demon lore

Q and A #62

So, this group of questions came in, some of which had a somewhat . . . combative . . . air about them. Since I, of course, love all my readers, I would never even think of answering them in a similar style. So I’ve let Ray do it. He’s from the Dorina Basarab series, but he reads Cassie novels because he has good taste. Warning: He also has a foul mouth. I apologize in advance. He was the only person I could get since he doesn’t have a job right now and . . . I’m sorry.

Okay, take it away, Ray!

1) What happens to Sam and Daisy, are they stuck in the past?

Yeah, sure. ‘Cause leaving Daisy the Crazy in the 6th century couldn’t possibly fuck anything up, right? Cassie borrowed her from her father, and when we borrow something, what do we do? Well, I mean, I usually hide out somewhere and hope people forget about it, ’cause thanks to my asshole ex-master burning down my club, I have, like, negative money right now. And Dory is broker than I am. But, you know. Most people.

2) Why is Cassie able to understand mouthed words with the translation spell now? She was pretty sure she couldn’t before.

Page number. Or a quote. Anything. Not gonna spend two hours looking up a vague reference. I got shit to do here.

3) When Pritkin is cursed in TtS, he seems dead. Cassie says he has no heartbeat or other sign of life. Later we’re told that he is in a sort of stasis, so he can revive when the counter spell is cast. Yet at the end of RtS his beard has grown. Was that since the counter spell?

Sure. Let’s go with that.

4) When P was cursed, Rosier blamed Cassie for getting P killed and grabbed Pritkin’s body. Then Cassie & Caleb were shifted back to Earth. No one knew P would/ could be revived. A few Earth hours later the counter spell was given. It was just hours on Earth, but how long in hell? What had R done with the body?

Rosier kept the body in place while he argued with the demon council over the counter spell. If there was even a chance to revive his son, he wanted it. And he got it, thanks to the council watching Cassie, and seeing something they didn’t expect from the freaking daughter of Artemis.

5) Did Rosier bring P’s body then and give it to Caleb? How likely is that?

Whaddya mean, how likely is that? You bein’ sassy? ‘Cause it sounds like you bein’ sassy. So, okay, smarty pants, what do you think he shoulda done? Let’s look at the options, shall we?

So you’re Rosier. You’re gonna be away for an unknown amount of time, because Cassie is a disaster, so who knows what’s gonna happen on this supposed simple mission back through time. You fear for your life, you really do. But there’s nobody else willing to do this for your kid, so it’s gotta be you. But that leaves Pritkin . . . where, exactly?

Stupid Option #1: You take him back to your court. Only . . . some of your asshole nobles already tried to kill him in the past and probably still want to. They want the head honcho position if they ever manage to off you, so getting rid of this weirdly powerful thing you made while he can’t defend himself? Pie, baby. Delicious, delicious pie.

Pritkin wouldn’t have lasted a day.

Stupid Option #2: Leave the body at your other court in the Shadowland, where plenty of demons would also like to see your kid dead, or drain him of whatever life he has left. Cause, like in stupid option #1, you don’t know who all of Pritkin’s enemies are, do ya? But you know he has them, on the council as well as Joe demon in the street, and without you there watching him, you really think your pansy ass guards are gonna keep a member of council out if they want in? They just killed him once, you gonna trust them after that?

Oh, you are? Well good thing you weren’t calling the shots, huh?

Stupid Option 3: Try to hide him on earth somewhere, or on some other world, without telling anybody. But then, who you gonna get to guard him? I mean, you gotta have a guard, right? A dingo ate a baby once; you gonna leave your baby inside a cave or something and hope nothing eats him? Or you gonna leave him with a guard you aren’t sure you can trust?

Only Smart Option: Give the body into the safekeeping of Pritkin’s good buddy Caleb, who has no reason to hurt him, and who most of your court don’t even know exists. He can hide it out on earth until you get back.

6) I feel like reality changed on us. Now Pritkin was only in a coma? Really?

Really? Really? You talkin’ to me? I SAID, ARE YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?

Anyway, she said it was like a coma. She was making a simile. A comparison. A this-crazy-magic-thing-is-sort-of-like-this-other-thing-we-have-in-reality-so-maybe-it-will-help-you-understand-better. But, hey, fuck her, right? I told her she should stop answering questions, or at least start charging. Like, a buck a question. Or ten bucks for stupid questions. So, she owes me a hundred bucks. Hey, Karen, you owe me a hundred bucks!

7) And what kept him alive for a week?

He wasn’t alive, he wasn’t dead. He was something in between. He was cursed. Kind of like I feel right now.

8) When was the counterspell cast? After Ares was sent back but before the Pythias took his memory?

Ares wasn’t sent back, Ares was destroyed. Dead. Bought the farm. Erased, exterminated, pegged out, wearing a pine overcoat, ashes to ashes, doing the permanent graveyard shift, gone forever, torn apart by his own magic, RIP. And, yeah, as soon as the threat that was going to kill them all, counter spell or no, was dealt with, Cassie told Pritkin to read the freaking paper. Does everything have to be on the page?

