Book Bites: Kat Howard – Do You Take Sugar?

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

Be it known to one and all that Kat Howard is magical. Her books are magical. Her cats are magical. Writing a short story with her is magical (watch for ours, coming out at Barnes & Noble SciFi soon!).

So now you know. Read her magical discussion of sugar, etiquette, and power, below. Then buy her books. End Stop.


Do You Take Sugar?
by Kat Howard

Purchase Information

One of the plot threads of An Unkindness of Magicians is that of a society-wide magical battle. It’s fought in a series of duels, duels which eventually are required to become fatal. It sounds serious, but it’s played as a game – the end results, the status they bring, that’s what matters. The deaths, not so much.

And these were fun to write, these sometimes over-the-top magical duels. I’ve loved a good wizards’ duel since watching Mad Madame Mim in The Sword in the Stone. But one of my favorite moments of magical power struggle isn’t an official challenge, but a quiet meeting between two magicians and the offer of a pot of tea.

Neither Miranda Prospero nor Miles Merlin are participating in the duels directly. They are Heads of Houses; they have people for that. But they are definitely on different sides of things, and one day Miles visits Miranda, to put pressure on the line between them.

Miranda wields her manners like weapons, and so she offers Miles something to drink – coffee, tea, water – her House, after all, is quite capable of putting it together. Houses are bound to their Heads, and can perform tasks for them. Well, most Houses can.

House Merlin cannot.

As for the reason, that’s a spoiler, but suffice to say that Miranda’s smile over the pot of Lady Grey is full of teeth.

In this tiny, polite duel, she wins. And if you want to see who wins the larger, messier duels, I hope you’ll try the book.


Kat Howard is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror who lives and writes in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, performed on NPR, and anthologized in year’s best and best of volumes. In the past, she’s been a competitive fencer and a college professor. An Unkindness of Magicians is her second novel. Her debut, Roses and Rot, was released from Saga Press in May of 2016, and was a Locus Award finalist for Best First Novel. Her short fiction collection, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, will be out in 2018, also from Saga. You can find her on twitter, and on tumblr.

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