Monday, September 7, 2015

Samantha Gillespie, The Kingdom Within

AUTHOR: Samantha Gillespie
BOOK TITLE: The Kingdom Within
GENRE: YA Fantasy Romance
PUBLISHER: Mystic Harbor Press, and imprint of Smooth Sailing Press
The book can also be found on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles

Please tell us about yourself.
I am a romantic sap who has loved to read from a young age. My obsession with books and reading is what eventually led me to write my first novel, The Kingdom Within. I have a weakness for helpless kittens and I love all things Pride and Prejudice.

Please tell us your latest news.
I’m excited to share that my publisher has partnered with a local studio to create the audiobook version of The Kingdom Within. There will be a casting for the narrator that will bring Meredith’s voice to life.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? Unfortunately, I am a part-time writer. I try to squeeze in a little bit of writing time on weeknights, but most of my writing is done over the weekends.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started working on The Kingdom Within while I was in college. I began writing it because the story was constantly rolling around in my head and it would not leave me alone.

What inspired you to write your first book?
God, my love of reading, music, and my never-ending obsession with the Medieval & Renaissance eras.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Working, doing chores, burning fat, storing fat, binging on my plethora of favorite TV shows, and watching Pride and Prejudice.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
I see it as the necessary stepping-stone that connects authors to their potential readers.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I occasionally run into that dreaded blank screen with the blinking cursor. What has really helped me in the past is brainstorming. I pick up pen and paper, draw a diagram or story map and jot down the basics of what I have, as well as questions for what I am missing. I also mentally set writing aside (under lock and key) and focus on other things; sometimes a break is all you need to get back in the game. When all else fails I listen to music.

What are your current projects?
I’m working on book two of The Kingdom Within series.

What do you plan for the future?
I’m hoping (and praying) to be a full-time writer, and for a nice little cabin-style home in the state of Montana, where I will have my own special writing spot with large windows to an awesome view of a lake and the mountains.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
You can find me on Facebook:
You can also check out The Kingdom Within series website:
Or its Facebook page:

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
The Kingdom Within follows the story of Princess Meredith, whose eighteenth birthday is fast approaching, but unlike other girls, she is not looking forward to it. Upon her coming of age, she is to marry the prince of Alder, the most powerful kingdom in the world. Though the idea of marriage to a complete stranger is appalling, she knows she has no choice. Without the marriage contract, Stonefall’s alliance with Alder will be lost, and her people will be safe no longer; Theros, King of Talos, has set his eyes of conquest on Stonefall and he wants Meredith dead.

Connor, an elite soldier entrusted with Meredith’s safety, arrives at the palace just as things begin to take a turn for the worst. Together, they will embark on a journey of survival, in which Meredith will find that the only thing she never prepared for was falling in love.

What genre do you write in and why?
YA fiction, because it’s my number one choice in reading entertainment and it is just as much fun to write it as it is to read it.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
First, I created a timeline for the story arc, which I used to create the outline. Once I finished that, I began writing the story scene by scene in sequential order.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I had my beginning and my end figured out, but the middle, now THAT was challenging!

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
What comes first: the plot or characters?
Yes, I most definitely outline! I think what comes first depends on how your inspiration for the story comes about, but you could also have both simultaneously. For The Kingdom Within, it was my two main characters that came first, and from that, I fleshed out a story around them.

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why?
My villains. Nobody likes the cookie-cutter antagonist with the maniacal laugh. You want them to be complex and captivating in their own right.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
Though my book is set in fantasy, I still did plenty of research on books on the Middle Ages and Elizabethan England, as it is the base from which I modeled the world of The Kingdom Within. And of course, there was plenty of Google search.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?
Read children’s books. There is a quote that has always stuck with me that says
“To be a great writer, you must first be a great reader.”

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
An intriguing premise with a promise of a good romance.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

Insta-love and heroines that fall for jerks.


Outside Father’s study, the door ward opens the heavy wooden doors. They groan against their hinges as they swing open into the small chamber. I can’t imagine what I have done wrong this time. I’ve been on my best behavior lately, all serene smiles and repressed opinions. And all to please him. If I am a better daughter, then Father might learn to love me, if only a little. I used to think he particularly disliked me, but I know now he’s simply hardhearted. He places great trust in his closest friends and advisers, but never offers a hint of warmth, not even for my uncle, the Duke of Elsham.

I take a deep breath and step inside. Greeted with the pungent scent of burning candles and leather-bound books, I keep my head down as I walk. I do not dare look at Father, expecting a fierce glare. But when I hear nothing from him, save for papers rummaging, I bite my lip and lift my gaze.

Hunched over a desk blanketed by documents, Father studies what looks to be a letter. A lock of gray hair hangs out of place, dangling across his forehead. With a rich, red robe, and large gold rings adorning several of his fingers, he looks indeed like a king. I realize he must be ignoring me. Surely he heard me come in. He seems agitated.

“Father?” I croak.

He drops the piece of paper in his hands and looks up at me. To my surprise, there is no anger in his eyes. So accustomed to his disapproval, I find its absence a little disconcerting.

“Meredith,” he says, clearing his throat. “Sit down.” He motions at the chair in front of his desk. The empty seat beckons like an omen. I move quietly, though I’m sure the sudden, nervous pounding in my chest is loud enough to hear. I have no idea what he is about to tell me, but from the lines on his face and the tightness around his eyes, I can tell it’s serious.

“It has come to my attention that King Theros wants you dead,” he says quickly, as if addressing his advisers on matters of state. I take the news with a hard swallow. The man who haunts my dreams wants to kill me. Are my nightmares premonitions? I feel the room spin as a heavy weight creeps into my chest, making it hard to breathe. “It seems Theros will go to any lengths to prevent your marriage to the prince of Alder. Thus, I’ve hired an escort to help keep you safe. He is to remain at your side at all functions and anytime you step foot outside the palace walls. Is that clear?” He speaks so fast that it takes me a moment to register every word.

I want to ask him a dozen questions. Who is he? Where is he from? Can he be trusted? But Father is not fond of being questioned, so I manage to hold my tongue and simply nod.

I look up at the wall behind him, at my mother’s portrait, hoping to find some comfort, some reassurance that everything will be all right. I hate that I can see her only in his study. I insisted many times that her portrait be hung by the main hall—what better face to welcome visitors? Father never approved; he wants her all to himself.

“Meredith,” Father says, redirecting my thoughts.

“Yes, Father?”

“Do you understand the seriousness of this matter? You must 
never leave his sight; your life may very well depend on it.” He questions me with a raised brow. An unsettling feeling burrows deeply into my stomach.

“I understand. When will this escort arrive?

“Soon. You may go now.”

Just like that, he dismisses me, making no effort to set my mind at 
ease. I sit there, slack-jawed and confused. If Father is indeed worried, does that not mean he cares? He does not wait for me to leave before returning to his work. And I realize it’s not me he cares about. It’s what would happen to our kingdom if I died that scares him.

“Oh and Meredith?” he says. “I expect to see you at the tournament.”

I had forgotten. Today is opening day for the jousting tournament. A silent groan churns in my throat. I am in no mood to endure such a social event. Last year, I made it a point to miss it. 

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