Please welcome Evie Manieri back to the blog! The newest book in her Shattered Kingdoms series, Fortune’s Blight, just came out in February, and she stopped by to talk about it, and more!
Will you tell us a little about Fortune’s Blight?
Fortune’s Blight picks up just a few months after the end of Blood’s Pride. Daryan is trying to fill the power vacuum left by the Norlanders and stop the systematic murder of the magic-wielding ashas, while Isa is trying to figure out where she fits in. Lahlil has gone off with Jachad and the Nomas but she’s afraid of endangering them if she stays, and Rho and Eofar learn en route to Norland that the emperor has died and been replaced by his reactionary, war-loving son Gannon. Things get even stickier when Rho discovers that his late brother’s wife is now Gannon’s mistress. Eventually Gannon’s quest for glory, fueled by the same prophetic elixir that brought the Mongrel to the Shadar in the first place, sucks them all in.
How do you think your main characters have grown the most since Blood’s Pride?
They’re all on their own journeys, of course, but I think they’ve all come to recognize – and to reject – the identities imposed upon them by others. They’re beginning to discover who they really are without those constructs, Lahlil most of all. Up until this point she’s worn her own mythology like a shield, but now she’s ready to put it down – and she’s smart enough to know it won’t be easy. Daryan’s discovering himself as a leader in his own right instead of as his uncle’s puppet. Rho has to come off the sidelines if he’s going to protect Dramash. Isa may have the worst of it: she’ll never be Shadari, she’s a pariah among her own people thanks to her maiming, and she still has to hide her relationship with Daryan. She doesn’t fit anywhere: she basically has to start her life from scratch.
What have you enjoyed most about writing this series?
Developing these characters, for a start. We’ve been together so long at this point they feel like family; if I’m away from them for very long I start to really miss them. It’s going to be tough when the series ends. Fortune’s Blight takes place mainly in Norland, so making that switch, painting the landscapes, expanding the culture, finding the rhythms, all the details that make it come alive, all of that was so much fun. Plus we get to see Rho on his home turf. He’s dealing with some terrible things but he manages to hold on to his sense of the ridiculous, and that makes him such a joy to write. Overall I think it’s about watching these people grow into themselves and truly inhabit their own lives. It’s the same journey we’re all on.
Worldbuilding is very important in a series like this. What are a few of your favorite literary “worlds”?
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern was my first home away from home. I came to it though Dragonsong rather than the earlier books, so for me fire lizards were everything. I wanted my own so badly. I probably read Dragonsong thirty times; eventually the book just fell to pieces. I wanted to live on Pern, which I suppose doesn’t reflect well on my childhood since everything there was pretty awful. More recently I was captivated by the world Philip Pullman built in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Daemons! (Maybe all you need to hook me is to have really cool pets?) Of the books I’ve read in the last year, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice was the one that drew me in the most. I read it months ago and I still find myself thinking about it all the time.
It’s been a while since we caught up. Have you read any good books lately? Is there anything that you’re looking forward to this year?
Ancillary Justice, which I just mentioned, was a real treat. I’m hoping to get to Ancillary Sword very soon. I finally read and loved Lev Grossman’s The Magicians after my friend Lisa pestered me about it for months, so now I have two more books in that series to look forward to. I read non-genre stuff as well and lately I’ve been drawn to memoirs. I’m a classic film buff so I read Patton Oswalt’s Silver Screen Fiend, but what I realized by the end is that I really just wanted to talk to him about all of the films he mentions in the book. Right now I’m reading Eddie Huang’s tremendous Fresh Off the Boat. My TBR pile is groaning just like everyone else’s, but at the top is Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, which has been so highly praised by people I respect that I think it’s just contrariness that has kept me from starting it until now. My family is heading to Costa Rica this summer for our first real vacation in over a decade and my daughter has already designed all of her cosplay outfits for New York Comic-Con, so we have a lot of sewing ahead of us. (If you come across a “girl” version of the Fifth Doctor while you’re there, be sure to say hi.)
What’s something that you know now that you wish you’d known before getting published?
I wish I had known how much the first book would change once we got into the editing process. If I had, I wouldn’t have spent so much time tinkering with it and trying to make it “perfect” (as if there is any such thing) before I submitted it. It rankles me to think of how much time I wasted, although back then I had nothing but time!
What’s next for you?
Strife’s Bane will end the Shattered Kingdoms trilogy next year. What happens after that remains to be seen, but I have a kick-ass idea for a new book and a completely different world that I can’t wait to rip into.
About Fortune’s Blight:
Fortune’s Blight by Evie Manieri continues the conflict begun in Blood’s Pride. Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition, and petty feuds poison King Daryan’s young reign, and entire families are vanishing without a trace. Help is nowhere to be found, for their Nomas allies have troubles of their own and the Mongrel, plagued by the sins of her violent past, has disappeared.
While Daryan struggles to maintain the peace, Eofar and Rho are racing to their northern homeland to plead—or fight—for the Shadar’s independence. But Norland has changed, and they soon find themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode.
Meanwhile, the Mongrel’s path carries her deep into Norland’s frozen wastes to redeem a promise—one that forces her into the heart of the growing conflict.
As the foundations of the two far-flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded….