Hi everyone, Mod R here.
House Andrews have heard your pleas and did a chat with nothing *but* spoilers: on Ruby Fever, the potential Arabella books and the latest Innkeeper book. It is uploaded below.
Disclaimer 1: Look me in the paragraphs and repeat after me: Plans discussed in the chat can change! Especially around any timelines and what might or might not be “final books” of a series. Nothing is set in stone until it shows up on the Release Schedule.
Disclaimer 2: I’ve made a transcript and it is long. No, you don’t need to read it, before you comment to tell me. I did it for the people who wish to follow along and may have accessibility challenges.
You’ll hear some rumbly snoring, that’s Sookie snoozing behind Ilona. BDH means the Book Devouring Horde, the Ilona Andrews fandom. The first Q&A, the one without spoilers, is here. I think that’s all, happy watching!
Mod R: Hello everywhere! Minnesota, Arizona, London! I am Mod R and I’m here with House Andrews, Gordon and Ilona. This is your last warning that we are going to be very spoilerific today! There are going to be spoilers for everyone.
Gordon: ::visible incredulity:: Does that mean I can?
Ilona: You’re allowed. Yes.
Mod R: Finally. It is the Spoiler Lord’s time to shine.
Ilona: Let your hair down, honey!
Mod R: He riseth! You are very welcome to stay if you haven’t finished Ruby Fever, but it’s on you. You will have to be okay with reveals. You get a spoiler and you get a spoiler, everyone gets a spoiler!
Let’s start with the good stuff. Linus is Caesar, Linus is grandfather. Linus, Linus, Linus! The BDH really want to know if Catalina was the absolutely last person to find out?
Ilona: Out of the three sisters, yes. Nevada suspected strongly, and also, Nevada interrogated people [NE: after dismantling the Olivia Charles/Strum plot]. And they said yes, Linus is Caesar. She sat on this for a long time.
Arabella had figured it out at the hospital that he was their grandfather, when Arthur was born, and she also sat on it for a long time. Catalina was so wrapped up in being the Deputy Warden and trying to contain grandma Victoria that she did not put two and two together. So it was a bit of a shock. But most people don’t know. I saw people speculating on whether Grandma Frida somehow recognized him. No.
Gordon: No, I don’t think grandma Frida did, it probably never even occurred to her.
Ilona: Because, why would you connect a Scottish dude you saw on the battlefield 30 years ago to the scrawny kid your daughter’s trying to marry, who’s clearly not Scottish. They looked similar, but people have unrealistic expectations of fictional characters. “When they see something once it is clearly photographed in their memory forever!”. No, they are regular people. She saw him in passing. She thought he was handsome, but that’s it.
Mod R: What about organizations- like the Keeper of Records? Obviously, he knows that Linus is Caesar, but does he know that Linus is their grandfather? Or Scroll, when they tested the family genetically? Did they know that the Baylors were linked to House Duncan, but couldn’t tell them without explicit consent?
Ilona: Yes. Scroll knows, they know a great many things. They know who Leon’s father is. Scroll probably knows who Bern’s father is, but there are very strict privacy rules enacted around that. The Baylors would have to formally request to be tested against Linus’ House to see if there’s compatibility, or Linus has to request to be tested against House Baylor- and the results of those tests would determine the official situation. But Scroll is not going to volunteer that information unless both sides consent. And no such request has been made.
The Keeper knows simply because, well, the Keeper isn’t stupid. The Keeper makes it his business to know a lot of things because he positions himself as this neutral entity in Houston. He sees himself as one of the pillars of that society. If that pillar crumbles, society collapses- he doesn’t want that. So, yes, he knows great many things,
Mod R: But he’s keeping it close to his chest.
Gordon: Yes, it’s his job. That’s literally both his nature and the responsibility of his position.
Mod R: We’re going to circle back to the Records Keeper and the mysterious and dashing Michael! Arabella has a line about Linus “he thought he was wrong once, but he was mistaken” when they’re heading to the Records Keeper’s office to get the information for Alessandro. Can we know yet what that was about?
Gordon: It’s just a joke! He considers himself infallible.
Ilona: He thought he was wrong but he was mistaken about being wrong.
Gordon: It’s the kind of joke I tell the children about their mother. “Oh, your mom thought she was wrong once, but it turns out she was mistaken.”
Mod R: Aaaaaah, ok! I get it now! The BDH embroidered, let me tell you hehe.
Ilona: ::chuckling:: I’m feeling valued in my marriage.
Gordon: You are!
Mod R: Speaking of “Things Linus says”, for 100: he tells Neva in Wildfire that he feels compassion for what Rogan is going through, wanting to put her in armor and make sure that she’s safe, because he himself went through something similar. Was that about Vicky Baby?
Ilona: Yep, it’s Vicky. Victoria.
Gordon: Is that her actual title now, Vicky Baby?
Ilona: Vicky Baby. Yes.
Mod R: Oh, absolutely! I’ve been waiting for *months* to say Vicky Baby! It’s everyone’s favorite shock moment in the book hehe. How come Linus survived in the end fight with Adam, how come his suit could take the super-Osiris enhanced powers?
Gordon: Because the plot required him to survive.
Mod R: Because it’s a romance book- happy ever after!
Gordon: There were points, and this is where the spoilers come in, when we considered who has to die. Does Linus have to die? Does Victoria *deserve* to die? And at some point we just said, no, we’re not going to kill Linus. We’re not going to kill Victoria. We just don’t want to do it because yes, it is a romance. We figured it could be like Will Ferrell in the first Mike Myers movie- could he just be quite badly burned, but still alive?
Ilona: If you want the story reasons, Linus would probably have a fireproof mech because at a certain point when he was Caesar he thought Adam would explode. Literally. And he talks about it in this book, he was trying to counter Adam. He knew Adam was a problem. He built a mech specifically to try to withstand the fire power of a pyrokinetic. There are legitimate story reasons for it. But we were sitting on it, are we killing him or not? Should we kill him? Is it sad enough without him?
Gordon: It seemed too sad. I didn’t want it to be “He is your grandfather. Ooop, he *was* your grandfather.”
Ilona: The other reason why we didn’t is because if he dies, Catalina becomes the Warden, assuming all of the responsibility. They don’t get the vacation, they don’t get a little bit more time to situate themselves. And they’re very young and we didn’t want to ruin the HEA for that.
Mod R: But on the other hand, it’s not really going to be all roses, where the two grandparents live with the Baylors in the same house.
Gordon: No, Linus likes having his own place. So does Victoria. He likes having a couple of different places, actually. I think neither Victoria nor Linus would really want to move full time into the Baylor compound.
Ilona: He goes to his “ranch”. And that’s the privilege of grandparenting. You see grandchildren on your own terms. Are Linus and Victoria a couple, of sorts? Yes, they are. They will visit each other, they’ll stay over. If we do Arabella’s books, there will be an uncomfortable moment where she goes to grandma Victoria’s high-rise, knocks on the door and says “Hey, I guess grandfather is here because he’s not at his house.” and Victoria is like, “Yes, he’s in the kitchen.”
