Author Interview: Inda by Sherwood Smith
Release Date: July 6, 2022
Your hosts indulge a little too much in “this is more of a comment than a question” as they are once again joined by Sherwood Smith, this time to talk about Inda (one of Sara’s favorite books ever). They discuss choreographing big battles, sex positivity in fiction, and Sherwood’s current projects.
Thanks to the following musicians for the use of their songs:
- Amarià for the use of “Sérénade à Notre Dame de Paris” - Josh Woodward for the use of “Electric Sunrise”
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
*this transcript is AI generated, please excuse the mess.
Hey listener, I just wanted to say that while the recording quality starts out kind of rough for this episode, it does get fixed fairly early on. Thanks for bearing with us and enjoy this episode of fiction fans. Hello, and welcome to fiction fans podcast where we read books and other words to undelete.
And I'm Sarah, and I can't believe that I get to say this for a second time. But I am so thrilled to be welcoming back to the podcast, Sherwood Smith. It is just an incredible honor to have you on.
It's an honor to be asked. Well, before we start talking about Endo, which is our book of the day, we have a couple of intro questions. First of which is what's something great that happened recently? Wow, I
don't know if it's great. But I had a birthday a few days ago turned 71
Oh, happy birthday or happy belated birthday.
Best Present is waking up the next morning.
about you Sarah. My good thing is that I had dinner with a friend that we've made on book Twitter, KR Lock Haven. We've covered his book a couple of times on the podcast, and he was in the area with his family on vacation. And so we met up and have dinner and that was lovely. Awesome. I'm so jealous. Sorry, not sorry.
It is cool. All the awesome people we've met doing this.
It really is
face to face meetings again.
Yeah. What a concept.
My good thing is that I played Twilight Imperium this weekend. Oh, which means probably nothing to most people. But it's a pretty huge board game that takes like 10 hours to play if you already know the rules and twice that if you're trying to learn it as you go. So it's hard to find the time to set aside for that. But we got together with some friends and it was really cool. I did not win, but that's okay. And what's everyone's beverage for the evening?
Well, for me, it's just water because it's too hot for anything else.
That's important. Gotta stay hydrated.
Mm hmm. I am drinking wine although not in a to handle my lovin wine drinking. Yes.
I do want one of those. Picture a Greek pilots. Cool where we're seeing one of those from from straight on. It's kind of beautiful lines. Very shallow dish with the handles. And you can't
I do. Yeah, I remember that point being made. And that was one of the benefits of that cutlery was or not cutlery. But yeah, I'm also drinking wine. Also not out of one of those really cool cups. Maybe I'll fix that for next time.
I think we have two wines you to drink
franzia, it's not a good answer. Epernay
I'm, I'm drinking a white wine. I didn't look at the bottle, I'm afraid. But it's something interesting. I'm sure that my wine club sent me. I'm part of a like they, they send me two bottles of wine. It's a wine store in San Francisco, and they send two bottles of wine a month.
Gotta do some good ones in there.
Nothing particularly expensive. I think the cost of shifting is more than the cost of the bottles. But it's fun. And it's a nice way to make sure that I have wine in the house all the time.
And yours came out of a glass container. So automatic two point addition. Yes. All right. I'm going to start by answering Have you read any good books lately with I have been reading into like my life depends on it for the last several days. It's a really long book that does not feel as long as it is I have to say, I think okay, I'm jumping ahead, I promise. No, I won't do it.
Save the comment for when we actually start our proper discussion of ENDA. I couldn't help myself. So I did start rereading the fox pretty much immediately after I finished in the I just I had to I had to move on to the next book.
And that's the sequel I know this I didn't
see if I've been reading a lot of book view Cafe manuscripts lately. So today I started several people that recommended Kate J. Charles's will darling books, which are m slash m. Adventure mysteries set right after World War One. And boy, I really got into it. The author did her research. And I liked the characters and I could see why they're popular, stupefied, look forward to finishing it.
That sounds cool. Yeah, that sounds fascinating. I liked the
guys, the villains are good and villainy.
Oh, you're not allowed to talk about good villains because then I'll just skip forward to talking about India again. Although I think there can I think I
think they are there. We are there except that before we start off talking about India, I actually wanted to ask a question about another book that you've published. You recently had a book come out yesterday, or as we're recording yesterday for listeners that would, it will have been out for a couple of weeks. But can you tell us a little bit about that novel?
Well, it's, I tried to make it stand alone. But it covers characters I've been writing about for awhile, and I tried to introduce them. So it'll be up to new readers to say whether it's confusing or not, because I'm in the forest of I'm surrounded by the trees. It's called the wicked skill from an awesome poem by John Donne. And it's kind of expresses, in an oblique way, the energy that's going on, because there's a lot about discovering love all the types of love. It's not a romance in the sense of two characters in the foreground, who commit for the rest of their lives and happily ever after. There is one couple who are committed, but there are all kinds of other types of love. And they get explored. And it takes place in one summer before a huge arc begins by meaning, the next book starts hours after that one ends, but they don't know it. ends very upbeat. And that
shit gets real. The love story part sounds absolutely lovely, with a good dose of what is that dramatic tension? Well,
I'm swashbuckling, there's some of them. And then there's manners
always have to have manners.
This book takes place in the same kind of extended universe as it does Correct.
