Today I am interviewing Brad Abraham, author of the new fantasy novel, Magicians Impossible.
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DJ: Hey Brad! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
Brad Abraham: Thanks for having me!
DJ: For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Brad: I’m a screenwriter, a journalist, a comic book creator, and now a novelist. Writing is something I kind of fell into, though not by accident. Growing up I wanted to be a filmmaker – a movie director, specifically – and on graduating high school I went to Film School to learn how to do just that. But I found the writing process was the part of filmmaking I enjoyed the most; I enjoyed creating the world and populating it with interesting people much more than trying to execute it on screen. In my senior year I wrote and directed one film, but wrote or co-wrote several others, and following film school, I struggled as a screenwriter for several years before breaking “in”. I was quite successful at it too, but I wanted to branch out into other areas of creative writing and that’s where Magicians Impossible was born.
DJ: What is Magicians Impossible about?
Brad: Magicians Impossible is the story of Jason Bishop, a 30 year-old bartender who, following the apparent suicide of his father, discovers that his dad was in fact a magic-wielding secret agent in the employ of the Invisible Hand; an ancient order of Mages who use magic in the service of defending the world against agents of darkness and chaos who call themselves the Golden Dawn. It turns out Jason’s father Daniel was murdered by the Golden Dawn, and now they’re coming for Jason. The only way to survive: join the Invisible Hand, learn the skills of a Mage, and join the battle against the Golden Dawn. But what Jason (and the reader) will soon discover is that in this world of magic nothing is what it seems.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Magicians Impossible?
Brad: I grew up on James Bond movies, and 80s fantasy films, I’m a big Steven Spielberg fan also, and in many ways Magicians Impossible has that Spielbergian feel – think Minority Report meets The BFG. Of course, I’ve read a lot of both these genres – Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, but as far as specific influences I tried to focus more on the iconography of the spy and fantasy genres. But what I did do was read a lot of folklore and mythology; particularly European and Middle-Eastern myths. I wanted the magical aspects of the book to have grounding in the folklore of our world.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Brad: To go into detail with our supporting players would venture heavily into spoiler territory so for now I’ll focus on Jason, our lead. He’s a bartender, he just turned thirty, and he’s still dealing with the sudden death of his closest friend the previous year when the bombshell hits that his estranged father has jumped from the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. With that act, Jason is pretty much alone in the world, and he’s grieving. He grieves his father, he grieves his friend, and he mostly grieves a life – his life – that turned out far differently than he expected it. So when he’s informed of whom his father was and, by extension, who he is, it’s like a second chance has just dropped into his lap. He can do what he’s always wanted, which is start over. Re-invent. Become the person he always hoped to be. That’s a very appealing idea, no matter your age. Who among us hasn’t wanted to go back and do things differently? For Jason, getting that chance is the best possible news, and he embraces his training – he’s no reluctant hero. But what he does come to find is that it’s not as easy to change who you are, and in fact in order to survive the trials ahead, he needs to embrace who he is, flaws and all. He can’t run from his past anymore; he has to confront it, and that’s a lesson I think we all can learn from.
DJ: What is the world and setting of Magicians Impossible like?
Brad: The world of Magicians Impossible is basically our world. It takes place in the present day, and Jason’s journey takes him from Cold Spring NY to NYC, to Mumbai, Stockholm, Milan, London, Paris, and to worlds between worlds. The primary locale of Magicians Impossible is the Invisible Hand’s fortress – the Citadel – which is kind of a pocket world within ours, harnessing the last vestiges of what are known in myth as “Soft Places” – places where the boundaries between our world and the magical one are at their thinnest. The central idea is that magic once ruled the world but with the ascendance of man, those powers faded, and what remains are the Mages. Their rivals, the Golden Dawn, are the equivalent of witches and warlocks, conjurers and sorcerers – non-magical people who delved deep into the dark arts to learn the mysteries of the universe.
DJ: Tell us about your magic?
Brad: Magic in Magicians Impossible is tiered, like belts and levels in martial arts. There are five levels of magic; Adept, Archmage, Enchanter, War Seer, and Diabolist. Each has its own skill set. An Adept can unlock doors, hide in the shadows; basically they’re thieves. An Archmage has the skills of an Adept, with the added ability to levitate objects and wield them as a weapon. An Enchanter has the skills of the previous levels, with the ability to assume the identity of another; you study them, and then “project” their likeness into the minds of the people observing them so you believe it’s actually them. War Seers are able to “blink” – move so fast it appears they’re teleporting. A Diabolist is the most powerful mage; they can do everything the others can, only a Diabolist can animate and re-animate objects; they can turn statues into battling beasts, they can even manipulate the remains of the recently deceased.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Magicians Impossible?
