Q&A’s

Q and A #59

Question 1: Reading about Anthony and Cleo’s history made me wonder about historical events. Masks was great that way, with many historical figures making an appearance, and for example the fall of Constantinople referenced along with “disputed territories” and “rebels” by the Consul. It brings up, how much were world history events influenced by supernaturals in your universe?

A fair amount. If you’re the minority, what the majority of a society decides to do is probably going to have an impact, giving you reason to try to influence it to benefit you, if you can. That was why Marlowe was made, if you’ll recall. But your success is going to vary, especially when something involves a huge movement of people into new areas, as the Ottoman expansion did.

Question 2: Radu’s been said to be mooching off big brother; why didn’t he make more vampires after Louis-Cesare? Mental unsuitability, lack of interest, personal issues, etc…? Isn’t he as a servantless emancipated master highly unusual, and even vulnerable/potential liability to Mircea and the Senate?

Radu is protected by big brother Mircea, yes, meaning that nobody in their right minds messes with Radu. And Mircea is generous, so ‘Du has all the money he can spend as well as servants, status, and basically all the things that a large family can provide. Of course, to be fair to him, so do all masters who choose to stay and serve their old mentors rather than breaking away to form their own courts. Most of them do make Children, too, but Radu was forbidden from that until recently in order not to screw up the timeline. It gave him a chance to learn that the families you make and are afterwards responsible for come with some definite advantages, but also with considerable liabilities at times. Radu found that he liked the freedom of not being responsible for a huge household himself.

As far as mooching is concerned, however, most vamps wouldn’t see it that way. Staying and serving your senator brother would likely be seen as somewhat selfless, as you’re forfeiting your own court and relegating yourself to a life forever in his shadow. Masters who choose to stay with their own master after they are powerful enough to leave are given a certain degree of respect for that, especially upper level ones. Plus, having Radu free to concentrate on senate business has yielded a lot of advantages for them (Radu is a bit of a scientific genius, in his own way). Dory didn’t really get all of that, as Dory — the perpetual outsider — doesn’t always understand as much about vamp society as she thinks she does. But one of the reasons Mircea is so powerful is that there are two, not one, Basarab brothers working together. And having one seriously underestimated by vamp society is exactly the way they like it.

Question 3: Is the Danieli who was killed (presumably?) in the FK coup the Danieli from Masks or a different person?

Different person. It’s a common name.

Question 4: Will Dmitri feature more in the books, or can you tell us what caused the animosity between him and Mircea in CbS?

I don’t do spoilers. But the animosity started with a woman who preferred Mircea, and snowballed from there.

Question 5: Some of the series’ masters showed signs of moving / holding objects with their will. Is telekinesis another common power to develop amongst vamps like the ability to mind-speak with each other?

It’s not common. It does sometime come with the mental trait, however. You saw Mircea slam Pritkin against a wall without laying a hand on him in TTD, and hold him there. It was an early hint of Mircea’s mental adroitness.

Question 6: You answered once that vampires only need to use the bathroom if they consume a lot of human food. Does hair and nail growth for example happen for vampires after blood consumption, only on demand, or not at all?

Vampires have virtually complete control over their bodies after death, once they figure out how that works. Marti shaved the newbies in Masks because it was easier than teaching them, and because many are often less than successful with it at first, still thinking too much like a human. Baby vamps who try to configure their bodies sometimes end up looking a little . . . odd. Wild eyebrows, for instance, or too prominent eyes. One tried to increase his stature and ended up with gorilla arms. And even the older ones don’t always get the knack of it. It’s why many vamps just appear to change their looks with a glamourie, or go to a bokor who has more skill with that sort of thing, if they want the vamp version of plastic surgery. Having said that, however, after a few decades they usually figure out that their hair doesn’t grow, for example, unless they want it to. Same as you already learned about breathing/heartbeat/etc.

Question 7: Aaaaand finally… – I’m sorry but I have to ask – *using my best imitation of a Stark voice* Brace yourself… you know it’s coming…: are there any news of the Dory shorts? There’s been people on the forums anxiously looking for preorder links, I volunteered to ask. 😀

I would have posted them for preorder already, but Amazon won’t let me. They want the entire, edited version of the stories before they’ll put something on preorder, which makes no sense to me. If I had the final form of the shorts already, why wouldn’t I just post them both now? Why make people wait? I didn’t know this when I promised the preorders before, but I do now. So let’s revise this: you’ll be able to purchase the stories in April and July respectively.

Q and A #58

1) When Cassie was in Hell and the Senate showed up, were they all there or just the Consul, Marlowe, and Mircea? Did Jules come with them? Will we get to see what they thought of the scene between Cassie and Mircea?

They were all there because they were linked into Mircea’s mind, in a sort of conference call. They do this fairly regularly (remember when you see old vamps spacing out? They’re probably talking to somebody) because the senate is often spread out all over the place. Getting them all together in one place on a regular basis would be a royal pain, so they don’t. But they do have to meet, so it’s done mentally.

So they were already linked in, so to speak, when Mircea opened up the seidr link with Cassie. He’d expected to see her suite in Vegas, and for the senate to be able to talk her into the whole army thing (which was why they also brought Jules with them). But instead they plopped down in the middle of hell. Fun times!

2) The other thing I was curious about was when Mircea pulled power from the guards. Because Rico is emancipated, like Radu, shouldn’t he have been awake still? Even if he was off duty at the time, wouldn’t he have felt it and known to go to the suite to help? Also, is Rico the only one of Cassie’s guards that is emancipated?

Okay, now I’m confused. First, Ricu was already in the suite. Cassie saw him on the floor, unconscious, when she woke up. So he didn’t have to come from anywhere.

Second, emancipated doesn’t mean a master can’t drain you. Emancipated means that he can’t control you, i.e. force you to do things you may not want to do, at least not without more effort than it’s worth. But the blood bond is still there — it is always there — and he can use it if he must. It’s one reason Tony is hiding out in faerie, because if he was in this world, Mircea could damage him and, if he’s still third level, possibly drain him dry.

