Things are really getting exciting in the story right now, so let's hurry back into the action.
"He did not see me." That night, Rose Red’s mysterious Dream tells her that he does not believe Leo saw him in the pool. Even though we have only encountered the Dream in the pool, and it’s a good bet that Rose Red may have brought Leo to the cave with the intent of showing him the Dream. Or maybe not. Perhaps she intended to show him exactly what he saw . . .
But whatever it was, Leo did not see the Dream. However, the Dream saw Leo.
Corporeal Body: The Dream tells Rose Red that he wishes he had a “corporeal body.” So it would appear that he exists primarily in Dreams.
This is one of those little details that I have since explored more deeply . . . specifically in Book 7, Golden Daughter. It’s funny to me now how these little tidbits and ideas would sneak into these earlier books without me particularly noticing at the time. But they would haunt the darker corners of my imagination until finally taking on a much bigger, stronger, more dynamic shape that begged exploration. This idea of the Dream in his incorporeal form was one such tidbit.
But for now, we have only his little hints. And, of course, the hope that he will show up in a corporeal form very soon . . .
The world of dreams: So Rose Red’s Dream passes through the realm of dreams, moving from one dream to the next, deeper and deeper. Until at last he comes to the place where dreams come true and cease to be dreams.
Reading this passage gave me chills as well. For again, this is something I have explored a little bit more in the book I just wrote, Book 7. In fact, this even gave me an idea for a little tweak I want to do to that manuscript . . . though I won’t say what just now for fear of spoilers!
The Lady of Dreams Realized: She is the Dragon’s other half. The flipside to his coin. Dark where he light, light where he is dark. The Life-in-Death to his Death-in-Life. But they are one and the same.
They are also enemies.
The idea for this character—and, in fact, for this whole strange little scene—stems from my first reading of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I know I shared this last year concerning a similar scene in Heartless, but for those new followers, here it is again . . . the line from the poem that inspired the Lady of Dreams.
Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman's mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.
The naked hulk alongside came
And the twain were casting dice;
`The game is done! I've won! I've won!'
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.
Obviously, I didn’t base her looks on the description here. Nor did I make her Death’s mate, for to me that was not close enough of a relationship. No, she had to be his sister. And, since these are immortal beings—no. Let me stop there. They aren’t immortal beings. Immortal beings, in my world at least, still have a beginning set in Time, and though they don’t age and die, they live a progressive span of years, growing and changing.
This Lady and her Dark Brother do not. For they aren’t really immortal beings, as such. They are anthropomorphic personifications. (How’s that for a mouthful?) They are ideas given personality and character and motivation. They are Death and Worse Than Death. And, as the histories of my world progress, they become stronger and manifest themselves in both the Faerie and the mortal world.
It’s pretty high concept stuff. Honestly, it works better not to think too hard about it. I doubt very much Coleridge did.
Oh, notice that Colerdige called her “The Nightmare.” That went a long way toward inspiring me with this theme of Dreams as well . . .
The Game: There is some binding or agreement between these two that the Dragon finds confining and the Lady seems to enjoy. And so, a la Coleridge, they play dice for the souls of men. In this case, the soul of Leo specifically.
And, just like in Coleridge, the Lady Life-in-Death, upon viewing the results, declares, “The game is done. I’ve won.”
His skin white as . . .: You notice I made the Dragon’s skin “white as leprosy,” yet another nod to Coleridge. He gave that description to the Lady. I chose instead to make her skin “black and still as a petrified tree.” But that’s no reason not to slip in a literary nod along the way!
The princess, Beloved of your Enemy: A couple of interesting things going on here. For one thing, readers of Heartless will notice a reference to Princess Una. Apparently, the Dragon and his Sister have rolled the dice for that princess’s soul, and the Dragon won . . . and yet, somehow, he has not managed to find her.
Perhaps these two “fates” can roll the dice all they like, and yet ultimately they have no real power over the lives of men . . .
Also, we learn here that the Dragon is not omniscient. He doesn’t know who the “princess” is. The Beloved of his Enemy. He is on a hunt to find her . . . and he believes Rose Red is she. He claims she is being guarded by one of his Enemy’s knights (I wonder who that might be???) and that she is being protected from “Arpiar.” Thus we have our first real hint as to Rose Red’s background . . . though, sadly, it doesn’t mean much to the uninitiated. Allow me simply to say, don’t forget that name . . . Arpiar. It’s important.
The other interesting thing to note, I think, is the fact that the Lady refers to the “Beloved of your Enemy.” For some reason she is excluding herself from this contention. Hmmmm . . . I wonder why?
