Rachel L. Schade - High Fantasy Involving the Fate of a Kingdom
Rachel L. Schade was born on the first day of summer in a small town in Michigan, only to end up in another small town in Ohio. She attended The Ohio State University to learn how to write obnoxiously long papers, cite people who use big words, and discuss her passion: books. She has a great love for the color blue, sunshine, chocolate, and not folding her laundry. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about Silent Kingdom, the first book in her high fantasy trilogy.
Please give us a short introduction to what Silent Kingdom is about.
Silent Kingdom is about Halia, a young princess who possesses an unusual gift for knowing the truth--even when it endangers her life. It's a high fantasy involving the fate of a kingdom, but at its heart, it is also a coming-of-age story about a girl finding her purpose. It's about finding your courage and your voice and embracing the truth, even when it isn't easy.
What inspired you to write about a kingdom with a dead king and a missing princess?
My initial ideas for SK stemmed around Halia's truth-gift. I imagined someone who not only knew the truth, but felt compelled to share it...what kinds of danger could that present? Slaying the king opened up opportunities for murder and political scandal, and once the princess uncovered a life-threatening secret, she had to run..and conceal her identity.
Tell us more about Princess Halia. What makes her so special?
Aside from her supernatural gift, she is a survivor. Despite terrible odds, countless dangers, and her grief and fear, she doesn't give up. If you threaten her life, she will keep fighting, clawing her way out of whatever pit you throw her into. She has a fire inside of her, one that even she might try to douse, but that refuses to be put out.
Why fantasy adventure? What drew you to this genre?
I fell in love with fantasy adventures when my mom read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings out loud to my brother and me when we were kids. At age 11, I was so enraptured with the way Tolkien brought this other world to life. Even before that, I was always drawn to stories about adventures--anything exciting or suspenseful thrilled me and made it hard for me to put books down, even when I was supposed to be sleeping, or eating, or doing schoolwork... Since I've always had a love for fast-paced books like that, I naturally wanted to create my own fast-paced stories set in fantastic worlds.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I wouldn't call myself particularly talented, but I do love to run. A few years ago I ran a marathon, which will be the only time I ever do that...but it was fun to check that off my bucket list.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
Sometimes it can be difficult when you're trying to world build. How can you keep things fresh? How do you keep your world and characters realistic? It's not always easy.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE character development, relationships, and inner conflicts. It was a lot of fun to take Halia, an imperfect character, and put her through all sorts of danger and struggles to see what she would become. Obviously she still has her flaws throughout the series, or she wouldn't seem human and would be a pretty boring character, but it has been a thrill to watch her grow and change.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
In SK, I'm going to go with Zarev, Halia's father, or Ryn, her mother. I don't want to go into too much depth about this, so I can keep my answer spoiler-free, but they were somewhat complex characters. A lot of the others came pretty naturally to me--they sort of just sprang to life on their own.
In your mind, what happens to the characters after you write their final chapters? Do they continue to "live on" in your imagination?
Since this is a series, they live on for all of us in the next couple books, but I imagine them "living on" after the series ends as well. I'm currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, and part of the process of wrapping it up in my head is also imagining what would continue to happen after I write the final page.
You also incorporated some religious aspects in this book. Why did you take this approach?
There were a few different reasons for this. For one, successful world building also includes building a religion for your new cultures, or multiple religions, depending on what you're writing, etc. Religion affects the way people behave, what they believe in or don't believe in, and even what they are afraid of. I also love reading about the supernatural in fiction books, or including supernatural characters in some way. And, probably the biggest influence of all was that my faith plays a big role in my life, so I suppose it felt natural to have characters who were drawn to their own faith in some way. I couldn't really write a book with big themes like life and death without exploring what those meant for my characters, such as who or what they believed was in control of life and death.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? What is an average writing day like for you?
All the time! I think I suffer because I can be a perfectionist, or I get caught up in worrying what people will think. Any time I overthink, I go through a bout of writer's block.
Right now, my most frequent time to write is on my lunch break at work. When I go home at the end of the day, I'm sometimes too mentally or emotionally or physically tired to give my work the focus I want to. I prefer to write on my laptop, because I feel like my thoughts flow more freely that way. I also type a lot faster than I can write. However, I take notebooks and pens with me everywhere so I can write or jot down ideas in a pinch. Sometimes I listen to music while I write, but most of the time I prefer not to, because it can be distracting or switch to the wrong type of mood for the scene I'm working on, which really throws me off.
What are you working on right now?
I'm drafting Broken Kingdom, book three in the Silent Kingdom series, and I'm in the early stages of daydreaming/brainstorming what I think will eventually become a YA fantasy duology.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website, www.rachelschadeauthor.com, includes my blog and a link to my newsletter--where you can get updates about my life, my writing, books I'm reading, and other fun things, like teasers for upcoming books. You can also find me on Facebook (my page is Rachel L. Schade) or on Instagram: @rachelschadeauthor. I post a lot about the books I read and buy. You can always message me on Facebook or Instagram, or contact me through my website. I really enjoy hearing from readers!