With: Melissa Eastlake
Some of my favorite stories are new twists on classics. I love how romance and fantasy can show new facets of beloved tropes, stories, and creatures. My YA novel, The Uncrossing, shakes up a few things I love—fairy tales and folk magic, mafia movies, and crushy romance tropes—to create a story that felt original to me.
Paranormal romance asks one question in particular that I’ve always been interested in: what’s normal? If one character in a paranormal romance is a regular person, and their love interest is magical or supernatural, the romance changes the whole shape of reality. Usually, though, the paranormal character’s love of humanity or deep perception reveals the magic in everyday details, too.
When I started working on The Uncrossing, I decided that neither of the main characters would be the “normal” one—they both have experience in the magical world of the book. Of course, it quickly became apparent that all that experience had given them their own ideas of normal, and that those conflicting ideas were going to cause them a lot of enticing trouble.
That’s my favorite part of writing magic: when the small magic of everyday things becomes clearer. I tried to bring that to life in The Uncrossing.
Jeremy reassembled the mojo bags for their destruction. All the handling had taken the edge off the spell that had made them, but Luke could still feel their vibe. These were almost metallic, the jaw-jangling cringe of biting down on aluminum foil.
Luke and his family had gotten a lot of mileage—money for jobs, favor from the Kovrovs—out of his skill, and they made it sound like a noble calling or remarkable gift. Often, Luke felt that way, too. But just as often, he was great at uncrossing because harmful spells were annoying, and he broke them for the same reason he’d smack a mosquito buzzing in his ear.
They set up next to the trash cans in the narrow alley behind the store. Jeremy took careful, picking steps. “This is glamorous.”
Camille opened her mouth and closed it—guessing the risk of a joke misfiring before she spoke. “I bet Alexei only does magic at midnight, wearing a robe.”
Jeremy paused, wide-eyed, and nudged her with his shoulder. “Robe optional.”
Camille laughed out loud. “I get it, Rasputin.”
Luke shook his head and got to business, dropping the mojo bags on the ground. He centered himself, standing tall over them. Pushing out a breath, he let it all go—the Kovrovs, his parents—because this was his part. He wasn’t up on the politics or the clothes, but an uncrossing, he could always do.
He pulled a St. Michael’s candle and a long lighter from the box. Lighting the candle for defense was a formality, but today it felt heavy in his hand. Meaningful. He focused andfound himself thinking he should give them to Jeremy. He hadn’t come up with that himself, so it must be something important. He didn’t know what Jeremy’s skills were, but he knew his own.
Jeremy took the objects with a small, knowing smile and spoke a few Russian words as he lit the candle. The flame caught and grew, its strength impressive and then impossible in the breezy alley. It stood still in front of Jeremy’s chest like a glass sculpture of fire.
Jeremy held the candle in both hands, pushing its flame safely away from himself as it licked and crackled higher in the air. Only his whispering lips moved. The candlelight cutup the shadows, catching the bones and hollows of his face.
Luke had never seen Jeremy do magic—and had never seen any Kovrov do something so subtle. Searching, he uncovered another memory: Jeremy as a little boy, too shyin a roomful of attention to blow out the candles on his cake and hiding in a grown-up’s lap as the light dazzled.
The flame settled, flickering on the wick, and everyone exhaled together. Jeremy lifted that distant, alien face as he pulled the candle closer. “Now.”
Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.
Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.
This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?
Melissa Eastlake’s debut novel, The Uncrossing, is coming in 2017 from Entangled Teen. She is a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow and lives in Athens, Georgia with her partner and their dog.