Hello everybody. Today’s post is an interview with Liselle Sambury, the author of the newly released YA Fantasy novel Blood Like Magic. This post is also part of a book tour organized by TBR And Beyond Tours. You’ll find more information about the tour at the end of this post, as well as links to all of the other blogs that are also participating in it.
Content Warning: Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
Interview with Liselle Sambury
QaS: “There’s something about lounging in a bath of blood that makes me want to stay until my fingers shrivel enough to show the outlines of my bones.” The book starts with quite a vivid scene, which immediately sets the tone for the story. What was your inspiration for this opening line?
LS: I very randomly had the image of a girl in a bath of blood when I started this book. Honestly, a lot of my ideas pop out of absolutely nowhere, and this is one of them. But I’ve always been a fan of horror and the macabre, so I’m not shocked by it. For the opening line in particular, I thought of when you’re in a bath too long and your fingers shrivel, but also how to make that creepier and more visceral.
QaS: In the book, blood is an integral element of the witches’ practice, both as a conduit for magic and as a representation of the witches’ ancestry. What inspired you to create a magic system so deeply rooted in blood and, through it, in genealogy as well?
LS: The blood itself was a tie back to that opening. I started with that image and so it felt natural for the magic system to be based in it. How it ended up rooted in ancestry was just something that came out without me thinking too much about it at first. I think as someone who didn’t know much about my personal history and who, even now, doesn’t have access to a lot of it, it was attractive to think of a magic that would enable that connection. Especially because family is such a big theme in my life and in the book.
QaS: In the book, Voya explains that as witches, their magical connection to their ancestors gives them access to knowledge about their origins that often other Black families don’t have. “We only know where in Africa they’re from because we have access to our ancestors. It’s a privilege not many other Black descendants of slaves have…” How did this cultural gap, especially in the context of Black families in North America and Canada, inspire you in creating the Black witch community that we discover in the book?
LS: I was imagining a world in which the connection that was cut off through the slave trade was reconnected through magical means. And I wanted to explore how it would affect us in the present if we could communicate with those people from our past. In the end, I imagined that it would be both wonderful and complicated. There is so much joy in the Black witch community being able to have that knowledge, but at the same time, Voya feels a lot of pressure to live up to the lineage before her, and she struggles to relate her experiences in the present to those of her enslaved ancestors.
QaS: The story takes place in a futuristic society where everyone has a public feed that can be accessed by others. People can also rate each other and leave reviews on each other’s feeds. With this technology being so similar to things that already exist in our world, would you say that it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine that something like this could eventually exist in our society as well?
LS: I definitely don’t think it’s too far-fetched. The fun thing, to me, about a near future setting is that it’s accessible. I pushed everything just enough into the future that you can see new technology that we don’t have, but also in a way that makes it look like a direction we’re already headed in. In that way, it’s grounded and not totally unfamiliar, but also sometimes a little scary if you think too hard about the corporate control of something as intimate as your genetics. But I did do a lot of this on purpose. Like, we already have personalized advertising, so why not advertisements that can learn your name? We already have self-driving cars, so why not have those replace human ride share drivers?
QaS: In the witch community, each witch has a unique ability which they often use as a professional skill and as their main source of income. If you could have any of the abilities mentioned in the book, which one would you want to have?
LS: I think the idea of mind reading sounds fun, until you hear people’s terrible thoughts about you! And I love Alex’s gift for fashion, but I think I would really enjoy Voya’s mom’s gift of reading objects. It would be so interesting to be able to see the history of an item.
About the author
Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. She is represented by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency.
You can follow Liselle online at the following:
Goodreads: Liselle Sambury
YouTube: Liselle Sambury