Third, a master doesn’t just drain his family indiscriminately, even under duress. That could leave some of them vulnerable to the sun or enemies after most of their power suddenly goes bye-bye. And for a man as obsessed by family as Mircea is, do you really think he would leave his people somewhere to die? So a master controls who he drains and who he doesn’t. Rico and the others were in a secure area, inside some of the strongest wards known to man, and facing no threat. Taking power from them was a no brainer. In fact, they were the perfect people to pick, since they could just hunker down in the fortress of Dante’s, like Mircea is always trying to get Cassie to do, until they recovered.

Radu, on the other hand, was in a different situation. Kit was a friend, but he wasn’t family, and in a crisis, you want a family member there to take care of you. Which, if you’ll recall, is exactly what Radu did. In Fury’s Kiss, Mircea was too far gone even to feed there at the end, until Radu (with some help from Dory) fed him the old fashioned way (which requires basically no effort from the receiver). Radu gave him enough blood to get him back to himself slightly, and then Mircea pulled the rest from whatever family still had any left to give. He could have drained Radu then as well, but Dory and Louis-Cesare were hurt, and Radu was the only one speaking/acting for the family. And Mircea wanted at least one Basarab left on his feet!

3) I’m confused about how the acolytes actually die. Agnes had to step in with Myra, to make sure she didn’t just possess someone else when her physical body died, so can’t the acolytes do the same thing and find a new host?

Myra was Agnes’ heir, not just an acolyte. The heir controls a great deal more power than the acolytes, and thus has more abilities open to her. She basically has all the skills of a pythia, just not all of the power yet. The acolytes do not.

4) Are the two acolytes Cassie supposedly killed actually dead (the one she shifted out the window and the one at the end with the bottle of Tears)? Also, how is the Circle holding the acolyte that was captured when they can shift out of the Traps and pretty much anything, assuming their training was better than Cassie’s? Isn’t that the reason the Pythia has reign over punishments concerning her Court, because no-one else is equipped to do so, considering their powers?

The duel ended pretty definitely, wouldn’t you say? And falling three stories onto cobblestones isn’t usually considered fun.

As to your other question, there are a number of ways of holding onto a badly behaving acolyte. First, they aren’t demigoddesses, so whether they would be able to do Cassie’s trick with the magical traps is debatable. But even if so, to hold them safely for a short period of time, all you’d have to do is drug them, and not even into unconsciousness. Too woozy to think straight takes shifting off the table, much less anything else. Of course, holding an acolyte for the long term would be a lot more problematic for the Circle. But then, it wouldn’t be the Circle doing it.

5) Finally, I’ve been wondering about Cassie’s heritage for a while. How much is her aging and lifespan affected by her mother being a Goddess and will the Pythian power have the same aging effect on Cassie as other Pythias because of this? Can the other clairvoyants actually see ghosts or is this something Cassie got from her parents?

Traditionally, demigods had a wide range of powers and life spans, so it is difficult to say what Cassie’s might be. Especially since Artemis didn’t have any other children to use as a comparison. But, certainly, Cassie did get some things from her heritage. She’s been on the job less than four months, and had no readily available teacher, but she’s already learned to use the Pythian power like a pro. Immanent death is a good motivator!

As far as clairvoyants and what they see, it depends on the clairvoyant. Remember Billy’s hat in Reap the Wind? The little clairvoyant who took it could see and hear him, although not all have that skill. However, the initiates that make it to the Pythian Court are the best and most talented around, so it’s safe to say that plenty of them can see Billy just fine.

But as for Cassie, her abilities go beyond seeing and talking to ghosts. She acts more like she IS one, in a human body, which is a necromancer trait. It allows her to slip her skin for possessions much easier than most people, and to trade energy with Billy Joe. Or to possess huge golems and go on a rampage. 🙂

Hope that helps!

Q and A #57

Major spoilers for Reap the Wind below. You have been warned!

1) Rosier all but told Cassie that his son’s mother had a fair share of fey blood. Will we learn more about her parentage and maybe even meet some of Pritkin’s extended relations?

I don’t do spoilers normally, but I don’t think it really is one in this case since it was hinted at broadly enough in RTW. Yes, you find out about Pritkin’s mother in RTS.

2) Rhea is Agnes’ daughter, does that mean Agnes had her when she was about 60? I guess since mages get much older than normal humans they probably also stay fertile for longer. Did she only get to look so much older and more frail in recent years because of the poisoning then?

Mages normally live more than double the average human lifespan (roughly 200 years) so sixty to them would not be sixty to us, more like late twenties. And Agnes is never described in the books as looking elderly. She looked middle age because the Pythian office is tough on people. And of course, yes, by the time Cassie meets her she doesn’t look well because she is dying.

3) Little hairy nuggets with big noses… I’m picturing an entire village of Captain Cavemans. Did you make them up or are you describing a known mythical creature?

Forest trolls. They’re a thing. 🙂

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4) What enables Cassie to shift a null? Tami caused problems for her power once, is there a way to dampen that effect?

Nulls exert a passive dampening effect naturally, although they can rein it in somewhat. But the majority of the time, their power is like any other witch’s, except that it works in the reverse. In other words, they have to make an effort to counter major magic, which is what Cassie’s is. But, of course, Cassie had to learn that, which she hadn’t done by Embrace the Night (which is what I’m assuming you’re referring to).

5) We have not seen modern day Pritkin pull any major glamors (1790s was the last I recall). If he could rely on his incubus side again or more, would large scale glamors be back on the table or are they simply not useful in his modern fight repertoire?

They would be very useful. But without his incubus side, they are too expensive magically. What you saw him do in Wales is NOT in the repertoire of the average mage, or even above average ones.

