A Conversation with Nicole Chardenet, author of Young Republican, Yuppie Princess
- Young Republican, Yuppie Princess mixes politics with fantasy as well as the '80s. What prompted this unusual mix?
Joyce is representative of all the Young Republicans we had at Kent State. Kind of square, squeaky-clean, they'd really turned into their parents and they were only teenagers! So stuffy and uptight and conservative – coming off the '70s, when everything was free-swinging and liberal, from hippies to disco, you just wanted to give them all wedgies. Or condoms. So I was having a go at them a little. Let’s remember, these are the friendly folks who brought us the 2008 Global Financial Collapse!
- Are you very political yourself? Is Joyce like you?
Joyce is like me only in her feminism, but not in her denial. Republican women are some of the most feminist people out there but they'd pop a vein in their forehead if you called them the evil f-word. Joyce would never call herself a feminist but she's a take-no-prisoners woman who knows exactly what she wants and she's quite single-minded about it, and obviously doesn't let men get in her way. The F-word, however, doesn't scare me. I am forever shooting my mouth off about politics, and I love doing political satire.
- What sort of research did you do for this novel?
I didn’t have the Internet when I wrote the first draft, as it was written on an ancient computer back in the days when the Internet was still a small dark place where young boys exchanged badly-composed vaguely female-shaped ASCII images. It wasn't until I pulled the draft out much later, in the middle of the big financial meltdown, that I decided to whip it into shape. That's when I discovered how many anachronisms I had! And speaking of which, the Chassadrilian world came from my years in a medieval re-creation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Which is where I learned to belly dance.
- Which authors are your influences?
There have been so many over the years – when I was in college I was a fan of the late Art Buchwald, who wrote humorous political commentary for decades in Washington. I read a lot of his column anthologies dating back to the '60s and the Nixon era. Later I discovered Dave Barry whose humor is less political but trenchantly funny. And today I think the comic fantasy writer Christopher Moore must be my long-lost twin brother or something, because we have a very similar sense of humor.
- How long have you been writing? Have you ever done political pieces before?
I remember being frustrated in my pre-school days when I wanted to tell stories but was, well, illiterate. I wrote very bad poetry in grade school and moved to my splatter phase in high school during the golden years of the slasher film. So, people usually died graphic but creative deaths in my short stories. It's a good thing I'm not a teenager writing that stuff today or they'd probably have me in therapy.
I wrote a lot of political humor pieces for a local alternative newspaper when I lived in Connecticut in the 90s. But politics doesn't play a role in other projects I've worked on.
- Besides politics, what else influences your writing?
I've been a practicing Pagan for more than twenty years now and I decided some years back to put all that weird occult knowledge I'd accumulated to work for me. Hence Malsorcier's black magician character, and Aeris the witch who is a takeoff on a certain popular Goddess history writer famous for her anti-Christian, male-bashing and largely pseudo-historical rants. So, Aeris is a bit of a feminazi. I also love mythology and religious themes.
- Do you play D&D? Are you a Lord of the Rings fan?
I played some D&D in college but was never a big fan. I only just got around to reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy a few years ago and spent the next several days saying stuff like, “I must journey yonder to the Kingdom of Stop 'n' Shop in my trusty Steed of Steel to bring home some sustenance forthwith!” Most of my knowledge of medieval times comes from many years playing the persona Lady Gisele du Pont Avignon, fifteenth-century Frenchwoman and belly dancer (how that happened involves a highly unlikely back story of Celtic pirates, defensive cross-dressing and a Turkish harem). The character of Prince Chip is actually based on someone I met at a medieval event many years ago, and Joyce and her friends are based loosely on myself and three college friends, all of whom introduced me to the SCA which only encouraged my inner geek.
- Do you plan other novels with political themes?
Never say never, because politics is a humorous business, usually unintentionally – today the Democrats compete with the Republicans, the Tea Party and Fox News for über-lameness. But for now, I don't think there are any immediate plans for politically-oriented novels.
- Joyce and Raven dance in public to raise money in a few scenes. Are you a dancer too?
I learned a lot of questionable skills in the aforementioned SCA although one of the more useful (and lucrative!) was belly dancing which I applied in the Mundane World, as we called the world outside the SCA. I was in a dance troupe for a year and for fifteen years I was the terror of 40-year-old men on their birthdays in a tri-state area when I did 'bellygrams,' dancing at their parties. This embarrassed them more than anything else because 40-year-old men are still too young and uptight to appreciate belly dancers. Best to wait until they turn fifty, when they mellow with age!
- Will there be a sequel to Young Republican, Yuppie Princess?