Masks and Shadows is out in the world today…and I am almost too overwhelmed by emotion to write this post!
But I’m going to share the official blurb for this book…and then the backstory. ;)
Masks and Shadows
The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire.
Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls.
Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.
And now the backstory…
I finished the first draft of this book in 2004. (!!!) It won me my first agent and got some glorious, gorgeous rejections from editors who loved it but couldn’t get it through acquisitions meetings…because at the time, having a castrato singer as the male romantic lead was seen as too uncommercial and quirky for their marketing departments. Every rejection ended with some tormenting version of the line: “But we’ll look forward to reading it when someone else publishes it!”
I cried – a LOT – when I finally made the professional decision that it was time to move on as a writer, even though I still loved those characters so much.
But I never forgot Masks and Shadows. Two years ago, I took it out again…and realized that I still loved it. And this time, the timing was just perfect.
I have absolutely loved working with my wonderful editor, Rene Sears, on deepening and strengthening this book. (Trust me, this is not the same book that could have been published in 2004! I’m actually glad, now, that I didn’t sell it all those years ago. I’m a better writer now, and this is a much better, stronger book now, too.) And oh, am I grateful for the whole wonderful marketing team at Pyr Books that gets the book completely. When I first saw the final cover (illustrated and designed by the fabulous Nicole Sommer-Lecht), I cried again, with recognition and gratitude.
Look: that’s my book! That’s it exactly.
Every book I’ve ever sold has been a book of my heart. But this particular book has been with me, in one form or another, for over twelve years of my life.
And this is a very big day for me.
For British readers who prefer not to use The Book Depository or Wordery: the ebook is already available on Amazon UK, and the trade paperback will be available there and on Waterstones.com on April 20th. (I am so sorry for that delay!)
If you read Masks and Shadows, I would love to hear what you think. And if you want to chat about it – or anything else! – in real-time, I’ll be doing an AMA Reddit this Thursday, April 14th, at 3pm E.S.T (8pm UK time). You can ask me anything! It would be wonderful to see you guys there.
If you have the time and energy to leave a review anywhere online (Amazon/Goodreads/your own blog/wherever!), I would be really, really grateful. All reviews – good or bad! – help authors, so do please feel free to be completely honest while also knowing that you’re doing me a huge favor by talking about this book in public!
But most of all, thank you guys so much for keeping me company on this journey.