Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Burgis’
Today our author in residence shares her favourite books with us….
5 Favourite Reads by Stephanie Burgis
I devour books like chocolate, so it’s dangerous to ask me to start talking about them…I could go on forever! I’ve even got a page on my website completely devoted to my top favourite Kat-related books you can check out here. But when Bookbabblers invited me to write a guest post here about five favourite reads, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to talk about some of the books I’ve loved most recently:
1. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book One: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood
I’m afraid this one is only published in America, but it is available through amazon.co.uk, and it is SO worth it. I haven’t laughed so much over a book – and I mean uncontrollable giggling out loud! – for a long, long time. When Miss Penelope Lumley leaves the Swanburne School to become a governess, she is astonished to discover that her new charges aren’t just wild, they were actually raised by wolves…and the results are hilarious and adorable. I loved, loved, loved this book, and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series!
2. The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall
Oh, this book was so much fun! Four sisters and their absent-minded father spend their summer in a self-catering cottage on a secluded estate in America, meet and rescue a lonely boy, and create an enormous amount of (very funny) trouble. It reads like an inspired combination of Little Women and Swallows and Amazons, with the feeling of really classic literature. I loved the characters so much, especially the relationships among the sisters.
3. I also adore the third book in the Penderwick series, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, which is due to come out in the UK in February 2012.
The Penderwick girls are split apart for the first time ever, and the younger Penderwicks end up unleashed without their protective big sister to deal with disastrous (and hilarious) first love, musical genius, and melodrama. This book stands alone beautifully, so you don’t have to read either of the earlier Penderwick books before you enjoy it…but why wouldn’t you want to? (I didn’t love Book 2 as much as the other two books, but I wouldn’t have missed Book 1 for the world!)
4. Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman
This one is out of print, frustratingly, but there are lots of cheap, used copies available, and it’s so worth hunting it down. Set in the Middle Ages, this is the diary of stubborn, grumpy, rebellious and completely lovable teenager Catherine. Her voice is so strong and engaging, and I utterly adored being swept into her medieval world, complete with captive bears that must be saved, shaggy-bearded suitors that must be somehow disposed of, and older brothers that must be taught their proper place.
5. Vanished, by Sheela Chari
Another book that’s only published in the US, I’m afraid, but oh, it is wonderful! Eleven-year-old Neela lives in Boston and dreams of becoming a professional musician if she can ever overcome her shyness. When her instrument, a traditional Indian veena, is stolen, Neela is swept into an international mystery and ends up researching curses, traveling to India, and making new friends along the way. I love the way this book meshes exciting adventure and mystery with absolutely beautiful writing.
And now I’m off to the library to discover more books – my very favourite kind of treasure hunting!
Thanks, Steph – fab choices! We’ll be hearing more from Steph throughout the month, but in the meantime, you can find out more about her here and get her books here…
It’s a new month, so we have a new ‘author in residence’ with us – a warm welcome to Stephanie Burgis! Stephanie has a new book, A Tangle of Magicks, out this month, and we’ll be bringing you our review of it (along with a chance for you to win it!) later this month, along with hearing more from Steph. In the meantime, get to know her a little better…
Give us a little intro to yourself
I’m a dual UK/US citizen, and I live in Wales with my husband, web designer (and writer!) Patrick Samphire, our toddler son (known on my blog as “Mr Darcy”), and our sweet border collie mix, Maya. My trilogy of Regency-era fantasy novels for kids, The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, started with A MOST IMPROPER MAGICK, and Book 2, A TANGLE OF MAGICKS is out now. You can read the first three chapters of both novels on my website (www.stephanieburgis.com) .
What made you start to write?
I’ve been obsessed with books ever since my parents first started to read them to me. It wasn’t until I was seven years old, though, that I finally realized there was something even more fun than reading: writing! I was determined from that moment to be a professional writer when I grew up. I feel incredibly lucky that I am actually living that dream now.
Tell us about A Tangle of Magicks
A Tangle of Magicks is Book 2 in The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, but it can also stand on its own for readers who haven’t had the chance to read A Most Improper Magick yet. Here’s what my publisher says about it:
Kat’s stepmother drags their family to the fashionable city of Bath to remove Kat’s sister Angeline from a most improper suitor. But unbeknownst to Stepmama, Regency-era Bath is full of notorious rakes, Napoleonic spies, and dangerous wild magic!
