Hi peeps, we have T.J. Nichols popping in today with his upcoming release Warlock In Training, we have a brilliant guest post from T.J. and we have a great excerpt so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Warlock In Training
Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.
His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.
Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.
Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.
Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.
How (not) to world build by T.J. Nichols
When creating any fictional world you have to make up the rules about how the world operates. Some people build the world before they start writing, but I made it up as I went along. Which is fine for novellas, but then when Angus first appeared in my mind I never expected him to have such a big story.
Warlock in Training started out as a piece of flash fiction that I was having too much fun with to put aside. I had no plot and I made things up as I went. At first I didn’t even keep track of the world I was building, but as the word count grew I had to start writing down key pieces of information so I didn’t contradict myself.
Somewhere along the way I decided that magic flowed between the demon world and our world, and naturally flowed from areas of high magic to low magic. This made total sense…except if magic is a thing that can’t be created or destroyed how does it get back to the high magic demon world and what happens when everything gets out of whack?
I threw in an impending ice age as the consequence for the humans. Magic makes a world cooler…which meant that the demon world must be getting warmer.
I still had the problem of how to get the magic back to the demons, to Demonside. I also wanted to make sure the Angus and his demon Saka had plenty of opportunity to get close, really close…for magical reasons of course. They were most definitely not going to fall in love because that would be very bad for both of them.
So the three ways of rebalancing magic was created. Blood, soul (death) and sex.
This led to some interesting research on blood play (yes knives get drawn and Angus doesn’t entirely dislike it) and ritual sex. I also learned that I really need to be more careful about closing webpages so I don’t freak the husband out.
When the whole premise of a book is about Angus learning to become a warlock I also needed to show him learning how to do things, and also developing his own ability (and failing at times). And I had to stick to the rules that I had created.
As I was coming to the end of the first draft I realized that if there was anything I wanted or needed to change so that I wouldn’t tie myself in knots for the rest of the series I needed to do it in the revision.
I also realised that I had to plot out what was going to happen for the rest of the series. I couldn’t wing it for four books (well maybe I could’ve but the revisions would’ve been diabolical and I’d rather not have to rewrite vast chunks because I was too lazy to do some big picture plotting).
The trouble was Angus was on the move, and I needed to start looking at the whole world, not just Vinland where Angus was from. How did other countries view magic and demons?
I became one of those writers who makes a map.
Having just finished book 2 in the series I’m glad that I took the time to work out the rules and how they all fitted together. As much fun as it was to play with Warlock in Training in the very first draft, it might have been easier if I’d plotted that too.
Of course what works for me may not work for another writer, or even every story…I still don’t world build my novellas, I just jump in and see where the characters take me.
So here he was, trying to summon a demon that he didn’t want, to give himself more of the magic that he didn’t want either. He let his circle weaken and his attention drift. He would not summon a demon.
He’d have rather been a vet.
Maybe studied medicine.
Although the rich, these days, saw specialist warlock healers who had demons. Though his father sneered at them too. He sneered at anything that didn’t increase his power and standing. That he was on the board of the East Vinland Warlock College did not make life easier for Angus.
Angus tried not to focus on the spell, but it was hard not to think about the demons on the other side of the void. Whatever demon popped into the circle would be his personal demon to summon at will. He’d be able to control it. And when it was no longer of use, or drained of magic, kill it and move on to another demon. It all sounded perfectly safe as long as he followed the rules.
Still, none of the rules he’d learned about dealing with demons had worked to assuage Angus’s fears or doubts. It was safer not to summon one.
After all, if humans could summon demons across the void, what was to stop demons from summoning humans across the void? No one ever talked about that. Not in public anyway, though wizards and warlocks occasionally went missing. Those who had been found and brought back from Demonside never spoke publically. What had happened to them in Demonside?
There were groups, websites that suggested that demons were no different than humans. They looked nothing like humans. The college reminded students at every opportunity that demons were lesser beings.
Cold balled in Angus’s gut as he made his third turn around the circle. He cleared his mind of demons and did everything short of dropping his carefully made circle.
His skin prickled as the circle went pop. The power was there, a breach in the void between the worlds now existed in his circle. Damn it. He hadn’t even meant to get that far. The lecturer looked at him, his face fixed in a mask of expectation. They all knew who he was. His father was too well known, and his family had attended this college for generations.
