Today’s extremely special guest at Reading Reality is Jane Kindred, the author of the dark (and decadently marvelous) epic fantasy tale of angels, demons and heavenly court politics about The House of Arkhangel’sk. I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book in the trilogy, The Fallen Queen, over at Book Lovers Inc. and my review of the book two, The Midnight Court, is here. Jane also wrote an amazing guest post “A Few Select Shades of Black and Blue” (about the current BDSM bandwagon and demon sex in particular) over at Book Lovers Inc.
Now, let’s get to those questions…
Marlene: Before I get into the really tough questions, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself? Your bio says you started writing in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury? Is there a story in there?
Jane: Didn’t everybody have a wayback growing up? Er…I guess I’m showing my age. For those who don’t know, it was the rear-facing third row of seats in the back of a station wagon. (And a station wagon was a car that forced you to go on family vacations, and played 8-track tapes.) Ours happened to be a Plymouth Fury, which is the same model as the car Christine. Just sayin’. I spent a lot of my adolescence writing love stories and fantasies on the way to and from church…and during church. Which may explain why I ended up writing about angels and demons having sex.
Marlene: Who or what were your inspirations for The House of Arkhangel’sk?
Jane: Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia—or rather, the fictionalized version of her—was the inspiration for the basic idea behind the series, and then I stuck my Anastasia in the middle of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair was another influence; I’ve always loved the idea of a prince enchanted by a wicked queen. And for Belphagor’s character, the germ of him started with an episode of Firefly called “The Message,” about a small-time con man who ended up gambling his own body.
Marlene: Were you seriously into Russian history before you started on the series? And how much research goes into each book to make the historic parallels?
Jane: No, I wasn’t into it at all before the idea came to me, although I’d always wanted to learn Russian, which I did (sort of) as part of my research. The research for the historic parallels was mostly done in one big chunk when I took a Russian Culture class and then read several books on Russian history and the Romanovs. Most of that stayed in my head. (The story of the Romanovs, particularly; it feels like it happened to people I knew.) I still refer back to those sources while writing the other books in the series, and I’m now completely obsessed with Russia.
Marlene: What do you say to readers and reviewers who might see the relationship between the demons Belphagor and Vasily as jumping on the current BDSM bandwagon?
Jane: I haven’t read the book that seems to have caused so many people to imagine BDSM is something that was recently invented. Plenty of books containing BDSM elements have been published since long before the current trend. I can’t imagine why anyone would jump on any kind of publishing bandwagon, anyway, given the speed at which traditional books are published. By the time you write something you think is “in,” it’s not, so it’s never a good idea to write to trends. I started writing The House of Arkhangel’sk in early 2006 and finished the first draft of the trilogy in 2009. Took another year to polish it and find an agent, then another five months before it was sold, and the first book came out seven months later. I’d have to have been extremely prescient to have timed my first novel to be released just before the rest of the world “discovered” BDSM in order to capitalize on it.
Marlene: People usually equate being on “the side of the angels” with goodness. But your angels aren’t necessarily good. And your demons aren’t necessarily evil. How would you define the difference?
Jane: Essentially, my angels are the celestial nobility, while the demons are the peasant class. I decided to use the idea of this class system to reflect conditions in pre-revolutionary Russia. Since no one in that equation is all good or all bad, neither are my characters.
Jane: They’re epic fantasy on the darker side with a little bit of urban fantasy thrown in. Add an angelic imperial family, a wicked fairy queen, murder, mayhem, love, two naughty leather demons (“leather,” incidentally, is code for BDSM, for those who don’t know), and some dirty Russian words, and there you have it. Oh, plus a bizarre game of dice and cards that nobody could ever possibly win, except my tattooed demon scoundrel.
Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Jane: Belphagor, Vasily, and more Belphagor.
Jane: The Princess Bride, because it’s the best romantic fantasy ever, and because there’s even more Fezzik and Inigo than in the movie.
Marlene: What are your upcoming projects? What comes next in the House of Arkhangel’sk?
Jane: The Armies of Heaven. And after that…I’m currently working on a second Arkhangel’sk trilogy, and I have another series that began with my novella, The Devil’s Garden, that I hope to find a home for someday soon.
Jane: The photo I’ve included answers most of that. The one in the photo is Neo. He thinks he owns my lap. The other is Urd, an extremely round calico who demands hourly pettings. I feed these little overlords four times a day (first and second breakfast, first and second dinner—I have to divide up their meals into separate courses). If I didn’t, I’d have no peace.
Marlene: And for anyone else who happens to be going, where and when will you be at Dragon*Con next month?
Jane: I don’t have any particular plans. I’m not on any panels and haven’t looked at the schedule yet to see what I want to attend, but anything Joss Whedon or Star Trek related, and I’m there.
Anything Joss Whedon or Star Trek related sounds like a perfectly good plan to me…assuming that any of our feline overlords let us out of our houses!
Are you teased? Good! If you are just itching to start reading The House of Arkhangel’sk, or if you’ve read The Fallen Queen and can’t wait for The Midnight Court, the Rafflecopter is waiting. The lucky winner will get their choice of an ebook copy either The Fallen Queen or The Midnight Court.
What are you waiting for?