When Kat uncovers a plot to harness the wild magic in the Roman Baths, she finds her brother Charles is unwittingly involved. Now Kat must risk her own newfound magical powers as she defies the powerful Order of the Guardians to foil the plot and clear her brother’s name.
Where did the inspiration come from for your heroine, Kat Stephenson?
I always adored the novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and several of them include younger sisters who only pop up in the book for long enough to say something snarky and disrespectful to their older sisters (the romantic heroines). I thought it would be really fun to make my heroine the *youngest* sister, busy carrying out her own fabulous magical adventures even while her older sisters are distracted by mere romance.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love playing with my toddler son, reading books (both to him and to myself), visiting gorgeous natural places like woods and lakes, and visiting castles. (I *love* castles – one of my favourite things about the town I live in now is that there are two different castles within a 20-minute drive from my house!)
Hard question – if you could only read 3 more books again (giving you 3 choices, as 1 must be impossible!), what would they be?
1. The Collected Works of Jane Austen (I know, this is cheating, but still…!)
2. The Lord of the Rings (in a collected 1-volume edition, of course!
3. The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. Sooo delicious and funny!
Thanks, Steph! Look out for more from Steph with us this month, visit her website here, and follow her on Twitter here.
A few weeks ago we heard from Sophia Bennett on her favourite heroines, and now we find out who Stephanie Burgis, author of A Most Improper Magick, would choose..
When I think of heroines, I think of the books I most loved as a kid: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Crocodile on the Sandbank, The Talisman Ring…the list goes on and on, but what ties them all together is the theme of strong, smart women taking responsibility for their own lives.
Elizabeth Bennet is financially and socially dependent on her father, and when he dies, if she hasn’t found a husband first, she’ll be both homeless and penniless, because his house and income are entailed to a male cousin. Moreover, since she’s never had a proper education, she doesn’t even have the skills to find a job and support herself (even if such a thing were acceptable for girls of her class, in her society).
A desperate situation, no? But she never lets financial desperation cheapen her sense of her own self-worth, and she refuses to marry any man she can’t respect – or who won’t respect her – no matter how much pressure her marriage-obsessed mother puts on her.
Even when the fabulously wealthy and handsome Mr Darcy proposes to her, she turns him down without compunction – he’s offered her love but not respect. It’s only when he learns to treat her as an equal that she finally agrees to marry him – and that priceless life lesson was imprinted on me the first time I read the book: romance is NOT romantic unless it includes equality!
A lot of people jeer at romance novels, pointing at various examples of sexism in the genre, but I learned some of my best and most powerful feminist lessons as I read the classic romances, especially Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Jane is poor and plain and starts out life as a reviled poor relation living off her (horrible!) rich aunt’s charity. Life gets even worse when her relations exile her to Lowood School, where the charity girls are treated so badly that many of them die of the poor conditions during the winter months.
When she takes the job of a governess, it’s only a small step up, and her employer’s wealthy guests are careful to remind her with every dismissive glance that she is worthless in their eyes, unfit to mingle with good society. But Jane never loses her self-respect, and she proves it when she walks away from the man she loves and all the wealth and comfort he offers her – all at a moral price she is not willing to pay. She refuses to cheapen herself by becoming his mistress.
Jane truly earns her happy ending, finishing the book not as the indulged – and socially lesser – mistress of a wealthy man, but as his true partner and wife, in full charge of both his household and her life. Again: as I devoured Jane’s gothic adventures, I absorbed the life lesson that equality and respect really are the basis of any truly romantic relationship.
Anne of Green Gables taught me to value my imagination even in the darkest of circumstances. Emily of New Moon showed me that I really could follow my dream to be a writer no matter who sneered at my aspirations. (The scene where Emily’s writing notebooks are destroyed by a contemptuous adult still burns!)
Amelia Peabody gave me a model of a strong, smart adult woman who could take on any adventure and attract the man of her dreams by the sheer force of her intellect and personality. Sarah Thane showed me that a strong woman could still be imaginative and funny and have fun with romance.
When I sat down to write A Most Improper Magick (the first of The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson), I wrote exactly the kind of heroine I wanted to read when I was a teen, the kind I still, in my heart, want to be.
Who are your favourite literary heroines?
Thanks! Good question, Stephanie – tell us, Bookbabblers! You can buy Stephanie’s book in our shop now..
