In which we welcome Stephanie Burgis back to the blog!
“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Today we are delighted to welcome Stephanie Burgis back to the blog to talk about her first historical fantasy novel for adults, Masks and Shadows and the inspirations and influences behind the work.
I still remember the day I found Judith Tarr’s Alamut in my local library when I was a teenager. Discovering that book felt like having a lightbulb go off in my head.
It was a fantasy novel. It was a historical novel. And it had a strong romance. It was all three of my favorite things together in one book… and I’d had no idea that people could actually do that!
It was amazing to me.
Of course, I devoured all of Judith Tarr’s other novels after that. (My very favorite was Lord of the Two Lands – I can’t count how many times I’ve read that one over the last two decades!) And I kept on searching, after that, for more books that would satisfy all of my deepest reading obsessions.
About ten years later, I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion novels, which ticked the same perfect boxes for me, even though they’re set in a secondary world that’s only based on Renaissance Spain and England, rather than officially taking place in those countries. But all three Chalion books have a strong historical feel, the magic is just wonderful, and the romances – well! They aren’t romance novels by any definition, but the romantic subplots in them are deeply, deeply satisfying (especially in my very favorite of the three, Paladin of Souls).
So it only makes sense that when I finally sat down to write my own first fantasy novel for adults, it would be a romantic historical fantasy novel, and it would draw on the kind of history I spent years studying (and obsessing over) as a graduate student: eighteenth-century opera and politics at the magnificent Hungarian palace of Eszterháza, where composer Joseph Haydn was the Kapellmeister.
Eighteenth-century opera was full of high drama and passion and – quite often – magic as well. The eighteenth-century Austro-Hungarian empire was full of alchemists and secret societies and political scheming. It was the perfect combination! I wrote Masks and Shadows in three acts, setting it around the opera house at Eszterháza Palace, and filling it with all the fascinating, rich drama and intrigue of the real time period along with dangerous magic of my own creation…and, of course, a touch of romance as well.
…Because it turns out that writers really can do that! (Thank you, Judith Tarr, for teaching me that it was possible!) Better yet, writing that kind of book turned out to be so much fun. How could I resist?
Masks and Shadows is out on April 12, 2016.
About the author:
Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She has published over thirty short stories for adults and teens in various magazines and anthologies. Her trilogy of MG Regency fantasy novels was published in the US as the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy and in the UK as The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson. The first book in the trilogy won the Waverton Good Read Award for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer, and the full trilogy was recently re-released in the US as A Most Improper Boxed Set. Her first historical fantasy novel for adults, Masks and Shadows, will be published by Pyr Books in 2016, and her next MG fantasy series will be published by Bloomsbury Books, beginning with The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart in 2017.
We have two ARCs to giveaway. Open to all, internationally. Use the form below to enter and good luck.