The Illusionists Blog Tour – We Chat to Rosie Thomas

rosie thomas spotty jpeg smallThe Illusionists by Rosie Thomas. 

We are very happy to welcome Rosie and her blog tour for The Illusionists which has just been released by HarperCollins. We chat to Rosie about her book, her fantasy dinner party guests and where in history she would like to go… 


Can you tell us about The Illusionists and how did the idea originate?

In one sense The Illusionists is about imagination and reality, and I have taken stage magic as a means of illustrating how we don’t always know the difference between the two. Devil Wix, my anti-hero hero, is struck as a young boy by the gift of ‘wonder’ in a harsh world, and he sets out to create wonderment through magic and illusion. The setting is Victorian London, starting in the 1870s, so it’s quite creepy and gothic in places. It’s also a love story between Devil and Eliza Dunlop, who is a modern woman looking for more from her life than marriage and motherhood. There’s also a cast of strange characters including a dwarf, an engineer of automata, and a woman made of cogs and springs. Their theatre of magic and illusion, the Palmyra, is a character too. The idea for the story came to me when I was researching a classic ‘box trick’ for a scene in The Kashmir Shawl.


Which authors do you admire and is there a book that’s stuck with you?

I like Anthony Trollope. There’s so much sly wit and energy in his books, but he is full of human sympathy too and he doesn’t caricature the way Dickens does. I’ve always loved Georgette Heyer – such lightness and sparkle. Sarah Waters is one of my modern favourites. The Little Stranger was so scary and atmospheric, I can taste it right now. I can’t wait for her new one.


What’s your favourite word and why?

Intimacy. We can’t exist without it, we don’t value it enough.


Do you have any writing rituals? Do you plan and edit as you go?

I plan to a certain extent, but only as far as half way into the book. If I try to go any further I feel I’m not going to surprise myself enough in the actual writing, and therefore might get bored. A state of constant anxiety about how to go forward seems to be what I need, although it’s very uncomfortable. I don’t have any real rituals, except to exercise hard before I start work so at least I’ve got that over and done with.


Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?

The IllusionistsSir Ernest Shackleton, Gertrude Bell, Marie Colvin, Coco Chanel, John Updike.


Where in history would you like to visit if you could?

I love mountaineering, although I’m getting a bit past it now. So I would go back to the Alps in the 1860s, the golden age of mountaineering when all the big peaks were being climbed for the first time. But I’d have to come back as an upper-class Englishman, so maybe that wouldn’t be ideal.


The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas is published by Harper Collins £16.99 hardback

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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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