Welcome to Day 2 of the blog tour for Kellyn Roth’s latest installation in the series The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy! I’m interviewing the author today about the book, entitled After Our Castle. We get back to Ivy’s story in this one, seeing how this new stage of marriage is treating her. It’s a great story, filled with realistic struggles and some deep moments that resonate with truth.
Interested yet? Read on to learn a little more about After Our Castle!
And they lived … well, happily ever after.
A year into a blissfully happy marriage, Violet Angel admits to a dose of skepticism. She’s not married, granted—but as the closest friend of the bride and groom, she feels she has a perspective no one but the people directly involved could have. There’s no such thing as a happy ending, and it’s only a matter of time before the castle in the sky plummets to earth.
If only Violet were always wrong instead of just mostly wrong. Ivy McAllen doesn’t believe she and her new husband are out of the honeymoon period—if they are, she isn’t going to admit it to herself—but there are certainly areas of adjustment that she hadn’t expected.
Changes at the village of Keefmore and in Ivy’s life lead to complications, and Violet spirals further and further from reality. When a castle in the sky turns out to be more cloud than stronghold, finding a foothold proves more than a little difficult.
Interview with Kellyn Roth
1. This is book number six in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy! How does being this far into the series make you feel?
Really great, honestly! Just a few years ago, I was doubting I’d ever get this far. And just a year and a half ago, I thought there would only be six books in this series, so at the same time, I’m a little concerned … because I can’t wait to get the rest of the series out!
This is a very imperfect set of stories, in that the resolutions keep getting pushed further and further back. For some things, there can never be resolutions because that’s not how life works. (Book 6 is a perfect example of this! Which you’ll find out if you read it!)
I’m not an escapist fiction writer. I don’t do that. I think it’s all fine and good, and I love a good “escape from the real world” read myself. I think authors who do that are following as noble a calling as any. God uses stories for a reason.
But that’s not me. So, yes, I’m excited — but also so eager to get to book 10 and be done and have my final say, if you will.
2. Can you name any specific things that inspired the story of After Our Castle (songs, other people, personal experiences, etc.)?
You know, I never know how to answer this question because the answer is almost always “no.” Inspiration is so multifaceted for me. I’m too dumb and scatter-brained to get it from one source or even a few nameable sources. It comes from anything and everything.
Frankly, I’m a little obsessive, and my books are on my mind constantly, and yet my mind doesn’t always seem to process things at the front of my mind … rather, everything is shuffling around while I’m working on other things, and how it comes together is a mystery to me.
However, I will say that I was inspired by my own journey with waiting for a baby, as I wrote it – and my struggles and researching on marriage and in particular, Biblical marriage, as I edited it.
I was also deeply inspired by my friend, Aimee. She practically wrote the book. She’s pretty much my Ivy and Violet encyclopedia. She knows them better than I do, and it’s frankly both flattering and a great resource, because sometimes she tells me things about them that are way smarter and more developed than anything I could come up with. There are even several passages of the book that started out as co-written fanfiction that we never intended to use. (You can kind of spot Aimee’s writing style in this, if you squint closely enough. It’s a lot more prose-y than my typical style.)
But a lot of this story was more inspired by the characters themselves. I put them through different emotions and watched their reactions, and that’s it. That’s the story.
3. Where does this book fall in the lineup of your favorite Alice and Ivy books? Favorite Ivy books?
Not a fair question!
But okay, going off how I feel as I write this, and only talking about published books (not works-in-progress), here’s my current ranking:
1. A Prayer Unanswered
2. At Her Fingertips
3. After Our Castle
4. The Dressmaker’s Secret
5. Ivy Introspective
6. Beyond Her Calling
1. After Our Castle
2. Ivy Introspective
3. Beyond Her Calling
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but you know. I have a bit of a different perspective than most, being the author. I think of the way I wrote it, the scenes I liked and disliked, the way they made me love the characters, and so on rather than simply my enjoyment in reading them!
