LOVE SUGAR MAGIC
LOVE SUGAR MAGIC – just those three words conjure deliciousness enough to make any day feel warm and happy. Which is why I’m so excited that this week marks the third installation of the Anna Meriano’s wonderful LOVE, SUGAR, MAGIC trilogy: A Mischief of Magic (HarpersChildren/Walden Pond Press, February 2020)
About the Series
Leo Logroño and her sisters and mother are brujas–witches of Mexican ancestry–and have been keeping the residents of Rose Hill, Texas, well-stocked with both sweet treats from their panadería and problem-solving magic. In her previous adventures, Leo learns of her own magical powers, tied to her birth order, but has a couple of missteps along the way.
A Mixture of Mischief
In her latest adventure, Leo still hasn’t discovered exactly what her magical abilities are, but she’s excited to at least be learning the baking and spice magic secrets she needs to become a full-fledged bruja. Then, her family’s heirlooms start disappearing, and a new bakery opens up across town threatening her family’s livelihood. Around that time, Leo’s long-lost Abuelo pays her a visit and promises to teach her about her power. But something about him seems wrong, including his dire warnings about a world full of threats that only she can control (with his help, of course,) and the fact that his appearance seems to be tied to the disappearance of everything that holds her family safe and secure.
Interview with Anna Meriano
It was a whirlwind week for Anna as she marked the release of her book on Tuesday, but she kindly took the time to talk to us at Mixed-Up Files to share some of her thoughts about her latest book and what’s next.
HMC: I absolutely love the imagery and smells in this book. I was hungry so often while I read it! Do you bake like Leo – is that where her inspiration comes from?
AM: Actually, no! It’s always so gratifying when people ask this because I’m constantly worried that my lack of baking experience is going to come through in my writing, but so far I seem to be fooling everyone by doing plenty of research (eating lots and lots of delicious baked goods)! The imagery (and especially the smells) come from the wealth of fantastic bakeries in Houston, plus a few years rooming with a baker in college.
HMC: AND THE SPICES….oh, the spices and the molcajete … please give us a tidbit about how you learned the art of spice blending. (AND ALSO – my mother had a black stone bowl with a grinder like that, and no one knows where it is anymore, but now I want it baaaaaack.)
AM: Again, I have to laugh because while I theoretically know that some people grow, dry, and grind their own spices, that is all so far above my culinary ability that I’ve never even considered doing it myself. Leo’s spice magic came about mostly because we needed her to interact with more family heirlooms (for plot reasons) and we wanted things that you would find in the kitchen. Plus, I thought it would be really hard to bake specific magic into a recipe if the herb you wanted to use didn’t taste good with the rest of the recipe!
Good luck finding your own family heirloom!
HMC: (Thank you!!) In this third book, you mix in a darker magic theme—was this always what you planned for this series, or did it bubble up as you were writing the first two?
AM: It was definitely something I was thinking about toward the end of book two (hence that cliffhanger ending), but it wasn’t planned from the beginning of the series. Part of the reason things got darker has to do with the world feeling darker now than it did in 2014. I also wanted Leo to grow after each book, so it made sense for her problems to grow along with her.
HMC: Among the many things children get to do (besides have delicious chills and protect their toes from duendes!) when they read books with conflict or scary people is work out for themselves how to process fear and discomfort. What kind of darkness in the world does your dark magic Abuelo represent?
AM: Thank you for this question! Abuelo Logroño represents a whole host of attitudes and people that I find scary, and it’s always tricky to boil fictional characters down to their exact real-life influences, but I would say that he embodies the toxic result of power combined with fear. This is especially dangerous because he thinks of himself as a hero, and tries to convince Leo that he is too.
HMC: Abuelo is both comical and scary – how did you craft that perfect blend of laughter and goosebumps?
AM: Unfortunately, I think I pulled straight from real life here! We’ve seen a lot of powerful figures lately that are, simply put, kind of ridiculous, so it didn’t seem at all unrealistic to make Abuelo Logroño a ridiculous figure who still represented a real threat. I do hope that readers find him less scary because of his silliness, and I hope they recognize that the bullies they meet in real life have some of the same weaknesses.
HMC: If you were a bruja, what would your power be?
AM: Well, if I follow the rules of Leo’s family magic, I would have the second-born power of making objects appear from thin air, which is a pretty cool power to have! But I like to consider that my bruja power is the thing I already love doing, which is telling stories and putting ideas into people’s heads. That’s a bit more along the lines of Isabel’s power, and I’m happy with it.
HMC: Will there be more in the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC series?
AM: This is the end of the trilogy! It makes me tear up every time I say it, though, so please don’t make me say it anymore!
HMC: What’s next for you?
AM: I have a Young Adult novel coming out this year about teens who play quidditch, which is something I do in real life, so I’m very excited for that!
Anna Meriano is the author of the LOVE SUGAR MAGIC series, which has received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness. She grew up in Houston, graduated from Rice University with a degree in English, and earned her MFA in writing for children from the New School. Anna works as a tutor and part-time teacher with Writers in the Schools, a Houston nonprofit that brings creative writing instruction into public schools. In her free time, she likes to knit, study American Sign Language, and play full-contact quidditch. Her YA debut, Brooms Up, hits shelves in the fall of 2020.
You can find the trilogy here: