Sundering Return to Terre d’Ange – Jacqueline Carey Interview

Jacqueline Carey

Later this year on August 1st today’s guest is releasing the concluding installment in a duology titled The Sundering. Following up Banewreaker, Godslayer will cap off an epic tragedy story that is a testament to her versatility. Prior to this, her Kushiel’s Legacy series, a thus far three book sequence, that includes, Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, and Kushiel’s Avatar, introduced readers to the setting of Terre d’Ange, where through the adventures of Phedre, Jacqueline Carey would become a fantasy fixture, while penning some of the most progressive genre work during the time.

I would like to thank Jacqueline for being so kind to join me this week,  we talk about the conclusion of the The Sundering and the return to Terre d’Ange.

Jay Tomio — Last year you released the first book in an all-new series, The Sundering, which was kicked off by Banewreaker. Can you tell fans of your widely successful Kushiel series what they should expect from Banewreaker?

Jacqueline Carey — After the initial Kushiel trilogy, I needed to tackle a new creative challenge, so it’s a very different book. It’s an archetypal good vs. evil epic fantasy with lots of familiar elements — dragons, Elvish beings, Dwarfs, a Dark Lord bent on conquering the world, and a stalwart band of misfits opposing him. But it departs from convention in one significant way, which is that it’s sympathetic to the losing side, and over the course of the two volumes, the story emerges as one long, colossal tragedy.

Oh, and there’s no sex.

Jay Tomio — In August, the second book in The Sundering, Godslayer, is due out, what can you tell readers of Banewreaker about this sequel?

Jacqueline Carey — It brings the story to its inevitable tragic culmination, with an all-out battle and many deaths. As many long-time readers know, I envisioned The Sundering as one stand-alone book. Unfortunately, it grew too long to publish in a single volume, so the decision was made to split it into two. As my editor observed, the same thing happened to J.R.R. Tolkien with The Lord of the Rings, aspects of which I’m deliberately echoing in this tale, so it’s appropriate in a way.

Jay Tomio — On your website you announced that you will be returning to the world of Terre d’Ange, this time from the perspective of Imriel, and tentatively dubbed Kushiel’s Scion, the first book in a planned trilogy. I was wondering if have any updating scheduling news, and if you are able to divulge anything about this no doubt heavily anticipated series?

Jacqueline Carey — I don’t have a definite publication date yet, but Kushiel’s Scion is likely to be released in spring or summer of 2006. It starts a couple of years after the conclusion of Kushiel’s Avatar, and follows Imriel’s journey through adolescence to young manhood as he wrestles with his complicated heritage and the conflicting desires that drive him. Upon coming of age, he sets off to study philosophy at the University of Tiberium, and gets caught up in a dangerous affair, a web of intrigue, and violent events beyond his control.

The books of the Imriel trilogy will all be a bit less epic in scope than Phèdre’s story, with a more personal focus. While he would like to follow in his foster-parents’ footsteps and save the world in a glorious, heroic fashion, he needs to save himself, first. And too, there are only so many times one can put the entire realm in dire jeopardy before it begins to get old!

Jay Tomio — You have said in previous interviews that you took risks when writing Kushiel’s Legacy, and those risks have obviously paid off. Phèdre, in my opinion, changed the face of females in fantasy forever. You opened the door to free females in fantasy from sometimes-stereotypical characterizations. Were you surprised at the magnitude of impact this had on the fantasy genre, and can we expect to see the same type of “risk taking” in your upcoming series based on Imriel?

Jacqueline Carey — Thanks for the kind words! I’m definitely surprised; and delighted, too. As a character, Phèdre was an author’s gift, a unique — and yes, intimidating — opportunity to do something innovative within the genre. I’m glad I was able to do justice to her. I don’t expect to replicate that level of risk-taking with Imriel’s story, and I think it would be wrong to attempt to do so simply for the sake of raising the bar. That said, from the outset of his story, he’s a damaged character with a tremendous amount of baggage, struggling to figure out what it means to be good. I hope that his struggle will resonate with readers, and continue to contribute to the depth of characterization we see emerging in the fantasy genre.

Jay Tomio — In Banewreaker, although rooted with much more of a traditional fantasy backdrop then your previous series, you make some very unique POV choices with very empathetic depictions of character categorized as evil (which is nicely eluded to in the beginning of the novel by the choice of passage by Milton). I read an interview you said you were trying to attempt “Epic tragedy”, and how challenging that was, now that Godslayer is soon to be released, the end of the Sundering Duology, are you satisfied with your attempt, and was your aforementioned POV decision predicated to best depict tragedy?

Jacqueline Carey — I think it adheres well to the conventions of tragedy. There are multiple points where the outcome could have been averted or altered, but due to miscommunication, fatal flaws within the characters, or sheer bad luck, it isn’t. Events gather momentum until the course can no longer be altered, and the ending becomes inevitable. The POV decision was key to making it work as tragedy, attempting to create the sympathy for the ‘minions of the Dark Lord’ that makes their ultimate downfall meaningful.

We do spend more time with a few of the ‘forces of good’ in Godslayer. I found it was necessary to keep the framework of the genre intact and get the entire story across. At some point, the unlikely, intrepid hero must be forced to make a lonely journey and difficult decisions. It’s mandatory. However, telling both sides of the story is part of what made it so long.

Jay Tomio — Your Sundering duology was at first planned to be released in a single novel format. As of late I have both interviewed authors who also had such plans, and read several interviews and articles on instances of similar circumstances where publishers have decided to split novels into a multi-book format. This has been a topic of some debate on many genre based sites, and I was wondering if you could enlighten the consumer who makes the final call on such decisions and are such decisions ever made by the publisher that have anything not to do with financial considerations (which I fully understand is their goal), particularly in regards to the number of duologys that seem to have popped up recently, is this an author or publisher decision, or both?

Jacqueline Carey — I can’t speak to every instance, but in my case, it was a joint decision. The publisher crunched the numbers and determined it simply wasn’t financially feasible to release it as a single volume. The Kushiel books pushed the limits, and this was a couple hundred pages longer. There are all kinds of concerns, ranging from competition for shelf space to shipping costs to pricing issues. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, releasing an absolutely mammoth tome is a major financial risk for the publisher. They strongly recommended splitting it, and although it was a tough decision, since I didn’t think I could cut out two hundred pages, I agreed. At a guess, I’d say that’s a fairly typical scenario.

Jay Tomio —You have written both genre novels, and non-fiction works, what do you recommend to readers, and what are some contemporary authors you have enjoyed recently?

Jacqueline Carey — Unless I know the individual reader’s taste, I try to avoid recommending books, actually! There are a lot of different elements to my work, and I never know what any given reader is responding to, whether it be the intrigue, adventure, battle, romance, eroticism, mythology, alternate history, etc. It’s different for everyone. I also find it hard because my own taste is extremely eclectic. Some of the best books I’ve read recently have been non-fiction. Songs of the Gorilla Nation by Dawn Prince-Hughes is a fascinating memoir by an anthropologist with Asperger’s Syndrome. War is a Force that Gives us Meaning by veteran war correspondent Chris Hedges is a powerful examination of the role of war in society. However, I did just preview a fantasy novel coming out early next year called A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham that I very much enjoyed.