Lev Grossman, book critic and technology writer at Time magazine, released the final novel in his “Magicians” trilogy, “The Magician’s Land.” He will talk at Flyleaf Books tonight. Staff writer Everett Handy spoke to him about the series.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: How did you come up with the idea for the “Magicians” series?
LEV GROSSMAN: I was a big fan of “Harry Potter,” which is where at that point we were still in between “The Order of the Phoenix” and “The Half-Blood Prince,” which is where I could tell that fantasy story — a story about the education of a magician but for grown-ups. I was having a sort of personal crisis and I decided to try and work them out by writing this story. So I did, and it is a story about the education of a wizard, but it’s a completely different kind of story from the “Harry Potter” books in a sense that the characters deal with more adult issues with an adult aim. They deal with relationship problems, they get bored, they get depressed. Their lives are complicated in a certain way that Harry’s is not.
DTH: What adventures are in store for the characters in this book?
LG: One of the challenges they have is that they get this education, they are released back into the world and they don’t have anyone to fight. They don’t have any monsters, and the world isn’t ending... One of the things that happens in “Magician’s Land” is that the hero has to figure out what magic is for him and what his path is in life. So there’s that, and there is also a lot of growing up that the characters have to do. They have to realize that a lot of problems in life can be solved with magic and for them to fight and be brave, I think it has to do with facing things that they can’t face.
DTH: You’ve announced this will be the last book in the series — how do you think you tied things up?
LG: When I started to write the “Magician” series, I was in a dark place — struggling with depression and other issues — but that was 10 years ago and in some ways my life is so much better than it was. I think one of the challenges for me was that in some ways it is easy to write characters that are tortured and filled with angst, but what you don’t see in fiction is happy magicians, magicians who got to a place where they feel good about their lives and feel like they are doing something satisfying.
DTH: The Science Fiction Channel announced they’ll be running a pilot episode adaptation of the “Magicians” series. Are you nervous to see what they’ll do with your work?
LG: Yeah, I’m nervous. Novelists are used to doing everything themselves. When you write your book, you don’t have anyone else come back and do all the costumes. You design all the costumes yourself — you do all the line readings, and you do the sets, the camera angles. It is not a collaborative occupation, so giving up control of five years to someone else, yeah it makes me nervous. The people who are doing it, though, are people who I actively wanted to work with.