I first featured Lisa Maxwell right before her novel THE LAST MAGICIAN came out. When its sequel, THE DEVIL’S THIEF, was announced, I contacted Lisa for a follow-up interview. THE DEVIL’S THIEF released on October 9 and is available to order.
Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.
Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.
Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.
To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.
In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.
As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.
Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.
In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
In our last interview, you said THE LAST MAGICIAN was more difficult to write than you’d expected. Did you have a similar experience with THE DEVIL’S THIEF? If so, why? If not, why not?
THE DEVIL’S THIEF was definitely a challenge to write, but for different reasons than THE LAST MAGICIAN. With the first book, I was figuring out how to tell such a big story, but for the second one I (like a lot of other writers) was dealing with the fall-out of the 2016 election. I’m writing time travel, and I’m also writing a story that has real historical resonance, and when the election turned out differently than a lot of us were expecting, I started to have doubts about where I wanted the series to go. I struggled a lot just getting started. But the writing itself was intense and pretty quick once I got myself unstuck.
I’ll bet it was. In what ways does THE DEVIL’S THIEF expand on the world you built in THE LAST MAGICIAN?
In THE LAST MAGICIAN, the Mageus are trapped in New York City. In THE DEVIL’S THIEF, Harte and Esta use the power of the book to get out. Because they’re outside the city, the map of the world is bigger. They head out west—to St. Louis and the World’s Fair—and they discover that everything they thought they knew about magic wasn’t completely true. In the city they were cut off, but there are Mageus that never came through New York, so there are Mageus who have avoided the Brink. There are also more dangers than the Order. In TLM, there’s talk of a Conclave at the end of the year, and Esta and Harte learn that there are other secret societies involved with the suppression of magic. There are also Mageus who are willing to fight back. In THE DEVIL’S THIEF, the Antistasi are modeled off of the anarchists from the early 20th century, and they’re another group that Esta has to decide whether to align with or to fight against.
What an intriguing plot! You’ve talked before about “gut decisions” versus “business decisions.” What’s the best way to tell the difference between the two?
I think that was in terms of picking an agent?
Honestly, the thing about gut instinct is that we often discount that feeling that we should/shouldn’t do something. I think especially as a woman I do this, because as women we tend to be raised to not make a fuss or be a problem. But that gut feeling that you get—I’ve learned to listen to it more and trust it, because usually it’s my subconscious brain putting all these micro-level observations into play.
A great lesson for us all. If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
Man, I don’t think I’d tell her anything. Every mistake I ever made led me here—to my husband and the family I have, to this career that I never even dreamed of as a kid. I mean, sure…maybe if I told her to try being a writer I could have gotten published sooner, but I wouldn’t trade any of this life. So I think I’d keep my mouth shut.