Dorina Basarab

Q and A #63

1. How can two gods be killed back in time and not upset the timeline? Apollo had a lot to do with Cassie’s story. Doesn’t killing him in the past ruin the current timeline?

I’ve gotten several versions of this, so let me see if I can clarify what happened. Two gods died on that battlefield in the 6th century. Let’s look at each of them.

First, Apollo, since you asked about him specifically. Apollo had been flushed into the badlands at the end of Curse the Dawn, a place that is outside any time stream. When Cassie encounters him there, after Jo throws her spirit outside time, he’s already dead. It’s his ghost she encounters, not him. He’s there because everything in CTD already happened.

Think of the Badlands as a room with many doors opening into it. Cassie entered through one marked “6th century”, because that’s where she was when she was pushed outside time. Apollo was already there, having entered through another door marked “Present Day”, or whatever day it was when he died at the end of CTD. They met up in that “room” outside time, then again during the battle, when Cassie opened the door marked “6th century” and let him out. He entered the 6th century then and was killed, but at that point, he’d already done everything leading up to CTD. So nothing in the timeline changed because Apollo’s ghost was destroyed.

Secondly, Ares. He wasn’t in earth’s timeline at all, had never been since Artemis threw him and the other gods out. He had been in the realm of the gods ever since, trying to find a way to get back. And making mischief as best he could from another realm.

He’s still there in this book, waiting for Jo and the fey to open a door through Artemis’ barrier into our world. That door was opened in the sixth century, because it would make his takeover easier since he was coming alone, without an army to back him up, but it could have been anywhere. Ares stepping through the door (or trying to) into the sixth century didn’t change what he’d already done in his timeline to affect Cassie’s story. And because he died still trying to get through that door, he didn’t affect anything here on earth afterwards, either.

But wait, you’ll say. What about that big battle? Wouldn’t something like THAT affect time?

Well, sure, if it hadn’t already been fought. Remember, the reason the fey could tell Jo what to do to bring Ares back was because they’d already tried it. There had been a battle in the 6th century to begin with, only they hadn’t had the final piece of the puzzle. They hadn’t had Caedmon’s staff. That’s what all that running around in Reap the Wind was about: them trying to get the staff and failing. Without it, they still had the battle, not originally knowing that three pieces wouldn’t have enough power to do the job. But they failed to bring through a god and basically got their butts kicked. But in Ride the Storm, they succeeded.

Cassie, therefore, wasn’t changing time by what she did during the battle. She was keeping it from being changed. Originally, the bad guys had lacked one of the pieces of that god-forged suit of armor, and the spell wouldn’t work without all four. She was trying to make sure that they were still missing a piece, even after Nimue ended up with the staff. That was why she wanted Pritkin to steal Excalibur for her, because it was one of the four, and if the other side lost it, the spell wouldn’t work. But she failed, and with all four pieces, the other side was in danger of changing the timeline, because that’s not the way it originally went. So, when she couldn’t stop them one way, she did it another, by utilizing Apollo’s ghost.

So, yes, two gods died in the 6th century. But neither was supposed to be there in the first place, so time was healed. Make sense?

 

2. In Lover´s Knot Marlowe said that the Pythia told him to save Anthony. Will it happen in Cassie #9? I kept waiting for it in RtS.

No. Cassie, as pythia, occasionally gets insight into things, and will tell whichever group in the supernatural community she thinks it will help. This is normal pythia stuff. That story is over, and I wouldn’t want to bore you by rehashing it.

 

3. Will we somehow see Dorina´s attack on Cassie through Dory´s eyes? Or will she have no idea, since Dorina did it? 

 No, Dory doesn’t know that happened.

 

4. Was Ares really destroyed forever by Arthur´s blow, or can he somehow nurture himself (as a ghost, the way Apollo tried to do)?

Ares and Apollo are both very dead.

 

5. Should we worry about long-lasting effects of Pritkin’s starvation diet on his health or power level, or has the fact that he fed on the Pythian power remedied all his problems? If I remember correctly, Artemis was dying due to underfeeding. But she was also much older, much more starved, and not even partially human, so her situation might be a lot different than poor Pritkin’s.

Pritkin may have some issues from having his powers back online, so to speak. But, no, his human half kept him from starving to death. So that’s not going to be one of them.

