My Question was; What inspired this story? (Below you will find Sasha’s answer).
A Wicked Magic is a story about friendship, where there’s also magic. The inspiration for it wasn’t witches or spells or anything fantasy. It was an idea about two girls who were best friends and didn’t realize that friendship was toxic.
The relationship at the center of most young adult novels is a romantic one—which can be totally great! But it usually means that the romantic relationship is the source of all the drama, the emotional growth, the heartbreak. The main character’s friendships end up second fiddle, with the best friend encouraging the main character to go after what they want. The best friend isn’t the source of friction and tension; they’re there for loving support.
The reality is often a lot messier. When I was in high school, whatever tepid drama boyfriends and girlfriends created absolutely paled in comparison to the emotional wreckage that the friendships of teenage girls could cause. That’s what I wanted to explore with Dan and Liss.
The particular incident that brings their friendship crashing down is actually ripped from the headlines of my own life. That incident is the girls’ disagreement over Johnny, who Liss begins dating after Dan has her first kiss with him. When I was in high school, my best friend really did start dating the boy who had been my first kiss a few weeks before. For some reason, that didn’t particularly bother me that much—certainly not in the way that teen dramas would have represented it as a friendship-ending betrayal. But months later, when our friendship fell apart, it stood out to me as a textbook Bad Friend thing to do. Why hadn’t I seen that at the time?
That’s a dynamic that A Wicked Magic explores with Dan and Liss. Cowed by undiagnosed depression, Dan is listless and afraid to speak her mind, but she loves being friends with Liss, who’s charismatic, insistent, and full of ideas. But Dan finds Liss is impossible to say no to, which increasingly leads her to resent Liss, and that gets them both into big trouble.
The magical elements of the story evolved from there. The Black Book, which gives the girls their witchy powers, often operates as a symbol of their messed-up friendship, the closeness that they once shared that led them to hurt each other, and the past that they haven’t dealt with.
I realized that instead of having Johnny play the role of a romantic interest causing the girls strife, I needed him out of the action entirely while the girls figured out their problems. In fact, he spends most of the book imprisoned by a demon, while the girls struggle to rescue him—turning the fairy tale trope on its head, he’s the prince in a tower who needs saving. That gave me the overall arc of the plot: Estranged friends Dan and Liss must overcome their issues to save Johnny from the clutches of a demon.
I hope A Wicked Magic has enough creepy, witchy twists and turns to satisfy contemporary fantasy fans, but for me, the heart of the story has always been the connection between Dan and Liss, and a friendship that had the power to delight and destroy them.
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