9) Why does Rosier only call Pritkin “Emrys,” the name his mother gave him, instead of “Myrrdin,” the name he gave him? Also how did he find out about the name Morgaine gave him if he never met her again after she gave birth to Pritkin and was hustled back to Faerie?

That was explained in the book. Did you read the book? Rosier was furious with Morgaine, and hurting from her supposed death. It affected him more than he expected, ’cause he thought he was a callous motherfucker who’d just been using her, but he’d spent a lotta time teaching her magic, and he’d fallen harder than he’d thought. So then it hit him—really hit him, you know? And only made him angrier, ’cause for a guy who dealt in emotion, he never really learned how to process any. So, yeah, not gonna call the kid by the name his dead mom picked out. But later, after he calmed down, he reconsidered. He actually says this to Cassie.

As for the other, there were a ton of fey with Nimue. Don’t you think one of them might have mentioned it? He was the father, after all. Even the fey would figure he ought to know his son’s name. Geez.

10) My theory for how Mircea figured out Pritkin’s identity: the white and gold paper on the book. White and gold are the colors that all the servants at Rosier’s wore so that says to me they are his “house colors.” Mircea puts it all together after the battle on the carpets with the Allu in Tempt the Stars. Rosier and Pritkin are seen together, the look damn near identical. They talk about Rosier calling the demon council and the Allu ignoring Rosier, a demon lord. Rosier refers to Pritkin as his son at least once in that scene as well. Mircea has knowledge of the battle as we saw in TtS. There could have easily been video and audio feed of it both magical and non. It wouldn’t take much for him to enquire who and what kind of demon Rosier is. Then it all falls into place. Am I remotely on the right track?

No.

Now, if you guys will excuse me, I got a C note to collect.

Just FYI: In case anyone is pissed off at Ray, the lovely lady who sent in these questions saw the answers in advance and thought they were funny. She gave her permission for this post to be made. So there.

Q and A #61

Spoiler warning if you haven’t read Ride the Storm. Although, if you haven’t, why haven’t you? Go, run to the bookstore! Now! Now!

Ahem.

So.

1) Why does Cassie call Pritkin’s smile evil at the end?

Because they’ve been dodging around this thing they have, and there’s no way to really do that anymore. He doesn’t have anything hanging over his head, no parole, no exile, no anything. He can have a life now, for the first time in a century, and she is fair game. It’s on.

2) Gertie! I hate Gertie! Why Gertie?

Gertie would like to remind you that, without her selfless adherence to duty, Cassie would not have had the hellhound to help her in her first big battle (she would never have met it), or the key to what Jo was up to (she never would have figured it out if Gertie hadn’t thrown her in jail), or enough time to eek out a victory in the final battle (Gertie, and the posse she assembled, is what held up Ares for so long). So Gertie helped, even if she didn’t mean to!

3) Did you have a favorite character from the Arthurian legend that you really wanted to bring into Cassieverse?

Morgaine. 😀

4) Does Cassie regret being with Pritkin? She acted a little skittish when he said he remembered everything.

She isn’t skittish, she’s nervous. This is a huge change for her and she hasn’t really had time to absorb that yet. Plus it just seems so strange to have Pritkin back. It’s what she was working toward all this time, but had almost come to believe she would never see. So she almost doesn’t know what to feel here. Also, see question 1. You’d be nervous, too.

5) From Chile, your characters are so beautiful and charming, and the plot is excellent, have you ever think in product a movie or a TV series from Cassie Palmer stories? I’ll love to see that. Excuse me for my bad English.

Your English is very good! And yes, there was a group interested back in 2011, but the cost would have been prohibitive. Magical effects are expensive! I don’t even want to think what Game of Thrones spent on those dragons this year (although it was worth every penny imo). But, yeah, a Cassie Palmer show wouldn’t be cheap.

6) Why is Cassie described as having curly hair in the books but always has straight hair on the covers?

Lol! Because my publishers have an irrational dislike for curly hair! Honestly, that’s kind of the truth. Marketing comes up with this stuff, and decided on a straight haired model, I have no idea why. Personally, I think Cassie’s out of control hair is a good representation for her life right now, but that’s just me.

7) Have you ALWAYS known about Pritkin’s origin from the day you began writing the story (in your mind or on paper), or is that something that formed organically with time?

I always knew the major arc of the story, just not all the connective details. I usually tell people that my writing style is kind of like the old colonial (US) way of making a road. They didn’t have the money to build proper roads everywhere, so they would go through the forest every few years and mark up trees here and there with red paint. Travelers could see the marks and know that they were still going in the right direction. I also have markers I use to keep a story on track, big character/plot points that need to be in there, and which I have to know ahead of time. But all the stuff in between them is organic. I can’t tell you a good story if I know every bit of it already myself. Then I lose interest, as it feels done to me.

