New Jacqueline Carey interview

When I started considering resuming doing interviews, I checked to see who was releasing something new in the near future and Jacqueline Carey topped the list. Miranda and Caliban came out earlier this week, so she was happy to oblige! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin—the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters. It is a dazzling novel.

It was nice to have a chance to catch up with the author and I have a feeling that fans will find a lot to love about Carey's answers to my interview questions. Just the thought that there might be a Joscelin POV at some point in the future definitely made my day! =)


- After writing alternate historical fantasy, epic fantasy, and urban fantasy series, what made you decide that your next project would be the retelling of a Shakespeare masterpiece?

It’s been in the back of my mind ever since I reread The Tempest some years ago and realized that beneath the frothy surface, there’s quite a dark subtext. The magician Prospero is an incredibly controlling figure who keeps his daughter Miranda in deliberate ignorance, and Ariel and Caliban in a state of virtual servitude. There’s a lot to unpack!

- Without giving too much away, can you give potential readers a taste of the tale that is MIRANDA AND CALIBAN?

The entire action of Shakespeare’s play takes place in a single day, yet these characters have been exiled together on a nameless island for twelve years. I wanted to explore what happened during that time. We encounter Miranda as a lonely, precocious child, and Caliban as a feral boy abandoned by his mother’s death. Friendship grows between them as she teaches him language, only to be altered by the onset of adolescence.

- How well-received has MIRANDA AND CALIBAN been thus far? Are you happy with the advance praise garnered by the novel?

Very happy! The reviews have been quite good across the board, and it received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which called it a “brilliant deconstruction.” Those are words to warm any author’s heart!

- Will you be touring during the course of the winter/spring to promote MIRANDA AND CALIBAN? If so, are there any specific convention dates that have been confirmed as of yet?

I’m scheduled to be a Guest of Honor at a couple of upcoming conventions: HELIOsphere ( in Tarrytown, New York from March 10-12, and MarCon ( in Columbus, Ohio from May 12-14.

- If your readers could only take one thing away from having read MIRANDA AND CALIBAN (apart from enjoying the read) what would you want that thing to be?

Perhaps an inclination to consider the untold stories hidden beneath any given story.

- What are you planning on writing next?

I’m working on a stand-alone that’s a return to epic fantasy, seasoned with just a dash of pulp horror, tentatively titled The Starless. It’s a quest novel that takes place in a vast archipelago filled with strange and wondrous gods.

- What comes first for you when it comes time to consider your next novel/series: themes you wish to explore, a setting you're interested in, or characters you want to write about?

All of the above! It’s a pretty organic process—bits and pieces of all those elements come together gradually until I have a working concept for a book or series.

- You know I have to ask this. Are there any plans for you to return to the world of Terre d'Ange in the near future?

Not yet! As always, I reserve the right to change my mind if my Muse decides otherwise.

- KUSHIEL'S DART was originally published 15 years ago. I know it doesn't make you feel any younger, but how special is it to see the book still selling after nearly two decades? Are you surprised by your debut's longevity?

It’s awesome, though I would say I’m more delighted than surprised, because I think it’s deserving—but of course, for better or for ill, books, like people, don’t always get the fate that they deserve. So I’ll stick with delighted.

- Speaking of KUSHIEL'S DART, Tor Books have put the ebook on sale a number of times these last few months. Have you seen a growing number of new fans discovering the universe of Terre d'Ange and its unforgettable characters that are now following you online?

You know, there’s always been a steady trickle, and I can’t say that I notice a marked increase when the ebook is discounted. There’s probably a lag between the sale period and the foray into online fandom.

- Considering how important Joscelin Verreuil has been in all the Kushiel novels, I'm wondering if you have ever thought of writing something from his point of view, if only for a short story or a novella. Given how much he gave up for his love for Phèdre, I'm persuaded I'm not the only one who'd love to read something from his perspective.

Okay, so here’s the funny thing about the timing of that question! I’ve been asked before, and the answer’s always been no. The driving sense of inspiration just wasn’t there. But I was recently asked to donate some kind of unique goodies for a giveaway for The Pixel Project (, which raises awareness of violence against women, and I came up with the idea of pairing signed copies of Miranda and Caliban with an original Shakespearean-style sonnet. I polled my readers on Facebook, and a sonnet from Joscelin to Phèdre was one of the most popular requests. Writing it in the first person was the first time I’d really put myself directly inside his head, looking through his eyes, and it gave me ideas. So… maybe.

- Speaking of the Kushiel books, the sucess of TV shows like Game of Thrones have fans foaming at the mouth at the thought of seeing your signature series getting the same treatment. Has there been any interest thus far?

There’s always interest, but so far, it’s never come together in a cohesive package. Someday, maybe. Dare to dream!

- Even if this became a reality, authors seldom have any say in creative matters. But I would like you to give me your dream casting for Phèdre, Joscelin, Imriel, Hyacinthe, and Mesisande.

I’m lousy at playing the Imaginary Casting Game, I’d just want a cast of wildly talented unknown actors and actresses. I once tried to explain that I’d want the next Tatiana Maslany, who’s been such a revelation in Orphan Black, to play Phèdre, and had a chorus of fans weigh in on whether or not Tatiana Maslany was right for the part. No, I meant the next one!

