Welcome to the kickoff of The Other Magic Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour! This upcoming week we’ll be showing author Derrick Smythe’s debut epic fantasy novel some love, and I’m honored to be getting this party started. Stay tuned for more featuring The Other Magic, book one of the Passage to Dawn series – one perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Michael J. Sullivan, Patrick Rothfuss, and Michael Wisehart. I’m super excited to hear what people think of this one. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a fantastic week.
Derrick was kind enough to stop by to chat about how this book of his has come to fruition, the in-depth research he’s done, what lies ahead, and more. So, keep scrolling to learn more about the book and author, read the awesome interview, and enter to win yourself a copy of The Other Magic!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature The Other Magic. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
SEPTEMBER 8TH – THE KICKOFF
Whispers & Wonder (IG: @whispersandwonder)
Sadie’s Spotlight (IG: @sadiesspotlight)
Book and Nature Professor (IG: @bookandnatureprof)
Sometimes Leelynn Reads (IG: @sometimesleelynnreads)
SEPTEMBER 14TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more info, visit the official tour page at Storytellers On Tour.
The men secured the shackles slowly, hesitantly, but Kibure did not resist; he couldn’t. Whatever otherworldly power had come over him in those moments of passion had fled his body the second he realized what he had done…
In a realm where only clerics are permitted to practice magic, Kibure’s inexplicable use of power places him in grave danger. In a twist of fate, the rogue priestess hired to strip him of his power chooses instead to help him escape. Her reasons for doing so are her own, but something worse than death awaits if they are unable to evade the Empire’s most potent wielders.
Meet The Author
Derrick Smythe has been fascinated with all things elvish, dwarvish, and magical since his days of running through the woods with sharpened sticks in defense of whatever fortification he and his brothers had built that summer. After consuming nearly every fantasy book he could find, he was driven to begin work on one of his own. When he isn’t dreaming up new stories, he can be spotted hiking the Adirondack Mountains or traveling the world. He currently resides near his hometown in upstate New York with his enchanting wife, ethereal daughters, and his faithful-if-neurotic Australian Shepherd, Magnus.
Derrick’s debut novel, “The Other Magic” (Dec. 2019), is the first installment in his epic fantasy series, Passage to Dawn. A series prequel, “To Earn the Sash”, released on November 30, 2020 and the second book in the series titled, “The Other Way”, is scheduled for release in November of 2021.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Derrick. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
I have three daughters under four…blink blink blink blink
Give us an idea of how The Other Magic came to fruition.
The Other Magic is my debut novel so the road to publication was long, meandering, and included several unexpected detours. To be honest, getting this story out into the world in its current form, was nothing short of a miracle. After years of work on it, revising and rewriting, I married my wife, Kelly. She has been extremely supportive and really encouraged me to pursue publication, which was always a goal for me, but had not yet happened. Turns out, she also has an exceptional talent as an editor and an eye for detail that brought about improvements to several points of weakness within the story. The last piece of the puzzle was the birth of our first daughter, which forced me to adhere to a more regimented writing schedule that I have held to ever since. I had been worried that once she was born I might never finish the story. But with my new schedule in place, I became far more efficient with my time and rewrote almost the entire book from scratch in just one year, which for me, was very quick. I spent the next year learning the publishing and marketing end of things before releasing The Other Magic into the world.
Can you share with us something about The Other Magic that isn’t in the blurb?
I have inserted the names of each of my children into these stories. My first daughter is in the first book, my second daughter is in the upcoming second book, and my third daughter is just a few weeks old so she’s going to have to wait until the third book. My wife says she wants one more and by mere coincidence, this is planned as a four book series.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Great question! Well, my undergraduate degree was in history education so I had a foundational understanding of economics, geography, world religions, historical cause and effect—all the prerequisites for building a rich, diverse, and believable fantasy world. But there were a lot of little things that I had to research on an as-needed basis. For instance, I needed a basis for structuring a Renaissance-era university. Toward this end, I read a book called A History of the University in Europe Volume II by Walter Rüegg. It was an immensely long, dense read, but I learned enough from it to build my own university model. Beyond that, one of my favorite scenes in the entire story was inspired by this book. It’s about midway through when one of the protagonists, Aynward, undergoes an ‘initiation’ to the university that equates to a pretty severe hazing ritual. This idea was based on a description of a seventeenth century Swedish dissertation called a depositio cornuum. It was essentially a ritual beating of new students by professors in front of a crowd of university bystanders. Professors would dress up the enrollees, tie horns and ears to them, and symbolically and literally beat the young, uncultured ways out of the students. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but it provided me with a really unique way to introduce Aynward to another key character in an engaging way while adding other layers of tension to his storyline. Aynward and Kyllean’s attempt to resist this ritual together provided the kind of instant bond I wanted for these characters.
