Rowena Cory Daniells has written several great epic fantasy series which I’ve enjoyed a lot. Today she’s here to talk about her King Rolen’s King series and has exciting news:
As a writer, you never know when a small scrap of information will wedge itself in the vault of your mind and one day prove useful.
Back when I first left school I had a secondhand book shop. This was the perfect environment for an avid reader. In the days when the average novel was around 50,000 words I used to read a book in the morning, one in the afternoon and another after dinner. Reading at this rate meant there were days when I simply couldn’t find a book (even in a bookstore and even with very eclectic tastes).
Faced with this dilemma I would prowl the shelves looking for obscure interesting things. At the bottom of a shelf was a stack of dusty National Geographic magazines. Long before the days of the internet, this mag took the reader into homes and work places across the world. I’ve always been fascinated by people and how they live. I guess it is part of being a writer — that drive to understand why people do what they do. And then there were the photos. Unlike most writers I’m visually oriented so the photographs and illustrations in glorious colour fed that side of me.
Back in those days I devoured all the National Geographic magazines that made their way into my shop, including old black and white copies which I regarded as ‘time capsules’. What I didn’t realise was that my search for the obscure and interesting was laying down a rich groundwork for the books I would eventually write.
Sometimes a picture was enough to inspire me. This particular National Geographic cover struck chord with me.
I only ever saw it once and didn’t save the magazine but the feel of the photo remained with me and I used the boy’s style of clothing for the Utlanders in King Rolen’s Kin. (Turns out this was very appropriate since he was a Norwegian Lapp).
Because I couldn’t remember the year or month, I thought I would never find the image again. And I wouldn’t, if I hadn’t been wandering through a thrift store with my sister. (I love thrift stores, but that is another blog post). Sitting on the end of a rack, cover out, was this issue of National Geographic. And they were selling it for only one dollar. Naturally, I grabbed it and went over to the counter where I discovered all reading material was 50% off so I reclaimed a cherished image for only 50 cents. Made my day.
Then there were the first-hand accounts that I found particularly interesting. At the time I didn’t realise that this kind of research is called going to the primary source.
Back when I was a child I read an account of how a man and his two children were walking in a US national park when a snow storm came up suddenly. He built a snow cave and the children survived. In this case there were no photos and I had to research to find out about snow caves. But the idea that you could survive extreme conditions by building a snow cave stayed with me and I used it in King Rolens Kin. When the first book opens it is midwinter and Byren builds snow caves to camp while travelling.
The King Rolen’s Kin series covers from midwinter to midsummer so it ranges from snow covered fields where Byren skates on canals and lakes to fetch help when his father’s kingdom is invaded, to the midsummer celebration when Byren hopes to reclaim the throne.
The KRK series has had a good run since it was first released with these beautiful illustrations by Clint Langley. I was surprised and delighted when my publisher contacted me to say they were going to re-release the KRK series to launch their Solaris Classics line.
These books have touched many readers who have reached out to me. And I think this is, in part, due to my fascination with the obscure and interesting. (Here’s what Mervi thought of the first book.)
Yes, I love fantasy. Yes, I love a rollicking tale. But I also love the obscure and interesting details that stick in your mind.
I hope the launch of the Solaris Classics line will enable King Rolen’s Kin to reach new readers.