Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Masks and Shadows: Stephanie Burgis on Inspirations & Influences (& Giveaway)

In which we welcome Stephanie Burgis back to the blog!

“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.

Today we are delighted to welcome Stephanie Burgis back to the blog to talk about her first historical fantasy novel for adults, Masks and Shadows and the inspirations and influences behind the work.



I still remember the day I found Judith Tarr’s Alamut in my local library when I was a teenager. Discovering that book felt like having a lightbulb go off in my head.

It was a fantasy novel. It was a historical novel. And it had a strong romance. It was all three of my favorite things together in one book… and I’d had no idea that people could actually do that!

It was amazing to me.

Lord of the Two Lands

Of course, I devoured all of Judith Tarr’s other novels after that. (My very favorite was Lord of the Two Lands – I can’t count how many times I’ve read that one over the last two decades!) And I kept on searching, after that, for more books that would satisfy all of my deepest reading obsessions.

About ten years later, I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion novels, which ticked the same perfect boxes for me, even though they’re set in a secondary world that’s only based on Renaissance Spain and England, rather than officially taking place in those countries. But all three Chalion books have a strong historical feel, the magic is just wonderful, and the romances – well! They aren’t romance novels by any definition, but the romantic subplots in them are deeply, deeply satisfying (especially in my very favorite of the three, Paladin of Souls).

Paladin of Souls

So it only makes sense that when I finally sat down to write my own first fantasy novel for adults, it would be a romantic historical fantasy novel, and it would draw on the kind of history I spent years studying (and obsessing over) as a graduate student: eighteenth-century opera and politics at the magnificent Hungarian palace of Eszterháza, where composer Joseph Haydn was the Kapellmeister.

Eighteenth-century opera was full of high drama and passion and – quite often – magic as well. The eighteenth-century Austro-Hungarian empire was full of alchemists and secret societies and political scheming. It was the perfect combination! I wrote Masks and Shadows in three acts, setting it around the opera house at Eszterháza Palace, and filling it with all the fascinating, rich drama and intrigue of the real time period along with dangerous magic of my own creation…and, of course, a touch of romance as well.

…Because it turns out that writers really can do that! (Thank you, Judith Tarr, for teaching me that it was possible!) Better yet, writing that kind of book turned out to be so much fun. How could I resist?

Masks and Shadows is out on April 12, 2016.


About the author:


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 has published over thirty short stories for adults and teens in various magazines and anthologies. Her trilogy of MG Regency fantasy novels was published in the US as the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy and in the UK as The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson. The first book in the trilogy won the Waverton Good Read Award for Best Début Children’s Novel by a British writer, and the full trilogy was recently re-released in the US as A Most Improper Boxed Set. Her first historical fantasy novel for adults, Masks and Shadows, will be published by Pyr Books in 2016, and her next MG fantasy series will be published by Bloomsbury Books, beginning with The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart in 2017.


The Giveaway

We have two ARCs to giveaway. Open to all, internationally. Use the form below to enter and good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Inspirations, Influences, and a Giveaway – Stephanie Burgis
    March 1, 2016 at 6:12 am

    […] I’m over at The Book Smugglers, talking about inspirations and influences and giving away two ARCs of Masks and […]

  • Alyisha
    March 1, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I love Outlander, obviously. I thoroughly enjoyed Melissa Marr’s “The Arrivals.” Im sure there are others – but I haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet. The brain’s still puttering & stuttering. I’m sure I’ll remember in a few hours. ?

  • Laura Hartman (@LH171)
    March 1, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ARCS! Thanks for the opportunity to win 🙂

  • Nikki Egerton
    March 1, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I can’t say I’ve read much historical romantic fantasy, but I’d sure like to try! I generally go for fantasy with romantic leanings, but adding in the historical element, especially this one which sounds fascinating, can only be a good thing. Also, I recently visited Venice, so that cover appeals to me! Pretty 🙂

  • Alexa
    March 1, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I also adored the Chalion novels. I love Kristen Britain’s First Rider series and CS Harris’s books are excellent historical mystery / romances.

  • Mel
    March 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I really love the time travel trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer. It’s set more in the historical bits but obviously there are time travel aspects. It’s so detailed but not slow or boring. If you love your characters and how they connect and interact with each other, definitely try these books!

  • Stephanie Burgis
    March 1, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    I just wanted to say that I am reading all of these comments and making notes for my wishlist! I’d never even heard of C.S. Harris or Linda Buckley-Archer before, and now I NEED to read those books. Loving all of these recs!

  • Estara Swanberg
    March 1, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Oh, now that’s an excellent pedigree. I hope you’ve been following Judith’s new space opera spin offs of the Avaryan Rising series that’s she’s been financing via Kickstarter. Those are excellent, too.
    Ana, you own Lord of the Two Lands – now you know why I sent that ^^.

