Claimed by Shadow

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&A #24: (first published on Facebook December 9, 2011)

QUESTION 1: How did Rosier become aware that he had a living child? He made so many attempts, did he keep tabs, or did he magically know? Also, why did he claim his kid and take him downstairs, as it were, when he did?

Of course he kept tabs; wouldn’t you? There was no reason to try his experiments if he wasn’t going to keep up with them. As for the timing of Pritkin’s going “downstairs”, that came only after he began to demonstrate appreciable amounts of incubus abilities (i.e., after he became sexually active). As Pritkin told Cassie, had he ended up as just another mage, with little to nothing of his father’s magic, then Rosier couldn’t have used him. In that case, he would have had no reason to move him from a place where he fit in, however awkwardly, to one where he never would.

QUESTION 2: When Pritkin made his bet with Cassie in the beginning of Hunt the Moon, he promised her a picnic. What did he include in his picnic that left Cassie still starving hours later? I guess she forgot Mac’s warning to never let Pritkin be in charge of food!

She answers that later in the book–remember the “you feed me tofu but you eat here?” comment at the pizza parlor? That was in reference to the tofu and spinach wraps Pritkin had decided were appropriate picnic fare. Cassie, who had been hoping for fried chicken, was not amused.

QUESTION 3: When the incubus Chavez introduced himself, he explained to Cassie what his name meant, and I was wondering if the names of other incubi in the series have any special meaning? Rosier, Rian, Emrys, etc?

Rosier is the traditional name for the demon of lust in medieval/early modern demonology. Rian is one of those names that can go either way (be used for girls or boys). It seemed something an incubus might choose, because in my universe, they don’t have a fixed sex. Emrys was one of the traditional Celtic names for Merlin.

QUESTION 4: Whatever happened to Chavez after he presumably took off with Dracula’s prison and freed the vampire? He didn’t seem to be around when Dory was dragged before Dracula. And why didn’t he try to interfere again in the final duel between Mircea and Dracula?

Vlad had some of his dark mage friends banish Chavez, knowing that he would try to undermine his objective, which was basically suicide-by-brother.

QUESTION 5: In the beginning of Claimed by Shadows, Cassie was trying to get information about the geis from Casanova, and at one point Casanova was laughing about an inside joke that only an incubus would get. So what was the joke about?

Well, part of the answer you get in the next few paragraphs of that chapter. Casanova thought it very funny that a little girl (that’s what ‘chica’ means) like Cassie was going to try to oppose a geis as powerful as the one that had been laid on her, and by Mircea no less. But he also thought she had a slight chance of success, because the duthracht is treacherous. He thought Mircea’s pride might have led him to bite off more than he could chew this time, because even an incubus would think twice about using something like that.

However, part of the answer lay with the jealousy Casanova evidences from time to time towards Mircea in the books. He thought it would be funny to see handsome, successful, wealthy, powerful Mircea (all things Casanova wished to be, but only one of which he was) brought low by some chit of a girl. It was foreshadowing to the problems Mircea was later going to have because of the geis.

QUESTION 6: How much of the formal training did Pritkin go through with the Corps? What kind of apprentice would he have been? In the short story about Cobb’s End, he seemed to already know everything he needed to work for them. Did he ever go through the Trials? If he did, what did he have to face?

He was “apprenticed” to Jonas, because it was Corp’s policy that you be trained by somebody. And since Jonas’s specialty was demons, it seemed a good fit (and kept the other Corps’ mages from having nervous breakdowns having to deal with him). But yes, he did have to go through the Trials, which put you in an experience in which you have to be willing to die to defend others. And, of course, for someone in Pritkin’s state of mind at the time, that was a cake walk.

QUESTION 7: The Corps seem to have quite a few mages in their ranks who have some mixed-heritage, such as Pritkin, Lia, and David Dryden. So they go through all the training and they don’t get the circle tattoo, are they still considered full members of the Silver Circle? Are they treated any differently at all?

Other people get the Circle tat, just not Pritkin because part demons are not among the usual inductees. In fact, the Circle had never accepted one before, and wouldn’t have then had Jonas not pushed so hard for it. And even then, he was only able to get them to go so far, because nobody trusted demons (who had, after all, powers the Circle didn’t always understand, which was why they needed Pritkin in the first place). So they put up with him, but kept him as far away from the source of their power as possible.

