Spying & Romance Abound in ‘Heart of Hope and Fear’

Author C. S. Johnson completes her Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy with Heart of Hope and Fear. In it, she expertly combines the historical romance and spy genres, and keeps readers guessing with surprising twists and turns. She spoke with The Loftus Party about it—and more. Better yet, after we did a written Q&A with her, we did an audio one (directly below here) that features even more information about her work.

(RELATED: ‘Dragon Tears’ Introduces Readers to a New Fantasy Universe)

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The Loftus Party: Heart of Hope and Fear is the third and final novel in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy. Do you have any plans for a prequel trilogy? Or to sell off the series to Disney so it can make a sequel trilogy?

C. S. Johnson: No plans for a prequel trilogy just yet. In some ways the book is already like two trilogies in one, since you learn about Lady Penelope, Eleanora’s maternal grandmother, and how she is the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers and a part of the League of Ungentlemanly Warfare. It’s not a position that comes without sacrifice, but I think it’s something that’s better left to the reader’s imagination for now.

And no, I’m not selling anything to Disney. After what’s happened to Star Wars, I think I have a right to be reserved about how well they’d handle it. I grew up loving anime, so I’m more inclined to take an offer from a Japanese manga publisher or a K-Drama production company.

TLP: The novel (and series) combines the historical romance and spy genres. Did you have any trouble doing that? How much spying and intrigue is included in the novel and series? And did you do any research into spycraft before writing the trilogy?

CJ: There’s always a lot of research with these things, and you definitely have to be careful, since when writers write about the past, we’re also writing about the present. We want to be innovative and clever, but good writers don’t want to overstep themselves too much. However, I enjoyed researching things like the history of the telegraph, poisons, and even the idea of a crystal dagger itself. Originally, I just played it off as a Cinderella tie-in like her glass slipper, but it’s actually a real type of weapon.

TLP: You released the novel in December and readers have given it four or five stars on Amazon. Any plans to dip into the spy genre again?

CJ: Probably. I started writing Fatgirl as a bit of a dare – one you well know – while I was working on the series, and my core relationship dynamics are in place. Kallie and AB are similar to Eleanora and Lady Penelope, even if the rest of their circumstances are very different in that story. I was hoping to give Kallie a bit of a spin-off with “Spygirl,” which is one of AB’s nicknames for her during the course of their series.

TLP: What other novels / books have you’ve recently released and what are you working on right now that you want readers to know about?

CJ: There are always a lot, but in addition to Fatgirl’s series, I’m working on a year-long, slow-burn Southern Family drama of literary fiction that’s inspired by As I Lay Dying and A Gathering of Old Men. It centers around a Pie Festival, of all things, and a broken family who suddenly has a mystery to solve and a lot of past pains to forgive. I’m working on coming out with a new part of the story each month this year.

The first story is up for preorder (it’s very short, so I offer it to my email subscribers for free!) right now.

TLP: Where can readers follow you online?

CJ: I’m trying hard to limit my social media, but they can find me on Goodreads, Bookbub, Facebook, and Gab. If anyone’s really interested, I’d recommend they hop on my email subscriber list. I’ve met a ton of my favorite readers and fan-friends that way.

Spying & Romance Abound in ‘Heart of Hope and Fear’

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