Inspiration and Imagination – Life and Creativity in the Mosel River Valley

An Exclusive Interview with K.C. Julius

Julius discusses the inception of The Drinnglennin Chronicles, revealing the origins and development of her
captivating medieval fantasy series in just 30 words.

Amidst the bustling world of fantasy literature, there are few voices as captivating and imaginative as that of K.C. Julius. Renowned for her enthralling narratives and richly crafted worlds, Julius has captured the hearts of readers with her epic medieval fantasy series, The Drinnglennin Chronicles. With each page, she weaves a tapestry of adventure, swordplay, magic, and intrigue that beckons readers into a realm where heroes and villains clash in battles of epic proportions.

For Julius, storytelling isn’t merely a craft—it’s a lifelong passion that has fueled her imagination for over a decade. The genesis of The Drinnglennin Chronicles began as a whisper in her mind, growing steadily into a saga that transports readers to realms beyond their wildest dreams. Through her words, Julius seamlessly blends elements of adventure, romance, and betrayal, creating a narrative tapestry that resonates with readers on a profound level.

However, Julius’s literary prowess extends beyond the confines of medieval fantasy. Under the pen name Kristan Julius, she ventured into the realm of young adult fiction with “Beyond to Hutanya,” a mesmerizing tale set in a world where water has become a precious commodity. With this novel, Julius showcases her versatility as a storyteller, effortlessly traversing genres while maintaining her trademark style and flair.

Beyond her literary endeavours, K.C. Julius leads a life as intriguing as the worlds she creates. Nestled in the picturesque Mosel River valley, she shares her adventures with her jolly German husband, finding inspiration in the beauty of her surroundings. A lover of travel and nature, Julius often immerses herself in long walks through the woods, drawing upon the majesty of the natural world to enrich her storytelling.

Whether she’s crafting tales of valour and treachery or exploring new realms of imagination, K.C. Julius stands as a luminary in the world of fantasy literature. With each new work, she invites readers on a journey of discovery, beckoning them to lose themselves in the enchanting worlds she so masterfully creates. In this exclusive interview with Reader’s House magazine, Julius offers a glimpse into her creative process, her inspirations, and the stories that continue to captivate audiences around the globe.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to delve into the world of epic medieval fantasy with “The Drinnglennin Chronicles”?

 I grew up surrounded by stories, those told to me, those I read, and those I created in my imagination. I’ve always been an avid reader and the words of great writers have been my lifelong and constant companions. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I devoured the books in my parent’s library, and at some point, I set myself the goal of reading every one of them. I didn’t achieve this goal, and some of what I read was beyond my youthful comprehension, but even so, I was enraptured with the beauty and power of the language used by the likes of Charles Dickens, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky, and D.H. Lawrence. Once I discovered “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare,”,I was and remain captivated by his genius.

I fell in love with fantasy when I first read Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series, inhabited by elves and dwarves and dragons. However, my favourite genre has always been historical fiction. My greatest influence has been the Scottish historical novelist, Dorothy Dunnett. For those writers who know and love her work, it’s the bar against which we all measure ourselves.

I’m a US citizen, but I’ve lived more than half my life in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia–at first as an international educator, and more recently as a full-time writer and Visiting Author at international schools around the world.

 Your bio mentions that you currently reside in the Mosel Valley with your husband. How does living in such a picturesque setting influence your writing process and the worlds you create in your books?

 Living in beautiful places like Indonesia, Switzerland, on the Mediterranean, in the UK, and now in Germany has certainly influenced both the settings for my books and the history and cultures of my worlds. I love to walk in the woods and along the river here, and being out in nature has a very positive and important influence on my writing process.

Portents of Chaos sets the stage for an intricate tale of political intrigue and looming conflict. What drew you to explore themes of power struggle and succession in a fantasy setting?

 Before writing “The Drinnglennin Chronicles,” I read George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire.” His intricate world-building really captured my imagination, particularly the political manoeuvring of so many characters to attain the Iron Throne. I also wanted to address the themes of migration, prejudice, and gender inequality, with which we’re grappling in the real world today.

 The characters in your books face a variety of challenges and conflicts. Could you discuss how you develop and interweave their individual story arcs throughout the series?

 Portents of Chaos, the first book of “The Drinnglennin Chronicles,” is told from six characters’ points of view through alternating chapters. Four of these protagonists are brought together by the wizard Master Morgan, as they are believed to be potential heirs to the Einhorn Throne of the ailing High King. Whit and Halla are “unloving” cousins with royal connections, while Maura, daughter of a rich mountain merchant, and Leif, a boy of humble birth, come from villages in the north. Morgan’s greatest concern is to protect them for as long as possible from the grave perils that lie before them. Fynn, who is introduced in “A Realm at Stake,” the second book of the series, grows up in Helgrinia, the traditional enemy of the people of the Isle. Along with Borne, who is also a main character, their paths will lead them to stand together against a dark and powerful threat to their world. And the last of the dragons, stirring from their long self-imposed exile, are undeclared as to where their loyalties will lie.

Each of these protagonists is on both an internal and external journey. Traveling to unfamiliar realms and far-flung lands, their stories are about how they grow and change in response to people and creatures, often quite different from themselves, whom they meet along the way. It’s a tale of courage and resilience, but also intrigue and betrayal.

 As “The Drinnglennin Chronicles” comes to a close with “The Wings of Dread,” what do you hope readers will take away from the journey you’ve taken them on throughout the series?

 Although The Drinnglennin Chronicles is set in a fantasy world and time of my own making, it parallels the early Renaissance years in Europe, and also delves into Viking culture and the Ottoman Empire. I did a tremendous amount of research on these periods in history. I needed to learn what armaments were employed in each culture, the construction of castles and other abodes, what sorts of ships and longboats were used,  how long it took to get from one place to another on horseback, by carriage, on foot or by sea, the types of clothing worn, the food that was eaten, the entertainments of both common and royal folk, and various other elements of their daily lives. I love this part of my writing process and often get quite caught up in it. I also drew very rough maps of Drinnglennin’s realms and the wider Known World, which the very talented cartographer Kevin Sheehan “translated” into works of art.

As The Drinnglennin Chronicles comes to a close with “The Wings of Dread,” what do you hope readers will take away from the journey you’ve taken them on throughout the series?

 I set out to write the sort of complex, gripping fantasy that I myself would like to read. I hope readers get swept along in the events in my characters’ lives, their trials and triumphs, and that Drinnglennin, Helgrinia, Albrenia, Olquaria and Gral come to life as they travel to these places with Leif, Maura, Whit, Halla, Borne, Fynn and Master Morgan.  More than anything, I hope readers don’t want the story to end… especially as I’m currently working on another novel set in the Known World.

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