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I have never published a novel for a young readership, but I have for a long time had in mind a book that fuses my fascination with the Latin language and my love of fantasy novels.
The result of my work I'm calling Roman Magic at the moment. The title may change as we near publication time, September or October 2014.
The book is aimed at young YA readers, 10-13 years old, the same as the middle school students I teach every day.
Roman Magic tells the story of Lucius Junius Brutus, 14-year old apprentice spellcaster who becomes the guardian of the ancient lore of Numa Pompilius, and uses it to battle rival mages such as the seers of Etruria, who use bronze mirrors to reflect spells back on their opponents.
The lore of Numa gains its power from the Thirty Five, the basic "words of power" that, combined with the charged "grammarstones" from a quarry near Rome with a portal to other worlds, allow the spellcaster to do nearly anything-- which is both an opportunity and a problem. Lucius' greatest opponent may be his own desire for power.
Just as exciting, I am with the help of author and tech expert Richard Abbott developing an interactive spellcasting game that will be available online and on mobile phones, hopefully this summer.
Students of Latin should find this game familiar, as it is based on Latin grammar. It is not a grammar drill, however, but a look into the mysterious roots of Latin.
If you would like to sign up for an email newsletter with news about the book and opportunities to play the beta version of the game, read the book before it's published, and participate in the final stages of shaping and polishing, send an email to teenage underscore heroes at sign yahoo dot com, or sign up via the sidebar to your right.
Photo: A gorgeous interpretation of a Roman demon. Enlarge photo to see archaic-style inscriptions.