Interview: R. J. Sester

I am honored and excited to be able to host a little interview post featuring R. J. Sester of A Queen Is Knighted, Book 1 in the Tunockian Chronicles, now available!

Get inside Rayleigh’s head for the inside scoop on this coming-soon fantasy novel that is already making a big splash online!

1. What was the most difficult scene to write in AQK?

Without including spoilers, I have to say that the most difficult scene to write–in terms of just hard to choose and decide on– was definitely the ending. Most of the book flowed very naturally and easily in all 5 versions–but the first 4 versions of A Queen is Knighted lacked a solid ending. Which is a pretty big dilemma! We had to make a lot of decisions on future books, characters, and almost plot out the entire series before we could feel comfortable with where and how to bring A Queen is Knighted to a close. And we know that the cliffhanger ending is a risky one with a growing dislike for cliffhangers among readers, but for the Tunockian Chronicles, we felt that this was the right move.

2. How is writing with Joshua different from writing alone?

I really like this question! I’ve always enjoyed writing alone but I do think that writing a story jointly with someone is something that every author/writer should experience at least once! Writing with someone else introduces a new dynamic into the story and adds an extra layer of storytelling that you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own. Plus, when you co-author a book, you ALWAYS have a fangirl buddy! Writing with Joshua, specifically, was a blast because as a couple we’ve learned how to work together through MANY aspects of our life, but being able to include writing in that circle truly blessed me. Joshua brought the spark to the story that I needed to see it through to the end, and his talent for inventing creatures and magical realms far surpasses my own! So though I do have many other stories that are solely mine, and I will probably continue to write stories on my own, writing with Joshua is one of my absolutely favorite pastimes because it is just so fun and entertaining!

3. What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?

Before finishing A Queen is Knighted, I would’ve thought that my answer would be “seeing it published!” But, now that I’ve seen this whole process through to the end, writing the first draft is without a doubt my favorite part. Holding the physical copy in my hands is more gratifying than I ever imagined, but it still doesn’t compare to the amount of joy that I experience while actually writing. Through the past year of editing and preparing for publication, I’ve been itching to sit down and start WRITING again, so I have to say that writing the first draft is without a doubt my favorite. 

4. Which character in AQK surprised you the most?

Sir John. Absolutely no hesitation there. Sir John wasn’t even supposed to be a main character, I didn’t want to give him a backstory, or anything really. He was just supposed to be my little minion to tie up loose ends, but once I spent a little time with him, playing around with a backstory and everything, I realized very quickly the amount of potential he had if I were to let him come to life. And when he did, man, there was no turning back and I’m so, so glad that I decided to let him out of the box because he’s possibly one of my favorite characters out of the whole book!

5. What encouragement do you hope AQK gives readers?

We didn’t write A Queen is Knighted with a particular message or anything in mind, we just wanted to give readers an epic fantasy story that encompassed all of the things WE love about fantasy, without including the extra filth that usually comes with the genre these days. But looking back over the story now, we do hope that the overarching theme of hope and perseverance in A Queen is Knighted encourages readers to face their fears and do what is right, even when it seems like you are the most ill-equipped person for the task. 

Three Kingdoms. Two wars. And one queen who is desperate to save them all.

The kingdoms of Tunock, Taus, and Wilmington have been at peace for more than five hundred years. On their secluded peninsula, life is perfect for royalty and commoners alike. Fear of the pirates in the waters keep them from exploring further than the beaches, and tales of strange visions and missing persons keep them from going to the mountains Beyond. They are happy with their way of living and content in knowing that as long as they don’t cross the borders; they are safe. But everything changes when the castle of Tunock burns to the ground and the royal family disappears with no one to blame.

Princess Lauraine of Tunock never dreamed that she would spend her seventeenth birthday escaping a burning castle, but that’s precisely how she spent it. Left to the mercy of a knight whom she’s never met before, Princess Lauraine goes into hiding while trying to solve the political mystery of who attacked her home—and why. She befriends an old knight—whom her father declared insane—and though she trusts her father’s declaration as much as she trusts him, something about the old man seems sincere. Could her father have been wrong about him? And when strange things happen throughout the kingdoms—things that should only belong in the fairy tale books—Lauraine finds herself at an impasse: should she rise to the position of Queen and restore order to her kingdom; or risk losing her kingdom entirely in search of the truth?

As the events happening in the Three Kingdoms continue to unwind, Princess Lauraine makes a choice. A choice that promises little reward and far more humiliation if she’s wrong. With a small band of friends who she deems trustworthy, Lauraine gives her everything to become the person who will save her kingdom—even if it means losing herself.

A Queen is Knighted

More about R. J. Setser

R.J. Setser is a pseudonym for wife and husband duo, Rayleigh and Joshua Setser. High-school sweethearts who found their happily-ever-after in 2019, Rayleigh and Joshua have been writing together since 2015 and finished their debut novel, A Queen is Knighted in 2020. They live in a small town in Texas with their 2 dogs, Watson and Rosie, and 1 cat, Yuna. They spend most of their time juggling Joshua’s military life and Rayleigh’s civilian life. In their free time, they can be found with both of their families at the lake, reading or writing, and quite possibly playing sword-fighting video games “for research”. Find them on Instagram @r_j_setser or online at rjsetser.com.

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