 

6. Rosier mentioned that back in Middle-Ages, he was going by Myrddin, and yet Morgaine addressed him as Rosier. Was Myrddin his ‘camouflage’, the humble advisor he pretended to be to gain Uther’s favor? Or does Rosier think of himself as having many names, kinda like King Arthur (or even Pritkin!), and Rosier is his demon name?

Rosier has had many names through the years, but Rosier was his first, and is the one he identifies most closely with. Morgaine, of course, sussed out who he really was, while they were together. So that is the name she used.

 

So, those are all the questions I’ve received about RTS that I can answer. If yours wasn’t answered, it was probably because it was asking about future storylines or things that will be discussed in future books. I try really hard to avoid spoilers, because it minimizes other people’s enjoyment of the books. I hope you understand, and I hope you had fun with these Q&As!

Q and A # 52

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

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

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

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

Wouldn’t you be worried?

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Who said Tony gave them to her from Faerie?

 

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

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

Q&A #51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update Dory

This gallery contains 9 photos.

A while ago, I ran a contest on Facebook to “Update Radu”, or give his somewhat . . . unusual . . . style a more modern twist. Not that he needed it; the ‘Du, as he will tell you, is timeless. But Dory is not, and as a newly minted senator, she needs something more than her current whatever-isn’t-too-badly-shredded-today style. Pretty much everyone is getting in on the chance to makeover Dory, from Mircea and Olga to Stinky and Radu. Who do you think is giving Dory the best sartorial advice?

Q&A #46

I received the following question recently, and decided to devote a whole post to it:

You always choose interesting characters to be a part of your books and, of course, Zheng He is one of them. Am I correct in assuming that your Zheng He is THE Zheng He, the admiral and the reportedly Muslim eunuch who travelled a lot for his Chinese dynasty? If that is so, should I break hundreds of hearts and imaginations who are coupling Zheng He with Dory by saying that he was a eunuch? Or are you going to change some of these reported characteristics of his?

This is a fun question! Mainly because it lets me talk about pirates, and I love me some pirates. Especially Chinese pirates. So sit back and buckle in; we’re going to be here a while!

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First, in answer to your question, Zheng He (also known as Cheng-Ho, the famous 15th century Ming Dynasty admiral) and my Zheng-zi are not the same person. Zheng is a common name in southern China, and there were/are a lot of people named Zheng. Likewise, zi is an honorific, meaning honorable/wise. Confucius’s real name, for example, was actually Kong-Fu-Zi or “honorable master Kong,” before Western writers bastardized it. So there have also been a lot of “zi’s” in Chinese history. But my Zheng does have a colorful past, and since you asked . . .

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My Zheng-zi is Zheng Zhilong (1604-1661), also known as Nicholas Iquan Gaspard. Here’s the wiki entry on him. Short version of his story: Zheng, the son of a mid-level Chinese bureaucrat, was run out of his father’s house as a teenager for making moves on his stepmother (so not a eunuch! In fact, he was rumored to have quite the libido, as well as being bisexual). After a time spent in Macao (where he acquired his Portuguese name) and Japan, he met a merchant named Li Dan and became his lover. On Li Dan’s death, he got his ships.

Li Dan only left him maybe twenty in all, but Zheng soon turned them into a sizeable pirate fleet by convincing the Dutch to give him extra ships and weapons so he could help them combat their trade rivals, the Portuguese. He used them instead to organize the Shibazhi, a cooperative effort of Chinese pirates. Which is a nice way of saying that he made himself the head of a freaking huge pirate fleet that went around plundering everything in sight, from his former allies the Dutch, to the Portuguese (because hey, he’d given his word), to the Ming Dynasty itself!

After his organization defeated the royal navy, he was made a count, a large landholder and an admiral by the Ming (because “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” is not a new concept). He promptly earned his title by continuing to plunder the heck out of the Europeans. It seemed the bad boy had finally come out on top.

But the good days didn’t last. He was executed by the Q’ing dynasty, the guys who kicked out the Ming, because his son had stayed loyal to the deposed dynasty and was causing the Qing a lot of trouble. That son, Zheng Chenggong, on hearing of his father’s death, then went on a tear with his fleet of eight hundred freaking ships, and caused them a lot more trouble! Here’s the statue to Zheng Chenggong in Fujian.

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Fun fact: Zheng’s son became so famous that he was worshipped as a god in some parts of coastal China.

My take on all this, of course, is that Zheng-zi was rescued on the eve of his death by an enterprising pirate of the undead persuasion, who decided that he could use his knowledge of the seas. Eventually, his master acquired another servant, bringing Zheng into the orbit of a young, ambitious type known as Cheung Po-Sai. It would be a fateful meeting.

