My Top favorite scenes and why:
Hands down, my favorite scene is when Anders and Kaia enter the brothel. I absolutely adore Kaia’s reaction to the turn of events. I also think the banter between them is hilarious. In addition, I love this scene because they have to act one way while they feel another way. I love the duality between these two characters’ thoughts and actions.
Another favorite of mine is where Kaia is communicating with Morlet through a dream state and she’s starting to realize there is more to the king than she thought. I love seeing Morlet struggle with the dark magic inside of him. When small glimpses of his true personality come through, those are the most touching scenes for me.
Oh, I almost forgot the cave scene! I love this one!! When Kaia keeps asking Anders questions and he doesn’t want to answer, he darts her with his sleeping potion to shut her up. I love seeing Anders’s frustration with Kaia—it makes him more real to me. Plus, him darting her is just classic Anders. Love love love.
I also really like the scene where Anders and Kaia are sparring after she has her bo staff. I love how she accidentally unleashes the power and blows up a rock without meaning to. It’s sweet to see the two of them working together especially since the connection between them is there, but neither will act on it.
Last favorite scene … it has to be the ending. In case you haven’t read it, I don’t want to give anything away. But the end when Anders does something to Kaia to try and get them out of that mess, it is so unexpected and it reveals so much about Anders and his feelings for Kaia. Not to mention Morlet and his reaction. I don’t want to say more and ruin it, but I love how this final scene comes together. Originally, that didn’t happen. Upon revisions when I was reworking it, that part came to me and nailed everything together.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I live in the San Diego area. I know the area influences my writing without me even realizing it! For example, the other day as I drove home, the fog was rolling in giving the area an eerie feel. I ended up using that description in one of my books.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English. I then went on to USD Law School. After one year, I decided I’d rather be teaching so I went and obtained my teaching credential. I only taught high school English a year before going back into law. That’s about the time I started writing on the side. When I had my second child, I started writing full-time. I’ve published seven books and am under contract for even more!
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
My favorite authors include Sarah J. Maas, Maria V. Snyder, and Kristin Cashore. These authors helped me fall in love with fantasy. They taught me that well-developed characters thrown into exciting situations make for the best read.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Kaia is a sixteen-year-old girl. She is the twelfth and final Kriger (although she doesn’t know it when the book opens). Her father has trained her to fight her entire life. Kaia has lived a relatively sheltered life. Her mother died in childbirth. She is strong-willed, determined, and good person. Other important characters are Anders. He’s eighteen, an assassin, and Kaia drives him mad. Anders is good friends with Vidar who is twenty years old. He’s handsome, runs an organization to help the Krigers, and is overly arrogant and cocky. Last, we have the evil king, Morlet. He is nineteen, has penetrating blue eyes, and wields dark magic.
What motivates you to write?
I couldn’t live without books. Sometimes I have trouble finding just the right book to read. That’s when I end up creating a new story—it’s always the book I want to read.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Writing the first draft is fun—it’s the editing that is difficult! Taking a story that you have poured your heart into and basically slashing out unnecessary parts, adding details, and rewriting scenes until they work can be a bit daunting.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Each person has the choice how to live his or her life. We may not like our choices, but we do have the power to decide how we go forward and carry on. Also, no one can ever be entirely good or evil. We are all a mixture of both. Life is complicated and messy. But that’s what makes it fun.
Where do you get your ideas?
I wanted to write a story that takes place in a medieval world, but I wanted it to have magic. From there, I started dreaming up my characters. I knew I wanted to deal with a main character who isn’t royalty (since my other series center around this idea). Once I had an idea of who Kaia was, I started playing around with different situations and all of a sudden, a clear vision for the story took root and I wrote the book straight through.
What does your family think of your writing?
My kids love that I’m an author. They love to hear about my stories and my characters. They’re always trying to offer help or tell me how they think the story should go. It’s especially fun when they accompany me to a book signing. They have such precious looks on their faces—a look of pride. It’s quite humbling.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Never give up. And read everything in the genre in which you write.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Red Rising, Stars Above, and Steelheart while anxiously awaiting my copy of A Court of Mist and Fury (which I pre-ordered back in January) to arrive.
My eyes bulged. “Is this a brothel?” I asked, horrified.
Anders leaned down close to me. “It is,” he whispered in my ear, sending shivers down my spine. “And we just bedded. So I suggest you start playing the part, and lead me downstairs, woman.” He swatted my bottom.
