The Big Idea: J.D. Blackrose
There are things in the world we wish we had the power to change, but as J.D. Blackrose explains in this Big Idea for Wish Magic, wishing for that power, and having it, are two different things entirely.
What’s it like to be powerless when you’re used to being in control? And how far would you go to get that power back?
This is central question that faces Gregory Adamos, a sorta, maybe reforming mobster, in Wish Magic, the fifth installment in The Summoner’s Mark series, published by Bell Bridge Books. Gregory is a plain old vanilla mortal in a magical world. Not only that, but he’s one of the few mortals who not only knows about magic but has travelled to Hades and to Hell—and lived to tell the tale. He even has a troll enforcer who’s not above knocking a few heads together if Gregory gives him the nod, which means he’s hiring and working with the fae.
Being in control is a central personality trait for Gregory. His childhood wasn’t the best. He suffered abuse at the hands of his mother and neglect from his father. He grew up believing he had to be the toughest hombre in town to avoid being hurt.
So imagine what it is like for him in this book. In the novella that precedes it, Samhain’s Bargain, Gregory is targeted by none other than Lucifer himself. He almost falls prey to the Devil’s shenanigans, and it is only through the help of our intrepid main character, Becs, and other magical community members, that he survives. And he resents the bejeezus out of it.
In Wish Magic, he’s decided to get magic of his own by securing a djinn to serve him. He soon finds out that he’s gotten more than he bargained for and that his search for power could kill him, the city, the state, the eastern seaboard, and possible destroy Earth’s connection to Faerie. He’s not sure he cares, because he’s about as morally gray a character as you can get, but he’s got a soft spot for Becs and she cares a whole big, bad bunch.
As someone who is watching my mother deal with cancer, as well as bearing witness to the general indignities that come with aging, both for me personally and my elders, this yearning for control of one’s destiny rings true. How many times have I wished I could make my mother’s suffering go away? How many prayers have been offered that sound like negotiating, or that smack of begging and bargaining? How many phone calls have I endured, hoping I could absorb the pain from her and give her even a single day off from her illness?
But I cannot. We are not in control of our health beyond the general “eat right, exercise, and take medications as prescribed” kind of way. If cancer or heart disease want to take us to a dance, dance we must.
Have you ever stood by a child dealing with bullying? Or kept silent while your kids made big, adult-sized decisions for the first time? Every time you hold their hand, grit your teeth, and know you can do nothing other than support them, hoping you’ve given them the tools they need to solve the problems for themselves. All we wish is that we could fix it. Kiss the boo-boo and make it better with a band-aid and a popsicle.
But we cannot. We are not in control of others or their behavior.
What about when we make a mistake and we wish we could go back in time and change the outcome, avoid the verbal stumble, or make a better, less injurious decision? Say something. Keep quiet. Turn left instead of right, or take a breath and wait a beat before hurrying along? Eat dinner with loved ones slowly, savoring their presence? Take a walk. Go fishing. Find the person who hurt you and confront them?
But we cannot. We are not in control of time, and it only runs one way. Gregory’s completely thoughtless actions put him squarely in the wrong, but if we’re looking deep within ourselves with the glaring light of honesty and introspection, we may find ourselves understanding him. Empathizing even. Perhaps we’ll curl the pointing, accusing fingers back at us and ask, “Are we are really so different?”
As I wrote this book, I was surprised by how much I identified with Gregory’s choices, and it made me realize that all of us can be morally gray when pushed into a corner. Of course, we can’t go on an international hunt for a magical genie, but would we if we could?