Lia and David, etc., however, were known quantities. The Circle knew what Weres and Selkies could and could not do, so they weren’t really viewed as threats. So, yes, they went through the training and were considered full members of the Circle (you heard about Lia’s training in “Vegas Odds”). But there was still some discrimination there, mostly in her case as the Weres and the Circle had had a rivalry going for some centuries. It didn’t help that she was a woman, and some of the old prejudice against female magic workers left over from the Coven Wars was still in place.

QUESTION 8: Before Mircea broke Rafe’s bond with Tony, why wasn’t anyone concerned about him ever betraying them because Tony could order him to do so, like the way Sal did?

Sal was a low-level master and therefore a lot more susceptible to that sort of thing. Rafe had shown the ability to throw off his master’s hold (recall when he visited Cassie to tell her about Mircea’s ‘illness’, despite instructions not to do so? Or when he called Mircea to tell him about Cassie when she was a child, thereby ignoring Tony’s strict command to do nothing of the kind?) Rafe was at the level where a lot of masters are emancipated, because their Makers start finding them too difficult to control. Plus, he was totally loyal to Cassie, and would have done nothing to hurt her.

QUESTION 9: In the unlikely possibility that Dory and Pritkin ever team up to work together, what kind of team would they make? And how well would they get along with each other? I would imagine that they’d be practically kindred spirits with the similarity in their background: half-breeds not quite fitting in either of their parents’ world, their fathers are sort of “royalty”, they have this love-hate (maybe more hate than love, actually) relationship with their fathers, they made attempts to kill their fathers, grew up shunned by the people around them, and are looked down upon as homicidal maniacs who are experts in hunting “their own kind.” And how deliberate was it for these two have such similar experiences?

People sometimes accuse me of unoriginality—not that I’m saying that’s what you’re doing here, by the way, just that I get it a lot—because I like to use marginal characters, and preferably those with multiple strands in their heritage. I find it more interesting to show how they cope with the various problems that brings up, rather than to focus on someone who is already a comfortable part of the establishment, with little reason to bend the rules.

Having said that, however, Pritkin and Dory’s life experiences have been quite different. Dory has never been to hell and would have no way to function there if she had. Pritkin understands very little of vampire life, especially the exalted circles she occasionally inhabits because of her parentage. They also have very different abilities. Dory has to buy her magic; she can make none of it herself. Pritkin is not only a powerful mage, but has both (limited) fey abilities and demon skills that add to it. Yet Dory has some unplumbed depths you haven’t seen, as well, that make her equally interesting. They are also drawn to very different kinds of people and have very different relationships.

So basically, they have some surface similarities, because that’s the sort of character I like to draw. But the differences are far greater. And I do not know that their abilities are necessarily complimentary–as I said, Dory’s gifts would do her little good in hell—nor that two fiery-tempered people would be the best compliment to each other in the field. But YMMV.

Q&A #11: (First posted to Facebook July 30, 2011)

QUESTION 1: What exactly is a warlock?

Charley Sheen. It can also be a term for a mage who specializes in demonology, can summon demons and can put some of them in thrall.

QUESTION 2: In Claimed by Shadow, Pritkin confronts Cassie and Casanova in Casanova’s monitoring room, Billy comes in and starts making wisecracks, and Casanova takes a swat at him. Cassie explains that Casanova is able to hear Billy due to “his demon senses.” Pritkin is also in the room, though, and he cannot hear Billy.
They’re both Incubi. I would put it down to Casanova being in a vampire host while Pritkin’s other half is human, but other vampires cannot hear Billy either. Does this have something to do with Casanova being an Incubi possessing a vampire (thus being a spirit, sort of) while Pritkin is a half-Incubi, half-human physically living in this world?

Firstly, Casanova isn’t in a vampire host. The vampire who calls himself by that name does so because his incubus (or succubus, if you prefer, since he thinks of it as female) used to possess the real Casanova. But the incubus isn’t Casanova and the guy who calls himself that isn’t either. Basically, he’s being pretentious.