6) Once upon a time there was a question in the Q&A about what Mircea’s thoughts were regarding Pritkin. The answer was something like a nuisance that did the job he was given. Now in RTW Cassie had quite vivid dreams about who she thought was Pritkin, even calling his name once, which I think Mircea couldn’t help but notice. If he knows that another man (who is working closely with her) is starring in her dreams does that change his view of the mage? Would he feel threatened by that or take it in stride. I imagine the answer might be slightly different now than she was then…

I think Mircea made it clear in RTW that he isn’t happy about Pritkin being in Cassie’s service. But, at the moment, Pritkin isn’t there to be a problem. He’s lost, and the vampires would all probably prefer him to stay that way.

Mircea, however, views Pritkin as less of an issue than the consul. She is suspicious of his growing power base, and that includes Cassie. So, as I said recently in another Q&A, that puts Mircea in a difficult position. On the one hand, he’s expected to keep Cassie under control for the senate,
and willing to oblige them as needed. But, on the other, he’s being kept from spending much time with her, and thereby deepening their relationship, both because of legitimate senate needs (like filling their empty seats) and because of the consul’s active opposition. She wants Cassie under control, but under her control, not Mircea’s. And she has reason to know first-hand just how charming he can be if he gets the chance.

7) I was a bit embarrassed when my Romanian colleague told me about her then-boyfriend ‘Mirsha’ and I suddenly saw his name written down (she was showing me something of her phone) and it read: Mircea. Until then I had always pronounced it Mir-tseh-ah/Mir-zee-ah or something like that in my head. So could you maybe write the pronunciation in the Q&A section?

I’ve already done that in a previous q&a. But for anyone who missed it, it’s pronounced Meercha.

8) Will Lia de Croissets ever meet any of the main characters from the books (in the books)? Or is that a spoiler?

That would be a spoiler. However, I can say that you may see Lia in some upcoming novellas.

9) What happened to Bezio after Masks? Will he be mentioned in the books again?

If I get a chance to do Bones, the follow up to Masks, then yes. Otherwise, probably not.

10) The vampire Senate distrusts the Circle and their mages (and there is a whole lot of prejudice and resentment on both sides) but I wonder, what do the vampires, especially Mircea and Marlowe (since he had personal experiences with the Coven back in Britain) think about Coven witches and their magic? I’m not talking about their (political) power, since the Circle doesn’t let them get any, but about the Coven members themselves? Circle mage = unreasonable, manipulating, power-hungry psychos, Coven witch?

Coven witch=irrelevant. The vampires don’t think of them much at all. There’s really no separating the power and the person for vamps. It’s how their whole system is organized. As Mircea told Cassie in RTW, the covens are broken into factions with no common leader like the Circle has, so their power is minimal. And little power to a vampire means you are irrelevant.

Hope that helps! 🙂

Q and A #56

Q&A #56

Some more questions in today. Most are Reap the Wind specific, so please keep it in mind if you haven’t read the book.

1. Just finished reading Reap the Wind and am now over-bubbling with anticipation for Ride the Storm. Reap the Wind was a humongous book!! It was awesomely long!! Which I loved, loved, loved. And the Dory crossover again but from Cassie’s POV – so exciting. Loved it all.

I got to thinking about the powers of the vampires though and was wondering, if one first-level master vampire is the equivalent of a bunch of armies and the power decreases from there depending on what level master you are, the how the heck have the mages managed to fight them off all these years and not let them take over? The poor mages never seem to win any of the battles between them and vampires (or is that just because we see more from the vampires POVs?)

Well, first, because masters are scarce. Like, really scarce. You don’t see that so much in my books, because they are dealing with Mircea’s family and the senate, etc. But there aren’t many masters around at all, which is why Mircea wanted Cassie’s help in building him an army. Mages outnumber vamps, but they really outnumber masters. So, while a mage versus a master vamp would be toast, a mage versus a regular old run of the mill vamp . . . well, that’s a very different thing. Plus, kill enough run of the mill vamps, and you start to cut at their masters’ power base.

And, second, because mages are tricky. They are constantly coming up with new spells, etc. to balance the scales with the senate. And they’ve pretty much done so, at least to the point that neither side is willing to risk war.

2. In comparison to a first-level master, how powerful is modern day Pritkin? He was stopped in one of the earlier books by a bunch of masters when he tried to kill Cassie but there seemed to be a big scuffle before they could restrain him.

Pritkin gave up a huge amount of power when he lost his incubus abilities. But even without them, he was still a very strong war mage, still knew a lot about three different magical systems (demon, fey and human) and had a great deal of knowledge gained from hundreds of years of study and experience. All of which explains why the senate had trouble with him in TTD. Well, that and the fact that they were trying to restrain him without killing him (and thus coming into conflict with the Circle), and without giving anything away about their abilities that he couldn’t already have known. That put the brakes on some things that would have ended that fight really fast.

3. Would he be as powerful as a first-level master if he could use his incubus powers as well as his mage powers?

It would depend on the master.

4. Could he take on a bunch of first-level masters?

Again, which ones? And are they all fighting together? And what do you mean by take on? Immobilizing them, shielding against them, hiding from them would all be pretty easy with his incubus powers restored. You saw him elude an entire battlaion of fey in Reap the Wind, and that’s not easy. Killing them, however . . . well, killing first level masters is crazy difficult, plus most of the ones available are on his side! For those who aren’t . . . let’s say it would be a hell of a fight.

5. Is he secretly more bad-assed than any of them? Will Cassie ever rescue his soul?! Okay, you don’t have to answer that last one.

