Thank you, Audra, for inviting me here.
From where did you draw inspiration for Almost Adept?
A writer’s imagination works in a mysterious way. This particular novel started for me, when I read Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Price – the final book of her trilogy about Vanyel, the last herald-mage of Valdemar. In the book, the hero dies in the end. I dislike such endings, so I started fantasizing: what if he didn’t die? What if… One thing led to another,
until Vaniel transformed into someone else entirely, relocated to my imaginary country of Varelia, had a wife and a daughter. Considering that in Lackey’s book he was gay, such a transformation was really drastic. He changed name, and his daughter became Eriale.
Strangely, when I started thinking about Eriale’s adventures, they came to me backwards. First, I wrote a story about her, when she was about 30 years old. This story exists on my computer as the first draft of a novel. I’m going to revise it soon. Then I wanted to see how she started on her magic path – and Almost Adept got written.
Tell us about Almost Adept in 25 words or less.
For Eriale, magic is a source of joy, until she is faced with a terrifying task: to hunt and destroy a power-hungry blood
Did Eriale ever pull any pranks as a kid?
Of course. She had her magical power since she was about three, and like any kid, she tested her abilities and her limits. She played with magic. Once she flooded the cellars of her parents’ manor. It was a mistake, of course, a slight miscalculation of applied magic, but she got grounded for a month. Another time, she made her mother’s ball gowns dance by themselves, and she danced with them. Her mother was frightened when she came home and found all
her gowns frolicking independently downstairs, partnering her nine-year-old daughter. Eriale’s father and mentor had to punish her repeatedly, until she finally learned the hard lesson: she couldn’t use her magic for pranks or
practical jokes – ABSOLUTELY NEVER!
But magic was her life, and she used it to solve problems. Sometimes, such solutions got out of hand. Her latest escapade with magic was why she had to leave home in a hurry in the beginning of the novel. A young nobleman she fancied herself in love with insulted and almost raped her, and in retaliation, she turned him into a muttonhead, literary. She transformed his head into a sheep’s head. She knew she misused her magic almost as soon as the spell took. She should’ve broken his nose instead, but magic was her instinctive response, and she lashed out in her pain and frustration. It was only for one week, but the aristocratic parent of the young man didn’t understand. They
screamed revenge. She had no choice but to flee.
What was Eriale’s most embarrassing moment?
She fell in love with a guy, but he didn’t seem to care for her. When she tailed him to see where he was going, after he’d spurned her advances, she ended up in front of a brothel. Despairing of ever having anyone to love her, she decided to follow him in. Maybe she could learn something useful from the whores, if the only man she ever loved preferred them to her? Her experience inside the brothel was rather embarrassing but extremely enlightening.
This or That – questions to the character, Eriale
What animal would you prefer as a familiar: a cat or a bat?
Neither. I’m not a pet person, besides I don’t have time to care for a pet. But I had a familiar once – a pony. It was an
Who is scarier for you: a vampire or a dragon?
I’m not afraid of any creature. With my power of an Adept, not much can hurt me. Besides, I don’t think vampires exist. I’ve never read about them in any magic research books. Dragons do exist, even though I’ve never seen one. They live on another continent and can’t cross the ocean, but sailors sometimes bring their scales or claws. Once they brought a mummified head of a dragon – it was disgusting. I’d like to see a living dragon at least once. They’re creatures of magic. I wonder what I can do with their magic.
What would you transform you worst enemy into: a frog or a swine?
I wouldn’t do that at all. I did something similar once, and it was the worst mistake of my life. Never again! I would embarrass him instead: make him speak exclusively the truth at a social gathering or make him oink like
a pig for several days whenever he tries to talk or something similar. Or drop him into a huge clump of nettles naked and let him find his way out.
You can transform one living being into another, it’s possible, but it’s a very complicated spell and a brutal one. It takes lots of power and lots of knowledge. You have to learn every detail of the anatomy of your original creature and the target creature. Otherwise, you’ll create a monster. And the overall masses of both creatures should be the same. You can’t turn a man into a frog. Where would the extra mass go? Unless you want a frog the size of a man. But there is another solution, if I wanted to be flashy. I could use a transportation spell. You know, find a frog in a nearby pond, transport the man there and the frog here: kind of a switcheroo. Done properly, it only takes a moment. For a bystander, it would look like a transformation, but it’s a trick, really.