Update Dory

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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 #48

Which was Pritkin’s original name? Because Rosier calls him Emrys and Cassie refer to him in a pair of cases as Myrddin that later got changed in Merlin.

Emrys was the name his mother gave him. So, yes, it was his first.

About the gods, I was wondering if they have a physical body or if they simply assume one when they want, a little like Saleh, and in that case if they can make themselves whatever body they want, or if they have basically a default physical shape, like Rosier. And in both cases, if they can have physical impairments or deformities, since in Greek myths Hephaestus was both ugly and lame and in Norse mythology Odin sacrificed an eye to his quest for knowledge.

First, yes, they have a physical body, a “default shape” which they retain throughout the old legends (Hera is always identifiable as Hera, for example, as is Zeus, Apollo, etc.) But it’s also accepted that they can transform themselves at will. Zeus often did so when he wanted to seduce someone without his wife’s knowledge. And you saw Apollo transformed in my books at the end of Curse the Dawn.

But it takes a lot of power to manifest as a swan or an eagle or a shower of gold! So it is safe to say that Cassie’s mother can no longer transform by the time Cassie meets her. Otherwise, getting away from the Spartoi would have been much easier!

Second, in my universe, the ancient myths were reported and embroidered upon by humans for thousands of years after the gods had left. The core stories, therefore, have to be interpreted (as Jonas noted) in order to be understood. Some things are obviously later add-ons, while others have become mangled over time. So what did Odin’s sacrifice really mean?

He gave up something in return for some kind of knowledge, but what it was and what he received in return is debatable. It was hardly a physical eye (since, if he could transform, he could simply make himself another one). But it could have been something connected with vision—oversight of a particular matter, perhaps? And in return for turning a “blind eye” to someone’s activities, he received some sort of information he would not otherwise have had. So the legend could be metaphorical.

As far as the case of Hephaestus, though, we know that the gods can be injured. You saw this in the case of Apollo, where the Ouroboros left him a shadow of his former self before Cassie and Pritkin faced him. Perhaps Hephaestus was injured, too, and by Hera as the legends say.

Which is stronger, Fae wine or the berries liquor Pritkin, Casanova and Caleb were drinking in the pub in the Shadowland?

Lol! Good question. The answer depends on what you mean by strong. Both will get you very, very drunk. But fey wine will also bring out latent magical abilities, assuming you have them, and can get you in a lot more trouble than the average drunken spree!

The Greek/Norse gods are those Marlowe’s beetle called the Æsir, the lord of battle, right? It’s that how they called themselves? If it’s not spoiler, are we going to see/meet the Vanir or at least know what happened to them?

Yes. They are also mentioned in the books, by the way. Check out the first Dory book, which explains something about them and their relations with the Fey.

If I didn’t misunderstand Louis-Cesare was on the Titanic and I was wondering if he chose to take Dory in that memory or if the memories they passed were random.

In a moment of panic (don’t tell him I said that) and not having had any previous experience with those sorts of mental gymnastics, he took her into another moment of panic from his past. But he got the hang of it shortly thereafter, and took them somewhere he thought they would be able to lose their pursuer. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite as he’d planned!

Hi! I loved reading Tempt the Stars: My question is– In the end, Cassie is sacrificing her life to buy time for the witches and kids to get out. She is saved at the last moment by the Demon Council. How are they able to do this if she has gone back in time? Moreover, how can the witches and Rhea, who accompanied her, get back to their time without Cassie? Would there not be 2 sets of past/present witches inhabiting the present moment?

First, as to the witches. Cassie took them out of the present and returned them to the recent past. There were therefore two sets of witches for that time period (about fifteen minutes)–one in Britain and one in Vegas. But after those fifteen minutes were up, there was only the group in Britain. Because the Vegas ones had just gone back in time.

Second, as to the demon council. Cassie had, again, only gone back in time for a short jump (fifteen minutes). She did not jump back to before she met the council. So they were monitoring her at that point, as Adra later admitted. And naturally, suddenly having two Cassies was going to get their attention. They were watching both of them, but specifically the one in London, because she was the one doing something other than sitting on a sofa! Hope that helps.

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 and A #44

1. Do Antony and the Consul ever shoot the breeze together about the good old days? Do they ever reminisce about their children? Along this vein (hehe), do vampires who had children while still human keep tabs on their surviving bloodlines as the years go?

