Today on the blog is my stop on the #TakeTheThrone blog tour for the newly released The Shadow Queen by C.J Redwine (you can read my review for it here.) Here I’m joined by C.J Redwine herself for a sneak peak into the world of Lorelai – sit back and enjoy!
Fantasy laced with dystopian elements is an incredibly interesting mix of genres, with the “light” fairytale elements taken to a much darker level by the dystopia. What made you choose to write a story that combines the two?
It was really a product of the rules of the magic I’d set up and the choices the characters made. Queen Irina was draining the land with her magic, and she was holding onto power however she could. Those two things combined to create a society of people on the edge of starvation who were cowering in terror before their cruel leader. All of that gave the princess her motivation to come out of hiding and face the queen in an epic battle to reclaim her kingdom.
The Shadow Queen is a twist on the story of Snow White – did you always have this idea in mind of writing about a different, perhaps much darker side to a well known story?
The idea came to me after seeing Snow White and the Huntsman and walking away disappointed that Snow White was once again a nearly voiceless character to whom the plot was happening, but who didn’t influence anything until the very end. I wanted to see the fairy tale become a showdown between two female characters of equal power, so I decided to write it myself.
Do you think that corruption and human rights issues are important aspect to include and explore in books specifically aimed at young adults?
Absolutely! Corruption and the exploitation of human rights are happening all around us on a daily basis. It’s crucial that we have stories that explore these themes and that demonstrate that you don’t have to be old and experienced to stand up for what is right. You only need the courage to do so.
As your writing is showcased in a fantasy story, was it hard to use personal experience when creating it? Do you think that it’s important to use your own experiences to capture a realistic voice in a book?
It wasn’t hard. I draw on my personal experience with emotions whenever I need to deeply connect to my characters’ emotions. The world around the characters might be vastly different from my own, but people are people. I think it’s important to connect deeply on an emotional level so that I can then deliver the character’s emotions in an authentic way. Readers value authenticity in characters, and that’s what keeps us turning pages long into the night. We want to see the characters we’ve come to love succeed!
As an author you have to create an entire world within the pages, especially in a fantasy story where the world is significantly different to our own. How important is culture and society in your writing?
Very important. I spend a long time on world building before I ever write a word. I flesh out the etymology of the names, the vegetation, the climate, holidays, religion, education, economy, government, culture, industry, architecture … everything. Definitely the culture—how the people in a society think—is crucial to the choices they make. In Ravenspire, the people are afraid to stand up to the queen because she has all the power (quite literally) and they have none. The choices they make as they grow increasingly desperate help fuel the princess’s determination to save them.
One critisism of many fairytales is that the female lead relies on a male to rescue her and create the “happily ever after” we all expect. How have you modernised this concept to provide a strong female protagonist and role model?
Lorelai is no damsel in distress. She’s a smart, cunning warrior princess who is skilled in both parkour and magic. She initially saves the prince upon their first meeting, so that was a fun way to immediately set a different tone within the book. While I paid homage to things like prince charming and the kiss of life, I made sure to do it all in a way that never detracts from Lorelai’s strength and sense of self.
I hope this has given you all an insight into the magical world of The Shadow Queen, or persuaded you to pick up a copy if you haven’t already. Make sure to follow the rest of the #TakeTheThrone blog tour (info below) and let me know your thoughts below on this dystopian fantasy adventure.