Yes, it's just 800 years later, in the so called Modern Times,
I have to say, when we were coming up with interview questions, so many of my questions, were just like, tell me this thing about the world. But wait, let's go on here. Do we ever find out this other thing, which I am curious about, but it's probably not great interview.
I love though I love how much depth there is to end, like, you can tell that there's this fully formed world. And there's so many like details that we just get glimpses of, it's great. I could gush about this book for hours and hours and hours.
I think it's neat, that we have represented here in this conversation, three extremely different levels of familiarity with this world. I think surprising, no one. Sure. Would you know what the best at if anyone, Sarah, who's read the whole series multiple times, and then I who have just read the first book fairly recently, so we're all going to have very, we're gonna be going to be coming from different points of reference. And that's
meet good, that makes it more interesting.
But I was really impressed by how, despite how huge this world is, I never felt like I was left behind. Oh, good. And I was wondering if that was a special consideration you made or if you had any strategy for that, being able to introduce new readers to this huge world and all of these characters? Well,
I have an omniscient narrator, I gave up time. Third, even though the fashion editors were requiring it for a long time. But when I turned this into dA, the editor said, No, go for it. Because tight surd really is difficult to make work with a multi strand novel. Because you you get this jerky feeling that you keep having to go back and catch up with everybody, and change the scenes arbitrarily. So that you, if you have three people in a scene, you have to stop the scene and then go to the next person, stop the scene and then go to the second person, so on with omniscient narrator, you can get inside of anybody's head, you just have to be really careful to let the reader know when you are switching. So that was the main thing I have to be conscious of. And in the many, many, many, many, many, many, many rewrites. Sara, you will recognize this. There's a certain conversation between two people at the end of trees and shore end at 26. Drafts. Wow. I say over and over and over anyway. And who knows if it works or not, I can't say it's all Up to the reader.
I think it works. Yeah, as a reader.
We're a bad focus group. Depending on what answer you're looking for. No, I thought the scenes flowed together really beautifully. But that's just me gushing about the book. Now, that's not a question.
Kind of on the subject of all of the characters and the different viewpoints that are in this book, where there are so many characters like it's a it's a huge cast of characters. How did you manage balancing the screen time for all of these different characters? And they're different like plotlines? Well,
most of the time, I'm just following the movie in my head. And I'm kind of following the camera. And the camera stays on who's more interesting at the moment. But sometimes you have to hide somebody's thoughts, because it'll be better to find out later, if everybody else is trying to figure out what that person is thinking. Sometimes it's just better dramatically, not to let the reader know, until later, usually at a cusp of importance. But a lot of times, I don't have that much control, because I'm so inside, and I'm so visually driven. So mostly, I try to keep scenes with the highest emotional tension. If I can,
oh, I think you definitely nailed it. So I mentioned earlier that this is a really, really long book that doesn't feel long at all. And every once in a while, the characters would mention, like, Oh, now we're going to do drill trading for two months, or something like that. And at the beginning of the book, in my head, I would go, Oh, great. Now we're gonna watch them do drill training for two months, because it's a 600 page book, of course, we're gonna get all of that stuff. But no, you just went right to the next thing. It was so quickly paced. It was so compelling, it was great. There's a reason
why I was pushing you to read this book. Like it's such a good book. It's such a good book. Also, that was not a question. No, I know. Yeah.
Here, there's, this is a real question. Something else I was very impressed by was how sex positive. The book is, in like a really casual, offhanded way that just makes it feel even more sincere. And I was wondering if you had any thoughts or comments on how well it's aged in a way that a lot of books written? Not even that long ago, I have not accomplished?
I think that would be up to the reader, I did get a lot of harsh reviews. If you go to Amazon, look, in the early days, 206, when it came out, you'll see people saying that I shoved homosexuality down their throats. It's awkward because of that, and all that. But you know, every reader brings their own experience and their own background and their own expectations. So I didn't think I was ever going to be able to publish it. And remember, I told you, I've been working on this series since I was young. And I'm 71. So think of the days when gay positive just was not in the cards. You had to code everything 60s 70s 80s 90s To a certain extent. But I was really glad when the draw editor just said no, go for it. That's awesome. Not just the gay but the poly. Yeah, there.
There are questions around that, that I want to ask that I can't because they're spoilers for later in the series. But one of the things that I really loved was just how nonchalant it all is like to disagree with those reviews. You're not shoving anything in anyone's face. It's just, you know, like background. This is the world no one cares who you sleep with, or who you don't sleep with, unless it's a matter of like, politicking and like personal feelings, but it's not about gender or anything like that. And I think this was one of the first books that I read that had that laid out in a way like that, and made it very clear, which I think is really valuable for any reader.
