In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.
To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy, and named the Mace, trusted head of the Queen’s Guard, as Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned and imperiled in Mortmesne. Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.
Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. I’m not sure the location has influenced my writing, but it’s certainly influenced my politics, which are pretty hard left, and anyone who reads my books will see that, even with a whip and a stick, I can’t keep my politics out of my writing.
When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I began writing probably the same way all writers do: I loved to read and wanted to be able to tell my own stories. But the writing I did for the first twenty years was almost uniformly crappy. My first book, The Queen of the Tearling, which I began when I was twenty-nine, was inspired by seeing President Obama for the first time on television. I felt a surge of idealism and wanted to share it.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
Stephen King is probably my greatest influence as a writer. But I also learn constantly from William Faulkner, Sara Paretsky, John Steinbeck and others. I don’t really write anything similar to their works (not yet, anyway) but I think that’s healthy. I would be begging for trouble – and vast disappointment – if I tried to be Stephen King.
Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
Most of my characters come into being at the exact moment I need them; I’m pretty shameless about conjuring characters from thin air to do what I have to do in terms of plot. But I find that once I create them and decide on one or two traits, they do take on a life of their own.
What motivates you to write?
Anger, mostly. Every year I grow more furious at the lack of empathy demonstrated by vast sectors of our society. I can’t change the world; hell, I can barely even muster up the social skills to meet friends for coffee. But I can tell a story, and when I see something that makes me truly angry, it usually ends up in there.
What is the hardest part of writing?
For me, plotting. I don’t have a lot of good ideas about what happens next, and even fewer ideas about what happens at all. If someone were to give me a nice plot and ask me to write the story, I would find that far easier than writing a book from scratch. I’m proud of my books, but I’m the first to admit that they could be better plotted.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Not to start the journey until I know where I’m going.
What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Do not consider your book’s marketability while writing. My books are problematic in terms of genre, and I’m pleased about it. If I had never gotten published, I could certainly have lived with that, but if I’d gotten published by trying to write the next *insert blockbuster franchise here* I would never have been able to look myself in the mirror, and I’m sure the quality of the writing would have suffered too.
What book are you reading now?
I’m re-reading Stephen King’s The Shining, because I recently acquired an absolutely gorgeous collector’s edition published by Subterranean Press. Also Jill McCorkle’s The Cheer Leader and John Boyne’s This House Is Haunted.
Erika Johansen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing. She lives in England. *Stay up to date on all things QOT by visiting: http://queenofthetearlingtrilo
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