Gordon: Trained private detectives!
Mod R: If you thought when they were dancing at Nevada’s wedding was uncomfortable, wait until you see the homey bliss hehe.
Ilona: We were actually so surprised because people didn’t get that the two grandparents were working together, I felt like we drew neon arrows!
Mod R: He’s the only one who can call her back! Ok, because we’re the BDH and we are pragmatic, we want to know: legacy-schmegacy, when’s the inheritance coming? When are the Baylors seeing some money? Why are they not being bankrolled by Houses Duncan, Tremaine or Rogan?
Gordon: Autonomy! If anybody *wanted* a big neon sign from Linus Duncan to the Baylor, it would be an inheritance. That would connect all the dots. And especially with evil grandma, you have to be very careful with those kind of things.
Ilona: Yes. Not only that, but Linus has made enemies. Victoria made enemies. Obviously, right now people are aware that they’re basically patrons of House Baylor, but it there’s no official connection that has been established. Unless you’re paying close attention, you’re not going to immediately jump to “Oh, they’re related!”. But money always comes with strings attached. It’s very rare in life that parents or relatives give you money without any conditions. The Baylors are really independent. They worked very hard for it. They’re not going to even take money from Nevada, and Nevada knows it because she manipulates Arabella in this book when Arabella is all fired up: “If you need the money, I can lend it.” and Arabella says “No! We have our own money!” Pride in having earned that money, pride in being able to stand on their two feet. Everybody worked super hard. Why would you compromise that independence?
Mod R: From money to power. Everyone is curious to know what is happening with all the Houses around House Baylor. Runa is now married to Bern. What is happening there? Are they going to be vassals, allies? Will Bern go to the Ettersons, will Runa come over to the Baylors? Do Cornelius and Matilda live in the compound?
Ilona: No, no. Cornelius and Matilda have their own separate house. They’re aligned with Baylors, but they’re not a vassal House by any means. Same with the Ettersons. We talked a little bit about it in the other chat too, Runa doesn’t really want to be the Head of the House. House Etterson stands for some unpleasant things for Runa. The murder of her mother, the fact that her mother was a killer- it’s not necessarily a legacy that she wants. She’s keeping the seat warm until Ragnar grows up, because he *does* intend to be the Head of House Etterson. Halle doesn’t want it either, so it works out. But Ragnar has to be a certain age before he can take the house over. You have to be certified as a Prime as well, because I think he’s still technically 17 this book, so he would have to be certified next year officially.
Gordon: He has to be a certain age. He takes over and it would also help, this is going to sound terrible, but if he had issue. If he married and had a child that would point to the continuation of the House.
Ilona: Yes. He had the boyfriend at the wedding. So clearly, he’s going to date. Hopefully he’ll find the man he really likes and they have a child and on it goes.
Mod R: Speaking of the wedding: Alessandro and Catalina are engaged. They say that they want to get married quickly. And then we see Runa and Bern getting married first. Will Catalina and Alessandro still tie the knot? Are there going to be complications? Are they not allowed to get married, what’s going on?
Ilona: No, no. They’re going to get married, but it will be a complicated wedding, and Runa and Bern’s wedding is very simple. There’s basically only one set of parents involved. And a one set of grandparents. While Catalina and Alessandro, it would have to be a bigger wedding. She’s the Head of the House, he’s marrying into the House. His mother and sisters are not quite at the point where they’re ready for a big ceremony involving Alessandro. They need a little bit of breathing room. They’re going back to the U.K., they will be incorporated into the House of Lillian’s parents and have to situate themselves a little bit before that wedding can take place. There would be a lot of moving parts and the timeframe was very short and, honestly, it’s nice that Alessandro and Catalina got a vacation.
Gordon: And they can’t get away with going to Vegas and getting married at that little wedding chapel there. It’s going to have to be a huge, big thing. People will want to be invited to that as well. Other Houses, other powerful families. It will be an event where people can get together, certain things can be discussed. I almost picture it as the wedding in the beginning of The Godfather.
Ilona: Linus “You come to me, on the day of my granddaughter’s wedding” ::laughs:: I have the giggles!
Mod R: Does House Duncan have any other heirs or are the Baylors the only legacy that Linus is leaving?
Ilona: House Duncan in Scotland does have other heirs, but that House Duncan is separate from Linus. He had the giant fight with the grandfather who raised him and it basically ended with “If you don’t like it, then leave.”
Mod R: What about House Sagredo, will that disappear now?
Ilona: It disappears. The Count title is abandoned. They’re not going to continue it. Again, this is not the legacy that Alessandro wants.
Mod R: Will they be inheriting the debt? Or is that going away, together with the House and the title?
Ilona: The amount of money that they still owe is not significant enough for the debt to be a factor. He will probably pay, it’s possible that his mother will pay, or her family- who are quite wealthy.
Gordon: Personally, I kind of see it like a bankruptcy when the House is dissolved. The titles are gone. The debt just goes. If you think about it, if you were giving up being a House, that’s kind of a lot. They’ll take a share of whatever they can sell of the crumbling castle, the land. And people will just have to make do with what they get from that.
Mod R: We know that Victoria played matchmaker in her own special little way to get Catalina and Alessandro together. But everyone and their dog thinks that the two powers are not compatible and their children will not have magic. How come Victoria, who is so interested in the future of the House and their survival wanted them to be together. Does she know more than everyone else?
Ilona: Their magic is very compatible, it operates along the same basically lines. When you look at Alessandro, his magic is designed to keep him alive. It protects him from falling, it manifests weapons and it’s really, really strong against the mental attacks. When you look at Catalina, it’s the same principle basically. Her magic is designed to keep her alive, when she enters the room, her passive field automatically sorts people into: threat/not threat. And those who are threats are going to be affected if she lets her hair down, so to speak, by her magic. So either way, whichever talent their children will get out of that marriage, is it along the same basic line and a similar mechanism of operation.
Gordon: Victoria may not know whose magic they’ll get, but she knows they’ll have a lot of it. If you were going to breed a St. Bernard and a Great Dane, you don’t know what dog you’re going to get, but you know it will be freaking huge.
Ilona: Is it possible that there’ll be some kind of mixed third talent that results from this, and if it happened, it would likely be very powerful. Also, Victoria has spent a great deal of her life being unhappy and she treasures her independence. Alessandro cannot bully Catalina around -not that he would try- but neither one of them will be dominant in that relationship. She’s kind of immune to his powers, he’s kind of immune to her powers. It works and that’s super important to Victoria.
Mod R: Lovely, so Happy Ever After, because it’s a romance! ::having pre-release flashbacks:: Fans were going crazy on Facebook: “I can’t find the book anywhere! I’ve looked through the whole fantasy shelf!”. It’s a romance.
