As always, a quick reminder: If you want to know how to get your name entered in the weekly giveaways, check the November 30 post for details. And I may get a little behind in question-answering this week do to the Christmas festivities, but I will make every effort to catch up as soon as I possibly can! So do keep asking any questions you might have.
And here we go . . .
“I command you!” I don’t know about you, but reading Beana issuing commands to the Dragon is a bit hilarious to me. I mean, she’s a goat! And he’s massive, fire-breathing, destructive, wicked . . . all sorts of terrible things. And she’s a goat.
Or is she really? this selection brings up some of the most interesting possibilities concerning Rose Red’s old nanny. Because when she tells the Dragon, “I’m not afraid of you,” he responds: “What you have failed to consider is whether or not I am afraid of you.” (p. 214)
Now this is not an actual admission of fear. You notice the Dragon hasn’t said I am afraid of you. But even allowing that Beana might consider that possibility is quite a concession on his part, I think.
And notice what he calls her. “Lady of Aiven.” And he calls her a pitiless woman who, “abandoned your own people, who stole from your own father!” These two have a history, quite a complex and mysterious history. The Dragon knows more about Beana than even Rose Red does.
Invisible: It says the Beana can see the Dragon standing right there, opening the door for Rose Red and Daylily, though neither of them can see him. That’s a creepy thought! How near he might be to them at any moment without them aware . . . But he is not a creature bound by his physical body. And he doesn’t particularly care to be incarnate, so it’s no wonder that he sheds the form more often than not.
Rose Red senses it: Rose Red, who is not a mortal girl, though was raised in the mortal world, senses the Dragon’s nearness, I believe. Obviously he can’t be too far away, but her unease upon entering the courtyard leads me to believe that she knows he’s much nearer than her immediate perceptions are telling her.
(SPOILERS) That, or perhaps she is sensing the closeness of the Netherworld . . .
Queen Starflower: In this scene with Queen Starflower, we see the continuation of what was begun the moment of the Dragon’s arrival. This strong woman has disintegrated very quickly into madness as she breathes in the Dragon’s poisons.
Over and over again she sees the death of her dreams.
I find this scene one of the most frightening in the book. Especially the moment when we see the Dragon standing at the queen’s back, meeting her gaze in the mirror. We get almost a sense of omnipresence from the Dragon in this scene, though it’s not a true omnipresence . . . I think it’s simply that he’s unbound by time so he can be in several places at once. Or he simply moves very quickly, again because he isn’t bound by time. His spirit covers all the Eldest’s House, and he seems to be both inside it and watching it from the outside. He also is keeping an eye on the whole of the kingdom at once (remember, he’s guarding all the borders so none may leave), so perhaps he does boast a limited form of omnipresence.
Either way, he’s quite terrifying here in this scene as he makes the queen breathe deeply of his poisons.
Brave Rosie: Rose Red is quite plucky in this scene as she forces the queen to rise and leave her chambers, then continues her work of gathering all the household members. She is certainly no coward, frightened though she is by these terrible circumstances. I think Rose Red is the sort of person who is happier if someone is depending on her. She rises to assist those in need where she might not be able to help herself alone.
I felt that way a bit myself back when I was an RA in college, taking care of a hall of girls. If any of my girls came screaming to me for help with a bug or bat (yes, we had bats on occasion!), I had no problem with sallying forth, armed and ready to face any such creepy crawlies and save the day. But if anything like that got into my own room . . . I tended to just leave it be and pretend it wasn’t there until I couldn’t ignore it anymore and finally called in someone to help. An odd little paradox, I know. But thus I sympathize with Rose Red.
Effects of dragon poison: I’d like to think that reading this scene might give some readers of Heartless a little bit more sympathy for Princess Una (who tends to be disliked more than my other heroines). Seeing how the poison affects all of these other people, from strong Queen Starflower to the noble man who tried to tear his own face off, we see that Una really held out quite a while against the poisons she suffered in that book. Yes, she eventually succumbed . . . but none of these people, not even the brave queen, did any better!
The Dragon’s poisons are terrible, deadly, and I think they work upon all the deepest longings and, therefore, deepest fears of each spirit. (SPOILER) Rose Red is less affected because she is not mortal. But evens she struggles more and more the longer she breathes it.
Hints of the Dragon: There are lots of chilling little hints that the Dragon is following Rose Red through the house. The queen seems to be looking at someone Rose Red cannot see. Rose Red catches glimpses of movements and glints of light that should not be there. And she feels his eyes on her the while.
