Kids: Daine/Numair, Aly/Nawat, Beka/Farmer, and Buri/Raoul

Daine have a favorite form? Does she turn into stuff for her kids, who try to copy her? I’m imagining Numair walking into a room, seeing three crocodiles, and just walking back out.


I like the way your mind works.

Yes! To all of the above. Favorite form… I know she really loves to fly. Of course, she adores being a wolf. Probably owl and wolf and horse. She loves galloping. She loves the freedom.

With the kids, Rikash can’t change yet (not until he’s older!) Sarralyn is off the ban – her favorite is anything that can fly. She’s a pain in the ass.

I have a question about Aly and Nawat’s kids. With their father originally being a crow, do the triplets retain any bird features? Can they morph, like Daine’s daughter?


Ochooai can’t. The things that make her a little person prevent her. She can speak a rough crow dialect, but she can’t shapeshift at all. Junim and Ulasu can, which causes no small amount of stress for the family. Ochobai can’t help feeling like an outsider watching the two of them take off, even though her sibs adore her. Her parents work with her to find ways to deal with her physical differences, so she can deal with the world on her terms.

When she feels impaired in any way, she’s getting really good at finding ways around it. She has a good friend in a street beggar who she hangs out with. He gives her good advice and conversation, she sneaks food to him. They do all right.

Also, do Beka’s kids ever join the Provost’s Guard? Would at least one feel inclined to follow their mother’s footsteps?


Oh yeah! Absolutely. But they’d also have the opportunity to get educated and rise higher, which Beka and Farmer would both want. I haven’t thought as much about them growing up, because I’m still preoccupied with what happens to Beka and Farmer after Mastiff.

As least one or two would want to stay with the Provost’s guard.

Can you tell us what happens with Buri and Raoul?


They have glorious sex under trees, in tents, in lakes…. In carriages. I think at some point they’ll probably adopt. By the time they’re attached Buri’s getting a little old to have any of her own. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of orphans around.

SOURCE: [T72602792, T92117, T504602, T42364142]


Leaving Court: Aly in Port Legann and Taybur in Tyra


Well, Aly’s still jealous. I don’t know! Aly ends up doing law enforcement in Port Legann–Imra takes her in. It’s a nice gig. There’s a lot to do. Actually, Imra and his lady kind of end up kind of becoming a second set of parents, at least to Aly and Alan, since Imra is the one Alan did his page training with. Jon doesn’t want Aly anywhere near Court. It’s only because of Jon’s feelings for her family that he allows Aly to stay in the kingdom at all. That, and having your own personal army of crows doesn’t hurt.

What ever happened to Taybur? Did he get a happy ending?


Well, he remained at Court for about four years. He and Aly had to leave at about the same time. He ended up in Tyra. He’s an advisor to their ruling council about security. (After they made him swear a fearsome oath that he’d never give away the secrets of the Isles or Tyra.)

What did you mean about Aly and Taybur leaving court at the same time? Did Aly leave the Isles too, and if so, why?


Keep in mind that part of the conflict was between the white luarin and the brown raka. As a raka ruler, Dove had to reestablish the raka as the ruling class of the Copper Isles. Her first task was to start moving raka into offices in her government, and with so many qualified people, she had no good excuse to keep luarin as head of her personal guard and as her spy master. It looked bad, people took it badly, and Taybur and Aly both knew that sooner or later Dove would have to replace them. Nobody wanted to do it, but it had to be done.

SOURCE: [T3133317, T12871437, T2619622]

Kel’s career, Fianola & co., Alanna with the pages, Raoul/Thayet friendship

I wanted to know what kind of future Kel has in regards to her career – how does she move up in the world? Does she take over the King’s Own eventually?


I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s awfully good, and she’s got the right temperament. It remains for Jon to see that she’ll be accepted, but at some point, after something like ten years at New Hope, she’ll be shifted to other parts of the country to see how she manages with other lords, other groups of the Own, other groups of the army, and other threats to the kingdom. Hill men, coastal raiders.

I think by the time she’s 45 or so, she’ll either be moved into command in the army or she’ll be head of the King’s Own. She gets along with other knights and other lords a lot better than Alanna does. She’s a lot more like Raoul in that respect. She works a lot better with the King and Queen than Raoul does, sometimes. (Raoul gets along better with Thayet.)

In the mean time she takes whatever position she gets, she doesn’t offend people by walking in and saying “I’m going to set this place right,” she talks to not just the commanders, but the foot soldiers and the servants and the local people. She does her own shopping, at least until Tobe catches up, and if somebody has a problem with her she offers to take it to the training yard. Usually the problem goes away.

How involved is Kel with female pages/squires? Does she have to stay away like Alanna did, or is she allowed to interact with them? Does she or Alanna give them any advice or gifts? And is the whole bullying/hazing issue better than it was when Kel was a page?


As far as Kel’s concerned – it’s a secret! As far as Alanna is concerned, she instructs all of the pages in certain areas so nobody can accuse her of favoritism. Bit by bit, the hazing situation improves. Thak City wasn’t built in a day.

