You can read my reviews of the individual installments within the Chronicles here: Rowena's Key, Candra's Freedom, Caedmon's Curse, and Braedric's Bane.
To celebrate the release of the full collection, AJ Nuest has kindly joined us on the blog to talk about her process in choosing Rowena's fateful name.
Thank you, AJ!
A Rowena by Any Other Name by AJ Nuest
An interesting thing happened to me on my way to writing The Golden Key Chronicles. One that hadn’t happened before in the many years since I decided to take the plunge into the murky waters of the publishing world. A name spoke to me…but not in the way you might think.
It’s pretty much given that when any author sits down to craft a story, they dedicate a certain amount of time to choosing just the right names for their characters. Usually, I’m no different. When I first get a story idea, I scan through baby naming websites, perhaps I Google the definitions or the etymology to make sure the name fits the back story of my hero or heroine. I might even go so far as to check IMDb just to make sure I’m not naming my characters after a lesser known actor or some obscure Vegas showgirl.
However, I didn’t do this with Rowena, the heroine in my four-part time travel fantasy romance. Her name just came to me. I sat down to begin the story and my fingers simply clicked in her name. After completing the first chapter, I found I liked her name, so I happily decided to keep it.
Fast forward to about the halfway mark of writing the first installment, and I finally decided I should probably do some research. You see, at this point in crafting The Golden Key Chronicles, I had a very clear idea of where the story was headed. I knew Rowena would be traveling back through time to 14th Century England. I knew she and the king’s eldest son would be at odds. I even knew she would be seen has a sorceress. Someone wise to things the other people of that time period would find mystifying—she was from the future, after all. So, in order to cover my bases, I knew I needed to find out if there were any famous Rowenas in English history, what role they might have played and how the information might affect my story.
What I found nearly knocked me off my chair. And then I walked around for a while with a serious case of the willies.
Turns out, the story of Rowena from English history perfectly matched the set up I had created…without my ever knowing her story. In fact, I still get goose bumps when I think about it. She was even physically described the same as my Rowena. It was so weird, I knew right then and there I had somehow tuned into something miraculous.
And the even better part? Because of the lack of information regarding Britain’s Rowena, most historians regard her as fictitious. Which meant she was a legend. A legend shrouded in mystery. *insert creepy music*
I was so blown away by the similarities in my Rowena and the Rowena from British legend, that I knew I had to use some of the details in my story. So, I did. More than once, in fact. And, I have to say, there was nothing more thrilling than referencing actual details from a long-lost fairytale while creating a fairytale of my own. It was fate. It was destiny. Exactly like the future I had created for my characters.
So, without further adieu, I invite you to enjoy an excerpt from Rowena’s Key, Book I in The Golden Key Chronicles, and enjoy the legend of Rowena for your self. :-)
“I just received the lab report on your key.” Violet ducked inside the studio doorway, waving several pieces of paper in the air.
Rowena snapped her chin up. Finally, some concrete answers. “And?”
“Looks like you’ve got the genuine article, based on the metallurgic data.” Violet crossed to the couch and sat beside Oliver, flipping to the second page. “However, that’s not the most interesting part. Says here Rowena’s Key is a fictitious object shrouded in legend. It supposedly played a strategic role in some Kentish war. Except, from what I could find, most historians doubt Rowena ever existed. There’s no record of her birth, so the references are very vague. Some reports describe her as a heroine of the Saxons, a beautiful femme fatale who won her people a foothold in Britain by seducing the British King. Others state she was a villainess who poisoned the king’s eldest son when he rebelled against her and that ‘she was an enchanting
sorceress, skilled in the arts of seduction and weaponry.’”
Sorceress. The word swept over Rowena like a warm tide. Her heart thumped and she grabbed the edge of her desk to steady her defective knees. For whatever reason, Caedmon and his cast of characters had assigned her the role of this beautiful villainess from history.
Well, either that or the unimaginable. They were real and actually believed she was the Rowena.
Oh, God. Had she seriously just entertained that lunacy?
“You don’t look so good.”
She glanced at Ollie and nodded. “I think I’d better sit down.”
Violet scooted closer to Oliver and patted the cushion on her right.
Rowena joined them on the couch, fingering the gold key between her breasts. “Does the report say anything else?”
“Only one last thing, but it’s so silly I’m almost embarrassed to mention it.”
Oliver mimicked her motions when Rowena leaned over the papers on Violet’s lap.
“You know how some fairytales involve a magic mirror?”
They locked eyes and nodded in unison.
“Well, evidently the idea originally came from the story of Rowena. She supposedly had this magic mirror which allowed her to peer through time, and whoever was on the receiving end risked falling hopelessly in love with her.”
The Golden Key Chronicles by AJ Nuest was published by Harper Impulse on April 24 2014, and is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK.
UK readers also have the luck opportunity of reading Rowena's Key, the first in the series, free on Amazon UK.