Lol! He’s certainly far more formidable with his power fully online, so to speak, than with it hobbled. But that’s the thing, and the point Artemis was making to Cassie in their conversation in Tempt the Stars: Pritkin doesn’t really know what he can do/who he is. He’s never had a chance to find out. He shut out the demon side of him early, after his first trip into hell seriously traumatized him, and has never really explored that side of himself since. Just passively, his incubus abilities gave him a good deal of extra strength. But what else can they do? And what can they do combined with the other strains of magic in his genetics? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t really even know much about his ancestry, at this point. So the answer to your question is still up in the air. But one thing is certain: he couldn’t grow or explore with Rosier’s prohibition on him, which basically left him in a state of suspended animation for a century. If it ever gets lifted . . . well, then we’ll have to see. 🙂

Q and A #55

Again, there are spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk.

1) I’m still a bit confused with all the fey names and allegiances but was Artemis on the Aesir or Vanir side?

The Vanir. Remember her forest in Tempt the Stars? One of the Æsir could not have grown that.

2) Getting kinda confused by the various houses and clans of the Fey. Would it be possible to briefly explain who’s who? I just can’t keep them straight.

Pritkin did a pretty good job of outlining the three main clans (of the light fey) in Reap the Wind, but I’ll summarize what the books have said so far:

Alorestri: They live mainly in the forests and like to wear green (as camouflage.) Came to be known to humans as the Green Fey as a result. The more correct term, and the one used in faerie, is Water Lords.

Basic characteristics: Forest dwelling, water bending, Excalibur giving group who like human women, like them really, really well, in fact, because they’re constantly fighting the dark fey and need warriors. Known to be slavers, mainly of human women, they are therefore the most common group of light fey seen on earth. Also ruled by a woman, known as the Lady of Lakes and Oceans.

Svarestri: They are known in faerie as the Earth Lords, because of their affinity for that element. They used to worship the Æsir, the gods of battle (Thor/Apollo, Tyr/Ares and Odin/Zeus) and were gifted by them with an ability with lightning, thunder, storms, etc. You have seen them use both in the Dory books.

Their royal livery is black, therefore they came to be known as the Black Fey to humans, not that they meet many as they rarely come to earth. They do trade with humans though (hence the portal you saw in RTW) mainly for food as they live in an inhospitable, cold, rocky land so are constantly
trading/raiding for food. But human traders have to come to them. They detest earth as a corrupt, polluted land and refuse to intermarry with humans.

They have the purest form of fey blood as a result. Ruled by Aeslinn, Æsubrand’s father.

Blarestri: The name means Blue Fey, both because the royal colors are blue and gold and because of where they live, which is high in the mountains. They worship the Vanir, the old fertility gods, and therefore have an affinity with growing things as well as with their favorite element of air. They are known in Faerie as the Sky Lords.

They are the strongest clan among the fey, and the current rulers. Their king is Caedmon, who had a son named Heidar with a human woman a century or so ago. But as half human, Heidar can never succeed to the throne. Heidar’s wife is part human, too (Claire) but also part dark fey, and has slightly more
than half fey blood. As a result, their son is more than half fey, allowing him to be the heir to the Blarestri throne. His name is Aiden, and he is currently watching SpongeBob in Brooklyn.

3) (This one came in late, to my email address, but it went so well with the overall subject that I added it).

I have noticed a significant change—and from what I know so far, incompatibility—between the light-fey magic systems, and their distinctions with respect to Svarestri vs. Blarestri, in RtW and the Dory(/Claire) books. It was Æsubrand who wielded the winds, not just earth. The Svarestri controlled THE elements, with most having ability in one or a few. Æsubrand was particularly gifted, both in strength and being able to command all four elements. What happened?

a) You must keep in mind what the fey had originally, and what they received from the gods they worshipped, when they became their followers. All fey can command the elements to a degree, but different clans tend to specialize. The Svarestri were always Earth Lords; their clan just developed a special affinity for that element. But the Aesir (gods like Zeus of the thunderbolt fame) also gave them ability with storms, the Aesir’s favorite weapon.

b) Aesubrand is a mutt, being a hybrid of different kinds of fey. Caedmon’s sister Effridis (of the Blarestri royal line) married Aeslinn of the Svarestri to end a war, and became Aesubrand’s mother. Plus various Water Lords turn up in both his family lines. He therefore has attributes of many clans, not just one. It was the reason he was thought to be the perfect heir to unite all faerie. There was also another reason Aeslinn wanted a son who was master of all the elements, but that will have to wait as it’s a spoiler. 🙂

4) Early on in Reap the Wind (I think somewhere in chapter 12), Marco says to Cassie: “Four months ago you were answering phones and making copies at a travel agency.” Has it really only been 4 months since book 1 or did I misread that?

Yes. In fact, it’s not quite four yet. This has all been one long summer.

You know Cassie constantly thinks of herself as ignorant or not-as-good-as-Agnes, but in reality, she has picked up things lightning fast.

5) The only political body that seems to take Cassie seriously in RtW is the demon council. They listen to her about the acolytes and she even asks them to help in the battle at the end. Why is their attitude different from the Senate and the Circle?

Remember how Artemis used Cassie’s desire to save Pritkin (in Tempt the Stars) to get in front of the demon council? And remember how she acted once there? A lot of people seem to have missed the fact that she was a total condescending bitch in that scene. I guess they put it down to the arrogance of the goddess, as Rosier would put it. But there was a bit more to it than that.

Judging by Artemis’ comments, it was clear that she was not there for Pritkin. He’d been the excuse to get Cassie to do what she wanted, but Artemis’s reason for wanting to talk to the council herself wasn’t mainly to help him. It wasn’t even to warn them about Ares, which Cassie could have done as easily, like she could have pushed the idea of an alliance. Artemis didn’t need to be there so much for what she had to say but for how she said it.

The council was used to being the chief power in this realm. Neither the Senate nor the Circle could remotely match them, or their sphere of influence, which was definitely not restricted to one little world. They were used to being feared, respected, and kowtowed to. They were used to being the last word on anything they deigned to concern themselves with. They were used to being top dog.

