The following FAQ is my contribution to the My Next Big Thing series of blogs. It concerns my work in progress (WIP), which I hope to have ready for my free-lance editor by the end of January.
What is the working title of your next book?
Mistress of Land and Sea, A Novel of the World-Queen. It’s the sequel to Mistress of the Topaz, the first of the World-Queen books. At first, I thought I could wind up the history of the first few years of the World-Queen’s reign in two volumes, but recently I discovered some stuff will have to wait for volume three.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I don’t think these two alternatives are mutually exclusive. I have a publisher, Double Dragon Ebooks, which accepted the first World-Queen book and hopefully will accept the second. However, I have never had an agent.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Well, in a very Tolkenesque way. I came up with the language first, after which I had to figure out what kind of world it was spoken in. I went through a number of ideas, but didn’t settle on one until after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. I began researching Muslim culture and history, and gradually a picture emerged of a world with Ottoman style furniture, honchos in big turbans, Alexander the Great style armies, luxurious carpets and lavishly illustrated wall-hangings. The military tactics are Macedonian because Alexander is a folk hero in the Middle East. He even acquired an Iranian ancestry, despite defeating the Persians repeatedly. It isn’t even a problem that the language bears more resemblance to Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit than it does to Arabic, since Indo-European languages were also spoken in the Middle East from an early period, Hittite being the oldest known of them. And so I developed the background culture of both books.
The next step was the characters. I had no clue about the characters until I visualized a young woman sitting on a divan reading a book. I saw her as being quite young, 18 or 19, and settled on 19. She was also tall and athletic. She had even had training in weapons and military tactics. She lived in a world where nearly everyone was a brunette, but she herself was not. At first I thought she was a blonde, but blondness is a bit of a stereotype, so I made her a flaming redhead.
I soon realized she was royalty — and not just royalty, but the most exalted royalty in her world. She was nominally the Queen of her whole panet, the World-Queen. However, her empire in real life was only one isolated piece of it. Despite her title, she had to reconquer the rest of the world, however many decades that might take.
It took me a while to figure out what her name was. The first part was always /promono-/, meaning “wise.” The whole thing would mean something like “wise daughter, wise woman, wise queen.” I experimented with Promono-
Vein but ultimately settled on Promono-Dei. The second element does NOT mean “god” or “goddess.” It comes from the Indo-European root *dhe:i- which apparently originally mean “to be female.” Dei means “daughter” in the Malganic language so Promono-Dei means “wise daughter.”
Yes, Malganic is the name of the language they speak. It’s one of the few words in the language that isn’t Indo-European. I just made the word Malga, the word for their world, and drew Malganic from that. Other languages are spoken, but Malganic is the lingua franca.
Once that was done, I added some ideas about telepathy, psychic communication, and psychic healing, and the rest was easy.
What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult Epic Fantasy. Epic fantasy is somewhat out of favor at the moment, but I didn’t let that stop me. Sooner or later the pendulum will swing back from urban fantasy to epic fantasy. That will be my cue to write urban fantasy.
How long does it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
If I have a day job, years. I took early retirement at age 60 so I could write more. Without a day job, it takes about a year and a half.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
In a very general sort of way it resembles a lot of other epic fantasies. Pamela J. Kinney in her review of Mistress of the Topaz very kindly compared me to George R. R. Martin, which I find both complimentary and humbling.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Not sure I can easily answer that. Maybe Jennifer Lawrence for Promono-Dei, with a flaming red dye job. Promono-Dei is a horse archer, so Ms. Lawrence can already pull a bow. Not sure about the other roles.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I believe I answered that, for the most part, under “where did you get the idea.” I will add, however, that my world-building concepts come from JRR Tolkien, in that I develop the language of the world first.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The World-Queen is a Lesbian, so maybe fans of the Xena show would like it. Be it noted: I don’t mince words with Promono-Dei’s relationship with Weintii, a court musician. They’re lovers. The show kept everyone guessing about Xena and Gabrielle.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two powerful women — each armed with a different psychic power — battle one another for control of their fantasy world.