What happens to the three girls that meet Kel after the tournament?


One of them doesn’t make it through the training program, the other two end up as squires.

SOURCE: [T13026902, T43134777, T28983672]

On Shang training and the Players’ horses

Could you tell us about how Shang training tends to work? Usually they start super young, but how formal is the training? What does it tend to look like?


Formal training is testing and then placement in appropriate classes by level involving different skills, including both physical and traditional academic ones. Make-up classes to bring you up to speed if you’re just a little behind. You advance depending on the master who covers each particular skill, so it’s a bit fluid. There are regular quarterly tests. There’s fitness training like camping and running and swimming and stuff like that. Basically you’re on the go from dawn until nightfall.

That’s pretty much it. The classes get more complex as you go on, and if you’re better at some skills than others, you’re advanced in those classes versus others. You have to do well over-all, or you’re not permitted to stay. You have to maintain at least your age-level in everything. If you can’t cut it you’re sent home.

If you lose interest or feel that you can serve better elsewhere, they might help place you somewhere. In a nobleman’s house as a guard, or working for merchants. If you show academic excellence, they can place you somewhere as well.

You might have a hundred students in the beginning of a class, and by the time you reach the top levels you have as few as ten. Students who were placed out in the field to get experience sometimes come back to teach as well. And all of this is before they get their names.

It’s only when the masters grant you your name that you’re considered finished, and even then, everyone comes back for a brush-up or to add new knowledge. Sometimes the masters will change your name if they feel you’ve moved up or in a new direction.

Is there anywhere in Tortall where there are riding schools that take horseback riding to an art. Thinking along the line of the Spanish Riding School. But also, bullfighting horses?


Not that I know of. There may be groups among the Players that do it, small groups. But it would be very expensive to fund a school of that kind, and in that period, the only customers would be really opulent courts that can afford to pay.

Yeah, it would be kept to the Players. They could only do it for a small number of horses, and they tend to be family-oriented. They might take on two or three trainees a year, but they would have to be ready to travel and learn as they went. And they’d train in the winter camps.

SOURCE: [T14104317, T72874597]

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]

On PoC representation in the Tortall universe

Seeing all of your ideal casts for your characters… how do you feel about people headcanoning them as people of color? Your books were incredibly formative for me, and I was very attached as a kid to the idea of Daine and Numair both as POCs (and just as characters!), not to mention half of your other characters, and while I don’t expect that to be canon, what are your feelings on the matter?


I would never object to anyone imagining things differently. That’s how you exercise your creativity. Some of the most beautiful fanart of Daine that I’ve seen has her cast as a POC. Arram is midway between dark and light skinned anyway.

Your mind is your own. You can do whatever you want with your mind. To try and make up for my past whiteness, there are a lot more people of color in TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER.

SOURCE: [T8419437]

Sabine Post-Mastiff, Tunstall/Goodwin, and Rosto’s family name

I was wondering what happens to Sabine after the events of Mastiff? Does she wander for a while or stick around Corus?


Actually, she was assigned to the prince’s personal guard. She’s the captain of his guard. She stays with him until she decides to retire and raise horses. As far as relationships go, she has dalliances, but that’s about it. She adopts a few promising kids, but she never marries and she never has children of her own.

What was your favourite part of Tunstall’s character to write?


Watching him gig Goodwin. And the flowers! I liked finding out that he did miniature flowers, because it’s very slow and painstaking and if you make one wrong move or use one wrong thing, a couple of years’ work goes kerfluey. You wouldn’t expect Tunstall, who’s so big and brawly, to be so patient.

Rosto having no last name meant to be a red herring (since we knew that Cooper was the family name that Beka would pass down)?


Nope. Coincidence! He came from an upper class merchant family, and kept his family name secret.

SOURCE: [T3047757, T173767, T035847]

The Mindelan line, Ilane, and Tobe as Kel’s caretaker

Kel mentions how her family only recently became nobility a few generations back, what did Kel’s recent ancestors do to have that happen? Were Mindelan’s lands apart of some other person’s title before?


The Mindelan line died out, and it was a nice estate. The title and lands reverted to the Crown. Piers’ grandfather did very well for the Crown in terms of weapons and money in the old king’s reign, and in exchange for “services to the Crown” he was given the Mindelan lands and the title of Baron.

So Kel’s mom was of both Seabeth and Seajen – how’d that happen?


See, there was a dad, and he had twin sons, so he split the fiefdom – I think the original one was Seabeth – and he gave one to each son. But the will was drawn up so they could never legally split the two fiefdoms. They would always be joined. Ilane and her sister inherited them, since there were no sons to the two brothers, so even they’re the sisters of Seabeth and Seajen, one inherited one fiefdom and the other got the other.

I’m sure that the legal people who have to handle the taxes and everything really bitterly resent the lord’s arrangement.

What does Tobe get up to after the events of Protector of the Small?


