Blog Tour + Giveaway: Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) by J.P. Jackson

Author J.P. Jackson and Indigo Marketing visits on the Magic or Die (Inner Demons #1) blog tour! Learn more about characters Thomas Jones and James Martin via their character interview! And enter in the giveaway for a $10 NineStar Press credit!

Title:  Magic or Die
Series: Inner Demons, Book One
Author: J.P. Jackson
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: July 2, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 87300
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, paranormal, demons, witches, magic

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James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James is forced to return to the CMRD, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.


Magic or Die
J.P. Jackson © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Call Back
“YES, MIRIAM. YES, I know. I know it’s been over a year. I’m not sure I’m ready.”

The knuckles on my hand cramped from clasping my cell phone in a death grip. I glanced at my watch. This conversation had gone on too long. In the span of two minutes, Miriam had managed to exhume memories and history I wanted buried and forgotten. I sucked in a short breath as nausea surged like a tsunami of fear. Its behemoth wave washed bile against the back of my throat.

I slumped down the stained and weathered wall of the coffin-sized studio apartment I reluctantly called a home. It wasn’t a bad place to live, except for the cockroaches I found on a daily basis. I’m sure they considered it a veritable paradise. Absentmindedly, I toed an old pizza box near my foot while listening to Miriam. One of the insects scampered across the matted Berber carpet.


Cody. A pale ghostlike face flashed before me. His hair, the exact colour of fall fallowed fields, hung listlessly over one eye, as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. His chapped lips parted, asking me, “Why?”

I ignored the vision. Well, ignored wasn’t the right word, more like boxed it up with a heavy rock and pitched it into the abyss of my mind with all the other terrifying nightmares.

“I know. I owe you, yes. I’m just not sure—” I crawled over to the upended crate being used as a coffee table, grasping for my last pack of smokes. I lit one, enjoying the soothing crackle of the tobacco as it ignited, and then inhaled deeply.

Ah, yes. Hello, nicotine, my demon friend.

Miriam continued blithering while I half-heartedly listened to her soul-sucking voice. She was demanding my presence.

“What? You mean, tomorrow? Miriam, I don’t think it’s a good idea.” I drew in another steady stream of the toxic smoke. It burned my lungs as the addictive chemicals flooded through my body. I really need to quit. Scraping together the smallest ounce of courage, I attempted to defy her. “No, I can’t.”

A wraithlike hand, desiccated and fragile, inched its way across my shoulder and gripped my tense neck muscle. Its sharp nails dug into my flesh. Its bite, a warning.

Cody’s lifeless lips brushed my ear, sending cold shivers skittering across my back. Eruptions of goose flesh covered my neck and shoulders. His voice was a memory and a sound I would never forget.

“Don’t do this. You’ll kill me again.” His icy breath whispered to me.

Another box, a bigger rock, another addition to the pit of despair in my head.

“No,” I replied to one of Miriam’s inane questions. “There’s an Arcane too? I’ve never been good with them. They creep me out. No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Shit.” Miriam had just described a scene for me. My flesh turned buggy, as if I had chiggers nesting and burrowing deep into my skin. “Oh god that’s gross. It’s also not a good sign.” I pointed uselessly at the wall, waving my finger, trying to make a point to the caller. “I never took the exam for the third class.” Miriam had asked if I’d kept up my licensing. I instantly felt guilty. I should have done it years ago. One thing was becoming evident from the conversation—she needed my help. Help only I could give.

“All right, maybe, I think I can. Consult only. Do you hear me, Miriam? Just a consult.” I had tried desperately to stay the hell out of this. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to go back there. “What time? Yes. I’m pretty sure. Miriam—” A thousand reservations ran through my mind, a wild stampede, unbridled, laced with dread and fear. “How many? How many in this class?”

The question sat like the world perched on my shoulders. The higher the number, the bigger the world, the more responsibility, an undeniable possibility of…

“Five! Are you kidding me? I can’t do five. No. No! It’s not possible.”

She was out of her mind.

“Yes, my sister is still on the streets. You know that’s close to blackmail, right?” I stubbed out the cigarette. The lacquer of smoke in my mouth tasted like I had just licked the bottom of an ashtray, and it was suddenly very hard to breathe. Why do I smoke again?

“Fine. Tomorrow. Yes. Ten a.m. Yes, I’ll be there. What do you mean dress appropriately?”

I looked at my cell phone, disgusted as the call ended.

I flipped the device onto the floor as if it had burst into flame and branded the conversation into my hand. I snorted. Like, I’d forget.

Stretching around to the other side of the crate, I grabbed blindly for a bottle I hoped was there. By all the gods’ great divine gifts, it was. And it still had liquid in it. In fact, it was surprisingly half-full.

I tipped the vodka bottle back, allowing its burn to strip away the cancer stick’s smoky film inside my mouth.

Swaying back and forth with my eyes closed, I tried to drown out the endless voices in my head. The words inundated my impending thoughts of doom and failure, and I could feel the chaos and panic mounting. Steadying myself and regaining my mental capacities, I gazed out the window. It was dark already and only six, early evening at best. Yay for daylight-savings time and late fall in Canada. Lights from the downtown cityscape lazily twinkled and danced before me. It should have been a pretty sight, but the darkness always seemed too oppressive, like a shroud. And I knew better. Things lived in the shadows.

I took another swig from the clear glass bottle. The burn hit my throat and disintegrated the bile that had crept up there.

Five very gifted students.

I rubbed the stubble covering my face and took yet another nip. Except it wasn’t a quick sip, it was a good one. A long one.