8) Will there be a short story/novella to expand on what happened between the defeat of Ares and Cassie waking up at Dante’s? Or will this be explained in the next book?

I’m not sure what you want to know. What would you like to have explained?

9) Okay, I realise this is a super weird question, but I’ve been having a bit of a debate with other fans about how far Pritkin’s sex ban extended. When they said ‘all kinds of sex’, did that include, uh, self-gratification?

No, there was no ban on masturbation. But you have to remember that, to an incubus, and therefore to the incubus part of Pritkin, sex is food. It’s a pathway into another person’s life energy, the same way blood is for a vampire. But you can’t feed from yourself. So masturbation would basically be torture for Pritkin. He’s already starving, he gets set up in anticipation of a meal, and then . . . nothing.

10) My question is about the demon “sex.” It said Pritkin sent all he could back. So does one person end with all of the energy normally or do they have control?

No, it’s normally a mutual feeding, but the incident at the end of RTS wasn’t normal. Pritkin had gone without for so long, and his incubus was so starved, that it generated more power than usual (and it usually generates a lot). It fed on the pythian power and multiplied it, to the point where he couldn’t absorb any more. They were both about to be burnt up if something wasn’t done with it, but Pritkin was too groggy from everything that had happened to him–remember, he’d literally just been reintegrated–that it was up to Cassie to figure out what to do. And she did. 

11) Since Cassie is half goddess does she need to feed that side of her by consuming demon energy, much as Pritkin must feed his demon incubus side? Does it affect her control of the pythian power?

She doesn’t need to, no. There’s no part of her that’s starving as Pritkin’s incubus side was. But she can use it, as her mother did, as demonstrated at the end of RTS. Her heritage was one reason she wasn’t destroyed in that situation, as Pritkin’s wife had been. It’s also why she doesn’t look about sixty right now.

The pythian power usually “uses up” pythias, because of the strain it puts on them. They age faster and die sooner than most magical humans, living lives that are roughly half as long (depending on how much power they use during their tenure in office). But Cassie, other than for being exhausted, has shown no signs of advanced aging, despite using more power in the last few months than most pythias do in a lifetime. So her mother’s genes do come in handy at times.

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&A #38

Question 1: Do Rakshasas actually shape shift or are they relying on illusion to fool their prey?

Rakshasas are spirits normally. They can take bodies when they choose, however, if they have saved up enough power. But there’s no requirement that those bodies should be human ones. They assume whatever form will best suit their ends.

Question 2: Do lampades have the same shape shifting/illusion abilities as Rakshasas?

Lampades don’t shape-shift, but they are skilled at illusion. They can look like anybody they choose–or anybody you want.

Question 3: Is Rian the “daughter” of Rosier? Does Pritkin think of Rian as his half-sister?

No, all incubi can reproduce and Rosier is hardly the only one doing so. Besides, for centuries he put most of his time into gaining himself a human child, so he actually has fewer children than some others of his kind.

Question 4: Cassie gets her power to see, talk, and control ghosts from her father. So I am a bit confused about how, in the third book, one of the Misfits, who is only clairvoyant, can see and talk to Billy-Joe. Could you explain this to me?

The short answer is, clairvoyants can sometimes see and even more rarely interact with ghosts. But what Cassie does, having a ghostly servant who acts as a friend/confidant/errand boy, is something entirely different. Her relationship with ghosts is explained in Tempt the Stars in detail, if it interests you.

Question 5: (this might be spoilery, lol) If Cassie’s father’s spirit was captured in some paperweight and taken into faerie, is he still in spirit form? In the second book, Billy became corporeal when he went into faerie, so would Cassie’s dad still be incorporeal?

This was answered in another Q&A. I basically said that Cassie’s father is a big subject, and will be addressed in the books. You learn a good deal about him in Tempt the Stars. All I can say on this particular point is that he is trapped in a magical snare, not free to move about as Billy Joe was. So the question of corporeal/incorporeal is moot until that changes.

Question 6: Do you take your short stories into account when writing your novels? For example, will the interactions in the Pritkin shorts somehow affect the characters responses & emotions in the future novels?

All of my stories are taken into account when I write a new one. So yes, the Pritkin shorts matter. They are free, so I don’t believe that this should cause a hardship for anyone. Although it wouldn’t in any case, since I try to give enough information within the novels to know what is happening, even if someone has missed the shorts.

Q&A #30: (First published on Facebook April 17, 2012)

QUESTION 1: I’ve been wondering, since Cassie’s mother was a child of Loki and thus ‘one of the three monsters of chaos’ in Norse mythology, would this technically make Cassie the Demi-goddess of Chaos? I’m not sure if titles are passed down like that with the gods, but it just seemed like a rather appropriate title for her to me 😉

Lol, I like it! Actually, demigods in the Greek tradition only occasionally had titles, but whether Cassie has the name or not, she certainly lives up to it!

