Answers, Part Two

Ah, I love the smell of resolutions in the morning.

 Here are mine for 2008:

  1. Learn more about what I can do on my website. Maybe learn to do some video posts. It could happen.
  2. Take a vacation this year. A real vacation.
  3. Finish GOING BOVINE on time. (Somewhere in the tri-state area, my editor just laughed.)
  4. Get closer to finishing a novella I’ve been writing on-and-off for about six years.
  5. Play one song from Guitar Hero on medium.
  6. Finish short story that is past due.
  7. READ MORE! I think I am going to create one afternoon a week just for reading.
  8. Eat more vegetables. Do burritos count as vegetables? What about scones?

 I’m sure there are more but that’s all I have for now. What are yours?

 I promised Part Two of answers to your most FAQ about TSFT. I am attempting to put them behind cut tags again. Fingers crossed.

 I wish you all the best in 2008.


“Was Felicity always gay/Were Fee and Pip always lovers?”

I always felt that Fee was gay and that she was in denial, thus the fling with Ithal and others. I don’t think it’s until she has the freedom of the realms that she begins to understand herself and her feelings for Pip.


I always felt that Pip’s sexuality might be more in flux. She doesn’t really know who she is or what she wants and wants people to tell her, which is part of what makes her so dangerous. She does love Fee but she enjoys toying with people—she enjoys having people want her. (She manipulates Bessie’s affections quite a bit.) But Felicity’s love for her is true and, as said, probably keeps Pip human a while longer past her “sell by” date.


Though there are hints along the way, I don’t think it’s until TSFT that they act on their feelings.


“Does Kartik have a last name?”

He does—but if he tells you, he has to kill you.

I always assumed the Rakshana made Kartik give up his last name as an act of loyalty and to further strip him of his cultural identity. (You’ll note the English characters don’t have to give up THEIR last names, though Fowlson is only called by last name, like a servant.) I have a last name I gave Kartik for personal reasons. No, I won’t tell you. Feel free to give him back his name with one of your choosing, though I’m thinking Bond, Kartik Bond is pretty solid. J


“Did Kartik and Gemma “do it” in the realms?”

That is open to interpretation.


“Kartik walks around Gemma 7 times—was this supposed to be like an Indian Hindu wedding?”

Yes. Absolutely.


“One minute she’s in a sari, the next a corset. What gives?”
You guys got this right by saying that it was trippy dream logic and that the corset was symbolic. (See? You really don’t need me to answer this stuff. You’ve got it figured out and your answers are much more interesting!)


“When Gemma is faced with the Fates and her choice, does she essentially choose to wander in the gray mists when she dies? Or does she just get to cross over with the rest of her loved ones and the fates merely offer a sort of Valkyrie Valhalla?”

Well done. Yes, the Three offer her the Realms version of Valhalla and she rejects paradise (and all its inherent class connotations) to return to life and, eventually, a death like everyone else’s, no sitting in the Big Hall of Badasses sipping mead and talking about the glory days for Gem. J


“Did you intend for Pippa’s final rebellion to resemble religious fanaticism?”

A case of Necco wafers for you—great work. Yes, that is exactly what I intended.


“Did Pippa just end when the castle collapsed?”

Yes, killed by her own monster, so to speak. Castle=metaphor for Pip.


“The three women on the boat, were they based off the three-fold goddess image—the maiden, mother, crone?”

Indeed they were. J


“Why did Felicity need a sponsor?”

I stretched facts a bit here, truthfully, but girls who were not in the upper echelon of society had to have a sponsor of that rank in order to be presented at court. (It’s like having someone put you on the guest list at a club or party—“Hey, it’s okay, she’s with us.” Bad analogy but it’s early and I’m having to watch “Pokemon Movie 2000” while I type. Argh.) Fee’s dad being an admiral and a fave of the Queen’s, well, she probably would have been fine. But her mother’s dalliance in Paris would have ruined them in society—her mother has been “cut” as we see—and I used that as the basis for Fee’s shaky social standing.


“Did Amar and Mary have an affair/Did Mary and Sarah have an affair?”

That is also open to interpretation.


“What does gadje mean?”

My understanding is that it means “foreigner” in Romani, kind of like saying “goyim.” It’s used to denote outsiders.


Was Theodore Van Ripple based off of any illusionist or figure in particular?

Nope. But I’d really like to have tea with him. I’d just keep an eye on my wallet.


Was Simon ever actually into Gemma, or was he just always his father’s puppet?

I always assumed that Simon was into Gemma and that he knew nothing of his father’s affiliation with the Rakshana, that it was coincidence they met up. I figured Lord Denby kept Simon out of the organization because Simon wasn’t serious enough about life yet to be trusted with it. I think Simon really did like Gemma and was fascinated by her (because she was different) but that, in the end, he was going for the trophy wife. But you may see things differently.


Were the Winterlands based on any mythological land in particular (it CONSTANTLY made me think of the Nordic Niflheim for some reason.)

Another case of Necco Wafers all around! The mythology in the books is completely a mash-up, but I based a lot of the mythology in TSFT on the Norse. And Iceland was the inspiration for much of the Winterlands. If you go to Random House and find the Gemma Doyle Trilogy page, you’ll see my bibliography and can note the stuff on Norse mythology and the Iceland travel guides.


