April 20, 2015
Hello Hello! I’m Nancy M. Griffis and my novel, A Most Unusual Wedding, is out today! I’m very excited to be here talking about my latest release with all of you!
Wedding stems from a short story that was published in a charity anthology a few years ago. It centers around Lord Leo Harris and Master Leathersmith Gerald Smithson and their (if I may say so) adorable love story in an alternate Victorian London where magic, aka power, runs rife through the population. Most things in the book echo the real London of the time but to two major things: the power and same-sex pairings being nothing unusual. If you’ve read A Most Unusual Courtship (the prequel, available FREE at Dreamspinner), then you know why, but if not, back in Greek times, same-sex unions were blessed by the Gods and the world simply never went back on that.
Leo, god love him, is as fine a dandy as you’d ever want to know, and shows it in his extremely colorful wardrobe and rakish sense of humor. But he also has that steel of spine that comes from having gotten everything he’d ever needed. He’s a lord, he’s heir to the family fortune and political power, a middle child of three, and has great powers within himself. He could have turned out an absolute horror, but for a good heart, a lovely family, and incredibly inquisitive mind.
Gerald, on the other hand, is a quiet, sweet man who is as steadfast as the day is long in summer. He’s an only child raised by his grandfather, Daniel, after his parents were killed in a terrorist bombing when he was ten. He’s been significantly hurt by mages in his past and so distrusts them all and refuses to do business with any. The lone exception to this is his best mate, Harry Bickley, who’s away most of the time at sea in Her Majesty’s Navy.
I have a wee excerpt below from Courtship that shows the moment Leo and Gerald meet that I think you’ll enjoy.
A friend asked me how in the hell I came up with the idea for Wedding which cracked me up. It wasn’t that I so much came up with it that Leo started yammering in my ear about getting married. Incessantly. Right while I was in the middle of another project. And because he’s such a brat, he got what he wanted when I put down the other novel and started outlining Wedding. Why yes, all writers are crazy to a certain extent, if you didn’t already know that. ;o) Of course, it couldn’t just be about getting married - that would be far too sweet for one of my books – so I did come up with the plague to slow things down a bit and then, well, someone besides Leo was utterly taken with Gerald (he really is the sweetest man) and things kind of went downhill from there for the poor boys.
So here are a couple of questions for you readers out there…
What’s your favorite time period for a magic-based novel? Or for any novel, really. This is my first historical novel and the research was both intimidating and fascinating. I believe I’ve come down with the itch to do more novels in other time periods (not related to Leo & Gerald) but I’m curious if there’s a common zeitgeist time period.
When you read books with magic in them, do you prefer fully spoken spells, spells in other/made up languages, or does it not matter? I posted this question to my flist while writing and am wondering if the world at large echoes their responses.
Alrighty! I’m going to head out now that I’ve taken up your precious time. I truly hope you enjoy Courtship and Wedding, because I just adore my guys and want everyone to love them. Oh! And in case you’re wondering, I’m hard at work on the sequel, A Most Unusual Honeymoon, (A murder mystery for the guys! wheeee!) and hoping to finish soon so as not to keep you all waiting too long.
Thanks for stopping by! This is Nancy, signing off.
LEATHER ALWAYS felt and smelled like home. From the time Gerald was a small boy leaning against his father’s knee, he’d been surrounded by the crafting of it. Instead of learning his letters, he’d learned good cuts from bad. Instead of playing with boys outside in the busy London streets, he’d stayed inside and watched every cut his father had chiseled or sliced into. His education had eventually included basic reading and maths, but originally consisted of tanning and cutting and creating works of art from all forms of leather.
All his childhood memories encompassed leather in some form, but the most bittersweet had been witnessing his parents don butter-soft leather cuffs on their tenth anniversary. Gerald had peeked through the stairway rails as firelight cast a golden warmth over the room and his parents kissed gently, the cuffs shining and soft on each right wrist.