You may have heard of Cheung, my other famous pirate vamp, if you’ve ever visited Hong Kong. His name translates to “Cheung-Po the Kid” and he’s basically a Billy the Kid/Robin Hood type character in local lore. He’s also a popular figure in Hong Kong cinema, maybe because his history reads like a movie script already. The son of a poor fisherman, he rose to be the pirate king of an armada of six hundred ships while still a young man.

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How did he manage this? He got his start by being kidnapped by a prominent pirate at the age of fifteen, sometime in the late 18th century. According to rumor, Cheung took to the life quickly, becoming a flamboyant, Captain Jack Sparrow type pirate and his kidnapper’s lover . . . and then adopted son! And, when his “father” died a few years later, Cheung promptly bedded his wife!

The wife, by the way, was interesting in her own right. Probably as much a leader of the pirate band they inherited as Cheung, she was also likely the reason he famously executed any of his men who hurt or raped the women they encountered on their raids. Her name was Ching Shih, and she started life even worse off than Cheung, as a prostitute in a small brothel in Canton. Until, that is, she was taken as plunder in—you guessed it—a pirate raid.

But to a girl whose family had likely sold her into prostitution (a common fate for unwanted girls) this didn’t seem so bad. Especially after she married a prominent pirate named Zheng Yi (see I told you—there’s lots of Zhengs! But no relation to mine). She thereafter helped her new husband put together a formidable alliance of pirate ships, known as the Red Flag Fleet, and was said to fight at his side in raids. Here’s a pic of her in battle:

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After her husband was killed in a typhoon, she took up with his adopted son/lover Cheung Po-Sai. Together, the fisherman’s son and the prostitute became the holy terror of the South China Sea, especially enjoying plundering the heck out of the European forces there. Since they couldn’t defeat them, the British were eventually forced to offer amnesty, which Ching Shih accepted as she wasn’t getting any younger. In 1810, she retired to run a gambling house and smuggle opium (hey, a gal has to keep busy), while her young husband went on to brief respectability as a captain in the Qing navy.

You can read more about Ching Shih here.

The wiki article on Cheung isn’t very good, but you can see the cave where he used to store his loot below.

It’s a popular Hong Kong tourist destination these days.

In my version of the story, Cheung’s naval career ended in a fateful meeting with Zheng-zi’s master. As he had in life, Cheung scaled the ladder fast as a vampire, becoming a first-level master in less than a century (for comparison, Zheng-zi was still second-level at this point). He subsequently received an offer from Ming-De: if he and Zheng would work together to overthrow their master, who was causing Ming-De some trouble, she would see to it that they received “improved status.”

They took Ming-De’s promise to mean seats on the East Asian Court, the pinnacle for ambitious vamps. And since their master was cruel even by vampire pirate standards, this was enough to get them to turn on him. But when they proudly presented his severed head to Ming-De a few months later, they received only thanks and pardons for working as his assistants!

But, fast forward a century or so, and they finally received their coveted senate seats—on the North American Senate. Have they patched things up with Ming-de? Are they working as her agents, as the North American consul believes? Or are they still smarting from her little trick, and might be open to new alliances? Only time will tell.

Fun fact: Sao Feng of the “Brotherhood” in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is based on Cheung and “Lady Cheng” on his wife, Ching Shih.

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Q and A #45

Okay, this Q&A is a little different, being all from one person and all about Fury’s Kiss. A reader was highly confused (and somewhat hilariously indignant) about that book, and insisted I set the record straight. So I’ve done my best. I’m posting it here because I thought it might help someone else, too. 🙂

Question 1) Dorina first saw a child when she was captured. She took her. But then lost her or smth? What happened to her when Dorina passed out?

The child ran off in the chaos surrounding Dorina’s capture by the vamps. She was just a kid, remember? A highly unusual kid, maybe, but a child nonetheless and a traumatized one. She had been trying to get out, Dory got her out, she wasn’t about to stick around.

Why Louis-Cesare didn’t bring the child too?

Because he was focused on Dorina/Dory, not some random child. And by the time Dory was subdued, the kid was gone.

But the most important question – when did all that stuff with the Irin and a girl take place? I take it that it was during a blackout. But since the whole book describes only few days, I can’t put it all together. Did it all happened at once?

No. It was taking place during the whole book.