The window acted like a mirror, and my image reflected against the backdrop of the city skyline. I looked like shit. My short brown hair had cowlicks; thank god I kept it close. But the rest? No wonder Miriam instructed me to clean it up. The shirt I was sort of wearing was only half buttoned and stained in several spots. I had no pants on, but the pair of tighty-whities, which weren’t exactly white anymore, or tight, were ripped and showed more flesh than they were supposed to. Jesus.

How did my life get here?

Five young people had no control of their gifts.

And I had a sister who was lost out in the sparkle-light of downtown’s darkness, up to who knew what, and doing it with god only knew who, mired in her own addictions.

I glanced around my shit-hole apartment, wondering what the fuck I was going to do.

Magic or Die Character Interview with James Martin

Thomas Jones (reporter):“Good evening. My name is Thomas Jones, and here at Global Broadcasting Incorporated, we are committed to providing accurate and reliable news, reporting stories that affect our world, not just our nation. In recent months the ever expanding crisis of untrained and undocumented Magicals is coming to a head.
As our world evolves, we are finding that the number of Magicals, those people who have abilities that supersede what we originally thought humans were capable of, continues to grow within the world’s population. One estimate places the rate at 1 out of every 10 who are to some degree, magical, but other studies are suggesting the rate is as high as 20%.
Today we have both James Martin, ex-teacher and Psyche Magical from the Canadian Center for Magical Research and Development, and his multi-class boyfriend Isaiah Dannenberg. James and Isaiah, welcome, thanks for agreeing to take part in our expose.
Tell our audience, who you are, what your profession is and what abilities you have.”
James Martin: “Evening, thanks for having us. My name is James Martin, I was a teacher, primarily for high school and middle grades, but after my classification, no regular school district would hire on of us”
Thomas: “When you say ‘one of us’, what do you mean?”
James: “Oh, a magical, of course. People are scared of what we are capable of. So, once ‘outed’ as a magical, I couldn’t teach anymore. I had graduated from the CMRD many years ago and the director offered me a job teaching new recruits to the facility. I’m a psyche, with a specialization in Empath abilities.”
Thomas: “And what is an Empath?”
James: “An Empath is someone who can sense emotion, read what other people’s emotional state is, and I can also project emotions and make other people feel what I want.”
Isaiah Dannenberg: “Hi, I’m Isaiah. I’m currently in between jobs and I am all three classes. I have an affinity for lightning, I’m able to teleport and I have an Asmodeus demon living within me.”
Thomas: “That doesn’t really fall into our traditionally held beliefs about Magicals, does it? I thought each Magical had only one class?”
Isaiah: “Yeah, what can I say? I buck the system.”
Thomas: “And what’s an Asmodeus demon? Did I say that correctly?”
Isaiah: “Yeah, that’s right. Um…well, he’s…how do I say this politely? He can control other people through manipulation of sexual desires. He’s like the worst type of matchmaker.”
Thomas: “Oh, I…I see. Alright then. When did you first discover your abilities? And how did that happen? James, let’s start with you.”
James: “Ah, okay. Well, I was in my late teens, but it wasn’t until I was about 25 or so before I really got control and mastery over them. Discovery of them was sort of gradual. I always felt like I knew how my friends in High School were feeling. I had a really good read on them, but it wasn’t until my first year of University when I discovered I could make someone feel what I wanted them to. That was an awkward situation. There was a guy I was interested in, and I inadvertently passed on my emotional longing to him. Turns out, he was straight.”
Thomas: “I can see how that might be very awkward, and potentially unsettling for a lot of viewers. In the wrong hands, that ability could be unscrupulously used.”
James: “Definitely. I don’t take my abilities lightly.”
Thomas: “I see. Isaiah, how about you?”
Isaiah: “The house I grew up in was turbulent. I think the lightning appeared in a self-defense situation, but it was so long ago, I forget exactly what happened. All I really remember is that after one incident where I electrocuted my father, I left and lived on the streets for years. It wasn’t a good situation, but I lived through it, and today I have much better control of my talents.”
Thomas: “So, for both of you it was in your late teens?”
James: “That’s a typical age. Some manifest their abilities younger than that, some older, but most around the late teens, early twenties. It’s usually when the frontal lobe is maturing.”
Thomas: “Interesting. So, do Magicals run in your families?”
James: “My sister has some abilities, but she’s classified lower than I am.”
Isaiah: “No, I’m the only one that I know of.”
Thomas: “James that was an interesting thing you said. Classified? What do you mean by that?”
James: “Each Magical, once discovered, can be subjected to tests in order to evaluate how powerful they are. Category 1 is on the low end, Category 5 is rare and very powerful. Isaiah is a Cat 5, I’m not quite there, but some would classify me at a Cat 5.”
Thomas: “So, I’m sitting with a couple of very rare individuals. I feel quite honored. Let me ask you though, if it was possible would you rather be a normal?”
James: “Well, I am normal. I’m me. But would I want my abilities taken away? No, I don’t think so. They’re part of me. I mean, it’s not everything I am.”
Isaiah: “Yeah, like, that’s asking if I could live without my arms. Sure I could, but given the choice? No, thanks. Although sometimes, you could have the demon. He’s annoying.
Thomas: “Tell me, Isaiah, Arcanes are rather rare individuals, most of the general population wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to meet one. Given your last statement, tell us, what are demons truly like?”
Isaiah: “Well, on one hand, it’s like having a constant companion. Because it lives inside of me, it experiences everything I do. I’m never alone. And it’s a fierce protector. I’ve never tested it out, but I think it would come to my aid if I was threatened. But on the other hand, I have no privacy, my thoughts are not my own, and I can always hear what its thinking. That’s draining.”
Thomas: “I can well imagine. Okay, just a couple more questions. James, I understand that your sister has been known to dabble in the rather unspeakable fourth class of magic. Care to clear the record of that rumor?”


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Meet the Author

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

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