Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. For vegetable lasagna: add a layer of spinach (fresh or frozen-and-thawed), about 8 oz fresh on top of the third layer of pasta. For Lasagna Bolognese (with meat): sautée 1 onion (finely chopped) in 1 tsp of olive oil. When golden, add 16 oz of ground beef and ¼ tsp salt and cook until done. Add cooked and drained of fat meat on top of the third layer of pasta. Quick “layer-order” help: pasta, ricotta mix, pasta, ricotta mix, pasta, tomato sauce, pasta, tomato sauce, cheeses. CURIOSITALES

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French-born, Californian lawyer by day, writer/home chef by night, Elle Jauffret writes from personal experience about the culinary arts, mysteries, and France. She received the 2016 SDSU Writers’ Conference Choice award and loves creating “fiction food” based on the books she enjoys. You can find her at ellejauffret.com or @ElleJauffret on Twitter and Instagram

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“It had always been a fact of life that we were biologically different—better— and that it had to be kept secret.” Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. And then she tears it all down.

Book 1

“. . . twisty . . .” —School Library Journal

Book 2

“I would recommend this

book to anyone who enjoyed the Twilight series and

“. . . a mighty twist at the end to look forward to.”

—Kirkus Reviews

paranormal romance.” —a reviewer at NetGalley

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We weren’t actually in mortal danger, but that was part of thrill.

“ Life is one crazy journey. Just like

DIVING INTO FAMILY SECRETS Interview by Gillian St. Clair Written by Kelsey Bjork

when reading a novel, there is often no way of knowing what will happen next. There are highs and lows and twists and turns. In an instant someone’s life can change course from the smallest of occurrences. In a way, life really can feel like a roller coaster. Sometimes this is great. Other times, actual rides full of people will stop in its tracks, putting everything at a terrifying standstill. Author Demetra Brodsky actually experienced this oddly specific example first hand recently. It happened while she was on a ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter called The Forbidden Journey. “The ride stopped and we were stuck tipped backward and so for me–since I love the horror movies , all I could think was this is it, Final Destination!” she said with a laugh. “Oh course, the ride is more like a chair lift and we weren’t actually in mortal danger, but that was part of thrill.” CURIOSITALES

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Based on Brodsky’s taste in movies, it’s not surprising she is a fan of psychological thriller books. She compared the genre to rides when she explained.“I think it’s the same reason people love roller coasters, you know? That heart-pounding, I-don’tknow-what’s-going-to-happen-next, but I’m here for this thing.” Just as amusement parks can give riders a rush, so can novels. “That feeling on the ride where you get a rush. I think books have the ability to do the same thing; to thrill us and make us excited about what’s going to happen next.” Brodsky said as her enthusiasm grew. “I think it’s the same kind of adrenaline rush. And not surprisingly, springboard divers tend to be adrenaline junkies.” Her debut novel, Dive Smack, has been called an intense psychological thriller, and it’s easy to see how the things Brodsky loves influence her writing. The story focuses on Theo, “a seventeen-year-old spring diving captain who gets assigned a family history project at school. As he looks into his mom’s past, he has all these feelings of despair because he believes he started a fire that killed his mother. And in looking into her past he uncovers dark family secrets he wasn’t meant to learn about,” Brodsky said.

Brodsky is a first generation Greek American. This means that her family was in Greece during the Greek Civil War which lasted from 1946 to 1949. It greatly affected her grandparents who faced erroneous spy accusations and the possibility of their children being put in internment camps, to say the least. The things they endured really sound like events straight out of a novel.

I think books have the ability to thrill us and make us excited about what’s going to happen next.

Based on what she shared, her grandparents’ story sounds like one that only Brodsky can tell.. She will be doing further research on the subject during her trip to Greece with her parents next Many find the idea of looking into their spring. While there, she’ll be able to get family’s history to be fascinating. The help from her cousins and family memthings uncovered from the past can be bers that remained in Greece. Because alinteresting and insightful. In doing this re- though the story will be fictionalized (her search, however, unsavory family secrets grandmother is no longer alive to tell the might be uncovered. Brodsky has some complete story), she still wants it to be as of her own, and she is very excited to turn historically accurate as possible. “I honwhat she has learned about her own fami- estly feel like that’s the book I was born to ly into a book one day. write,” she said. 36

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Her own family secrets were also a source of inspiration when writing Dive Smack. “I think I looked at that time in my family’s history when I tried to come up with ideas for Theo’s backstory. Like, what secrets could be found in his mom’s past?” But putting together this story was no easy task. In fact, it took her seven years of writing and revising to develop the finished novel. “I’ve probably written 20 drafts of this book,” she said. “And queried 70 agents with that before getting my first agent. I was getting positive rejections that said things like , ‘Your writing is very beautiful, or we like the voice, but we hate Theo,’ or ‘We feel like there’s not enough of a mystery’–things that I saw as editable problems I could work on.” Luckily, Brodsky was able to get editorial notes from not only one, but two successful, published authors: Michelle Zink and

Lois Duncan. “I had written Lois an email and told her I was a huge fan,” Brodsky said about Duncan, “I didn’t want her to think I was being weird, but I saw that she was on Facebook and [asked] if she might be okay with accepting my online friendship, because it felt like such an honor. Luckily, Duncan accepted. Brodsky next contacted her after Lois made a post showing interest in offering editorial notes to authors, but wasn’t sure what to charge. Brodsky offered (with Zink’s permission) to share her editorial notes from Zink and the fees she was charged. This led to Duncan asking to read Brodsky’s entire manuscript with the notes. “ I thought , ‘Oh, this is crazy. This is Lois Duncan, emailing me.’ Within a week or two I received this email from her that said, ‘I finished reading your whole man-

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and I loved it. And I agree with the things Michelle said, but I want to take it even further. Here are my notes; this is what I would do.’ Then I got another email from her a few days later, and the first line said, ‘I can’t stop thinking about your book and got out of bed to write you this email.’ She ended up giving me more specifics notes on the development of my villain, and, of course, I took her advice and revised again!”

Smack just yet; she told me to remember that sometimes the reason a book is not picked up is simply because of timing. “I was like, alright, I’ll query with you. It’s not going to happen, but I’ll query… And surprisingly, it was on that round of submissions that I started getting bites of interest.”