For example after Louis-Cesare brought Dory home after rescuing her, and that’s why she still had bruises in the morning?

Part of it happened then, yes. Dory passed out, LC took her home and healed her as best he could. But Dorina is stronger than Dory and woke up soon after he left. And immediately went back out looking for the girl. That’s why she had bruises again the next day when LC remarked on it. He was surprised, because he thought he’d already taken care of them. He didn’t realize: he had taken care of the old ones; these were new.

Only it seems unlikely that the Irin knew Dory when he saved her at Slava’s. So at least some of those events of searching for the child happened after necromancer’s attack but before fey’s attack? When Dory’s supposed to be sleeping?

Yes. That’s why Dory was exhausted the whole book. Because Dorina was letting her get almost no sleep! She kept sneaking out to look for the child.

And if it happened that way, how did she could go back from Dorina to Dory all by herself? And how she could return home if she was Dorina? Besides without anyone noticing?

She’s been going back to Dory from Dorina for centuries all by herself. Why would she suddenly need help now? And it’s her home, too, isn’t it? She IS Dory, after all! Or part of her, anyway. And she has the mental abilities on her side of the brain, remember? She knows more of Dory than Dory knows of her, especially once the breech in the “wall” between them happened.

Or maybe the Irin brought her back home, but the first time Dorina was looking for the child she was alone, she didn’t meet the Irin yet, so how than did she managed to come home as Dorina?

Again, why would she not be able to? The break in the wall had already happened, and all kinds of info was tumbling through. Dorina picked up enough to know where to go to be safe and to heal.

To sum up, the more I think about it, the more questions I have. Could you please tell me the timeline of the story? Chronologically? I would really appreciate it.

No, because I don’t have time. You DO want Masks at some point, don’t you? 🙂 But if you pay attention, it should be fairly easy to work that out for yourself. It’s mostly chronological already, except for a bit at the end.

2) About the kiss. Whenever the girl kissed Dorina, it’s supposed to help to bridge her divide. But that kiss for sure happened before Mircea tried to see Dorina’s memories, right?

It happened shortly after the scene with Dorina meeting the Irin in the warehouse. They combined what they knew/their abilities to find the child.

So why Dorina wasn’t helping them during the attack on Mircea?

Because all this mental stuff was as new to Dorina as it was to Dory. Remember, the divide might have been breached, but they were still both on their respective sides of the mind. Dory on her side, Dorina on hers. And remember the depth of that chasm Dory saw at the pier? It was extensive. And littered with shards of memory that were all too easy to fall into. It took Dorina time to navigate it, time to understand what was happening. And when the attack came on Mircea, she hadn’t had that time.

And was Dorina there at all? Or the one fighting with Dory and Mircea was only Lawrence? And does that kiss mean that from now on Dory will be sane during her blackouts? that she will manage to control both of her sides? Or did that kiss have only short-time consequences?

Dorina wasn’t there during LC and Dory’s flight through Dory’s mental landscape, nor was she there at the battle with Lawrence at the end (it was him all the time.) He chased LC and Dory, he was the creature in the sky blocking out the stars, he was the one slicing up Mircea. Not Dorina. Who was still wondering what the hell was happening on her side of the brain. Dory assumed that she was fighting her “other half” because she’d always feared and distrusted it. But she never actually saw her attacker, did she? And at the end of the book, Lawrence makes clear that it was him.

As far as your other questions, I don’t do spoilers, so you’ll have to read the next Dory to find out how Dory deals with this new state of affairs!

3) While Dory was fighting Lawrence, was his body there too? In the same room with Dory? Because how did everybody know that it was Lawrence all along?

Dory defeated him mentally. But she still had the connection with Mircea established earlier, and he saw the whole thing. He was just too weak to help her. But that’s what that exchange at the end of the book (“I killed him for you. I know”) was all about.

What happened when Dory passes out after killing him? They found dead Lawrence? How did they find out about mental combat?

They found his dead body. She dueled him mentally. And Mircea showed them what had occurred when he woke up.

Also I guess nobody in the crowd knew what Dory did, but did the senators know? Did they know that she’s gonna be a senator too? If so, why was Louis-Cesare looking antsy?

LC, Marlowe and Mircea knew, because they’re a part of the consul’s “clique”. It came as a surprise to others. LC looked worried because he knew they hadn’t cleared any of this with Dory, and he was afraid of how she would take it. She isn’t diplomatic at the best of times, and in her current state . . . well, wouldn’t YOU have been worried? Lol!

