When we first heard about The False Prince, which went on to become one of our Best Young Adult Books of April, it was explained as "The Game of Thrones for teens." As it turns out, that was a very apt description--The False Prince is packed with fast-paced action and political intrigue. The premise is that four orphans are recruited by a member of the king's court to compete for the chance to play the part of the king's long-lost son. A pretty good deal, compared to starvation and brutality in the orphanage or in case of the protagonist, Sage, a budding life of crime.
From the very first chapter I was pulled into the story, and while it doesn't have the same level of violence as The Game of Thrones, there is a death early on that foreshadows the mortal peril and suspense that continues throughout the book. Secret identities, betrayal, and startling revelations, make for edge-of-your-seat reading--The False Prince is the first book in the Ascendance trilogy and I can't wait for the next book to arrive (please hurry, Jennifer Nielsen). Author Jennifer Nielsen gave us some insight into The False Prince and her life as a writer in the exclusive Q&A below. -- Seira
Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Jennifer A. Nielsen (read the rest after the jump)
Question: What inspired you to write The False Prince?
Nielsen: I’d had the general idea for The False Prince for some time, but could never find the right protagonist to carry the weight of the story I wanted to tell. The central character, Sage, was found in the words of a song called Guaranteed, by the great Eddie Vedder. It said, “I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me, guaranteed.” From that line, I had the instant image of a defiant but charismatic boy who always stays a step ahead of the game, and where other players have no clue that all the rules are very quietly being rewritten.
Q: Where did Sage’s voice come from?
Nielsen: Sage came to me as a complete character, as fully developed as if he had been a real person. So writing The False Prince wasn’t really about creating him, but instead, it was the experience of discovering him as the story unfolded. There were several moments when I knew what was waiting for Sage if he didn’t back down, and yet, he never would. So I gritted my teeth and let things unfold the only way they could with him. As I work on the sequels, he continues to surprise, amuse, and shock me. He’s the most complex character I’ve ever written, and I’m always thrilled to get feedback from readers who are as fascinated by him as I am.
Q: Was the setting or any of the other characters inspired by real people or places?
Nielsen: Sage is very much his own person, and as a whole, is completely unique. However, there is one trait of his that I borrowed from a student I had when I was a high school debate teacher years ago. He was popular, brilliant, charming, and an amazingly talented thief. At the start of every ride to a tournament, he would steal the watch off of the bus driver’s wrist, then keep it for the entire trip. As he left the bus at the end, he would hand the watch back to the driver, explaining it must have fallen to the floor. Then the driver always thanked him for being such a great and honest kid. I should’ve been angry, but I never was – he just pulled off his scams that well