Books can spring from a multitude of different places; the love of a particular genre, a brainstorming session with an agent, or even the distant memory of a childhood tale, told by a grandfather on a Saturday night. My debut novel, Wickedly Dangerous, came in part from all of these things, but it also was directly influenced by two of my favorite books by other authors, people whose writing made me think: I want to write that!
Interestingly, although these two books were written by authors whose body of work I already adored, both of them were departures from their usual books. And the books were very different from each other, but they had a few important features in common; features which I eventually incorporated into my own book (and hopefully did half as well as they did).
The Magical Emporium, by Tanya Huff, is now on my top ten list of favorite books ever, and I’ve probably reread it a half a dozen times. Huff, who is best known for her Blood books (made into the short-lived but wonderful TV series, Blood Ties) has written everything from science fiction to vampires, but her Gale Girls series, of which The Magical Emporium was the first, are set in a realistic world that just happens to have magic in it.
That’s also true of Patricia McKillip’s Solstice Wood. McKillip is best known for her lyrically beautiful fantasy books, and I absolutely worship her for the way she can paint pictures with words. I tried to do a little of that in my own series, although with nothing approaching her skill.
So what do these two novels have in common that inspired me to write a book that in some ways followed in their footsteps? They are both set in our normal world, with true magic hidden just below the surface. And they are both filled with interesting, quirky characters who are still realistic and familiar. Characters that you would want to meet, if you could. Magic you would love to see for yourself.
Wickedly Dangerous, as well as its prequel novella Wickedly Magical and the second book in the series, Wickedly Wonderful, features a woman plucked out of Russian fairy tales and mythology: the Baba Yaga. I’ve updated her for the modern world, changing her hut on chicken legs to an Airstream trailer, and her flying mortar and pestle to a classic BMW motorcycle. She is still accompanied by her faithful(ish) dragon companion, Chudo-Yudo, but these days he is disguised as a giant white pit bull. And much like in the old stories, the Baba Yaga has “sisters,” other magical women like her who are charged with guarding the doorway to the Otherworld and keeping the balance of nature. Each book features a different Baba, all of them very different from each other.
I hope you’ll come meet Baba Yaga, and tell me what you think of what I’ve done with all this inspiration.
Question One: Do you prefer fantasy or paranormal novels that are set in a completely different world, or magic that is hidden in our own?
Question Two: What qualities do YOU look for in a book? Interesting characters? Detailed descriptions? A satisfying love story? Humor? A plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat?
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