Message From The Author
CONTINUES THE KUSHIEL FANTASY WORLD
Jacqueline carey's debut novel, Kushiel's Dart, introduced the highly erotic society that peoples Terre d'Ange. It made such a splash that it won the 2002 Locus Award for Best First Novel and the RT Reviewers Choice Award for Best Fantasy. Six books and two trilogies later, Carey promises that this month's trilogy-ending Kushiel's Mercy is not the finale for that passionate realm.
"I'm working on the first book in a new trilogy set in the same milieu several generations after the end of Kushiel's Mercy," she says. The new female protagonist, however, will be nothing like Phedre, who dominated Carey's first six books. "She's half-D'Angeline," says the author, "but she's born and raised among the Maghuin Dhonn -- the infamous bear-witches of Kushiel's Justice. This gives me a great opportunity to view Terre d'Ange through fresh eyes."
Like Rome, Carey reveals that her highly detailed world wasn't built in a day. "My central setting of Terre d'Ange was established at the outset, before I began writing," says says. "My books cover so much territory over the course of the series that some of it has to be done as I go along. Once I begin writing, I research on the fly to find those details that will bring it to life. It's an organic process."
Despite Carey's reputation for novels filled with intrigue, adventure, war and complex characters, fans often refer to
the Kushiel novels as "mythic smut." Fortunately, the author finds this description "pretty darn funny! And true, since
the eroticism in the Kushiel books is almost always couched within the framework of their central mythos of divine love."
However, she admits that toning down the sexual element in her second trilogy was deliberate. "Phedre, the heroine of the original trilogy, endures and finds pleasure in situations far beyond the mortal pale.
"Imriel, the hero of the second trilogy," Carey explains, "has to work through a lot of trauma to find himself. I think that having him embrace the lengths to which Phedre is willing to go would ring false."
According to the author, the oddest thing about her success is the tattoo phenomenon. (The cover of Carey's second book, Kushiel's Chosen, shows Phedre with a full-back tattoo.) "When the original trilogy sold, I said, 'Someone, somewhere, is going to get that tattoo,' " Carey recalls. "And I was right ... but I didn't expect so many versions of Phedre's marque to appear!" Many of her fans have sent pictures of their Kushiel-inspired tattoos, and Carey has created a photo gallery of them at JacquelineCarey.com.
"For some readers," she says, "it's a symbol of freedom, pride or self-affirmation; others simply liked the books and found the design appealing. Whatever the reason, I'm honored and a bit awed by the response." Carey says one response in particular will stick with her for quite
a while. "I'll never forget the time a fan with a full back-piece reached the head of the line at a book signing and stripped off his shirt to reveal it in all its glory. It made quite the impression."
Even with her busy schedule attending science-fiction conventions and other promotional events, Carey does her best to stick to a daily writing routine. "When I'm immersed in a project, I write from two to four hours a day, around 3pm to 7pm," she says. "Any longer and I start to burn out if I'm writing seven days a week." Apparently this schedule has its roots in the days before Carey was a full-time author. "I can't start earlier. It's a holdover from working a day job, when I had to make time to write after work."
Despite all her literary success, Carey's domestic life is still not quite perfect -- the author freely admits she cannot make a decent pancake. Why? "I have no idea. It's my culinary fatal flaw, and I've learned to live with it."
-- Rhomylly Forbes
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