Originally, Queen of Swords was supposed to be a Tarot deck.
I had joined a course on how to create your own deck and I thought I would take the time to sit down and write out the story that I wanted to tell in the deck, lay out the backbone of it before I started laying out what I wanted the cards to be.
When I started writing Queen of Swords, my intent was to create a deck with it. I would lay out the story behind each of the seventy-eight cards and then use what I’d written as the guidebook that came with the deck. Perfect! Or so I thought. The only problem was that the story was too, the world too vast. Once I started writing Queen of Swords, I realized that I was writing a novel, not a guidebook.
It’s always been my dream to make my own Tarot deck. It’s no surprise that they appeal to me; Tarot is all about the story that you want to tell or the tale that is spotted within the cards. The cards help you to look within yourself so that you can find the direction you want to go in or clarity when all there seems to be is smoke and mirrors.
Being a writer, I appreciate the art of storytelling. The lovely thing about Tarot decks is that they are ultimately a different way to tell you own story, just with seventy-eight writing prompts or scenes that you can work into your story. I think that’s the most beautiful thing about Tarot. While there is a lot of mysticism and symbolism in the cards, they are ultimately about the story you want to tell yourself and how you are going to move forward with what you know now.
In the Queen of Swords, Jackie is a Tarot reader, and she always has her trusty Tarot deck with her everywhere she goes. When she feels lost on her journey, she draws cards for herself. This happens several times over the course of the book. In one of the first times that she draws cards for herself, she draws the Queen of Swords and the Hierophant.
It was interesting writing about Tarot in this way. Jackie knew what the cards said to her, but to me, the readings worked as a bit of foreshadowing for what was ahead in the novel. However, the lovely thing about the cards is that they can be read so may different ways.
Take the Queen of Swords. She is either brave or foolhardy, strong willed or vicious. She can be thoughtful or will act without thought, she can be clearheaded or lost within her own mind. Either way, she is a warrior. When you look at the Hermit, he symbolizes someone in your life that is encouraging you to take a break from the world to focus on yourself, or is the hermit a reminder for you to take a moment away to work on your own light? Is he a reminder or an inspiration that gets you to look in a different direction?
When you put the Queen of Swords and the Hermit together, the cards tell another story, one of reflection and contemplation. If the Queen of Swords is you, what can you to do shine your light? What do you need to do to make sure it keeps on shining? What part of yourself do you need a light shined on so that you can see it more clearly?
Every card in a Tarot deck has a story to tell and it can be read so many different ways. I realized this even more when I began to write Queen of Swords. In the beginning, I was very concerned with making sure that every chapter was filled with all the symbolism that its card contained. In early drafts, Queen of Swords read less like a novel and more like a book on Tarot. It took me a while to realize that while I eventually wanted to write a book on Tarot, Queen of Swords was an adventure, a story, and it needed to read as such.
While there was a lot of space to play around in and I could relate what each card meant to me as a whole, I figured out that it had to grow organically if Queen of Swords was going to be a novel about the world that we knew and an adventure to be had. I had to stop thinking of how and where I would incorporate the symbolism of each card and tell the story as it wanted to come out. It was enough to have the Major Arcana as the spine of the novel and I could talk about the symbolism through the story.
In the end, I had to decide what kind of story I wanted the cards would tell. It had to work both as a novel and to a smaller degree, a book on Tarot. I decided that the story was more important than giving people an info dump on what I thought each card meant. That was the other thing I had to think about, too. I knew what all the other books on Tarot said about the cards and there were so many of them.
My strength with Tarot has always been on going with my intuition and saying what I see rather than quoting from a little white book. I knew that it had to be the same way with Queen of Swords and that the story had to be paramount. It was enough to have the inspiration behind the novel and the spine that held the novel together be the Tarot. I could write the story, but let Tarot influence the characters and the events that took place within the world in Queen of Swords.
Much like a Tarot reading, writing Queen of Swords was about telling the story and filtering in the wisdom that each card brought to each chapter. It deepened the story and the path that Jackie had to take. Much like a Tarot reading, the story within Queen of Swords had to stand on its own, but it would be inspired and influenced by everything around it.
Just like Jackie, and the Fool in the Major Arcana, the story within Queen of Swords had its own path to take. Much like the story in a Tarot reading, I just had to step out of the way and let it happen the way it wanted to in the first place.
Queen of Swords is available now from these fine retailers:
Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Apple, Thalia Books, Vivlio, Smashwords, and Scribd