I forget what it was. But I started thinking the stuff through a long time ago, how to approach it, I was determined that there was never going to be any woman rate in any of my books. I was just set up to here with reading that stuff. And that's not to say other people aren't going to go there for important reasons and I mean, feminists positive reasons, as well as male fantasy they can have that. I'm not denigrating anybody I just said for me. I was not going to write it because I like reading a book where I don't find it. There's enough of that in real life. There's one woman in my family who has not dealt with and I won't go any further because we're talking people's real lives. But in my fictional world, zip, so coming up to that, I thought, well, you know, how do you approach? How do you write about it? And then the obvious hit me, we don't have to character sitting there saying, so I'm going to open this store. And that means by turning the knob and pulling the door to work, yes, you are going to open that door by pulling the knob toward you. And walking through the door. We don't do that we know, he opened the door, a door is open. So I thought if if I present sex is just something everybody knows. Everybody talks about it. Occasionally we get a reference, like, you know, when are you going to get the first time over? Oh, my parents took me to bless your house. So I could, I could learn some extra tricks because I wanted to get some skills before I get out there, then tells you a lot. And it's just in one exchange, rather than a five page lecture about, well, this world, you know, we are blah, blah, blah. It's also
I mean, since this is a coming of age story for India, but also for so many of the other characters that we come to love over the course of the book, it would be kind of like a strange omission to just pretend it didn't exist.
Yeah, yes. Yeah. Well, in the first draft, I did that. I pretended it didn't exist. And it just felt very false. But I thought it's never gonna get published, if I come up front by this stuff. So I'll just tiptoe around it, and people can match it. And as the years went by decide no, no, no, it's, it's for one thing, it's reading false. It's reading superficially, and there were too many important conversations like, well, there's it's not spoiler yet. So one person with that person, sister, there's a conversation I would have had to let leave out. And I think that that's a transitional. I think it's an important one.
Yeah, absolutely. And on
the other side of how casually accepting this world is of sex, you also get how casual they are about someone who doesn't want to have sex, right? And that's something that you don't see. Or if you do see it, like gets a big dramatic deal made about it, instead of just us. Okay.
Again, I think the banner of the damned was the first book, a traditionally published book I read that had an ace main character. So it's not just in these specific books. This is like a through line and all of your books really, I would say,
Yeah, that one just tanked hard. They did not like a lot of people did not like having an ace characters with robots. I loved it. Like,
oh, it was so perfect. I'm Ace. And that was like the first time I saw myself represented and in a book, and it was so good.
I have had several letters from people who said finally, there's me in there.
But okay, we're not here to talk about better.
Yet. Yeah, yeah. Well, you you sort of mentioned earlier how writing for you is sort of like annotating a movie that you see in your head? Is it the same for these like huge battle sequences? Yes, you're just able to see it all and write it down. That's incredible.
I don't see the whole thing. Just just as any person in a battle sees the fog of war, you only see what's around you. I see through the character's eyes. So I see the dust and the confusion and the terror. But when I plan it out, I have to get out of that side of me and map it out. So I know what happened everywhere, so that I can keep control of the see
that makes sense because you have some really big battles, both in ENDA and even bigger battles as the series goes on. That's right. I can't imagine like not keeping track of what's going on. Oh, I
can't tell you how many maps I've got all of that stuff and prevailing winds and weather patterns for the battles and law law law. I was always doing running research alongside writing it.
I was gonna ask how much research did you end up doing for all of the academy stuff and more lovin like land battles and then for the seafaring stuff,
tons I can look in the other room there. And I can show you all of the war research I've got
Wow, that is
that's all history and and then here's all my ship stuff.
Oh, yeah. That's a lot of books. Yes.
And those are the ones I own. It's they're not the ebooks and In a library that I had to get back. So yeah, I was constantly doing research and taking notes. For the academy. Although I started writing about the academy when I was a teenager. To understand how it worked, I began doing a shit ton of research in the 90s, reading, boy school stories. And it taught me a lot about the social organization, and the Reach over the lifetime of the people that I never would have thought of until I did all this reading. So yeah, there were unexpected areas of research that ended up contributing. That was
something that really surprised me, that maybe maybe surprised isn't the right word, but there's a lot of wealth, there's war. So there's violence. But there was also quite a bit of domestic violence, just, you know, between families and siblings. And I guess it didn't feel gratuitous, but it was very upsetting. I think, you know, you're supposed to be upset by it. It made sense. But it was not something I was expecting going into the book.
Violence is something that is hard to turn off. When you're raised in a warrior society, it tends to inform other aspects of life. That's another thing I've learned from just decades of reading history.
I think that's really well illustrated by Oh, at our now I have to pronounce someone's name for the first time. Door. Tor
Oh, door to door, is it you pronounce both letters? Okay.
Everything is okay. It Okay, there are no silent syllables. Everything's as phonetic as I can get it. Okay.
There's a point very early on in the book, when to door is sort of marveling at the fact that adults can be so cold towards each other, towards other adults, whom they're supposed to be partners with. But then we also see her relationship with her peers change as they age and start going through this. I mean, machine, really, the academy and these awful life experiences. And I thought that was very well sort of like, hinted that. And then, because we were sort of primed for it, it was very easy to follow as it happened.
Good. Thank you. I'm glad that came through.
Changing gears a little bit, I have a question that we probably should have asked at the beginning of the conversation instead of near the end of the section. But oh, well, oh, well, we're gonna ask it now. Can you tell us a little bit about? You've said that you have been working on this series? Since you're a girl? Can you tell us a little bit about where your like inspiration came from? And how the idea for this huge extended universe came about?
So do you want the origins of India or the whole thing?
I mean, maybe a little bit of both. I'm curious about both personally. Okay, things
started when I was eight years old. And then when I was 13, I began to realize the size of it. And a few years later, when I was 18, or 19, I started making larger maps, made little maps as a young team. And it was what I was making the larger map. Actually, I think it's when I made the globe. Let me tell you, if you right, this is the cheapest and best investment.
