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IR Approved Author Kyrie Wang Tells All About Her “alternative history novel”

Enemy’s Keeper– Forbidden Ties (Enemy’s Keeper Series, Book 1) received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Kyrie Wang.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Enemy’s Keeper– Forbidden Ties (Enemy’s Keeper Series, Book 1), published March 16, 2022

What’s the book’s first line?

Someone banging on the watermill’s door jolted Heather awake.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

The orphans. The outcast. In a country torn by rebellion, they will rise as heroes.

The Enemy’s Keeper series follows an English (Anglo-Saxon) peasant, Heather, who becomes torn between two sides of a deadly rebellion. The setting is 1075AD England, during the last serious uprising against William the Conqueror’s rule in England. Matthew is a Norman squire loyal to King William, whereas Tobias is an Anglo-Saxon rebel seeking to free his country from its conqueror. As the story progresses, Heather must side with one of the two men and, therefore, one side of the rebellion.

Featuring intertwining stories of suspense, adventure, and clean romance, my story conveys the message that good and evil are not always clear-cut. In addition, individual actions matter even if cultural norms and overarching institutions seem to have the final say.

In this alternative history novel, I weave in the existence of a tribal society based on the Celtic Britons and the secret entry of gunpowder into England. I explain in my author’s note how this was possible even in 11th century Europe, as contemporary China was already throwing firebombs and shooting flame arrows, and the Silk Road connected their world with Europe.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

My inspiration for writing the Enemy’s Keeper series is unusual. It came as a need to process the suffering I saw in my patients and their families during my medical training. As a pathology resident, I witnessed nearly a hundred forensic autopsies. This grueling experience was my strongest drive to write. I saw bodies from suicides, infanticides, stabbings, fires, drownings, car accidents, and more. I saw the outcomes of incredible evil and tragedy. Over and over, I wished for a different ending for these victims, for someone or something to have stopped the final, fatal event. I also learned, through the reports of police, that often the perpetrators of such atrocities were not simply born depraved and thoughtless. There was often a backstory- of mental illness, betrayal, abuse, and heartbreak.

I removed my angst from the 21st century and moved it back to a setting nearly 1,000 years ago. It was far enough not to trigger my tears from my forensics rotations, and still close enough for my characters to be relatable. Homicide and death were commonplace during times of great upheavals, such as following the Norman conquest of England. How did people back then cope? Through my characters, I could explore what may have driven ordinary people into acts of the unthinkable. I could fantasize about alternative endings to disastrous events. Someone stepped in. Children were saved. My lead characters, all orphans or outcasts, discovered the heroes in themselves.

And most of all, my characters held onto hope in humanity despite the pain they witnessed and experienced. This is the hope I also hold on to, especially given what is happening in the world.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

More than just an escape, I explore the problems of sexism, racism, and classism in my story. Each character embodies traits that cause them to clash with one another- whether it be their gender, cultural background, religious belief, or social class. In addition, each character has his or her agenda and is convinced he or she has it “right”.

Through their interwoven struggles with jealousy, greed, loneliness, regret, sorrow, and resentment, I show the modern reader how little we have changed as humans. We are perfectly imperfect. We are prone to hurt each other in the worst ways, and yet capable of great compassion that makes life worth living.

As the world becomes increasingly divided, it’s easy to forget how much we have in common, even with our “enemies”. This book is a reminder that we all hope, dream, laugh, and cry.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

I believe in writing characters realistic to their environment and social status. With so many naturally born “kick-butt” female protagonists in fiction and movies nowadays, my protagonist, Heather, is distinctive in that she starts as a nobody. And indeed, typical female peasants in 11th century England had little physical prowess or influence.

Yet, this does not mean she is useless. With her wit, kindness, and skills with a fishing spear, she stands up to social injustices, saves lives, and discovers her strength and worth as a person by the end of the series.

Her character reminds me of friends, family, and myself when we are forced to make do with very little. Each obstacle in life has the possibility of breaking us or solidifying our resilience for the next challenge. Heather’s story demonstrates that choices are not easy and that consequences are real. Through it all, however, she emerges not only changed but also having changed others around her- for the better. This journey of self-discovery and triumph is my hope for anyone struggling to get by today.

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