This week Jonah connects with John Gaspard and Jim Cunningham, the minds behind Sunday Night Magic and the Eli Marks series of mystery novels.
Together they talk about creating content adjacent to magic and the joy of creating works that are not intended to make any money.
Neither Jim or John identify as working magicians, but they both share a profound love the art form and have each found unique ways to get involved in the magic community using the strengths that they each possess proving that even if you’re not a working magician you can still contribute and help grow the magic community, even when creating magic adjacent content.
Sunday Night Magic
When John Gaspard wanted to start writing with magic as a focus in his mysteries he needed to learn how magic worked. In Minneapolis he met Suzanne who agreed to give John lessons in magic. Soon after a friendship struck up and an idea was proposed to create a monthly event where magicians would be invited to give a lecture and perform for a public audience. John brought Jim Cunningham on board because of his connections in the magic community and his experience as an MC and with their combined talents Sunday Night Magic was born.
Eli Marks Mysteries
Of course, Sunday Night Magic was just a side effect of John’s efforts to create a mystery novel centred around magic in an authentic way. He has always put in a lot of work to ensure that his central character, Eli Marks, thinks and behaves like a real working magician and nothing bugs him more than when authors write about a specific field without doing their research. One of his favourite highlights, that he recounts for us, is receiving feedback from Teller himself after reading The Linking Rings and saying that the book really got all the details right.
Currently John has seven books available in the Eli Marks Mystery series, with an eighth on the way, and if you listen to the audiobooks you’ll be hearing the voice of Jim Cunningham narrating the novels.
Behind the Page
To help promote the books, and get to know more about the inspirations behind the tricks featured in each mystery, John and Jim has also started up the Behind the Page: The Eli Marks Podcast. Where they not only offer up behind the scenes conversations behind each book in the series but also interview the magicians whose tricks they feature in the novels.
Jeff Atlman. You might think you don’t know him but you do. He’s a prolific comedian and actor who has now moved back into magic in his semi-retirement.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
John really enjoys Fools Us and how they are presenting, and respecting, magic.
Jim really likes how artistic and dramatic the magic artform is becoming and no longer relying solely on comedy and spectacle. Seeing magic presented as a theatrcial event that can rock your world is really special.
John doesn’t like seeing performers running on auto-pilot and are no longer critically analyzing their performances. It’s not fun to watch.
Jim doesn’t like that it is still very hard for many local communities to be exposed to live magic. If you don’t live near the right city or can travel to the right location you might never be exposed to really wonderful local live acts.
Take home point
Just say yes and don’t worry about things being money makers. Be open to try new projects.
And magic is such a cool artform and you don’t have to perform to love it and enjoy it.
Sunday Night Magic can be found on facebook at facebook.com/sundaynightmagic
All things Eli Marks can be found at elimarksmysteries.com
Jim Cunningham also performs each year at The Phantom’s Feast which you can learn more about by visiting trailofterrormn.com/phantoms