Kather­ine ar­den

Mixes his­tor­i­cal events with rus­sian fairy­tales

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red alert -

De­scribe the world of The Bear And The Nightin­gale…

The bulk takes place in a vil­lage in Mus­covy – now Moscow and its sur­round­ing re­gion – in the 14th cen­tury. My hero­ine’s the daugh­ter of a mi­nor aris­to­crat and also the heir of a pow­er­ful and pos­si­bly mag­i­cal lin­eage. She’s able to see the world in a way oth­ers don’t, which puts her at odds with her peo­ple – but might also be the only way she can save them. What’s the ap­peal of Rus­sian fairy­tales?

I love the vivid tropes and char­ac­ters: the fire­bird, the im­mor­tal sor­cerer Kaschei the Death­less, magic horses. These things have a half-fa­mil­iar strange­ness I find en­chant­ing. Also, of­ten it’s the fe­male char­ac­ter who’s the mag­i­cal one, the clever one, who saves the day. I feel like women in western fairy tales of­ten suit some ideal of pas­siv­ity. How long did the book take to write?

It took a year to draft, but then it evolved be­yond recog­ni­tion. I did fi­nal ed­its five years af­ter sit­ting down to draft the orig­i­nal ver­sion. I di­vided my first draft in two and com­pletely rewrote the first half, and that be­came The Bear And The Nightin­gale! Which au­thors would you like to be com­pared to in a dream re­view?

Well, dream big I sup­pose! Tolkien, Philip Pull­man, and be­cause my writer DNA has a large chunk of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, Dorothy Dun­nett.

The Bear And The Nightin­gale is pub­lished by Del Rey on 12 Jan­uary.

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