Mindy Klasky is well known as a fantasy writer, but her latest book, How Not to Make a Wish, has a trick up its sleeve — a secret so big that I can’t reveal it to you here. No, not me; it’s too big for me. Fortunately, Mindy Klasky is here to reveal Wish’s big secret — and its big idea. Have you steeled yourself? Are you prepared? Can you handle the truth?!? Okay, well, good. Here’s Mindy Klasky.
Pssst… I have a secret: My latest novel, How Not to Make a Wish, is a fantasy.
What? That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, especially since my first six novels were traditional fantasies published by Roc? Well, it’s a bigger deal, when you realize that How Not to Make a Wish is published by Mira. As in, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises. As in romance.
And there’s the Big Idea: Romance, as a genre, can be a lot more flexible than many readers think. In fact, romance can embrace (pun absolutely not intended) a woman’s search for independence, for freedom from convention, for reliance on herself above all others. And she doesn’t always need to have a tall, dark, and handsome hero waiting in the wings to make everything all right.
How Not to Make a Wish, the first volume of the As You Wish series, tells the story of Kira Franklin, a Minneapolis stage manager who discovers a magic lamp that contains a wish-granting genie. When Kira wishes her way into a production of Romeo and Juliet, she thinks that she is advancing her career, stabilizing her home life, and discovering true love. But then things start to go wrong. Very wrong. Wrong in ways that even Shakespeare never considered when he wrote his classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
In many circles, romance novels are scorned as written-word pablum for ignorant women who don’t know how to think. Bad romance novels often follow a formula. The hero is an alpha male, intent on dominating the heroine. The hero and the heroine are immediately attracted to each other; sexual sparks fly before they know each others’ names. The couple fights, often over silly misunderstandings, solely so that they can reconcile (and reward themselves – and the reader – with great make-up sex.)
But not all books published by romance publishers follow such dull and boring formulas.
How Not to Make a Wish is, first and foremost, a fantasy novel about what goes wrong when magic is practiced without appropriate limits. Kira’s gender-bending genie is a trickster, a bored supernatural being whose only diversion is to twist Kira’s words, placing her in circumstances she never anticipated and certainly never intended.
As in all good fantasy novels, Kira’s use of magic comes with a cost. Bound by the rules of wishing, Kira cannot explain to outsiders the changes that her genie wreaks. Kira risks her professional standing, her family, and her friends, all so that she can stay within the bounds of genie magic.
In the end, Kira reaches her peace with the magical challenges before her. (No, that’s not giving away the plot. Really.) Her solution is born out of her unique set of skills, her individual capabilities, her strength as a strong and independent woman.
Yeah, there’s some kissing along the way. A couple of bedroom scenes (with the door, mostly drawn shut for a bit of character-based privacy.) A realization that sharing life with another person can be fulfilling, often in unexpected ways. Those romantic touches round out the story.
But ultimately, How Not to Make a Wish is a book about a woman becoming the person she wants to be. And that’s not a bad Big Idea for a fantasy novel masquerading as a romance.