Dive Smack is a thriller with lots of suspense, but it’s also a sports book. “I played sports (poorly) probably up until “I wasn’t expecting anything from Lois the end of middle school. My dad was on in terms of notes,” she said. “I was legitithe USA soccer team before long before mately trying to help Lois figure out pric- the sport exploded in the United States, ing for her side hustle, because I didn’t and was playing at a semi-pro level, so I want anyone to take advantage of her. grew up with an athlete. I played softball She passed away before my book released, and soccer. We enjoyed a lot of games of which was unbelievably sad, but she was catch with our gloves” Brodsky said. “But extremely helpful, and I just adored her. honestly, was always more bookish.” I still think about the kindness she showed me all the time.” “I was a cheerleader for freshman year of high school, though. But I didn’t like that Despite all Brodsky had done, she had at all. And I was also a cheerleader for the yet to receive any offers of representaGreek Church basketball team, but I was tion. Thankfully, one of her writer friends really their mascot. It was more like my encouraged her to not give up on Dive sisters were the cheerleaders, and I was

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like the little sister that cheered. Later I became a certified fitness coach. But that wasn’t for me either. So sports have always been part of my life in some capacity. Brodsky is also friends with former springboard diver Karen LeFace, who was on the Women’s 1992 Barcelona Olympics springboard diving team. “I met Karen when we were living in Ithaca, New York; our daughters were in the same preschool. I was so fascinated by her because how often do you meet somebody and they casually tell you they were in the Olympics? Your immediate reaction is a full stop, like what? You were in the Olympics? What was that like?” she said amazed. “She actually visited me last week.” Despite Brodsky’s background, she did not immediately know what sport Theo’s character should play. “I’ve read a lot of books where the protagonist is a runner, a swimmer, or plays lacrosse or football. I wanted to do something different, and then a lightbulb went off and I was like what about springboard diving? I started thinking about what a great metaphor that could be for Theo’s life spiraling out of control, and tried to use that throughout the book as an extra layer of intrigue.” Naturally, Brodsky is also a fan of reading. The last book she read was The Lies They Tell by Gillian French, and it shares similarities with Dive Smack. The story which is set in Maine includes a mystery surrounding a fire. But the fire is being blamed on the protagonist’s father; the town drunk who used to be the caretaker of the houses that burned down.

“I reached out to Gillian, and said, ‘Oh! I’d love to read your book! My book also has a fire as the mystery and catalyst for things that go wrong in a small town.” The two authors decided to exchange books. “And honestly, I think we both fell in love with each other’s writing.” That’s why anyone interested in Brodsky’s book should also get The Lies They Tell. “It’s the book I suggest people read if they loved Dive Smack, because they’re similar in terms of how we both built up the suspense.” Unlike movies or shows, with books, everything has to be visualized. But that doesn’t mean that authors are restricted to only using their imaginations when writing their novels. In fact, finding images that go along with her characters and worlds is very important to Brodsky. “As a former art director, I’m very visual. If Pinterest goes away I’ll be lost,” she said laughing. “I like to set up my Pinterest boards, find characters, and then I subdivide the boards into categories. I keep all of my writing boards private except for ones like Dive Smack, which I use as a public inspiration board for fans of the book. There they can find quotes and different things I used to develop the story,” she explained. “So when I’m feeling a little bit stuck, I’ll just open a board for my current project, and look at all the images that give me things like a snapshot of the town, the people, the attitude, the colors. And that can usually gets me going again.” “I think it’s because I was a graphic designer first and an art director, so I’m suCURIOSITALES

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per visual. I have a BFA, so I was always painting and drawing” Brodsky said. She also enjoys trying to figure out the story behind images. “Say I see a picture of a girl and she’s got her camera, and she’s crying, I think why is she crying? Who is she watching? And that’s sometimes how a story is born.” Pinterest, she says, is also educational. “It’s a great learning tool for anyone who’s an aspiring or established writer. If you just put in the hero’s journey or whatever you’re looking for, there’s so many sources. You can find the one explanation of those things that make sense to you, and then implement that in your writing, which I think is really useful.”

That story is dear to her heart, which is why she would like to rewrite it one day. One tradition her family has is reading Greek coffee grinds. “We have these demitasse cups, the same you’d use for espresso; it’s like Turkish coffee where you boil the grinds on the stove. After you drink it, the grinds are left in the bottom. You swirl them, dump them out, and then let the cup dry and patterns emerge that get interpreted by whoever is doing the reading. Everybody in my family reads coffee grinds. It’s our thing,” she said proudly.

At the end of the interview, Brodsky had this to say: “The world basically pushes you in a direction, and it did for me, Pinterest is known as a great place to find too. Growing up I was told, , go get a job recipes. But food inspiration can come where you make a lot of money. My mom from many places, including novels. used to say go work in a bank; banks will Brodsky just so happens to be friends and never close. I was like… umm, you know, critique partners with Curiositale’s food Mom, I don’t think that’s exactly true.. So writer, Elle Jauffret. So it makes sense my advice is to do something you love, to wonder: will readers see food in Dive and surround yourself with people who Smack? get that, so that your work doesn’t feel like work. Even if it doesn’t make that “There’s lasagna in the book, there’s a din- much money, you can make money other er where they have burgers, and there’s ways. Just find your passion.” also a high school carnival where they have pizza and whatever there. But [Jauf- Dive Smack was released on June 19, so fret] chose the lasagna. So yeah, I guess make sure to head over to Brodsky’s webthere really is a lot of food in Dive Smack. I site where several links to purchase the hadn’t thought about it. I’m Greek and we book can be found! love to eat so it makes sense that I wrote so much food,” Brodsky said with a loud, contagious laugh. TWITTER: @DemetraBrodsky Brodsky naturally has a love for her Greek WEB www.demetrabrodsky.com background. The first book she wrote, INSTAGRAM: @demebrodsky which was a Greek mythology, included elements of real Greek culture. 40

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"Strong characters and a compelling mystery make this a real page-turner." - publishers weekly Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match. But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make Theo question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone―including himself.

available now at

"A fascinating look at competitive diving, with a tense psychological mystery." — BOOKLIST CURIOSITALES

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Share Your Shelf

with Demetra Brodsky

1. Scented Candles. I love using them to set the writing mood and I honestly believe I’ve trained myself to have a sort of writer’s Pavlovian response to them, as well. 2. Hourglass. I have a plain, but pretty large hourglass with white sand that I use for writing sprints so I don’t have to have my phone next to me. 3. Earplugs. I prefer near arctic silence to write and had them custom made at the audiology department at my doctor’s office. They’re dense silicone, the same kind they make for surfers to use but without the holes so you can hear another person in the water if they yell, “SHARK,” and fit the inside of my ears perfectly. They’re also bright pink. 4. Crystals. I’m fairly superstitious and love the mystical. Right now I have Citrine, Tiger’s Eye, and quartz on my desk to unlock hidden talents and repel negativity. 5. A plant. I have a small Victorian Parlor Palm on my desk to clean the air and a little nature to my view since my desk doesn’t face a window. 42

