M.K. Hobson is the author of THE NATIVE STAR, a paranormal historical which is receiving great buzz from the likes of Gail Carriger, Madeleine Robins, and C.C. Finlay. Camille Alexa of Green Man Review calls it "a real ride" with "rich, tightly-woven magical, social, and historical detail."
Welcome, Mary. Tell us about your debut novel.
THE NATIVE STAR is set in an 1876 America where magic is a mostly-accepted part of society. It follows the adventures of Emily Edwards, a timber-camp witch from California, and Dreadnought Stanton, a snooty New York City warlock with a past. Together, they travel across the country having magical adventures and trying to stay one step ahead of murderous blood-sorcerors who are trying to reclaim a magical artifact from Emily.
You say that magic is a "mostly accepted" part of society. What do you mean?
Well, just as most things were in the 19th century, magic is a man's game. While Warlocks are considered upstanding businessmen, women who practice magic for a living (as opposed to dabbling in it as a hobby) are derided as skycladdische—basically, on a par with a prostitute. Also, just as in the real 19th century (and on to this day, as a matter of fact) there are religious groups who take exception to the practice of magic. Both of these elements—sexism and intolerance—play a role in THE NATIVE STAR.
Sexism and intolerance? Those seem like heavy themes for a fantasy romance—especially since your short fiction has often been humorous.
Well, I definitely wanted to try and capture the flavor of the era, both good and bad. I also touch on racism and the rise of mass media and consumerism. The interesting thing about the 1870s in America is that they were dealing issues similar to those we're dealing with today. A lot of people were moving from the country into the cities, which meant increasing social tensions. There was a lot of corporate swindling, rancorous partisan politics, and a huge gulf between rich and poor. But at the same time, there was this drive to mythologize America, to celebrate its accomplishments and sweep the bad stuff under the rug. A lot of lessons from that time are still relevant today.
But despite some of the heavy themes, there's a lot of humor in the book. I can't write anything without a bit of slapstick creeping in. One poor character gets thrown into the blackberry bushes a lot.
Tell me about your hero and heroine. Why do you think readers will like them?
Emily and Dreadnought are definitely a case of opposites attracting. Madeline Robins, in her blurb for the book, described Emily as "outspoken, brash, loving, and true; a delight to spend time with." When I was writing Emily, I found myself imagining what my mother's mother must have been like when she was young. My grandma came up through the depression, raised five kids, taught school, and was active in women's clubs and organizations. She had a vibrant extroverted energy that I tried to capture for Emily. Stanton, on the other hand, is an introvert. He keeps secrets and protects himself with a snarky, elitist shell. It's up to Emily to pull him out of his shell, which she does by tweaking him every chance she gets. His cool rationality, on the other hand, is a good foil for Emily's more impulsive nature.
So what's next for you?
THE NATIVE STAR is the first book in a duology. The second book, called THE HIDDEN GODDESS, follows Emily and Stanton's continuing adventures in New York City and comes out in April 2011.
M.K. Hobson is giving away a signed copy of her book THE NATIVE STAR and a handmade lavender sachet. This is only open to US mailing addresses.
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