First, there’s been no blog posts because I have been swamped. I’m writing and the deadline is sneaking up very quickly. Writing the book comes first…. sooo… Blog had to be set aside for a second.
Plus, I have a ton of draft blogs that I decided not to post because they have secret covers and I decided I didn’t want anyone to see those covers. And other things.
A reader asked this in the Banet Pride (my Facebook readers’ group)
Any Admins/Moderators on here know where Kristen came up with the concept of the Age of the Andinna Series? Because how does someone come up with a series this awesome?
I am an Admin in the Banet Pride….
And I am Kristen.
Thanks for calling the series awesome!
I’m going to answer! It’s really long, which is how it ended up as a blog. Like all things in life, these sorts of things can’t be boiled down to one liners in a comprehensive way. There was no single “where”. Though, maybe there is. I lived in Washington State, USA at the time. That’s a good where.
Here’s the truth:
Age of the Andinna, and all my series, begin with a favorite, and a thought experiment, maybe a character concept and it evolved and it grew as I started thinking. I considered the layers of the thing I was building carefully and looked deeper and deeper… and deeper. The original thought wasn’t just complete Age of the Andinna and it was right there in it’s entirety. There was… a lot more.
One: Really uncomplicated.
The genre is amazing.
I absolutely adore epic fantasy. I like all fantasy, generally something epic or with an epic feel that ALSO has strong romantic vibes. See: Kushiel’s Dart and the Black Jewels Trilogy, literally the top two favorite series of mine of all time (I have a Kushiel’s Dart quote tattooed on me since I was 18. It was my first tattoo). I also love me some more “general” High Fantasy, the LOTR. (Kushiel’s Dart is actually Low Fantasy, fun fact)
(…And, continuing my sidenotes here in the parenthesis, Urban Fantasy is called what is because it is Fantasy in Urban Places. Also see: Modern times, which is how I treat it. I don’t see an issue with an Urban Fantasy in a small town or traveling around the world etc. For me, it’s a vibe of how the series plays out, what you might see in it, not a forced location factor.)
Book genres and terminology is vast, varied, and inconsistent. So let’s boil it down to…
I like fantasy. It’s my favorite genre
I LOVE fantasy with some sort of romantic element.
Two: A little more complicated than number one.
Real history, some real and a lot of fake culture, and MASH UPS.
This involves WORLD BUILDING that inspires me to write a particular thing, whether its a theme, topic, or even just a thought experiment.
The Elvasi? Their entire civilization, their culture, and the rest can be boiled down to me having a clash of thoughts and needing to just… write it and see. Those concepts?
Elves and the Roman Empire. In other words, a thought experiment: What if Julius Cesear lived for thousands of years instead of a short human life span? How would an egomaniac like him behave? Why would he want to conquest. Think of the Roman Empire too. They conquered. They were the hot shit and they thought everything needed to be in their Empire.
So there’s my villains.
Who is fighting against them? I love flying warriors. I actually have a scrapped world and single book that was the precursor to Age of the Andinna and it turned the idea of Valkyries (from mythology) into an entire race of people, with a complex culture system. I love warriors in the sky. I adore the idea of needing to adapt to that lifestyle.
I also love the “good barbarians”. The “dirty, but actually complex society”. Violent but more than just violence.
And there are my good guys.
These are both in the MOST general sense. There were clearly more factors as I built the two sides of this conflict, but this is like the tiny little pieces that lead to all the rest.
Then I decided “what if they’ve already clashed?” The Roman Empire dealt with slave rebellions. They had huge swathes of their Empire fight to break off after being conquered.
And so I got the point where the Andinna had lost.
Three: The biggest and by far most complicated.
I’m incredibly character driven. This is from two angles.
I’ve started building the world. I know my two races. I know a bit of the world and I go “who is this story about?” I might already know it’s Mave, but who is Mave? Why does she matter? Why is she a slave and a gladiator?
Who is Alchan? Who is Luykas, etc.
Angle one is “basics” before I even start writing. This is the initial “character sketch”. This is where I write down things like name, a bit of their personality, a bit of their history, and really just start getting to know them. Who are they related to? This is mostly FACTS.
And this is actually where I decided Kian was going to die. I made character sketches for every single member of the Ivory Shadows and looked at Kian on the list. I stared at his name for awhile and said “Yeah, he’s going to die like right before the series ends. Poor bastard.” (Oops. #sorrynotsorry )
This is also where I decided on all of Mave’s husbands. (Alchan never had a chance)
So, I make this for several characters. Not literally all of them. A lot of side characters will just pop up and they are a person and I can write them on the fly and record it to track.
The second angle of character driven is: how do they think and why do they think that?
You, as a person, have a thought or feeling about EVERYTHING that happens in your environment. Someone does something that goes against your core beliefs? Reinforces your core beliefs? You’re going to have feelings either way. Your mental health, the life you’ve lived, what you’ve been taught(by people with their own complex lives that changed how they see and think), and the people around you ALL change WHAT your feel and HOW you act on those feelings.
I find it fascinating. I consider the lived experience of life not to be a straight line. We, people, are a spider web. Everything we do and say and the feelings we act of are tied together in every way. There is nothing I can do that won’t impact my husband and vice versa. I am wary of female authority figures that try to mother me. Why? Because I have no relationship with my mother because she betrayed the bond of mother to child and neglect responsibilities of being a mother. I don’t want other people trying to be “mom” to me. I haven’t had one in a long time, I don’t want someone else to try and fail.
This is often the part where people get lost. We, people in general, tend to think everyone looks at the same world in the same way and that’s 100% false. Each of us see the world based on our completely unique experiences, environments, and more.
I apply this entire thought process to my characters.
I look at this while I plan the story and while I write because THIS is what drives a series to me. Often times, this is what finally makes me begin a series. This is when the real obsession hits. THIS is what makes the plot happen. WHY are the characters doing this? HOW will it change them?
So… That’s how it happened.
The same level of thought goes into all my current series. If you look closely enough, you’ll find the history or modern parallel. Real things inspire me. Real history, real issues, the idea that my characters behave and think and evolve like real people. (This is why I tell everyone that I don’t write escapism. My books aren’t meant to be an escape. They’re meant for me to write about issues and concepts from real life in a new place, to give them voice from a new perspective and more. It’s what I like to write.)
There’s the thought process that lead to Age of the Andinna.