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Most Excellent Tour Questions

I promised to put up the most excellent questions I was asked on tour, and so more than a month later I redeem this promise!

Some of them I answered on tour: some of them I did not, because a) they had spoilers in the answers, b) I am not all that bright and misunderstood the questions and c) I am not all that bright and waffled strangely instead of answering because I could not come up with the Answer People Deserved to Hear.

Q: Will (Names of the People Who Die in The Demon's Lexicon Redacted) be coming back?

A: No. I believe death should be permanent, otherwise it is not scary. I disapprove of resurrecting characters. Not that I haven't seen it done well, because I have. But it's very tricky to do well, and I prefer having death be, well, you know. Final. So there will be no return of the dead, though we are going to learn some new stuff about the dead people, one in particular. But there will be no coming back - when I kill someone, I want them lost, all the things they never said left unspoken forever, no crime they have committed atoned for. Everyone leaves unfinished business.

... Of course having said all this no doubt in the next book I write, I will be absolutely forced by the plot to resurrect somebody. And then you will all throw rotten eggs at me. Which is fair.

Q: Why is Nick such a jerk?

A:

He is a demon.

For the ending to make any sort of sense, Nick's nature had to be disturbing - at times, off-putting and alien, even. Some people were necessarily not going to like him. I hoped others would, because there is obviously a lot going on with Nick!

But I didn't want to wimp out, to soften him until he was more palatable and I could spoonfeed readers with him. I didn't want him even to be the 'different' one of the demons, the special demon, the sweetie pie of the community. For I find that to be lame, and to undercut the idea of the book: if he was already half-way there, all the other demons can be safely shunned as Other, impossible to love, easy to turn away from.

Q: Any chance of Character and Character getting together?

A: Well, yes and no. In that, obviously, I am in this case Empress Goddess Queen of All, and I know who's getting together and who isn't. But, the cast is composed largely of teenagers and demons of sauciness, so if you saw chemistry anywhere, you probably weren't wrong.

Some of them I may not have intended to have chemistry, but then, what the writer intends isn't everything. Which is something to keep in mind when reading all these answers!

Q: So, Nick as a girl, how would that have been?

A: I actually did give thought to Nick as a girl, since I really really wanted Kristin Nelson as my agent, and she represented a lot of girl-focused books. Indeed I gave thought to the genders of all my characters, since it worried me that three of the four main characters were boys, and well, everyone who reads this knows I like to see the ladies represent.

I also like to see roles subverted, though, so I was going with that a lot: a damsel in distress is more interesting if he's a boy. Likewise, the totally inexperienced one who's stumbling brashly around in this new world and taking a lot of reckless risks, but is brave, smart and a natural leader? More interesting if that's a girl. And then turning to the Question of Nicola...

A:
Saying a girl who had problems with emotions but was pretty happy connecting to people on a physical level was literally demonic would be kind of a problematic thing to do. So there was that.

Plus, since demons don't really have a gender - they inhabit any body they can get - I thought it would be an interesting exploration of the traditional masculine role to show Nick as hyper-masculine in a way the two boys who are actually boys aren't: few words, into cars and weapons and 'boy' stuff, stoic about emotions to the point of having none. Fun to show how this traditional gender role - as many roles can - hides and enables something very different and very troubling going on underneath.

Q: How long did it take you to write the book?

A: Tricky to say, since I work on other stuff while I edit, but first-and-second-since-I-let-nobody-see-first draft, The Demon's Lexicon took about nine months to write.

The Demon's Covenant took about eighteen months, but this is because I am insane and I wrote two entirely different books. From the ground up. The Wise and Lovely Ally Carter told me the second book was the hardest one to write, and she was not kidding. You go crazy waiting for your first book to come out, and then crazier when it does. And so you write two different books for your second book. Because that is a crazy person thing to do.

The Crazy Demon's Covenant you guys will not be reading was extremely crazy. It was The Supernatural Romance I decided (crazily) that everyone wanted to read. My friends and I call it Throb to differentiate it from the actual The Demon's Covenant, which has duels and dead people's diaries and a plot.

Q: Does The Demon's Lexicon/do you have a strong religious background?

A: Religion is such a huge thing, it gets into everything. And it certainly influences both the book and me. My parents are an Irish Catholic and an English Protestant, which is not something totally unproblematic, and I gave a lot of thought to the issue of religion in the book. The demons in the book aren't devils. The issue of devils, angels and God remains fairly ineffable in the world of the book, as in this world.

