THE AMETHYST TALISMAN was born just before the COVID pandemic. I’d been gathering ideas since the previous autumn, working out characters, the journey they would take, and how they would all interact. Creating the world happened at the same time as I plotted, along with designing the map, and by the beginning of the year I had a sizeable plot and character studies ready, the world built and the foundations of the story in place.  I then spent two frantic weeks in the February writing my first draft.

The ideas and inspiration for THE AMETHYST TALISMAN came from so many places! I’d been watching some fantasy films, historical dramas – knights, assassins, political/court intrigues – and historical documentaries, and the idea for my central characters formed from there. As I mulled things over, my main characters of Amethyst, who is the main protagonist, and Valerian, gradually fell into place as a central plot emerged.

A girl forced into becoming an assassin, and a prince trying to find his place in the world when his elder siblings and father treated him with contempt, became compelling characters. What if she was sent to kill his sister, the next queen? What if a legendary gemstone, of national and ancestral importance to him, was stolen at the same time? And what if he caught her during her escape? I wondered how it would all play out, not to mention his reaction when she insisted she was innocent of both crimes. Would they hate each other or find a way to get along? Or could they actually get over their prejudices – her dislike of High Blood Royalty, and his distrust of assassins, especially after the murder of his sister? Then there was the question of whether they could work effectively together once the King had cursed her and sent her off with Valerian to find the true assassin and thief. Amethyst and Valerian quickly took root in my mind, and demanded that their story be told.

I knew I wanted Magic to play a part in this fantasy. My sister has a scientific PhD, and one cold, dark winter evening I looked at some of the research papers she’d worked on. Most of what she’d worked on went straight over my head, but one particular paper caught my eye. From that, I came up with the magic system for my book – a little random, perhaps, but it worked out rather well. I decided to go with Elemental Magic as a basis for the magic system, the elements all familiar to everyone, except for possibly one…  If you want to know what that one is, you’ll have to read THE AMETHYST TALISMAN to find out more! That gave the whole system a twist, one which will play out as the trilogy progresses.

I’ve always had an interest in history, particularly the Medieval and Dark Ages periods, so developing a story rooted in the past but set in a fantasy world where I could build a history of my own, was exciting and fun to develop. I love the classic ‘medieval’ fantasy setting, but hope I’ve been able to put my own particular, unique stamp on this world to make it fresh and a little different.

I’ve always loved maps since I was given a copy of the Reader’s Digest World Atlas when I was about ten years old. I spent many happy hours poring over the different maps of the world showing everything from the topography to roads, to exports and population sizes. Drawing and designing have always been hobbies of mine too. Bringing drawing and my love of maps together to design maps for my worlds was natural. Creating new worlds with mountain ranges, seas, lakes, forests and rivers, and then adding cities, towns and villages with the roads linking them to form proper infrastructure for these new lands is something that I always have a lot of fun with. Deciding where a coastline is, whether a city will sit near a forest or the sea, can have a dramatic impact on the story and the journey my characters will go on.

I love Young Adult fantasies, and as I’ve always been a fan of myths and legends – particularly the Norse and Greek myths – writing something in the Fantasy genre was natural, but also enabled me to incorporate a sense of history and myth to my own setting and lands. In recent years I’ve also read a number of Fantasy Romances, and although THE AMETHYST TALISMAN didn’t start out specifically as a romance, as the plotting of the story progressed, Amethyst and Valerian demanded that I change my mind and bring them together properly.

As a result, THE AMETHYST TALISMAN became a Fantasy Romance about two young people fighting against the roles forced on them at birth and during childhood. It became about Amethyst and Valerian choosing to work with each other to escape those bonds and forge a new path together, despite the risks, and the forces, that wanted to oppose the two young people and their wants and desires as individuals. Those forces were ones that would ultimately work to try and break the young couple apart and destroy them, rather than allow them to be together. I think the story is all the richer for the romance, and it has helped to add further layers and story arcs to the plot, so I’ll be eternally grateful to the two of them for insisting I ultimately make this, not just an adventure/quest, but a love story!