Ilona: We’re placed in Fantasy and Romance, anything that has Avon on the cover, if you see the little pinky thing, ::shows Avon logo:: It’s going to be in the Romance section.
Gordon: Avon is a Romance publisher. That’s been one of the biggest differences between the Kate Daniels series and the Hidden Legacy series, is the publisher and the requirements of working in the Romance genre versus Urban Fantasy.
Ilona: And it’s part of the reason why the Kate Daniels fans expect that one of the good guys will die in some tragic way and sacrifice themselves heroically.
Gordon: Someone mentioned earlier in the chat, we didn’t want to Aunt B you guys again. Firstly, Aunt B did have to die, and that’s probably a difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance right there. Unfortunately, Aunt B had to take one for the team.
Ilona: We killed a lot of people on Kate Daniels who were nice, but that’s kind of the genre of it.
Gordon: We killed Bran, which was super sad, in the second year.
Ilona: Yeah. Bran was sad because he was just a knucklehead.
Gordon: I didn’t like that.
Ilona: And the Sahanu girl died in the very final battle [NE: Adora in Magic Triumphs]
Gordon: I didn’t like that either.
Ilona: Saiman kind of died in the final battle.
Mod R: Umm, he’s Saiman, not really! Speaking of “Did he really?” one of my favorite things in the book is Konstantin’s journey to humility. He gets constantly humbled in Texas, the Baylors miss nothing. How much can we trust out of what Konstantin says?
Ilona: If we’re talking about that one conversation he had with Catalina, most of it is true. He did fixate on her quite a bit. Konstantin is one of those people who spends a great deal of time doing things he doesn’t necessarily want to do. She was his chance, or at least he saw her as his chance, at personal happiness and a bit of a rebellion.
Gordon: Something that was not given to him by his family, something that was separate from them. Because when Konstantin does eventually marry, it will probably be, whether he likes it or not, someone that his mother, father or his uncle picked for him and he will probably acquiesce for the good of the family.
Mod R: That was one of the theories the BDH came up with, that he’s not really in love with Catalina, he’s just saying things to manipulate her because he wants to get the Primes to join his House.
Gordon: Think about the feather in his cap, if he brought Catalina and Arabella! He obviously wouldn’t get Nevada, but even Bern and Leon, it would be a huge thing if he brought them into the fold.
Ilona: Konstantin has enough feathers, he’s like a peacock! He has done so much for the Imperium at this point. We wanted to show that even those that are at the very apex of power in that world, are kind of deeply unhappy. He is not happy, he really wanted her to come with him.
Gordon: He can’t stay there, the next best thing would be bringing her with. But I don’t think there was ever any danger of it, I don’t consider it even approaching a triangle, there was never even a thought of “Oh, yeah, what the hell? I’ll go to Russia.” from Catalina.
Mod R: There’s only Alessandro for Catalina!
Gordon: Since it’s spoilery, that’s my vote. It’s Arabella in Russia! Because she would love it. When we talked about this, she wants to travel, she wants to be a princess. She wants to be adored. And she had that line where she’s convinced she can charm old people- she’ll just go and charm everybody at that Court, all of the aunts and uncles and grandparents and they’ll all love her.
Mod R: I also ship Arabella and Mihail! The thing that most people have against it is that Konstantin describes Mihail as impulsive, how he would drive the House into nothingness and he does things just because he is bored and spoiled. That’s why I wanted to know how much can we trust him? Is he just forcing things so that he appears to connect with Catalina? “My brothers are just like your sisters and I’m just like you” etc.
Gordon : There are public roles that all of the brothers assume, a public face. Mihail, he is the loose cannon, the wild card. He’s impulsive.
Ilona: And they use it to great effect. Whenever they have a problematic meeting, Mihail shows up and everybody’s like “Ooow!” ::mimics taking a step back in fright::
Gordon: There’s a fantastic movie with Tom Hardy where he’s both of the Kray brothers [NE: Legend]. And one of the Kray brothers is basically crazy:“I thought this would be a shoot-out!”. And he comes back with hammers and beats the hell out of everybody. That’s what Mihail is *for*.
Ilona: And that’s not necessarily who Mihail is, but that is the role that he plays. Arabella also plays a role, we talked in the other chat. Her family doesn’t know that she can rip a door off a car, but she’s been able to do it for a very long time. In the very first book, Burn for Me, we are seeing Arabella flailing her little fist and Bern holding her back. A lot of that is a show, designed to reassure her family that “Look, I’m not going to Hulk out. I have this under control.”
And I’ve noticed a lot of people are making a thing out of Mihail pushing Arabella and you need to let go of that. This is not the world where we never punch girls, because girls in this world punch back really, really hard. Look at these women, Victoria Tremaine, Nevada. You cannot hold on to this unfair treatment of “women are separate and fragile”; things are not that way here. He warned her a couple of times, he said move, she didn’t move. He pushed her, she resisted- it was on! She became a combatant. You never know, think of the Madero family. One of their women would be extremely difficult to deal with, even though she’s a 12 year old girl they have to save in one of the books, this is a 12 year old girl that can punch a car and send it flying. [ NE: I believe this was a subplot from Sapphire Flames, but it didn’t actually make it in the book]. So try not to fall into that trap, because in that world, underestimating women will get you killed very, very quickly.
Gordon: Someone asked, let me put a lid on this straight away. There’s not going to be an Augustine and Arabella.
Mod R: Or Cornelius.
Ilona: Stop shipping children. I cannot stress this enough. This is not a fictional trope that we’re doing. This is not Eddings’ Belgariad. If the characters have more than 10 years between them and one of them was a child when they met, so a 15 and a 25-year-old, that is not ever, ever going to happen. And we don’t want to see pairings with Matilda. She’s a child, let her be a child. Not everybody needs to be shipped right away, wait until they grow up in the narrative if we ever get there. Augustine, when he finds somebody, you can be sure it will be a mature, established adult. And by mature, I don’t mean old, I mean fully grown up.
Gordon: It’s a personal thing of mine, he knew her as a child. So for me, that’s obviously verboten, that’s it. He would never think of her that way.
Ilona: It’s different if they were both children. When Julie and Derek, for example, meet, they’re both technically still children. He’s barely I think 18, or is he 17, I don’t remember. And look how long we drew even that out, where they actually have to be separated before any kind of romantic relationship can be considered. People take this into weird places in fiction. Let’s just not go there!
Gordon: Enough said on that.
Mod R: Thus ended the PSA.
So this is a trait inherent to my character, but I do not vibe with Illusion mages at all, I want to see them suffer all the time.
Gordon: What’s your thing about that hehe?