He stays with the Lady. She needs someone to look after her. She doesn’t pay attention to things like proper meals and making sure she has new boots for the winter! If she’s not going to have a man to look after her, well, he’s going to have to take the job. Somebody has to keep people from bothering her. Even if he’s gotta deal with them himself.

Kel knows he thinks all of these things, and she finds it rather amusing. Since she’s damned if anyone else is going to look after her boy properly except her, she’s fine with the way things are. I mean, some day he’ll probably find a partner and Kel will find work for his partner, because that’s what families do.

SOURCE: [T9097152, T69234332, T4290946]

Roger’s parents and Alanna’s parents

…what happened to Roger’s parents? Did he ‘remove’ them before the story began or was it because of something else entirely?


King Roald’s younger brother and his wife were killed by bandits when crossing the mountains. Roger was home with his tutor at the time

What sort of person was the twin’s mother? We know that her death was hard on Alan, but was she much like her husband, or was it an odd-couple sort of thing? If she had survived how much different do you think their lives would have been?


Well, she wouldn’t have mistaken one kid going to the City of the Gods and the other going to the palace. She would have expected the kids to visit more, or she would have visited more.

It was very much an odd couple. She liked medicine, gardening, cooking, planning her kids’ futures. He was interested in books. She was cheerful, friendly, outgoing. Loved her husband. Was a lot more sociable than him. She was a little dismayed when she saw her future home, tucked away from everything. She brought her own magic to the marriage, which she pretty much focused on medicines and healing. Maude was her servant and teacher.  

SOURCE: [T42822252, T8855052]


Modern AU: Kel, Alanna, Daine, Numair, Aly

…what types of modern/real life jobs do you think your characters would have?


Kel is probably military. Regular army, I would think. Alanna, same thing. She’d be one of the first women to have gotten in. Daine would be a vet. She’d work in rescue and rehab/release for wild animales. Numair would be involved in astronomy or one of those really arcane aspects of physics. One more– Aly would be in intelligence.

SOURCE: [T18653142]

Mini updates on future releases (as of Sept. 2017)

Is there any news you can tell us about the Protector of the Small graphic novel that was announced awhile back?


Still happening! We have an artist and it’s moving forward.


I usually start a first draft with the main character doing something that tells us something about them. In the upcoming TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER, we meet Numair/Arram as he’s screwing up in class. In Alanna, we meet her working away to get what she wants in spite of her father. […] Beka has started as a cop.


Once I finish Arram’s trilogy, I’m poking around with an idea set four hundred years before Alanna, with a group of kid heroes. And several of them are definitely going to be girls. This writing boys is making me weird.

Is that book you’ve mentioned in passing about Kel’s squire ever likely to actually exist?


I hope to do something, maybe as a short story. Right now, I’m looking in a new direction, four hundred years earlier and with younger heroes. The project to exile the Immortals to the Divine Realms is being formulated.


I’m working very slowly on a short story collection, and I’d definitely like to do the story of how Kalasin and Kaddar met.

SOURCE: [T12881482, T31059017, T6915742, T14248947, T29320637]

Sexuality: Conté kids, Alan, Sarralyn, Rikash, and Kel

Are any of the children of the main Tortall characters queer? Similarly, what would Jonathan and Thayet do if they found out one of their children was gay? Would they still try to make a heterosexual diplomatic marriage, a diplomatic marriage looking for options that their kid could be attracted to, or would that kid be out of the game?


I don’t know. I know Roald and Kalasin are cis/straight. The youngest daughter, Vania, is gay. Don’t know about all the younger ones. I haven’t had a chance to do anything with them. As far as George and Alanna’s kids go… Maybe Alan is gay, I don’t know. Thom… Thom is omni. As for Rikash and Sarralyn, Sarralyn is omni. Rikash is shy. He has no clue. He’s afraid everybody will be afraid of him because of his family.

Jon and Thayet would still try to make a diplomatic marriage for their kids. Kalasin and Roald. As for the others, Jon would like them to have dynastic marriages, but Thayet would put her foot down if the kid expressed reluctance. Vania is probably going to go into the service of the Goddess, which conveniently would not interfere with her sexual preferences.

Tammy’s assistant:

I asked [Tammy] to clarify for those who are asking whether Kel is aromantic or asexual, with brief explanations of the differences between the two.

She meditated on it a bit and says that the older Kel gets, the messier it all seems. She’s definitely aromantic, particularly in her later life; she enjoyed kissing well enough when she did it. Lately, though, whenever the thought occurs to her it’s outweighed by all of the other things she could be doing with her time, and the interest fades soon enough.


I had originally thought that [Kel’s] experiments in romance would lead to her finding a partner. But to my surprise, she grew away from that, and at least I was smart enough to go where she led.


Kel certainly doesn’t know at the point where I left off writing her that she’s asexual. She just knows she’s not getting into a relationship right now, because she doesn’t feel like it. She may admire someone’s looks, but she thinks a relationship is just not practical at the moment.

SOURCE: [T8688172, T710997, T200227T72110502]