The time there were no swords

Posted February 15, 2019 by Stacee in Signings | 0 Comments

I don’t think it’s a secret that I adore Robin LaFevers and Mary Pearson, so when we saw that they were both coming to Mysterious Galaxy to celebrate Robin’s new release Courting Darkness, it was a sure thing.  {Especially after seeing Robin and Mary together for Mary’s launch party of Dance of Thieves.}

We got to the store and ran amok as usual.  Mary and Robin got to the store and went into the back room until the event started.  I went back there to say hi and give hugs and chat for just a second.

Mary and Robin came out right at 7pm and after a semi-quick rundown on Robin’s previous trilogy, Mary jumped in with questions.  {This ended up being more of a conversation than a Q&A, so I’m going to bold the new topic threads}

M: I’m in awe of how you take real history and add fictional details. How do you find that balance?

R: for me, the history serves the story. This isn’t going to be a replication of these people’s lives. The story had to be so interwoven that you couldn’t set it somewhere else. I looked for threads that were unique to the Middle Ages and used that as the wedge to create the fantasy element.

I came across a book that says Brittany had 647 saints and only 90 were recognized by the Catholic Church. It fascinated me. The hardest part was that there were so many over the top historical figures. Excluding the heroine and heroes, most of the figures were taken right out of history. Most of the double crossing? Taken out of history.

M: my favorite thing about this series is girl power. The women don’t have power, but they are powerful.

R: sadly a lot of the things medieval women were dealing with are still happening now. Women didn’t have a lot of agency.

M: and you deal with prostitution.

R: yes, Genevieve was the daughter of a prostitute. She spent her first 7 years living in a room with her mother and her “aunts”. Then anything could happen to a woman and if she was labeled a whore, you could do anything to her.

M: there’s such empowerment.

R: we will always surprise ourselves, there’s always something to find out. You never know until something happens.

M: these girls have each other’s backs.

R: I think the kick ass part is the easy part. We can all go learn how to use a weapon. Saying no or not giving power is something that we all struggle with.

M: Sybella knows what she’s good at.

R: And when you have all these dark arts, when do you use them?

M: this is your first book in multiple POV. What did you learn?

R: that it was flipping hard. I don’t know how you do it.

M: I don’t see it as hard. It’s surprising how quickly the words can pile up. You’re telling two stories side by side.

R: my first draft was 200k words. I literally wrote two books. I wrote parallel stories that just touch here and there. It was really hard.

M: what was the hardest part of writing this particular book?

R: getting Sybella’s voice to be where I wanted it to be. In the first book her voice was feral and broken and angry. She’s not that person any more, but she’s still Sybella.

M: the emotional balance always trips me up.

R: I have these huge graphs and I have to block it out or I feel like I would spend too long and it wouldn’t progress.

M: how do you begin your book?

R: I think about it for a long time. Sybella starts talking and I listen for a while and then I’ll start asking questions, like an interview. Or I’ll journal in their voice. It’s usually the marriage of a character and a plot together. I’ll have a sense of who my character is and her psychological need.

I wanted to write a character without a trauma. I think it’s dangerous to have women who all come from trauma. I also wanted to explore the idea of a character taken from a loving family and sent to the convent.

And there has to be conflict. If you’re a writer and you can’t get past the first act, it’s because there isn’t enough conflict. Conflict is the story.

M: I always think that I’m being too nice to my characters.

R: it has to be organic though.

M: Do you have a daily goal?

R: I do not write every day. I’m a binge writer. I can’t do publication world and writing world at the same time. I’ll write 2k words a day if I’m lucky and then I’ll have to do research. Then that will take a week or so and then maybe I’ll sit down and write 10k words.

M: I go on a walk almost every day and sometimes I get those pieces of dialogue I couldn’t find. {this started an entire tangent about napping and showering and getting ideas}

R: but do you remember them?

M: I’ll dictate them in my phone.

M: what is next and when is it coming out?

R: what’s next is Courting Darkness 2 and it’s untitled. Rumor has it, it’ll come out in April 2020.

Did you already know who was going to be with who or did you base their love interest on the personality?

R: I don’t design the love interest. As I was writing Grave Mercy, I had these characters and it was clear who it was going to be. I didn’t design them, but it was clear that my brain knew.

If you could spend one day in the world of your book, but you don’t die, what would you do?

R: that’s not a short answer.

M: mine would probably be a real spoiler. It would be creepy and wonderful to spend time in Venda.

R: I would want to go with all of Sybella’s skills and get rid of the Count, but then I wouldn’t have a story. But I would go kill that mother effer.

Annnnnnnd on that note, everything ended.  I had the number 1 ticket, so we got in line and I was able to go right up to Robin.  I thanked her for coming and we talked about how pretty the finished book was. There was another minute or so of chatting before heading over to Mary.

I talked with Mary for a few minutes.  She told me about being on deadline and how much she had been working meet it and how she was doing the rounds of editing. I hugged her a couple of times and then left her to start signing and I made the rounds saying goodbye to my MG lovelies.

As always, I am spoiled by the amazing events that come to Mysterious Galaxy.  Mary and Robin are both favorites of mine and getting to hear them talk about writing and their concepts is always captivating to me.  I highly recommending reading all of their books and if you get a chance, definitely go see them!

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