A Mystic Ending

Today award-winning author Patricia Rice returns to the lair. In addition to being a three-time RITA finalist and gracing numerous best-seller lists, she has won the Romantic Times Career Achievement and Lifetime Achievement Awards, and her paranormal historical, Merely Magic, was one of the Romantic Times reviewers’ 200 all-time favorite books. Pat joins us today to discuss Mystic Warrior, the final book in her wonderful Mystic Isle series.

Welcome, Pat! For readers new to the series, what’s the Mystic Isle, and how do these books fit together?

The Mystic Isle is invisible to the human eye, hidden behind illusion to protect the valuable Chalice of Plenty. The inhabitants have lived there for centuries, developing into a race with physical and psychic powers not found elsewhere on earth. In the first book of the series, MYSTIC GUARDIAN, the Chalice leaves the island in the hands of a half-human, half-mystic mermaid. Without the Chalice, the island begins to deteriorate, so the islanders must seek it out. In each book of the trilogy, one of the most powerful people on the island must set out in search of the elusive Chalice, unaware that the Chalice has a purpose in leaving the island.

How did you come up with this concept?

Hear me laugh! Not easily is the fastest answer. Characters tend to come to me first, in rather vivid images. I knew the heroine of the first book was a form of mermaid desperate to save her home and family in Brittany, a country on the brink of revolution. And the hero needed to be a golden god. Very strange characters lurk in my subconscious! I can’t remember how the invisible island came to be. It sort of emerged from the mists, as it were. From there, a lot of head to desk pounding ensued, accompanied by some extremely creative and often hilarious brainstorming sessions.

The French Revolution is an unusual setting, but you’ve woven it into the character conflicts in all three books. How does it play into this last one?

You are either very perceptive or an English major, Nancy. In my character-driven mind, people are more important than battles or politics. In romance, one needs “inciting incidents” to drive the protagonists out of their normal world. By the time the trilogy reaches the last book, MYSTIC WARRIOR, my Mystic Isle is mirroring the same sort of class revolution happening in France. My heroine isn’t a “queen” per se, but she’s the next in line of the powerful leading family. And she can’t stop her country from self-destructing. She needs the aid of a man who has been banished from the island years before, a man of essentially peasant extraction who is intent on changing the world, who has joined the revolutionaries on the Continent. Lissandra has never left the island, she’s too valuable, but she must step into the human world for the first time to find the revolutionary renegade she once loved because Murdoch has powers greater than her own that her family failed to recognize. So there’s revolution in a nutshell—the desperate versus the status quo.

You’re now selling ebooks of your Magic series, which I loved. Can you tell us a little about those books?

Oh, the Magic books are wicked fun! The Malcolms are descendants of a long line of psychics and metaphysically challenged women . Although, since these are Georgian historicals, the women barely escape being called witches, usually by marrying powerful lords. Their nemeses are the extremely logical, scientific Ives’ men who aren’t about to believe that one can paint the future or smell danger. I had entirely too much fun writing those books and had so many people ask for the earlier books to complete their set, that I asked Belgrave House to issue them as e-books.

If you’re interested, here’s the link.

Could we have a peek inside Mystic Warrior?

As if a fire-breathing dragon lurked in the shadows under the trees, a cloud of smoke engulfed her, and Lissandra coughed harshly. Curse the gods, but this was worse than climbing the volcano’s slope. She could feel the heat through the soles of her shoes.

A rabbit dashed across her foot. She tripped and caught her balance on a tall standing stone. The rock was so hot, she quickly withdrew her palm before it burned.

She dragged her gown up from where it tangled her feet, and held the fabric in her hands, using her Aelynn strength to stride faster. She doubted anyone could see her abnormal speed in this murk, and her lungs would appreciate a hasty departure.

A geyser of fire flamed upward through the layers of decaying vegetation on the side of the road. Startled, she halted. Was Murdoch out there, warning her to leave?

The devil she would.

Determined, she marched on, coughing harder in the thickening smoke. She would have this confrontation done with. The setting might be ominous, but it was certainly fitting—

A demon shot through the smoke at inhuman speed. Lissandra glimpsed only a blur of broad, filthy bare chest before iron arms tackled her waist. She shrieked as the creature tore her heels from the ground and tumbled with her into the ashes on the far side of the lane.

Another fiery geyser spewed into the air on the spot where she’d just been standing.

Muttered curses assaulted her ears. With bare arms propped on either side of her head and muscular thighs pinning her legs, the demon prevented her escape. In shock, Lissandra closed her eyes and screamed at this smothering male proximity. Her attacker covered her mouth with his hand.

Refusing to surrender, she locked her mental shields against any emotional assault and shoved at broad—naked—shoulders, with the intent of flinging her assailant into the air with her superior strength. Beneath her palms she encountered the grit of soot and ash and the powerful play of muscles, but no matter how much strength she applied, her attacker merely beat the ground with his fist.

The ground trembled. She opened her eyes in terror.

And watched the geyser of fire die.

Cursing tonelessly in several languages with phrases so vivid they scorched her ears, her attacker trapped her between his bulging arms, glared down at her through the smoke, and, after only a moment’s hesitation, covered her mouth with his.

Stunned by this invasion of her sacred person, Lissandra grabbed the monster’s arms and tried to pry him away. She kicked and struggled, but her screams were smothered by lips so commanding she almost forgot to fight.

She did forget to fight. Senselessly, she clung to the strong support of his arms and kissed him back. Or maybe not so senselessly. This kiss lived inside her heart …

…… and her memories. She had dreamed of this kiss so long… …

His mouth tasted of strong wine, his beard bristles chafed her skin, and the heavy desire consuming them erased rational thought. She parted her lips at her assailant’s insistence, drank his breath into her lungs, mated her tongue with his, and almost burst into flames .

Wow! I love that. And I love what comes after it, too.

You’ve had a long and varied career. Have you ever seen the market go through a cycle like this one? Do you have any advice for weathering it?

Oh wow, my crystal ball cracked with this cycle! Yes, I have seen “down” cycles caused by events over which we had little control. The worst one was when all the independent distributors were bought out, collapsed, or went bankrupt in a single summer back in the 90s. It took a year or more for the market to stagger back to recovery, and we lost a lot of wonderful authors in the process. Oddly enough, writers must eat, too, and if they can’t get contracts, they have to move into the salary-paying world.

This cycle is different, driven by the world economy more than anything in publishing. Before, the publishers survived. This time, I’m not sure they will, not as we’ve known them in the past. Yes, we’ll have big NYC publishing houses for a long time to come, because print books aren’t going out of favor in my lifetime. But I suspect the bigger publishers will eventually be spun off from the conglomerates that own them and will survive on “brand name” authors and niche markets. It will be the smaller publishers who provide us with our mass market reading “fix.” They’re more flexible and their overheads aren’t as high, so they may be able to weather the storm.

That said, I don’t see the big money for midlist authors that was once there. Not until this newly emerging market settles. The new platform should allow for tons of wonderfully inventive books, but they will have to be on the market for years before they become profitable. It should be very interesting.

Where do you see the market going? Have you read other books about the French Revolution? Would you rather visit Paris (without a revolution) or a tropical refuge, and what influences your choice?

Pat’s giving away a couple of copies of Mystic Warrior to commenters today.


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