Here at Geeks Of Doom, we love to interview folks of all walks of life. But few are as near and dear to us as internationally best-selling author Blake Northcott. As a matter of fact, she’s one of us from time to time! I have written several articles about her or her work, so I am more than familiar with everything she has accomplished. From her first book that I reviewed in 2011, Vs. Reality, to her more recent endeavors, such as writing Michael Turner’s Fathom, she has proven herself head and shoulders above the rest.
It is, therefore, my pleasure to be able to show you a bit about her and her newest book, The North Valley Grimoire! I was able to get a few answers (and a couple of evasions) from her that you might find interesting — I know I did. But then again, they were my questions, right? Check it all out here below and be sure to cruise over to her pages afterwards and preorder your copy!
Geeks Of Doom: First off, I’m excited as can be for this particular series. It’s a genre that is near and dear to my heart, namely contemporary magical fantasy. And I like the twist where the government is involved. Are there any particular authors or books that inspired this?
Blake Northcott: Wow, that’s a big question! I’d have to say Lev Grossman, who wrote The Magicians trilogy. He’s the guy who springs to mind. He took the concept of Harry Potter — kids attending a magical school — and put a fun R-rated twist on it. It was a blast and really outside the box. I wanted to do something along those lines, but strip away the magical school, and just make it a teen horror from the ’90s meets a government spy thriller.
Geeks Of Doom: How far of a leap is this away from the more dystopian stylings of your other bestselling books? Namely the more super-powered Arena Mode Saga and Vs. Reality.
Blake Northcott: When it comes right down to it, Spider-Man’s “With great power comes great responsibility” tagline is essentially the building blocks of my previous work, and in some ways I’m continuing that here. It has a very different flavor, but I explore the concept of magic as not just a force that can be used for good, but as a weapon, and the more people have access to it, the more dangerous the world becomes. It’s basically nuclear power: it can power a city or flatten it, depending on whose hands the power is in.
Geeks Of Doom: Obviously big government/brother plays a huge part here, but is this like a precursor to the worlds or concepts from other books you’ve written?
Blake Northcott: No, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite like this before. I always mention the government in some sense or another, because it’s inescapable. Any time superpowers or magic would be introduced into a world, the government would have a reaction to it! In the world of The North Valley Grimoire, people just don’t know that big brother is watching, and that if they expose themselves as magic users, their lives are in danger.
Geeks Of Doom: The blending of technology and magic (sorry, magick) can be tricky. Did you work out a new system or is it more fluid?
Blake Northcott: I’ve been working out the system for technoalchemy and my sigil-based magick system for almost three years now. I used everything from psychology to evolutionary biology to flesh it out.
Geeks Of Doom: The short piece I read gives me the impression that physics and math play a huge part in the magickal world here, right?
Blake Northcott: Yeah, there are hints of that, too. I reference the precision required to pull off more elaborate magick — the more physics-warping the spell, the more precision is required. It makes things like healing spells especially tricky. If you mess up trying to float a pillow, you might cause it to catch fire. You can pick up a new one at IKEA. If you try to heal a broken bone and you say the wrong word of Aramaic, you could catch your patient on fire.
Geeks Of Doom: And are there different types of magick? Has it evolved from “archaic” to more modern ways?
Blake Northcott: There are definitely different types, but I don’t want to give it all away here! But I will say that sigil magick, using ink or blood to trace a design, is the baseline. That’s what has been around since the dawn of time, and it has never changed, until just recently. The government is trying to fuse magic with technology for the first time, and let’s just say it’s not going according to plan.
Geeks Of Doom: Okay, I have to know. Some do and some don’t, but why magick with a k?
Blake Northcott: Because magic is pulling a rabbit out of a hat at a children’s birthday party. Magick is warping reality to your will.
Geeks Of Doom: You have not really drilled in on one type of protagonist, some are slackers and some are jocks. How do you decide what type of character to utilize as the main person in your stories?
