Brad Abraham’s debut novel Magicians Impossible is making a splash in the SFF community, having just been published by Thomas Dunne Books, and I’m super excited to have Brad visiting today. If you missed my review, you can catch it here. He’s also kindly offering a signed copy of Magicians Impossible, so stick around for the giveaway at the end of the post!
Please welcome Brad to the blog!
Let’s start with an easy question. Tell us a little about yourself!
Let’s see. I was born and raised in Canada, but have made my home in NYC for nearly ten years. I’ve been a writer for closer to twenty, beginning as a screenwriter, and from there moving into comics, and now novels. I was also a print journalist for about ten or so years, and my work appeared in such publications as Rue Morgue, Fangoria, Starburst, and Dreamwatch.
That’s quite the variety of writing projects! How was writing a novel different from those formats?
The biggest difference, for me anyway, was the tools at my disposal. Screenplays are very visual – you’re essentially presenting people with a detailed set of directions – what the action is, what the characters say – and that requires a very specific skill set. I like to think of the writer’s toolbox or workbench, and with a screenplay you’re using your basic hammer and screwdriver and wrench. With a novel, though, you need to engage all five senses, as opposed to film or TV where it’s basically just “what do we see, what do we hear.” That was the bigger challenge; using those tools I didn’t get a chance to use in screenwriting. Despite being a screenwriter, I wanted to write a Novel, full stop; not a novel I was hoping to turn into a movie or TV series.
Magicians Impossible has some fantastic action sequences. Do you think your experience writing screenplays helped you with these cinematic moments?
Definitely, though to be quite honest, I think my experience in screenwriting most helped with structuring the novel, and with finding ways to fix it especially after the first draft. My first draft was something of an unwieldy beast; lots of subplots, lots of different POVs. What a lot of readers probably don’t realize is when you sign a contract with a publisher, they’ll stipulate you deliver them something within a certain range of words. Mine was for a book between 80 and 100 thousand words, and my first draft was 125 thousand. So I needed to edit. But for me, writing is editing, and the first draft is just this big chunk of raw material you have to chisel away at. What screenwriting taught me was how to make those hard decisions, to strip away the non-essential subplots and focus on the main story, on the main character Jason Bishop, and his journey. While I definitely had to cut stuff I liked, I needed to make sure I was writing in the book’s best interests, not in satisfying my own ego.
Let’s talk about influences. Magicians Impossible has elements of James Bond and other spy stories (I mean, check out the title! Which is a fantastic title, by the way). What are some books or movies that inspired you?
The books that inspired me weren’t so much specific books as they were a certain type. You know the ones; the ones where the pages seem to turn themselves and you have to pace yourself because you don’t want to race through it and finish it and be done with it. The ones where you want to stay in that world as long as possible. I wanted to write a book like that. When I can think of titles along those lines World War Z springs to mind, as does a great twisty Norwegian thriller called Headhunters which was a big inspiration for Magicians Impossible, at least as far as its many twists are concerned. I like books that surprise me; the ones where I think I’m getting one thing but get that and a lot more.
One of my favorite characters was Allegra, but I really wanted to get to know her better. Do you have any plans on writing a sequel?
Allegra is one of my favorites too, and originally she had a bigger role in Magicians Impossible, but for reasons stated I needed to scale a lot of that back. If there is a sequel, or sequels to Magicians Impossible you can expect a much greater role for her. In the overall story I’ve outlined she’s probably the most important character, after Jason, and her journey is far from over. As to whether or not there’ll be a sequel all depends on how this book is received. If there’s enough demand for more stories in the Magicians Impossible world we’ll definitely see them. So much of the decision is financial; if the book sells well enough there’s a good chance we’ll see more, but a lot of people have said they want more stories so we’ll see.
Your bio makes you sound incredibly busy, with so many writing projects! What do you do in your spare time to unwind?
I love to travel, both for the pleasure of it, but also for the way it refills the creative tank. The central portion of Magicians Impossible is set in Paris, which I visited in 2011, well before Magicians was even an idea. But I had the experience of visiting the Louvre and the Catacombs and Montmartre Cemetery – all of which feature in the book – and banked those experiences because I knew someday I could set a story in Paris; I just needed a story! But now that Magicians is finished I need to do some more travelling to gather some more ideas. I visited Scandinavia in 2014 so maybe a sequel can be partially set in Copenhagen or Oslo. I really want to visit Italy also because I have a big interest in Renaissance art. You’ll find me skulking around art galleries and museums on my downtime, as well as reading, watching movies, and doing family stuff.
Among your credits are writing for such publications as Fangoria, which is pretty hard-core horror. Do you think you’ll ever write a horror novel? (Please say yes!)
Yes! Actually, the book I’m writing right now is horror. It’s another mashup like Magicians Impossible only this is more The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. To call it a mashup is a bit of a cheat though; so many great horror movies and stories feature teenagers battling evil so it’s really its own thing. But its lineage is both in the books and movies I enjoyed as a teenager, as well as some of my own experiences growing up. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the first draft and have been having a lot of fun writing it. Now all it needs is a title as clever as Magicians Impossible was.
That is FANTASTIC news:-D Please tell us three things about you that can’t be found on the internet.
- My left leg is slightly shorter than my right, owing to a ski accident years ago.
- I made my first movie – a Super-8 stop-motion Star Wars one – at age 7.
- Michael Madsen once played me in a movie. It’s true; look it up. (I did, and it’s true!)
Thanks so much, Brad, it’s been fun!
About the author:
BRAD ABRAHAM is the author of Magicians Impossible (Thomas Dunne Books, September, 2017), creator of the Mixtape comic book series (Space Goat Productions), screenwriter of the films Fresh Meat and Stonehenge Apocalypse, writer on the television series Canada Crew, Now You Know, I Love Mummy, and Robocop Prime Directives, and a journalist whose work has appeared in Rue Morgue, Dreamwatch, Starburst, and Fangoria.