It was during the pandemic. Like everyone else, I was locked in my house except for brief trips to the grocery store. (At least I had a loving husband and two demanding cats for company. This picture shows only one cat because they do not tolerate each other.)
I was looking for a writing project that would take me away from my endless confinement and decided to start fiddling with a far-out fun project. Why not make a getaway to the Middle Ages but use a medieval milieu that was tweaked for my own pleasure. While lying on the chaise with my other cat, I started adding details. (Yes, both cats are gray. Not what I would have chosen, but they are the stray and feral ones I brought in.)
I love writing paranormal, so why not insert magic into my medieval world? And while I was at it, why not turn the religious structure on its head and invent a pantheon of gods and goddesses. But I would keep a lot of the conventions of the times. I’d have kings and castles, troops of soldiers on horseback, roadside inns and town marketplaces. And just to add some inconvenient medieval complications, girls would be the property of their fathers, women were subject to the rule of their husbands, and your life was a crapshoot—depending on whether you were the subject of a humane or a hard-assed king.
With some of the background blocked in, I turned to the story. I started off with a princess named Sabina who runs away from her father, the king, because he’s going to marry her off to forge an alliance with an absolute bastard of a prince.
She’s captured pretty quickly by some rough and tumble freelancers and thrown into a prison tower to await the punishment of her father. Unfortunately, or ultimately fortunately, there’s already a prisoner in the tower. Everybody thinks he’s a ghost, but we find out later that he’s really Prince Killian who was enchanted by an evil magician. Everybody’s scared spitless of him. But Sabina decides that if they are locked in together, she will try to make friends with him.
This is when I started having fun with the story. Killian’s mind is a blob of Swiss cheese, but Sabina’s attentions start awakening his memories. Physical contact with her is the key to bringing him back to life—the hotter and heavier, the better.
How do you have an intimate relationship with a guy you can’t see? Lots of interesting ways. She decides: What’s the harm in letting this ghost do stuff to me. As long as he doesn’t fuck me, nobody will ever know about it. The more intimately he touches her, and the more intimately she touches him, the more visible he becomes and the more they grow to care about each other. After each heated encounter, he remembers details from his life—and finally what happened to him.
In the first part of the story, she’s the driver. But when they learn her father is coming to scoop her up, his macho guy instincts kick in. Killian engineers their escape and takes her on a dangerous trip back to his kingdom while dad’s soldiers pursue them. Along the way, she gives up the idea of staying a virgin. That leads to an embarrassing wedding-night scene. The consummation of the prince’s marriage has to be witnessed by a bunch of courtiers—albeit through gauzy curtains. What are Sabina and Killian going to do to convince the spectators that she’s a virgin?
I had no idea if Changeling would want this story. But my editor liked it a lot. It became Killian Unbound and led to a five-book contract, so I’ve steadily been adding more episodes in my medieval world. I hope you’ll come join me. The latest is number four, Morgan Unbound, published this month.
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future. She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.