I'm so pleased to be welcoming Beth Brower to the blog as part of The Ruby Prince Blog Tour in honor of today's release of her second novel—The Ruby Prince—book two in her fantasy trilogy the Books of Imirillia. We're also celebrating with a giveaway of a brand spanking new paperback copy The Ruby Prince. If you haven't had a chance to start the series yet, run don't walk to secure yourself a copy of the first book in the series The Queen's Gambit and then drop your name in the hat for the second book while you're here! I did highlight the cover of the first book awhile back, but I think we can all agree to take a moment and admire the beauty that is these gorgeous covers. I swoon.
So you've published your first book and your second just released today (Yay!). What was it like holding copies of your very first published books in your hands?
I remember standing in the grade school library and finding the place that my books would be someday. I did the same thing in junior high, and high school, and in all the bookstores I would enter. In equal measure, I would imagine the first day I would hold a galley of my own book. It was usually sunny, and green, and perfect. When the day finally came, I had been quite ill for several months and all my energy had gone toward getting Queen’s Gambit ready. I was so tired that I gripped my book between my hands, drove to my oldest sister’s house, walked through her front door and into her arms, and cried on her shoulder. The sweetest of memories.
I've always felt that names hold power. And I am always curious how an author goes about naming her characters, her place names, the bones of her world. Can you tell us a bit about how the names in the Books of Imirillia came to you?
Yes! Names! Oh, how I love names.
The actual name of the country of Aemogen is a tilted variation on Imogen, a name derived from the Gaelic Inghean. I wanted the feel and history of that name, painted with a different vowel sound to create the feeling of the country it represented. As for the characters, their names were already set. The names came with the characters. Eleanor was always Eleanor, an old name, a name of beauty and courage. I knew Crispin’s name as soon as he walked into the room. And so went the rest. The only exception, the one name I crafted, was for the silent Queen’s Own, Hastian. His name is a derivative of my younger brother’s name, and the affection I have for my brother was carried into the treasured companionship of the quiet soldier.
The names of Imirillia wrote themselves out in a different way. I spent time looking at words in Persian or Arabic while listening for the names of the characters and places. The sounds in the name of Zarbadast were drawn from two different words meaning power. Prince Basaal’s name came in a similar fashion. Others were just the names I heard as I spent time in the palaces of Zarbadast. For example, Ammar was Ammar, for no particular reason, and he wasn’t going to discuss it with me.
An interesting note is that the names in the Aemogen language often find their emphasis on the first syllable, as in Edythe. Whereas, in Imirillia, the emphasis falls most often on the second syllable, as in Basaal. If one is to take up a study of ancient Imirillian, that should be remembered.
I am in love with the map for The Ruby Prince. You created this yourself, yes? What was that process like?
I did draw the maps, both for The Queen’s Gambit and The Ruby Prince! One cold morning I grabbed some beautiful watercolor paper, a large artist’s clipboard, and curled up in my bed, drawing out the landscape of Aemogen and Imirillia. I drew the maps in detail, and then turned them over to my dear friend, the artist Phillip Jackson. He inked over my pencil lines with beautiful precision. There is something incomparably charming about watching someone dip their pen into a bottle of deep black ink and draw out the lines of your imagination.
What's one book and/or series you've been gushing about nonstop lately?
Oh dear. Those around me would say I never stop gushing about any book I love. Hmm. Narrowing it down? Eeee. I have been anxiously awaiting The Rose & the Dagger. I loved meeting those characters last year. Just. Loved.
And, just for fun, what's the first word that comes to mind when I say:
Beth, thank so much for stopping by and giving us a peek into your creative process. You are always welcome.
And now for the giveaway! Beth has kindly offered up a paperback copy of The Ruby Prince to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open internationally and will run through Tuesday, April 26th. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter. Good luck and happy reading!