Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the The Winter Duke blog tour!! I am so excited to be a part of this tour, and I’m even more excited for you to discover Claire’s favorite moments from her book, how she chose the names for her characters, and some fun facts about Ekata that didn’t make it into the book! Plus, follow the rest of the tour and enter to win a print copy of The Winter Duke!
The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 3, 2020
Genres: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+
An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke's daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.
When Ekata's brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family's icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother's warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love...or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family's power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.
Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what's right in the face of danger.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from The Winter Duke?
My favorite moments are my Inkar moments. I think my overall favorite quote or moment is when they leave the palace together one night to give Inkar a tour of Kylma Above. Ekata tells herself it’s a way to convince Inkar that Kylma is too remote and freezing to call home, but there’s more to it than that.
“The night was blessedly still when we stepped outside. No wind to chill us, no snow to settle on us. The stars were a riot across the sky, and the moon a thin, sideways smile. Inkar gasped, coughed, and gasped again.
“Bracing, isn’t it?” I said smugly.
“I have little hairs on the inside of my nose,” Inkar began.
“I didn’t really need to know that.”
“They are all frozen.” Inkar pulled up her scarf to cover the lower half of her face.
“We can turn around, if you like,” I offered.
Her eyes were alight. “No chance. Let us walk.”
If Ekata were to hang out with characters from other YA books, who would they be and why?
Ekata would love to hang out with Felicity from A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. They’d have a great time bickering about science together. Also, she would completely fall for Felicity’s friend Sim.
What was your favorite piece of research you ended up not using?
Ekata wants to be a natural scientist, so she is interested in the flora and fauna around here. I ended up going down some weird plant-related research holes, that I couldn’t really squeeze into the novel without slowing down the pace. For example, a lot of plants in northern, snowy environments have darker pigment on their leaves, which helps them photosynthesize better. Also, since it’s a bad location for flowers, most plants reproduce underground, via their roots!
How did you choose the names for your characters?
I wanted my names to evoke a place of Russian or Finnish or Generally Cold Place origin, without being directly related, so I played around with name lists and experimented a lot. When I wanted to evoke other cultures, I did the same thing. So Sigis gets a very Middle Ages Germanic name, for example. At the end of the day, I also want names that I feel fit the characters, so sometimes my names are more about how they sound in my mouth than where they come from.
What can you tell us about Ekata that we may not find out in the book?
Ekata is actually very ambitious, under the right circumstances. With eleven siblings to contend with, she never really stood out, and while there were circumstances under which she definitely wanted to remain unnoticeable, in other ways she longs to exceed expectations. It’s part of why she wants to escape her kingdom and go to a university – there she’ll have the chance to excel, without that chance marking her out as a potential threat that has to be taken care of on the political stage.
I am a writer and tour guide in Copenhagen, Denmark. Though I originally come from Colorado, I left the US when I was eighteen and I haven’t lived there since.
More permanent stops on my travels have included Switzerland, Wales and Denmark. The arrival of a Danish husband has somewhat cemented my living situation, but I get my travel in smaller doses these days.
I like to write fantasy, mostly, though I dabble in soft sci-fi. My short stories are more adult, my novels more YA.
I’ve studied history, archaeology, and writing. I like to take my inspiration from historical events, and the more unknown and inspiring the event, the better.
I am represented by Kurestin Armada of P.S. Literary.
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