Today, we are delighted to host the cover reveal for Claire Eliza Bartlett’s The Winter Duke, along with an introduction by the author. Titan Book is bringing it to the UK, publishing the book – a tale of intrigue from the author of the acclaimed feminist fantasy We Rule the Night – on October 13th.
Without further ado, behold the smugglerific cover:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
She survived the curse. Now she must survive the throne.
All Ekata wants is to stay alive–and the chance to prove herself as a scholar. Once Ekata’s brother is finally named heir to the dukedom of Kylma Above, there will be nothing to keep her at home with her murderous family. Not her books or her experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness, and no one can find a cure.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s captivating warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without–and within–her ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s magic and power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield them both.
Early in the process of writing The Winter Duke, I asked myself a question: could I adapt a
favorite fairy tale of mine, The Twelve
Dancing Princesses, to a full-length YA fantasy novel?
As it happens, no.
Stories are strange things. Sometimes they spring forth, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. Other times they’re built up, layer by layer, as characters, setting and concepts come together to create something I can’t shake out of my head. Such was the process of The Winter Duke. The first layer was fairy tale, a layer which got embellished and modified so thoroughly it became hard to see which fairy tale, if any, was the original inspiration. But I wanted to keep the fairy tale atmosphere more than anything. That’s where the second layer came in.
For a while I’d been throwing around a concept: the city above and the city below. These two cities were inextricably linked, often mirrored each other, and needed the other to survive. I’d played around with the idea of this city in a couple of different novels, but the plot and characters I devised never lived up to the setting. But when I mentally compared the city Below to the underground realm featured in The Twelve Dancing Princesses, I had a concept that appealed to me very much indeed. Now all I needed to do was populate the novel with some characters, and let them tell their story.
The final piece of the novel came from history. History was my favorite subject in school, and it provides fantastic inspiration for anyone looking to create a complex world or situation in their novel. In the case of The Winter Duke, my inspiration came from reading about the Romanov family. Their brutal infighting led to several instances of regicide and a culture of terror that permeated the court. In other words, it was the perfect atmosphere in which to drop an overly sarcastic, politically disinterested princess who has to manage the snake pit of court without losing herself – or her life – in the process.
Looking back on my initial concept for The Winter Duke, it’s pretty clear that I got sidetracked from The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But building a story up often makes it richer, and I love the way my little fairy tale has turned out. I hope you like it, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Claire Eliza Bartlett is a writer and tour guide living in Copenhagen. Her debut novel, We Rule the Night, was described as “electrifying” by Publishers Weekly and “fierce and compelling” by Kirkus, who named it one of their best books of 2019. You can find out more about her on her website authorclaire.com, or find her tweeting @bartlebett