My ideas pop up, unbidden, all the time. Often it will be because I’ve read something and thought “what if?” letting my mind drift onto all the possibilities that could happen. For Illicit Magic, I’d been thinking about the Salem witch trials (I don’t recall why) and how sad it was that all those people had been persecuted for their “crimes”. I thought what if the witches really possessed magic and if that magic enabled them to do wonderful, amazing, sometimes scary things like teleport at the blink of an eye, move objects with their minds and heal by a simple touch. What if these witches, with these terrific powers, were persecuted too. What if the witch hunters had simply been biding their time, watching, assessing, and waiting to make their move again?
Of course, with witch hunts, there are two stories. Not only did I want to deal with the ramifications of being hunted, I wanted to know why my witch hunters wanted to track them. I can’t guarantee all the answers are in Illicit Magic, but we will find out the motivations of the witch hunters in later books in the series.
When it came to witches, I was very intrigued by the idea of taking traditional depictions and turning them on their head. What if my witches were true modern women who didn’t rely on incantations, and familiars and all those things commonly attributed to witches, and how much fun would it be to give them magic that didn’t require babbling spells in rhyme?
Even more intriguing to me, was the role of heroines. What if my heroine wasn’t your typical heroine? Could she survive if she wasn’t kickass? What if she was an everyday woman, thrust into magic and a whole new world. Could a lonely young woman blossom as her powers grew and what it, ultimately she was responsible for saving herself?
All these “what ifs” ended up being the basis for Stella Mayweather’s world. Sometimes I have to research, but fortunately an urban fantasy like this means my limitations are few. Anything goes when it comes to magic in my world!
By Camilla Chafer
More than three hundred years after the most terrifying witch hunts the world has ever known, it’s happening again.
Racing from attack by the ruthless Brotherhood in London to the powerful witch council in New York, twenty-four-year-old novice witch Stella has to put her faith in strangers just to stay alive but she might not be any safer in their midst than from the danger she is running from.
Sent to an extraordinary safe house by the sea to learn her craft, Stella finds there is more than one dark secret in her new family: Étoile’s sister is spoken of in fear and sadness; Marc is supposed to be a powerful witch but is missing his magic; where does the owner of their safe house vanish to every day and why does Evan have the eyes of someone not quite human?
There is only one secret that someone will do anything to keep quiet, but whose secret is it and will Stella have to pay the price for silence?
Sharp, murmured voices passed me on the wind. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but there was the sound of confusion and dissent; then a barked order calmed them. I caught the sole word “silence” from a low voice as it hissed past me. The footsteps shuffled and stamped again but no one uttered a word. It was like they were all listening for me. I felt like a fox, terrified and cornered, knowing that the beagles were just behind me, waiting to catch my scent.
Above me I could just see the first quarter of the moon breaking in the sky, casting a dim glow over the city. My jacket was a dark padded cord, good for blending in with both the hedge and low light. My breath was catching like little puffs of cloud in the air so I pulled up my cheap, striped scarf and covered my mouth to keep the plumes from straying to where they could be seen.
Without moving the rest of my body, I strained my head towards my pursuers, the scarf tightening about my neck until I tugged it loose again. I tried to count how many footsteps I could hear as they shuffled, fanned out and regrouped.
With only my pounding heartbeat for company I waited for what seemed like eternity. I tried to count Mississippi’s to gauge the time but my mind stumbled over the count and I threw the thought away. I waited for seconds, minutes, hours for them to rush past me, or at least turn and stamp a different way, hoping miserably that they really hadn’t seen me dart into this street.
Finally I couldn’t hear a thing but the blood rushing in my ears. Had I made it up? Was I really paranoid enough to think someone would bother following me? Probably. Possibly. It wasn’t the first time I’d been extra cautious, but it was the first time since the news has been full of murder. I shivered and tried to shake away the icy fear.
Edging my way across the privet, the leather of my long boots brushing against each other as I sidestepped, my toes scuffed against the scrub of garden. Fronds of hedge needled my back through my winter coat as I brushed by and fresh drops of dew slid uncomfortably past my scarf and inside my collar.
With my mouth set in a firm, grim line, clamped so tightly shut I was close to grinding my teeth, I poked my head forward, mere millimetres from the hedge but enough to see a gloved hand shoot towards me and grab my coat, the fingers clawing at my shoulder to snatch a handful of material and drag me into the open. A gasp escaped me. How had they gotten so close without me realising? Another hand, yellowed at the fingertips and reeking of tobacco, reached for my neck.
A gruff male voice snarled, “Gotcha!”
I shrieked and my whole body went rigid as I closed my eyes tightly. The air went thick and heavy around me, the cold momentarily disappeared and the blood in my veins surged as electricity crackled through my body. For the merest second all the low light and dull sounds of the city disappeared as the power rushing through me overwhelmed and took possession of me.
With the hand at my neck and the fear pumping alongside the electricity, I thought I would die in this moment, but when I opened my eyes again I was on the other side of the street, looking at my attacker grasping at the air where a second ago my neck had been. I saw his fist punch savagely through the air where my jaw should have been. If I had still been there, he would have smashed it for sure.
I felt dizzy and willed myself not to faint. The last of the shriek ebbed in my throat as I realised that I had barely focused on the task but had ended up exactly where I thought I should be when I’d glimpsed that section of empty street. Perhaps my strange gift (I never could decide what I should call it) only worked properly when I was terrified. Moving through space wasn’t something I had even been able to control before. And right now, I wasn’t afraid to admit that I was absolutely, gut-wrenchingly, terrified.
Amazon UK Top 10 contemporary fantasy bestseller Amazon US Top 45 fantasy bestseller
Amazon US Top 50 contemporary fantasy bestseller
Hi, I’m Camilla and I’m the author of the Stella Mayweather Series, an urban fantasy/mystery. The series starts with Illicit Magic and a lonely young woman, Stella, who has been caught up in a terrifying witch hunt and is whisked thousands of miles away to what she thinks is safety to learn her craft. The series is a blend of magic, mystery and romance with a splash of humour – and while the girls really do go all out to save themselves, there’s always a hunky guy or two on hand to help them out. The series continues with Unruly Magic and Devious Magic, both out now.
I live in London, England, but I try to travel as often as I can – I’ve been all over the US and Europe. In my day job I’m a journalist and editor so I write for magazines, newspapers and websites throughout the world (my favourite assignment was spending a week riding rollercoasters – if you listen carefully you can probably still hear me screaming) but writing fiction has always been my first love.