Interview with J. Kathleen Cheney, Author of The Golden City

Please welcome J Kathleen Cheney to the virtual offices this morning! She dropped by to chat about The Golden City.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[J Kathleen Cheney] Former math teacher and retail buyer turned historical fantasy writer who’s holding her breath until November 5th.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Golden City?

[J Kathleen Cheney] In an alternate 1902 Portugal, Oriana Paredes is a spy among the social elite of the Golden City. Her people, the sereia, are sea folk banned from the city’s shores. When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris, but before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown.

Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die. Oriana vows vengeance, but as a spy she can’t take her information to the police. She’ll have to stop the killer alone. But then she crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[J Kathleen Cheney] When I started this piece, I meant for it to be about a woman (Oriana) who’s unable to go to the police, so I made her of a race that’s banned. She’s caught between two antagonists, unsure which is lying and which means her harm.

I dutifully outlined that story only to have a nameless throw-away character suddenly spring to life as I was typing the very first scene. That’s where Duilio and his whole family came from. They weren’t in the original outline at all.

And although I’m usually an outliner, I went with that idea….and typed out the whole first version (about 15K) in a couple of days. (I originally sold this as a novelette and expanded it to novel form later.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Oriana?

[J Kathleen Cheney] Wary, alone, and resolute

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Duilio had a theme song, what would it be?

[J Kathleen Cheney] As sappy as it sounds, it would be Bruno Mars’ "Count on Me".

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Oriana is never without.

[J Kathleen Cheney] Mitts…those fingerless mittens that old ladies wear (or me, when it’s chilly in the house). Oriana has webbed fingers which would give away that she isn’t human, so she has to hide them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Oriana’s pocket?

[J Kathleen Cheney] Gloves, a rosary, or much money.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Oriana’s greatest regret?

[J Kathleen Cheney] Not being around to stop her younger sister from fleeing the islands. (She was told later that her sister died in that attempt.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[J Kathleen Cheney] I loved the books of Georgette Heyer, Ansen Dibell, Agatha Christie, and C. J. Cherryh. My reading goes all over the place (Fantasy, SF, Mystery and Romance) and those authors are my old favorites.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[J Kathleen Cheney] Quiet, Time, and Liquids (tea, water, or coffee, depending on time of day.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on The Golden City?

[J Kathleen Cheney] My dogs. I have two 75-pound Airedale Terriers who constantly demand my time and attention. That’s 150 pounds of pushy, loudly barking, dog. They’re three now, but they’re still basically oversized puppies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[J Kathleen Cheney] I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve loved, but if I were looking back for the one that really knocked my socks off….I would probably point back at Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I’m one of those people who cries while I’m reading, and that book just gutted me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[J Kathleen Cheney] Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH. I read a lot of Dr. Seuss before that, but this is the first one I remember loving (in 2nd grade), and I still have it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[J Kathleen Cheney] I like to garden, although only during the cool parts of the year. I get lazy during the hot parts of the summer. I also do fix-up around the house: painting, plastering, and papering. I used to quilt and sew, too…but haven’t had time for that recently.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[J Kathleen Cheney] The easiest way is via my web-page at www.jkathleencheney.com. That has links to my Twitter, FaceBook, Tumblr, and LiveJournal as well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Purchase link

About the book:

For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

About the author:

J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella "Iron Shoes" was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, "The Golden City" will come out from Penguin, November 5, 2013.

Her website can be found at www.jkathleencheney.com