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  • Writer's pictureNicole Arch

Q&A with Nicola Tyche: North Queen

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

I am thrilled to be speaking with debut author and Arch Editorial client Nicola Tyche! Her romantic fantasy novel North Queen, the first book in the Crowns trilogy, comes out July 4th.


North Queen cover (crown piercing through sword) next to author photo (woman sitting on stairs)

The Return of a Lost Heir …

The kingdom of Mercia has been at war with the Shadow King and his dark army for ten years. To escape the seers’ vision of her capture, Mercia’s heir to the throne, Princess Norah Andell, is secreted away by her father to keep her safe. But when he dies in battle, so too dies the knowledge of where she’s hidden. She’s lost to the world—until three years later, when she’s found with no memory of who she is or the kingdom that now rests on her shoulders.


A Conflicted Duty …

Loyal and fearless commander of the Mercian army, Alexander Rhemus, has protected the realm against the threat of the Shadow King, awaiting Norah’s return. Not only does she hold the fate of the kingdom, but also his heart. However, when she returns, he discovers she has no memory of him, or what was once between them. With war still looming, Norah is expected to wed and secure an alliance—one Mercia desperately needs to stand against the Shadow King. Now, with Mercia’s future at stake, Alexander finds himself torn between his duty and his heart.


A Twisted Fate …

Norah is thrust into a world she doesn’t know, in a role she’s unprepared for, to save a kingdom she doesn’t remember. Under the hardship of winter and a dark enemy against them, Mercia is on the verge of breaking. As things start to unravel, the Shadow King draws Norah down a path of twisted fate—and it could cost her everything.


North Queen cover: a sword piercing through a crown over a background of white swirls

Hello Nicola, and thank you for agreeing to talk with me. Let's start off with a fun question: What's the book that made you want to become an author, or the book you can’t stop thinking about?


The Game of Thrones series. I love Martin’s writing style. It’s my kind of fantasy—the lower magic fantasy space. And the complexity of his stories really sticks with me. I read a lot of books that are great and wonderful but pretty straightforward, but Martin’s really make me think about all the interwoven pieces of the plot. Those kinds of stories stick with me long after I read the book.


I can really see that influence in North Queen, particularly in the focus on political intrigue. What would you say inspired this story?


I really liked the idea of following this queen through the challenges of running a kingdom, with all these pressures hanging over her. I feel like there’s a lot of fantasy books out there, wonderful books, that do such a great job with the adventure and the romance. The piece I don’t see a lot is that struggle. This is not an easy job; it hangs over people. It’s difficult to make decisions for the good of something or someone else, in this case, a kingdom—especially when the people you love may not agree with you or support you. So that’s where it started, and I built on it from that.


Speaking of Norah’s struggles, I wanted to talk about the amnesia element in North Queen. Norah’s quickly torn between her heart and her duties as queen, with the threat of war looming in the background... and on top of that, she has no memories whatsoever. Did you always conceive of Norah having amnesia? What were the challenges of writing a character with no recollections of her past?


I don’t think I had this from the very beginning, but I did develop the amnesia piece fairly early on. I wanted her to operate free of the things she learned or had been told; I wanted this learning experience for her. Something that was really important to me in the books was a storyline around change in perception—what you can believe, and finding out how things really are. I really wanted this learning journey for her. And she could have had that without amnesia as well, but I got this sense that it would have been easier to reflect more of that learning experience with the amnesia. It really added to where I was going with the story.


I’m not writing from a space of ever having amnesia, so it was a little tricky for me balancing what would she just know innately and what would she have forgotten. That was definitely a challenge, but it was a fun challenge to work on.


I loved how the amnesia element added to not just Norah's character arc, but also the world-building. Tell me a bit about creating the world of the Crowns trilogy. What was that process like for you?


It just unfolded. I’m a pantser, which means I just make it up as I go. Sometimes I write myself into a corner and have to work my way back. Sometimes I find there are inconsistencies with things, especially as I get into multiple books. But I didn’t want to try to set up all the information at once. That was another reason I really liked the amnesia piece about Norah: I could deliver facts as Norah learned them. She’s in this circumstance; what is she learning right now? What is she seeing, what is she feeling? With her internal monologue, I was able to draw out more detail by allowing her to be the one that asks the questions and gets the answers, and I just built on it from there.


Speaking of world-building, let's talk about the prophecies that loom over North Queen. I know reviewers have been raving about this whirlwind of a story, especially the twists. Without revealing any spoilers, how did you balance telling your readers about future events while still leaving room for surprises along the way?


I really liked the idea of there being something out there of an expectation, but being able to deviate how to get there. Not in all cases, but certainly in some of them, things aren’t always what they seem. Being able to play with that notion a lot helped me form what those visions would look like. It was a lot of fun figuring out the journey along the way.


