Fi Phillips: the story so far

photo grid of Fi Phillips, Haven Wakes, Magic Bound, and the words Fi Phillips: the story so far

It’s my first blog post of the new year, so I thought it was time to have a catch-up and reintroduce myself and my books.

My name is Fi Phillips. I’m a fantasy author, freelance copywriter, wife and mum, and slave to a dog called Bailey. I live in North Wales, just over the border from Chester. My novels, Haven Wakes and Magic Bound, were released by Burning Chair Publishing in 2019 and 2022.

Want to know more about my novels?

Haven Wakes blurb

When his uncle dies, Steve Haven finds himself the guardian of a strange artefact known only as the Reactor. But there are people out there who want the Reactor: dangerous and powerful people, who will stop at nothing to get it.

Steve is dragged into a race against time to save two worlds from an evil he could never have imagined and, in doing so, is forced to rely on people who, just a few days before, he would never have believed could exist.

Magic Bound blurb

The magic returns.

When Hartley Keg and Blessing go missing, Steve Haven once again finds himself plunged back into a hidden world of magic. Teaming up with the darkling, he finds himself on the run from the Council and their enforcers, the Hidden, as he seeks to keep safe those that he holds most dear.

Things are complicated further when a new player emerges: Parity, who are far too keen in the Haven Corporation, and the magical device which nearly led to its destruction.

What follows is a race against time through a series of worlds, each more fantastical and dangerous than the last, as Steve and his friends try to keep one step ahead of their pursuers.

Haven Wakes and Magic Bound by Fi Phillips on an abstract magical background

Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

Last year was all about finishing the first draft of the third book in my futuristic fantasy series. I achieved that goal just before the end of 2023. On New Year’s day, I took up the reins again and began the first round of edits. I’m twelve chapters in so far.

The plan is to finish editing the first draft by the end of February at the latest, and then send it off to my publisher. Fingers crossed.

After that, I’ll be planning out book 4 in the series.

What else?

To date, I’ve written a short story and a novelette set in the same world as my novels. ‘The Hidden Knowing’ is available for free to new subscribers to my author newsletter. ‘A Shadow Falls in Darkacre’ was a Christmas subscriber freebie in 2022 and 2023. I immensely enjoyed investigating side characters and plotlines in both tales, so I’d like to create more short stories centred around the magical community of Darkacre. The plan is to eventually publish them all in a collection of Darkacre tales.

You can also find my writing in two anthologies: 2020 Together and 2021 Still Together. Both raise money for the NHS charities.

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So that’s me, Fi, and my writing so far. And if you’d like to find out how I became a writer, hop on over to my About page.

The rewards of writing a fiction series

I’ve blogged before about the challenges of writing book two and those challenges haven’t diminished as I work on the third book of the Haven Chronicles. What I haven’t written about is the rewards of writing a fiction series.

Writing a series isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly satisfying. It’s certainly given me a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also helped me to grow as a writer.

So in this blog post, I want to share with you some of the rewards that I’ve enjoyed while writing my series. These aren’t the only rewards, of course, but they are some of the most important ones for me.

Exploring the world of the Haven Chronicles

When I wrote Haven Wakes, I fell in love with both the futuristic and magical aspects of Caercester and Darkacre. In Magic Bound, I got the chance to extend that world beyond the city limits and dive deeper into the magical culture.

 Building a world that has elements of both fantasy and sci fi is an absolute joy. I have the chance to play with robots and technology that is being developed in our world right now or is only theorised about at the moment. I can also indulge my love of all things folklore and magic, including characters from the mythological tales I devoured as a child.

Writing a series allows me to wend my way through that world, further and further afield with each book, and explore the intricacies of both the magical and workaday** cultures. With each new instalment, I can return there and share those locations with my readers.

Revisiting the characters of the Haven Chronicles

It’s not only the world of the Haven Chronicles that I can revisit; there’s the characters too. Writing a series allows me to follow the journeys of Steve, Hartley, Blessing, and the darkling, plus some well-loved side characters like James and Frobisher too. With each new book, I can explore their development, their relationships with each other, and how their views of the world change over time.

What’s more, I can create companion stories that feature those characters too. Hartley Keg and Frobisher turn up in my short stories, The Hidden Knowing and A Shadow Falls in Darkacre. And I’ve plans to write a novel about Hartley’s adventures long before he meets Steve in Haven Wakes.

Serving the readers of the Haven Chronicles

Before my novels were published, I always worried about how they’d be received. Would readers like them and want more? Or would they post horrendous 1* reviews and my books die a literary death? Thankfully, the feedback I’ve received from beta and ARC readers, bloggers, and book reviewers has been encouraging.

And instead of simply accepting the praise, I’ve done my best to listen to what readers want to see in future books too. More action. More future tech. The most common question from readers has been ‘where are Steve’s parents?’. I’ll answer that in the third book in the series.

