I have a new book out called Magic Spell.
Magic Spell is a book about spelling in all senses: the spelling of words, the spells of magicians, and the spells that people cast over each other.
I have always liked puzzles and wordplay. With a flick of your pen a word can change meaning completely – night becomes light, a toy turns into a boy, a ball becomes a bell.
In 2012 I drew the character Aziz – a magician who was a mighty speller.
I wrote a story where Aziz performed prodigious feats of spelling. But it wasn’t enough. He needed an assistant. And the story needed a plot. Along came Zaza.
The story became about their relationship and their struggle.
In the beginning Aziz is the star, the main attraction.
He has all of the power and his beautiful assistant doesn’t even have a name. She does all of the dirty work – such as picking up fish, wrestling with a hose that had been a rose, or putting out a fire.
She goes along with this until he turns her wig into a pig. That is too much.
She lets him know her name, Zaza, and tells him that she can spell too. They fight over the wand.
A series of spelling battles ensue.
Aziz turns a bug to a rug to a rat to a cat.
Zaza turns his coat to a boat to a boot to a book to a rook.
They cast spells back and forth. The argument escalates and things get bad. Beads become beans become bears.
Aziz and Zaza must learn to work together pronto.
And they do. TADA! A new show is born.
If a magic spell is done well it seems effortless. The same is true of a book. But with both (with everything) there is usually a lot of work behind the scenes. I rewrote Magic Spell many, many times in an effort to strengthen the story and to make the word transitions smooth. Before it was accepted for publication my critique group helped, Linda Pratt gave advice and encouragement and Andrea Spooner gave helpful editorial feedback. After it was accepted by Simon and Schuster, Kristin Ostby and Liz Kossnar were wonderful editors. Art director Laurent Lynn added his magic touch including SPARKLES. Katie Johnson consulted to make sure that the spelling changes and word choices were appropriate for learning readers. Many people waved their wands and – voila – five years after Aziz fell out of my pen a book was born.