Updated: Aug 23
So this is for my current readers who've expressed an interest in how I came up with my story ideas and what my relationship to my characters are.
When I was in college, I changed my major from science to English. I also needed to come up with a minor. I decided to go with history because I've always been a history buff, and I knew I wanted to write historical fiction.
The way the program worked at my Alma Mater (Weber State University) was that I had two or three required history classes (history 1010 sort of classes) and then I simply had to pick X amount of history credits to take from the selection of history classes offered at the school. So I scanned through the list of history classes offered and came upon Russian history. I knew nothing of Russian history, so I the ought I'd try it out.
Long story short: I fell in LOVE with it!
The life of Ivan the Terrible was particularly interesting. The most important thing to understand about him is that he is similar to tyrants such as Vlad the Impaler. He was brutal and vicious, and liked to come up with new and more interesting ways to kill people.
But his psychology is fascinating. He wasn't loved as a child. Not remotely. He literally spent his childhood hiding in closets from assassins. So he learned not to trust, and that the world is not a good or happy or safe place.
So how was my story born?
We'd moved past Ivan's life. After that, you get something called The Time of Troubles, followed eventually by the reign of Enlightened Despots (such as Catherine the Great). Enlightened Despots retained their powers of monarchy, but were good to their subjects, often giving them rights and even quasi-constitutions. So they were "enlightened." Eventually the reign of the Tsars came to an end with the death of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, including the legendary and oft-mimicked Anastasia.
Eventually, as the world moved on, a man called Stalin took power, and the age of Communism rose. It was while we were talking about communism in my class that my idea for the Kremlin's story really formed. I knew I wanted it to be trans-generational, meaning it would span the time between parents and their children's lives. And I had the bare bones of the conflict, which would lean heavily on the political conflicts of Russia's war-torn history.
I kept trying to put the story in the Communist era (since that was the class's subject at the time). But I kept hitting road blocks. Things that didn't make sense politically or wouldn't work with the social structure at the time. Then one day, I had a light bulb moment. When it comes to western history, my favorite era is the Middle Ages.
In Russia, that means Ivan the Terrible. So, I picked the story up and moved the entire thing into the time of Ivan the Terrible. Everything clicked into place like magic! The story was born.
For more details, including my relationship to the main characters and love interests, Inga and Taras, give this podast episode a listen: