Today we are excited and honored to have on the blog Stephanie Burgis! She is going all around the (internet)town to spread the word of her beautiful forthcoming book, Congress of Secrets!
In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, charming conman Michael Steinhüller plans his riskiest scheme yet…and hidden among the celebrating aristocrats and royals of the continent is a woman with a dark, alchemical secret. The sinister forces that shattered Karolina Vogl’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?
As you know – we love all things episodic and have a particularly special and warm place in our heart for things of the nerdy variety. That’s why we were so happy when Stephanie wanted to tell us about her favorite things of the episodic variety and they were all wonderfully geeky! So we’ll pass it off to her for her to share her love – just be sure to return the favor by checking out Congress of Secrets when it releases on November 1.
When I saw the call go out for writers to geek out about things we loved and wanted to share, I couldn’t narrow my own choices down to just one thing. Gilmore Girls! Doctor Who! AND SQUIRREL GIRL! How could I choose between them all?
Honestly, this is a fair representation of all of my writing. As one frustrated publishing professional once said to me unhappily: “Your books are never Just. One. Thing!” For example, my next book, Congress of Secrets, is a historical novel (set at the Congress of Vienna in 1814)…which is also a fantasy novel (dark alchemy!)…and it has a strong romantic plot, too.
In other words, I like mixing up all the different things I like as a writer! 🙂
So here’s a mix of my three favorite series as a reader/watcher…which all have three things in common:
- They make me happy – and I don’t just mean that I like them. I mean, they literally make me happy. They’re mood-boosters, like sunshine and Vitamin D!
- They’re clever.
- They’re all genuinely kind.
Squirrel Girl is here to kick butts and eat nuts, and she tells everybody that right up-front! She’s exuberantly confident and sweet and fun and she sings her own theme song to herself. She’s adorable! And her roommate (and best friend) is the equally fabulous (non-super-powered) Nancy, who writes fanfic about Loki as a cat. I laugh out loud at least three times in every issue and always, always feel better after reading it.
But that’s not all. The pages all include hilarious and quirky footnotes, often giving obscure pieces of information about Latin or computer coding. They are random and fabulous.
And to round it all off, this comic is so kind. Squirrel Girl isn’t about to let any supervillains tear up her city, but after she and her team of squirrels kick a rampaging supervillain’s butt (while eating nuts!) she doesn’t simply haul him off to jail and get rid of him. Instead, she tries to help him figure out how to shape up and do better. So, quite often, her ex-enemies turn into friends down the line. It’s not saccharine in the least; it’s handled brilliantly. She’s a superheroine with real compassion.
And that combination of fun, humor, smarts and kindness makes for a comic I adore with a mad passion.
Gilmore Girls (in its original 7-season run – can’t wait for the new episodes later this year!) was just as clever – it’s famous for the sheer speed of the banter between its whipsmart leads, often covering a wide range of references from pop culture and classic literature! – and it’s centered around three fabulous women:
Emily Gilmore (the grandmother and very proper head of an extremely upper-crust family); her rebellious 30-ish daughter Lorelai, who struck out on her own after becoming a teenaged mother; and sweet, studious 16-year-old Rory, who loves them both and tries to resist being entirely modeled after either of them.
The show starts when Emily blackmails Lorelai into re-starting a real family relationship with weekly dinners (in exchange for paying Rory’s private school tuition) – and while there’s plenty of other humor and romance to entertain viewers over the next several seasons, the shifting dynamics among those three central women are the heart of the show. They’re each incredibly strong in their own right, and watching them battle both for and against each other with razor-sharp wit and style is so much fun, it’s exhilarating.
And more than that: who could watch that show and not want to live in Stars Hollow? The town is quirky and fun and full of eccentric, lovable people with loads of heart (as well as the best coffee ever). Again, this could be twee if handled badly – but it’s not, because the writing is just so good. And while many people in this show (including the three heroines) make mistakes – sometimes devastating ones – there’s a solid core of kindness and compassion at its heart. You’ll be safe in the end in Stars Hollow, because the Gilmore women will be there for you…
…Just like the Doctor is there for the world in Doctor Who. I first got hooked on this show when I was five, watching Tom Baker outwit aliens on a hotel room TV. I’ve gotten addicted all over again ever since the series started up again in the 2000s, and after a rocky couple of recent series, I fell back in love with the most recent series (Peter Capaldi’s second series). The Doctor, in all of his various incarnations, travels around from distant planets and spaceships to contemporary, future and historical Earth, trying his best to save people (of all species) from their enemies…and, more challengingly, from themselves, too.
It doesn’t always work. He can’t always save everyone. But he always, always tries, and he always inspires people to try harder in their own attempts, too – to reach out to their enemies and risk more for the common good.
The adventures are pure fun, of course (usually). The humor can be fabulous, and part of what makes the Doctor so great is that his primary weapon is his ferocious brain. He hates violence; he loves learning; he’s endlessly fascinated by other people. The banter in the funniest episodes is so sparkling because he loves collecting smart people around him and inspiring them to be their sharpest. It’s enormously fun to watch.
But what centers it all is that essential core of kindness that’s summed up in one line from a recent Christmas special: “D’you know, in 900 years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”
And that’s the message that carries through all three of these different series: that everyone – even including the rampaging supervillains and your most exasperating relatives! – deserves respect and second chances.
Especially if you can sing your own theme tune along the way.
Stephanie Burgis grew up in Michigan and now lives in Wales, surrounded by castles and coffeeshops. She writes fun, funny MG fantasy novels for kids and wildly romantic historical fantasy novels for adults. You can find out more (and read excerpts from each of her books) at her website (www.stephanieburgis.com) or follow her on Twitter (@stephanieburgis).