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Emily R. King Interview – The Hundredth Queen Series

Emily R. KingYesterday, J. C. Kang reviewed The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King. Today she was nice enough to stop by and tell us a bit about herself and her work. But first a quick introduction.

Emily R. King is a reader of everything and a writer of fantasy. Born in Canada and raised in the USA, she has perfected the use of “eh” and “y’all” and uses both interchangeably. Shark advocate, consumer of gummy bears, and islander at heart, Emily’s greatest interests are her four children. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active participant in her local writers’ community. She lives in Northern Utah with her family and their cantankerous cat.

Now on with the interview!

How long have you been writing, and what inspired you to start?

I started writing in my teens as an emotional outlet, but I didn’t think it was a viable career. Authors were people who wrote in their spare time, after they finished their day job. It wasn’t until my mid 20s that my love of creating worlds overcame my practical side and I started writing with the intent to become published. As for what inspired me to start, the voices in my head wouldn’t go away and they finally wore me down.

I take medication for the voices in my head, so I’m glad you found a better outlet. Have any of your teenage writings found their way into your published or present work?

The Hundredth Queen (cover)Ha! No. But I do still have a descriptive essay from 9th grade Honors English. That was the first time I had a homework assignment that I was sad to see end. I wrote for hours without realizing. It was about a donut shop. I had a lot of fun writing about fried pastries.

Hah! All great authors start somewhere. Speaking of authors, which of them have influenced your writing?

So many! I read every genre. I’d say Stephen King, James Patterson, J. K. Rowling, and Jude Deveraux. In the YA fantasy category, Megan Shepherd, Rae Carson, Kristin Cashore, Robin LaFevers, and Sabaa Tahir.

I wanted to ask you specifically about The Hundredth Queen, since it has really taken off since its release last year. What inspired you to write the series?

You know that time between wakefulness and sleep? (Too well…) I was trying to fall asleep one night, and the words, “The Hundredth Wife” popped into my head. I write for young adults, so I immediately asked myself who is this woman? Just a wife? And then I realized she was more than a wife, she was the hundredth queen. I tossed and turned the rest of the night. By morning, I had the Claiming scene from book one formulated in my mind. I knew who Kalinda was and that a tyrant rajah would disrupt her peace. I knew she would spend years trying to get it back again. I wrote that scene that morning and the book grew around it.

That is pretty cool. Did you always envision it as in Indian/Middle Eastern setting? Or did it start as something else?

I wanted to write about strong women. Growing up in Western Canada, we had a significant Indian population in our neighborhood. A lot of my school friends were Indian immigrants. I would visit their houses and spend time with their sisters and moms. When I was deciding which area of the world to base this second world fantasy off of, the memory of these women made my decision easy. They were the strong female influences I needed in this story.

How long did it take you to write and revise The Hundredth Queen?

The Fire Queen (cover)Nine months to draft and revise myself, two months to edit with my publisher (including copyedits and proofreads).

I saw on your website FAQs that you suggest aspiring writers to join critique groups. Did such a group help you in the process?

A lot of my readers are fellow authors that I met blogging. We have swapped manuscripts for years. Now that we’re published, we have less and less time for that. But we still get together and write and share ideas. A good support system is invaluable!

I was wondering while reading, if The Hundredth Queen takes place in an alternate Earth, or a different world altogether?

I feel more comfortable saying it’s second world, but I could see how you’d think that. It does have a slight historical feel in some spots.

Regarding strong women, what really appealed to me about the story was Kalinda’s strength of spirit, and her internal battle to do what was good for her versus what was the right thing. How did you come up with her character? Did she evolve during the writing process?

Kalinda may have been the only part of the story that was organic. I based the entire world, magic, and plot around testing her inner strength. She’s someone who is weak and breakable physically, but her spirit refuses to submit. As a torturer, er, writer, I wanted to see if anything I threw at her would break her. She has tolerated me very well despite how cruel I have been.

I adored her, especially as voiced by Lauren Ezzo.

Lauren is fantastic as Kalinda! Rarely do the voice actors sound like the voices in our head. However, Lauren does. She is perfect in every way. I got lucky.

In my review for Fantasy-Faction, I compare Kalinda to Katniss from the Hunger Games, in that they both are motivated by a desire to protect someone. But while Katniss’ voice is so pessimistic, Kalinda’s is the opposite.

Agreed. Katniss is tougher than Kalinda out of the gate. Kalinda’s arc is to grow into her strength without letting her trials sour her.

Did you have to do much research into the setting? How did you go about it?

I am constantly researching everything. I watch documentaries and read, read, read. It’s never ending, which I love. Research inspires me.

Is there any one documentary or book that helped in creating the Parijana religion and/or the Tarachand Empire?

The Rogue Queen (cover)I read up on the Sumerian Religion. Their deities are somewhat Biblical but also have that fantastical mythological feel. I take liberties, of course, but they are the basis of the Parijana faith. India is richly diverse in setting, culture, and religion. But I felt it was more respectful not to take something that is sacred to real people and exploit it for fiction. So I crafted my own religion from a mythology that has ties to that area of the world.

Did you start with the idea of Four Elements as the basis of the magic system?

I started with the four gods and then their history evolved into the magic system. The religion was more entrenched in their world and culture, so the progression was natural.

The Hundredth Queen, and its sequel The Fire Queen are out now, and The Rogue Queen comes out next month. Is that the end of her story?

I’m writing book four right now. Then I start on my next series, The Evermore Chronicles. The first book is a gender swap dark retelling of Pinocchio with a Father Time magic system and a swordswoman heroine. Super fun to write.

So that’s it for Kalinda? Or will you go back to her world for future stories?

As of now, that’s it for Kalinda. I don’t have any spinoffs planned for the world.

Well, I can’t wait to see how Kalinda’s story ends. Is there anything else you want to tell us about the series?

Not specifically about the series, but I do want to thank my readers. People like you have made my journey with Kalinda a wonderful experience. Thank you!

Thank you so much for your time!

The Hundredth Queen, and its sequel, The Fire Queen, are out now. Book three, The Rogue Queen, is due out February 13, 2018. For more information on The Hundredth Queen series, and Emily R. King’s other works, you check out her website or follow her on Twitter @Emily_R_King.

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