Bubble Talk is where I interview some truly amazing authors and tell you all about their books!
Today, we’re talking to the author of The Gathering Storm, a dark gothic fantasy novel. Robin Bridges tells us all about her love affair with Imperial Russia and the quest to get Katerina’s story just right.
Angel: How did the idea for The Gathering Storm come to you?
Robin: My great-grandparents on my mother’s side owned a bakery in Zhitomir, Ukraine. They came to America in 1912, before the Russian revolution. I’ve always been interested in Russian history, from the stories about the bakery and about the family samovar, and I fell in love with the late Imperial period- the years of Faberge and Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy- as well as the old Russian fairy tales. I wondered what life in the late 19th century would have been like if tsars had possessed magical powers like the tsars of the old legends.
Robin: This book was written over and over and over again, trying to get the storyline just right. By the time we got to copy edits, the most unique challenge was probably deciding on the correct Anglicized versions of Russian names and places: tsar vs czar, Smolni vs Smolny. I was blessed with an awesome copy editor!
Angel: I loved that the setting is 1800s Russia. Was there a lot of research involved in writing the story?
Robin: Lots! Romanov books are a weakness of mine, especially the ones with lots of pictures. I’ve been keeping track of all the Russian history books I’ve collected on a LibraryThing account: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/thebarefootcontessa
Angel: Magical creatures are peppered throughout the novel and change Katerina’s life. What prompted the decision to not just have necromancers, but vampires, fairies and witches interact with one another in the story?
Robin: Russian culture is teeming with superstition. It wasn’t hard for me to imagine a Saint Petersburg filled with vampires and other monsters. When I reread my favorite Russian fairy tales about Koschei the Deathless and Baba Yaga, I also read about firebirds and bogatyrs. Digging into other Eastern European mythology, I discovered veshtizas and strigas. I could see all of these creatures involved in a power struggle behind the scenes of the Imperial Court.
Robin: Book 2 introduces readers to a secret society of magicians interested in recruiting Grand Duke George into their ranks. And Crown Prince Danilo is not willing to give up Katerina so easily.
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?