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Thursday, February 1, 2024

Interview: Melissa Marr, author of Remedial Magic

 Interview: Melissa Marr, author of Remedial Magic

Buy Remedial Magic here

This title will be available via Bramble Romance from February 20, 2024. For a sneak peek, head here

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The Magicians meets One Last Stop in this brand-new fantasy romance Remedial Magic, about an unassuming librarian who 1) has fallen in love with a powerful witch; 2) has discovered that she is a witch; and 3) must attend magical community college to learn how to save her new world from complete destruction by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr!

Ellie loves working in her local library in the small town of Ligonier. She loves baking scones and investigating the mysterious and captivating in her spare time. And there is nothing more mysterious and captivating than the intriguingly beautiful, too properly dressed woman sipping tea in her library who has appeared as if out of nowhere. The pull between them is undeniable, and Ellie is not sure that she wants to resist.

Prospero, a powerful witch from the magical land of Crenshaw, is often accused of being… ruthless in her goals and ambitions. But she is driven to save her dying homeland, and a prophecy tells her that Ellie is the key. Unbeknownst to Ellie, her powers have not yet awakened. But all of that is about to change.


Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a mom (to 3 kids), wife (to Amber), & writer (of novels, picturebooks, and graphic novel). Sometimes I’m a teacher (in an MFA program periodically and previously English lit and language) and a photographer (my book Wild Horses is my photography of wild horses). I used to teach historical swordfighting for women, and I have books in ~30 languages and hit a bunch of bestseller lists.

Could you describe your book, REMEDIAL MAGIC, in three adjectives, and then in three sentences? What readers would you pitch the book to?

Quirky LGBTQIAP+ romantasy.

Sentences. Hmm. This book was Pandemic Me thinking about the magic (medicine) I take to keep my various organs functional... and pondering love... and academia... and safe little villages in the woods. It’s a fantasy romance set in a make-believe village.

As to readers I’d pitch, I suspect I think they are people who would like to escape our world to a place where there were solvable problems (the pollution in Crenshaw), but who admitted that magic couldn’t fix everything. I would approach readers who might find themselves interested in a dangerous lesbian in smart suits with questionable morals.

Your book is queernorm. Can you tell us about the elements in the worldbuilding that contribute to this?

Honestly, I just think that if folks lived long lives in a tight community, they’d be more accepting of our wondrous variety. I consciously populated the magical world with varying races, creeds, and LGBTQIAP+ people. If we took away the dominant society we know today where power is tied to the historical “haves” of specific gender/race/creed, what could we focus on instead? Obviously, the world still has issues, but without the hate, I think even worlds with poisoned earth are superior.

Let’s talk about the setting. What readers is this perfect for?

I don’t think “perfect” is possible, but I would hope that it’s a fit for those who are a little more cottagecore but with an edge. Maybe wearing docs or leather jackets with floral skirts and scarves? Maybe those who enjoy wandering off the path?

When I read a book, I always think of it as the author putting something of themselves in each character, in varying degrees. Can you tell us about how you relate to the ones in your book?

Ha! I know I put part of me in every book. In college, my job was researching esoteric topics. I lived in the library. Ellie gets that. Motherhood is critical to me, to the point of my moral compass is entirely “how will this impact my kids?”. Mags gets that. I think about ethics constantly and where I stand on topics. That trait goes to Dan. I am ruthless unless tempered by outside forces. That aspect goes to Prospero.

Growing up, I always thought it would be super fun working as a librarian. I would be able to chat with people about books, read for work, and collect books in nice little piles and catalogue them. What would present me be shocked to find out about the library/librarian protagonist in this book? And what parts of them in the book would I love to experience?

Ellie is a research librarian, and that could be a result of my own interactions with librarians. I have presented so many random “I need info on ___” questions, and some librarians just know. They march through stacks to whatever I needed, and honestly, that feels like magic. As an academic, a mom, and writer, I’ve always felt like librarians are sorta my version of religious figures. They can get me the knowledge, the wisdoms, or the tickets to other worlds. So to me, the logical career for a magical woman is librarian. I never considered any other identity for Ellie.

There are prophecies innumerable in fantasy books. How did you ensure the one in REMEDIAL MAGIC would be different from the others?

The prophecy exists as a “set this in motion,” but I believe in volition above all else. The prophecy exists, but does not define Ellie. Her freewill and ferocity do.

Before we wrap this up, let's talk about you as a reader. What books are you drawn to, and what genres do you read the most?

I read incessantly. Nonfiction, romance, and fantasy are my most read. I was a lit major, so I definitely still consume classics and modern literature. Then the third most read group is mystery, thriller, horror, and children’s fiction. In fairness, I likely start 12 books for every book I finish. If I’m not captivated, I swap out. Often I go back 2-3 times before declaring a book a pass. I just . . . like to learn and experience, so most genres are fair game.

What do you enjoy reading the most, and what books would you recommend to readers who are looking forward to this one (or, to those who loved it?)

I didn’t find a book like this, and it was what I wanted to read, so I wrote it. There are lots of great witchy books and queer fiction (thankfully) these days, but I haven’t been reading much in witchy/fantasy because I was writing these. I don’t read readalikes when writing any genre. The closest recommendation I have is if you like Prospero, check out Gentleman Jack. I read her diary a lifetime ago, and I’m visiting Shibden Hall this year. I have only seen a few episodes but... I feel like she and Prospero have some traits in common.

In closing, do you have any parting thoughts for our readers?

Thank you for giving me a few moments of your time, and if you want the lesbian romance (but hella spicy) without the fantasy, I have two lesbian romance novels upcoming. The first is complete, sold, and awaiting revisions, and the second is what I’m writing currently.



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