*January skiing at White Pass, Washington. Photo by Kiki Hamilton 2016
Happy New Year!!!
Wishing you happiness, health and joy in the upcoming year! One of my goals / resolutions, (whatever you want to call them), is to be thankful every day this year - for the little things (like a sunny day) and the big things (like newly published books)! And I plan to be posting a lot of them here - to send them out into the Universe so they expand and multiply! So for my thankful thing today - I took a hike through a park with a beautiful river and two waterfalls hidden in the very center of the town where I live. It was about 37 degrees out and my iphone quit working after a couple of pictures but here you go! I am thankful to go hiking in this beautiful space with my daughter and her college roommate, Emily, who is visiting from Pennsylvania, (but who I didn't get a picture of because my phone quit!) Nature's beauty makes me feel renewed and inspired! Enjoy!
As you know, I love to get notes from Readers - so if you have questions - send them to me!! I can be reached a multitude of ways - check out my Contact Page.
Recently, I received a note from Iris, who asked in part: "Dear Kiki, I love your books. How did you create the world of the Midnight Spy? Where are the languages coming from? Or how did you develop them? Did you take Nostradamus quatrains and change them for the purpose of the story? Thank you very much!" Iris
Thanks for the questions Iris! THE MIDNIGHT SPY was actually the very first book I ever wrote. If you're a writer, you know first books often spend their lives hidden in the depths of your computer, regarded as part of the learning process and never meant to see the light of day. Well, let me tell you - the first version of this book was exactly that! Nica wasn't even the main character - she was a very small, side character in a very different story. But I kept writing and Nica kept whispering in my ear, insisting that her story be heard, so I re-wrote the story. And re-wrote the story. And re-wrote the story. AT LEAST seven times I completely re-wrote the entire story. Start to finish. Painful...but necessary. With each version, the story got clearer and I began to know the characters better and they started to reveal their secrets. The world developed as I wrote - the countries of Jarisa, Sartis and Ajeratauk became real in my head and each had their own particular features. The languages are made up, with characteristics for each so one can differentiate between countries. For instance, I wanted the language of the Narsgededon forest people to be very lyrical, so a lot of the words are sectioned and end on vowel sounds. As for the quatrains, Nostradamus' work was my inspiration but each of those quatrains in THE MIDNIGHT SPY are original and written for the story. Here's an example from the book:
“Beware a battle provoked by rage
by the golden cage
single blow through the eye
serpent and bear both shall die.
tells of the deaths of Montemier, known as the wild bear because of his temper,
and his nephew, Pontfial, who was called the viper for the method in which he
used his sword.
Montemier’s nephew was involved in a dalliance with the ruler’s young
wife.Montemier was so angry when he found
them out that rather than follow the typical protocol of a joust, where he
would wear protective gear, including his famous gilded helmet, he attacked on
the spot.The young Pontfial defended
himself and stabbed Montemier through the eye, killing him instantly.The ruler’s ministers were so outraged they
hung Pontfial without a trial.
And thus, the
serpent and the bear both died. In the story, the
pages were written over five hundred years before the event.
