I can pinpoint the exact moment that The Queen of Blood was born: it was a couple of summers ago, and I’d just arrived for a weekend writing retreat deep in the woods of Pennsylvania. Every writer was given a picturesque wood cabin nestled beneath the pine trees. I was walking up to mine, marvelling at the trees, revelling in the bird song, thinking about how lovely it all was, tra-la-la … and I tripped on the step up to the cabin and fell flat on my face. Cut my lip. Tasted blood. And in that instant, I had the idea: bloodthirsty nature spirits.
So this book exists due to a moment of extreme klutziness.
The Queen of Blood, book one of The Queens of Renthia series, is set in a world filled with nature spirits. But they aren’t sweet, frolicking pastoral sprites. These spirits want to kill all humans, and only certain women — the queens — have the power to control them.
I’d been wanting to write epic fantasy for a long time. I fell in love with the genre as a kid. By the time I was ten years old, I’d devoured pretty much everything in the kids’ section of the library, so my mom brought me upstairs and showed me the SF/Fantasy shelves, where I promptly devoured The Belgariad by David Eddings, The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey, the Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and so on … I spent a large chunk of my childhood squirrelling away scrap paper and drawing massive maps of imaginary lands, complete with their own economic systems and bizarre flora and fauna. Also lots of talking animals, because I strongly believed that everyone deserves their own talking animal sidekick.
Still waiting for my own talking animal sidekick, actually.
This series is an outgrowth of that early love, infused with everything I’ve absorbed and thought about since then. Book one focuses on an idealistic student and a banished warrior, who join forces to seek the source of the rising number of spirit attacks. Among other things, it explores the idea of the Chosen One.
Daleina, my idealistic student, is not a Chosen One. There are no prophecies about her, she has no hitherto undiscovered secret power, and she doesn’t inherit any magical thingamajig. She’s a mediocre student with only a modicum of power who lacks the kind of innate talent or skill that others have. She has to work hard to even be on the same playing field as others. But she is determined to protect her family and save her world.
Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely adore Chosen One stories. I’ve watched every episode of Buffy, reread Harry Potter countless times, and am still waiting for Merriman Lyon to tell me I’m one of the Old Ones, destined to seek the Signs of Power. But with this book, I wanted to write about someone whose true magic is her determination. She chooses to be a hero.
I like to believe that we all have that ability to pursue our dreams and choose our destinies.
So that’s why I wrote this book: because I believe we can all be heroes … and because I fell over.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst is available now!