And how did Mircea know that Dory was projecting? Was she projecting to all of them, the senate and the crowd? Or only to whom she was looking at or about who she was thinking? If so, how did Mircea know that she was thinking about the council?

She was projecting to the whole room, which is why Mircea was doing his best to shut her up!

Q &A #43

1. I can’t remember if this has already been addressed, but did Mircea name Dory? It doesn’t seem likely the Rom would call her “a gift from God”.

Dory’s mother named her. You’ll find out more about what happened in Dory’s early years in a later book.

2. Why is Cassie short(ish) with curly hair, if her parents were both tall and straight-haired?

Because genetics are weird? It is fairly common for a child to take after a grandparent on something like height, eye color, hair color, etc.

3. If I have this correct, I believe there are 6 vampire senates: North America, Europe, South America, India, China, and Africa. If this is so, what do the vampires who live in parts of Asia other than China and India do? What about the vampires of Australia and New Zealand? Are they simply under the jurisdiction of the closest geographical senate? Are they not under any senatorial jurisdiction at all? How exactly does it work?

The name of Ming-de’s court is the East Asian, not the Chinese, because it encompasses Japan and the surrounding regions as well as China. Likewise with India, which also governs the parts of Southeast Asia closest to it. A senate’s rule usually runs geographically, because vampires were once quite territorial. But Aus and New Zealand aren’t really that close to anything, and so are under the European senate (because that’s who colonized them).

4. Why did Agnes decide to transfer the power to Cassie? I assume at some point she found out Myra was evil, knew she herself was dying, and decided to transfer the power to a better candidate. But why, specifically, did she choose Cassie? As she wasn’t even an initiate, how did she know about her?

The power chooses the pythia. Agnes received a vision about Cassie, which is how she knew who she was and that she was in trouble. But she didn’t transfer the power so much as make sure that Cassie was still around to receive what was already headed her way.

5. Did Rafe make a full recovery from his near death experience in CtD? And will we see any of him in TtS?

More or less, and no. I enjoy Rafe, and want to get more of his story in, but Tempt the Stars wasn’t really the place to do it. It has enough going on already!

6. I wanted to ask about Louis-Cesare and the process of how he finally admitted to himself he was in love with Dory. I know their attraction was always there, but you’ve established he had abandonment and trust issues. So how did he feel when he found out he was head over heels for Dory even though he suspected she had a problem with emotional intimacy? Was he not afraid she would eventually push him away like everyone else did in his life or was he simply confidant he can win her over?

Louis-Cesare, who apparently likes to live dangerously, has decided to pursue Dory. In other words, they are dating. But loving someone and living with them are two different things, and it remains to be seen if theirs is an attraction that will last. It’s probably safe to assume that, if it works at all, there will be some pretty big adjustments needed on both sides!

7. Since her father was a magical human, does Cassie have relatives she doesn’t know about on his side? If so, will she ever meet them?

Eventually, you will realize just how funny this question is. For right now, though, all I can say is that you’ll find out more about Cassie’s parents in TTS, although not the answer to this question just yet.

Q&A #42

1. I get that Dracula carved a challenge for Mircea into Dory’s back. But what actually happened to Dory before she went back to Mircea that night (ie how did she come across Vlad, what did he do, etc) and what did the message actually say?

It was a challenge, telling Mircea to come and get him, if he thought he could, instead of sending a child to do it. Not that Mircea had sent Dory against his brother. He had asked her to help find Vlad; he had never intended for her to confront him. Dory hadn’t intended that, either, not being stupid. It’s dangerous to take on any master vampire, but when the master is crazier than you are and genuinely doesn’t care if he lives or dies or not, it’s…not a fun time. But Vlad had other plans. He found Dory, who had traced him to the general area around the theatre, and was trying to narrow it down further. So Vlad decided to help her out, and carved his exact location into her flesh and sent her back to his brother.

Which of your characters, if any, would you say:

a) Is your favourite male and female)? I don’t know that I have favorites. Dory is one of the easiest female characters to write, simply because she’s very straightforward. Male characters…I enjoy writing Radu, Ray, Billy Joe and Marco, because it’s fun to take a side character and give them a real personality/backstory. I hate 2-D characters. So fleshing out a background character is very satisfying.

b) Is most like you? None. I actively go out of my way to avoid identifying too closely with any of my characters. I’ve always thought it was a bad idea to base a character on me or on a friend, because it might make me less likely to allow bad things to happen to them, even if the plot needs it.

c) And do you have a particular favourite quote/conversation in the Cassie/Dory series? Maybe the convo between Cassie and Jonas in HTM about the gods, because it was a challenge to write. I had to find a way to present a block of plot exposition in a way that wouldn’t work out to be deadly dull. Jonas (and his lousy artwork) to the rescue!

