Today I am very excited to present The Secret Science of Magic to you! I have an exciting little interview with the author (who is #LoveOzYA AND has great taste in TV shows) as well as a review at the end!
Q: The title is such a perfect fit for the book and the characters, how did you come up with The Secret Science of Magic ?
I wanted a title that reflected the connection between my two main characters, these two mysterious, disparate people who by all accounts shouldn’t have anything in common, but of course, share a lot of commonalities! It was always supposed to be a working title, but in the end my publishers and I decided that nothing else was going to fit as well.
Q: I absolutely loved reading about Sophia as she had such a unique voice. Did Sophia’s genius character (see what I did there?) come to you in full? What was the process like in creating Sophia?
Thank you! Sophia actually had quite a long development time, and I think, out of all my characters so far, he voice was the trickiest to get right. I felt like I knew her right away, and had such a lot of affection for her, but I also knew that her character could possibly be a bit alienating for a reader, particularly one like myself whose maths knowledge is woeful! I also knew that she was incredibly warm and good-hearted, but that her interactions with people would probably be considered somewhat cold or insensitive. So she needed lots of redrafting, and juggling elements of her character to try and make her come across on the page as clear as she was in my head.
Q: Doctor Who and Penn and Teller: Fool Us are two of my favourite TV shows, so seeing them referenced by Sophia and Joshua was so much fun! What are some of your favourite shows/movies to watch?
Obviously I’m a Doctor Who fan (it’s always fun slipping my own fandoms in to my books, since it lets me watch TV for ‘research’). I have quite old-school TV tastes – The X Files and Buffy are two of my all-time faves. I’m really excited about the new Twin Peaks (even though the original series gave me nightmares as a kid), and the new season of Jessica Jones.
Q: You’re a children’s book editor during the day and you still manage to have three published books under your belt, impressive! Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I work part-time as an editor so I have a couple of full-time writing days a week, and I try and set myself a daily word goal – sometimes I manage to meet it within a couple of hours, and sometimes I’m banging my head against my desk long after the sun has set still trying to eek out words! It usually takes me a good four or five months for a first draft (though this book took a lot longer), and then another year or so of redrafting.
Q: Finally, do you have a favourite quote or scene from The Secret Science of Magic?
I think my favourite quote is from Dai Vernon, the legendary close-up magician and one of Joshua’s personal heroes – Be natural, and use your head.
Thank you so much for chatting and taking the time to answer these questions, Melissa! It’s been great 🙂
Thank you very much for having me!
The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont
Published on 1st April 2017
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I received this book for free from Hardie Grant Egmont in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is the story of a girl named Sophia and a boy named Joshua. Sophia is a child prodigy and a genius with debilitating social anxiety. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life once she finishes high school and becomes obsessed with Gregori Perelman, a recluse mathematician.
Although I am not a genius, nor was I a child prodigy, I found myself really being able to relate to Sophia because I had NO idea what I really wanted to do after school. I knew I wanted to go to uni, but was I going to be successful? Would I choose the right degree? What would happen to me if I hated it? Spoiler: I’m 24, have changed degrees twice, and have since learned that while I now love what I study, high school and uni is not the end of the world in any way (although, I am admittedly still a blundering mess of an adult).
Initially I wasn’t sure whether I would like Sophia as a character as she is incredibly different to read about in comparison to other teenagers in YA. However while she struggles with people/social situations in addition to living with social anxiety, she’s incredibly easy to grow attached to and I found myself constantly wanting the best for her. The depiction of Sophia’s social anxiety was incredibly well done and seeing the tensions rise between Sophia and her friends/family was incredibly painful and honestly made me feel incredibly sad for Sophia.
Joshua is a boy who also has no idea what to do with his life after high school, he’s intelligent, but he’s also obsessed with magic tricks. He is incredibly shy and complex, and I loved that he wasn’t your typical YA love interest. He is SO different from the usual mold of boyfriend you see in YA literature and it was incredibly refreshing to see! I may have also gotten a little bit excited about Joshua’s love for magic because my boyfriend is also obsessed with magic tricks (albeit, not to the extent that Joshua is, and he can’t DO the tricks but loves them all the same) and seeing all of the little references to different illusionists and magicians such as Penn & Teller made me SO FREAKING HAPPY???
The diversity in this novel is something I really want to make a point of, because it was so well done and wonderful to see as well! Sophia is an Australian with Sri Lankan descent and her best friend Elsie, is Indian. Seeing how their ethnicities were incorporated into the story and how they were written was so great!
Melissa Keil’s writing was wonderful and felt so incredibly authentic in regards to the dialogue and how she developed her cast of characters. While this is primarily a character driven novel, each of the events they experience, and the things they go through was so much fun (sometimes sad) to read about and the dialogue between various characters made me laugh out loud several times! There were geeky references in regards to science and maths as well as pop culture. Sophia’s favourite TV show is Doctor Who, and anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Doctor Who myself so seeing how much Sophia loved this show in addition to Joshua making references to magic shows, made me smile SO MUCH.
Overall, The Secret Science of Magic was written incredibly well and has a super unique and diverse cast of characters. Despite at first seeming like an “unlikeable character”, you can’t help falling in love with Sophia and Joshua and their beautifully developing relationship.
Make sure you check out all the other blogs on
The Secret Science of Magic blog tour! 🙂