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Tuesday, November 13, 2012



Making the Familiar New

The standard advice to beginning writers is “Write what you know.” Many authors take this literally. They write stories of home and hearth because that’s where they feel most comfortable. Or they dig into research on a subject that interests them, like law enforcement, to write a police procedural. Or they take familiar themes and spin them in a new direction.

In creating the world for my contemporary mage romances, The Protectors, I drew on the themes and traditions I’ve enjoyed since childhood. When I was seven, I discovered superhero comic books. I loved the characters’ cool powers, but their dedication to doing what was right, no matter the cost, also drew me in. At the same time, I was reading YA romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. I’ve since added thrillers to the mix because I like explosive action.

When I planned Renegade, the first Protectors book, I drew on my fondness for characters with cool powers who are dedicated to doing the right thing. I also wanted it to be a romance.

People with unusual abilities were familiar ground, so I chose to focus the series on mages (if you’re unfamiliar with the word, think wizard) but came up with my own system for their magic. I also wanted them to have the same dedication to helping others and doing the right thing that I liked in so many of the books and comic books I read growing up. I did a lot of folklore research, though, to create their magic system.

At the same time, I needed conflict, so I made the heroine, Valeria Banning, the shire reeve (or sheriff) of the southeastern U.S. mages and the hero, Griffin Dare, their most wanted criminal. Of course he’s actually on the side of truth and justice, and he needs her to help prove his claims and clear his name. The mages have their own judicial code and political organization based on, but different from, the American one.

I didn’t want Griff to be a loner, so I gave him a circle of secret friends and allies with the same mutual loyalty that drew me to comic books featuring groups of superheroes and to romance series where the heroes and/or heroines of future books appear in the first one.

Griff also needed a home, so I set up the imaginary town of Wayfarer, Georgia, where all things New Age are beloved. He found a place there, even if he did so under an alias and with his magic kept secret. Because I grew up in a small town, I know their benefits and downsides. In Renegade we see mostly the benefits of small town life, but Guardian, the second book, will show some of the downsides as well.

So I wrote what I knew, but I took the familiar concepts in directions in a world I created through research and imagination.

Thanks to Long and Short Reviews for having me today!

About the Author:
Nancy Northcott has been a lover of comic books, science fiction, fantasy and romance since childhood. An attorney, she left that profession to teach at the college level and to write. Now, she combines her passion for romance and high stakes in RENEGADE, her first published novel and the first book in her contemporary mage series. She continues her story in GUARDIAN, which will be published in May 2013.

Nancy lives with her family in North Carolina.

RENEGADE, the first novel in three time Golden Heart Award Finalist Nancy Northcott’s The Protectors series, introduces one of Collegium council’s top sheriffs, Valeria Banning, the mage council's sheriff for the southeastern United States. Valeria doesn't just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when Griffin Dare, a notorious fugitive sworn to protect innocent Mundanes and mages from dark magic, risks his life to save her, she has to wonder why. To find the answer, she'll put everything on the line, starting with her heart.

Before Valeria can recover from the attack that almost killed her, evil forces are moving against them. Soon, they're fighting side by side. What they are doing is forbidden, and when the council discovers they are working together, Valeria and Griffin must run for their lives, and not just from the law. Danger threatens at every turn as they try to prevent the advent of a ghoul takeover, and struggle to find the traitor they believe is betraying the Collegium and working with ghouls to send unsuspecting mages to their death.


Debby said...

Sounds great. Take it all step by step.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Nancy Northcott said...

Debby, thank you! Step by step works best for me.

Nancy Northcott said...

I'm sorry to be so late signing in. This was a long-scheduled travel day for me, but I'm at the motel now and will check in periodically. I appreciate your having me as a guest.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Nancy! What a great post! Like you, I really enjoy the hidden powers and special things under the surface. You know that I bought Renegade on the first day it was available! LOVE this book!!

Nancy Northcott said...

Thank you, Jeanne! I'm so glad you liked the book and the post.

Christina Brooke said...

Hi Nancy, Renegade sounds like an awesome read. I love the way you've taken what you know and twisted it. It's a great lesson that even fantasy can be grounded in the familiar.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, great to see you here. Can't wait until my copy of Renegade arrives - just in time for me to curl up with it over Christmas. I love the way you've used classic themes of mavericks working for the general good. This book sounds better and better every time I hear you talk about it! Congratulations on your debut release!

Nancy Northcott said...

Christina, thank you. I tried to ground the fantasy, and I hope I succeeded.

Nancy Northcott said...

Anna, thanks! I hope you'll like the book. :-)

I hadn't thought of it as "mavericks working for the general good," as you put it, but I like the phrase.

Donna MacMeans said...

I love how writing what you know has led to a great book. You go, girl!

Nancy Northcott said...

Donna, thank you!