Interview with AJ Rugg, Author of Esther

24 Aug 2021

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Esther?

I’ve been into Fantasy since reading Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea when I was a kid. My love for the genre turned into a bit of an obsession in my late teens and I found I was devouring every fantasy title I could get my hands on. Eventually, I found myself wishing that there was a bit of this book in that book and wondering what would happen if the characters of that book were to find themselves in the same situation as this book. After a while, the perfect (at least in my mind) set of characters and situations, world features, and bad guys came into being and I started writing the book. It took a very long time to finish.

If you woke up in the world of Esther, what is the first thing you would do?

I’d sit down with my character Mahilde and have a cup of tea. I’d listen to her talk of her worries and then I’d give her a big hug. Mahilde is a lonely old soul who has an impossible task, but she does it anyway. I think that’s what makes true heroes – those that know they’re going to fail but then do it anyway. I’d then have a strong word with Esther and tell her that she’s a kick ass warrior and to stop doubting herself. But then again, if I were to do that she wouldn’t learn all the things she does along the way and the book wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.  

If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?

The last book I read was David Gemmell’s Sword in the Storm. I’ve actually lost track of how many times I’ve read this book, but I try to read it at least once a year. It inspires me. The blurb would say ‘Read this if you want to experience truly beautiful fantasy writing. Emulate it at your own risk.

Where did you write Esther?

It took me for than ten years to write Esther and I was fortunate to be traveling a lot during that time. My work and my travels took me to me to the Muslim islands of southern Thailand and I based the race of the Salat on the Thais there. I also wrote in the United Arab Emirates and Denmark and based two other cultures on the locals of those places. I write when I’m not working, which is part of the reason it took so long to finish Esther. I write mostly by hand, usually at my kitchen table.

Pretend you qualified for the Olympics this year. What sport would you compete in?

This year was the first time I really enjoyed watching the Olympics. In the middle of a Pandemic, it was just what the world needed. There was something really inspiring about watching the athletes. Their whole lives had led to that one point and they only had that one chance. I commend every one of them. I think I’d compete in skateboarding if I magically qualified. They were all so cool and really seemed to support each other. I loved the sportsmanship on show. The young female skaters were amazing and great role models for my baby daughter.


AJ Rugg is the author of the new book Esther (The Watcher Trilogy Book 1)

Connect with AJ Rugg

Author Site


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