Howdy, folks! Today it is our pleasure to host the latest stop on M.J. Putney’s blog tour for the release of her debut YA novel, Dark Mirror. In addition to our review later today, we have a mini-interview and giveaway for your reading pleasure. M.J. Putney is the YA pen name for Mary Jo Putney, historical romance author extraordinaire (and one of Ana’s favorites).
Ladies and gents, please give a warm welcome to M.J.!
The Book Smugglers: Coming from an adult romance writing background, why did you decide to write a YA fantasy novel? Did you find any difficulties or challenges in writing for a different audience?
MJP: Whenever I move into a new genre, it’s like stepping off a cliff. A writer has to thoroughly understand reader expectations for the new kind of book, and she had better love books of that genre.
The heart of a romance is the developing relationship, while the heart of a YA novel is the growth and life journey of the protagonist. (Though lots of other things can be added to those core stories.) Good storytelling is good storytelling, and that’s the foundation of all popular fiction, so eventually I figured out YA well enough to find an editor who liked my story!
The Book Smugglers: Are you a reader of Young Adult fiction? Who are your favorite authors (of any age-audience) and/or most beloved books?
MJP: I don’t think a writer can write what she doesn’t read and love! I read all kind of myths and legend when I was young, so I adore Rick Riordan’s Olympian. Sarah Dessen’s stories of troubled girls finding their way are wonderful. Sherri L. Smith’s amazing Flygirl, Diana Peterfreund’s wonderful unicorn hunters…and too many others to list!
The Book Smugglers: Time travel, magic, and two important wars (Napoleonic and WWII) set the backdrop for Dark Mirror. Why did you choose these time periods for your book, and what type of research did you do before writing this novel?
MJP: Having earned my authorly chops on Regency romances and historicals, I’ve often thought about the similarities to England in WWII. In both cases. England stood alone against a powerful Continental conqueror, protected by the English Channel, the British Navy, and the stubborn courage of her people. From there, it was a short hop to thinking that Regency mages would be drawn to a similar time period where their abilities were be needed.
Dark Mirror was a high research book. In this case, I already had a good foundation in Regency history, but I needed to learn more about the chalk tunnels under Dover Castle and the white cliffs of Dover in general, since that’s the Regency setting for the book. For the WWII section, I had to do a lot of research, particularly for the Dunkirk evacuation, but also for the details of daily life in 1940. Luckily, there’s a huge amount of information available about WWII. The single most useful research source was the Weather Channel’s Dunkirk episode of When Weather Changed History. I watched it over and over, taking notes so the weather portrayed in Dark Mirror would be accurate.
The Book Smugglers: We Book Smugglers are faced with constant threats and criticisms from our significant others concerning the sheer volume of books we purchase and read – hence, we have resorted to ’smuggling books’ home to escape scrutinizing eyes. Have you ever had to smuggle books?
MJP: LOL! My sympathies. So that’s where the name came from. Luckily, I’ve never had to smuggle books into the house, but I did have to sell my townhouse and buy a much larger house when I ran out of bookcase space.
The Book & The Author:
Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life. Soon she will be presented during the London season, where she can choose a mate worthy of her status.
Yet Tory has a shameful secret—a secret so powerful that, if exposed, it could strip her of her position and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted . . . by magic.
When a shocking accident forces Tory to demonstrate her despised skill, the secret she’s fought so hard to hide is revealed for all to see. She is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. There she will learn to suppress her deplorable talents and maybe, if she’s one of the lucky ones, be able to return to society.
But Tory’s life is about to change forever. All that she’s ever known or considered important will be challenged. What lies ahead is only the beginning of a strange and wonderful journey into a world where destiny and magic come together, where true love and friendship find her, and where courage and strength of character are the only things that determine a young girl’s worth.
About M.J. Putney:
I’ve written lots of romances as Mary Jo Putney. M. J. Putney is my YA alter ego, since I didn’t want the romances confused with my young adult paranormals. Hence, a name different enough to show these are a different kind of book, but similar enough that it’s clear who I am.
The Blog Tour: The official Dark Mirror blog tour continues! Make sure to check out each of the following stops for more from M.J. Putney (and other chances to win the book).
March 1: Culture Mob
March 2: Midnight Blooms
March 4: Eating YA Books
March 5: Green Bean Teen Queen
March 6: Love Romance Passion / Literature Young Adult Fiction
March 7: Words for Teens
March 8: Pure Imagination
March 9: The Story Siren
March 10: My Pal Amy
March 11: YA Bliss
March 12: The Book Smugglers
March 13: Wondrous Reads
March 14: Novel Voice
March 16: TeenReads.com
Courtesy of the publisher, we have THREE copies of The Dark Mirror up for grabs! The contest is open to participants in the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, all you have to do is leave a comment here answering the following question: If you could have one magical power, what would it be? Only one entry per person please – multiple entries and/or duplicate comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!
Buy the Book: