[The Mad Muncle is very pleased to welcome Christine Amsden back to the Forge. Her new release, Mind Games, the next book in the beloved Cassie Scot series, recently hit the shelves. Check it out. That's enough of my hot air, here's Christine:]
The trouble with mind magic is: How do you know if someone's controlling you?
You could drive yourself crazy wondering if your thoughts are your own or the product of someone else's superior will. In the world of magic, there is something inherently sinister about the idea that one person can mess with someone else's thoughts, feelings, and desires. This is a theme I've been building from the first book in this series, Cassie Scot:
Detective, when Edward Scot says:
“Magic itself is never black, only the uses to which it is put, but mind magic is already tinted a deep, dark gray.”
Matthew Blair, a telepathic mind mage who takes center stage in Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3), disagrees. His response to this statement is:
“Any kind of power is already tinted a deep, dark gray. Haven’t you ever heard that power corrupts?”
Of course Matthew would say that. He's a mind mage and he's actively trying to manipulate our heroine, but as with all skilled manipulators he understands the power of truth and subtlety.
Mind control is not a uniquely magical phenomenon. People try to influence us wherever we go in subtle and overt ways. When you go to the store, the packaging of the products you browse screams at you, “Pick me! Pick me!” Retailers know how to use product placement to maximum affect (as every mother who has ever taken children through a candy-filled checkout knows). Advertisers bombard you with messages that work on your mind even when you don't know it. Drug companies fill the airwaves these days with medicine most of us don't need at any given moment, but they know you'll remember when the time is right.
There are people in the real world who possess charisma – a trait I've lent a quasi-magical aspect to in my series. But you know what I mean. Some people just exude charm and grace and a little bit of “trust me.” Trendsetters. Natural leaders. Born politicians. Shapers of men and of the minds of men (and women). These people fill our minds with thoughts we embrace as our own, sometimes without our even realizing we have done so.
Before you ask – no, I'm not one of those people. I could wish, but in person I tend to be a little bit awkward. I'm much better at expressing myself through the written word.
One of the pointless (circular) existential questions I sometimes like to ask myself is: What do I fervently believe that is simply not true? And since I am so certain of this truth, why would I ever seek to correct that impression? I don't consider myself to be a close-minded person (who does?) but I can only be open-minded when I am aware of a possible discrepancy. I must see that something in the world is inconsistent with my core beliefs. I have to get caught in a lie.
Getting back to the world of magical mind control, I often see authors going to extreme lengths when it comes to mind magic. Direct, obvious controls that the hero is just strong-willed enough to throw off because he or she has a superior... spirit? Intellect? Force of will? A little bit of all those things, I suppose.
In this story, I wanted to show how hard it would be for even a strong-willed individual to throw off competently woven mind magic. This isn't about strength at all, but skill. Matthew Blair tells Cassie in chapter one that he is a telepath and “hears” everything she thinks. He says this to her because he senses that Cassie will be drawn to the truth, and drawn to the genuine sense of alienation he feels because of his power. Cassie has always been drawn to help people in need. Matthew knows this about her, and he uses it against her.
To beat Matthew, Cassie will have to learn things about herself that make her stronger. She is going to have to face certain truths that she has been running from for two books.
Ultimately, she has to figure out that it's happening. How can you change your mind if you don't know it needs changing?
If that's too heavy for you, feel free to enjoy this book as a fun magical mystery. Here are a couple of lighter reader questions to ponder:
1. Would you want to be a telepath? (Why?)2. Would you want to date a telepath? (Why?)
Thanks Christine. Readers, if you haven't read Cassie Scot yet, now's your chance. The first book in the series, Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective, is on sale for $.99 for a limited time.