Welcome to Shelfbuzz, CJ. Shortly after we launched the very first Shelfbuzz Book Club back in December, our readers wrote in with suggestions of authors to interview and you were at the top of the list. We’re very excited to discuss your novel The Last Necromancer. Tell us where the idea came from.
I wanted to write about a young woman living in Victorian London who grew up away from the restrictive social mores of the time.
Right from start The Last Necromancer presents us with a main character who isn’t what she seems. Give us the set-up.
Charlotte (Charlie) has been living on the London streets for five years as a boy, picking pockets to stay alive. At 13, her vicar father threw her out of the house when she raised her dead mother’s spirit and ever since then, she’s been hiding her true self from the world. Until she ends up in jail, surrounded by men, and needs to use her necromancy to get out. Exposing her paranormal “talent” after so many years of hiding leads others to seek her out and attempt to kidnap her. Some are good, others not so – and one man succeeds in capturing her. Charlie is resourceful, quick, smart and mouthy. She’s a free spirit who tells it like it is and doesn’t like to be bullied, and Lincoln is just as tough. It’s been fun watching the sparks fly between these two strong willed and emotionally damaged characters.
It sounds like the dynamic between Charlie and Lincoln is an important part of this story. How do their motivations differ?
Charlie is very clear about right and wrong, but Lincoln not so much. He’s been raised to succeed at all costs, and sometimes that means forcing others to do something they don’t wish to do. He needs to keep Charlie and her necromancy close, but her free spirit rebels against the stifling conditions of her capture and she wants to leave. To get her to stay, he contemplates employing tactics that are less than ethical.
You deliver a fast-paced novel with lots of romantic tension and fun paranormal elements, but there definitely is another layer there which adds resonance. Can you speak to that?
Trust is a big theme in this series. Charlie has been betrayed by the one person she trusted (her father) while Lincoln has never been close to anyone and so doesn’t know what trust involves. They must both learn to trust the other to survive and thrive.
Readers have also remarked that your depiction of Victorian London is very powerful.
Setting is very important for my novels, to the point where the city becomes another character. The house where Lincoln lives and takes the kidnapped Charlie is large and imposing but mostly empty, and there are some key scenes in the local cemetery too. Victorian London can be gloomy, moody, creepy and downright dangerous at times, and I try to convey it in its various guises as best as I can.
Did you do a lot of research to help bring it to life?
Yes. I did (and still do) lots of historical research, using both online resources and my own textbooks. It can be rewarding to learn about Victorian times, but hard too. Sometimes I get so distracted! I recently had to delve into the Barnum and Bailey circus performance that traveled to England for a brief time. It was incredibly interesting.
After readers finish The Last Necromancer, which novel of yours should they read next?
Book 2 in the Ministry of Curiosities series is titled Her Majesty’s Necromancer. There are currently four books in the series, with more to come.
Thank you very much, CJ.