2017 Fantasy Extravaganza - Kendare Blake

We're just over the halfway point and today I have the pleasure of interviewing an author I've known for years.  She just recently started writing fantasy novels, but she sure came into the genre with a bang, hitting the NYT bestseller's list shortly after her first fantasy novel dropped and today you can finally get the sequel to said book.  Please welcome the wonderfully dark Kendare Blake, here to talk about her Three Dark Crowns series and to celebrate the release of the sequel One Dark Throne!

The Interview;

Once Upon A Teen Reader: I don't usually ask this question but I happen to know you have a pretty interesting answer (on top of actually having an answer for this book).  Where did the idea for the series come from?

Kendare Blake: From a ball of bees. Like, a ball, made out of hundreds and hundreds of bees. It was stuck to a tree at a book event I was at, and everyone was terrified. But luckily there was a beekeeper, and she said we didn't need to worry because at the center of the ball was a queen, and they were only worried about protecting her, so as long as we didn't poke the ball, we'd be fine. I found that fascinating, and after much pestering, learned that queen bees will lay several queen eggs in their old hive before leaving, and the new queen babies will hatch out and kill each other. The one who survives takes over. On the drive home I couldn't stop thinking about that, and how I wanted to do it to people. And voila! Three Dark Crowns.

OUATR: There are the kinds of magic we see in the books; elemental, poison, and naturalist magic.  What other types of magic are there in the world, and what was it about these three that made you end up highlighting them?

KB: There are five gifts on the island. This generation has three of them: elemental, poisoner, and naturalist, but there are also queens born with the war gift (ability to guide weaponry and objects with their minds, battle and strategy. Horrid tempers) and the sight gift (varying degrees of prophecy, sometimes mind-reading or empathic. Unfortunately all sight gifted queens are drowned at birth after one went mad on the throne.) The people of the island may have these gifts as well, only usually not as strongly as the queens do. 
I don't know why I chose these three. It was so long ago now that it seems natural. 

OUATR: THREE DARK CROWNS was sold as a duology with ONE DARK THRONE as the conclusion, but it was later announced that there would be two more books in the series.  Assuming we don't have to wait for book four to see who ends up with the crown what can we expect from the forthcoming novels?

KB: The aftermath. The first two books tell the story of the Ascension. The next two books will tell the story of the Reign, and examine the fates of the characters from the first books.

OUATR: On Fennbirn it's the women that rule, and men (especially in the royal sense) are just there for whatever the queen may need.  Was the only reason behind that the fact that the idea for the story came from bees, which revolve around a queen, or was there more to it?

KB: Since the story came from bees, a matriarchy just made sense. There was never any internal debate about that. It just was. Females rule, females govern, females control the religion beneath a female deity. But it has been a lot of fun writing inside a matriarchal world.
OUATR: Despite having paranormal/mythological elements in your previous books this is the first time that you've created a world that's entirely your own.  What was that like, and how did you go about shaping the world?

KB:  It was kind of a pain in the butt really. And yet also freeing in some ways. Gone were the days I worried I was getting the geography or street maps right, you know? But now I had to know what the societal rules were, and abide by them. A scary thing when you don't know what route a story is going to take. The thought that I was painting myself into a corner occurred a few times, an will occur until I finish book four.

OUATR: Speaking of the world you've created, Fennbirn is really a magical island in the middle of what appears to be a pretty regular world.  Why did you decide to go in that direction, and why focus on just that small island?

KB:  Fennbirn not as small as you might think. It's actually slightly larger than say...Ireland. And I liked the idea of a shrouded island, hidden away, where women still ruled, so I could pull in boys from the outside and make their heads explode. Also, it owes a lot of the legendary isle of Avalon, from Arthurian lore.

OUATR: I'm pretty sure both of your previous series have body counts and seeing as this one is about three girls who have to battle to the death for the crown I assume this one will too.  What is it like killing off a character, and do you always know who is going to die at the start, or does it come as a surprise to you as well?

KB:  In the first draft of One Dark Throne fewer people died than do in the final draft. So yes, sometimes it's a surprise. And sometimes it's hard, because there are so many other things that character could do in future books, and they're such a great character who is fun to write...and that sucks. It's not like killing off someone at the end of the story, where you're saying goodbye to everyone. I could have spent two more books with this character and now they're gone! And the fun thing about this series is, I can say that about several of the people who die.

OUATR: What books would you suggest to people who have finished ONE DARK THRONE and are now waiting for book three?

KB:  A Song of Ice and Fire if they haven't started yet. Megan Whalen Turner's books. Jay Kristoff's. There is a lot of fantastic fantasy out there just waiting to be found. Read lots! Read ALL.

The Book;

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published: September 20, 2016
Add it on Goodreads

When kingdom come, there will be one.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
Buy it from B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository

The Author;

 Kendare Blake is the author of several novels and short stories, most of which you can find information about via the links above. Her work is sort of dark, always violent, and features passages describing food from when she writes while hungry. She was born in July (for those of you doing book reports) in Seoul, South Korea, but doesn’t speak a lick of Korean, as she was packed off at a very early age to her adoptive parents in the United States. That might be just an excuse, though, as she is pretty bad at learning foreign languages. She enjoys the work of Milan Kundera, Caitlin R Kiernan, Bret Easton Ellis, Richard Linklater, and the late, great Michael Jackson, I mean, come on, he gave us Thriller.
She lives and writes in Kent, Washington, with her husband, their cat son Tyrion Cattister, red Doberman dog son Obi-Dog Kenobi, rottie mix dog daughter Agent Scully, and naked sphynx cat son Armpit McGee.
Find her on Her Website | Twitter | Instagram

The Giveaway;

I've been hoarding an extra signed copy of Three Dark Crowns that I got at Kendare's launch party last year and this Saturday I'm going to see her for the One Dark Throne launch party where I might just pick up an extra signed copy of that too. ;) Make sure to enter the giveaway below, and for you international readers Kendare's book is a featured book so if you can still get a copy if you want!

US Giveaway

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International Giveaway

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1 comment:

  1. I haven't read Three Dark Crowns (yet!) but I see it all the time so I really need to! I love Kendare's story about the idea coming from a ball of bees.