It is my pleasure to present the lovely and talented Toni Sweeney, whose recent release, Wizard's Wife, takes the reader into an imaginative world of fae and magic! Take it away, Toni!
I was indulging in a bit of fancy when I wrote Wizard’s Wife...more than a bit, it turned out, and over quite a long length of time.
I began the story in 1987, wrote one chapter (the first, in which Megan McMuir meets and marries her husband David, becomes pregnant immediately and then, upon telling David he’s to become a father—something he wasn’t in such a hurry to be—discovers she’s married a card-carrying, real life, dragonfly-winged faery), made up an outline with the names of all my characters and a long list of Gaelic words and phrases...and then promptly lost it.
And it stayed lost. Until 2008, when I discovered it in a box of manuscripts I was unpacking while I was living in California. “Well, this needs to be finished,” was my thought. And about time, too! So I sat down and transcribed that first chapter into my computer, read through it, didn’t like it as far as content and form, and allowed myself to be distracted away as one does when faced with completing something which isn’t the least inviting. I had the entire story plotted out. After all it was written down. I just didn’t like the way what I had already written sounded and didn’t want to take time right then to change it. So I wrote Blood Sin and Serpent’s Tooth instead.
Flash forward. Three years later. I’m now back in Nebraska, deciding I’d better get to work on Wizard’s Wife because the poor story has waited long enough to be told. Now, I can’t find it! I distinctly remember placing it in a box with some other long-ago-written manuscripts which I thought I might work on after I completed my move…but it’s not there! Am I mistaken? Did I place it one of the boxes destined for storage and it’s still in California, lounging on a shelf, and will probably not see the light of day for another three years, or until I can save up the shipping fee to get it and my other belongings here? Possibly.
Oh, well... I didn’t like what I’d written, so what does it matter? I have the general idea of the story in my head, the Gaelic Dictionary is bookmarked in the computer, I know all about the Harmonic Convergence which started all this in the first place, so... what am I waiting for?
So I sat down and wrote Wizard’s Wife, changing Chapter One into something a little lighter and more fanciful, and I kept on writing until the story was complete…of a faery wizard who came to our world and fell in love with a mortal…of his father’s anger at his disobedience…of the magic dimension of Ais Linn…of talking unicorns and shapeshifting knights and leprechaun watchmakers…of drop-dead gorgeous fae and one handsome and thoroughly evil villain. There are racy bits, too, of course...an explanation of fae contraception both magical and mundane…along with a seduction by proxy and more than a little magical as well...
...and when I got through, I decided this time, I really liked what I’d written!
I think you will, too.
“We’re not going through a lot of rigamarole this time, David. Just tell me straight out and without a lot of hemming and hawing… Who is Siobhan Dubhtine and what’s this all about?”
He didn’t answer, just got very busy making certain the door was shut.
“Oh my God.” Suddenly, Megan felt like kicking herself. How stupid. How utterly stupid of me. Why didn’t I realize it? “She’s a faery, too, isn’t she?
Still facing the door, David inhaled deeply. Before she could say anything else, he spun around so quickly she jumped. “Siobhan Dubhtine an’ I were once bespoken. An’ what this is all about is that she an’ her braither have ne’er forgiven me for breakin’ my troth.”
“Breaking your troth?” It took Megan a moment to understand. “You mean you and t-that woman were engaged?”
“Aye, I’m afraid we were.”
“David, I think you’d better explain.”
David drew in another deep breath. Stood there, rocking onto his heels slightly. Didn’t speak.
At last, he exhaled. “I met Siobhan at one o’ our feile. Meggie, understand I was younger then—”
“How much younger?”
“A lot... A mere lad in my teens, but randy an’ full o’ fire, an’—”
“Please, spare me the angst. I know how teenaged boys act. I used to date them.”
“Well, then— She bedazzled me.”
“Nay, none o’ that. Faeries canna be truly glamoured though we’ve been befooled on occasion. ’Twas just th’ way she looked an’... Believe it or na, I was virgin mysel’ back then, an’ eager to know a woman. But I was idealistic, too, asked her to marry me straightaway, was surprised when Da didna object.”
“Why should he? She’s fae, you’re fae.” David’s father’s objections to their own marriage still rankled.
“Siobhan Dubhtine’s father was th’ Lord o’ Dark Fire, Megan.” When she looked blank, he went on, “Lord Dubhtine represented e’erythin’ wicked an’ evil in our world. An’ if that wasna bad enough, Siobhan’s mother was a solitary fairy.”
“One of those antisocial fae with a malicious streak a yard wide?”
“That's right. ’Tis surprisin’ Da even allowed me to meet Siobhan much less become affianced, but at that time, he was holdin’ to th’ belief that a child shouldna be accountable for its father’s actions.”
A little hypocrisy there. Megan thought of how Da had reacted to the announcement of his expected grandchild. “So your dear Siobhan got a double dose of badness. From Daddy and Mommy.”