His childhood had come to a horrible end two days later when his parents had been caught in the blast of a terror attack on Her Majesty’s Theatre.
“Gerald! You done yet, lad?”
Gerald snapped out of the sad thoughts that were just as heartbreaking sixteen years later. He set down the anniversary cuffs he’d been working on and looked up. His grandfather was still strong enough at eighty-three to bellow from the third story of their London home, as annoying as the habit was. “Almost, Granddad! Be up in a few minutes!”
The shop door opened, jingling the bell above it, and in walked a dandy if ever Gerald had seen one. He had the strong features and perfectly straight teeth that were hallmarks of the gentry. He was handsome, no doubt, with lively blue-gray eyes. The fine cotton trousers, satiny shirt, perfectly creased morning coat, and elegant leather boots certainly completed the portrait of a gentleman. The cluster of red and black plumage on the man’s hat made Gerald want to roll his eyes at the puffery.
Before the man could do more than doff his hat to reveal honey-colored hair and smile in greeting, Gerald said flatly, “I serve no mages in this shop, my lord.”
The man paused, head canting aside as he asked, “How do you know I’m a mage?”
“The door was locked.”
“I see. Well, you don’t even know what I’m going to ask of you.”
“I need not know, my lord, to know that I do not serve your kind.”
“Arrogant mages with no sense of obligation to pay for what they order.”
“I see.” A smile hovered again over the man’s mouth, and then he said, “So if I were to pay you ahead for the work, would that change your mind?”
“It would not.”
“Not even a little?”
The teasing tone prompted Gerald to frown. “My lord, there are many excellent leathersmiths in London.”
The lord walked closer and spun his hat between his palms. “Ah, but you are the best; everyone says so. I need the best.”
Gerald stood to his considerable height. As expected—like most men—the lord came to Gerald’s shoulders. Those blue eyes widened in surprise as the man craned his neck to look up and meet his gaze. Gerald said firmly, “I serve whom I wish, and those of power do not number among them. Good day, my lord.”
The man’s mouth twisted into a moue of disappointment, and he heaved an overly dramatic sigh. “Well. If you’re going to be petty about it and tar everyone with the same brush, then I’ve no choice but to go elsewhere. At least for now.”
Gerald didn’t reply, instead choosing to sit back down and wait for the man to leave. The man again twirled the hat between his palms and then set it atop his head before leaving. Mayhap it was painting all mages alike, but he’d dealt enough with them in the past to maintain his present loathing.
Untrustworthy sods, all of them.
As soon as the mage closed the door behind him, Gerald stood and walked over to lock the door again, then tugged on it to be certain. He returned to his work counter, packed away the anniversary cuffs, and swiftly tidied up the small shop before jogging upstairs to his grandfather’s apartment on the third floor. He reached the door just as it opened, and he intercepted his grandfather before he could descend a single step. If Daniel walked down three flights of stairs, Gerald might end up carting him back up, depending on Daniel’s mood.
Green eyes twinkled up at him and his grandfather said, “It’s about time you came up, you great lout! Where’s me tea?”
Gerald chuckled, then said, “Where it always is, Granddad, waiting to be made in your kitchen. Settle yourself down on the sofa, and I’ll get it started for you.”
Daniel Smithson hadn’t reached his great age without knowing how to take advantage of any kind of situation. That didn’t preclude him from being an excellent grandfather; it just made Gerald’s life a bit livelier. As the old man had taken him in at the tender age of ten without a single complaint, though, Gerald was more than happy to put up with his machinations.
“Saw a pretty thing leaving the shop just now.”
Except for his matchmaking ones, Gerald thought with a sigh. “He’s a lord and a mage, Granddad. I sent him packing.”
