Monday, September 23, 2013


With YA authors Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, and Rachel Caine
Monday, October 14, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Brookfield Square Mall Barnes & Noble
95 N Moorland Rd C1, Brookfield, WI 53005

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Magical Cleveland

My first published novels were the Heir Chronicles (2006-2008) a contemporary fantasy trilogy set in the fictional college town of Trinity, OH.
The Enchanter Heir,(Hyperion, 10.1.13) is the first of two companion novels to the Heir series. Here, the action moves from the small-town sanctuary of Trinity to the big city—into the gritty industrial landscape of Cleveland. 
Cleveland’s industrial heart is a spectacular setting for an urban fantasy. The Cuyahoga River bottoms known as the Flats are forested with the iron skeletons of bridges: lift bridges, swing bridges, railroad and road bridges.
lndustrial buildings line the pitted streets—marine businesses and factories alternating with shuttered clubs and waterfront bars. Lake freighters shoulder their way up the crooked river to unload cargo at the Port of Cleveland.
This is a place where the lurid flare of steel mills still light up the night. Despite the encroachment of residential lofts, condo conversions, and craft breweries, it is still a place where longshoremen move cargo, steel is forged, and people actually make things.  
Much of the entertainment action has moved up the hill into the Warehouse District, the oldest neighborhood in Cleveland, one that is being reborn as a residential district. Here, bars, music clubs, and restaurants hum with activity nearly every night.
This is, after all, the birthplace of rock n roll.
When you write novels set in real places, it requires a bit of research. If you get things wrong, you get emails.
Excuse me, but actually XYZ bar is on the east side of the river, not the west, and so in that scene where the zombies are chasing Fitch and Jonah, they couldn’t possibly have…
You get the idea.
To prepare for the gig, I took one of the Take A Hike walking tours of the Warehouse District offered by Gateway Cleveland Afterward, I walked around the Flats, soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of the waterfront.
A bridge tender called down from her cabin to ask what we were up to, skulking around, taking photographs of the workings of her bridge.  “I’m a writer,” I said. “There’s going to be a battle on top of your bridge.”
“For real?” she said.
Soon after, we heard the clamor of the bridge alarm. The bridge deck rose, and a lake freighter squeezed through.

Where Magic Happens in CLE
Some Cleveland Locations in The Enchanter Heir
 The Anchorage: the “special school” established for Thorn Hill survivors, and underwritten by music promoter Gabriel Mandrake, who also happens to be a sorcerer. Also the headquarters of Nightshade, a team of assassins who hunt the undead; housed in several buildings somewhere in the Warehouse District
The Keep: Mandrake’s nightclub, adjacent to The Anchorage; a showcase for touring bands and up and coming local talent; somewhere in the Warehouse District
The Carter Rd. Lift Bridge: where Jonah encounters shades behaving badly; Cleveland Flats
B&O Terminal
Carter Rd Lift Bridge
The B&O Railroad Terminal: a secret meeting is held in a location modeled after this shuttered terminal on Sherwin-Williams property (Cleveland Flats)
Detroit-Superior Bridge: Jonah Kinlock uses the closed trolley level to travel across the river valley undetected
Settler’s Landing Park: often used as a meeting place on neutral ground

For more information about the characters and events in The Enchanter Heir, visit my website here, or read about it here and here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Home of the Blues

The Enchanter Heir: 
Soundtrack of the Blues

“… the twisty narrative works, propelled by the deft characterizations of tortured, frustrated, desperate Jonah and fierce, feral, determined Emma and held together by the ubiquitous soundtrack of the blues, both literally and metaphorically.”
Kirkus Reviews, The Enchanter Heir
When I was in my teens, I was the lead singer and the least-skilled guitarist in a couple of bands. We sang the songs of the mid-century folk revival; songs that told stories, including traditional ballads, and rock and roll that could be adaptable to our acoustic stylings. I even tried my hand at song-writing, but always felt more comfortable as a lyricist than a composer. Though I wouldn’t call myself a musician, music has always been important to me.
Maybe because I’m a storyteller, I’m especially smitten by the people’s music—the folk and blues and country and gospel music that entwines with people’s lives, telling their stories when no one else will. It’s the music that was carried from town to town by the traveling minstrels of the old world. It’s a music that has stirred passions and sent men to war and soothed the widows and orphans left behind. It rises from cotton fields and country churches and after-hours clubs in the grittier parts of Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis, and Detroit.