Through the door: In this chapter, we don’t get to see what is beyond the door. But we know that it somehow drew both Foxbrush and Daylily to it. And we know that, whatever lies beyond, it scared our brave Rose Red!
Scared and angered her. “How dare he?” she demands, furiously as she slams the door shut.
The Dragon has committed some violation that we do not yet understand. But it will be revealed soon . . .
In the meanwhile Rose Red takes Foxbrush and Daylily both back to the kitchens, for Daylily is now just as lost in the Dragon’s poison as the rest of the mortals in the Eldest’s House. So much for helping! Though I am quite sure that she tried. There simply is nothing she can do so long as she breathes those fumes.
But when she goes back for Queen Starflower, she is already too late . . .
Questions on the text:
1. So there isn’t a lot of information given about the backstory between Beana and the Dragon. But do you have any guesses what their story might possibly be? Perhaps based on other small hints later on in the book?
2. Any guesses what Rose Red saw beyond the door? (Or, if you’ve already read the book, what were your initial guesses? Can you remember?)
3. Why do you think Queen Starflower succumbed so quickly to the Dragon poison?
4. Any favorite lines?
Hannah wants to know: "This question might have been asked before, but what inspired you create Rose Red? She's so different from other characters in literature. So sweet, so strong, and her secret is most shocking indeed."
Rose Red was inspired by a friend of mine (no names!). This friend suffered from a debilitating illness that included some rather severe deformities to her face and body . . . but she was the most beautiful spirit and courageous heart I ever met! A true inspiration. And I always thought, when spending time with her, that when she goes to heaven, the veil of this mortal body will be taken away, and then everyone will be able to see the true beauty shining inside, the real, powerful beauty that is the heart of her, not limited to physicality. When I began thinking up the first ideas for a sequel to Heartless (my publishers wanted one, and all I knew for sure was that it would be about Lionheart), the character of Rose Red immediately began to take shape in my mind. Of course, in a fairy tale I could take Rose Red's appearance a very different direction, bringing in a Faerie element that I would not be able to use in real life. So, in many ways, Rose Red is my tribute character. Of all the characters I have (loosely) modeled on people I know, she is the truest, the sweetest, the bravest, and the most beautiful.
Jemma wants to know: "I have a few questions on pronunciation: Is Vahe Var Hair(tehehe, hair = 50;) How do you say: Iubdan and Rudiobus."
I pronounce Vahe: VAH-hey
Iubdan = eye-UBE-dawn
Rudiobus = Roo--dee--OH--bus
Jemma also wants to know: "Are Sight-of-Day's parents Stoneye and the Speaker?"
Well, that's not a Veiled Rose question, but . . . It is strongly implied so, yes. But the text doesn't overtly say, only offering hints. It's up to the reader to decide if this is the case or not.
Allison wants to know: "Which cover is your favorite?"
Tough call! I like all of them for various reasons (though I can easily say that Moonblood is my least favorite). Possibly Heartless, since it is symbolically spot on for the story. But I really love Shadow Hand and think either it or Starflower is the most beautiful. And Dragonwitch is far and away the most eye-catching for a fantasy audience!
But, if forced to pick only one absolute favorite . . . I think I might pick the cover for Golden Daughter. Which I will be revealing in just another few months!
Which cover is YOUR favorite? (This one is directed at all of you!)
Allison also wants to know: "Will there ever be a book explaining Torkom's song of Eanrin in Moonblood? (Off topic, I know, but I was rereading it and got curious.) =P"
Some of it, yes, will get explained in later books. But some of it is purely a mean fictional account of real events. But the basics will get explained . . . soon. (I won't say which book, though! Keep you all in suspense . . .)
And Allison wonders: "Also, are there any plans in the future for Tales of Goldstone Wood audiobooks?"
Yes, tentative plans. My agent has been shopping the series around to various audiobook companies, but so far no one has picked it up. If no one does, Rohan and I have talked about doing indie publications of audiobooks at some point, possibly with him reading. (Rohan has a smooth, lovely voice, with a hint of a British accent, stemming from his Sri Lankan upbringing. And he's a very expressive reader!)
Caitlyn wants to know: "How did you come up with various forms of the panther for the signet rings?"
I don't remember specifically. I knew I wanted a panther to be the royal emblem of Southlands, in honor of Starflower's father, the Panther Master (as seen in the novel Starflower). So I just figured various forms a panther could take and went from there. A Rampant Panther made sense for the king, a seated panther for the prince, etc. I think Queen Starflower has her own signet of a Starflower-and-Panther (if I'm remembering correctly). But it was just basic inventiveness, nothing particularly clever on my part.