Challenging myself as a writer

Writing a series has meant continuing an overarching storyline and making sure that my characters are consistent but also develop with each new adventure. It’s also meant:

  • planning ahead for the entire series, not just one novel
  • learning how to keep my characters acting like themselves but changing over time too
  • planting seeds that will reach fruition in future books
  • keeping the plot of each novel relevant to the overall story arc of the series
  • making each book bigger than the one before
  • keeping track of what’s happened in previous books so I don’t make continuity mistakes

It’s a completely different skillset to writing one stand-alone story but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying immensely.

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Writing a series has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as a writer. I’ve loved exploring the world and the characters of the Haven Chronicles, serving my readers and listening to their feedback, and challenging myself to grow and improve as a writer. I can’t wait to share the third book in the series with you.

** a term used to describe non magical people in my novels

Looking back over 2022

It’s that time of year again, when I take a moment to look back over 2022 before I dive into the festive season. It has been a marvellous year for me on so many fronts. Here’s why:

Haven Wakes was reborn

My first fantasy novel, Haven Wakes, received a make-over. The clever people at Burning Chair came up with a fresh new book cover design. I loved the original but to me, the new design reflects the novel so much better.

Magic Bound was published

This has to be the highlight of the year. The second novel in my fantasy series, Magic Bound, was published in the summer. It’s a continuation of Steve’s journey into magic and takes him far beyond the city walls of Caercester. I even made an unboxing video.

Here’s the blurb:

The magic returns.

When Hartley Keg and Blessing go missing, Steve Haven, the young heir to the Haven Robotics Corporation, once again finds himself plunged back into the chaos of the hidden world of magic.

Teaming up with the darkling, he finds himself on the run from the Council and their enforcers, the Hidden, as he seeks to keep safe those whom he holds most dear.

Things are complicated further when a new player emerges: Parity, a clandestine organisation who are far too keen in the Haven Corporation and the magical device which almost led to its destruction.

What follows is a race not only against time but through a series of locations, each more fantastical and dangerous than the last, as Steve and his friends attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.

I read a lot of fiction books

Well, it was a lot for me anyway. So far in 2022, I have read:

I meant to read a lot more than this, but life got in the way. My current read is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. As usual you can find my book reviews on my Instagram channel.

My blogging habit

I publish a new blog post every month. In 2022, these were my personal favourites:

I also appeared in a couple of guest blog posts in 2022. The first is on the Whispering Stories blog, The writing life of Fi Phillips. The second was an interview by my lovely publisher, Burning Chair.

The Life of Fi

As far as my personal life goes, 2022 has also been kind. My son passed his A levels and got into the university of his choice (that’s both of my offspring at university now).

I also went on a cruise of the Norwegian fjords with my husband. Obviously, clothes had to be bought for the posh nights and the Norwegian summer temperatures (chilly).

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So that’s it, my wonderful year. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve presents to buy, celebrations to enjoy, and book three of my fantasy series to write. There’s no rest for the writerly.

Tackling the third book in the series

paperback copies of Haven Wakes and Magic Bound on a mountain backdrop with the words Tackling Book 3

If you follow me and my writing, you’ll know that the second book of my YA futuristic fantasy series was released at the beginning of August. Magic Bound picks up the story a few weeks after the end of Haven Wakes. Steve and his friends face the consequences of their actions, head off on a new adventure into a bigger slice of both the magical and non-magical worlds, and struggle against two new big-bads.

With Magic Bound out in the world, it’s time to tackle the next novel in the series. In a lot of ways, writing book three isn’t so different to writing book two. It involves:

  • giving Steve a reason to start another quest
  • showing more of both the magical world and the futuristic world
  • lots of research into new topics like anti-gravity and world tree mythology
  • listening to reader reactions to the book before
  • revealing more about Steve and his family’s connection to magic
  • creating a complete adventure that leaves enough undone for the story to continue

Book three picks up almost immediately after the end of Magic Bound and addresses an issue mentioned by several readers – where are Steve’s parents? That is Steve’s reason for continuing his journey into magic.

In book three, you’ll read about many of the familiar locations you already know – Darkacre, the Haven Robotics Corporation offices, and the Council controlled Confluence too – but Steve will visit plenty of new places too, both magical and workaday.

There’ll be more information on Steve and his family, and revelations aplenty about their connection with the world of magic.

There’s an old foe to parry with and a new threat too, more powerful than any that Steve has faced before.

While there’s always room for change when writing a novel, one thing I know for sure is that this isn’t a trilogy. Book three is not the end for Steve and his friends.

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If you’d like to keep up-to-date with my writing news, and receive a free short story too, why not sign up to my Author News.

Want to help make Magic Bound a best seller?

paperback copy of Magic Bound on forest background with words Help make Magic Bound a bestseller

The big day – when Magic Bound is launched by Burning Chair Publishing – is only weeks away. It’s all rather exciting and the countdown is going in a blur. Advance book reviews are coming in and the pre-order links are up. I lovingly unwrapped my author copies, and even made an unboxing video. What I need now is a little help in getting the word out about Magic Bound in the run up to its publication and on the big day too.

