One of my romance spaces was talking about romances that don’t presume a child is necessary for the happily-ever-after of the romance. If you’ve read my work, obviously I’ve got a mix in here. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the variations.
(I obviously think people can find happiness in a whole bunch of different configurations and life choices. My characters make a wide range of choices, both in the immediate aftermath of a book and further down the road.)
It’s time for summer reading challenges where I am. Whatever time of year it is for you, I thought it might be fun to do a round up of some reading challenges. Some of these come from libraries, and some come from other groups. I’m still waiting on my local library’s challenge (out on June 17th), but I’m thinking about how I’d like to nudge my reading a little bit.
(To be honest, a lot of it has been research reading, one way or another, and I would like to mix it up, and also just read more.)
Here are some different challenges to check out. You can also check your local library systems (a lot of libraries put something together for adults, as well as for kids and teens.) If there’s nothing up yet, check back later in June, my local public library isn’t launching theirs until the 17th.
Fool’s Gold has a slightly different origin than many of my story ideas. Kiya (my friend and editor) had been talking to a friend of theirs who loves a disaster elf. Kiya told me about that. And then promptly said I should do something more with Robin, I hadn’t done a villain redeemed book yet.
Which, to be fair, is exactly what Robin is made for.
Robin turns up in two earlier books. He appears briefly in Wards of the Roses, wanting to get more involved with the research that begins at the end of that book. Kate isn’t at all sure what she thinks of him, and Kate has good instincts.
Here’s how she describes him then:
Kate paused, then cleared her throat. “He did the thing where a man reaches to kiss your hand, a little click of his heels, the precise angle of the bow, and the – gleam in his eye. Not the sort who’d push you into a convenient dark corner for his own pleasure, but the sort who uses his charm to get what he wants.”
And of course, if you’ve readSeven Sisters, Robin has definitely been up to no good, and with some potentially dangerous results. He’s so bent on what he’s searching for that he doesn’t see anything else, or doesn’t think about the consequences.
The question with Fool’s Gold was how to write a story where he could be an engaging protagonist and have a romance that was satisfying. That meant he had to grow up a little and get more honest about what he wants. Leaning into Robin’s own skills of persuading people (and being a con artist himself at times) and what that meant when he was in a situation where he wanted to use them to help someone was lovely. Rolling around in Robin’s love of colour and art was even more.
Cousins and Fool’s Gold
Of course, the other thing that comes up here are the Cousins, the lines of families descended from the Seven Sisters, seven Fatae women who might or might not be deities, it’s hard to tell. As Vivian says in response to Cadmus’ question here, in Seven Sisters:
“That was a, do you call her a goddess?”
“I call her Grandmother Electra, so I don’t have to think about that, mostly, actually.” Then she continued. “You watching, it’s not, I said this, it’s not a dangerous thing. But it’s an intimate one.”
Fool’s Gold gave me a chance to spend a lot more time with the Cousins, and with them being there on the page. (Robin’s terrifying aunts, as well as Vivian and Robin himself.) I hope to dig into the Cousins a bit more in some future book, because their particular family traditions fascinate me.
It’s worth noting that there are more human-shaped Fatae in existence than just the Seven Sisters (you’ll be seeing some of them in Old As The Hills, out in May 2023).
The Cousins downline from the Seven Sisters have tended to intermarry with humans more, and to build up a larger communal culture centered on particular kinds of magic (including the areas around particular portals). They’re also generally more able to tolerate living in iron-rich spaces like modern cities, while other of the Fatae descendents tend to prefer more isolated homes.
Banking and the custos dragons
I was not sure, until I got into the chapter where Emrys first appears, if the custos dragons talk. Clearly, they do, and the problem is more often getting them to shut up so you can get a word in edge wise. However, I’d been doing a lot of thinking about what a magical currency actually does.
The Scali (and the other banking families present in Albion, the Bardi and the Grindlay) all have large networks of trade with other banking families. The Scali and Bardi are off-shoots of historical Italian banking families in Florence. In real-world history, the Scali went abruptly bankrupt in 1326, due to a combination of factors, including Edward III not paying his loans. The Bardi hung on for about another twenty years, but then had the same problem.
However, it made sense to me that some portion of the family might have hung onto the magical banking aspect, and slowly rebuilt the rest of the banking after the Pact.