Not really. Most vampires tend to lose track of family after a few centuries, if not before. Your new family takes precedence, and as a young vamp, you have very little chance to do your own thing. By the time you could just take off for personal reasons, your kids are probably dead, along with their kids and possibly another few generations. The only people you would meet would be distant relatives. Who, of course, wouldn’t know you at all.

Anyway, human lives seem so ephemeral in comparison to the ages you have and will live. What is the point? If you’re going to discuss children, it’s normally your immortal ones who dominate the conversation.

2. Was Julius Caesar ever a vampire, in the CP/DB universe?

No. He was dead long before Anthony and Cleo were ever bitten. Plus, god damn, can you see Julius as a vamp? He was bad enough as a human!

3. Did Alphonse know that Sal had turned traitor, or what she was planning to do, in CtD? If so, was he punished by Mircea? What has he been up to?

No, she didn’t tell him. Sal’s opinion of Alphonse’s intellect wasn’t high, and she didn’t trust him. Tony had acquired him for his killing ability, not his smarts. As for what he’s been up to, what would you be up to if you’re a trained killer and your old boss just basically offed your girlfriend?

4. Why did Pritkin and Mircea warn Casanova off Cassie when it’s a hotel full of incubi and vampires? He doesn’t seem to like her much anyway!

But they didn’t know his attitude at the time. And Casanova’s rep had preceded him.

5. Cassie often seems surprised when everyone else wets themselves in fear of Mircea and they seem surprised that she doesn’t fear him at all. This is quite funny and intriguing. Who is right about how dangerous Mircea is?

Everyone else.

6. Why did Louis Caesar only lose his cool in Touch the Dark when Cassie told him how many people they were facing (in the car park) I would have lost my head way before that!

Louis-Cesare would like me to inform you that there must be some misunderstanding. He never loses his cool. Cassie was under considerable stress, and must have misinterpreted his competent, calm and capable reaction to the matter.

7. How did Mircea know about the present Cassie sent Ming de? (lamia skin) I can’t help laughing imagining her face when she got that present.

Presumably, Ming-de mentioned it, possibly in one of their already tense negotiations over the new treaty alliance. Although, with Mircea, you never know, do you?

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 #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 #39

1) Who would win a game of poker, Billy Joe or Mircea?

Billy Joe. He cheats. And Mircea can’t read a ghost’s mind!

2) Why didn’t Mircea take on Rasputin in Touch the Dark? If he is so good at mental combat, why did they need to bring in Louis-Cesare?

If you go back to TTD, you’ll notice that Mircea alone among the people interacting with Cassie in that book was calm, almost relaxed. He even cracked a few jokes, up until Pritkin started threatening her. Louis-Cesare looked like he had a migraine, everybody else was pretty darned grim, but Mircea was doing Bela Lugosi impressions and acting almost giddy. Why?

Reason 1: This has to do with your question. Mircea wasn’t worried. Everybody else was tense to the point of being freaked out, but he wasn’t. Because he knew, if worse came to worse, he could handle Rasputin. He didn’t WANT to, because it would have been a very good demonstration of exactly how deadly he can be, which he has taken pains to down play. And that would possibly cause him problems in the future in certain quarters. But, if it came down to it, he was perfectly capable of making Rasputin curl into a tiny ball and beg for mommy. So Mircea wasn’t under the same pressure as the rest of them (not to mention that it wasn’t his past being threatened).

Reason 2: Mircea was concentrating on one thing that entire time while everybody else was rabbiting around: he wanted Radu back, and was determined that Cassie was going to go get him. So he was being charming, and concentrating on gaining her sympathy, rather than on Rasputin. Who Mircea knew wasn’t as much of a threat as everyone else thought he was anyway.

3) On a related note, isn’t Louis-Cesare’s gift kind of a cheat in duels?

I assume you mean his master power, aka The Veil, which allows him to go not only invisible, but to be completely undetectable for a short time. And yes, that would seem to be an advantage in a duel! After all, how can you fight someone who you can’t see–or smell or hear or otherwise tell is there?

However, you’re overlooking one fact, which is that the other masters Louis-Cesare would be facing in a duel also have master’s powers. And he isn’t always going to know what those are, or their full extent, because Mircea isn’t the only one who doesn’t go around advertising that sort of thing. So, say he was going up against Mircea (not likely, I know, but just as an example). Who would win?

It would depend on whether Mircea could get a lock on LC’s mind before LC could veil. If LC veiled first, Mircea would be in trouble, although he might still be okay if he could manage to survive until LC was forced to drop the veil. But LC would have a distinct advantage in that case. But if Mircea got into LC’s brain first, then the veil wouldn’t help him. Not only could Mircea track him then, veil or not, but he wouldn’t need to. He could savage him from the inside without ever needing to touch him with a weapon.

