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All right, let's continue with our story now. Everything is about to change for Southlands . . .
Poison in his lungs: Prince Lionheart breathed in quite a lot of poison in his foolish charge against the Dragon. As we see him carried away from the scene of destruction, that poison roils through his body and his spirit.
In my world, no one breathes dragon poison and walks away unharmed. I wonder what ongoing effect this poison had on Lionheart and all of the choices he makes from here on out? Not that we can blame the poison for his sins. But perhaps we can give him a little more grace.
Not his lawful prey: The Lady of Dreams is not pleased to find Lionheart’s dreams so full of the fire of her brother. She wants him spared from those flames as much as Rose Red and Daylily do. But her purposes are much darker. It might have been better for Lionheart to be burned alive at once than to be spared for such a fate as she has in store.
A kiss upon his forehead: Some unknown nurturer tends to Lionheart through the agony of his fever. Someone even kisses him and sings a portion of the Sphere Songs to ease his suffering. A beautiful voice, so gentle and so loving.
And when Lionheart, still filled with fever, opens his eyes, he glimpses for a moment a face he’s never seen before. A beautiful face with golden skin and enormous silver eyes. “The face of a princess.”
This is definitely not Daylily. Is it possible that we have just glimpsed the secret behind Rose Red’s veils? Or is this someone else entirely?
Daughter of a baron: Daylily is certainly not the wilting little courtly flower some might assume. She walks the full six days from the Eldest’s House until meeting up with her father. Six days with little food, little water, and crippling fear hounding her footsteps. She may not be as brave and strong as Rosie . . . but then, Rosie is used to hardship. Rosie is tough and unnaturally strong, and she has suffered starvation before. But this is an all-new experience for the lovely Lady Daylily.
But she has one keen motivation through it all. Daylily cannot bear to be outdone by Rose Red.
“Hush! Hush!” Daylily demonstrates some tenderness in the scene when Lionheart wakes up. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen her so gentle before this moment when she draws Lionheart to rest against her, “almost motheringly.”
But she cannot seem to comfort Lionheart. He rests against her only for a moment. But it’s only when he sees Rose Red sitting across the room that he feels any comfort.
And Daylily knows it.
“No one is to leave.” We learn that the Dragon has set “barricades of occult workings across every port and road.” And so Southlands is cut off from all the rest of the world.
Not the first time in its history that this has happened (as those of you who have read on in the series well know!).
The Bridges: The famous Bridges of Southlands, purportedly of Faerie make, are proving their worth during this dreadful siege. Daylily tells us that they’ve been set ablaze so that no one can cross them. And yet they will not burn. Some very powerful Faerie must have built them long ago . . .
Some very powerful Faerie we might just get to meet in another book or two.
Journey into the world: Despite the imprisonment fallen upon the country, Lionheart determines that it is his duty to go out into the world abroad and learn how to kill the Dragon.
I can’t help but wonder as I read this how much of this is motivated by the Dragon poison he breathed. It is the Dragon’s voice he hears in his head—or the memory of the Dragon’s voice. There is no other, higher calling. Lionheart makes this decision very quickly, based on the word of the Dragon himself.
He is leaving his country. His people. His family. And his excuses are very fine.
Rose Red’s request: Before he goes, Rose Red begs Lionheart to give her a cart and a goat and permission to return to the Eldest’s House. A most unusual and dangerous request!
But not unsurprising. Beana is back there, after all. And Rose Red is determined that the Eldest, the queen, and all those imprisoned in the House must know of Lionheart’s plan. Brave Rosie! Brave and a little foolish.
And she puts it in such a way that Lionheart does not have to ask her to do it. “You ain’t askin’ me. I’m askin’ you.” (p. 203) Her request is to be sent into the very mouth of danger. Because she knows Lionheart could not ask it of her himself, but that he needs to know that someone is back home working still to help those he loves.
“Remember your servant.” When Lionheart presses, Rose Red does declare one small wish for herself. She only asks the Lionheart return safely and remember her while he’s gone.
But will Lionheart be able to fulfill such a request? That remains to be seen . . .
“Remember me too.” Daylily, having witnessed the touching scene between Lionheart and his servant, behaves quite shockingly out of character when she parts ways with the prince. She kisses him. And she tells him to remember her too.
But I think she knows (as Rose Red suspects) that this is a hopeless request.
Questions on the text:
1. Who do you think Lionheart saw when he woke momentarily from his fevered dreams?
2. Why do you think Daylily is so determined not to let Rose Red see any weakness in her? Why do you think she’s so concerned about anything Rose Red might think?