Oh, an actual globe.
Instant time zone.
Oh, that's a.
So this is a, I would say a classic beach
ball. Yep. With the world painted on it. Yeah,
I made that when I was 20. So it's changed a little, which is why all the white blotches over it. When I was actually that year, later that year, I took an oceanography course. And once I understood plate tectonics, so I looked at the map of our world. And I thought, you know, there's patterns here. I don't think I'm imagining this. And then I did take an oceanography course, at that time, plate tectonics was still a theory. It hadn't quite been proved yet. There were a bunch of different theories. But as soon as I heard it, I thought, That's it. That's what's going on. So I fixed the map so that all the plates could have fit together a million years
ago. So you really have the the history of this world from, like pre history, yet through modern times. That's incredible.
Well, if you're a history person, it's just plain geekery.
It's it's great. I love it, though. And I actually have the kind of similar question There's a mention early on and into. And you you kind of hint at this throughout the course of this series about a war with North thunder, which nearly wiped magic out. Do you have a book on that out? Are you ever planning on writing that story?
It's too depressing. Hmm. Because they lose. But it is going to be talked about in the series that's coming out next, the first one will come out in September.
Awesome. I will definitely keep an eye out for that. Because I really want to know,
a lot of it will come out. The origin of India is actually tied to that. Because when I was making the first world map, and I thought, Well, what do they call the straight? I thought, l gar. And I thought, well, what's the story behind l gar. And remember, I'm a teenager and I thought, Okay, l gar, is not who they think it is. Everybody is wrong about the origins. And Elgar himself, never thought that it would last. So those were the things I knew had to go into it. And then I wrote on other things for 20 years, and more and more ideas kept coming. But it didn't come together until I realized the end of was on the spectrum. Now, I could not say that in the book, because they don't think that way. But his entire family is on the spectrum. And so when he's in that mode, where he sees all the pieces put together for a war, what we could call multitasking, because a waitress does the same thing. You know, you're keeping track of all the tables, and who's eating faster, and who's on the run, and so forth. It can be cascading, he's cascading as a person on the spectrum can do it. And once I realized that, everything, everything fell into place. I couldn't write fast enough,
how long did it take you to complete the series?
Gosh, I'd have to get the notes out. I think I started writing it finally in the late 90s. And of course, the first book was published in 2006. And then they came out one a year after that. So
pretty quickly, then I would say I would call it very fast. I know you've done faster, but
Well, considering I was raising two kids teaching full time maintaining household miracle. That's incredible. I manage that by getting up every day between four and five in the morning. So I could right before the family got up. And then I went into mom mode to get everybody ready for school. And then went into teacher mode at seven, when drove to school kids went to safe place I was teaching and so forth. But anyway,
that is a crazy schedule.
I am in awe, seriously in awe.
It was a crazy schedule. There's a reason I have high blood pressure.
Well, I had 100 half formed questions about Magic, but I think it sounds like the answer to that is also read the next book.
A lot of that comes out in the subsequent books. And some of what you might ask would be spoilery.
Yeah. So that's interesting. We're talking about books coming out now and how they relate to a series that came out in 2006. How necess necessary is not the right word. Do you feel like this the sartorius Delos series benefits from being read in order or even just reading them together? Or?
Well, I would say any writer should never do what I did. I've done everything possible wrong. Back afterward. It just that's the way it happened. It's not a series within a neat order. Because I wrote it all my life. The stories I wrote as a kid, when you're getting to know the modern time characters as kids, some people want to read those first, but they are kids stories. I mean, they are what they are. And there are a lot of people of God, that's awful. So, you know, it just depends on what you want as a reader, what your expectations are, I can't say. So on my website, I do have a FAQ on the bibliography page. I say reading order, look on this page FAQ. And I lay it out in sections and I say for people who want X begin here for people want why begin here? So that's the best I could do.
There's absolutely an answer to that question. Then. There's different roadmaps. Yeah.
Not a clear.
But I also feel like even though it's this huge, interconnected series that may have fun echoes with each other, you don't have well I haven't read that many of them. Maybe I shouldn't say anything.
No, go ahead make an observation. Because guessing without knowing is valuable, too.
It doesn't feel like you're going to be confused. If you start in one place or don't read all of them are something.
Yeah, I don't I don't think. And I haven't read everything, although I'm making a valiant attempt to. But I feel like there are some stories that benefit more from having a little bit of context. But it's not necessary, like a time of daughters, for example, I think it helps if you have a little more knowledge of the events of ENDA, but you don't strictly speaking half to. And then there are some series like into where you can come in completely a blank slate. And as you reread or after having read other things like you will see these neat little details that your you click on eggs. Yeah, but like you don't lose anything by not catching those the first time you read, right?
I want the chronological order. I think that's how I want to try to do it. Not the order they came out in, but the historical for the world chronology. I think that is what confuses me the most. But that's just because I've read like a piece here, a piece there. And then I read something about several 1000 years. And I'm like, what? Once I'm in the story, it's fine.
There's only one that takes place before and it's very short. It's called Lilly and crown, which is about the start of Poland. And otherwise, I end as far back as I've written. Another short story that's even older than that, but it hasn't come out yet.
