Today, Masha du Toit sat down for an interview about her newest Young Adult release, Crooks and Straights. She’s written several other Urban Fantasy books that take place in Cape Town, creating a unique backdrop to her stories.
Gia's brother Nico is different from other boys. And being different can be dangerous in Gia's world. Cape Town is no longer the haven for magical refugees that it once was. The Purists want to get rid of all magic and the newspapers are full of dreadful stories about the Belle Gente, the magical terrorists.
None of this concerns Gia, until the Special Branch— police who investigate the illegal use of magic— come knocking at her door, looking for Nico. When Gia turns to her parents for help, she finds only more secrets. Then she realises that she was the one who put her brother in danger.
It sounds like Gia is a pretty average girl growing up in a place full of magic. How does she feel about magic at the beginning of the story?
In Gia's world, people are scared of magic. They think magic is dangerous and unpredictable. Magical creatures are kept out of the richer neighbourhoods, and people with magical abilities are careful to keep their talents hidden. At the beginning of the story, Gia has had very little exposure to magic or magical creatures, because she grew up in a fairly wealthy, protected neighbourhood. She might have seen a troll guarding a nightclub, or read about a werewolf attack in the newspaper. As a result, she's very curious about magic, but also quite scared of it.
Since you have more than one book that takes place in Cape Town, what makes it a good setting for magical stories?
One reason is simply because it's so familiar, and it's easier for me to make my stories seem "real" by setting them in the places I see every day. But there is more to it than that. In Cape Town the human and the natural worlds are very close together. Table Mountain on one side, and the sea on the other. One moment you'll be walking through a dirty, noisy, urban area, and just by crossing a road you can be in a wild and beautiful landscape. The two worlds exist together, but the natural world is increasingly under threat. I find that very evocative.
If you could have only one magical power, what would it be? What about Gia?
Only one? That's a tough question! I would love to be a healer of some kind - somebody who can bring a sense of harmony and joy to those who are struggling. Life can be so harsh sometimes! I like the idea of having the power to take away some of that pain.
What magical power would Gia like to have? Gia is quite a talented girl - she can draw beautifully, and she helps her parents design and create clothing. So in a sense, she already has a magical power, although we tend to think of that kind of talent as "just part of the ordinary world." If she could have an extraordinary magical power, I think she'd like to be able to hear people's thoughts. She's interested in other people, she loves watching them and trying to figure out what motivates them.
What do you love most about being an independent author?
I like learning new things. Being an independent author means doing everything yourself. That can be overwhelming at times, but it's also an opportunity to learn master all kinds of new skills. I also love being able to write exactly what I need to write, and creating the kind of book that I want to. For example, I illustrate my own stories. As an independent author, I don't have to worry about convincing a publisher to include those drawings.
What other work do you have on the horizon? Any teasers you can give us?
I'm writing the sequel to Crooks and Straights at the moment. Gia meets some very interesting creatures. She has to work with werewolves, and it looks as though there will also be quite a few sea-creatures, mermaids, kelpies, and the like. It's a lot of fun to write!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Masha! You can purchase a copy of Crooks and Straights for your kindle. You should also check out her other books: The Story Trap, The Broken Path, and short story collection Strange Neighbours. If you want to keep in touch with Masha, check out her website.
We’ve hit the halfway point on our Interviewing the Indies month! So far, five authors have been interviewed, all with unique stories, great cover art, and fantastic writing. Check out the other author interviews linked below, and stay tuned for more interviews!