Angus couldn’t shut the tear in the void without the lecturer noticing. Maybe he could avoid calling a demon through. If he didn’t call, surely there would be no answer. Maybe he didn’t have a demon waiting for him.
Around him other students held their circles, the forest now full of little tears in the void. What if they ripped and joined up…?
“Now call your demon to you. Feel the energy. There is a link between the worlds, a demon that wants to rush to your side and act as a magical conduit for you.” The lecturer’s voice rung out, bouncing off the trees. “Your demon that will give you the power you need. This is a very important moment. The kind of demon you call will say a lot about your magical skills and your warlock potential.”
Angus wished that his parents hadn’t insisted on him going to Warlock College. He really just wanted to be a normal nineteen-year-old guy who was nothing like his father. Not everyone who could control magic should.
The air in his circle shimmered as something came across the void.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to fail and be kicked out of college. Failing demonology was an automatic out. There was nothing his father could do. Angus would’ve been free.
He risked a glance around. Demons were popping into existence in the circles of the other students. A cat-like thing with a scorpion-like tail, that was a scarlips. A hulking purple saber-toothed gorilla. A white-skinned woman with blood red lips and talons to match—a vampry—powerful and dangerous.
Angus snapped his attention back to his circle. A tall mannish creature with elegant black horns and a tail stood there. His demon. He was now officially a warlock. All his hopes of failing and leaving the college fell apart. He closed his eyes for a moment. He needed a new plan. He didn’t have one. He’d pinned all of his hopes on not getting a demon.
Now that he had one, he was going to have to deal with it. He opened his eyes to study what he had summoned.
In his circle was a typical black-horn demon. A garden-variety demon, nothing too horrendous or dangerous, nothing his father could boast about. While its chest was bare, the demon was wearing black pants and carrying a rather ferocious looking machete. It was also smiling.
That was disconcerting, as though the demon wanted to be there. Maybe his lecturer hadn’t lied about demons wanting to serve. The longer Angus looked at the demon, the broader its—his—smile became.
The demon was supposed to be anathema to him. He wasn’t. Intrigue fluttered in Angus’s chest. Then he remembered that he was in class, and he was supposed to be exerting control over his demon.
“I am your earthbound master,” Angus said, echoing several other students.
The demon laughed, dark and rich. “And I am your Demonside master.”
No one else’s demon was answering back. They were all waiting for orders.
“That’s not the way this works.” Why did he have to get the smartass demon? Why did he have to get one that could talk?
The one that looked almost friendly in a dangerous kind of way.
The lecturer was still speaking. Angus struggled to tear his gaze away from the demon. A warm breeze brushed against his skin. Summer had just finished, not that it had ever really begun. There was talk they were heading for an ice age. No one could agree on why, but the top warlocks were working on it. The heat was tempting, and he took a step closer to the circle and the demon. Until one of them died, he was stuck with this demon.
“Right, now everyone has their demon, let’s try a simple gathering of energy before we send them home.” The lecturer sounded pleased with his class. That everyone had a demon meant that he’d got a 100 percent pass rate. No doubt he’d won a bet or would get a bonus. Not every student was successful.
Angus had screwed up failing the class.
He returned his attention to his demon. The demon stared at him. Angus was sure the demon was creating the warm air but he didn’t know how. He had a bad feeling about drawing some power from the demon since his demon was smiling and looking entirely too comfortable. In the fading light, his skin had lost its reddish gleam. For a demon he was attractive in a dangerous kind of way.
Angus pushed aside the thought. He should not be admiring the creature in the circle. Or the way it was so calm. Other demons were obviously agitated, thrashing their tails and snarling. The vampry was picking her at her nails as though bored. Angus shuddered; she was creepy. At least his wasn’t creepy.
All he had to do was draw some magic, and then he could get rid of the demon that he hadn’t wanted to summon in the first place, until the next class when he’d have to see him again. Now whenever Angus needed power, all he had to do was summon him and tap into his demon. He’d spend the rest of the semester, his life, being entirely too close to the horned creature.
Angus closed his eyes and tried to feel the magic flowing from Demonside. It was soft and spicy like a freshly baked treat that was begging to be eaten. He wanted to reach for the magic and sample its delights.
His demon laughed.
Magic swelled, but it wasn’t Angus’s doing.
“I want to see what lies within your heart.” The demon broke the circle. Before Angus could protect himself—the first thing every warlock learned—the demon grabbed Angus by the wrist and pulled him through the void.
TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the everyday.
With two cats acting as supervisors TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.