The book certainly uses Christian mythology - there's stuff from fourteenth century Germany in there, and beliefs in Elizabethan-era England, among other things, and Mae reading the Hexenhammer is pretty deliberate - but I tried for a focus on the Sumerian legends, since that seemed different and interesting to me, and they were part of what sparked off the original ideas.

That said - religion does get into everything! And it may be pretty easy to tell I felt very sorry for Lucifer in Paradise Lost.

*ADDED QUESTIONS:

Q: Whose point of view will the next books be from?

The second book, The Demon's Covenant, will be from Mae's point of view, and the third book, The Demon's Talisman (title not yet confirmed!) will be from Sin the dancer's point of view.

Q: How does being Irish affect your work?

A: Well, the books aren't set in Ireland, for several good reasons: one is that a lot of keen Irish readers I know have been Horribly Scarred by books set in Ireland and written by non-Irish people. O the mystical hills of Tara! (Where there is a lot of sheep poop, and friends of mine used to go to drink illicit beers.) Oh the faeries! (I'm also wary of writing about them, for the same reasons.) Oh everyone speaks the Gaelic! (Irish!) Setting a book in Ireland, for me, would necessitate charging a lot of things head-on to talk about what the country's really like, and it wasn't something I wanted to focus on in these books. I probably will write about it one day, though!

That said, I do feel like Ireland is a great place to grow up when you're keen on writing. You grow up surrounded by creativity. As a kid, I went to parties with poets. I went (for a while) to a convent school where Maeve Binchy had been before me. I heard the dark mutterings of my best friend's mother as she tried to translate Roddy Doyle and Trainspotting (which is Scottish, but still a thankless task!) into Italian.

And now, I get to go to festivals like Wexworks. With Eoin Colfer and Darren Shan and Ian McDonald, insane, like a real writer! I will be doing a library reading, and panels about Paranormal Romance (Werewolves always lose to vampires in love triangles), Harry Potter (I like Draco Malfoy - does anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? Okay), Sci-fi and fantasy, Stories To Entertain You, and Career Guidance (Uh - everyone try not to panic?).

Er, which I am going to tomorrow. So I feel very privileged to be an Irish writer! And I'd better go pack.

If I forgot any questions, or if you've just thought of one, please ask away and I will put up both question and answer!

Comments

( 116 comments — Leave a comment )
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be_themoon
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
I like Draco Malfoy - does anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? Okay.
Yeah, I do. And not in a Draco-in-leather-pants way either. Mostly I think that he's kind of awesome. He's a coward, right? I mean, it's very clearly shown multiple times. He doesn't like risks, he doesn't like danger - but he'll do that for his family. I mean, I think he'd probably do almost anything for his family (as we saw, there was a line).

Plus, I think he could have been handled a lot better, because man most of the evil people were completely unsympathetic. Draco was the only one who really came close to being sympathetic for me - neither Snape nor Pettigrew really were sympathetic, even when Snape was redeemed. (Oh! Regulus Black. He's the other sympathetic Death Eater. Guy was clearly awesome.)
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
I always deeply sympathise with any cowards in fantasy/sci-fi/horror, as someone very conscious that I will not be the one as the zombie hordes approach saying 'I have just thought of a BRILLIANT PLAN' but rather 'I have just peed myself...'
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anarianothren
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Ireland among many other countries has always sounded lovely to me, but I worry like many others growing up in one place whether my romanticism won't get me into trouble.

Lol. I noticed you mentioned Darren Shan. I read his series as a young one, but I've never quite been able to swallow his style, but I love his plot. Does that ever happen to you?
Also, for some reason, I haven't found a single other reader of his work in my area. Though I have foreboding feelings about what the film will do to the general nature of his readers. How scary.

~*Anaria*~

PS- I love Nick just fine...but that shouldn't really say anything since I've a tendency to lean that way...favourite type of character-wise.
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Well, Nick does get love, but I have seen people honestly puzzled by his jerkitude, which always puzzles me in return. But I am always pleased to see the love, since given the risk-taking I am always worried I have created a main character nobody but myself would like!

I understand: style can really trip you up. There are some extremely famous writers whose style I really do not like. (JamesJoycetellnobody.)

