Welcome! Today it’s my pleasure to interview Rachael Stapleton, author of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel, a Fiction Fantasy Romance.
Publisher: iUniverse, LLC
Number of pages: 274
Word Count: 75,279
Word Count: 75,279
Sophia Marcil awakens from a snorkeling accident in the Lérins Islands to find herself in the chambers—and the body—of a nineteenth-century princess.
In a confused state and with no idea of her whereabouts, Sophia embarks on a desperate quest for answers, hoping she can find her way back to her fiancé, Nick, and her true identity.
After she finds a diary in an antique desk, Sophia follows a clue that leads her to a questionable alchemist, who relays the history and magic of the mysterious amethyst she inherited from her greatgrandmother— the only possession that made the leap through time with her and perhaps the only thing that can prevent her from becoming a pawn in a murderous plot for the throne.
Using her inheritance, Sophia races through time to the twenty-first century to solve the mystery of her family’s past.
But once she is there, she unearths a dire warning about a curse that clings to her heirloom, leading her down a dangerous path involving two men from different times and ultimately puts her life at risk.
In this tale of obsession, greed and passion, a woman on a journey through time struggles to regain a family heirloom and control its magic, hoping to break the curse before it breaks her.
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SKY: What inspired you to write this book?
RACHAEL: I’ve always loved fairy tales, mysteries and adventures. Not to mention, I’m a big fan of cheesy 80’s and 90’s movies so I guess I was inspired by a lot of movies and books throughout the years and what resulted was sort of an Ever After meets Scooby-doo meets Indiana Jones for women.
SKY: How did you come up with the title?
RACHAEL: I wanted something that was really intricate to the plot and the cursed heirloom and its mysterious origins are at the heart of the story. Book Two actually starts off with a scene from the Temple itself. Besides what’s sexier than jewels and a Temple built to worship the God of War?
SKY: What made you choose the main setting for your book?
RACHAEL: My book actually has a few main settings ranging from 19th century Monaco to modern day Canada. Sophia also travels in the name of love and research to France and Ireland. Thank goodness writing time travel lends itself to variety. I chose the 19th century Monaco in addition to present day because it really fit my need for political upheaval which is a subtle backdrop to Princess Sapphira’s story. I just loved stepping back in time. I chose the 1920’s for Book two because I found it to be a fascinating time in history. Bootlegging, jazz and speakeasy’s … oh my.
SKY: If you could spend an hour in real life with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
RACHAEL: I want to say Cullen because he’s the big hulky Irish love interest and I would love to hear his accent out-side of my head but then again he is an ode to my hubby so I do kind of get to spend time with him every day so in that case I think maybe Gigi or Greta. Both feisty older women who remind me of family members, some of whom I’ve lost.
SKY: Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.
RACHAEL: Sure, my cover depicts Lichtenstein Castle all shrouded in fog as the backdrop to the alchemist spell book. The romantic neo-gothic fairy tale schloss of Württemberg is home to Viktor Von Württemberg, the rugged 19th century German Graf who rescues Sophia from drowning. In real life the novel "Lichtenstein" by Wilhelm Hauff, published in 1826, provided the inspiration for Count Wilhelm of Urach when building this beautiful castle complex. It is situated high on a cliff located on the Swabian Alb in Baden-Württemberg, Germany and contains a large collection of historic weapons and armour.
SKY: Did you enjoy writing one scene above all the rest? If so, share.
RACHAEL: Of course. There is a scene in the library with the main character Sophia and her best friend Leslie that I had a lot of fun imagining. It involves the alchemist Rochus and his spell book. The one you see on the cover.
