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by Barbara Sheridan
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September 2002

Making Our Fanatasies a Magical Reality!

Jan Zimlich

Jan's interest in books began fairly early, about the time she graduated from reading Nancy Drew mysteries to Lord of the Flies and The Adventurers. Life just wasn't the same after that, and she eventually developed an irresistible urge to write genre fiction.

Her first futuristic romance, Not Quite Paradise, was released by Leisure/Love Spell in 1995, followed by Heart's Prey. Both books were nominated for Best Futuristic Romance of the Year by Romantic Times Magazine, and Heart's Prey was also a finalist in Affaire de Coeur Magazine's 1999 Choicis des Critiques Poll. Her third futuristic, The Black Rose, was released in June of 2000.

Jan's fourth Love Spell novel (to be released in September 2002), The Shadow Prince, is an historical fantasy with a rather unusual setting --- 585 B.C.E. Central Asia in the region to the west and south of the Caspian Sea that was once considered part of the Median Empire. The Shadow Prince is the first book in an "Ancient World" trilogy.

She is currently working on a second historical fantasy, as well as a mainstream science fiction novel.

An Interview with Jan Zimlich

PNR: What inspired you to become a romance writer?

Jan Z.: Actually, I started off writing straight science fiction, not romance, but some of my rejection letters came back with comments like "romantic sub-plot too strong," or "too much romance." After a while it dawned on me that those editors must see something in my writing that I couldn't, so I figured, why not give it a try? <g>. I had always read romance, especially historicals, so it wasn't like I was sailing off into uncharted waters. In fact, I've been reading historicals since the '70's when THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER first came out. I loved all those early historicals--the saga-like feel that swept me to distant lands, how the authors described lush settings in such vivid detail. So when I decided to write romance, I naturally tried to recreate the "feel" of those early books to some extent.

PNR: You're previous three books are considered futuristic, though your first book NOT QUITE PARADISE would probably be best described as a contemporary romance with an alien visitation. Your new release THE SHADOW PRINCE is a historical fantasy. What influenced this change of direction?

Jan Z.: I had always wanted to write a historical but I'm much more interested in ancient history than in more recent time periods. Then after I turned in the manuscript for THE BLACK ROSE, I just decided that it was time to start researching and do something utterly different. I'd already written the opening scene, so I knew the story was going to be very dark and intense, with paranormal elements. Then when I read a passage describing the Magii as priests, sorcerers, and mystics, I was positive I'd found my setting and time period.

PNR: This story goes back quite a ways in history, to 585 B. C. and the Median Empire. Tell us a bit about the politics of that time.

Jan Z.: Once a confederation of the Median tribes was formed, the stage was set
for several long and bloody wars between the Medes and the neighboring Assyrians. Eventually the Medes, Babylonians, and Kurds formed a coalition and waged a protracted war against the Assyrians that ended with Nineveh being razed to the ground. The Median Empire was then built on the ashes of the Assyrians, and for about 150 years their power was virtually unrivaled in that region of the world. The Medes formed the ruling elite and warrior class within the empire, then in 553 B.C. Cyrus the Great revolted against Median rule and destroyed the empire, absorbing the Medians into a vast new empire--Achaemenid Persia.

PNR: The heroine, Lorienne, is the daughter of the Arizanti High Priestess Shalelle, who had just been betrayed and murdered by Arkanna, leader of their people. For what reason is Shalelle slain, and what implications does this have for Lorienne.

Jan Z.: If there was one thing I learned from my reading, it was that treachery
was pretty rampant in that time period, almost elevated to an artform. Arkanna simply feared Shalelle's influence over their tribe and decided to do away with her to end any potential problems. And leaving Lorienne as tribute paid to the Busae prince for the privilige of crossing his lands is Arkanna's way of getting rid of an additional irritant when Lorienne refuses to submit to her rule. Lorienne has no idea that her defiance will set in motion a chain of events that will change her life.

PNR: Lorienne has been left on the steppes in the sun, tied to a post to either perish or be claimed as a prize by Burian, Crown Prince and heir to the Median king, Hedeon. Give us some background on Burian.

Jan Z.: Burian's main ambition is to take his father's place atop the throne of the Median Empire. He lives for that one moment. But until that time arrives, the crown prince spends his time indulging himself with wine and women. He also has a love-hate relationship with his father's current consort, the beautiful but vicious Melina, who's been spending time in Burian's bed ever since he was an adolescent boy.

PNR: Burian is not the only Median Prince to arrive at the scene. Adrik, second son of King Hedeon is also present. Adrik has led a very different life from his older half-brother. How does Adrik become the prince of Khorazm known as the shadow prince?

Jan Z.: Hedeon is even more ambitious than Burian. The driving force in Hedeon's life has always been his goal to build a powerful empire, and he was willing to do anything to achieve it. For that reason, as a younger man he marries the ruling princess of his most powerful enemy--the Magii--in order to gain control of her tribe. Hedeon also makes a terrible pact with a demon--promising the life of any son born of the marriage in exchange for the demon's aid in forming a vast empire. Princess Vania then bears Hedeon a second son, Adrik, who at birth becomes hereditary ruler of the Magii and the heir to their mountain fortress, Khorazm. Then once the demon collects the newborn Adrik as payment, he takes the child to remote Khorazm, forcing the Magians to see to Adrik's mortal needs while he in turn oversees his protegee's eventual transformation to a sorcerer capable of one day taking his place as a demon.

