At a dinner recently, I found myself sitting next to an eight-year-old. I’m working on a trilogy of novels about a medieval queen, Urraca, who is eight years old when the novel opens, so I thought I’d use his help to see if I gauged the maturity of the character right. He was very willing to help.
I explained the situation. In those days, a woman wanted to learn everything she could about her husband’s work so that if he died or went on a long trip, she could take over. Since Urraca knew she might grow up to be a queen, she wanted to learn everything she could about being a king.
He asked, “Did kings need to know what queens did, too?”
“That’s not fair.”
“No, it isn’t,” I admitted.
“What happens if the queen dies?”
“The king would get a new queen.”
“So,” he said, “it’s like an iPhone that dies. You throw it away and get a new one because phones aren’t important. If you can just get a new queen, then queens aren’t really important.”
He had immediately identified the underlying conflict that Urraca faced throughout her entire life (and in the trilogy).
Kids these days … they give me hope for the future.