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6. Badass Button. I have a big yellow button that tells me I’m a badass when I press it. It’s based off the book You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Sometimes, you just need a boost. 7. Staedtler 10 Triplus Fineliner Colored Pens in 0.3mm. Yes, they are that specific. I started using these when I was a student at MassArt and I can’t accept any substitutes for marking up pages during the editing process. 8. Vintage Greek Doll. I found it in an antique store and had to have it. It’s dressed int he traditional soldiers costume called a Fustanella. Today, it’s worn by the Greek Presidential Guard, a group of elite soldiers trained to perform various ceremonial duties. But I bought it because it reminds me who I am (a first generation Greek American) and what my family endured so I could be here. 9. My computer glasses. They’re obnoxiously large, Gucci-framed, and owlish. I had blue light blocking lenses put in them with my prescription and I’m able to write for long periods of time now. Blue light blocking lenses are supreme whether you need a prescription or not. I can’t live without them. 10. Quippy T-shirts. I always buy a shirt based on whatever book I’m writing. I have one that says Less Is More that’s about a character in Dive Smack named Les Carter. CURIOSITALES

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6 Must Read Road Trip Novels

“ A grand tour of a glittering Europe and the slow burn of falling in love. “

by Marit Weisenberg

When I started writing Select Few (the sequel to my young adult novel, Select), I knew my main character, Julia Jaynes, would move from Austin, Texas to California. Immediately it was clear what needed to happen: road trip. Especially since Julia is accompanied by her outlaw best friend, Angus. Together, the pair reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde, primed for adventure, trouble and ready to have their eyes opened to a bigger world. Growing up, my family took road trips every summer—primarily through the American West. These trips live large in my memory. There is something about being on the road that changes you—seeing how all the dots connect on a map, making home seem so much smaller and putting your life into a larger context. And then there is the very first road trip you take with friends. For me, that was the first real taste of freedom. Here is a list of my most favorite books that capture this spirit of the road: 46

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1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s travel journals, this is the classic road trip novel that came to represent the counterculture generation in post-war America. When I was in high school, it stood out to me as a book about saying yes to everything—parties, new people—and seeing what happens when you let go and go along for the ride. I also love reading about an America set against the backdrop of poetry, jazz and the beginning of a generation breaking free from a more conservative culture.

2. Paper Towns by John Green In this acclaimed young adult novel, Quentin hits the road with his friends, searching for his longtime friend, free-spirited Margo, following a series of clues. What I love most about this John Green novel is how well he captures changing childhood friendships and that moment when teenagers begin to have critical insights about their lives and where they are from. Also brilliant is his depiction of a more daring friend pushing the other as well as how romantic feelings evolve over time, especially when one person had the other on a pedestal. 3. Kissing in America by Margo Rabb My favorite: romantic girls, friendship between best friends and last but not least, an east coast to west coast road trip. Kissing in America is about Eva’s intense crush on Will and the disappointment of his abrupt move to the West Coast. Thanks to a plan concocted by her best friend, the two decide to travel by bus all the way across the country. In this beautiful, poetic book, they see an America that opens their eyes and expands their worlds—a dose of both reality and romance. What I love most about Kissing in America is that the road becomes a place to contend with grief. CURIOSITALES

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4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell Eleanor & Park is a novel about first love and what happens when you meet that perfect person at the wrong time in your life. Amid the most beautiful tension-filled romance, there is a dangerous undercurrent caused by Eleanor’s home life. Written in the dual narratives of these two sixteen-year-olds as they fall in love, there is a transformative road trip that pushes Eleanor and Park to take a journey that requires a tremendous amount of bravery.

5. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee The main characters aren’t driving a car per se, but Lee’s main characters, Percy and Monty, are truly on the road. Reminiscent to A Room with a View, Lee’s historical YA novel is about a grand tour of a glittering Europe and the slow burn of falling in love as your mind is opened. For Percy and Monty, it is their last year of freedom before they face less than desirable fates. The book is about youth and love and that moment in time when you are done being a child and have to decide what kind of person you want to be. Throughout a wild adventure and romp through Europe, the year becomes a bridge to adulthood and coming to terms with the fact that you are in love with your best friend. 6. Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon In 1978, after losing his job and separating from his wife, William Least Heat-Moon decided to hit the road. His mission was to stay off the interstates and stick to small towns, driving only on “Blue Highways,” those forgotten about towns drawn in blue on the old Rand McNally road atlases. In his book, he shows a lesser-known America and makes the reader think twice about the version we think we know as depicted in popular culture. An amazing example of travel writing, William Least Heat-Moon also touches on a nerve—the fantasy of leaving it all behind. 48

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Marit Weisenberg has a master’s degree from UCLA in Cinema and Media Studies. She has worked in development at production companies, including Warner Brothers, Disney and Universal. From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a writer and remembers writing stories with her friend during high school Latin class. She’s a California native, but currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters. Her newest book, Select Few, was released on October 9th. INSTAGRAM @ maritweisenberg TWITTER @ maritweisenberg FACEBOOK @ MaritWeisenbergAuthor maritweisenberg.com ORDER SELECT FEW

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What fictional job would you be bad at? I would be a very bad wizard. Memorizing is difficult for me, therefore spells are off the table.

Favorite book of all time? The Help.

favorite sub-genre?

Is chick-lit a sub-genre? Definitely that one.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S Lewis CURIOSITALES

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Which fictional universe would you like to live in? It used to be Narnia but then I tried Turkish delight and that ship sailed. Now it’s definitely anything written by Jane Austen, because I would do anything to go back in time to England.

Which character would you play in a movie?

Honestly, I don’t know. I can tell you though that I would like to be more like Elizabeth Bennett. I don’t love to walk and am not very funny but I would really like both of those things.

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Which character would be the most boring to meet? Most exciting?

The most boring would most likely have to be Bella Swan. Honestly, I couldn’t stand her. She was just a little too whiny for me and after the first Twilight book I just couldn’t read on. The most exciting would be Katniss Everdeen. She is such a strong female character, showing that even in times of struggle we can prevail if we rise together as one and focus on what is right. That, and she has some pretty awesome bow and arrow skills.

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What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year? Definitely We Were Liars. To be honest, I hated it. But that does not mean that it wasn’t interesting. The plot was twisted and the ending was shocking, hence, interesting but the last part of the book made me want to cry and curl up in a ball so I wouldn’t say it was such a success.

Three sentence What’s the closest review of your latest thing to real magic we read: have in real life?

I recently just finished an autoI would just like to note that I real- biography on Leandra Medine, ly love this question. I would have The Man Repeller (I am very into fashion, I must note). I loved to say, and this is an odd answer, it: She was very funny and raw but glitter. First of all, glitter is beautiful and makes anything and and I relate to a lot of her experiences. I also aspire to be like her: everything look better. Secondly, how is glitter even made? The to not care what people think thought of a glitter factory just goes about how you look and to be a powerful boss lady. to show that magic is real. 56

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What fictional job would you be bad at? We can enter into the Harry Potter universe on this one, because I could never, ever be a Minster of Magic. It seems like the hardest, most troubling, most unappreciated and stressful job ever.

“And death shall have no dominion.” – Dylan Thomas

favorite sub-genre?

