Michelle Diener has been one of my favorite science fiction romance and fantasy authors ever since I discovered her Class Five series a few years ago. Class Five revolved around a group of Artificial Intelligences, kidnapped human women and the local interstellar civilization and offered a fresh take on the topic, which hooked me. She’s an autobuy for me nowadays so I was happy to have her new release The Threadbare Queen (The Rising Book 2) arriving this week. The new book also gave me the perfect opportunity to interview her about her various series.
Here’s the blurb for The Threadbare Queen: A conqueror’s victory is never assured . . .
The Rising Wave may have taken control of Kassia, but hot on the heels of their victory, Luc receives word from one of his spies that the Jatan, emboldened by the Kassian army’s withdrawal, have crossed the border. More worryingly, they haven’t just moved into northern Kassia, but also east to Luc’s home region of Cervantes, and with all the Cervantes warriors with Luc in Kassia’s capital, Fernwell, cementing their hold on power, his home is vulnerable and defenceless. Luc has no choice but to leave securing Fernwell to Ava, gather forces, and head north, to try to push the Jatan back to their side of the mountains.
A queen’s safety is never a given . . .
Finally, after months of trying, a minion of the Speaker of Grimwalt’s court manages to snatch Ava from under the noses of her friends and allies, off the streets of Fernwell and onto the back roads to Grimwalt. Ava has to struggle against an insidious assault on her vitality and magic, fighting a power that isn’t just strong, but malevolent.
Nothing is set in stone . . .
As Ava tries to escape her captors and Luc races to defend his homeland, they draw closer and closer to each other, until finally their paths cross, as they always seem to do. As they once again face their enemies together, they will have to use all their strength to salvage the victory they’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
Veronica Scott for Amazing Stories Magazine: What was the inspiration for your new series?
MD: I started The Turncoat King as a kind of side project, something completely different to my scifi. I grew up reading epic fantasy, and have written a few fairytale-based fantasy romances, but this felt more like the epic fantasy I remembered reading long ago. It was a fun thing to do when I was stuck on my scifi plots, or needed a break from them. When I was about a quarter of the way in, I ended up writing the prequel novella, The Rising Wave, and then going back to finish The Turncoat King. I loved every minute of it.
ASM.: Do you have the entire series plotted out in your mind or do you ‘pantster’ as you go?
MD: I have a vague idea, enough to give me direction, but not enough that I know what’s going to happen from scene to scene. I generally always know how it ends.
ASM.: Which character is your favorite to write (so far) and why?
MD: I loved writing Ava. Her magic is very satisfying to me. I was taught how to knit by my grandmother when I was young and then rediscovered the joy of it while in lockdown for 6 weeks in 2020. I haven’t looked back since then, adding crochet to my craft list and getting braver and braver in what I tackle. Ava’s use of wool and silk to weave magic just appealed to me so much. I remembered someone saying we all leave a little of ourselves in whatever we make, and I extended that to create her magical ability.
ASM: So many science fiction and fantasy readers love knitting, crocheting and other crafts so I’m sure they’ll enjoy the magic here. How is it to jump back and forth from writing science fiction romance like the Class Five series to fantasy? Do you find yourself writing any differently? Using a different ‘voice’?
MD: I definitely use a different voice in my fantasy. My scifi tends to have a modern voice, and fantasy gives me permission to have my characters say things that are a little more portentous.
ASM.: If you could live in the ‘world’ of one of your series which one would you pick and why?
MD: I think the Verdant String. I created a world that’s trying to make sure everyone has their basic needs met. The backstory is that when the planets of the Verdant String met up with each other again, and realized they were all the descendants of travelers from another part of the galaxy, they couldn’t justify any inequality. Everyone had helped to get the Verdant String to where it was. They don’t always get it right, but they are sincere in their attempts and no one goes hungry, or is worried about a roof over their head in the Verdant String world. To me, that’s the base line for a society to call itself advanced.
ASM.: I’m pretty fond of Verdant String as well! Do you find your readers follow you across the genres or do you have different sets of readers?
MD: I have definitely gained some new readers with the Rising Wave series. I love that, and I hope those readers take a chance on my scifi novels. When I moved from historical novels to scifi right at the very beginning of my writing journey, I definitely picked up new readers, but a lot of my historical readers followed me. I think I’ve read a few times that romance readers are very broadminded in their reading tastes and are not afraid to try new genres, and I think I’ve seen that with my own readers.
ASM.: What’s next for you as an author?
MD: I’ve got a huge year ahead of me. I’m planning on writing the last Class 5 novel in my Class 5 scifi series. Dark Class is the title and it’s next on my schedule to write. I also plan on another Verdant String novel and Fate’s Arrow, the third book in the Rising Wave series. I will be busy in 2022!
To learn more about Michelle and her books visit https://www.michellediener.com/
NOTE: Veronica was provided with an Advance Review Copy of The Threadbare Queen by the author.