The Second Magician’s Tale

When a young woman rejoins a colorful group of traveling players as a replacement for her magician husband, who was lost in an explosion, her precarious state imperils the entire troupe. The Second Magician’s Tale—a novel set in the 1970s and bookended by mirroring calamities—is a story of loss, obsession, and escape.

From the Interview:

You build on so many interesting and intricate details about many areas of life – rural, urban, small town, academic, even circuses. I wonder how you accumulate your knowledge and if you’ve ever been tempted to resort to a team of research assistants as someone like James Michener did. Could you address this using astrology, which is so integral to The Second Magician’s Tale, as a particular example?

—Mary Byers, Minneapolis, Minnesota

To start right in with the Michener question, Mary, like most writers, I couldn’t afford a research staff even if I wanted one. Read more…

How do you go about developing structure for a novel? Is it part of an initial plan, or does it evolve as you develop your material? Or maybe some combination of both?

—Kathleen Jesme, Inver Grove Heights

…It’s in assembling all the bigger parts in the most effective way and knowing what pieces have to be jettisoned that I’ve struggled most. I could give examples from all of my novels, but The Second Magician’s Tale is probably the most instructive, Read more


From The Troupe, “A Mansion in Kansas,” The Second Magician’s Tale
From Nell, “The Heat of the Sun,” The Second Magician’s Tale
From The Troupe, “Forms of Love,” The Second Magician’s Tale
From Nell, “Path of a Bird,” The Second Magician’s Tale

Audio Excerpts:

From The Troupe, A Mansion in KansasThe Second Magician’s Tale:
From Nell “Path of a Bird,” The Second Magician’s Tale

Music Links:

Awadagin Pratt, “Promenade and “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs,”” Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky

Ute Lemper, “Alabama Song” from Mahagonny by Kurt Weill

Philip Glass, Violin Concerto No. 2: The American Four Seasons, Movement IV; Facades

Stevie Wonder, “Another Star,” Songs in the Key of Life

To explore further, look in Bonus Excerpts in Excerpts for Baseball Moments, Bar Scenes and Church Scenes.

Permanent link to this article: