Christina Lynch of Three Rivers is about to embark on a nationwide book tour to promote the release this week of her most recent work. City of Lost Dreams (Penguin Books, 2013) is the sequel to last year’s New York Times and Amazon bestseller, City of Dark Magic.
A reader has to be fairly astute, however, to unearth the fact that Chris penned these two novels. It’s as much a mystery as the novels’ plots.
Delve even deeper and one will discover that another novelist, Meg Howrey, is the other half of the books’ writing team. But all credit is given to “author” Magnus Flyte, a pseudonym that enjoys a life of sophistication and adventure similar to “The Most Interesting Man in the World” of the Dos Equis beer commercials.
“After the uproar over the publication of his first novel, Magnus Flyte retreated to his dacha in the Urals, where he enjoys exploring underground tributaries of the Ufa, observing the mating habits of the spotted nutcracker, and smelting,” reads the author’s description in the newly released novel. Who wouldn’t want Mr. Flyte’s life?
And the real author is— Chris has lived in Three Rivers for 10 years. She discovered this heavenly escape from city life while traveling around the state in the company of some kayaking enthusiasts who were searching for the wildest rivers and the best whitewater runs.
That’s a far cry from her Midwest roots. Chris was raised in Chicago where she graduated from Lane Tech, a selective college-prep high school.
She was accepted into Harvard University where, in the fall of 1982, arrived sight unseen and by herself. She graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in English and headed to New York where she went to work in the fashion industry, writing for W and Women’s Wear Daily.
A year later, she was transferred to Italy as a fashion correspondent although she had never been there before and didn’t know a single word of Italian. She fell in love with the Italian culture, living and working there for seven years.
She arrived back in the States in 1994, landing in Los Angeles. She was hired as a television writer, working on shows such as Dead Zone, Wildfire, and Unhappily Ever After.
A book is born— She met her coauthor Meg about five years ago while attending a writer’s retreat back east. Their writing styles meshed, they noticed, and being the only two participants from California, they clicked.
They stayed in touch, and a year or so later, Meg traveled from her Southern California home to Three Rivers to pay Chris a visit. They were walking on the Salt Creek trail one day when Meg broached the subject that the pair should write a book. Concurrently with the planting of this seed in Chris’s mind, she received a call from her stepmother Charlotte who lives in Prague, the largest city and capital of the Czech Republic.
Charlotte had just accepted a job at the Lobkowicz Palace Museum and couldn’t wait to share with Chris the intriguing history of the place, casually mentioning, “You should write a book about it.”
What more does a writer need to hear? Chris sat down at her computer, created Chapter One, emailed it to Meg, and wrote, “Tag, you’re it.” And, thus, the saga of City of Dark Magic began.
There were some rules as well in this game of book-writing. Each chapter had to be three to 14 pages and include something funny, sexy, historical, and mysterious, and end with a cliffhanger. And they could only write forward; no going back for rewrites, additions, or redirection.
The duo traveled to Prague, strictly for research, of course (the sequel insisted on their presence in Vienna, Austria).
In 14 months, a bestseller was born. After a couple more months of revisions, the manuscript was provided to each of their agents. Meg, having published two previous novels (Blind Sight, 2011; The Crane’s Dance, 2012), was contractually obligated to submit the manuscript to Random House first, but they passed.
Penguin Books, however, replied with a resounding yes. City of Dark Magic was released November 27, 2012. A month later, it debuted on The New York Times bestseller list at number 32.
Chris and Meg were on their Penguin-planned book tour when the order came to write the sequel. They had to write City of Lost Dreams in half the time of its prequel. With all deadlines met, the newest installment by Magnus Flyte et al. hit bookstands this week (Tuesday, Nov. 26).
“If you like Vienna, pastries, Lipizzaners, waltzing, Beethoven, Gruner Veltliner, alchemy, bloodthirsty aristocrats, nanotechnology, hallucinogens, lab rats, or antique clocks, this one’s for you,” Chris teased on her Facebook page.
In addition, City of Dark Magic and City of Lost Dreams are being released simultaneously in Australia and New Zealand while City of Dark Magic recently made its way abroad to Turkey, Israel, and Brazil.
And readers may choose their preferred method of curling up with a good book. They are available in softcover, large print, e-book format, and audio version.
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Last June, Chris received her master of fine arts degree from Antioch University in L.A.
These days, she is an adjunct professor at College of the Sequoias, where this semester she has been teaching English 1 and 2. She also teaches an online course for UCLA Extension entitled “Writing the Original Pilot.”
She continues to be a freelance writer and is at work on a novel about an American couple in Tuscany in 1956. In her precious free time, she will be found on the back of a horse with canine companions Max and Orso nearby, hiking or skiing along a High Sierra trail, or cooking an authentic Italian meal for friends.
The making of a legend— And, finally, why would Chris and Meg write under the Magnus Flyte pseudonym?
“Because men don’t buy books by women,” explained Chris. “Especially two women.”