Secondly, Pritkin isn’t a demon. He isn’t even possessed by a demon. He’s a human-demon hybrid, and like all hybrids, he received some of each parent’s abilities while missing out on others. Some of the incorporeal demon races can interact with non-demon spirits, but Pritkin didn’t inherit that particular talent.

As for Casanova, when his demon is in residence, so to speak, he gains a good deal from it, including extended senses that other vampires do not have. It’s one of the reasons he made the deal in the first place. Hope that helps.

QUESTION 3: What did Pritkin think Mircea thought he was? If this question is a little confusing, I’m talking about Cassie and Pritkin’s conversation in the restaurant in Hunt the Moon. When Cassie tells him Mircea thinks he’s a warlock, Pritkin seems to feel that there was something Mircea wasn’t telling her. What did Pritkin think Mircea actually thought?

Pritkin and Cassie were having two very different conversations in that instance. Cassie thought they were talking about the recent attacks on her life. Pritkin thought they were having a discussion about the few times they had…gotten close. So he wasn’t thinking about Mircea’s claim that he was a warlock, but rather the motivation behind it—namely a reasonable sounding excuse for keeping Pritkin away from Cassie.

QUESTION 4: In Touch the Dark, when Pritkin and Cassie first make eye contact in the Senate’s chamber, “something that looked almost like fear crossed” Pritkin’s eyes. What was it he saw that shook him up?

You need to recall why Pritkin was actually there. He said it was to claim Cassie on behalf of the Circle (since she was a human magic worker, the vampires had no real right to her). But in reality, that wasn’t his mission at all. Of course, the Circle would have been happy to have the vamps merely hand her over, but they didn’t really expect it. And Pritkin was hardly the man they would have sent for a diplomatic mission in any case. He was there to investigate Cassie, and if she was determined to be a serious threat, to eliminate her. In other words, he was there in his usual role as an assassin.

The Circle thought it was being clever. It would kill two birds with one stone—get rid of a pythia who was outside its control and remove one of Jonas’s chief supporters at the same time. Because the vamps would almost certainly kill Pritkin after he took out Cassie. It never entered their minds that Pritkin might have a problem going through with the assignment. He was, after all, a well-known demon hunter. But killing dangerous rogue demons is a little different from killing a) a human being, b) a woman and c) someone who was about the same age his late wife had been when she died.

Of course, Pritkin hadn’t really thought about it, either. He was focused on the logistics of the mission and the fact that he was going to have to deal with the Senate, which never made anybody’s day. But then he came face-to-face with the reality of his situation. Which was a young, unarmed human female with big blue eyes, tumbled blond curls and a happy face t-shirt. Who was staring down Jack the Ripper despite having absolutely no way to defend herself. She was tiny and delicate and courageous and vulnerable and obviously mental for not cowering in a corner and…

And he was appalled.

He was also afraid, because he’d never had a target like this. And because, to protect the Circle, he might be called upon to kill another young woman, this time on purpose. And because, for the first time in his career, he wasn’t sure he could do it. So, since he was Pritkin, he proceeded to act like a dick to hide his fear and to steel himself against her.

QUESTION 5: Are demons that are incorporeal on Earth (like incubi) corporeal in their own realms in Hell?

First of all, it depends on which realm you mean, because in my universe, “hell” is a human catch-all name for many, many different areas. Are you familiar with Buddhist cosmology? Because if so, the Cassie Palmer universe is structured something like that. Basically, lots and lots of hells, each one different from the others. And some of them can support corporeal life (because some demons are born with bodies), but others would be toxic for anything other than a spirit.

Second, it depends on which demon. Some of the usually incorporeal types can save up enough power to form themselves a body (like Saleh). Others are spirits wherever they are (like the incubi, except for Rosier, who’s special like that). And still others are what is called two-natured and can take either form (like Sid). See “A Family Affair” for an explanation of how it all works.

QUESTION 6: Pritkin got a pretty nasty wound from a Fey weapon while he was in Faerie. Will it leave a scar?


QUESTION 7: In HTM, Mircea told Cassie that he borrowed the limo from a friend during their date in London? Who did he contact?

A member of the European Senate who lives there. Her name—and you knew it was going to be a woman, didn’t you?—is Marsilia.

