It’s the final day and we’re going out with a bang! Please welcome my final guest, the lovely and oh, so talented JAYEL WYLIE. Some of you may know her as Lucy Blue as we. We’re talking about her Medieval Romance novel, This Dangerous Magic.
SHR: What makes this particular book your favorite?
JW: Medieval romance, particularly with magic, was always my favorite as a kid; I’m a total knights & sorcery freak. And This Dangerous Magic feeds that need for me better than anything else I’ve ever written. Writing teachers always tell you to write what you want to read – this is the book I always wanted and could never find.
I also really love the characters. Malinda has been called a difficult heroine, and she is a brat, no question. She’s got great power, and she’s been very much cherished throughout her childhood, protected by parents who are also powerful in different ways and sheltered from a lot of things that if she had seen them might have made her grow up a lot faster. That makes her reckless and willful. But she’s also incredibly loving and accepting, and she’s brilliantly smart. Once she has all the information, she figures things out really quickly and adapts.
And Tarquin is just my dude. If anybody’s ever curious about what my ultimate romantic hero would be, he’s it. I like’em mean and damaged; I love that idea of the brute that loves completely.
JW: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster in 2002 – I can’t believe it was ten years ago!
SHR: Tell us a little about what you went through to get it published.
JW: When I did my first book with Pocket, A Falcon’s Heart, it was with the understanding that it would be the first in a series of at least two, probably three, and This Dangerous Magic is that second book. Malinda is the daughter of the hero and heroine of the first book, and Tarquin appears in the first one as a child. My editor knew they were going to be my main characters, and I had told her it was going to be more of a sorceress story than A Falcon’s Heart, which, while it has magic in it, is a much more traditional medieval love story. But when I sent her the manuscript, her first reaction was, and I quote, “Holy crap!” She loved it, but she said she had never read any romance like it.
And as it turned out, that was the book’s strength as a book and the book’s curse as a publishing commodity. The marketing people just didn’t know what to do with it. The most obvious issue I can show you is the cover – I absolutely loathe the cover; ten years on, I still shudder every time I see it. The great gurus of marketing had deemed that the cover of the first book, which is very fairytale-like and which I love, was too juvenile; they said it made the book look too Young Adult. Somehow correcting that translated into a weird mash-up of the necklace from Titanic possessed by a couple of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid.
SHR: On writing in general: What’s the hardest part for you? Why?
JW: Right now, the biggest problem I have is finding the time and energy to do it. I have a day job that peevishly insists on my attention for eight hours every day; I have a husband I adore and want to play with every day; I have friends and family and all the same stuff everybody else has. So like everybody else, I have to make a concentrated effort to take my brain off by itself and make stuff up, and that can be hard. But once I do that, once I put the headphones on my head and sit down with my notebook or at the computer and put myself back into that story, I still love it better than any other non-human thing. It’s like those bumper stickers fisherman have, even a bad day of writing is better than a good day at work.
SHR: Unrelated: What’s your favorite color?
ABOUT THIS DANGEROUS MAGIC:
What the publisher said (heaven save us):
From Jayel Wylie, one of romantic fiction’s most brilliant new stars, comes a breathtaking tale that seamlessly blends passion, magic, and the enchantment of true love.
After twelve years Tarquin FitzBruel, the most fearsome warrior in all of England, returns to Brinlaw Castle to keep a promise to his half-sister, Nan. Yet he vows to leave quickly before the demon that lurks within him can destroy the only people he truly loves, including the willful Malinda — the spoiled beauty who haunts his dreams.
Malinda Brinlaw does not take well to being denied something she wants. After all, she is a sorceress. So when she meets Tarquin FitzBruel, she ignores her family’s warnings and uses her faerie magic to cast a love spell on the unsuspecting warrior. Their clash of wills turns into a white-hot passion so intense that a connection is forged between them forever. But the darkness that plagues Tarquin’s soul threatens to tear the destined lovers apart…unless the tortured warrior can make the fearful choice that will save them.