Daniel settled down onto the comfortable sofa with a groan and wagged a finger at him. “You’re too fussy by half, my lad. If a lord like that were t’pay me that sort of attention in my day, I’d have lapped at his silver spoon. I’m not getting any younger, Gerald. You’ll need lookin’ after, once I’m gone, no matter your independent ways. It’s not right, livin’ alone all yer life.”
Gerald set the kettle on to boil, slid the half-eaten meat pie into the oven, and turned the dial to warming. So convenient, these new ovens. A small bit of magic spelled to the item itself—no mages necessary—and baking was no longer a hazardous thing where Gerald could accidentally set the kitchen afire. “I need no looking after, Granddad. And besides which, you’ll outlive us all.”
Daniel cackled a bit. “There is that, my lad, there is that.”
Nancy M. Griffis: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/nancy-m-griffis
Buy A Most Unusual Wedding here!
April 18, 2015
Thank you very much for joining me today and on through this evening! I had a great time with everyone, and I’m looking forward to doing this again in October when The Shape of Honey is released.
The winners of the signed copies are Angela and Susan.
Please e-mail me to give me your info to send out the books. My e-mail address is Kibrightly@gmail.com. Thanks again for a great release party!
April 18, 2015
For the old school die hards out there, you will perhaps notice a quote from A Midsummer’s Night Dream in Threefold Love. Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what it is in the comments! You will get an extra chance in the signed book raffle (which draws to a close at 9:30 p.m. tonight). I chose to put the quote in because I’m a Shakespeare hound, but also because I don’t think there is anything more synonymous with love than Shakespeare’s work. A Midsummer Night’s Dream with its endless confusion because of magic and chicanery also appealed to me as something that would be a nice addition to my own work, plus, Andrew’s a high school English teacher. Of course he has a hard on for Shakespeare. I also talk about Romeo and Juliet, something I did not quote because my book is not a tragedy, and also because it’s sooo over used. Lovely, but overused. The other piece of classic love literature I talked about was The Symposium. The Symposium was one of my first literary classic loves, and if you haven’t read it, it’s about a party where a bunch of people get drunk and talk about LOVE. Because that’s what people used to do for fun. Hell, that’s what I still like to do for fun.
April 18, 2015
Xavier Hobbs was a Combat Engineer and a former Captain in the U.S. Army. My decision to write about a soldier wasn’t immediate. I tend to start writing by the seat of my pants and then plot. Xavier came to me half formed at best before I started writing and discovering him. When I finally realized he was going to be a decommissioned officer I felt comfortable with the idea. Growing up my family had a lot of military pride because my grandfather served in the Korean War, and I lived with him and my grandmother. He never saw active combat, exactly. He was stationed in Japan and drove soldiers to doctor’s appointments (and there was a lot of subtle joking about the Clap and prostitutes that I didn’t get until years later). As a young child my grandmother made sure we were always at the Veteran’s Day and Fourth of July parades, and I always helped her fundraise for The American Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary. There was a lot of old timey, patriotic feeling at our house. I learned all of the verses to The Star Spangled Banner (I bet most of you didn’t even know there was more than one verse, right? Honestly, you’re not missing much.) and all of the words to You’re a Grand Old Flag. Of course, Xavier left the military and he’s a modern man, but there are some lingering attitudes across generations about loyalty, as well as some differing attitudes about what service to your country means. It was interesting to delve into these ideas a bit with Xavier.
How many of you have military families?
