Well, there weren’t a whole lot of questions this time around, or votes for that matter; Always a little worrying, but I’ve been getting a lot of new readers, so I soldier ever onwards!
First up, the votes for a short story. Li Xue Zi came in first for this, but Jenny and Heather were close behind. Dean, poor bastard, lags ever behind the others. So I’ll be working on Li Xue Zi’s short story coming up.
In the popularity contest, Atina came first with seven. Li Fang Fen and The Half Faced Man both got 6 votes. Alfred, Polly, Jenny, Roy, and Edwin all followed up with four votes each. Lady Ann Willing, Chaac, and The Notte Nostra got two votes each. And Arthur, Roquette, and Tadodaho brought in one solitary vote each.
Poor Dean Morton got zero votes, suggesting no one wants to see him again. That’s good, considering what I have planned for the next Atina LeRoux novel!
On the final poll, nine people voted that a mortal dying for the sake of an immortal was sadder; 5 said that the immortal dying for the mortal was sadder; And only two people were split on the subject. Interesting results!
There is one particular question, from KineticNerd, on Reddit!
So I kinda was introduced to your work a week or twould ago… and just finished binging it yesterday.
Just wanted to say thank you, and while Roy’s scene post-fight may have felt a little forced or out of left field, the rest was absolutely FANTASTIC. Love your world and can’t wait to see what you do with it next.
(Perhaps I just couldn’t fully understand his character through the hubris and fear, but for whatever reason that scene stuck out to me in a less than good way compared to the rest of you hilariously trope-subverting tale)
Roy is simultaneously a complex, and very simple character. I don’t blame you for feeling it’s a little forced or out of left field- And frankly if that’s the only one that stands out to you I’m amazed. It was a tricky scene for me to write, too. I can try to give some context to see if it helps, though. Spoilers in scads for Delectable Corpse in the following comment…
There are three aspects to this: Lies, pride, and love. First, lies have consequences for the supernatural creatures of this setting. Some simply can’t lie at all; Others must hold to oaths or suffer consequences. The next novel, Amok, will involve Li Fang Fen, and the consequences she’s suffering for betraying her duty as prosecutor in Delectable Corpse. The more powerful the creature is, the more terrible this punishment is. Demons are particularly vulnerable. Roy is sworn to let no one but God stand above him. If he took orders from someone else, if he was even seen to be acting according to the will of someone else, he would very probably die.
Second, he is a dragon. He is, as of this point in the setting, THE dragon. The first, the last, and the only. Even if it weren’t lethal, his pride is a massive issue for him. Atina’s quick thinking of providing an alternative that he could agree to helped. Even still, he absolutely does not want to die, and values his life above very nearly everything else.
And third, Atina. He loves her. He doesn’t want her to get hurt, and he doesn’t want, himself, to die. So he looks for a way to either make her prove she’s not really as decent as she acts, or a way to drive her away. First by acting like a terrifying monster, then by acting as though he was toying with her. He’s supposed to act like a demon. He’ll die if he doesn’t act like a demon. It’s meant to be a very alien mindset, and even more difficult to understand through Atina’s haze of post-fight fear. It isn’t helped at all by the fact that we don’t see much of anything from his true perspective. Much of what he’s done has been deliberate attempts to drive her off; His seeming lack of confidence, his affectations of poverty and relative ignorance, his obvious attraction. Ways to convince her to never give him a chance. His playing on her self-loathing in that chapter works much the same way.
Simply put: Roy doesn’t want to die, and loving Atina’s going to kill him.
From a storytelling perspective, part of it is that Roy- if he were honest with himself, if he acted as Atina’s protector- would trivialize many conflicts. As it stands, this result leaves Atina with the lingering fear that she can’t rely on Roy when the chips are down, and that the consequences of his aid might be more dire than anything that could happen to her on its own. It drives her to strive to be independent. And yet, it also gives her a mystery, enough that future attempts on her life will be rather more infrequent, providing a certain passive protection. And we all know that eventually, he’s going to break that rule. The excitement is seeing when, why, and how.
Now, to decide the story to write for Li Xue Zi… And I think I have a good one in mind.