I love Clockpunk! Steampunk is one of my favorite genres: I love how old mixes with new, modern elements. However, my love for Steampunk is generally restricted to the Clockpunk sub-genre: steampunk set in 16/17/18 hundreds, a historical area I love and find extremely fascinating. CURIOSITALES

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Which fictional universe would you like to live in? I feel like the obvious answer here would be Harry Potter, right? So I’m gonna go for Narnia instead. I would love to converse with a badger. Seriously.

Which character would you play in a movie?

Cath from Fangirl. It’s ridiculous how much I relate to her, I swear I was reading about myself when I read that book. I wouldn’t even have to get into character, I could basically slip back into a slight-

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ly younger self when I was way more anxious and insecure than I am today. Also, she writes fanfics, and I did a lot of that when I was younger.

Favorite book of all time.

You’re asking me to choose a favorite among countless babies! I would have to say All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, such a beautiful and tragic coming of age story that deals with mental health and the consequences of not speaking openly of mental illness, which is such an important topic.

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Creativity, and the incredible talents around the world that can create something out of nothing by simply using their imagination. You can find creativity in everything, in all layers of creation, and that’s beautiful.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year?

Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life? Most exciting?

The most boring fictional character to meet in real life would have to be Treebeard from the Lord of the Rings. I think the most interesting thing Granted, I read the trilogy I’ve read is Suctioned by Cara Dee. when I was eleven years old It’s a book about human trafficking, and it didn’t take much to bore and although I had some problems me to tears at that age, but with it, overall it was an interesting, even now, as an adult, I always slightly difficult read. whine whenever I re-watch Two Towers and he comes on. The most exciting would be What’s the closest thing to real magic we Dumbledore from Harry Potter, he’s such an old soul, but have in real life? young at heart. 62

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What fictional job would you be bad at?

I actually had to think almost a day for this one! I’ll be the worst quidditch referee, I would be so biased trying to referee a game where my house is playing! That’s one more reason I think I should be Slytherin and not Hufflepuff, haha!

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. ” – Haruki Murakami

Which fictional universe would you like to live in?

As much as I’d love to choose Hogwarts I’m going to go for the more ruthless world of A Song of Ice and Fire! I’ve partly read the series and it’s probably the most detailed of worlds ever created. Also, who wouldn’t want to be part of a world where dragons, white walkers and the Citadel Grand Library exist! CURIOSITALES

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Which character would you play in a movie?

I’d love to play Jay Gatsby! He has got to be one of the most interesting characters ever written, Although his actions and intentions seem solely based on his love for Daisy, there are several points in the book where one might question if he’s doing everything for Daisy or does he just want to show people that he is successful and can get whatev- er he desires! There is so much to his character and I think the way Di Caprio portrayed him on screen was brilliant. I’m not an actor, but hey, would it be cool to see myself play Gatsby!? Sure, it would!

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What is your favorite sub-genre?

It’s got to be Magic Realism! Though general fiction is a great escape but nothing beats Magic Realism for me when it comes to escaping from the monotony of everyday life. I personally have a lot to thank Haruki Murakami’s works for reigniting the passion to read because of the magic in his books!

Favorite book of all time.

Being a huge fan of Magic Realism and Haruki Murakami, I have to say its 1Q84. We all have numerous ‘favorites’ but for me every other book I read can only fight for the second position. 1Q84 is a special book and although it’s a trilogy of almost 1400 pages, I could drop everything and start reading it any time!

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What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year? The most interesting book I read this year is We Are Okay by Nina Lacour. A very atmospheric book which takes you through the mind of a girl trying to deal with grief on her own. A special book that expertly shows how important our friends and family are to us at every turn of our life, I’d definitely recommend it, especially to Young Adults.

What’s the closest Three sentence review thing to real magic we of your latest read. have in real life? A thought provoking, confusing and sometimes absurd read which was surely worthy of the Man Booker long list this year. A narrative which I haven’t been able to take off my mind since I finished reading it last week and definitely makes a great pick for a bookclub discussion! That’s Warlight by Michael Ondaatje for you! 68

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Wrong question to ask a reader, hah! Don’t want to give a clichéd bookworm response so I’m not going to say books. I’d go for any form of art, be it photography, paintings or illustrations. It’s intriguing to see how the same art work brings out so many varied responses from different people. No two people ever have the same response to art and that absolute magic to me!


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Which character would you play in a movie?

I would love to play Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare or Charlotte Holmes from A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. I would love to play both because they are so powerful and brave.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. ”

– Markus Zusak Three sentence review of your latest read.

P.S. I Still Love You By Jenny Han. This novel is a wonderful continuation of the first novel. Which alike the first is filled with love, friendships, personal growth and a whole load of humor. I loved every part of it, except that it broke my heart a little (Thanks Covey.) CURIOSITALES

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Which fictional universe would you like to live in?

I have to say the Harry Potter universe! I would love to run around Hogwarts and defeat dark wizards!

What fictional job would you be bad at?

I don’t actually know! But if I were living in a magical world . such as the Harry Potter uni verse I would feel very bored working a mundane world such as a store owner! I would love to part take in a job filled by magic and adventure.

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What is your favorite sub-genre?

I would say dark fantasy. I love me some dark, autumnish fantasy. Especially if they include some morally grey characters!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year? Probably 1984 because it’s a novel which allows the readers to view society differently and also to connect it to our current society and the issues with “fake news” and political beliefs.

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I would have to say The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or 1984 by George Orwell. They are both so eye opening and really makes the readers more aware of our society and history.

Which character would be the most boring to meet in real life? Most exciting?

I think that the most boring character would be the stereotypical jock side character. They are always What’s the closest portrayed as shallow and generally thing to real magic we unimpressive. I would however love to meet Hermoine Granger from have in real life? the Harry Potter series because she Might sound cheesy but I would seems so kind, generous and smart. have to say love. Love is the soluI would also love to meet Liesel tion to all problems. Especially self Meminger from The Book Thief, love! Nothing is more important as I admire her bravery than self love. That and acceptance and morality. of love in its entirety, in all forms and between all people.

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What fictional job would you be bad at?

I would be a terrible teacher for Care of Magical Creatures just because I feel like I would spend all of my time playing with the animals and let them loose in Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore would not be so happy for sure.

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien Which fictional universe would you like to live in?

My biggest dream is to be able to live in Red London from V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy. First, I would absolutely love to live in a world where magic is real. And second, because it would still be London and London is awesome! CURIOSITALES

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Favorite book of all time.

And they told me it would be an easy interview! This is tough, but I would go with The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the last book in the Mistborn trilogy and one of the few books that make me cry.

Which character would you play in a movie?

• I would totally play Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (though Lana Condor is infinitely better). I can really relate to her, plus who wouldn’t love to have Peter as their boyfriend?

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What is your favorite sub-genre?