April 18, 2015
I really enjoyed world creation with my story. One of my favorite places to construct in this book was The Mug House, which is pretty much the coffee shop of my dreams. It’s a decadent, spacious, beautiful place created from a remodel of a Victorian Era mansion. There are marble tables, pastries, and specialty blended coffees. I think the fact that I wrote this book at four a.m. while sitting in a coffee shop most mornings lead to me writing in the perfect coffee shop, something to be a sharp counterpoint to what I was actually dealing with that early in the morning, mostly fast food chains. There is one beautiful little coffee shop I loved writing in, but it was more of a treat at the time and not someplace I got to work at regularly. The Mug House quickly took on a life of its own. Mercy owns the place, along with her husband Roy, and she serves special blends to people while she conducts her own, secretive sort of magic in the background of my novel. She’s a witch of sorts, and we’ll see more of her in the next book, learn more about her story and what, exactly, she does, but for now she’s content to serve coffee, match make, and meddle. I admit, The Mug House is somewhat bittersweet because I’ve had to give up regular coffee due to not wanting to twitch all around at the end of each day. One of my favorite things about walking into a coffee shop is that first moment when the smell hits you full blast. I also like the white noise of the coffee being ground and the espresso machine. It’s soothing, in a strange way, just to know other people are alive and doing things in the world. What’s your favorite thing about your favorite coffee shop?
April 18, 2015
Threefold Love is a paranormal romance, basically because paranormal and “low magic fantasy” are some of my own true loves when it comes to reading. I like extremely realistic paranormal fantasy. Some of my favorite authors are Laurell K. Hamilton and Lynsay Sands, though I will read pretty much anything and everything under the sun given the proper nudge. I like crime dramas, classics, and science fiction. I’m also especially fond of Chuck Palahniuk and Kurt Vonnegut, mostly because I like it when things get surreal, though I don’t draw any parallels between my writing and theirs. One of my favorite books of all time I Laurell K.’s Guilty Pleasures, a darkly optimistic book about a vampire executioner. One of the things I love in the books I read is memorable, realistic characters-okay, sometimes I’ll just settle for memorable, and that’s what I try to do with Xavier. He’s not an especially special guy in so many ways, but he’s real, and relatable, and maybe even someone you might know. Andrew is a little flamboyant and testy as well as being a school teacher and a fun guy to be around. Duncan is sweet and even keeled, but he’s a demanding partner in the bedroom. I wanted everyone to remember these guys after they put the book down, and wonder what happens to them next. (Hint: I’m working on a second book, this time centering on Andrew’s younger brother Curtis.)
Who are some of your favorite characters of all time?
April 18, 2015
One exciting thing that happened after I’d finished this book and submitted it to Dreamspinner Press was that Pennsylvania, where Threefold Love takes place, changed its marriage laws! Gay marriage was now legal in Pennsylvania. I did a victory dance with everyone else in the state who is inclined to support or wave the rainbow flag and then realized I had to change my book. In doing so I ended up politicizing my book in a different way than I intended. The original draft had Andrew and Duncan not getting married for ten years because it wasn’t legal. Well, now it was, and there was no good reason I could come up with that these two men wouldn’t have run out and gotten married right away…except Andrew works for a Catholic school.
Andrew likes his job. So, the reason that Andrew and Duncan weren’t married yet when they met Xavier went from the state they live in to the Catholic Church. There have been several teachers at Catholic schools in the news recently losing their jobs because they are gay, so I unintentionally found Andrew’s problem is more a current issue than I’d anticipated when I made this change in the manuscript. I’ve been watching all of these stories unfold with a keen eye to the resolution, namely that the teachers don’t win even when the community supports them. Civil rights are a constant work in progress, so I’m actually really happy that these cases have been getting the attention they have, even when they don’t work out for the people who are getting fired. I’m not Catholic, and I know there are a lot of arguments used to defend these types of decisions, but to me the parallel to gay marriage arguments—gay marriage that we now legally have in the state of Pennsylvania, one of the most conservative states in the North East— will likely be the lynchpin that starts the ball rolling the other direction. For now, Andrew’s job is safe, though who knows what will happen in the future.
April 18, 2015
For anyone who wonders what was going through Curtis’s mind that first night-if any of you have burned through the book yet…
Last night, they were awful. Just fucking loud, and I can tell you, listening to my older brother have sex with his boyfriends? Not my favorite past time. Boyfriends. Plural. How does that even happen? I cheat once, okay, repeatedly, but I really have a problem saying no, and I get dumped. How’s that fair?…twice. Dumped twice. Because I was seeing two people. At least one of them knew about the other. That counts for something, right?
