Jaye Wells

Category Archives: Dirty Magic

Prospero’s War on Sale!

Huge news! My publisher has slashed the price of the ebooks for Dirty Magic and Cursed Moon for a limited time. If you’ve already gotten your fix, spread the word to your friends!

About the Prospero’s War series:
The Prospero’s War series combines the gritty action of police procedurals with the speculative elements of urban fantasy. It’s a world where cops and wizards are fighting a war over addictive, dangerous, and illegal dirty magic. Some have described it as The Wire with wizards.

Book Sale Graphic- Dirty Magic & Cursed Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Dirty Magic on sale for just $2.99 now!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Buy Cursed Moon on sale for just $4.99 now!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Alchemy and The Prospero’s War Series

Even with all the blog posts I’ve written about the Prospero’s War series, it occurred to me this weekend I never wrote anything about the stages of alchemy. See, the magic in the series is loosely based on alchemy (called “bathtub alchemy” in the books). Loosely basing it gave me a lot of leeway, but I still had to do a ton of research into alchemy in order to make the magic believable. Unlike other forms of magic, alchemy has a long, documented history and, as a psuedo-science, has some basis in scientific fact versus more arcane or mystical magic systems.

Because I knew next to nothing about alchemy, I started with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy to become familiar with the basic concepts and nomenclature. I moved on to more esoteric texts after (see list below), but the most important book ended up being not about alchemy as a science, but alchemy as a metaphor.

See, the coolest thing about alchemy is it’s a multi-layered concept. On the surface it’s a pseudo-science used to turn lead into gold. But alchemists weren’t merely scientists, they were believers. Thus, alchemy has a rich symbolic language, i.e. the language of birds, and uses many archetypes and metaphors that use alchemical processes to explore the theme of human individuation. Enter: Anatomy of the Psyche by Edward Edinger.

Edinger was a psychiatrist who was a preeminent Jungian analyst who taught at the C. G. Jung Institute. In the book, he breaks down each of the major steps of alchemy through analysis of the prevailing archetypes and symbols associated with it and uses them to explore the symbolic meanings of myths and the dreams of his patients. Further, it used each stage to explore the idea of self individuation, which, if you’ve studied any Joseph Campbell (also a student of Jung) you know that myths are symbolic representations of the journey a human takes to evolve into their true self. It was reading this book that gave me the spark for one of the biggest ideas in the Prospero’s War series.

I decided to base each book in the series on a different alchemical process.

Doing this accomplished several goals at once. First, it provided me with a framework for each story because I’d have a preset list of symbols and themes to explore in each story. Second, it gave me a really nice progression of character growth for Kate. Third, it allowed me to do something I really enjoy, which is taking preexisting myths and symbols and twisting them in a new way.

A side note about alchemical processes: Depending on your source, there are anywhere from three to one hundred and nine (!) stages in alchemical transformation. In addition, depending on the source, the stages can occur in different orders. To simplify things, I chose a seven-stage formula because Edinger and several other alchemical sources identified them as the major stages.

Seven Stages of Alchemy (from Anatomy of the Psyche)

1. Calcinatio

2. Solutio

3. Caogulatio

4. Sublimatio

5. Mortificatio

6. Separatio

7. Conunctio

For a complete list of symbolic correspondences for each stage, click here.

While I used Edinger’s list of processes, I varied the order based on the progression I felt was best for the stories. Thus, Dirty Magic is based on Calcination and Cursed Moon (out Aug. 12) is based on Solutio, but Deadly Spells (out Feb. 2015) is based on Separatio.

Since CURSED MOON is the next book out, I thought I’d list the major theme words associated with the story. But first, here’s the book blurb:

When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magic Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon’s impact is especially strong for Kate, who’s wrestling with guilt over her use of illegal magic.

As I mentioned, Cursed Moon is based on the alchemical stage of Solutio.

Here is a list of words associated with the Solutio (also called the Dissolution) stage:

Water, Blue, white, Id, subconscious, emotional blockages, nightmares, moon, excess, greed, Dionysus, tears, intoxication, stalking, personal power, sexuality, sea.

Contained in that list is the plot for this book, as well as the key’s to understand Kate Prospero’s personal story arc for the novel. You might not knowing it from the list alone, but I guarantee if you read the book and then come back to read this post, you’ll have a major AHA moment.

Working with this sort of symbolic riddle for each book is really fun, and, I think, results in a really layered and rich story. If you’d like to learn more about alchemy as I’ve discussed it here, check out the following books and web sites.

