Please welcome Jane Kindred to the blog today! Jane is the author of The Midnight Court, The Fallen Queen, and more! Jane is here to tell us a bit about her worldbuilding and she’s also offering 2 copies of The Midnight Court (one physical and one ecopy) to 2 lucky winners, so check out the giveaway details at the end of the post.
Over to Jane!
Monasteries, Murder Holes, and Mountain Cities
Thanks for having me today on My Bookish Ways—I’m excited to be here on the official release day for The Midnight Court! If you’ve read The Fallen Queen, you know there are some unusual settings in my books. This second book in my House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy gave me the opportunity to expand on the world of Heaven I’d touched on in Book One, as well as to explore more of modern Russia, where the first half of the book takes place.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to visit Russia again as research for this book, although I would have loved to. Instead, I explored Russia virtually via Google Earth and numerous websites on the Karelia area where many of the scenes take place. I needed something relatively close to the city of Arkhangel’sk, where my characters are living at the beginning of the book, where someone could be hidden away, and I wanted it to be something uniquely Russian. That was when I happened upon the monastery on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.
As soon as I saw images of it, I knew this was the place. The Solovetsky Monastery is surrounded by a fifteenth-century fortress that protected it from attacks by numerous enemies over the centuries. It looks like a little kingdom of its own in the middle of a starkly beautiful archipelago. Its history, like Russia’s is tumultuous. The site of religious uprisings and a place of exile for anti-tsarists, the monastery was turned into one the most notorious labor camps of the gulag system after the Bolshevik Revolution.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, Solovetsky was returned to the Orthodox Church, and is now once again a working monastery with a small number of monks in residence, as well as a museum. I can only hope the monks of Solovetsky will forgive me for the license I took with it.
To parallel the earthly stronghold, I created a Heavenly one in the frozen north, and once I had a fortress to defend, I realized it couldn’t just sit there; I had to defend it. That was when I dove into research on the layout and functions of a fortress—fun things, like how to open a portcullis, and the purpose of a sally port (raiding parties would “sally forth” from a fortress under siege to attack the enemy), and murder holes. Because who doesn’t love saying “murder holes”? Then I had to figure out the strategy of a siege, and how medieval war engines were constructed, and how much grain your horses had to carry so that you didn’t end up eating them on a month-long trek over frozen tundra.
But my favorite part of Heaven that I got to create for this book was Aravoth City, high up in mountain country, where the angelic order of Virtues live. Oddly enough, their buildings and homes are based on ancient Roman architecture. Those Romans were pretty clever—central heating right in your home, plus an “impluvium” to catch rainwater. And of course, the Roman-style Aravothan public bath, which is to die for. I confess I patterned it pretty closely after Lynn Flewelling’s Aurënfaie baths, but in my own defense, I didn’t realize I had until I’d gone back to reread her Nightrunner series. She is clearly a woman after my own heart, and loves a good bath.
These are just a few of the places and things you’ll discover in The Midnight Court—along with the Midnight Court itself—as Anazakia, Belphagor, and Vasily take the next step of their journey.
As a special Release Day bonus, I’m giving away two copies of The Midnight Court today (or The Fallen Queen if you prefer)—one ebook and one paperback.
So tell me, what unusual place in the world would you most like to visit?
1. Answer Jane’s question above in the comments and specify ebook or physical copy (we’ll pick one of each!) Please don’t leave your email address in the body of the comment (as long as you fill it in on the WordPress form, you’re good to go-I may delete email addresses left in the comments)
2. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
3. Giveaway ends 9/8/12
About the author:
Jane Kindred began writing fantasy at age 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. Although she was repeatedly urged to learn a marketable skill, she received a B.A. in Creative Writing anyway from the University of Arizona.
She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.
You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.
About The Fallen Queen, Book One of The House of Arkhangel’sk:
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
About The Midnight Court, Book Two of The House of Arkhangel’sk:
Against the pristine ice of Heaven, spilled blood and a demon’s fire will spark celestial war.
The exiled heir to the throne of Heaven, Grand Duchess Anazakia and her demon companions, Belphagor and Vasily, have made a comfortable home in the Russian city of Arkhangel’sk, but their domestic bliss is short lived. When their daughter Ola is taken as a pawn in Heaven’s demon revolution, the delicate fabric of their unorthodox family is torn apart—threatening to separate Belphagor and Vasily for good.
Anazakia is prepared to move Heaven and Earth to get her daughter back from Queen Aeval, risen in Elysium from the ashes of temporary defeat. But Aeval isn’t the only one seeking Ola’s strange power.
To conquer the forces amassing against them, Anazakia is prophesied to spill the blood of one close to her heart, while Vasily’s fire will prove more potent than anyone suspected. In the battle for supremacy over Heaven’s empire, loyalties will be tested and secrets will be revealed, but love will reign supernal.