Monday, April 3, 2023

Q&A with F.T. Lukens




F.T. Lukens is the author of the new young adult novel Spell Bound. Their other books include So This Is Ever After. They live in North Carolina.


Q: What inspired you to write Spell Bound, and how did you create your characters Rook and Sun?


A: Some of the worldbuilding components for Spell Bound came while I was driving home from DragonCon (a big SFF convention in Atlanta) and I was on the phone with my brother discussing magic systems.


And the idea for magical wi-fi came up in that conversation as did the idea for electronic devices that could detect magic. And from there, I thought about how magic would work in a city setting and what type of conflicts could come about from that type of world.


Once I had that part down, I started developing characters. I knew I wanted a sunshine/grump dynamic, and I knew I wanted a mentor figure with questionable motives. So worldbuilding came first for this novel and then characters.


For Rook, he is the optimist of the two, but behind that sunny disposition is a character who is grieving. While I was developing this book, I had just lost my father to cancer and was very much managing my own grief. So, I know aspects of my own journey are reflected in Rook.


Sun is the character who is the insider to the magical world and has been hyper focused on their apprenticeship to the detriment of their social life. For Sun’s character, I consulted and utilized authenticity readers for assistance throughout the writing process from the very early stages of character development through to the final draft. Different authenticity readers were involved from the initial stages to the arc copy due to the intersectionality of Sun’s ethnicity and queerness.


Q: This is your first novel using dual points of view--why did you choose that approach, and was it a very different process from your previous books?


A: Yes. This is my first novel with dual POV. And it was very different process.


First, I had to ensure that the dual POV served a purpose – which I think it did by showing each character’s interaction with magic and the world of ley lines and sorcerers.


One POV, Rook, is an outsider view of magic, while Sun’s is the POV of someone who has been part of the magical world their entire life. Seeing how each approaches magic and how each perceives the other character I think really lent to the narrative. Also, Sun has information that Rook does not, but Rook has the solid relationship with Antonia which added tension to the story.


The most difficult part of writing dual POV was choosing which scenes to write from which character and how that affected the story overall. I had always worried that dual POV needed to be close to a 50/50 split. However, I had read Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis, which has fantastic worldbuilding, and noted that the book utilized dual POV but in more of a 70/30 split. And it really worked for that story, and it changed my perception of how dual POV could work.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I’m very much a plotter when it comes to my works, so I did know the ending. I just didn’t have all the details of how the story would get there. And there were a few scenes that were rewritten in edits toward the end of the novel to sharpen focus on the central themes and characters.


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: "Spell Bound" was the working title and then it changed for a bit and then was changed back to "Spell Bound."


The title has a few different interpretations – I think Rook is spellbound by the magical world. Sun is spellbound by Rook. But they both are bound in the beginning of the novel by the limits and expectations that were placed on them by the strictures of the society. However, both are able to overcome those by the end of the story.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m currently working on edits for my next novel. The title hasn’t been revealed yet, but it is another contemporary fantasy that blends elements of Faust, gods and goddesses, and corn fields.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Yes! I’m going on my first in-person book tour the first week in April. I’d love to meet readers at any of the stops!

APR 1, 2023    New York, NY / Barnes & Noble Booksellers / In conversation with Ryan La Sala

APR 2, 2023    Hingham, MA / Barnes & Noble Booksellers

APR 2, 2023    Warwick, RI / Barnes & Noble Booksellers / In conversation with Rachel Menard

APR 3, 2023    Washington, DC / East City Bookshop /  In conversation with Jessica Spotswood & Robin Talley

APR 4, 2023    Charleston, SC / Blue Bicycle Books

APR 5, 2023    Decatur, GA / Little Shop of Stories / In conversation with Julian Winters

APR 6, 2023    Coral Gables, FL / Books and Books / In conversation with S. Isabelle

APR 7, 2023    Altamonte Springs, FL / Barnes & Noble Booksellers

APR 8, 2023    Asheville, NC / Malaprop's Bookstore / Virtual / In conversation with Adam Silvera 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb 

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