3. Favorite lines of the selection?
Anna wants to know . . . many things! First she wants to know: "How far ahead do you usually plan books?"
Eh, it depends. I've been planning the basics of the novel I'm about to write (Book 8) since a year before I got the idea for Heartless . . . but many of the more important plot elements didn't come to me until recently. Veiled Rose I scarcely planned at all before writing it, and the same with Moonblood. Golden Daughter I planned when about mid-way through drafting Shadow Hand (I had originally planned to go from Shadow Hand to the story that is now Book 8).
So, yeah, it really depends on the book in question. Generally speaking, I get the germs of an idea a few years before writing the actual story. Then a few months before I actually begin writing, I sit down with the idea and really hammer it out in detail, figuring out all the various connections and themes that will be important in the context of the rest of the series. Often there are ENORMOUS changes between the original idea and the final product that I actually sit down to write. Book 8, for instance, has developed in innumerable and exciting ways from the original idea, though the original idea is still there at the core.
Secondly, Anna wants to know: "How do you think of titles for your books?"
Again, it depends. Starflower, Dragonwitch, and Shadow Hand were simple because they are the name or title of the central character. Moonblood I came up with during the original brainstorming of the plot idea: "Her father will try to kill her, maybe on some specific, magical night of the year. I don't know. The night of Moonblood or something. What does Moonblood stand for . . .?" And it went on from there.
Heartless was probably the most difficult title to come up with. I went round and round and round on ideas for that one, and still didn't absolutely love the final title. But ultimately, I figured that the battle for Una's heart was the crux of the story, and Heartless worked.
Golden Daughter was called Dream Walker and Slave of Dreams during various stages of development until I realized I was focusing the title on the wrong character and switched it to focus on the heroine instead. Book 8 went by the working title Minstrel's Crown for a long time until, quite by accident, Rohan misspoke and called it something else . . . and what he called it was perfect! Seriously, the perfect title. (But you'll have to wait a few more months until I reveal it!)
Thirdly, Anna wants to know: "When you wrote Heartless, how far ahead could you see into the series?"
Right after I first drafted Heartless, I was concentrating mostly on the stories that are now going to be Books 9, 10, and 11. I had a notion for what will now be Book 8, short story and poetry ideas for what became Starflower and Dragonwitch . . . and I think that was it. Everything else has filled in tremendously since then.
Fourthly, Anna wants to know: "Do you plan on always writing in Goldstone Wood, or do you intend to branch out eventually?"
Since most of the fantasy ideas I get always become immediately more interesting the moment I transfer them to Goldstone Wood, I can't say that I plan to leave the Wood any time soon. After all the work I've put into developing this world, its workings, and its histories, I have difficulty imagining doing that again with another world!
I sometimes toy around with the idea of trying a different genre--historical, maybe--but nothing has ever really caught my fancy. But who knows! I'm still a young writer, with (Lord willing!) many writerly years ahead of me . . .
Fifthly, Anna wants to know: "What got you interested in allegorical fantasy?"
C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. Their works are too wonderful for words, and I adored them both when I was young. Possibly Lewis a little more than MacDonald, but not by much!
Sixthly, Anna wants to know: "Do you think "fairy tale" is one word or two? :)"
I guess two? Let me write it out: Fairytale. Oooh, that looks really nice. Fairy Tale. Looks more polished, more grammatical. I suppose both, but I would probably write "Fairy Tale" sooner than I would write "Fairytale."
Caitlyn wants to know: "It said the Other could not walk, where its voice could never penetrate up to that fresh, high air. -pg. 181 My question is, why can't the Other go up to there? Is it the air, or the mountain?"
The Other cannot enter Southlands at all. Very, very few Faerie people or beings can, and then only under extraordinary circumstances (i.e. guided in by the wood thrush as Anahid is at the beginning of Moonblood). You will learn why come Shadow Hand . . . but it has to do with the bridges.
But the Other can send its voice up from the Wilderlands. The mountains are so high, however, the Other's voice can't penetrate that far into the mortal world.
Meredith: "How does Rose Red's veil not catch fire? Is the Dragon perhaps playing with her, or could it be that he sees Someone guarding Rosie and the prince? What was your original thought about this?"
I never actually considered this before. I suppose since the rest of her clothing didn't catch fire, neither would her veil. The Dragon probably wouldn't unveil her out in public like this anyway, since I think he likes being one of the few who knows her true face. That's my suspicion, anyway, though your suggestion that he might be aware of the Prince's protection is a good one too!
And one more piece by Jemma, illustrating Rose Red, crouched protectively over Leo, standing up to the fiery Dragon!
|Standing Up to Death|