Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Author Interview with Stephanie Burgis, author of A Most Improper Magick

We are very excited to have recently talked with author Stephanie Burgis, who's book A Most Improper Magick is set to release in early 2011, by Simon and Schuster. I absolutely love the cover! Here's a little bit about the book (taken from Stephanie's site):

"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin. I made it almost to the end of my front garden..."

Magic may be the greatest scandal in Regency England. But that's not going to stop Kat Stephenson when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat...and true loves to capture for her two older sisters.

What was your inspiration for writing A Most Improper Magick?

I've always been a huge fan of Regency romances, especially the ones written by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. In some of my favorite romances, the heroines have younger sisters who only pop up briefly, just long enough to make some really snarky comments about their older sisters. I always enjoyed those brief scenes and wished they were longer. Then one day, as I was chopping onions for lunch, I heard Kat's voice in my head, speaking the first few lines of A Most Improper Magick...and everything just came together! I loved getting to make a snarky younger sister the true heroine of my books, rolling her eyes at her older sisters' romantic tribulations (and managing them neatly!) even as she pursues her own magical adventures.

This definitely sounds like a must read for all Mundie Moms! How would you describe your main character, Kat?

Reckless, loyal, radical, funny, smart, loving, and courageous.

What can you tell us about A Most Improper Magick, or about the series?

The series follows Kat's magical adventures in early nineteenth-century England, as she finds true loves for all three of her older siblings, comes to terms with her full magical powers, and fights to restore her late mother's ruined reputation. In Book 1, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and Kat has to battle highwaymen and dig up her mother's most scandalous secrets to save her oldest sister from a terrible arranged marriage with a sinister aristocrat. What she's not counting on, though, is the secretive magical Order of the Guardians, which has identified her as a promising new recruit...whether she wants to join them or not!

Which character did you enjoy developing the most and why?

I love Kat and all three of her older siblings so much! I could just write about them all day, because I have so much fun watching them spark off each other. Her brother, Charles, doesn't appear much in Book 1, but her two older sisters, Elissa and Angeline, are both major characters. All three sisters are equally strong-willed and smart, all three of them think they know what's best for the family and for each other...and that means they get in each other's way an awful lot!

Their mother died when Kat was born and Elissa, the oldest, was still only seven years old, and their father retreated into an emotional shell after her death, so the three sisters grew up taking care of each other in a lot of important ways. But the fact that they love each other doesn't stop them from driving each other completely crazy! And I am a mean author, because I love watching it happen. ;)

Do you have a play list you listen to while writing? If so, what are some of your favorite songs?

I have a different playlist for each book. For Book 1, the theme song was Adam and the Ants's "Stand and Deliver!", which totally captures the high spirits of the book. I also listened over and over again to the soundtrack for the new Doctor Who TV series (seasons 1 and 2), not just because I love that TV series, but because the music in the soundtrack really conveys the combination of fun adventure AND strong emotion that I felt in the book.

Was it challenging writing a book in the historical fantasy genre?

It was a really fun challenge to mix Jane Austen's early Regency era with the magical world that I made up. When I was worldbuilding in my notebooks, I came up with some big changes to earlier British history, back when magic was openly used (and, in my version of history, helped to cause the English Civil War!), but by 1803, when Book 1 takes place, magic has become the greatest social scandal of all, and magic workers have to keep their talents hidden and secret. So I worked hard to make all my day-to-day historical details accurate to the real Regency period, but I also had a great time figuring out how magic would secretly work alongside reality.

Being moms ourselves, we sometimes find it hard to find time to write. How do you work in writing, with the busy mom schedule?

It is really hard! My son is still too young for preschool, and we only have two mornings a week of childcare...so that doesn't leave me a lot of writing time! Basically, I've just had to become extremely disciplined about making the most of his naptimes every day, along with those two mornings a week when a childminder looks after him. It's amazing how much you can accomplish just by writing during naptimes, though. In the old days, I used to write much more slowly, with lots of pauses to check the internet or daydream...but no longer! I've been forced to become a lot more efficient with my writing sessions, knowing that he might wake up and end them at any minute.

What is one piece of writing advice you would share with aspiring writers?

Be stubborn! I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I was seven, and I finished my first full-length novel when I was fourteen. I was thirty-one when I sold my trilogy - so you can guess how many novels I had to write in-between before I finally made that sale! Just keep writing, keep working to improve your skills, and don't let agent or publisher rejections discourage you. If you really care about making your writing better and better, and you learn to cope with the stings of rejection along the way, you will succeed in the end. Good luck!

And a special note: the title of the book (and the series!) may be changing soon. I'll share the new titles with everybody as soon as I can. (My editor and I are still brainstorming right now! Please wish us luck...)

Great advice! Thank you so much Stephanie for taking the time to chat with us. We are very excited to read A Most Improper Magick. Kat sounds like she'd fit in perfectly with Mundie Moms. Best of luck with the title of the book and the series, if the name changes. We're looking forward to hearing more about it.

You can read more about Stephanie and A Most Improper Magick, here at Stephanie's site
You can read the 1st chapter of A Most Improper Magick here:


  1. Ohmygosh...Adam Ant "Stand and Deliver" -- that took me back a few years!! LOL. I totally remember the video, too. I have Improper Magick pre-ordered. It looked THAT good. And spoke to me, now in apparently an Adam Ant voice. :] Great interview!

  2. That was great advice! awesome interview, I will be adding this one to my list!

  3. Very nice interview! I loved the first chapter of A Most Improper Magick and am looking forward to reading this series. I am curious to hear more about the possible title change.


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