And yet, in a matter of minutes, Artemis had destroyed all that, had them all but wetting themselves, because they suddenly remembered what it felt like to be the underdog. So small, so inconsequential, so powerless that she laughed at them, a dead goddess laughed at them repeatedly, and mocked the very thought that their so-called power could stand against any of her kind, much less the god of war. They were given a sudden, vivid reminder of the old days, vivid enough that they (after a brief period of all-out panic) went running to ally themselves with the daughter of their greatest enemy, because she was literally the only chance they had.

Why does the council support Cassie? Because they take her, and their situation, seriously. They were alive at the time of the last war—many of them, anyway—and they just got slapped across the face with a reminder of exactly how bad things were. Unlike the vamps and mages, who are still coming around, still playing power games, still vying with each other for influence, the Council is gearing up for all-out war.

And Cassie is the best ally they’ve got.

6) Why has Cassie never asked Mircea about the pictures she keeps finding?

The same reason he hasn’t asked her about the picture of her and Pritkin in the newspaper. They really do have two relationships; Mircea wasn’t wrong about that. And they’re in the middle of a crisis. Risking their political relationship over a problem in their personal one wouldn’t make a lot of sense right now.

Q and A #54

Some questions just came in about Reap the Wind. Please be aware that there are spoilers below if you haven’t read it.

1) Was that the senate’s first time into hell? That scene was hilarious they sounded completely out of their depth.

Thanks, I love that scene! Their reaction was surprise as much as anything. They’d expected Mircea to tap into Cassie’s seidr spell, so they could all talk to her in her Vegas suite. To go from that to hell, and a particularly tense moment in hell, took a bit of an adjustment. Some of them may have been there before, but not like that, and not so abruptly.

2) It kind of looked like Mircea was really using sex to get answers out of Cassie about the demon council or am I just being paranoid?

Yes and no. Mircea has never minded mixing business and pleasure, and to be fair to him, Cassie was pretty much doing the same thing there. So no harm, no foul. The problem came a few minutes later, when Mircea made his pitch about the vamp army. Cassie was upset because she felt like he had used their time together to soften her up and that the army had been his real reason for calling her. That it had just been a way to ensure that she’d do as he liked, not because he genuinely wanted to see her, and that hurt. They also had an agreement not to use their private lives to influence each other politically, and Mircea had just broken it. Which was especially annoying because it had been his idea in the first place! He, of course, could make the claim that the army pitch was scheduled for later, but that he’d moved it up in response to a question Cassie had asked, and that it was just an extension of their previous conversation. You could make a case either way, but Cassie didn’t like it.

3) Will we find out how the Silver Circle and the Demon Council formed an alliance? I find that really interesting.

If it becomes relevant. The problem with backstory is that I already get accused of putting too much in the books, so am becoming gun shy.

4) Mircea kind of lost his shit with Cassie way more than we saw him do in the Dorina books in the same timeline. Is there any particular reason for this?

Yes. The scene where Cassie and Mircea get into it was unusual for the number of stressors on Mircea.

a) It was the same night that Lawrence was supposedly killed and ten other masters along with him. The scene at Dory’s house was hours later, and Mircea had had time to get his game face on. The senate meeting, on the other hand, was that same night, only an hour or so after the massacre. Mircea had just lost eleven masters that he was going to have to account for to some very unhappy, very important people. So it started with his nerves on edge. Otherwise, he would almost certainly have handled things better.

b) It was at that same emergency meeting that it was decided to press Cassie for the army. The whole senate was there, but Mircea was the one expected to deliver. The pressure was on him, far more than on any of them, because Cassie was seen as his responsibility. And her intransigence was viewed as his failure. And that was despite the fact that the consul’s concern over his growing power base was one of the reasons he hadn’t been able to spend much time with her/gain her trust more! So he was being put in an impossible position.

c) He’d just almost lost a vampire of his family line (Casanova), and been unable to help him (a major source of shame for a master).

d) He was in hell, not the place he’d expected to be when he tapped into Cassie’s seidr link. That’s going to throw a guy.

e) Jules was still human, and he wanted his servant back.

f) From Mircea’s perspective, Cassie’s attitude made no damned sense at all. If Ares really was trying to come back, shouldn’t they be doing everything possible to prevent that? If they didn’t know how to fight a god–and they didn’t–then preventing his entry into earth seemed the only plan likely to
save all their asses. Yes, an army of master vamps might be a little difficult to control later on, but even worse case scenario, could they really do more harm than a vengeful god? Her counter argument, that all the signs pointed to Ares coming back, and soon, no matter what they did, didn’t have much of an impact. Because that left Mircea feeling helpless, and he’d had enough of that for one night. He wanted something to do, but he needed her help for that and she wasn’t giving it. And his mental state was too messy at the time for the usual patented charm. Basically, he lost it.

Hope that helps!

Q and A #53

Question #1: In TtD you wrote that Mircea put a ward on Cassie’s power. When did he do that? In the past when she was eleven years old? And why did Billy Joe get the “rush of his life” when he broke through it? Was Cassie’s power as a Pythia so powerful and he wasn’t used to it?

Cassie didn’t have any power to ward at eleven. She was just some seer. But when Agnes started dying, the power started passing, and by the time the senate picked her up, she had more than she knew. But it was mostly Mircea’s power that Billy got a rush from, when he broke through the ward Mircea had put on Cassie when Tomas brought her in, to keep her from accidentally (or on purpose if she figured it out) shifting away from them.

Question #2: And what about later in the books? EtN made it sound like Cassie + the Pythian power might be stronger than Mircea, so does Billy Joe get a “rush” more often, or can’t he access the Pythian power when he feeds from Cassie?

You’re confusing two types of magic.

Magic type #1: Magic occurring in the natural world. This is the kind of magic that, in mass, the ley lines are made from. It is the wild magic of the world that the witches capture to extend their power, or that the Circle gathers more slowly in regular old talismans. It is also manufactured in the bodies of magical humans (which act like talismans).