Hello Witches, Wizards and mostly Muggles, It's not often that I GUSH about a book. That I love a book so much I read it over and over. (The only unfortunate part of becoming a writer is that I read like a writer now and it changes how you experience a book...) but THIS book is worth gushing about! Are you a writer? Are you a reader? If you are one or the other or both - you will also LOVE this book because it is fascinating. And incredibly insightful. And analytical and simply brilliant. The author, S.P. Sipal, shows you Harry's world in ways I guarantee you were completely oblivious to when you read the books. A WRITER'S GUIDE TO HARRY POTTER (AWGHP) appeals to me on two levels: As a Reader: I am a HUGE HP fan and absolutely loved the books and loved sharing the adventure with my daughter. As with any Potterhead, we spent hours discussing the clues and who was good and who was bad and what was going to happen next. It was so much fun. AWGHP takes you, the reader, by the hand and walks you through the books, pointing out clues, diversions, red herrings - things we all saw and read but didn't put together until JK Rowling allowed the story to unfold - sometimes three and four (or six) books later! AWGHP allows you to relive the HP story with new appreciation. As a Writer: The HP books are what inspired me to start writing. Until I read HP AND THE SORCERER'S STONE I had forgotten what it was like to be so completely immersed in a book that you were in another world, and believed in magic and could fly! What AWGHP does for me as a writer is to show me the incredible techniques and forethought that Jo Rowling put into her series in SO. MANY. WAYS. Ohmigosh - how can one person be so clever? Character development. Worldbuilding. and the Mysteries. So many mysteries that no one could figure out. Honestly, I've wondered many times how JKR learned to be such a master storyteller. BUT the amazing thing is that S.P. Sipal has identified these techniques; provided example after example to show us the brilliance of JK Rowling's writing with a brilliance of her own. The analysis is truly amazing - and so much fun to read. AWGHP is one of those books you can pick up, fan the pages, and start reading anywhere in the book - and it's fascinating. And incredible. And inspiring.
* The Grand Canyon, Arizona, June 2016. Photo by Kiki Hamilton.
reason we call them Wonders of the World - because they are amazing
and wondrous! A summer-time visit to the Grand Canyon confirmed what I
remembered - the Grand Canyon is just that - Grand! I highly recommend a
visit to anyone, whether you live in this country or another, because pictures
cannot begin to do justice to this magnificent natural wonder. Honestly - it's breathtaking!
In other news, I just put the
finishing touches on a new YA fantasy, which I shipped off to my agent to get
her thoughts. With each book I always wonder if it will be my last - if maybe
I've run out of ideas - so it's always fun (and a relief) to design and develop
a new world and the characters who live in it.
So now I'm back in that spot again
- what's the next story I'm going to tell?
To continue on with questions re: THE FAERIE RING series, Iris says: "Thank you very much, Kiki, for answering my question about the Faerie Ring series! I very much appreciated it. Looking forward to read your answer about the Midnight Spy! But I have one more question: could you recommend some books you have read about the faeries? Thanks again. iris"
Hi Iris! Thanks for your interest. Here's a quick pix of some of the books I used in my research!
I'm not going to list all of the books pictured but a few that were extremely helpful about Victorian London were as follows:
The Idiot's Guide to Elves & Fairies The Fairy Bible The Ancient Art of Faery Magick And LOTS of online searches on a multitude of topics. Which was half the fun of writing the series...one question led to another and another. The history of fey is fascinating and so intriguing because it spans every continent and every culture. Hope this helps, Iris! Coming up next: I'll talk about writing THE MIDNIGHT SPY! If you have questions leave them in the comments!
Hi Guys! So here's some fun news - the entire FAERIE RING Series is now available as ONE BOOK on Kindle and Nook! You can read start to finish - all the way through. Immerse yourself in the dark, mysterious world of Victorian London as Tiki solves the mystery of the faerie ring! And if you like the stories - post a review online for me - that would be awesome! Want to check it out? Go to Kindle here or Nook here. Thank you for your support!
I love it when I get emails from Readers, whether directly or through Facebook, Twitter, whatever! I recently received this note:
"Dear Kiki, I love your books. Loved the
Faerie Ring series and now just finished the Midnight Spy. Great story! But I
would like to know more about the background of the stories. Where did you get
the information and inspiration for the Faerie Ring series ( I love to know
more about faerie legends) and how did you create the world of the Midnight Spy? Where are the languages coming from? Or how did you develop them? Did you
take Nostradamus quatrains and change them for the purpose of the story? Thank
you very much!" Iris
THANK YOU, Iris, for reading my books, and caring enough to ask questions! I'm going to split my answers into two posts. Today I'll tackle your questions about THE FAERIE RING.
"Where did you get the information and inspiration for THE FAERIE RING series?"
I wrote THE FAERIE RING back in 2008. I'd just finished reading a faerie story that I'd found disappointing, so I decided to write the story I wanted to read. I actually wrote the entire book in 30 days! It was so much fun - I had to keep writing to find out what happened next!