My favorite is Urban Fantasy, which is a subgenre of Fantasy. I love to see magic happens in a modern setting because it just makes the impossible feel a bit more real.

Three sentence review of your latest read.

My latest read was Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa, a Japanese folklore inspired fantasy. The world-building is enchanting and so incredibly well written, and I especially love the the characters and how they grow throughout their quest to find the magical dragon scrolls (yes, there is a dragon!) Definitely recommend this for all fantasy fans!

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Which character would be the most boring to meet in real life? Most exciting?

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year?

Scythe by Neal Shusterman! In Shusterman’s dystopia, mankind has acquired all the knowledge of the universe and successfully conquered death. The book raises a lot of questions about mortality and I found it very interesting.

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James Bond would be pretty boring in real life just because I doubt he would let me know who he really is. And only if I can keep up with him…and survive, since people do tend to die around him. The most exciting would be Irene from The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. We could chat all day about books and travel to different realities!

What’s the closest thing to real magic we have in real life? Animals! My dog and cat are miracle workers for me on those days that I don’t feel so well.


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Which fictional universe would you like to live in?

I would love to live in the universe of Harry Potter. It’s our world, but with magic and a magic school. It’s pretty perfect.

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” What fictional job would you be bad at?

I would for sure fail as a protector of The Wall in Game of Thrones. To be fair, I think I would be horrible at any job in Westeros because it seems like everyone dies there no matter what they do, but there’s no way I can defend the wall. Those swords look super heavy. CURIOSITALES

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What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read this year?

For me, it definitely has to be Any Man by Amber Tamblyn. The #MeToo movement has brought us so many important conversations, and one that we cannot forget is the conversation around male victims of sexual violence. In Any Man Tamblyn gives us several unique voices from male victims of sexual violence and while it is one of the most difficult reads I’ve ever picked up it is also one of the most important.

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Favorite book of all time.

The Martian. I feel like this is one of those answers people expect from people who don’t call themselves readers, but The Martian is what got me back into reading and helped me branch into other genres. Plus, it’s popular for a reason; it’s a great book.

What is your favorite sub-genre?

I would say police procedurals. Thrillers are my favorite genre, but sometimes it’s nice to put down the super twisty and crazy thrillers and read a mystery that is straightforward and feels like watching an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

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Which character would be the most boring to meet in real life? Most exciting?

Three sentence review of your latest read.

Sadie by Courtney Summers is a raw and heartbreaking Young Adult novel that follows Sadie Hunter as she hunts down her little sister’s murderer. The novel alternates between Sadie’s perspective and transcripts from West McCray’s podcast, “The Girls”, as he tries to track down Sadie. The two perspectives intertwine to give the reader a harrowing but stunning and unforgettable experience. 86

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For most boring character I would have to go with Daisy Buchanan. I know people love The Great Gatsby but teenage me could not get into it because I did not understand why Gatsby went to all the trouble for such a boring girl. Most exciting would have to be Percy Jackson. I know most people would go with Harry Potter, but I would love to know someone who knows Greek Gods.

What’s the closest thing to real magic we have in real life?

Hope. I’ve learned in hard times of my life that hope truly is a magical thing. It can give you the ability to see seemingly huge problems as something you can overcome, help you find the light even in the darkest times, and the best part is it can always be found within yourself.


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SHORT STORY

Freefall

by Elana A. Mugdan

It isn’t a dark and stormy night as I wriggle out of the citadel’s sewer pipe, fleeing my enslavement; on the contrary, I emerge to meet a calm and sunny morning. Fluffy puffs of cloud dot the sapphire sky. Flecks of golden dawn scatter across the northernmost peaks of The Spinebacks. It feels unreal, the serenity of the scene a stark and unhumorous contrast to my pulsing blood and wildly beating heart. I perch upon the rusty lip of the pipe for a moment, blinking against the brightness. The water in my yellow slitted eyes isn’t from the pain of seeing the long-forgotten daylight; how many years has it been since I’ve breathed fresh air and tasted the scent of mountain featherpine on the wind? “Free at last,” I whisper, my voice dry and cracked from disuse. I’d lost track of time during my imprisonment. At first, counting the days had been a coping mechanism to keep my brain busy; then it nearly drove me mad. That was when I’d had to find a new distraction. That was when I’d begun plotting my escape.

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My plan was simple, yet it took a long time to perfect. I knew I’d have only one chance to make it work, so I had to make that chance count.

If they didn’t learn, they didn’t last long.

As my yesterdays piled up behind me, separating me from the powerful free spirit I’d once been, I began to notice a pattern We wyverns were kept in the lowest levels in the pipes. I am uncommonly clever for of the citadel, locked in small pens during a wyvern—forgive me if that sounds imthe days. At night we were brought into a modest. Most of my kind are brutes. The massive stone dungeon, forced to breathe ones who end up making a “living” in the fires to heat the water and gasses within citadel are the ones stupid enough to get the pipes for the convenience of the hucaught, and then doubly stupid enough to mans above. The dark hours are long and be content with growing fat on blood-slurbitterly cold in The Spinebacks, and nocry while puffing flames at pipes. turnal predators abound. Some, like cliff ghouls, pose little threat; others, like acIf I was caught, perhaps that makes me id-spitting drachvolds, are deadly. stupid too, doesn’t it? One could argue yes. In my younger years, I was unrepenWhy some human fool decided this would tantly wild. I challenged skybeasts three be a good place to build his mountain pal- times my size and soared far beyond my ace, I cannot fathom. territory. My wildness was my downfall, for I flew right into a human trap. Every evening was the dawn of a waking nightmare. Our guards—hellish beasts Flying is freedom. This was an old wyvern who were not quite demon and not quite adage, the type of saying you never rehuman—arrived from up top and herdmember hearing, but which you simply ed us from the sleeping quarters into the know. It was a favorite of mine growing dungeon. We all wore iron collars, perup. I was always filled with a sense of manently locked around the base of our invincibility when I saw the world unfoldserpentine necks. We were chained to iron ing beneath my wingtips. It was a shock, posts and positioned across the open flag- therefore, when I was captured. The masstone floor beneath the network of pipes. ter of the citadel snared me himself. I havThen we were made to work. en’t seen him since that day— he doesn’t deign to dirty himself in the dungeons— A slurry of boar blood and discarded meat but his arrogant smirk and the glint of his bits flowed in troughs before us, allowamber eyes still haunts me. ing us to eat at our convenience and keep our energy up. We were always fed well, “Here’s a fine beast,” he chortled, as his for a malnourished wyvern cannot wield men trussed me up for transport to the his flame-breath, but we were mistreated. dungeon. “He’ll make a good addition for Whenever one of us acted out we were the upcoming winter!” brought back in line with brutal punishment. Newcomers learned never to use Thereby, I became a slave. The guards their fire for anything but assigned tasks. tried to beat my spirit out of me—oh yes, CURIOSITALES