I’m curious about your writing process. How long did the Crowns trilogy take you to write? Did you write and edit each book individually, or did you draft all three together before you started editing?


I started the story about ten years ago, but I’d work on it and then I’d shelve it, and I'd work on it and then I'd shelve it. When COVID hit, I was home a lot more... so I thought, "you know what? I’m going to finish this story."


The first book was different from the other two. I’d written a lot already, for my entire life, but this was the first time I was trying to put a story together beginning to end. I had a lot of unfinished things, some simpler stories, but this was more complex. I just had this slew of scenes. I knew how it should begin, how it should end, and then I just had a bunch of stuff. I went through this whole effort of moving things around so I could string them together in a way that actually made a story. Then I had a big learning journey on how I can make this better. I had multiple rounds of beta readers, so I got a lot of feedback. I learned a lot about myself as a writer.


By the time I got to books two and three, I felt like I had it down a lot better and my process was very different. I knew where the story was going. Instead of just having a whirlwind of scenes, I really had a direction for the plot now of where I wanted these characters to end up. I still did a lot of pantsing. I didn’t always know how I was going to get there, but I’m an obsessive writer. I will sit down, and it just comes out. I would sit and write and see what happens. Sometimes I’d have to cut it, and sometimes it would work and I would keep it.


I had more of a direction through the second book of where I wanted to go, and the third was all about tying up these paths of plot. I have a lot of characters with their own agendas, doing their own things, and I had to make sure I tied it all up for them. So I was working backwards more in book three. That’s a very roundabout way of saying it was different for each book.


Tell me a bit about your publication journey.


It’s still a journey. I really went back and forth. Am I going to query? Am I going to self-publish this? I just got to the point that I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to pick the cover and make all the decisions. Whether or not they were right for market wasn’t a direction I wanted to think in. The story was so meaningful to me, I wanted to keep the pieces that I felt fit it.


I’ve had some phenomenal people who taught me a lot about general publishing processes. All the editors I worked with were in the industry and brought with them a wealth of knowledge, letting me pick their brain about things. My cover designer worked with me to figure out what I wanted, even when I didn’t have a clue. Right now I’m working on the audiobook—man, talk about a learning experience. The narrators I’m working with are phenomenal, having the patience to walk me through the process, and the norms, and how to do things. The whole journey has been a process. A little bit of a train wreck here or there, but a lot of learning, and I’ve really enjoyed it.


I know you're working on a stand alone accompaniment to Crowns, and that the first book of an urban fantasy story is underway for early 2024. Anything you want to share with readers about either of these projects?


I’m so excited for them. Blood King is an accompaniment to the trilogy. The trilogy is a full story; you get the whole thing from beginning to end, but Blood King is a part of that story. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say Blood King has been the biggest challenge to write. It has been the most emotional journey for me, challenging me as a person and a writer. I’m really proud of how it’s coming, and I’m excited to share more down the road.


The other project is an urban fantasy, though I’m not sure if that’s the right category. There’s fallen angels involved. It’s set in the current day, which is very different from my other stories, and it’s the very first thing I’ve written in first person. The writing is coming along a lot faster than I expected it would, so I may be wrapping it up this year. I’m excited to share more soon!


Any tips for fellow writers?


Stay with it. This has been such a long journey. Every single piece has had a whole process behind it, and it can be really overwhelming sometimes. But if you chunk it up into manageable pieces, and take it one piece at a time, you will get there. You may work through it quickly, and that’s great, or you may be like me. But taking it piece by piece and being kind to yourself is the biggest thing.


It’s hard when you first start getting feedback. You’re taking something from the most intimate parts of your mind and putting it out there, and it’s from you—your creativity, your heart, maybe your past struggles or challenges. When I look at my work, there’s a piece of me in every single character. My villains, the people you love, the ones you can’t stand and want to punch in the face. I’m putting myself out there, and that can be really scary and nerve-wracking. Don’t be discouraged if reactions aren’t good. Keep honing the craft and working at it. Sometimes you have to decide if you want to keep something just because it makes you happy and you’re not writing it for other people.


Finally, where can readers get their hands on North Queen?


North Queen is already available for preorder (https://amzn.to/45ihf5J)! When it releases July 4th, it will be available through Amazon, with eBooks through Kindle Unlimited and print versions distributed through Ingram. So it should be available basically anywhere in hardback and paperback.


author photo: woman with long hair and flannel shirt sitting on stairs

Nicola Tyche is an American fiction and fantasy author writing romantic fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, and other women’s fiction. Suspenseful plot twists, strong heroines, relatable villains, and melt-your-insides anti-heroes are ingredients for every book, and Nicola is a sucker for a happily ever after.


She lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband and three daughters. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys tacos, traveling, gardening, exploring the great outdoors, and other creative projects.



author website: www.nicolatyche.com

instagram: @nicolatyche

facebook: @nicolatyche

tiktok: @nicolatyche



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