Stephanie Burgis is joining us today to talk about her novel, Scales and Sensibility. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Sensible, practical Elinor Tregarth really did plan to be the model poor relation when she moved into Hathergill Hall. She certainly never meant to kidnap her awful cousin Penelope’s pet dragon. She never expected to fall in love with the shameless – but surprisingly sweet – fortune hunter who came to court Penelope. And she never dreamed that she would have to enter into an outrageous magical charade to save her younger sisters’ futures.
However, even the most brilliant scholars of 1817 England still haven’t ferreted out all the lurking secrets of rediscovered dragonkind…and even the most sensible of heroines can still make a reckless wish or two when she’s pushed. Now Elinor will have to find out just how rash and resourceful she can be when she sets aside all common sense. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll even be impractical enough to win her own true love and a happily ever after…with the unpredictable and dangerous “help” of the magical creature who has adopted her.
A frothy Regency rom-com full of pet dragons and magical misadventures, Scales and Sensibility is a full-length novel and the first in a new series of standalone romantic comedies.
What’s Stephanie’s favorite bit?
In January of 2011, I sent my then-agent a novel manuscript that he called “laugh-out-loud funny, perfectly paced…and completely unmarketable.”
Oh, did I hate giving up on that book. I loved those characters so much! I loved their story – but I also understood, in professional terms, that he was right. In 2011, there really wasn’t a commercial market for Scales and Sensibility, my Regency fantasy rom-com with pet dragons and magical mix-ups. At the time, it just didn’t fit into any established category.
Luckily – and as every longterm writing career ends up proving for better or for worse – markets really do change with time! Everything was very different in both the publishing world and my own personal world by the beginning of 2021.
In January 2021, I was just finishing up my second bout of covid, a much more serious second case that had already hung on for 10 truly miserable weeks. My husband was even more scarily sick with his own long covid (which is still hanging on even now, many months later). We had two young kids at home who needed looking after and homeschooling through those months of pandemic lockdown…and, almost needless to say, I had fallen horribly behind on all of my writing commitments.
At that point, I felt utterly drained, not just physically but also creatively and emotionally. What I really needed most was an infusion of joy…and when, on a whim, I finally re-opened that manuscript from 2011 for the first time in almost a decade, I found myself absolutely flooded with it.
Of course, that draft wasn’t a polished and publishable manuscript quite yet. For one thing, I’d learned an awful lot about writing in the decade in-between; I certainly hope that I’m a better writer now than I was then. So I knew from the beginning that it would need some big and careful edits before I could let anyone else read it. But even that initial draft was full of an exuberant joy and a sense of playfulness that I had almost forgotten I possessed…so I decided to give myself a creative gift at the bleak beginning of this year, in the middle of one of the hardest times of my whole life.
I would let myself rewrite this frothy, just-for-fun Regency romp, which mixed up so many of my favorite ingredients from my two favorite genres (fantasy and romance) – and I would take the time to serialize the resulting book on my Patreon at a rate of one chapter per week.
Those uploads turned out to be the absolute highlights of my year as my Patreon subscribers entered into the weekly project with an enthusiasm that was priceless. Every Saturday morning, I would post a new chapter, and every Saturday afternoon, I would thrill at the fantastic running commentary that streamed in from my readers. Those comments ranged from delight to outrage at the different events taking place – and even to some passionate arguments among my patrons over the morality of one particular side-character. The whole experience embodied everything I love most about sharing books with fellow readers, and it reminded me of WHY I write my own books, even apart from any financial aspects.
In a very hard year, getting to dive back into this romp full of scandalous magical masquerades, impossible romance, and adorably troublesome pet dragons – and then getting to share it with my Patreon subscribers – reminded me that writing can be joyful and playful and deeply nourishing. Now that Scales and Sensibility is finally out in the wider world in ebook and paperback, I hope that it can serve as an infusion of joy and playfulness for all of my readers, too.
Stephanie Burgis grew up in Michigan but now lives in Wales, surrounded by mountains and castles, with her husband (fellow writer Patrick Samphire), their two sons, and their very vocal tabby cat. She writes wildly romantic historical fantasy for adults (most recently the Harwood Spellbook series) and fun MG fantasy adventures (most recently The Raven Heir and The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart trilogy). Find out more and read excerpts from all of her books at www.stephanieburgis.com