Jasmine Smith is a teenage witch living in modern day Salem, Mass. She has unruly hair, an â€œalmost boyfriendâ€ and a propensity to play with magic.
She is also the star of â€œMy Romantic Spellâ€ and the creation of Rodney Robbins, a local author.
In the novel, Jasmine attempts to find a boyfriend for her widowed mother through magic. She also deals with a romantic interest of her own, a smart, gawky boy named Wendle.
While writing the book, Robbins drew from his childhood in Massachusetts.
â€œSince I was little, my parents had meditation groups and had new-agey friends over,â€ he said.
Every New Yearâ€™s Eve his mother would lay out tarot cards to see what would happen in the coming year.
His young heroine leads a similar life and has a definite interest in the occult.
â€œIt was just commonplace for me, and itâ€™s like that for her,â€ he said.
Robbins no longer consults the tarot, but he hasnâ€™t thrown away all the things he grew up with.
â€œIâ€™m a very spiritual person, but Iâ€™m also a quality manager, so Iâ€™m looking for results,â€ he said.
Whether the magic in â€œMy Romantic Spellâ€ is imagined by the heroine or completely real remains ambiguous.
â€œItâ€™s not like Harry Potter where you levitate things,â€ said Robbins. â€œItâ€™s more like serendipity.â€
This fact makes it hard to lump the book in with fantasy fiction.
â€œIt only took six months to write, but then it sat 10 years because the publishers didnâ€™t know what to do with it,â€ said Robbins.
He came up with the idea for the novel in his mid-30s while studying at Lenior-Rhyne University.
At the same time, he was dealing with a debilitating disease, hypokalemic periodic paralysis. One of the symptoms was fast paced thought.
â€œIf my mind was going to race anyway, I might as well think of something fun,â€ he said.
And so he thought of Jasmine and her mother living near the ocean in his old hometown.
He also added the character of Alfred, a biker in his mid-30s who builds sets for horror movies. This is the one he identifies with most.
Not only does Robbins enjoy motorcycles, he also spent time working in corporate video and writing scripts. He now works in a factory as a quality manager, a job that makes use of his skills at technical writing.
He still deals with hypokalemic periodic paralysis and has learned how to lead a less physically demanding life. He has had the disease since childhood, although he was only diagnosed relatively recently.
Unlike many authors, Robbins wasnâ€™t much of a reader as a child, and he still isnâ€™t driven to constant reading.
â€œWhen I was a little kid, I had no interest,â€ he said. â€œZippo.â€
Things change, however, and he now has several ideas for new books, one of which is a follow up on Jasmine.
â€œThis is book one of the series,â€ he said of â€œMy Romantic Spell.â€ â€œIâ€™m already dreaming up book two.â€
Heâ€™s also working on â€œ52 Ways to Impress Your Boss Without Kissing Up,â€ which combines advice with cartoon drawings, and hopes to someday write a nonfiction piece on chronic disease.
The actor and musician also has plans of adapting â€œMy Romantic Spellâ€ to the stage.
The young adult novel can be purchased at Waldenbooks or Barnes and Noble. If the stores do not have copies in stock, they can be ordered.
For those willing to pay the shipping price, â€œMy Romantic Spellâ€ is also available on the Internet at Lulu.com and Amazon.com.by Sarah Grano