Q&A with Kendare Blake
Author of Three Dark Crowns
What was the inspiration behind Three Dark Crowns?
A bee swarm. I was at a book event in Oregon in 2013, just before Antigoddess came out and there was like, a ball of bees in a tree. Literally, a ball made of bees. Hundreds and thousands of them. Lucky for us, there happened to be a beekeeper there, who assured us we were safe, and told me all about bees, that there was a queen in the center of the ball, and that was who they were trying to protect, and that the queen probably laid her queen eggs back at the old hive, and when the new queens hatched they would kill each other for the right to take over.
I thought that was delightfully brutal, and HAD to do it to people.
You have 3 very strong protagonists, what was the most challenging part to making them all individual?
Thankfully, they sort of took care of that themselves. I thought at the start that I would have a favorite. That one sister would become the lead protagonist over the other two. But it didn’t happen. They all have their strengths, and weaknesses. Their admirable qualities. Their…less than admirable qualities. And I found I couldn’t choose between them.
Readers though, seem more able to pick sides. But not the same side! I get messages about Team Mirabella and Team Katharine, and Team Arsinoe. Even Team Jules, who could really be considered a fourth protagonist.
What would you say Katharine, Mirabella and Arsinoe’s strongest and weakest qualities are?
Mirabella’s strongest quality is her love for her sisters. Of course it’s also her biggest problem, as it’s in direct conflict with her desire to fulfill her responsibilities to the island as its Chosen Queen.
Arsinoe’s strongest quality is her inner stubbornness. It goes hand in hand with her staunch loyalty to her friends and foster family. Her biggest weakness would be her somewhat fatalist attitude…that she was born to lose so the only thing to do is be pissed about it and cause a little trouble. But she’s working on that.
Katharine’s strongest quality would have been her desire to please. She very much wanted to make Natalia proud, and do what was expected of her. But after what happened to her over the course of the book…I think we’ll see a whole host of new strengths from Katharine.
How did you come up with the idea of Fennbirn?
The concept of Fennbirn borrows heavily from the legend of Avalon. The protective mists and the association with mystical women. The society of Fennbirn followed logically from the inspiration of the bee hive: in that it is matriarchal.
Speaking of Fennbirn, there is a strong emphasis on female empowerment throughout the book with the women on Fennbirn holding all the power. Why was that?
It lended itself rather naturally from the original inspiration of the bee hive. Ruled by a queen, filled with female workers. I was very excited to write about a matriarchy, a government and a society that had always been dictated by women, and contrast it with the patriarchal suitors from the mainland.
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
I love to write the animals. So Hank the rooster was fun, and Camden the cougar. The poisoners were probably my favorite society to write about. And Billy, the first mainland suitor, was surprisingly fun, too.
The UK publication of Three Dark Crowns saw a cover for each Queen, out of curiosity, which is your favourite cover?
I actually love Katharine’s. The snake. So cute. But I have loved all of the covers for Three Dark Crowns. The German cover is striking, and on a white background, and the Persian cover is very graphic novel-like. And of course I love the US cover as well.
If you had a gift would you have an elemental, poisoner or naturalist?
Naturalist. I want an animal familiar, and also, I really want to be able to ripen my avocados and stuff whenever I want.
If you could pick anyone, whom would you cast as the three queens in a movie adaptation?
Oh, that’s a hard question. I’m better at casting the supporting adults. Like, it would be cool to see Anna Torv from Fringe somewhere, Natalia maybe, or Madrigal.
For the queens though….Mirabella needs intense emotion and solid beauty, but with a sweetness to her. Katharine should be delicate, with innocence and an edge. Summer Glau, ten years ago maybe. Or a young Eva Green. And Arsinoe has to be tough and contrary, who keeps their vulnerability hidden. Dye Shailene Woodley’s hair, maybe.
Lastly, if you could describe Three Dark Crowns in one sentence what would it be?
Triplet sisters with powers; whoops only one can rule.
THREE DARK CROWNS
by Kendare Blake
Pages: 405, paperback
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication Date: 22nd September 2016
Received From: Macmillan Children's Books via Netgalley
Received From: Macmillan Children's Books via Netgalley
Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose . . . it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.