When a young illusionist foreseen to bring about Earth’s salvation fails to develop those prophesied powers, he’ll do what he must to escape his cruel guardians and stop the world from falling to a mysterious enemy.
Sue Duff’s premier novel releasing this October, Fade to Black, winds a tale of self-resilience and
wonder at the world on a backdrop of urban fantasy and science fiction.
In Fade to Black, Ian Black is guarded by the Weir, a race of magical beings who struggle to prevent the planet from self-destructing during a time that natural disasters are on the rise in frequency and intensity. In a desperate move, the Weir elders torture Ian to force his powers to arrive, prompting Ian to abandon his people to hide among humans. He soon uncovers, along with curious college student Rayne Bevan, a mysterious enemy behind the Weir’s raging civil war and Ian races to stop the lethal saboteur before launching Armageddon.
As a fan of both fantasy and sci-fi, Duff blended the two genres into a story where even the magical
beings needed help from science. She relied on astrophysics as a basis to the Weir’s powers, but also hopes readers accept that science can’t explain everything.
“I’m a natural sciences nerd, which comes in handy when I research everything,” Duff said, but,
“Embrace the wonders and mysteries in the universe.”
Fade to Black is the first installment in The Weir Chronicles, a planned five-book mainstream
speculative fiction series. It was a finalist in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest through Rocky
Mountain Fiction Writers in 2011.
When not saving the world one page at a time, Duff works as a speech therapist. She enjoys taking her octogenarian dachshund for strolls and stretching her creative juices in the kitchen. A Colorado transplant, she savors the incredible seasons, but appreciates that Mother Nature spares her from shoveling the driveway, too often.
Sue Duff has been writing since high school but never became serious about it until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was a finalist
in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writing Contest.
By day, she’s a dedicated speech-language therapist in an inner city school district. But her life as a writer is her true passion and the creative outlet keeps her sane.
Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. Her creativity extends into her garden and the culinary arts.
Born in Chicago, she moved to Phoenix as a young child. She received her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and her master’s from the University of Denver.
She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen. Fate thought it hilarious to give her a son but maternal instincts swing both ways and she didn’t break the little bugger. She lives in Colorado with her miniature dachshund, Snickers, and hears from her son, Jonathan, whenever he needs something.
Q&A with Sue DuffWhere did you come up with your ideas for Fade to Black?
I was in search of a new kind of superhero and I drew upon my love of science in a deliberate avoidance of all things alien, vampire, werewolf, or typical wizardry. From that basic premise, Ian’s character and the world of the Weir gradually took shape.
You’re a fan of both fantasy and science fiction, and your writing is a hybrid of the two genres. Can you talk a little about writing the book in such a way?
Although the basis of the story is very much Contemporary Fantasy, I pull strong SciFi elements into all the novels in the series. The basic plot centers on the fact that the Weir are dying out. In this day and age, it made sense to me that even magical beings might turn to modern science as a way to stop, or reverse, the extinction of their race. I enjoy the dichotomy that the Weir, with their care of the planet and emphasis of all things natural, debunk what they have stood for, over thousands of years, and mess with Mother Nature in an attempt to save their butts.
Did the book involve special research?
Some research involves Ian’s alter ego, the illusionist. If there’s a show about magic or illusions on
television, I’m usually watching it. I love coming up with variations of acts that I see or tapping into nature, as Ian might, to create a unique illusion.
Because of my love for earth and space sciences/astrophysics, not all of it is Greek to me. If I want a
character to have a specific power, or the planet to respond in a particular way, I research it until I can support it with fact or theory, or I shy away from using it. Their ability to shyft comes from the parallax effect, rapid healing from complex matrix (a variation to what amphibians have that allows them to regrow their tails). If I take liberties, they’re often minimal and come from my questions about the wonders of the planet.
The book is equally appealing to males and females. Did you write it with both in mind?
In the beginning I had this complex, epic story to tell and focused on writing the first installment without a particular population in mind, but the appeal with a wide variety of age groups and gender became apparent the more I shared it with others. I belong to a writer’s group that meets each week at a local bookstore. As I read chapters from the novel, I realized the men in the group enjoyed it as much as the women. Since we meet out in the open, it’s not uncommon for the store’s patrons, especially teenagers or young adults, to eavesdrop on our group’s readings. I was equally approached by both genders during breaks or at the end and asked questions about my story, or to tell me how much they enjoyed what they heard.
While Fade to Black is an entertaining read, you do have a message behind it as well for readers?
Yes, there are two things I hope people get out of reading the series. Regardless of the naysayers, believe in yourself and follow your own strengths and path in the world. Ian didn’t develop his powers as the prophecy predicted, and Rayne wasn’t the firstborn male Sar that her father desired. The fact that Ian turned to illusions in order to do what he couldn’t naturally (lack of powers in a magical world) is key to his character. Tortured for what he had no control over, he discovered and nurtured something that he could control.
Secondly, accept that science can’t explain everything and embrace the wonders and mysteries in the universe. My favorite line from the first book is: There will always be magic in the world, as long as we believe in what we don’t understand.
Any non-spoiler sneak peak you can give us into the next installment of the series?
I offered lots of action, suspense and mystery in Book One and I’m confident that I continue to deliver that in Book Two. The Weir’s meddling with science to perpetuate their race is again central to the second installment, but the antagonist’s global annihilation agenda takes an unforeseen turn. At the end of Book One, I revealed how important a secondary character was to the plot, and Book Two equally focuses on him, Ian and Rayne, while setting up mega layers of tension and angst between the three of them.