The Rise of Riverstone
by Mandy Schimelpfenig
November 21, 2021
Praed is a country of vast prairies and looming mountains where the elite make their homes along a mighty river. For hundreds of years, to wear the crown is to tempt fate, for in Praed, any man may become king if he’s strong enough.
Laria Audrey lives in privilege as the daughter of a famous knight, until one night she’s ripped from her bed to find that her entire life has gone up in flames. Forced to serve those responsible, Laria pretends to be deaf and mute to survive. But when days turn to weeks, Laria loses hope of awakening from the nightmare and must admit she’s truly alone. When her sworn enemy approaches her with a shocking proposition, Laria must decide if she’ll resign herself to misery or become the hero she never believed she could be.
1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
This story precipitated out of boredom. I used to clean a barn. By myself. For hours. To pass the time, I’d make up stories. Sometimes I’d write out outlines for them and that’d be all. The Rise of Riverstone persisted, and I eventually sketched out an entire story.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
Always delete your Google searches.
I did a lot of research because the book has a 16th century setting. From word choice to fashion to how long it takes to travel in a carriage during a snowstorm, I spent hours making sure the story remained true to the timeline. I gained a lot of respect for historical fiction authors.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
How often I wrote the word “that.”
I hired a professional editor and was blown away by all the extraneous words I used. It was surprising how much of a better writer I became after someone ripped my book apart.
4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
Riverstone is the birthplace of the heroine, Laria, and her family. Referring to Riverstone rising is akin to saying, “The Rise of Laria.” How she rises would be spoiling 🙂
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Absolutely. Inspiration generally comes from real life. Laria and I share quite a few traits: our love of horses and reading, stubbornness, humor, lack of social graces, and fiery temper. Her red hair is inspired by my ginger husband. His name also inspired the name of the black knight, Risteard, which is the Gaelic form of Richard. There’s a young knight in the book that shares features of two of my sons. They’re all aware of the parts they play in the book.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
I didn’t write the book to teach a lesson. If I did it would be “everybody has something to hide.”
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
If I told you, it’d be a spoiler 🙂
My favorite parts to write were the flashbacks of Laria’s childhood memories and the teasing between her and Risteard.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
The nice ones. Writing villains comes easily, but writing a character whose sweet without making them annoying was challenging. The one character fitting this bill is Mwiryn. She’s the best friend of the princess, whom Laria is forced to serve. While the princess is harsh and cruel, Mwiryn is soft and kind. I wanted her to be likable but also relatable. I didn’t want her to be too perfect, too boring. I hope I accomplished my goal.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
The Rise of Riverstone is book one in the Daughters of Riverstone series. All of the books are centered around a woman whose family line traces to the estate. I’m currently in the editing stages of book two, The Pride of Riverstone. It’s set 5 years after The Rise and is from the POV of Laria’s little sister, Ula.
Mandy received her B.S. in Zoology from Washington State University and an A.S. in Veterinary Technology from St. Petersburg College. Clearly her life goals were not geared toward a career as an author. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician specializing in small animals. When she’s not saving lives, she’s weaving tales of strong women using their intelligence to pursue incandescent happy endings. The Rise of Riverstone is the debut novel in her Daughters of Riverstone Series. She lives on the Washington Coast with her husband and their four children. Besides leaning uncomfortably over a computer screen, Mandy enjoys camping and hiking with her family, reading, and wearing out her dogs on the beach.
Book Lovers Gift Box, containing: signed copy of The Rise of Riverstone, sticker, bookmark, signed bookplate, postcard map of Praed