What do you hope your readers take away from The Other Magic?
I hope that readers finish The Other Magic with a thirst for more of this story, more of this world, and more of these characters.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
I lean more on plot first; however, I do think that these forces need to interact with each other. It’s important for me to allow the characters to alter certain smaller aspects of the plot in the midst of the writing process. There have been times when I’ve been deep inside the head of a particular character and I know what the plot says is supposed to happen next, but for one reason or another, it doesn’t really fit as a scene unfolds. The character will still end up in the same general destination within the plot as intended, but the road there does occasionally change as a result of a character’s nature. And sometimes when this happens, a brand new idea emerges that alters other aspects of the plot as a whole—the ripple effect. If my plotting doesn’t allow for at least some of this flexibility, the story and characters fail to work in harmony.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Of course! Though it’s not a character that I ever wrote with the notion that he would grow to become my favorite. He’s actually the main antagonist in the story, a priest named Grobennar. He has a companion, a spirit trapped within an amulet worn around his neck. The spirit has a proclivity toward chaos and destruction and often encourages Grobennar to do things that he should probably not do. Their banter as they debate these things is fun to write. In fact, I enjoy writing Grobennar’s character so much that I decided last year to pen a short-story featuring a particularly significant step in his road to prominence prior to the events told in The Oher Magic. It’s called To Earn the Sash.
What do you think makes a good story?
I would say there are three ‘big-picture’ requirements for making a good story: Believability within the boundaries set by the world, a sense of tension/danger/doom, and a significant attachment to at least one of the characters, preferably more. If any one of these things is lacking, a story runs the risk of becoming uninteresting.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Yes it can! The biggest one for me was finding the balance between the pursuit of perfection and having the confidence that my work was ready for the world. This can be really difficult. I was stuck for a long time trying to make this story perfect. I’m glad I continued to refine and improve it for as long as I did, but I could see how someone could get stuck in the never-ending cycle of self-doubt and revision. Each draft took me through a progression of triumph and glory upon completion, followed by critique and doubt, new ideas, implementation, and back to triumph and glory. This is a good cycle, but at a certain point, you have to have the confidence that your story is good, perhaps even great, at which point it’s time to release it into the world. It’s a terrifying step. I probably could have spent another decade spinning my wheels in pursuit of perfection, perhaps improving, perhaps regressing. But I’m certainly glad I published when I did and it has allowed me to finally move forward with the rest of the story which had been begging to be written for far too long. And here I am now ready to release the second book in the series just a few short weeks from now.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee – I have one cup every single morning with my breakfast of overnight oats (A creature of habit I am)
Winter or Summer?
Can’t it just be forever fall?
Physical books or Ebooks?
Physical books for sure, but to be honest, I’ve been doing more audio books than anything else lately.
Mountains or Oceans?
Mountains. There’s something very special about looking out at the world from atop a summit, especially after having worked so hard to climb.
Books or Movies?
Books. However, a series based on books can be an awesome experience too, but only if you’ve already read the books, and much better if the book series has been written in full…
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens, but only if they’re willing to tell us the secret of how they arrived here.
Pie or Cake?
If cheesecake counts as cake, then I choose that. If not, then pie.
Rural or Urban?
Rural. Nature’s music of crickets, coyotes, and the wind in the trees is much preferred over the sound of sirens and cars, especially cars that honk even when the light is red. I never understood that. I do enjoy visiting cities; I just don’t see myself ever living in one.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Derrick. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thanks for having me! This fall is going to be a very exciting time for me. On November 8, I’ll be releasing the second book in the Passage to Dawn series, titled The Other Way—I can’t wait! All of the best aspects of The Other Magic have been given a chance to expand. For instance, the first book alludes to the existence of magical creatures known as Lumales. They’re basically my world’s version of dragons, minus the fire breathing. Unfortunately, readers aren’t given a chance to see them in action—the plot simply didn’t have room. However, readers will be able to spend a significant amount of time with these creatures beginning this November.
Additionally, I’ve nearly finished writing the first draft of a novella, highlighting an eccentric and highly enchanting character from the series, a halfling named Dwapek. This work gives a deeper look into his past, motivations, and like the short-story, contains a few easter eggs for readers to discover before the next full book in the series comes out!
Enter to win!
US/CA Only • Ends 9/15