Q&A #10: (First published to Facebook July 23, 2011)

QUESTION 1: Is Ragnarok finished, because Jonas said it had to do with the Loki’s three kids fighting against the Gods of War? (Jormungandr – Apollo, Cassie – the five Spartoi and the three children of Loki, the wolf Fenrir was shackled by Odin but eventually escaped and killed him).

I think perhaps you might want to go back and read what Jonas told Cassie again. Despite his somewhat…quirky…delivery, he does end up explaining things pretty well. Basically, Ragnarok includes three great battles: one against Thor/Apollo, one against Tyr/Ares and one against Odin/Zeus.

In each of those battles, a helper to the magical community is promised by legend: Jormugandr in the fight against Thor, Hel in the fight against Tyr, and Fenrir in the fight against Odin. Those three helpers are the three “children” of Loki, who was the god of chaos in the old Norse legends. Chaos, in this case, meaning free will, instead of the strict control the rule of the gods would impose. In any case, we’ve only had two battles, (one against Apollo himself, and one against the children of Ares, who were standing in for their sire). So no, Ragnarok is not over yet.

QUESTION 2: In chapter 7 of HTM, Jonas asks Cassie if she has had any visions about a wolf or a large dog. What was that about?

He was asking about Fenrir, one of the helpers the magical community was supposed to get in their fight against the gods. Jonas had had his suspicions for a while that they might be facing Ragnarok, but he didn’t want to dump something like that in Cassie’s lap if he was wrong. She was under enough pressure as it was, and telling her they had to defeat two more gods wasn’t likely to go down well. He was hoping for a sign, some vision from her perhaps, that he was on the right track first. But Cassie wasn’t having visions, so eventually he felt like he had to tell her anyway, and hope that sparked something.

Only, of course, Cassie HAD seen something, but in the tarot, not in a vision. That’s why he had to sit down when he heard about the Moon card showing up. That was the sign of the other assistant they were supposed to get—the one for the fight against Ares—and so he finally had something to back up his crazy theory.

QUESTION 3: The two ghosts at Pere Lachaise at the beginning of Embrace the Night: I’m guessing one is Jim Morrison, but who is the other? Rimbaud? Verlaine? Do tell! [I have to say that I particularly like the way you don’t shove your literary allusions down our throats to show us how clever you are but instead assume that we readers have also read a bit and let us think a little 🙂 ].

Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite non-conformists.

QUESTION 5: I’m wondering why (if I remember correctly) Pritkin is described as having an educated British accent (by that I take it you mean BBC RP) rather than a Welsh accent?

Pritkin isn’t described as having any particular sort of accent, other than “British”– which to Cassie, with almost no knowledge of the country, could mean almost anything. You have to remember, when I am writing Cassie, I am writing from the perspective of a young American woman who has done very little travelling (until recently, and fleeing for your life doesn’t leave a lot of time to absorb local culture.) For example, I had someone get furious with me once for a comment Cassie made in Curse the Dawn about it being un-British to drink tea out of mugs instead of teacups. I’ve lived in Britain, so of course I know that bit wasn’t true. But the point is that Cassie wouldn’t. Likewise, Cassie wouldn’t be able to identify differences between regional accents in the hugely varied language quilt of the British Isles.

I remember staying with a British friend years ago and watching a T.V. show featuring a popular comic. I can’t recall which one or even which part of the country he was from now, but I do remember laughing hysterically–and not because of his jokes. I found it funny that he was speaking English, yet I couldn’t understand a word he said. Not a word! He had a thick regional accent and was using a lot of words from his local dialect, which, as far as my untrained ears were concerned, meant that he may as well have been speaking a completely different language.

Now, apply that to Pritkin’s situation. What would a 6th century Welsh accent sound like? I’m not a linguist, but I’d guess it would be fairly different from today’s version, not to mention the difference in vocabulary. So when he came back from Hell after being gone from Earth for centuries, he probably had the same experience I did with the comic, and couldn’t understand anything that people were saying to him. Presumably, that’s when he learned English and picked up his current accent, whatever you would prefer that to be.

QUESTION 6: In Claimed by Shadow when Cassie ends up at convocation, Mircea says to Cassie ‘I know what you are’. I’m probably being really slow, but what’s his theory on what she is at this point?