But here’s the thing: it is manufactured by magical human bodies as a byproduct. Like, for example, a cobra’s body manufactures venom. It is something it makes for a specific purpose that does not involve sustaining life. It might help with that, because venom might keep a cobra alive by defending it against an attacker. But a cobra in a nice, safe zoo could live without it perfectly well. It augments, it doesn’t sustain.

Anyway, that sort of magic is commonly used by magical humans the way we non-magical types use electricity—as a power source for things that make our lives easier. It is used to make wards and shields for defense, to cast spells for offense, to power charms, etc. It is not used to sustain life (see above), or if it is (as with some of the dark mages who use it to greatly augment their life spans) it seriously screws up the user, eventually deforming and/or driving them mad. That’s not what it was designed for.

That’s also, by the way, why Artemis couldn’t just feed from the ley lines to restore her power after she was almost drained fighting the gods. It would have been like a human trying to feed off an electrical circuit. Yes, you can get energy from there, but not the right sort of energy. You need food.

Magic type #2: Life energy. This is what every living thing needs to live, and that animates both magical and non-magical humans. It is also what animates ghosts, who are like the scavengers of the supernatural world, picking up the bits and pieces of life energy living people shed, especially when stressed. It’s why ghosts haunt graveyards—lots of stressed people–and because most ghosts never have the strength to move far from where they end up. Scavengers exist, they usually don’t thrive. The exceptions are those like Billy, who find themselves a special sort of talisman that soaks up life energy, or can get energy draws from someone like Cassie. Those are very rare, and Billy is very, very lucky.

Life energy also animates zombies and feeds demons and vampires. The latter types, because they live so long, may eventually accumulate enough of it to start using it for other things than just living. That’s especially true of master vampires, who get regular contributions of life energy from their extended families. This is why vamp magic tends to manifest differently from human magic. It is more about what they are (faster, stronger, better senses) than what they do (throwing spells, etc).

Even master powers, the special abilities only very high ranking first and second level masters get, usually affect what the vamp is (Mircea’s mental powers, the consul’s transformative abilities, Louis-Cesare’s Veil) rather than what they do, because their power stems, ironically enough, from life energy.

This is also why Mircea, who is technically dead, can heal people, and not just other vamps. He can heal humans, because he can give back life energy to them as well as take it. All vamps can do this to a small degree, but Mircea is especially good at it.

So, to sum up, the pythian power wouldn’t do Billy Joe any good. Just like all the magic in all those magic shops, or in the ley lines for that matter, wouldn’t help him. He needs life energy. But he normally wouldn’t have too much luck robbing a vamp for it, especially not a senior level one, who would easily fight off his attack. That’s why ghosts so rarely attack even regular old humans, because attacking someone uses up a great deal of energy, probably more than you would obtain from them.

But Mircea warded Cassie with a mass of exactly the kind of stuff Billy needs to live, and she wasn’t trying to fight Billy off. Neither was the ward designed to resist an external assault. If was supposed to restrain Cassie’s magic—which it did. Right until it was raided by a guy specifically designed to utilize its abundant power.

So, yeah. Billy got the “rush of his life”!

Q and A # 52

Question 1: I really liked Masks and felt like it gave me a much better sense of Mircea’s character.  I don’t want to spoiler those who haven’t read it, but given his history with the Consul, where is her paranoia about his loyalty coming from? Yes, he’s powerful, but it sounds like he’s proven himself and his value to her many times.

But it’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? Someone powerful enough to be a major asset is also powerful enough to be a major threat. And the consul hasn’t stayed in control this long by ignoring threats. Plus, there’s the burning question Mircea either doesn’t answer or answers in such a way that isn’t convincing: why was he at Tony’s for a year? He has charmed first level masters who hate the senate in a week, yet he needed a year with this child? Why?

He said it was because he wanted to ensure that Cassie would be on the senate’s side if she was to grow up and inherit the pythian power, which sounds good on the surface. But then again . . . a year? A year away from his court, a year of putting up with Tony, a year in a run-down farmhouse outside Philly? And a year in which he never got around to mentioning that he had found a possible pythia until Marlowe discovered it himself. Why a whole year? And why the secrecy?

It bothers her, and it bothers Marlowe, because Mircea is not the kind of man to do something for no reason. But she doesn’t believe his reason here, or doesn’t think that’s all there is to it, and that’s a problem. That is potentially a big problem considering that Mircea has a very powerful family, has a gift for making allies, has mental abilities that she doesn’t know the full extent of, has a close tie to one of her greatest rivals (Ming-de) and now . . . he also has a pythia. Who is loyal to him, and not to her.

Wouldn’t you be worried?

 

Question 2: I love the Marlowe character and his interactions with Mircea and Dory!  I was wondering, if a master’s child ends up committing a major crime (e.g., high treason), is the master ever punished for not having managed his/her child better / not having known?  Is it a spoiler to ask how Marlowe reacted when he learned about Lawrence’s betrayal?

I explained this already in a question that came up on the sidebar, but I’ll do it here for those who may not have seen it. By the way, asking questions that have short answers works okay in that format, but any that require a lengthy explanation (as in more than a couple sentences) are better submitted as part of the Q&A. It gives me more space to answer.

Anyway, a master is responsible for his children until they are emancipated. After that, they are considered to be responsible for themselves. That is one of the main reasons why masters tend to emancipate powerful servants; they become harder to control, and the master doesn’t want to answer for anything they may do that is outside his control. So Lawrence was responsible for himself, having been emancipated from Marlowe years before. As for Marlowe’s reaction, he was furious. But by the time he realized what had been happening, Lawrence was already dead.

 

Question 3: In that near-death scene in FK, Radu seemed shocked by Dory’s outburst. Was he surprised because he wasn’t used to Dory showing so much emotion or because of the topic of Dory’s mom (how much did he know about that anyway?)