Would you help me make Magic Bound a best seller, dear reader? Yes? Brilliant. Then this is how you can make a huge difference.

Blog about Magic Bound

Some of my readers are bloggers too. If that’s you, help raise the visibility of Magic Bound by writing about it. You could blog about the actual book release, interview me, or post a book review on your blog. Anything would be really appreciated.

Tell your friends about Magic Bound

If you’re reading this blog post, it’s a fair assumption that you like to read fantasy novels. What about your friends? If they, your family, or members of your book club enjoy fantasy too, why not tell them about Magic Bound?

Shout about Magic Bound on social media

Everyone and their auntie are on social media these days. Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some where else in the social media universe, a like, comment, or share of my posts means that a wider audience will find out about Magic Bound. Even better, a post by you about my novels will massively impact my social media reach.

There are other novels out there called Magic Bound so if you want to use a hashtag on social media, please use #MagicBoundFiPhillips

Leave an honest book review of Magic Bound

If you enjoy reading Magic Bound, an honest book review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you bought my book would be fantastic. It spreads the word, tells other readers what to expect, and provides that much needed evidence that Magic Bound is an excellent read.

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If you want to get involved in spreading the word about Magic Bound and get the book launch off to a great start, here’s all the information you need.

The blurb:

The magic returns.

When Hartley Keg and Blessing go missing, Steve Haven, the young heir to the Haven Robotics Corporation, once again finds himself plunged back into the chaos of Darkacre.

Teaming up with the darkling, he finds himself on the run from the Council and their enforcers, the Hidden, as he seeks to keep safe those he holds most dear.

Things are complicated further when a new player emerges: the Parity, who are far too keen in the Haven Corporation, and the magical device which nearly led to its destruction.

What follows is a race not only against time but through a series of worlds, each more fantastical and dangerous than the last, as Steve and his friends try to keep one step ahead of their pursuers.

Magic Bound is the second adventure in the Haven Chronicles, following on from Haven Wakes, a unique blend of fantasy and sci-fi which has been described by readers as “shades of Artemis Fowl, hints of Harry Potter… and Skulduggery Pleasant”.

The links:

Magic Bound is published on 2nd August by Burning Chair Publishing.

If you’d like more information or a range of bookish images, want to interview me for your blog, or just want to say ‘hi’ or ‘good luck’, drop me an email.

The inspiration behind Magic Bound

paperback of Magic Bound over blue forest backdrop and the words 'the inspiration behind...'

Back in 2019, in the run up to the release of Haven Wakes, I wrote a blog post about the inspiration behind the novel. I wrote about magic, the colourful folk I’d grown up with, and literary characters who had stayed with me for years. Now, with a release date in sight for book two in the series, Magic Bound, I think it only fitting that I tell you about the inspiration for that novel too.

Haven Wakes

Haven Wakes is where Steve’s adventure and journey into magic begins. It’s where he discovers that magic exists and makes new friends, Hartley Keg and Blessing. It’s also where he finds out that his family has a connection to this hidden world. Most important of all, he discovers just what he is capable of.

Haven Wakes sets a firm foundation for Magic Bound and the rest of the series.

A bigger look at the workaday, tech-led world

There was only so much of the futuristic world that Steve grew up in that I could reveal in one book. In Magic Bound, I wanted to investigate that world in more detail. From the public transport system, to non Haven robots, to how people live in the modern world beyond the city limits of Caercester, Magic Bound widens the reader’s viewpoint on the workaday culture of the novel.

And a bigger look at the magical world

The hidden world of magic is so much more than Darkacre. I wanted to explore that in much more detail. How are the magicals governed? How many workadays know about them? Are there other communities like Darkacre? Is the Reactor a one off device or part of something larger? What is the connection between magic and the Havens?

I wanted to answer all of these questions and more in Magic Bound.

Magic, mythology and fairytales

Since I was a child, I’ve been intrigued by the magic that’s inherent in mythology, fairytales, and folklore. I wanted to bring more of that to Magic Bound in a range of new characters. Some will be back later in the series; others may have books and short stories of their own.

Steve is growing up

Haven Wakes is just as much about Steve discovering his own capabilities as it is about his discovery of magic.

As Magic Bound begins, Steve turns 13. He’s a teenager and as he tries to work out what that means, he’s drawn back into the hidden underbelly of magic. I wanted to show his development into a young adult and his growing confidence in who he is.

Consequences

Stories may be imaginary, but they are also based in the truths that we know. Just as real life has consequences, so too do the fictional happenings in books. Steve and his friends would always have to answer to the magical powers that be for their actions in Haven Wakes. I wanted to explore these consequences and the resulting path that Steve would be forced to take in Magic Bound.

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Magic Bound will be published by Burning Chair on 2nd August 2022.