I am so excited to welcome author Lee Welch to the blog today. Her new paranormal, historical M/M romance Salt Magic, Skin Magic is, as the French say, my newest coup de coeur. Not only is it an incredible twist on the usual country house drama, it deftly combines folklore, a novel magic system, and Victorian tropes into a book that I defy you to put down. Not to mention two protagonists that will make you swoon and break your heart. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the talented Ms. Welch had to say.
SK: What inspired you to write Salt Magic, Skin Magic?
LW: A folktale, but if I tell you which one, it’ll be a huge spoiler, so I’ll tell you a story instead…
Originally, I planned to write a completely different book. It was going to be set in a dystopian future Antarctica (not Victorian England). It was a M/M romance between a monk and a charismatic meat-smuggler (in this future world, eating meat is illegal). There was no magic, though there was some pretty cool technology.
I loved this idea so much I was scared I wouldn’t do it justice because I hadn’t written anything for years. So, I decided to come up with another idea “just to practice on” – and that idea was Salt Magic Skin Magic. The MCs – Soren and John – quickly asserted themselves on the page and I realized my “practice idea” was actually going to be heaps of fun to write and worth putting effort into.
SK: The magic system used in the book is very unique. I would never have thought to imbue everyday things like pins and bricks with magical properties. How did you devise it?
LW: Traditionally, magical objects are quite common – think about lucky horseshoes or four-leaved clovers; think chalk pentagrams and bowls of blood. So, it wasn’t too big a leap to imagine a magician who works with other everyday things.
Also, John’s an industrial magician. His type of magic is considered ‘rather common’. It’s looked down upon by elite magicians who are more likely to conjure demons. I wanted John’s methods to reflect this hierarchy. Most people are careless with everyday things; if they lose a pin, they don’t care because they don’t value it. Of course, John cherishing seemingly unimportant things is key to the plot.
SK: The world of the book is, in some ways, recognizable to fans of historical romance–the country house, the family hierarchy–but you turn a lot of that on its head by tying it in to local myths and folklore. What kind of research was involved in writing the book?
LW: I’ve had a lifetime of reading folklore. I didn’t have to research much of that.
What I did do was read LOTS and LOTS of Victorian history. I had to get the customs and everyday life right. I also had to know about the Crystal Palace and the people involved (such as Joseph Paxton and the Duke of Devonshire) because of course John would know them. It’s mainly backstory, but that kind of thing gives a book depth.
I also spent a lot of time checking etymology as I wrote to make sure I didn’t use any words or metaphors that wouldn’t have been used by people in 1851.
SK: At the heart of the book is the age-old push-pull of class differences. What’s the best thing, and the most challenging, about writing characters within these social restrictions?
LW: It was great fun writing characters from different classes because their experiences of life are so different. This means the metaphors that occur to them are different, their observations about life are different, and so on.
For example, Soren (an Oxford-educated aristocrat) sees a Savonnerie carpet and a rather fine painting by Lawrence. John (a magician and the son of an ironmonger) sees something he’ll need to roll back if he wants to put his salt down, and a picture of a beautiful woman.
SK: Like all the author interviews on the blog, I end with a fun question. Choosing from any of the characters in the published works you’ve written, with whom would you like to have a one-night stand, a long-term relationship, and an HEA?
LW: OMG! Do other authors really answer that question? My characters are taken (by each other). To imagine them with me feels absolutely transgressive. Soren would NEVER cheat on John. Or vice versa. Same with Alex and Joe in Mended with Gold. They’re together. They’re in love. To try to imagine myself having an HEA with Joe means that Alex would be alone somewhere. Alex would be sad. Oh, God, all the noes. I can’t contemplate it. I’m ignoring your question 😉
However, if I was to invite someone for dinner, I’d choose John from Salt Magic Skin Magic. He’s a spectacularly good listener and kind to hedgehogs (I like hedgehogs). We’d talk about magic, and life in Victorian London, and he could tell me what all my household objects are thinking.
Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.
When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are altered.
To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?
“Magic, folklore, dark deeds, and hot romance combine in this wildly enjoyable, inventive story set in a lovely alt-Victorian Gothic world. More please!”
—KJ Charles, RITA™-nominated author of THE MAGPIE LORD and SPECTRED ISLE
“Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch is the sort of book you want to read again the moment you reach the end. Beautifully written, with a romance that is by turns sweet and scorching, it belongs on the keeper shelf of any lover of paranormal historical.”
—Jordan L. Hawk, author of the WHYBORNE AND GRIFFIN and HEXWORLD series
Cover art: Simone: http://www.dreamarian.com/
All links: https://books2read.com/u/b5rXzO
Separate links (if preferred):
Lee Welch lives on a hill in the windiest city in the world – Wellington, New Zealand. She shares the house with her partner, two kids and two cats. Hedgehogs visit occasionally, which makes her happy. Lee wrote her first novel (an unpublished pastiche of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) when she was seven and has been writing on-and-off ever since. She studied ancient history at Auckland University and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.
By day, she works as an editor and business communications adviser for a large government department. By night, she writes mostly m/m romances, usually with magic in them. She likes crumbling mansions, cavernous libraries and most things with tentacles.
Website + newsletter sign up: www.leewelchwriter.com
Twitter: @leewelchwriter https://twitter.com/leewelchwriter
Thanks so much, Lee, and best of luck with the book!