Talking about character–Trace of Magic


Hello Everyone! I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed you all. Okay, really I’ve been reading and lurking, so I’ve been here, but I did miss getting a chance to talk and visit with you.


I’ve been busy with a lot of projects, but the one I’m here to talk about today is titled Trace of Magic. I’ve been describing it as an alternate-history, urban-fantasy, noir, romance thing. You might ask what that means. It’s set in a never-existed Colorado. Diamond City sits on the ege of an ancient prehistoric volcano where the diamond mining outpaces that in South Africa. The town is largely run by competing magical mafias (called Tyets), who are in the middle of a major turf war. Riley Hollis is my main character.


obligatory and updated author photo

obligatory and updated author photo

I love Riley. I had such fun writing her. In fact I’m still having fun, as I am in the middle of writing the sequel. When I was writing Trace of Magic, it was one of those gift books that rolls out of my brain to my fingertips and into the computer like a waterfall. I had to write faster to keep up. I admit I laughed a lot while writing it (sometimes it was more of a cackle—I haven’t given up character torture in any way, shape, or form.)


The thing that I enjoyed most about Riley was that she’s not super anything. She’s got a very special magical skill that is much stronger than anybody else, but it’s sort of a passive magic in many ways. She can track people, even dead people, and she can create powerful nulls which nullify other people’s magics, but she’s not your basic kick-ass, take names hero like my character Max is in my Horngate Witches series. She’s got to solve things in a more normal way, and she has to worry about getting killed, maimed, kidnapped, and everything else along the way.


In this book, Riley ends up taking on the magical mafia with the unwanted help of a corrupt cop (who works for one faction of the mafia). Her almost-brother-in-law is kidnapped, and she has to try to find him. I think what made Riley so fun to write is that she’s stubborn, she’s well-aware of the dangers and she deals with those dangers with snarky attitude—in other words, she’s scared down to her toes, but she’s going to laugh about it and fake courage because she has no choice, and at least if she’s laughing, she’s not huddled in a corner gibbering in fear.


This is the first book I’ve written in first person. That’s a challenge, but also a lot of fun, because the immediacy of the voice and character make for some wonderful scenes. Our own Faith Hunter tells me it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and Romantic Times gave it their Top Pick, which is really exciting. I don’t have a cover yet (well I do, but not permission to share, so maybe next week). So instead of a cover to tantalize, I’ll leave you with the following scene to introduce you to Riley. I hope you enjoy:


A shape loomed over me suddenly, and Clay Price slid into the seat opposite me. My mouth dropped open. As far as I knew, he’d never evenset foot in the diner before.


“What do you want?”


He slid my coffee out of my hand and took a sip, then eyed it in surprise. “That’s good,” he said.


“Not to mention it’s mine,” I said, eyeing him balefully. It was the best coffee in town, though I’d not yet creamed and sugared it to suit my taste buds. He seemed to like his black.


He set the cup down, then ran his fingers through his hair. He was the carefully controlled type, so his gesture startled me. I examined him. He didn’t look any better than I did. His eyes were sunken, and grooves cut deeply around his nose and mouth.


“You know, if you’re hungry, there are other tables. Empty tables,” I pointed out.


He sipped my coffee again. “But you’re not sitting at the other tables.”


A frisson of foreboding rippled through me. I shivered. It had nothing to do with cold. “You came looking for me?”


“I knew you were a smart woman.”




He pulled a manila file from inside his leather jacket and set it on the table. “I want you to do a trace for me.”


Like I said before, my cardinal rule is not to be stupid. Taking a case working for Price—a cop and a Tyet enforcer—was the dictionary definition of stupid. Insane even. I didn’t even think before I said, “No.”


Price didn’t seem to notice. He shoved the file across the gray Formica.


I looked at it and then back at him. “Maybe you have a hearing problem,” I said. “I’ll speak slower. No. I’m busy. If you want me on a trace, you’re going to have to wait your turn. Give me your card. I’ll call you in a few days.” Like hell I would. I wouldn’t call him if I was buried alive and he owned the only shovel on the entire planet.


I started to get up. He grabbed my arm and yanked me back down. “You don’t seem to understand, Miss Hollis. You’re working for me until I find what I’m looking for. Unless, of course, you want me crawling over you like stink on shit. In that case, I’ll make your life so interesting you won’t have time to sleep.”


Interesting was code for he would dog my ass all the way to hell if necessary. He would, too. Detective Clay Price was a pit bull. He didn’t know the meaning of “back off.” Once he got his teeth into you, you’d be dragging him around like a ball and chain until you gave in or died.


You can preorder Trace of Magic now on Kindle. More formats will follow, including Nook, but it’s not posted up there yet. The book releases on August 29th.

Got questions?? Ask away!


The Biography of Me: I didn’t start out to be a writer. I was a storyteller from as far back as I can remember, and a daydreamer of epic stories, but it never occurred to me to write anything down. I read voraciously, but I wasn’t one of those people who said–hey! I could do this! Or even, this is so awful I could do better. I marveled at writers and thought of writing as something other people did. I did try my hand at some really horrible poetry in my senior year of high school. It was dramatic and bleak and world-tiltingly awful. When I got to college, I did poorly in my freshman comp class. I wrote in purple prose and use twenty words for what I could say in two. I loved language, but I didn’t really have much control over it. Then I took a creative writing class. It was awful. Total slaughter. I had caught the bug, though, and from there on out, I wrote. Eventually I wrote a really bad romance and finished it. I finished it! I could do that! And then I went to graduate school and another graduate school, got married, had dogs, had kids, went to work professing, and kept writing. Finally I had my first book accepted and I’ve been writing ever since.

As far as the prosaic stuff goes, I like to crochet, bake bread, spoil corgis, eat chocolate, sing to the radio, pretend to play tennis, geocache, crochet, and garden. Though I really hate weeding. I also like to make my hair purple with some frequency. You can find me on twitter as @dianapfrancis and my website at or on facebook.





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