Mod R: I don’t know. They just bring out the Caldenia in me: let’s smoke them over Dushegubs! Isn’t it also a bit unfair of Konstantin to say “The Metamorph mages have so much temper and they don’t think things through”. Because that’s their magic, they’re keeping the beast down! The way we empathize with Catalina having a very isolated childhood, because she had to contain the Siren, and she has the social anxiety related to it- isn’t it the same with Arabella and with Mihail [NE: I said Michael in the video, I meant Mihail] and with all the other Metamorphs? They have to keep the beast contained, isn’t it taking a toll on them?
Ilona: I don’t think so, no.
Gordon: You have to be careful, obviously, because if you lose your temper, you lose control. But it’s not a Hulk thing where “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
Ilona: When the few, and there were *very few*, times Arabella turned in childhood, she turned because she wanted to. It was less of “The Beast got the better of me” and more “I am so angry, I don’t care anymore. I will show you how badass I am! Let’s have the conversation then.” It’s more letting the cat out of the bag, like an MMA artist involved in a street brawl against his own will. He has to modulate how much force he uses, will he seriously injure or cripple the opponent, or just enough to walk away from it? There’s this footage you’ve probably seen on TV where a pimp is attacking one of the women in the street and a martial arts instructor comes out and tells him to stop it. He doesn’t, and the martial instructor hits him one time on the ear. BAM that’s it. The guy sits down, it’s over. The martial artist could have probably kicked him and knocked all of his teeth out, but he didn’t, what he did was to diffuse the situation.
It’s the same with Metamorphs: in reality, they are not that volatile. You can see that really well in Sapphire Flames with Celia. She maintained control really, really well, she was very calculated when she decided to turn into her other self. Most of them actually have really, really good control over things, but they are scary to people. And they use that to their advantage.
Gordon: It’s probably nice to have a reputation, it probably prevents a lot of fights.
Mod R: I see some confusion in the chat [NE: which I was responsible for]. Mihail the Russian prince is a Metamorph, Michael of the Record Keeper office is a…::trails off, inquiringly::
Gordon: Something else, very rare. It took the Record Keeper years to find someone with a similar talent, the one he and Michael share. It’s very dark, very scary and I don’t even know if people know what it is.
Ilona: There is probably a name for it, but one that only the Keeper of Records knows because he would want to categorize it somehow. He thought he was the only one, and then he found Michael and it was like a watershed moment for him: “Oh, we can make this hereditary!” But the problem is, that particular magic requires a massive reservoir of power, just enormous amounts. And for Michael to be able to successfully have a child, he would have to find someone with that much magic to be able to carry the baby to term. There are a few people like that but they’re Primes, they probably belong to a House. There’s no benefit for them to align themselves with the Keeper of Records, because Michael will never have a House, they’re distinctly separate from the entire House network.
Gordon: There would be very few advantages, because he will never be anything else but the Keeper.
Ilona: And to some extent, his family would always be second priority- his first priority will be being the Keeper of Records.
Mod R: Are Michael’s tattoos significant, are they like the glyphs that the Records Keeper gives to Alessandro for the final fight? Or are they just aesthetic?
Ilona: They’re not aesthetic. They’re there to help him with his magic and they’re permanent, they’re actually tattooed on him and part of him. Versus Alessandro who got a temporary, stick-on tat.
Mod R: There’s also a bit of confusion regarding how many favours House Baylor, in particular, owe the Keeper. And the answer is just one, because the other favor is owed by the Wardens.
Ilona: And the Wardens in House Baylor are separate, exactly. The Baylors only owe that initial one for Nevada.
Gordon: And the people have been asking about the favor that Linus now owes the Records Keeper: it’s that Linus will no longer interfere if Michael decides to court Arabella. He’s not exactly giving his blessing, but he won’t actively prevent it.
Ilona: Because prior the Keeper discussed it and Linus was no! No, no, no!
Gordon: That goes back to whether the Keeper knew Linus’ connection is to Arabella, and yes, he did.
Mod R: But, of course, that is still up to Arabella! Linus doesn’t have a say in what Arabella chooses, just withdrawing his objections?
Gordon: Because of the relationship that Arabella and Linus have, all he would have to say is “I don’t think you should, there are things about Michael that would not make him good boyfriend material for you.” He would very carefully steer her away from that.
Ilona: Linus is extremely manipulative. He would very gently nudge, nudge, nudge until he basically nudged her out of Michael’s orbit.
Gordon: I don’t think he could forbit her!
Ilona: No, you cannot forbid her to do anything. She’ll do it immediately!
Mod R: Going a little bit into the final fight at the Baylor compound, readers wanted to know how come Adam, who’s already a quite high level Prime, can take the Serum a second time and not be warped.
Ilona: It was just a freak accident. They had depleted Arkan’s power quite a bit by the time the final fight came along, he was lacking a lot of his Primes. And so when the FBI dude calls her to let her know, he’s trying to tell her in the roundabout way “Hey, they broke Adam out” and they offered him the Serum. And, of course, Adam took it because what does he have to lose? And it turned out that it gave him an additional boost. He was probably extremely unstable with it, but we just didn’t get to see most of it. Once Linus woke up, he still has contacts and things that Catalina has no idea about and they told him that very quickly that Adam Pierce was gone from prison. And that’s why Linus has the mech. He went, he got it and his role in the final fight was specifically to fight Adam. We actually did think about it, we didn’t just like slap it together. But it was a fluke that he survived, he could have died just as well, but you know Adam. He will do whatever the hell he wants, he’s a lot like those dudes that hear “Hey, here’s some weird drugs, do you want to try?” at a party and he’s immediately “Yeah, I’ll take it.”
Mod R: It was also a bit of a metaphor for me, both Adam and Xavier- they take the Serum and get more magic, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a better Prime. There are no shortcuts, really. Rogan is a good Prime because he plans and he’s paranoid [NE: Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.]
Ilona: And the training too! You see this very much with Kaylee- all the power in the world, zero training. And it ends in tragedy. There are reasons why they start training them in childhood.
Mod R: Did Adam die in the final fight?
Ilona: He did, yes, full circle.
Mod R: And how very satisfying it was when Xavier went splat!
Ilona: Yes. That was something Connor needed to settle.
Gordon: Adam came up later, but Xavier, yes. Dead. It was just a question of how we’re going to kill him.
Ilona: How can we make it as satisfying as possible?
Gordon: Kaylee? Institutionalized, yes. Probably a psychiatric facility. Rehabilitation? Possibly.
Ilona: But she killed a lot of people.
Gordon: She killed her grandparents. She killed Pete.
Ilona: She tried to kill her grandparents. Yes, Pete, he was very nice.
Mod R: This is a question from Emerald Blaze, which I thought was clarified, but in the final fight in the Pit, Tatyana Pierce did not die, Stephen Jiang didn’t die.
Ilona: No, none of them die. Once Alessandro does his KABLOOEY! they turn into normal people and it is shocking. They literally just stand around looking at each other. And as long as you don’t get in Alessandro’s way at that point, he would not target you in any way.
Gordon: He again goes into that threat/not threat mode.
