Maggie Platt is a writer, traveler, cancer survivor, and dreamer. Her author debut is with YA Speculative novel Kingdom Above the Cloud (Emerald House Publishers): Amid the glamour of the kingdom above the cloud Tovi is torn between her own dark desires and unanswered questions. When the ring is complete, will her life be over? In our exclusive interview, Maggie explains the challenges of writing her book, shares the surprises in developing her characters, and reveals how life adds depth to fiction.
What inspired the story in Kingdom Above the Cloud?
At first, the story was just a daydream inspired by the question: “What if the nine fruits of the spirit and the seven deadly sins were embodied by characters who were battling for control of the world?”
As I wrote, it became much more personal. Grief, doubt, and clinging to Jesus are all familiar to me, and they show up in how the main character, Tovi, experiences the world.
In the last five years, I have struggled through cancer treatment (healthy now!) and the sudden loss of my mother. Those experiences—and the way God brought me through them—have added depth to the challenges that Tovi faces, even if they aren’t the exact same circumstances.
Did any part of the process of creating this new world challenge you?
So many parts of this process challenged me! World building is a ton of fun, but I am new to it.
I wrote most of the plot before thinking through important things like currency, government, family culture, history, etc. I did it all backwards, and that created some interesting challenges when I would back myself into a corner. Thankfully, I have some wonderful friends who are big Dungeons and Dragons nerds (I say that affectionately!), and their skills as Dungeon Masters have helped me so much in this area.
What can you tell us about Tovi and her twin brother?
Tovi and Tali are a study in opposites. They have both survived childhood trauma, and their ways of processing and dealing with their past have moved them in opposite directions.
Tali seeks constant adventure, perhaps to distract him from all of his painful questions. He is confident, curious, and hopeful.
Tovi wants to be just like Tali, but she is held back by her doubts, frustration, and feeling like she belongs nowhere. She keeps Tali grounded, and he gets her out of her own head.
When Tali disappears, Tovi is left to grieve his loss and search for answers alone and without his hope and joy.
Did any of the characters surprise you as you wrote the story?
Goodness, yes! I was several years into writing the story when I discovered one of the “bad guys” wasn’t really bad!
These characters really took on a life of their own as I wrote. I could be driving down the street or taking a shower, and suddenly I would discover something about one of them that I never realized before. I know that sounds absolutely insane, but it’s true!
In Adia and all of the surrounding lands, all people are born with a heart in their palms (similar to a tattoo). This symbol means that they belong to Adwin, the creator of Adia. When someone turns away from Adwin, the heart fades.
At first I thought the villains did not have the heart symbol. But, as I wrote and got to know them, I realized some of them do! They hide them beneath fashionable gloves so no one knows their embarrassing secret.
What are the spiritual themes of Kingdom Above the Cloud?
The main arc of the story follows Tovi through doubt, temptation, sin, hopelessness, and finally redemption and salvation. It is unashamedly the story of Christ portrayed through the character of Adwin, who is willing to give his life for Tovi despite her sins and failings. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Book two of the series will pick up after Tovi’s redemption story and follow her through what I have found to be one of the hardest parts of my walk with Jesus: learning to hear His voice and obey, even if it isn’t easy.
Visit Maggie Platt’s Author Page
Kingdom Above the Cloud
Tales from Adia #1
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