More than three hundred years after the most terrifying witch hunts the world has ever known, it’s happening again.
Racing from attack by the ruthless Brotherhood in London to the powerful witch council in New York, twenty-four-year-old novice witch Stella has to put her faith in strangers just to stay alive but she might not be any safer in their midst than from the danger she is running from.
Sent to an extraordinary safe house by the sea to learn her craft, Stella finds there is more than one dark secret in her new family: Étoile’s sister is spoken of in fear and sadness; Marc is supposed to be a powerful witch but is missing his magic; where does the owner of their safe house vanish to every day and why does Evan have the eyes of someone not quite human?
There is only one secret that someone will do anything to keep quiet, but whose secret is it and will Stella have to pay the price for silence?
Amazon UK Top 10 contemporary fantasy bestseller Amazon US Top 45 fantasy bestseller
Amazon US Top 50 contemporary fantasy bestseller
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Illicit Magic Excerpt 2
NB: British English
The man filling the doorway was at least six foot two with broad shoulders that tapered to a neat waist and long, jeaned legs. Toned arms extended from under a grey t-shirt and his hands didn’t look like strangers to work. As my eyes travelled up from his chest, I noted a tanned, square jaw that hadn’t seen a razor in a day or two, a slim nose and brown eyes so dark I could barely distinguish iris from pupil. His hair was cut short and so dark it could almost have been black. He wasn’t beautiful in the traditional sense but he was captivating, the type of man people automatically turn their heads to have another look at. I couldn’t drag my eyes away and my heart did a little flip.
A fleeting image of being wrapped up in his arms, his lips crushing mine, overtook my mind. He caught my eye and held my gaze. I was glad he couldn’t see inside my mind, but I blushed furiously. His face looked thunderous. And now, come to think of it, Marc didn’t exactly look happy either.
“This is her?” he asked no one in particular, his eyes still fixed on me, his expression fading from thunder to completely impassive.
“Stella,” I spluttered, my cheeks still red as the image in my head seemed to topple over and send us sprawling, limbs entwined. Was I supposed to shake his hand now? Good God. “Hi.”
Étoile looked from me to Evan and coughed lightly, her hand covering a smile and I just had enough time to wonder what she had seen before she said, “Evan will be teaching you.”
“I will not,’ announced Evan, his mouth set in a firm line. “She leaks. Find someone else.”
“David could teach her,” snapped Marc, scowling at Evan. The muscles in his arm had tensed though he was still sitting and I could see the veins bulge. What was with him?
“David is teaching Christy, Clara and Jared,” said Aunt Meg placidly. “Evan will be teaching her. That’s why he’s here.”
The ensuing silence was deafening. Marc scowled at Evan, Evan looked spitefully at me and I gripped my glass as if it were a life rope in a storm. Étoile finished up her second scone and looked around gleefully as if we were the height of entertainment. Meanwhile, my mind was getting increasingly lurid and I could hardly look Evan in the eye for fear that he would know that I’d just had a very exciting mental picture of us doing something that really should not have popped into my head while I was having a scone with civilised company.
“If you don’t want to teach me, fine,” I gasped, daring to look at Evan from under my lashes. Marc had leant back in his seat, arms crossed; Meg and Étoile were still looking at the man expectantly. Étoile coughed, but not before I heard her snicker again.
His jaw shifted and he breathed out. “I’ll teach you,” he said at last, making it sound like the least pleasant chore he could be assigned.
“Fine.” Evan stepped back out of the doorway and strode back the way he came.
“Whew!” said Étoile. “That was weird. Like he was ever not going to teach you.”
“He’s an ass,” muttered Marc, swallowing the last of his iced tea and banging the glass back down on the table. “I’m sorry you’re stuck with him.”
“Evan Hunter is a very good teacher,” Aunt Meg chided as she gathered up the plates and swatted Étoile’s hand from the cake stand with a napkin before she could reach for another scone. I noticed Aunt Meg hadn’t eaten or drunk anything and hoped she didn’t think I was greedy for gobbling mine as fast as I could.
“What did he mean – I leaked?” I asked, thinking that sounded, well, gross.
“Your magic,” said Étoile. “He can feel it. So can I. You aren’t containing it, so it leaks. Not your fault.”
Hi, I’m Camilla and I’m the author of the Stella Mayweather Series, an urban fantasy/mystery. The series starts with Illicit Magic and a lonely young woman, Stella, who has been caught up in a terrifying witch hunt and is whisked thousands of miles away to what she thinks is safety to learn her craft. The series is a blend of magic, mystery and romance with a splash of humour – and while the girls really do go all out to save themselves, there’s always a hunky guy or two on hand to help them out. The series continues with Unruly Magic and Devious Magic, both out now.
I live in London, England, but I try to travel as often as I can – I’ve been all over the US and Europe. In my day job I’m a journalist and editor so I write for magazines, newspapers and websites throughout the world (my favourite assignment was spending a week riding rollercoasters – if you listen carefully you can probably still hear me screaming) but writing fiction has always been my first love.
How I write
On this tour I’ve talked a lot about what I write about, but I haven’t yet written about how I write. So, here goes…
Once I’ve gotten my idea, I like to start with absolute paralyzing fear that whatever I write won’t be as good as I imagine it. It’s true when writers say that the first sentence is the hardest to write and, quite often, I’ll go back and rewrite the first sentence and opening chapter once I’ve finished the rest of the book. Laying those first foundations is a hurdle that needs to be overcome, but sometimes the foundations change when new subplots crop up so it makes sense to revamp them.
But how about when I get over those first few hundred words? That’s when the fun begins. I’m a mixture of “plotter” and “pantser”. I like to start a novel off with a brainstorm, simply listing the elements and the characters that will appear. A few books ago, I realized building a timeline of events would help me get from the beginning to the end; it’s very much a loose structure that enables me to order the action. I don’t always write in a linear fashion so at this point I may well start writing scenes, like mini power typing sessions where I draw the scene from my head and just throw it down on the screen to get me started and probably takes me a week or two. I often write a few thousand words this way before I start to put these scenes in order.
By now I have a solid plan of where the book is heading and who the supporting characters are. Now I’ll go back to the beginning, writing the grander scale of the book, filling in and connecting scenes, writing new ones, weaving in a subplot that’s just popped up and so on – though I have a plan, I don’t force myself to stick rigidly to it so I have no problem adding in a scene or a character that suddenly fits. This front-to-end process happens two or three times before I get to the clean up stage where I double check continuity and add in anything extra that’s occurred to me or things I’ve missed or moments where a character might refer to something that is supposed to have happened earlier. It may seem like an odd process but as I typically write 5000 words a day it all comes together very quickly and at some point, bam, I realize I have a novel!
I have a couple of tools I use to help me along. One is Scrivener, a great downloadable piece of software (I’m not paid or perked to mention it; I just love it). Here, I store my timeline, research, character profiles, blurbs as well as use it for writing and juggling scenes into chapters. It’s a great way to keep all my work in one place. Another thing I like it the WriMoDemon app. It’s a simple word count tool and I use it to input my daily progress and see how far along I’ve gotten and how much further I need to go.
I hope you enjoyed the insight into how I write and thanks for having me over today!