Today we have a review from Bookbabbler Iffath, and the chance for you to WIN the book..
A Most Improper Magick – Stephanie Burgis
Nineteenth-century England is not the place to be practising magic. But in this prim and proper world, twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson’s family is going to be ruined unless she takes matters into her own hands. Lucky then, that Kat has inherited her mother’s magical talents…
Kat Stephenson has just discovered she has inherited her late mother’s magical powers when she is transported into another dimension via a special golden mirror. Exciting as it is, Kat must keep all of it a secret – because in London 1803, magic is looked down upon. Kat is unsure about how to deal with her new-found skills and there isn’t much time to figure it all out – Kat’s older sister is going to be forced into marrying a rich gentleman. And what about the group of witches (aka the Order) who are trying to persuade Kat to let them give her proper magic lessons?!
Brother Charles had spent his time gambling away most of the family’s money and other sister Angeline is too busy casting careless love spells which don’t end as nicely as she wanted. Kat believes it’s her job to solve these crazy problems, and she’s more than prepared to use a little magic to help her…
As the youngest of four, high-spirited Kat is easy to relate to; she’s always being told what to do and what not to do, being treated like a pest all the time by older siblings who just don’t understand how clever Kat really is. The author has managed to create a really colourful, quirky character in Kat! Loud and highly individual, she fails to understand (or like) the rules of common etiquette, and it just made me laugh how she stood out around her family! My favourite part was when they all sat down for dinner. Her discovery of her magical powers and the truth about her mother is well depicted, while her encounters with certain members of the Order never quite go the way you expect.
Burgis’s debut novel is a charming combination of adventure, magic, and most unusually – highwaymen! Fans of Jane Austen and Diana Wynn Jones will love this heartwarming, funny and immersive novel with beautifully formed characters and lots of clever twists.
A Most Improper Magick gives us a taste of what it’s like to have the power of magic and and I’m really looking forward to what happens next in the next story! It seems like there’s a lot more to discover yet!
Thanks, Iffath! You can win a copy of A Most Improper Magick with us now. To enter the draw, simply comment on this post, ‘like’ it on Facebook or retweet it. We’ll pick a winner 8pm Monday (UK only). Good luck all!
Today we catch up with Stephanie Burgis, author of A Most Improper Magick, out this month.
Which were your favourite books from your childhood?
I was a book addict from early childhood – two of the things I got in trouble for most often were sneaking books to the dinner table and reading during class! – so this list could go on for ages. Some of my very top favourites, though, were Joan Bauer’s Squashed, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Virginia Euwer Wolff’s The Mozart Season, Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank, and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
(I’m going to stop here for the sake of space, but I do also have a whole page on my website that’s devoted to more of my favourite books: http://www.stephanieburgis.com/about/favorite-books.php )
Being fans of historical fiction ourselves, what drew you to writing in this genre?
I’ve always been a major history geek – in fact, I used to get out of some of my chores by trading good stories from history to one of my brothers in exchange! I also got a Master’s degree in music history, focusing on the music and politics of late eighteenth-century Europe. So it was almost a given that I would want to give my novels a historical setting – and ever since my dad read me Pride & Prejudice, when I was eight years old, I’ve been head-over-heels in love with the Regency era.
Tell us about Kat Stephenson
Kat is loyal, loving, headstrong, impulsive, smart, skeptical, and determined to make up her own mind about everything, no matter what anyone else might think! Her mother was a notorious witch whose reputation was ruined by the public practice of magic, and if Kat wanted to redeem herself in the eyes of good society, she’d avoid magic like the plague. However, Kat has no intention of doing that – especially when there are highwaymen to fight and husbands to find for both of her older sisters!
A Most Improper Magick is book 1 in the series, so what else can we expect and when?!
There will be at least two more books in The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, coming out once a year. Book Two, A Tangle of Magicks, will take place in Regency Bath and involve scandalous rakes and wild magic.
To pick up on a current thread in our forum, if you could live with any literary character, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to live with Amelia Peabody (from CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK) – she’s smart, strong, supportive of other women, and always taking off on fabulous adventures in Victorian Egypt!
What do you love to do when you’re not writing?
I love to visit castles and historical museums, read books (of course!), and play with my wonderful toddler son.
Thanks, Steph. We will be bringing you our review of A Most Improper Magick soon…