When I was asked by the late editor, Janet Berliner Gluckman, to contribute a story to David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible, I jumped at the opportunity. Yes, it was that David Copperfield, the famous stage magician, who would contribute his name and image, a short story of his own, and an introduction to each piece. Plus, the anthology was to be a gorgeous hardcover published by HarperPrism and foreign rights would sell all over the world.

I figured quite a few of the authors would write about stage magic, given our eminent sponsor, but strangely they didn’t. I was virtually the only one. I didn’t want to write about contemporary stage magic (a lot of which is computerized and gimmicky), but about the Golden Age of Stage Magic—the 1880s through the turn of the century. I’d recently turned in The Gilded Age to Bantam and was conversant in the fin de siècle period.

But what about the magic?

My husband, Tom Robinson, the acclaimed San Francisco artist and bespoke jeweler, grew up in Glendale, California, a charming suburb northwest of Los Angles and next door to Pasadena. He, as a young teen, had been enamored of stage magic. He could perform decent sleight-of-hand, but didn’t really want to go onstage. He was more interested in how the illusions were constructed, how they worked.

In one of those instances of Real Magic in life, he and a friend were roaming around the neighborhood one day and happened upon a fenced backyard that had a lot of odd constructions lying about. Constructions that looked a lot like stage magic illusions. The boys hopped the fence and in no time Tom was assisting one of the greatest illusion-builders in the world, a fellow who furnished Blackstone and other famous stage magicians with props for their acts.

Tom fell in with a group of Hollywood stage magicians, went to the Magic Castle (a magicians’ hangout in Hollywood, now recently renovated and opened to the public), and participated in a fake séance or two.

Tom liked to collect stage magic books and magazines, new and used, and carted around a boxful of these in his various wanderings. That box wound up in our library and there I found the research for my story. I learned about the conflict between Spiritualist mediums of the time and stage magicians like Harry Houdini. Houdini wanted to believe in communication of the Dead; he wanted to speak with his beloved deceased mother. But time after time, he debunked Spiritualist mediums as using stage props and stage magic techniques to bilk the bereaved out of their hard-earned money.

There too I found the image for the ebook’s cover, an illustration of a Hindu stage magician from the early 1900s, the wonderful quotation from Harry Kellar, which opens the story, and the story’s title.

I hope you enjoy the following blog with the opening of Every Mystery Unexplained!

The year is 1895, and Danny Flint is a young man living in the shadow of his controlling father, a famous stage magician whose fortunes are fading. Uncle Brady, Professor Flint’s trusted assistant and business manager and Danny’s best friend, cannot stay in the same hotel as them—Uncle Brady is African-American.

Danny is grieving over his mother’s recent accidental death, for which he feels he is to blame.

When a mysterious beautiful lady begs them to conduct a séance so she may speak with her beloved husband, Danny and his father will confront the ethical dilemma between spiritualist séances and faked séances performed by stage magicians like them. Danny unexpectedly discovers he may have talent as a medium. Will he actually contact the spirits of the lady’s husband and his mother in a séance?

With the help of the mysterious beautiful lady, Danny will learn to reconcile himself with his grief and guilt, learn the secret of Uncle Brady’s identity, and assume his place at center stage as a talented magician in his own right.

Every Mystery Unexplained was indeed published in David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible (HarperPrism), a gorgeous hardcover anthology including stories by fantasy masters like Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Kevin J. Anderson, and F. Paul Wilson.

Every Mystery Unexplained is free exclusively on Kindle Select but only until March 1, 2013. At that time the book will be back on sale at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Look for it, Nook owners!

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook and Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook and Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook and Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modeska Mystery).

Romantic suspense January 2013!

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