Please welcome Stephanie Burgis to The Qwillery. Snowspelled, the 1st novel in the Harwood Spellbook series, was published on September 4, 2017.
Finding the Fun in Snowspelled – Stephanie Burgis
I started out my adult life as a serious academic, studying 18th-century opera and politics. So it only makes sense that in my first two darkly romantic historical fantasy novels (Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets), I had one overriding priority for my worldbuilding: all of the magic had to fit discreetly into the real-world history of the time period (something I cared passionately about).
Not only did I write a version of alchemy in those books that matched real 18th-century theories of the world, but I hoped to persuade my readers – at least during the hours that they spent absorbed in those stories - that hey, maybe history really could have happened that way after all, because none of the secret magic in my books actually contradicted the real-world history we know.
I loved that creative challenge. I loved coming up with carefully-researched and deeply romantic novels that also included thoughtful Historical Notes at the end. I loved that many of my readers were inspired to go read more about the time period of each of those two novels afterward!
But then 2016 happened, and I – like so much of the world – got really, really stressed.
Suddenly, I wasn’t interested in writing dark stories in any genre. I didn’t care about intellectual challenges.
What I cared about – and desperately needed - was escape.
If I was going to get through what felt (and still feels) like a very dark time in the world, what I needed was a comforting writing-project that felt like pure, frothy fun in every possible way.
So I started writing Snowspelled, a fantasy romance novella (or short novel – I’ve never been sure which one to call it!) set in a blatantly non-real version of history – a version I could escape into any time I needed it.
In my version of “Angland,” the Romans never did manage to quash Boudicca’s famous rebellion. Instead, aided by her (fictional) next husband (a magician), she expelled the Roman Empire forever...and from then on, it was officially accepted throughout the nation that ladies (being more naturally pragmatic) would handle the practical matter of politics, while men (being “the more emotional sex”) would deal with tempestuous magic.
(Can you imagine just how satisfying that viewpoint felt to write just after the November 2016 U.S. elections?)
At the point when Snowspelled begins, in early 19th-century Angland, the nation is ruled by a collection of powerful women known as The Boudiccate, while men study magic at The Great Library of Trinivantium. The fundamentally multi-ethnic nation shares its countryside with powerful elves, trolls, fairies, and more, all held together by fragile, often complicated alliances.
But rules, of course, are only made to be broken. And my heroine – the first woman magician in Angland - has more than enough confidence to go her own way in ALL things, whether or not the Boudiccate (or her infuriatingly appealing ex-fiancé) agree...
...So when she’s trapped in the most awkward houseparty of her life, snowbound in the midst of Angland’s elven dales, of course Trouble-with-a-capital-T ensues immediately.
And oh, it felt so delicious to write!
Snowspelled gave me exactly the escape I needed, at just the moment when I most needed it. My biggest hope is that it’ll be a fun and comforting escape-book for you guys, too.
The Harwood Spellbook 1
Five Fathoms Press, September 4, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 166 pages
In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules...
Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.
Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.
But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks...and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.
To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.
A witty and sparkling romantic fantasy novella that opens a brand-new series for adults from the author of Kat, Incorrigible, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets.
Stephanie Burgis grew up in Michigan but now lives in Wales, surrounded by castles and coffee shops. RT Book Reviews called her most recent romantic fantasy novel for adults, Congress of Secrets, "a perfect combination of romance, historical fiction and fantasy," and her most recent novel for children, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, was an Amazon Best Book of the Month. To find out more and read the first two chapters of Snowspelled, visit her website: www.stephanieburgis.com