Ronie Kendig has a new fantasy series and it is fantastic! She joins us today to talk about this new venture.
Melissa: Embers is your first full length speculative novel. What do you think about writing this genre?
Ronie: A few years ago, I met with Allen Arnold at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference, and he asked me if I could write anything, what would I write. I hesitated, but only because I was supposed to be talking to him about my suspense novels. But I breathed the words, “Speculative Fiction.” He was surprised and asked me why. I can still heard my answer: “Because when I write speculative fiction, I feel like I’ve plugged straight into the heart of God and it flows through me and out my fingers onto the pages.” That is so true, even if it might sound cliché. I wouldn’t necessarily say writing speculative comes easy (it’s never “easy”), but I feel…unleashed. It’s a genre I’ve felt passionate about for many, many years.
Melissa: The characters in this book are so amazing!! I fell totally in love with Haegan and Thiel and even the minor characters. Every character was so full of emotion and great depth. Which one did you like writing the best and who did you most relate too?
Ronie: I *loved* writing Haegan. He was so real and legit right from the beginning. I was there with him, aching with him, frightened with him. He was raw and he was real. Next to him, I think my next favorite character…Oh man. I guess it’s a tie. Or a three-way: with As’Tili and the sibling pair, Astadia & Trale. Both were fun and mysterious.
Melissa: I’ve always thought that coming up with names for each character would be the fun part of writing a novel. The characters in Embers do not have traditional American names. What is the language of origin for the characters and how did you decide their names? Do any of the names have a special meaning?
Ronie: Okay, I confess I cheated a little with the naming of my characters. I tend to like really tough names when figuring out my characters, but that just didn’t fit this genre. So, I dug around some fantasy name generators online. I’d browse names, then I’d adjust them here or there to make them unique to my story.
For the most part, you can tell a character who is from Seultrie (Haegan’s home country) because most of them have the ‘ae’ vowels (Haegan, Kaelyria, Praegur…) and those who are Northlanders/Thin Bloods, tend to have As’ , which was done in similar fashion to the way Jews added bar- or ben- to a name indicating “son of.”
Melissa: I totally got Haegan and his constant struggle to feel worthy and strong. I understood his self-doubt and all the emotional turmoil that he dealt with. His part in Embers really resonated with me. What about you? When you were writing Embers, which part could you say, “Yeah, that’s me!”?
Ronie: I struggle with this all the time. One time, I heard my agent tell someone I was “terribly insecure,” and oh man, it hurt so bad to hear him say that, but it was so true. I am confident in the Lord, but when it comes to me…ha! Different story. 😀 I don’ really think that much about how much of “me” goes into the characters, but when I look back, it’s sometimes a little startling to see how much of “me” bled onto the page.
Melissa: Aside from your novella, Whole Pieces, your books have been action adventure and grounded in reality. As a result, the spiritual content has been mainstream and based on scripture. How does writing spiritual themes and content change when writing speculative versus reality based novels?
Ronie: Embers was a bit of “exploratory surgery” for me. I grew up with a mother who wanted desperately to honor the Lord, so she wouldn’t allow me to watch anything with witches/wizards and such or aliens. So, I wasn’t sure how far was “too far” when writing speculative. This story was me feeling my way through that journey a little deeper. I was not writing Abiassa to be the absolutely representation of Jesus or God, although there are obvious elements there. Truly, I simply wanted to write the best story I could that would honor God because I wrote to honor the gift He gave me. In the end and looking back now, there’s a pretty clear parallel between Abiassa’s Fire and the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t set out writing a story that would do that.
Melissa: Embers is different from previous books in a number of ways. Your previous books have generally focused on two characters building a relationship and by the time the book ends, the outcome of their relationship is fully revealed. Embers is a departure from that style and instead the relationships are still very much in development. From both the reader and the writer perspective, what do you like best about each of these approaches?
Ronie: I think that’s mostly indicative of the genre itself. Epic fantasy novels do not have everything summed up and resolved in the first novel. Instead, that first book is an introduction to the lands, the people and the overall dilemma—it’s “the beginning.” I’m a hopeless romantic, yet I don’t like over-the-top romance in my stories. I love a romantic thread, don’t get me wrong—and you’ll find that a little more in the next book—but the story is about so much more than the characters falling in love.
Melissa: What’s next for you? Can you give us just a little tease about Accelerant?
Ronie: Ha! In fact, I’ve just really started digging into Accelerant—but in the second Abiassa’s Fire book, Haegan fights to become the young man he never thought he’d be—and the part that he doesn’t want to be! Nations will rise against nation, unlikely allies converge as their common enemy grows in power and number. And of course, there’s a smidgen of romance and a heaping dose of war. Almost sounds like a typical Rapid-Fire Fiction novel, eh?
And speaking of…I am not abandoning my RFF readers—I have a new suspense series, The Tox Files, lined up with Bethany House Publishers next fall!