Stephanie Burgis - 2012


Stephanie Burgis
Photo Credit: Gail Hammond
Photo Credit: Gail Hammond

I am a huge fan of Stephanie Burgis.  I have not, thus far, had the opportunity to meet her in person.  I can but hope that will change someday.  I can say that she is delightful and engaging on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.  In fact, for this interview, I contacted Stephanie via Twitter.  I love technology!  Stephanie has led a remarkably interesting life, played complicated looking musical instruments, and gotten to live in really cool places.  Also, she refers to her toddler as "Mr. Darcy", which is amazing.  

Stephanie is the author of the Kat Stephenson books, which have been featured on this site previously as Books of the Week.  Kat is a charming, irrepressible Regency miss who gets into more trouble than even magic can get her out of.  In Kat's England magic is known, but it's even worse than having a relation in trade.  Unfortunately for Kat and her older sisters, the first Mrs. Stephenson was a known witch.  The second Mrs. Stephenson, Kat's long suffering, long winded step-mama, works diligently to restore respectability to the family.  Kat and respectability don't go so well together, especially once Kat finds out that she has magic of her own.  
There are two books in the series out now; Kat, Incorrigible and Renegade Magic.  Book three, Stolen Magic, will be out on April 2, 2013.  However, because Stephanie is amazing, you can go read the first three chapters of all three books on her website RIGHT NOW!  And there's a bonus short story!  Go ahead.  I'll wait here....
  
Back?  Ok, let's get this interview started!





Sara
How did you first meet Kat?  Did she come to you fully formed or did you have to work at her?

Stephanie
She popped into my head unexpectedly and fully-formed - literally as I was making lunch one day. I was in the middle of writing a completely different book at the time, something really dark & angsty, but as I stood chopping onions for lunch, her voice suddenly spoke into my head: "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...."

- and I was hooked! :) I spent a while trying to force myself to stick with the other novel, which felt so much more Serious and Literary and Sensible, but no. I had to follow Kat and see where she would take me!
 

Sara
According to your bio you have lived in some very interesting places.  What is your favorite?  
And, possibly not the same answer, which has been the most inspiring?

Stephanie
Vienna, 1900
Ooh, good question. I really, really love Vienna - all in all, I spent just over two years living there, and I still dream about it regularly. Not only did I work on a PhD thesis about Viennese operas after I left, I even wrote a whole novel (which will never be published!) set there - so I guess I'd have to say it's been my most inspiring home. 

But on the other hand, I decided that I wasn't going to try to live there forever...whereas I've settled really happily in the UK. So I'd have to say that I am now living in my favorite place, here in Wales! I love the beauty I'm surrounded by, I love the support that the Welsh government gives authors, and I really love living near so many castles. (There are two within 15 minutes' drive of my house!)

Sara (Sadly, I've never been to Vienna, but Wales is awesome!)
Vienna, 1900 (from Wikipedia.org)

 Sara
In another interview (at Steph Su Reads) you mentioned being a fan of Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, and Ysabeau Wilce (all favorites of mine as well).  What particular books would you recommend (in addition to your own, of course) to readers looking for exciting adventures? 

Stephanie

For exciting adventures, I'd strongly recommend Jenn Reese's Above World (about a warrior mermaid and her sweet, geek-boy best friend, working together to save the world with the help of flying girls, centaur boys and fabulous robots) and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway's Ordinary Magic (about a girl who finds out on her 12th birthday that she does NOT have any magic - unlike almost everyone else in her world - and therefore is in a LOT of trouble). They're my two favorite MG novels of this year.


Sara
 Which Jane Austen novel would you most like to step into?  Into which part?

Stephanie
Ooh, that's a hard question. I adore her novels, but also, her characters are so often caught in embarrassing situations - they might be more fun to read about than to experience first-hand! But I'd quite like to hover in the background of Northanger Abbey (which was a huge influence on my first two Kat books, in different ways), because I do love the city of Bath so much. (That's why I couldn't resist setting Renegade Magic there!) And of course I'd love to wander around Pemberley (not getting in Elizabeth and Darcy's way at all, OF COURSE).
 