My entire body heated up from utter and complete embarrassment. There was no way I, a sixteen-year-old girl who had nothing to entice a man with, could pull this off. My free time was spent learning to fight, not wooing men. The girls my age who did this sort of thing didn’t look or act like me. Then again, it wasn’t as if I was a harlot—I just had to pretend to be one.
Rolling my shoulders back and standing tall, I held onto my green dress, trying to still my sweaty hands as we headed down the stairs. A couple of tables had been flipped upside down, and two soldats stood at the bar questioning patrons about me. The only way out of this alive was to play the part. Reaching back, I grabbed Anders’s hand and batted my eyelashes at him like girls my age did when flirting. Luckily, the king’s rules about not laughing or showing public affection were only enforced outside. The corners of Anders’s lips rose as he fought a smile. My face went flaming red.
At the bottom of the stairs, he slid his hands around my waist and nuzzled his head to my neck. “Sit in a dark corner,” he whispered. “Don’t let them see your face. As soon as they leave, we’ll exit through the kitchen.”
There were many dark corners to choose from. Heading to the nearest one, Anders sat on a chair and pulled me onto his lap. There had better not be anyone here from my apartment building.
“This isn’t going to work if you keep acting like a stiff board,” Anders mumbled. “At least pretend you’re an alluring woman who has bedded dozens of men.”
If there hadn’t been soldats crawling all over the place right now, I’d have punched Anders right across his face. What infuriated me the most was that he was right. Not having any idea how to act, I observed the people around me. At the table next to us, a man sat on a chair drinking from a pewter mug, while a woman straddled him, playing with his shoulder-length hair.
Anders didn’t have enough hair to run my fingers through, and there was no way I was going to sit astride him while wearing a dress. Anders laughed, throwing his head back.
“What?” I asked, appalled he’d been able to read my mind.
His hands slid on either side of my face. I tried pulling away, but he drew me closer. “Stop scrunching your nose as if you’re disgusted.” He moved his lips to my right ear. “And if you’re not going to play the part, then I will for the both of us. There’s no way I’m going to be taken before Morlet to be executed like a dog.” He kissed my neck.
I froze. I’d never been kissed by a man before. There wasn’t time for such trivial activities or things like courting. Work, training, and taking care of my father were all I did. Anders’s lips left a hot trail along my skin. “What are you doing?” I hissed. There was no need for him to go that far. He could pretend to woo me without actually pressing his soft, tender lips to my neck. My eyes fluttered closed as warmth spread through me.
“Believe me,” he murmured against my skin, “I’d prefer not to have to do this either.”
My eyes flew open, and common sense returned.
“Sorry to disturb you,” a man said from behind me. “But we’re looking for a girl, about sixteen years old, wearing pants and a vest, maybe a jacket. She has long, brown hair. Have you seen anyone matching this description?”
Anders peered up at the soldat. I used the opportunity to snuggle closer to him, hiding my face against his neck.
“Been here all night,” Anders lazily replied. “Haven’t been paying attention to those wearing pants, if you know what I mean.”
The man chuckled. “I do.”
“And that sounds like a boy,” Anders commented. “Are you sure it’s a girl you seek?”
“Yes, because of the long hair. She was probably dressed as a boy to disguise her identity. We’ve been rounding up all the sixteen-year-old girls matching that description. Got over twenty already.”
My hands tingled as fear radiated through me. What would Morlet do to all those innocent people? Would he kill them?
“Well,” Anders said, “if I see any girls that age out and about, I’ll be sure to report them.”
There was a shuffling noise as the soldat left. I exhaled. That was close.
“Let go,” Anders growled. I jerked back, staring at him. “Your hands.” His eyes darted to where I clutched his shoulders. “I can feel your power trying to connect with your weapon. You need to learn to control that. Luckily, I’m wearing the medallion. Otherwise, you would have severely injured me.”
The necklace was tucked under his shirt, hidden from sight. “I don’t understand,” I said, letting go. “How does it protect you?”
His fingers wound in my hair, pulling my head against his, our foreheads touching. “The medallion shields the bearer from magic,” he whispered. “In the Town Square, when we held hands, it protected you, too.”
He released me. My palms looked the same as they always did. It was hard to believe they could wield any sort of power.
“They’re gone,” Anders said. He stood, and I fell from his lap. “Let’s go.”
Jennifer Anne Davis is the award-winning author of the bestselling TRUE REIGN series. After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential, she married her high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three highly energetic children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
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