I did this on twitter for my current project. Now that’s over, I thought I’d collate responses to the same questions for Happily Ever After. The event was created by the lovely@simmeringmind
1 – Hmm, I don’t have a good answer for this.
2- Why do I love Lavie? She’s a broken hero, and I adore that archetype. She’s spent the last three years of her life fighting for what she believes is right. And now the fight has stopped, she gets to find out just how the experience has damaged her. She’s also a wonderfully, viscerally angry young woman, which was great fun to write.
3- Harry. Everyone loves Harry. He’s a born optimist, whose ideal evening would involve good food, plenty of drink, and then going home and snuggling with the man he loves. He’s also very fond of innuendo, which I noticed affecting me when I was writing. Not that I haven’t always found the word knob funny…
4- The Usurper has the best dialogue, I think. He’s cruel and manipulative, but he only ever speaks the truth, something that makes his jibes even harder for Lavie to deal with.
5- That it made them laugh and cry and if I ever meet the author I’m going to hug and punch her. (If you’re going to provoke emotions in people, you might as well go the whole hog!)
6-I’d definitely be friends with Harry. Everyone needs that friend who always knows how to pick them up when they’re down.
7-The first idea or inspiration came from watching the film, Mama. I was left at the end of it wondering how on earth the characters were ever going to go back to their lives. And then I got to thinking you never find out what happens in fantasy epics after the big bad has been defeated.
8-“Harry would wear a title like I wear a dress,” I tell him with a grin. “Grudgingly, and with the intention of spoiling it at the first possible opportunity.
9- The short, scrubby vegetation around us clings for life while occasional larger rocks push through like breaching whales.
10-I enjoy most of the interchanges between Lavie and Harry, but this one is probably one of my favourites:
A blush spreads across his cheek like sunrise. “I am sweet, aren’t I?”
“You’re a hopeless romantic, Harry. You’re also still half-drunk and smell like a midden heap.”
11-Bit more than I line, but this speech always gets me when I read it:
“Of course I love him. Do you have any idea what this is like for me, Lavinia? Do you have an idea what I am going through? I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. It feels like there is a hand around my heart, slowly crushing it. I must hurt the person I care for most in the world and I must pretend I don’t feel a thing.”
12-I love this scene, but it didn’t really fit in anywhere. Deleting was done with great sadness:
“Your Highness? Harry?” I call as I approach and there comes a sharp ‘shh’ in response. As I walk round, I can see Harry sat at the head of the chair, while Brendan is stretched out. The prince’s head rests on Harry’s shoulder and his hand clutches Harry’s shirt. His eyes are closed and his chest rises and falls in the steady rhythm of sleep.
“Pass my drink,” Harry says, gesturing to a tankard on the table. “I’m stuck.”
I grin and hand it to him. “Have you been trapped for long?”
“No, I can still feel my fingers. This is the first time he’s been able to stop all day.” He drinks deeply and then gives it back to me. “It’s been like this all week, and it’s not going to stop, is it?”
“I expect so. There’s a lot to be done before and after the coronation.”
He sighs. “As long as the days end like this.”
“What, with a dead arm and drool on your shirt?”
He glares at me, but cannot move to retaliate without waking Brendan and there’s nothing in reach to throw.
I think about the conversation with Lord Vayne, all his talk of marriage and duty. But how can I bring up with Harry the suggestion of my marrying the man he loves? Besides, this is not the right moment. Better to let them have their peace while it lasts. Deep down, Harry knows things won’t always be like this.
And a wedding won’t be needed immediately. Things like that take time, and negotiations. And who knows, maybe Brendan and whoever is chosen will end up like Stefan and I, putting on a face for court and then ignoring each other.
Brendan mutters something in his sleep, his lip twitching in a grimace. Harry runs his hand over the prince’s hair gently and kisses the top of his head.
“Long live the king,” he murmurs.
13-The feedback that makes me smile most is that addressed to the characters – “You tell him, Lavie,” or “I don’t think that’s the important thing, Harry.” I did laugh when I got a comment saying is this a sexual reference to a Harry saying he’s plenty good at bending the knee to the king (spoiler, yes, yes it is!)
14-I want them to bond with the characters. I want them to laugh, to cry, to ache, and to heal with them.
15- Has to be Buttercup, the only creature Lavie is scared of:
Harry’s horse is a monster, over seventeen hands with a coat of pale gold. It has the temperament of a hung-over dragon and I swear when it looks at me, it’s sizing me up. Harry, of course, dotes on it.
16-The main sight is Tallman’s Keep, the imposing castle situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.
17-If you follow Lavie around, you’ll hear insults (at Harry), cursing (at the Usurper), and frustrated outbursts (usually directed at Prince Brendan)
18-Down in the kitchens the smell of fresh bread, roasting meat. Brendan wears orange oil in his hair, and Lavie can never quite get the smell of blood out of her clothes.
19-Cinnamon, honey, apple, and walnut are popular ingredients used in the kitchen products.
20-The rough granite stone of the keep contrasts with the smooth silk of the ceremonial uniforms of the king’s personal guard.
21-I’d love it be a movie, and get to see how actors would interpret my characters.
22-Most epic thing was the size of it. It’s the longest thing I’ve written by a long way, even after editing cut it down by 20k.
23- Cut the filter words, draw back the introspection, change the start point to later, show more of the emotions
24- Start earlier and show the war. This isn’t what the story is about, so I didn’t want to draw out the events before the war is won.
25- Shout out to @Ianbarnes, @Leighstanfield, @MichaelMammay, @KamerheLane, and ml_keller for the CP support. There are lots of others who have been very supportive as well with beta reading and encouraging comments.
26- Fantasy is a way of exploring ideas and themes without being caught up in the how and why of the real world. It’s a way of testing with what if and applying it to the human aspect.
27- I don’t know where this image came from, but it definitely reminds me of Lavie.
28- Lavie and Harry. They have a completely platonic relationship, but each of them can read the other perfectly. They constantly insult each other, but know the other always has their back.
29- I want people to get to know the characters. When you’ve spent that long in people’s heads, they become real and you want people to meet them. I also think it’s important to have more representation in fantasy of other sexualities and also mental illness.
30- Lavie shares a lot of my frustrations and flaws. Her feeling of trying to turn back tides of pettiness, and trying to protect people she cares about against snowballing situations are ones I understand. Also having suffered depression myself, having characters who experience the same symptoms is important to me.
31-I’ve learned about the effectiveness of armor against projectile weapons, about palfreys, and a number of techniques for improving my writing.