Dory always maintained the façade of not caring, either about Mircea or about a past she couldn’t remember. Radu is intelligent but not perceptive, at least not about people, and it had never occurred to him before that she might be lying. Or how much hurt, anger and resentment she had built up over the years that he didn’t know about. He was also surprised that she would speak to her father that way as he lay dying, and dying because he had just allowed himself to be savaged in order to save her. But Dory knew Mircea better than Radu, and what he needed then wasn’t tears and sympathy. He needed to be reminded of what he once told Rafe: Life isn’t a gift, it’s a challenge. Rise to it.

 

Question 4: In DM, Mircea told Dory that he couldn’t give her memories about her mother back to her. In Fury’s Kiss however, Lawrence was able to show Dory a previously repressed scene from her memory (the pier), and she has also shown signs of mental abilities later on (projecting). Presuming Mircea still has his memories about his wife, couldn’t he share them with Dory that way?

Lawrence isn’t Mircea, and Dory at the pier was not Dory as a child. To elaborate: Lawrence tried to remove Dory’s recollection of that night, but when he got into her mind, he found it to be a scary, scary place. He didn’t know what the hell was going on, and was interrupted before he could try to figure it out (not that he was all that enthusiastic about it, frankly). But the result was a hatchet job of a mind wipe that didn’t actually wipe much at all; it mostly just covered things over a little. If it hadn’t also resulted in the fall of a barrier that fey wine had already weakened to the breaking point, it might not have worked at all.

The memories of Dory’s mother, on the other hand, were removed when she was much younger and much more vulnerable. And the wipe was done by someone both more powerful and more careful than Lawrence. Mircea had to do a good job, or shards of returning memories might have caused the destruction of the barrier that was the only thing keeping her sane.

As far as sharing his own memories, yes, he could. But he can’t give her back her own because he doesn’t have them. He never saw Dory and her mother together, so how can he return what he doesn’t have? Also, when Mircea said that to her, it was in DM, before the barrier came down. He would not have dared try to show her anything at that point.

 

Question 5: How did Tony give Sal orders from Faerie when Tomas got relieved of having to obey when he crossed over?

Who said Tony gave them to her from Faerie?

 

Question 6: Marlowe mentioned that Mircea’s interest in Pythias couldn’t be on the behest of a consul he did not know at that time. Shouldn’t Mircea have already known the consul(s) due to his experiences in Masks? Or do they kinda keep that their dirty little secret, even from the chief spy? What does/did Anthony think of Mircea anyway? Can’t imagine him being overjoyed at him coming to Paris after all…

It wasn’t considered a dirty little secret. It was considered an honor, especially for one as young as Mircea, to be noticed by someone in her position. But it also happened long before Marlowe was even born and, to most people, was not a major incident. Mircea’s part in the old consul’s fall was not made generally known, as the new co-consuls needed the admiration that killing him on their own provided (vampires respect strength). It also didn’t take place at court, where the gossips might have been more likely to keep it alive, and was overshadowed by far more important events in most people’s minds. So not too many people even recall that she had a young Romanian lover for what was, after all, a very short time.

Q&A #51

Question 1:   Was Mircea’s first wife’s name Elena or Helena? Or are both correct?

Elena is the Romanian version of the Greek name Helen/a. So both are correct.

Question 2:   In Death’s Mistress, while they were in Mircea’s apartment and just about to leave and meet with Elyas, Dory mentioned that she didn’t know a single vampire other than Louis-Cesare who didn’t tense up slightly when she came within arm’s reach, not even family. I’m wondering – Mircea and Radu (and Horatiu too, I’m sure) clearly love Dory, even if she didn’t know it at the time, so why would they all tense up around her every time she’s near?

Because she’s a crazy, unpredictable dhampir who regularly kills their kind? Roy of Siegfried and Roy loved giant cats. But he forgot what they were capable of, and as a result, one almost killed him. Dory is a dangerous being by her very nature; she can’t change that, and dropping your guard around a predator capable of taking you out is a very stupid move. Readers see Dory’s softer, more human side because they hear her thoughts/follow her reasoning. All the vampires have to go on is what they hear her say, and more importantly, see her do. Most vampires consider Louis-Cesare quite, quite mad for getting within arms’ length of a being who might go into a fit and kill him at any moment. But then, he’s always been a little crazy, too.

Question 3:   What has Mircea done to Dory (before the events depicted in the series, i.e. Dory finding out about his memory wiping) that made her trust him so little? Was it the perceived lack of warmth and nurture a child would normally expect from her parents, or was it because he is a vampire? It’s just that in the books, Dory seemed to think that any show of warmth or concern from Mircea towards her well-being was an attempt to trick her into trusting him so he could get something out of her. This gives me the impression that he has actually done this in the past.

It’s because he is a vampire, partially, yes, but you forget: Dory doesn’t remember her childhood. She didn’t, until very recently, have anything to go on from Mircea except what he told her, and he couldn’t tell her much or risk damaging the barrier he had fought so hard to build. So what did she know? Some vampire sires her, then abandons her for centuries, which okay, is better than killing her outright but doesn’t make her all warm and fuzzy. Then one day, a guy shows up in a tavern in Italy, out of the blue, and claims to be that vampire. It turns out he wasn’t lying, but why does she care? He obviously didn’t, except for finally figuring out that she wasn’t going to die quickly like the rest of her kind and so might be useful. Dory spent centuries seeing herself as nothing more than a part of Mircea’s formidable arsenal—a tool or weapon to be trotted out when needed. She put up with it because, in return, he gave her some much needed protection from higher up vamps, and occasionally shot a job her way. But she viewed him as a necessary evil, nothing more, and resented it greatly when he pretended to any affection. Given the info she had at the time, her attitude was reasonable.

Question 4:   How come when Dory slips into dhampir mode, her voice becomes guttural?