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they tried. I let them believe they’d succeeded. But all the while I was plotting. The pipes were like a tangled mass of snakes. Each one led to a different part of the citadel, as I observed. Over the years I made sure to pull shifts in every part of the dungeon. I gathered information, hoarding it like a greedy goblin. The large iron pipe led to the kitchens, for the vent next to it brought tantalizing scents of things much better than slurry. The copper pipe led to the baths. And the great stone pipe, leading to a place below even the dungeon, was the sewer. I smelled waste whenever I worked near the stone pipe, and I could always tell dawn was approaching when a shuddering wave crashed through it. This, I learned from the guards, was the nightly flush of the citadel’s sewage system. I realized this was a way out, a way that avoided the heavily policed upper regions. The stone pipe was large enough for a wyvern, but how would one get into it? That question plagued me for many moons, and ultimately I put the pieces together by accident. I got into a scuffle with another wyvern, and the guards whipped us both into penitence. The leathery skin on my back split open across my spine, and I was dragged unceremoniously to a room I’d never seen before. A heavy wooden cabinet stood on one side and a series of bloodstained metal saws lined the other. They muzzled me and bound my wings, and I began to struggle. “Keep still,” grunted one of my guards, 92

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kicking at me. At least, I think that’s what he said. It’s entirely possible he said something much ruder. I’d picked up a bit of their language, but I was far from fluent. “Is he a goner?” asked the second, peering at my wound. “Not today,” said a crotchety human female who’d entered after us. “You’re lucky it isn’t dirty. Then it would get infected, and I haven’t the ingredients to make a healing poultice.” The guards pinned me down while she worked on my back, piercing my thick hide with a bone needle and stitching me up. Then the three of them left me there for the night. I watched, and I listened, and I breathed. A familiar sewer stench wafted from a grate in the corner near the saws. Congealed blood caked the area around it, and I feared I’d discovered the fate of the unlucky wyverns who didn’t fall into line. Eventually I heard the rush of water that indicated the system flush, and then I saw daylight straining to creep through the bars of the grate. I deliberately injured myself in three fights after that, so I could conduct thorough investigations of the unpleasant chamber. I learned that the grate in the floor could come undone if I hooked the thumb of my wing beneath its ill-fitting corner and jostled it around. But I was a touch too big to fit through. Years of sitting pent-up in the humid darkness, doing nothing but guzzling slurry, had widened my girth. I put myself on a modest diet; I couldn’t


be seen to be starving myself, for the guards would become suspicious. I measured my excruciatingly slow weight-loss by sticking my tail between the narrow iron bars of my pen nightly to see how much room there was between the metal and my flesh. The process was slow, but it worked. In the meantime, I made sure I knew where my escape sewer led. I spent a moon working different sections of the dungeon floor between the kill-room and the stone pipe. From what I could hear and smell, there was a direct connection between the two. Victory was close, and I was faced then with a moral dilemma: should I share my plan with my fellow wyverns? “Raghda,” I whispered one winter midnight, while we were heating the pipes that led to the stables, “what would you say if I told you there was a way out?”

any of these creatures? Wyverns are solitary—we aren’t meant to be caged, and certainly aren’t meant to be caged together. It breeds contempt among us. Finally the time was right. I needed an injury. Raghda did, in a way, become my accomplice, for I provoked her into attacking me. “Break it up!” The guards were upon us at once like a swarm of hornets. They beat Raghda off and she quieted, returning to her slurry lunch. They beat me, too, but I was already bleeding from where her claws had raked me across the chest. “Again,” grumbled the tallest guard, who hauled me toward the kill-room by the chain on my collar. “This one’s more trouble’n he’s worth.” “Pity,” said his companion. “Got a good flame in ‘im. We’ll have to go hunting for his replacement, and I ain’t lookin’ forward to that.”

“I’d say you finally cracked,” the smaller wyvern retorted, belching a billow of They brought me to the kill-room, but the flame upwards. “Get back to work. They’ll healer woman didn’t emerge to sew me beat us if they see us talking.” up. Instead the guards latched my chain to a hook in the wall and muzzled me beTalking was discouraged among the infore leaving. mates—for precisely this reason, I assumed, to deter would-be escape artists. The night crawled on. I listened to the Of all the wyverns I liked Raghda best, hum and bustle of the dungeon floor and and she had the best chance of success, wondered what was taking the healer so being small. But if she didn’t want to hear long. I needed to be free of the hook in my plan, I wasn’t going to force it upon order to escape. her. I perked up when I heard footsteps, and I decided not to tell anyone else. I couldn’t turned to see a new human entering the risk failure by muddling matters with an chamber. He was burly and hunchbacked, accomplice. Besides, how much did I like and he lumbered over to a lever recessed CURIOSITALES

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in the flagstone wall. He pulled it, and with a horrible grating screech the saw blades churned into motion. I’d pushed my luck too far. I was, as the guards had said, more trouble than I was worth. They weren’t planning to patch me up, they were planning to cut me up. My eyes darted around in panic and came to rest on the floor, where interlocking cogs spun round in an open trench, powering the saws. The burly man grabbed my chain, intending to pull me into the saws and to my doom. He’d expected me to resist; I surprised him by lunging forward. The chain slackened, and I whipped my head sideways so the slack fell into the working cogs. It caught at once, but instead of stopping the device, my chain got dragged into the mechanism. I was pulled forward, but so was my would-be butcher, who hadn’t let go of his end of the chain. He toppled toward the saws, and in his desperation to miss the spinning blades, he landed in the cogs. He didn’t even have time to scream before his body was crushed by the machine. The blades ground to an abrupt halt, and then it was eerily silent.

before plunging in head-first. While it was a tight fit, the walls were slick with slimy moss and gobs of the unspeakable. I tried not to think about it as I wriggled onward, scraping the fingers of my wings and kicking with my legs. Then—WOOSH! A heavy, freezing force slammed into my back. It shoved me forward and I hurtled around a bend, gathering speed. Without warning, the kill-room pipe opened up into a larger pipe that led straight down. I was in the main sewer. Filthy water surged around me, catching me up in its glacial embrace. I took a breath before it swallowed me whole. There was a frothy jolt as I hit the bottom curve of the pipe. My last breath was forced out of me as the water pressed my bruised and aching body against the metal-plated sewer. Just when I was sure I’d drown, the torrent abated and the liquid drained away. I lay there for a while, my body shaking, unable to believe I’d survived.