- How has your interaction with fans and critics colored your choices in terms of characterization and plot? Has there ever been anything that you've changed due to such interaction in any of your novels?

No, I tend to be a Fortress of Solitude-type writer. Of course, I try to pay attention to any criticism that rings as valid to me, but I can’t think of any instances where it’s caused me to make significant changes to my work going forward—perhaps just to think more deeply about whatever issues it touched on.

- Do you have a different approach when it comes to writing alternate historical fantasy, epic fantasy, and urban fantasy novels? How about for the retelling of a classic tale like you did for MIRANDA AND CALIBAN?

Strangely enough, not really. All require a certain amount of research and observation to ground them in a sense of reality. All the magic in Miranda and Caliban is based on actual Renaissance practices, and the setting was inspired in part by visiting the Alhambra.

- When asked what you felt was your strength as a writer/storyteller in a previous interview, you replied that it was versatility. That you love all aspects of the writing process -- character development, plotting, world-building and handling language. You believed that it allowed you to write with the depth and richness you crave as a reader, while still telling a compelling story.

So what would be your weaknesses, or aspects of your craft you feel you need to work on?

Tough question! Coming out of the gate with Kushiel’s Dart featuring such a wholly unique protagonist, I set the bar kind of high for myself. I do—she said in all modesty—think I’m a pretty well-rounded writer with a solid grasp of my craft, but maybe the next project I tackle ought to be one that really, truly challenges me and pushes me to grow as a writer.

- Some authors mention that they're never fully satisfied with any of their books, that there is always the idea of the book one attempts to write versus the book that one actually managed to create. Looking back, give us an example of something that didn't quite work out the way you envisioned it. Given the chance, is there anything you would change in any of your novels?

I get that—I struggled with it in the visual arts, in which I dabbled extensively in my youth. I could never execute actual physical artwork that fulfilled my vision. Writing was a medium I found I could bend to my will, and I’m quite satisfied with all the books I’ve written; though given the chance, I would probably go back and edit out some of the semicolons. See, I didn’t even realize there was a semicolon in that last sentence!

- According to George R. R. Martin, most authors are either architects, who write novels based on detailed outlines, or gardeners, who have a general idea of where the storylines are going but prefer to watch things grow as they go along. Which type of writer are you and why do you prefer that approach?

Although I don’t outline on paper, I’m an architect. I think about novels in structural form. I’m not even sure if it’s a question of preference, it’s just an innate part of my process.

- You seem to derive a whole lot of pleasure from putting your readers through the wringer with heartwrenching scenes in basically all of the Kushiel novels. Why must you make your characters suffer so?

Oh, you know it hurts so good! But seriously, when you’re writing in the first person POV, barring any literary sleight-of-hand, it’s kind of a given that your protagonist will survive. To make the stakes feel real, there have to be sacrifices; there has to be genuine pain and loss. Otherwise, why should the reader care?

- Have you ever written a scene, only to be stunned by your own reaction after reading it?

There have been a few, and I think it speaks to the previous question, because they tend to center around grief and the unexpected ways it manifests. A good example is Imriel’s final confrontation with Berlik in Kushiel’s Justice. This long-awaited encounter, which one expects to be a moment of righteous retribution, becomes something more profound and achingly poignant. Even though I wrote it, it took me by surprise.

- Some writers admit having a favorite book among those they've written previously, others say that their favorite is their current work in progress, and others still say it's always the next book that hasn't been written yet. How about you?

All of the above at any given time! But Kushiel’s Dart will always have a special place in my heart. It was my breakthrough novel, both in creative and professional terms.

- You have been writing novels for nearly two decades. What has changed the most in the speculative fiction genre since you began your career? How about you as a writer?

Probably the biggest change is how mainstream it’s become. That struck me recently when I saw a clip of Tony Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth singing an operatic acapella version of the Game of Thrones theme song on a talk show, and I thought to myself, “It’s official, we’re all geeks now!” After nearly twenty years of interacting with fans, as a writer, I think I’m more mindful of the potential impact of what I write. It’s always a bit shocking to hear from readers who encountered the Kushiel’s Legacy series at a young age.

- If you could go back in time and offer some advice to Jacqueline Carey at the start of her career, what would it be?

I would advise her to stay atop all aspects of her professional career, including publicity and marketing. To trust her instincts, and not rely on others to do the best possible job of promoting her work. There have been a few times I failed to speak out and regretted it. Also, I would tell her to appreciate her youthful metabolism, because it won’t last forever!

- Neil Gaiman said of Lord Dunsany’s THE KING OF ELFLAND’S DAUGHTER, “...It’s a rich red wine, which may come as a shock if all one has had so far has been cola.” If MIRANDA AND CALIBAN was a drink, which one would it be? Would you recommend downing it in one shot or sipping it slowly...?

I’d say it’s a honey mead that tastes sweet on the tongue, but with an underlying note of bitterness that leaves the reader with an ache at the back of their throat, and I would definitely recommend sipping it slowly.

- Anything else you wish to share with us?

Just to say thanks for reading!

3 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

It's always a pleasure to read an interview with Carey. Thank you so much for doing this! I'm even more excited about reading Miranda and Caliban! ^^


Anonymous said...

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this!