• The Write Way

Interview with Joshua Killingsworth on The Songstress (Records of the Three Realms #1)

Author Name: Joshua Killingsworth

Book Name: The Songstress (Records of the Three Realms #1)

Book genre: Fantasy


Joshua Killingsworth is a fantasy lover and author who has spent his life dreaming up worlds to explore. He enjoys stories of heroes set in worlds full of imagination and intrigue. When not writing, he can be found playing video games, spending time with his two kids, or hugging any and every animal he can catch.

Book Blurb:

Spreading her wings wide enough may break the songstress free… unless her captors manage to clip away her very spirit first.

Seventeen-year-old Kari, now exiled from her people, spends her days singing in the teahouse and her nights huddled with Suying, a younger girl she has taken under her wing. But when Kari’s songs draw the attention of the empire, both girls are abducted and forced to become royal concubines to the Imperial Brothers of Xiang. Their compliance means a life of subjugation, but any form of disobedience is met with brutality and death.

After an abated escape attempt where Kari once again sacrifices herself to keep Suying safe, the songstress helplessly watches as the sister of her heart begins to embrace the harem, zealously cleaving to her new life. Determined to find a way to save the brainwashed girl from despair while fending off the desires of the emperors, Kari must dig deep inside herself for the will to keep hope alive while doing whatever it takes to break them free from the gilded cage in which they’ve found themselves.

Every song Kari sings stirs emotions, and, with the right magic, she knows she’s capable of intensifying those feelings into a weapon without form. With only her wits and the mystic techniques she learned as a child, the songstress will fight to her last breath against the soul-destroying submission her sister willingly surrendered to—even if Kari’s resistance ultimately means her own death.

Could you tell me a bit more about your book?

The story is set in Xiang, a fictional nation that is sort of a hodgepodge of various east Asian cultures, though primarily Chinese. This book is the first in Kari’s story. The book itself is filled with powerful situations, colorful characters, drama and suspense from the beginning to the end, and plenty of action.

What inspired you to write the book? Ever since I was a kid, I had this imaginary world I would play in, full of all these characters and stories. As I got older, I stopped playing, but still continued to imagine stories in this world. I tried a few times in high school and college to write some of these stories, but I ran into an issue. There was a character that was essentially me, and I think I was simply too close to the character and story to write it.

After five or six false starts, I finally took my character out of the world. By switching to a different main character, it made the story flow so much better.

What was your process of writing the book?

My writing process involves simply chipping away at the story whenever I had the chance to work on it. I started with an outline of the plot. As I was writing the first draft, I ended up with drastic changes from the outline as the story sort of evolved on its own.

I tend to write very concise in my first draft, which came out to be 64,000 words long. As I read over it, I realized that huge swaths of the story simply weren’t working. I had a number of subplots that cumulatively took up almost as much space as the main plot, which made the main plot feel like another subplot.

For the second draft I made huge cuts and wrote approximately 10,000 new words. Even with the new additions, the second draft still came in at a paltry 40,000 words after all the cuts were made.

It took a lot of work and chipping away at the story to flush out the main plot and to add subplots that complimented it, but after all that work, the book ended up at 98,000 words.

Writing the book was like a running a marathon. It was all about determination and persistence.

Why should people read your book?

Because it’s amazing! But in all seriousness, everyone who has read it thus far has gushed about how much of a page turner it is. Writing the novel, I fell in love with Kari. She is thrown into impossible situations where she has to find the will to stand up to tyranny and oppression despite the danger and consequences she must face. She is willing to sacrifice herself to help others. Going through this journey with her from an impoverished, lost girl thrust into this epic story and watching her grow and change into a moral exemplar of heroism is awe-inspiring. She is a hero in the truest sense of the term.

What is so special about your story?

I put my heart and soul into this novel. It is crafted with love and dedication, and I believe that shows through each word on the page. It took me nearly five years to write Kari’s story. I hit a lot of walls along the way. There were a lot of times I wanted to give up, but I couldn’t. If she could go through the things I put her through and come out better, I could finish her story. Other people – when they read it – will see how great Kari can be and how great they can be themselves.

Who is your ideal reader?

My ideal reader is anyone who is a fan of amazing stories and interesting characters. Although, my story is more fitting for a mature or adult audience. If you enjoy fantasy, stories of intrigue, or stories of heroes, you will enjoy my novel.

How did you celebrate finishing writing your book?

I didn’t really celebrate. Instead, I went straight into writing the sequel.

Who is your favourite character in the book?

Aside from my main character, Ronin is my favorite character. He is a bit of a sociopath and was just really fun to write.

If your book would be made into a movie – what actor would you want to play your main character and why?

Probably Tong Liya. When working on Kari’s appearance for the book, I used images of Tong Liya as a model.

What is your favorite book?

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is my favorite book. It has great characters and a great mix of history and fiction. I love it so much that I paid homage to it with my series title.

What author do you look up to?  

Elise Kova. She is an independent author who writes great stories and has seen great success in marketing and selling her work.

What would you do if your book became an international bestseller? Before or after I stop screaming?

I probably would quit my day job and write full time.  

Anything you want to share with my readers?

The Songstress is book 1 of the Records of the Three Realms series. I am currently working on book 2 and book 3, so be on the lookout for them soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy by book.

Thank you!

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