Vampire Dory isn’t human Dory. She may be in the same body, but the mind is very different and draws on the non-human aspects of her being far more than Dory does. She also isn’t used to talking much, since most people assume she can’t! Plus, when Dory relinquishes control it’s usually because things are about to hit the fan. And a sweet/light tone doesn’t really compliment slaughter.

Question 5:   I loved reading Masks, and being able to get a glimpse of Mircea with his first wife. Would you ever consider writing a short story or novella focusing on Mircea and Elena/Helena? Or do you feel that the backstory revealed in the Midnight’s Daughter series and Masks so far is enough? Or (sorry haha) would you prefer to reveal more from within the plot of the the series as it progresses, rather than have a separate short story/novella for it?

Someone who liked Masks! My God, it’s like meeting a unicorn! So I wish I could comment on your question, I really do. But I can’t. I will say that if I ever stop writing these epicly long books and can afford to devote some time to it, I would like to write another book or two on Mircea. His is a fascinating story and I’d enjoy doing more with it. It won’t pay the bills, because you, me and maybe five other people are the only ones likely to ever read it! But sometimes, you have to do things just because you want to, you know? Anyway, we’ll see. And thanks for reading, lol!

Reader response to Q and A #50

This came in today on Goodreads. I answered it there, but then decided that maybe I ought to post it here as well, because answering it gave me a chance to articulate in one post how I personally see my books. Readers are, of course, going to see a book any damned way they choose after they plunk down their money for it, and that’s only right. But I think it can be useful sometimes to have the author’s viewpoint as well, if for no other reason than it lets you know what you’re in for if you do, in fact, choose to buy it.

The comment (it helps to read Q&A 50 first):

Sorry to say but I think I’m not the only one who would say that the romance/relationship element of this series is a HUGE driving force for us fans. If the intent was for the series to NOT be centered around Cassie’s romance(s) then maybe the very first book should not have been about Mircea putting a geas on Cassie that could only be broken by having SEX . . . with 2 versions of himself, simultaneously, in like the 3rd book of the series.

Please don’t get me wrong, I adore the series (and others like it) but I am getting kind of tired of writers getting annoyed by readers “mis-categorizing” their books. If you write books/series that have a really heavy romance/sexual element then sorry but that makes them Paranormal Romance not Urban Fantasy. Don’t get ticked off when the fans focus on that element & start to nit pick an obviously disrespectful relationship that comes across more as a Master/Property than a messy relationship where the man & his goons just can’t seem to wrap their century old brains around how a “human” woman should be respected.

That right there is why I personally detest Mircea, the vamp goons & the way they treat Cassie. She is NOT just some weak little kitteny human girl, her being the Pythia is supposed to be the whole reason Mircea wants to keep her “safe”, because she is so powerful. He is well aware of how strong she is & I’m sorry but all his actions up til this point show that to him, she is a pretty thing he enjoys but is more concerned about keeping her under his thumb than about her as a person.

That’s my two cents. I love the series, furthest thing from a troller, so I don’t think this person’s question was trolling at all because I agree with the comment/question. As do quite a few others I would imagine since my anticipatory comments about Reap the Wind are of a similar content & currently sit at the top of the review section with the most likes.

The Response:

I’m afraid that you misunderstood my meaning entirely. It also seems that you think all books with romance and/or sexual elements must be romance novels. So I would suppose then, that G.R.R. Martin, who includes a LOT more sex in his books than I ever have, must also be a romance writer? (Please don’t tell him that, by the way. He’ll probably kill off another Stark).

Instead, I would argue that it’s the focus of a book that decides what genre it is. As I said on Facebook in a reply to another reader’s comment, whether a book contains sex or not has nothing to do with its category. If 80% of a book focuses on sex/romance/relationship issues/cute banter between the leads, etc., then you are reading a romance novel. If, on the other hand, 80% of a book focuses on a fantasy plotline and fantasy elements, and the romance is there to support the main plot of the book instead of being the plot itself, then you are reading fantasy. And my books have always focused on the fantasy plotlines.

Yes, there is sex and romance in my books. It’s an adult series, and adult people have sex/get in romantic relationships, so why not? I refuse to cede the use of romance to the romance writers alone. Fantasy depends on having believable characters, and if every character acts like a monk . . . is that believable? Romance is also a very useful tool for a writer to have in her toolbox if it’s used judiciously. But that was the entire point of my post: romance in a fantasy is used for a specific end; it doesn’t exist for itself alone.

As far as Mircea is concerned, he is in the books, as is Pritkin, for plot related reasons. You’ll find out more about those reasons as the books continue. But judging him, as you are doing in your comment, as if he was a human man in a romance novel, with certain Alpha Male responsibilities towards his woman–no, just no. He is not human, he is 500+ years old, and he is not just Cassie’s lover, but also part of a magical organization fighting a war who needs her kept alive to assist with that. The actions he’s taken need to be seen in context–when were they done? Why were they done?–as well as seeing them as done by someone who, yes, recognizes Cassie’s power, but also recognizes her vulnerability in some areas.

Mircea is not going to act human because he isn’t. He also isn’t going to act like the lead in a romance novel, because he isn’t that either. He and other people in the books are beginning to reevaluate their initial impression of Cassie, and that is likely to continue. But it is a process, and their reactions to her in the past have made sense considering her age/experience level compared to theirs.

Look, don’t misunderstand me. I LIKE the romance genre; I think it can be a lot of fun. I am not trying to diss it here. But what I don’t like, and what those other authors whose comments upset you probably don’t like, is having someone pick up the books and be disappointed/angry because the characters don’t always act like those in their favorite romances. Authors WANT you to like their books. It’s how we pay the bills, okay? But that’s not going to happen if you go into a book expecting one thing and get another. A lot of romance readers like my books, but they like them because they’re different, and because they knew they were going to be when they picked them up. Not because they conform to rules of a genre I’m not writing in. I hope this clears up the confusion a little.