  • Liat vd
    March 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I don’t know if that counts, exactly, but anything by Juliet Marillier.

  • jpetroroy
    March 1, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I love the Cahill Witch Chronicles series.

  • Lisa Redmond
    March 1, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I think a big fan of Stephanie’s children’s books so I would love the chance to win

  • Amy
    March 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I haven’t read a lot of historical fantasy so I’m excited to give this a try!

  • Miranda
    March 1, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Neither historical, nor romance are my forte, but throw in fantasy and suddenly I’m all for it. I enjoyed the Glamourist Series by Mary Robinette Kowal quite a bit, although I’m waiting on the price to come down to read the last one. It’s basically a Jane Austen novel, but with illusion magic instead of watercolor or piano or some such other “womanly” art.

    Also would suggest The Cecelia and Kate Novels by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. The first one’s the best of them.

  • Rhiannon
    March 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I’ve had this book on my shopping list since it appeared on the Radar last year and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ll definitely be checking out the books/authors mentioned.

  • Rhiannon
    March 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I forgot to check the post question first – oops.

    I’ve been reading/enjoying Gail Carriger’s books in her three series – Parasol Protectorate/Finishing School/Spotted Custard. Still need to read the last in Kowal’s Glamourist series but I’ve also really enjoyed those.

  • Mary A
    March 1, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    My most recent foray into historical fantasy have been Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • tee+d
    March 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Mentioning two authors I really like is a great way to excite me about this book!

  • Meghan
    March 1, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    My long time favorite is probably the Outlander series (I started reading them in 2002!), but I also love Kate Morton. And I don’t know if the Finnikin books by Melina Marchetta count, but I’m obsessed with those!

  • Meghan
    March 1, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Forgot to say I am so excited to check out the Bujold books! So glad you mentioned those as they sound great.

  • Sondra Eklund
    March 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I can’t wait for Stephanie’s new book! I think my current favorite historical fantasy is by Judith Marillier, especially the Sevenwaters series. (Though the new Blackthorn and Grim series is fantastic.)

  • Sondra Eklund
    March 1, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I mean Juliet Marillier! Reading the other comments must have confused me! 🙂

  • Sharon Tomasulo
    March 1, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    J. Kathleen Cheyney’s The Golden City never got nearly as much attention as it deserved. It’s an historical mystery with selkies that takes place in Portugal in the early 1800s, and it’s gorgeous and thrilling with a lovely slow-burn romance.

  • Cynthia Porter
    March 1, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer! I love that book and have had to purchase additional copies because I’ve worn out my first one 🙂

  • Mary Preston
    March 2, 2016 at 3:09 am

    No absolute favorite.

  • Rae
    March 2, 2016 at 3:27 am

    Many of the above (Juliet Marillier was the first author to make me realise that the adult section of the library had an sff section). But in YA, Tamora Pierce and also Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series. PC Wrede wrote another series called The Far West which is excellent.

  • Virginie Busette
    March 2, 2016 at 7:18 am

    My favourite historical fantasy?!
    Well that’s the problem. I don’t have one yet.
    Hoping this would be the opportunity to discover something new.:)

  • Francene
    March 2, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Not sure if they are my favorites but here are a number of really good historical romantic fantasies. Dust girl and sequels by Sarah Zettel. Gillian Bradshaw, The Hawk of May, or The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Find books by Elizabeth Goudge, especially Linnets and Valerians, The little white horse, or The Damerosehay trilogy.
    A number of these are middle school historical fantasies but all are so good. Some lean more toward the romantic fantasy side with less historical background.

  • Vanessa
    March 2, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana, Ysabel, The Last Light of the Sun, and my favorite, A Song for Arbonne. Oh my!

  • Heather
    March 2, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I absolutely love Stephanie Burgis’ work, and can’t wait to read not only her new books, but the books she talks about here!

  • Jasmine Stairs
    March 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I’ve really, REALLY enjoyed Rose Lerner’s historical, though they are sadly devoid of magic. But on the YA side, have you read Grave Mercy, from the His Fair Assassin series? Slow burn romance in the court of 1100’s Brittany, featuring lots of political machinations and ASSASSIN NUNS. That’s where the magic comes in, these nuns are touched by the god of death. Oh man that is such a fun series.

  • Mervi
    March 3, 2016 at 5:05 am

    I’m a long-time Bujold fan and I discovered Judith Tarr just last year. I love both Paladin of Souls and Lord of the Two Lands. I always have trouble picking just one favorite. 🙂

    In historical fantasy I love Lynda S. Robinson’s books which are set in Ancient Egypt. I also love Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series set in 1920s Australia and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series set in the late 1800s, early 1900s Egypt.

