BR Kingsolver is a prolific author of 19 novels published in the speculative fiction genre since 2012. Readers find Kingsolver’s books to be “engrossing with great world building, believable characters who enlist your emotions, and masterful storylines.” BR’s latest release is Soul Harvest (June 2021), the third and final installment in The Rift Chronicles. Find all the author’s books on BRKingsolver.com and Amazon, connect on Facebook and Twitter, and read SWW’s 2020 interview.
What would you like readers to know about The Rift Chronicles?
It’s a science fiction fantasy cross, set about two hundred years in the future. The premise of the book was having technology that can be manipulated by magic.
Between the three books in the series, which was the most challenging to write?
The last one—Soul Harvest. The first book in a series is always the easiest. The premise, the characters, are all new and exciting. By the time I get to the last book, there are a lot of things that have to be dealt with. Plot lines, characters, things that have happened in previous books, and making sure I tie up all the loose ends.
What was the inspiration for the first book, Magitek?
The idea of magic manipulating technology. In most fantasy, you either have technology or magic. Very rarely do the two things interact.
Tell us a little about your main characters.
Danica James is a cop, a detective, who deals with the Magi—the magicians who rule the world—and the Rifters, the monsters who crossed a rift in space-time from other dimensions. She’s from one of the wealthy ruling families, but feels like an outsider because she’s a magitek. Her best friend is her roommate, Kirsten, a witch who owns a shop that sells magical potions, charms, and that sort of thing. Kirsten thinks Dani is too serious, works too much, and has too little love life.
What is the main setting, and why is this the perfect place for your story to unfold?
The primary setting is Baltimore, which is a place I know well after living there for a dozen years. The books take place after a series of nuclear wars and pandemics. Washington was bombed, but Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware, survived as two of the only major port cities on the East Coast. Since the ruling magical families are all about business, trade, and wealth, seaports are central to control of trade and wealth.
How did the books come together?
I started Magitek in the spring of 2020 and published it the end of August. The second book, War Song, was published in December, and Soul Harvest was released in June 2021. So, three books in a year. That’s a little slow for me. I prefer to publish four to five times a year. The editing cycle usually takes about a month. I send a manuscript to my editor, she returns it with corrections and comments, and after I work through that, she takes another swing at it. I’ve worked with the same editor for twenty-three books, so we know each other pretty well.
What did you do to make your world, with its social structure and magic system, believable and logical?
The big thing with world building in science fiction and fantasy is consistency. Reality has rules, and so should a fantasy world. An author can’t violate the rules or just use handwavium to get around problems unless that handwavium fits within the rules. The social structure I used in these books is an oligarchy with a magical class system. As in most social systems, the powerful rule and reap the riches. Everyone else serves them.
You have five complete series so far. What key issues do you focus on to keep readers coming back for more?
Relatable characters and an interesting story. Good writing is third. There are lots of poorly written best sellers, but they tell a story that interests people.
What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write?
Sex scenes, so I stopped trying to write them.
Any advice for beginning or discouraged writers?
Some of the best advice I received when I started was BICHOK—Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard. There is no substitute for writing. You have to do it to get better at it.
What writing projects are you working on now?
My new project is an urban fantasy novel in a cozy mystery setting. I know there’s a market for that kind of book, but I have to pull it off. I’ve read lots of mysteries, and I think they’re difficult. Cozies are very hard because the tropes are so specific. I’m hoping to catch people who read both urban fantasy and also like cozy mysteries.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I didn’t start writing fiction until I was sixty years old. I always wanted to, but didn’t think I had any talent. Whether I do or don’t, people seem to like my stories. You’ll never know if you can do something until you try.
KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe) is the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kathy posts to a speculative fiction blog at klwagoner.com and writes about memoir at ThisNewMountain.com.