The Big Idea: CJ Hosack

Where do we come from and where do we belong? These are knotty questions in the best of circumstances, and in this Big Idea for The Slayer’s Magic, author CJ Hosack adds another layer of complication for the story and characters.


Adoption is a curious thing. Even when an adopted child is wanted, loved, doted on, and spoiled, there still remains this disconnect. Somewhere deep inside, the knowledge that I don’t belong is there. It’s in the blood or even the bones; that somehow, I’m an outsider. I was told many times while growing up, how much I was wanted, but I knew I didn’t exactly belong. I wanted to write a story to encapsulate that feeling. It’s been a long and shaky road, but putting these feelings into another world helped me examine them in a new way.

What I really didn’t want for this story was to have a ‘chosen one’ orphan trope. I fought hard to have my main character be loved and wanted, but still feel like she didn’t belong. I had to find some way for her to discover a talent and a place where she belonged, without her becoming ‘the chosen one’. My solution was a world full of hereditary magic, that she couldn’t access without proof of her birth parents, and an archive type Library that offered her a way to develop a talent more powerful and useful than any magic–research! Perhaps spending hours chasing down materials in a darkly mysterious library doesn’t sound as exciting as throwing fireballs, but if the Library could have a presence of its own, I hoped I could make it work.

A rigorous revision process resulted in me throwing out all of my original manuscript. Starting over from scratch provided me with an interesting opportunity. In restructuring the entire story, my character’s need to know her ancestry led to places and actions she never would have considered before. Could she be more proactive, and defy her mother to study in the Library? Instead of her mother being an open book, could she be hiding secrets that could damage their relationship? What if there was more than one betrayal? The challenge was to make this journey, a twisty road without easy answers. The desire to know but not hurt anyone in the process, and a fear of rejection had to be woven into the new manuscript.

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