The blues tells the sad stories of the working class—of mistakes made, of jobs lost, brushes with the law, and the good dying young. The stories are stuffed full of murders, betrayals, devil’s bargains, and lovers who just won’t be true.

This music is always on the move--changing and evolving as it gets passed from hand to hand. It is imperfect and unproduced—vetted only by the test of time. It persists only because it speaks the kind of truth that grabs the heart and won’t let go.
The power of music is an important theme in The Enchanter Heir. Jonah Kinlock is a survivor, left so damaged by a magical accident  that the only way he can connect with others is through music—through his guitar and his intoxicating voice.
Emma Greenwood is a musical prodigy; an unschooled wild-child raised in Memphis by a grandfather who builds guitars and channels the blues. It is music that brings Emma and Jonah  together—and a shared history that threatens to tear them apart.

Many of the chapter titles are the names of blues songs. Maybe some are already familiar to you. If you want to hear more, you’ll find my Enchanter Heir playlist here on Spotify


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Enchanter Heir

When my sons were thirteen and sixteen, I began writing a fantasy novel for teens. We all loved reading fantasy fiction, and I thought it would be cool to write something they would enjoy reading. The story focused on Jack Swift, a midwestern high school student who discovers he’s among the last of a guild of magical warriors. Jack’s being hunted by wizards to play in a magical tournament known as the Game—a fight to the death.  I called it The Warrior Heir.
After four years of revision, and lots more writing practice, The Warrior Heir sold, and then the companion novel, The Wizard Heir, and finally The Dragon Heir, which brought the previous stories together and tied them off neatly.
We called the trio The Heir Chronicles. I then moved on to another teen series, the Seven Realms.
 I have been so fortunate. Both of my series have been New York Times bestsellers. The Heir Chronicles have continued to find new readers, seven years after the first book was published. Readers (and my publisher) have been asking whether I might consider writing more stories about the warring magical guilds known as the Weir. 
 I was wary. I hate it when I suspect that an author is stretching the equivalent of five stories into ten books with ten advances. I would much rather leave readers wanting more than fading away when they realize they have totally been there and done that too many times.
Readers move on. Writers do, too. I’m not the same writer I was in 2008, when the last of the Heir novels was published. I’ve changed—improved, I hope, but I worried that the reader looking for the exact same reading experience may be disappointed. 
Could I really go home again? And, yet, I knew there were more stories to tell in that world. And so, I agreed to write two more Heir novels.
How hard could it be? I thought. I have my magical system, I have my world, and all I have to do is get the old band of characters back together.
I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
First of all, I had to find a way to pick apart the tidy ending I’d crafted and get my characters in trouble again.  
Secondly, I found myself trying to write amid the din of a thousand voices in my head. Over the past seven years, I’ve received lots of feedback from editors, readers and reviewers. No writer can satisfy everyone, and readers often disagree. You know this, if you’ve ever read a series of reviews of a book on Goodreads or Amazon. One reader says a novel is slow-paced, another says it’s rushed. One says there’s too much info in the first chapters, another says there should have been more up-front world-building. One reader loves a character, another finds her annoying.
Plus, once the new books were announced, readers weighed in.  I hope you’re planning to give Linda and Leander more stage time, one wrote. You neglected them in your last book.  Or, I hope you’re planning to bring _____ back to life. He was the best character ever until you killed him off.
Meanwhile I was hearing from Seven Realms fans demanding to know why I wasn’t writing more fantasy in that world.
I had my own goals as well. I wanted to write a twinset of stories that a brand new reader could pick up and read without confusion. Stories that could stand alone, but would be a satisfying read for fans of the first three novels.
My readers know that I love to tell a story from different perspectives, because the truth often lies somewhere in between. I began asking the what-if questions.
What if some members of the “underguilds” decided to win the ongoing battle against the oppressive wizard guilds once and for all? Could there be a scenario in which wizards are actually the victims? Where genetic engineering and magic collide to create a whole new set of conflicts and unanticipated consequences?
Of course there could.
And so I did what I’ve done before: I brought new characters onstage, while giving familiar characters some stage time, too. In honor of the new novels, my publisher has refreshed the covers of the original three books and designed a fantastic cover for The Enchanter Heir.
Perhaps you can go home again.

The Enchanter Heir debuts October 1, 2013, with The Sorcerer Heir to follow. Read more about it at For updates and other news, visit my Facebook page here: or follow me on Twitter @cindachima . Stay tuned for the release of a free short story linking the redux to the first three novels, and featuring one of my favorite characters, the wizard Leesha Middleton.