Spring YASH with Kate Elliott

Hi Everyone and welcome to YASH.

I’m so excited to be hosting Kate Elliott for this year’s Spring YASH. (Go team purple!)

Kate Elliott Author Photo Crop


Kate Elliott is the author of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels including BLACK WOLVES, COLD MAGIC, and the YA fantasy COURT OF FIVES. She lives in Hawaii and paddles outrigger canoes in her spare time, as well as walking her now very old schnauzer. Rumor has it that she can juggle islands, but only 5 at a time. Read about her inspiration for Court of Fives.

A YA fantasy novel inspired by Little Women, American Ninja Warrior, and the Greco-Roman Egypt of Cleopatra. Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors–one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy–causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Find Kate’s book:


PKBC_Court of Fives


Follow Kate at:




My Court of Fives pitch is “Little Women meet American Ninja Warrior in a setting inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt.”

What inspired the book? What do I see in my head when I write?

My spouse is an archaeologist. For the last six years he’s been co-director of the Tell Timai dig in the Egyptian Delta region. Timai was a regional capitol during the Greco-Roman period, about 2000 years ago, when first the Ptolemaic Dynasty (from Macedonia) and afterward the Roman Empire ruled Egypt. It’s such a fascinating period of history (the last Ptolemaic ruler was the famous Cleopatra) that I decided to use elements of the real history in a fantasy story and set it in a city called Saryenia whose architecture and daily life are partially modeled after this intriguing historical period.

This is what the site of Tell Timai looks like today (not very exciting):

Timai ruins

Now imagine it 2200 years ago in the heyday of the Ptolemaic Empire, whose capital was Alexandria. Here’s an artist’s rendition of the wide boulevards and monumental architecture of that city, which is pretty much how I imagine the streets of Saryenia:

alexandria street

Little Women is the famous 19th century novel by Louisa May Alcott about four girls growing up to become women, in a household held together by their mother while their father is away serving as a chaplain in the Union Army during the Civil War. Most of the fantasy fiction I read growing up revolved around men, so the idea of writing a fantasy novel focused around the lives of four sisters and their mother, a household of women, really appealed to me. I kept the plot element of the father being gone for long periods of time, away at the wars, but turned him into an actual soldier. Here’s my inspiration for Esladas and Kiya, the girls’ parents:



The main character, Jes, is an athlete. I played sports in high school (I still compete, although now in outrigger canoe paddling), and I wanted to write a love letter to girls who are competitive athletes. My inspiration for creating a complex obstacle course style game was, of course, American Ninja Warrior (and its Japanese original Sasuke). Here’s Meaghan Martin competing at the 2015 ANW Finals:

Finally, as I have posted elsewhere, there is one song I consider Jes’s “theme song” – the 2011 hit single “I Am The Best” by Korean pop group 2NE1. You don’t have to understand Korean to get the gist of the lyrics, given the song’s title. And look: four singers [Park Bom, Dara, CL, & Minzy]. In this video I can’t help but ID one to each sister*

*[poodle: Maraya/Meg; sports car: Jessamy/Jo; straitjacket: Bettany/Beth; sexy drama queen: Amaya/Amy]


Thanks so much for stopping by and taking part of YASH. Please comment and let us know what you think about Kate’s books, YA books or YASH!

Next stop on the hunt is Lori Goldstein, http://www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com/blog/

Be sure to check out these great books!







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