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  • Writer's picturePortland Jones

Invasion: An Urban Fantasy

The Carolina Files Book 1 by Willa Blackmore

Tula is a witch. She does fun stuff with her powers and she ‘knows’ that she’s born to this but well, her mom hasn’t told her much about it and in fact has done a bunk and left Tula and her sisters to it. Yet the truth is that the place where they all live and work – the inn – has powerful magic built into it that prevents visitors using magic while they are on the premises. This makes it a safe place for magical folk of all types to be, not just the witches. There’s this and of course the scary old aunt – now she has real magic – but Tula and her sisters just breeze along in life having a laugh.

Tula does do a bit of grown-up stuff, helping out the local police with cases that have something a bit odd about them, supernatural stuff that can’t be explained away. One day an FBI agent turns up asking for her help. A young woman’s life is at risk, and the grim reaper waits for her in the shadows. This weird case is beyond Tula’s limited knowledge of magic. She is obliged to approach her feisty, short-tempered aunt for advice.

What follows is a dangerous mission for all concerned. The person at the root of the trouble has unleashed something more powerful than they know. Tula, her family, her home, and the local people are threatened. Can Tula get to the bottom of all this and make their world a safe place to be once again? Can she grow her magic in time to make a difference?

Tula and her sisters are not the earnest, principled, knowledgeable witches we sometimes come across in novels, nor the evil villain type seeking to bend others to their wishes. They are simply young women out for a good time, using what little magic they do have for fun. They bicker a lot as sisters sometimes do, yet they are there for each other when they’re needed, even if they don’t always manage to do the right thing.

It's a refreshing and fun read. I love Tula’s relationship with Victor the vampire – can a witch really fancy a vampire, and ew, give him some blood if he needs it? I love the way Tula is petrified of her aunt, although to be fair this irritable old aunt could well flick her fingers and kill you in temper.

The story is inventive, with great imagination in laying out the world Tula inhabits. You don’t see the plot twists coming, fooling you just when you think the end is in sight. I will certainly be looking out for the next instalment.

I asked the writer to tell us more about themself and their writing journey

I come from a family of avid readers, and learned to read at an early age. When I started school, even though we were always strapped for cash, my mother enrolled me in a children’s classics book club. Every month, a brand new book would come in the mail with my name on it. It was a huge thing for me. There were also weekly trips to the library. My whole world was reading, and I always knew that eventually I’d write.

I spent a lot of years writing freelance. Technical work that was rewarding in its way, but did little to scratch the creative itch. I wrote some fiction for my own amusement, but when I thought about agents, the publishing gatekeepers, the whole journey, it just seemed like a mountain that was impossible to climb. And the lack of control over my own fate was also something I didn’t like. Putting my work into the hands of others, trusting they’d know what to do with it, trusting they’d do a good job promoting it, I just couldn’t do it so never tried.

When the indie world opened to writers, it was like a siren’s call for me. Finally there was a way I could write, keep control of my work, and my success or failure would be at no one’s door but my own. Self-publishing is so much more than just writing. You have to wear a lot of different hats. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted!

Horror is my first love, and I have some works in progress that are nearly ready to publish. I’m really excited to put them out into the world soon, but right now, I’m finishing up a series - The Carolina Files - I wrote to test the water in the urban fantasy genre. I chose urban fantasy because it’s a fairly big tent, and I hoped that if my work trended into campy horror, it would still be accepted.

The Carolina Files was born out of a desire to create a series with the adventure of an urban fantasy, the suspense and darkness of horror, combined with the warmth and humor of a cozy. In these stories, I hope I've done that.

For now, the books are low on romance, though that could change later on. They are gritty and fun, and sometimes the characters use language that we'd scold our kids for using. But I try to bring in the real world, with real people, complete with all the ugliness and beauty that real people have. Sometimes that's not pretty, but it's always interesting, I hope.

In this series, I'm avoiding cliff-hangers, so each book completes an entire story arc, though there is a background overarching storyline that continues through all the books. Right now, I have ten books planned for the series.

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