All hail the queens of Fennbirn!
The Three Dark Crowns series may have been initially slated at a duology, but as the world grew, so did author Kendare Blake‘s ideas for it. Without changing the ending of book two, Blake announced two new books in the series. Now, the third journey to the wild, magical kingdom is here in Two Dark Reigns!
We were lucky enough to ask Kendare Blake a few questions about surprises from her characters, competitive spirit, and even a bit of The Greatest Showman. Check it out!
When did you realize you had more story to tell in the Three Dark Crowns world?
Right after finishing the first draft of One Dark Throne (book 2). At first it was only a vague sort of wondering what everyone was up to. Hoping it turned out well for them. But when it was time to decide what to work on next, that was still all I was thinking about.
Who are you rooting for as queen and why?
I’m not rooting for anyone to “win”. I’m trying not to take sides. Considering that I’m the one who put them in this situation, I think it would be unfair! I am rooting for all of the characters to live, or if they don’t, to meet their ends well. I guess I’m rooting for everyone?
If you were a princess of Fennbirn, what gift do you think you’d have and what gift would you want to have?
If I were born a queen, I think I’d be a naturalist, because I’m an animal person. Then again I can’t grow a plant to save my life, so maybe I would be a naturalist but a very bad one. It’s probably also the gift I would want, once again because of the cute animals. Also, Wolf Spring seems like the most fun place to grow up.
Who have been some of your favorite secondary characters to write and why do they stand out for you?
I adore the entire supporting cast. Sometimes it’s more fun to write them than it is to write the queens and Jules, because since I know them less and spend less time with them, they’re always surprising me with little details about themselves. Elizabeth the priestess surprised me in the first book by rising up to become an actual featured player, rather than the one chapter mention I intended. I loved writing Natalia Arron. Her ending was for me, one of the saddest things in the series so far. And of course, it’s always fun to work with Camden the cougar and Braddock the bear, Hank the rooster and even Harriet the chicken. Sassy animals are always favorites.
Do you have the same competitive spirit as some of your characters?
Sort of? I mean I it depends on the thing. If it’s something I really care about, then absolutely. But I’m not one of those people who is competitive about EVERYTHING. Like, I WILL eat more pizza than you. But if you want to race to the top of a hill then I will like, see you up there, man.
What are some of your big inspirations as you write this gritty saga? Were there any particular music, books, or shows that helped you find your stride?
The main inspiration for Three Dark Crowns was a ball of bees. Which led me to a queen bee, who laid many baby queen bees who murdered the crap out of each other as baby queen bees do. And I’m sure that a lot of things that I read, and watch, influence what I want to write, (I owe the mist to the Mists of Avalon, and familiars to The Golden Compass, probably) but I never write to music. It makes me zone out too much, or daydream. Plus, I don’t listen to that much music anymore? Except for musicals. My husband is SO INTO MUSICALS. Lately he’s been blasting the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman every morning and it’s constantly stuck in my head. Like right now I’m trying to do this interview but am actually thinking about lying in bed, a thousand colors in my head and the million dreams that are keeping me awake. You’ll get that if you’ve seen the movie even one time.
What’s your writing process like?
It depends on the deadline. Right now I’m working on the last Three Dark Crowns book (working title 67 Dark Maids-a-Milking) and since I’ve already blown through my June deadline (didn’t even start it until May) I’m aiming for a draft in October. That means I need to do about 7k or more a week. A draft in five months is a little faster than I would like, but, since I’ve been hanging with these characters in this world for about five years now, a lot of the lead-up time is eliminated and I can just jump in. My lead up time for novels can be significant, sometimes a few years.
Also I am very much a “pantser” as they say. I don’t outline, and rarely know how things will end before I start. Writing a novel is like throwing words out over a void, stringing them along one after the other and taking it on faith that the words will eventually land somewhere and form a bridge to the other side. It’s worked out so far.