For me, books are born out of ideas I have for characters or world building, and Queen of Extinction was no different.
Characters First. Always.
Sometimes characters step into my mind with all their freckles in place. Other times, it helps to trawl Pinterest for inspiration. But once the inspiration comes, it’s always fun to do a Hollywood casting of who would play the leads in the blockbuster movie just waiting to be made. Erin St Pierre and I did this for Princess Aurora, Raith, and Jorah.
For Aurora, it was important that she was beautiful, but not in a classic, expected way. In the first book, we wanted her beauty to radiate from within. It was only once she left Ryferia in the second book, Queen of Destruction, that her external beauty would shine through.
When we saw this unknown girl… well, that’s when the story came alive for us. We gave this picture to the cover artist and she really captured the essence of our Princess Aurora.
Lord Raith Krall, Duke of Lorithian
Mention our gorgeous, tortured incubus Lord Raith Krall, Duke of Lorithian, and Erin and my minds flitted to Jack Falahee.
“Damn!” Erin gasped when she saw him. “He’s hot. Is it bad that I want to keep this picture as my screensaver?”
Instead of having her drooling over a real person, (that would just be creepy) we had an artist turn Jack into Raith. Here he is, walking in Aurora’s poisoned garden.
Lord Jorah Thalyn, Dragon Shapeshifter Extraordinaire
And as for Jorah? Does it get any better than Chris Hemsworth?
We really like what our designer did with our Jorah muse. Even the poisoned garden froze in the presence of our icy dragon shifter.
Peckle, the Talking Cat
Peckle is unashamedly based on Lexie-Pex, our cranky, funny, sharp-clawed English farm cat. She treats our dog, a feisty Toy Pomeranian, exactly the way she treats Zandor, and everyone else in the story. Cuddles when she wants them. The rest of the time? Scornful disdain.
Piazzas, Canals and Circuses… Where else other than Italy?
Italy has always been on Erin and my bucket lists. When we decided to write a book centered around a death trial, it seemed logical to base it on the circuses of Ancient Rome. From Rome it was a simple jump to canals, tinkling fountains on the piazza, and a palazzo of villas with bright blue doors. The next thing we knew, we were on a plane headed to Venice for some book research.
The smell of lapping sea water, rotting buildings, and edgy evenings in mosaic-floored piazzas came straight out of our week in Venice. Heaven.
I share some photos with you.
The Steampunk horse that forged a hedge of Guardians
Once again, I have to thank Facebook for its power to inspire. While plotting out the series, I took some time off work to trawl my feed—as one does, if you are an internet junkie…
Anyway, I saw this stunning picture, and, in a blur, our very plain iron briar hedge grew into the fantastical steam-and-alchemy driven Guardians.
The Guardians and their influence on magic are pivotal to our story, so I’m very grateful to boredpanda for the link to the incredible artist, Hasan Novrozi, who inspired our the giant, mermaid, dryad and centaur Guardians mentioned in the story: https://www.boredpanda.com/steampunk-sculpture-animals-hasan-novrozi)
And that, dear reader, was how the series was born. A bit of this, a dash of that, and way too much time spent on Facebook…
I hope this peek behind the scenes makes the story even more memorable and exciting for you.
Share your thoughts in the comments because I’d love to chat with you about it.