Updated: Sep 7
Welcome to Spellcroft Street, where ancient magic meets girl power! New girl in town Jenny is thrilled to make three new friends who share her love of music. They form a band called THE SPELLCASTERS, but when an ancient evil spirit escapes from its underground lair, the girls discover that they have something even more special in common – they can all channel the magical powers of their ancestors! Maya can shapeshift, Tamzin can control nature, and Ananya's wishes come true. But to stop the evil Graydig from destroying their beloved community centre, Jenny must travel back in time to ancient China to master her own supernatural ability . . .
Today marks the release of Spellcasters, a brand new magical adventure series for 7+ readers! We invited author Tania Tay, who writes the series under the pen name Crystal Sung to the blog for a conversation on her writing journey and creating Spellcasters with Storymix.
How did your writing journey begin?
In the school holidays, I typed stories on my mum’s old typewriter, mainly musical plays based on fairy tales. My neighbour, Helen, was into dance and drama and would organise the choreography and we’d act in them with our siblings. When I left university, I was an advertising copywriter for years. I started writing fiction in a short story class at the City Lit with Leone Ross. Then I wrote an unpublished children’s fantasy called Dragon Empress which started me writing for children.
Tell us about your new book, Spellcasters!
Spellcasters is a series about Jenny, who comes to live with her Malaysian Chinese grandparents in Spellcroft Street. One day, drilling in a nearby building site disturbs an evil spirit called the Graydig, and triggers the magical powers of Jenny, Tamzin, Ananya and Maya. Each girl has a piece of talisman jewellery which gives them magical power from a female ancestor. They have to practice their magic and work together, so they can defeat the Graydig and save Spellcroft.
What’s your favourite part about creating a book?
I love the beginning stages of creating a story when it’s fresh and sparkling in my mind. I like to think up plot ideas, and develop interesting characters, usually based on people I know, and work out how they can interact. I like to explore themes like friendship, and how different personalities can be friends.
What do you like about working with Storymix?
Storymix have the most amazing ideas for children’s books. They always include children of colour and different heritages, which makes their stories rich and interesting. I loved researching about magic as I really believed in magic spells when I was a child. Also, the Storymix editors work out the whole plot, so I don’t get tangled up with plot holes. I can relax and enjoy adding the descriptions and character details, which is the most fun part. Everyone at Storymix are wonderful, positive people, and really supportive of new writers.
Do you have any advice for young readers and writers?
Tips for young readers:
Read for fun and read what you enjoy. Don’t let people around you be snobbish about books you read in your own time. Fun, commercial books, graphic novels and even comics are all storytelling. Never force yourself to read stuff you find boring. [You might have to for school of course!]
Tips for young writers:
Keep a notebook to write down random interesting things you see, and things people say or do. Or you can record a voice note to yourself on your phone. Start off writing about yourself, your family and friends - but don’t forget to change what they look like so they don’t know you’re writing about them!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
In my spare time, I’m always reading - all sorts of genres, and I watch tons of TV. I like chilling
out with my family, preferably at the beach. I bake fancy cakes and cupcakes. I help organise
events for writers and volunteer for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
What can we expect from you next?
I’m writing Spellcasters Book Two. I also have a book for adults being published next year. One day I would like to rewrite my middle grade fantasy novel – Dragon Empress, as well as my young YA novel – Lovespell.
Tania’s new book, Spellcasters, is out now! Pick up your copy from your local bookshop or head to Buy our Books. You can find Tania on Instagram and Twitter at @taniatay88 or over at @storymixstudio for more exclusive content!
Check out Storymix: Craft and Conversation where Tania joins us for a conversation on using slang and foreign words authentically when writing.