3. When Cassie is attacked by the Morrigan possessed mage, Marco resuscitates her and Pritkin keeps her awake until she can be checked over. When exactly in the whole chaos did Pritkin show up and how was he alerted to the latest near death?

I included this question, not because it has a significant or even an interesting answer, but because people keep asking me why there are “jumps” between some chapters. In other words, something happens that they don’t see and are simply informed about in the next chapter, or that isn’t mentioned at all and they are just expected to figure out. This would be a good example: Pritkin arrives in between the attack on Cassie and her drugged-up waiting period for the doc in the kitchen. But you didn’t see it: why?

Well, one of two things could have happened. Either Pritkin’s monitoring spell, which the reader knows he keeps on Cassie, informed him that something was wrong and he was on the way up there already, or else Marco called him (because the guy is a mage, and Marco was going to want his input on what the heck just happened.) Either way, Marco would have had to tell Pritkin about the attack, and that would have been deadly dull for the reader to have to sit through, since they just witnessed it. Any questions they might have had were hopefully brought out in the kitchen scene in a humorous way, as opposed to having a boring rehash conversation between two other characters. Which Cassie was in no way able to adequately report on anyway, because she was drugged off her ass!

I often do this sort of thing, because I don’t have room for much in the way of filler in my books. My plots tend to take up a lot of space, so if something is as obvious as “oh, Pritkin’s there, Marco must have called him,” then I let you make that assumption. That way, I don’t have to use up valuable words to tell you, and can instead use them for something fun!

4. How do you pronounce Æsubrand? Dulceata? And what does the last mean?

The Æ symbol is pronounced like a long “I”, so Ice-ubrand would be the pronunciation. The fact that ice is also kind of his symbol/go-to attack, makes it fun.

Dulceata is both a type of jam/preserves and also a colloquial pet name in Romanian. It means, roughly, “sweetheart” or “sweet one.” Doolchasa is the closest I can come pronunciation wise.

5. When Mircea broke Rafe’s blood bond to Tony in CTD, would Rafe then be able to tell Cassie about her parents if she asked (like in ETN)?

After he recovered, sure, he could tell her what he knew. But by then, she was already finding it out for herself in CTD and HTM. Especially the latter, since she talked directly to Mircea about her parents, who knew far more than Rafe. Rafe was Tony’s go-to errand runner, since he wasn’t much use as a fighter, and was away from home a lot (remember the stuff he used to bring Cassie back from his travels?) He therefore didn’t have a lot of interaction with her parents. Plus, in TTS you’ll discover that they weren’t exactly underfoot most of the time!

Q&A #41

1) I know you already answered this, but in the scene, flashback/dream, in which Dorina is spying on the smugglers’ meeting in the abandoned factory and then meets the Irin, she describes the smugglers saying that the air around them shimmered in fluctuating colors and then goes on describing the colors and associates them with a feeling, e.g. yellow-green of fear. Later on , just before the Irin intrudes, she describes one of the fey’s power like a twist of smoke if smoke glowed from the inside and the Irin himself burned silver bright like a fallen star. So if Dorina can visually recognize vampires’ family lines like some other vampires and one of her master powers is seeing heat signatures, what was she seeing and describing in that scene?

It’s power signatures being shown here, actually, which serve a number of functions. Power from a particular master vampire has a recognizable form, like a fingerprint, that can be observed on his children (and therefore indicate their family line). But a power signature is useful for more than figuring out which vamps belong to which master. It also can say a lot about the vampire’s power level and/or mood, which is what Dorina was commenting on here.

The fey and Irin’s power signatures, however, were different, more alien to her eyes, but they were nonetheless recognizable for what they were. It’s why Dorina avoided the fey’s “smoke,” which, had it brushed her, would have revealed her presence. And why she was so entranced by the Irin–she’d never seen a power signature that strong before.

2) We know that a vampire becomes a master- seventh-level, right?- when he can make others, but how do they go up the other levels, since here and there there are descriptions of vampires a little vague on masters’ levels based only on their power and Kit said Lawrence gained two of his major gifts before he passed to first-level. Are there particular skills/powers they must attain to pass?