A brief digression into the gold standard:
So what’s that magical aspect? Goblin Fruit mentions that the actual metal of the coins hold magic, especially those that have travelled widely. Every so often, coins need to come back and spend a cycle or so under a dragon, who tends them, syphons off the magical energy that might get disruptive, and smooths everything out.
This works out fine as long as we’re working with a gold-backed currency system, but that’s getting very shaky in the 1900s. (As Beatrice points out, Britain has been on and off the gold standard several times. I thought about trying to map out the timeline for that, and then decided that it was entirely too confusing to get into, and also Robin didn’t care about the details.) However, that magical effect and needing to cycle the coins through is still necessary in the magical community.
And of course, if there are dragons, they have to have some people to hang out with. George is named George for multiple reasons. I keep wanting to name minor characters George, you see. (I tried to do it with four different people in Outcrossing, and Kiya pointed out quite reasonably that this was confusing. Even if it was an incredibly common name for a couple of hundred years for men.) However, I promised that if I called this one George, I’d stop trying to do it elsewhere. That’s worked quite well! And given the legends of St. George, naming the dragon-tender for him just amused me too much.
George is, as noted, also functionally a Cousin, though not descended from the Seven Sisters.
Does this intrigue? Check out Fool’s Gold. (Though as always, you might want to read Seven Sisters, first to get the full arc of Robin.)
I got an email from a reader (hi!) asking a couple of questions, including this one: “In your romantic couples, the women seem to be consistently a little older (or a lot older) than the men. Was this a conscious choice, and if so, is there a reason for it?”
Hello, and welcome to 2022! I have aspirations and intentions of doing more regular blogging about my books and writing this year, so I thought it’d be great to start out with what I’m hoping to write and publish this year.
(As always, my newsletter gets all the news first, including some additional details that won’t be on the blog. Also some extra scenes or short stories from time to time as I’m inspired to write them.)
I’m hoping to release 4 books and 2 novellas in 2022. Because of the way I draft and edit, three of the four novels already exist in draft (or will within a week or so, I’m finishing one of them right now.) My goal is to hit the months indicated, but it’s a changeable world out there, so dates may shift somewhat in the process.
The Hare and the Oak: A later-in-life romance featuring Cyrus Smythe-Clive (seen in Sailor’s Jewel as Rhoe’s older brother, and briefly in Carry Onand Eclipse). When Lord Baddock shows up at the Council Keep looking for help, Cyrus and Mabyn Teague (seen briefly at the end of Eclipse) need to figure out why the land magics are failing, find a lost heir, deal with Lord Baddock’s difficult mother, and decide how much they’re willing to trust each other. Out sometime in February 2022.
Point By Point: Lydia needs to make a name for herself as a journalist, but she needs an entry point into the right social circles to investigate a particular story. When Galen (last seen in In The Cards) agrees to help, they’re drawn into a world of horse racing and dangerous secret societies. Fortunately, with the help of the Dwellers in the Forge, including Martin (Galen’s best friend), they’re able to find a way through. (Alternately, ever wonder about the aftermath of Magician’s Hoard? This is also about what happened next.) Out in May 2022.
Mistress of Birds: When Thalia’s great-aunt needs a rest cure, Thalia agrees to stay at her estate on the edge of Dartmoor to keep an eye on the place. (Thalia’s career as an author isn’t going very well, so getting room and board doesn’t exactly hurt.) Once there, she discovers a mysterious man in the apple orchard, and a series of odd and spooky events around the ancient house. Out in August 2022. Last book in the Mysterious Powers series.
Also coming out in 2022 if all goes well are three things that I haven’t written yet…
In the writing stack
When I wrote Eclipse, my editor Kiya left a note at one point saying “I now sort of want the buddy cop story in which Alexander and Carillon team up to utterly destroy a munitions smuggler.” Every single one of my early readers (all friends) left comments wondering how they could encourage that to happen. Since I can take a hint, I started thinking about how to make it work.
Best Foot Forward is going to be the result. Here’s the trick: while it’s about friendship and chosen family, and caring about other people, it’s not actually a romance. (Alexander is both asexual and aromantic. He doesn’t have the terms for either, though he’d grab them with both hands if he could.) Carillon, mind, is still very happily married to Lizzie (see Goblin Fruit and On The Bias), so there’s going to be some needful conversations and sorting out what to do about this man who is, in other ways, very much Carillon’s type.
I’m going to start writing this one in February, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a grand set of adventures across the Contintent in 1935. (Probably mostly Germany and Switzerland, but I reserve the right to change my mind later if I have a better idea.) It should be out in November 2022.
