Revisiting “Love Is The Spell That Casts Out Fear,” a story about love, sacrifice, and magic

Far Fetched Fables is a great podcast that has featured many of my most favorite writers, so I was very happy when they asked to present my story “Love Is The Spell That Casts Out Fear,” originally published in John Joseph Adam’s The Way of the Wizard in 2010. A tiny excerpt:

The wizard lives alone in a tiny house at the forest’s edge. To the north are the tangled woods, home to unlikely zoological and botanical specimens the wizard has spent several lifetimes cataloging; she plans to spend several more. To the south lies the city: Perta Perdida, the City of Lost Girls.

The girls of Perta Perdida call the wizard Hanna D’Forrest, when they think of her at all. She’s charged with their protection. Whether this responsibility is one for which she volunteered, or one forced upon her, they no longer remember. Neither does she. Time moves differently here, languid as a summer stream. A place of refuge, this city was built to elude change. If they could trap this world like a leaf in amber, they would. But in the absence of that kind of magic, they settle for slowed clocks. They cling to their world as tightly as they can.


You can download Far Fetched Fables #88 here. Along with my story, read by Heidi Hotz, the episode includes flash fiction by Melody Marie Sage, read by Catherine Logan.


If podcasts aren’t your thing, the full text of the story is freely available here, along with a fantastic short introduction that I think is really insightful about what I was hoping to do with the story.


When the The Way of the Wizard came out, editor John Joseph Adams published interviews with several of the authors. You can read my interview here. 

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

My story is actually two stories. One story is about an average girl who lives in a middle-class suburb, attends a typical evangelical Christian church, and hides a big secret. The other story is about a girl wizard who lives in a fantastical city called Perta Perdida, where lost girls from every universe escape to be safe. Of course, the two stories are really the same story. That story is about the sacrifices we make for people we love, and the way our fantasy lives give us the power and courage to make these sacrifices.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

When I first set out to write a story about a wizard, I knew I wanted to write something that would explore magic and wizardry in a metafictional way. I adore M. John Harrison’s story “Seven Guesses of the Heart,” which beautifully engages the idea of magic and what it means — as well as what it is and isn’t capable of changing. Inspired by this story, I wanted to write something in a similar vein. I also knew I wanted to write something with anachronistic elements, using signifiers and scenery that would disassociate the story from any particular place or time.


Listen to the podcast

Read the story

Read the interview

Buy the anthology