Bestselling author Charles Bastille chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about his new novel “MagicLand.”
Bastille wrote and self-published his first major works when he was in sixth grade. Using notebook paper, he created palm-sized comic booklets, ‘The Adventures of Dr. Maums’, which circulated around several classrooms. He has been writing fiction ever since. Most of his fiction has been stored away, as he worked day jobs, first in the advertising industry as a creative director and later as a software engineer.
He has published several software development books for publishers such as Sybex, IDG, and Wiley and was a co-author of the industry classic HTML, XHTML, and CSS Bible. MagicLand is Charles’ debut novel. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Synopsis of book
When a young actor from Gath, Belex, crash lands outside the magic land known as Moria, he’s rescued by a young Morian priestess in waiting, Aurilena. The two find themselves drawn impossibly towards each other in the midst of a war between two distinct species of humanoids: her people, the magicians of Moria, and his people, the Gath, whose tremendous intellectual and physical capabilities are programmed into their DNA.
Together, the two discover a terrible secret that lies at the heart of the centuries-old conflict between MagicLand and Gath. It’s a secret that leads to a kiss that could end the war once and for all. The only question is will it end in brutal violence or give way to an improbable peace between implacable enemies? The answer to that question may depend on whether Aurilena can discover the true source of power behind her unique gifts before it’s too late.
‘Magicland’ is a very dynamic read, and has captured the attention of both readers and reviewers. What inspired you to write this book?
Reading Ray Kurtzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near. In that book, he expounds on the likelihood that machines will become smarter than us and probably sentient, probably in most people’s lifetimes. The book also states that we humans will adopt enough cybernetic features that we will become almost a new species of humans. I immediately began to wonder what it might look like if there was resistance to that on a very visceral level. Especially if only a small segment of people can afford such “augmentation,” as it is called in MagicLand. What if only the one percent can afford these kinds of enhancements?
So I fast-forwarded 2,000 years after centuries of conflict that rages to a point where humanity has split into two. Those who resist augmentation eventually tap into their inner magician and evolve into a people with magical powers, and the other split is a purely techno breed of people. And then of course I wondered how it would look if two young people from each species met and fell in love. Sort of Romeo and Juliet meets Terminator meets Harry Potter.
The backdrop is kind of grim, but the story itself is a positive one.
A good story is all about the setting, the descriptiveness, and the raw energy that captivates, all coming together to have the reader turning the pages effortlessly. ‘Magicland’ includes all of them, what is one of the keys that you find critical when getting into the writing zone?
Well for me the writing happens when the characters take over. The scene of the two lovebirds in Gath just happened. I almost didn’t write it, she (Aurilena, the main character) did. I just reported on the goings on.
While writing this book did you learn anything new about yourself?
I sometimes feel a sadness of knowing, as an older man, that the days of young, romantic love are long behind me. There’s an excitement to it that I miss, that initial burning of the heart. I realized I can live vicariously through my characters.
The characters in ‘Magicland’ are extremely engaging and intriguing. What is one of the keys to developing your characters?
As I mentioned, my writing feels best to me when my characters take over. I had an outline for this novel but I veered away from it because the characters made unexpected decisions, and sometimes an event transpired in a surprising way.
Speaking of characters, if you could meet any of the characters in your book, which one would it be, and why?
Hilkiah. The aged, wise sage who can balance the various forces that act on the charaters’ lives. He is the ballast for the youthful characters who want to react to everything rashly.
‘Magicland’ has been so successful I’m sure fans want to know what is next from you. Do you have another book in the works you can tell us about?
I’ve got two projects under development.
I’m about 3/4 done with Restive Souls. It’s an alternative history novel in which the colonials lose the Revolutionary War and a massive slave rebellion, under the winking eye of the British, results in slaves taking several important Eastern Coast ports — since they were the ones working them. The ultimate result is that a great African empire rises in the Carolinas and becomes a dominant world power. This will be a three-part trilogy. The first book covers the colonial rebellion and its aftermath. Sort of a Ken Follett meets Black Panther type of thing.
The second project is the follow-up to MagicLand, with a working title of Maoch’s Realm. It’s a bit grittier than MagicLand, which is this sort of sweet tale about a young couple in love within a dystopian existence.
“MagicLand: A Novel” is available on Amazon.