From Mary Jo:
I promise this is the last Blatant Self-Promotion piece I will post for a while! Really, it wasn’t my choice to have three books coming out in two months, but this sort of thing happens regularly in publishing, especially if your work is published by more than one house. (After enough years in this business, an author ends up having danced with just about every publisher in town. I’ve had publications with Ballantine, Signet, Del Rey, Berkley, Kensington, Roc, Harlequin, DAW, and several small presses. And maybe a couple of others I’ve forgotten!)
Today’s book for flogging is the July paperback edition of STOLEN MAGIC, which came out in hardcover last summer. Both editions are published by Del Rey, the science fiction/fantasy imprint of Ballantine Books. They’re also published with “M. J. Putney” on the cover. The intent was not to confuse anyone—for that, one would choose a completely different name. Rather, the idea was to signal that this book is a little different from books with “Mary Jo Putney” on the cover. My Ballantine and Del Rey books are made from the same ingredients—history, romance, and fantasy—but the proportions are a little different.
The Ballantine books, such as June’s THE MARRIAGE SPELL, are classical historical romance with the plot line centered on the developing relationship of the hero and heroine. There’s magic, but the relationship is the core of the story. For Del Rey, there’s a larger canvas with more history, yet the romance is still integral.
The plot of Stolen Magic was the first fantasy idea I ever had, years before I wrote it. I had the idea of a man who was forcibly transformed into a unicorn by an enemy. He manages to escape, but is recaptured when the villain stakes out a virgin, which is bait a unicorn can’t resist. The maiden is horrified to learn that she has been used to capture such a glorious creature, so she risks her life to free the unicorn. When he goes, he takes her with him—and that’s the first few chapters of Stolen Magic.
It’s not uncommon for my stories to start with a single situation like this. This idea stayed in the back of my mind for years because A) I didn’t think a romance editor would want such a fantasy idea, and B) I didn’t want to write a medieval, since I’m not particularly fond of them.
The light bulb came on when I realized that the story could be written as a Regency. Granted, many fantasy novels take place in generic medieval settings–swords and sorcery so often go together–but there’s no law that actually requires it. Regency rocks! So I did some world-building and plot development, then pitched my editor. I carefully mustered my arguments for adding fantasy to historical romance—and found that she was a fantasy fan and I had her as soon as I said “Guardians.”
At that same time, I pitched the idea that became A Kiss of Fate. Since that was tied to the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, I ended up moving the unicorn story to the same time period. Now I’m glad. I’d never written a Georgian, but it’s a somewhat wilder and woollier period than the Regency, and it suits my Guardians. (The Regency Stone Saints of The Marriage Spell are a story for another day. <g>)
Last summer, Stolen Magic came out in hardcover from Del Rey, Ballantine’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, and now the paperback is a July release. It’s supposed to be shelved in the ssf sections of the chain bookstores, but who knows? It could turn up in romance as well. I was tickled when Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association, named the book to its top ten list for 2005. It was a top ten romance, not fantasy, but no matter. I’m still tickled. <g>
As a little bonus for the release of the paperback, I’m posting the prologue that I wrote but cut out in revisions when my editor suggested it wasn’t necessary. I thought about it and decided she was right—the heroine, Meg, was more mysterious without the prologue. But if you’re curious, here it is. (Someday I’ll blog about prologues.) http://mjputney.com/ On the site, you can click on a regular excerpt as well as the prologue.
Some reviews for Stolen Magic:
"(A) spellbinding romantic fantasy…Putney’s skill as a historical romance novelist serves her well in the depiction of London and the subplot featuring a gifted developer of the steam engine. The love that grows between Simon and Meg…includes some wonderfully steamy moments. (R)aises anticipation for the next installment."
“Brilliantly pairing romance with fantasy, love with magic, and real history with speculative fiction, M. J. Putney has created another masterpiece of a series to rival her straight historical romances, the Fallen Angels. STOLEN MAGIC is eminently enjoyable by itself, and A KISS OF FATE can be read first or second. No one should miss getting in at the beginning of this riveting new series. May it run for years to come.”
Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today www.romrevtoday.com/
And that’s it for the Blatant Self-Promotion—at least until September!