Actually, I don’t wonder why. Because of something in Book 7. Sigh. I need to get that book out so I can talk about it! LOL. (Should have an announcement about that soon . . . The wheels of publication turn slooooowly.)
Questions on the Text:
1. So if, as I have postulated, the Dragon and the Lady are really two parts of the same entity, why do you think they antagonize one another? And why do you think the Dragon is obviously more irked than his sister at the need to roll the dice for Leo’s life?
2. On a similar vein, why do you think the Lady refers to the “Beloved of your Enemy,” but doesn’t include herself in that equation?
3. Any favorite lines?
Allison wants to know: "Veils are certainly a prevalent theme in 'Veiled Rose'! So far I've spotted Rosie, who hides her appearance, Leo, who lies to himself, and Beana, who seems to be only a goat. Are there any other veils that I've missed that are important to the story? And when you use veil imagery, do you mean in a positive, negative, or neutral context? Do you view them as protective, deceptive, or both?"
Veils have been my favorite literary symbol for many years. I wrote several papers about veils as a symbol in college (most notably an exploration of veils as used symbolically in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun). So when the first ideas for Veiled Rose came to me, I was very excited to start using them as a symbol in my own work.
I like to think of my use of veils in the context of 2 Corinthians 3:18 passage: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
Veils are both a protection and a prevention in this context. They protect from overwhelming truth and glory, but they also separate those who wear them from knowing that truth and glory. I see Rose Red, wearing her veils, as protecting those around her from the ugliness of her face . . . but, while she wears it, she is also prevented from embracing the truth of her purpose. She cannot be whole so long as she is veiled. But she does not dare remove the veil.
The theme of veils is brought to its conclusion in Moonblood when Rose Red's real veil is removed. Not the one she wears in this book, but another, much deeper, much more vital veil. And then her true face is finally seen as it never actually is in Veiled Rose.
Veils can be used in deceptive contexts as well, of course. Vahe's veils (again, in Moonblood) are extremely deceptive, but they are also protective (we will learn more about them and more about Vahe's motivation in a later book).
Daylily is another character in Veiled Rose who could be said to wear veils. She rarely shows her true self from behind the protective outer personal she presents. In many ways, Daylily is more veiled than Rose Red . . . more trapped in her role. But I'll delve into that theme more later.
Stacy C. wants to know: "While we're on the topic of authorial intent, do you ever write something that you didn't really consider having a big/important meaning, and then hear back from readers that they really liked how that particular thing meant so much to the story? I've heard a few authors comment on how often that happens to them, so I figured I'd ask."
Upon occasion, yes. Though I admit, I can't think of an example off the top of my head! I've had more trouble with people taking things I've written in a completely wrong direction, which can get frustrating sometimes. People will take aspects of the stories and--thinking that everything must have an allegorical connection--twist it to fit theological ideas or themes I never intended at all. But that's just the nature of writing allegorical fairy tales. They are allegorical . . . but they are also fairy tales!
Caitlyn wants to know: "Is there a "literary nod" to The Chronicles of Prydain (Lloyd Alexander)? Leo kind of reminds me of Taran in the fact that he wants to be a hero."
Good question . . . and this answer contains SPOILERS!
Leo is kind of my anti-Taran, actually. He would like to be a Taran type of hero . . . He would love to see himself as the unlikely assistant pig keeper who gets propelled into an exciting quest, discovers a magic sword, saves a pretty girl, rescues the kingdom and, after a couple of bumps and turns along the way, eventually discovers he is the rightful heir to the kingdom.
Leo shares Taran's desire to become a hero. But other than that, Leo is almost Taran's exact opposite. He starts out the crown prince, but loses his crown forever. He starts out winning the heart of the pretty girl, but loses her forever as well. He starts out with a dear friend whom he betrays. He sets forth on his epic quest (several, actually) and fails.
Leo's is not a story of an unlikely hero ascending into greatness. His is the story of a young man with tremendous potential and too much pride falling into deep humiliation. And only there, at his most humiliated point, can he begin to grow. Only there can he begin to become the man he was always meant to be.
I tend to find Taran-type heroes bit dime-a-dozen. They're fun to read about, but they're not heroes I find particularly interesting to write. So I purposefully did something different with Leo. (Though I do enjoy Lloyd Alexander's books and the Prydain novels!)
Caitlyn also wants to know: "Also have you seen the movies Whisper of the Heart and its sequel The Cat Returns by director Hayao Miyazaki, since you like cats?"
I have seen The Cat Returns, which I loved, but I have not yet seen Whisper of the Heart. I understand it's quite good, though, and hope to see it eventually! (I also loved Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away. And Ponyo!)
