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The Vanishing Trick by Jenni Spangler ~ Author Interview and Giveaway

Posted on February 12, 2020, tagged as Author Interview, Jenni Spangler, The Vanishing Trick

One of the loveliest things about being an author is that I often get asked to review books, especially those of debut writers. Just before Christmas my publisher sent me a manuscript they thought I’d like, and from the moment I read the first sentence I knew it was special. If you like my books, I really think you’ll enjoy this, too. It’s called The Vanishing Trick, by Jenni Spangler, and not only did Jenni kindly answer some questions about the book for me here, I’ve also got a limited edition proof copy to give away to one lucky reader. Here’s what it’s about:

Step into a world of secrets, folklore and illusions, where nothing is as it seems and magic is at play…

Madame Augustina Pinchbeck, travels the country conjuring the spirits of dearly departed loved ones… for a price. Whilst her ability to contact ghosts is a game of smoke and mirrors, there is real magic behind her tricks too – if you know where to look.

Through a magical trade, she persuades children to part with precious objects, promising to use her powers to help them. But Pinchbeck is a deceiver, instead turning their items into enchanted Cabinets that bind the children to her and into which she can vanish and summon them at will.

When Pinchbeck captures orphan Leander, events are set into motion that see him and his new friends Charlotte and Felix, in a race against time to break Pinchbeck’s spell, before one of them vanishes forever…

Q&A with Jenni

1. How long did it take you to write The Vanishing Trick, and what was your journey to being a published author like?

I started it nearly eight years ago! But there were long stretches in there where I did no writing at all due to multiple jobs, babies, studying etc. I think compared to some of my friends I’ve had it easy! I’m lucky to have a supportive family behind me who took me seriously when I said I was going to be a writer and helped me find the time and space to write.

What made the biggest difference to my writing was connecting with other writers who pushed me to improve. In particular, wonderful E.L. Norry who has been reading and critiquing my work for years, and lovely Lindsay Galvin who mentored me through #writementor in 2018. Without the two of them believing in me and holding me to high standards, I’d never have found my fantastic agent and earned a publishing deal.

2. As much as I enjoy fictional settings, I always love it when the real world creeps in and I was delighted to see Stafford and Coven mentioned (I used to live in Stafford and took the bus through Coven to uni)! What made you decide to weave these places into your story?

Like you, I love a mix of real-world and magic! It makes it feel like any of us could stumble on magic some day. I moved to Staffordshire about the time I began writing this book, and there’s something magical in the air here. We’ve got the pottery factories where poor workers lived short, hard lives, and huge manor houses where rich people lived in luxury. I wanted to explore that contrast, which is where the idea came from for Leander, penniless and alone, secretly living in a forgotten room in a grand stately home. I’m sure I’ll come back to Staffordshire as a setting for future stories, too.

3. Where and when do you write?

Whenever I can squeeze it in! I do have a little desk but I’ll just as often write in bed, in a café, or at work – wherever I can get ten minutes of quiet.

4. There are mystical themes of fairies, folklore and the tarot in your book. Are you a believer or do you see these things as story fodder only?

I don’t believe that fairies or fortune-telling are literally true. But I do think there’s a kind of magic that comes from sharing stories, and these folk-tales and beliefs are stories we’ve been telling for thousands of years. There’s something irresistible about them! I love to learn about local legends and superstitions, and including them in the book felt like keeping them alive and continuing them in my own way.

5. Have you ever had your fortune told?

Yes. When I was about 15 I tagged along with some of my mum’s friends to see a medium and fortune teller. The woman gifted me a set of tarot cards, told me I had ‘the gift’. Even at that age I was a sceptic, but it did make me feel pretty special and I still have the cards. No psychic visions so far! I must be a late bloomer…

6. Do you plan your stories or go with the flow?

I’m a planner. I’ve tried going with the flow but I just tie myself in knots.

7. Do you have another job, besides writing?

Yes, I’m the site manager for a scrap yard. It’s not glamorous! I’ve also been a drama teacher, police dispatcher and 999 operator. Like a lot of writers, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t give up on a dream because it will be hard work, or take a long time. Time passes no matter what, and five years from now you’ll wish that you started work today.

9. Did the title of your book ever change, or was it The Vanishing Trick from the start?

The original title is spoilery, so I won’t say what it was. When I submitted it to my agent I renamed it ‘The Orphan Thief’, then we brainstormed together to come up with the current title, which is definitely the best of the three.

10. What are you working on now?

My next book is another magical middle grade book about a real inventor from the 1840s named Joseph Faber. He created a machine called ‘Euphonia’ which could mimic human speech – an amazing achievement for his day. Unfortunately, audiences hated it because it was so creepy and scary! In my story, Faber has a secret – the machine speaks the future, telling him of terrible tragedies he can never avert. When his new assistant, plucky 12-year-old stagehand Hannah Rabbit, learns about this, she sets out to solve the mystery of Euphonia and prevent the prophecies coming true. I’m really excited about it – it’s another chance to mix up real places and history with magic. I hope readers will love fearless Hannah and her determination to do the right thing.

Quick fire questions:

Book or Kindle? Book
Tea or coffee? Tea
Cats or dogs? Cats
Beach holiday or city break? City break. I sunburn too easily for the beach.
What’s your current ring tone? Just the default one – boring!
Would you rather have a fox’s ears or a squirrel’s tail? Fox ears – it’s hard enough finding jeans that fit already.
Would you rather spend one night locked in a witchcraft museum or one night camping in the woods? Witchcraft museum please! Sounds great!

Thank you so much, Jenni, for answering my questions and providing such a fascinating insight into your book. You can read my review here.

The Vanishing Trick is published by Simon & Schuster UK on April 30th, 2020. Pre-order here.

I have one proof copy to be won. To enter, leave a comment below. Closes midnight (GMT) February 29th 2020. Winner will be announced here and notified by email soon after the closing date. UK only.


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