Hello, fellow adventurers! I’m so honored and excited to interview someone who greatly inspires me…the author of The False Prince and The Traitor’s Game, Jennifer A. Nielsen!
Nielsen is the author of may Middle Grade and Young Adult novels including the famous Ascendance Series, which most recently welcomed it’s new addition and fourth book with The Captive Kingdom.
Hello Mrs. Nielsen! First and foremost, thank you so much for coming over to my blog today! It means the world to me to have the privilege to interview you! A little icebreaker question — how have you spent quarantine?
Thanks for hosting me! Nobody likes the idea of quarantine, of course, but I do believe in the idea that when a door closes, you look for the open window. In other words, some opportunities closed for me, but as I focused on the things quarantine has allowed me to do, I’ve been glad for the time. I’ve used it to spend more time with my family, my writing time has expanded, and over the summer we built the shell of a log cabin. So I’ve been either Mom, Author, or Builder, and all have been great.
Thank you! Your book, The Captive Kingdom, just came out recently. It’s an addition to your popular Ascendance Series, which started with The False Prince. How long did it take you to write The Captive Kingdom? How long does it typically take you to write a novel?
I’m a pretty fast writer, so my average for a book is about four to five months. That’s roughly how long it took for THE CAPTIVE KINGDOM. The central character is pretty insistent on me getting his story right so that pushes me along.
These books are set in Carthya, a small fictional country. How did you come up with this setting? What is your worldbuilding process like?
I began to build Carthya with some ideas of what I wanted in the story. I knew I wanted a country with great resources that was surrounded by other countries, some hostile, some not. I didn’t want Carthya to have its own port because I didn’t want them to have any easy escape if things became difficult. So in terms of size and layout, it is roughly like Belgium.
For world building, I generally try to take a familiar world and then tweak the details to make it my own. That is seen in the currency (garlins), the religious system (Saints and Devils), phrases, (“The Devils have you…”), the class system (Servant class doesn’t have last names), and so on. I love world building, because it’s a time when the only limit is one’s imagination.
I’ve talked to a few Ascendance fans who posed the possible name, “Ascenders,” for fans of the series. What do you think about that?
I’ve heard a few different options, but that’s my favorite. I love it for the tie-in to the book, and also its general meaning.
Which of your characters—whether in the Ascendance Series or any other of your books—do you relate to most?
In one way or another, I relate nearly all of them. Sage’s humor is mine – I just don’t say most of what he does. I also relate to Imogen’s more quiet way of rebelling. But of all my characters, I probably related most to Ani from THE SCOURGE. She’s not based on me or anyone I know, but I feel like I totally get her.
If The False Prince were to be made into a movie, are there any actors who you’d love to star in it? Or any directors, screenwriters, artists, etc., who you’d love to work with to adapt it?
My biggest thought with a potential movie is that if it is going to be made, I hope it will be made right, and that can be a tricky thing, especially in the casting of Sage who has to walk this very fine line between being snarky and rebellious and being obnoxious. For casting, I would hope that the producers would welcome open auditions so that regular fans could have the chance to pick up those roles. I can’t think of anything better than for someone who’s loved the books for years to have the chance to play one of the characters on screen.
(A bit of a potential spoiler in this one, in case readers haven’t read the books!) What happens to Errol after The False Prince?
You’ll see him in Book 5!
What is one fact about yourself that your readers might not know?
The reason Sage is left-handed is because so am I. Being a leftie comes with its challenges (I can’t sign a book without bumping into the cover or write in a notebook without my hand sitting on the wire spine), but it also allows you to learn some adaptive skills that most others never have to learn. I will say though, that the day I first walked into a left-handed store was eye-opening. I had no idea how many things were made for right-handed people that I’d adapted to without knowing it!
Last question! What advice would you give to aspiring writers and authors out there?
Don’t give up. And I know that sounds simplistic, but it’s really not, especially as you begin querying agents and editors. That phase is brutal on the writer’s confidence, and it is so tempting to say you gave it a try and walk away, but don’t do it. I collected a fine stack of rejection letters on my way to publication, but had promised myself that with every rejection, I would find a way to write better than I had before. The instant you give up, the dream ends. So don’t do it. That will keep the dream alive until you get your yes!
Keep on wandering,