QUESTION 2: Demons can receive ‘gifts’ or new skills from each other during an energy exchange. Is it possible for a person with no demon blood to benefit from a power exchange with a demon/part-demon?

Yes, technically. But it would depend on the recipient having enough power to use whatever it is that they acquired, which won’t often be the case. Which is why demons don’t mind exchanging energy with whomever has a useful skill they might like to have; most of the time, they aren’t really offering anything in exchange.

QUESTION 3: I would like to ask about Rasputin. I thought he may be inspired to the historical person, like the other historical figure in your novels, but the ‘Mad Monk’ died in late 1916 and as in Death’s Mistress Dorina inferred that Louis-Cesare’s elevation to first-level and subsequent elevation to senatorial seat in a century and a half was extraordinarily quick. I wondered how it could happen that Rasputin came to rival with the consul’s power in less than a century or if I misunderstood something.

The point made in Touch the Dark, when Rasputin was introduced, was that he didn’t die in 1916. He was poisoned, shot, stabbed, beaten and thrown in a freezing river, but couldn’t die because he was already dead, and had been so for a while. Which also explained his hypnotic-type abilities in gaining power over the Romanovs, and his healing of their hemophiliac son. Rasputin in Cassie’s universe was a vampire long before his convenient “death” in 1916, right before he would have been lynched anyway, with the advent of Lenin et al.

QUESTION 4: Does Rafe still paint? If so, is his new work known in the current time as his own or as someone new that we might recognize? What does happen to his new paintings? Sold, or only displayed in never-seen-by-norms places such as MAGIC?

Of course he still paints. He did Cassie’s ceiling, didn’t he? But having new paintings by a major talent like Raphael suddenly appear (and art historians can easily recognize a master’s style) would not do a lot for the continued anonymity of the supernatural community. Especially not when they were painted with modern pigments! So yes, his new works are kept within the sup community, and many within the family.

QUESTION 5: You said before that vampires or “immortal” beings in general wouldn’t be affected by Cassie’s time waves because they don’t age, but as I understand it, from the explanations on the book, the time waves make time in a certain area pass faster, so if a vampire or a fey or a demon were hit by one they wouldn’t age, but wouldn’t they die of starvation? Since it would be like they had gone hundreds of years without eating anything (be it food or blood or anything else).

Fun question, thanks! Actually, it would depend. First, how strong is the wave? Cassie has a limited ability here, and the stronger the wave, the more exhausting it is for her. Of course, even a minor wave might kill a human, by making fifty or a hundred years pass by in a moment. But it might not affect a demon that much. And as for vampires…well, that’s when it gets interesting.

Let’s say Cassie is feeling good, hasn’t already been in a fight and isn’t hurt or tired or whatever (yeah, I know, fat chance, right? But just for the sake of argument here). And let’s say she hits a vampire with a major time wave, something strong enough to make hundreds of years pass for them in a few moments. Now the question is, what kind of vamp is it? If such a wave hit a very young vampire, then yes, it might kill him or her. Although even that is uncertain, because vampires can draw extra energy from family in emergencies. But a baby would have a limited ability in that area and might not be able to compensate fast enough. But what if a major time wave hit a master?

In the case of a master, especially a senior master, they would immediately draw from their entire family’s energy, combining the strength of dozens or perhaps even hundreds of other vampires with their own. And some of those vamps would be masters, too. That’s one reason masters are so damned hard to kill, and why Mircea, for example, could withstand being freaking electrocuted in ETN. On his own, he might have died, but he wasn’t on his own. No senior master ever is. Their families are like extra battery packs, and can feed them a lot of power in extremis.

As for demons, they don’t die of starvation, they simply get weaker. So a major wave might give Cassie an advantage over them, but again, it would depend on the demon. They’re like camels with energy, gorging in good times and storing it up for lean ones. So whether said demon would be weakened enough to be an easy kill for her after the wave would depend very much on the demon. And that’s not the kind of thing best left to chance!

Q&A #25: (First published on Facebook January 13, 2012)

QUESTION 1: Cassie’s world is so intricate and detailed. How do you keep it all organized in your head? Do you need a visual, or some kind of cheat sheet? I imagine one of those boards you see on TV sometime, with pictures and post-its and strings connecting them.

Lol, no. I’m a Gemini. We’re not that organized! And, actually, it really is mostly in my head. I have a few notes for the overall storyline (the one encompassing all the books) but they’re brief. So sometimes, I have to go look something up (usually height or eye color, that sort of thing). But mostly I just remember.

If it seems intricate to you, it’s probably because you pick up a book whenever one comes out, read it, and then that’s all until the next one. I live with this stuff every day, so it’s easier for me. It’s sort of analogous to you trying to explain to me how your job works. I’d probably find a lot of that to be complex, too, because I don’t do it all the time. Or because it has to do with math. I don’t math.

