Political inspiration, page training, and mythology


If you spend enough time reading history, you notice that certain types of arguments come up over and over and over. Conservative views versus liberal views, religion versus religion. Established families versus rising talents.

One of my favorite areas of conflict and one that’s served me very well is the rise of the merchant and farming classes against the lesser and greater nobility that came following the Black Death. The beginning of the Renaissance has a lot of good stuff.

The Black Death left a great shortage of farming labor meant you had to pay them more, which meant they had more money, which meant they had more pull. Pair that with the rise of the merchant class who could loan the suddenly farmer-poor noblemen money. Both groups on either side of the nobility had power, suddenly, which meant they could manipulate the nobility and the royals. The merchants could afford to pay for things that showed off their money, like clothes, art, and entertainment. Since the monasteries had more money, they could afford things like universities and scholars. Suddenly you had more people who could live on thinking. Always an interesting point in history.

We had this particular scenario in every developed culture throughout the world at some point–the rise of the middle and lower classes, and the splitting of groups of nobility in their urge to gain money and power.

Any time you have people in conflict, you have plot. Whether you’re killing each other with swords or getting people dumped in prison with your pen.

How did you research and brainstorm to design page training for Alanna vs Kel’s generation?


I started with the training I knew of for medieval pages, but structured it more in the way of modern military training. Then I realized part way through Alanna that I had omitted jousting which was such a major part of page training during the middle ages, and I came up with a reason that jousting was practically obsolete in Alanna’s day because there was no practical use for it. They hadn’t gone to using it for games as happened in our history. I wanted to bring in a skill that would be Kel’s own, different from Alanna’s. I realized I had a reason to resurrect the use of jousting, which was the return of the big immortals. There’s actually a bit about the schedule being rearranged in Tortall: A Spy’s Guide! (comes out in October)

Can you give us some more of the mythology/ideas behind Faithful/Pounce as a constellation?


Well, there’s Mithros and his War Chariot… There’s the four Horse Lords, two male, two female. There’s the Dragon…. I haven’t really thought about them. There’s the Lazy Cat. He was going to be in Bloodhound, but I had to cut him. The Sunbird… The immortals and gods don’t all get constellations. It depends on who volunteers for extra duties. The Lazy Cat only volunteered because he was told he could sleep and no one would bug him much. The Horse Lords and Mithros are there because of their protective sides, just like the Threefold Goddess is there to watch over women.

SOURCE: [T12628827, T130135742, T7919317]