Guest Post: The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae
You ever read a synopsis for a book and wonder how the heck an author took an idea and crafted it into a whole world with characters? We are always curious about what goes into writing stories such as The Kinder Poison, so we asked Natalie Mae about her research process! Check it out below and add The Kinder Poison to your shelves, out Tuesday!
The Kinder Poison (The Kinder Poison, #1)by Natalie Mae
Published by: Razorbill
on June 16, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Holly Black, this enthralling fantasy adventure follows a teenage girl chosen to be the human sacrifice in a deadly game between three heirs who will do anything for the crown.
Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry.
All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities.
With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.
Research with Natalie Mae
My favorite research was definitely looking into ancient cultures to build the world of THE KINDER POISON! As a proper author with my characters’ misery foremost in mind, I knew I wanted the race within the book to take place on particularly unforgiving terrain—somewhere the royal teams would suffer if they didn’t plan ahead, and especially where a human sacrifice couldn’t easily escape. That left me with the desert, a polar desert/winter setting, or the ocean, but I didn’t want a boat race on the high seas or to have my characters bundled up to their eyeballs all the time. Thus the clouds parted: it shall be a DESERT.
Once I had a setting, I started thinking about what kind of people lived in this world. I knew I wanted to give it the book a more classic fantasy feel, which to me means an “older” world with little to no electronics—and of course it had to be a culture in which human sacrifice could still be acceptable. This got me thinking about ancient civilizations, when gods and magic abounded. Naturally, the coolest ancient desert culture of all time is ancient Egypt, so I knew I had to look into how they had operated and survived, but I also looked at ancient Rome and ancient Greece to make this world fully its own. Mainly I looked at these peoples’ everyday routines, their relationships with their gods and rulers, the way they dressed, the things they ate. This helped me form a new society with elements that feel familiar but also fresh.
I also played Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and it should be noted that video game research is forever my favorite research. Not only did this give me visual inspiration for what ancient buildings and towns should look like, but I honestly feel that the more visual media you take in as a writer, the more visual your writing becomes. Especially in the case of these games, the developers do their research, and their worlds are packed with details. So yes, padawan writers, if you take one thing away from this post, it’s to go study some video games.
Last but not least, after I had the people for this world, I had to finalize the physical setting. I knew what the people and the buildings looked like, so I needed to do the same for the landscape. In this case, I decided to borrow from my own experience and gave Orkena a Utah-like setting with rich orange sand, a smattering of plateaus, a vast array of wildlife like rattlesnakes and bighorn sheep and scorpions, and of course, cactus. Add in a couple sparse rivers (they’ve gotta get water somewhere), and now I had a complete world.
I think setting research may be forever my favorite research. It’s like traveling from your office I love getting lost in other places while building something new—I hope you feel the same when you read THE KINDER POISON!