Exclusive piece by Rebecca Ross

Readers often ask me what inspired me to write The Queen’s Rising. In order to fully answer that, let me take you back in time to September of 2014. I had graduated from UGA a few years prior to that with my degree in English (because I didn’t want to spend years of my life studying something I was not passionate about) and I was working a good full-time job. I was living day in, day out, until one morning, I stopped and thought to myself, One day, I am going to wake up and be ninety years old, and I will have written nothing. And the mere thought made me sad, because each day that passed was another day I wasn’t writing.

From that point onward, I decided to take my writing seriously. I would write in the evenings after work. I would write on lunch breaks. I would write on the weekends. I just needed to write something.

So I began to work on this fantasy idea I had brewed up (it was terrible, but at least I was getting words on the paper). But it wasn’t until I was sitting at the kitchen table with my notes on a cold January evening that Brienna finally found me. I say that she did, because I out-of-the-blue envisioned her perfectly, sitting in this gorgeous library, and sunlight was streaming in through the windows. And across from her was this stern (but handsome) young man, and he was looking at her, waiting for her to respond to something he had asked. And yet Brienna, lovely and determined as she is, did not answer him, but said to me, “The summer solstice is in eight days, and I have yet to master my passion.”

I sat up immediately, akin to being struck by lightning, scattering my notes, and I was like, “WAIT. Who are you and what are you talking about?”

I wrote down that line of hers, before I forgot it, and then I stared at it for a while, trying to figure out what it all meant. What was this passion? Why did she feel like she would not master it in time?
Gradually, the answers came to me, as if I was drawing coins from a fountain. I began to think of things in life that require time, devotion, instruction, and one’s whole heart to master. I wrote down art. Then music. Dramatics. Wit. And lastly, knowledge. And the more I looked at those five things, the more the world began to unfold around Brienna. She was in a Renaissance world, one of passion and fallen queens and dormant magic, and she had a story to tell.
I knew in that moment that she would go through a failure, something that would make her feel fragile and alone, but from this failure another opportunity would rise, and that just so happened to be the revolution for the queen.

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