Historical fiction and YA lovers take a deep breath!! Today, I have a special treat for you. Sherry D. Ficklin, author of Queen of Someday, along with other fab YA novels, kindly allowed me to interview her!!! Our interview focuses on Queen of Someday (which I went pretty ga-ga for this summer), as well as some general writing questions. Bonus: You’ll also learn some history! Enjoy!
1. What inspired you to write your novel? In particular, what inspired you to choose Catherine the Great as the subject of your novel?
I was doing research on the Romanov line for my other novel, EXTRACTED, when I first came across Catherine’s story. It was one of those truth is stranger than fiction things. Her history was so decadent and angsty I knew it would make a fantastic novel. The more I researched, the more I wanted to know how an innocent girl from Germany became the ruthless Empress of Russia. Talk about character growth.
2. What were the easiest parts to write?
The romance was the easiest part to write. It was one of the only pieces not grounded in real history so I was really able to play with it at my own discretion. It was so much fun to experience that first, erratic, all consuming, reasonless love.
3. What were the hardest parts to write?
The toughest scene was when Rina’s pregnancy was announced, but the most technically difficult were the scenes where she’s just moving though the palace. The perfectionist in me really wanted to get it right, but without actually having BEEN to Winter Palace, it was nearly impossible.
4. Did you originally plan for your book to be a YA novel? Or did that happen along the way? It certainly reaches a wide audience. I’m twenty-one and I love it and I know others who are closer to middle age and love it as well.
I think the series at least begins as a young adult novel, those things are generally based on the age of the main character more than anything. But as the series progresses, it melts more into NA and adult categories. I just finished book 2 and it’s much darker, less romance, much more at stake, at least from a political standpoint. I think it is one of those stories that, by the nature of time passing and the characters maturing, will appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. I will say, I don’t think there’s ever been a YA novel quite like it.
5. For us non-history-buffs, how much did you alter or trim from Catherine’s real story when writing your novel? How did you decide what would stay, and what would go?
I tried to keep strict to two things, first being the overall political climate of the period and secondly being the nature of Sophie/Catherine and the other characters. I condensed time quite a bit, there are people she actually met much later in life that I brought in much earlier in the narrative, and specifically I altered some details like, for example, the scene where she’s poisoned. It was true that she fell ill and nearly died, but it was from pneumonia. I took the opportunity to ramp it up as a way to demonstrate the very fragile nature of her station, as well as the lengths people at court would go to in order to secure political alliances. All in all, it was a very delicate balance. I also “Americanized” it quite a bit. You will notice I use terms like “Empress” instead of “Tsarina” and Peter instead of Paytr. That was mainly for ease of reading. Some people love that about it, some hate it. It was a purely creative choice.
(Emily’s note: As I mentioned previously in my review of “Queen of Someday,” I found that the “Americanized” language stylistic choices were a particularly strong element of the novel.)
- What are some of your favourite YA novels?
That is impossible, I love so many and my favorites change from month to month. I’m very into teen paranormal, so pretty much anything under that umbrella rocks my world. Though, I just read Dethroning Crown by Lila Felix and I loved it HARD CORE.
- I have to ask (it is a dystopia blog): What are some of your favourite dystopian novels (or just one)?
I really enjoyed (most of) the Divergent novels, the Hunger Games, I liked The Water Wars and The Uglies/The Pretties. I don’t know, there are so many. I actually have a new WIP on my schedule that will be my first ever dystopian novel, I’m calling it Red Card. It’s going to be seriously badass.
8. Favourite writing snack?
Skittles and M&Ms mixed up in a bowl. It’s the CHAOS of snack food.
9. If you could be any character in your novel, who would you like to be?
I would probably be Grace from my Foresight series. She has some badass demigoddess powers.
10. What do you hope readers will learn from/ take away from your novel?
At the end of the day, it’s a story of strength, of not giving up. Life has a way of knocking us all on our faces from time to time, and sometimes it feels like it’s never going to get better. But if you have to strength to get back up, to face the future with courage and determination, then nothing in this world can stop you. Life is 1% success and 99% not giving up.
Thanks so much for the interview, Sherry!!!!
Visit Sherry Online: Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4153170.Sherry_D_Ficklin