But I had survived. Chilled to the bone and feeling as though a number of my ribs were cracked, I pushed myself up on shaking limbs. The bright spots dancing I managed to break the chain link that had in my vision weren’t due to brain trauma. been weakened in the cogs. Trusting my That was sunlight sparkling upon muckfate to the crumpled body of the man, I filled puddles. leaned toward the deadly weapons and worked the leather strap of my muzzle Thus I emerged, battered and bloodied against the saw barbs. I cut myself a few but triumphant, to greet the dawn. times, but my efforts were rewarded when the iron cage fell away from my snout, This is the land I’d known and loved in clanking across the bloody floor. my youth. The Spinebacks—so named because they hug the curve of the world, I hobbled to the grate and worked it open and their peaks jut up like the spines on 94

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on the back of a sleeping dragon—glisten in the rosy light. They call to me, beckoning me out of the darkness and horror of slavery, pumping life back into my veins. I feel invincible again. I vow on the spot that I’ll return and save my comrades. I’ll take on all the humans of the citadel single-clawed! Looking down, I see I’ve made a grave miscalculation, and my feeling of invincibility vanishes. I’ll have to escape by wing . . . and I haven’t used my wings in years.

“But flying is freedom,” I breathe. “And freedom is everything.” And I jump.

Elana A. Mugdan is a published author based in New York City. For the past few years, she has been putting the final touches on her five-book YA fantasy series, entitled The Shadow War Saga.

Elana has always been an avid reader, and is a lifelong fan of fantasy and sciA far-off shout echoes through the pipe, ence fiction stories. Some of her favorite warning me that my escape hasn’t gone authors include J.R.R Tolkein, Philip unnoticed. The guards have probably Pullman, and Robert Jordan. She is dediscovered the butcher’s corpse by now. scribed by her friends and family as “the They’ll soon discover me, and I doubt I’ll avoid a grisly death by saw a second time. weirdest person I know”, and wears that weirdness proudly on her sleeve. I stare into the abyss, rotating my wing joints. The iron collar and half-chain swinging around my neck won’t do me any favors. Most of my muscle mass is gone. Falling from this height will mean death.

FACEBOOK @ ShadowWarSaga TWITTER @ dragonspleen INSTA @ officialdragonspeaker allentria.com

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Check out this free preview of The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder. Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by her cupcake. Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover who framed her or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her. But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the guild master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate. If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.

CHAPTER ONE

Wren had learned early on that trouble comes in all sorts of packages. Even vanilla ones with rosepetal frosting. “Tell me about these cupcakes,” a cold voice demanded from the storefront. Wren froze on her stool, her ears perked to listen, the cocoa bean she held in her hand forgotten. “What would you like to know?” asked Master Oldrick, his tone light but wary. “Everything.” Wren set down her husking knife on the worktable with the rest of the cracked beans, wiping her hands on her streaked

apron. She wanted a look at this customer. She crept across the worn tiles of the kitchen and slowly slid open one of the doors leading to the display case in the front room of Master Oldrick’s confectionery shop. A wave of cold air hit her, the ice that lined the case chilling her face as well as the chocolates. It was a blessed respite from the stickiness of the kitchen, where the air hung limp in August’s hot breath. Master Oldrick was babbling about the cupcakes now, clearly unsure of the nature of the man’s interest. “True, cupcakes are the territory of the Baker’s Guild, but I’ve some friends in that guild, and they don’t mind us having a little fun with the cupcakes. It’s the frosting that sets ours apart. Pure confectional art. The frosting CURIOSITALES

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on this one’s so like a rose that you can practically smell its perfume. The ladies love them—they fly off the shelves.”

flicked to the far display case, where Wren peeked out between the rows of caramels and chocolate chews.

The customer was a stranger, but the cupcake in his hand was not. It was one of Wren’s. Only she could pipe the frosting just right, each petal like a rosy-hued sunset. Master Oldrick’s arthritis was far too bad for him to perform such delicate work, and the other apprentices, Tate and Hazel, were all right for rolling truffle balls and stirring caramel, but they lacked her steady hand with a piping bag, despite being a few months younger than her sixteen years. Each of those cupcakes had taken her ten minutes to decorate, ten minutes scrunched over the countertop as beads of sweat dribbled down her knees and elbows.

The man turned and his eyes, steely blue above the high collar of his navy coat, met hers. “I’ll speak with this Wren.”

Master Oldrick was continuing his detailed exposition of the cupcakes’ finer features, discussing the third-generation ownership of the mill they purchased flour from, the fine sugar imported from Aprica, the fresh cream skimmed off the milk of dairy cows who enjoyed only the finest pastureland below the foothills of Mount Luminis.

“I’ll fetch her,” Master Oldrick said with a bob of his head. Wren stood and slammed the door shut, her mind whirring. Despite the oppressive heat of the late afternoon, her body had gone cold. Master Oldrick’s hands were shaking as he came into the kitchen. “What does he want?” she hissed. “Who is he?” “I don’t know,” Master Oldrick said. “But he has a stern way about him. Was there something wrong with the cupcakes? Could the ingredients have spoiled?” “No!” she said, affronted. Master Oldrick knew the quality of her work was her only currency in this world. “I would never let such a thing happen.”

The customer held up a hand and Master Oldrick fell silent. Wren narrowed her “I know.” He sighed. “You’re the best apeyes. Who was this man, and what was his prentice I’ve ever had, woman or no.” interest in the cupcakes? She rolled her eyes. It wasn’t the first time “Who made the cupcakes?” the man deshe’d heard such antiquated views from manded. Oldrick. She found it best to ignore them. “Ahh,” Master Oldrick said nervously. “My apprentice Wren,” he said, rubbing his neck with a gnarled hand. His gaze 108

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“I’ll stand by your work,” he continued. “Now don’t keep the man waiting.” Wren straightened her stained apron and


attempted to smooth the frizzy auburn halo that wreathed her head in this humidity. She marched into the front of the shop, back straight, head high. “You asked for me, sir?” she said, getting her first proper look at the customer. He was a tall, thin man with a horsey face topped with thick, dark brows that threatened to join as one. He had an impressive shock of black hair brushed to one side in a fashion that managed to look both windswept and carefully manicured. His slender fingers held her exquisite cupcake before her, as if he were offering her a rose. His examination of her was as obvious as her scrutiny of him no doubt had been. What did he see? Milky pale skin, elfin features, a small mouth puckered in nervousness? From the slight sneer of his lip, it appeared he found her wanting. “Did you make this cupcake?” That cold voice again. She shivered involuntarily. “Yes. Why?”

through her like a pot left to boil. Master Oldrick bustled through the swinging doors. “What’s this? No customers behind the counter.” “He’s trying to take me somewhere,” Wren explained, trying to draw her master’s attention to the more pressing issue at hand. “Now, sir, what’s this all about?” asked Oldrick. “Guild business,” the man said. “I’m her master; she’s got no business with the Guild that doesn’t concern me. Is she in some kind of trouble?” Master Oldrick asked. “I’m sure whatever it is, we can come to terms.” The man readjusted his fingers on Wren’s arm, tightening his clammy grip. With his other hand, he pulled a card from his pocket. “I am Grandmaster Callidus of the Confectioner’s Guild. I set the terms. And this girl is coming with me.”

