Our interview today is with Debra Killeen, author of Legacy of the Archbishop: Volume 3 of the Myrridian Cycle
FQ: Myrridia is a rich world, full of magic and wonder. Where did you get the idea for it?
I wanted to develop a world with a lot of similarities to our own, partly to make it easier for readers to comfortably enter the world, especially readers who aren’t big fantasy fans. But this world has a few major differences – the big one, of course, is that Magic works, sometimes spectacularly, and at the beginning of the series, the Church is in control of Magical practice. I also happen to be a lover of history. While I studied pharmacy in college, I was strongly interested in history, and almost studied it, and I’ve maintained that interest well beyond my college years.
FQ: Did you think out the plot/characters before writing, or did they flow from your computer as you wrote?
I’ll start with the characters, and then talk about plot. I do have short bio’s for the major characters. I need to have an idea of who the main cast is before I begin plotting out a given novel’s storyline. I can’t write them convincingly if I don’t know who they are. Now, that’s not to say that I know everything about all the characters when I begin. For example, I didn’t know that Robert Claybourne was claustrophobic when I began writing the first novel. But it became clear as I was writing Legacy of the Archbishop. On occasion, I’ve had a character surprise me while I’m writing a scene. One of them may do or say something, sometimes unplanned, and it leads the scene in a different direction than I’d initially intended. And usually it’s a change for the better.
I do a rough plot outline before beginning any novel. I usually know how the story will begin, how it will end, and a few of the major points along the way. Although these things are not set in stone, as some events may lead to other events, which go in a different direction, not to mention, as above, when a character may say or do something to change things. But I find that part of the fun and joy of writing.
FQ: What inspired you to include time travelers in your story?
Well, technically, Chris, Elijah and Nicole are more “dimensional” travelers than time travelers, but I won’t split hairs. To be completely honest, I’m a sucker for time travel stories myself. In the case of the first book in this series, An Unlikely Duke, the initial premise for the novel was to have a character from our world travel to another world to prevent the death of a ranking nobleman. I didn’t know at that point that this character would have a friend go with him. But it gives me a chance to point out differences between the two worlds, based on these characters’ reactions to Myrridia and its environs.
There will be a spin-off series to this one, taking place in our world. One of the characters in the second book, A Prince In Need returns with another character to our world. So this medieval character will be coping with the modern world – which opens up a lot of potentially entertaining possibilities. This series is currently planned to be more paranormal mystery than straight fantasy.
FQ: Do you think Chris and Helen have changed since their first meeting? How have their characters developed?
Well, if their characters haven’t changed by the time of this third novel, then I’m not doing my job as an author! They have both changed, though – and for the better, and at least part of it is through the love they have for one another. During An Unlikely Duke, Helen didn’t trust most of the men in her life – her cousin Michael was a rare exception. She didn’t trust her husband, the king, Edward Fitzroy, etc. However, Chris showed her that some men are a little more complicated than the men she knew, and she grew to first trust and then love him.
Chris went from a frustrated medical resident – mainly due to what he saw as a physician with our managed care health system (which came directly from my own experience as a pharmacist, I might add) – to a man capable of performing a job well for which he initially had no training. He’d also been dumped by his ex-fiancee, and so he wasn’t really looking for a woman with whom to share his life. At least until he met Helen – he was pretty much smitten with her upon their first meeting. He’s learned to trust some of the people he interacts with in Myrridia and he’s formed deeper bonds with a number of people. Before, with a few exceptions, most of his relationships were superficial, and he had a tendency to run away from problems that came up. He’s stopped running.
FQ: The interplay between Aldric and Nicole is a great page turner and adds much to the story. Was there a specific reason you wanted such a strong female character? (role model, etc.?)
Nicole is a terrific character (as is Aldric, for different reasons). The ironic thing about Nicole is she often doesn’t realize how strong a woman she really is. She’s still working to build up her confidence, and her interactions with Aldric help her in that regard. She manages to keep him from killing her well beyond what either of them expect, in part by having the audacity to argue with him and in part by her own wits.
Most of my female characters are strong, not just Nicole. Part of that is because I’m a woman, and I don’t want to read about a bunch of ninnies! (I admit, there is the occasional ninny in the stories.) I also feel it’s important for female readers to have strong women with whom they can hopefully identify, or at least say, “Hey, if Nicole can do that, so can I.” Mostly, it just happens. I’ve read some good historical sources, and women back in the Middle Ages did a lot more than most people realize. They rode into battle, took over their dead husband’s/father’s businesses, and the like. I think it makes for a more interesting story to put traits like this into the characters, male or female.
FQ: What’s next for Myrridia?
The next volume in the series will be published next year. It’s currently titled Priestess Awakening and a number of those strong women characters will be back in full force. For those who’ve read A Prince in Need, Allyson Claybourne will figure prominently in this one, as she comes into her full Magical powers – as a pagan Goddess worshipper. I won’t say more, for those who may not have read the first volumes. But many of the same characters are back, with plenty of magic and adventure. The final volume in the series should be published in 2011 – Kingdom in the Balance, which opens with the death of two kings – one by natural causes, the other by foul play, followed by a kidnapping of the heir to one of the thrones.
Beyond that, there is a second series planned for the denizens of Myrridia and its neighbors. Some of the characters will be going on crusade about 10-15 years after the events of this series. I hope to explore the theme of religious tolerance in these books, and readers can expect heroes and villains of several religious persuasions. So there’s plenty more to come!