As you probably already know, I have been devouring Jordan Rivet's Empire of Talents trilogy this last month. I'm not sure if a series could be MORE perfectly suited to my reading tastes--unique magic, detailed world-building, a strong heroine, an emphasis on female-friendship . . . and, of course, a handsome love-interest in the mix.
Today I'm featuring an interview with the author herself, picking her brain about this extraordinary trilogy. I hope you will enjoy!
AND DON'T MISS THE GIVEAWAY! (It's exclusive to my Reader Group, so sign up if you haven't already!)
Now . . . the interview!
I’m so excited to feature you today, Jordan! I'm a new fan but an eager one after discovering this series, and I can’t wait to get some answers to these questions.
Jordan: Thank you so much! I’m excited to be here.
For starters, can you tell us what was the first spark of an idea that eventually turned into the Empire of Talents trilogy? Did it come to you all at once, or was this an idea you had to develop over time?
Jordan: I was actually at the gym when the idea for a spy character who can manipulate her appearance came to me—and the ending of the first book popped into my head at almost the same moment. The ability itself is one we’ve seen before (Mystique from X-Men and Arya Stark are popular examples), but it was the final twist and what it would mean for the sequel that made the story tick for me. I sat right down in the locker room at the gym to scribble the rough outline! As the idea developed, I worked backwards from the ending to plan the rest of the book and figure out exactly how the ability would work.
The magic-system and world-building in this series is so well crafted.How did you go about developing these concepts? Did you simply figure out what you needed for the story as you went along, or did you flesh everything out in the background before diving into the tale?
Jordan: I did a fair bit of work on the background before starting out. I wanted to try out different concepts than the ones in my other fantasy series, Steel and Fire. In those books, the characters wield magical substances that well up from the ground like lava or water. To avoid coming up with something too similar, I decided on a magic system based around the characters’ bodies rather than what they can do with an external substance. After I planned out the impersonation Talent—Mica’s ability to change her appearance—I thought about what other physical abilities would make interesting Talents to go along with it. I ultimately settled on speed, strength, and impervious skin. I had also struggled with including enough physical descriptions of people before, so it was a great exercise to write a character who specifically notices other people’s looks so she can mimic them.
The relationship between Mica and Princess Jessamyn was so fascinating to watch unfold. They start out barely able to tolerate each other, but over time develop a mutual respect and friendship. What was your inspiration for these two characters? Did you draw on personal experiences/relationships as you developed them?
Jordan: I like having conflict in the core relationship of a book. In my last series, the two main characters became love interests, so in this one I wanted to explore a friendship instead. Princess Jessamyn started as an echo of a popular side character in (Vine Silltine for those who’ve read it) mixed with a bit of Regina George from Meean Girls and Miranda fromThe Devil Wears Prada . She soon developed into her own person, who is both worldlier and more socially adept than Mica. I often feel a little socially inept, and I both admire and am perplexed by people who easily navigate social politics. Mica is also trying to prove herself, and that’s a recurring theme with my main characters.
So my favorite of the series was It brought the developing plotlines and character arcs of the previous two books to a fantastic conclusion, with all the action and intrigue I would hope for in a climactic finish. How was writing this book compared to the others? Were you able to dash it off quickly having already firmly established the characters and world in your mind, or did all of that intricate plotting take a bit more work?
Jordan: I’m so glad you liked it! Traitor at the Stone Court is my favorite too. I really struggled with the middle book in this series, rewriting the beginning several times before I got it to work. After that experience, I spent extra time outlining Traitor before I started writing. I wanted to make sure the major plot points were in exactly the right places. It made a big difference, and I wrote the rough draft very quickly once I started. You’re correct that the characters and world were already firmly established by then. I’d been thinking about some of the scenes since the beginning, so they were especially rewarding to write.
The Empire of Talents is your third series. Would you tell us a little bit about your publishing journey? When did you know you wanted to be a novelist and when did you start seriously pursuing publishing?
Jordan: I started writing when I moved to Hong Kong from the US in 2010. At first I wrote about my experiences living abroad and even had a travel memoir published another pen name. But I soon came around to writing the kind of books I love to read most: fantasy and science fiction. I wrote the first draft of my first novel, Seabound, during National Novel Writing Month in 2012, and I haven’t looked back since. I love creating new worlds and getting my characters in and out of mortal peril. After experiencing traditional publication with my travel memoir, I decided to publish my fiction independently. The first Seabound book came out in the fall of 2014, and I’ve been making a living from my writing since May of 2016 when I published the second Steel and Fire book.
Thank you so much, Jordan! Before you go, do let my readers know where they can connect with you. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Do you have a newsletter?
Jordan: Thank you! Readers can join my mailing list HERE for updates on new releases here or at my website www.JordanRivet.com. I’m on Twitter as @Jordan_Rivet, Instagram as Jordan_Rivet_Books, and Facebook. I’d love to hear from you all!
I hope all of you will bump the Empire of Talents trilogy to the top of your TBR piles! And while you're at it . . . Why not enter the giveaway for a chance to win one or all three of these great stories?
The giveaway is exclusively for my Reading Group members, so if you're not a member, sign up now! You'll receive an email later today with the link to the giveaway page where you can enter your name.