Welcome to the Kingdom

“What manner of man was this knight?  Was I destined to serve a madman?  A leper?  Surely my uncle would not knowingly put me in danger, but how could a chaplain at the Saxon court truly understand what was happening in a faraway Thuringian castle?”

Such are the thoughts of fourteen year-old Seppel as he wonders what lies in store for him in a locked room of the Wartburg Castle.   Kingdom of the Birds is the story of Seppel’s adventures during a most eventful year in Thuringia.

My own journey to that faraway kingdom began in the early months of 2003.  I have my sister Emily to thank for the inspiration, and I owe her an apology as well.

My sister and I were trying to find a publisher for our historical novel Plank Road Summer, and I was casting about for a new project.  Emily, a German and theology major, said she had been planning to write a novel about Martin Luther.  When I yawned, she insisted, “No, really, Hilda, he lived in a fascinating time.”

The words stuck with me.

A week after that conversation I buried myself in the stacks of the Valparaiso University library, a stronghold for anything related to Luther.  As it turned out, Emily was absolutely right.  Not until months later, when I had written the opening chapters of a novel set in Reformation Germany, did I dare to tell her what I had done.

So here is my public apology, sister author.  I’m sorry I stole your idea of writing a novel set in Martin Luther’s time.  Thanks for being so understanding.  I hope that you and many other readers enjoy the journey to the Kingdom of the Birds.

Kingdom of the Birds is forthcoming from Kirk House Publishers of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in March 2010.

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