I remember sitting on my couch and I'd just written the part where Tiki steals the Queen's ring. I was sitting there going 'now what?' (haha - the classic author dilemma!) and I looked down and the light caught the diamond in my wedding ring and it looked like there was a fire burning in the depths of the stone - and that's all I needed to know to keep writing!
When THE FAERIE RING sold to Tor Books, my editor, Susan Chang, wanted all the historical details to be accurate, so I did LOTS of research - online and in the library. So. Much. Research. I purchased books that talked about life in Victorian London and actually had the chance to travel to London, where I went to all the places Tiki went - Charing Cross, St. James Park, the Birdkeeper's Cottage, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park etc. I even went to the Buckingham Palace gift shop and got books there about the royal family and the layout of Buckingham Palace. I included all those real-life details in the story.
"Where did you get the inspiration for the faerie legends?"
When I started writing THE FAERIE RING I had no idea I would end up writing a four-book series! But when I got to the end of THE FAERIE RING, I knew the whole story hadn't yet been told. Plus, I *love* faerie stories and the 'what if' part of mythology. Such as...what if there's more to the reality than has been told in the stories we know?? So I started reading about Britain and faeries and found throughout history all the way to present day there are persistent beliefs in the fey and their stories are intertwined with ours. It was so fascinating to find many relics exist to this day and are prominently displayed in museums that claim a link to faeries. As the story progressed over the four books, each book has a link between real-world items that can be visited today and the fey.
Thanks again for asking, Iris! I hope this answers some of your questions! Check back soon and I'll do another Ask the Author about the THE MIDNIGHT SPY!
*Pont de l'Archevêché and Notre Dame, Paris France, April 2014.
Photo by Kiki Hamilton
Inspiration comes in many forms, from many places
and often when least expected. As a
writer, lots of things can spark that creative impulse to craft a story - a
picture, a thought, a question, a piece of history.
I think I may have heard of 'The Lock Bridge' first inANNA AND THE
FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins-
one of mine and my daughter's favorite YA contemp stories. It is a bridge in
Paris, where lovers go, and as a symbol of their unbreakable love, they put a
lock on the bridge and throw away the key in the Seine River. How romantic is
Anyway, I knew when we went to Paris, we would
need to go see the bridge for ourselves.
tell you - pictures do not do it justice! The locks (which the City of
Paris is now cutting off because they are so heavy they were concerned they
would cause the bridge to fail) are ten and twelve deep the entire length of the bridge and on both sides! It’s incredible!! There
are locks on top of locks on top of locks - which speaks to our universal desire
- wouldn't we all wish to have never-ending
But it also speaks of our unfailing ability to hope. Pont de l'Archevêché is
inspiring in many ways and then to have the grace and beautiful of Notre-Dame
Cathedral as a backdrop – Wow!
As I sit down on this Sunday to write, I feel inspired and hopeful. What is some of your inspiration? Tell me in the
comments. I’d love to hear from you!
*The Luck of Edenhall on display at the V&A Museum, London, England, April 2014. Photo by Kiki Hamilton
Inspiration is an interesting thing. Oftentimes, it comes when you're least expecting it, or from a source you might never imagine. For me, inspiration usually starts in the form of a question.... 'What if...'
The other part of the equation, more often than not, involves a secret... for instance, What if the British Court had a secret alliance with the world of the Fey? Which is the premise of my FAERIE RING series. Take the Luck of Edenhall, seen above. This chalice plays an important role in THE SEVEN YEAR KING, Book Three of THE FAERIE RING series. Dating back to at least the 14th Century, today the Victoria and Albert Museum in London proudly displays this cup and says it is "one of the most famous objects displayed in the V&A." In its description, the museum claims, "Traditionally this cup is said to have belonged to the fairies. When disturbed, they fled and left it behind, crying, 'If this cup should break and fall, farewell the luck of Edenhall!'"
So what should one believe? If the world-famous V&A Museum is suggesting a connection between this real-world item and the world of the Fey - I think the only logical question to ask is... WHAT IF? And to start writing..... :-)