Ireland is lovely, but quite different from the way it's depicted normally in books and film!
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kilerkki
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
So, do we get to read Throb? :)
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
There is a reason its other title is 'The Crazy Demon's Covenant you guys will not be reading.'
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draconisaqueous
Nov. 19th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
I utterly love Draco Malfoy because he had so much potential as a character which was, in my opinion, simply not developed enough until the last two books. But fanfic writers have done utterly incredible things with him.

Also I wish like hell I could come and participate in all the panels, especially the Werewolf/Vampire one, because what's with that?

Also, is Mae ever going to give Alan a break and be with him for any period of time? If only for the sake of the hormones.

Edited at 2009-11-19 04:53 pm (UTC)
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I am not actually going to spoil people for the second book, so I cannot answer that one, but certainly the issue will arise.
charlotterhys
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
I'm possibly a little weird in my liking of Nick. I really loved the plot, and how he turned out to be a demon and everything, but I was also a little upset to see someone with the same kind of issues (I have Bipolar I) as me turn out to be... not human. I got over it and I really enjoyed the book and am SO LOOKING FORWARD to the next one, but I was kind of emo for a while.

You just don't often see anger issues like that in main characters often. I gather because neurotypical people have problems identifying with them, but I feel left out sometimes.

(I also like cowards in fiction. Susan (Narnia) was always a favorite of mine, and when I reread them recently, I just got so mad at Lewis with how he treated her!)
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Also a concern for me - because, well, Nick's issues did have to make some sense, and we can all empathise with being logical/furious/unfeeling sometimes, and yet I did not want to tell anyone 'demontown!' So, I'm sorry - and I promise we get some humans with anger issues too.

Oh, Lewis's Susan, I was very sad about her, too.
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vildea
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
I fall in the "Slytherins rule" camp because I always find the meanies, baddies and evils to be the most interesting (thus Nick became my favourite character because it was so darned interesting to try and figure out his motivations for acting that way and generally snickering whenever Mae or Alan got offended... Might have had something to do with having my period and taking pleasure in reading about someone else causing people headaches by being moody... I don't know).

I've been to Ireland and though I've never really walked through the hills, I do live in Norway and spent a lot of time in the country/mountains were sheep roam free... So I rarely see sheep-filled hills (or hills that look like they might be sheep-filled at some point during the year) and think "oh, it'd be lovely to roll down that hill!". Hills, in my experience are either cowered with sheep poo or cow poo, and even if it's far removed from both sheeps and cows, the hills are most likely riddles with some sort of poo regardless.

And apparently reading about ancient civilisations for my exams have reduced me to the mindset of a poo-enthusiastic six-year-old...
augustfalcon
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
I kind of agree with the above about liking Nick, especially because the whole not feeling anything when it seems like everyone else does is something I can relate to. Yeah, he behaves like an ass sometimes, but I understood it more than the usual character who behaves like an ass. My reading of the book went something like:
"Oh, hey, this character makes more sense to me than most do! Cool! Maybe I will even gain some insight into my own life from this!

...

Damn, I'm a demon aren't I."

I mean, I completely enjoyed the book, don't get me wrong. But that was slightly disconcerting. :P
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
My initial reaction is always 'Yay, I'm glad you found the character relatable...' but this may be dreadful of me!
akabins
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
How I desperately want to read Throb... hahaha. :)
fierian
Nov. 19th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
I actually agree...Sarah's take on paranormal romance! How awesome would that be??
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tsubaki_ny
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
Somebody somewhere has to let the werewolf win the bloody love triangle. SOMEONE. :-(
lisaheron
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
The Paranormal Romance Love-Triangle - Why The Werewolf Never Wins

Is it his horribly hairy feet? The tendency to chase cars and bark at cats? Or is it just that vampires are considered more sexy and much less hairy?
(The hair is a big issue here. I mean really, who wants to be cleaning that out the bed every full moon?)

We may never know....

- And that is an essay just waiting to be written! XD

(For the record, I'm totally on the werewolf's side)

On Nick's jerkitude, I'm puzzled by people who find it puzzling. Sure, it didn't make me like the guy as a person, but it did make me respect him as a real, three-dimensional character. Also, he grew on me rather rapidly :D - probably because he wasn't moody and weighed down by self-generated angst. Instead he just really didn't get issues like 'Why-torturing-people-is-not-a-good-thing-to-do-in-front-of-the-normal-teenagers'. I thought the way he was truly disconnected from emotion made him very fascinating.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 21st, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
I have to point out the exception to the rule, of course- Sergeant Angua from the Discworld books. Lovely blonde werewolf from Uberwald meets gorgeous raised-by-dwarfs-but-over-6-foot heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork (though both are currently employed as policemen). A vampire named Sally recently turned up and was interested- Carrot's too lovely for her not to have been- but that love triangle didn't even get an inch off the ground.

