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DJ: Hi Sara! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sara Hanover: I’m a reader who loves books, and a writer who loves to write. I’m an only child and my parents, separated early, moved a lot. Custody went back and forth, so my most reliable friends were books. In real life, I’m rather shy and all that moving proved very difficult for me. But books! I could be anyone, do anything, dream forever. I have a family now and two precocious cats who think my writing desk is merely an extension to the best window in the house. They haven’t occupied my keyboard yet but they do push my monitor out of the way to get the sunniest spots. My children are some of my beta readers but are wary of being co-opted as characters. We travel and some of our best friends live in Australia and New Zealand, and you’ll see my new book is dedicated to them.
DJ: What is The Late Great Wizard about?
Sara: This book has been described as a portal fantasy, but I wrote it as an urban fantasy and intended it to be a light-hearted romp, although it does touch upon serious issues. Tessa Andrews has a gambling addicted father who leveraged the family out of a financial future and then disappeared. They lost everything and became persons of interest in his disappearance. She’s had to struggle to find footing and move forward, and partners with her mother in a new house which seems to have poltergeists, and takes on a charity meals run to bolster her resume for future college years. One of her meal recipients is crusty old Professor Brandard with whom she establishes a tentative friendship. Then one night she gets a frantic call from the professor. “Help! Fire!” and when she answers it, her life takes another drastic and fantastic turn. She finds the home in flames, the professor gone, and a handsome young man cowering in the back yard who may–or may not– be the reincarnation of Brandard as a phoenix wizard. Tessa doesn’t believe in magic, but it believes in her. Without his proper memory, the soul of the professor and the soul of young Brian inhabit the same body but they could both be in danger and are needed to face the return of a great evil. Tessa throws in her lot to save them, and her world.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Late Great Wizard?
Sara: Almost any urban fantasy I’ve read lately with a snarky or feisty female lead. They tend to be fast and fun, and I’ve enjoyed them, so decided to write my own. I devoured Kim Harrison books, Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Patricia Briggs…oh, too many to name.
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?
Sara: Tessa is a long, tall drink of water brunette with freckles who hails from Richmond, Virginia and does not suffer fools. She and her mother Mary have each other’s back against a world which has not treated them too kindly. Tessa is also the striker for her college field hockey team, and does not hesitate to knock down whatever obstacles she can’t talk her way through. Friends don’t come easily but you won’t find anyone more loyal. So when she tells the professor she’ll help him complete his phoenix ritual, she’ll do it…even if it means facing magic she never knew existed and setting him on fire to do it. The professor is an old soul who grumbles his way through situations and his reincarnation, Brian, is laid back and rather clueless about the world he needs to be savvy about in order to survive. Steptoe hails from the fireplaces and chimneys of the UK and has been trying to redeem himself without a lot of success. Maybe he’s just misunderstood? Carter is the man that Tessa wants to notice her, but there’s an abyss between them she doesn’t understand–yet. He is scarred both by conventional war in this world and magical conflicts in a greater world. Then there is Malender, a beautiful man in a shroud of oily, seething darkness who is feared by almost all…and yet seems to have a certain empathy for Tessa.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Late Great Wizard like?
Sara: This is our world, with a twist. I concentrate more on the Revolutionary War background of Richmond rather than the Civil War history, and since Mary her mother is a northerner, Tessa has a “mixed” cultural background, bless her heart. The reader will see an environment they will recognize, more or less, at the beginning.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Late Great Wizard?
Sara: The pacing. Part of the book is a treasure hunt, a race to get to a magic relic first, and I loved putting down the clues and then setting up the retrieval, failures and successes. A very close second are my characters. I loved creating Tessa and her mother, the professor and the lesser surfer dude persona of Brian, along with the demon Steptoe, the Iron Dwarves Mortimer and Hiram, Remy the sorceress, Joanna the three-tailed kitsune, and of course, my mysterious Malender. Not to forget Carter Phillips, a war hero and something far, far more.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Sara: Because this is a difficult time for our country, I wanted this book to be a nice place to escape. So I hope they tell me and others they enjoyed it.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Late Great Wizard? 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?
Sara: We’re all a little broken. And because of that, it takes all of us to put things back together.
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 The Late Great Wizard that you can share with us?
Sara: No particular quotes come to mind, although certain “southernisms” such as Bless your heart, which is often said slyly or sarcastically, but I learned it from my nana as a sincere response of gratitude. Did the possum cross the road? Hotter or madder than a boiled owl … now that’s a weird one, but my father used it often. I figured anything boiled would be terribly unhappy!
DJ: Now that The Late Great Wizard is released, what is next for you?
Sara: I’m finished up book 2 in that series, The Wayward Mages, and it’s titled The New Improved Sorceress. Then it’s onto book 3, plus I have a fantasy I’m working on, and an entirely separate urban/steampunk novel. The more I write, the more I can think of that I want to write.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Sara: I send out a monthly newsletter from my website. Anyone signing up will get insights into the world of publication/writing, recipes, excerpts, and fun quizzes.
Facebook: Sara Hanover
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Late Great Wizard that we haven’t talked about yet?
Sara: Only that I have three definite books in mind and two is ready to be turned in to my publisher/editor before book one is out, and then it’s onto three. So anxious readers shouldn’t have too long to wait before most of these burning questions are answered!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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*** The Late Great Wizard is published by DAW and is available TODAY!!! ***
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A young woman must work with a magician who is not what he seems to find her father in this new contemporary portal fantasy series.
With her father vanished under suspicious circumstances and her old life destroyed, Tessa Andrews is determined to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. If only their borrowed house didn’t shake and rumble as if haunted. But at least she and her mom have a roof over their heads, so her luck couldn’t be all bad, could it?
As if to prove her wrong, Tessa gets an urgent call for help one night from crusty old Professor Brandard, one of the people on her charity meals route. She dashes over, only to find the house in flames and the professor gone. A handsome young man steps out of the ashes to request her assistance, claiming to be the professor and a Phoenix wizard. She not only has to believe in him, but in magic, for an ancient evil is awakening and it will take the two of them, plus a few shady friends, to stand against it.
Because the rejuvenation ritual has gone horribly wrong. The late, great wizard desperately needs to get his mojo back, for only if Brandard regains all his magic do they stand any chance of defeating this deadliest of perils.
About the Author:
Sara Hanover lives with a hoard of books, rather like a dragon, and works on improving her imagination daily. She loves plot twists and cats, family and crispy Autumn leaves, traveling and good food. She thanks her parents for supporting her first efforts in writing, and her husband for continuing to encourage her, along with the many good people at DAW Books.