Welcome to the Empire’s Legacy book blitz organized by Storytellers on Tour. I’m excited because this is one of my favorite trilogies and I am pleased that more readers will find out about it! I have reviewed the 3 books here in this very blog and for your very pleasure, you can find them here: Empire’s Daughter – Empire’s Hostage – Empire’s Exile
But check them reviews out later. Because now it’s Q&A time with Marian! Oh, by the way, there’s a little treat at the end 😉
A big (huge, really) fan of yours here! I’ve had the pleasure to witness the publication of Empire’s Legacy books from the very start and it has been no less than 6 years! Wow. From Empire’s Daughter all the way to the most recently published trilogy spin-off Empire’s Reckoning. I’ve read, I’ve beta-read, and I’ve laughed and cried and held my breath. It’s been amazing!
Dear reader, it is impossible for me to put to words how much I wish you would read these books. They are magical.
Marian, if 6 or more years ago someone would have told you where you would be now, today, what would you tell your past self?
Keep believing, because all you dreamt of as a teenager and young woman is going to come true. (Plus, you have no idea how these characters will take over your life.)
To those who are not yet familiar with your books, how would you describe the Empire Legacy trilogy? What are the main themes your readers can expect?
I call the books historical fantasy for lack of anything else to call them. There is no magic, no timeslips, no elves or dragons, nothing from the realms of fantasy at all. But neither are they alternative history, because their setting is not quite our world, although it bears many similarities to Europe after the decline of Rome. On the face of it, Empire’s Legacy is simply a heroine’s journey, physically and psychologically. When we meet Lena, she’s a naïve village girl who responds, from a sense of duty and adventure, to a request from her Emperor to help defend her land. Over the course of the trilogy, she becomes a skilled soldier, but also a woman who knows all too well the price of war. The major theme is this, in my character Casyn’s words: We cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.
Intertwined with that are subthemes about the power and limits of love; the tension that can exist about loving a place or idea and loving a person; and where language – words – can and cannot reach.
To me, one of the great things about these books was that even though unexpected and sometimes bad things happened, you never created a scene for the sake of shock; and that these characters, while flawed, are not evil at heart. Was this how you always envisioned the storylines and characters to be? Not really villains, but more people like you and me, yet entirely more forgiving and reasonable?
I wanted to create a world where people were just people, flawed and damaged and trying to do their best in a complex and changing world. That’s why there is no magic, and no creatures to battle, and no epic world-changing events – just the ones faced by people since civilization began. And because the world is seen through Lena’s eyes, as she grows and matures and faces the events that are shaping her world and her life, we see her doubts and fears and mistakes alongside her triumphs and victories. As she understands her world and herself, so do we – and I think that makes for a realistic, reasonable character.
Also, because I was creating a world in which gender roles and heteronormality are challenged, I wanted it to be one where the reader could consider those things without them being overshadowed. There’s enough cruelty and horror in the everyday world, especially a
world at war, without adding events for shock value.
Lena is an amazing character. She is the type of female that a modern day female reader appreciates. Did you set out to create her into a type of role model to have these traits that modern society holds in honour? Or, was the creation of her as easy and natural as describing a friend or a daughter, and not a piece about her characteristics felt out of place?
I’ve written elsewhere about how Lena is a tribute to the women of my family – my mother and aunts – who served in WWII or were part of the resistance. They were ordinary women responding to war, and that’s who I set out to recreate in Lena. She came very naturally to me: stubbornness, pragmatism, self-doubt, guilt, and a little pride all mixed with an inner strength she doesn’t know she has until she needs it. Nor is she untouched by these experiences – in the books that follow the Legacy trilogy, we see more of that. But
Casyn’s words to her, referenced in my answer to your second question, have stayed with her all her life: what defines her are her personal responses to circumstances.
6 years ago I asked who was your favourite character to write about and you said Turlo. Over time and over the course of writing and fleshing out the whole world, has your answer changed?
Yes…and it’s an extremely hard question to answer now. But as much as I love all my main characters: Lena, because I have been living with her for 25 years and without her there is no story and Cillian, because – well, because he’s Cillian, I have a very soft spot in my heart for Sorley. Patient, loving, longing, brave, self-effacing Sorley. (Which is why he got his own books, after the trilogy was done.) But I still love Turlo, too.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently? Both in your books or in your publishing process?
In the books, a couple of things. There are a few too many named characters in Empire’s Daughter, but the one thing I perhaps regret is not giving the characters Cillian and Sorley, who are introduced in Empire’s Hostage, more history. There is a difficult relationship between them that is not revealed until Empire’s Exile, and perhaps it should have been briefly introduced in Hostage. But I would have had to have known about it, and I didn’t – it emerged as a subplot only after Sorley reappeared in the third book, which I hadn’t planned for him to do. In publishing, no. I like the freedom of indie publishing. I am not writing to market or being told by an editor to change something major. (Well, I have been, but it’s my choice to listen or not.) I like the community of other indie writer friends I have. I don’t much like marketing, but my traditionally published friends have to do that too.
The most important question, the most burning one for me, personally- will there be more? 🙂
Well, by the time this interview is published I should be done the first draft of Empire’s Heir, Book II of the second trilogy, Empire’s Reprise, with September publication planned. I won’t say too much about it, except that one of the two narrators – my first time with a two point-of-view narration – is Cillian – which I suspect will make a number of my readers happy. It takes us back to a setting used in Empire’s Exile (Book III of Empire’s Legacy) and almost all the familiar main characters from Legacy are there, if somewhat older.
Other than that, subscribers to my monthly newsletter are getting a prequel story in instalments, and as well as the third book of the current trilogy, I think there will be another novella or two. Druisius is being rather insistent he has a story to tell too.
Thank you, Marian! The Empire’s Legacy has been an absolute, pure reading joy and I have
been privileged to have been there since the start. I wish you and yours well; and I await
excitedly to read about wherever your writing takes us… I mean, Druisius has a story to tell? Hell yes to this!
The little treat at the end of the post is your chance to win this fantastic trilogy! Click on the image below to enter:
About the book: CW: Rape,Threatened miscarriage,Violence
Lena is a skilled hunter, but beyond the need to kill for food, weapons are a man’s domain– until one day a soldier arrives in her village, pleading for fighters. Accepting his challenge, she steps into a new life, one of battle, intrigue and politics, where actions have deadly consequences. Her survival– and that of her country– depends on her prowess with knife and bow, her quick wit, and a journey into unimagined lands to confront a lost Empire of immense power.
About the author:
My books are historical fiction of an imagined world, one that is close to Britain, Northern Europe, and Rome, but isn’t any of them. A world where a society evolved differently after the Eastern Empire left, where one young fisherwoman answers her leader’s call to defend her country, beginning a journey into uncharted territory, in an Empire on the edge of history.
After two careers as a research scientist and an educator, I decided it was time to do what I’d always really wanted, and be a writer. As well as my novels, I’ve published short stories and poetry. My life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history provided the inspiration for my books, while my other interests in landscape archaeology and birding provide background. I also oversee Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective. Right now, I’m writing Empire’s Heir, the next book in the series.