An Interview with the Queen
For those who don't normally read in the historical genre, why do you think your book is unlike any other historical book on the market?
As a historian, I have written several non-fiction books. My research has taken me far and wide, poking my nose into palaces, archives, and archeological sites. Having spent time in an African village, I understand how people live without electricity and running water, and found that their ancient religious traditions (the gods and ancestors) and their civic institutions (kings and councils of elders) are similar to those of the ancient Greeks. Most YA fantasy/fiction authors don’t have this rather exotic combination of experiences.
What part of writing this book was better, establishing the world or building the characters?
It was certainly easier establishing the world. As a historian, I know how countries, palaces, cities and houses were set up: the defenses, animals, latrines, wells, you name it. But building the characters was challenging for me because this was my first novel. I had six main characters—three boys and three girls—and needed to give each one a distinctive story and unique voice. It became easier as the writing progressed. The characters seemed to take charge and tell me who they were. They are much easier to write in Book 2 of the series, Empire of Dust.
Did you plan on everything (the storyline, the plot, the ending) out before you sat down to write the book, or was it more of a making-it-up-as-you-go-along process?
I had a very intricate chapter-by-chapter outline before I started. But the more I wrote, the more the story evolved. New plot twists presented themselves. Fleshing out a chapter sometimes opened up exciting opportunities for action down the road.
What is the greatest thing about being a writer thus far in your writing career?
Since all human experience is actually in our minds, through my writing I have traveled back thousands of years in time and experienced life in very different cultures. It’s so very real to me! Sometimes during the day when I am not writing—going to the grocery store, for instance—I might get a vision of torchlight flickering on walls, a whiff of smoke from a fire, or hear goats baahing as they run through village alleyways. The past is a ghost lover that possesses my spirit. It’s so amazing that as an author I get paid to live there a good part of the time.
Last question! If you were to write a new series like Legacy of Kings but based on a new era in history, what or when would it be?
The Renaissance! Like Alexander the Great’s time, it was an era of new discoveries, new cultural connections, and amazing possibilities in what humankind could do. Along with this, of course, was conflict, both international and personal, which has always and will always plague the human story like a virus in the blood. Historical fiction gives the author the opportunity to have two sets of conflicts at once—the clash of personalities and civilizations.