He ignored her question. “I need you to come with me.” “What? Where?” Wren took a step back. He put the cupcake back in its tasteful pink-and-white-striped box before deftly retying the white ribbon in a perfect bow. And then, task complete, he came around the counter in two strides, grasping her elbow.

Wren glowered at the grandmaster from across the jostling coach, trying to keep the embers of fear tamped down with the weight of her anger. It was a losing battle. She rubbed her damp palms on her dress, curling her fingers into the thin fabric to still her shaking hands. Whatever was going on, it couldn’t be good.

“Master Oldrick!” Wren cried. She struggled against his iron grip, panic rising

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For the third time, he looked at her with a contemptuous flick of his gaze before his icy stare returned to the window. Despite her unanswered questions, Wren had been keeping a close eye past the lace curtains of the carriage and had a strong suspicion of their destination. As they turned off the packed dirt road onto the smooth granite stones of the Maradis town’s center, her prediction was confirmed: The Confectioner’s Guildhall. Just visible in the distance, nine guildhalls sat like petulant children at the knee of their mother, the gray behemoth Tradehouse where the guilds did business with each other and the rest of the city. The Confectioner’s Guildhall was a massive marble monolith resting in the place of honor at the Tradehouse’s right hand and was arguably the most magnificent structure of the impressive specimens that lined Guilder’s Row.

livery opened the wide wooden doors before them, Wren found herself pulled through the antechamber of the Guildhall for the second time in her life. And for the second time, she found herself wishing she had something better to wear. Her first glimpse of the Guildhall had been four years ago. That time, it had been Master Oldrick’s fat fingers gripping the flesh of her arm. She’d been a grimy orphan, fresh off the streets of Maradis.

It had started innocently enough. She had been rifling through the trash in the alley behind his shop and had found a worn piping bag, mostly empty save for a dollop of shimmering green frosting. Any other street kid would have squirted the whole bag of sugar into their mouth, but the frosting had called to her. She knew such an act would be a waste, a sacrilege. Crouched under the eaves of the building to keep warm, she had grasped the The carriage came to a stop in front of the smooth parchment paper of the bag and steps of the Guildhall and the coachman decorated the hard shell of the snowbank opened the door. Callidus swept out bewith a pattern of ivy leaves. The leaves fore her and quickly resumed his position had sparkled against the snow in the low as her captor, grasping her arm as soon as light of the alley, mesmerizing her, pulling she cleared the steps. It was clear he didn’t her into a daydream where she was surintend to let her escape. Wren’s stomach rounded by lush green foliage rather than flipped. What was there to escape from? frozen garbage. Wren struggled up the towering steps of the Guildhall, scraping her shins as Callidus pulled her up. Five steps for the five levels of the Guild: apprentice, journeyman, artisan, master, and grandmaster. Some designer had been so intent on his symbolism that he had thrown practicality straight out the window.

Master Oldrick had woken her with a kick in the dim gray morning, but as she’d scrambled away down the alley, he’d called to her. “Stop!” She’d kept running. “I’ll feed you!” he’d called.

As servants in the Guild’s brown and gold She had frozen, looking over one shoul110

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shoulder, her gnawing stomach compelling her to turn around. He had fed her half a loaf of warm bread smeared with butter and jam, along with a glass of sweet milk. Once she had eaten, he’d made her scrub her hands in scalding water until they’d turned pink and had given her an audition. Wren had swirled ganache, puffed powdered sugar, drizzled white chocolate and piped more frosting. When she had tried to sneak a taste of the ganache, Master Oldrick had whacked her hand so hard with a wooden spoon that she’d felt the vibrations in her teeth. “Never. Ever. Eat. The. Confections,” he’d said. But despite her faux pas, she had passed his test. Because that afternoon, he had marched her, dressed in a tattered woolen smock, into the marble cavern of the Confectioner’s Guildhall. And she had become his apprentice. The interior of the Guildhall looked exactly the same as it had four years ago, but for the exchange of one sour-faced captor for another. The walls were made of creamy veined marble, and the tall pillars around the circular antechamber rose to form a massive dome coated in gold filigree. A magnificent crystal chandelier hung from the dome, dusting the room with sparkles of sugary light. Wren eyed Callidus sideways as she struggled to match his pace. Guildmembers seemed to part before him as he walked, nodding deferentially and sidestepping out of his way. He didn’t acknowledge any of them with so much as a smile or nod in return. So he was someone

important. And, Wren decided, he was most definitely an ass. They ascended a twisting staircase at the far end of the antechamber, heading towards the upper floors. Where were they going? She could ask Callidus, but she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that his silent treatment was flustering her. He probably wouldn’t tell her, anyway. They continued up two more levels until they reached a floor that was hushed and empty. Two guards in brown and gold flanked the top of the stair, their golden spears resting on the polished parquet floor. Their uniforms bore the Guild’s symbol on the breast, a golden whisk and spoon crossed like the letter “X.” Wren’s heart hammered in her chest as they came to a halt before a carved mahogany door. Why had she been summoned here? Was she being kicked out of the Guild? Had there been something wrong with the cupcakes? They were so deep in the Guildhall, if she screamed now, would anyone hear her? Callidus released her arm and rapped on the door three times with his pale knuckles.

Never. Ever. Eat. The. Confections.

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Claire Luana grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could. Eventually, adulthood won out, and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, going to work as a commercial litigation attorney. While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. She has written and published the Moonburner Cycle and the forthcoming Confectioner Chronicles, a trilogy about magical food. She is currently working on the Knights of Caerleon trilogy, an Arthurian Legend fantasy romance series, which she is co-writing with Jesikah Sundin. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two dogs. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, binge-watch CW shows, and of course, fall into a good book. Order The Confectioner’s Guild.

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Connect with Claire online at: WEBSITE - FACEBOOK - TWITTER - INSTAGRAM - GOODREADS BOOKBUB - AMAZON


A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.

"The Confectioner’s Guild is a tale of mystery, intrigue, and romance wrapped in spun sugar and magic. Delightfully delicious!" -Angel Leya, author of Skye's Lure

Buy The Confectioner’s Guild to conquer your cravings with a magical mystery today! Available October 23, 2018 ISBN: 978-0-9977018-9-0 http://claireluana.com

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Around the World C

ărturești Carusel, Bucharest. This beautiful bookstore opened in 2015 in Bucharest, Romania. Those lovely details you see are thanks to the restoration of a 19th century building. Give yourself some time to get lost in the stacks as the bookstore encompasses six floors and contains over 10,000 books. Don’t worry, there’s a bistro on the top floor where you can pause for refreshements. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by the art gallery in the basement! The architects added the mezzanines you see between floors because the ceilings were too tall for the average person to reach books on the top shelves. The effect, when taken in with the skylight and spiral staircases is nothing short of amazing!

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