Blake Northcott: That’s a great question. I really love all different types of protagonists, and I think by mixing up their personalities and traits, you get really interesting outcomes. The North Valley Grimoire splits it’s time between some kids who are on the brink of adulthood about to graduate high school, and a callous but bizarrely charming British agent named Malek who has been recruited by the U.S. government to take care of some business in North Valley.
Geeks Of Doom: Ummm, dubstep? C’mon, Jackson. But seriously, I love the fine points and details. There seem to be subtle shots at pop culture at times. Or am I imagining this?
Blake Northcott: I wrote a line about dubstep years ago in my first draft, and almost took it out when I heard them make a joke about it in Deadpool 2. Oh well. I thought of it first whether anyone believes me or not, so I left it in. And I’m always making jabs at pop culture, subtle or otherwise. It’s fun to make things familiar to the reader, but without breaking the tension or taking them out of the story. Some movies and TV shows still fall back on the character who just shouts, “Hey guys, remember Jaws? Remember the A-Team? Remember Terminator?” and chimes in with a reference every ten seconds. That has been done to death and can get annoying very quickly. I try to weave little bits of culture into the story, but only when it’s advancing the plot or giving an important detail.
Geeks Of Doom: Are you a fan of pineapple on pizza? Inquiring minds want to know.
Blake Northcott: No. Honestly I don’t like pineapple on pizza – I like veggies in general, but not fruits! My favorite toppings are bacon, pepperoni, fresh basil, and feta cheese!
Geeks Of Doom: I see the word tendrils and I automatically want there to be some Cthulhu-related monsters. Any chance of that?
Blake Northcott: That would be telling.
Geeks Of Doom: After creating some highly successful books, what made you take on a new sub-genre that was more fantasy based than previous ones? Obviously it is all a type of fantasy, but I see this as a more classic style with some horror elements, unless I am totally misreading it.
Blake Northcott: I just feel like I’ve said a lot of what I wanted to say about superheroes in capes and costumes. So many amazing stories have already been done, and it’s so hard to really put a wholly original spin on the genre. With magic realism there’s this amazing opportunity to cross genres and really do something outside the box. The idea excited me. If something doesn’t pique my interest, I don’t want to invest the time to develop it.
Geeks Of Doom: Will we be seeing any of the amazing art like in former books?
Blake Northcott: Yes! I will be incorporating artwork, and my goal is to make it a prestige book with illustrations throughout. I think this is going to be the best looking book I’ve ever produced, from the art to the formatting to the page headers — everything is stepping up this time.
Geeks Of Doom: You made a huge impact with Fathom, which I loved, by the way. How does it feel to have taken a spin with a Michael Turner (RIP) original? I have some thoughts that you could get a gig with Witchblade if you wanted to (please?).
Blake Northcott: Thank you. My run with Fathom was something I am very proud of. I had a fantastic team working with me, and it helped guide me through my first series. It’s strange to think that I’m in the history books, so to speak — if a meteor hit me right now and I accomplish nothing else, I’m the girl who got to write Michael Turner’s Fathom, and that volume is in the archives forever. It’s kind of surreal. And I’d definitely take a crack at Witchblade!
Geeks Of Doom: How about some freestyle from you? What are we going to see that you are most proud of, or love most, in this new tale? What time frame are we looking at and how many books are planned for this series?
Blake Northcott: I’m most proud of the fact that I challenged myself to do something new — I crossed genres in a way that I’ve never seen done before, at least that I know of, and I feel like I stuck the landing and did something a little special. I don’t want to set any limitations on this world. The story begins and ends, but the world is open for exploration. It could become a trilogy, or it might end up a six or seven book arc like the Harry Potter series, taking the characters from 18 and graduating high school, right through college and into their 30s before I wrap everything up. But for the first time my eyes are set firmly on Hollywood with this series. I’m already putting the wheels in motion, and I can definitely see The North Valley Grimoire as a TV series on a streaming service in the near future!