King Theodicar of Borgund needed an heir. When his wife, Queen Piacenza, became pregnant, he’d hoped for a boy. His wife, along with her nurse, Salvagia, knew it wouldn’t be so: with each cast of the runes, Salvagia’s trusted divination tools yielded the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women were convinced that the child would be a girl.
When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised. The king is faced with a terrible choice, and his decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin?
Kelly A. Harmon used to write truthful, honest stories about authors and thespians, senators and statesmen, movie stars and murderers. Now she writes lies, which is infinitely more satisfying, but lacks the convenience of doorstep delivery, especially on rainy days.
Kelly graciously allowed me to ask her a few questions, which I missed in my email program earlier. I'm adding them to post this evening. Please ignore my red face, and the noise of me smacking myself in the head. Thank you:)
Kelly, our backgrounds are similar with a degree in journalism and newspaper writing, so I wanted to ask you about fiction vs. nonfiction. Do you feel working on newspapers helped you with the research aspect of fiction writing? Was the transition from nonfiction to fiction writing difficult?
I don’t think my newspaper experience helped me at all with writing fantasy…but it probably could have.
When I worked for papers, I mostly covered city hall (town meetings, elections, etc.) and the police beat (break-ins, murder, etc.) There’s not really a need there for research.
Perhaps if I’d been doing more investigative journalism, in which I had to actually do a lot of research before sitting down and writing (as opposed to getting documents from the courthouse or interviewing people) than I would have answered differently.
Of course, the interviewing part was helpful. Once you call up the husband of a murdered wife and ask him how he feels about his wife’s murder (as if you couldn’t imagine) you can ask anyone just about anything without flinching. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
So, I don’t have a problem asking questions when I need answers about something.
I didn’t find the transition from non-fiction difficult at all. Perhaps it’s because I continued to write fiction even while I worked at the newspapers. I did have to be alert to what I was writing: there were times when the dialogue in my stories started sounding a little like the “Just the facts, ma’am,” and I had to add more detail and more character point of view. But that kind of stuff is easily caught on the re-write.
What do enjoy about writing in the medieval time period?
The medieval time period lends itself perfectly to fantasy. It’s like having your world mostly created for you. I guess that means I like it because it’s easy.
I’ve written some fantasy in other time periods, in other worlds, like my story “On the Path” which takes place in China, and for which I had to do a lot of research. I spent time researching China’s history, paper, Chinese religions, costume, etc. for a short story. I would rather have spent that time writing.
For me, the medieval time period is something I know, and I don’t have to worry too much about the details. (Unfortunately, when the details are important to the story, I can spend days doing research.)
Were there any scenes in Blood Soup that gave you trouble during the writing?
I had trouble with the birth scene. Queen Piacenza labors all day to give birth to a breeched baby. I describe the steps her nurse takes to turn the child.
It’s graphic, and I wasn’t certain how graphic I should make it. So, I wrote the scene as it came to me, and figured I could cut anything which might be offensive in the rewrite. In the end, the scene remained in tact. I omitted nothing.
Ironic, because it’s usually the scene I read whenever I get an opportunity to do so. I think it’s the most powerful one in the book.
Do you have a favorite medieval or fantasy movie?
Doesn’t everybody? Get ready for the groans: my favorite is Ladyhawke, starring Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick . It’s the only movie that I actually own a copy of.
I love the scenery of the Italian country side. They filmed in real castles, which lends it such authenticity.
Ladyhawke is the quintessential fantasy: A handsome knight, his beautiful lady, a wicked curse and a prophesy which sets them free. And, it’s got a great love story to boot. What’s memorable about the movie is the character development: the relationship which evolves between Philippe, Captain Etienne of Navarre and Isabeau d'Anjou is well done; it’s believable. Navarre and Isabeau’s love for each other is a near tangible thing.
Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun.
I have to say that I also loved Lady Hawke, so Kelly is not alone in her love of it:)
REVIEW: Blood Soup
Author: Kelly A. Harmon
Publisher: Eternal Press
Kindle e-book/Paperback: 84 pages
I was sent the ebook of Blood Soup as part of today's blog tour, and wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the title was intriguing. I've read medieval fantasy since college, starting with J.R. Tolkien and Peter S. Beagle, moving on to both dark fantasy and lighter books such as Terry Brook's Shannara series. Blood Soup is a medieval dark fantasy novella. The author's writing reflects the darkness of the time period where political interests took precedence over love and family. Marriages were made to benefit kingdoms. Babies were born out of the need for a proper heir to the throne.
This story is one of choices and consequences. One king makes a horrible choice, and has to live with the consequences of that choice until his death over 20 years later. Ms. Harmon has a captivating writing style. She sweeps the reader along as she shows us the circumstances surrounding the king's choice. She horrifies the reader with the cruel consequences of that choice. Lastly, I thought she did an amazing job at giving us a glimpse of what it means to live out one's life watching the ripples of one horrible decision.
Fans of dark medieval fantasy and political intrique will enjoy the thought provoking Blood Soup. Find out more about Kelly on her website. You can read an excerpt here.
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