Brad: This will sound weird, but probably the moment when, after completing and then reviewing the first draft, realizing how much work I needed to do on it. Now for most writers that’s a terrifying moment – seeing how much of your draft doesn’t work at all. But for me it was invigorating; that in looking at it I could see where the problems were and (more importantly) what the solutions were. Much of writing is – to me anyway – all about problem solving. I needed to go down one path to realize that wasn’t the best way to reach the conclusion I wanted, before I could backtrack and find the right one.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Brad: If current reactions are anything to go by, it’ll be the twists. Magicians Impossible has many twists and turns; it’s actually structured like a magic trick, and the story Jason (and the reader) are led to believe may not be the actual story. Some people may love that aspect; others may not. But the thing to remember about Magicians Impossible is it is, at its heart, a mystery. There are big secrets revealed over the course of the book, and the clues are plentiful if you know where to look. Some people have told me they actually read the book twice and found stuff they’d missed the first time around. It’s a book that definitely has re-read value to it because, well, that would be telling …
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing Magicians Impossible? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Brad: I tend to shy away from any goals or themes when I’m starting a story; I prefer to have them develop out of the writing process. If the first draft is about discovering the story, subsequent drafts are about the theme, and making every chapter cleave itself to that theme. In the end the theme that most stands out is about family, and in particular how a child’s relationship with their parents changes when they themselves become an adult. I became a father midway through the writing of the book and that changed a great deal about the story, about Jason, about his journey – it literally became a different story because my life has changed so much between when I first came up with the idea and when I delivered the final draft. And that doesn’t refer to just Jason; all of our magical characters have, shall we say, challenging relationships with their families because to become a Mage means abandoning your life, abandoning your parents, abandoning your siblings. For some it’s easy to let go; for others it’s much, much more difficult. If there’s a lesson to be learned in Magicians Impossible, it’s that you are not your parents. You’re you. So be you. A kind and generous child can have awful parents, and an awful adult could have had kind and generous parents. In the end you are the architect of your own fate; you’re who decides the person you’re going to be. Everybody – good, bad, in between – has one thing in common in that they see themselves as the hero of their own story, and Magicians Impossible very much becomes about the story these people want to see themselves as the heroes of.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Magicians Impossible that you can share with us?
Brad: Now that is a tough question! Some of my favorite lines and bits of description are so spoiler heavy to reveal them would give away some big secrets. But I’ve always been fond of these because while seemingly benign, are very important in the grand scheme of the story:
“The broker looked like a pinched dick in gunmetal Armani and Damon disliked him the moment the man’s hired guns shoved him into a chair and tore the black bag off his face. But it wasn’t Bennett Fraim’s alopecia that gave him that phallic appearance; it was the bulging frontal vein bisecting his forehead. Damon idly wondered how much that vein would gush when it finally popped.” – Prologue
“The Locksmith was a uniquely New York mess; an Irish pub in a Dominican neighborhood owned by a Jew. To Jason it felt like home.” – Chapter 2
“The Invisible Hand is a secret society, comprised of individuals of great ability, skilled in the arts of espionage and wielding magic – real magic – as a weapon. Through deception we wage war, and with magic, we hope to win it.” – Carter Block
“First lesson, genius? Prophesies are bullshit; especially Great White Savior ones. Everybody comes to this place thinking they’re the next Mozart so you can imagine the disappointed look on their faces when they learn they’re Salieri at best.” – Allegra Sand
DJ: Now that Magicians Impossible is released, what is next for you?
Brad: I’m spending this fall touring around to promote the book. I have events in New York, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Toronto with more to come. I’m also about midway through the first draft of my next novel, which, like this one, is a bit of a genre mash up. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it’s a Sci-Fi-Horror novel that’s basically The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and is based both on my own teenage years, and also the books and movies I consumed at that age.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Brad-Abraham
DJ: Almost forgot! Is this a series? Are there going to be more stories set in this universe?
Brad: More than a few people have asked me if Magicians Impossible is part of a series. The only answer I can give to that is “I don’t know.” There’s certainly more places this story and these characters could go and I definitely have ideas to that effect, but I wanted to tell a story that had a beginning-middle-end and felt, for the most part, closed. If anything, Star Wars (A New Hope or Episode IV, depending on your age, I just refer to it as Star Wars) was my template on that front; the first Star Wars movie is my favorite of the series because it was and remains a perfectly contained story. It has backstory and a sense of what came before, and while it ends with several loose threads – they destroyed the Death Star, but the Empire still exists and Darth Vader escaped – it still feels complete insofar as Luke Skywalker’s journey from farm boy to hero. While the ending of Magicians Impossible is somewhat open-ended as some of our characters are concerned, I wanted there to be a definitive end for Jason Bishop, or at least a conclusion to that arc. His whole story is about discovering his lineage and discovering who he is and by the end he has done both. A hypothetical sequel could continue his story, or tell a completely different one with a different character. Ultimately, whether there’ll be more a lot has to do with how this book is received. If there’s audience/reader demand, I’d love to return to this world and these characters.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** Magicians Impossible is published by Thomas Dunne Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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Bartender Jason Bishop’s world is shattered when his estranged father Daniel seemingly commits suicide, but the greater shock comes when he learns his father was a secret agent in the employ of the Invisible Hand; an ancient society of spies wielding magic in a centuries-spanning war. Now the Golden Dawn; the shadowy cabal of witches and warlocks responsible for Daniel Bishop’s murder, and the death of Jason’s mother years before, have Jason in their sights. His survival will depend on mastering his own dormant magic abilities; provided he makes it through the training.
From New York, to Paris, to worlds between worlds, Jason’s journey through the realm of magic will be fraught with peril. But with enemies and allies on both sides of this war, whom can he trust? The Invisible Hand, who’ve been more of a family than his own family ever was? The Golden Dawn, who may know the secrets behind his mysterious lineage? For Jason Bishop, only one thing is for certain; the magic he has slowly been mastering is telling him not to trust anybody.
Author of Magicians Impossible (Thomas Dunne Books, September, 2017), creator of the Mixtape comic book series (Space Goat Productions), screenwriter of the films Fresh Meat and Stonehenge Apocalypse, writer on the television series The Canada Crew, Now You Know, I Love Mummy, and RoboCop Prime Directives, and a journalist whose work has appeared in Rue Morgue, Dreamwatch, Starburst, and Fangoria
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