Please help me welcome author Emily R. King to the blog! Her debut novel, The Hundredth Queen, is the YA fantasy that should be on everyone's radar. Kirkus Reviews says: “King writes multiple strong female characters, led by Kalinda, who has the loyalty and bravery of spirit to defend her friends even if that means facing death. Strong characterization, deep worldbuilding, page-turning action scenes and intrigue, as well as social commentary, make this book stand out. This outing opens a trilogy; readers will be eager to get their hands on the next installment.”
The Hundredth Queen releases June 1, 2017, but it's available free right now for Amazon Prime members as a Kindle First pick for May. The next installment----The Fire Queen----is out September 26, 2017.
Hi, Emily and congrats on your captivating debut! Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind The Hundredth Queen ?
Thank you! You know, a lot of the inspiration behind this book came from my experiences. Being a girl and living up to other people’s expectations can be hard. For example, I used to believe if I was pretty I couldn’t also be smart, and vice versa. Women tend to categorize ourselves and other women, even pigeonhole each other. I wanted to write a character who broke through stereotypical norms, someone who mistakenly undervalues her potential, as I think a lot of women do. Fantasy is typically a male-dominated genre. I wanted a story about women! I like associating with women. I like reading about them and hearing about their triumphs, and I’ve learned a lot from the female relationships in my life.
Kali and Jaya have such a strong friendship in the book, which was something I really gravitated toward as a reader. How important was it to you to show this bond?
I’m glad you connected with their friendship. I think female relationships are undervalued in young adult literature. “Friendship” tends to be a theme for middle-grade audiences, but some of my greatest friendships occurred in my teenage years. In fact, I’m still friends with some of those girls today. We have separate lives, but we try to stay in touch. We went through a lot together, and formed strong roots. I wanted to show the importance of these bonds through Kalinda and Jaya’s friendship.
The magic system in The Hundredth Queen is both deft and incredible. What tips can you give fantasy writers who are struggling to integrate a convincing magic system into their worlds?
My number one piece of advice about magic systems is this: The limitations of magic and the cost to using magic are just as, if not more interesting, than the magic itself. There must be a cost or a consequence to using magic, be it physical or mental. Also, the limitations of the magic must be well-defined for the reader. Establish what can and can’t be done. Clarify those rules and then don’t break them. Make it difficult for your characters to solve their problems with magic. The harder you make it for them, the better the intrigue and tension.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced on the road to publication? Querying? Finding an agent? Revising?
My biggest hurdle was myself. It took me a long time to venture out and find critique partners. As soon as I opened myself up to criticism, and learned how to accept and implement suitable critiques, I blossomed. Writers who want to become published must form thick skin. Some people are born with it, whereas people like me grow through trial and error.
The sequel to The Hundredth Queen is due out this September! Is there anything you can tell us about The Fire Queen ?
I can promise more magic! There will also be another tournament, only a much, much harder one. Readers will also get to experience two points of view, Kalinda’s and Deven’s.
On the subject of sequels—they are notoriously difficult to write. What was your experience, and do you have any advice on how to tackle writing a follow-up?
My book two experience was interesting. I drafted the manuscript before I began edits on book one. I wrote it without any input from my editor or agent. Luckily they loved it; my editor even acquired a third book soon after finishing his read-through. That being said, book twos are tricky. Readers want to relive everything they liked about the first book, only they want it bigger and better. I tried to satisfy their need for something familiar yet different. It’s a hard balance to find, but overall, I enjoyed writing my second book.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author so far?
I’d say the most rewarding part is the enthusiasm I receive from readers. Book people are unbeatable when it comes to promoting their favorite stories. It’s an amazing feeling when someone loves my writing enough to reach out and tell me so. The publishing industry is notoriously subjective. Personal connections and positive reviews are so appreciated by authors! Plus, I’ve formed friendships with book bloggers, all because we love the same stories or characters. It’s a beautiful thing.
And finally, what’s one steadfast piece of advice you would give to writers working toward publication?
Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Write as much as you are able. Read just as much as you write, if not more. Accept and implement pertinent critiques. Do these things and you WILL make it!
I want to thank Emily for sharing so much of her journey, as well as giving us some really on-point tips for creating exciting magic systems. Be sure to add her sumptuous fantasy to your Goodreads list, or pre-order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
If you benefited from any of Emily's interview, or if you just can't wait for The Hundredth Queen to release, please make it a point to share your enthusiasm! Head on over to Twitter to tell her at @Emily_R_King, and for more information, check out her author website at emilyrking.com.