by Matthew S. Cox
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: August 1st, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Princess Oona Talomir enjoys the little things that come with her station: a handmaiden, her lavish bedchamber, and scores of fancy dresses ― the duty to win a decades’ long war, not so much.
Oh, did I mention assassins?
Seers foretold the conflict would end by her hand. From the moment she drew her first breath, the neighboring kingdom has been trying to kill her so she could not grow powerful enough to destroy them. The king, fearing for his daughter’s life, has kept her confined to the castle grounds for most of her sixteen years. With the tide of war turning against them, the burden of her crown becomes too much to bear, yet one thing lifts her spirits amid the gloom.
Her servant girl, Kitlyn.
Alas, in a kingdom obsessed with the god of purity, she is terrified to confess her forbidden love. When her father makes a demand she cannot abide ― marry a prince to forge a military alliance ― Oona panics. He is handsome and honorable, but he’s not Kitlyn. Unable to admit why she cannot obey, Oona does the only thing she can think of, and runs away.
Alone and unprepared in the wilderness, she prays the gods will let Kitlyn find her — before the assassins do.
~AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Matthew S. Cox~
1) What gave you the inspiration for the storyline?
A couple years ago, I was at work and overheard some people talking a few rows over about the Disney movie Frozen. I work for a big company, so I’m not sure who they were, but the voices I heard complained (none too quietly) about how Disney is ‘corrupting’ people with their lesbian agenda. (Clearly the guy hadn’t seen the movie or cared to do much but hear it’s got two female characters in it so obviously they must be lesbians.) He sounded like a religious wingnut, and proceeded to complain endlessly about this thing that didn’t affect him whatsoever (and was, not to mention, absolutely wrong).
Anyway, this got me thinking about what if there was a story where the two female leads fell in love with each other instead of the handsome prince. I sketched out a couple of quick notes for the story and set it aside. At the time, I was eyeball deep in another writing project that had two or three novels left in it.
When I finished the other project, I found myself with time, and re-noticed the notes I’d put down for what would become The Eldritch Heart. I had some initial hesitation, wondering how people would receive a book like this coming from an author who is outside the LGBT community.
A woman who has done some beta reading for me that I’d ‘internet-known’ for about a year shares with me that her eldest daughter had recently come out as gay after many months of fear. (I’m keeping this somewhat vague as she’s not out to everyone in her family yet and does not want too much attention brought on her.)
Anyway, the girl’s fifteen, and it got me thinking about how difficult it is for so many teens facing this situation where they don’t know if their own families will accept them or people who they’ve thought loved them will suddenly turn on them. I felt I could speak to that fear, so I added focus to that aspect of the girls’ struggle as I wrote The Eldritch Heart.
Once I had a finished draft, I sent it to this woman without telling her that the princess falls in love with another girl. (btw – she is totally supportive of her daughter.) She has a rather positive reaction to it and asks if she can let her daughter read it. I said “of course. She’s the reason I decided to finish writing it.”
A week later, I hear back that the girl loved the book and even read it through twice – something her mother says is rare. Also, she ‘could relate to’ a lot of what happens in the book.
That made me feel awesome.
2) Are there any hidden themes in the book that you hope readers will discover?
Not so much hidden really. It’s a story of self-worth, of finding love despite the risk it carries. Ultimately, The Eldritch Heart is a love story about two souls who yearn to be together, oh, and there’s a war going on. Both the princess and the peasant girl face challenges that force them to re-evaluate their own prejudices based on being brought up on lies, and how no one should feel worthless or ashamed of who they are. (Even the goddess of death.)
3) Are any of the characters based on real people you know?
Not in this book. ^_^
4) Who has influenced you most as a writer?
I’m honestly not sure who had the largest influence on my writing. Perhaps the authors of Self Editing for Fiction Writers (Renni Brown and Dave King), as I am constantly referring aspiring writers to that book. There’s also William Gibson, Tolkien, Stephen King (On Writing is a great book), various movies, video games, and manga.
5) If you could have any three literary characters over to your place for game night, who would you invite, what would you play, what would you serve, and why?
Wow, what an interesting question. Maybe Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, Damico from Bob Defendi’s Death by Cliché, and Molly from Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy. We’d probably wind up playing either Cards against Humanity or video games, and food would likely be pizza or Chinese take out. (I am as unskilled at planning parties as I am at cooking.)
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests: Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it. He is also fond of cats.
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