Mod R: Someone’s asking how come Regina’s animations [NE: I mean constructs] weren’t in the final fight. She wasn’t there! She was safely out of the way, it’s in the text.
Ilona: We initially planned her to be in there, but we had a very limited length, a very hard word count limit. There was no way to have Regina in the final fight without having her through the entire narrative, and having her backstory and Michael Latimer. Once we cut it all out, it was almost 15 K of material. It was bloating the book, we had to remove that to streamline it. There was already plenty in the book to have All The Funs. So that’s why she was out of the country when this happened and Patricia told her not to come back. Because she would’ve just been an extra target at that point.
Mod R: Did they catch the spider, Jadviga?
Gordon: Not yet. We don’t really know. It would be cool if it just became an office spider. Jadviga gets to be the Spider in Residence and everyone knows and is kind of ok with it.
Mod R: When Arabella and Mihail have a fight at the end, she uses the term “Texas tan” and people are confused about the meaning. [NE: No she doesn’t, but I’m glad we’re all going along with it hehe. The term “Texas tan” is used in the book and confusing readers, but not in Arabella’s epilogue]
Ilona: Okay, surprising fact: you would think that Southern states like Texas, Florida etc, they would have the highest incidence of skin cancer. It’s actually not, it’s Midwestern states like Minnesota. Because people have a chance to get pale in the colder months and in the summer, they easily burn. I know way too much about this because there was a cancer scare a little while back. But in Texas, you tan and you just keep it going throughout the year, get a little bit darker in summer, a little bit lighter in winter. You never lose it- this is not my natural color, I’m really pale naturally.
Gordon: Today you could sit outside for a bit and you would probably get slightly darker. The only time we have to be careful is when we go from like here to Destin or one time we went to Puerto Rico.
Ilona: Even South Padre. That is Mexico sun, that is strong.
Gordon: I’ll never forget, one time we went to the Midwest somewhere, I think it was somewhere by Minneapolis, and it just happened to be spring and everyone came outside just wandering around- very pale people, businessmen rolling up their pants to just go and play, they were so happy.
Ilona: They had this thing, it’s not golf, it’s like grass bowling- they had a whole cafe roof terrace devoted to that. It was really cool.
Gordon: People probably hide in the winter because it’s cold. And then the sun comes out a little bit and they come out and get sun burns.
Ilona: Where we just stay kind of like this baseline tan- you can see it in Kid 2 who is super tan, but she is like mozzarella white normally.
Gordon: Kid 2 and I, we don’t tan easily. I’m Irish and Kid 2 is half Irish, half Russian. But she still manages to somehow, she even got a little bit too much sun in California.
Ilona: Nobody told her to fall asleep at the beach!
Mod R: When Arabella tells Mihail that there’s an ant hill next to him, does she mean roll *into* the ants or *away* from the ants?
Ilona: Away! She’s a kind Texas girl. She’s not going to tell him to go for the fire. You know, we don’t really have those as much in the cold Russian north. That would be an unwelcome surprise for him, he would not like that.
Gordon: What a surprise fire ants would be! If you didn’t know what they were, you’d be “What in the hell?!”
Ilona: And he is naked. It would not end well.
Mod R: Someone was asking how are the Baylors going to get rid of the Russians- because Konstantin likes Catalina and now Mihail is obsessed with Arabella…
Ilona: We don’t know he’s obsessed with Arabella. We just know that they beat the crap out of each other and rolled around in the dirt. But when she got up and casually brushed herself off and sashayed, that was probably the moment for him.
Gordon: As far as Konstantin’s infatuation with Catalina, he’s accepted the fact that her and Alessandro are a couple and that’s it.
Ilona: He will respect that. Honestly, this was a big bluff by the Russian Imperium. Everybody is either a US citizen or, in Alessandro’s case, has a Green Card. And the Green Card, funny fact, still gives you protection when you’re in the country. They couldn’t forcefully remove Alessandro. They just counted on Mihail showing up, and Mihail didn’t want to do it. He’s cranky the entire time, he gets there and thinks “This is stupid, I don’t want want to be here”. But this is, again, the Berezin brothers doing a lot of things that are against their will. “Here’s scary Mihail, he’s so big and strong and can turn into this giant thing, come with us or else”. But there’s really no “or else”.
Mod R: Yeah, they’re not really welcome, are they? Konstantin comes with his whole array of charms and Texas treats him with “Yeah, you should talk less.” And when he claims he’s the bestest Prime, that really got to him…
Gordon: And this is canon too, Augustine is better than him. One of the reasons for this difference is that Augustine had to become better to protect his family, he was put in that situation, sink or swim.
Ilona: And he swam, strongly. Augustine went through hell whereas Konstantin…He was a spy, he was in dangerous situations. But ultimately he can, if thing go sour, turn to someone else and walk away and they would never know. Augustine could not walk away. He had to maintain illusions for a really long time to protect his family. And because of that, he simply practiced more and was under a lot more pressure. He is better.
Mod R: Everyone wants to know whether this was the most difficult book ever and what was the turning point?
Ilona: Yes. So far, yes. We figured out the Harpy and that was a really good turning point. Because up until that point, we were not 100% clear on what her internal conflict was in the book. Alessandro clearly had a conflict and they had a couple’s conflict when he wanted to be “I will heroically man my way through this, and this is my baggage and I will not bother you with it.” That does not work in a marriage because inevitably the baggage will fall on your head and there will be consequences. But we had to figure out what she was about, what was her struggle in this book, besides you know, trying keep the fracturing social order together. Yes, she wants to save Alessandro, but what about *her*? And when we hit on the Harpy, because we had always planned it, but didn’t quite know how it would play out exactly, it made things easier. Then we went back and made sure that there was a consistent progress in her struggle against the fractured nature of her magic, blah, blah, blah.
Gordon: We had to dot all the “i”s and cross all the “t”s to make sure any unresolved side plots were summed up and that everybody came back and had a bit of a moment.
Ilona: I would’ve really liked to take this book to 120 K.
Gordon: I wish we had more time, a higher word count.
Ilona: But we were very constrained by the publisher limitations on word count. Maybe it’s a better book because it’s shorter- at this point, I can’t tell. This is the book that I promised, when we would get the paper copy, I would set it on fire, put it on a little raft and ceremonially do the Viking funeral in our pool with it.
Gordon: Not in my clean pool!
Ilona: We remodelled the pool, so I cannot do that- it was leaking horribly. But the book started difficult, it continued to be difficult. Our editor was going through some rough time on her end, so she was not as involved. We were left to our own devices. We were talking to our agent and I was crying and moaning about the fact that it’s not going. And she told me “The two of you need to care a little bit less and just do it.”
Gordon: We started to overthink it. At some point, there was more in the Cuts file than there was in the actual manuscript. We took so many turns and detours and we spent days on this huge thing with Michael Latimer…
Ilona: And then we didn’t put it in. Originally, there was a big fight when Konstantin shows up. There was an insect mage involved and people teleported in horrible ways.