QUESTION 2: How did you get the inspiration for this story, and how did you start to write it? Did you have a basic outline of where you wanted it to end up? I’m not looking for spoilers, I’m just curious as to how much of was already in your head when you started, and how much of it has yet to be filled in.

I know the overall story arc. I have to, or I couldn’t steer the series where it needs to go. Sometimes I wish I didn’t, because I often want to hurry up and get to a certain thing sooner than the story progression allows. But them’s the breaks.

But no, I don’t know every single thing that happens in every book ahead of time. I go into each new project with a few key points that I know I need to hit for the story to come together. But otherwise, I just have fun!

QUESTION 3: I believe it’s in the third book, when Mircea goes off to visit Radu. Is that when he has his duel with Vlad? I read the Dory books first, so my timeline in regards to Cassieverse is off.

It’s actually in the fourth book, Curse the Dawn. There’s a timeline on my web page that may help with this sort of thing, at least a little.

QUESTION 4: How does Pritkin’s blood smell to a vampire? Is it any different because of his mixed heritage? Because Pritkin sure ends up injured and bleeding plenty of times in a vampire’s presence but no one notices anything unusual about him?

They don’t notice anything unusual about Dory, either. A vampire can tell a lot from feeding off a person, but even then, there are limits. They don’t come with a built-in mental rolodex of every possible type of creature and how they taste. Much less how they smell.

And remember, Pritkin is half human, too. And he veers more toward his human heritage than his demon side. Plus, the demon traits he does have are those of the incubi, whom the vamps could have no experience with in physical form since there aren’t any other incubi in physical form. Unless you count Rosier. And if anyone ever tried to feed off him, they didn’t live to tell about it.

QUESTION 5: Why would it be inadvisable to disturb a demon when it’s feeding? If demons have to drop their personal shields to feed, wouldn’t that make them more vulnerable and easier to take down instead?

First, it would seriously piss them off. Ever interrupt a feeding wolf? Not a great idea. Their instincts take over during feeding, and their instincts are…possessive.

Second, if you know you’re vulnerable in a given situation, wouldn’t you be a little paranoid? And wouldn’t you provide other means to protect yourself? If you want to attack someone and succeed, you do it when they aren’t expecting it, not when they are. So people in the know about demons most definitely do not approach when said demon is feeding. Those who do…well, they’re called lunch.

QUESTION 6: What happened to Tremaine after he reported to Marsden about Saunders shady doings? Why doesn’t Marsden have Tremaine working with Cassie? He’s loyal to Marsden and, unlike a lot of the mages Cassie dealt with, he also treated Cassie respectfully once he realized she was Pythia in Curse the Dawn.

He had just gotten out of a lengthy incarceration and the procedure the Circle uses takes a lot out of a person. It’s reasonable to assume that he’d need a little time to recuperate. But even if he didn’t, what would he be doing with Cassie? He couldn’t train her any better than Pritkin, and the vamps are touchy enough just having him around. Why make things difficult by introducing more people when they can’t do anything better than the one you already have in place?

QUESTION 7: What kind of work, if any, does Caleb specialize in for the Corps? And how does he luck out as being one of the war mages who regularly showed up when trying to apprehend Cassie as a false Pythia or cleaning up the messes Cassie’s adventures leave behind?

Caleb helps to coordinate policy in his area of specialty (the Black Circle) and to lead raids against it when there’s activity in his sector. In a smaller or less busy office, he might well be in charge (his rank is commander, which is fairly high). But the Corps’ Vegas branch is its largest in North America, so he’s just a senior member.

As for your other question, it’s not a matter of luck. It’s one of two things depending on whether you want a book-centered answer or an author-centered one. The book-centered answer is that Caleb is trying to help his crazy buddy Pritkin, and so pays attention when calls come in related to him. And pretty much everyone was on hand in the battle for Dante’s in CTD, so his being there wasn’t too surprising.

The author-centered answer is a matter of me being realistic. I already have people who complain that there are too many characters for them to keep up with. I don’t happen to agree, and think that the characters that are in a given book are easily distinguished from one another and all have reasons for being there. But then I would, wouldn’t I? But anyway, introducing more new characters when there’s already one in place who can suffice for a particular scene doesn’t make sense and it pisses people off. I manage to do that by accident enough as it is (it’s a gift), so I try to avoid obvious pitfalls.:-)

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 #19 (First published to Facebook October 8, 2011)

QUESTION 1: Can incubi (ie Pritkin) feel what the partner they are involved with is feeling? Obviously lust is required but can they tell if there is anything more than that there when they feed?

If by partner you mean the person they are feeding from, no. Incubi in the CP universe who inhabit a human’s body in the feeding process can sometimes pick up on the thoughts of the person they’re possessing, but that’s it. Pritkin is not a mind reader, in other words.