Jemma wants to know: "Umm this has nothing to do with Veiled Rose:( What were you symbolizing when Una got married? To me it doesn't seem to fit."
I'm going to assume you mean the idea of a Christ-figure getting married; that the trouble was actually the idea of Aethelbald getting married, not Una. If I'm wrong, do correct me!
The whole story of Heartless is an allegorized interpretation of the biblical theme, "The Bride of Christ." (Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”)
In the above verse, we see the church compared to a Bride, prepared for the coming of her groom, who is the Lamb.
Una is a representation of the church. The name "Una" has been symbolically used in that context before. Edmund Spenser wrote about a Princess Una in his epic poem Faerie Queen, who also represented the church and who was also rescued from a dragon, (the Dragon Errour, another allegorical allusion). That Princess Una was an idealized version of the church--beautiful, brave, and serene in the face of struggle. The name Una means "Only" or "One," and therefore is used to represent the One Church or Unified Church.
My Una is a view of the struggling church--wayward and stubborn, pursuing things of this world, forgetting her First Love (or, in my story, her first suitor). She is an undeserving bride. Even as so many of our modern churches--caught up either in worldliness or legalism, equally dreadful sins--pursue unholy goals and forget the all-important love of grace of Christ.
So my Una--representing both the church universally and you and me specifically--is pursued by Prince Aethelbald, who is a Christ-figure in this story. She rejects him, scorns him, flees from him, but he always pursues, and he must win her in the end. Because he has chosen to love her, despite her unworthiness.
Obviously, if I'm going to write an allegory about the Bride of the Christ and set it in a fairy tale setting, the story must end with a wedding!
People do sometimes have trouble with the idea of a Christ-figure getting married. I would counter that with the gentle reminder that Prince Aethelbald is not Christ. He is a fictional character used to represent aspects of our Lord and Savior. But he is not intended to be our Lord and Savior.
Hope that helps!
Jemma also wants to know: "Just wondering, can I make a pack of cards of your series?"
Absolutely! And I'd love to see them if you wanted to take pictures. :)
Heather wants to know: "What gave you the idea for the Paths?"
Do you know, I actually have no idea. I'm sure it came from somewhere, but I truly don't know where! I remember the first time I used a Faerie Path was in an early draft of Heartless, when the Dragon had King Fidel carted down from his fortress in the mountains, back to Oriana Palace. I was just writing along, and suddenly they were on this magical Path, and it was really interesting, and I liked it . . . even though that scene got edited out of the final draft. I think. (Now I'm not sure . . . did I take that scene out, imps, or am I remembering that wrong?)
Anyway, after that I began playing around with them more and more, particularly in Veiled Rose. And now they are one of the hallmarks of my series, an interesting little bit of enchantment that I cannot imagine not being in the stories!
But I seriously don't know where the idea came from.
Allison wants to know: "Will most of your future stories take place in new lands, or can we expect the bulk to be set in relatively familiar countries?"
There're going to be some new locations. Golden Daughter is set almost entirely within the Noorhitam Empire or nations surrounding. And the book after that will be back to Parumvir, but it will be Parumvir during such a unique period of history that it will hardly feel the same--very little like the North Country of Dragonwitch or the Parumvir of Una's day in Heartless. And there will be some new Faerie demesnes introduced over time as well. I've got tentative plans for a novel set in Aja (a small nation between Parumvir and Noorhitam), and I've dabbled around with some ideas for stories set in some of the island kingdoms out beyond the Continent.
It's such an ongoing, growing sort of series, I really couldn't say exactly where it will end up! But after Golden Daughter, we'll be primarily in Parumvir for a couple of books at least.
Caitlyn wants to know: "In the last chapter, it said the Wood laughed at him while he was on that Path. How did the laugh begin?"
I'm not entirely certain how to answer this. The Wood is implied to be sentient--though not a form of sentience that mortals would understand. So how the laugh began is really not a question I know how to answer. The laugh probably doesn't even sound like what we would think of as a laugh. How would a forest laugh?
An interesting question, though . . .
Caitlyn also wants to know: "Also, are there names for each of these Paths in particular?"
Not really. They belong to certain people, so they would be referred to by the name of the king or queen to whom they belong. The Dragon's Paths are simply called the Dragon's Paths. There are Paths that belong to Queen Bebo (though I'm not sure there are any mentioned that belong to King Iubdan. Though he is king, I think Bebo is generally considered to be the more powerful ruler of that domain). And, of course, there are Paths that belong to the Lumil Eliasul or Farthestshore. But I don't believe they have individual names otherwise . . . at least, none that I have ever discovered!
Great questions as always, dear readers!