I’m not sure I understand this question. Master levels are simply a convenient way to talk about how powerful a particular master has become. They move from level to level (assuming they don’t plateau at some point as most do) when they grow in strength. So, yes, it is a designation based solely on power, not influence, wealth, intellect, or some other measurement.

But if you’re looking for an outward manifestation of a master’s power, there are markers along the way.

Seventh level: a vampire can make other vamps.

Sixth level: Taste often returns, allowing the enjoyment of food again, and other senses generally improve dramatically.

Fifth level: A master is often emancipated, or offered the chance at it by his master, because he is becoming difficult to control by force. Some branch out and start new families at this level.

Fourth level: A master can withstand very limited daylight without combustion. Also, those masters who choose to stay with their old master are often given considerable leeway/put in command of an auxiliary court. Marlowe’s upper-level masters, for instance, staff his various courts around the globe, and process the information that comes in for him. This gets powerful vampires out from underfoot, and gives them something useful to do, as well as providing a sense of automony.

Third level: A master can withstand more daylight without combustion, although with a significant power drain.

Second level: A master can withstand considerable daylight, with less of a power drain. Also, first level powers are sometimes glimpsed here. Also, much more of a chance that the vampires you turn will someday reach master level themselves.

First level: A catch-all term for masters above the other rankings, basically meaning very, very strong. Daylight is still a power drain, but they have power to burn so it really is not an issue any more. Special first-level abilities show up over time, sometimes more than one, which are carefully guarded secrets and “special weapons” used in cases of emergency. At the upper power levels of the first rank, senate seats become an option for those willing to risk the struggle for one.

3) This one may be spoilerish….

In Fury’s Kiss, someone, Mircea or Marlowe, says that Ming-de is the Consul biggest competition to be the leader of the senates’ alliance. I presume that Alejandro doesn’t count as he is crazy and his court is a mess and the European Senate is weak, so Anthony is also out, but what of Hassani and Parindra?

If you’re a consul, it’s safe to say that you’re dangerous. I don’t think Mircea or Marlowe is likely to discount the threat from any of them, minus Alejandro, of course. But Mircea knows Ming-de extremely well from the time he spent at her court. He knows she is exceptionally powerful and extremely ambitious, with a highly effective group of servants. She’s also whip-smart, and has a rare master power that she has honed to a knife-edge. He knows exactly how dangerous she can be.

4) What does Louis-Cesare use as crest? The coat of arms of house de Bourbon, like the surname, the one of the Basarab or another one?

Neither. He made up his own, quartering the Basarab crest with the one Anthony (essentially his vampire foster father) had adopted in the Middle Ages. And only because Anthony practically insisted he have one at all. Louis-Cesare is arrogant, God knows, but about what he can do, not about what family he comes from (which, let’s face it, never worked out to be much of an advantage for him, did it?) He probably wouldn’t have bothered to have one at all, on his own. But Anthony is more savvy about playing politics than his champion, and knew that you win every one of the battles you never have to fight. So a visual reminder for any potential challengers of Louis-Cesare’s connection to two powerful vampire lines wasn’t going to hurt him.

5) How and when do weres get their names? Do they earn them or they receive them when they reach a certain age? Since she is part of Arnou now, does Lia have a were name or not since she doesn’t- can’t- change?

They usually take their first one from a seminal event in their early lives, or from a family connection/talent. But Were names are not permanent like human ones usually are, but often change at different stages of life to reflect new positions/events. Lia doesn’t have one, because she chose to live as a human.

Q&A #34: (First published on Facebook November 11, 2012)

QUESTION 1: About the title, does Fury’s Kiss refers to Dorina, opposed to Dory, since Midnight’s Daughter was Dory and Death’s Mistress was Christine?

Yes, it was Dorina who received the kiss (from the Irin child) which allowed her and Dory’s natures to meet and do what they did.

QUESTON 2: In Death’s Mistress, Mircea said he and Marlowe had worked to select master vampires with political views similar to their own and skilled in combat, but did any of those masters manage to get a senate seat, apart from Louis-Cesare, who was supposed to be banned, and Dory?

You’ll find out all about the senate in the next book—I promise! But I will say that Mircea and Marlowe’s faction wasn’t as successful as they had hoped, which was one reason the Consul was willing to do what she did. Simply put, they needed the extra vote.