Gordon: There was this whole thing where Augustine and Rogan are recruited to go to Linus’ house and pretend to be Linus. We had to figure out if there are bad people in the house, how will we get them out of there. This whole huge thing..
Ilona: It was just weird and convoluted. I’m so glad that it’s not in there because it was a mess.
Gordon: I’m glad that we’ve been doing this since 2007, because if this was our first, second or third book, there’s probably no way we would have been able to do this on our own.
Ilona: This book had to wrap up the plot threads, because we don’t know if there is going to be an Arabella book. It also had to deliver emotionally, All The Feels, and also be a happy, satisfying conclusion. I don’t think 15 years ago we could have done this. It was just a bear of a book all the way through, we fought it and still have the scars from it hehe.
Gordon: We tried to not do it. And then our agent and our editor were just like “Stop being babies.”
Ilona: Let’s go, finish up, finish up. And I’m glad we did, people seem to like it. And we enjoy the fact that it’s done! It was so funny, our agent sent us a congratulations note and my response was: “Yay, thank God it’s over!”
Mod R: You definitely fought it and won because we all love it! It’s at times gathering everything together and really cosy. And yes, having seen just from the edges of it, I’ve witnessed a few “This book is cursed!” moments. I can absolutely vouch for the BDH that it was not a happy process.
Ilona: At one at one point, Amazon put the entire book into the Look Inside feature. It was shocking.
Gordon: We heard that and couldn’t believe it. You could have copied it and pasted into…
Ilona: Whatever, really. And you would have had the book. It was the very first time I have ever seen our editor of many, many years curse violently in a corporate communication. We don’t know to this day why Amazon did it, it was just one of those things that went wrong- and things went wrong so much. The model release wasn’t obtained for the cover, the promotional product placement had this really unfortunate shade of red- it was one thing after another, to the point to where the Avon publishing team were wondering “What is it with this book?!” But it’s there, it’s published. Next question, before I ramble anymore hehe.
Mod R: What does the Russian Imperium want with Alessandro? Did they want to kill him?
Gordon: No, he’s family! They wanted to bring him in. He is probably the most powerful Antistasi on the record. He’s family and he’s also distantly related enough that he could probably be married to another cousin!
Ilona: They would find a way to like wrap him in there.
Gordon: Someone is saying he’s an asset. He would absolutely be. And if he brought Catalina along…
Ilona: How much better would that be? The Russians are evil, but not idiots, you know?
Mod R: The null sword- is a bit of a contention point. Why didn’t they use the null sword from the beginning? Why did they have to go through Arkan’s Freeze Time spell and resist it, and only then use the null blade?
Ilona: Because if Alessandro runs up to him with a null sword and Arkan freezes him, that’s it. If you can’t swing the null sword, you can’t kill with it. Think of it as a lightsaber, easiest thing. You still have to swing the lightsaber to kill somebody. It’s not an area of effect felt, where they run up and at a certain distance, it kills him. It had to be Arkan’s freezing spell activated and then broken. Because he can’t do it again for a bit and it was safe to attack him after that.
Mod R: And did breaking the Time Freeze spell drain him of all magic or was his protective layer still on?
Ilona: I don’t think anybody knew at that point. But the null sword can cut through almost anything except probably another null field. And the field around him isn’t a null field, it’s just a magic field. So he got sliced in a half. But another thing is that the amount of magic that sword needs is so significant, it’s almost like a one-shot deal. Alessandro can swing it for a couple of minutes, maybe.
Gordon: It was designed for Catalina who also has an enormous reserve, and even she talks about how it will take everything you have, everything you can feed into it.
Ilona: It will drain you to nothing very quickly until you’re empty and then you’re done.
Mod R: And here it is again, the discussion about who is a dual. Everyone’s a dual! No. Alessandro does not have two magic talents. The Antistasi is his only power.
Ilona: Yes, that’s right. He’s not a dual. Here’s what his power does: it tries to keep him alive. If he falls off the building, it’ll cushion him; if he falls into the water, it’ll form a sort of bubble, that’s why he doesn’t get drown very easily. But there are limits, like when he fell off the silo, he nearly died.
Gordon: He was almost dead, which is not the same as completely dead.
Ilona: ::reacting giddily to Princess Bride reference:: Awwwww. Alessandro’s power manifest weapons, but he still has to train to be able to use those weapons. He’s a Jack of all Trades, but there are definite limits to what his magic can do. It protects him from mental attacks for example, but it does not permit him to mentally attack others. He’s defensive only in that regard.
Mod R: And it’s the same with Catalina. While she is a dual mage, because she has the Magus Sagittarius talent, her Harpy and her Siren are the same power, just different aspects of it.
Gordon: The two sides of the same coin.
Ilona: If she had been brought up properly in a Siren family, she would have gray wings and then she would choose. Sometimes she could turn the wings greener, sometimes she could turn the wings darker. But because she was completely ignorant of her power, she now has this thing where she’s both one extreme and the other. She learned how to merge them in the final fight, but it was really difficult for her to accomplish that. She didn’t realise the Harpy existed for most of her life.
Mod R: And the Harpy can get through things like headphones, it’s not as reliant as the Siren on the sound of her voice.
Ilona: Yes. The Siren is both sound and sight, because she can go “Wings!” and everybody reacts with “Oooooooh”. Whereas the Harpy is just pure power, like an invisible laser beam that will basically target you and hit. It hits on the psychic level, if you want to put it that way. It’s not really as affected by headphones or protective gear.
Gordon: That was another interesting thing when it came to this book: we had to acknowledge the fact that by this point, Arkan knew about Catalina’s power, the Siren and it wouldn’t be logical if he didn’t take steps to counter it. We don’t want to completely disable the enemy, they still have to be smart and believable. By the time this comes around, Arkan, Catalina and Alessandro have been fighting long enough that they know each other’s go-to moves and powers.
Ilona: And I see the question in the chat, the reason why she was not a Banshee, is that a Banshee operates specifically by sound, they scream. That’s what they’re famous for. Whereas we went with the entire Greek line with Catalina. Originally sirens, when you read the Greek stories, they were not mermaids, they were winged creatures. Siren and Harpy fits much better than Siren and Banshee.
Gordon: I don’t even know how they turned into mermaids.
Ilona: I think people started drawing them and there’s this whole aspect of the sailors. Maybe it went into mermaids. There are some really sexy paintings that they did in medieval times.
Gordon: ::deadpan:: Because that’s what mermaids would look like, super sexy.
Mod R: Speaking of dual mages, someone that we *do* know is a dual is Arthur Rogan, the baby. Is he likely a Dual *Prime* as well?
Ilona: We don’t know yet.
Gordon: We’re not trying to be cute or clever. We don’t know, it hasn’t been written. He’s a baby. He does seem to demonstrate some really strong telekinetic abilities.