Does it have a release date? Or a plan? release time?
Yes. But it's 10 years and their future and idle, hoping to get to that sequence in the next couple of years.
So you clearly have a ton of ideas still in this world. But you did take a maybe not hiatus, but detour through a different series recently. Do you have other ideas percolating? Are you back in Sartorius Delos mode?
Well, right now I'm pretty much in in sartoria stealth mode. But I'm hoping I've got some images for another story in the phoenix feather world. And I'm just waiting for them to coalesce. Because I really want to go back there. It's so much fun. I just love that world.
This makes my heart so happy.
That is what I was fishing for. It's true.
Oh, I've got such a great opening, just such a good opening. But I just need the through light and then I can start writing it.
I'm very excited. I absolutely love the Phoenix other series. It was fantastic. I'm not going to talk about it because this is not an absolute on that series. But it was great. I really want more. Well, I
think we are just about to the time where we can start talking about spoilers for Inda. But before we do that, Sarah, why should you read this book,
you should read this book, if you like coming of age stories with some politics and big battles, a lot of nuanced characters where everyone is sympathetic, even when you don't like them. If you just if you want a good book you should read into. And then the rest of
the series. I would like to argue that well, not about reading the book. But you said politics, which is true, but there's very different kinds of politics. And sometimes when people say there's politics in a book, they mean people standing around in a room going, what do you think this other country is going to do? And that bores me to tears. That's not the politics in this book. This book is like interpersonal machinations. And that's the cool kind of politics. And that's why you should read this book.
Just read this book. Just read this book. It's so good. To avoid spoilers,
skip to 101 10
Okay, but now we can talk about all of the like, gut punches that happen. Tan read.
I always cry when Tamron dies.
Oh, I hated writing that I fought and fought and fought. I tried so hard to see him survive and live and I just I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it.
It just It breaks my heart on the one hand I like it because it shows that like the characters are going through very real danger and you're not afraid to kill characters off. But on the other hand, I loved his development from like this not necessarily intentionally mean older brother but from this you know, kind of mean older brother to someone with a little more thought and maturity to him. And then he dies. It's heartbreaking. I didn't have a question there. And that was just my moment for Tamron.
Well, you mentioned fighting against that scene. Were there any moments in this book that surprised you?
Yeah, well, not in this one. But later on in the series there were when I saw suddenly connections came up. Oh, that's what that is. I see how that connects with.
You mentioned that you went through, like more than 26 drafts for the series, how different is the final product from that first draft that you wrote? Well, that's
for one particular scene at the end of shore, I still think it needs another draft. And I would love to, when I get the rights back, I'm gonna give it that last draft. The pros is not as tight as it could be. It's as tight as I could get it. Then when I was working full time, and basically running on fumes, but I could get a tighter. So there are some portions that got a lot more attention than others. Just, you know, we're finite beings. And we have deadlines. And, you know, but you know, the score.
So I think it's so interesting that this book is part of a series, but then this book itself feels like it could have been two separate books with Yes, part one and part two. So how do you make the decision to split up the story into like, where you do? What's the difference between four books or splitting them up into several smaller ones? Or how does that go?
The first draft actually had ended halfway through the fox. And it was gone. Wow. Long was way too long. I was writing on computer. I didn't have to print it out. And I paid no what? I just write the story. And I sent it to the editor and she says, No, you have to end it a lot sooner. And I said, I whined. I said, Oh, it's gonna be a cliffhanger and everybody's gonna hate me. Nobody likes it. Next one where she said, Well, you're just gonna have to make an ending that feels like an ending. It's too long. We can't produce it cost too much the word for these Romane flute. So it's a long story like Patrick O'Brien. It's it's a long story, and it's just arbitrarily cut up. So that's kind of what happened here. So the structure the fox is real weird, but actually, I think it works. There's a climax halfway through. But there is a climax at the end too. So the to kind of balance
is that middle climax then where you wanted to end into? Well, it's
where I began and and it's more conventional. Hmm. Let's see. That's yeah, that's the fox. So I should shouldn't really do spoilers.
I want to read it.
Despite my questions, we are trying to keep this contained to into spoilers, right. I'm just since I'm in the middle of reading it. I'm like, I want to ask questions about these specific things.
I'm not there yet. I'm sorry.
I know. I know. I'll stop. I'll be good. I do always expect in the and I've read it a couple of times. So I don't know why I have this very firmly in my head. But I do always expect it to stop with his banishment. And that all of this stuff starts in the fox, which is not true. No. That's the last half of the book.
Yeah, that that was always part two.
So the exact opposite of what we thought. So something that I found very striking, was oh, okay, now I know the secret to pronouncing these names. By the way, I suppose CRLF is a title and not his name. Right? The I mean, the air right, the first grade, right? That's clearly his character is so interesting. And Sarah's comment was getting more and more sympathy for him on each reread. And I wonder if that How old are you Sarah? When you first read this book? Do you really
think when I first read this book? I don't know.
Because I'm gonna shit talk you and if you were young No, it's a great excitement.
That's fine. I was probably about 17 or so. That's not young enough. When I first read it,
how could you not feel sorry for him?
