THORNBOUND: Stephanie Burgis on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.

Stephanie Burgis’ new adult romantic fantasy novel, Thornbound (Volume II of The Harwood Spellbook) is out now and we are delighted to welcome the author today to talk about Inspirations and Influences behind the work.

I grew up absolutely devouring books about
girls who were The First in any field. I thrilled as I read about Tamora
Pierce’s Alanna and watched her struggle to become the first female knight –
AND she got to have great adventures and romances, too! (Those books are fabulous, and they meant so much to me.)

Again and again, I devoured those stories
of girls (often first disguised as boys) throwing themselves into fields exclusively
claimed by men, ranging from real-world academic scholarship to warfare, music
or magic, depending on the particular genre.

Again and again, I found them massively
empowering and fun, and I’m so grateful for all of them.

But something unexpected happened as I got
older. I hit my late 30s and found myself no longer so excited to read or watch
another story about The First. Reading about one young woman punching her way
through a glass ceiling can be exhilarating, and so many of those stories are truly
great – but I’d read an awful lot of them, by then. And I started wanting to
know: What happens next?

When you read about the kind of girl who
beats all obstacles to become the Chosen One in her field, her end-game victory
is usually her personal success. (And hooray! I am all for a woman proving her
own awesomeness to the world.)

As I got older, though, with nieces and my
own children growing in front of me, my personal priorities started to broaden.
Yes, of course I still want personal success
in my own field. But I also want things to be better for younger generations, in so many ways. And one of the
women I happen to admire most in my own life is my mom, who (pre-retirement) worked
really hard throughout her own career to mentor younger women in another
traditionally male-dominated field.

It’s not enough to punch a hole in the
glass ceiling that’s just big enough to fit through on your own. Not if you
want to make a difference. And the
heroines of my Harwood Spellbook books are powerful women (in one field or
another) who care desperately about making a difference in one way or another.
(And – like Alanna! – they get to have adventures and romance, too. J )

So that was how I came to Cassandra Harwood
(first introduced in Snowspelled: Volume
I of The Harwood Spellbook). In an alternate version of 19th-century
England where Boudicca successfully kicked out the Romans centuries ago, it’s
been long established that hard-headed women should manage the practical
matters of government…but leave emotional, irrational magic to the gentlemen.
Cassandra rebelled against those rules when she was younger and successfully forced
her way into the all-male Great Library of Trinivantium to become Angland’s
first-ever lady magician.

But then…nothing changed. Yes, she’d
proven her own magical power, but that only made her the exception to that same
old tired rule.

It was only after she lost her own ability
to do magic (because she had to
over-stretch herself, because she was the
and the only one) that she
finally realized (in Snowspelled) how
many other, younger women were watching her career path from a distance, all of
them equally desperate for those same opportunities. And there are so many ways
to make a difference in the world that don’t
involve only your own personal success.

Thornbound is the story of Cassandra’s fight to open Angland’s first-ever
college of magic for women. Nine shining young women full of magical potential
are on their way to become the first full class of female magicians – but it’s
not only the male magicians in the nation who are furious at this new
development. The powerful, all-female Boudiccate is desperate to preserve their
own gender’s exclusive hold on the national government by shutting Thornfell
College down. One of Cassandra’s oldest personal enemies is on her way, too,
with revenge and blackmail on her mind. And a malicious fey lurks in the forest
nearby, wielding piercing thorns and a magic that no human can control.

I hope you’ll join the adventure! You can read
Chapter On
on my website now – and for the month of February, you can snap
up the ebook of Snowspelled,
the first novella in the series, for just 99c/99p.

Here’s to all of us making a difference

Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She writes fun MG fantasy adventures and has published five so far, including The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (Bloomsbury 2017), The Girl with the Dragon Heart (Bloomsbury 2018) and the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy (published in the UK as The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson). She also writes wildly romantic adult historical fantasies, including Snowspelled (2017), Spellswept (2018) and Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets (Pyr Books 2016). She has published nearly forty short stories for adults and teens in various magazines and anthologies. You can find out more at her

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