And, of course, other masters have impressive abilities, too. Like Lawrence, for instance, who could break apart into many little pieces–which would be difficult for even an invisible swordsman to get an edge on! But, of course, not all master’s powers would do so well against The Veil, meaning that a lot of people would simply choose not to duel LC at all. That was why Anthony was able to do as he pleased in Europe, because most of the people who might have challenged him wouldn’t, knowing who his champion was certain to be.

So, was LC cheating? No, he was using the abilities he was given to best advantage. LC just happened to get a master power that helped in combat, and he used it–as any other vampire would have done in his place.

4) When Mircea got knocked out in fury’s kiss and dragged his masters down too; does that mean Marco and Cassie’s bodyguards were out cold too?

You’ll find out!

5) What does Marco think of Pritkin and Mircea’s attitude towards him?

I’m not sure I understand this question. Why would Marco care about Pritkin’s attitude? What Pritkin does or doesn’t think isn’t likely to affect him one way or the other. Marco is okay with Pritkin, because he helps keep Cassie safe and occasionally brings beer. Other than that, he doesn’t really have an opinion on the guy, and doesn’t care what the war mage thinks of him.

As far as Mircea is concerned, “attitude” is also not the phrasing I would use. Marco is Mircea’s property. The vamps don’t usually put it like that–they use the softer word “servant”–but it’s nonetheless true. Marco does what the master tells him to do because he thinks Mircea is a better master than most, and because he doesn’t have a choice. They’re not friends; they are property and owner. And property’s opinion about its owner is irrelevant.

Q&A #36: (First published on Facebook December 21, 2012)

Q#1: The name of Louis-Cesare’s court, Les Pléiades, refers to the constellation? Or to the nymphs, for whom the stars are named? How did it come to be named so? And are all main vampire courts named?

I never know how to answer questions like these, since there’s a book answer and a real-world answer, and I’m not sure which you want. The book answer is that the estate was named after the Pléiade, a group of sixteenth-century French poets whose work Louis-Cesare liked when he was a boy. So, yes, the poets named themselves after the constellation, but Louis-Cesare wasn’t thinking of the stars when he named the estate. The real-world answer is that I lived in an apartment complex called Les Pléiades in Marne-la-Vallée when I was sent to France as part of the opening crew for Disneyland Paris. It was my introduction to Europe, and I had a fun time. Okay, mostly fun. Anyway, here’s baby me in my Disney outfit:


Q#2: In Curse the Dawn, Alphonse says of Marlowe “I thought he liked stubborn, powerful, complicated types”. Any hints about who Alphonse is talking about? And also, why is Alphonse of all people saying this? I don’t get the impression he and Marlowe are best buds. How does he know what ‘type’Marlowe likes? Do lesser vampires gossip about Senators’ love lives the way we might gossip about movie stars?

Yes. Senators are celebrities in Cassie’s world. Very much like rock stars. And Marlowe is an object of fascination because he’s so mysterious. He’s always being linked with somebody.:-)

Q#3: What historical figure (if any) is Hassani based on?

Hassan-i Sabbā, the founder of the Order of Assassins. Since he’s head of the African Senate, which governs the Middle East as well as Africa, I thought it only fair to use someone with ties to both regions. Hassani was born in Iran and ended up in Cairo, so he fit. Plus, he and the order he founded have always interested me.

Q#4: I was wondering how Pritkin’s singing voice sounds. Is there any singer who comes close to how he sounds in your head?

No, not really. Of course, I don’t listen to music much, so I wouldn’t. He’s a nice tenor, though, if that helps.

Q#5: For the Q&A, I was wondering what happened to Marco’s date in Curse the Dawn. He said that Cassie was enough trouble. So did he actually go on the date and something disastrous happened or did he just call it off? I’m pretty sure this isn’t a spoiler, so it’s safe to ask.

Marco was a little busy to worry about dating in Hunt the Moon! In fact, body-guarding Cassie has taken a tragic toll on his personal life. He said to tell interested ladies that he’s still available, however, and that he doesn’t bite…hard. 🙂

Q&A #35: (First published on Facebook December 8, 2012)

1) Firstly, Pritkin’s predicament is very confusing for me. Francoise’s incubus lover (is his name Randy?) doesn’t seem to kill the women he sleeps with, and neither does Casanova. So I can think of two possibilities: 1) Only the lord of the incubi (and by extension his son) are strong enough to kill people through feeding or 2) Incubi can control the feeding and turn it off before they hurt their partner. In fact, didn’t Pritkin say in HtM that it’s considered bad form to hurt one’s partner? So, what’s Pritkin missing that he suddenly starts to suck the life out of Cassie? It is that his incubus side is too hungry to stop? (If the answer is too spoiler-y I completely understand.)