QUESTION 2: Does Dory know Rafe?

No. Until recently, Rafe was part of Tony’s disreputable bunch, and the rare occasions when he was at Mircea’s court did not coincide with Dory’s equally few-and-far-between visits.

QUESTION 3: I love Anthony (and I know lots of others do :))! Is he going to play a big part in Fury’s Kiss?

There’s a good chance you might see him again.:-)

QUESTION 4: If Mircea “marked” Cassie as married in the vamp community, and then Pritkin did the whole “demon marriage”, which one would take priority?

There’s no marriage in the demon realms. Demons make alliances, some of them even long-lasting ones. But feeding, or even a power exchange, doesn’t equal an alliance. Much less a marriage.

QUESTION 5: Does Marlowe speak with a British accent? In the audio book of “Death’s Mistress”, the narrator reads Marlowe with an American accent, while Mircea speaks with a Romanian accent and Louis-Cesare and Christine both have French accents.

Joyce Bean, who narrates the Dory books, was quite upset with herself about the Marlowe thing. Not that it was her fault. If anyone’s, it was mine. She was diligent enough to call me up while working on the book and ask about the accents (who had them, what kind, etc.). But she didn’t happen to mention Marlowe, and I didn’t think to add him to the list. And as she hadn’t read the Cassie books at the time, she didn’t realize that Kit Marlowe was actually Christopher Marlowe (because I don’t explain every character’s backstory in every book.) Anyway, yes, he should have an English accent and it will be corrected in future audio books.

Oh, and by the way, Mircea isn’t really supposed to have much of an accent, unless he’s stressed. Or being weirdly funny.

QUESTION 6: My sister is in the second year of her GCSE and is interested in becoming a writer, could you give me some advice to help her on the steps she needs to take to be able to do this?

Okay, so this question came up on the wall, and there was no way to answer it there (as you can see if you scroll down, the answer is stupidly long, and that’s the condensed version.) But I wanted to answer it somewhere because I get this pretty often. And although it won’t interest most people in the slightest, for those contemplating a writing career, it might be somewhat useful.

So. There are two answers to your question, depending on what you meant by “steps.” If you’re asking how someone submits something they’ve written to a publisher, the answer is fairly simple. I usually suggest that people pick up The Writer’s Market (http://www.amazon.com/2012-Writers-Market-Robert-Brewer/dp/1599632268), which can also often be found at your local library (in case you just want a quick reference.) It explains the basics, like how to write a decent cover letter and what to include in a submission packet, and has names and addresses for agents, editors and most publishing houses. It helps to send your manuscript only to those editors who handle the kind of work you do (fantasy, mystery, romance, etc.) as otherwise you’re wasting their time and your postage. It also helps to pay attention to which houses read unsolicited manuscripts (those without an agent’s recommendation) and which do not. The process is pretty straightforward, and while it may help to attend a few writers’ conferences to pick up additional tips or to meet editors in person, it’s not really necessary. Basically, you will get published if your writing engages an editor’s interest and happens to be what he or she is looking for at the time.

Okay, then. That was pretty easy, right? And if all you’re looking for is technical advice, you can stop reading right there. If, however, you are actually asking not how to get published, but how to write, then the answer is a little more complicated.

There are tons of guides online that promise to teach you how to write (some freebies are here: http://diplomaguide.com/articles/Online_Creative_Writing_Courses_Offered_
Free_by_Top_Universities_and_Educational_Websites.html) and there are plenty of other people who will be happy to sell you a writing course, magazine, or book purporting to do the same. And, of course, you can also go to university and specialize in fiction writing. But will any of this really help?

Um.

Here’s the thing. My personal opinion is that writing courses (the better ones, anyway) are useful for certain things: improving your grammar, giving you the motivation to write, and/or providing you with practice. And therefore I certainly wouldn’t call them useless. But what they can teach you is going to be limited. You see, I took some creative writing classes in college. And while they were fun, I can’t honestly say that they taught me anything. The problem is that writing isn’t a science, it’s an art. And art isn’t about a set of formulae that you can memorize or rules that you can learn. Art doesn’t follow the rules. Art bends the rules, shatters them, breaks them into tiny pieces and stomps on the bits, and then (hopefully) builds something new out of the rubble. And it tends to be more instinctive than learned, which makes it very hard to teach.

So giving useful advice to the would-be artist is tough. Not that that is going to stop me from trying, of course. To keep this from being ridiculously long (too late), I’m going to boil my advice down to three main points.

So you want to be a writer? First ask yourself three things:

A. Do you have the talent?

And no, it isn’t always that easy to tell. For example, my first novel (which was never published, thank God) was actually written a number of years ago. And it was bad. So bad, that it probably doesn’t even deserve the name of “novel.” Even book is too good for it. Waste of paper might be edging up on the truth, but still misses the mark by quite a bit. Not to put too fine a point on it, it blew. But did that incredibly bad first book stop me from inflicting my “talent” on others? No. No, it did not.

