Tag Archives: Charm

Getting Ready for the Weekend and Remembering faces


So this weekend is Kingsmead Book Fair, and I am pretty excited to be part of this, on a panel with Joanne Macgregor, Edyth Bulbring, and chaired by Bontle Senne.


We’re on at 13:45 in the Gym:

GymYoung Adult novelists Edyth Bulbring(Snitch)Cat Hellisen(Beastkeeper) and Joanne Macgregor(Scarred) discuss the themes of bullying and bloodlines, beauties and beasts and the transformative power of first love. Chaired by fellow youth writer Bontle Senne.

There will be an SASL interpreter at this session.

Now, fun stuff aside, I’m going to offer an apology in advance, and a small explanation.

Firstly, if you see me and want to say hi, PLEASE DO!


Secondly, even if we have met several times before, it’s probable I won’t recognise you. This is not because of you, it’s because of me. I have great difficulty remembering names and faces. I try very hard to build up a mental index card that matches people up, but if you do something like comb your hair differently, wear (or not wear) glasses, change your clothes, meet me in a different place, my index cards get scrambled and I need to re-sort them. This can take a while, and it’s very embarrassing for me because I hate making people feel like I don’t care who they are. I really do care, I just have an actual problem. The problem is made worse when I am anxious or stressed, and public situations make me both.


So, if it appears I have no idea who you are, just be gentle and say your name and remind me when we last saw each other and I can reshuffle my index.  😀


I other news, I’ve put CHARM up on Smashwords with a new cover, and added my Mundus short story Oma Zoli’s Mirror.

charm(1)Irene Kerry has grown up with the memory of her mother’s suicide, and has been in love with her best friend Rain for as long as she can remember. She thinks she’s dealing with both just fine until the day her best friend falls in love with a much older man. A man who knew her mother, and believes Irene is a magician like her. In order to protect her friend and family, Irene gets dragged into a hunt for an ancient magician who steals and eats magic, and discovers that the things she thought she knew about her mother’s death were all lies.





OMA ZOLI'S MIRRORDylan McKenzie is a collector of magical artifacts from this world and others, but when a voice underground tells him to look for his heart’s desire, he is pulled into the web of a fallen goddess, sent to murder her sister and bring back her soul.

Oma Zoli’s Mirror shows your heart’s desire. Or her heart. Or her desire. She spins webs to get what she wants, but will the man she’s trapped do as she commands?

Charm 22/22

(start here)


I never do go on to art college. Instead, I paint everything I remember from that time – even the parts that hurt me. Well, especially the parts that hurt me.

A year later and it’s my first exhibition and I’m trying to stand around looking nonchalant while strangers sift through my work, faces frowning. Dale is trying to be encouraging in his best idiot-brother way. “They don’t hate you, Irene, it’s still early. This is the fashionably late crowd we’re talking about.” He shoves a glass of red wine into my hands. “When have you ever known anyone in Joburg to come to anything when it opens?”

There are two people here.” I swallow down the wine, it’s bitter and smoky and hits my jittery stomach with a fire cracker punch. “And they look like they’ve wandered in by mistake.”

They’re here for the wine,” he says.

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Charm 21/22

(start here)

How We Burn

It takes a moment for the words to sink in. Caleb sold my brother out to Heinrich, did all this—manipulated me, manipulated Rain—so that he could get back his stolen magic. My brother could already be some drooling half-human monster, a slave for Heinrich until his death. I picture my brother’s face deformed by those long fangs, his back bowed under the useless wings. The golden art whispers in my blood, hungry and awake. It shudders in anticipation, feeding on my anger, throbbing and rising. The room goes cold. Then white hot.

“No, no, no, no.” Rain lashes out from under me. “Don’t listen to him, Irene. He’s fucking lying.”

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Charm 20/22

(start here)


Upstairs, Caleb and Rain are already awake and dressed. Rain has his head down, his hands shoved in the pockets of his jersey. He’s very carefully not looking at anyone.

“I felt that,” Caleb says. “He’ll have too.”

“Of course.” Zelda rummages in a dresser drawer and pulls out a battered-looking Kit-Kat. “Here.” she shoves it toward my face. “Eat.” She nods when I unwrap the old chocolate and start nibbling, and crosses her arms over her chest. “Now. I hope you’re ready?”

The chocolate tastes dusty, the wafer rubbery instead of crunchy.

Caleb nods. Rain finally looks up. He’s whiter than normal, his eye sockets grey with bruises and his eyes puffy and red. I swallow the last of the stale chocolate and wafer. I swear, I’m going to kill Caleb.

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Charm 19/22

(start here)

Love Letters

It turns out Zelda doesn’t quite know where Heinrich is.

“I thought you said you’d be able to pin-point him?” Caleb says.

