Today, it’s my turn to host the lovely K.A.S. Quinn on her book blog tour promoting her new book ‘The Queen Must Die’ published by Atlantic Books this June.
In this feature, the author blogs exclusively about her writing style, who inspired her characters and few interesting facts on the historical basis of the book. And, I have an exclusive extract from the book to share with you, from which the author shares her thoughts. If the extract doesn’t get you excited for the book, I don’t know what will!
In which we meet James and Prince Leopold….A terrible cry awoke Katie in the night. It ran up the scale, from moan to shriek, piercing the darkness around her. A high-pitched, thin, young cry. The cry of a child frightened and in pain. Katie started from her hiding place, but the sound of running feet held her back. Doors slammed and candles flickered quickly through the room. Alice’s silky hair dangled over the side of the bed. ‘It’s Leopold, my brother,’ she said in an agitated whisper. ‘He suffers from the bleeding disease. He’s had an attack. I do hope it’s not a bad one. Dear Leo…’ Katie was pulled in two directions: she wanted to go to the suffering child but she also wanted to hide under her blankets and cover her ears. It was Alice who solved the dilemma. ‘Stay where you are,’ she ordered Katie, pushing her firmly back under the bed. ‘I’d run to help myself, but they’ll say I’m in the way and send me back to bed. Oh, but where is Dr O’Reilly?’ As if to answer her call, an authoritative male voice came from the next room. ‘Quick, some water and ice – the bleeding is internal. We must tighten the veins.’ The doctor had arrived. ‘Mummy!’ whimpered Prince Leopold, ‘Mummy!’ ‘It is not necessary to wake the Queen at this point,’ the doctor admonished. ‘Though painful, this is a mild attack – a slight internal bleeding in the groin and upper thigh. Fill the bath with ice – the cold will contract the veins. And we’ll need bandages – cambric soaked in perchloride of iron.’ Raising his voice, he called to someone across the room. ‘James, you will find cambric wrap in the adjoining nursery’s wardrobe. Hurry!’ The door to the nursery was flung open and a boy moved softly and quickly through the room, stopping at a wardrobe just opposite Alice’s bed. Katie held her breath as he opened one drawer after the other, searching for the cambric bandages. Alice turned slightly in the bed above her. ‘Baaaa,’ came the low growl, as Woolie Baa Lamb rolled to the floor. Katie reached out to grab the toy and ended up clutching a cold hand about the same size as her own. She froze, as did the boy, as they stared, stunned, at one another. ‘Now I’m done for,’ thought Katie, her heart turning over. ‘James – the cambric!’ the doctor called. The boy hurriedly reached into a lower drawer and found the bandages. ‘You stay there,’ he hissed at Katie. ‘One move against the princess and I’ll shoot you myself. I have a pistol.’ Katie slid back under the bed, her nerves a-jangle. She was pretty sure he wasn’t armed but one couldn’t be too certain when it came to a gun. Alice’s upside-down head appeared again. ‘It’s Jamie O’Reilly. He’s the doctor’s son, and he certainly does sound angry.’ The sounds from the next room kept changing, from pain to fear to protest, until finally they calmed down and faded away. Gradually the rain began to soothe her and lull her into an uneasy stupor. She was finally dozing off when she found herself being pulled across the floor by one arm. ‘Explain yourself,’ said James O’Reilly grimly. ‘And remember, I have a pistol.’ ‘You have no such thing,’ said a surprisingly regal voice as Alice jumped out of the bed, ‘and stop pulling Katie around the room by the arm. That is not a gentlemanly way to behave towards a girl.’ James looked as if he would die of embarrassment. He wasn’t that comfortable with girls to start with. And now he was stuck in a room with a haughty princess in a nightdress and a half naked intruder – both girls. He thought about bolting, but the safety of the Royal Family came first. He bowed to Princess Alice but, still looking at Katie, repeated stubbornly, ‘Explain yourself.’ ‘I don’t know how to explain, it’s kind of hard.’ Katie took a deep breath. ‘If this is a dream, who knows how you’ll react. If it’s not a dream, I know you won’t believe me. I’m not sure I believe myself. But here goes…’ There was stunned and total silence in the room, as the other two tried to absorb Katie’s story. Alice sat on the edge of the bed and bit the nail on her index finger, deep in thought. She shook herself as if to wake. ‘Katie,’ she said, ‘can you think of any way to prove that your story is true? That you come from another time?’
K.A.S. Quinn on the chapter –
Katie is having a frightening time of it. She’s ended up under a sofa at Buckingham Palace – not just in a different country, but in a different time. Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice, has befriended Katie and hides her under the bed. Now Katie’s been awakened in the middle of the night – there’s a major crisis afoot.
I like the pace of this scene, and love all the medical stuff, but mostly I like that you meet James and Leopold.
I have two boys of my own, so I wanted to write a book they would like. Wouldn’t it be awful if they read it and said “Girls! Yuk! On every page!” There had to be some believable boys. James is very like one of my own children: stubborn, brave, loyal and intelligent. He can be dour and grumpy; but if I were stuck in a lifeboat in the middle of the sea – I’d want James in it with me.
Prince Leopold was a real person and did suffer from haemophilia. When I was researching this book, I spent some time at the Wellcome Trust medical charity reading contemporary accounts of Prince Leopold’s illness. I admire Prince Leopold, because he lived with a terrible, incurable disease, but still made the best he could of his life.
Thankyou to K.A.S Quinn for taking the time to write about her work, and thankyou also to Atlantic Books.
The Queen Must Die by K.A.S. Quinn