The answer isn’t spoilery. It’s explained in the books and I also think I answered it somewhere in the Q&A sessions, although maybe not well enough. Let me try again.

There’s two things going on here: feeding and sex. And there’s two kinds of sex: human and demon. The human variety is usually happening when an incubus feeds, because that’s how they access the life force (through human lust) and sex is a great way to sustain lust over a longish period. They are in total control of how much they take during this process, however, and do not normally drain their partners. Why would they? It would mean constantly looking for new ones, and once you have a circle of donors that are to your taste, why change?

Pritkin, as half incubus, inherited his father’s ability to feed this way, and has the same control over it that any incubus does. He therefore doesn’t have to drain a partner when he feeds. Yet he drained his wife anyway. So what gives?

What happened with Pritkin’s wife was not just a feeding. And he was not in control of it because he didn’t initiate it. Remember, she was a demon, too, if a very minor one. So she was able to initiate the feedback loop that serves as demon sex. Ideally, this means an exchange of power–not just power going from one person to another as in a feeding, but a loop in which both partners take and give, and occasionally, get a bonus in the form of a transfer of talents or the birth of a new demon.

Anyway, Pritkin’s wife initiated demon sex hoping for a bonus in the form of more power for her, allowing her to join the demon world the way she’d always wanted–as someone to be respected. But she forgot (or wasn’t informed, or decided to risk) the fact that a loop is exactly that. It wouldn’t be just her feeding from Pritkin; he would be feeding from her, too. And as it turned out, she didn’t have all that much to give.

So, before Pritkin realized what had happened, his wife had started a very different kind of sex than the one he’d had in mind. And that was a problem. Because remember, he’s Rosier’s son. He is a powerful incubus, or would be if he chose to exercise his abilities. He was so much more powerful than this little almost-human minor demon, in fact, that when the loop began, he drained her before she had a chance to get anything back.

Pritkin blamed himself because a) he killed her. Any way you want to slice it, she ended up a dried out husk in his arms, and you don’t just forget something like that. And b) if he’d been willing to do what his father wanted and have sex with demons before his marriage (in order to help the family), then he would have realized what was happening when she initiated the loop and maybe known how to shut it down. But he hadn’t and he didn’t and she was dead and it was his fault.

So after all that, let’s look at your question about Pritkin’s attitude toward Cassie (or any other woman, for that matter). His attitude is influenced by two major things:

If he had sex he went to hell: Because of the whole thing with his father, and being under interdict by the demon council, if he had sex of any kind, he knew he’d be pulled back to hell with no more chances of parole. Now, think about that for a second. Here he is, a creature designed to live partly off of sex and the power it brings him, and yet he’s now barred from having it. Ever. Again.

He can’t feed, except under very rare circumstances, because if he does, his life is basically over. That’s going to mess with someone’s head. Lusting after something, yet knowing he can’t have it, yet lusting after it even more because he can’t have it…not a good treadmill to be on. So his attitude toward sex is rather the same as a recovering alcoholic’s toward alcohol. Meaning, it’s seriously conflicted.

Put simply, he’s scared to death: He may logically, cerebrally, intellectually know that feeding and demon sex are entirely different things. He may know that he can control a feeding. He may know that there is absolutely no reason he should ever drain a partner again (through either method, really, since he must have figured out how to shut the feedback loop down. Otherwise, his father could hardly use him as intended now that his parole has been reversed, right? He’d drain all his partners!) So clearly, Pritkin isn’t a threat to anyone–except in his own mind. Or when Rosier decided to help him out of it, as in the scene with Cassie in the car in HTM.

Pritkin probably was a real danger to her there, because he was dying and desperate and out of his head, and his power was reaching for any possible connection that might help. But under normal circumstances, no, he wouldn’t be. But here’s the thing–he doesn’t know that. Or, rather, he does intellectually, but not in his gut.

