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219 pages, ebook
First published January 18, 2022
When you're on the edge,
Your next step is to fly or fall.
- the cover of ‘Contest of Queens’
Connor laughed, “I suppose, but you know, not all contestants think like you.”
“True. But they won’t all become Queen,” Jacqueline said simply.
“Has anyone—” her voice cracked. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Has anyone ever actually met a person—” she paused delicately “— from the Lower Realm?”
The three women looked at Jacs and then at one another. Each muttered a no.
“Why?” Amber asked, propping her chin up on her hand.
“I just find it interesting how you each have such strong opinions of people you have never met. I only wonder what their opinions of you— us— must be.”
The soft crackling of the fire followed Jacs’s words.
“The language. Oh nelly, I was not expecting words to fail me, but the English language, I discovered, is patriarchal in nature. So many things I didn’t expect needed to be renamed or reworded. Specifically the titles— many of the female titles we have did not carry the same power behind them. For example, in our world we have Lord and Lady, so to simply switch the power of these two would not convey the same message to the reader given the reader expectations, plus I wanted to leave it more open for same gender couples. That’s where Lord and Genteel came from. Lord is gendered female, and Genteel is the gender-neutral term for a Lord’s spouse.”
What was the most challenging part about writing a matriarchal world?
A: women on average are not as strong as men, how can they still be effective and intimidating law enforcers and a realistic military? And on the flip side, what would the narrative be that would exclude men from joining the ranks? I wanted to keep it as realistic as possible. I drew a lot of inspiration from the show Avatar: the Last Airbender, from research around martial art styles like Aikido that focus on outmaneuvering the opponent (rather than being stronger), and from the novel Terrier by Tamora Pierce.
Q: What message/ idea do you hope your readers take away from this book?
A: That in all things, be kind. I hope that this novel shows that prejudice and division of people based on where they’re born or what gender they are only makes us weaker as a whole. I hope that it makes people think about and reevaluate their own prejudices and how they impact others. I hope my book shows that at the end of the day, people are people. Give one group power and how they shape the world might look different, but there will always be those who are corrupt, and there will always be those fighting for what’s right.