Q: Without giving anything away, what can you tells your fans about Kushiel’s Justice?
It centers around an intense secret love affair between Imriel and his royal cousin Sidonie. Knowing that the realm would be torn apart by the idea of a liaison between the heir to the throne and the son of the greatest traitor in Terre d’Ange’s history, they choose duty over passion, and Imriel weds the Alban princess to whom he’s betrothed. Although Imriel tries to learn to love his new wife, the intensity of his feelings for Sidonie don’t fade; and in Alba, he becomes the target of mysterious forces who seek to use his passion for her to bind him against his will.
In other words, more sex, intrigue, romance and adventure!
Q: Will you be touring during the course of the spring and summer to promote it? If so, are there any specific dates that have been confirmed as of yet?
I’ll be touring the last two weeks of June. All the confirmed dates are listed on the homepage of my site, www.jacquelinecarey.com, under the Events header on the left side.
Q: What’s the progress report on the third volume? Any tentative title and release date?
It hasn’t been through editing yet, but it’s finished, and my editor and I don’t expect any major revisions. We’re psyched about this one! The working title is Kushiel’s Mercy, and while I don’t have a release date, I imagine it will be summer 2008.
Q: One of the strengths of your recent novels, and especially in Kushiel’s Justice, is how you’ve developed characters, plot elements, and politics, both personal and national, within the specific legacies of characters and events from your previous Kushiel novels. What has been some of the challenges in developing your stories and characters in this way? What have been some of the benefits?
One of the greatest challenges is that there’s so much backstory, it’s hard to convey it in a way that will bring a new reader up to speed without dragging down the narrative for readers familiar with the original trilogy. By the same token, all that backstory gives me a wealth of existing characters and conflicts on which to draw.
Q: Have there been any surprises in how these characters, and the story, has developed? Does it (they) have a life of their own, or has the development always followed a very specific plan that you’ve had?
I’m a pretty tight plotter and I keep my characters on a short leash. While they do seem very vibrant and alive to me, I’ve never had a character hijack a story in an unexpected direction. Not to get all omnipotent, but they follow the arc of destiny I’ve ordained for them!
Q: How does writing Imriel differ from writing Phèdre? Do you ever find yourself viewing events, as you’re developing, through a specifically Phèdre lens?
Imriel has a certain wry self-awareness that’s distinctly his own, and his voice is more simple and direct than Phèdre. Once I’m immersed in a first-person point of view, the lens is pretty well fixed. When I’d check passages from the original trilogy to refresh myself about a particular plot point, it was a little shocking to find myself back in Phèdre’s perspective.
Q: Everyone is the sum of many experiences and situations, both preceding them and of their own making. It is interesting how you explore this human reality in the character of Imriel. How do his unique situation, station, heritage, and upbringing challenge you as you continue to develop him in your story? How would you like readers to relate to him as a character?
A lot of Imriel’s journey is about overcoming his history. He’s an abuse survivor with a bundle of conflicting desires and impossibly heroic role models; not to mention an infamous mother. While the circumstances are over-the-top – this is epic fantasy, after all – I think a lot of readers can relate to the underlying emotional journey. In many ways, he’s easier to relate to than Phèdre; he’s not a god’s chosen with a great and terrible destiny, he’s just a guy trying to figure out who he is. Although some great and terrible things happen along the way!
Q: Cover art has become a very hot topic of late. What are your thoughts pertaining to that facet of a novel, and what do you think of the various covers that have graced your books? Do you have a personal favorite?
I guess I’ve been out of the loop; I didn’t know it was a hot topic! By and large, authors don’t have a whole lot of say in cover art, so I don’t spend a great deal of time fretting over it anymore. I’ll help my editor tweak the concept, but ultimately, if everyone at the publisher is happy, I’m good with it. They know what sells better than I do. Did I ever envision Phèdre with bangs? No, but I’ll live. My personal favorite is Kushiel’s Chosen, which I find the most sophisticated of them. Though it could simply be that there are no bangs visible, too.
Q: Which secondary character do you most enjoy writing about? Which do you find the most challenging?
It varies from book to book, but in Justice, it’s definitely Sidonie. Until now, we’ve never seen anything but her public persona, which is very different from her private one. She has a dry sense of humor I enjoy, and surprisingly few inhibitions. Conversely, the toughest one in this instance is Queen Ysandre. Sidonie’s affair with Imriel ultimately puts her in conflict with her mother. I tried to walk a fine line in conveying Ysandre’s outrage without making her entirely unsympathetic.
Q: While the fantasy genre is filled with long series, you have always stayed within the boundaries of either a duology or a trilogy. Is there a reason for that? Would you consider writing something longer?
So far, that just seems to be the length of story arc that suits my Muse. I’m certainly open to the possibility of writing a longer series if the inspiration strikes, but I don’t feel the need to do it just for the sake of doing it.
Q: M. John Harrison recently wrote this post on his blog:
“Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.
Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.
Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.”
Needless to say, a multitude of people disagree with Harrison’s postulation. What’s your take on Harrison’s post and the concept of worldbuilding in general?
I think the point he’s trying to make is buried under hyperbole. Sure, I’ve read books that fit his description, but to dismiss the concept of worldbuilding out of hand is a gross oversimplification. A well-built world that’s alive with just enough detail and provides a backdrop that allows the characters and plot to shine is a joy to visit. And too, there are books in which the worldbuilding is so extraordinary and inventive that the setting almost becomes the protagonist. For me, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy is a classic example, while a more recent one is China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station.
As far as the idea that writers with an affinity for worldbuilding are a specific psychological type goes, that’s just silly.
Q: Anything you wish to share with your fans?
Yes, there will be further books in the Kushiels series! However, I’m currently taking a break from Terre d’Ange and working on a completely different project; so different, I’ll be taking on a new identity for this one and writing under a pseudonym. The book’s working title is Santa Olivia. I’m calling it a post-punk desert bordertown fable, with boxing and cute girls in love.
Like I said… different!
Interview by Patrick