Today, the Inkies are thrilled to host author Mette Ivie Harrison, whose latest release, THE ROSE THRONE, comes out this month.
Here’s the Goodreads summary:
Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?
Now to some questions I’ve been dying to ask!
Mette (pronounced to rhyme with Betty, by the way), where did the idea for THE ROSE THRONE begin for you?
I have been wanting to write a story about a deep, complicated friendship between two women for a long time. There are lots of bromances, but sromances seem few and far between. Most of the time, two female characters end up in competition for a guy and the friendship falls by the wayside.
Magic plays a fascinating role in this story. What process did you go through in building a world that feels historically realistic while balancing that with your magical rules? Did you draw from any actual time period?
When crafting this story, I used my old obsession with Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots as a bit of a backdrop, and the world owes some of its scaffolding to Tudor England/Scotland. The magic grew gradually from draft to draft, but it began with the idea that Elizabeth had been a queen who played with gender roles. She was ruthless at maintaining power, but at the same time was very much “the Virgin Queen” and quite as vain in many ways as her father was, though with a feminine twist.
The two princesses, Ailsbet and Issa, are different in how they approach their troubles, but their individual strengths and strategies they each employ to survive make for a fantastic read. Was it hard to build such different heroines?
Ailsbet was the easier heroine for me to write to begin with. Her personality was so strong that it seemed to just write itself. But it was also tricky to make her sympathetic to the reader. Issa, on the other hand, was more passive in earlier drafts. I really struggled to make her come alive as an independent voice, with her own wishes and motivations. She was easier to like, I think, but harder to write. I think that a lot of this has to do with our expectations of femininity, though. Women are generally considered more feminine if they are passive, but that can write them out of the most interesting parts of stories.
Without using spoilers (of course) can you share with us a favorite line or brief scene from the book?
I love the scene when Kellin finally declares his love for Issa. It’s clear to the reader that Issa has a crush on him for quite some time, but Kellin is a spy and he’s very closed. What he feels isn’t clear until this scene, but when he can’t hold back any longer, there’s quite a bit of sizzle.
You’ve been in this business for some time. What have you learned that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?
I don’t know that I would really wish to change any part of my career, but one of the most important lessons I have learned along the way is to write the books that you think will never sell. For one thing, it’s really hard to know what will sell or won’t sell, but for another, constantly chasing sales numbers can make you artistically bankrupt. I really like to toy with weird ideas that no one else would dare try, and I love to break rules.
Now to some fast and furious questions about yourself:
Mountains or Beach?
Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, or Doctor Who?
I really liked the first two seasons of Downton, and I haven’t loved the latest season of Doctor Who. I loved the books of Games of Thrones, but haven’t seen the series. So . . . I guess I would say The Tenth Doctor.
Magical ability you wish you had?
The ability to see myself from the outside.
When you’re not writing, you are probably…
Book on your nightstand right now?
Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson, a medieval noir mystery.
THE ROSE THRONE will be released on May 14th. Please support your Indie bookstores first, and you can also order online here.