Bath (Photo from Wikipedia.org)

Sara
Kat has been in Yorkshire (Kat, Incorrigible) and in Bath (Renegade Magic).  Are there any other travels in store for her? (And can I just say how jealous I am that she got to actually go into the Roman baths?  I wanted to do that from my first visit!)

Stephanie
Yes! Kat's third adventure, Stolen Magic, takes place at a country house in Devon, up high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Naturally, smugglers and spies are both involved! 

(And oh, I would also LOVE to actually go into the Roman baths myself! I'm really jealous of people who got to visit the baths in the 1970s, back when visitors were still allowed to touch the water. Sigh!)

Roman Baths (Wikipedia.org)

Sara
 I understand that you like to have tea and possibly dark chocolate when you write.  Do you have a favorite type of either?

Stephanie
Ooh, yes. I love Divine (brand) 70% dark chocolate, Green & Blacks fruit & nut dark chocolate, and loose-leaf Lapsang Souchong tea (which I drink with milk). 
 

Sara
Do you have a literary guilty pleasure?  Will you share it with us?

Stephanie
I've mostly purged myself of guilt about this, but I do love good adult romances, and when it comes to guilty favorites....well, probably my guiltiest literary pleasures are Julie Garwood's "Regency" romances Guardian Angel and Lion's Lady. They're so massively inaccurate, historically, that I have to just half-shut my eyes and tell myself firmly that they take place in a fantasy country called Regencelandia, rather than Regency England...but I fell in love with them a long, long time ago, as a teenager, and they're so (intentionally) funny that I can't help loving them even now. 
 



Sara
Is there any other genre in which you aspire to write?

Stephanie
Well, I've had about thirty short stories published in the adult science fiction and fantasy genre, but at the moment I'm not driven to write any full-length novels in that genre. Honestly, I just adore the MG genre, and the way it lets me work in fantasy, humor, historical fiction and romance, all of them together! I am tempted by the idea of writing younger chapter books at some point, though, and someday I'd love to try writing an adult romance, too. But I can't imagine ever writing any books that didn't include a magical element.
 

Sara
Social media is becoming increasingly important to the publishing world.  
For example, I got in touch with you about this interview through twitter.  
Do you find it distracting or helpful?

Stephanie
I *love* twitter! My two jobs are writing and parenting, and they're both incredibly isolating pursuits, which don't involve much adult company. Twitter gives me fun online company, a support group when I'm having a hard time with the writing - and sometimes a surprising amount of practical help! For instance, the novel I'm working on right now is structured around a road trip across America, and when I posted spur-of-the-moment questions on Twitter in the middle of my writing sessions (like, "What kind of crops might my character see growing in Massachusetts in mid-June?"), I was flooded with helpful responses! I've also connected with folklore experts on Twitter, and when I had to make a video about my first book here in the UK, almost everything I said about it on film was something that had been suggested by my followers on Twitter, after I'd issued a call for help the day before.


Sara
 So, I may have fangirled out when you agreed to do this interview.  I'm not saying that I did, just that I may have.  
Is there an author you would absolutely love to interact with?

Stephanie
This is another wonderful thing about Twitter! Whenever I meet my favorite authors in person for the first time (without any prior interaction), it NEVER goes very well. I either go completely mute, paralyzed by terror, or else I turn red in the face, stumble over my words, and the whole thing turns into a fog of embarrassment that makes me cringe even years later...so it's by far the best for me to interact with them first online! Through twitter, I've gotten to interact with some of my very favorite authors, like Hilary McKay and Susanna Kearsley...and since I have enough time to think through my @ replies, I don't embarrass them *or* myself by falling on my face in front of them! ;)
(Sara: Have I got a story about that... See my blog about meeting Dan Wells)




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