Feeling Bookish: A Q&A with “The Lost Noble” Author Rachel Litfin

While wandering the convention floor at Long Beach Comic Expo 2018, the Collectress and I heard someone call out “Sansa!! Lady Stark!! Lady of Winterfell!” (It may help to know that we were dressed in Game of Thrones cosplays.) We turned to find the voice, and came face to face with Rachel Litfin, a fellow cosplayer. Come to find out, she isn’t just a super talented cosplayer and actress—she also just published her first book. We jumped on the chance to interview Rachel about her writing. See what she has to say about The Lost Noble, strong female characters, and how cosplay has influenced her. —TCM

What was your inspiration behind The Lost Noble? 

I grew up with a really solid background in fantasy and syfy (thanks to my super nerdy parents). I especially gravitated to the universe Tolkien created. I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books when I was nine, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy continues to be my favorite film series to this day. The concepts for Chronicles of Royal High came to me when I was about thirteen years old. We were on our way back from yet another renaissance faire (we went all the time, dressing up and hanging out with our guild friends) when I kind of thought about life for renaissance teenagers. I was just entering high school myself, having been homeschooled all my life, and I had wondered if renaissance kids had a sort of high school, or if they had like collective classes where they would learn to become blacksmiths or farmers. That thought process led into royals having their own “royal school”, like a finishing academy. It was through this, paired with many real-life happenings during my years at a private high school, that led to the creation of The Chronicles of Royal High series. I often wrote several scenes and concepts that still exist in book one and two in my English classes. I also played World of Warcraft all throughout high school and early college, I loved reading, grew up on the Brother’s Grimm Tales for bedtime stories, was and still am a Harry Potter fan, and I am a total Disney kid. I also did a ton of theater growing up, I drew and painted a lot, and danced ballet for years. I drew inspiration EVERYWHERE from my passions and the world around me, and you can see hints of all of this in my writings.

Since The Lost Noble and its planned sequels revolve around strong female characters in a fantastical realm, what kind of research do you do before you begin writing? What aspects of writing do you find requires the most research?

I really did not have a whole lot of research started when I began writing this series as a teen, though some of the original inspirations for Adella came from Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings. That moment when Eowyn rips off her helmet in the movie and proclaims, “I AM NO MAN!” is just forever goosebump worthy. I absolutely have a sort of nod to that moment in The Lost Noble. Aside from this, my writing style absolutely evolved in my adult years, as did my grasp of concepts and real-world experience. My writing became refined with reading other authors, too. I love drawing strength and inspiration from fellow YA Fantasy books with strong female leads! The latter books will have more research put into them as I will be touching on real-world ruling aspects of monarchy, as well as refining my intake on paladin and faerie lore. Google is definitely my friend.

How long did it take you to write this book? What have been your favorite/least favorite parts of the writing process?

When I began this book at 13, I had no idea what I was doing, or what it even was. It was at the urging of my parents that I should play with the ideas and world in my head and expand on it. So, through my teen years, 3 pages became 10, became 20, became 50 and so on. I jumped around a lot and added scenes, out of sequence, over time. I drew and doodled and painted my characters and concepts in my classes (underneath the disapproving eyes of my teachers). I was, and still am, very much a daydreamer. Music, movies, books, video games, art, adventuring, sightseeing, the ocean, everything inspired me. The story began to manifest itself, and through many late night brainstorming sessions with my mother, I began to see the arc that the (yet unnamed) Chronicles of Royal High would take. As inspirations go from glory to glory, I really was never able to keep a constant work on this series, because my least favorite part of the writing process is how hard it is to concentrate. I often would put in several months of serious work on this series, then shelve it, then pull it back out a year later, then shelve it again. This cycle followed for a long time, because I found, as I got older, that my ability to just channel in and zone out was not as strong as it had been earlier in my life. Today, as a 25-year-old woman, after realizing I had ADHD all along, now combined with all of the adulting required of life, I have really been able to fine tune what I needed for my creative processes. I was able to recognize what I needed to be productive which means I have to really force myself to put away distractions to make it flow. Music helps a lot with this, as well as having a distinct game plan and phenomenal support system (see my amazing parents, boyfriend, and best friends). I LOVE listening to a whole mix of epic movie/video game soundtracks to get my head into the mood. Jeremy Soule (Skyrim), Howard Shore (LOTR/Hobbit), WoW, Audio Machine, and Two Steps From Hell are some of my absolute favorites. My favorite part of the writing process is how it feels when you really start to sew everything together. When chapter after chapter just flows correctly, and the story really begins to manifest. I love seeing the looks on some of my beta reader’s faces as they really get into the pages. Nothing feels better than that.

Do you hide “easter eggs” in your writing for readers to find? (I once read about easter eggs in the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and now I’m always curious to know if an author includes some in theirs!)

I am so glad you asked this! I absolutely hide Easter eggs in my writings! I never thought of it in that way, but that’s totally what they are! There are so many of them that I couldn’t possibly name them all here! There’s real life inside jokes, specific nods to certain movies or music, places I’ve known, color schemes, down to the very corsets the girls wear. I could go chapter by chapter and point them all out to you! Hmmm… maybe that’s a blog post I should do in the future 😉

What’s next for Adella and the other characters of Royal High? 

Where we leave them in The Lost Noble, the door is absolutely wide open for a ton more adventures. You’re going to find out just who the “Champions of Old” are, Adella’s true purpose in this world, what Astralore is, and the fate of certain characters who are in peril. There’s lots more to reveal in the halls of Royal High, as well many other realms to visit (oh boy I’m getting excited just typing this!).

We feel obligated to ask this since we know you cosplay–does cosplay influence your writing and vice versa? Does one draw inspiration from the other? 

Oh absolutely! I touched on this earlier, but being a theater kid, as well as growing up with Renaissance faire, I have always had a love for dressing up and becoming “someone else”. I feel that this theatrical side of me has absolutely influenced my writing. I completely envision everything everyone wears, down to the exact emotion on their face. I’ve often drawn some of the things that my characters wear, too (when I had time to still draw that is). My hopes are to one day see a ton of cosplay inspired by my books! That would be incredible!

What do you like to read/are currently reading? 

I just finished Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series. It’s SO good. I really love the tale she told, as well as her writing style. She did an amazing job of transporting my mind into her world. I’m currently reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss as I wanted something a little heavier and meaty for fantasy. And, at the recommendation of a dear friend, I also just started the Tiger’s Curse saga by Colleen Houck. I’m definitely a fantasy reader, so anything in that genre instantly piques my interest. If it’s got romance, action, adventure, and magic, I am down!

You can find The Lost Noble on Amazon.