You guys are so smart. I’m telling you, you don’t need me for this. Word.


“About that bandana…”

Jeez. *scratches head* I swear they start using it in Rebel Angels. (I think he calls it a cloth, not a bandana.) Am I wrong? If so, my bad. *looks sheepish*


And speaking of my bad…


“Did the Spence motto change?”



Holy continuity error, Batman! I totally screwed up! Not gonna lie to you. AND NONE OF US CAUGHT IT! Not me, not my editor, not the three copyeditors working their poor eyes into early bifocals. But you guys rock the house because NOTHING gets past you. *bows*


Hmmm, thinking about it, I suppose my unconscious mind wanted Spence to change the motto from “charm” to the more kick-ass “strength.” Perhaps we were all united in this unconscious wish.


I suppose we should change that for the reprint. Thanks for catching that, y’all.


“Why do Kartik and Gemma never say ‘I love you’?”

They do, just not in those exact words. There are many ways of saying “I love you.” Personally, I just kept thinking of Han Solo and Leia:

Leia: I love you.

Han: I know.


I love that exchange so much because it’s so true to the characters. (In the original script, apparently, Han was to say, “I love you, too,” and Harrison Ford suggested the change saying that Han would never say that. He was right and the change was genius, imho.) I didn’t feel like they would say it outright.


“Why did you do a five-act structure?”

Because it’s a tragedy and because I’ve referenced Shakespeare and Macbeth and a theme of illusion/reality so I wanted to play that out, give the feel of watching a play, willing suspension of disbelief and all that. And maybe because I’m a theatre major and was a playwright before I started writing fiction. Theatre is my first love and it was great fun to actually use my degree for something other than waiting tables: “Okay, so the breakfast special #1. Would you like home fries, toast, or a side of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist with that?” J


“Was it the tree itself that made Eugenia evil? A more in-depth explanation on the creation of the tree (the ritual) and the magic would be nice =)”

This was a toughie. I wrote out pages and pages of my thoughts on the origin story of the tree. Lots of ramblings that probably make no sense, not even to me if I look back at them. (“Say what? How much coffee did I drink that day?”) I even had an emergency meeting with Holly Black, Cassie Clare, and Emily Lauer (the Trinity of Magic Systems) to confab about it all. (I have all these notes from the meeting.) But ultimately, I was constrained by two things:

  1. The fact that the book was already, ahem, quite long, and I couldn’t derail it with too much explanation of what happened in the past.
  2. The fact that Gemma is getting this information piecemeal through a vision and so can only see in shorthand, so to speak.


But I understand completely what you’re saying and I wish I had had another fifty pages so that I could played around and figured out how to weave it in better. Sometimes we do the best with what we’ve got. Terribly inadequate but true.


As for how Eugenia became evil, well, I think it has to do with her pride and inability to see her “dark corners,” as Circe puts it. She chooses to remain ignorant. She has a blind side to the real dangers because it would mean admitting fallibility and, perhaps, culpability. And over time, her power and the power of the Winterlands fuse to become something wholly new. She is swayed. I think about people like Jim Jones and Jonestown (though he was a full six-pack of crazy) but he starts off with an ideal and the ideal is warped over time by abuse of power, i.e., people doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Don’t know if that helps but there it is. Great question, btw.


“You mention, in passing, a girl named Constance Lloyd. Is that a reference to you-know-who’s wife?”

Ah, more Necco wafers to be given out. 🙂 Yes, that was a little Victorian in-joke, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Glad you caught it.


“Is there going to be a movie/Can we audition?”

  1. The books have been optioned by Icon Productions.
  2. Option does not automatically equal movie. It’s like putting a sweater you like on lay-away.
  3. Script being rewritten in H’wood. Writers’ strike = no work for now.
  4. Movie has not been cast yet. I know nothing about that process.
  5. I have absolutely no influence over the movie. Or casting. None. Zilch. Zippo. If I’m lucky I’ll get discount tickets and a free tub of popcorn.
  6. If I get any additional info, I will post it. But as of now, you know everything I do which is not much at all.


“What made you decide to write in first person, present tense?”

I originally started in first person, past tense, and it felt dead on the page to me. FP present tense seems to be my default setting. So I did a free write of the first scene in which Gemma sees the tracker in the London alleyway (while en route to Spence) and it just came out in present tense and it was like, “Oh, snap! That’s it!” Happy accidents.


“Have you always been this good?! Seriously, though, were you a brilliant writer since you were young or did your writing improve and change over the years?”

LOL. Well, thanks for the compliment. I assure you that I have drawers full of stuff that is so bad you shouldn’t even line your cat box with it for fear it would give the cat mange. Like every writer in the world, I work hard and hope for the best. On the good days I feel like, “Well, maybe that isn’t totally craptastic…” and on the worst of days, I am convinced writing is made of suck. I just keep trying.


I’ll close on one of my favorite questions: “Why didn’t Gemma give Lord Denby a good hard kick to the goolies?”

Why, indeed. LOL! It’s almost worth writing another book just for that scene. Almost.


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