Thank you to Long and Short Reviews for having me here this week. I am thrilled to be here talking about my first novel-length book, The Empire’s Edge.
This book began as a single image, a partial scene in my imagination. I pictured a shy noblewoman, arranged in marriage to a captain in service to the king; alone in an isolated hunting lodge they spoon in the four-poster bed before the fire to stay warm.
I scribbled the bare bones of the idea into my spiral notebook. Over time, I began to wonder who these two people were, how they came to be in that place and why. In 2003, the beginning chapters took shape, helped enormously by an online workshop full of women—other writers—I would come to rely on for the next several years as we all fumbled through our “learning to write” stage together. The first two chapters garnered excellent reviews among my workshop peers and gained the notice of our workshop mentor of the month, multi-published author Shannon McKenna. I still have her two pages of critique notes, written the fall of 2003, full of encouragement to learn more about the craft and praise for what I already had gotten right. Armed with this ego-boost, I took classes, wrote, reviewed others’ work, wrote, learned, wrote—in all, I spent five years finishing this story to proper novel-length. In the meantime I completed and published two short stories and wrote several other partial manuscripts.
Typical me, I never pictured Earth. To me a fantasy must be a different place as well as time. What genre is it, really—fantasy? Historical? Scifi? I have multiple dragon species, no magic, and very low tech (clockworks and early gunpowder weapons). So I call it “historical fantasy,” sure that fans of historical romance set in the 1800s or earlier may also enjoy the characters, settings (A castle, silks and tapestries, floor-length gowns, an isolated military fortress on the frontier!), and political shenanigans (nobility, intrigue, cavalry, poison, swords!) while fantasy readers get a non-earth world and dragons viewed as indicator species. My critique partners are fully responsible for the swelling of the romantic content and storyline—they pushed me out of my comfort zone and showed me how to bring forward the true magic of this story: a man and a woman falling in love.
I know the first question anyone will ask after they read this book is “When will the sequel come out?” (at least I hope my readers like it enough to ask). The short answer is…I have two sequels in the planning stages; the bad news is I’m embroiled in other projects and haven’t yet given Raham or Hendor the dedication they need to get their own stories down on paper. Eventually, yes, I hope to present my readers with other stories set in this fantasy world. Seems a shame to build such an elaborate geopolitical system only to use it once…especially if readers enjoy their visit there! Fan mail helps; contact me through my website bio page. Put the pressure on me—let me know you’re on board for a sequel. Nothing gets a story written and out there like a deadline and someone else’s expectations!
As a sci-fi/fantasy fan and author, Kelly believes the best stories contain the human element of romance. Scribbling pieces of stories into spiral notebooks since first grade, she became serious about the craft of writing in 2001. Her dream is to see her work on the bookstore shelf next to Anne McCaffrey's. In her free time, this former zookeeper crochets, knits, quilts and gardens – badly. "I'm better with words than with plants," she says. Kelly lives in Oregon with her husband and daughter. Visit her on the web at www.kellymccrady.com