Someone wrote to me once asking why Pritkin doesn’t just “get over it already.” She said it had been a hundred years, give or take, and it was time to put the past behind him. She said, basically, he ought to man up. All of which may very well be true. But the human (or half human in this case) mind doesn’t really work like that, does it? Humans aren’t robots and we don’t always just get over things, even small things, all that easily. And what Pritkin is dealing with isn’t small. Besides, he really does mistrust his father and he doesn’t want to help him get even more power when there’s no telling what he might plan to do with it.

Are we cool now?

2) Secondly, we were wondering where Mircea’s female vampires are. The only two we really meet, Sal and Eugenie, were made by Tony. Wouldn’t Mircea want one or two female guards around, for things that Cassie might not want a man for? (Like when she was visiting Augustine and needed to change). Is it simply that Mircea was originally very “close” with the female vampires and doesn’t want to rub his past in Cassie’s face?

Mircea doesn’t have any female vampires watching Cassie because he doesn’t have any female vampires. Some of his master-level servants do, but the whole Sal thing didn’t turn out great, so he prefers only people he directly controls around Cassie now. And that means guys, because that’s all he has. And no, I’m not going to tell you why (although you’ll figure it out eventually).

3) How did Louis-Cesare know that Dory had all his memories?

Because he was there when the transfer happened, and because they’ve been sharing mental space pretty regularly ever since (because Dory was drinking Fey wine like it was going out of style).

4) Did Mircea intend for Dory and Louis Cesare to be together?

No, but he’s not mad about it.

5) Will Caedmon be back in the next book?

There’s a very good chance.

6) Will we see the Irin that appeared in Fury’s Kiss again?

Lol, maybe.

7) Will we learn more about Dory’s mother?

Yes, eventually.

Q&A #26: (First published on Facebook January 17, 2012)

QUESTION 1: Since there are mages who specialize in dealing with the different supernatural beings, and there are more diplomatic mages who deal with the vampires regularly, why haven’t they made any appearances? I would think they would show up in the story since the vampires are currently in alliance with the Silver Circle.

Yes, there are mages who specialize in dealing with the vamps. But if they’re discussing policy with the vampires, where are they going to be? In Senate sessions, or hanging out with Cassie? I’m thinking the former. And you don’t regularly see Senate meetings in the books because Cassie isn’t normally there.

QUESTION 2: I’m not sure if this has been asked before, but has Rosier tried to make any more incubus/human since Pritkin was born?

Not since he realized that Pritkin had inherited his abilities. Rosier was more interested in training up the son he already had, than in trying for more when the odds against success were so incredibly bad. And then, when Pritkin grew up, Rosier was surprised to discover that he was exceedingly touchy on the subject of his mother, and was horrified by the role he had likely played in her death. Not to mention the role that Rosier had played.

It was one of the first big arguments they had, and it took Rosier a long time to work his son back around. And that was accomplished by lying and saying that he hadn’t known that Pritkin’s birth would kill her. So going out and trying for more children was a little hard after that, since it would have undermined the lie. And, in any case, Pritkin gets his stubbornness from daddy, and daddy was determined that his son would do what he wanted, damn it. Leaving us with the situation we have now.

QUESTION 3: In Embrace the Night, in Paris, Pritkin shows some ability to sense Cassie’s emotions (when he’s searching her for the map). I don’t have my books with me, so I can’t check, but I’m pretty sure this is implied a few other places as well. How does this ability work? How limited is it?

It’s a byproduct of the feeding process, which allows an incubus to access a person’s power through their emotions. And occasionally something else will slip through besides just lust, since human emotions aren’t so easily separated. But incubi are not really empathic; it’s very hit or miss, and they have no control over it. What is more likely is that an incubus, or part-incubus, is going to be very good at reading emotions through facial expressions and tones of voice. When your whole survival depends on attracting/interesting a partner, it helps to pay attention! And Pritkin has that ability, whether he normally chooses to use it or not.

QUESTION 4: What’s Pritkin’s real haircolor?

Lol at the Pritkin questions today! It’s brownish/blond. He has dyed it various times as a disguise or to help differentiate himself from his “father,” who had brownish/blond hair and a beard when he was working for the Corps. Pritkin needed to look somewhat different when he joined, since there were still plenty of war mages around who remembered him from before.

QUESTION 5: Pritkin tells Cassie in Touch the Dark that the power won’t pass to a sybil who’s gone dark, but didn’t Myra go dark? Why was she still in the running for the position of Pythia?

That’s explained in the books. The Pythian power has its own definition of what is or is not acceptable, and it isn’t always the same as human norms. Myra had, for example, made it possible for Agnes to poison herself, but she hadn’t put the arsenic in the amulet; it had already been there. And she hadn’t dunked it in Agnes’ tea every day; Agnes had done that. Myra had read up on the rules, and had stayed just on the right side of them. She was evil, not stupid.

