The Story Behind Shattered Kingdom by Angelina J. Steffort

07 Jul 2020

On June 30, my eleventh book, Shattered Kingdom, was released, a (young adult) epic fantasy series about a girl who’s heart could change the course of history. “Fae, magic, and a heart-throbbing adventure will keep readers entranced until the last page,” as readers say and a “perfect read for fans of Throne of Glass.”

The story follows seventeen-year-old Gandrett Brayton, who has resigned herself to a life of servitude as a Child of Vala, devoting her life to the goddess and the Meister who runs the priory where she has lived for the past ten years. When brooding Nehelon storms in and offers her a chance to leave, Gandrett is left with an impossible choice: run, or work for the man who forced her into the Order to begin with. Soon she is being drawn from a simple life of servitude into the political intrigues of Neredyn, and Gandrett must learn that where she is about to go, her sword won’t help her–especially when it is her heart on the line.

In the world of Neredyn magic is forbidden and the Fae have been dormant for centuries. Mages are exiled, except for those few who are gifted by Vala, the goddess of life and water. Sives, the northernmost kingdom has been split even longer and in Shattered Kingdom, for the first time there is a shimmer of hope for peace for Sives, when Gandrett Brayton decides to embark on an epic journey with Nehelon, who himself has a damning secret.

Gandrett is a warrior. Vala’s Blade, they call her for her cunning and her strength and accuracy in combat. But she never went into the Order willingly. She was torn from her mother’s arms and committed into a life in the desert where nothing but the priory of the Order of Vala and the ruins of the once great city of Everrun exist. It is Gandrett’s dearest wish to see her family again, but hoping for something even that simple can be dangerous when your path has been predetermined by the strict code of the Order, where she will serve with her sword until the day she dies. Or will she?

Shattered Kingdom is my first book. Not the first one I ever wrote, but the first story idea I had in 2010 when I ended up writing Wings instead. How that came about? I am glad you asked.

Let me take you back to January 2010, when I was still living in Berlin, Germany, and preparing for a trip to Sweden. The weather was according to the season and whatever time I didn’t spend studying (working on my MBA), I spent on catching up with my work at the company where I was employed back then.

One night, I woke up with a headache, racing pulse making me leap out of bed and dart for the bathroom to down a glass of ice-cold water. That was the time when nightmares were haunting my sleep and even drawing the creatures that I encountered in those hours that were supposed to give me rest and replenishment wasn’t enough to rid my thoughts of them. So I sat down and started writing that scene–the scene where Gandrett Brayton gets picked to join the Order of Vala and is torn from her home at the age of seven. Sixteen long and sloppy pages. And then–nothing. Not even a breeze of a thought.

The next day, I did some research. The geography, the culture, the style of clothing, all of those details, I jotted them down, named them (named the world Neredyn, the bothenia root from which the Sivesian people make ale), specified what they were, why they were, and even put together a cast of about twenty characters. And again. Nothing. No more words that would help me put together a book.

Nothing for eight long years. At least not for Shattered Kingdom. The other ten books (Wings Series and Two Worlds Series) bubbled out of me, but Shattered Kingdom patiently waited in the drawer until 2018 when my illustrator took on the monster-task of creating the map I’d sketched. From the moment I saw Neredyn the way it was supposed to be, the story took form and expanded, and I soon knew that it would be a seven book series rather than a standalone. So this year, when COVID-19 hit and we went into lockdown in March, I was ready and used the limited degrees of freedom to finally write Shattered Kingdom.

And here I am, ten years after that nightmare in Berlin, and blown away by the initial reactions of my readers. Shattered Kingdom has already climbed high on Listopia recommendation lists for Throne of Glass fans. I am receiving wonderful emails with thoughts and reflections on the story, the characters, and guesses about how the story continues (Thank you for all your heartfelt words and great feedback!). Book two in the Shattered Kingdom series is already in the making. Wicked Crown will be released in fall 2020.

Angelina J. Steffort is the author of the new book Shattered Kingdom.

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