As I was writing Star Time, I introduced a couple of young kids, with just a hint as to their future. (Hint was given by a prophet, so it was pretty reliable.) Kingdom of the Hill Country was my first opportunity to carry the story line into a new generation, and I wanted to do it justice. It helped that the action took place near home, so I could drive out to my locations and verify what everything looked like.
This was a post-apocalyptic novel, but I didn’t want to haul out the trite deserted landscapes that seem so popular in movies. Yes, there was a big disaster that destroyed civilization as we know it, but this was set a few years later, when people were putting their lives back together. People on farms were farming. People in cities were finding new ways to make a living. This was a story of renewal, and the pivotal events that could turn civilization in one direction or another.
We have a horse at our house and friends that are big horse lovers, so it was natural to have as a heroine a girl struggling to bringing back horses that were hurt severely by the supernova flare. Her dedication was making its mark, but when lawless bandits moved into the area, she ran up against the struggling city-state of Austin, and the young man, the son of its ruler, who was trying to expand its economic zone.
I enjoyed examining the political ramifications of a collapse. No matter how I looked at it in those times, democracy was doomed. The default governance of humanity seems to be a man in power, with possibly a council to help. Part of the interest of the plot to me was seeing how a democracy became a fake one, and then chose to become a monarchy.
Another theme in this novel was the idea of a prophet, who could tell the future accurately, but who could not change anything that he saw. There is a question here: how much does a prophecy influence events? And how can a man live with a future set in stone? I visit these ideas several times in the bigger saga. If people with psychic abilities exist, why are there so few of them? Why has humanity bred out that trait?
The cover art was fun. I composed the image from photos I’d taken in the area, including the Falkenstein Castle near Inks Lake, with character photos taken by my wife. The result is maybe too much like a romance novel cover, but I can’t object.
So, from battle tactics, to the birth of a new nation, to a struggle between a man and a woman with different views of the future, this was a fun story to write and is my favorite.
Next up — My Favorite Book: Tales of the U’tanse