No, it's not I didn't It's not that I didn't feel sorry for him like at all like I did feel sorry for him. It's just the each time I reread it I feel more and more sorry for him. That's fair. In my first reread I was really involves like feeling emotionally for the other characters who go through some shit. And I was like, okay, yeah, the CLF isn't a bad situation and I feel bad for him but like cuz he is the cause of a lot of their trouble.
Yeah. Or is he just the tool? Isn't he just a tool in every sense of the word? That too?
Well, I think reading that at 17, you'd approach it like a teenager. And like, this guy is just a jerk. Because your fellow teenagers gonna see all that family background and all that stuff. They're just gonna see a giant bully. Mm hmm. And like, they're,
you know, there are mitigating circumstances, in the sense that his uncle essentially makes him this way. Yeah, hence the sympathy for him. But he is still just by his actions a jerk. Even if he'd grown up differently. Maybe that wouldn't have been the case. But
yeah, he just seems very in over his head. Which I How can you not be, I guess, how can one person rule the whole country? I guess people have done it. That's not impossible. But that does seem overwhelming to me. Yeah, I guess there was a question about him, though. It not just me teasing Sarah. But that sort of slow reveal, because he is, you know, presented as just this straightforward jerk at the beginning. But then you start to see how his uncle is pulling his strings and has him completely manipulated. And that control of information, I guess, because it's not exactly a twist. It's sort of the slow dread, of understanding who's really calling the shots here.
Yes. And he's their father is sympathetic. But he and his father just could not understand each other. Because again, using modern language, dyslexia runs through that family hard. And unfortunately, the king didn't get it. And he just, he would have been a scholar if he could have been, but he had to be a king. And his one real Solace is books, and that he could share what's his second son? Well, how's the oldest boy gonna feel when your little brother and your dad are tight buddies, and you're left out. And the implication is that you're too stupid to follow, because you cannot read, you try. And you try until it feels like your eyes are gonna bleed, and you just can't do it. And so he's frustrated and fighting himself. And so the one thing he can excel at is the Academy because they're, he's king, and he knows it. And he can feel good about himself. All the horse tails, follow him. Wow. Okay. And this is the way it's supposed to be. So I'm right. I'm supposed to be in command. So you can kind of see his way of trying to reconcile himself, and he doesn't have a bad heart. No, you can see that when dog piss dies. He's genuinely full of remorse. He could go back and undo it, he would. And then of course, his uncle comes along says, no cost of war.
Conveniently forgetting that this is a children's school and not. The uncle was just so I don't do something about that. Like, we get the hint, at the very beginning, there's a very early sort of spy note passed between some of the women characters, watch out for him, or don't trust him or something like that. So your ears perk up a little. And then you slowly start to realize how really justified that was.
And I think that reveal of information, too, is really good. And it continues throughout the seat. Well, at least in the fox, you get more of that
the poor man is so OCD, which is something you actually need to be as a ruler, you need to be to a certain amount, you need to have an organizational ability, but he's kind of over the top with it.
Well, and even he isn't a one dimensional villain, because we get that sort of sympathetic understanding that all he's trained for was war. So of course, he's going to try to do it. He loves his
country, and he loves his brother. Yep. So it's not coming from a bad place necessarily. It just has bad results.
But at the same time, I would not shy away from calling him the villain of the book at all, personally.
Yep. Yeah. Yeah, it's fair. Totally fair. A lot of lives are lost because of him. Yeah. Including darkness. Yes. That was another I hated writing. Yeah, I
bet into telling him not to go. That is another heart wrenching scene.
How Old Are they at that 30? Are they live in at that point or 12?
They're right in there. Yeah, except the only one who's a little older as Everett, but I think he's barely 14 If that. So they're pretty young. So,
we mentioned that there's both war and politics happening in this book on many different levels. But I was wondering how not how you balance, you can tell which questions we formulated ahead of time and which ones I'm coming up with on the fly? How is it different writing the tension between antagonists, whether they be political in nature, a country or a rival versus violent head on conflict?
I think it's a broad question. So I think you need to consider what the motivations are, what the constraints are, and what the possibilities are, of what's open to you as a response. You know, if you're going to have fistfights all the time, speaking as exegesis outside of the story, it's going to be boring, because you know, oh, here comes another fistfight. Speaking, as mummy says, inside the story, for anybody, there are all kinds of choices all the time, and paths you can take, and not everybody is gonna be wanting to jump in and mix it up all the time. You're just not going to last very long.
I had a question about coming up with all of the titles. And like, did you have or rather do you have a, like a linguistic like chart for everything where you keep track of root words and all of that?
I did. Yeah. I got a lot of stuff from nor ski. Because I figured the ven came over. It was a long ship that came through a world gate. Let's see, I forget how many 1000s of years ago, but it was long enough ago. And I figured I'm not a linguist. So I figured out there's going to be language drift. So let's just go with that. and work from there. So some terms would be recognizable, I figured really important cultural terms probably wouldn't change as much like Jarle. And other ones might, as their cultural significance changed.
I didn't notice. So at one point, really early on, because the academy is traditionally for first son's and then this book starts with the second son's being called, they get labeled as the ions in the dry. No, I'm say, today. It sounds it just sounded like the German words for one and two to me. By dry,
yeah. Fight dry. Yeah, but nor ski. So it's a kind of, kind of it's, it's, again, I was figuring on changes there. Yeah, it's kind of recognizable, but not the same.
