About the book:
Title: THE SHADOW QUEEN
Author: C.J. Redwine
Pub. Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.
In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.
But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
Take 10 with C.J. Redwine:
1.) I really loved THE SHADOW QUEEN. How did you get the idea to put your own unique spin on the classic tale of Snow White?
It happened in the car ride home from watching Snow White and the Huntsman. I was ranting about how disappointed I was that the queen wasn’t fleshed out with backstory and how upset I was to have Snow White be an insipid, nearly voiceless girl until she dies and somehow channels Joan of Arc upon her resurrection. I saw the potential for the story to be an epic showdown between two equally powerful female characters, and the more I talked about it, the more it came to life in my head, until I knew I had to write it. (Also my hubby finally looked at me and said, “If you think you can do better, then write it.” So I did.)
2.) I thought your twist on the huntsman character was so fun. Can you tell us more about Kol’s abilities and his character arc?
Kol is a Draconi, which means he has both a human heart and a dragon heart. When he gives control to his dragon heart, he shifts into dragon form. He begins the story as the playboy prankster second born prince who has just been expelled from Eiler’s Military Academy for the third time. He’s secretly aching for his father’s approval, but he doesn’t see that as a possibility because he can’t live up to his oh-so-perfect older brother (and frankly never bothers trying to). But when his parents and older brother are killed at the warfront, Kol is suddenly the ruler of a kingdom he deeply loves but never expected to be responsible for. He is a natural leader (note the many times he lead his large group of friends into helping with his legendary pranks), but it takes a while for him to really trust that he is the right leader for his kingdom. Nevertheless, from the start, the one thing he knows with conviction is that he’d sacrifice himself if it would ensure the safety of his people.
3.) The cover art is stunning and I’m dead jealous! Most readers know about the witch and the apple, but you have black apples and they’re very different. Can you explain about the magical properties of those black apples?
The cover is jaw-dropping, and when I first saw it I just made incoherent noises for several minutes because really. The black apples are spelled apples that Irina uses to control people. Once someone eats the apple, they are filled with a desperate loyalty toward the queen (even if seconds before they’d wanted her dead), and they’ll turn against their own flesh and blood if she asks them too.
4.) What do you find most interesting about Lorelai? What does she do to drive you crazy?
I love that Lorelai is the soul of honor and responsibility and yet one of her greatest strengths is her ability to steal and use parkour to get away with it. I mean yes, she’s stealing from the queen so her motives are pure, but still. She uses crime in an effort to be honorable. That’s intriguing. She drives me crazy when she gets so focused on her plans that she misses other important things. Like romance, lol.
5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
I did a lot of research on the etymology of Russian words so I could create the incantors that are used in the magic that both Lorelai and Irina possess. And I research Germanic plants, foods, and architecture and used it as the basis for creating the scenery in Ravenspire. I think the most interesting thing I researched, though, was parkour. I learned how to do a shoulder roll and how to scale a wall. (And by “how” I mean I understand the fundamentals, not that I could successfully do it myself!) I spent a lot of time watching tutorial videos so that I could accurately describe the techniques as Lorelai did her thing.
6.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?
I’ve been writing stories since the second grade, and I always wanted to be a writer, but I never really saw a clear path toward making that happen. I wrote all through school (including college) but then stopped after I had three boys in four years. (HOLY NOISE AND MESS, BATGIRL) I figured I’d start writing again once my life slowed down and became a bit more sane. Spoiler alert: that’s not really what happens in life. When I was 30, I was diagnosed with cancer, and it was advanced enough that it scared me into doing things like updating my life insurance policy and instructing my husband to find a woman who’d be a good mother and get remarried. But then I survived, and I realized that it was foolish to put off my dreams because I thought life had to line up perfectly for me to accomplish them. I sat down and wrote my first book (a 140k word disaster but whatever!) and never looked back.
7.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
Because I have five kids, run a busy website, and have a husband who is gone in the mornings doing a radio show and is also gone many nights critiquing movies, my routine varies by the day/situation. I carve out time in small chunks throughout the day and into the night, and I write in 500 word bursts. Do a few bursts a day, and I can have a 2000 word day woven in between all the other work and parenting I do.
8.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?
I have an office but dear Lord do I need to replace the French doors with something that can actually lock …
9.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
Movies! We’re big movie buffs here, and because my hubby is a movie critic, we get to go to early screenings, which is fun.
10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?
Right now, I’m working on the proposal for the third, fourth, and fifth books in the Ravenspire series (each book is a companion novel set in an adjoining kingdom and inspired by a different tale). The next book that comes out from me is book 2 in the Ravenspire series. It’s set in Súndraille, the kingdom south of Ravenspire, and is the next chapter in Rumpelstiltskin’s life in which he is a very Faustian soul-broker.
C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day.
Where you can find C.J.:
1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of THE SHADOW QUEEN and swag. US Only.
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