Woooooohoooo! Its a Launch Day in the LAIR!! We get to celebrate one of our very own, NANCY NORTHCOTT!!!
Today is the publication day forRenegade, Nancy’s first book in her mage Protectors series from Grand Central Forever Yours. And guess what!! The esteemed Library Journal’s Xpress Reviews gave Renegade a starred review!!
Sven had a special drink – The Renegade – made up, which is absolutely fabulous! He has a “breakfast version” with OJ, and a “Post Lunch” version that has (I think…) rum in it! Hahaha!
NANCY!!! Girlfriend, we are SO excited for you! Tell us your call story!
Nancy: Thanks, Jeanne. I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support you and the other Banditas and our buddies have given me. It’s a big day for me and a long time coming, so we’re going to party hearty in the Lair!
Let’s see if I can focus after having Sven’s special drink. Ahem!
As you know, my agent sent the manuscript around last fall and followed up by email around the first of the year. In late January, she emailed me to tell me an editor who had Renegade was out of town but wanted to talk when she returned. We figured this probably meant an offer was coming, but you never know for sure. She closed the conversation with “Today, I heard ‘Renegade,’ by Styx, on the radio. Maybe it’s a sign.” I hoped so!
A couple of days later, I heard the same song on the radio while I was out running errands. I stopped at a local business to browse and overheard the manager ask a guy at the desk, “So what’s your name?”
“Griff,” he replied, and a chill went down my spine. The hero’s name is Griffin Dare.
My agent called a few days later with news of the offer. She and the editor worked out the details, and now here we are! Forever Yours is a digital-first line, so the book is now available only at e-book stores, but a print-on-demand version will be released December 18.
Jeanne: Woot! Love that! I’m a big believer in signs and omens and portents as you well know. So, you have an agent you really like, what does she think about the Light Mages? And why are they called that?
Nancy: Thanks! My agent liked the book immediately. Though there have been occasional magic-based paranormals, those were far outnumbered by vamps and shifters in recent years. She thought the time might be right for something different, and these are mages in the high fantasy sense, with a magical society distinct from our own.
I wanted them to have a fully developed culture, right down to their own code of laws, The Caudex Magi, and a magic system that would have clear rules and limits as well as room to expand. I also liked the superhero groups and secret identities that hooked me in grade school, so keeping the mages secret from the Mundane, or nonmagical, world came naturally to me. My agent liked all of that and gave me some good suggestions to help clarify the world for people who can’t see what’s in my head, only what’s on the page.
As for why they’re called Light Mages, that answer lies in their history. They’ve protected humanity for millennia. Somewhere in the dark ages, they adopted this coat of arms, which also appears on my website’s Introduction to the Protectors page. They battle the forces of darkness and so chose as their motto Servire Luci, which translates as “To Serve the Light.” Hence the name Light Mages, though they usually call themselves, as I do, simply “mages,” because it’s easier and flows faster.
Jeanne: The art is amazing! I love that coat of arms. And I’m grinning over the motto being in Latin – that’s so “you”! *ahem* I guess I’d best get back to the story instead of oogling Griff on the cover. *snicker* Let’s talk heroine first, so I can keep a clear head. Ha! I know that your heroine, Val, is a Shire Reeve – kind of like a magical sheriff – tell us how you came up with that designation.
Nancy: Here you’re homing in on my love of trivia. The modern term “sheriff” derives from “shire reeve.” I chose the older term to give it the air of being slightly different and of tying into an old tradition. Since I had the Canadian and US mages organize their territories by shires, also to tie into the old English tradition, “shire reeve” seemed a natural fit.
Jeanne: Very cool! And how did you come up with this fabulous plot with the ghouls?
Nancy: Seeing as you were there, you should…what? Oh, explain it for OTHER people! Right.
Jeanne: Snork! Exactly!!
Nancy: I wanted a type of villain that hadn’t been used a lot, and I’m naturally drawn to things that go bump in the night, a category that seemed to include ghouls. I wanted something that would set a dark tone and be menacing in different ways. We kicked the idea around in our brainstorming group, with Donna and Cassondra and later with Joan, and the ghouls are what we came up with. They’re sort of like vampires in that they can draw from their victims, but they draw life energy or magic instead of blood. Usually. Their talons can also inject potentially fatal venom or rip deep wounds in mage or Mundane flesh. Or in ghoul flesh, for that matter. They aren’t known for getting along with each other.
This might be a good place to pop in the trailer, which will go on the bandit site sometime this week. The Members Only excerpt is up now.
Jeanne: I just LOVE that trailer! Yum, yum, yum. I’m going to switch gears here for a minute to your hot, hot (and did I mention hot?) hero, Griffin Dare. He’s an outlaw when the story starts. Tell us about that! And I want to know, why a quarterstaff?