Ilona: How strong are his Hephaestus powers, we don’t know yet, we have to let him grow up.
Gordon: He has a lot of potential power, but he’s too young to train. If he was trained by his, what would that be? Great-grandfather Linus. Can you imagine how powerful he will be?
Ilona: The cool thing about Arthur is, if he grows up with both talents…Linus has this field in which he assembles weapons, but they have to be very close by. He has to physically hold the part up and his magic will attach it where he wants it to be. Arthur can just sit there and use telekinesis to snap them above his head. And it can be very fast! He could have instant weapon machine: boom, a gun, boom, another gun. If you park him next to a trash heap, imagine what he would come up with by the end of it. So he would be really fun character to play with later on, once he’s out of diapers.
Mod R: Hehe, the comments are saying, okay, fine, if he gets trained by Linus. But what about if he gets raised around Bug?! What kind of life lessons is he going to get there?
Ilona: Bug is harmless. He’s a very sweet gentle person, actually. All of that cussing, you can see when he’s trying to help Catalina, how sensitive Bug really is. I would not have any worries about the baby being around Bug.
Gordon: He would just learn some embarrassing words! You know how someone teaches a little kid a curse word and they say it…
Ilona: And everybody laughs and it’s enforced because now the baby thinks “Heh, I can make them laugh if I keep saying it”. And that would be funny.
Mod R: What is Bug backstory? Is his magic the reason he survived the Swarm? Is he getting treatment with Rogan? Will he survive?
Ilona: It’s not a cure, it’s kind of maintenance. He can never be cured of the Swarm, but it’s not killing him, he’s been around now for over 5 years, he’s not in danger of dying. There were some family issues that he had, and that’s why he signed up for the Swarm experiment, for the giant bonus. Somebody needed medical treatment, he did it to save his little sister. And afterwards it was very awkward for him to rejoin the family, he had issues with his relatives. It put everybody in this terrible position of “This was the guy that we treated as a black sheep, but now he’s a hero…except he’s going to die?” And he didn’t want his little sister to have that guilt of her brother sacrificing himself for her. He’s very much estranged from his family by choice, he will remain so. But he has a nice found family with Connor and Nevada and all their soldier people. So I think he’s fine.
Mod R: But, and you touched on this a little bit earlier, not everyone will be getting a Happy Ever After that is romantic. There are other HEAs available for characters and Bug is one of them. Someone asked if he was romantically interested in Catalina.
Ilona: No, oh no. His happily ever after is being the bestest Bug he could be, hopefully owning a couple of dogs that love him. He’s not a romantic interest, not everybody has to have a pair.
Mod R: And I think it’s hinted that it’s going to be it for Cornelius as well? He isn’t really getting over Nari, that love was his one and only.
Ilona: Yes. Swans mate for life. That’s the way he sees it. There was nobody like Nari, there will never be anybody like Nari. So yes, he’s content the way he is.
Mod R: Someone asked why Cornelius hid that he was a Prime?
Gordon: Because he doesn’t want to be one. His exposure and his childhood, if you want to call it friendship, with Adam Pierce- it soured him.
Ilona: It was so traumatic for him.
Gordon: He’s a hidden Prime, and will remain a hidden Prime. He doesn’t want to run House Harrison and he will never fight his sister.
Ilona: He’s perfectly happy for his sister to be in charge. And then afterwards Matilda will probably take over as the Head of the House because Diana has yet to have children.
Gordon: And if you guys wanted somebody for Augustine…
Ilona: Diana would be a much better choice for that. And that’s the thing, Augustine is so conscious of all the things he *must* do, it would be very interesting to see that being in sharp conflict with the things he *wants* to do. Would passion win over the fact that he needs to find another Illusion Prime to marry? That could be an interesting story.
Mod R: Has Augustine’s dealt with the person who killed his father and his sister?
llona: Yes, he found him. We see it in Sapphire Flames, Catalina traded him that piece of information? Yes, he took care of it.
Mod R: And because we are heading towards the end now: Arabella’s books are very much desired by the BDH. You said on the blog that you’re not going to promise them. But if they happen, big IF, would they be self-published?
Gordon: Probably. We talked about this a bit earlier that if they were to be under Avon, they would have to follow certain Paranormal Romance or Romance tropes, which would be to almost immediately connect Arabella to a certain suitor. And we don’t want to do that, but we would almost be forced to do it if we went with our current Hidden Legacy publisher. And we want to be able to- again, not reverse harem, no!- but I want her to be able to date widely: it’s not realistic at that age, everybody you’re dating is someone you’re going to marry.
Ilona: That’s the way the romance formula works. And the readers are very conditioned towards this. It’s very hard to write around the tropes. The first attractive man on the screen: “Hero! Soulmate! Only that man, no other man!” And you have to telegraph it like this. Even if there is a love triangle, they don’t actually love it. As our editor one time explained to me, in a love triangle 50% of the readers will be disappointed. But I much prefer the other thing I actually saw in this Chinese drama [NE: I think it’s Romance of Tiger and Rose] where it was: “The first lead belongs to heroine, the second lead belongs to everyone”. So there will be quite a few second leads in Arabella’s books.
Gordon: Someone’s asking if Stephen Jiang- not Stephen, his brother! We were trying to figure out how to make the word Michael into Chinese. Cause we very desperately want her to deal with the three Michaels. With the exception of Michael Latimer. Because a lot of the times, people will take an American nickname.
Ilona: His name is given, it’s Henry, but he could tell her, if we can shoe horn it in, “Call me Michael!”. And she would be like “No! No, it’s not happening!” hehe. We don’t mind going a little bit over if you guys want to stick around, but what happens there is that over the years- Arabella’s books will be about five or so years in the future…
Gordon: Not real time, but rather “set five years in the future”. We’re not saying it’s going to take us five years to write.
Ilona: Here’s what happens. Arabella has a crush on Stephen, but it was a very childish crush. It lasted a couple of months and then she was over it, but the Jiangs and House Baylor have worked together several times and she was the liaison point for it. They’re friends, he was very gentle with her feelings, very big brother about it. He could have been very mean, but he wasn’t. And at this point, he is getting married and it’s an arranged marriage. But it’s less of the families forcing them together and more that they are both at the stage in life where they want to have a family, they’re are compatible, the families are compatible, this will be a good stable relationship. They’re not in love, but they care for each other. Everything is going smoothly, except there’s one detail in the bride’s background that just doesn’t seem right. So he hires Arabella quietly to check into it and see what is going on there?
Gordon: Because he knows she’ll be discreet, she’ll be thorough.
