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New young adult book touched with magic

Jasmine Smith is a teenage witch living in modern day Salem, Mass. She has unruly hair, an “almost boyfriend” and a propensity to play with magic.
She is also the star of “My Romantic Spell” 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.
“Since I was little, my parents had meditation groups and had new-agey friends over,” he said.
Every New Year’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.
“It was just commonplace for me, and it’s like that for her,” he said.
Robbins no longer consults the tarot, but he hasn’t thrown away all the things he grew up with.
“I’m a very spiritual person, but I’m also a quality manager, so I’m looking for results,” he said.
Whether the magic in “My Romantic Spell” is imagined by the heroine or completely real remains ambiguous.
“It’s not like Harry Potter where you levitate things,” said Robbins. “It’s more like serendipity.”
This fact makes it hard to lump the book in with fantasy fiction.
“It only took six months to write, but then it sat 10 years because the publishers didn’t know what to do with it,” 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.
“If my mind was going to race anyway, I might as well think of something fun,” 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 wasn’t much of a reader as a child, and he still isn’t driven to constant reading.
“When I was a little kid, I had no interest,” he said. “Zippo.”
Things change, however, and he now has several ideas for new books, one of which is a follow up on Jasmine.
“This is book one of the series,” he said of “My Romantic Spell.” “I’m already dreaming up book two.”
He’s also working on “52 Ways to Impress Your Boss Without Kissing Up,” 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 “My Romantic Spell” 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, “My Romantic Spell” is also available on the Internet at Lulu.com and Amazon.com.by Sarah Grano

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