He caught the sharpness in her voice, frowning. “When Lord Dubhtina died an’ her braither Exeter inherited th’ mantle, Da came to me an’ forbade me to see Siobhan again.”
“Just like that? Son, you can't see that girl any more?” Remembering David’s reaction to his father’s anger at their own wedding, Megan was surprised.
“Na exactly.” David had the grace to look embarrassed, avoiding Megan’s eyes. His wings jerked nervously. “He— Well, he stormed into my chamber, jerked Siobhan from my bed, an’ said, ‘Get dressed, slut, an’ out o’ here!’”
“God, David. You mean you were sleeping with her? And he knew?” The memory of how restrained he’d been before their marriage sent a stab of dismay surging through Megan, followed by fiery anger.
“’Tis acceptable for a betrothed couple. Darlin’, do na be jealous. ’twas long before I met you an’ remember—I was almost a child.”
“Apparently not enough of one!”
“’Tisna as if it happened this mornin’.”
“No,” she considered. “It isn’t, isn't it?” Thank goodness. She forced herself to set her jealousy aside. For the moment. “So what changed his mind?”
“He’d learned Exeter was slippin’ his men into this world. Th’ convergence. Remember?”
“OK, so your father broke off your engagement, and—”
“An’ I learned I was part o’ Exeter's plan for conquest. He’d sent Siobhan to seduce me. She cared naithin’ for me—an’ dinna that tear my ego to shreds?”
“S-she didn’t get pregnant, did she?”
David didn’t answer.
“David? Please, tell me our baby doesn’t have a half-brother or sister somewhere.”
“If that were so, you an’ I wouldna be sittin’ here discussin’ this, acushla, for I’d have married her na matter what my father said. In that respect, I was careful in my dealin’s with th’ colleen baun.”
“May I ask just how you were careful?” What exactly does a fae do in the way of contraception? “Do your physicians cast birth control spells?”
“In a way.” He managed a slight laugh. “There are gemstones embued with th’ power to prevent conception. A female wears one on a little cord ’round her neck an’ so long as it touches th’ skin, she canna conceive. Males use a...” His hesitation and the flash of pink across his face and through his wings made Megan smile slightly. Embarrassed, Master Tavy? “Lord, I canna say this to you, aghra.”
“Yes, you can. I’m your wife. You can tell me anything.” Even if I don’t want to hear it. And I certainly don’t want to hear this. “Males use...what? Condoms made of milkweed, thistledown...?”
“...a cock-ring made o’ th’ same stone.”
“Sounds uncomfortable.” She tried to envision that and found herself wanting to giggle, quickly stifled the sound. “And heavy.”
“’Tisn’t somethin’ one wants to wear continually,” he agreed and managed a rueful, if somewhat shameful smile. “Well, Siobhan tried to convinced me na to wear it at all but I had doubts on that matter.”
“Why in the world would she run the risk?” She didn't wait for his reply. “Did she hope to trap you into marriage if your father did exactly what he did?”
“Worse than that.” The color blazing in his cheeks was anger now, as was the fiery bronze in his wings. “She just wanted my child. Th’ offspring o’ a wizard o’ White Fire.”
“Why would she—”
“For Exeter. He’s going to need all th’ power he can muster when th’ convergence comes. As th’ product o’ two fae, my child would be born with a power equal to his.”
“But your child would take after you, wouldn’t it? It would be good.”
“Only if I’m there to guide it. Under Exeter’s guardianship, it would become just as he is. He thought Siobhan had me so enthralled, I’d blindly plant my seed within her without a second thought.”
Megan blinked. “But some...inner warning...kept you from doing that.”
“Exactly. I guess he thought, me bein’ th’ virgin that I was, I would think my first time could na be fertile.”
"So why didn't you use that...uh...magic gemstone with me?”
“I thought human birth control would work. An’ th’ glamour doesna work on gemstones. I couldna make it look like a condom. ”
“And our baby? Will it have powers, too?” She'd never thought about that, hadn’t given any thought to what the baby would inherit from its father. Not at all. God, could it possibly have wings, too, or those misty spiraling antenna, or... What else?
“He'll be half-fae.” He smiled, relaxing a little, his wings calming back to their original color. “With a halfling, there’s a difference. He’ll have th’ choice o’ developin’ his powers or ignorin’ them. If he chooses na to use them, they’ll disappear an’ he'll appear a normal human.”
“And if he wishes to keep them?”
“I'll teach him how to handle them an’ how to hide what he is when he’s with his maither’s people.”
“I see.” Megan sighed heavily and forced herself to smile. “If you’re certain this convergence is going to happen—and so far I have no reason to doubt you’re wrong—I guess we’d better encourage him to accept his powers. I’m sure you’ll need help to fight Exeter. Even from an infant wizardling.”
Wizards’ Wife was released by Class Act Books on January 15. For a glimpse into Chapter One, click here.
Toni’s website: http://www.tonivsweeney.com/