What scares you, and how does it influence your writing?
In terms of Citadels of Fire, my new historical fiction, I think it’s really all about letting go of your insecurities. Inga, my female protagonist, is a bit of a hard sell as a character. As female characters go, she’s not particularly strong. And let’s face it, we like our female characters to have some spunk, right? Her arc throughout the trilogy will be the most dynamic, though. This is a story about her becoming a strong woman. And by strong, I mean confident, secure, able to let someone else love her.
Inga is a servant and has been told her entire life how little she is worth compared to the upper classes. She’s experienced little that isn’t fearful, painful, and dark. Because of this, she feels very unworthy, very inadequate. She doesn’t know how to value herself enough to let someone else truly love her. It’s something she’ll have to learn as the story progresses.
We all have feelings of inadequacy at some point in our lives. Being familiar or intimate with another human being, even if it’s just on an emotional level, can be a scary thing. In my opinion, the vast majority of us do just fine. That fact is a triumph of the human spirit, and one that’s often taken for granted.
My fears definitely influence my writing. This story appeals to me because, at least to some extent, I’ve been in Inga’s shoes. Most of us have. Take her story to an extreme, throw in a romance with horrendous obstacles, and set it against the backdrop of Ivan the Terrible’s brutal reign, and you just might have something worth reading.
So what’s the moral of the story? 1) If you want to write well, fears are a great place to start. They’re compelling, and something every audience can identify with. Just make sure you also have some way to overcome them. Otherwise, your story loses its hope. 2) As a reader, understand that most great stories are born out of either human fear or the desire to experience true beauty. And those two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Here’s to looking our fears in the face and living to write about the tale.
About Citadels of Fire
About L.K. Hill
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