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Victoria Winifred Author Interview

“The Princess, The Knight, and the Lost God” follows a twelve-year-old goddess from Chess Mountain who comes to Earth when her kingdom is in danger.What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In 2016, as a public-school teacher deeply invested in the idea of using chess as my class theme for all subjects, I was previewing a poem to possibly share with my students. It was entitled “Caïssa,” written by William Jones in 1764. The verses of that little-known work encompass the romance of the chess goddess with the god of war, Mars. I had never heard this mythological detail discussed before, not even in my chess circles, and it begged to be expounded.

When I looked for chess fiction books to see what was already out there, there were just about none. Yes, there have been famous scenes in some fictional books about chess, such as in Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland, but no children’s books existed at the time with chess as a total theme. So, I wondered, mightn’t Mars and Caïssa have married, and in present time have a daughter near the age of my students? I knew that I wanted Kassie to come to Earth and meet mortal children, but she never would have wanted or even have been allowed to leave Chess Mountain unless she absolutely had to do so. Soon thereafter, the outline of the story poured into my mind, but it took me years to complete.

Kassie faces difficult challenges in this novel that she must learn and grow from. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Especially these days, we are all being reminded that it is important to discover truths for yourself, and not accept second or third-hand points-of-view. This is true “across the board,” if you’ll forgive the pun. It was one of the reasons Kassie needed to visit our planet. She needed to learn what humans were truly like, and not rely on the hearsay of her studies in her secluded kingdom far away. It’s difficult to grow when you stay closeted in a protected comfort zone. Also, the students in the story came from different backgrounds, and faced personal challenges of their own. Kassie’s increasing support for them changed things, which showed the princess a new aspect of her own value.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are several strong themes in the story: Experiences can change your perspective. Friendships can take different forms. And by using the morals of chess, we can choose pathways to success, and even to redemption. Also, it was important to have concrete examples of how chess can deliver academics, and provide metaphors for many circumstances. There were nods to certain philosophical theories as well, if you look closely.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

As of late, I’ve been figuratively traveling around the globe with Kassie, and together we’ve found some poignant and dramatic scenarios that would certainly benefit from her presence! And I’m sure you can guess that the fallen Originals are not done making mischief for the loyalists.

But I have also time-traveled backwards, and have had glimpses of Mars’ and Caïssa’s first meetings, their courtship, and the scenario that followed. Intriguing scenes of Kassie’s childhood with Dimitri have also emerged. In addition, the relationships between the Originals before the rebellion were extremely different than they are today, as we were given hints of in my novel. Even I am being surprised by some of the details. So, with all that being said, let’s see what materializes in 2023!

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Princess Kassie, the 12-yr-old daughter of the chess goddess Caïssa and her husband Mars, the god of war, eagerly awaits a day-long birthday celebration throughout the merry kingdom of Chess Mountain, where living chess pieces are born, grow up, and thrive in a bustling community, But the festivities are abruptly canceled when Kassie’s parents are blamed for the disappearance of another young god last seen on Chess Mountain. War is declared upon the realm, and Kassie must be rushed to safety.

With Maurice, a trusted knight disguised as her guardian uncle, Princess Kassie is whisked to dreaded Earth, and has a mission to complete. Living undercover as a mortal student in a NYC school, she takes comfort in a chess-loving classroom with a quirky teacher. As Kassie gets to know the human girls and boys, she is astonished to find that Earthlings are different from what she was taught, and more like herself than she ever imagined. She witnesses her classmates “puzzle” through their own difficult circumstances involving family and personal challenges, some like her own.

Due to kingdom enemies nearby, she cannot reveal who she is, or her chess strength. But when classmates are intimidated by a chess bully, Kassie battles to empower them for a tournament, while struggling to stay disguised for her own safety and that of Chess Mountain. Trouble ensues, and Kassie finds herself in a dangerous predicament.
Will Kassie make the right “moves” to solve the problem? Can she save herself, others, and the entire kingdom of Chess Mountain back home, or does she “blunder” away her chances under “time pressure”?

With its chess theme, dash of the holiday spirit, and a sprinkling of martial arts, this book will engage boys and girls straight through its dramatic conclusion, which will affect the future of children and chess forevermore.

Launching to critical acclaim in the chess world and beyond, this 220-page book is the first mythological chess fantasy ever written, and was created for the chess kids (of all ages) in your life, or those with a love for mythology and/or fantasy.
Throughout this book, not only do the principles of chess connect with the academics taught in the classroom, but they factor into the critical thinking used to solve life’s puzzles.
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