Welcome to my latest attempt at Things I Can Blog About!
As an author, there are some questions I get asked all the time–just about every time I get asked questions, in fact! Usually, I can only answer them in a paragraph, because no one wants a dissertation in the middle of their interview. But here, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want! Frequently Asked Questions is a deeper exploration of some of those burning questions.
As a reader, there are some questions you really want the answers to–only no one ever asks them. Sometimes they are puzzling. Sometimes they are obscure. Sometimes they are ridiculous and you thought of them at 3 am when you finally put the book down, as you were drifting off to sleep. Whatever the circumstances, here’s where I answer them!
Frequently Asked Question: Why tieflings
Because Farideh’s a tiefling.
That sounds flippant, but I didn’t come to this story with tieflings in mind first. Farideh started out as a PC I played in a long-running Forgotten Realms game, and I picked a tiefling at that point because I wanted to try one of the new races. Then I thought too long about how to make that character’s backstory into a novel, then a slot opened up for a “tiefling book,” and then I kidnapped an editor and pitched her my novel idea in a conference room, because I am very pushy.
But maybe the better question is “Why does this story work with tieflings as opposed to, say, elves?”
The short answer is “Elves don’t do it for me.”
The longer answer is tieflings haven’t got a culture the way the other races do. There is no “tiefling nation,” no “tiefling religion,” no “tiefling society.” They are hybrids and in the world of Forgotten Realms, they generally belong to whatever culture their human line comes from. They’re Aglarondan or Tymantheran or Waterdhavian or Nar or Mulhorandi or any number of things.
But when people look at them? They’re “tieflings.” All lumped together
Farideh grows up surrounded by people who already “know” the story of her: she can fight off the taint of her blood that will always try to drag her into wickedness or she can fall headlong into it. Never mind that like the rest of us, she’s perfectly capable of making mistakes and then learning from and rectifying them—she’s a tiefling and one step off the line means she’s opted for the headlong fall. So she’s written off these people’s opinions. Society tells her something about herself that she knows isn’t so, so why go along with it, once you have made that mistake? It’s not an excuse to be evil—not for Farideh—but it’s an excuse to make her own path.
There’s something attractive about a character whose moral compass is as much in her own hands as such a thing could be. Who makes decisions for (largely) the right, heroic reasons, and still ends up with a lot of the trappings of that evil life. She can’t fix what makes people assume she’s bad, without refusing to do what has to be done to make things right. She’s trapped in between the two, like so many of us are. And she’s there because she’s a tiefling.
Infrequently Asked Question: Why are the twins’ horns different on the cover of Brimstone Angels? Are their horns actually the same, or do they really look different?
They look different on the cover of Brimstone Angels because the artist chose to depict them that way. That’s just one of the things that happens with cover art–the artist is going for a great piece and sometimes details that matter in the book don’t make it in. I still think it’s gorgeous!
In the story-world, they have similarly shaped horns. However, since their horns don’t grow until childhood (thank god…), they’ve been growing with similar but not identical pressures on them. It may be that one sleeps more on her side and that horn curves in a little more. It may be that one’s have just grown downward a little more. It may be that at some point, one gets part of horn knocked off! Too many variables! But whatever differences exist, I think it’s only the twins and Mehen (and maybe Brin) that really notice.