  • Joni
    March 3, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I ADORE Kowal’s “Glamourist Histories” series. The books are (just like their advertised) Jane Austen with magic. Plus a whisper of war intrigue and the occasional mad-dash of adventure. Just lovely. Read them now.

    I also really enjoyed Burgis’ MG series about Kat. ^^ I can’t wait to read this upcoming novel of hers! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Imanol N.
    March 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Who does not love the Outlander series. And also, who doens’t love giveaways? Fantastic.

  • bn100
    March 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    don’t have any favs

  • Lauren Worthington
    March 3, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    It’s such an art combining genres, so hat’s off to you here!

    It’s always so motivating reading about what inspires other writers, and how these books influence their own writing. And who doesn’t love a good fantasy romance?

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Karin S
    March 5, 2016 at 4:27 am

    Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series. is amazing

  • Kay
    March 6, 2016 at 9:29 am

    My fave historical romantic fantasies are either the Glamourist Histories by MRK or Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede’s Sorcery & Cecilia books.

  • Kay
    March 6, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Oh, I also highly rec Gail Carriger’s novels. All of them would probably qualify as historical romantic fantasy.

  • Alison @ Puppies & Pretties
    March 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I love all things Gail Carriger

  • Rae ?
    March 7, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Not sure if Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series counts as historical fantasy, but I’ve loved it all the same!

  • Stephanie Burgis
    March 7, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I love so many of the books that have been recommended here, which means that I’m adding ALL the others to my TBR list! I love reading these answers. 🙂

  • Loreley Godfrey
    March 9, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  • Theresa
    March 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

    As several others have mentioned, historical fantasy isn’t something I’ve read much of but I have definitely added many more books to my tbr list!

  • Top Picks Thursday! Advice for Writers 03-10-2016 | The Author Chronicles
    March 10, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    […] occupation. Tracy Shawn analyses the care and feeding of an author, Stephanie Burgis explains her inspiration and influences, and Jo Eberhardt dissects the writer’s mind and it’s insatiable appetite for understanding. […]

  • Margo
    March 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I think most of the historical fantasy books I would recommend already have been listed above. I wonder if you would consider NK Jemisin’s Dreamblood Duology in that category. It’s definitely a secondary world, and probably not as close to North Africa as the Chalion world is to England & Spain. But still. She writes so well…

  • Carrie
    March 11, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Too many favorites to list, but I have to say that cover is awesome!

  • Kate Y.
    March 11, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    I haven’t read anything by Judith Tarr yet – do you (Stephanie Burgis and/or everyone) recommend starting with a certain book? Do you think I need to read the three Hound and the Falcon books before I read Alamut?

    I imprinted on Sorcery and Cecelia when I was a kid, and was absolutely delighted to read the three Kat, Incorrigible books recently!

    A lot of authors and books have already been mentioned. The books I’ve mentioned in parentheses are historical fantasies, but I love these authors in general:
    Juliet Marillier
    Lois McMaster Bujold (Chalion series)
    Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamourist Histories)
    Gail Carriger
    Guy Gavriel Kay
    Sharon Shinn (Summers at Castle Auburn)
    Sherwood Smith (Coronets and Steel series)
    Ellen Kushner (Thomas the Rhymer, Swordspoint series)
    V. E. Schwab (Red London series)
    Charlie N. Holmberg (Paper Magician series)
    Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer (Sorcery & Ceceilia series (MG/YA))
    Patricia C. Wrede (Snow White and Rose Red, Mairelon the Magician series (MG/YA), her Frontier Magic series (MG/YA))
    Tamora Pierce (secondary worlds but strong sense of history (all MG/YA))
    Elizabeth Marie Pope (The Perilous Gard, The Sherwood Ring (MG/YA))
    Franny Billingsley (The Folk Keeper, Chime (MG/YA))
    Elizabeth Bunce (A Curse as Dark as Gold (YA))
    Clare Dunkle (The Hollow Kingdom series, By These Ten Bones, The House of Dead Maids (MG/YA))

    … I’d better stop, I have now happily spent way too much time debating which books by fantasy authors I love can count as historical fantasy. Makes for a fun group discussion. ^_^

  • Nicole Wetherington
    March 12, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Reading Salt to the sea right now and loving it!

  • Stephanie Burgis
    March 13, 2016 at 6:09 am

    @KateY – I’m 2 days late in replying to this, but in case you check back – personally, I’d recommend starting Judith Tarr’s books with LORD OF THE TWO LANDS, just because it’s my favorite and it’s a standalone! So it’s a great place to start. I also really loved her THRONE OF ISIS, among (many!) others.

    And thanks to everybody for all the great recs!

  • Kate Y.
    March 14, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    @Stephanie Burgis
    Thanks for the recommendations!

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