Now, this could have ended several different ways. I know this because I was also passionate about something else, namely music. I was going to be a great pianist. Or possibly a flute player (that’s flautist to us in-the-know musical types.) Or possibly the guitar…

I wasn’t real clear on the instrument, but damn, did I want to play something. Until, at long last, I finally realized that there was a slight problem with this plan: namely, that I have no musical talent. And I don’t mean I have a little but was too lazy to develop it. I mean I do not have the skills. Not mad skills; not any skills. I am the musical equivalent of Forrest Gump.

The difference between these two things was that, with a lot of practice and effort, I did get better at writing. I was practicing on history papers, of course, not fiction, but certain things carry over. But if I hadn’t stuck with both of my dreams, I would never have known which was feasible and which was so very not. And neither will you.

B. Do you have the knowledge?

Because, yeah, that grammar stuff? You kind of need that. Not that writers don’t break the rules all the time–like I said before, that’s even kind of the point. But you do need to know the basics before you start amending them á la Shakespeare. And how long does that take?

Well, according to Learning from Wonderful Lives by Nick Baylis, becoming proficient at something—to the point that people will pay you to do it—takes around ten thousand hours. And that’s assuming you have the aptitude we talked about above. He examined the lives of successful professionals from a number of fields, added up the study/practice time it took for them to master their craft, and it always seemed to work out to the same thing.

So how much is that? Roughly speaking, ten thousand hours is ten years of practicing three hours a day, every day. And if that seems like a lot…well, that’s because it is. But that seems to be about how long it takes for most people to become truly proficient at something, at least according to Baylis. Do I agree with him? I don’t know that I do entirely, because people are all different, and making hard and fast rules for humanity is always problematic. But I will say this: I scoffed when I first heard that ridiculous number, until I did a little math. And figured out that the amount of writing I did in my graduate work was probably something around…ten thousand hours.

Coincidence? Possibly. But remember my first book? The one that was so bad it is actually painful for me to recall it today? Because the same person who wrote that, ten thousand hours later, wrote some essays that earned me a rather nice scholarship during my Ph.D. A rather nice scholarship that funded a year of my education and came from the English department at my university.

Yeah. There are English grad students who still haven’t gotten over that. A historian beat them at their own game, at their own university, in their own department. But it didn’t come easy. And it didn’t come fast.
Want to be a writer? Practice.

C. Do you have the drive?

This is last, because it’s probably the one that gets the most people in trouble. It doesn’t do any good to have all the talent and proficiency in the world if you never use it. Of course, people have good reasons for why they don’t write that book they’re always talking about: they have jobs that take up most of their time; they have kids they prioritize above their hobbies; they just don’t ever seem to be in the mood. And so they don’t write. Or they write, but they put out a short story now and again, or some fan fiction, and call it a day. But to be a professional writer, you have to write all the time.

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who gets published in hardback, you will need to put out at least a book a year, every year, just to make a living. For example, this year I published a 142,000-word novel, an 8,000-word short story, and a 25,000-word novella. That’s 175,000 words, and the year isn’t over yet. And those are just the words I deemed good enough to make the cut. The real total…well, let’s just say it was higher. Last year, I put out a little over 200,000 words. I will probably do about the same next year, or maybe a bit more.

So what’s my point? That when it’s a job, it’s a little different than when it’s a hobby. It isn’t possible just to write when you’re in the mood or when inspiration strikes. You have to hunt inspiration down and make it your bitch. You have to do this each and every day, and often for longer hours than if you had a nine-to-five job. And you have to do it well. Writing, despite what people sometimes think, actually is hard work, and yet you don’t get a pension plan, or medical insurance, or even have your employer chip in on your SSI (that’s social security taxes, for those outside the U.S.) So your tax rate is considerably higher than usual.

Still want to be a writer?

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. Okay, most days I do. But I think prospective writers need to know the truth before they decide on this as a career path. It has some wonderful rewards—little is ever as satisfying as having people get enjoyment from one of your books. Just make sure you investigate the downside, too, and that it is something you can live with.

So, after all that, if you still want to write, what do you do? You write. Take classes if they help you, study your craft, and practice, practice, practice. Then tell your stories, the ones you’re passionate about, the ones that just have to come out whether you get paid for them or not. And submit them. And maybe one day, I’ll be reading your books.

Send me an autographed copy, will you?

Q&A #18 (First Published to Facebook September 24, 2011)

QUESTION 1: In you last Q&A you said the Pritkin was the only incubus-human hybrid to have survived, but made no mention of succubus–human hybrids. Myrddin (or Merlin) had a twin sister named Gwenddydd, who was supposed to be more powerful than he brother and in some welsh mythology was the lady of the lake when Excalibur was return. Are we ever going to meet her?

