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Story Behind the Story #37: Midnight Magic

Midnight MagicSometimes writers write just for the fun of it. Midnight Magic is me having fun with the idea of a ghost story. I had been reading some ghost stories, (I don’t recall which) and thought I’d play with some of the classic ghost story notions: A haunting, a magician, an ancient city. As for the ancient city, I had recently visited the fascinating city of Naples (the Italian one) and used its unusual placement—a steep hill—for the setting of the book.

As I may have said before, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in ghost stories. I have written a number of them, novels (Something Upstairs) and short stories such as Pets, about a ghostly cat. Most recently there was The School of the Dead, with its opening words. “The first time Uncle Charlie came to live with us, he was alive. The second time he came, he was dead.”

Midnight Magic is also a ghost story—but its core story is, Is there really a ghost? Ostensibly it is a work of historical fiction—Renaissance Italy—but has far less historical accuracy than my usual fare. Rather, it is more about superstition contending with rational thought. The rationalist, however, is the philosopher Mangus, who pretends to be a magician as a cover for his rationalist thinking. But he has a servant boy, Fabrizio, who ardently does believe in magic, and ghosts.

This dynamic (but contrasting) duo must discover whether a princess is being truly haunted by a ghost, or is she merely pretending to believe in the ghost so as to avoid an unwanted marriage? Mangus, who doesn’t believe in ghosts, must rid the princess of the ghost or he shall lose his life. Fabrizio is intent on finding that ghost so he can save his master.

If this sounds farcical, it’s meant to be. If it sounds like a mystery, it’s meant to be that, too. Is it a ghost story? Yes, in its own fashion. But at the core of the book is the boy, Fabrizio, his adventures and how he deals with his master, the magician who doesn’t believe in magic.

Who is right, man or boy? This is to say, does the ghost really exist?

You won’t find the ghost of an answer here. You’ll have to read the book.

1 thought on “Story Behind the Story #37: Midnight Magic”

  1. If so-called reality is a story we tell ourselves, than ghosts are real for the teller of ghost stories.
    So yes– they’re real, all right.

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