Mircea tells Cassie in the next sentence that he knows she’s a sorceress (an antiquated name for a female magic worker). But is that really what he thinks? If so, why defend her to Anthony later on? Mircea took responsibility for her actions there, something he would hardly have done for an unknown witch.

So, what had Mircea seen? He’d seen Cassie’s clothing, which was very unusual for the time, and then he’d seen her vanish at the theater, right in front of his eyes. And Mircea’s eyes, unlike most human’s, are not easily fooled by illusions. So he knew she didn’t escape out the back using some kind of trick, and he also knew she didn’t step into a ley line, because there weren’t any running through the middle of the theatre. And in my universe, even mages don’t vanish into thin air. So what was she?

Mircea has a lively curiosity and he isn’t stupid. The reason he was intrigued by her was more than the geis. He thought there was a decent chance that he was looking at a Pythia from some future time, and of course, that’s going to get a person’s attention. Even a master vampire’s.

QUESTION 7: Does Cassie still have Mac’s lizard ward that she picked up from the battle when Billy set off the wards in the fight against Myra? I know that Sheba was used against the Consul when Cassie was escaping.

Yes, and you may see it again.:)

QUESTION 8: I’m re-reading the series and just got to the bit in Curse the Dawn when Cassie’s trying to rescue the Misfits and fighting the Circle and Pritkin drops in suddenly from the Ley line. How did he know he needed to hunt her down and drag her out of the mess she was in? We know that Cassie walks around with trackers on her from two separate groups that have fessed up, maybe more. My question is: does the tracker transmit location only, or is there more to it? Was she simply in one place too long for him to feel comfortable? Does Pritkin, in his role of Commander, maybe have trackers on war mages and therefore felt them converging and had an “uh-oh” moment? Was his Cassie-sense tingling?

The Corps has to have a way to communicate with its members, and what they say about technology is also true for spells—if it exists, it can be hacked. Considering the problems Pritkin and Cassie had been having with the Circle, it would make sense for Pritkin to have been trying to keep up with their movements. And with his inside knowledge of the Corps, it isn’t difficult to imagine that he might eventually have been able to figure out a way to spy on them. In effect, he was monitoring them on their equivalent of police ban radio.

Q&A #5: (First published to Facebook, June 10, 2011)

Q&A #5:

Question 1: Will there be more Lia stories?

I very much hope so! I really enjoy writing Lia. Her stories were originally designed as a way to make a decent anthology contribution without spoiling the main series, and to show something about the Were side of my universe. But I came to love them for themselves. If no opportunities arise to do anthologies in the near future, I might write another Lia and post it to the internet. But I have to get the John Pritkin shorts out first, before I’m lynched!

Question 2: Does the first Lia story occur prior to Touch the Dark?

No, the Lia stories are ahead of the Cassie books by some months. The first Lia occurs at Christmas, while Cassie is only in August right now. You can tell because the war in the supernatural community is ongoing, and there was no war in effect before Touch the Dark. In case you’re wondering, Saunders is mentioned as being in charge of the Circle because he was still “recovering” from the events of Curse the Dawn, allowing Jonas (as head of the council) to stay in control during the war. If I ever get half a second, I’m going to put a time line on the website, to help out with these kinds of things.

Question 3: Do the other Lia stories occur after Curse the Dawn?

Yes, all of them do. It allows me to avoid spoilers for events taking place during Cassie’s adventures.

Question 4: I’ve lost track of the runes that Cassie lifted from the senate in Claimed by Shadow. At the start of Hunt the Moon, who has which runes?

Radella has the rune Cassie promised her for her help. The others were returned to the Senate.

Question 5: Is the next book going to be Cassie or Dory?

They alternate, so the next book out will be a Dory.

Question 6: When will the next one be out? (I just can’t get enough of either of them!)

Thanks, I’m glad you’re having fun with them! I should have the next one finished in a few months; after that, it’s up to Penguin. But if you’re jonesing for a Dory fix, you can read “In Vino Veritas,” my short story in the Chicks Kick Butt anthology that just came out. If you don’t want to pay for the whole thing, most libraries should have it/be able to order it for you.

Question 7: Will Cassie and Dory ever meet?

Yes, Mircea can’t dodge that one forever! In fact, you may see something that amuses you in the next Dory book.:D