A Guest Post from Jeff Evans, author of the middle-grade fantasy series ‘What Magic is Not’.
What Magic Is Not is a cheerful, quirky story about a class of young students who attend summer school in an enchanted forest with the eccentric Professor Philonius Gnut. Full of wonder, humor, and heartwarming friendships, this book is perfect for kids of all ages.
Summer school in the Enchanted Forest is just like you would imagine it: chasing frogs (that are not really frogs), making new friends (with trolls), and learning what magic is (and more importantly, what magic is not.)
Below is an interview the author, J. Evans, conducted with the elusive Professor himself.
My Interview with Professor Gnut
Evans: I’m honored today to interview Professor Philonius Gnut, who teaches magic at the legendary school in the woods, deep in the Enchanted Forest. He’s a bit of a local legend: every rumor about him is more outlandish than the last, and he rarely leaves the woods, so booking him for this interview was not easy. (I had to promise him a few months off of work before the sequel.) But here he is—Hello, Professor! Thanks for joining me.
Gnut: I’m glad to be here, although I didn’t really have much of a choice, did I?
Evans: I’m surprised to hear you say that—so much of what you teach your students in What Magic Is Not is about how many choices each of us does have, whether we realize it or not.
Gnut: Nice to know somebody pays attention to what I say.
Evans: Well, to be honest, you do have a reputation for droning on during those morning lectures by the pond—
Gnut: Droning on? Is that any way to speak to your elders? No wonder the boys and girls you write about are so disrespectful!
Evans: I wouldn’t call them disrespectful. They’re just… exuberant. What kid wouldn’t be excited to attend summer school in the Enchanted Forest? After all, it’s pretty rare to get an invitation to study with you, isn’t it? And it’s been years since your last class. If the kids get a little restless, I think it’s because they would rather skip some of the Ancient History lessons and jump right to the good stuff.
Gnut: Is that so? And how would you like it if your readers skipped right to the last chapter in order to get to the ‘good stuff?’
Evans: I’d tell them they were missing out on a great story full of humor and funny characters and heartwarming friendships, and that they wouldn’t understand or appreciate the ending if they didn’t start at the beginning and read the whole thing.
Gnut: Excellent—it appears we are on the same page, for there is far more to learning about magic than pointing your wand at something and muttering a few mystical words. If you don’t learn how to use your head before you learn to use your wand, there is a good chance your first spell will be your last—and teaching ‘exuberant’ students—no matter how well they are written—to slow down and think before they leap is not as easy as you might imagine.
Evans: I know—I tried. The truth is sometimes your characters just take on a life of their own, and all you can do is go chasing after them like a frog in the woods.
Gnut: An occupational hazard, I suppose, but as long as you don’t end up talking to the figments of your imagination, you ought to be all right in the end.
Evans: Thanks, Professor. I’ll, uh, think about that. Speaking of endings, I have one final question.
Gnut: Yes, my boy?
Evans: Everything you get involved in, whether it’s a dilemma your students are having, or some danger in the forest, or even the whole semester-long feud you have with the Dark Wizard, it seems like… how should I put this? Everything you do, or teach your students to do, it always just sort of works out in the end, like a puzzle fitting itself together. So, my question is—and I know your students have asked you this, too, but you never seem to give them a straight answer: the way it all comes together in the end, that was part of your plan all along, right?
Gnut: Plan? Who said I had a plan?
Evans: Come on, Professor—all that stuff with the dragon and your gardener and the tower and the wedding cake and the wishing well—they can’t all be coincidences!
Gnut: Who knows—maybe it was magic.
About the Author
I live in a small town in Illinois. After college, I worked (if you can call it that) as a nanny for the next eight years. When the kids got older, I stumbled into remodeling and have been working with my hands ever since. As it turns out, writing a book has a lot in common with raising kids and building houses; who knew?
What Magic Is Not is my fifth novel.