PNR: On a whim Burian offers the half-dead young woman to Adrik. What is Adriks reaction to the gift?

Jan Z.: After a lifetime spent in virtual isolation at secluded Khorazm, the young prince is stunned by his half-brother's unexpected gift--and unsure what to do with her. Throughout his life, Adrik has shied away from almost all contact with the outside world, concentrating instead on leading his tribe and developing the skills necessary to someday make the transformation from mortal to demon. The young woman represents a threat to the lonely, but orderly little existence he's built for himself.

PNR: Adrik's future is bleak, he has little time left before he is to exchange places with the demon Malkaval and enter the shadow realm. In spite of this fact, he brings Lorienne home with him to Khorazm. Why?

Jan Z.: To refuse the gift from Burian would be a grave insult, one his powerful brother wouldn't be likely to forgive. Adrik knows that if he takes her back to Khorazm, he'll be exposing the beautiful Arizanti to the demon who influences much of his life, but he sees no other alternative other than to leave her to die out on the steppe alone. That's the choice Burian purposfully inflicted on him simply to amuse himself. In the end, Adrik is unable to resist the temptation the woman represents and takes her with him, despite the danger to both her--and him.

PNR: Lorienne does not fear this demon's disciple as she should have, even though he makes it clear that he intends for her to share his bed. Why?

Jan Z.: From the moment Lorienne awakes within the walls of Khorazm, she's acutely aware that there's far more to her darkly brooding captor than meets the eye. Though she doesn't understand him or the circumstances that have combined to turn him into the often maligned Shadow Prince, she doesn't truly fear Adrik. Lorienne has this fatalistic sense that they are destined to be together, a notion strengthened by a prophecy once foretold by Shalelle that a darkling prince would someday hold her fate within the palm of his hand. Over time, Lorienne becomes certain that Adrik is that prince.

PNR: Lorienne and Malkaval are not the only ones to pin their hopes on Adrik. After a life time of neglect, a fading Hedeon hopes to convince his son to use his sorcery to return his strength. Hedeon's enemy hopes for a marriage alliance to end the war with his father. Burian is relying on Adrik's allegiance to obtain the throne. How does Adrik respond to all of the intrigue?

Jan Z.: King Hedeon's unquenchable thirst for power and wealth has left him quite mad, and as his aging body fails, he begins to view his estranged sorcerer son as his only avenue to restored health. He wants Adrik to cast a healing spell that will renew his body, enabling him to live longer so hecan finally defeat the Lydian Empire in battle. The fact that he hardly even knows the son he gave away to a demon makes no difference to Hedeon. Adrik of course, isn't too keen on aiding his father in any way. Hedeon is the one who condemned him to his fate, a fact the son will never forgive. He has nointention of weaving any kind of spell for the dying king. His allegiance belongs to Burian, who Adrik hopes will soon take the throne. But when the Lydians approach him about a marriage bargain that will end the five yearwar--and ally Adrik with the Lydians against his brother, the young prince is forced to take a more active role in the politics of the empire and possibly intervene to defeat his own father.

PNR: Lorienne alone appears to care for the reclusive sorcerer prince. How does her devotion affect him?

Jan Z.: Her love, compassion, and understanding are like beacons to Adrik, helping to draw him back from the darkness threatening to consume him. He thrives on her devotion and knows he can't survive without her. Her presence has given him the two things he's never had--the hope that he could live a normal life free of the demon's influence, and the possibility of redemption.

PNR: Even with all the intrigue, you manage to surprise us at the end. But we don't want to spoil the story. So, instead we'll ask if you plan on writing additional fantasies in historical settings? Futuristics? Something different entirely? What is next for Jan Zimlich?

Jan Z.: When I first planned THE SHADOW PRINCE, my intent was to make it
the first book in an "Ancient World" trilogy. I'm already working on another
historical fantasy, a prequel actually, and I hope to start the third book after that. I enjoyed writing this story so much I know I'll be writing others with a B.C. setting later on. I'll probably write another futuristic someday too, but right now I'm content with what I'm doing. Plus I have an sf/fantasy novel out there making the rounds, but it hasn't found a home yet. I might even try my hand at a contemporary someday. Who knows? <g>

Jan Zimlich



Buy it Now!

Love Spell
September 2002
320 pages
ISBN: 0505524856


The second son of the king, Adrik should have been an honored prince of the Median Emlpire. Instead, he was sacrificed at birth to his father's lust for power. He became the property of Malkaval -- was raised as that great demons own, and was taught the ways of scorcery. He locked himself away in the gloomy halls of of Khorazm, a recluse, never once forgetting his purpose: Someday he would enter the Shadow Realm, trade places with his master, nd be damned for eternity.


His black fate kept Adrik from others. There was no solace for a man like himself -- no matter how powerful he became, what magic he might conjure in long lonely nights. Then he met a woman -- who streaked into his life like a dying star. And she needed him. The Arizanti priestess was everything he'd ever dreamed of, and she sparked in Adrik a terrible desire for freedom. For the first time, he dared to hope that their love might overcome darkness.

More Futuristic Romance

Buy it Now!

Love Spell
September 1995
ISBN: 0505520516

Buy it now!

Love Spell
September 1998
320 pages
ISBN: 0505522772

Buy it Now!

Love Spell
June 2000
368 pages
ISBN: 0505523841



Featured in this Issue:

Interviews with :
Jennifer Archer
Shannah Biondine
Kathleen Nance
Jan Zimlich













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