QUESTION 6: This is probably the prime example of me overthinking, or not quite catching everything. Feel free to simply tell me to read TTD again, as this is obviously a very long question… From my understanding, Cassie and Mircea change history in TTD, to try to keep Myra from altering history in a way harmful to them. They free Radu, and change the way Louis-Caesare was made. This is referenced again when he becomes a more prominent character in the Dory books. Does Cassie retain the memories of how it was before she changes it, while everyone else remembers the changed version? Does Mircea remember both versions? It severely messes with my head. If she changes history, wouldn’t that negate the need to go back and change it at all, thereby preventing her from going back to change it? I understand when she goes back in time to stop others from altering the time line, but freeing Radu seems like it is outside of the “rules” as it were.

Warning: long, boring answer ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

Yes, Cassie remembers things the way they were before they were changed. You know, it’s easy to keep this sort of thing straight if you recall that Cassie’s timeline is the only one you need to worry about. She is Pythia. She is the linchpin on which everything else turns. Concentrate on her and it all becomes clearer.

So, before Cassie left her own time to go back to seventeenth century France, things were in a mess and her help was needed. She goes back and rescues LC, and changes time in the process. She then returns to the present day. But here’s the kicker: she didn’t go back and relive her life again, did she? She didn’t experience the new timeline for 23 years. She entered it only when she returned to the Senate and found that the world had changed (subtly) because of her actions. Everyone else who was left behind had lived through the changed world but Cassie had not. Because she hadn’t been there. Time had been one way when she left, and was another when she returned, as a direct result of her actions. The same was true for Mircea, because he was with her.

As far as what that meant for the book, keep in mind that all Cassie had done was to insure that the attempt Myra made on LC’s life had failed. She didn’t change anything else. The reasons for the war were still there, and it was still brewing behind the scenes. And since MAGIC was in shambles after Cassie returned, obviously Rasputin and co. had still attacked the Senate.

Remember, their back-up plan in case Myra failed had always been a frontal assault on the Senate. Rasputin preferred to challenge (as long as he wasn’t going to be facing LC) because gaining control of the Senate that way was more of a sure thing than an open assault. But once Tomas spilled the beans about the Senate’s plan to save LC, he said screw it and just attacked anyway. And that assault came before Cassie went back in time, so it wasn’t dependent on anything she did or didn’t do.

So in the altered timeline, the frontal assault on the Senate just went from Plan B to Plan A, with the challenge that Rasputin sent to the Consul merely being used to throw the Senate off guard. It worked. The Senate wasn’t expecting an assault, they were expecting a challenge. Because that was how these things were always decided and because anything else would start a war. The Senate just didn’t realize: they were already at war.

As far as freeing Radu being outside the rules, oh, hell yes. But since when does Mircea follow rules when they aren’t convenient for him? And he was the only one who knew what the rules were at that point; Cassie certainly didn’t. So, basically, Mircea pulled a fast one. Is this at all a surprise?

QUESTION 7: What does Louis Cesare actually remember about being possessed by Mircea in Carcassonne? Why does he think he ended up becoming a vampire courtesy of Radu, and how on earth did he explain what was going on to himself after Mircea stopped possessing him and he was left in a dungeon with a women missing a toe and a starving vampire?

Lol—I like how you phrased that!:-)

Louis-Cesare thought he was going mad, which is what any normal person would think when they suddenly lose control of their bodies and someone else starts speaking out of their mouths. He heard a different explanation (the one Mircea gave Radu when they were alone together) about what was going on but he was too busy being fed on by a vampire to really pay attention at that point. Radu tried to explain later, but mostly what LC got out of that was that a) Radu was a vampire and b) the people coming to investigate what had happened to the garrison were likely to hunt them down and kill them both if they didn’t get the hell out. But if they left before those people arrived, everyone would think they’d died in the tragedy (whatever the humans decided that had been) and nobody would look for them.

So they ran like hell, but in the process of feeding Radu enough to keep him alive, LC became infected (as Radu had intended). And then when he woke up, Radu was gone—because he’d had to disappear or risk changing time even more than had already been done. That left LC a brand new vamp with no maker, which was what he’d been in the old time line. But this time around he had a sense of betrayal he hadn’t had before, especially after he tried to track Radu down only to have his master flee at the sight of him. It left him with some serious trust and abandonment issues, making for a somewhat altered LC.