And yes, you can go back an answer questions from days you missed for points!
Now for Chapter 5 . . .
I have realized that if I keep writing up these read-along posts as long as all of these others, I’m going to end up with a total read-along word count as long as the novel itself! So, I’m going to cut back a little. Sorry, imps! But there will still be plenty of random little tidbits, hints, insights, etc. Just a little less wordy . . . .
Dame Willowfair: Foxbrush’s mother, the owner of Hill House, is scarcely mentioned throughout this entire adventure. She is a recluse to the max, and scarcely enough of a personality to be even enigmatic. The practical reason for this was that I didn’t want to deal with one more character as I was drafting this book (secret’s out!). But it also led to some interesting little tidbits of information which will be revealed in Shadow Hand. So keep your eyes open for future mentions of Foxbrush’s mother.
Contrasting coffees: When constructing a novel, one of the most important steps is establishing strong, individualized characters. And one of the best ways to establish a character is to contrast it to another character, allowing each to add to the substance of the other (just like in art, they say to define your lights by your shadows . . . you artists out there will know what I mean). Throwing two dissimilar personalities like Leo and Foxbrush into contrast with each other is always fun, and I enjoyed writing those little moments like the different ways they take their coffee. Could there be any two more dissimilar young fellows?
Poor Foxbrush: I know Foxbrush is the character everyone loves to loathe . . . but I must admit, I kind of like him, myself. This little scene where he asks if he can join Leo on his outdoor adventuring proves, I think that Foxbrush longs at least a little to be part of his cousin’s life. Perhaps he even longs to be as adventurous and daring.
In fact, perhaps there is more to the little milksop than meets the eye.
A boy climbed one path and a girl, some distance off, descended another. This little scene leading up to Leo and Rose Red meeting once more is one I have used several times as an example for why the omniscient narrative is, in a word, awesome. I get criticized by modern CBA novelists on a regular basis for my use of this narrative voice, which is considered dreadfully out of fashion at the moment (despite the brilliance and popularity of such novelists as Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett). But if I did not take the omniscient narrative and step outside an individual character’s point-of-view, I would not be able to observe the scene from this sky-high vantage and watch my two protagonists on their collision course. It’s fun, it’s scenic, and it paints a dynamic picture that would not have come to be if I had limited myself to a strict third-person narrative.
So, despite criticisms and dismissals, I will continue to write in this narrative voice and glory in the freedom it gives me. And I will continue to urge other young novelists to give it a try, to see what magic they might create from an omniscient point-of-view.
Hints: There are little hints as to Rosie’s identity . . . or, not her identity so much as simply what she is. For instance, we are told several times over that she is surprisingly strong. She carries her buckets without apparent strain, even though they are quite large for her little child’s frame. And she hauls Leo up over the rise (and later knocks him flat on his back) without any effort at all . . . which certainly impresses our young hero! So much for her being “just” a girl.
It was interesting for me to work with a female character like this. So many heroines are defined by their appearance, their charms, the talents. But Rosie’s face isn’t seen at all, not until the very end of the book. She doesn’t have any apparent talents or charms. Indeed, her great skill is her strength, which is singularly unfeminine. And yet, Rose Red is not at all mannish. She was a challenge to work with, but so interesting the whole while, and I quite loved her.
Questions on the Text:
1. What are your thoughts on cousin Foxbrush at this stage in the story? Love-to-hate him? Feel kind of sorry for him? Jury still out?
2. Which of Rose Red’s characteristics make her most interesting to you? How is she like a typical heroine? How is she unlike?
3. Why do you think Leo was so ready to give up the monster hunt?
4. Any favorite lines?
Allison Ruvidich wants to know: "My question is: how old is Leo at the beginning of 'Veiled Rose' and at the beginning of 'Moonblood'?"
Leo is eleven at the beginning of Veiled Rose and approximately twenty-two at the beginning of Moonblood. (I had to do a little bit of math there to figure that out!)
Meredith wants to know: "Since Faerie kings and queens have three lives, is it safe to assume the Dragon King does as well? By this I mean, will he be a prominent villain in another book, or can we expect to meet new villains in each and every novel to come?"
Good question, Meredith! But actually, the Dragon is not a Faerie. As the series progresses and we learn more of him and his Sister, you will see that he is a being very different from Faeries and mortals both. He is an entity much more powerful and doesn't need three lives.
(SPOILERS) But I will say that when he is dead, he is dead. When we see him killed at the ending of Heartless, that's it for the Dragon. But we will see much more of him in the series because I am going back and telling many stories of the world before the Dragon's death and all the events leading up to it. Basically, I started the series at the climax, and now I am going back and around to so that my readers will eventually be able to see his death (and Aethelbald's claiming of Una as his bride) in the context of the whole.
Sarah wants to know: "Will we ever see any more of Una? I know her story is kind of over, but I'm curious about what her life is like now."
Not for a while if ever, I'm sorry to say. I have tentative plans of bringing her back in much later on (many, many books from now). But the fact is, poor Una was so HATED by so many people when Heartless first released, I feel a bit gun shy when it comes to writing about her again. She might make an appearance or two in some novellas, however, so keep an eye out for those! And like I said, maybe many books down the road . . .
Jemma wants to know: "Is Beana's name Leta?"
Actually no! Though I'm not surprised many people have thought so . . . However, there are several important "Ladies Aiven" who will be featured in the Goldstone Wood series. I hate to giveaway spoilers, so if you'll excuse some crazy vagueness, I'll tell you this--because of things that happened to Lady Leta in Dragonwitch, the family of Aiven becomes an object of interest to . . . a certain Faerie race.
Wow, that sounds terribly enigmatic! But stick with me until Book 9, and things will begin to come clear, I promise.
Rebekah wants to know: "If Veiled Rose ever becomes a movie (and I suppose all us imps hope for that), how would you want Rosie's veils to be handled? I mean, you have her taking off her wrappings all through out it, but never tell us WHAT she looks like until the very end; and you can pull that off because in a book you don't have to describe her. But in a movie you couldn't do that. So, anyway, what would you want them to do?"
Wow, that's a tough question, Rebekah! I've never seriously thought about these books becoming movies. I've always figured they were too complicated and interconnected to really do well on the big screen. But I suppose I would prefer to simply never have Rosie unveil herself at all. Or if she does, have the lighting be such that we don't see what she looks like. I think the secret of her appearance is that important.
But this is why I prefer novels to movies (and why I don't go in for the so-called "cinematic writing techniques" popular in modern fiction). You can do so much MORE with a novel while playing with the reader's imagination!
Rebekah also wants to know: "Will Rosie have a role (however small) in 'Shadow Hand'?"
Um . . . a very small role. Very, very small. Important! But very small.
But if it makes you feel any better, I do intend to write a novel about her after she becomes Queen Varvare! The beginnings of that novel have been brewing over the last year, and it's starting to look really exciting. (And yes, Lionheart will be in it too.) I think when it comes together it will be surprising and satisfying to readers. But in order for it to work its absolute best, I need to go back and tell Vahe and Oeric's story first.
If I have not answered your question, I do apologize! And please do alert me if I've somehow skipped you. I want to answer all of these questions, but it's all too easy for me to let one or two of them slip. So don't hesitate to give me a heads-up if I need it!
And thanks for all these great questions, Rebekah, Jemma, Sarah, Meredith, and Allison. And all of you who have asked questions so far. It's a lot of fun to get to speculate and discuss some of these things . . . and to drop hints of future plans. . . .