I felt a sharp anticipation to learn what was in those pages twirl down my spine. I hurried into the special collections room and reached for the book. The ache in my head flared into a painful jab. Traces of gilt twinkled along the edge, catching my attention. But the worn golden touches didn’t explain the faint, lustrous shimmer that seemed to be fleeing from inside the pages. Rochus. This was the book Rochus had read from before mixing that potion. I opened the volume, my skin tingling as it connected with the leather. My world spun, as if I was caught once again in the ocean, pulling me deep into a whirlpool. I was spinning and twirling like a washing machine. When the motion ceased, I opened my eyes. I floated in a stone room, surrounded by shelves lined with books and jars. Iridescent colours swirled around me, reminding me of blowing bubbles as a child. I wondered if I were inside one. Past the translucent wall, Rochus sat at his wooden table, the fire burning merrily in the hearth by his side—just as it had when I had last been there. “Sophia, you must come back now,” he said.
SKY: Do you write books in series? If so, share a bit about the series you currently have published or are coming soon.
RACHAEL: Yes, I love a good book series. Both reading and writing them. The Temple of Indra’s Jewel which just released this month is the first book in series. The story continues with The Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire which plunges Sophia into the Roaring Twenties, and into the shadowed history of her ancestors. To give you a bit more of a teaser, she wakes in the body of her thirteen year old great Aunt Zafira and struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves. In a twist of fate, she’s thrown back into the present where someone is out to betray her. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a third book. I always saw it as a trilogy but I really didn’t know if it would continue and then the book just poured out of me the other day while daydreaming in the shower. I’m so excited to get to work on it.
SKY: If you could make changes to a story you’ve already written, which would it be and why?
RACHAEL: I think everybody sort of feels like they'd change something. For me it would be to make things clearer to the reader in the beginning. Sophia herself is completely confused when she awakens in another time and body and I tried to make the reader feel like they were right there with her and in that I think I made some leaps ... but you live and you learn right.
SKY: Great interview, Rachael! Thanks so much for sharing.
Two hours later and three very strong drinks deep, I found myself sitting at a bar with Cullen and some of his friends, pub regulars from the looks of them. They were an entertaining bunch, full of stories and funny phrases.
My cell phone rang, and I recognized Leslie’s number.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
I walked outside. “Leslie, you got my text?”
“Yeah. What’s going on?”
“So much. I found him.”
“The curator. You remember what Greta said after Gigi died, don’t you?”
“Greta, that lady is entertaining. You should have heard her that day I was at the lake house after you’d laid down—”
“Leslie, can we not go there right now?” I snapped.
“Oh, right. Sorry. No. What did she say?”
“I asked her if she believed in magic, and she told me when she was little, her father warned her not to touch Gigi’s amethyst. That a curse lay trapped inside it or something.”
Leslie’s eyes widened. “Not this again. Geez, Sophia, will you please just see your doctor. Let them do a CAT scan or something.”
“Leslie, listen. I didn’t want to tell you, but the reason I agreed to come here was because I wanted to look for that curator. The one Gigi said Opa got it from. So before I got the chance to go to the museum, guess what Cullen shows me?”
“Well, I hope it was long and—”
“Never mind your bawdy jokes. He showed me a family portrait of his great-great-great-grandfather, who just happened to be a curator at the museum in the twenties. And guess what was in the portrait?
“The gem. The Delhi Purple Sapphire. He told me his grandfather found it but gave it away because it was cursed. I’m wondering if this curse is the key to everything. Maybe we should do a little more research?”
“I don’t know, Sophia. I get that this is a family heirloom and it came from somewhere, but this whole story you’re telling yourself about it … I mean, travelling through time. It’s pretty hard to believe.”
“I know, but it happened—or at least I think it did. The more time goes on, the more unsure I get. So here’s the thing. Why don’t you help me? If I’m wrong, I’ll check myself into a hospital for evaluation, but in the meantime, promise me you’ll help me. You’re the best friend I’ve got, practically family, and you know the archives inside and out. Please?”
There was a long pause.
“Fine, but I still don’t believe you.”
“You don’t have to. Just help me figure out how the original purple amethyst got from Monaco to Ireland. If I can trace it back to Monaco and even further, maybe I can figure out who had it, who wanted it and find a way to control the magic.”
About the Author
Rachael lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children.