QUESTION 3: Did Mircea know of the traditional gift to children who become masters when he changed his brothers? If so, what did he give Radu? And did Radu ever give anything to Louis-Cesare, maybe anonymously or later when they could meet again?

Yes, Mircea knew. He’d had to trap Radu (in the kind of magical snare you see him use on Vlad in Claimed by Shadow) to stop his aging, because he wasn’t a master yet when Radu became seriously ill. So by the time Mircea finally was able to change his brother, he’d had a chance to learn a little more about the vampire world. As for what he gave him–the villa in Tuscany that Radu mentions in Fury’s Kiss. It was where ‘Du became so fond of making wine!

And no, Radu couldn’t give anything to Louis-Cesare, because he wasn’t supposed to have any contact with him at all (see Midnight’s Daughter for why). He wasn’t there when Louis attained master status, as a result. So now he’s doing his best to rectify that oversight and give him Dory!

QUESTION 4: If it’s not a spoiler, does Dorina see the type and intensity of magic, when she sees the auras? How does it relate to her seeing vampires’ family line?

I think you might be confusing two of her abilities. Dory can see the bonds between vampires (or their family aura, if you like) as can some other vamps. But one of her master’s gifts, which never manifested until this book because it was carried on Dorina’s side of the mind, was also related to sight. Dorina sees further along the electromagnetic spectrum than humans, or even most vampires, including infrared. In other words, she sees heat signatures, and can therefore identify what she’s hunting even in pure darkness.

QUESTION 5: At which age did Dory begin to have problems with her powers, when did Mircea began to separate her two sides and how long did it take him to complete the barrier?

Dory began to have trouble between her two halves early, with minor blackouts even before she met Mircea. But it didn’t become a serious threat to her health until they’d been in Venice for several years. Mircea then began trying to find a solution by traveling (at great risk, because he belonged to no one and was therefore under no one’s protection) to various areas of Italy and beyond to talk to well-known healers. Incidentally, that’s why he never demonstrates any of the fear most vamps show about using the ley line system. He had to use it early on to go and come quickly, because he couldn’t afford to leave Dory for long, but he also couldn’t take her with him due to the danger.

In any case, when he failed to find help, he returned to Venice, where the family was based because it was an open port (and they therefore weren’t violating any family’s territory by being there). It made it safer for them, but nothing was safer for Dory, who was having more and more trouble as time went on. Mircea was finally left with no choice but to try his novel approach to the problem and to separate her two natures. But remember, he was not a master then. He was weak, and it drained him greatly to do what he did. He got a little help, as you’ll see in “Masks”, but it was still an uphill battle to contain a vampire half that was gaining in strength almost as fast as he was.

It took decades to isolate Dory from her other nature. But Mircea never “completed” the barrier because Dorina never stopped growing in power and thereby threatening its integrity. He managed to stabilize Dory a few decades after he gained master status, which was lucky, because having a dhampir attached to his growing court was gaining her too much attention. It was likely to get her killed if she stayed with him any longer (because dhampirs were a no-no in the vampire world), so he had to let her go. But he erased much of her memory before doing so. He was afraid that, if she knew about Dorina, it would have been impossible to keep her from reaching out to her other side and thereby to maintain the barrier.

And it required maintaining. That was one reason, beyond wanting to see her, that Mircea reconnected with her every decade or so. He had to check on the stability of the wall, and to add to it as necessary, or risk a breech. Dorina had inherited his mental abilities, and while she was completely untrained and also handicapped by only being “out” occasionally, she had nonetheless gained master status. And containing a mentally adept master is not so easy.

Hope that clarifies things!

QUESTION 6: Marlowe has some diehard fans and we’re a little obsessed with his sex life, since it seems he hasn’t been laid for about 400 years. This would clearly explain why he’s perpetually angry! Maybe this also explains why, after reading Fury’s Kiss, some of us are now speculating wildly about him and Dory. I mean, what was that ‘searing look’ about at the end? Any words of comfort for frustrated Marlowe fans?

Lol! Where do you guys come up with this stuff? Honestly!

But you asked, so firstly, Marlowe has never been celibate, much less for 400 years! Secondly, he isn’t perpetually angry, just when he’s around Dory. Third, I honestly applaud the creativity, but no. Just…no. It is safe to say that Dory and Marlowe loathe each other (see Q&A #33 for why, beyond the obvious). However, I will say that Dory’s love life has some…ups and downs…headed her way. Or should I say, Dorina’s does? 🙂