Magic is a way to cheat.
This isn’t always true, and it depends on what you mean by “cheating”. Magic in real-world belief systems has its own rules; so does magic in fiction, and the better-defined those rules are, the better the story works. Magic isn’t like having the answers to a test beforehand, but it can be like knowing the back roads so you don’t have to deal with traffic, or like pressing the right combination of buttons on a Nintendo so you get thirty extra lives.
(This is one of the reasons I do fantasy rather than science fiction. I don’t mind internal consistency, but I can’t deal with having to know gravitational constants and molecular bonds—if adulthood has any consolation, it’s that I will never in my life need to know Avogadro’s Number again.)
In historical fiction, cheating is very useful—almost essential, for me. I’m a shallow girl, for whom the SCA and similar have always been too much like camping; I don’t particularly want to deal with the realities of plumbing and dentistry, let alone birth control, as they existed before the twentieth century. Still less do I want my heroes and heroines to share the mainstream attitudes to sex, gender, and race, because I prefer to write about people I could spend five minutes talking to.
The world was what it was, and people were what they were, but magic is a way to get around that. A woman who knows how to cast a few spells isn’t going to pay as much attention to exactly what society tells her is proper, and is probably going to know more than she’s supposed to. A man whose companions include dragons or elementals is less likely to have real problems with independent women, or people of other races. At least, that’s the case in the worlds I create.
At the same time, I do write historical fiction, and I want the world as a whole to be pretty recognizable, so I need to find reasons for magic to be a secret, and for the hero and heroine to have to operate within the commonly-understood rules, even if they don’t privately believe in them. (In the Highland Dragon novels, this is partly because James the First and other rulers around his time did a lot to suppress magical knowledge, and partly because the wars back then destroyed information—no digital records, you know!)
In that way, I come back to the theme of back roads and cheat codes. The world is still what it is: I, and my characters, just know some extra ways to get around it.
Title: The Highland Dragon’s Lady
Series: Highland Dragons
Author: Isabel Cooper
Pubdate: December 2, 2014
He’s Out of the Highlands and on the Prowl…
Regina Talbot-Jones has always known her rambling family home was haunted. She’s also aware her brother has invited one of his friends to attend an ill-conceived séance. She didn’t count on that friend being so handsome…and she certainly didn’t expect him to be a dragon.
Younger son of a family of shapeshifting dragons, Highlander Colin MacAlasdair has lived a life free of both family duty and mortal cares. Moving in and out of human society as he wishes, he takes very little seriously—until Regina drops onto his balcony one midnight, catching his attention and his interest. She’s like no mortal he’s ever met, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to get her out of his head.
Bound by circumstance, drawn by the fire awakening inside of them, Colin and Regina must work together to defeat a vengeful spirit—and discover whether their growing love is powerful enough to defy convention.
The Highland Dragons Series:
Legend of the Highland Dragon
The Highland Dragon’s Lady
Night of the Highland Dragon
Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. For more visit isabelcooper.wordpress.com.
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