Thank you guys so much for all your enthusiasm yesterday. Below I answer some of the questions you sent on the blog, through Twitter, and on my email.
Oh! I love The Scarlet Pimpernel! I’m so excited for this.
Me too! I also love The Scarlet Pimpernel and hope this book does justice to the best parts of Baroness Orczy’s creation. (And ignores the weird anti-Semitic bits.) Plus, you know, gender-switching.
I’ve never heard of The Scarlet Pimpernel. What is it?
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a play/book/book series by Baroness Orczy started over a hundred years ago. Percy Blakeney was a dashing British gentleman spy who pretended to be a useless fop while using his wit (and gift for disguise) to pull off daring escapades in Reign of Terror-era France. They’ve made a good half dozen movies/plays/musicals/TV shows based on his adventures, and it inspired superheroes from James Bond to Batman. (Bruce Wayne’s lazy billionaire routine is totally Scarlet Pimpernel.)
Though there are many Pimpernel stories (the original book series was a long and profitable one), the most famous was the original, which tells the story of Percy and his estranged wife, the beautiful and brilliant French actress Marguerite St. Just. Percy loves Marguerite desperately, but their marriage falls apart when he learns of her involvement in the Terror. Marguerite thinks Percy is a moron, and certainly would never go to him for help when an evil French agent threatens her brother’s life — though she does seek out the Pimpernel.
And the names? (It is YOU, Diana.)
Ah, the names. Well, Persis Blake obviously maps to Sir Percy Blakeney. Justen’s name was inspired by Marguerite’s last name of St. Just. Other characters have names reminiscent of their classic counterparts, too. And some I just made up for fun.
Is this book a companion to For Darkness Shows the Stars?
Yes! It’s set in the same world as FDSTS (after the Earth was devastated by the Reduction and the wars of the Reduction), and in the same time period as FDSTS (a few generations after healthy children start being born to the Reduced). However… Star-Swept takes place in a different land called New Pacifica, where society responded very differently than the Luddites of FDSTS to the Reduction and the wars. (And you find out int eh book how and why, and why their history was thus remarkably different.) As you may have guessed from the description, they aren’t anti-technology at all.
Are Kai and Elliot in this book?
Spoilers! But I will say that you will recognize some of the characters in Star-Swept. If you’re familiar with Kristin Cashore’s books Graceling and Fire, it’s kind of like that. This book is set in a different society, with different main characters, but you will meet some familiar faces along the way.
Why isn’t it a direct sequel to For Darkness?
Because Elliot, though awesome in her own way, is not a lady spy. And I wanted to write about Persis.
Is this the book you keep calling frockalicious?
Yes. And it is. I’ve lost count of the number of costume changes Persis has. And she’s only one character. I covet her wardrobe so hard.
Have you seen the cover?
It’s my most favoritest cover ever. And unfortunately, no one can see it ’til February. Sad face.
Give us a hint!
It’s frockalicious. And not red. 😉
When in February? Why in February?
Got me. And double got me.
When is the release date?
Sometime next fall. Sorry I can’t get more specific yet.
Why did you decide to gender-switch the characters?
The simple answer is that lady spies are AWESOME. The more in-depth answer is that I had the idea for a gender-switched Scarlet Pimpernel long before I had the idea to link it to For Darkness. For several years, it was indeed going to be a Scarlet Pimpernel IN SPACE. (And it was going to be called Scarlet. I think Marissa Meyer has both that title and concept well covered at the moment, though.) Though it should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my books, I’m very interested in the topic of how societies treat women, and I thought there was a lot of meat to the idea of a woman that people dismiss as being merely ornamental because she is beautiful and glamorous.
After I finished For Darkness and started thinking about what was next, I dug into Ye Olde Idea File and saw those old (really really old, guys, like predating SSG) notes on that story and started wondering how the Scarlet Pimpernel might fit into the world of the Reduction.
And the answer was: way better than a post-apocalyptic Emma. So… here we are.
What the heck is a sea mink?
A sea mink is a genetically engineered otter-like creature that my heroine, Persis, keeps as a pet. His name is Slipstream. I named the animal a “sea mink” for an actual now-extinct species of Pacific sea otter.
Is it true that there’s a character in this book based on Yue from Avatar: The Last Airbender?
Yes and no. There is a character who is a princess and coincidentally looks remarkably like Yue. But I didn’t realize this until a savvy beta-reader of mine pointed it out. (Quite possibly the same savvy beta-reader who sent in this question.) They actually have pretty different personalities though, and no one gets turned into the moon in this book, I swear.
Is there going to be a third book?
Hold your horses, people! I *just* announced the second one. 🙂