Today, we welcome Kate Forsyth back to Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the inspiration behind her compelling new book, The Wildkin’s Curse.
Morning, Kate. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?
With some books, you know exactly where you were when the first seed of a novel takes root in your imagination. For The Wildkin’s Curse, this moment of inspiration or epiphany happened during the writing of The Starthorn Tree, which was my first children’s book. What I wanted to do with The Starthorn Tree was write the kind of book that had so enchanted me as a child, a book filled with a sense of wonder and beauty and peril.
I wanted a fairytale quality, that sense that anything can happen. I deliberately set out to write a book that used fairytale motifs, like the sleeping princess, the poisoned apple, the dark and perilous forest …. yet I turned those motifs upside-down and inside-out. So, in The Starthorn Tree, it is the young count of Estelliana who lies in an enchanted sleep and his sister who sets out on a quest to find the way to waken him.
As anyone who has read any of my work knows, I love puzzles and prophecies and so, in The Starthorn Tree, I have a boy character called Durrik who ‘hears’ voices in his head and is compelled to speak what they tell him, no matter the consequences. Towards the end of The Starthorn Tree Durrik utters a prophecy of the future that begins ‘three times a babe shall be born, between star-crowned and iron-bound …’ which intimated that there would be other children born in the future who would carry on the fight begun by the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.
Well, I had never planned this prophecy. I had never planned for there to be two more books set in the world of Estelliana. I had thought I was writing a stand-alone novel. Yet Durrik just opened his mouth one day and spoke the prophecy, nearly exactly as it appears in the book, and all I did was write it down. It was one of those magical writing days when it feels like you are just a scribe, writing down the story as it is told to you by some higher power.
In that moment I knew that I needed to write two more books set in this world. I scribbled a note to myself that day – ‘a quest to save a wildkin princess held captive in a crystal tower’ – then went on writing my chapter. That’s all I had – a single sentence – but it is the very first seed of the book that became The Wildkin’s Curse. A companion book to The Starthorn Tree, it takes place about twenty years later and features the children of the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.
Who are your main characters in The Wildkin’s Curse?
I have three main characters. Zedrin is a starkin lord and heir to the Castle of Estelliana. He is tall, handsome, strong and destined for great things (or so he thinks).
Merry is his best friend, and the son of the hearthkin’s rebel leader. He has been brought up to fight, even though all he wants to do is write music and play his lute.
Liliana is a wildkin and has her own uncanny magical gifts. Time-honoured enemies, these three must somehow overcome their differences if they are to succeed on their mission …
Is there something that sets this book apart from others?
I like to think it’ll be a breath of fresh air after the preponderance of gloomy, angsty paranormal romances clogging the bookshelves at the moment.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
It was wonderful to return to the world of Estelliana! I felt like I was returning home. The Starthorn Tree is one of my all-time favourites of my own books and so I was glad to be back in its world, seeing what happened to the people who lived there and exploring new lands and new adventures.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
The final climactic scenes were hard to write, but then they usually are – I want to tie all the threads together; I want to make sure all my villains are justly dealt with; I want some cost to my heroes’ triumph; I want to leave my reader with that sigh and the sting of tears that comes at the end of a really satisfying book. Big ambitions, hard to do!
The Wildkin’s Curse is a story of magic, adventure and suspense for readers aged 12 and older.
Thanks so much Kate for taking time out of your very busy schedule to visit us at Kids’ Book Capers.