Inspiration Behind Blade of SecretsBy Tricia Levenseller
The Bladesmith Duology was acquired based on a three-chapter sample and a synopsis of Blade of Secrets. This wasn’t new to me, as Daughter of the Siren Queen, Warrior of the Wild, and The Shadows Between Us were also all acquired before they were written. However, the Bladesmith Duology became a special challenge I hadn’t anticipated. The entire book hinges on the concept of a blacksmith with social anxiety who forges magical weapons. I looked forward to all the research ahead of me when it came to smithing, and I was prepared to pull from my own experiences where the anxiety came into play. Social anxiety is, after all, something I’ve dealt with my whole life, though at different levels during different times. I was excited to shed some light on this mental illness for those who are not familiar with it and to provide a story in which those who do have anxiety can see themselves. What I wasn’t prepared for was the mental turmoil of reflecting on a time in my life when my anxiety was so bad that I couldn’t leave my house without my body going into fight or flight. To get into the headspace of my main character, I had to remember twenty-one-year-old Tricia’s struggles. It made me more anxious in the present, and I had to struggle with my mental health just to tell the story I was so desperate to tell. It was my hardest writing project to date, but I don’t regret it. This book, and its sequel, are so precious to me. Those with mental illness deserve to see themselves as the heroes of stories. Diversity is so crucial in fantasy, because it gives us a lens through which we can safely navigate real world troubles—with the added benefit of adding fantastical elements: magical realms, magical creatures, magical people. In Blade of Secrets, I’ve told the story of a girl who builds a too-powerful sword and must keep it out of the hands of a powerful warlord who would use it for world domination. She takes her younger sister and flees, starting an adventure she could never be prepared for. This story is chock-full of action, romance, magic, and humor—all the things I love most in stories. But it is told through the viewpoint of a girl who has a hard time communicating around strangers, who feels physical pain every time she leaves her house, who occasionally has panic attacks. This doesn’t make her any less worthy of having a story to tell. If anything, I think it makes her braver for doing what’s right when she must work so hard just to be okay. Don't miss Tricia's newest novel, Blade of Secrets available on May 4th wherever books are sold.