I loved the hint we got, I do not remember at all which scene it's in. But at 1.1 of the characters is internally musing about someone else's accent, and how they pronounced Jarle with a yes sound. And that's how you can tell they're not from here. It was just such an easy way of getting me to realize that I had been pronouncing Jarle wrong in my head the whole time. Without taking me out of the story at all. I was just like, oh, the Hi, I'm also foreign. That's true. Mostly, we just have sad faces next to character names for?
Well, I did put a pronunciation guide on my, on my website for people who want to hear the names the way I do. Oh, yeah, I explained that. You could do it any way you want to. It's all legitimate for your reading experience. But if you want to hear the names, the way I hear them, here's how it goes. And I go through them all.
I really shouldn't go and listen to that at some point. I normally just pronounce the names however, it seems to me but it would be nice to actually have Word of God pronunciations are legit. I appreciate that.
And to clarify our frowny faces are in response to their character journeys and what happens to them not their names.
Yeah, that's being sad about what they go through.
Every single character in this just gets put through the wringer.
Lily, I'm so excited for you to read The Fox and the rest of the series.
Don't say that.
I know. You.
This is a purely hypothetical question only because Sarah is constantly shouting about how it needs a adaptation.
Does it deserves this series deserves a big budget Amazon like we live Time Lord of the Rings budget adaptation, I would kill for that I would I would sell My Oregon's for that.
I could write the screenplay so easily. I worked in Hollywood 40 years ago.
Do you think you would ever like write a screenplay? Not necessarily to shop around, but like just for yourself?
Now it's too sad. I've been Why do that? If somebody called up and said, You know, I'm really interested. Yeah, I could do it. But I'm not going to otherwise. Well, my question was, if
you've ever considered like dream casting,
actually, that has happened, where I'm watching something, I go, Oh, that person is exactly like, X or Y. But I haven't sat down and tried to cast again, it's like, Oh, no.
That way lies madness.
Yeah, there was a see, there's a Disney film called The Moon spinners that came out a million years ago. And the young man and that looks like a young fox. I think that was pretty much it.
The last comment I have does not fit the flow of conversation at all. But I think probably one of my favorite things about the world as a whole is how practical the magic is. I feel like if you sat a real person down and said, what, what would you like to be able to wave your hand and have just happened? Everyone would say chores?
Or like your, your period?
Yeah, it was? Yeah, normal people. That's what I figured when I finally figured out how did women get equality? And the obvious answer seemed, they got to magic first. And so that changed the balance of power forever. And there was a dark side to that, because they did start manipulating their culture. And they don't like talking about it, particularly the modern mages, because their moral uprightness of justice is very strong, because you're, you've got all this power. And so they're, they're constantly testing their students, and anybody who seems kind of iffy if they can, they either give them therapy, I mean, they're terms, or they're out. But if you get high enough, you look at the past of magic, and you discover that the women were killing predators, sexual predators, anybody who was raping children, especially, they just killed them, there was no second chance. And they don't like having to admit to that, but it is part of their past. And what it did was, it didn't pass down to the genes, as much, whatever it is, that makes that happen in a perfectly normal family, where there's no abuse or anything like that. The gene just isn't there. And so two things that's nature and then nurture. As women had more equality, there was no more the idea of a woman as commodity, particularly her virginity just disappeared, it was no longer. And so for all the curse words, there is no curse word SON OF A BITCH or bastard. The word bastard doesn't even have a meaning there. Because single people have kids, men and women, because they can have the birth spell. That's another thing women discovered, so that men could have the quality in that sense, particularly when they came in for magic. And there are a lot of anthropology types and biology types of thought, yeah. And I just say, you know, you got to just kind of go with it.
Still a fantasy book, it's okay.
So, this is part of hand wavy, just like science fiction of Lightspeed and, you know, lightsabers, and all the rest of them. This is, you know, you take, take the context, so that the story can build. That's fast.
So I'm not sure. I don't think I've gotten that far yet. Well, I don't know much about magic at all yet, except that they have some very rudimentary spells, but I don't think I've actually seen any magic.
They have a conversation about that in into there's the interview that Shannon and Dora, and in Daraa, I think is there too. Yeah, have have with the mage from Sartore. Yep. And she kind of explicitly calls out some of this, okay, because she's asking why they want access to magic texts. And she says, internally, I mean, she doesn't necessarily say this explicitly to to the girls in the woman but but she says to herself, like these girls have good intentions, but they're from such a warlike community that they can't be trusted with this magic. So we'll give them political scrolls and history scroll. but we're not gonna give them any magic scrolls.
That's right. Or if they give it give them some, they're just rudimentary ones. Really minor stuff.
But at the same time, I do want magic mouthwash.
Magic mouthwash and like, the magic buckets for dishes. Yeah. Never had diapers and diapers. Yeah. Oh, my God. It would be really nice.
It's the basic magic that makes the biggest difference. Who needs a fireball? When do you ever need a fireball?
I got myself off track talking about the women. So I figured if they get magic, what are they going to do? They are not going to ask themselves who what weapons? We wait, no, they're gonna say how can we make mice better? And so they do they figure it out? And that's where you get all this stuff?
Or like the birth control spells?
Yep. Yep, all the screens are clean. Because you know, all the stuff that would ordinarily cities in the past in the world steak, you could smell them for miles. But in a place like that, where you have water filters. You right into a city. And it doesn't stink. It's like a modern one. No smog.