I’ve been saying I didn’t want to get into the Second World War, but having had this idea, it feels wrong to just do one book in the time period. I have now laid out the bones of two more books (to make a trilogy). Chances are decent there will eventually be some surrounding novellas, too.
The second book doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s going to deal with Gabe and Rathna (from The Fossil Door) in 1940 and focus largely around their relationships with their apprentices and communities. Why? For a lot of the book, they’re going to be in different places. (Yay for magical journals and direct speedy communication? Makes a long-distance relationship so much easier.)
Also, it will be full of land magic, the Magical Battle of Britain from Albion’s perspective, and a bit more portal magic applied in service of getting people to safety. I plan to start writing this one in August 2022 and it will be out in May of 2023 if all goes well.
The third book? Well, for the moment, let’s just say that sitting down to work out the next generation (i.e. who of my extant characters had kids in the late 20s and 30s, and what’s going on with their families) led to an idea that is also decidedly not a romance.
It is, however, set at Schola. (I’ll be sharing more with my mailing list about this, first, so check in there if you want more details.) I don’t plan to start writing this one until February of 2023.
Now that I’ve finished a second series of 1920s books, I need to start a new one, right? I’ve got all these secret societies attached to Schola, and only one of them has gotten any serious time on the page (the Dwellers at the Forge, in both In the Cards and the forthcoming Point By Point.)
I haven’t actually sketched out the details of this series yet in more than very broad strokes, but they’ll
a) Take place during the 1920s (or maybe the Great War)
b) Each book will have at least one main character who’s a member of one of the seven secret societies.
c) Each will focus on some sort of art (or craft) – I’m thinking about things like music and dance and theatre, but also considering things like bookbinding, perfume making, illusion performances, jewellery making, or dyecrafting. If you have something you’d love me to think about, drop me a note via the contact form or email.
Once I figure out the sequence, my plan is to write one in May 2022, and one in November, with them coming out in 2023. (I normally write over a 3 month period, and then it sits for a bit before I edit. This is why I can be fairly predictable about release dates, if you’d been wondering that…)
I’ve been chewing on a prequel novella about Carillon inheriting the title for a while, and in December finally figured out how to structure it properly. It will be a freebie for signing up for my mailing list (you’re always able to immediately unsubscribe if you’d rather…) and I’ll announce it here and on social media when it’s available. I expect it to have a lot of Carillon and Benton, and also spend some time with how Carillon, Richard and Alysoun Edgarton, Giles Lefton, and Hippolyta FitzRanulf connect to each other. This one’s set in 1921.
Time and energy allowing, I’m also hoping to do a prequel novella for the Mysterious Powers series, focusing on how Roland Gospatrick’s parents (seen in Carry On) decided to marry each other, and how that started.
I’m aiming for the Carillon novella to be out sometime over the summer, and the Gospatrick one sometime after that.
I have somehow written a lot of books! I know it can be confusing to figure out who’s in which book, or the complete timeline, or where things are located.
Help is on the way, however. I spent my vacation time over the holidays working on a solution. It needs some more hours to get everything sorted the way I want, but I’m expecting to be able to share the core of it starting in January or maybe February. Keep an eye on my newsletter for more (including a sneak peek) and let me know if there’s a topic you’d particularly like me to cover.
(Or for that matter, if there’s something you’d like me to blog about. I’m aiming for every fortnight, aka every two weeks, and I’m going to start with some “Idea to book” posts.)
Fool’s Gold came about partly because my editor said, “You haven’t done a villain redeemed yet. Robin would be a great candidate.”
Robin appears in Seven Sisters (and Fool’s Gold does contain references to, and thus some spoilers for the events of that book, though only in fairly broad strokes.) He also appears briefly in Wards of the Roses.
Since then, he’s been struggling. Closely monitored by his Aunts for more than two years, he’s finally freed to begin to rebuilding his life and work. He’s eager to get back to paints and inks, art and antiques, even if he’s still frustrated and unmoored by other parts of his life.
When he overhears a chance conversation about art forgery, he notices Beatrice.
Beatrice has lived with an inherited curse since she was a baby. Visible to her family but invisible to everyone else (or so she thought), she is startled when Robin addresses her. She wants to know more, and besides, Robin has some thoughts about the man who’s courting her cousin.
Come enjoy Fool’s Goldfor a story about finding your way in the world, family expectations (both good and bad), a perky dragon, art and artists, and much more.