What Lucy says (which might be worse):
Tarquin FitzBruel is literally a son of a witch, a pirate, mercenary, and failed Crusader who believes he was cursed at birth, a demon in human form. When his knightly mentor, Will Brinlaw, asks him to give up the mercenary life to watch over Will’s daughter, the single-minded sorceress Malinda, he tries to tell him it’s a terrible idea. But Will won’t listen, and Tarquin is doomed.
Malinda thinks all she wants is the freedom to practice magic and to be a lady-in-waiting to her idol, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. But when she meets Tarquin, everything changes. All this spoiled hellion wants is him, and she’s not afraid to call on her considerable gifts to have him, whether he agrees or not. Using her powers to get her way, she puts them both in more danger than either of them could have imagined. Only a connection that goes beyond magic can save them.
Tarquin’s back was turned to the camp, but he felt more than heard her approach, her little feet almost silent on the grass. “I’m not invisible this time,” she said, laying a hand on his arm. “And I’m dressed.”
He looked down and almost smiled. “Nearly, anyway,” he answered. “You never gave my shirt back, by the way.”
“Nor will I ever.” He looked away, even the half smile gone. “I wanted to apologize,” she pressed on, refusing to be daunted. “I know I’ve been rather difficult.” He didn’t answer. “I am sorry,” she finished in a teasing tone that sounded anything but.
“Are you?” He turned to face her, his back against the tree, his arms crossed over his chest. “I didn’t notice you were being much different, but I don’t know you well.” She looked like a faery princess from some ancient tale, the mist rising from the warm, wet ground enhancing the illusion. “You should be asleep,” he said, looking away.
“So should you.” The woods were full of sound, birds and crickets celebrating the end of the rain. Standing under the canopy of glistening leaves, they might have been alone in all the world. “I should have brought Rufus,” she mused, looking up.
“Why call him Rufus?” he asked. “Why not Hannibal or Buzzy or Jack?”
“I don’t know,” she laughed. “Rufus just seemed to be his name.”
“You sound like Nan,” he smiled. “She used to have three different dogs named Virgil, all at the same time.”
“Yes, I know,” she said. “As a matter of fact, unless he’s met with some misfortune in the past month or so, one of the Virgils is waiting for us at home.”
“You can’t be serious—“
“Oh yes.” She reached up and touched a branch, sending a shiver of raindrops falling over them both. “Nan wept to leave him, but he couldn’t make the trip to Bruel any more, much less France. He’s old as Methuseleh, for a dog at least, half blind, smells atrocious. But she loves him just the same.”
“Nan has that gift,” Tarquin answered. “Loving creatures no one else could.”
“Like you, I suppose you mean.”
“And my mother? Is she gifted this way as well?”
“I see.” She wanted to reach out and touch him, whether he willed it or not, and not just to torment him. She thought of the child she had seen, the same look in his eyes. She thought of the brush of his lips in the woods before she had run and again in his room at Bruel when she had kissed him first, and all her careful plans for vengeance dissolved into an instinct far more profound. “Why don’t you want me?” she heard herself say aloud.
Tarquin just stared at her, unable to form an answer. She sounded so tender, so genuinely hurt. I do, he longed to answer, to take her into his arms and kiss her fears away. For a single, heady moment, he let himself imagine what might be if she were only his. He thought of her first kiss, innocent and fearless. She had known him—but no, she had not. She knew the lie her parents knew, the mask he kept so carefully intact. Only once had she caught a glimpse of his true self, in the woods at Bruel. All unknowing, he had touched her, and she had run away. “Why do you care?” he said aloud.
“I . . . I don’t,” she stammered, her own mask falling into place—the careless brat again—but it was hopeless. He had already seen the truth. She tried to think of something else to say, something callous and hurtful to rebuild her defenses, but before she could speak, he was kissing her, and she was lost.
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