The meal has been cleared away, and a large map of Johannesburg spread over the table. It’s not very detailed, and Zelda’s got a map-book next to her for more accurate work. Which, it appears, we won’t be needing. She’s got a pin on a thread of black cotton and she’s holding it over the outspread map.

“Stop talking,” she says. “You’re breaking my concentration.”

The pin dangles as she slowly moves her hand over the map. Basically, it behaves exactly like a pin on a thread. Nothing magical.

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Charm 18/22

(start here)


While it’s still far from dark outside, the light is getting that heavy late afternoon feel, like it’s pressing down on my shoulders. I’m practically sticking to the car’s fake leather seats as I take the quickest route I can remember towards the art school. Every time I see a bunch of scruffy high school kids with their blazers stuffed in their school bags and their grey school trousers hanging off their arses, shirts untucked, ties hidden, I slow down. Not one of them is my brother.

So,” I say, not looking in the mirror to get a glimpse of Caleb, instead steeling myself to stare ahead, to scan the streets and the pavements. “This golden art.”

What about it,” Caleb drawls. “Finally admitting to yourself that this refusal to use it is a childish tantrum that could get your killed?”

I grit my teeth and breathe in sharply through my nose. Do not rise to the bait, Irene. “Actually, I have tried to use it.”

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Charm 17/22

(start here)


The door slams behind me, cutting off their low voices and dampening the smell of cabbage. I sit down on the corridor floor and lean back against the wall outside Zelda’s flat. The bricks are cool on my back, and that tight feeling that’s been building in my chest loosens a little as I light up a cig. Smoke curls around my fingers, and I can almost see tiny serpents weaving in the silvers and greys. Wild magic, changing the face of the world, and waiting for someone to harness it. I can almost understand why Heinrich wants it. If all this was mine…. I flex my fingers, rippling them through the smoke. Under the ground, the world shifts, half-dreaming. Immense with power.

But I’m not Heinrich, and I don’t want to rip a hole in the word so I can get more magic I can’t control. All I want is for the people I love to be safe. To stay alive. For that alone, I need to understand how to use my own power. I snort. Power I don’t even know how to access. God. I have no idea what I’m doing.

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Charm 15/22

And I’m back! Internet woes have been sorted out, and I shall quickly update the backlog of Charm posts. 😀


(start here)

The Wolf Magician

Caleb brakes suddenly, and I lurch into the back of the passenger seat, almost breaking my nose. God, this is when I wish Beetles came with seat-belts in the back. “I know you don’t like me, but wait ’til after this business with your buddy Heinrich is done before you try kill me.” I rub the bridge of my nose and wince.

You wanted other magicians,” he sneers. “And I’ve brought you to one.”

My heart makes a sudden dolphin-sized leap. He doesn’t know why I want to meet other magicians, surely? I concentrate on keeping my voice even. “You said they were barely worth calling magicians. So what are we doing here?” I don’t want to get my hopes up. Maybe Caleb is wrong about everything. It’s not like he’s infallible. He’s lost most of his magic, if my mother’s book is to be believed, and he’s already died at least once.

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Charm 14/22

(start here)

The Ratcatcher

The letters shift and settle, and I let the rumble of the engine, the hot sweaty stink of the air fall away. I follow the words, fast as rats, my finger tracing their tails:

This little boy—let’s call him Caleb Dunning, for that was indeed his name—was born in a storm, two weeks before he was due to come screaming into the world. Perhaps the thunder and lightning, the infernal rocking, they frightened him early from the womb. Or perhaps, Caleb just knew that he had to arrive on that exact date and no other.

It was in September, just as the ship was coming in to the Cape of Storms, that Caleb opened eyes like slate and saw the world around him. Born on water, a space made of potential. His parents hurried him ashore, swaddled in sea-salt cloth and trailing magic like smoke. Unaware, of course, just what it was they cradled to themselves.

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Charm 13/22

(start here)

The Book of All Things

Lily is not the only one who looks different. Outside in the sunshine, I squint at Caleb, and see the same blackness around him. It’s very faint, but it pulls at me like a vacuum. I drag my gaze off him and look around. The ointment hasn’t just opened my eyes to the magic in people, but to the power flowing through the world. Everything seems so much more real and there—the colours brighter, deeper, the life moving through the plants, the grey-black tar sluggish as a river. It reminds me of being high, but also not. There’s no way for me to clearly articulate, but there’s none of the slow-headed confusion that comes with tripping. Things are different. I see their real reality, but I’m still in control. A feral pigeon wing-claps across the sky and the iron plumage shimmers with plum and emerald highlights, iridescent auras. Even the sound of its wings is different and new, and I can see the air eddy around each stroke, as though the whole universe has slowed down just for me.

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