Nerves of steal

Get ready to be spellbound by Sarah Prineas, author of The Magic Thief series, who will be in Mumbai this fortnight (Sadly, Sarah fell ill and didn’t make it to Mumbai. But she did sign me a copy that too in her secret language).

sarah prineas, magic thief, Books, fantasy books, bookaro festival

Sarah Prineas’s three-book series, The Magic Thief, tells the story of Connwaer, an orphan who lurks in the alleys of the magical city ofWellmet, picking pockets and steering clear of the Underlord and his goons.Conndiscovers he’s  a wizard when he steals the wizard Nevery’s locus magicalus (a magical stone). As Nevery’s apprentice,Connbegins studying at a magic school and starts investigating why the magic in their city is dwindling. The trilogy has some fantastic characters, including tough-guy Benet, who loves to knit, and bakes scrumptious biscuits. This fortnight, children will have a chance to meet Prineas, who will be signing books in Mumbai at Crossword Bookstore. She’s inIndiafor the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival which is being held inDelhithis fortnight. She spoke toTime Out about books, baking, and writing for children.

What was the inspiration behind The Magic Thief series?
The first lines of The Magic Thief are “A thief is a lot like a wizard. I have quick hands, and I can make things disappear.” I kept those lines in a file on my computer for a long time, but I had no idea who said them. Finally I started wondering. What kind of character could be both a thief and a wizard? Immediately,Connleaped into being, completely himself, and ready to get into trouble and jump-start the story. The inspiration is that I’ve read loads of fantasy, and I wanted to write a book with all my favourite fantasy things in it: magic, adventure, wizards, dragons, peril, biscuits and bacon.

Connwaer is extremely believable, even though he lives in a magical world.
Connis so incredibly fun to write, because he’s a true protagonist – his actions make the story happen. He’s completely himself, so I always know what he’s going to do in any situation. He’s also full of contradictions: he’s a thief who never lies, he is smart and yet he does unbelievably stupid things. He is stubborn and he is brave, he thinks a lot but says very little.

How difficult was it to create the magical city of Wellmet?
When I first started working on the Wellmet world, I was inspired by nineteenth-century maps of London, with the twisty streets and dead-end alleyways with funny names, like “Mouse Hole” or “Cutpurse Lane”. Pretty soon, the setting started growing into a distinct place not like anywhere in our world. The concept of “balance” became important. Wellmet is a city that depends on balance, the run-down, dangerous Twilight on one side of the river, the wealthierSunriseon the other, and the wizard’s houses on islands in the river itself. One of the big questions thatConnhas to deal with is how to bring the various parts of the city back into balance with each other.

Tell us about tough guy Benet.
Benet was a funny character to write because he started out as a minor character, a simple tough guy bodyguard. Then I started thinking, “What do bodyguards do?” Well, they take care of people, usually by being tough and knocking heads together. But what if this bodyguard took care of people in other ways? So Benet started baking biscuits and knitting sweaters and scarves, and he became a much more important character, really the centre of Conn’s new family.

Can we expect a fourth book in The Magic Thief series?
I have written a fourth Magic Thief book, though I don’t know when it will be published. My next book starts a brand new series, the first book is calledWinterling. It’s a fantasy story that begins in our world and goes into another, magical world, and the main character is a girl.

By Bijal Vachharajani on November 26 2010

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