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the story behind the book

Lev Grossman on ending the magician’s trilogy

david wilson for the boston globe

Lev Grossman’s “The Magician’s Land,” published this summer, brings to an end a trilogy that also includes 2009’s “The Magicians” and 2011’s “The Magician King.”

Concluding the body of work “feels satisfying, very satisfying,” Grossman said, but hastened to add, “there’s a little bit of mourning involved.” After all, he said in a telephone interview, “there were some characters that I very much enjoyed being; I enjoyed writing in their voices. And I don’t think I ever will again . . . But there wasn’t any question in my mind that the story was done.”

For one thing, he said, his life is much happier now than when he began the trilogy.


“I was in a very dark place, a very stuck place, a very lost place,” Grossman said. “One of the ways that I worked my way out of that was by writing the Magician books.”

Literature as a way to work through ideas and feelings is nothing new for Grossman, who grew up in Lexington among a family of writers (his mother and brother are fiction writers and his father, who died in June, was a poet). It was, he said, “a mixed blessing. Your house is full of books, and they’re everywhere, and people consider them important, and they consider writing a valuable thing to do with your life. But there are a lot of voices in that house . . . it can be a little bit hard to find your own voice.”

One way, Grossman discovered, was to strike out into his own genre. “It was a surprise to me when I became a fantasy novelist,” he said. “I had always intended to be a writer of literary fiction. The first time I wrote a scene in which someone casts a spell, the story just came pouring out of me. It felt very rebellions and forbidden and filthy; I had a strong sense that they’ll never let me get away with this, which is the best possible feeling to have when you’re writing a novel.”


Grossman reads from “The Magician’s Land” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brookline Booksmith.

Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.