Posted by Literary Titan
The Masked Queens Lament finds Althea still trying to expand her empire from the shadows but is forced to come out of hiding to ensure victory. What did you want to accomplish in this last novel that was different from the first two books in the trilogy?
Beyond wrapping up every plotline I had hatched in a manner that I felt the characters deserved, I had a few other things to address. One was to sufficiently show how awful war is even when necessary–a point I’m not sure I drove home thoroughly enough in the previous book of the series. Another was to show human stories from every part of the world that I wanted to focus on, because Alathea’s empire is definitely not a realm of pure evil, and she’s not leading some horde of orcs or goblins. Nor was I going to allow Derek and Chandra to be completely responsible for saving everyone when some people have the opportunity to choose, albeit not easily nor simply, to decide differently. I also enjoyed giving text time to characters who may have been barely used in the previous books or whose motivations had not been adequately explored.
The world building in this novel continues to be superb. What were some sources of inspiration that guided you as you continued to build the world throughout the trilogy?
I’ve done a bit of travel in my life, visiting some of Europe/the UK’s castles and memorably the church structures of Lalibela, Ethiopia, carved directly from the rock with minimal brick and repairs needed after centuries of wear and some seismic activity. I follow aesthetic blogs and also try to learn a bit about the cultures that inspired aesthetics and also first names. The rest is having the map drawn up and trying to define each place in the context of the geography I’ve already given it. I once also got some advice about the realities of having a mountain range rather close to a coastline, as it looks in the southwest of Kensrik. If you’d like to know what I mean, consider the geography of places like Chile or New Zealand. I was inspired to make this mountainous edge of the continent seismically active and mentioned “mountains which belch fire”, the possibility of it raining ash, and the potential sulfurous odor.
When a trilogy comes to an end many readers expect an epic showdown, and you deliver on this point masterfully. How did you envision the final chapters playing out and what changed while writing?
The main challenge was not what the final showdowns would be, because I set most of them up in the previous books and just needed to follow through. A key challenge for me was making sure the last conflict with Derek against enemy forces was not just a repeat of the end of the previous book. In the first draft, it basically was the same, in the shadows of the old Wancyek castle, but once more with feeling! During the second-last revision cycle of The Masked Queen’s Lament, the further I went along in the draft, the more completely I rewrote what was there. By the penultimate chapters I was barely looking at the source material because of how wildly the final draft needed to diverge. Keeping in mind, the whole trilogy was written in first draft before the first book in the series was even finalized. I also needed to propagate every change that needed to come as a result of that. It just had to feel coherent to me, and I’m glad the coherent result worked.
Now that the The Gift-Knight Trilogy is complete, do you intend to expand this world with more books, or are you working on something new?
I have four total prequel manuscripts that don’t focus on Derek or Chandra, or even mention them. I could go and start reworking these, or I could write something completely different. For now, I’m enjoying the lack of commitment that comes from not having already promised what comes next! I’ll decide eventually.
Derek, Master and defender of his people, rides with Chandra toward a friendly city in the aftermath of a victory. They will have no time to celebrate as Derek suddenly finds himself up against a foe he can’t kill with a sword. Having delivered her friend and ally to a healer, Chandra contends with more than just waiting in dread: she will be faced with a part of her personal history that she never knew and the promise of a place to belong after her exile from Kensrik. But can she trust it?
And they will have so little time to regroup. Alathea, masked ruler of an expanding empire, still hungers to recreate the world in her image. Dissatisfied with the delays and failures of her minions, she intends to personally oversee the final victory over her most hated foe, the “witch”, Crown Princess Chandra Kenderley.
Whether they battle enemies from without or within, an ensemble cast faces the fight of their lives on every part of the Continent and its inland sea. No one but Alathea has the full picture of what she’s set in motion, and whether they have any chance of stopping her, nothing will ever be the same.
Posted in Interviews
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