The Big Idea: Greta Kelly

Well-worn phrases can still have life in them, as author Greta Kelly discovered in the writing of her latest, The Queen of Days. What maxim has her attention, and will it have yours? Read on to find out.


Blood is thicker than water.

It’s an idiom so well worn we barely even have to think to understand it. And yet stories about families—whether through birth or the happenstance of fate, are ones that I find myself drawn to like the proverbial moth. So it may not be a huge surprise to find out that the Talion Gang—the crime family at the heart of The Queen of Days—act more like a chaotic group of unruly siblings than a band of criminals looking to go pro.

Capturing their interactions was some of most joyous writing I’ve ever done, in part because their quirks and turns of phrase were so deeply inspired by my own siblings. (I suppose there is something to be said about writing what you know—another adage so well-worn its fraying at the edges.) Their arguments and inside jokes and easy affection almost seemed to write themselves. And for all their charm and endless banter, they were also supremely practical in assessing their own shortcomings. And they are manifold.

In broad strokes The Queen of Days is about a crew of thieves setting out to stop their city’s governor from resurrecting a fallen god. Nothing about that sentence accurately conveys how out of their depth they are. And they know it. They’re thieves in the most 1920’s sense of the word; they’re the kind to toss a bomb into a bank and clear out the vault in the chaos. But stick around to clean up the mess they made? Hard pass. To say these gremlins are a grudging band of heroes is an understatement. Hell, I had to take their city and chuck it out to sea just to make it harder for them to run away…

The Queen of Days: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Bookshop|Powell’s

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