Dancing with the Tsars: Ninth time lucky for Evelyn Skye

Evelyn Skye’s debut novel is The Crown’s Game – a kind of Russia meets Westeros affair. Evelyn has been described as an avid pizza and cookie eater who was once offered a job in the CIA, yet actually wishes she could go on a dancing reality show. She seemed worth a chat.

So Evelyn, for those readers who haven’t read The Crown’s Game yet, can you tell us what it’s about in under 72 words?

“The Crown’s Game is a story of two enchanters who must fight a magical duel to the death. The winner will become the Tsar’s Imperial Enchanter; the loser will die. It is a dark story but also one full of hope. It’s a fantasy, but it’s also a love story – the love of romance, the love of family, and the love between friends, and what happens when all those bonds are shattered.”

Wow. It’s all going on! So, level with us. How did the idea for this book form?

“There was definitely a lightbulb moment, but it came when I was on the brink of giving up on writing.”

Oh. Awkward. Tell us more.

“I had been working for years on other manuscripts (I have eight unsold books on my hard drive), and I was starting to think maybe I wasn’t meant to be an author.

“My friends, however, told me not to quit. I told them I had one last crazy idea, a fantasy with big magic, set in Imperial Russia, and even though I wasn’t writing fantasy at the time (I was working on manuscripts set in the real world), no one laughed at me. In fact, my friends all told me to write it, that maybe that’s what I was destined to write.

“So I thought, why not? and threw all my effort into one more try. I am so very glad I did.”

There’s a lesson for everyone there. Possibly along the lines of ‘writers Russian where fools fear to tread’. Or something. Anyway, back to you Evelyn. Tell us, when you’re writing, what’s your typical day like?

“I am a full-time writer as well as a full-time mom, so my schedule revolves around whatever my daughter’s day looks like. Usually, I drop her off at school in the morning and then I catch up on social media and emails, workout, and run errands. After an early lunch, I start writing for a few hours before I have to pick up my daughter from school. I start writing again in the evenings, after she’s gone to bed. It works out pretty well, since I find I can only focus for an hour and a half to two hours at a time (three if I’m really in the zone, but usually no more than that). This way, I get a chunk of writing down earlier in the day and then another chunk later, while still being able to be mommy.”

So what are you working on next?

“I am working on the sequel, The Crown’s Heir. This is a duology, so this second book is the last one. It’s both exciting to see how it ends and bittersweet that I’ll be leaving this world and these characters.

“After The Crown’s Heir, I have other projects up my sleeve, so I’m excited to work on those, too!”

Gotta love those big sleeves. So finally, what’s your advice for aspiring writers?

“I used to be a lawyer, and while I was good at it, I never connected with it. When I sat down and really started writing though, I was so happy and I knew that this was my calling, that this was that elusive ‘it’ I’d been looking for all along. It’s a tough road, because you never know how long that road will be – it could be your first manuscript that sells, or, like me, it could be your ninth one.

“All I can say is, if you love it, keep going. I almost quit, but I am so glad I didn’t. You never know when you are on the brink of making it. Also, don’t regret any of the unpublished manuscripts you’ve written, because it’s all part of what’s making you a better writer. If you keep on trying, one day, it’ll all pay off!”

Brilliant advice from someone who fell eight times but got up nine!


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