Wardens of Eternity by acclaimed author Courtney Moulton is an action-packed fantasy that blends history, mythology, and magic. In the days leading up to World War II, Ziva Ellison must rely on her wit and magic to outmaneuver Nazis and ancient Egyptian gods to prevent global destruction. Wardens of Eternity goes on sale January 21, 2020.
Ziva Ellison has one memory of her parents, made the day they abandoned her on the streets of New York City when she was three years old. They left her with only a fleeting memory and a hint that she has a great and terrible destiny. Fifteen years later, Ziva discovers that destiny includes powers that she doesn’t understand and can barely control. Her magic attracts vicious, supernatural monsters, and eventually compatriots to help her fight them. Sayer and Nasira know the secrets Ziva doesn’t; that Ziva is descended from Egyptian royalty and in possession of ancient magic passed down from the time of the gods. They promise to teach Ziva to control her magic and to give her the family she’s always yearned for. But trouble is brewing in the world around them; darkness is descending on Hitler’s Germany, threatening World War II. As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and her connection with powerful, otherworldly gods, she must decide whom she can trust and where her loyalties lie if she is to save herself and the world.
Hannah VanVels: Hi Courtney! We are so excited to talk history, Egyptian mythology, and magic with you. Your upcoming book, Wardens of Eternity features all of those things and more! Can you share a bit of the inspiration behind the story?
Courtney Moulton: My inspiration for Ziva’s story came from my own struggle as a woman of mixed Mediterranean ethnicity. In search of where I came from and why I looked uniquely different from the other kids, I developed a lifelong fascination with Ancient Mediterranean civilizations. I’d always wanted to write something inspired by Ancient Egypt and spent several years trying to find the right story to tell. My agent, who knew what a history geek I am and being a lover of classics herself, suggested I set the story in the early twentieth century. The first image that popped into my head was of Nazi soldiers coming face-to-face with ancient gods and I knew I had to make that happen. But first I needed a heroine whom readers would root for with a story they could relate to.
Hannah VanVels: I studied the ancient Near East fairly extensively in college and graduate school, and it’s so obvious that a TON of research went into this novel. Can you say a bit about your research into the history and mythology that went into writing this book? How did you go about blending all this fact-based research with a fantasy story?
Courtney Moulton: One of the greatest challenges any fantasy author faces is to figure out how much of their worldbuilding and knowledge is needed to create a great story. I had a lot of knowledge of history and mythology already available to me, but was given the added task of creating my own world from that existing information. It was a lot of fun! I told myself, less is more when it came to information and was careful to spread out what information was given to the reader—to let the world unfold with the story, rather than dumping it all on the reader’s plate and overstuff them. My first draft was fairly conservative when it came to worldbuilding, but I added more and more with every draft to fill out the setting and establish the world’s rules.
Hannah VanVels: The main character, Ziva, is so fierce and knows her way around some serious weapons. And she is also kind, honest, and good. What was it like writing a character like her? Why is it important to see heroines like Ziva in books?
Courtney Moulton: I wanted to write about a heroine is a truly good person, who wants to do right by people. She’s also a girl who wants more than anything in the world to know where she came from and where she’s going. A lot of young people can relate to the search for their identity, especially people who don’t see themselves represented in the media they consume like everyone else does. Girls with curly hair and brown skin deserve to see a girl like them given amazing powers and get to do amazing things. Ziva is relatable in other ways, too. She hasn’t had many close relationships and she has to figure out how to give enough of herself in order to trust and grow close to others. She isn’t only tasked with figuring out her own magic and past, but she always has to learn the meaning of family and love.
Hannah VanVels: The sassy banter between characters in this book is amazing! Tell us a bit about how the dialogue reflects the characters’ unique relationships with one another. How do you bring out character personalities with dialogue?
Courtney Moulton: Many writers I know describe the unfolding of a character’s personality as a natural thing and it’s the same for me. I try to keep the process as organic as possible. When I create a character, I have an idea of what kind of person they are and what they want, but I let their voice flow and I feel it out. Writing banter is a lot like arguing with myself inside my head, so I have to be mindful of keeping the dialog in character. A line might come easily to me, but I have to ask myself, “Would this character really say that?”
One of my biggest goals when I started to write this book was to humanize the gods. That might sound like it wouldn’t work well in the story, but I felt that their very human problems and motivations added a lot of heart to their characters. Anubis and Seth really came to life once I stopped imagining them as cosmic forces and paid closer attention to the stories told in the mythology. I found very relatable narratives in those myths and origins.
Hannah VanVels: A Nile Queen. The Lost Heir. And the Medjai’s Blade. What. A. Tagline. Tell us more!
Courtney Moulton: Wardens of Eternity is about a girl named Ziva who is an orphaned immigrant living in New York just as World War II breaks out. She possesses powers that attract vicious, otherworldly monsters and a strange brother and sister with abilities like hers. They promise to teach her how to control her magic and give Ziva the family and home she’s always yearned for.
The last heir of a revered Egyptian queen, Ziva is the possessor of ancient magic passed down from the gods and the only one with the power to prevent another costly global conflict. As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and makes a connection with Anubis and other Egyptian gods, The Nazis hunt for the ultimate weapon and Ziva has caught their interest.
Hannah VanVels: Wardens of Eternity is a dieselpunk novel, a genre we haven’t really heard a lot about. What is dieselpunk? How did this genre influence the worldbuilding of the book?
Courtney Moulton: While dieselpunk media is certainly out there, I think a lot of people don’t recognize it as easily as they do steampunk. World War 1 generally marks where steampunk ends and dieselpunk begins, setting-wise. The narrative is controlled more by its aesthetics rather than its themes, although there are some recurring themes. A dieselpunk setting is filled with zeppelins and other air travel, Art Deco architecture, wartime propaganda and radio shows, loud engines and black smoke, and oftentimes the supernatural. Captain America: The First Avenger and the Indiana Jones films are popular examples of dieselpunk in science fiction. I was very excited by the idea of tanks and machine guns pitted against unstoppable supernatural and cosmic forces. I couldn’t think of a more fun thing to write.
Hannah VanVels: Give us your favorite line from the book!
Courtney Moulton: I have a ton of favorite lines, but during one of my most loved scenes when Ziva comes face-to-face with the god of chaos, Ziva’s strength really shines. The god orders her to bow before him and she replies, “You will find to your sorry, I kneel to no one.” His anger quickly turns to fascination at her fearlessness. This is the start of an interesting relationship between them that I really enjoyed exploring.
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About the Author
Courtney Allison Moulton lives in rural Michigan with her family, horse, donkey, and a flock of spoiled sheep. When she isn’t studying ancient civilizations or writing about magic and monsters, she’s busy with farm chores. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Angelfire was published when she was just 24 years old.