Because Terry Pratchett is awesome. And writes the best vampires and werewolves ever.
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melissa_writing
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC)
Dead is dead. Yes. Exactly. Thank you. (Note: exceptions must be made, of course, if Whedon is involved in any way bc he does death & un-death quite well.)

Also? I wish you did vlogging. You're fun/clever/interesting when you write, but after seeing the gestures & expressions & random shriek/squeals, I wish there was video to go w the words.


sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
I do sometimes wish I could do my impressions for the internet... without having to contemplate my own face too long, as that gives me the weeblies. But I am pleased the random shrieking works for you. ;)

I am always a little entertained when someone raises their beloved from the dead, as I envision their future. 'Your turn to do the dishes, honey.' 'Um, I'm sorry, I'm still so tired from RESURRECTING YOU FROM THE DEAD. It is always your turn to do the dishes. Always yours.'
dharma_slut
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Saying a girl who had problems with emotions but was pretty happy connecting to people on a physical level was literally demonic would be kind of a problematic thing to do. So there was that.

I had to read this twice, because my knee-jerk reaction was to get pissed off with the people who call a girl like that a slut. Which is, of course, what the readership would call her, demon or not -- hell, they are calling Mae a slut the way they call Ginny Weasley a slut.

Mostly though, a girl with Nick's kind of autistic personality is simply not believable to our current society. And we don't judge Alan for his brother's escapades, but he would get called many ugly and emasculating things if he did not attempt to enforce a sister's almighty virtue.


sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
I distract myself from society's double standards, which fill me with woe, by imagining Alan enforcing virtue - which I feel he would've tried to do with a sister exactly as far as he did with his brother. 'Maybe it should mean something? Just a thought. I HAVE NO FURTHER THOUGHTS ON THIS MATTER, GIVING YOU THE TALK WAS BAD ENOUGH.'
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radioactivepiss
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
That examination of considering making Nick a girl is really interesting. I confess, Nick as a girl would have been absolutely awesome, but I likewise see why you saw it as possibly not working so well. (And I can't see Alan and the way he operates being as interesting to me if he were female, and Jamie too, and... yeah, I see why it ended up with so many male characters now.)

Also, Nick manages to be completely unflinchingly 'other' (without, as you say, the ever-annoying 'it's all there underneath, he's Different!') but still a character I got incredibly attached to!

(I like Draco! I just don't mention it much, because I hate what fandom does to him.)
pingviini
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
I only just finished reading The Demon's Lexicon because oh dear, oh dear, I'm always late - and oh, Sarah, it was worth waiting for! When I started reading I thought "hmm, YA novel with a whiff of Supernatural?", but I was so wrong, and so happy to be wrong! I set my work aside to read the ending, practically holding my breath the whole time - so dark and frightening and beautiful. I'm going to read it again now, more slowly and thoroughly this time instead of just tearing through it to See What Happens.

Translating Roddy Doyle - I can't even begin to imagine. Well, I can. *tears hair out at the mere thought*
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
My best friend's mama is a heroine. ;)

I am also extremely pleased you liked the book! And that the ending worked for you, and Supernatural whiffing went away.
dreamwaffles
Nov. 19th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
Do we get to see more necromancers in the next book? I was very intrigued by the idea of what they are-magicians without the guts, as Nick calls them-and rather want to see more. It's all right if we don't but I am quite fascinated!

Also, do all magicians have the same inherent skill-set? I don't mean what they choose to specialize in; I imagine that if someone wants to specialize in shapeshifting instead of weather or vice versa they'll be better at the one they prefer (correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the impression I got). But are they all able to do the same things without training?

And finally, is there divination in this world other than calling up a demon and asking it, and can you tell us how it works? :D

Thank you! (I come up with all the good questions when they author is no longer at the signing...)
sarahtales
Nov. 19th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Little bit more of the necromancers, but more on the pied pipers, she says with discretion.

Magicians have the same range, but naturally different levels of abilities: we've mostly seen magicians who are very good so far, but lousy ones are in our future. ;)

Also there are ways to see the past in water in the Demon's Lexicon universe, but it's pretty much magician-level magic, so demons are still involved...
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