Nancy: Why, thank you, Jeanne! The guy standing in for Griff on the cover, Mr. Anonymously Gorgeous, certainly is hot! I don’t want to say too much about why Griff is an outlaw. I think I’d rather let people discover that as they go. But I will say that six years ago, he killed the head of the southeastern mages’ council and fought his way out of the Collegium, their headquarters. He had been the shire reeve until that one act made him the mages’ most wanted fugitive. But in this, as in so many things, the motive is critically important and the truth is not always as clear as it seems.
I chose a quarterstaff because I wanted him to have something unique. My research into medieval weapons convinced me the staff was both lethal and versatile, and I haven’t seen it used often in romance or even in fantasy.
Jeanne: Why don’t you give us an excerpt! I want every one to get a taste of the deliciousness that is Renegade!!
Nancy: Thanks. While they read, the dh and I will have another one of Sven’s Protector drinks. The boy, alas, could not join us tonight because he’s away at school, trying to finish up a project so he can enjoy his Thanksgiving break.
Excerpt: This takes place shortly after Griff rescues Val. Her eyes are bandaged, so she’s unable to see him.
The silence stretched between them until fear churned in Val’s gut. Had she made a mistake, pushed him too far?
“Assuming I’m this person,” he said in a flat, hard voice, “what does that make me to you? I already have an idea, but give me the whole picture.”
She raised her chin a notch, bracing herself for an outburst. “You’re a rogue mage, a murderer several times over, and possibly a ghoul ally.”
A creak alerted her as he shifted toward her, leaning so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. Her mouth went dry, but she held her position. She couldn’t let him intimidate her.
“If I’m such a bastard, why the hell aren’t you dead?”
“I asked you first.” Thank God, her voice held steady. She swallowed to ease her tight throat.
“If you believed everything in your precious annals, you wouldn’t risk challenging me. Yes, I’m Griffin Rhys Dare.”
Val’s heart thudded in her throat. He’d just confirmed her guess. Yet she was, for whatever reason, still alive.
“What do you want with me?”
“I want you to listen. To consider evidence you haven’t seen before.”
“So you’re going to tell me you’re innocent? I’d expected better of you.”
He let out a weary sigh. “I’m not in league with the ghouls, and I never killed anyone I didn’t have to.”
The first part, she’d believe. But the second…“You’ll never convince me the mages who tried to apprehend you were ghoul allies.”
“Of course not.” He sounded sad. If only she could believe he really was. “They were trying to capture me. I was defending myself—and those who rely on me for protection.”
“Such as?” Impatient, Val shook her head. “Regardless, you should’ve come in, made your case, not slaughtered—”
“We’re not going there. Not tonight.” His cold, hard voice warned her not to press. “I brought you here to talk to you. To show you things you can’t see well enough now to read.”
“So you do have a jailhouse alibi.” That seemed beneath him, and his thinking her fool enough to buy it stung.
“I have the truth. If you’re willing to see it.”
“Right. What do you really want?” A slight sound, not quite a sigh, came from him, as if he were hurt. Like he cared whatshe thought. Oh, he knew just how to play her.
“I want safety for our people,” he said, “and for the Mundanes, whether you believe me or not. Listening won’t cost you anything but a couple of days for your eyes to heal. What if I’m telling the truth, Valeria? What if there’s something rotten in the Collegium’s heart? Can you shrug off that possibility so easily?”
What was or wasn’t happening in the Collegium was her business, not his, but listening might help her better understand his angle. “I’ll hear you out, but you’ll have to explain right now.”
Jeanne: Sigh. I love Griff. Grins. Tell us what’s next for you and the mages?
Nancy: There’s a novella, Protector, scheduled for March 2013, and the second novel,Guardian, should be out in May. I’m also blogging on Fresh Fiction today. There’s a list of upcoming guest appearances on my website. I’m also going down to the Okefenokee Swamp again soon, to do research for the third book, which has the working title Warrior.
Because I’m so happy about launching Renegade, I’m running the Everyday Magic contest for my newsletter subscribers and a separate contest on Fresh Fiction. Each of these prize packages includes a handmade glass goblet with a dragon in the stem. There are no dragons in Renegade, but I happen to like them, so I figured, why not?
So, Banditas and Buddies…who’s your favorite outlaw hero?
Nancy’s giving away a Keeper Kase with a signed Renegade cover card as well as one from my upcoming release, Deadly Charms, and an assortment of others. She’s also giving away a handmade glass goblet with a green glass dragon in the stem. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on this blog post and on Nancy’s post November 26.
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