Sad; Beyond Her Calling is my favorite.
4. How many more books do you have planned for this series? This can include spin-offs!
10 main books, so I have four more to publish. Then there will be four short stories total – one is already published and another is coming in December, but two more after that.
For spin-offs, I have at least two trilogies. One of the trilogies has a spin-off novel in the works. I’ll also probably write a spin-off story about Peter’s mother and Alice’s mother (interpret that how you will; both are accurate). Depending on how I feel at that point, there may be one story about a minor character, but I don’t know. I don’t like her very much right now. Oh, and I really want to write a story about Caleb and Ella (iykyk), but again, that may be a poor choice. We shall see.
Then, well, this may or may not happen, but the current plan is to have a further spin-off series set in the early 1900s and featuring six children of one of our favorite characters. And if I like how that goes, I could theoretically put out my (standalone) YA series set in the Great Depression featuring the GRANDDAUGHTER of one of our favorite characters. Eventually that’d get me into WWII, which means I’d better stop because I always get bored after 1945. (See, I will stop sometime!)
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Also, the Kees & Colliers series is practically a spin-off. I mean, sort of.
5. Which character was the easiest to write in this book? Which was the hardest?
Okay, that’s not precisely accurate. Violet was pretty hard to write, too. Honestly, everyone here was. But she was slightly easier than Ivy this time, because I was just sucking up the awesome prose-y POV whereas with Ivy, I was more involved in her emotions – and frankly, it hurt.
But Jordy was so much worse than Violet or Ivy. I just about killed him. I’m sure there’s some saved file in my laptop where I plotted his death. (Didn’t do it, but the lad was tempting my patience.)
Bless his heart. I’m sure the dear boy can be quite aggravating.
6. Is there a scene you’re particularly excited for us to read? What about one you’re still a little nervous about?
Yes, the whole book. 😛
Really. This is a tough book. I’m nervous about feedback. I know it pushed some boundaries for Christian fiction if you’re referring to Christian fiction as a genre with strict rules about what can and cannot be discussed, as defined by a specific kind of reader.
However, insofar as fiction honoring God goes? I’m not afraid. I know what I was doing here. I prayed about what I was doing here! And really, this is a book that exists to shatter allusions. Even the title should tell you that. The castle in the clouds is crashing to earth. Here’s reality – and it’s not pretty.
Frankly, I should’ve said that the book was inspired by the fangirling over Jordy and Ivy’s relationship. Because that’s accurate. It was inspired, in that I decided it was overmuch and responded in like!
But I guess that also excites me. Frankly, the frustration and surprise I’ve gotten from early readers has delighted me. (Let’s just say y’all are not ready for book 8 yet. Hopefully we’ll all have grown up by then, as I’m not sure I’m ready for it, either!)
To go back to the original question, however, one scene I really like is at almost the very end. Violet says something, several things, that force Ivy to do something very out of character. And let’s just say, if at least some of you don’t mention it in your reviews …
I will die. I will curl up and die. If the scene made you grin even as it broke your heart, please, please tell me! I need to know someone else felt the way I did when I wrote it.
As for being nervous, the first scene. It, um, yeah. There’s an implication in the first scene. But at least that’ll scare people who aren’t interested in this kind of adult women’s fiction novel off right away!
7. What do you most want readers to take away from After Our Castle?
Life isn’t perfect. Marriage isn’t perfect. Friendships aren’t perfect. Nothing, nothing, nothing on this sinful world is perfect.
However, God is a great and mighty God, and He can work with our imperfections. He works with Ivy’s timidity and her refusal to stand up for herself when she ought to. He works with Jordy’s lack of understanding, his insistence on working for her love even when that’s the last thing she wants. He even can work, in the long run, with Violet and all her rebellion.
God has a plan. He has a purpose. And we can build all the castles in the sky we want. They will come tumbling down. But Jesus Christ has rescued us from the inherent crumbling of our sinful world.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)
Thank you for hosting me!
About the Author