Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.”
In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. She is represented by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency.
Blood Like Magic - Synopsis
Content Warnings: Whipping scene within the context of slavery, gun/police violence, discussion of and character with an eating disorder, blood/gore/violence, death, substance abuse/addiction, mentions of child neglect.
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
What's the most surprising thing you discovered about Voya while writing this book?
I had an interesting experience where during edits with my publisher, I realized that I had her internal motivation wrong. I thought she wanted one thing from her life but came to understand that she wanted something very different. It was surprising because I had done so many edits by then, you would think I would have her down, but that was something new I discovered and am happy I was able to correct.
How did writing Blood Like Magic change you?
I definitely learned a lot about my personal history during the creation of the novel. Ancestry is such a core theme, and I finally pushed myself to find out some of the story of where I came from. I think I have more appreciation for asking family members those sorts of questions now.
Where did your love of storytelling come from?
Since as long as I can remember, I have always told myself stories in my head well before I was ever reading them. I feel like that mostly came from being an only child, to be honest. You really have to rely on yourself for entertainment and that was how I entertained myself. Once I started writing them down, I really enjoyed the escapism of it and being able to see a physical representation of my stories that I could look back on.
How does your life inform your writing?
I do very naturally incorporate things that occur in my life into my writing. If I’ve had an impactful experience, I tend to want to discuss and explore that in prose. I also find that it tends to work out better if I put some of myself into the work, even if it’s just constantly setting my stories in Canada.
What's your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I think every novel I’ve read and loved has had some sort of acclaim, but one that I thought was wonderful and wish people would talk about more is Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour. It’s just so beautifully written and emotional, and such an interesting twist on a ghost story. I think it also really speaks to a longing desperation to belong, which I loved.
If this story had a playlist, what would be on it?
I did actually make a playlist! Some songs I have on it are Togetherness by Alison Hinds, which is a song that I remember fondly from when I went to Caribana as a child and is kind of perfectly fitted to the book. I also included Past Lives by BORNS because of the way that the past and those who come before us affects the characters.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope more than anything that they enjoy it as an urban fantasy. I think there are messages like feeling that you have the power to control your future that I would love readers to marinate on. But I would also truly love for them to see it as a fun addition to the genre.