Well, first, I didn’t mention any succubus/human hybrids because there aren’t any. Incubi and succubi are spirits in the Cassie universe. So if a succubus borrows a woman’s body to help it feed off of a man, and the result of their union is a child, then the child belongs biologically to the human couple, not to the demon. Rosier was the only exception to the rule, because he is the only incubus with his own physical body.

And second, there are a metric ton of legends about Merlin, many of which are contradictory and most of which are either poorly documented or out and out fiction. I went with the legends that best fit my storyline, and the incubus version does not allow for the concept of a sister. So Pritkin is an only child.

QUESTION 2: I just finished reading Midnight’s Daughter again and I was reminded how much I adored Stinky. What made you choose a Duergar? And do we ever find out what other species he is mixed with? If you do a google search for duergar, Stinky is not what comes up! I like your version much better.

I’m glad you like Stinky—he’s one of my favorites. But actually, you’ve already been told what his other half is. In Midnight’s Daughter, and I believe also in the early chapters of Death’s Mistress, it’s mentioned that he is half Brownie. Which is why the Duergars won’t have anything to do with him—he looks odd to them, too!

QUESTION 3: Is this just a stupid theory of mine, or can Cassie speak French now? I remember it said she couldn’t in TtD unless she was possessing the French woman. But there was that moment in CtD when Cassie says “Francoise said some uncharitable things about the Consul. Since they were in French – which I’m not supposed to speak – I didn’t contradict her. It was also a fact they they were all true.”, and then later “She said something, but it was in French and I was too tired to even try to translate.”, both of which imply to me that Cassie can now speak French. Did she retain the ability after her trip to Carcassonne? And if so, does that mean she can permanently pick up a language by possessing someone who speaks said language, or am I just barking up completely the wrong tree here?

Cassie speaks Italian fluently (from growing up at Tony’s) as well as English. She doesn’t speak French, but there are a number of cognates between French and Italian (which linguistically are considered close enough to be dialects of each other), and French and English, meaning that there are times when she can figure out what is being said if she pays attention. And when she isn’t freaking out because she has just time shifted for the first time! It also helps that she’s been around Francoise long enough now to pick up some of her favorite phrases (including oft-used swear words like those applied to the Consul.)

I took this from my own experience of living in Europe and working alongside some Italian girls. I speak German (badly), French (almost as badly), and English. That’s it. And their grasp of foreign languages wasn’t any better than mine. But somehow, we managed to understand each other fairly well anyway.

QUESTION 4: During their long lives, did Pritkin or Mircea ever go to university? If so, what did they study?

As stated in Hunt the Moon, Mircea was tutored growing up, first at home and later at a local monastery. There was no time for anything else, as, by the age when most young men are starting their freshman year in college, he was leading armies into battle for his father. And then running for his life. And then trying to stay alive in the cut-throat vampire world, which doesn’t allow for a lot of scholarly study unless you’re working for someone else (like Marlowe’s “Beetles,” whom he protects.) So no university for Mircea.

As far as Pritkin is concerned, there were no universities in sixth century Britain. In fact, as I used to tell my history students, the level of education in the early Middle Ages was so bad that they developed something called Benefit of Clergy. If you committed a crime other than murder, and you were not a repeat offender, the judge would often let you off if you could read. He’d pull out a book and ask you to read a randomly selected passage, and if you could do it, you walked. It was called Benefit of Clergy after the fact that almost the only people who could read were monks, and was designed to help preserve the very small number of educated people in society.

So anyway, no university for Pritkin as a young man, and then of course he went to Hell. And, if you read “A Family Affair,” you know that Rosier did introduce him to the demon version of higher ed shortly thereafter. Although that wasn’t quite an overwhelming success, as it turned out.

QUESTION 5: If u could rewrite all the Cassy books from (most of the) the male POV- would u do it? which ones would u write from (POV) and why? cuz as i read ur books, we hear about how Cassandra’s feels about others, but not them about her. or do u do that for a reason?

I realize that many romance novels are written from multiple POVs, and it does have certain advantages. But you see that sort of thing less often in fantasy, and it’s rarer still in the mystery genre. And there’s a reason for that.

My books are written the way they are partly to help preserve the mystery elements in the storyline until the proper time to reveal them. That would be far harder, if not impossible, to do from multiple points of view. For example, can you imagine trying to keep the secret of Pritkin’s birth, or of his wife’s death, or of the prohibition against intimacy placed on him by the demon high council, when writing from his POV? When each of those things is not only intrinsic to the man’s psyche, but also influence the vast majority of his everyday actions? Frankly, I couldn’t.

However, if you are interested in other characters’ POVs, there are a number of short stories/novellas available for free on my web site that you might find interesting. So far, they feature POVs from Tomas, Pritkin, Casanova, Marlowe and a character not found in the novels called Gillian. Others will be added along and along. They can be found here: http://www.karenchance.com/freebies.html.