Ilona: She will not let anybody know. She is discussing things with him in his office. Henry is his brother who has arrived from China to stop this marriage, because he’s convinced that there must be great love involved in the union. He rebelled against the family, so he really wants Stephen to rebel too, even if Stephen is not interested in that. Henry sees Arabella, how familiar they are with each other, and becomes convinced that this is somehow a love match that Stephen is denying in favour of the arranged marriage. He attaches himself to Arabella and he’s very difficult to be around, in a sense, because he’s incredibly handsome and he’s a trained actor. He always has to make an entrance, “All attention on me!”. He’s really well dressed, the way he carries himself, the smiles…he’s like Alessandro 2.0. Except Alessandro was very Instagram, and this guy has been on film long enough to always make it a moment. He makes any kind of investigation difficult. She already draws attention because she’s pretty and here’s this beautiful actor doing his best to stand out. There are a lot of funny moments there.
Mod R: I think the BDH pretty much just want you to get on it right now if possible hehe, like maybe have a cup of tea and then… Everyone’s loving that, that you have a story and that there’s hope.
Gordon: That’s the good news. We have obligations that will come before any kind of Arabella book, but we have ideas for it, we know what direction we want to go in. We have ideas for the cast of different characters.
Ilona: To be honest with you, we just want to move away from the real world for a little bit. And in terms of fiction, we have a couple of Other World fantasy projects, which we will probably work on a bit. We don’t want to be stuck in the sequel stage where everything you write is a follow-up to something else. It’s very difficult to grow creatively. Because you’re working with established characters, you’re not really making anything new, you’re just continuing things. We want to be able to, like Gordon says, “one for them, one for us.” We’re going to probably do another world fantasy next. Possibly. And then come back with lron and Magic 2 or something like that, because there are certain things we need to finish up.
Gordon: And our Kid 2, she is funny, she will give mixed signals. She wants Iron and Magic 2. I think it’s probably, for our second daughter, her favorite book that we wrote. But also, when we talk about Arabella books, she is Arabella, and she’s like “Give the people what they want!”
Ilona: She’s very, very vocal about it.
Gordon: She is convinced that she is Arabella, and in some ways she is.
Ilona: The part where she turns into a giant Beast! Hehehe, no. She’s very clever, like Arabella, and she’s very good at reading people’s emotions, which Arabella is, she’s emotionally very sensitive. Catalina at some point is very worried about Arabella and says that Arabella takes it closer, she feels things stronger than probably all of us. And that’s also true, Arabella is very, very sensitive. And it’s the sad story of Arabella to where everybody likes her, but she’s nobody’s favorite. And that’s what she’ll be looking for in the relationship, someone who will put her above all else. She wants to be someone’s favorite and you know, don’t we all?
Mod R: Very fair. So to sum up: there are ideas for Arabella, there is definitely desire for Arabella and it’s likely that Arabella’s will be the story that *you* want to tell, because you’re likely to self-publish. Is this what the BDH should take from this?
Gordon: That will give us the freedom. Not only in word count, but also the direction, the style.
Ilona: And I would feel very…There isn’t really any kind of hard rule against offering the continuation of a series to another publisher, but I would feel awkward and weird about it. It’s triggering some kind of ethical Not Ok for me to go to someone else and say “Hey, I know that Avon build this series, but here, you can jump in at this point.”
Mod R: As you said on the blog, you don’t want to promise anything because then you’d create several hundreds of thousands of editors who chase up about the deadlines. But is it the same with the other sequels: Iron Covenant and Blood Heir- do you have a storyline for them?
Ilona: Yes. Iron and Magic 2 has a storyline. We don’t know all the details, but we know enough to sit down and write it. Then it will probably be a couple of years for the final Innkeeper book after Sweep of the Heart. If we finish it on time, you guys should get SotH around November. But the next one will probably take longer, because it will be the final book and it will take a lot of braining. And right now there are no brains left.
Gordon: And the final Innkeeper book will have to do what Ruby Fever did and tie everything up. Everybody needs to make an appearance. Everyone needs to have some resolution.
Ilona: To whatever problems they were facing. And it would be a big book requiring a lot of moving parts. And we are right now not at the point where we can sit down and knock that out. We’re stuck on the third trial right now in the Innkeeper and we are so tired.
Gordon: We need to figure out what the last trial is. You know when people sometimes go to a show and it’s an interactive murder mystery? Like Clue. You’re in the audience and you’re trying to figure it out. We want it to be that for the last trial. “There was a murder! And someone in this room was the murderer!”
Ilona: And they’ll give different answers. But the problem is that we have to figure out what the answers are, and what is the true answer, and we have to have the murder. I feel like there’s no brain power to pull that off. Promotion is kind of difficult for us. Honestly, if I could have paid somebody to be Ilona Andrews I would, but the train has sailed on that. We have an AMA on Reddit on Monday and I am honestly sitting here and almost dreading it because it always seems more stressful than talking on Zoom, but we’ll knock that out and we will hopefully write something next week! We have to get it done because we booked the audio reader. We got the voice of Dina from Graphic Audio [NE: Nora Achrati]. So that will be very familiar because a lot of people like the Graphic Audio version.
Gordon: But we have to do our part. It could be kind of a cop out on the thing, where they will give their answers and it’s “Oh, very interesting”.
Ilona: Yes, because what they’re testing for is basically process, not the actual answer, but we still have to make the thought process happen. And Marais and his wife are watching it and “Oooh, this is like Mystery Theatre. Remember we went on a date and we were on a train and…”
Gordon: I think it’s Mrs. Marais that gives them the idea for the challenge.
Ilona: No, I think they know exactly what the third trial is, Orata would not let that out of her control. It’s so choreographed and arranged. And who could it be? Who poisoned the butler in the drawing room?
Mod R: See, everyone who is always asking “How do the two of you work together?” Just like this!
Ilona: We don’t want to shortchange you, in the sense that we know you guys are waiting for some of the conclusions to the stories. But at the same time, if we just write sequels, we will shrivel up and die pretty quickly creatively. We are trying to keep productivity up and it’s fun to try new things. And we’re excited about the upcoming new thing. It also lets us do a lot more in terms world setup. We are not doing a traditional world where it’s all separated by: “really pale people are here, slightly darker predominantly there”. There’s just a wide variety of characters, that’s a lot of fun to play with.
Gordon: I think that’s more realistic. I think if you travel to, let’s say Ancient Rome, almost anyone in the world that existed at that time would’ve had representation in it. Or London a thousand years ago, well maybe not quite a thousand…
Ilona: Yes, I think a thousand years ago. Because people have somehow successfully managed to pretend that people from Africa, which is really close to the Iberic Peninsula, couldn’t possibly come to Europe or people from Asia couldn’t possibly come to Europe. I think the whitewashing was strong!
Gordon: Any large metropolitan, even in medieval times or Renaissance times, you would’ve seen a lot of different faces, you would’ve heard a lot of different languages.
Ilona: And that’s what we want to play with and work with!
Mod R: That’s awesome, things to look forward to!
We thank you a lot for Ruby Fever and all your books! We thank you for taking time off in this hugely busy week to talk to us and to give us so much good news and so many answers. Everyone’s sending love!