Oh, can we get a magic wand for that? Would love it?
I wish? Well, I
don't think I have any more questions about India specifically, except for things that probably get answered in the next book. So I should just read it. You
should you should read the fox. It's so good. I know. I've said that a lot. It's true.
Well, most of this book is set up for the, for the rest of the series. Yeah, I,
I guess I actually had a question about that. Because not that into is totally different from the rest of the series. Like, you know, it's very clearly part of the same series. But it does, at least in the beginning, particularly in the Academy have kind of a different focus than the rest of the series. How did you balance that change in focus or like expansion in scope, over the course of this series without, I don't know alienating readers of the first book? Well, there
are a lot of readers who don't like it, because they don't like the learning curve. At the beginning, I knew that plunging people in with all of the titles and everything was, so I figured the only way to really make it accessible is to begin with the kids. Kids are so immediate, they're only interested in each other and what's immediately surrounding them. So we get the the castle tents in first. And then we stop in Darsh held up and meet Fox and the rest of them, we get a little bit of history from the kids I view. And then we get to the academy and we experience it through the kids. And to a certain extent through the horse tail. So we're watching the kids. And I figured I could slip in stuff from the kids I view and then gradually as the kids grow, get into a wider and wider and wider scope. So that was my plan. That's what I tried to do. And kind of up to the reader whether it succeeded or not.
I will admit, I was very confused for a small portion of the beginning of the book, why all of these adults seems to care about like teenager drama, or pre teen drama even. It became clear very quickly that it's because they're, you know, it's just a whole proxy situation. And they're all meddling horribly. But there were a couple of pages there where I was like, here to adult, like what are you doing? But now,
I figured it out. Oh, kids are hostages? Yeah.
Especially in the news, brother.
Oh, yeah. They're getting training and they're getting brought into in line with the country and all that but they are hostages.
Oh, every time the uncle interacts with one of the kids into in his brother had the most visceral reaction in me. And they start to think maybe he's not so bad. I just wanted to shake the book. He's talking you stop. In the new. He wasn't fooled. But yeah, he was so slimy. He almost was Yeah, yeah.
He can't define what's going on but his instincts are really strong. Because he is on the spectrum. He people watches more than people his age usually do. Because he always trying to get the signals the different signals differently than everybody else gets them.
I love the comparison that he made that the Uncle laughs the same way that the more psychotic bullies laugh, not, not with mirth, but this, like an emptiness. As seen, it's a good book. You might have not known this, but we really liked it. You could tell.
Yes, at all I know.
I'm glad you liked it. Alright. Glad.
Do you reread previous books after you, you mentioned wanting to do a rewrite for this? Does that mean you revisited it,
I would love to do a rewrite. Because when I go back and look through it to check facts and stuff, sometimes I find errors because I'm dyslexic, where I put the wrong title, or the wrong name, and it got through. And then there are other places where I would just tighten up the sentences so forth. But you know, I don't reread it as I reread a book. I can do that with stuff I've written 20 years ago. But more recently, I look at it with the editorial I'm.
Sure, would you have talked a little bit about your current projects? Can you tell us anything more about them?
Well, the one that will come out in September is called the Norse under war. And all of the books have been hinting about that, including the industries, the tracks laid, it's not
the Norse under war, the previous Norse under war, it's a new normal underwear.
The new one. Yeah. Yep. They come back for a second try.
Do. Okay, I don't think this is too much of a. I don't I don't think this is a spoiler. Do we get more about Rammus?
If I haven't finished the endo series by then, was that going to confuse me? Or can I jump into the new one?
I think that you could jump into the new one, you just won't get as many easter eggs if you don't read time, daughters and banner of the Damned, and some of the others. But I try real hard to let easter eggs just be easter eggs. So you know whether it's successful or not, again, it's up to the reader. In the ideal world,
I will have read them by then, but September's very soon.
Well, that's just the first book, it'll take a while for them all to come out. Okay,
do you have them all written? Or are you in the process of writing and
they're all written, but because they've been written over the years, they're getting a hard rewrite, I do have a patreon, and the patrons on Patreon, see a chapter a day where they can discuss it and comment and ask questions and so forth. And where can we find your Patreon on the internet? I guess it's patreon.com. I'm not sure. And look up my name. The link is on my website, which I assume is sure what Smith or something? We'll just link it.
That's easier. Yeah.
Yeah, I don't know. I don't know you are ELLs. offhand.
We will link your Patreon and your website in the show notes. For anyone who is on the fence about subscribing to your Patreon. You really should. I'm a subscriber and the content that you put out. It's just it's fantastic.
Well, thank you so much for joining us. At least it's like we're in the same time zone, so it's not too bad for you. Oh, there, we made it to almost the whole
thing. We did. Yeah, thank you for having me. This was fun.
Yeah, this is this has just been an incredible blast talking to you about ENDA.
Are you kidding any writer loves to talk about their stuff. It took me years to learn not to grab people by the lapels and blather on for hours about your next project. I need heart surgery. I'm out of here.
Thank you so much, everyone for coming on. And we really appreciate it. Well,
thanks for having me.
Thank you. Thank you for writing more wonderful books that we can.
Yes. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of fiction fans.
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