I’m writing a story now to wrap up the Mischief in Mayfair series (look for a new title on the Coming Soon page in a few weeks), and that turns my thoughts to What’s Next? More happily ever afters, of course! But readers like series, and I like series, and so that brings me to…. Mayfair Blossoms.
I’m pondering a group of tales built around Regency women with super powers (and flower names–Ivy, Rose, Iris, and so forth). One might have a photographic memory, another might have a highly sensitive nose, another might have a gift for encryption puzzles… Not supernatural powers, but powers some humans do have to an unusual degree–in a society that wants women to just be pretty and meek and have babies.
The ladies will also have super-fears or flaws too of course. A fear of heights, dogs, public speaking, and so forth. Though let it be said, I plot and my characters laugh. The gents will have their own issues.
I got to thinking about my dad’s super power, which was, in his words, “Asking elegant questions.” By this he did not mean, “Does my wife need a break from the kitchen such that I should take all nine of us out to dinner?” He instead excelled at experimental design, such that if you wanted to look for or rule out a causal link between, say, the flavor compounds in milk, exposure to light, and a certain off flavor in the milk, he could get that tested forty ways to Sunday and have fun doing it.
Mom had a lot of super powers–the ability to make any space tidy and comfy, and the ability to see the best in my dad, just to name a couple. I have some superpowers too, as it happens. I am gifted with a contrarian gene, such that I can play devil’s advocate or yeah-but almost any eternal verity. This is useful for plotting books, as in, “A gentleman never argues with a lady… except for when…” or, “It’s good to be the duke, except for when…”
This business of superpowers pops up frequently in books (St. Just and his horses, Valentine at the keyboard, Guinevere keeping secrets, Maggie being self-sufficient), but I believe it turns up in real life too. My sister Maire almost always defaults to compassion. If you don’t think that’s a superpower, wait until some fine day when you are expecting (and deserve) a lecture or snark, and instead you get understanding. Wow.
My sister Gail, who is also extraordinarily kind, has a talent for seeing fundamental truths. She gets a serious expression, focuses on the middle distance, does a couple deep breaths, and boom–the gravamen of the puzzle is succinctly and accurately summed up.
But if nobody ever names and affirms our superpowers, it’s hard to know they are super. It’s hard to know they are even unique strengths, or defaults that are so powerful, you might need to rein them in from time to time (like my yeah-but gift). So what’s your superpower?
Lord Julian’s first mystery, A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times, is already available in print, and the e-ARCs are going out this week. If you want an e-ARC and don’t have one by the end of the week, please email me at graceburr[email protected], and let me know what kind of device you read on.