Books:

  • Anatomy of the Psyche by Edward Edinger
  • Ego and Archetype by Edward Edinger
  • Real Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett
  • Spagyrics: The Alchemical Preparation of Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs by Manfred M. Junius
  • The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison
  • The Alchemist’s Handbook by Frater Albertus
  • The Path of Alchemy: Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic by Mark Stavish
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy by Dennis Hauck
  • The Alchemists’ Kitchen: Extraordinairy Potions and Curious Notions by Guy Ogilvy

Web sites:

On the Language of Birds 

AlchemyLab.com: Great resource for alchemical information, including the chart of correspondences for each stage listed in this post

Alchemical and Archaic Chemistry Terms: Huge glossary of nomenclature

The Chymistry of Isaac Newton: A University of Indiana at Bloomington project on the alchemical experiments of Sir Isaac Newton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Complex, But Simple

As you can probably tell from my recent blog silence, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Since my last update I’ve attended Phoenix Comicon, gone to PA for my MFA residency at Seton Hill, went on vacation to Asheville, NC, and revised a novel. Oh, and there’s been this little thing happening between my publisher and Amazon taking up a lot of my headspace.

There’s been a lot of ink and blood spilled over this feud, and I’m certainly not interested in adding to fire and brimstone tone. However, I do want to say this: Unlike most of the loudest voices in this debate, what’s happening directly affects my career. Cursed Moon comes out in less than four weeks, and it is not up for preorder on Amazon. This will hurt the book’s sales. It likely will hurt the series. It’s not fair, but there’s not much I can do about it except keep writing and hope that my readers will keep buying my books.

While some authors are calling for a boycott of Amazon, I feel this is a mistake. For one, I’d be a huge hypocrite if I did since I have books for sale there (including a few self-published titles), and I likely will continue doing business with them in the future. Business is complicated and sometimes the choices we’re offered aren’t ideal, but they’re the cards we’re dealt and we must play in order to stay in the game. Second, readers love Amazon. Authors love readers. Trying to alienate the people who buy our books from their favorite source of books is begging for a backlash. I get it: Amazon offers convenience and cheap books. They do lots of things right. So does Hachette, for that matter (I’ve written eight books with them for a reason).

This feud is just proof that the publishing business is a complicated one filled with complicated people. I wish there were easy answers (preferably ones that resulted in my receiving lots of awards and becoming a household name). But what I know for sure is that no middle man can destroy the bond that exists between storytellers and story lovers.  Yes, the business of writing is complex, but the reason we put up with it is simple: We love stories. Even if I have to sell books out of the back of a van down by the river, I will keep writing stories for you. That’s as close to a religion as I have.

I’m sorry that you can’t buy my books at Amazon if that’s your preferred retailer. However, there are lots of other retailers offering great discounts on my books, and I hope that you’ll buy them there instead of simply opting not to buy my books. But the choice really is yours.

Now, on to some more pleasant stuff. First, in anticipation of Cursed Moon’s release, Hachette is offering Dirty Magic for only $1.99 in all ebook formats. That’s almost 80% off the cover price, folks. You can also get the print book for a huge discount at several retailers (except Amazon, who is still carrying the book, but have opted to not discount Hachette backlist titles while this feud continues). So if you haven’t read Dirty Magic now would be a great time to snag a copy. If you have read it, it’s a great time to tell your friends to get in on the action.

Also, as I mentioned, Cursed Moon comes out on August 12. You can read the first chapter here.

 

Dirty Magic Press Links

DIRTY MAGIC COVER (1)

Dirty Magic is out! I’ve conducted a series of interviews and written guest blogs, and several new outlets and bloggers have also written features and reviews about the book. Below, you’ll find a handy list of links to all.  I’ll be updating it as more are posted.

BUY DIRTY MAGIC NOW:
Amazon | B&N | Apple | Indie Bound
Reviews

Special note: For the month of February, Mysterious Galaxy bookstores have chosen DIRTY MAGIC as the selection for the Fantastic Firsts book club. Sign up for the club and receive a 20% discount on this and all books selected for the program. More info here.

Library Journal: Starred Review, “[Dirty Magic] is grim, gritty, and completely fascinating.”

RT Book Reviews: 4.5 Stars,  Top Pick. “Wells works her own brand of magic by laying the foundation for a complex and gritty new mythos starring a damaged, yet resilient, heroine.”

Under the Covers Book Blog: 5 Feathers. “DIRTY MAGIC is a flat-out high-octane thrill ride in an alluring world. Kate Prospero will become a highly recognizable name in Urban Fantasy.”

The Barnes and Noble Book Blog: Most anticipated Sci-Fi and Fantasy releases of 2014

Interviews

The Big Thrill interview

Hide and Create Podcast Interview

Guest Blog Posts About Dirty Magic

Buzzfeed: 9 Crime Shows That Could Be Improved with Magic

Huffington Post: 8 Ways to Get a Fictional High

SF Signal: Bathtub Alchemy: Updating Established Magic Systems

Urban Fantasy Investigations: We Built this City on Dirty Magic

Paranormal Haven: Making Monsters

Fantasy Book Critic: Revisionist History

RT Book Reviews: The Left-Handed Path

Under the Covers Book Blog: Risky Research