Okay, maybe I liked listening a little. I’m pretty sure I heard Xavier at one point, this sound that crawled inside my stomach and just set everything throbbing in my groin. Maybe…maybe I pretended my brother wasn’t in there and…OH, fuck, this is so embarrassing. I’m not gross or anything, but Xavier’s…candy. He’s eye candy.
Whatever. Who cares? It’s not like anyone else really knows what I did. I could have been working it to anything. But they were so fucking loud and I could hear Duncan. I mean, I just know it was him. There’s no way it was anyone else.
There was moaning in the hallway. Moaning. And I’m not supposed to get, um…interested?
I couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. Not well, anyway. I kept wondering what it was like to have two people who actually…care. That’s…just unbelievable. I’m not jealous, okay? I just don’t understand why Andrew gets to do anything he wants. Everything he wants. And no one’s mad at him. No one tells him they never want to see him again, take his shit and get out. Mom doesn’t freak out on him the way she does me. Oh, no, he just gets to bang two dudes who think he’s the shit. And I just get screwed.
It’s not fair. Life is so unfair.
I’m not jealous.
April 18, 2015
I’m going to start the production process on The Shape of Honey with Dreamspinner Press soon. It’s a shifter book about werewolves, maybe my favorite paranormal subject of all time. Yulian Volkov kind of hates everyone, mostly, except that he doesn’t, not really. He loathes the way other werewolves behave here in the United States, so different from what he grew up with in Europe. Not that werewolves weren’t violent there, and there weren’t territory wars, but it’s nothing compared to the shear brutality of the packs here. To get away from it all he moved out into the country away from the seat of pack power in his territory, taking over his Grandmother’s land, turning it into a top notch Meadery. He still has to attend pack meetings occasionally, however, and here and there’s he’s caught glimpses of Rolly Witten, and he likes what he’s seen.
Rolly is young, and unlike the older members of the pack and most of his agemates he’s done with being a wolf. As far as he can tell it’s a never ending pain in the ass—pack meetings, animal instincts, and being beholden to the moon? No thanks. He likes shopping in a grocery store and he’s seen animal planet. He’s definitely not “Werewolves, Yay!” like the rest of the pack seems to be. And it doesn’t help matters that the only profession he’s ever aspired to has been honing his breaking and entering skills with his best friend Violet. She’d actually picked the profession for both of them because wherever she goes Rolly follows. They’ve always been best friends, and she knows all of his secrets, even the one he’s worried will get him kicked out of the pack. As it turns out, it’s getting arrested that finally gets him ripped away from the safety of the pack, leaving him to the dangers of fighting into another pack because Rolly knows trying to mate in will be a disaster of apocalyptic proportions.
Except fighting in is kind of synonymous with suicide.
Or will Yulian be able to convince Dean, the pack leader, there is something more useful that can be done with Rolly? Something that will keep him safe and keep him out of trouble?
I’m excited to start working on The Shape of Honey with Dreamspinner Press because I had such a wonderful time getting Threefold Love ready for public consumption with them. <3
April 18, 2015
Andrew Landry is a redhead. Why, oh why, is he a redhead? First of all, I’m one of those people who adore redheads—actually, I adore every color combo people come in, if we’re measuring for attractiveness, so long as the people attached to them have attractive personalities—but, I have a special fondness for red hair. There’s something wonderful about pale skin, especially when paired with striking green or blue eyes with fairy kisses of freckles dusted here and there on cheeks. (Andrew’s eyes are a hunter green.) I fell into a daily habit of ogling things like this when I was writing Threefold Love.
The internet is a wonderful thing, yes? Who is your favorite redhead? (Feel free to drop pictures.) Or, failing favorite redhead, favorite picture to ogle. *grins*